IRVING, Texas - Whether it’s a new contract or a new role in the offense, Tony Romo has been the center of attention this offseason. But when the OTAs kick off Tuesday at Valley Ranch, the Cowboys quarterback won’t be on the field.
Romo underwent surgery last month to remove a cyst from his back. The procedure will likely keep him out of the next three weeks of OTA practices and possibly the three-day minicamp in June. The Cowboys are confident their starting quarterback will be ready for training camp when the club leaves for Oxnard, Calif. on July 19.
Romo has not been participating in the Tuesday/Thursday throwing sessions that began last month. And he also hasn’t played recreational golf or basketball like he normally does this time of year.
Holding him out most of the summer would be a precautionary move by the Cowboys, who dealt with a plethora of injuries last year, including a back injury to Phil Costa. The Cowboys’ center missed most of training camp and returned for the season opener in New York, only to play three snaps and had to miss that game and three others to rest the injury.
Romo reportedly suffered a broken rib in the season finale against the Redskins, taking several hard hits in the second half.
The Cowboys have yet to officially address Romo’s injury but it’s expected the quarterback, along with coach Jason Garrett and possibly owner/GM Jerry Jones will discuss the situation Tuesday following the OTA practice.
Romo signed a $108 million contract extension back on March 29 that included $55 million guaranteed and a $25 million bonus.
In the last few weeks, there has been talk of Romo having a more vocal role in the offensive game-planning with even suggestions he might be included in the play-calling duties.
When Romo missed last week’s annual golf social held at the Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Stephen Jones joked with the media his absence was a result of being back at Valley Ranch watching film like the other “coaches.”
This injury explains the Cowboys signing Aaron Corp for a few days earlier this month. Romo hasn’t been throwing during the week and when backup Kyle Orton wasn’t available one day to deal with a family matter, the Cowboys were left with only Nick Stephens. Corp signed to help throw and then after being released, participated in the three-day minicamp on a tryout basis.
For this week’s OTAs, Orton is expected to handle most of the first-team work, while Stephens and Dalton Williams, a rookie free-agent from Akron, will handle the rest of the reps.
With Organized Team Activities kicking off today for the next three weeks, I thought I would take a few moments to give you some of my thoughts:
- Despite all the questions that will be asked of Tony Romo on Tuesday about the comments made by Jerry Jones during the offseason, I honestly believe that nothing will change in his approach to how he gets ready to play these games and his interactions with Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan. Starting quarterbacks around the league have input to the type of plays that the club is going to run each week. When Brett Favre was a first year starter for us in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren would go through each play that week and ask Brett what he felt comfortable with. Tony Romo has always been a hard worker in his preparation and knowledge of what the plan was going into the game. I can speak from experience in visiting with him after games and being amazed with his ability to recall play by play, read by read of what happened to him in a game. You don’t do this by accident, you have this ability because you are really locked into what is happening on the field but also what the coaches are trying to do and this will never change.
- Two weeks ago, these rookies got a big taste of what will be expected of them each day they step on the practice field under this coaching staff. In my years in the NFL, I have always been a huge fan of bringing in the rookies early before the veterans just for this reason. Let the rookies get that feel of the pace and let them make mistakes that can be corrected then and there. In training camp coaches are teaching with the thought of getting ready to play games and don’t always have the time to go back and make major corrections. In these OTAs and mini camps, it’s easier to take a step back and coach these rookies using the examples of these veteran players as examples. Terrance Williams didn’t have the best start to his rookie camp but now he can study how Dez Bryant and Miles Austin run their routes and with that mental picture it can help him get a better understand of what he is going to have to do to be successful going forward.
- Injuries made things very difficult for this squad last season. In this first OTA practice, there will be a few players that will not take part in the action, but guys like Sean Lee, Barry Church, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff and Matt Johnson will be in the mix. These camps will be especially important for a guy like Johnson who lost his entire rookie season to a hamstring problem that never healed. When this camp opens it will be Johnson and Church at safeties to start.Kyle Wilber is another player like Johnson that will also be looking for a second chance to show better at defensive end. Players that will be limited in the camp will be DeMarcus Ware, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Danny Coale, who will have his hands full in an attempt to make this squad at wide receiver.
- It was this time last year where I noticed several players that appeared to make that jump from one season to another. Dez Bryant physically looked in better shape and his routes were run with purpose. Dwayne Harris played with better quickness and Barry Church stepped up and begun his quest to win the starting job. Players that I am going to keep an eye on that could possibly make that jump are: Jermey Parnell, Tyrone Crawford, Ronald Leary and James Hanna. Of these four players, Crawford has the most experience and he was only a rookie. Parnell will be given every opportunity to start over Doug Free. I feel like Leary is most likely a year away but Hanna is very intriguing to me. Just watching him play during training camp and then going back and talking to folks about how he practiced each week gives me a great deal of hope that he could develop into something special. I like what I am hearing about using this “12” personnel group but my gut tells me that Hanna will be the one that takes advantage of the situation to work with Witten. I do like Gavin Escobar a great deal but he doesn’t move up the field like James Hanna does. Keep an eye on these four players and see who makes that jump in 2013.
- I will be very interested to see how much progress that cornerback B.W. Webb is going to make the next three weeks. He was clearly the best corner on the field during the rookie mini-camp and with the veterans in the mix will he be able to carry that over now that they are here? Webb did play mainly on the right side and on the depth chart as it sits, he is behind Mo Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. He will not start ahead of Claiborne but can he show enough ability to work ahead of Scandrick not only on the depth chart but in the role of the nickel corner. Webb has the talent to put pressure on Scandrick but he doesn’t have the experience. I see this competition as a good thing because last season it just wasn’t there and Scandrick knew that but with Webb on the squad, it’s going to make him have to elevate his level of play to keep his job.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Today, kicks off the first of three OTA’s scheduled by the Dallas Cowboys …
|May 21-23||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
|May 28-30||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
|June 3-6||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
For more information about upcoming calendar events, click on the button below:
The NFL’s effort to change its offseason calendar is starting to make some progress.
