Daily Archives: September 9th, 2011

A look at the new OL … and backups on the current roster

NO

NAME

POS

HT

WT

EXP

COLLEGE

67

Costa, Phil***

C

6-3

311

2****

Maryland

60

Kowalski, Kevin

C

6-4

301

R

Toledo

61

Nagy, Bill**

C

6-3

299

R

Wisconsin

62

Arkin, David

G

6-5

307

R

Missouri State

75

Dockery, Derrick

G

6-6

325

9

Texas

63

Kosier, Kyle

G

6-5

309

10****

Arizona State

68

Free, Doug

OT

6-6

320

5****

Northern Illinois

78

Parnell, Jermey

OT

6-6

306

2****

Mississippi

77

Smith, Tyron*

OT

6-5

307

R

Southern California

BOLD = Projected starters for game 1

* Injured (May be replaced with Jermey Parnell or G Derrick Dockery)

** Starting at left guard

*** Coming off injury (May be replaced by Kevin Kowalski)

**** On last years roster or practice squad

2010 OL Roster

Tony Romo deal reworked

IRVING, Texas — Like they did with DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin earlier this summer, the Dallas Cowboys have re-worked the contract of Tony Romo to save $6.552 million against the 2011 salary cap, according to sources.

As a result the Cowboys have roughly $18 million in salary cap room as they enter the season. Unused cap space can be carried over into the 2012 season.

Romo was scheduled to make a $9 million base salary in 2011 but the team converted $8.19 million into signing bonus, which gives Romo a base salary of $810,000.

The restructured contracts of Ware and Austin saved the Cowboys roughly $13 million in cap room.

The big difference in the Romo maneuver and the dealings with Ware and Austin is that the Cowboys added three years to Romo’s contract that void if he is on the team through the 2013 season. The original deal Romo signed in 2007 runs through 2013.

By extending the years, the Cowboys were able to prorate the $8.19 million over five years instead of three, which saved them approximately $1.1 million. New Orleans and Indianapolis had made similar cap adjustments with Drew Brees and Peyton Manning to help its causes in recent years.

Hit and miss … draft picks, undrafted free agents, and practice squad

Here’s a quick quiz.

The Cowboys have selected 27 players in the last three drafts. How many of those players are on the active roster?

The same number as those who have been released.

There are 13 players from the last three drafts on the active roster as the team prepares to open the regular season against the New York Jets. Another 13 have been released and one, second round pick Bruce Carter, opens the season on the non-football injury list.

Now, how many of those picks will start on opening night? Two are certain _ receiver Dez Bryant and left guard Bill Nagy. Tyron Smith will start if he’s healthy and there’s a chance Sean Lee will start at inside linebacker to bring the total to four.

Still, that means that less than 15 percent have cracked the starting lineup.

The last three drafts have not yielded the numbers every team needs to remain successful. But those misses have been minimized somewhat by the Cowboys success when it comes to rookie free agents.

The tally: draft picks lead rookie free agents 13-11 over the last three seasons as far current roster spots. But the team has actually retained more undrafted rookies (10-9) over the past two seasons than draft picks.

One of those players, Phil Costa, will start at center Sunday night if he’s healthy. Rookie Dan Bailey will be the Cowboys field goal kicker.

The discrepancy even trickles down to the practice squad. Two players (Akwasi-Owusu-Ansah and Shaun Chapas) are draft picks while four others (Teddy Williams, Mario Butler, Orie Lemon and Isaiah Greenhouse) all went undrafted coming out of college.

Jay Ratliff agree to five-year, $40 million contract extension

IRVING — The Cowboys and Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff have agreed to a five-year, $40 million contract extension this morning. As part of the deal, $18 million is guaranteed and $10 million will be up-front money in a signing bonus.

Ratliff still had two years left on his current contract, but the Cowboys and his agent, Mark Slough, have been working for “a while” on getting an extension done. They were able to pull it off just two days before the Cowboys open the regular season Sunday night at the New York Jets. The new contract will take Ratliff through 2017.

Slough was out at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters Wednesday to continue the discussions.

This is out of character for the Cowboys. They haven’t typically given players contract extensions with two years left on their current deal.

Ratliff has been a bargain for the Cowboys since he signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract extension (with an $8 million signing bonus) 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.

