Five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode returned to practice last week after missing the first three weeks of training camp rehabbing from off-season knee surgery.
Gurode, however, has not completely been given his old job back.
According to coach Jason Garrett, backup Phil Costa is competing with Gurode for the starting job at center. They have both split time with the first-team offense since Gurode’s return.
Garrett said Costa was impressive with the starters during Gurode’s absence and remains in the mix.
“We like him a lot,” Garrett said Costa. “He’s done a very good job, a very good job for us since he’s been here. He made a very strong impression on us right at the outset last year as a free agent. We call him a little bit of a bulldog. He’ll fight every down from the snap to the whistle and sometimes afterward. When you have guys on your football team like that, that’s a real good thing. He’s developed in the offseason. He came back in great shape. He’s really had a good start to training camp. We want to create competitive situations throughout our football team. It’s really why we don’t talk about starters. It’s more about working with the ones, and he’s worked with the ones just like Andre has worked with the ones. I think it was benefical for Costa to get some work when Andre was out early on in camp, because that established him a little bit more and he was getting rep after rep after rep, and if you approach it like he does, you’re going to get better. We’ve been pleased with his progress. We like to have him in the mix certainly.”
Costa is in his second year after signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
Gurode is a former second-round pick of the Cowboys in 2002. He has twice been named All-Pro, and he was No. 57 in the NFL Network’s list of top 100 players in the NFL in 2011.
— Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has 20-1 odds to win NFL MVP this season, according to one online gambling service. Bodog has Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the favorite with 11-2 odds, followed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at 13-2.
Former Texas A&M standout Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick of the Broncos, is the favorite to win defensive rookie of the year honors at 11-2, while Falcons receiver Julio Jones the favorite for offensive rookie at 5-1. Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter, who has yet to do anything while rehabbing a knee injury and will start the season on PUP, somehow has 15-1 odds to win defensive rookie.
Here are the NFL MVP odds:
Aaron Rodgers (GB) QB 11/2
Tom Brady (NE) QB 13/2
Michael Vick (PHI) QB 17/2
Philip Rivers (SD) QB 9/1
Drew Brees (NO) QB 10/1
Peyton Manning (IND) QB 10/1
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB 18/1
Matt Ryan (ATL) QB 18/1
Adrian Peterson (MIN) RB 20/1
Chris Johnson (TEN) RB 20/1
Tony Romo (DAL) QB 20/1
Matt Schaub (HOU) QB 22/1
Arian Foster (HOU) RB 25/1
Eli Manning (NYG) QB 25/1
Joe Flacco (BAL) QB 25/1
Mark Sanchez (NYJ) QB 25/1
Sam Bradford (STL) QB 25/1
Matt Cassel (KC) QB 28/1
Jamaal Charles (KC) RB 30/1
Josh Freeman (TB) QB 35/1
Kevin Kolb (ARI) QB 35/1
Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) RB 35/1
Ray Rice (BAL) RB 35/1
Steven Jackson (STL) RB 35/1
Matthew Stafford (DET) QB 40/1
Andre Johnson (HOU) WR 50/1
Calvin Johnson (DET) WR 50/1
Frank Gore (SF) RB 50/1
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) WR 50/1
Jay Cutler (CHI) QB 50/1
Michael Turner (ATL) RB 50/1
Peyton Hillis (CLE) RB 50/1
Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) RB 50/1
Roddy White (ATL) WR 50/1
The Cowboys weren’t far from home, but nonetheless, they were happy to get back to their own homes Thursday. The team began training camp July 27 in San Antonio. After two weeks at the Alamodome, the Cowboys returned to Cowboys Stadium and have trained two weeks in Arlington, staying at the Sheraton.
On Thursday, after a 90-minute practice, the Cowboys broke camp.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys accomplished what they needed to in 23 practices, only one of which was at Valley Ranch.
“I think this has been a great facility for us to have the home part of our training camp practices, so to speak,” Garrett said. “Obviously, the weather outside is difficult to practice on a daily basis and get exactly what you want out of it, so to have this facility has been outstanding. Our players have responded really well. We talked before that you get out of training camp right before that first preseason game but you have to keep a little bit of the training camp mentality and I think our guys have done that. I think it’s a tribute to the leaders on our team – we have eight, 10, 12 guys who are some of the best players at their position in the league and those guys have really taken a grip of the football team in terms of setting the pace of practice every day and keeping everybody kind of playing at an up-tempo pace. That’s a really important thing for a football team to have, for any organization to have, and the younger guys have followed that. We have a long way to go, you know that. Mistakes in all areas over and over and over again, but hopefully were minimizing those and still doing the big things the right way.”
The Cowboys will practice at Valley Ranch on Monday and Tuesday before a walk-through Wednesday. They will be outdoors beginning at 9 a.m. to try to beat the 100-degree heat.
“I’ve been looking at the Weather Channel and charts of weather in Dallas for the last 50 years and typically it gets hotter and hotter as the day goes on,” Garrett said.”I found out that you don’t want to practice at 6 o’clock at night. One of the things that we have to do, though, is we have to get information to the players in the morning before practice, so even if we practice early, typically we’ll meet prior to that practice; it might be a shorter meeting; it might be a full-scale meeting like we do in the regular season. We’re a morning practice team anyway, so hopefully that will help once we get into the regular season routine.”
