Daily Archives: September 1st, 2011

Garrett, McGee agree: End-zone interception wasn’t a great decision

McGee threw into a crowd in the end zone, and the result was an interception.

“I don’t think it was a great decision,” Garrett said. “If there’s nothing there, throw the ball out of bounds. But other than that, I thought he handled himself really well. I thought he handled the pressure well, got the ball out and also made some plays.”

McGee completed 21 of 25 passes for 233 yards. The Cowboys totaled 317 yards under him, but got only three points.

“I thought he was pretty consistent throwing it as we drove the ball up and down the field,” Garrett said. “Certainly, he had some mistakes, and the biggest one was the interception.”

McGee agreed.

“It just killed us,” he said. “It took points off the board. It was a bad decision on my part.”

TBAB NOTE: In fairness to McGee, it should be mentioned that Buehler and Rayner each missed a field goal … that also cost The ‘Boys six points.

Radway breaks his left leg

It was a bad break for rookie receiver Raymond Radway, who was 3 seconds from  making the Cowboys’ 53-player roster. Radway fractured his fibula and tibia in  his left leg on the next-to-last play of the Cowboys’ 17-3 preseason loss to  Miami.

“What a good kid, three seconds on the clock,” Cowboys quarterback  Stephen McGee said. “He made some outstanding plays today. That’s a tough thing  to do. You are crying on the inside for him. That is a difficult thing to  accept. He will be back, though. He’ll have surgery and be ready to go next  year.”

Radway flew back to Dallas on Jerry Jones’ private plane, and he was expected  to undergo surgery for a broken left leg overnight.

“He was legitimately in the mix – very much in the mix,” Jones said of  Radway’s chances of making the team. “After he caught the big pass over the  middle, I said, ‘I don’t think we can take the chance [of cutting him].’ It’s  really a shame that happened.”

Radway caught three passes for 62 yards against the Dolphins. After Radway’s  leg was placed in an air cast and he was strapped to a cart, Radway received  encouragement from several players, including Dez Bryant.

“It’s unfortunate for him,” Bryant said. “He has been doing great.  We are going to keep him in our prayers and wish the best for him. We  have all bonded well. That is what it’s all about. When it comes to  something like this, we are at facilty every day and having a great time,  friendship turns to family.

“When Radway went down, my heart sunk. Not just me, but the rest of the  team.”

Complicating things at the position, rookie draft pick Dwayne Harris suffered  a concussion in the third quarter.

Witten: Dez Bryant is different this year, he’s been ‘solid all the way around’

Tom Fox / Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, bigger than life on the massive video board, delivers his preseason message to those in attendance at the 2011 Dallas Cowboys Luncheon at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday. The event benefits The Dallas Cowboys Courage House located at Happy Hill Farm.

The Cowboys continue to speak highly of the progress that Dez Bryant has made on and off the field in the past year.

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was the latest to praise the multi-talented receiver who is entering his second NFL season.

“The difference from last year and this year is that he was a little bit of a flash player, show up occasionally, and this year he’s been just solid all the way around,” Witten said recently on ESPN’s First Take. “He makes great plays and he gets back up and does it again.”

Witten added: “It’s been great to see because I know we’re going to count on him a lot this year. And I think he’s up for a big year.”

Some experts have attempted to compare Bryant to former Cowboys Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens. While Owens was dynamic on the field, catching 38 touchdowns over three years in Dallas, he was an attention-getter off of it.

Since Witten has played with both, he was asked if Bryant could be better than Owens.

“That’s a good question,” Witten replied. “It would be hard to say. What Terrell has done over his career is going to be hard-pressed to beat. They’re different players. Dez is a star in the future, and I didn’t see Terrell early in his career like I have with Dez. Both of them are great receivers, but I’m excited for Dez because I know what he can do on the field.”

Preseason ends with a whimper

MIAMI (AP) — Larry Johnson  scored on a 22-yard touchdown run and Matt Moore threw for another score Thursday night to help the Miami Dolphins win a battle of backups by beating the Dallas Cowboys17-3 in the final exhibition game for both teams.