“I mean seventh-round pick who might have been an afterthought in that draft. Not an afterthought anymore,” Slough said. “And to do a third contract. I mean think that’s something else that’s really unique and a testament to him. A lot of guys get to the second big deal, which they may ultimately never complete. When Jay did his second deal, we did that deal early as you remember. I told Jay then, I said, ‘I’m not worried about doing this deal early. Number one it is a good deal for you at this time. But number two, if you outperform it , if you play well, you’ll have a chance at another deal. There’s another deal down the road. A little bit about that is strategy, trying to do a deal earlier so you get a chance to do another deal a little bit earlier. And you ultimately end up no more deals. Getting to a third contract, particularly when you’re a seventh-round pick, you’re already behind the eight-ball min this league economically. It’s not like you got paid first- or second-round money and then you got to that next big deal. You’re playing for the minimum. You’re just there. So you’re always fighting to kind of catch up. So that’s why for a guys in the later rounds of the draft or free agents or undrafted kids, I think it’s more important for them to try to maximize the number of deals you get because you’re already started from behind in this system. And so I feel ecstatic for Jay. I’m thrilled to death. He is very grateful and very happy to be here for life, which is what he wanted. So everyone’s happy. He’s happy. I’m happy.”

The 30-year-old Ratliff would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season under his current contract. Ratliff’s base salary this season was $3.75 million and it was $4.875 million in 2012, but those figures will be upped as part of the new contract extension.

A few weeks ago, 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.

RELATED: Jay Ratliff excited to be a “Cowboy for life”

Jay Ratliff had little to say about the five-year, $40 million extension he agreed to Friday.

“I just want to focus on the season,” the Cowboys nose tackle said. “That’s it.”

Ratlif will continue to work under the final two years of his existing contract before the extension kicks in. But he will receive $18 million guaranteed _ the key to the deal _ with $10 million of that in a signing bonus.

“This is an exciting day for Jay,” said Mark Slough, Ratliff’s agent. “He’s expressed a desire to be a Dallas Cowboy for life and we were able to make it come true.

“At the end of the day, we got a result we believe works for everybody.”

INJURY UPDATE: Newman out; Jenkins questionable; Austin probable

The latest injury report has been released by the Cowboys, who have officially declared cornerback Terence Newman out for Sunday night’s opener against the Jets with a groin injury.

This was after head coach Jason Garrett said on Friday that not only was he looking better in his rehab, but that he expected him to make the trip on Saturday and likely test it before kickoff on Sunday. But by declaring him out, it’s unlikely Newman will even make the trip.

However, the Cowboys listed wide receiver Miles Austin as probable, despite being limited in their work on Friday. Austin said he was “good-to-go” for Sunday’s game and said he has received plenty of work with the first-team offense.

The Cowboys listed Mike Jenkins as questionable to play on Sunday. Jenkins, who suffered a hyper-extended knee on Wednesday, forcing him out of practice, has been back to work the last two days and should start at right cornerback, opposite of Orlando Scandrick, who now replaces Newman.

And don’t forget about rookie tackle Tyron Smith, who is also questionable to play this week, also suffering a hyper-extended right knee. Smith said the injury is getting better and he’s making solid progress. Expect him to test it before kickoff on Sunday as a game-time decision.

Along with Newman, Martellus Bennett has been ruled out with a high-ankle sprain.

RELATED: Austin “Good To Go”

Despite not catching a pass in his lone preseason appearance, and sitting out much of camp with hamstring soreness, Miles Austin wasn’t expecting any lingering effects in Sunday’s season opener.

Austin will likely be designated as probable on the week’s final injury report, but has been listed as limited in practice. During the brief portion of practice open to the media, he has performed some rehab work with athletic trainers.

“I’m good to go,” Austin said. “I’m working with the team. You (media) leave pretty early, but I’m good to go.”

Tony Romo said earlier in the week he didn’t expect and problems because of Austin’s time missed, and the wide receiver agreed.

“As long as he says that, I’m good,” Austin said. “Obviously we’ve been working with each other for six years now. We obviously have a good feel for each other. He knows how I run (routes), I know how he throws the ball, and we’re just trying to do things, move the ball.”

A native of Garfield, N.J., Austin said he had about 15 friends and family coming to Sunday’s game.

RELATED: Official injury report: Newman ruled out, TSmith questionable

IRVING — Cowboys starting cornerback Terence Newman (pulled groin) has been ruled out for Sunday’s regular-season opener Sunday night at the New York Jets, according to the official injury report.

Also, reserve tight end Martellus Bennett (high ankle sprain) and wide receiver Laurent Robinson (hamstring) won’t play Sunday against the Jets. Both were ruled out.

Starting center Phil Costa (knee), starting cornerback Mike Jenkins (neck/knee) and starting right tackle Tyron Smith (knee) are all listed as questionable, meaning they have a 50-50 chance of playing Sunday. Smith didn’t practice Thursday and was limited in practice Friday.

