Monday, August 31, 2009

Juggernaut Index No. 9: The Dallas Cowboys

By Scott Pianowski
Source: Yahoo Sports

No. 9: Dallas Cowboys

When a team falls as far as the Cowboys have over a year's time – they were last year's Juggernaut No. 1 after all – a lot of critics take their shots. I'm here to make excuses.

The Pokes were actually living up to the hype until midway through 2008 – that's when everything fell apart. Tony Romo(notes) busted his pinkie, and replacement Brad Johnson(notes) wasn't equipped to run the offense. Marion Barber(notes) dislocated his toe. Felix Jones(notes) came down with hamstring and toe injuries. Roy Williams came over from Detroit and couldn't pick up the scheme. Terrell Owens(notes) whined about his role in the offense. And so it goes.

The key to getting the offensive gravy train going again is Romo, of course. He's looked pretty snappy in the preseason, completing 70 percent of his passes and getting 7.5 yards per attempt. Keep in mind this guy posted 265 yards per game and 2 TDs per start last year, elite numbers. Owens didn't help the bottom line as much as you might think; TO only caught about half of the balls intended for him last year and at times was counter-productive to the offense. If you can wait on quarterback and still land Romo in the 5-8 range, you've done well.

Assuming Williams can quickly recover from the shoulder problem he ran into last week, I like him as a bounce-back player in 2009 and a good value. You rarely see NFL trades around the October deadline because mid-season scheme changes are so daunting. Williams was a very good if not great receiver in Detroit while he had a collection of scrubs throwing him the ball. Keep him hale for four months and this looks like 1,100 yards and 7-9 TDs, easy.

Tight end Jason Witten(notes) is the most reliable pass-catcher in this offense, a fact that drove Owens crazy over the years. He's been to four straight Pro Bowls and his moderate TD count (12 in three years) figures to get a push now that TO is gone. I don't think it's the type of year where a designed tight end makes a lot of sense for fantasy – there's outstanding depth at this position – but if the rest of the room agrees with that and Witten slides to the fifth or sixth round, I'd at least consider him.

The secondary receivers aren't particularly exciting. Miles Austin(notes) entered camp with a chance to secure a starting spot, but he's been outplayed by Patrick Crayton(notes) and Sam Hurd(notes) for most of the summer. All three of those guys are going to get their share of snaps, and No. 2 tight end Martellus Bennett(notes) is also talented enough to demand looks. Lump all of these players into the "prove it to me" file as we enter the regular season.

Barber's stock has slipped during the summer, in part because of the fantastic depth behind him (Jones gets everyone excited, Tashard Choice(notes) can play too). But let's not forget everything Barber has going for him. He's capable of being a lead back, he's dynamic at the goal line (37 scores in three years), he's vastly underrated as a receiver and borderline unfair when the Pokes are salting away a fourth-quarter lead (defenders don't want to tackle him). Barber's been slipping to the middle-to-late part of the second round in a lot of drafts and that sounds great to me. He legitimately deserves a push forward in the PPR format, too.

Jones was too good to be true on a per-touch basis last year (8.9 YPC), but Jason Garrett struggled to include the rookie at times; Prince Felix never had more than nine carries in a game, and somehow we went without a touch in Week 4's loss to Washington. Garrett is a little handcuffed when it comes to Jones in the passing game; Felix is far behind the learning curve in that area. Look for about 10-12 touches per week for Jones this year and probably something around five yards a carry, but even if Barber were to get hurt, Jones isn't ideally suited for every-down play. He'll also get work in the return game, which takes away from how many scrimmage snaps you can expect.

Choice won't see as much action as Jones initially, but if Barber can't stay healthy Choice might get a look in the No. 1 role. He quietly collected 5.1 yards a pop on his 92 carries last year and he's a far better receiver (21 catches) than Jones is. That said, Jones has worked with the first-team offense in preseason games this month while Choice has not.

Cowboy Up: Nick Folk(notes) is coming off hip surgery but he looked healthy in the third preseason game, nailing two short field goals and connecting on a 49-yarder that was negated by a penalty. He only missed two attempts last year. … Jon Kitna(notes) is no longer qualified to be an NFL starter but he can't be any worse at the backup position than Johnson was last year. His rapport with Williams doesn't hurt the cause either. … There's plenty of IDP juice in the Dallas linebacking corps. DeMarcus Ware(notes) is a monster with the sacks and forced fumbles, Bradie James(notes) is a safe source for tackles (plus eight sacks last year), and Keith Brooking(notes) was an interesting addition from Atlanta. … Terence Newman(notes) is the best cover guy in the secondary but that's typically not a place to look for stats – teams throw away from him. He's never had more than four picks in any season. … If Witten suffers any significant injury during the year, run to the waiver wire and grab Bennett. He quietly collected four scores over his last 10 games as a rookie and turned out to be a more-developed receiver than the team expected. … I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for every punt to hit the video screen in Dallas this year – followed by the obligatory Jerry Jones reaction shot. … On paper the schedule looks friendly enough, as the Pokes get a full go-round with the ordinary NFC South and the leaky AFC West. But our perceptions of those teams might be completely different in 4-5 weeks.

Romo gladly dousing his celebrity QB status

By JAIME ARON AP Sports Writer
Posted: 08/26/2009 02:57:28 PM MDT

IRVING, Texas—Tony Romo is ruining his reputation as a celebrity quarterback.
Since training camp opened, Romo has avoided the sloppy mistakes that trigger debates about his recklessness and leadership. There hasn't been a single squabble with a receiver. And if he has a new Hollywood hottie in his life, he's kept their canoodling out of the tabloids.

Romo is all about football these days, and the Dallas Cowboys can only hope things keep going this smoothly during the season.

Through two preseason games, Romo has yet to throw an interception, lose a fumble or take a sack. Sure, it's only been seven drives and it's not like he's faced ferocious pressure, but at least he's off to a good start, showing the poise and patience the team is expecting—and remembering to keep two hands on the ball when he scrambles.

It's boring stuff, especially for a guy who rode to stardom by taking his chances and enjoying his share of victories. But sticking to the fundamentals can help a team win playoff games, something the Cowboys haven't done since 1996.

"Obviously the way I was before wasn't getting the job done to the extent to the goal you want to accomplish," Romo said. "So you just keep going and keep going and hopefully you are able to accomplish that one day. I can see improvement."

Over two games, Romo has led the Cowboys to three touchdowns and a missed field goal. That's a points-worthy drives in four of his seven series. He's 22 of 30 for 228 yards, with a quarterback rating of 106.

"Either you are trying to get better or you are content as a player," Romo said. "I am not content. I don't think this team is. We are striving to be a team that we hope can make everybody excited or have an exciting time watching us play this season. We are enjoying it."

Perhaps the best sign of Romo's new demeanor is how he's spreading around the ball. Seven players already have caught his passes, plus he's thrown to three others.

Romo's willingness to look at all his receivers, tight ends and running backs (even a backup fullback) shows he's snapped out of the must-throw-to-T.O. mindset that sometimes doomed Dallas during the Terrell Owens days.

Taking Owens out of the equation obviously removed a big threat, but it's helped broaden the Cowboys' plans.

They will be going with more two-tight end formations because of how Martellus Bennett has developed in his second year. They also have three proven running backs in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, and plan to get all of them involved as runners and receivers. The receiving corps, led by Roy Williams, lacks a T.O.-caliber player, but should benefit from defenses worrying about Jones, Bennett and Jason Witten.

All those options should make Dallas less predictable. It's up to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to dream up a variety of plays, and then it's up to Romo to pull them off.

If Romo does, no one will question his weight, his work ethic, his passion for the game or his love life, all of which were cross-examined in the wake of last season's December meltdown, when the Cowboys lost three of their last four games and didn't make the playoffs.

"I feel like each year I play this game I get better just because you work at it, you think about it, you try and correct it," said Romo, who is coming off his first non-Pro Bowl season since becoming the full-time starter in 2006. "I had a friend tell me once, 'You just keep getting better and everything will take care of itself.'"

Now back at their Valley Ranch headquarters, Romo feels good about how things went in training camp in San Antonio. He likes the tone that was set during a controversy-free month.

"Everything was just football 24-7," Romo said. "I think that's the way we want to work around here."

It's a change, but it might be one for the better.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rookie S Hamlin Breaks Wrist, Two Others Injured

Zach Buchanan - Email Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Cowboys defensive depth took a big hit in Saturday night's 20-13 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers when three players left the game with injury, most notably rookie safety Mike Hamlin, who suffered a broken wrist and will miss six weeks, he said.

Also injured were rookie linebacker Jason Williams (ankle sprain and quad bruise) and third-year corner/safety Alan Ball (neck strain).

Hamlin broke his wrist while trying to bust up the wedge on kickoff coverage, he said, and will be the third Cowboys 2009 draftee to miss significant time this season. Linebacker Brandon Williams (torn MCL) and offensive tackle Robert Brewster (torn pectoral muscle) both suffered season-ending injuries.

"It seems like all our draft choices are the ones getting banged up pretty good," said head coach Wade Phillips.

While Hamlin was taken to the locker room, Ball was being attended to on the field by trainers, who held his head and neck steady while checking him over. Ball, who classified his injury as more of a stinger, said that was more precautionary than anything.

"I didn't feel as bad as it looked," Ball said.

Williams was also grateful that his injury turned out to be less serious than he thought. The rookie inside linebacker initially suffered the thigh bruise early in his first defensive series, and then was "rolled up" on during 49ers running back Kory Sheets' one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Williams said he's dealt with similar injuries in the past, and that his ankle improved after he left the field. X-rays on his ankle were negative, although he said he'll be reevaluated Sunday.

"When I first went down, I didn't feel it pop or anything, but I just felt real bad," Williams said. "On the way in, it kind of loosened up a little bit. It started swelling as soon as I took the tape off."

Hamlin may have set his own return date six weeks in the future, but the timetable for Williams' and Ball's injuries is unknown. Both of them missing the team's final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday would hardly come as a surprise considering the Cowboys' cautious handling of injured players in the past.