Reluctant to risk injuries so close to the start of the regular season, the Cowboys designated 31 of their 80 players as inactive, while the Dolphins had 21 inactive players. Three starters were active for each team.

Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who signed with the Dolphins last week after sitting out most of last season, rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries and scored the game’s first points.

Moore, another Miami newcomer, went 9 for 11 for 142 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to third-string tight end Jeron Mastrud.

Dallas third-string quarterback Stephen McGee  went 21 for 25 for 233 yards but couldn’t get his team into the end zone. The Cowboys’ only points came on a 20-yard field goal by David Buehler, who is battling to keep his job.

Running back DeMarco Murray , competing for the backup spot behind Felix Jones, carried 10 times for 32 yards.

The only Dolphins starters active were receiver Brian Hartline, linebacker Koa Misi and safety Chris Clemons. Cowboys active starters were fullback Chris Gronkowski, top draft pick Tyron Smith and rookie guard Bill Nagy.

Jerry Jones’n: Telecast comments during DAL @ MIA game

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said on the Ch. 11/CBS telecast tonight of the Cowboys-Miami Dolphins preseason game that running back Phillip Tanner of Kimball will make the final 53-man roster.

Jones was asked how can you tell a guy who has done everything Tanner has in the preseason he’s not going to make the team, and Jones said, “You don’t.” Then he was asked, so he’s on the team? “You got him,” Jones said.

“He’s special. His coach says, ‘I’ve never seen a kid like this.’ You’ve never seen anybody who takes every note, that tries every way in the world he can to get better plus he’s talented. I don’t know that I have the courage. I’m too interested in the Dallas Cowboys. We may have four backs.”

Jones had said previously in the preseason that he’d only have three running backs on the final 53-man roster. He now says there “may” be four. That means Tashard Choice is on the bubble with the Cowboys having to get down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Choice didn’t make the trip to Miami with a bruised knee and missed most of the preseason with a calf injury. Third-round draft pick DeMarco Murray was very impressive against Miami tonight, and Felix Jones is the starter.

Jones said he was pleased with Murray, who started the game by taking a screen pass 48 yards down the sideline.

“He did for us tonight what he did at Oklahoma,” Jones said. “His hands are his big thing. He’s a power runner with a lot of burst. You saw it all out there tonight. He’s a guy who had three practices, came in and you saw how he played last week. We’re really pleased with that. He’s going to help us this year.”

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Cowboys starting cornerback Mike Jenkins warmed up before the team’s preseason game tonight against the Miami Dolphins but didn’t play. Jenkins has been limited in practice most of training camp while nursing a stinger injury.

“I wanted to get out there and just get back in game shape,” Jenkins said on the Ch. 11/CBS telecast from the sideline in the third quarter. “I missed pretty much the whole preseason. I at least wanted to get a game under my belt. It’s a totally different shape than just going to practice. But I was rejected from coach. I wanted to get in and just get comfortable.”

Jenkins and fellow starting cornerback Terence Newman missed most of training camp with injuries. Newman has been out with a groin injury and is questionable for the Cowboys’ regular-season opener Sept. 11 at the New York Jets. Jerry Jones said on the Ch. 11 telecast that he’s not too comfortable with the situation.

“We should be concerned. I’m concerned that Terence is a question mark against the Jets. But boy you’re talking about somebody who has really caught the eyes of the coaches is [Orlando] Scandrick. You have our defensive coordinator who basically feels like he’s one of the best corners that he’s seen. By the way, we listened to that, listened to that and watched it and basically gave him $27 million dollars.”

After Ch. 11 talked to Jenkins on the sideline, they sent it back to the booth where Jones was and said that Jenkins is saying all the right things.

“He’s saying all the right things. I wish he would do the right thing,” Jones said. “I’m standing beside a guy up here (Michael Irvin) you couldn’t have kept him off the field during that time. He’s absolutely right. He should have had a few snaps. He has a stinger. We’re being very conservative with him. I would have liked to seen him out there tonight. I would have liked to seen him out there taking some snaps. That’s not being critical. I’m just giving you my wish list.