Starting wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), starting linebacker Bradie James (ankle), starting defensive end Marcus Spears and reserve running back Tashard Choice are all listed as probable for Sunday and expected to play against the Jets

RMOG: Congrats to The Kiesters and Reggie with opening game.

CONGRATULATIONS to Missy n Kurt (The Kiesters) and Rockin Reggie on their 16 point lead from the NFL’s opening game last night. That’s a GREAT way to kick off your 2011 season!

FOX: Garrett trusts backups as opener nears

IRVING – DallasCowboys cornerback Alan Ball complained of having a cold Wednesday, but his ailment drew no sympathy at Valley Ranch.

Not after two starters – cornerback Mike Jenkins and rookie right tackle Tyron Smith – suffered hyper-extended knees in practice. The pair had MRIs, and their status for Sunday’s opener at the New York Jets is uncertain after the club’s website listed them as day-to-day.

Jenkins was participating in his first full-contact workout since he hurt his neck Aug. 1, an injury that forced him to miss the preseason.

His injury means the Cowboys could be without both starting corners after owner Jerry Jones ruled out Terence Newman(groin). Newman also missed the preseason.

“I thought he’d be ready by now,” Jones said. “He’s a guy that has to have it just right, and we need him to get it just right.”

Limited travel party

Jones said it’s possible only three corners will travel. Under that scenario, Orlando Scandrick and Ball would start, with Bryan McCann in reserve.

Smith is the club’s first-round pick. His backup is untested second-year player Jermey Parnell.

The line already has a rookie at left guard (seventh-round pick Bill Nagy) and a second-year player at center (Phil Costa) that has never started at that spot in the regular season.

Costa returned to practice after missing two weeks with a sprained knee.

Parnell is the club’s only backup tackle after it released 2010 draft pick Sam Young, who was claimed by Buffalo.

“We certainly are content with Parnell as our backup tackle, but we hope we don’t have to see him very early,” Jones said.

A stiff challenge awaits the young linemen. The Jets defense finished 2010 ranked in the top 10 in several categories.

Asked if he’d be nervous starting two rookie linemen, Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a conference call, “Well, against our defense, I’d be nervous. No question.”

‘All about opportunity’

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett reacted to the injuries with a next-man-up mentality.

“The league is about opportunity, and we have a number of guys on our roster – and I know the Jets do, and teams all over the league do – who are examples of guys who got opportunities to play when somebody else got hurt,” he said. “We feel good about the (backups). They played well in the preseason. It’s their opportunity.”

Working throughout the preseason without Newman and Jenkins should aid the secondary, Scandrick said.

“The benefit is me, Alan, Bryan, (safeties) Gerald (Sensabaugh) and Abe (Elam) have prepared together throughout the preseason,” he said. “Now, it’s going to be a challenge. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not when you go against that caliber of receivers (Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress). I know I’ll be ready to embrace it.”

Like Garrett, linebacker Bradie James didn’t dwell on the injuries.

“You’re never full strength,” he said. “The only day you’re full strength is when you go into camp. Every day after that is downhill.”

CBS VIDEO: Cowboys vs. Jets Preview

Garrett’s lifetime of experience prepared him for first full year as head coach

IRVING, Texas — The class, as Bob Surace remembers it, was War and Peace in the Nuclear Age. Given the status of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union at the time, it was a topical subject.

As the professor lectured on and on about the Cuban missile crisis or the Afghan war or the Berlin Wall or whatever it was that day, Jason Garrett’s mind wandered.

“We’re sitting in the back of the class, and he’s drawing up plays,” said Surace, then a freshman center, now Princeton’s football coach. “And then he’s handing them to the defensive backs in the class, ‘Hey, how would you defend this?'”

Garrett starts his first full year as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach Sunday against the New York Jets. He went 5-3 as the interim coach last winter after owner and general manager Jerry Jones fired Wade Phillips. He has made changes to his coaching staff, to the roster and to the team’s training facility, and everything has followed a well-thought-out plan.

“He always knew what it took to be successful, and you’ve got to be willing to put in the time and effort. He always did that and always will because that is his makeup.

— Princeton asst. head coach Steve Verbit

 

It seems as if this was a position he was born to hold even if he says coaching was never a calling. He wanted to play forever until he couldn’t. Forever lasted until he was 38, after one year in each the World League and the Canadian Football League and 12 years in the NFL.

But Garrett is a coach’s kid and coaching is the family business.

