Daily Archives: September 22nd, 2011

He’s EVERY WARE: Pass rush off to hot start for Rob Ryan

IRVING, Texas – As the NFL leader in sacks last season, DeMarcus Ware might have felt he was doing everything he could to help a Cowboys defense that finished next-to-last in points allowed, and 23rd in total yards.

That would’ve been true. As new coordinator Rob Ryan is proving, however, having the league’s best pass rusher should also raise the play of his defensive teammates. In the complex new scheme, Ware is moving all over the front seven, which not only forces opposing offenses to locate and block him from all sorts of angles, but raises the odds they’ll forget about someone else.

So not only is Ware back atop the league’s individual sack rankings through two games, but the Cowboys are ranked No. 1 as well, with 10 quarterback takedowns as a team. Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher each have two sacks, and Jay Ratliff and Danny McCray have one apiece.

With Ware roving, Spencer is free to crawl around the front as well, earning the two players a nickname from Ryan.

“He calls us the lizards,” Ware said, “because we’re the smaller guys, and we should be able to play multiple positions, sort of like what you’re seeing. We’re playing tackle, nose, defensive end, outside linebacker, and we’re just trying to make it look a little different, make the defense look a little bit different.

“And sometimes they (offensive lines) will let guys go. Like one time they let Hatch go on one of the sacks. A couple times they let Spencer go.”

In the previous system under Wade Phillips, Ware lined up on the quarterback’s blind side nearly every play and rushed. It’s the optimal spot for a sack artist, but makes it easier for opponents to control him if they so choose, which forces the rest of the defense to win their own assignment.

Too many times last year, the Cowboys couldn’t do that. So while almost all the faces are the same, something has changed. The team currently ranks fourth in the league in total defense.

“I think it’s just the philosophy of our defense – there’s a lot of multiplicity, not just the regular base,” Ware said. “We’ll slide the whole defensive line. We’ll slant. It’s a lot of things that an offense has to get ready for instead of just sitting in regular base. We’ve got the same team, but it’s a different mentality.”

The Cowboys defense had a banner day in San Francisco on Sunday. While they did allow the 49ers to score 24 points thanks to some short fields, they also made a number of plays that swung the game, including six sacks, two by Ware.

While Tony Romo was dealing with serious pain in the first half and the offense was stagnant, the D kept the Cowboys in the game. In the third quarter, an Alan Ball interception set up the offense 18 yards away from the end zone for a crucial score, and in the fourth the 49ers were limited to only a field goal while Romo led a comeback charge on the other side of the ball.

When San Francisco won the coin toss and got possession start overtime, a Ratliff sack, created in large part by pressure from Ware, helped stall the 49ers drive and get the offense the ball back.

“They shut those guys down,” Garrett said. “It was a great challenge for us going into the game. I believe they were 0-for-6 in the second half on third down. When you’re sacking them and you’re knocking them back in the running game, you’re creating some long third-down situations, they are going to have a hard time converting them. I think those are the keys to the game. That kept us in the game early and certainly made the game-changing plays throughout the second half.”

When looking for a defensive coordinator, Garrett said it was important to find a coach who stressed solid performances up front, stopping the run and preventing big plays in the passing game. Ryan has done that.

But it’s Ryan’s ability to get the most of Ware that might be the biggest difference maker so far.

“He’s a rare, rare football player,” Garrett said of Ware. “Certainly if you’re putting the defensive scheme together, you’re excited where you can put him in that scheme to continue to make the plays that he’s making.”

Dallas Cowboys WR Laurent Robinson healthy and ready to help

IRVING — The Cowboys signed Laurent Robinson to add depth to the thin receiving corps behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. But Robinson strained a hamstring less than a week after he was signed by the Cowboys and was released. Now he’s back because, well, the Cowboys have health issues at the position.

Austin (hamstring) and Bryant (quad) missed practice Thursday and while there is hope one of them will play in the home opener vs. the Washington Redskins on Monday night, there are no guarantees.

Robinson, who was re-signed Tuesday, said he’s healthy and ready to help.