The NFL and NFL Players Association are working toward a deal to move the 2014 NFL Draft to May. It likely would start as a one-year trial before deciding if the May move makes sense.
The likely target start date for the 2014 draft is May 15. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sets the date of the draft, provided it’s within the agreed-upon window. May 15 would be.
It’s likely happening in 2014 because of a scheduling conflict. The Radio City Rockettes show, “The Spring Spectacular,” is scheduled to be held at Radio City Music Hall in late April, when the draft usually is held.
“We’re actually getting bumped by the Easter Bunny. They’re going to have an Easter show. We’ll be prepared for that,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month on “The Rich Eisen Podcast.”
No other league calendar changes are yet agreed upon or imminent.”None of that has been decided,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Around The League in an email Monday. The league also has considered moving the date of the NFL Scouting Combine and the start of the league year.
Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith have had some communication on possible calendar changes. The NFL can move events like the draft without union approval, but it cannot change the start of the league year.
Ronald Leary – He threw a couple of guys around this past weekend as if they were Pop Warners.
He looks strong as bull.
Built like one of those top-loading deep freezers.
He’s quiet, but seems quite serious about this game of football.
And to most out there, he’s a forgotten man, and understandably.
But around here, when so many want to throw jab after jab at the Cowboys for failing to do enough this offseason to improve their offensive line, they must snicker quietly to themselves. They know better. They know they’ve got a real shot at multiple upgrades to the interior of this offensive line.
Sure, the Cowboys went out of their way to select an offensive lineman in the first round, center/guard Travis Frederick, the real irony of this draft since one and all wanted the Cowboys to concentrate on offensive linemen, some suggesting to do so with the first three picks. And then when they made doubly sure to draft at least one high-quality offensive lineman, they were chastised for trading down to do so.
Can’t win sometimes.
Yep, him again. He’s still here, hasn’t gone anywhere.
You remember him, right? The rookie free-agent offensive lineman the Cowboys signed last year out of Memphis that owner Jerry Jones just couldn’t wait to tell everyone how excited he was over the acquisition. And I know what you are thinking, and probably were thinking: Why so excited about some rookie free agent? Why, the guy didn’t even get drafted.
Well, I’m sure back in the day there were similar reactions to the rather innocuous rookie free-agent signings of Tony Romo and Miles Austin. Sometimes these guys entering the league as rookie free agents do make it. Some big. (Also see Bill Bates, Mark Tuinei, Nate Newton, Everson Walls, to name a few, and those guys were passed over when the NFL Draft was 12 rounds.) Granted, the odds are long, understood.
COWBOY FLASHBACK: Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr almost quit football after first high school workout
FLINT, MI – Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr was recently open to discussing how his inspiration stemmed from a little-known trainer in his hometown of Flint.
During an exclusive sit-down interview at the Michael Johnson Performance Athletic Training Center in Texas, Carr shared tales about how he began to take his workouts more seriously as a tenth grader at Carman-Ainsworth High School after tough sessions with a local trainer he never names.
He called the first day a “culture shock.” He even thought about giving up after experiencing nightmares from the intense exercises but his friends wouldn’t allow him to.
“They showed up to my house and called me out,” Carr said in the interview. “I went and ever since that second day of going back my whole attitude and everything changed. I was a small guy but this guy had me thinking I could make it to the next level and go to college and to the NFL. He put that dog in me.”
And that swag ever since the 10th and 11th grade catapulted him to become a shut-down cornerback in the NFL today. In his first season as a Dallas Cowboy, Carr racked up 53 tackles, three interceptions and a touchdown. Competition has always been his driving force.
“When I grew up I was the smallest kid with goggles, and I wore glasses but I liked competition,” Carr said. “I’d get after it. Basketball was my sport but my brother influenced me because he was the star quarterback running the option and I wanted to be like my older brother so football came into play.”
Next week’s NFL Spring Meeting in Boston (May 20-22, 2013) will include talks on potentially marked changes for the embattled Pro Bowl.
The NFL will continue to advance the idea of a “draft” to select the AFC and NFC squads. Team owners also plan to toy with adding a twist to the annual all-star game by having the top vote-getters in each conference serve as team captains.
As reported in March, the draft concept — previously used by the NHL for its all-star game — is “not a done deal.” The NFL Annual Meeting in March already featured starter discussions about allowing captains to draft their squads, pick team uniforms and come up with names and rules.
These talks are a start, but the Pro Bowl’s core problems have been low player attendance and effort. The game’s biggest names all too regularly have declined to play — often citing mysterious injuries — and those who did show up failed to give us anything worth watching.
Until the game offers any tangible stakes, a more pressing topic is if the Pro Bowl makes any sense at all.
Votes for Super Bowls L (SB 50) and LI (SB 51) will take place at next week’s meeting, along with sessions on finance and stadium issues, the fan experience, stadium security, officiating, youth football and the NFL’s international initiative.
PHOTO: 2012 NFL’s owners meeting kicked off as the owners, general managers, and coaches for each team gathered in Arizona – Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett located on right side. Click on photo for larger view.
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Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter has been studying tape of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Derrick Brooks ever since Monte Kiffin came over to coordinate the new Texas 2 Defense.
Brooks was the prototypical Tampa 2 weak-side linebacker, with the range to cover like a defensive back and the closing speed to stuff the running game. The coaching staff has high expectations for Carter as he takes on Brooks’ old role.
“Everybody’s just been hitting me with it — Derrick Brooks, Derrick Brooks. That’s a good thing,” Carter said. “He was always around the ball. He was always flying around. He was a playmaker. He was always in the right position at the right time. That’s something I want to do.”