He grew up outside Cleveland with his father, Jim, an assistant coach for the Browns. Over the summers, those players would end up at the Garretts’ Monmouth Beach, N.J., home and run routes. Jason Garrett’s brother John is the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator and tight ends coach. Another brother, Judd, is Dallas’ assistant director of pro scouting and previously spent eight years as an assistant coach for various teams.

“It’s amazing the perspective you have being a coach’s son, being a player — of what coaches do and what organizations do,” Jason Garrett said.

Garrett is a fan of coaches. Any coach. Any sport.

Over the winter, he spent three days with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spent a day with the team this summer. Garrett even referenced Phil Jackson at one point.

During training camp, he mentioned his high school baseball coach, Fred Heinlen, to explain why he wears the same clothes — gray shirt, blue sweatpants — to practice every day. One day, Heinlen spent 45 minutes discussing how the team would wear its uniform.

“And then he said, ‘Distinguish yourself with your play, not with your dress,'” Garrett said.

From football, he talked about the influences coaches such as Jimmy Johnson, Norv Turner and Nick Saban have had on him.

“He has a way about him,” said Pete Carril, Princeton’s Hall of Fame basketball coach. “He’s very friendly but he’s very strong, too. I don’t think you can take advantage of him. He sees a lot. I use that word, ‘see,’ in basketball a lot. He sees an awful lot.”

Carril thought a passage he read recently in a book about Ben Franklin — “Well done is better than well said” — summed up Garrett.

Jason Garrett

AP Photo/Linda KayeYou could argue that Jason Garrett was born to be a coach.

 

Garrett would sit in the Jadwin Gymnasium stands and watch Carril’s team practice. He and the coach would pepper each other with questions. Carril, who coached junior high football for only a few years, would want to talk about why he threw a certain pass at a certain time. Garrett would want to talk about the now-famous Princeton offense with all the back-door cuts.

Garrett was — and is — a “why” guy.

Steve Verbit was Princeton’s defensive line coach and coordinator, and is the Tigers’ assistant head coach now.

“Somehow we got into this routine of every day during the season and he’d have a 24- or 28-ounce bottle of Gatorade and he’d sit in my office, and we’d just talk and talk,” Verbit said. “He’d want to talk about defense because he was an offensive player. But he wanted to talk about the NBA or any sport. Not just sports. History. It could be music. He wanted to get to know everyone and really see what their opinions were on various subjects.”

Garrett’s first coaching job came in 1990 after he was cut by New Orleans. He returned to Princeton as an unpaid assistant, working with the freshman team. Two years after he was named the Ivy League player of the year and still scratching for a life in professional football, Garrett spent his time working out and staying in shape and coaching quarterbacks.

“We probably tried in every way, shape or manner [to scare him out of coaching],” Verbit said. “Because of the opportunity to have an unpaid assistant or intern working with you, he did a lot of the tough jobs in terms of breaking down the tape and the data input. His days were short and his nights long but he always knew what it took to be successful, and you’ve got to be willing to put in the time and effort. He always did that and always will because that is his makeup.”

Over the years as a player and coach, Garrett has filled notebook after notebook. The pages are filled with game plans and route combinations and what defenses like to do against certain formations. But they also are filled with what those coaches said during particular times of a season, whether it was going well or poorly.

Occasionally he sits in his office now and pours over the notes for ideas or tips.

In 2008, he went with Troy Aikman to Key West, Fla., to visit with Johnson. The idea was to do some fishing, drink some beers and remember the good old days.

But Garrett wanted something more. It was another chance to learn, like he did from his father, like he did from Heinlen, like he did from Verbit, like he did from Carril, like he did from Krzyzewski and like he did from Saban.

Like he had done his whole life.

“I tell our players this all the time — if you have a chance because of the positions we’re in to be around somebody who is really great at what they do, don’t be frivolous with that time,” Garrett said. “Don’t be asking him about his car or his house or whatever. Let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s talk to some of these guys who are great and maybe we can benefit from those situations.”

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas

Jason Garrett: Tony Romo has grown, hasn’t lost what makes him special

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tony Romo has grown leaps and bounds as a  quarterback every year.

And that was no different in the offseason, when a locked out Romo continued  to tinker with his game and technique.

Garrett said he has certainly taken notice. But while has gotten better and  is making smarter decisions, Romo still has some of that gambling moxie  that makes him a special quarterback.

“I think he’s grown technically as a player,” Garrett said. “Fundamentally  he’s gotten better. Just look at his footwork and the quickness he has getting  away from the center, the quickness he has on the back end. I think his accuracy  has gotten better because his footwork has gotten better. I think all the while  he’s done this without losing Tony Romo. We like Tony Romo and what he brings to  the table. But he needed to be refined. He’s going about it the right way  and we’re excited about his progress.”