“Yeah, I feel good,” he said. “I’m picking up the offense pretty quickly. It’s just little things like terminology and stuff that I have to pick up on.”

Robinson has played for two NFL teams, Atlanta and St. Louis, and caught 34 passes for 344 yards with two touchdowns last season for the Rams. Robinson was cut in training camp this summer and the Cowboys picked him up.

But he was injured and the Cowboys had to make some moves to the bottom of the roster.

“It was pretty frustrating,” Robinson said of getting hurt so quickly after getting signed the first time. “I was determined to get well in rehab and wait until I was signed by someone. I didn’t go home or anything. I stayed in Dallas and hoped to get a call.”

Robinson said he’s hopeful to get some playing time on Monday night.

Jason Garrett on Terence Newman: ‘It was fun seeing him play football again’

Cornerback Terence Newman returned to practice Thursday for the first time in seven weeks.

“I haven’t seen him out there in a little while, so it was good to see him out there moving around,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “Again, he’ll be a day-to-day guy, but it was fun seeing him play football again.”

Newman, who has been out since Aug. 3 with a groin injury, has tweeted that he will return against Washington. Thursday was the first day he’s been able to practice with starting strong safety Abe Elam, a free agent who wasn’t allowed to join the team in training camp until after Newman was injured.

“It’s definitely great to have a Pro Bowl corner and a mainstay like Terence who has been here and is a solid player for us,” Elam said. “He’s an experienced guy who knows how to get prepared and can go out and challenge the team’s top receiver.”

Newman and Mike Jenkins will start at corner.

“Just happy to have him back,” linebacker Bradie James said. “It’s good to see ol’ 41 back out there, moving around at practice.

“He’s going to help us.”

RELATED: Elam  says Terrence Newman up to speed after their first practice together

Abe Elam and Terence Newman practiced together for the first time  Thursday.

Elam, a veteran safety signed, signed with the Cowboys on Aug. 5 to help  implement new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme. But that was two days  after Newman suffered a groin injury.

Newman had been out since then until Thursday, when he got back on the  field.

“It was good getting him back out there, working on the communication,  getting him used to some of the things,” Elam said. “He’s been doing a good job  in the classroom, learning, discussing things and bringing some stuff to our  attention, as well. So it’s good. It’s good to have Terence back.”

Newman, a nine-year veteran, is coming off a season in which he made career  highs in interceptions (five) and tackles (81).

“It’s definitely great to have a Pro Bowl corner and a mainstay like Terence  that has been here and been a solid player for us,” Elam said. “Experienced guy  in the back end, who knows how to get prepared and can definitely challenge the  team’s top receiver.”

Read more: http://startelegramsports.typepad.com/cowboys/#ixzz1Yj6HqDvq

Dallas Cowboy Center Kowalski Ready Again If Needed

IRVING, Texas — Rookie free agent center Kevin Kowalski had barely spoken to Tony Romo, much less taken a snap from the starting quarterback, before he got word that he would start the third preseason game at Minnesota.

“Before that game? Maybe a quick introduction, that was about it,” Kowalski said with a grin.

Starting center Phil Costa sat out with a sprained PCL that night, and the Cowboys made a business decision to deactivate five-time Pro Bowler Andre Gurode, releasing him two days later.

Kowalski played the entire game and held his own against the Vikings starters for more than a half. When Costa hurt his knee again this past Sunday against San Francisco, the rookie from Toledo stepped up once more.

Costa didn’t practice Thursday, and if he’s unable to play, Kowalski will get his first regular-season start. This time he’s gotten a little more warning, though ironically, Romo wasn’t around to take snaps from Thursday.

“Just kind of getting thrown in there the way that it happened (in Minnesota), you kind of end up prepared for anything and just any situation that might come your way,” Kowalski said.

“The more reps, the practice you get the more experience you get, the more comfortable you get in there.”


INJURY UPDATE: Dockery Has Fractured Tibia

IRVING, Texas — Add Derrick Dockery to the Cowboys’ growing injury list: the veteran guard said he suffered a fractured tibia and sprained MCL in the third quarter against the 49ers.