Carter was emerging as a defensive star before a dislocated elbow ended his 2012 season in November. He has a long way to go before he can match Brooks’ 11 Pro Bowl appearances, but it helps that Kiffin’s Texas 2 scheme is a natural fit for his talents.
There may be no faster linebacker in the NFL. Carter reportedly clocked a 4.39 40-yard dash before a torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his North Carolina career. Perhaps even more impressively, he ran down from behind Atlanta Falcons speedster Julio Jones last season.
Don’t be surprised if Carter and middle linebacker Sean Lee both earn their first Pro Bowl nods this season.
BONUS: Click HERE to watch the NFL AM interview video on NFL website
RELATED: Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee talks about new Texas 2 defense
Sean Lee took some time to speak with Mickey Spagnola during the Dallas Cowboys annual Home Run Derby.
THE DELICATE BALANCE: Veteran Anthony Hargrove adds defensive line depth, but youth must eventually take over
Currently, three of the four projected starting linemen are at least 30, and defensive end Anthony Spencer is 29.
Hargrove turns 30 in July.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t address the defensive line in the draft but did so in free agency with the signing of Hargrove.
Jason Hatcher is in the final year of his contract, and he turns 31 in July.
Spencer, who doesn’t turn 30 until next January, is playing on the franchise tag and talks have slowed down regarding a new deal. Hatcher and Spencer could play elsewhere in 2014.
As for Jay Ratliff, the defensive tackle who will battle centers and guards this season, he will turn 32 in August. Do you remember the man Ratliff replaced? Jason Ferguson was 32 when he suffered an arm injury early in the 2007 season, opening the door for Ratliff to become the full-time starter. Health and age dooms NFL players all the time.
Ratliff is coming off an injury-filled 2012 season and it’s assumed this could be his last season with the Cowboys given his age and how his health betrayed him last season.
DeMarcus Ware isn’t going anywhere. Ware, however, turns 31 in July and is coming back from shoulder surgery and a dislocated elbow.
Age isn’t on the Cowboys’ side when it comes to the defensive line. While it’s good to have Hargrove provide depth as someone who can play end and tackle in the 4-3, the future is uncertain for this position.
Based on the offseason moves by the Cowboys, the defensive line is geared for the here and now, not for the future. The Cowboys had a chance to address the defensive line in the draft but expressed support for what they currently have.
That’s fine, but at some point youth must take over.
New Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Hargrove has quite the story. Born in New York, he lost his mother to AIDS at the age of nine. After moving in with his aunt and uncle he found football and became one of the best high school quarterbacks in the state.
He moved to defensive tackle, quit school and found his way onto the team when he entered the draft, got involved in drugs, then kicked the habit.
You can hear him explain the full side of the story here:
ON THE FIELD: Anthony Hargrove gets a safety vs. Giants
As for what he can do on the field, here is some of his best work…
For the first time, in an hour-long interview with The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith opened up to share his cautionary tale about how money changes people and how greed can run rampant around NFL players who become instant millionaires. Smith’s story is a must-read for any college football player drafted last month. Here are some of the more stunning revelations from Smith’s interview with DMN Cowboys beat writer Brandon George.
MORE, MORE, MORE
Smith, the first offensive lineman selected in 2011 when the Cowboys drafted him ninth overall out of USC, signed a four-year, $12.5 million contract. He gave his family a substantial amount of money, agreeing to pay his parents in four installments. But Smith’s stepfather, Roy Pinkney, his mother, Frankie Pinkney, and some of his siblings kept coming back for more.
“There was a certain amount I agreed to give them, but it went way beyond that and I was just like, ‘I’m done,’” Smith said. “I feel like I shouldn’t have given them so much. There was nothing wrong with helping them out and making sure they were taken care of, but not something to where they live the same lifestyle as you.”
HARRASSMENT PROMPTS 911 CALL
On the final weekend of October last year, while Smith was at the Cowboys’ team hotel preparing for a Sunday afternoon home game against the Giants, two of Smith’s sisters showed up from California unannounced at his North Dallas home, leading his girlfriend Leigh Costa to dial 911. According to a Dallas police report, the sisters were there to “harass and torment” him “in the pursuit of collecting financial gain.”
And it wasn’t the first time some of Smith’s family had shown up in Dallas and left in fury.
PHYSICAL THREATS RESULT IN RESTRAINING ORDER
Last October, John Schorsch — Smith’s Dallas-based attorney at the time — said Smith’s “mom and/or the stepdad threatened the physical well-being of Tyron and the life of his girlfriend.” Smith filed a protective order against his parents last summer to keep them from having any contact with him. The order also prohibits contact from Smith’s parents through his siblings.
During training camp last year in Oxnard, Calif., one of Smith’s brothers whom he said he hadn’t talked to “in a long time” showed up and had to be removed from the facility.
MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
Six months ago, Schorsch said Smith’s family had not only continually demanded money from Smith but also took more than $1 million from him.
During a phone interview with The News last October, Frankie Pinkney strongly denied the family took any of Smith’s money without his authorization or harassed or threatened him in any way.
Smith said that when the money went missing, he was using a financial adviser his parents had recommended before the draft.
“There was money missing, but I just don’t know where it went,” Smith said. “There were times I would check my statements and it wouldn’t make sense and I hadn’t authorized it at all. I just felt betrayed and I was like, ‘Who can I trust?’”
Dallas Cowboys right tackle Doug Free has agreed to a pay cut that will allow him to remain with the team.
Free’s new deal calls for him to receive $7 million over two years, but only his $3.5 million salary in 2013 is guaranteed.
Free was scheduled to make $7 million in 2013 as part of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2011.
Free struggled out of the gate last season, prompting the Cowboys to force him to split time with Jeremy Parnell.