Since most teams rest their starters during the final preseason game, young players like Ball, Williams and Hamlin usually get more playing time. Williams wants to play Friday, but he understands that his health comes first.

"I'm more concerned about my health right now than I am about playing in the Minnesota game," he said. "If they decide to hold me out just to keep me healthy, then I'm all for it."

If Ball's or Williams' injuries cause either to miss any extended time, the Cowboys could have some depth issues at cornerback, safety and inside linebacker.

The Cowboys were already short at inside linebacker going into Saturday's game with rookie Stephen Hodge still recovering from an off-season knee scope. Fourth-year veteran Bobby Carpenter is the immediate backup to starters Bradie James and Keith Brooking. With Hodge and Williams out, journeyman linebacker Matt Stewart would be the only remaining healthy body at the position.

As for safety and cornerback, Ball was running with the second team at both positions, and with Hamlin out, his absence would vault rookie Mike Mickens to second-team cornerback and would also leave fellow rookie DeAngelo Smith as a second-team safety. Mickens has struggled since training camp, and Smith is new to the safety position.

Phillips said the team already felt the crunch of depth issues in Saturday's loss.

"Ball and Hamlin both went out and we couldn't play our dime or our third down sub-defenses and that put us in a bind as far as being able to stop them at the end of the ball game," Phillips said.

Second-year running back Tashard Choice also left the game briefly, although he just had the wind knocked out of him, and was later seen joking with teammates on the sideline.

Player Update: Miles Austin, WR


Miles Austin, WR Saturday 8/29, 10:52 PM CT

Fighting to be the Cowboys' no. 3 receiver this season, Miles Austin caught three balls for 44 yards on Saturday night.

Our View: His main competition, Sam Hurd, failed to register any statistics. Austin has earned less than rave reviews this preseason, and won't be of much fantasy value even should he lock down the third receiver job.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sporting News: NFC East All Division Team

by Jim Fassell


WR Santana Moss, Redskins
WR Patrick Crayton, Cowboys
T Flozell Adams, Cowboys
G Rich Seubert, Giants
C Shaun O'Hara, Giants
G Chris Snee, Giants
T Chris Samuels, Redskins
TE Chris Cooley, Redskins
QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles
FB Mike Sellers, Redskins
RB Brian Westbrook, Eagles


DE Phillip Daniels, Redskins
DT Albert Haynesworth, Redskins
DT Jay Ratliff, Cowboys
DE Osi Umenyiora, Giants
OLB Michael Boley, Giants
MLB Bradie James, Cowboys
OLB DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
CB DeAngelo Hall, Redskins
CB Asante Samuel, Eagles
S Laron Landry, Redskins
S Ken Hamlin, Cowboys

K David Akers, Eagles
P Jeff Feagle, Giants
KR Quintin Demps, Eagles
PR DeSean Jackson, Eagles

My Three Favorites

*1. Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles.
He's a veteran leader who makes big plays when they need him to. Early in his career he was a more active runner, but he has really become a polished thrower.

*2. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles.
He's their go-to guy in key situations-extremely effective as a runner and a receiver. He's the first guy you have to account for on every play.

*3. Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants.
He's so quick and explosive. Even when he's not getting sacks, he's forcing the quarterback to move, not allowing him to set his feet.

_as told to Clifton Brown

49ers' Willis will check his Cowboys fandom at the sideline


Growing up in Tennessee, linebacker Patrick Willis loved the Dallas Cowboys. Loved 'em. He still smiles widely as he recalls his favorite players: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Darryl Johnston.

Willis was such a big Cowboys fan, in fact, that he rumbled whenever his 49ers-loving cousin dared to mention a certain other NFL powerhouse team out West.

"Every time he would say Jerry Rice or Joe Montana, we would fight," Willis said. "That's how serious it was."

Considering that history, Willis will be excited in more ways than one when the 49ers — his 49ers — visit the new $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium today.

It is the third exhibition for both teams, but the first appearance for the 49ers' two-time Pro Bowl linebacker. Willis was hampered by ankle and Achilles injuries early in camp and is just now rounding into health.

The coaching staff held him out against the Raiders a week ago as a precaution, but Willis has full clearance for today's game and could play most of the first half.

The 49ers want to see how their defense looks when they add their main ingredient. Through the first two exhibition games, the 49ers rank ninth overall in defense (293.0 yards allowed per game) and are tied for first in turnover differential (plus-6).

Now, the 49ers add Willis, their defensive captain who eagerly anticipates his first tackle of the 2009 season. Defensive players can make contact in practice, but there is no to-the-ground tackling.

So Willis has been at the buffet for two weeks without taking a bite.

"I've had to calm myself down a couple of times," he conceded. "I kind of get a thud in here and there without going against how we work and how we practice. But it's going to be fun to be able to hit again and tackle live."

Maybe Willis' arrival can perk up a sagging pass rush. The 49ers have just one sack through two games, and that came when the Raiders' JaMarcus Russell fell down after tripping over his running back.

The Cowboys game is a significant test, since the starting units for both teams will remain on the field for an extended period.

In Dallas' previous game, against Tennessee, the starting five of Flozell Adams, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo allowed quarterback Tony Romo to pass for 192 yards on 24 attempts without allowing a sack.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the 49ers do not game plan for exhibition games, nor do they show off much in terms of their blitz packages. They want to save the surprises for the regular season.

Through the first two games, Manusky simply watched to see if defenders could win their one-on-one matchups — with mixed results. Coach Mike Singletary said the 49ers' pass rush was "non-existent" after the first game and was sparse with praise after the second.

If the 49ers want to be an elite defense, they're going to need more than a mediocre pass rush.

Manusky said: "We've been very successful in having turnovers the last couple of weeks, and sometimes, some of those pressures lead to those turnovers. So, I'm expecting the guys to roll off and start getting a good push up the middle."

Getting Willis back is a big piece of the puzzle. By the 49ers' count, the middle linebacker has 10 or more tackles in 26 of his 32 career starts. He has 20 or more tackles four times.

Moreover, he serves as traffic cop for the defense. Willis wears the specially designated helmet that receives the play call via radio transmission from the sideline. It's Willis' job to get that call to everyone else.

"He hasn't done it for a couple of months, so it's good for him to take control of the huddle and get the calls," Manusky said. "Sometimes it's not the greatest sound. There are lots of times when you just hear, 'What?' "

At least Willis will be able to concentrate a little easier this time. When the 49ers played in Dallas last season, at old Texas Stadium, the former Cowboys fan was so fired up about being on the hallowed field that he felt like a kid again.

"Every play I was just excited to be out there," Willis said. "This year, playing them, I believe I won't be so excited.

"I'll be able to calm down and actually make a play or two."

Player Update: Roy Williams, WR


Roy Williams, WR Friday 8/28, 12:36 PM CT

According to the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams is expected to miss Saturday's preseason game, but he is expected to be back soon. Jerry Jones commented that they expect Williams to be "out there real quick."

Our View: The Cowboys avoided disaster here, as Williams has been officially diagnosed with a contusion on his left shoulder. It looks like he will be good to go for Week 1, so keep him steady on your draft board.

Player Update: Rodney Hannah, TE


Rodney Hannah, TE Thursday 8/27, 3:17 PM CT

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys have waived tight end Rodney Hannah.

Our View: Hannah actually asked for his release when he realized that he wasn't going to make the team. He was too far down on the depth chart at tight end, so the two-year practice squad player will try and latch on with someone else.

Player Update: Justin Rogers, LB


Justin Rogers, LB Thursday 8/27, 1:39 PM CT

Injured linebacker Justin Rogers has been waived by the Cowboys.

Our View: Rogers suffered a knee injury this preseason and that cost him his spot in Dallas. He provided depth at outside linebacker, but was mostly a special teams guy.

Player Update: Duke Preston, C


Duke Preston, C Wednesday 8/26, 3:56 PM CT

According to the Twitter page of Brad Biggs of the National Football Post, the Cowboys have agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Preston was released by the Packers on Tuesday.

Our View: Preston apparently had his choice of Dallas, Oakland, and Cleveland, so it looks like he made the right choice if he wants to win. Preston is versatile, and he could earn a backup role with Dallas this season if he impresses.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dallas Cowboys 2009 NFL Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds

Written by Pat Spence

Dallas Cowboys 2009 NFL Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds: The Cowboys are hoping that the more things change, the more they win. Although coach Wade Phillips returns, Dallas debuts its new $1.1 billion stadium in Arlington with a different team than the one that ended 2008. Watch out scoreboard! The Cowboys fired their defensive coordinator, released Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens, chose not to re-sign Tank Johnson, signed three veteran defensive free agents and traded for a backup quarterback. The NFL Prediction Experts at online sportsbook have the Dallas Cowboys 15-1 odds to win the 2010 NFL Superbowl.

Tony Romo has been the full-time starter at quarterback for two-and-a-half seasons but has yet to win a playoff game. Although he has set several team records, produced a 27–12 regular-season record and had several big games statistically, Romo has not proven he can win the big game. Marion Barber was the full-time starter. Barber, who was slowed late in the season by a toe injury, had more carries, a higher average and more touchdowns in the first half of games. But the Cowboys would like for him to be more of a closer, a role he excelled at earlier in his career. That means that Felix Jones will play a bigger role early in games. NFL betting odds makers have the Dallas Cowboys listed at 11 to 4 odds to win the NFC East Division.

Nosetackle Jay Ratliff, a former seventh-round pick, became a Pro Bowler last season. Ratliff had 7.5 sacks as the rest of the line combined for only six. DeMarcus Ware has been a Defensive Player of the Year candidate each of the past two seasons. He has turned himself into one of the league’s top pass-rushers and made a run at Michael Strahan’s single-season record for sacks last season. The Dallas Cowboys OVER 9 WINS for the season is among the top NFL football picks on the board currently at

The Cowboys fired special teams coach Bruce Read at season’s end. He became a target for fans after Dallas allowed two special teams touchdowns to the Cardinals in an overtime loss. The Dallas Cowboys are listed at 7/1 odds to win the NFC Championship by the NFL Picks Experts at

NFC East Preview- Dallas Cowboys


The NFC East has the best division in the NFL.

