Daily Archives: August 15th, 2011

Jack Del Rio tones down rookie hazing

 

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert gets to keep his long blonde hair. Guard Will Rackley doesn’t have to worry about losing his eyebrows. In fact, all of Jacksonville’s rookies are safe from training camp hazing. Coach Jack Del Rio ended the practice this season, saying players need to have more respect for each other.

Gabbert“I don’t see why people make such a big deal about it. I would let them shave my head before my eyebrows. Nobody is touching my eyebrows.

— Blaine Gabbert on his hair

That was welcome news for Gabbert, the 10th pick in April’s NFL draft. The former Missouri standout had mentally prepared himself to get buzzed during camp. But now his golden locks are safe.

“There’s other ways to have fun with the rookies,” Gabbert said Monday.

Just a few, though, in Jacksonville.

Del Rio made it clear that hazing should be limited to the “Rookie Show,” an annual talent competition put on by newcomers. Del Rio also will allow dance competitions in the locker room and continue to have rookies carry veterans’ helmets and shoulder pads off the field following practices.

“The whole thing really had gotten carried away in recent years,” Del Rio said. “We wanted to rein it in a little bit while still letting the guys have some fun.”

Hazing stories in Jacksonville include players being taped to goal posts and covered in baby powder, cars being sealed in plastic wrap and clothes being tossed in a cold tub. Haircuts, though, have taken center stage in recent years. Mohawks, mullets and bowl cuts would be considered tame by comparison.

Some had patterns and designs. Others had names and numbers. None would be considered stylish and a few deemed not suitable for all audiences.

Offensive lineman Kevin Haslam’s haircut may have been the worst last fall, so inappropriate that the only way to describe it would be to call it an indecent figure shaved across his head.

“One thing coach said was while hazing was humorous for most of us vets, it’s not necessary,” guard Uche Nwaneri said. “We respect that. We’re going to honor his wishes. It doesn’t mean we can’t make them do stuff for us. They’re still rookies. But we’ll follow how Jack wants it to go.

“Whether it’s a rookie or a 10-year vet, everyone deserves a level of respect. We all agree that’s something we want to show to each other.”

Gabbert, and his fans, may have benefited most from the new rules.

“He got lucky. He got off the hook,” receiver Mike Thomas said. Thomas endured a horrendous hairdo in 2009, and said his first reaction to Del Rio’s new credo was “I thought about why I had to get here when I did.” Thomas said, “I respect it. At the same time, guys can sometimes get out of hand with the hazing. … I definitely respect it. When orders come down from the top, you’ve got to obey them.”

Gabbert surely won’t object, either, even though he doesn’t really understand fans’ obsession with his hair.

“I don’t see why people make such a big deal about it,” he said. “I would let them shave my head before my eyebrows. Nobody is touching my eyebrows.”

Rackley, a third-round pick from Lehigh, heard all sorts of horror stories over the summer. He planned to ask teammates to shave his eyebrows instead of his dreadlocks. Now he gets to keep both.

Del Rio said guys never shaved teammates’ hair or eyebrows during his 11 years in the league, adding that the only hazing came in the form of veterans having rookies sing and dance.

Receiver Kassim Osgood dealt with much more as a rookie in 2003. He understands why Del Rio made the change, especially since the lockout left teams with less time to form bonds and develop chemistry.

“You’re still going to get hazed, but in a different kind of way. This season, with no offseason, we don’t have the time to do anything other than get ready for the season.”

NFL lockout to blame for training camp injuries?

Chiefs coach Todd Haley has been reluctant to put pads on his players the first two weeks of training camp, unsure what kind of condition they arrived in after the NFL lockout wiped away the offseason. He scrapped any sort of scrimmage prior to their first preseason game for the same reason.

Gazing around the league, Haley’s cautious approach is making him look like a genius.

Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara will miss about two months after breaking his foot, and fellow first-rounder Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions is out most of camp after his own foot surgery. Detroit’s second-round draft pick, running back Mikel Leshoure, is done for the year after tearing his Achilles tendon on Monday – the 10th player to sustain the same season-ending injury since the lockout ended and players went back to work.

Now, every time someone gets banged up, it begs the question: Is the lockout to blame?

”I don’t know the answer to that,” Haley said. ”That’s why, for the most part, we’ve been doing things as we’ve been doing them, which is one day at a time and doing the best job we can as a staff, evaluating our guys a number of different ways. And we always evaluate the physical readiness of guys.”

That evaluation is in hyperdrive with the first preseason games scheduled for Thursday night. All the coaches have been balancing uncomfortably between getting players conditioned while at the same time protecting them from injury.

”I think there’s 32 different answers to how coaches and players are approaching this,” said Dr. Thom Mayer, the NFL Players’ Association’s medical director. ”(The lockout) has really changed the dynamic.”

Along with Leshoure, players who have sustained season-ending Achilles injuries include Browns punter Reggie Hodges, who took a snap in the end zone, took one step and dropped like a sack of flour; Eagles defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who underwent surgery Wednesday in Philadelphia; and the Bengals’ Roddrick Muckelroy, a second-year linebacker and one of their top special teams players.