RELATED: Tackle Doug Free agrees to pay cut to stay with Cowboys
The impasse between the Dallas Cowboys and maligned left tackle Doug Free is over.
Free will remain with the Cowboys as he has agreed to a pay cut as part of a new two-year contract that will pay him $7 million in 2013 and 2014, per multiple sources.
Only his $3.5 million salary in 2013 is guaranteed making it essentially a one-year deal.
Free was scheduled to make $7 million in 2013 as part of a four-year, $32 million deal he signed in 2011.
He has started 48 games with the Cowboys but struggled mightily last season _ so much so that he forced to share snaps with Jeremy Parnell.
The Cowboys have been clear that they wanted Free to return to the team in 2013 and continue to compete with Parnell at right tackle. But they were also clear that they weren’t going to pay him $7 million to do so.
If Free hadn’t agreed to a pay cut, he would have been released.
In the end both sides got something out of deal as it was unlikely Free would have gotten $3.5 million guaranteed for next season on the free agent market, especially at this late date.
The Cowboys were able to clear salary room to so they could possibly pursue other free agents or even give one of their players a contract extension.
RELATED: Doug Free reworks contract to stay with Cowboys
The Doug Free saga is over.
The right tackle has agreed to a substantial pay decrease in his final two seasons to remain with the Dallas Cowboys.
Free was scheduled to make $15 million in base salary over the next two seasons — $7 million in 2013 and $8 million next season. That total has been reduced to a total of $7 million, meaning the offensive linemen will make $3.5 million in base salary in each of the next two seasons.
The $7 million figure this season made Free the league’s highest paid right tackle. This restructured contract falls in line with the current market.
Tyson Clabo, the former right tackle from Atlanta who graded out much higher than Free last season, signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with Miami earlier this month.
The Cowboys had kicked the tires on Clabo along with right tackle Eric Winston in free agency in case a deal could not be reached with Free. The club held the threat of a post June 1 cut over Free’s head. But the longer this dragged on, the more clear it became that the Cowboys preferred to keep Free and avoid the salary cap hit that would have been forced to absorb in 2014 by releasing him.
Free gave up seven sacks and was hit with 13 penalties last season. His grades in the run game were poor and he finished the season splitting snaps with Jermey Parnell.
RELATED ROSTER NEWS:
Dallas Cowboys sign defensive end Anthony Hargrove
In other news, Dallas signed defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who missed last season because of an eight-game NFL-imposed suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
To make room for Hargrove on the 90-man roster, the Cowboys cut recently signed guard D.J. Hall, a Texas State product.
Editors comment: Click HERE for more information on this signing.
On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he wouldn’t rule out signing any unrestricted free agents.
The Cowboys signed veteran free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove to a one-year deal today (on Thursday).
Hargrove was signed by the Green Bay Packers in March 2012 but was released in August, which may have been related to the eight-game suspension he received from the NFL for his alleged involvement in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
The 29-year-old journeyman was with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 and the Saints in 2009 and 2010. His first five seasons in the NFL were spent with the Buffalo Bills and St. Louis Rams.
Hargrove, a third-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2004, had his best statistical season in 2005 when he recorded 6.5 sacks and 51 tackles while making 15 starts for the Rams. Hargrove, who has recorded 19.5 career sacks, has appeared in 102 NFL games, starting 25.
The Cowboys released guard D.J. Hall to make room for Hargrove on the roster.
The Dallas Cowboys have called Valley Ranch home for 28 years.
That’s about to change.
The club is looking to move from what has become one of the NFL’s more outdated practice facilities. Those same sources say that Frisco is one of the cities ready to welcome the Cowboys with open arms. But they aren’t the sole suitor as club officials actively discuss a move.
Arlington officials met with the Cowboys earlier this year about building a practice facility near Cowboys Stadium. And Irving officials have made it known they don’t want to lose a franchise that has been part of the city’s fabric since Texas Stadium opened its doors and roof in 1971.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a timeframe at this stage of discussions. There are too many moving parts to project when the club will leave, although it’s clear the team will continue to practice at its current location for the 2013 season.
Still, there is no doubt about the Dallas Cowboys intention to build another practice facility.
Ground was broken on the team’s Valley Ranch practice site in November of ’83. Cowboys players and coaches reported to the practice facility in August of ’85.
Nearly three-quarters of the league’s teams have opened practice facilities since that date.
The current complex sits on 30 acres and is roughly 110,000 square feet. Renovations and additions, such as an MRI facility, have taken place periodically.
But the Cowboys do not have an indoor facility to use in inclement or freezing weather, choosing not to erect one after their practice bubble collapsed during a storm four years ago. The club also does not have the space or infrastructure for a full service dining hall, a luxury the majority of teams in the league possess.
SOMEWHAT RELATED: Nip and tuck – Cowboys Stadium to get new field
Cowboys Stadium is ready for her first nip and tuck as she approaches her fourth birthday.
A new artificial field will be in place before the Dallas Cowboys play their first home pre-season game in August. The installation will unfold in stages after the Taylor Swift concert at the stadium on May 25.
Club officials said a final decision has not been made on what to do with the existing field.
IRVING, Texas – Kyle Wilber’s switch from outside linebacker to defensive end has resulted in a weight gain this offseason.
“Right now I’m 255,” Wilber said. “The coaches tell me ‘Keep your speed. You don’t need to get bigger. If you’re 260 and still have your speed, that’s fine with me,’ but I’m perfect where I’m at right now.”
Wilber weighed 243 pounds last year as a rookie. His season was slowed first by a broken finger suffered in the rookie minicamp that cut short his offseason work and then by a broken thumb suffered in a preseason game.
“It definitely set me back a lot not being out there, not being able to learn,” Wilber said. “I came back three weeks into the season and I missed a great opportunity to make strides to get better. This year hopefully will be a lot better.”