On paper.

The division has the most loaded teams in the league, and the rivalries are intense, and the long history between them create great games. This year is not any different from previous years. In fact, expect three teams to come out of this division and make up half of the NFC field for the playoffs.

The Dallas Cowboys are looking to move forward from the drama of last season in their new billion dollar palace, the Philadelphia Eagles made a huge splash by signing Mike Vick, and expect them to use him and Donovan McNabb at the same time, the New York Giants look to adjust to life without Plaxico Burress, and the Washington Redskins look to keep afloat and competitive with the rest of the division.

Here’s how the NFC East will play out

1. Philadelphia
2. Dallas
3. NY Giants
4. Washington

TSX will start by taking a look at the Dallas Cowboys:

The Dallas Cowboys on paper last year were the team to beat and were the team expected to be the first team to get to their NFL-leading sixth Super Bowl championship.

Too bad the games aren’t played on paper.

The Cowboys had it all, the QB, a good inside-outside combination, a good wide receiver and reliable tight end and a stingy defense. However, due to injuries, and a soap-opera like atmosphere that had people guessing what was next, The drama not only was sickening to watch for Cowboys fans, it was even worse when the Cowboys played their way OUT of the playoffs, and the Philadelphia Eagles ended up making their way in, adding an even more bitter taste to Cowboys fans everywhere.

Now that the Cowboys got rid of what many believed to be the problem, Terrell Owens, many think that this team can put together a new sense of peace and harmony among the team. Tony Romo has a new top receiver in Roy Williams, who was acquired from Detroit last season, and it’s going to be interesting to see if he can be the #1 threat that many people believe he can be. Romo has other options in Jason Witten, who was caught up in the Romo/Owens/Garrett drama from last season, and Patrick Crayton. Romo needs good chemistry with Williams to thrive in the passing game. Also a healthy Felix Jones who brings crazy speed along with the bruising power of Marion Barber will put this tandem among the best of the NFL. Add a third back in Tashard Choice, and the running back by committee could have the potential to be great.

Defensively, the Cowboys have the best player on that side of the ball in DeMarcus Ware, who has a huge knack for getting to the ball and was the key cog in a pass rush that got 59 sacks a year ago. The Cowboys lost a key part in Greg Ellis, but Keith Brooking is a solid inside linebacker who knows Wade Phillips and the 3-4 system, so he should be able to fit in perfectly with this defense. The defense did its part in keeping the game close. With less drama, can the offense really live up to its potential?

Dallas is going to have a successful season, if healthy, and if things are peaceful. They need to learn how to win games in the late stretch of the season, as they went 1-3 down the stretch to miss the playoffs. They have enough to be one of three teams from the NFC East to make the playoffs in a weak NFC this season.

Player Update: Martellus Bennett, TE


Martellus Bennett did not practice with the team on Wednesday, according to the Dallas Morning News, Bennett complained of a stomach illness on his Twitter page on Tuesday, which could explain the absence.

Our View: It looks like Bennett is just a bit ill instead of being injured, which is good news for the Boys. Bennett figures to be a factor in the offense this season, but he is pretty far down on the list of options for quarterback Tony

Player Update: Duke Preston, C


According to the Twitter page of Brad Biggs of the National Football Post, the Cowboys have agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Preston was released by the Packers on Tuesday.

Our View: Preston apparently had his choice of Dallas, Oakland, and Cleveland, so it looks like he made the right choice if he wants to win. Preston is versatile, and he could earn a backup role with Dallas this season if he impresses.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Player Update: Stephen McGee, QB


After spraining his knee in the team's preseason game last Friday, Stephen McGee could miss the rest of the Cowboys preseason, according to the Fort Worth Star- Telegram.

Our View: McGee is fighting to be the Cowboys' third-string quarterback. With no serious competition, however, he is in little danger of being cut.

Player Update: Orlando Scandrick, CB


Orlando Scandrick will be the Cowboys' starting right cornerback in their preseason game this weekend, but Mike Jenkins remains the favorite for the job in the regular season, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Our View: Scandrick still figures to see plenty of playing time this season, however, as the team likes him on the "inside covering the slot receiver."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Player Update: Bradie James, LB


Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News expects Bradie James to make the Pro Bowl in 2009.

Our View: James' production in tackles has improved in each of his six seasons in the NFL, and is a good pick as a No. 3 linebacker in IDP leagues after racking up 117 tackles (81 solo) in 2008.

Player Update: Miles Austin, WR


Miles Austin is yet to impress the Cowboys in the preseason and prove that he is capable of making an impact as a deep threat this season, according to Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: Austin is competing with Sam Hurd for the slot role as the No. 3 receiver, and Hurd has fared better so far. Austin's fantasy stock looks to be dropping, but is still worth targeting as a late-round flier.

Player Update: Stephen McGee, QB


Stephen McGee suffered a sprained knee in Friday's preseason game against Tennessee, according to the Associated Press.

Our View: McGee has been competing for the No. 3 role at quarterback. He is expected to be on the shelf for around a week.

Player Update: Justin Rogers, LB


Justin Rogers aggravated a knee ailment during Friday's preseason game against the Titans, according to the Associated Press.

Our View: The Cowboys have excellent depth at linebacker, meaing the third-year pro out of Southern Methodist is not expected to make the team. He is expected to miss about a week of action.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dallas Cowboys Preseason Week 2 Preview

by Derek Major (Contributor) Written on August 20, 2009

The Cowboys continue their preseason tomorrow as they host the Tennessee Titans at the new Cowboy Stadium. After getting blown out last week to the Oakland Raiders 31-10, the Cowboys need to come out and have a good showing, especially the backups and long shots who gave up 28 of those 31 points to Oakland.


Tony Romo had two good drives last week going 4-6 for 36 yards and a touchdown. However, Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee didn't fare as well. Kitna needs to have a mistake free game. Last week, he fumbled a snap, threw an interception and let a snap fly over his head. This week, Kitna needs to show critics and fans alike that if Romo gets hurt the season isn't over.

Stephen McGee is young and inexperienced, but he's the first rookie quarterback that I've seen hold on to the ball too long. Most QBs new to the NFL are rushing things because the game is so much faster, but last week, it seemed McGee was taking too long to find open receivers and throw the ball.

At this point, his performance in the preseason can't hurt him because he most likely won't see any action in a regular season game.

Expect more plays with the Cowboys in their two tight end set. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett showcased it last week, and it paid dividends as Martellus Bennett had two catches and Jason Witten scored the Cowboys only touchdown. I also want to see how the Cowboys are going to run the ball out of that set.

Sam Hurd had a great game last week catching five balls for 79 yards and Coach Wade Phillips said he would get work with the first team in tomorrow's game. It would be nice to see something from Roy Williams, who hurt his wrist in practice but only missed one day. Miles Austin needs to get himself in the game; only one pass was thrown to him last week and he dropped it.

Smash, Dash, and Tash all had good games last week and I expect that to continue, but you won't see many reps from Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Last week they combined for five carries; the Cowboys want them ready for the season. Tashard Choice should get a good number of carries in the second and third quarters.


Just like the offense, the starters for the defense did a solid job, only allowing a field goal, and linebacker Keith Brooking had a sack. Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins are expected to play in this game, so it'll be nice to see how they fare in game action, especially Jenkins because Orlando Scandrick didn't allow a catch last week. It'll also be good to see them both on the field at the same time, and see who Titans QB Kerry Collins goes after and if they can make a play.

The backups have to come and make stops plain and simple. Last week, the Cowboy reserves made everyone concerned that if a couple of starters get hurt, they couldn't come in and contribute. The secondary especially got burned, most notably defensive backs Courtney Brown, Mike Mickens, and DeAngelo Smith, who lost a 50-yard dash to Cowboys Kicker David Buehler in practice this week.

Special Teams

Speaking of Buehler, this guy is a freak. He has more kicking power than Nick Folk, benched more reps at 225 than all three USC linebackers that were taken in this year's draft, and ran a 4.57 40-yard dash.

All this makes me excited to see him on the punt coverage unit and see if he can make a big hit—he had two last week. Nick Folk missed a chip shot field goal last week and will get his first shot to kick in the Cowboys new stadium.

Like last week, the Cowboys don't necessarily have to win this game but they do have to play a lot better than last week. Another week of the backups getting torched is only going make Phillips's hot seat hotter, and the season is still a few weeks away from starting.

How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East

by Jason Henry (Scribe) Written on August 20, 2009

Remember a couple of years ago when the Patriots went 16-0 and lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl? Remember one of the teams the Giants had to beat in order to reach the Super Bowl that season?

If you can recall it was the Dallas Cowboys that went 13-3 and won the NFC East that year, but lost in the playoffs to the hated Giants.

Fast forward to the 2008 season and the Cowboys were once again favored to win the NFC East. But those hopes were dashed when Romo injured his hand, the punter broke his foot, Felix Jones did something strange to his hamstring, Marion Barber got banged up, and the team just plain imploded.

That led to a disappointing 9-7 finish and the team subsequently missing the playoffs. Needless to say, the Cowboys did not win the division last season.

Well 2009 is a new year and the Giants and Eagles are favored to win the NFC Beast with the Cowboys projected to finish at least third, ahead of the hated Washington Redskins.

All through training camp there was no noise coming from the Alamo Dome, no Terrell Owens, no Pacman Jones, no Tank Johnson, and no Jessica Simpson. In fact, it’s a little strange that there is no drama in big D right now.

That may be a good thing for the Cowboys as they aren’t used to an atmosphere that does not include circus clowns and animals.

But how does this pertain to the Cowboys winning the NFC East you ask? Well I’ll tell you.

For the first time in a few years the ‘Boys of Valley Ranch are un-assuming; no one is expecting the Cowboys to do much this season. The Giants have one of the best defenses in the league, the Eagles added two dangerous offensive weapons in Jeremy Maclin and Michael Vick, and the Redskins have…well…Albert Haynesworth.