”That’s just part of football,” Cowboys tight end Jason Wittensaid. ”It’s hard, but you just hope that you can stay injury-free. Teams that make a run, they’re the ones who stay healthy in the long run.”

To be healthy in the long run, it helps to start healthy.

One of the byproducts of the lockout is that it kept players from meeting with team physicians and using team facilities. That put several high-profile names behind schedule in rehabilitating injuries that are months old.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is the biggest name on the list. The five-time All-Pro could miss all of training camp after surgery May 23 to repair a bulging disc in his neck. Others in a similar situation include Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who has been slow to recover from a non-surgical procedure to his Achilles.

”Any time a guy has an Achilles and is not able to go through rehab with your organization, you feel like there is going to be a setback,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. ”I think Peyton Manning said the same thing. You’d sure like to be with people that are giving treatment all the time, and we’d like to do it.”

Veteran free agents have only been on the field about a week because language in the collective bargaining agreement kept them away until Aug. 4. In many cases, they’re at different fitness levels than the rest of the guys on the roster who toiled in the heat and humidity of the first week of training camp.

Rookies are at an even greater disadvantage.

Without minicamps and other organized team activities, first-year players have had to adjust to the rigors of the NFL on the fly. Instead of a few hours of film study and practice, like in college, they’re now putting in 12 hours a day at the team facility. And on the practice field, with a much smaller roster size, they may end up running around twice as much.

”Everyone is 20 practices behind,” said former NFL coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN. ”Does that make a big difference for a veteran? No. Because he knows what to do, how to get his body ready and how to practice. The young rookie doesn’t know the tempo of a pro practice. … There’s a fatigue factor.”

That fatigue may be to blame for a number of ailments.

Amukamara and Leshoure are the biggest first-year names with significant injuries, but Chiefs wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin has been slowed by a sore leg; Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has a bum hamstring; and Bufffalo cornerback Domonic Brown hurt his knee three days into camp and has since been waived.

”We are trying to be smart about how we practice,” said Bills coach Chan Gailey. ”Early in camp, the most anybody goes in a row is three plays, and then as we go on it will be four plays, and then as we go on it will be five plays. So we’re trying to be smart how we practice these guys, to slowly work them in to playing shape.”

The NFL’s new labor deal put an end to grueling two-a-days, with most teams replacing one of the workouts with a less rigorous walkthrough. The easier schedule has given players more time to recover between practices, and put coaches on guard about issues concerning safety and proper conditioning.

”We’ll accumulate data over time to really gauge the impact that the new training camp format is having,” said Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the players’ executive committee.

Bill Nagy gets look at left guard, options open

August, 15, 2011 1:11 PM CT

By Todd Archer

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys’ search for a left guard continued Monday with seventh-round pick Bill Nagy running with the first-team offense.With Montrae Holland out with a back injury the last two weeks, rookie David Arkin moved into the starting lineup and Kyle Kosier moved to right guard.“He’s done a real fine job and you kind of reward a guy if he had a good day so we’re going to move him up a little bit,” running game coordinator Hudson Houck said. “That doesn’t mean by any means that he’s starting this game and it doesn’t mean anything that he’s starting the season. We just want to move guys and see combinations and see how they work.”

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones hinted Saturday that Phil Costa could be a candidate to start at guard as well but Costa has yet to take a snap there in camp.

Nagy was informed of the move before the walkthrough.

“It’s going to be competitive, like it is every other day,” Nagy said of working vs. the No. 1 defense. “I’m excited about the opportunity and, yeah, let’s get it going.”

Houck said moving Andre Gurode to guard at this point “wouldn’t be an option but we’re not ruling it out.” Houck said Holland remains the starter even during his injury absence, but he said the best five players will play.

Kenyon Coleman with first-team snaps

August, 15, 2011

12:59 PM CT

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys have rotated their defensive linemen throughout camp. On Monday morning, newly signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman got some run with the first-team defense.Defensive line coach Brian Baker has said he wants competition at all the defensive line spots because everyone at the position will get snaps.

“We’re just doing different rotations,” Coleman said after Monday’s practice. “We’re a rotating front. I’m not a coach. I don’t know who’s where. It’s Marcus [Spears], Igor [Olshansky] and Jay Ratliff and that’s the way I look at it. The cool thing is we can all play.”

Coleman said there’s nothing to read into him getting snaps with the first team.

In practice, Coleman got snaps in place of Olshansky and both players are run stoppers. Yet Coleman has played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Cleveland the last two seasons, so he has a better knowledge of the scheme.

“You get Kenyon Coleman, and the experience he has playing the defensive end position in this scheme we feel good about that,” Jason Garrett said. “To add that to the group we already have, it’s a good group that we have.”

Keith Brooking is here to stay

August, 15, 2011 2:05 PM CT

By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON — The last time we saw Keith Brooking on the practice field, it was Day 2 of training camp when after intercepting a pass he pulled a hamstring while running down the field. He slammed his helmet down that day and still hasn’t come back.In Brooking’s place is second-year inside linebacker Sean Lee, who has done an excellent job in practice and in the preseason opener by playing physical in terms of getting to the running back.

Lee’s play raised a question about Brooking’s future because he’s in the last year of his deal and he turns 36 October 30.