Wilber will be moving back to a position he played at Wake Forest and he will still be learning from DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
“My hand was on the ground at Wake,” he said. “I don’t feel like there’s much difference in comparing the 3-4 to the 4-3 because our outside linebackers we were basically defensive ends but I was standing up in a two-point. It’s less dropping for us now.”
HEALTHY AND MOTIVATED: Phil Costa and Mackenzy Bernadeau ready to compete for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster spots
The Dallas Cowboys drafted a guy to take Phil Costa’s job at center. But that is not going to make him unfriendly toward him, Costa said.
“You don’t get anywhere by being a certain way as an older guy to a younger guy,” Costa said during the team’s annual golf tournament for sponsors. “You’ve got to treat everybody with respect and as a teammate, and especially a guy who’s in the O-line room. We take our group serious, and we’re a tight-knit group.”
Costa said he has met Travis Frederick, the Wisconsin center taken by the Cowboys with their first-round pick last month, and “he seems like a great guy.”
Costa said he remembers the way he was treated when he got to the Cowboys as an undrafted player in 2010.
“I was with Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo, and all those guys were good to me,” he said. “They taught me a lot, taught me how to be. And I appreciated that.”
Besides, Costa said, the competition will make him better.
“I came into the league, every day was a fight, and still every day is a fight,” he said. “I look at it, it’s a competition, a challenge. I think competition really brings out the best in everyone, which Coach has talked a lot about with our team.”
Costa said he is fully recovered from the broken ankle that ended his season last year in the Carolina game.
“It was supposed to be a four- to six-month recovery,” he said. “I was pretty much 100 percent right at the four-month mark, maybe a little before.”
He said he had doubts, naturally.
“I guess you never really know how an injury’s going to heal up,” he said. “Literally every day, I have the mentality, ‘Win the day,’ whether it’s with an injury or football. Just putting everything together to get 100 percent.”
RELATED: Mackenzy Bernadeau entering second year with Cowboys
Mackenzy Bernadeau (#73, right) did not exactly have a year to remember in 2012, the first year of his four-year, $11 million free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
He was hurt in the offseason, got healthy in time to start all 16 games, but he was inconsistent – good some games, plain bad in others. At one point, offensive line coach Bill Callahan had to tell him directly his job was in danger.
But he ended the season with the Cowboys confident in him, and now he enters his second year with the Cowboys confident in himself and healthier.
“This offseason, obviously, it’s a lot better,” he said. “Just being able to be here now and not miss many things, being able to be in camp as early as possible, when we start getting going with the rest of the team, helps build that continuity with the guys on the line.”
Bernadeau said he had shoulder surgery in January for an injury that happened in the Cleveland game (Week 11). He said it didn’t excuse his poor play, but that he can feel the improvement since it has been repaired.
“It’s one of those things you can play with, but to be in the weight room and train the way you want to, you have to have it fixed,” he said.
Bernadeau said he and defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who had similar shoulder surgery, are doing many of the same treatments and rehab work together.
Bernadeau, who missed OTAs last year because of hip and knee injuries (which are fine now), said the team will still take it easy with him as OTAs begin next week.
“We’ll do it week by week, see how I feel,” he said. “We don’t want to have any setbacks. Might play it safe, depending on how I feel.”
IRVING, Texas – The rooms along the hallway inside the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch practice facility are labeled the way you would think they would be labeled: tight ends, offensive line and so on. The defensive line used to be there.
Rod Marinelli changed it to Rushmen.
“It’s what we have to do, OK,” said Marinelli, the Cowboys defensive line coach. “It’s something in the four-man front that what you try to identify a position or men the No. 1 thing they’ve got to be able to do, and that it’s very clear.”
In the 3-4 scheme the Cowboys ran from 2005-12, the defensive line was not hugely responsible for the pass rush, though Jay Ratliff had 7 1/2 and six sacks in 2008-09 from his nose tackle spot. In the 4-3 Texas 2 scheme the Dallas Cowboys will run this year, the pressure on the quarterback has to come from the defensive line.
DeMarcus Ware is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. Anthony Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 and was named to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys do not believe their transitions from outside linebacker to defensive end will be difficult.
Ratliff, however, has seen his sack total decline every year for the last five years. Jason Hatcher has never had more than 4 1/2 sacks in a season. Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford will have to get to the passer more than they did last year, too.
The new sign is more of an attitude check.
“It’s all part of what we are,” Marinelli said. “I make sure we understand it and we go on from there.”
PODCAST: Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has yet to play a full 16-game schedule in his NFL career.
Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Lee, who missed the final 10 games of the 2012 season with torn ligaments in his right big toe, said he isn’t going to change the way he plays.
“I’m going to try to play a certain way, play hard,” Lee told KTCK-AM Tuesday, via the Dallas Morning News (see below). “I don’t think I would be successful if I didn’t play that way. I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft and not play right. If injuries come, they come. But I’m going to sellout on the field and try to sellout every game. I think that’s the only way we really can win, if everybody does that.”
Lee said last week he is “pretty much 100 percent” and plans to be healthy enough to participate in organized team activities next week.
He will play a key role in the middle of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Texas-Two scheme. He told the radio station he has been studying Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and former Bear Brian Urlacher to learn how to play the scheme.
RELATED: Sean Lee – ‘I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft’
Torn ligaments in Sean Lee’s right big toe caused the Dallas Cowboys linebacker to miss the final 10 games of the 2012 season. Lee said last week that he’s “pretty much 100 percent” and that’s obviously good news for a defense that’s transitioning into a 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin.
But will Lee be able to turn in the first 16-game season of his career in 2013?
Since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while at Penn State in 2008, Lee has battled wrist and other leg injuries. Some players might try to change the way they play because of frequent injury setbacks, but the former second-round draft pick doesn’t plan on changing anything about his game.