With all that competition in the East how in the world can the Cowboys emerge from the fray?

1. The Cowboys will run two tight end sets maybe 60 percent of the time. This will give the offense a new weapon in Martellus Bennett and the running game should have new opportunities to shine. Marion Barber does not have the shoulder the load alone as he now has Felix Jones and Tashard Choice as change of pace backs.

Since defense coordinators usually try and double Jason Witten, that option should be taken away with the addition of Bennett streaking or cutting across the middle.

If opposing defenses attempt to shadow the middle with a linebacker and place a safety on either Witten or Roy Williams, then the running game should take over with Barber, Jones, or Choice.

2. The defense should be even better with the addition of Keith Brooking and a healthy DeMarcus Ware. An elder Greg Ellis is now in Oakland which opened up the door for a younger Anthony Spencer. Basically Spencer is a younger more athletic version of Ellis, so that side of the defense should not see a slip in production

Keith Brooking came over from Atlanta to replace Zach Thomas. According to early reports Brooking is meshing well with middle linebacker Bradie James. James stated last season that he and Thomas weren’t always on the same page, which caused a little defensive confusion to say the least.

What does worry me about the Cowboys is their lack of depth on the offensive line. If the team does manage to make it through the season without any injuries on the line, which is highly un-likely, the team should be ok. But if there is even an injured big toe or pulled hamstring Tony Romo could be in big trouble.

Jerry Jones failed to address the offensive line in free agency or the draft, so the Cowboys go into the season with their hopes hinging on an injury free year.

Just like any team, if all goes according to plan and the Cowboys are able to execute their game plan better than their opponent, look for the ‘Boys of Valley Ranch to make another playoff run and pose a serious threat to the Eagles and Giants.

If not, it could be another long off-season for Tony, Wade, and Jason.

Six Titans Players Ruled Out For Dallas Game, Possibly More


Titans head coach Jeff Fisher has ruled out cornerback Ryan Mouton (ankle), offensive tackle David Stewart (knee), safety Nick Schommer (hamstring), linebacker Josh Stamer (groin), wide receiver Chris Davis (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jason Jones (foot) for Friday night's third preseason game in Dallas.

Other players will fill in for the Titans return game due to Mouton's ankle injury this week. Fisher said Rafael Little and Tuff Harris would return punts, while Javon Ringer, Jason McCourty and Little would handle kickoff duties.

Linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Colin Allred, along with offensive lineman Doug Datish (soreness) and nickel back Vincent Fuller did not practice this week. They are doubtful to see action for the Titans.

Cowboys No. 1 receiver Roy Williams is expected to be in the lineup against the Titans despite suffering a sprained wrist in practice earlier this week. Elsewhere on the injury front for Dallas, cornerbacks Terence Newman (groin) and Mike Jenkins (ankle) are both slated to play on Friday after missing the Oakland game

ESPN Player Rankings... Ware #1.

DeMarcus Ware

Grade: 94 | Key

Comment: Ware has been one the most productive linebackers in the league over the past three seasons. He has excellent edge quickness and speed to rush the passer. He has great balance and body control. Ware has deceptive strength to hold the point of attack, using proper hand use and pad level to leverage his opponent. He has developed his pass-rush package with excellent counter moves. He has improved his ability in coverage. Ware is an excellent player for whom offensive coordinators have to game plan.

ESPN Mosley: Three and Out: Cowboys

Posted by's Matt Mosley

Three quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys:

1. Get ready to hear a lot about the two-tight end offense. Jason Witten is already an All-Pro. Now it appears that Martellus Bennett is on the verge of becoming a big-time player as well. The Cowboys could end up running plays out of a two-tight end formation 60 percent of the time -- or maybe more. Defensive coordinators spend a lot of time trying to account for Witten. That should open things up for Bennett, a former college basketball player who has tremendous athleticism. Bennett's an Antonio Gates starter kit. I think he and Witten will combine for 12 touchdowns in '09. Bennett gives Romo another option inside the red zone, and his blocking has improved a great deal heading into his second season.

Football OutsidersThe Football Outsiders use their unique brand of analysis to break down each of the league's 32 teams.
Dallas Cowboys

2. The Cowboys could be in big trouble if there's an injury on the offensive line. Backup left tackle Doug Free's made a little move late in camp, but I still don't trust him to fill in for the aging Flozell Adams if something goes wrong. The Cowboys have worked Leonard Davis at left tackle in camp. He could probably get by over there, but he's much better at guard. The Cowboys have done a really poor job of drafting and developing offensive linemen and that could show up this season. No one wants to talk about backup offensive linemen -- until there's an injury. The Eagles and Giants have depth up front. That's not the case with the Cowboys.

3. The Cowboys could have 63 sacks if everything goes as planned. I don't think DeMarcus Ware will have another 20-sack season, but he'll make other players better in '09. It's time for Anthony Spencer to have a breakthrough season. He has the speed and athleticism, but something's never clicked for him. With Ware seeing a lot of double-teams, Spencer could have a big season. I also think it's finally time for linebacker Bradie James to make a Pro Bowl. He could have eight or nine sacks this season. And the speed and quickness provided by Jay Ratliff in the center of Wade Phillips' 3-4 will give teams fits. I think Ratliff's capable of having seven or eight sacks.

Player Update: Isaiah Stanback, WR


The Dallas Morning News reports that Isaiah Stanback will have to prove himself in preseason games if he wants to keep his job as the Cowboys fifth receiver.

Our View: Stanback had a strong camp after returning from a hamstring strain, but it's what he does in the upcoming preseason games that will determine his spot. Kevin Ogletree is challenging to bump him down on the depth chart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Glass Half-Full Perspective – Cowboys Vs Raiders


This response to the Cowboy’s vs. Raider’s game is a little late because my son was sick the Friday following the game up until Monday of this week. Better late than never…

Call it ESP(N),but I had a premonition about Thursday night, as noted a few articles down in” Expect the worse when the Cowboy’s meet the Raider’s tonight.” I prepared myself for the worse in view of one concept that I think tend’s to be overlooked by the average fan: An offensive or defensive unit is only as strong as it’s weakest member. If you consider the “youth movement” that has absorbed the majority of the attention concerning the Cowboy’s, there are quite a few player’s out there still learning their positions, which mean’s regardless of how fast they can run the 40, their mental speed is still going to be relatively slow.

Here are just a few quick observation’s from the glass half-full perspective:

1: In an effort to keep this team healthy, Wade has prohibited tackling throughout training camp. Therefore, missed tackles are going to happen at this stage in the process.

2: Newman, Jenkins and Hawkins were all hurt, which represent the 1st, 2nd/3rd, and 4th Corner’s on the depth chart. Hawkins was recently cut, so the Cowboy’s are placing quite a bit of faith in Mickens and Brown to turn the corner, so-to-speak.

3: Should a 2nd teamer be forced into action in the regular season, he’ll be surrounded by 1st teamer’s, not more 2nd teamer’s. That’s a huge difference to consider.

4: If anything, the Raider’s are fast. Al Davis covet’s speed over all attributes a player can have. Judging angles on a team filled with speedster is not typically an ability younger defensive player’s playing in a new position are going to do well at this point.

5: I’d prefer my rookies to be overly-aggressive in the preseason than invisible. Victor Butler, despite his many instances of over-pursuit, still looked decent for a player in a stand up role vs. his three-down technique in college.

6: Play calling is generally extremely vanilla during the pre-season. I’m sure many of you may have noticed the running game being relied on quite a bit, especially in the closing minutes of the game. If anything, that should have served as a reminder that the coaching staff was not trying to win the game.

7: How about that starting unit? Granted, the first series wasn’t pretty for either unit, defense or offense. But the offense made up for it with their second chance, moving down the field, Romo getting the ball into the hand’s of a variety of different weapons to score and take the lead. Despite a few debilitating penalties, the starting defensive unit was able to limit the Raider’s to a field goal, and that being very short-handed in the secondary. As previously stated, it’s too early to judge the second and third unit’s considering the youth; but if they are still a turnstile come the fourth game of preseason, concerns will be warranted.

DMN Blog: Final Romo to Roy report of Training Camp. Roy wears #81

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger

Roy Williams noticed something after he swapped jerseys for Mike Jefferson for the afternoon practice.

"Once I had 81 on, I got about 50 balls today," Williams cracked, making a sly reference about Romo's tendency to throw to T.O. in the past.

Actually, Romo targeted Williams nine times during the afternoon practice. They completed six of them. Miscommunication can be blamed for two of the incompletions, which came when Romo threw a go and Williams ran a comeback. The other incompletion came when Romo's pass sailed high on an intermediate crossing route.

The Romo/Roy connection was even more impressive during the morning practice, when Romo completed all six of his passes to his new No. 1 wide receiver. The highlight was a seam route on which Williams got wide open for a long touchdown.

"That's probably the best they've been all camp," Wade Phillips said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DC.COM Blog: Marcus Dixon Suffers Right Leg Injury

Posted by jellis at 8/18/2009 9:58 AM CDT on

Still hard to tell what exactly was injured or how severely, but defensive end Marcus Dixon just made his way to the locker room with head trainer Jim Maurer.

Dixon, who spent last season on the practice squad, had been fighting for a job as a backup in the Cowboys' 3-4 front. Coaches had mentioned his name as one of the most improved players of the off-season after he transformed his body, slimming down to a more athletic shape.

With the offense and defense running an 11-on-11 drill near the goal line, Dixon went down and remained on his stomach. He moved gingerly off the field with help from Maurer and a member of the team's equipment staff.

The 24-year-old had been running as the third-team left end.

Williams, Newman rejoin Cowboys

Todd Archer of The Dallas Morning News

SAN ANTONIO – As the Cowboys' time in the Alamodome comes to a close, they are beginning to see improved health.

Starting cornerback Terence Newman returned to practice Monday after a 12-day absence with a left groin injury, and wide receiver Roy Williams was back after missing only one practice after spraining his left wrist Sunday morning.