“I think Brooking knows that he’s a big part of our football team,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The big thing with him simply is to get himself healthy. You talk about being obsessed, he’s obsessed with that. I was in a defensive meeting [Sunday night] and in the middle of the meeting he got up, walked to the back of the room and started stretching. It’s 9:30 at night. He just has that way about him and is the reason why he’s so good.”

Garrett said he reassured Brooking of his role with the team, and it’s assumed to be a starting role with Lee coming off the bench.

Last year, Brooking battled a foot injury that forced him to wear a bigger shoe to relieve pressure. He still finished second on the team with 97 total tackles and third with 73 solo tackles.

“He understands it’s a competitive business,” Garrett said. “To make teams, to be starters on teams, to have a role on teams, he gets all that. But I believe he knows that he’s going to be a part of what we’re doing and he has a significant role on our football team.”

Penalties a focus for Jason Garrett

August, 14, 2011 12:46 PM CT

By Todd Archer
ARLINGTON,  Texas— Penalties have been a problem for the Cowboys whether Bill Parcells or Wade Phillips was the head coach. Only three times in the last 10 seasons have the Cowboys finished a year with fewer than 100 penalties.Jason Garrett is doing his best to curb the issue.He has had officials, either of the NFL variety or collegiate, at every practice the Cowboys have had in training camp.

The Cowboys had six penalties for 59 yards against Denver in the preseason opener. Three came against the defense in the first quarter with the regulars on the field. One came on the offense in the fourth quarter and two were on special teams, where you expect some penalties in the preseason because of all the younger players involved.

“We need to get better understanding the importance of minimizing penalties and also handling situations better,” Garrett said during the team’s stay in San Antonio. “We typically have officials out at practice throughout the season and we thought it was good to do right from the outset.”

The Cowboys were penalized 109 times last season, which was sixth most in the NFL. In the eight games with Garrett as interim head coach, the Cowboys were penalized 47 times

Cowboys like how LB Butler did it in preseason opener

Third-year linebacker Victor Butler emerged as one of the defensive stars in the Cowboys’ preseason opener.

He tied for the team lead with five tackles, including a tackle for loss. But Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said what really stood out was Butler’s effort level.

“He had a couple of really good hustle plays in the game,” Garrett said. “One where he was on the ground, two guys were on him, he gets up, chases the play down from behind, almost knocks the ball out – some things that were really good. We talk about the passion, emotion, enthusiasm. He demonstrates that. What he’s doing more and more now is demonstrating it on a consistent basis.”

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he’s thinking about Butler for more roles in the defense.

“He does have great pass rushing ability, but also has some playmaking ability in coverage,” Ryan said. “We are excited about VB.”

— Carlos Mendez

Cowboys offensive line had the right idea on screens, Garrett says

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett likes screens, and he wants to use them. So he was encouraged by the way the offensive line executed its screen blocks in Thursday’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos.

“One of the things that happens on the screens is you want linemen to get out  in space,” Garrett said. “Bigger guys trying to block smaller guys, it’s hard to do. The fundamental technique that they use, you want to throw on guys. If you’re a bigger guy, you just want to go throw at them, dive at them and make them do something. Ideally, you knock him to the ground, but at least you affect  him. You make him chop his feet and go somewhere he doesn’t want to go.

Garrett said players like center Phil Costa and guard David Arkin showed good form.

“A couple of those guys were flying around out there and using the right technique,” Garrett said.

— Carlos Mendez

Felix Jones becoming all-around back, but Cowboys still want to watch his touches

It’s fair to say running back Felix Jones had an impressive start to the preseason. In just four touches, he accounted for 39 yards. He showed balance and speed on both a 16-yard screen catch and an 18-yard run.

But then, everybody knows he can run and catch.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was more eager to talk about another area where Jones has gotten better.

“Where he’s shown a lot of maturity is as a third-down guy – understanding who to block and to physically block them,” Garrett said. “He’s become more and more a complete back. He’s shown flashes of being able to do all of those things his first couple of years. I believe he’s really matured as a player. It’ll be fun to see him play here and in the next month or so and get ready for the  season.”

The Cowboys want to make sure they know how much action Jones is getting.  They want him to play hard, but they don’t want him to wear down, considering he’s never been the solo back in an offense.

“We encourage our players to play hard every snap and play the right way every snap. We don’t want them pacing themselves,” Garrett said. “That’s one of the reasons at that position you have to have depth. You want to be able to take 28 out of the game and put somebody else in there and hand them the ball and allow them to catch the ball out of the backfield. We monitor the number of touches he gets, the diminishing returns point. But for me to stand here right now and say he’s ‘this,’ I’m not ready to do that, but let’s keep looking at it as we go.”