Garrett said Romo tinkers a lot with technique whether it’s his footwork or  release.

He said it’s admirable that he continues to work on his game. But Garrett  said the area Romo has improved in the most is his understanding of the  game.

“It’s more about understanding,” Garrett said. “Tony has always had  great vision. He sees the field, he sees the offense, he sees the defense, he  sees their relationship to each other really well. I think that’s probably  because of his basketball background. And that’s a really good thing. The best  quarterbacks I’ve been around, the best quarterbacks I’ve seen, have great  vision. And I believe Tony has that. So I think his growth comes from his  understanding, his understanding of your scheme, of their scheme, how our scheme  fits on top of their scheme, and how he can be quicker or more decisive going to  the right place with the football. So if you put that together with how he sees  the field, those are all positive things for a quarterback to have.

“You want a guy who is invested in his technique. There’s no question about  that. But we also want a guy who can play. And to the earlier point, you never  want take Romo out of Romo. We think that’s a good thing. So, I think he’s  always understood the balance between those things but also the time of year to  mess around with some things. He understands once you get to the season you’re  just playing football.”

KRLD-FM: DeMarcus Ware interview

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware talked with Josh & Elf on KRLD-FM on Thursday. A few highlights from Ware’s interview:

On how to defend the Jets:

I look at that running attack. From a defensive aspect, they always talk about how they ground and pound, so that’s one place we need to stop them to make Sanchez make passing decisions.

On not knowing where he’s going to line up in Rob Ryan’s defense:

I think that’s a good thing because you can get mismatches. You’re not always on the right side or the left side. With me, I try to put pressure coming from different angles, and I think that helps out a lot. And then you look at all the other guys like Jay [Ratliff] and Brady [James], they’re coming from different places too. They’ve got more than just me to look for.

On how he’d approach the Cowboys’ offensive line in the wake of Tyron Smith’s injury:

I would stick my best pass rusher on that side and see what that guy has. But the weird thing is, the guy that’s usually behind [the starter], they don’t know anything about him. Or a guy like [Smith], they play against him a little bit, but they don’t know how he’s going to react in a big game. Sometimes, if you don’t know, that can hurt you a little bit.

On whether he thinks Mike Jenkins or Tyron Smith will play on Sunday:

I think we’ll see both of them. I think we will.

On facing Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson:

I’ve just got to tear down that mortar between those bricks and break him down. A guy like D’Brickashaw Ferguson, he’s a good player, and you’ve just got to outsmart him. He’s just as good of an athlete as anybody on the field, but eventually you’ve just got to try to outwork him. He gets tired too.

Greenhouse switching back to LB

IRVING, Texas — The temporary move to fullback is over. Isaiah Greenhouse is back at his natural inside linebacker position, and he’s likely a strong candidate for the active roster if the Cowboys indeed decide to sign a fourth inside linebacker for depth.

Right now only Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Sean Lee. Injuries at offensive line and cornerback could preclude such a move this week.

Greenhouse is staying ready for the opportunity, and admits he had a little rust after his preseason stretch at fullback – a position he played briefly on the Texans’ practice squad.

“At linebacker you’re back to working the pads, back to working your hands, eyes and feet,” he said.

Dockery getting reps at tackle

IRVING, Texas — With Tyron Smith’s hyperextended knee a question mark for Sunday, newly-signed guard Derrick Dockery took some reps at tackle on Thursday.

It’s a position the ninth-year veteran has played before — at the University of Texas, almost a decade ago.

The Longhorns moved Dockery to right tackle as an injury replacement for a handful of conference games. He played well back then, but has since played inside throughout his NFL career.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “It was a little awkward (this week) at first. But now I’m just working on my sets, knowing when to kick, how deep to kick, being able to see your target and move your feet.

“Hopefully our guys can stay healthy and if need be I’ll be ready.”

DT Calloway fills practice squad roster

The Cowboys have signed an eighth player to the practice squad on Thursday, adding defensive tackle Robert Callaway.

Last year, Callaway spent the entire 2010 season on the Lions’ practice squad. He signed with Detroit as an undrafted free agent from Saginaw Valley.

The Cowboys were hopeful former draft pick Sam Young would be able to fill out the practice squad. But Young was claimed off waivers by the Bills on Monday, keeping just three tackles on the practice field this week.

With Callaway now signed, the Cowboys practice squad consists of WR Teddy Williams, CB Mario Butler, LB Orie Lemon, LB Isaiah Greenhouse, WR Andre Holmes, S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, FB Shaun Chapas and Calloway.

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