As he jogged off the field, Newman said he felt "great," and Williams said his wrist was sore but he felt better than expected.

Player Update: Marcus Dixon, DE


The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Cowboys' defensive end Marcus Dixon suffered a strained groin during Tuesday's practice. Dixon had to be helped off the field by trainers after the injury.

Our View: Dixon is on the bubble to make the roster, so this injury hurts his chances severely, especially if he misses significant time. Don't expect to see him lining up for the Boys any time soon.

Player Update: Michael Hawkins, CB


According to the Dallas Morning News, the Buccaneers have claimed cornerback Michael Hawkins off waivers.

Our View: Hawkins was cut by the Cowboys on Monday, and the team has to be wondering if the Bucs are bringing him in to find out info on the Cowboys strategy before the regular season opener.

Monday, August 17, 2009

DMN Blog: Cowboys keep Razorback under wraps

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger Bio

We're told that the Cowboys' experiment with the Razorback, their version of the Wildcat formation, wasn't just a spring fling.

Yet they've yet to work on that chapter of their playbook during training camp. It looks like they'll wait until they can enjoy the privacy of their Valley Ranch practice facility before the Razorback pops its head out again.

"Gotta wait," Patrick Crayton said. "It's like an upcoming feature. Coming soon!"

Even Crayton, who is known to flap his gums, is keeping tight-lipped about the details of the Razorback package. He declined to say whether he would be the trigger man in the formation. Crayton and Tashard Choice worked as Razorback QBs during the spring, and college QB Isaiah Stanback is another option.

The Cowboys obviously want to keep their opponents guessing.

Player Update: Terence Newman, CB


Terence Newman returned to practice Monday, according to ESPN. He has been dealing with a mildly strained groin.

Our View: Newman does not have a good track record with durability, so the Cowboys will be cautious with him in camp. When healthy, Newman is a rock-solid starting cornerback.

Player Update: Roy Williams-WR

Source: Associated Press

Roy E. Williams (wrist) returned to Cowboys practice Monday.

The wrist sprain only cost him one practice. Williams was first in line to catch a pass during a throwing session. We like Roy E. to catch 60+ balls and approach 1,000 yards this season, but he's been overvalued in early drafts.

Player Update: Mike Hawkins - DB


Cowboys released CB Mike Hawkins.
The 26-year-old journeyman was way down the depth chart.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dallas Cowboys’ balanced offense on display early


OAKLAND, Calif. — Diversity and versatility, two offensive buzzwords, bloomed to life in the Dallas Cowboys’ 71-yard touchdown drive on the first unit’s second series in Thursday’s preseason opener.

The nine-play drive featured six rushes by three ball carriers, including an end-around to wide receiver Patrick Crayton for 12 yards. Tony Romo had four completions — without a misfire — to four receivers, including a 10-yard dump-off to tailback Felix Jones to the Raiders’ 3-yard line.

The first seven plays went to a different offensive weapon. The first eight plays alternated between pass — highlighted by a 12-yard sideline grab by Roy Williams — and run — featuring a 14-yard, hop-skip-and-go run by Jones.

Five of the first eight plays went for 10 yards or more, and one drew a defensive holding call.

The drive started with the first appearance of the anticipated two tight-end set with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett.

Bennett caught the drive’s first pass and bowled over Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson for 7 yards. Witten completed the drive with an 8-yard pass made possible by the offensive line buying Romo time to scan his options.

Third receiver battle

Miles Austin, a player the Cowboys hope can develop into a deep threat and gain big yards after the catch, dropped a perfectly placed Jon Kitna pass in the open field.

Sam Hurd came back on the next play and caught a 21-yard pass. Hurd, battling with Austin for the third receiver spot, finished the first half with five catches for 79 yards. He also had two holding penalties, one on the opening kickoff that put the offense in a hole.

Injury update

Fullback Deon Anderson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to repair cartilage damage. He could miss two to four weeks.

Rookie linebacker Brandon Williams was held out with a sore shoulder.

Player Update: Felix Jones-RB-Cowboys

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Felix Jones rushed one time for 14 yards and caught one pass for nine yards against the Raiders Thursday night.

Jones' stats won't jump out at you, but it was obvious during the preseason opener that the Cowboys offense is more explosive with their most dangerous playmaker in the game. "Felix Jones put it in a different light when he got in the game," owner Jerry Jones said at halftime.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ready or Not: Game time for the Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys head for Oakland for their first pre-season game
By Dave Crome

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Between now and tomorrow's 9:00pm kickoff, Sam Hurd knows exactly what's going on inside the stomachs of the rookies. "Nervousness, butterflies, bubble guts" said Hurd who had those feelings three years ago at this time. "This is their chance to shine, and show the world what they can do" Hurd said

That rings especially true for 4th and long winner Jesse Holley who is a long shot to make the Cowboys first cut. "It's true, it's an audition for your team and any team across the league because they watch the film as well" said Holley. "A lot of teams evaluate other players, hoping that some may come free. So you're not only try to get a job with the Cowboys, if it doesn't work out here, you're also auditioning for 31 other teams in the NFL"

That's certainly the case for rookie Stephen McGee, who has had trouble finding a groove at camp thus far but the coaches will reserve judgment until after some live game action.

"This is a time of evaluation of young players, to see what they look like in practice" said Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips. "Lets see in the game which is the real real truth, even though you're encouraged by practice, you want to see what what they do in the game."

McGee played at Texas A&M and grew up in Burnet, Texas has waited all his life to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in a game. "I'm excited and looking forward to it" said McGee. "Hopefully I can get a lot of rhythm out there it will be the first time to get a lot of reps. Practice is a little bit difficult where you get sets of two and at times it can be 15-20 minutes apart so hopefully I can get some drives put together and be smooth out there."

One guy who may be looking forward to this game, even more than McGee is special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. After all he's been through in the off-season, he finally gets to unleash his men with the intensity he's been preaching about.

"Speed, how fast they're going to play, how physical we're going to be, because really this is the first time we're going to have live tackling down the field for special teams" said DeCamillis. "They we'll look at how they handle game situations. When the lights come on sometimes it's too big for guys, we're going to make sure that's not the case" DeCamillis said.

Vick to the Cowboys? Schefter reports Jerry is considering it..

UPDATE: Two surprise Vick destinations

Michael Vick | Falcons | Interested: Steelers? Cowboys? Bills? Packers? Ravens?

NFL reporter Adam Schefter listed two sleepers in the Michael Vick sweepstakes via Twitter: the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones previously told the Associated Press that he had no intentions of signing Vick.

Although the Democrat and Chronicle found a few Bills players that would like to see the team sign Vick, quoted Bills GM Russ Brandon in late July as saying, "We do not have interest at this time. We are comfortable with our roster as it is." Then again, Bills official blogger Chris Brown relays a rumor from the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora that the team is looking for a backup QB, which could mean Vick.

The Chicago Tribune notes that Vick was in the Second City on Wednesday, but was speaking to kids about dogfighting, not to Bears GM Jerry Angelo about touchdown scoring. Gamers in the audience will be disappointed to learn that Vick will not be a part of Madden NFL 10 for the first roster update, as per the L.A. Times, but will be added "once he signs with a team."

Remember that earlier this week, Vick mentor Tony Dungy indicated on "Mike and Mike in the Morning" that "something's gonna happen this week." Well, the week's almost up.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Countdown to Paydirt: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders

By Victor Cotto – SB Report Columnist

Thursday night, at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, the Oakland Raiders host the Dallas Cowboy in both clubs pre-season opener. The Silver & Black lead the pre-season series 16-9; as their history dates back to 1972. As with any opener, both teams will evaluate and assess the depth on their roster in order to make their initial cuts and get a look at many players who are considered to be long shots.


On Offense:

JaMarcus Russell’s highly inconsistent start to training camp has to be frightening to the coaches and the type of opening Jeff Garcia needs to slide into the starting role if the 24-year old is not ready to step it up in 2009. Early on, he has not shown touch on his tosses, is erratic from session-to-session and until proven otherwise, his ethic and leadership will be questioned.

“At times, he ripped it,” Tom Cable said Tuesday. “He had that streak where he really targeted well and all that and then he got on a roll where everything was overthrow and overthrow.”

Garcia is not healthy enough to put the heat on Russell yet, but with the fiery mind-set the former 49er plays with and his ability to adapt quickly to schemes, it will be a quick plug on the former number one overall pick if he can’t show that he is ready to become a productive player on this roster.

What to expect:

Oakland wants to build chemistry along the trenches and solidify an offensive line that will have new components in 2009. Expect the Raiders to run often in order to give the big bodies in the trenches some confidence in blocking for the best unit on this team – the running backs.

As the pre-season moves on, and Russell gets more reps, they’ll open up the passing game and help get the pass blocking schemes some lengthier looks against live opponents.

Cable stated that quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye will play significantly versus the Cowboys, as Oakland will likely settle on one to be their third stringer.

On Defense:

With a new coordinator at the helm, the defense will look to be more disciplined and accountable for being where they need to be in order to lessen the problems versus the run they have had since 2003.

John Marshall is preaching gap control and better communicating, as he feels that the talent is there to get the job done in 2009. “I’ve certainly seen it get better,” Cable stated recently. “We’re starting to squeeze things, have people overlapping gaps where we’re supposed to be. But we’ll find out starting Thursday. Dallas is a big, physical team, likes to run in it, too. So we’ll find out pretty quick.”

A key to the run defense is linebacker Kirk Morrison, and he is realizing some of the faults and seeing some change so far in camp. “I think a lot of times last year, sometimes you get frustrated when you see guys in their gaps and a run hits us here and a run hits us there and everyone’s trying to make the play instead of saying, ‘Hey, let’s trust what we’re doing and we can’t make every play, let’s make sure we’re in our gaps and the guy who is supposed to make that play needs to be there.’”

What to Expect:

With the trade of Derrick Burgess, Oakland will try to look for new ways to generate a pass rush; whether by blitzing or finding a gem along the line that can help fill some of that void.