— Carlos Mendez

Cowboys moving forward by embracing the past, inviting former players to scrimmage vs Chargers

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Arlington – Coach Jason Garrett’s plan to move the Cowboys forward in 2011 includes reconnecting and embracing the  franchise’s illustrious past.
The use of the flex defense on the first play of the preseason against the Broncos in effort to pay homage to legendary coach Tom Landry and the players of yesterday was just one example.
Garrett has placed pictures of former players and past games throughout the team’s Valley Ranch training complex and not just those from Super Bowl teams of the 1990’s.
He is going to take it step further this week during the joint practices with the Broncos at Cowboys Stadium by inviting the team’s alumni players to be their special guests for the workouts.
“It’s a good opportunity for our players to be around those guys and interact with them,” Garrett said. “There is great history here. They are welcome with the Cowboys in 2011 and we want them to know that. We want our players to be around them and know what the standard for excellent is and how it’s been around here.”
Garrett said he doesn’t want his players living in the past. But he does want them to take pride in the organization, it’s rich history and understand that people in the past have set a standard of excellence they need to strive to reach every day.
“When you are in a franchise like the Dallas Cowboys it’s important to understand the history because the history has been so good,” Garrett said.  “When you look back at what the franchise has done in the past, the teams, the coaches, the players, there is a great standard that exists.
It’s meaningful. We are fortunate to have that standard to see it be done at the highest level, understand what it is and strive everyday to maintain that standard.”
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan grew up hating the Cowboys when his dad Buddy Ryan was coaching the Eagles. But he respects the history and is on board  with Garrett’s plan to embrace the past. It is why he was excited play a part in the process with the use of the flex defense against the Broncos.
“Most teams in this league don’t have a franchise like this,” Ryan said.  “There are very few teams in this league, if any, that has a franchise like the  Dallas Cowboys have and the history. That is important. The whole state of Texas, all you have to do is go get a cup of coffee and everybody knows who you are.  And obviously it is important to everybody in this state and all the Dallas  Cowboys fans. We want our team to be great and we want our team to win games like everybody else in the state of Texas . It’s the biggest stage and there is a reason for it. We have the biggest football team and the biggest fan base.  It’s great to be a part of, and we respect everyone here. And we are going to do our part on defense to make sure the tradition is held up.”

Though still upset, Giants’ Umenyiora to practice today

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

Last Updated: 7:36 AM, August 15, 2011

He still is issuing fighting words, but now Osi Umenyiora says he will fight no more, hop off the stationary bicycle and actually get on the field this afternoon to practice with his teammates as Giants training camp enters its final week.

The defensive end’s battle for more money or a trade has been lost. The Giants did not pay him or send him packing. Left with few options, Umenyiora yesterday, confirming what all signs the past few days had indicated, said in an email to the Associated Press he finally will practice today.

He will practice, mind you, in spite of a front office that denies him what he believes he has earned, in spite of a front office that does not “respect the fact I sacrifice my health for the franchise.”

Umenyiora has declared peace, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy to be playing under his existing contract when he feels he deserves so much more. The Giants offered to sweeten Umenyiora’s contract — he has two years remaining at $7.1 million, including $3.1 million in base salary for the 2011 season — with some performance-based incentives.

The incentive package Umenyiora is echewing gives him the possibility of doubling his $7.1 million in salary — granted, if he hit every incentive. There also was decent money offered for simply reporting and being in uniform for games, but unless he has a change of heart, Umenyiora will not be adding anything to his bank account.

But the new money is not guaranteed and the offer falls far short of Umenyiora’s desired raise, which is why he is so sour on the sweeteners.

“No deal has been reworked,” Umenyiora wrote to the AP. “What has been offered has been unacceptable and shows they don’t really respect the fact I sacrifice my health for the franchise.

“I will play under my current deal because I love and respect my coaches, my teammates, the fans and myself. Not for those incentives.”

Umenyiora never mentioned the clean bill of health for his ailing right knee as a reason to begin practicing, validating the notion his insistence on not practicing was mostly (or all) about financial wrangling.

Umenyiora missed the preseason-opening, 20-10 loss in Charlotte, but he no doubt heard or saw the exploits of second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks in barely one quarter. The Giants envision Umenyiora, Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck as a fearsome pass-rushing trio, with Mathias Kiwanuka joining in the fun from his outside linebacker spot.

Once Umenyiora finally gets to work, the thawing process in an icy summer between the franchise and the former Pro Bowler will turn to another chapter. Umenyiora, 29, insists general manager Jerry Reese promised in 2008 to rework his contract or trade him. Umenyiora was so adamant about that claim he swore to it in an affidavit used as part of the NFL players union’s antitrust lawsuit against the league.

After missing the first day of camp, Umenyiora arrived but did not practice, and the team announced he said he was having a problem with his knee. The Giants believed Umenyiora could play through the issue, but allowed him to sit idle as they offered up a few financial morsels.

Late last week, Umenyiora for the first time got off the bike and worked on some pass-rush moves on the side. He then traveled to Atlanta for a second opinion on his knee, which echoed the Giants’ medical staff’s view that he did not need immediate surgery and could play as long as the knee was given rest and treatment.

The Giants’ medical staff has given Umenyiora clearance to begin practicing.

Coach Tom Coughlin yesterday said he anticipated Umenyiora’s return today.

“We fully expect that, yes,” he said. “But I don’t know that for a fact.”

Jason Garrett bans rookie hazing in Dallas

Posted by Michael David Smith on August 15, 2011, 7:39 AM EDT
Jason Garrett
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is telling his veteran players to treat rookies as equals.