“I’m glad we’ve got Scandrick out there who has been through the entire training camp. We got [Alan] Ball who has really excelled. I’m counting on those guys. Those are the ones who have been practicing. I’m counting on those guys against the Jets. It sounds like I’m mad at Terence, it sounds like I’m mad at Michael. I’m really not. But boy it’s for all the marbles when we play the Jets. We need to win that football game.”

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on the Ch. 11/CBS telecast tonight during the preseason game against Miami that he was pleased with what he saw from veteran offensive guard Montrae Holland and seventh-round draft pick offensive guard Bill Nagy (Wisconsin).

“I was very pleased with the play of our interior offensive linemen, Montrae Holland in particular,” Jones said on Ch. 11. “We’re really taking a look at him tonight. His conditioning was a question because he really hasn’t had any action this camp. He came in overweight. He’s got that weight down. He’s really had a good accounting of himself. He played 20 plays and we pulled him out for a breather, put him back in and he played the rest of the first half. We’re really pleased. That will help us when we cut this roster [on Saturday].”

Jones said he had a close eye on Nagy tonight against the Dolphins.

“Nagy was interesting tonight. Nagy scared us a little bit at our last padded practice,” Jones said. “He kind of had a little sprained knee there for a little bit and we were really concerned. But boy, he’s come in and played the entire first half and would like to be out here for some of this [second] half.”

Jason Garrett Always Looking At Roster Options

IRVING, Texas — Bill Parcells made a habit of “churning the bottom of the roster” during his four-year tenure as head coach. Really, so did Jimmy Johnson.

The idea was 1) always look to upgrade; and 2) don’t let players get too comfortable. Even if the Cowboys didn’t sign new players each week, the Tuesday “off day” during the regular season often was reserved for workouts.

Wade Phillips did that less during his time in Dallas. When Jason Garrett took over as head coach, though, a little more roster movement ensued. Dave Rayner’s signing on Tuesday was a perfect example.

The Cowboys already had four kickers in camp, but they jumped at the chance to sign another veteran — even if he doesn’t wind up making the team in four days. With an 80-player limit still allowed this week, why not?

“I think you’re always looking at your roster,” Garrett said. “You’re always evaluating it and you’re always trying to get better.

“Our personnel people do a great job knowing the drafted players coming out and then knowing where guys are on rosters throughout the league. We track those guys and if some players come available that we think can help our team, we’re certainly willing to make those moves.”

Titans, Chris Johnson agree on four-year extension

Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans have found common ground.

The team reached an agreement Thursday with its franchise running back on a four-year, $53.5 million contract extension, $30 million of which is guaranteed.

The Titans confirmed the team had agreed to terms on the revised deal.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reports the new deal will keep Johnson under contract with the Titans through 2016. Johnson will take home $13 million in 2011, a massive bump from the $800,000 base salary — $1.065 million with previously-earned incentives — that he was scheduled to earn this season. His $30 million guaranteed will come in the first three years of the deal and he will make $31 million in the first three years.

Johnson has led the NFL in yards rushing the past three seasons and refused to report to the camp without a new deal. The 24th pick overall in the 2008 draft out of East Carolina, Johnson became only the sixth man in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in 2009 when he ran for 2,006 yards.

The Tennessean first reported the deal.

Dallas Cowboys TV ratings

Saturday’s Cowboys victory over the Minnestoa Vikings on KTVT (Channel 11) scored a 2011 pre-season low 16.3 rating, which translates in 423,140 homes in Dallas-Fort Worth. That came six days after the Cowboys earned a boffo 23.7 pre-season high rating against San Diego on Sunday Night Football. That translates in 615,000 homes
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Why the drop of almost a third of the audience? Well, for one thing Sunday nights traditionally bring far more TV viewers than Saturday nights. For another, the Cowboys-Chargers was a glitzy NBC network production compared to the Cowboys-Vikings, which was a chintzy in-house effort. And yes, the Cowboys-Vikings went head-to-head with a Rangers-Los Angeles Angels game on Fox Sports Southwest. That game pulled a 3.4 rating, good for 88,000 homes.