Schematically, Oakland has said they will change and be more on the attack than they were under Rob Ryan, but cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wants to see it before he believes it, stating “That’s like a wait-and-see type of thing.” He continued, “because even in camps previously we were doing a lot of blitzing and doing multiple things defensively and then we got into games and we were pretty basic.”


On Offense:

Life without ‘T.O’ has been good for Dallas. The revamped offense will feature a tough ground game, more double tight end sets and more importantly, free-up Tony Romo as a passer, without the worries of trying to pamper a diva wide receiver throughout the game.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garret will have his full complement of weapons tomorrow night after some of his key weapons sat out of practice on Tuesday due to injuries (Felix Jones and Martellus Bennett).

Wide receiver Roy Williams stated this week, “We just want to be productive. We might not score, but we might drive it down and kick a field goal. That’s productive. Just don’t turn the ball over. That’s one thing that, if we want to be in the playoffs and want to win the Super Bowl, you can’t turn the ball over.”

What to Expect:

Dallas will try to pound away at the Raiders front seven with their ground game. And when Romo does drop back to pass, expect him to move around in the pocket and find targets down the field, as they want to stretch the field to prove that this offense will be better without Terrell Owens.

On Defense:

Cornerbacks Terence Newman (groin) and second-year defensive back Mike Jenkins (ankle) will not see action on Thursday.

Head coach Wade Phillips will have his hands all over this defense in 2009, and this many people believe will have a steady influence on what happens on the field.

“With my expertise, I can help even more by basically doing it myself, along with our coaches on defense,” Phillips said. “I just feel like that’s a little strength of mine.”

He continued: “I think we have improved defensively in the last two years, certainly.

There are some areas that we have even gone to No. 1 in the league in. But we’d like to get even better on defense, and I think I can help us do that.”

What to Expect:

Attack, attack, attack… the Cowboys want to suffocate the Raider offense and plug every gap on running downs. They want to play fast this season, and with Phillips’ job on the line and many big name head coaches available next off-season, his work with this defense will determine whether he is employed in Dallas in 2010.


Linebacker Jon Alston (foot) and Safety Michael Huff missed time in practice on Wednesday. Huff stated he’d play with the first unit during the opener.
Don’t be surprised if rookie Safety Mike Mitchell also sits on Thursday, as a hamstring injury has the coaches concerned. At this point, there is no need to push the first year player and further the extent of the injury.
A report linked the Oakland Raiders and free-agent linebacker Derrick Brooks. With his lack of speed and the scheme the Raiders utilize, don’t expect too much interest on either side.


Greg Papa and Tom Flores, alongside Jim Plunkett, will simulcast the game on the Raiders Radio and Television Network. Raiders Legend George Atkinson will serve as the broadcast’s sideline analyst next to the host of the broadcast, popular radio personality JT the Brick. This week’s game will be televised locally on tape-delay on KICU Action 36 Cable 6 on Thursday, August 13th at 10:00 p.m. There will be an encore showing of the game on Friday, August 14th at 8 p.m. on KICU Action 36 Cable 6. The game will air on Raiders Radio originating on KSFO 560 AM, the Silver and Black flagship for the multi-state Radio Network. Papa and Raiders two-time Super Bowl wining head coach Tom Flores will man the booth for the 12th straight year. The radio pregame and postgame shows will feature Raider Legends Atkinson and David Humm along with KGO’s Rich Walcoff.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 NFL Preseason: Dallas Cowboys point spread analysis

By Jake Thompson - Handicapper

We’ll look at the 2009 NFL preseason point spread betting odds and how the Dallas offense will look against Oakland’s defense. has the 2009 NFL preseason point spread betting odds favoring the home-team Raiders by a single point with a total set at 34.5 for this August 13th game.

Voted by our readers best sportsbook 2007 and 2008, offers bettors world class customer service, early betting lines and exceptionally fast payouts. Join today and discover why bettors keep voting it best sportsbook.

How the Dallas offense will help them cover the point spread betting odds in their 2009 NFL preseason opener against the Raiders:

Dallas will definitely miss Terrell Owens but they still do have some new weapons to use to help replace the controversial wide receiver that now plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Wide receiver Roy Williams has shown he is capable of being a #1 wide receiver in the past and should flourish now that he’s the main option in the passing game and the duo of Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin look capable of taking on a bigger load.

Dallas has three quality running backs and the trio of Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice all proved they can be the #1 option at different times during last season. Dallas will look to run more with all the quality backs but their passing game should be just fine as well.

How the Oakland defense will help them cover the point spread betting odds in their 2009 NFL preseason opener against the Cowboys:

Nnamdi Asomugha is the premier cornerback in the NFL and routinely shuts down star receivers so Dallas will definitely be tested in the passing game here. Owens is replaceable but Dallas will still be down a notch in the aerial portion of their offense and having to deal with Asomugha is not going to make anything easier. Look for Dallas to run most of the time while Oakland’s defense will be able to key in on that section of the game with Nnamdi splitting the field in half.

The "Identity" of the Dallas Cowboys Offense

All five starters return to the offensive line
Dave Crome-The 33 Sports
August 11, 2009

SAN ANTONIO, TX - You will always find running backs heaping praise on their offensive line but Tashard Choice goes one step further

"The identity is always the offensive line, they're the ones you start from" said the Cowboys third running back.

So even though Tony Romo may be the face of the offense, the line is its identity, and this group of veterans gladly accepts that responsibility. So when the 2008 offense took steps back in sacks allowed and rushing yards per game from the previous season, the linemen took it personally

"Yea, we need to be better" said right tackle Marc Colombo. "We didn't get it done as well as should have last year and that's a challenge for us this year, because we know we have the capability."

Center Andre Gurode who is coming off his third trip to the Pro Bowl agrees. "At the end of the day we have to perform and we take pride in our group performing on the field giving Romo time to throw and giving running back lanes to run through" Gurode said.

Leonard Davis is back for his third season at right guard. "We want to be dominant and very physical" said Davis. "It's good that we have group of guys that have been together going on three years here, that's very valuable for us"

It's valuable as long as they stay healthy, which they are right now. It is a big relief to have Kyle Kosier return to his spot at left guard after missing 13 games last year with a fractured right foot. In the only three games he played, the Cowboys won all three.

On having Kosar back, "It's unbelievable" said Colombo. "It just feels right with him in there and that was a missing ingredient, that already feels better right now"

Chemistry breeds confidence and according to Tashard Choice, if the line has confidence, since it is the identity of the offense, the rest of the offense should embody that trait too.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones missed Monday's morning practice to rest his injured toe, according to the Sporting News.

Our View: That is the same toe that spoiled his rookie campaign in 2008, so the Cowboys held him out as a precaution. He expects to return to practice later today.

Player Update: Martellus Bennett, TE


Martellus Bennett expects to return to practice Tuesday, according to the Dallas Morning News. He has been nursing a sore knee.

Our View: He was able to run and cut on the side without any issues today, and looks to be fine. Jason Witten has taken him under his wing as a mentor, and the second-year pro is expected to play a larger role in the Cowboys' passing attack in 2009.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dallas Cowboys turn up the heat on the Red Zone

By Dave Crome The 33 Sports
August 9, 2009

SAN ANTONIO, TX - But some of the images the defenders can't get out of their heads, having to start with a short field and still keep their opponent out of the end zone. Of course the offense and special teams have to share the responsibility for putting the defense into that position and all three of those areas have been a focus during the many practices this week.

Flimsy special teams coverage along with turnovers by the offense helped put the opponents in the Dallas red zone 56 times, a dozen more than 2007, that's quite a weight to lay on the shoulder pads of the defense and that's why they brought in Joe DeCamillis to lighten load. and has returned the special teams intensity to a special kind of level.

"He's all about playing fast and physical" said Bobby Carpenter who has stayed on this roster with solid play on the special teams the last three years. "His style is don't worry about making a mistake, go out there and be aggressive down the field and make them react to us instead of them reacting to our return" Carpenter said.

"We really want to establish a sense of urgency" said DeCamillas. "We want to put the importance on it, every single play out. The players have responded to that, trying to practice at a little faster pace during those periods. We're trying to upgrade the personnel, we have speed and competition at all positions."

That's music to the ears of the defense which overcame the short fields to turn in the NFL's sixth best percentage of holding teams out of the end zone when they got inside the 20.

"If the guys get 7 points hard to bounce back" said linebacker Bradie James. "When you hold them to field goals it's always good. In the red zone, the antennas go up and you have to stop them, so they don't put seven on the board" James said after drawing loud applause for stopping Marion Barber in his tracks near the goal line.

"When we're on the goal line we really gotta put our hard hats on" said Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. "Having a guy, #56 , Bradie James, the hammer, laid the hammer down on Barber and stopped the touchdown."

James received congratulations from nearly every defender out there and took pride in pushing Barber backwards. "MB is known for scoring, I had to stick my head in there before he hits me back."

It's not Barber that James should look for. He's got some linemen upset they couldn't create the hole for the touchdown. "As a linemen you take pride in it " said center Andre Gurode. "You know what, you take pride in it, and I'll look for next shot, a free shot at the linebacker" Gurode said with a smile.

He will get several opportunities because built into many of the 11-on-11 practices are red zone sessions, and since there's no hitting allowed, it's as close to a live drill as you'll get until the first pre-season game on Thursday.

Ware plans on showing off some of the red zone intensity in that game against the Raiders. "With us being aggressive, getting on the other side of the line and making sure that we're there instead of letting them lean into the touchdown and make big plays, we have to stop them on the other side of the ball."

The key of course is not having to get into that jam and field position should improve leaps and bounds this year. The addition of DeCamillis along with kickoff specialist David Buehler who is expected to force touch backs nearly every kick. Mat McBriar says he feels great, so getting his punting yardage back should be a major plus.

Then there's the offensive turnovers in enemy territory. This this team has focused on that as well and this time it includes the green, fines. Nothing like getting the point across by being hit square in the pocket book.

DMN: Bennett limping and Felix' sidelined bc of big toe

By Todd Archer/Reporter

Second-year tight end Martellus Bennett sat out the last dozen or so team plays Monday morning after apparently injuring his knee.