Dockery made his first start of the season at guard in place of Bill Nagy (neck), who returned to practice Thursday. Dockery wasn’t sure how long the injuries would sideline him, but obviously any fracture could wind up being a multiple-week injury.

The Cowboys signed Dockery just before the season as veteran depth and possibly a future starter once he got acclimated to the offense. Without him, rookie David Arkin is the next backup guard on the depth chart.

The timing of the injury is particularly disappointing for two reasons: Dockery had just entered the starting lineup; and this is Redskins week. He played his first four seasons, and six overall, in Washington.

“I wanted to be out there so bad,” he said. “I was looking forward to getting back out there on the practice field — coming in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and doing some extra things to help me on the field.

“To find out that this was happening to me was disappointing, but I’m in good spirits.”

Nagy, the starter entering the regular season, had full participation after missing the 49ers game — a good sign for his availability Monday.

“Bill will do just fine; he’ll do great,” Dockery said. “He’s smart, plays very hard. He just has to watch film. I’m going to do as much as I can to help him.”

Rob Phillips

Jason Garrett gives break on full-pad practice today

Playing and practicing with physicality is important to Jason Garrett, so the Cowboys coach had his team in full pads almost every day during training camp, and until Thursday, they’d been wearing all the gear once a week in practice.

With 11 players on the injury report, though, the team wore only helmets, shorts and shells during Thursday’s session, their first of the week.

Per new CBA guidelines, coaches can put their teams in full pads as many as 11 times during the first 11 weeks of the season – once a week, with a single exception where they can go full pads twice in the same week. Over the final six weeks of the season, only three full-pads practices can be held.

Typically Wednesday would be the Cowboys’ full pads session, but because of this week’s Monday night game, Garrett gave the players an extra day off in addition to their usual Tuesday.

With so many guys banged up, it seemed like a good time to back off.

“I think it’ll be good, hopefully,” linebacker Bradie James said. “We’ve got a lot of guys banged up and evidently we needed it. I never thought that Jason Garrett would give us anything off, but I’m happy he did.”

The Cowboys have had several players injured during their physical Wednesday practices already this year. While seven players didn’t participate in Thursday’s session, James said some might be well-served by the extra rest.

If it’s not enough for some of the injured guys, these Cowboys have a next-man up mentality.

“You can’t really worry about that,” James said, “because guys have to know, and it’s other guys that have to step up, and know their job. And you have to hope on Monday night that everybody will be ready. It doesn’t matter if – just like Miles (Austin). Miles was limping all last week, but he showed up on Sunday, so you can’t count anybody out. We’re not full strength, but we’re looking forward to getting everybody back, as many people as we can.”

Jason Garrett On Decision To Cut McCann

If a few things had worked out a little bit differently, Jason Garrett might not have been able to keep the head coaching job he took over on an interim basis. Without the help of cornerback Bryan McCann, the Cowboys might not have won Garrett’s first two games last year.

In Garrett’s debut as head coach, the upset at New York last November, McCann returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 19-3 in the second quarter. The next week, he made a heady play to pick up a bouncing ball on a punt, and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown against Detroit.

Cookies crumble all the time in this NFL, though. With a starting cornerback returning from injury in Terence Newman this week, and the wide receiver position ailing, McCann was deemed unnecessary by the Cowboys on Tuesday, and was released to make room for pass-catcher Laurent Robinson, a move Garrett explained on Thursday.

“It’s a hard decision,” Garrett said. “He’s been a really good player for us the last couple of years, and he’s been a good player for us on defense and he’s been a good player for us in the kicking game. But because of different injuries that we had, we feel like we had to make that move. And it was a hard move to make.

“Sometimes you have to make those decisions for the overall welfare of your team, and we had to do that this week.”

An SMU product who went to camp with the Cowboys in 2010, McCann was let go on final cuts and was picked up by Baltimore, but soon made it back to the practice squad in Dallas. He was bumped to the active roster in Week 9 of last year at Green Bay.