Headline: Meaningless Cowboys exhibition trounces key Rangers division game 16.3 to 3.4 in ratings? Not really.That’s the way the ball always bounces in these parts.

For the record, the Cowboys-Denver Broncos pre-season opener finished with a 20.7 rating in Channel 11. That translates into 537,000 homes.

POLL: Which kicker(s) will remain on the 2011 roster?

Your comments are always welcome!

David Buehler: “I feel like I’m in control”

Another week, another challenger.

Incumbent David Buehler has grown accustomed to the parade of kickers the Cowboys have assembled to challenge for his job. He welcomes the competition that Dave Rayner and the others bring.

“I feel like I’m in control if I go out there and make my kicks,” Buehler said. “I feel like I’m good.”

Buehler kicked the ball off three times and attempted 20 field goals in today’s practice. He said he’s completely recovered from the hip pointer that sidelined him the past two games.

He also believes he’s shown enough to retain his job.

“I think I’ve done enough, but I’ve been out for two weeks so that doesn’t help my cause,” Buehler said. “I understand.”

“Competition is competition. Coach (Jason) Garrett pushes that. There is competition at every position. Who knew Dre (Andre Gurode) would get cut?”

Garrett has said he wants Buehler, Rayner, Shayne Graham and Dan Bailey to all kick in the final pre-season game Thursday night. Buehler joked they may have to attempt field goals on first and second down for that to happen.

And he remains confident he will emerge as the team’s kicker.

“I’m thinking I’m a Dallas Cowboy all the way,” he said.

Jay Ratliff: Cowboys talking contract extension with Pro Bowler

ARLINGTON – The Cowboys have had discussions with Jay Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, about a contract extension for the Pro Bowl nose tackle, according to a source.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t do himself any favors Wednesday in regard to leverage in the negotiating talks by mentioning Ratliff’s salary during the team’s annual kickoff luncheon at Cowboys Stadium.

Jones was discussing the fairness of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement when he made an off-the-cuff joke.

“We have assured that we will have 10 years of where we don’t have any issues with anything regarding clubs, players or those types of salaries. Now, I will make an exception,” Jones said. “Jay Ratliff will tell you, ‘You’ve got a big issue, Jerry, with my salary. I need a little more money.'”

Ratliff has been a bargain for the Cowboys since he signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract extension in mid-December 2007. Since then, he’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls.

The 2007 season was Ratliff’s first year to start. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft out of Auburn. Last season, Ratliff had 34 tackles, 3½ sacks and 10 quarterback pressures.

Ratliff, who turned 30 on Monday, would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season under his current contract. Ratliff’s base salary this season is $3.75 million and it’s $4.875 million in 2012.

Just last week, the Cowboys agreed to a five-year, $26 million contract extension with cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who was in the final year of a rookie contract that paid him a base salary of $550,000.

Front Cover: Ware featured on Sports Illustrated cover

blog post photoCowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware finds himself as one of six featured players around the league to make the cover of Sports Illustrated, as part of this week’s NFL preview.

The magazine hits newsstands on Wednesday across the nation with Ware likely being on the cover on most magazines distributed in the Southwest region.

Inside the magazine, SI writer Peter King picked Ware as his preseason selection for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Ware has led the NFL in sacks two of the last three years, including 2010 when he posted 15 ½ sacks.

Also featured in Cowboys’ section is running back Felix Jones, who takes over as the lone starter. Jones tells SI reporter Matt Gagne, “Being the best running back in the league, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to stick with my ultimate goal, which is to play in the last game and win the last game.”

SI has predicted that the Cowboys will finish 2nd in NFC East with a record of 9-7.

Cowboys hope this is the last they see of McGee this season

Cowboys third-string quarterback Stephen McGee will probably start and play most of Thursday’s exhibition game against the Miami Dolphins. Dallas also wants to look at Tom Brandstater.