Garrett has joined Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio in banning rookie hazing from training camp.

“It’s just something I believe in and we believe in as a staff,” Garrett said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “The young guys are part of our football team. They certainly need to get themselves acclimated in a lot of different ways, and our veteran players are in charge of welcoming them to the NFL in a real positive way. . . . There’s not going to be anything that’s demeaning in any way that a rookie has to do. We just don’t believe in that.”

Last year, a controversy began in Dallas when rookie receiver Dez Bryant refused to carry the pads of veteran receiver Roy Williams. This year, Cowboys rookies aren’t carrying veterans’ pads at training camp.

INTERESTING COMMENTS:

Aug 15, 2011 8:09 AM Garrett is still bitter because his rookie hazing haircut just won’t go away.

Aug 15, 2011 8:09 AM Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Hazing, though to the outside observer may appear cruel, helps build a sense of unity amongst members of an organization. “every guy here went through it,” helps the rookies endure the harmless, good natured ribbing their new teammates dish out. Jack del rio and jason garrett are pansies.

Aug 15, 2011 8:19 AM Grow a pair its all in fun. Geez.

Aug 15, 2011 8:23 AM Garrett is probably still upset that he had to carry aikmans purse as a rookie

Aug 15, 2011 8:28 AM Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Hazing, though to the outside observer may appear cruel, helps build a sense of unity amongst members of an organization.

Aug 15, 2011 8:34 AM Like hazing every truly hurt someone’s ability to play….I guess having a rookie sing his college theme song or run and get some fried chicken for the offensive lineman or something is just truly devastating to their potential…Hell, why stop there. Have the veterans hold their hands when they walk to practice…..

Aug 15, 2011 8:44 AM hazing helps to bring comrodery, this is a game played by kids who are millionares, let them have fun.

Aug 15, 2011 9:03 AM Jason Genius prefers instead to divide his lockerrom by only allowing select players wear the TEAM’s logo on their helmet.

Aug 15, 2011 9:50 AM

Sean Taylor was temporarily blinded during a hazing incident when Lavar Arrington nailed him in the face with shaving cream pie. Missed practice time. Cam Cleeland was injured when he was hit in the face with a bag of coins as a rookie. Jeff Danish was thrown through a window and had to get a lot of stitches. A lot of people have been killed or severely injured, even sexually
assaulted during hazing rituals. Maybe you should have read the linked article, where Garrett says “There are some things we won’t do. There are some other things that will still probably be in place. The more harmless things will still be in place.”

Aug 15, 2011 10:20 AM “Hazing” beyond the innocuous singing of one’s alma mater or paying for meals and other things of that nature should not be a part of professional sports. Especially stuff that might injure or demean others. It sends the wrong message to people who see these professionals as role models.

Ex-Cowboy Larry Brown rides to rescue when rain dampens Garrett’s plans for outdoors practice

By RAINER SABIN

Staff Writer rsabin@dallasnews.com

Published 13 August 2011 11:00 PM

When Cowboys coach Jason Garrett awoke Saturday, he was eager to see how his players would perform under the intense glare of the sun at the team’s first outdoor practice at Valley Ranch. Then he looked outside, saw the rain, and realized his plans were foiled.

“I said to the players, ‘How big was the group prayer last night?’ ” Garrett recalled.

The unexpected shower created a logistical problem for the Cowboys, who needed an indoor facility for the morning practice.

Fortunately, Super Bowl XXX Most Valuable Player Larry Brown came to the rescue. Brown, a defensive back for the Cowboys from 1991-1995, had booked Cowboys Stadium for a series of games organized by Metroplex Select Youth Football. He allowed for the event schedule to be interrupted to accommodate the needs of the Cowboys.

“We’re out here on Larry Brown’s time,” Jerry Jones quipped.

The Cowboys went through a brisk practice, and soon thereafter, the children were back out on the field.

“It was great to know that someone who is part of the Cowboys family and was a part of that thing helped us out, and it made for a good day of practice for us,” Garrett said.

Jerry Jones says injured Bennett, Brooking, Jenkins, Choice, and Murray won’t be rushed back

By Brandon George / Reporter
1:58 PM on Sat., Aug. 13, 2011

ARLINGTON — Injured Cowboys starters center Andre Gurode and nose tackle Jay Ratliff returned to practice Saturday morning at Cowboys Stadium.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team won’t rush back tight end Martellus Bennett, who injured his hamstring Tuesday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“I don’t know if he’ll be back this week,” Jones said. “We could have him back out there pretty soon. There’s no question he has some tightness there.”

Jones said linebacker Keith Brooking (hamstring) and running back Tashard Choice (calf) won’t be back this week.

Jones said the team won’t rush starting cornerback Mike Jenkins back as he recovers from a stinger.

“We can do some real good by resting him,” Jones said. “I’m not concerned ultimately about it, but it does need to rest.”

Jones said third-round pick DeMarco Murray (hamstring) has made some “real improvement.”

“Murray is a guy who we’re really trying to be sensitive about how quick to get him out there,” Jones said. “We know he’ll be very competitive from the get-go. We’ll work him harder this week. Don’t know if we’ll see him against San Diego [on Aug. 21].”