“I’m going to try to play a certain way, play hard,” Lee said (<—listen to MP3 by clicking on word) Tuesday during the BaD Radio show on 1310 The Ticket [KTCK-AM]. “I don’t think I would be successful if I didn’t play that way. I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft and not play right. If injuries come, they come. But I’m going to sellout on the field and try to sellout every game. I think that’s the only way we really can win, if everybody does that.”
Lee, who said he’s been studying film of how Chicago Bears linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs played in the Tampa-Two scheme, is in the final year of his rookie contract. It’s likely that the Cowboys will try to sign him to a long-term deal.
But if that doesn’t happen before the season starts, don’t expect to see the 26-year-old publicly demanding a new contract.
“I’m just happy to be playing football,” Lee said. “I really don’t think about that stuff. I just want to be on the field, staying healthy. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. For me, that’s all I think about non-stop, ‘How can I get better as a football player? How can I help my team win? What can I do to make my teammates better so we hopefully can compete for a Super Bowl every year?’ That’s my main concern.”
Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb signed a four-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday worth approximately $2.5 million.
A fourth-round pick from William & Mary, Webb is the third member of the team’s seven-play draft class to sign. Sixth-round linebacker DeVonte Holloman and fifth-round running back Joseph Randle signed last week.
Webb, who recorded 11 interceptions while starting a school-record 48 games for William & Mary, was one of the standout-performers at rookie minicamp, which ended Sunday. He’s expected to back up slot corner Orlando Scandrick.
“He has quickness and playmaking ability,” coach Jason Garrett said Webb. “He’s a guy we would describe as a football player who can come in and compete.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined Sirius XM’s Late Hits show this week to talk about the draft and the Cowboys’ rookie mini-camp. He said, “Certainly, one of the players that Gil [Brandt] noted to me when I was out at practice… B.W. Webb, the corner that we got in the fourth round, we basically really liked what we saw of him this weekend. He’s got such confidence… He really did show the skills and the quickness and really comes in as a real, legitimate candidate to come in and compete for a lot of playing time, especially in our money packages.”
More on Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb …
GRADUATION GOAL ACHIEVED: B. W. Webb excused from final day of mini camp
Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb has been one of the more impressive players in the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie minicamp so far. But the fourth-round pick, who is expected to compete with Orlando Scandrick for the starting spot at nickel cornerback, will miss the final day of camp on Sunday to return to William and Mary for graduation.
Webb counts his family as his biggest motivation for wanting to succeed in the NFL. They are also the reason why he had to go back to attend graduation.
“If it was up to my parents, it’s graduation before football,” Webb said. “They are more happy about that than [me] being in the NFL.”
Columnist Rick Gosselin answered questions in a chat on Monday. Here’s a highlight.
Can B.W. Webb take Orlando Scandrick’s spot despite Scandrick having a bigger contract?
If Webb proves to be the better player this summer, he will supplant Scandrick as the nickel corner. The Cowboys need to win games this season to save some jobs and you do that by putting the best players on the field — not necessarily the most expensive ones. Webb will wind up starting for this team at some point in the future. The Cowboys believed they stole him in the third round. This player probably had second-round skill but slid to the third because of his quality of college competition. He’s coming from a small school and the NFL will be a huge step up in competition. He’s not going to challenge either Carr or Claiborne any time soon, but Scandrick better bring his A-game to training camp.
FORMER NFL SCOUT: Dallas Cowboys rookie B.W. Webb ‘has playing traits like Asante Samuel’
After reading a story about Senior Bowl standouts in January I decided to save the article in case any of the players mentioned were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Going through some old stories earlier today I came across that particular piece written by CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang — and B.W. Webb was on the list.
Webb, a William & Mary cornerback the Cowboys drafted in the fourth round, was one of five prospects who improved their stock according to NFL scouts who Rang interviewed.
“Scouts knew Webb could cover, as he had shown quick feet, speed and route recognition on tape,” Rang wrote. “Needless to say, however, the jump in competition from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Senior Bowl was significant. But Webb certainly proved up to the task. The 5-10, 183-pounder showed improved physicality in Mobile and stepped up his play against the bigger receivers he faced on the South squad, showing the feistiness necessary to make the significant jump to the NFL.”
Rang also linked to a CBSSports.com article where former NFL scout and coach Pat Kirwan wrote that Webb “has playing traits like Asante Samuel.”
“He looks like a solid cover two corner with 48 college starts,” Kirwan wrote. “He holds up well in the man-to-man drills and has good anticipation in his zone drops.”
Webb should enter the 2013 season as the No. 4 corner on the Cowboys’ roster, behind Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. Pretty good depth if Webb can be anything close to Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion who has intercepted 50 passes in his 10-year NFL career.
James Harrison says this is the best he’s felt physically since 2008, the year he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
After 10 grinding seasons as a star linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, that’s an impressive claim. Harrison’s ability to land a multiyear deal from the speaks to his success in maintaining his physical condition.
So how has Harrison — now 35 — held off Father Time? Dedication is a huge part of it. Being rich helps too.
Harrison told reporters on Tuesday he spends between $400,000 and $600,000 annually on “body work.”
“You want to be able to stay in this business for awhile, you’re gonna have to take care of your body,” he said. “If you want to do that, you’re going to have to spend money, it’s not cheap.”
OK, but half a million dollars? This kind of seems, well, impossible, and a reporter in attendance astutely asked how the bill gets so high.
Harrison explained that he owns a hyperbaric chamber and keeps six different masseuses on his payroll, in addition to a homeopathic doctor, chiropractor and acupuncturist.
Harrison said his Steelers teammates used to call him a “massage whore,” a name earned by the 2-4 hours of massages he receives each day. Harrison said he auditioned around 150 massage specialists before settling on his rotation.