The Cowboys hope this is the last they see of McGee this season.

McGee made his regular-season debut last season after both Tony Romo and Jon  Kitna were injured. He replaced an injured Kitna in a Dec. 25 game against the Cardinals and then started and led the Cowboys to a victory in the season finale against the Eagles.

They hope to keep Romo in the lineup this season, with McGee returning to his role watching and learning with mental reps.

“This is my season,” McGee said of Thursday night’s exhibition game. “It’s kind of a short and sweet season. You never know given the situation over the course of the year. Last year it happened [where he played in the regular  season]. But I definitely want to make the most of these opportunities, because they don’t come around very often.”

McGee led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind victory over the Dolphins in the preseason finale last year, completing 27 of 42 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s a great opportunity; it’ll be a lot of fun,” McGee said. “It’s always fun. I remember last year’s game was a lot of fun. I just want to go out there and execute ball plays and play fast, get in and out of the huddle and handle all the situations well.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett  said a decision has not been made about whether Kitna will play Thursday, but it is expected to be the McGee show. (Garrett said the Cowboys will “err on  the side of caution in [Kitna’s] situation.”)

“We anticipate this being a big night for Stephen McGee like it’s been in the past,” Garrett said. “That fourth preseason game is typically for the younger guys, and for the quarterback, it’s very valuable time. He’ll play most of it. We’d like to see Tom Brandstater again. He did a nice job the other night.”

Brandstater is a candidate for the practice squad.

ROSTER CUTDOWN: Garrett knows what players are feeling

It’s the week of the final cuts.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett knows exactly how the players on the bubble  feel.

“For 14 years, I was on the bubble,” he said.

The Cowboys need to be down to 53 players on Saturday, so Wednesday’s  practice and Thursday night’s preseason game at Miami are the last chances for  the players to make a case.

“You know the stuff you guys hear about a lot? Me talking about how it’s all  about be great today, worry about today?” Garrett said to reporters Tuesday. “It  probably comes from my experience as a player. ‘Don’t worry about yesterday.  Don’t worry about tomorrow. Be great today. Try your best today to put your best  foot forward and be your best.’ ”

RELATED:

The Cowboys placed kicker Kai Forbath and linebacker Bruce Carter on the  reserve non-football injury list. The players now do not count against the  team’s 80-player roster limit.

The rules of the reserve/non-football injury list are the same as  reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP). Neither player will be eligible to return to the roster before Week 7.

Carter was the team’s second-round draft pick. He torn an ACL in his knee  while playing for the University of North Carolina against North Carolina State  on Nov. 20. He still is rehabbing. Forbath had a quadriceps injury when the  Cowboys signed him Aug. 2. He has yet to kick.

The next cutdown, to 53, is  Sept. 3.

Rookie RB Tanner has the coaches’ attention

Undrafted rookie running back Phillip Tanner continues to gain yards in  preseason action.

He has run 18 times for 100 yards in the three games, averaging 5.6 a carry.  He started it off with a bang, rushing nine times for 44 yards in the first  preseason game, against the Denver Broncos. Then, in the second outing, he had  the highlight of the game with a helmet-less run to the end zone for a touchdown  on national television — never mind that it didn’t count.

The rookie from Dallas Kimball was an unknown longshot when training camp  started. But he didn’t stay a longshot for long.

“Really, from minute one, he has been so impressive in so many different  areas,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve been really impressed with how  your young guys have adapted without the typical offseason to get acclimated to  our systems of football, and he might be as good of an example of that as  anybody. He’s a really diligent kid.”

The Cowboys might keep as few as three running backs, and two spots are saved  for Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray. That leaves him to battle Tashard Choice and  Lonyae Miller for another spot, or perhaps a place on the practice squad.

But at least Tanner, who starred at Middle Tennessee, has made  himself noticed.

“I think he’s talented,” Garrett said. “He’s got a good feel for playing.  He’s a good runner. He’s productive. He understands pass protection. He does a  good job of catching the ball out of the backfield. So he’s certainly made a  very favorable impression on a lot of people.”

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