Offensive guard Montrae Holland missed practice Saturday with his back injury. But he did more rehab work along the sideline and appears closer to returning.

Injured reserve safety Danny McCray, who hurt his ribs and left shoulder in the preseason game Thursday against Denver, said he hopes to return to practice in the next day or two.

Sunday’s Cowboys injury report

STATUS CHANGED

C Andre Gurode, Knee; Cleared, returned Saturday

NT Jay Ratliff, Hip; Cleared, returned Saturday

G Montrae Holland, Back; Out, Day-to-day

RB DeMarco Murray, Hamstring; Out, Day-to-day, placed on non-football injury list

RB Tashard Choice, Calf; Out, Day-Day

TE Martellus Bennett, Hamstring; Returned to practice Sunday

S Danny McCray, Shoulder; Day-to-day

LB Keith Brooking, Out, Day-to-Day

CB Mike Jenkins, Limited but practicing

LB Alex Daniels Ankle, Out indefinitely

STATUS UNCHANGED

LB Bruce Carter, Knee; Placed on non-football injury list

WR Teddy Williams, Hamstring; Out indefinitely

K Kai Forbath, Quadriceps; Placed on non-football injury list

CB Terence Newman, Groin; Four to five weeks

 

Jerry Jones optimistic Terence Newman will be back for opener

ARLINGTON — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Saturday that injured starting cornerback Terence Newman is progressing well in his rehab and it’s looking more likely that he’ll be back in time for the season opener Sept. 11 at the New York Jets.

Newman pulled his groin during an Aug. 3 practice in San Antonio and was expected to be out five to six weeks, putting his return for the season opener in doubt. But Jones was optimistic Saturday when talking about Newman’s return date.

“Newman should be on the timetable or better from what we had anticipated,” Jones said. “When I said better, the timetable was it would be close to the season opener, but he really is working hard to make progress. I don’t know. No one knows, but he’s certainly at or above and beyond the level we had hoped he would be.”

Briefly: When the Cowboys left the Alamodome on Wednesday, the team’s five-year contract came to an end, but the Cowboys hope to return. “I feel more positive and stronger about training camp in San Antonio than I’ve ever felt,” Jones said. … CB Alex Ibiloye (South Garland, TCU) and OT Jose Acuna — both rookie free agents — were released, trimming the roster to 88

Alan Ball thriving in natural position of cornerback

By RAINER SABIN

Staff Writer rsabin@dallasnews.com

Published 14 August 2011 10:31 PM

ARLINGTON – When the Cowboys’ defense collapsed last season, several players were assigned blame. Chief among them was Alan Ball, the beleaguered defensive back who managed only four pass breakups in 2010.
After being moved to free safety before training camp last year, Ball made little impact on the field and was seen as a liability despite playing more snaps – 986 – than any other defender on the team. Now he is back playing cornerback, his natural position. And not surprisingly, he is proving his worth.

“He’s doing a great job,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “That guy’s a competitive guy. He makes plays out here every day.”

With Terence Newman sidelined for the foreseeable future after suffering a groin injury and Mike Jenkins limited by a neck stinger, the 6-2, 195-pound Ball has received an opportunity to improve his standing with the Cowboys. On Sunday, while working with the first team, he traced receiver Manny Johnson’s every step before pouncing and deflecting a pass away in the end zone.

“I’m just trying to get back in the routine of being a cornerback again,” said Ball, who was selected in the seventh round during the 2007 draft and re-signed this year as a restricted free agent. “But it’s been good.”

The transition has been going so smoothly, in fact, that Ball is now drawing praise instead of criticism. And right now, he’s got the Cowboys defensive coordinator in his corner.

“Alan Ball has really impressed me,” Ryan said.

Second Half – Training Camp II

Officially, the Cowboys have ended training camp. But while it might not be called camp anymore as the team has moved from San Antonio to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, it certainly has the look and feel of a camp.

Either way, there is work to do and that’s the goal of this team as they head back to their home stadium for two weeks.

“We’re not done by any means,” linebacker Bradie James. “We’re getting closer to laying the foundation as far as our team. Guys are coming together and (Sunday’s) practice was a spirited practice. We’re getting after each other. And that’s what you need to be successful.”

The Cowboys are back in shoulder pads again and will likely stay that way through Friday when the club is expected to practice against the Chargers, just two days before the Aug. 21 game at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys are also scheduled to practice against San Diego Thursday at Valley Ranch.

“It’s been physical,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve said all along that’s what we want. You have to tackle in this game and you have to be physical with each other. We’ve tried to do that but also be very smart about it.”

A four-week long camp is nothing out of the ordinary for this team. Apparently, a split camp between two different sites is getting to be the norm as well. Last year, the Cowboys had five weeks of camp with two in San Antonio, a week in Dallas before two more out in Oxnard, Calif., which could be a destination for next year’s camp.

But for now, the Cowboys are back home, although they are staying in a team hotel in Arlington, just two blocks away from the stadium.

Still, the mindset of being near home is actually preferable for defensive end Marcus Spears.