With 11 games played already in his career, McCann is no longer eligible for the practice squad.

The 24-year old was not claimed on waivers Wednesday, and has yet to sign with another team.


Dallas Cowboys get a month at home

IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys have hit almost every corner of the country since breaking training camp Aug. 25: Minnesota, Miami, New York and most recently San Francisco.

They haven’t played a game at Cowboys Stadium since Aug. 21. Now, though, they’re back home for nearly a month: two straight home games, starting with the Redskins on Monday night, followed by a Week 5 bye.

The team won’t travel again until New England in mid-October. And with an extra day of preparation ahead, the team felt more rested when they arrived at Valley Ranch after Sunday’s win over the 49ers. Following the season opener at the Jets, they didn’t get home until 5 a.m.

“This was a lot nicer,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “We were home about 12:30 and got to get some sleep. The turnover’s pretty quick when you play a night game up in New York like that, then you’re here mid-day.

“This will be a good week for a lot of us to get our bodies ready and get ready for a tough Monday night game.”

Rather than practicing Wednesday through Friday, head coach Jason Garrett gave his team two days off, partly so several banged-players can rest. The team will practice Thursday through Saturday instead.


Run-stopping key to Rob Ryan defense

In the preseason, there seemed to be legitimate reason for concerns that Rob Ryan’s defense would not be adequately installed in time for opening day. The starting unit had allowed over 400 yards of total offense, and nearly 30 points.

Most discouraging of all was the way they were being pounded in the running game. Denver, San Diego and Minnesota combined for more than 130 yards rushing against the Cowboys, in roughly a full game of action in the preseason.

Preseason is preseason, yes, but it’s all anyone had to go on when considering the progress of Ryan’s defense in Dallas. But against two run-first teams to start the season, the Cowboys have done an excellent job.

First, the Jets were limited to 45 yards on the ground, and the 49ers only amassed 71 – 21 of which came on scrambles by Alex Smith. Opposing backs have averaged a measly 2.6 yards per carry against the Cowboys through two games.

“I think it was a growing process,” linebacker Sean Lee, the team’s leading tackler, said of the preseason. “It’s one of those things where we hadn’t had OTAs. It’s our first time as a group, it’s your first time with your run fits. It’s a lot of new techniques, a lot different, and I think now that we have it locked in, we’re playing faster. We’re more comfortable, you can see it.”

Ryan’s ability to construct a run-stopping defense was one of the things that made him an attractive coordinator candidate for Jason Garrett in the first place.

“I think first and foremost, you have to play sound defense,” Garrett said. “That’s the most important thing, and I think we’ve seen that the last couple weeks where we’ve been able to defend the run in a real sound manner. You have to prevent big plays. We’ve done that the first couple weeks.”

Former Dallas Cowboy Stephen Bowen: The one that got away

Based on the Cowboys’ own stated preferences, plus the barometer that is the open market, Stephen Bowen was the most valuable of all three of the team’s free agent defensive ends this offseason.

The Cowboys first tried to sign the home-grown former undrafted Bowen to a long-term contract, but he got out of their price range and inked a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Redskins on July 29, and will be making his return to North Texas on Monday night.

The team turned its attention to bringing back Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher, whose respective deals came in at five years and $19.2 million for Spears, and three years, $6 million for Hatcher. The club also signed 10th-year pro Kenyon Coleman for a one-year deal near the veteran minimum.

Bowen had started for the Cowboys the final eight games of 2010 after Spears suffered a season-ending calf injury.

“We understand the nature of the NFL,” Jason Garrett said. “Unfortunately when you have players that people around the league like, it’s hard to keep them all, and Stephen Bowen is certainly one of those guys. (He) played very well for us in that role the last half of the year, but certainly was a strong contributor prior to that, too, and he’s a very good run defender, a very good pass rusher and he’s the kind of guy you want on your team. We certainly were trying to keep him, but the business of the NFL sometimes gets involved and it’s hard to keep everybody.