According to those who know, it is not considered serious and Bennett said, "nothing" was wrong after he left the field. That came after a longer than normal talk post-practice with Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones. He was favoring his leg as he walked off and this might have been the first time he chose not to speak with reporters. Ever.

Add that to Felix Jones' stiff toe, and the Cowboys' offense would look a lot different if those two were to miss any time during the regular season. As he walked off the field, Felix Jones said he was fine and that he would be at the afternoon practice.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones missed Monday's morning practice to rest his injured toe, according to the Sporting News.

Our View: That is the same toe that spoiled his rookie campaign in 2008, so the Cowboys held him out as a precaution. He expects to return to practice later today.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dallas Cowboys Thursday Night

Sunday, August 09, 2009
Dallas Cowboys Thursday Night

The Dallas Cowboys play their first pre-season game of the 2009 season in Oakland, California on Thursday night against the Raiders. Cowboys fans, like those of other teams around the NFL, are excited to see the 2009 season get underway. What's so neat about being an NFL fan is that before that first pre-season game, all teams are equal – which means that during any given season, some long shot team could rise to the top of the NFL and go all the way to the Superbowl.

In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys look like a club that could wear the America's Team badge that fans gave to them back in the 1970's. Some people may not know this, but the reason why the Dallas Cowboys end up playing in so many nationally televised games is because their nationwide fan base is larger than any other NFL team. In fact, the last time I checked – there were twice as many Dallas Cowboys fans as the team which was in second place.

Through good years and bad, Dallas Cowboys fans always go into the next season of football play with a positive attitude. Right now, most Dallas Cowboys fans are like myself in believing that this year will be the one where “America's Team” will go all the way to the Superbowl. Of course, as the Cowboys prepare to play the Raiders on Thursday night – I'm sure there are millions of Oakland fans that feel the same way.

In previous posts I have been negative about the past performance of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. However, until he proves me wrong – I intend to get behind Romo as the offensive leader of the Cowboys. I certainly hope that Tony Romo will not only have his head in the game against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night, but I also hope that he will maintain a good focus throughout the entire season.

2009's 10 Things to look for in Dallas

Originally posted by jellin4football from a sports forum:

1. TE Martellus Bennett is #4 in receptions on the team. The
2nd year player actually garners a few Pro Bowl votes, but
can't come close to Witten. But with Witten's hefty portion
coming up soon on his contract, and Martellus entering just
his 3rd season, Dallas puts Witten on the trading block
hoping for picks in the draft. Parcell's and Sparano can't
jump fast enough and offer a 2nd and 4th rounder for him.
He's only going to be 27 then, and has 5 Pro Bowls on his
resume at that point! But everyone across the country realizes that Marty B is something special. And financially speaking, a whole lot cheaper.

2. Witten leads the Boys in receptions, but barely tops 80.
In fact, 3 of the top 4 receivers, aren't WR's, they are
TE's and RB's! Witten, Roy Williams, Bennett, and Felix
Jones are the top 4, in that order.

3. Cowboys send 9 Pro Bowlers, tied with Jacksonville for
league lead

RB F Jones (Returner)
RT M Columbo
TE J Witten, top TE vote getter
CB O Scandrick (gunner)
CB M Jenkins, 2nd in NCF in INT's
FS K Hamlin,
LB D Ware, amongst league leaders in sacks and TFL's
NT J Ratliff, more sacks than any other NT in the NFL.
P M McBriar, returns to the PB after missing last year due
to injury.

Only 2 offensive starters making the pro bowl is a bit
misleading with a well balanced attack that finds most of
the players producing solid, but not leading stats, as they
have multiple players splitting time.

4. Wade keeps his job thanks to a playoff win. Cowboys enter
as a Wild Card team and obliterate the Bears in Chicago in
the Wild Card Round. Statement made. Past hexxes now gone.

5. Cowboys, relieved of the monkey on their back, go out and
fall flat in the next round and get embarrassed by
Minnesota's defense in the divisional round, 17-3. They hold
AP to under 50 yds, but give up a pick 6, and an Adrian
Peterson halfback option pass, as Adrian hits a WIDE OPEN TE
Schiancoe for a 4th qtr score to put it out of reach.

6. Romo has his best season (efficiency-wise) but ranks
between 10 and 12 out of all QB's in fantasy points.

7. Barber returns to his closer role, while Felix becomes
the starter. Choice spells relief of both and prooves
himself as a capable NFL starter back. The 3-headed moster
gives fits all year to defenses and ranks Dallas in the top
5 on the ground. But sharing touches and TD's prevents any
of the 3 from having enough big stats to make it into the
Pro Bowl. Felix comes close due to being the starter at the
halfway point of the season and on, but he only gets as
close in the voting as he does because of the excessive
amount of Dallas fans voting for him. Felix is the NFC's 2nd
alternate for RB should one of the 3 voted in don't make it
(AP, M Turner, and M Forte; B Jacobs is 1st alternate).
Felix and Tashaard show such flash and potential that Jerry
Jones finds a trade for Barber, getting a 2nd round and 5th
round for him in the upcoming draft, sending him to New
England who gave up on their 5-headed running back by
committee that they tried in 2009. The Pat's ground game
cost them more than 1 game in '09 and Belicek and Kraft
won't let that happen next year. They'll team Barber up with
Maroney, just like the days as a Golden Gopher in Minnesota.
Barber's lone role becomes that of a goalline runner and
closer from here on out. For Dallas, 3 backs will get too
expensive when they are all this talented.

8. Ware doesn't hit 20 sacks again. But it isn't his fault.
He finishes with 16, but arrived at the QB 10 other times
only to see another player beating him to lunch. Mostly
Spencer. In fact, the league's top rated sack defense
improves on their total of 59 last season, posting 64.

9. The defense becomes the headlines. Top 3 against the
pass, Top 10 agains the run. The improvement of the CB's,
the addition of Sensabaugh over SS R Williams, and an
incredible rush make it difficult for teams to go far over
the top. They can't find enough time.

10. And lastly, with Coach Wade's 1 playoff victory. he's
safe. Jerry won't find it in his heart to make any change.
Right after he signs, Cowart is publically quoted as saying
he'd like to return to coaching, but he really wants to find
a young team in hopes of installing a 3-4 agressive defense.
And guess what, he's quoted as listing Dallas as one of the
teams he was interested in before signing Wade. Dallas, San
Fran, Green Bay, Cleveland, Carolina, and Tampa Bay are all
on his short list.

Player Update: Terence Newman, CB


Terence Newman is unlikely to be ready to play in the Cowboys' preseason opener on Thursday while dealing with a strained groin, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: He is day-to-day, and the Cowboys will be cautious with his recovery, namely since he has a poor track record with durability. Second-year cornerback Mike Jenkins would benefit from more practice reps in his absence.

Player Update: Mike Jenkins, CB


The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Cowboys' defensive back Mike Jenkins was carted off the field with a leg injury on Saturday. Jenkins will be examined by doctors with an injury report to follow.

Our View: This could be a potentially serious injury for Jenkins, but we will know more after he is examined. It could be a knee injury, and if it is he could miss significant time. We will keep you updated on his condition when the news is released.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Recent Things! Dallas Cowboys Mayhem

By Rachel Calderon

It’s been about a week since training camp has started and I’m telling you I couldn’t be anymore excited! I’ve read so much about so many players and the things that are happening at camp. After the first 2 days I thought my brain was going to explode from how much Cowboy’s MAYHEM I have been reading! From what I have read I am beyond ready for this season. I’m sure many of you may have already heard some of these, but this is what I have read about a few things:

“After much off-season thought, Dallas has this 2-tight end offense, & just might employ this formation as their base offense this year” “We’re seeing a whole bunch of shifting before the snap too. Looks like Garrett’s going complex this year.” “Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have been pushing each other and I think it’ll pay off for both of them.” “As for tight ends, this ones easy. Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett have both looked great, as expected.” “Barber can maul people, Felix still looks just as quick and Choice is a combo of both. It looks like all three will have some kind of role.”

All of those are from numerous sources. But it is all good to hear. I like hearing about players giving their all to fight for a certain spot. Like Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins.

Today I also read the same about Miles Austin and Sam Hurd. For me, I have always like Miles Austin better, I love his speed. (Also he is a cutie pie) haha. But we’ll see how it all plays out in preseason, first game in Oakland August 13th and I am ecstatic!

Another thing, I’ve seen Gerald Sensabaugh on Ustream a few times now. He doesn’t have a roommate so he must get bored LOL. But I like the guy from what I know about him. I hear he should be doing big things for us which I wish him the best of luck that he does! Well funny story, I was in his Ustream one night, and saw he was doing trivia questions about himself, so I looked him on a wikipedia and read a few things. The next night I go in his room again, and he is once again doing trivia questions, I wasn’t even in there for 5 minutes! And he says “Alright, this will be an easier one.” And in my head I’m like oh PLEASE ask the one question I know the answer to. Sure enough, he asked it! “Where was I born?” And right away I typed OAKLAND, and was the first person to get it. He was kind of shocked someone knew it right away, made me feel kinda stalkerish almost, but it was pretty funny. Anyways, I won an autographed T-shirt from him! Which once he gets women sizes he’ll be sending it out to me next week. I thought that was pretty dang cool.

So, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Can’t wait for this season, how bout them Cowboys!?

Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks conditioning like MMA fighters

Dallas Martial Arts Examiner
By Ted Gambordella

The Dallas Cowboys quaterbacks are using conditioning techniques similar to those use by top MMA. That involves the use of giant tire, blue bag, black mat and jump ropes. These tools have been used by top Mixed Martial Artists and professional boxer for years. Why? Because they work.

Joe Juraszek's, the Cowboys strength and condition coach thinks the quarterbacks need to be the toughest guys on the field so every other day during training camp the quarterbacks go through the rigorous four-circuit workout after practice. Here they do flips using a 300-pound tire one way, use a two-footed jump to get in and out, then flip it back. They do that eight times. Next they will raise a 50-pound blue bag over their head eight times. They jump rope and hop on the soft black mat for 20 seconds. Each quarterback does that 4 times.