This is all real stuff said in real press conference in front of real reporters. Remember James Harrison the next time a $19.99 gym membership gives you pause.
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones to a one-year contract.
A former first-round selection by Dallas in 2008, Jones has rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He has 127 receptions for 1,062 yards and three TDs. Jones had 402 yards rushing and three TDs last year, along with 25 receptions for 262 yards and two scores.
Editors note: Keep up with the 2013 DALLAS COWBOYS FREE AGENT LIST by clicking on the button below …
THE TEXAS 2 ENFORCER: Dallas Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox’s aggressive play among rookie minicamp highlights
IRVING – Dallas Cowboys rookie J.J. Wilcox relished contact long before his coaches moved him to safety his senior year at Georgia Southern.
“That’s why my touchdowns were limited,” said Wilcox, referring to his 18 scores as a running back and receiver for the Eagles.
“I wanted to be a bruiser, run guys over. I like being physical.”
That was evident the second day of rookie minicamp, which ended Sunday. In a pads-free, non-contact 11-on-11 session, the third-round pick collided with undrafted free agent Kendial Lawrence, sending the running back from Missouri to the ground and eliciting nods of approval from onlookers.
“We got no pads on and he’s a pretty big guy, so it was a good collision,” said Wilcox.
Typical of a hard hitter, Wilcox was unapologetic for his aggressive play.
“They tell you to fly around,” he said. “(The coaches) know it wasn’t on purpose. I’m a rookie, second day of camp. They figure, ‘Hey, he doesn’t know better.’ Next time (it happens), I’ll probably get in trouble for it.”
Perhaps. Or just maybe Wilcox will get a pat on the rump from a staff overseeing a team in dire need of defensive playmakers.
The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in January and replaced him with 4-3 scheme guru Monte Kiffin partly because Ryan’s 3-4 defense forced just 16 turnovers last season. The Chicago Bears registered an NFL-high 44.
“So that’s 28 more scoring opportunities,” Garrett said in February. “The thing we’ve probably done least well is take the football away. And (turnover differential) is probably the single most important statistic in football.”
Wilcox’s collision with Lawrence wasn’t his only highlight. He also had an interception while defending a tight end on a seam route.
Bottom line: Wilcox was one of the top performers at rookie minicamp, very much looking the part of a playmaking safety even if this is only his second year at the position.
“Initially, when you (hear) this guy used to play running back, this guy used to play receiver, now he’s going to play safety in the NFL, you say, ‘Wait a second here,’ ” coach Jason Garrett said. “But then you watch him play, he shows the traits and the demeanor.”
Despite Wilcox’s inexperience at safety, he has a shot to start at a position of weakness.
“Unproven would be the overall assessment,” owner Jerry Jones said last week when asked to evaluate the team’s safeties, which include a veteran recovering from a torn Achilles (Barry Church), a second-year pro who did not play as a rookie because of hamstring injuries (Matt Johnson), a veteran more suited for special-teams duty (Danny McCray) and a free agent who signed a one-year deal (Will Allen).
But Jones is confident Kiffin will position the safeties to succeed.
“I think we will benefit from a scheme that emphasizes what these guys are: big, physical guys that like to hit,” Jones said. “With (hard-hitting safety John) Lynch in Monte’s background, you say, ‘Duh, that’s the picture you see,’ but these guys have all the same thing that comes up: tough.”
Judging by his performance at rookie minicamp, Wilcox fits the bill.
J.J. Wilcox talks about participating in his first NFL practice, and how his switch to safety in college came about. Excellent footage of his aggressive style and poise when talking with the Dallas media.
IRVING – Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown likes the players he’s tutoring.
“They are mature guys,” Brown said of lead horse DeMarco Murray, backups Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar and fifth-round pick Joseph Randle, who signed a four-year deal worth more than $2 million Monday. “They are guys who want to win, work hard and be the best they can possibly be.’
But being a fan of his backs doesn’t necessarily mean Brown is on the same page with them when it comes to their running styles. For instance, he and Murray differ over the controversial crown-of-helmet rule the NFL Competition Committee passed in March.
The new rule, designed to make the game safer, penalizes players for lowering the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box.
Murray last week became the latest NFL tailback to express his disappointment with the rule, following the lead of such standouts as Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, Ray Rice and Matt Forte, who called it “absurd.”
Speaking to reporters at a charity event, Murray said he has no plans to tone down his aggressive style, which includes strong finishing kicks and, yes, an occasional lowered helmet. “I’m not changing my running style,” Murray said. “If I get fined, hopefully (Tony) Romo will take care of the first couple for me. I’m doing it for him.”
While Romo’s six-year, $108 million contract extension gives him the funds to cover his teammates’ fines for the rest of their careers, Brown is hopeful the quarterback won’t have to dig into his pockets to bail out Murray.
Asked about Murray’s penchant for seeking contact, Brown said last week, “I noticed that. I’ve seen that. We’ve talked about it. We are going to have a plan to try to get better than that. He’s explosive enough that he can freeze people’s feet and get away from them and do the things he needs to do to gain more yards.
“With he and I working together to get him better, it should be a great thing.”
Brown, a former Houston Oilers running back who joined Dallas after it fired Skip Peete in January, actually likes the rule and thinks it will benefit Murray.
“What is going to happen is he’s going to be better because he will be able to see,” Brown said. “He will have to keep his eyes up, his head up.”
But it’s the safety aspect of the rule Brown likes best.
“We want them to be safe,” he said. “We want them after their careers are done to be able to play with their children and things like that. So it is a bigger picture. It’s for their future.”
Injuries have been an issue for the 6-foot, 215-pound Murray ever since Dallas drafted him in the third round in 2011. The Oklahoma-ex missed three games his rookie year and six in 2012 but still managed to lead the club in rushing both seasons (897 yards in 2011, 663 in 2012).