“He certainly makes Washington better. I know just the kind of person he is and the kind of player he is, that he makes them better.”

While Bowen might be the best player to have gotten away from the Cowboys in some time, they’re not exactly missing him just yet. The Cowboys are second in the league in defending the run (3.0 yards per carry), and first in sacks, with 10, including a couple by Hatcher.

Bowen’s former teammates all say they’re happy for him.

“I wish he was still here,” DeMarcus Ware said. “He’s a great friend of mine, we’ve been through a lot, and now it’s weird we’re on the rival teams . . . it’s a great thing for him, he worked hard when he was a Cowboy. He deserves to be more stable in Washington.”

Bowen has three tackles, including one for loss, plus a sack and two pressures in his first two games as a Redskin.

He’ll play his third in a familiar setting, Cowboys Stadium, trying to make his former team begin to regret the fact he got away.

“It’ll be different, but we got one goal, that’s to come out with the win,” Bowen said Wednesday. “I’m real excited to get down there and prove a point.”



Dallas Cowboys photo of Austin TD sure to become a classic

As soon as Miles Austin snatched the ball out of midair, then got his balance and dove for the end zone for a dramatic third touchdown Sunday in San Francisco, I immediately turned to the guys in the press box and said “That might be our No. 1 highlight of the season, right here in Week Two.”

It won’t be the only honor or award stemming from that play.

I’m biased in thinking that the Cowboys’ team photographer James D. Smith is one of the best around, but his photo of Austin’s touchdown might just be the best action shot I’ve seen in a long time.

If there was any doubt that Austin might have been down before the ball crossed the goal line – and there was considering the NFL replay officials had to review the play for a few minutes – all they needed was this pic.

The only thing touching the ground was his toe and you can clearly see Austin getting the ball over the goal line. This shot also shows the determination from Austin’s eyes, which is what he used on that play just to make that leaping grab and score.

The shot was used on page 2-3 of this week’s Cowboys Star magazine and in our game-day photo gallery as well. There’s no doubt this shot will be hanging on a hallway either at Valley Ranch or Cowboys Stadium, if not both.

In my opinion, James “Bonecrusher” Smith is the best in the business. But it’s more of a fact, that he crushed another one with this shot.

Nick Eatman 


“Turning Point” features Cowboys’ win against 49ers; Holley, Irvin tape interview

The Cowboys again will be part of Versus’ “Turning Point,” a weekly look at a critical part of an NFL game.

This week’s episode airs at 9 p.m. Thursday and will feature the overtime  victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Last week, the show featured Dez Bryant’s matchup against New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Versus said viewers can look forward to behind-the-scenes footage and sound.

Speaking of the game, Cowboys receiver Jesse Holley said on Twitter that he and Michael Irvin spent time at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday taping an interview for NFLN. The Cotton Bowl is where Irvin based the reality show “Fourth and  Long” that Holley emerged from to win a spot in training camp with the Cowboys in 2009.

Read more: http://startelegramsports.typepad.com/cowboys/#ixzz1YhvuePjv

Michael Irvin proud of Jessie Holley, said he should of scored

Michael Irvin couldn’t be prouder if Jesse Holley was his own son. Holley won  a tryout with the Cowboys off Irvin’s reality show, 4th and Long, three years  ago. Holley made the practice squad his first year, earned a shot on the active  roster during the 2010 season and became a hero Sunday with a 77-yard  catch-and-run in overtime against the 49ers.

“I feel like a father who played his first game the other day,” Irvin  said Thursday. “What a blessing that was just to see Jesse after how hard he’s  worked these last few years to get that opportunity, how he stayed in. We talked  time and time again about just you’ve got to be ready. If you get any  opportunity, you’ve got to make the most of it. …I said to Jesse, ‘You’ve got  to make the most of any opportunity, because you may only get one. You’ve got to  make it stick.’ Certainly, he did that the other day.”