“I know I’m one of the guys who actually likes to be closer to home,” Spears said. “I know some people think you have more distractions. But I think it’s the opposite. I know I like the comfort of being close to my family and if something happens, we’re able to drive there. I think you’ve got more distractions when you’re on the road and worrying about your family. To me, I like this setup.”

Wherever camp is and however it’s called, the focus has to be the same.

“The important thing for us to understand is that training camp is over,” Garrett said. “We’re home. But we need to keep a training camp mentality. This is a very important week for us.”

Garrett Press Conference – Sunday

Garrett Press Conference – Sunday
With their second pre-season game just a week away, Jason Garrett spoke to the media about the teams preparations in the coming week.

Garrett Pres Conference – Sunday <– click here to listen Garrett’s Press Conference

Indianapolis Colts – Hot Issues

Camp Confidential: Indianapolis Colts

August, 12, 2011

By Paul Kuharsky

ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s trendy to call the Colts aging and to view the Texans and even the Jaguars as up-and-comers in the AFC South.

But if Indianapolis is healthy, it’s awfully risky to be ahead of the curve regarding its demise.

This is a team that lost a ton of talent to injury last season and still won the division at 10-6. It’s added some nice pieces on defense through bargain-basement free-agency. It drafted two offensive tackles who should be pillars, and also selected a short-yardage back.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a big rebound year, and most teams aren’t even talking rebound when it comes to following a division title.

“I think it’s really the same team,” middle linebacker Gary Brackett said.

The same team is a major threat to win the division and compete for home-field advantage in the playoffs. Should it break through for the third Super Bowl appearance of the Peyton Manning era, a huge prize awaits: The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

HOT ISSUES

Manning’s health?

Peyton Manning

Photo/Michael Conroy
It’s unclear how soon Peyton Manning will return from offseason neck surgery. He spoke after signing his contract and has been seen around the team a couple of times during training camp at Anderson University. But like in 2008 following offseason knee surgeries, he’s not practicing.This time it’s a result of neck surgery in May. It’s the second year in a row Manning had a neck procedure after the season. But he and the team have expressed confidence that all he needs is time and rehabilitation. It’s unlikely that a five-year, $90 million contract would have gotten done if the medical staff and management had any doubts.While the Colts move forward without Manning, his absence also puts them in limbo. No matter how strongly they spin Curtis Painter’s performance, the defense isn’t being pushed in practice the way it would be if Manning was running the other side.And no matter how precise the routes, how good the blocking or how well-timed the play, the offense will still need to sync it all up with the star quarterback once he returns.That knee in 2008 limited him early, when the team struggled out of the gate. Coming back from a neck injury, Manning is less likely to have any sort of mechanical issues or physical limitations that affect his passing. That’s one case for expecting a better start after so much missed time.

The timetable for his return is unknown. You know the drill: They say he’s progressing well, that they are optimistic, etc., and no one outside a very tight circle has any real idea when he will re-emerge. He was spotted once throwing with what a witness called “decent velocity.” Hey, encouraging news is encouraging news.

Is the secondary deep enough?Last season, the Colts were stretched virtually everywhere. Aaron Francisco wasn’t on the team for opening day, ranking as the fourth or fifth option at strong safety, and he played a good share of the season as the starter.Behind free safety Antoine Bethea and re-signed and healthy strong safety Melvin Bullitt, there are unproven options including Al Afalava, Joe Lefeged, Mike Newton, David Caldwell and Chip Vaughn.And after the top three corners — Jerraud Powers, Justin Tryon and Jacob Lacey — there also isn’t proven depth.“At the safety position, I’m confident that we’re going to get two guys that will emerge there,” Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said. “We see enough signs to know that there is quality in that group.

“I also think there is some quality in the backup corners. Kevin Thomas is one of them. There are some interesting guys, and they’ll play themselves on or off the roster based on the preseason. But based on what I’ve seen thus far, I’d say we’ve got a good group and one or two guys will emerge.”

They will all benefit, of course, from a better pass rush. And if Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are better supplemented by Jerry Hughes and Jamaal Anderson on the edges and Tommie Harris provides a solid nickel push in the middle, they could have one.

Will the passing game have enough consistent weapons?

The ability of the 2010 Colts to get production from the likes of tight end Jacob Tamme and receiver Blair White was remarkable.

Austin Collie

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
The Colts hope Austin Collie’s concussion issues are in the past and that he’ll be on the field for the entire season. But if they can’t count on often-injured receiver Anthony Gonzalez or Austin Collie, who was shut down last season after concussion issues, it will be harder to make things go again.Reggie Wayne is in fantastic shape and working hard, and will be a key target for Manning as always. Dallas Clark is back from a wrist injury. If the Colts are calling plays for those two and Pierre Garcon, Collie and Gonzalez, they can be potent. If the group shrinks, the effort is more exhausting.Manning averaged 6.92 yards per attempt in 2010. That’s the lowest mark in his career outside of his rookie season (6.5). The Colts need to find more big plays and move the ball with a little less effort to be the kind of team they want to be.

Coaches & Executives

HEAD COACH

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett
Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.

EXECUTIVES

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones, Owner, President and General Manager
In one of the most dramatic eras of ownership in professional sports, Jerry Jones’ stewardship of the Dallas Cowboys has brought unprecedented results and success to one of the world’s most popular sports entities.