Jason Garrett, assistant head coach agrees this is what the quarterbacks need. "I think the biggest thing at the quarterback position – and this has always been the case – is that they don't run as much as everyone else does," Jason Garrett said. "Receivers and defensive backs run all day long, and you do everything you can as a coach, 'Are they running too much? Are their legs dead?' The quarterbacks have to get their stuff on their own."

Juraszek says, "Most of the players have confidence in me that the reason we're doing something is because it applies to your game this way," Juraszek said. "I never go, 'Just do this". He feels The tire flip and bag lift are designed for explosion. The mat and jump rope are meant for endurance. While jumping on a mat might not seem like much, the cushioning forces the player to concentrate as he lift his knees while taking away the pounding of the artificial turf

The ultimate goal is to get the players lower body strong and able to stay strong for the entire game. Juraszek believes that keeping the legs in shape will allow players to perform better and longer than those who only do upper body work, and that going those these difficult sets will offer them mental and physical encouragement for late-game situations.

DMN: Wednesday's Dallas Cowboys camp report

By Todd Archer
From Staff Reports

Observation deck
• Nice to see some offensive and defensive linemen work on catching kickoffs. During special teams drills, short kicks were done in which the linemen had to use a fair catch. Marcus Dixon, Montrae Holland and Cory Procter caught their attempts, but Pat McQuistan and Ryan Gibbons had a case of the drops.

• Tony Romo was intercepted twice in the two-minute drill in the afternoon – the first one when he tried fire a pass to WR Roy Williams that CB Mike Mickens deflected and S DeAngelo Smith picked off. S Patrick Watkins came down with a throw to TE Jason Witten on the final play of the drill.

• Offensive assistant Wes Phillips joined specialists Nick Folk , David Buehler and L.P. Ladouceur in juggling a soccer ball with their feet in the morning workout.

• For the first time, a defensive player jumped offside and was replaced for a play. Marcus Spears left early and Jason Hatcher came in for him.

• CB Courtney Brown had a difficult time in one-on-one drills. He was beaten deep by Julian Hawkins while he kept waiting for Hawkins to make a cut.

• Keep an eye on rookie LB Victor Butler. He had a sack of Jon Kitna in the morning workout and has been a consistent threat during team drills. The consistency says a lot because Butler missed most of the off-season because he had not graduated from Oregon State.

• Romo's best throw in the morning session came on a perfectly placed ball over Miles Austin's shoulder in the corner of the end zone. Austin did a good job of shielding Mickens from even making an attempt on the ball.

• The first-team defense did not give Kitna much time to throw. On three out of five plays, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff were in his face before he could set up.

S.I.: Trendy Super Bowl Pick is........

very year about this time, you can count on trendy NFL predictions making the training-camp rounds. You could practically set your calendar to them, like the swallows returning to Capistrano. If NFL training camps are in full-swing, it must be time to pick some NFL sleepers, surprises and flops.
After all, who doesn't want to be trendy? Why Doc Martens, when you can slip on some Toms? Why post something on MySpace when you can Tweet? So let's separate fact from fiction and sift through the trendiest picks circulating this summer. Which ones have wings? And which won't fly?

The trendy pick: A Cowboys Super Bowl run?
Why this pick makes sense:
This is a classic case of addition and subtraction. No more Terrell Owens. No more Jessica. No more tabloid headlines.

No more kinder, gentler, pushover Wade Phillips, either. Phillips promised to wield a heavier stick and hold players more accountable on the field and off, after coming thisclose to getting fired last season. Thus far, Phillips is sticking to the plan and players acknowledge seeing a much tougher coach in camp.

And we haven't even mentioned Adam "Pacman" Jones and Tank Johnson yet. They got the boot, too.

It could only lead to better things, including in the standings. Personal discord often leads to locker-room discord. And if the Cowboys ever wondered exactly where the line was for Drama Overload, the 2008 season crossed it.

This summer, players and coaches are talking and playing football. Pretty much only football. Let's not forget that with or without T.O., Tank and Pacman, the Cowboys remain one of the most talented teams in the league.

Romo has been working hard on passing technique and protecting the ball, and Felix Jones is emerging as a spectacular talent.

Sure, the Cowboys may always teeter on the brink of some kind of neurosis, simply because they are Jerry Jones' Cowboys and drama is part of the business plan.

But they were the most under-achieving team in the NFL a year ago. With clearer heads, a harder-working and determined Romo and Phillips taking more charge of discipline, things could get a lot better.

Why it may not fly:
T.O. was a pain, all right. He was also a pain for defenses, even with bouts of the drops and his production falling off significantly. He commanded attention and Romo will miss him. Do you really think Roy Williams will offer the same kinds of threat?

As for Romo, did his penchant for making the big flub at the most inopportune times leave with T.O. and Jessica? It's hard to believe those distractions caused Romo to make big mistakes. He has yet to prove he can carry a team to the next level.

Still, the biggest hurdle to overcome remains Wade Phillips' job status. At the first sign of trouble, after the first two-game skid, the rumors are sure to start. There is no distraction quite like a coaching change. It's not a matter of if, but when names like Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher or Brian Billick begin to surface.

How long will the players really respect Phillips' tough-guy stance, too? After 30 years of being the same kind of guy, coaching the same kind of way, could anyone expect Phillips to change? Hardly.

Oh, yeah, a couple other reasons it may not fly: the Eagles and the Giants.

So will it happen?
Not likely. The Cowboys should be better and have first-rate talent, but even if everything goes swimmingly, it would be hard to pass the Giants and Eagles. With Phillips looking over his shoulder, it will be impossible.

Brewster signed, Anderson off PUP list

Source: http://startelegramsports.type...f-pup-list.html
By Tracey Myers

The Cowboys signed tackle Robert Brewster today, so now all their draft picks are signed for the season. Now obviously Brewster is hurt, so it's not like he's coming back anytime soon (was placed on the physically unable to perform list, too). Defensive back Jerome Carter was cut earlier today to make room for Brewster.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Tim Anderson passed his physical day and is now off the PUP list. He practiced this morning, and coach Wade Phillips said in his afternoon press conference that Anderson will just do one practice a day until he's up and running at full speed.

Player Update: Jerome Carter, S


According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys have waived safety Jerome Carter.

Our View: The Cowboys signed the former Rams defender in January and hoped he would help out on special teams, but it looks like that is no longer an option.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

My Exclusive B/R Interview With Dallas Cowboys' Receiver Kevin Ogletree

by Ryan Michael (Senior Writer)

As I have continued to reach out to NFL players during this very busy and eventful off-season, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak with Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree.

If you are a fan of Virginia Cavaliers football, you know Kevin as the two-time honorable mention All-ACC wide receiver.

Following an impressive third year of college football, Kevin declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft.

While he wasn't taken on draft-day, the Cowboys were quick to sign the former Virginia standout.

Without further adieu, this is what Kevin Ogletree had to say.

RM: How does it feel to be a player in the NFL and more importantly, a receiver for the Dallas Cowboys?

KO: It’s a little bit overwhelming at times but it keeps me excited.

Playing for the Cowboys is big. It gives you a lot to look forward to everyday of practice going out having that star on your helmet.

RM: You decided to forgo a fourth season of football at Virginia and declare for the NFL draft early. What was it that motivated you to make that decision and was that difficult?

KO: The situation was real unique coming out of school early.

With my quarterback situation at school and having my degree which made me real comfortable.

So it was really a combination of things.

RM: Being a wide receiver, are there any current receivers in the NFL whom you admire and hope to model yourself after?

KO: There are some guy’s games that I think are really polished.

I know that there is a bunch of guys but one of them is Chad Johnson.

He’s not the biggest receiver but he's good with running routes and getting open, he does it as well as anyone.

I guess that is someone that if you had to model your game after I would say his because of what he can do with his size, speed, and ability.

RM: Can you explain to us what it is like being in the heat of Cowboys training camp right now?

KO: It is just being out here every day. One or two a days but it really means a lot to just to stay focused and stay on top of your playbook and your game.

RM: What role do you expect to play with the Cowboys, meaning, do you have a preference for catching passes or perhaps doing some special teams work?

KO: “The more you can do.” That’s the saying I’ve heard a lot. The more you can do, the more valuable you are and the more likely they will keep you around.

RM: What kind of experience has it been to work with Tony Romo and what do you think of him personally so far?

KO: It has been great.

Just playing with a well-developed quarterback like him and just knowing how good he is.

He brings it every day in practice.

I’m a rookie on the team so he doesn’t see much of me but if I do something wrong or do something right, he’ll tell you and try to help you out just like a good veteran quarterback would do.

RM: What are your current goals and aspirations and how do you seek to achieve them?

KO: I want to first of all, make this team, start making plays and be a valuable player in the NFL.

I have dreams and I know I have some talent too so I’m trying to put this hard work and effort into it and see what happens.

RM: Absolutely Kevin and I really appreciate you taking the time to this.

KO: Sure, thank you.

And so brought a close to my interview with Kevin Ogletree.

I would like to personally thank Kevin for taking the time to do this interview with me.

From what I've read so far, it seems people are impressed with his work in training camp.

After having had the chance to speak to him directly, I wish him nothing but the best with his career.

I will be certain to keep an eye out for him during the preseason and with any luck, we will be hearing a lot more about Kevin Ogletree in the months to come.

Who will return punts?

David Moore – Dallas Morning News

Four players have been returning punts in this camp: Felix Jones, Patrick Crayton, Terence Newman and rookie DeAngelo Smith.

Jones is the most intriguing. Running with the ball isn’t the question. Catching isn’t either. Let’s just say his ability to judge the ball in the air and get himself in position to run after the catch is a work in progress.

“He’s had some good days and some average days,” special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said.

And the rookie?

“He’s done a good job,” DeCamillis said.

DeCamillis said he would probably look at the younger guys, meaning Jones and Smith, in the first two pre-season games.