But Irvin said Holley should have scored. Holley, who had played on special  teams the previous play, admitted he ran out of gas. It allowed safety Donte  Whitner, who had bit on the play-action fake, to catch up to Holley. Whitner  tackled Holley at the 1-yard line, and the Cowboys kicked the field goal on the  next play.

“When he was running, he cut toward the right — the sideline — and I said,  ‘You just narrowed it. You narrowed the opportunity,'” said Irvin, who sat down  with Holley on Wednesday for an interview that will appear on NFL Network during  Sunday’s pregame show. “Jesse had just blocked on the punt team. He had just  sprinted down there. So I knew he was tired.”

Irvin said he hopes Holley’s performance will allow 4th and Long  to get another shot. The show was on only that one season that Holley  won.

“We could put the show back together,” Irvin said. “People were calling it a  joke. ‘What is this? Michael’s taking up a roster spot.’ Got on Jerry [Jones].  ‘What will this guy ever do for the Dallas Cowboys?’ Well, he just saved the  season. That’s all. That was the season-saver. That’s what I texted him. I said,  ‘Way to go, man. That’s an SS.’ He said, ‘What’s an SS?’ I said, ‘A  season-saver.'”

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More details on protective vest for Tony Romo

Tony Romo Winning Us Over? Click on picture to watch video from the “NFL Live” crew on whether the perception of Tony Romo changed after his gutsy performance on Sunday.


Tony Romo’s determination to do whatever possible to avoid missing a game with his fractured rib is evident as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback spent Wednesday being measured for a protective vest, according to a source.

The vest is manufactured by the same equipment company that created a similar device for Michael Vick last season when the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback suffered damaged rib cartilage.

Romo is attempting to play through the injury to compete against the same opponent that inflicted Vick’s injury — the Washington Redskins.

According to a source, the Cowboys equipment staff this week contacted Unequal Technologies of Kennett Square, Penn., which sent representatives to the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters to fit Romo for a lightweight, flexible vest that he could wear in Dallas’ home opener against the Redskins. The source said Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who is suffering from bruised ribs, was also measured for a vest like the one that Vick wore for much of last season. Other Dallas players with injuries are experimenting with some of the company’s other equipment options.

Vick regularly wears equipment produced by Unequal Technologies after signing an endorsement contract with the company.

Unequal Technologies CEO Rob Vito said company representatives are scheduled to meet with Vick and Philadelphia equipment and training staff members Friday to determine how the quarterback’s helmet might be modified. Vick suffered a concussion last Sunday and is attempting to play against the New York Giants this week.

Vito said the high-tech equipment being designed for Romo includes Kevlar — which the military and police forces use in bullet-proof vests and helmets — and is constructed of a multilayer composite that is so lightweight that it could be removed and balled up into the fist of whomever is wearing it.

“Romo had a very serious injury and the Cowboys started asking around about what we had done for Michael Vick and for the Steelers in the Super Bowl,” Vito said. “What we have is military-grade equipment adopted to sports. If it can stop a bullet, it can stop a blitz.”

Already there are indications that, if Romo plays, the Redskins will attempt to knock the Cowboys quarterback out of the game as they did Vick in Week 4 last season.

During a conference call with Dallas media Wednesday morning, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo was asked if he would be targeting Romo’s ribs on Monday night.

“Obviously you can think of it like that,” said Orakpo. “If somebody gets injured you want to go after the injury. But we’re going to just play our game. We’re going to try to get Romo down when we can. We’re not going to just target the ribs and forget about trying to get the ball out or forget about trying to get him down and just hit his ribs. Nah, we’re going to go the best we can to get him down and get off the field.”

Vito said that his company’s equipment has proven capable of stopping a 92 mph fastball in an eighth of an inch and can absorb the impact from a 95 mph slapshot with a quarter-inch of padding.

He said company representatives counted Vick taking eight direct hits in the chest without his ribs being reinjured when he wore the equipment for the first time while scoring 59 points in a Monday night game. After that game, Vick said, “Unequal made me feel invincible.”