— Charean Williams
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle paid a visit to camp on Thursday. He looked around at the size of the players and let his mind wander.
“There are some guys that can set some good screens,” he said to laughter from reporters. “Martellus Bennett told me he could give us 15 and 6, so I may have to take him up on that.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett invited Carlisle to spend the day at Cowboys’ camp. The two coaches had never met before Thursday, but they hit it off.
Garrett has surrounded himself and his team with champions. He spent time this off-season with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, and former Cowboys’ greats have been around the team all during training camp.
“You guys have seen this before where we’ve had some great players around our team; guys who have had a lot of success in the past here with the Cowboys,” Garrett said. “We think that’s good. Larry Allen’s been around, Kevin Mathis, Leon Lett; we had an alumni event last week. I think that’s good for your team. The Cowboys are really one of the marquee franchises in the world, and so we like that. Certainly when you watch the NBA Finals, and you watch how the Dallas Mavericks play, it’s hard not to be a fan of that team, those guys on that team and certainly the guy who runs that team. Rick’s a guy that I’ve admired a long, long time. His days playing in Boston with the great Larry Bird, really all the way back to those University of Virginia days. He’s someone that I’m a big fan of, and we got a chance to spend a little bit of time together this morning. He’s going to spend the rest of the day with us. When we can have a guy like that around us after all of the success he’s had, and the way he’s done stuff with the Dallas Mavericks, that’s fun for us and hopefully he’s enjoying himself as well.”
This is mostly new to Jeremy Parnell. He is a basketball player by trade. The 6-6, 306-pound Parnell played hoops at Mississippi before staying an extra season to try his hand as an offensive lineman on the football team.
Parnell always believed he’d be in the NBA one day. Instead, he’s in the NFL. He has found that playing the offensive line is a lot like playing center in basketball.
“It’s cutting the man off on the baseline,” Parnell said. “That’s all it is at tackle. But now you can foul him. So that’s about it.”
The Cowboys signed Parnell off the Saints’ practice squad on Oct. 14 as a project. He has a good shot to stick around on the active roster another season to try to become an NFL player.
“It’s a very hard transition,” offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. “I think eventually he’s going to be a real good football player. He’s got all the skills. He’s got very quick hands, very quick feet. Now, he has to learn to hit the other guy. I know that sounds simple, but in basketball you don’t necessarily want to hit the other guy. Now, he’s willing. That’s not an issue. He’s coming along. I’m glad we have him.”
Parnell admitted hitting in his nature. He’s a basketball player, remember.
“Oh yeah, man, this game is physical,” Parnell said. “These are grown men. I’m steadily learning my position. They’re steadily throwing new things at me. But I feel confident that if I continue to work, I’ll continue to get better and be able to help this team.”
— Charean Williams
Cowboys kicker David Buehler doesn’t support the NFL’s new rule change that requires kickoffs to come from the 35-yard line instead of the 30.
“I think they’re changing the rules too much,” Buehler said Thursday on the Ben and Skin Show on KESN-FM. “Football is getting kind of soft with [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell making all these rule changes and everything like that. Just leave it the way it is.
“Kickoffs are one of the most exciting plays in football, so I don’t know why they pushed it up to the 35. I understand the safety reasons but a lot of fans want to see the returns. It gets kind of boring just seeing touchbacks all the time.”
Kicking off from the 35 results in more touchbacks, which reduces the violent collisions and injuries sustained on kickoff returns.
“I obviously want [more touchbacks], but the ideal fan doesn’t want that,” Buehler said. “They want to see the run out, the big collisions and everything like that.”
Buehler isn’t guaranteed to make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. His inconsistency has led to the Cowboys carrying four kickers on their current roster. Buehler, who has been held out of recent practices with a hip flexor injury, has been splitting kicking duties with rookie Dan Bailey and veteran Shayne Graham, who the Cowboys signed on Tuesday.
“I know if I put the ball through the uprights that I have nothing to worry about,” Buehler said. “Competition brings the best out of everybody. Obviously they wanted to bring Shane in, he’s a veteran kicker, he’s good. I’ve kicked with him in the off-season and learned stuff from him. I got to take the positives out of it, but I got to get out there and whip their [butt]. That’s my feeling towards it.”
Sunday’s Cowboys-Chargers game on NBC was the third most-watched preseason game in the last six seasons. That’s the time since NBC got back in the football business with Sunday Night Football. Cowboys-Chargers attracted 10.8 million viewers nationally. No. 1 at 11.4 million viewers remains Cowboys-Bengals in last season’s Hall of Fame Game.
Not surprisingly, Dallas-Fort Worth led all markets with a 23.7 rating. That represents almost 615,000 homes. San Diego was No. 2 at 22.2. Cowboys-friendly markets San Antonio (15.1), Austin (14.7), Houston (12.5) and Oklahoma City (11.7) were next in line.