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President, Director of Player Personnel
With 19 years of NFL experience, Stephen Jones has established himself as one of the brightest and most versatile young executives in professional sports.

Jerry Jones Jr

Jerry Jones, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer
As Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Jerry Jones, Jr. is a key member of the Dallas Cowboys front office, overseeing the club’s entire sales and marketing efforts.

Charlotte Jones

Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President Brand Management / President of Charities
As one of the National Football League’s most innovative and versatile front office executives, Charlotte Anderson’s 21 years of NFL experience with the Dallas Cowboys have enabled her to assume a position of leadership among women in American professional sports.

COACHING STAFF

Offensive Coaches Defensive Coaches Specialty Coaches
Jimmy Robinson
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Rob Ryan
Defensive Coordinator
Mike Woicik
Strength and Conditioning
John Garrett
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Dave Campo
Secondary
Joe DeCamillis
Special Teams Coordinator
Skip Peete
Running Backs
Matt Eberflus
Linebackers
Chris Boniol
Asstistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Wade Wilson
Quarterbacks
Brian Baker
Defensive Line
Walt Williams
Asstistant Strength and Conditioning
Hudson Houck
Offensive Line/Running Game Coord.
Brett Maxie
Secondary / Safeties
Wes Phillips
Assistant Offensive Line
Ben Bloom
Defensive Quality Control/ Linebackers
Keith O’Quinn
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers

Super Kids Super Sharing Project Breaks Record

Super Kids Super Sharing Project Breaks Record

NFL Super Kids Super Sharing Project benefitst thousands of children in North Texas

 

  • 30,000 items were donated by local school children for NFL Super Kids Super Sharing Project. Total includes 15,000 books and the rest included sports equipment, board games and school supplies.
  • Turnout was tremendous – more than 500 adults and youngsters. This year’s program involved the largest number of school districts in the 13 year history of the NFL’s Super Kids – Super Sharing program at the Super Bowl.
  • Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and Rowdy were on hand to greet and thank students and coordinators.

MORE DALLAS COWBOY COMMUNITY NEWS

McGee impressive, but still learning from vets

By Jon Machota
FOXSports
August 12, 2011

ARLINGTON — While he admitted to being confident and comfortable as he led the Dallas Cowboys to a come-from-behind preseason win over the Denver Broncos Thursday night, Stephen McGee wasn’t interested in moving past one of his mentors on the depth chart.

McGee played the majority of the preseason opener, completing 14-of-24 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns.

Cowboys starter Tony Romo only played one series, same as backup Jon Kitna.

McGee was asked after the 24-23 Cowboys victory if he should supplant Kitna as the No. 2 signal-caller in Dallas.

“Nah,” McGee responded. “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from Kitna. He’s such a good player and such a great person…. Right now I’m in a great position to learn and just pick his brain.

“Coach (Jason) Garrett will be the first one to say we’re always competing, there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, (Kitna’s) a legend. This guy’s been playing for 16 years, he’s doing something right.”

McGee completed 22-of-44 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns last season. Kitna, who became the Cowboys’ starter after Romo’s season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7, won four of his nine starts in 2010. Kitna tossed 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions during those nine contests.

McGee didn’t see playing time as a rookie in 2009, but won his only start last season, 14-13 over Philadelphia during the final week of the season.

Buehler solid with kicking duties for Cowboys

By Jon Machota
FOXSports 

August 12, 2011

ARLINGTON — David Buehler was perfect from the field Thursday night. The Cowboys kicker nailed his only field goal attempt and drilled his only extra-point try in the preseason opener.

The fifth round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft had his share of struggles last season as the Cowboys’ full-time field goal kicker, and he didn’t put any concerns to rest with an inconsistent training camp in San Antonio.

As he admitted after the Cowboys’ 24-23 victory over the Denver Broncos, he’s been through the good, the bad and the in between.

Last season, Buehler missed eight of his 24 field goal attempts that came from 30 yards or longer. His struggles led to the Cowboys inviting rookie Dan Bailey, who won the 2010 Lou Groza Award, to training camp.

While Bailey had a strong start in San Antonio, Buehler received the only field goal attempt on Thursday. His 42-yarder capped the Cowboys’ opening drive.

“I’m just gonna go out there every time they line me up and I’m gonna make the kick,” he said. “That’s how I see it. Obviously I was a little rusty at the start of camp, but I’m knocking off that rust and capitalizing in games.”

So does Buehler feel like the kicking job is his to lose?

“I feel like it is, yeah,” he said Thursday. “Last year I learned a lot, obviously it was roller coaster of a season, but I took all of the positives out of it. I feel like I was in every damn situation a kicker could be in throughout his career in one year.”

He added: “Competition brings the best out of everybody. I see Dan put the ball through the uprights and I know I got to put the ball through the uprights as well. He’s a damn good kicker, and I just got to keep doing my job.”

Ryan: Mental Mistakes

Ryan: Mental Mistakes

Coach Rob Ryan speaks about the state of the defense after game one of the pre-season, and elaborates on the need to clean up mental mistakes.
Ryan: Mental Mistakes <– click here to see video
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