Vick later had the company use its technology to modify his thigh pads to protect an injured quadriceps. He took five direct hits and reported not to have felt pain from any of them. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wore a piece of equipment the company devised to protect a quadriceps injury during the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.

Romo was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for a performance that left coach Jason Garrett comparing the quarterback’s toughness with that often demonstrated by Hall of Famer Troy Aikman.

“They have a lot of similar traits that way,” Garrett said. “They’re great competitors — incredibly tough physically, incredibly tough mentally. There’s not a lot of conversation that goes on with either one of them. It’s just, ‘I’m playing.’ And I saw that a lot with Troy and certainly I’ve seen that a lot with Tony the last few years.”



IRVING, Texas — Tony Romo is not the only Cowboys player who missed practice on Thursday.

Starting wide receiver Dez Bryant was not at practice as he’s still recovering from a bruised quad. Bryant missed practice last week and didn’t play in the Week 2 win at San Francisco. Bryant’s status for Monday night’s game vs. the Washington Redskins is uncertain.

The other starting wideout, Miles Austin (hamstring), did not practice either.

The Cowboys added a new name to the injured list in guard Derrick Dockery, who made his first start last week when rookie Bill Nagy missed the 49ers game with a knee injury. Dockery didn’t practice due to a sprained MCL, suffered in the 49ers game. Nagy returned to practice on Thursday.

Felix Jones (shoulder), Orlando Scandrick (ankle) and Phil Costa (knee) also missed practice.

There was some good news on the injury front as cornerback Terence Newman returned after missing a little more than a month with a groin injury.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave the team an extra day off on Wednesday in an attempt to get them more rehab work. As the team started practice, Garrett yelled, “Shake it off. You should be fresh and ready to roll.”

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo not practicing today – Updated 12:52 pm

IRVING – Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is not practicing today as he continues to rest after he suffered a fractured rib and a small puncture of his lung on the third play of the team’s game Sunday at San Francisco. Romo has said he plans to play Monday night in the home opener against Washington, but that will mostly be determined by how quickly his lung heals and how much pain he can tolerate. But if Romo’s lung isn’t healed by Monday, he’s not likely going to be cleared to play.

Romo is on the field in uniform but not practicing. He doesn’t have pads on and doesn’t have a helmet. Mental reps today for Romo.

The Cowboys took an extra day off this week – they were off Tuesday and Wednesday – to allow their many injured players more time to heal. With Romo not practicing, veteran backup quarterback Jon Kitna will take the majority of the practice reps today to get ready to play in case Romo can’t go against the Redskins.

Romo has been measured for a protective vest that he would wear if he plays Monday and will be further evaluated today – and every day, for that matter – to determine how much his lung has healed. Unlike the lung, the fractured rib isn’t a quick fix and will linger for weeks. Romo took pain medicine before he returned to Sunday’s game and would likely receive an injection of pain medicine in order to play Monday.

Romo said Wednesday night on Showtime’s Inside the NFL that he’s been sleeping in a chair at night and is taking it day by day.


Aaron Rodgers says that Tony Romo had an impressive performance

A week after being criticized for his fourth quarter mistakes against the New York Jets, Tony Romo is receiving praise for persevering through rib and lung injuries and rallying the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime victory in San Francisco.

One of the latest to compliment Romo’s Week 2 performance was reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.

“I was surprised he could play so effectively under that much pain,” The Green Bay Packers quarterback said on “The Rich Eisen Podcast” this week. “I actually didn’t have the same injury, but I got cracked in the ribs a couple of years ago against Detroit and the guys were kind of making fun of me in the huddle because I was having a hard time spitting out the plays.

“But a punctured lung and cracked rib? That’s a lot of pain. I sent him a text after the game because I saw the highlights and saw they came back. That’s an impressive performance.”

By just glancing at the box score from the Cowboys’ loss to the Jets, Rodgers noted that he thought Romo played a pretty good game. However, he was aware that the Cowboys QB took quite a bit of criticism for his mistakes during the final nine minutes.

“I think it was pretty good for him to bounce back like that and come back in the game and play so well,” Rodgers said.


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