While Brown said he’s powerless to prevent the ankle and foot issues that have plagued Murray, he’s certain the new rule will help prevent catastrophic injuries.
“If you keep your head up, you can see what’s going on,” Brown said. “If you drop your head…you are going to break your neck eventually. “It’s a good thing. You can still stay low and keep your head up. That’s what the thing was when (the rule) first came out, ‘Oh, running backs aren’t going to be able to protect themselves.’ Well, that’s not true. We are always going to run low to the ground. We’re just going to keep our heads up.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett suggested the club must walk a fine line when tinkering with Murray’s style.
“One of the things we like about him is he finishes runs,” Garrett said of Murray. “You think it might be blocked for three or four yards and he makes five or six because of how he finishes.
“You don’t want to lose that. At the same time, you want to make guys miss. You want to make longer runs and, at the end of runs, not be so susceptible to contact. But, again, you don’t want to lose that finish trait we like about him.”
RELATED: Coach Brown’s thoughts on drafted backs, new blocking scheme
IRVING – With 1,265 rushing yards last season, the Cowboys ranked next to last in the NFL and established a franchise low for a 16-game season. New running backs coach Gary Brown, though, is optimistic there will be improvement this season with a healthier DeMarco Murray, the addition of fifth-round pick Joseph Randle and some new blocking schemes.
Murray has missed nine games due to injuries the last two seasons, so Brown has his fingers crossed that the Oklahoma-ex in 2013 will finally put in a full season.
“There’s nothing a coach can do (to prevent injury),” Brown said. “You can just coach him hard and try to encourage him and try to just make sure he’s doing the right thing to take care of his body because of lot of those injuries are freak things. Nothing we can do about it. He just has to be blessed with a 16-game season and, hopefully, that will happen.”
Brown is a big fan of Randle, who was limited at rookie minicamp because of a cast to protect his injured thumb.
“I think he is a great player,” Brown said of Randle, an Oklahoma State-ex. “We are happy to have him. Just happy he was there for us, and he’s going to fit in real well.”
Asked why Randle slid to the fifth round, Brown said, “It’s a lottery. I don’t know why. (Former Denver running back) Terrell Davis slipped to the sixth and he had a 2,000 yard season. You don’t know why (Houston star) Arian Foster never got drafted. Things just happen. This whole draft thing, it ain’t a perfect science. We make mistakes, so that’s what it is.”
Speaking of Houston, the Cowboys plan to take a page out of the Texans’ playbook and run more zone blocking schemes. “We feel like we have players that can run it, blocking that can do it, so we are going to emphasize it and get better at it,” Brown said.
A cast on Joseph Randle’s right arm kept the running back from taking part in drills during the Cowboys rookie-mini-camp.
But it hasn’t kept him from signing a contract.
The team’s fifth round pick agreed to a four-year deal Monday that will pay him slightly more than $2.29 million. He is the second player from this rookie class to sign with the Cowboys.
Sixth round pick DeVonte Holloman signed a four-year deal for $2.2 million over the weekend.
Randle should play a valuable role this season. He’s expected to ease the load on starter DeMarco Murray and be a solid insurance option if Murray goes down with injury, as he has in each of the past two seasons.
Randle had surgery on his thumb last week and is expected to be in a cast for the next five to seven weeks. He might be cleared to go through drills during the latter part of the team’s OTAs or its mini-camp in June. There is no concern about his ability to be cleared to compete fully once training camp rolls around in July.
The Oklahoma State running back make it clear he comes into the NFL with a chip on his shoulder pads for lasting until the third day of the draft.
“People can make whatever they want to make for their motivation,” Randle said. “I’m going to find plenty to motivate me.”
THE ONE-TWO PUNCH: Young Gavin Escobar and James Hanna gives the Dallas Cowboys multiple two-tight end offensive packages
Gavin Escobar, one of the best receiving tight ends in college football the past two seasons, joins Jason Witten and James Hanna in the tight ends room. All Witten did was set the single-season record for receptions by a tight end in league history.
So are there enough balls to go around?
“I’m just ready to have them in the game if they call their number,” said Wes Phillips, in his first season as the team’s tight ends coach. “I would imagine taking a young guy who is as talented as Escobar and having James Hanna along to complement Witten, we can get into some different packages in 12 [one running back, two tight ends]. Each of those guys can play to their strengths.”
The Dallas Cowboys could use two tight ends more this season. Dallas didn’t use much last season with John Phillips as its second tight end, running only 195 plays with its 12 personnel. The Cowboys threw 74 times with two tight ends in the game, took one sack and rushed the ball 120 times.
In 2011, with Martellus Bennett as their second tight end, the Cowboys used two tight ends for 320 plays, rushing 225 times, taking six sacks and throwing 89 times.
The Cowboys believe Escobar is a better offensive weapon than Bennett or Phillips, who left for San Diego in March as a free agent. Escobar caught 122 passes for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at San Diego State.
“We used some resources to draft him,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We used a second-round pick, so we think a lot of him, and we want to give him every opportunity to acclimate him to our offensive system.
“What we have to do as coaches is decide who our best 11 guys are, what our best personnel groups are and try to shape our offense accordingly. You know we’ve used a lot of two tight end offense in the past. …So we want to keep attacking defenses a lot of different ways. We’ll do it with different personnel groups and with different guys within those personnel groups.”
Dallas drafted James Hanna in the sixth round last year, and Hanna played in 107 plays to 333 for Phillips. But in the final four games, Hanna’s playing time increased. He played 52 plays in the last four games, while Phillips played 55.
Witten, who played 1,112 plays last season, caught a tight ends record 110 passes for 1,039 yards and three touchdowns. Hanna had eight catches for 86 yards, and Phillips caught eight passes for 55 yards and a score.