Daily Archives: November 11th, 2011

David Buehler’s injury frustrates Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones

David Buehler is on injured reserve, and that has owner Jerry Jones questioning the kickoff specialist’s preparation.

Buehler missed four games earlier this season after injuring his right groin. He returned for two games before re-injuring it in practice Wednesday. The Cowboys placed him on injured reserve Thursday.

“Let me just say this: I’m frustrated because you would expect players to… and I understand injury, but he has known all along how to prepare and how to get in shape and how to prepare himself and be ready to be a kicker,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3. “Now it’s frustrating to have your kicker injured. So he’s a valuable asset, especially with the rules as they are right now, we’re going to be playing some key away games out in the weather. We’d like to have him kicking in them because he is a better kickoff guy than [Dan] Bailey. So I’m very frustrated. It is his job to stay ready to play and prepare himself so those kinds of things for what he’s got to do don’t come up.”

Buehler said it will take about five weeks for his leg, which is black and blue, to heal.

“It sucks,” he said.

Buehler had 51 touchbacks in his first two seasons. He had nine this year.

The Cowboys had been the only team with two kickers, and now Bailey will handle both roles. He had six touchbacks in the four games he kicked off.

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HOMECOMING: Dave Wannstedt, former assistant head coach under Jimmy Johnson

Dave Wannstedt - Former Dallas Cowboys coach

Dave Wannstedt - Former Dallas Cowboys coach

Sunday’s game against Buffalo will be a homecoming for a number of Buffalo players and head coach Chan Gailey but also for Bills assistant head coach/inside linebackers Dave Wannstedt.

Wannstedt was the Cowboys’ assistant head coach under Jimmy Johnson when they won Super Bowl XXVIII before becoming Chicago’s head coach in 1993.

As Miami’s head coach in 2000, Wannstedt hired Gailey as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator and Gailey reciprocated by giving Wannstedt a job after Wannstedt was let go at Pitt.

“He’s meant a ton,” Gailey said. “He’s a confidant for me. We can talk about things that head coaches talk about. He knows problems that I need to see from time to time that I don’t see. I appreciate his input. He’s an excellent defensive coach. I think he’s helped our defense over on that side of the ball as well. He’s been a super addition for our football team.”

Wannstedt has a 3-2 record against the Cowboys since leaving Valley Ranch.

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FRIDAY: Jason Garrett press conference | Training camp | Kickers | more (video)

Garrett Press Conference: Friday

Jason Garrett speaks to the media after finishing preparations for the Bills on Sunday.

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RELATED: Cowboys will split camp but looking forward to Oxnard

The Cowboys announced Thursday they have reached an agreement with Oxnard, Calif., to hold at least a portion of training camp there the next three years. San Antonio, though, hasn’t been forgotten. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday that the team will have some of its training camp at the Alamodome in the coming years.

“We certainly know what we have in San Antonio,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “San Antonio has exactly the same percentage of Dallas Cowboys fans as we do in downtown Dallas – 97 percent. So, when we take our team down there, we’re saying a lot of things. We’re wanting the country to see how much we value our Hispanic fans. San Antonio says that, plus it’s a great place to train in the Alamodome down there. So both of them are good. …We’re going to be doing both to some degree.”

The Cowboys split camp between the two cities in 2010, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the California experience has been positive.

The Cowboys have held training camp or a portion of training camp in California for 32 of 52 seasons. That includes five camps in Oxnard.

“There are lot of benefits,” Garrett said. “It’s a great training camp environment for us. Certainly the weather is great; the fields are really good; the proximity of everything within your day is really good. The weight room, the meeting rooms, it’s a confined area that’s easy for us to move around. The people have been great. They’ve treated us really well out there.”

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Troy Aikman: I disagree with Jimmy Johnson, Jason Garrett can do both jobs

Tom Landry (1960-1988): 250-162-6 regular-season record, 20-16 postseason record. NFL titles in 1971, 1977.
DAVID WOO / DMN
Tom Landry (1960-1988): 250-162-6 regular-season record, 20-16 postseason record. NFL titles in 1971, 1977.
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Jimmy Johnson (1989-1993): 44-36-0 regular-season record, 7-1 postseason record. NFL titles in 1992, 1993.
JOHN F. RHODES / DMN
Jimmy Johnson (1989-1993): 44-36-0 regular-season record, 7-1 postseason record. NFL titles in 1992, 1993.
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Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson recently suggested that current coach Jason Garrett should put his focus on being the team’s head coach and think about hiring an offensive coordinator to call the plays.

Since making that statement on FOX’s pregame show last Sunday, Garrett, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former quarterback Troy Aikman have all disagreed with Johnson’s line of thinking.

“I don’t think being a head coach is too big for Jason,” Aikman said Thursday morning during his weekly appearance on 1310 “The Ticket” (KTCK-AM). “I don’t think being an offensive coordinator is too big for him. And I don’t often, but I’d probably disagree with Jimmy, to think that Jason Garrett can’t handle both jobs, I’d have a hard time believing that.”

Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM) that he “always thought that Jason Garrett could handle coordinating as well as being the head coach.”

After Wednesday’s practice, Garrett said Johnson’s comments “could be an opinion he might have and other people might have. But right now, we feel good about the structure we have on our staff and that is what we will do going forward.”

Aikman compared coaching an NFL team to being President of the United States. He also added that if Garrett was going to hire an offensive coordinator, he would have done it already.

“Very few presidents, none that I know of, that have come out and said that they were really prepared for the job when they got it,” Aikman said. “I think the same goes for being a head coach in the National Football League. As much as you prepare yourself, then you get the job and there’s parts of it that you didn’t anticipate or there’s things that are required that you’ve got to deal with that you didn’t think were a part of it.

“If you’re going to embrace the head coaching job and then say it’s too difficult for me to do both, I think you’d give up play-calling as soon as you get named head coach. But no one does that. The offensive guys that have gone on to become head coaches have continued to call plays, and then they get more and more acclimated within the role of head coaching and how to split their duties and delegate a little bit and then they’re fine.”

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RIVAL NEWSPAPER: Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware looks to blindside the Bills

The Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware has 12 sacks. Three fewer than the Buffalo Bills have as a team.

The Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware, right, has 12 sacks, three fewer than the Bills have as a team.

Getty Images

Whoever starts at left tackle Sunday for the Buffalo Bills — the options are Andy Levitre and rookie Chris Hairston — will spend a considerable amount of time opposite quarterback agitator DeMarcus Ware.

Indeed, Levitre and Hairston will receive their stiffest test yet trying to muzzle Ware when the Bills (5-3) visit the Dallas Cowboys (4-4) at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday.

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to be able and go out and compete against a guy who has shown his ability over a long period of time,” Hairston said. “It will be good to go out there and say, ‘I went against the best,’ because that’s what he’s proven time and time again.”

Time and time again, Ware has proven to be difficult to contain. The Bills defense has 15 sacks this season, only three more than Ware — who has more sacks than Kansas City and the same amount as Tampa Bay.

So who will be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s personal protector? More than likely, it will be Levitre to start.

“Probably over a 50 percent chance that he’ll play left tackle,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “We’re still holding hope for Hairston but I think that will be the way it is, at least to start the game.”

We know it won’t be Demetrius Bell who started the first four games of the season before suffering a shoulder injury in the loss to Cincinnati during Week Four. While Bell said his rehab is going fine and he’s felt, “better than I have in a long time,” he’s not practicing this week and his return is still to be determined.

Levitre practiced this week at both left tackle and left guard. When Hairston was injured following the New York Giants game, Levitre filled in at left tackle and played well in holding off the likes of Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo and the Jets’ Calvin Pace.

“He did a good job and it’s such a tough thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s so hard for him to move from inside to outside and now that he’s had a few games where he’s been out there you can see him getting comfortable. We’ll see what happens there this week, but Andy’s a really good player for us and somebody that we put a lot on his shoulders and he’s really stepped up.

If Levitre starts at left tackle, Chad Rinehart will start at left guard.

“I don’t know what [the coaches] plan is, but I’m taking reps at both,” Levitre said. “The last few weeks I’ve been playing against some of the best pass rushers in the league. It’s definitely going to be a big challenge because Ware is a good pass rusher and a great player. I feel like we have our work cut out for us every week but this is going to be a challenge for us.”

Hairston, the rookie from Clemson, missed the last two games against Washington and the Jets with a high ankle sprain. After Bell was injured, Hairston started against Philadelphia and the Giants and was activated for last week’s Jets game.

“You have to be ready,” Hairston said. “I have to get a good week of preparation in, get myself together mentally and physically so I can go out and have my best game. … You have to be on top of everything with Ware.”

Respect for Ware, who ranks second in the NFL in sacks, is league wide. New England’s Bill Belichick recently compared Ware to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, whom Belichick coached as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. He lauded Ware’s talent to rush and drop into coverage, adding his aptitude allows him to play multiple roles.

Not to be outdone, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said of his centerpiece, “I mean, I saw Superman I and II but never saw the third one. I know Lawrence Taylor is obviously a fantastic player, but the best player I’ve ever seen on defense is DeMarcus Ware without a doubt.”

Ware has 12 sacks, which trails league-leader Jared Allen of Minnesota by half a sack. Last week’s game against Seattle is only the second time he didn’t record a sack in a game this year. That still leaves him on a pace for 24 sacks.

“DeMarcus Ware obviously is somebody you’ve got to have your eye on,” Fitzpatrick said. “Every play you’ve got to know where he is.”

Courtesy: Rodney McKissic | The Buffalo News

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THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT: Dallas Cowboys Bruce Carter ‘can’t wait’ to play alongside Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys Bruce Carter - 2011 NFL Draft pick

Dallas Cowboys Bruce Carter - 2011 NFL Draft pick

IRVING – It’s not a mystery, for the Dallas Cowboys, the future at inside linebacker falls on the shoulders of Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.

Carter and Lee represent what the franchise has done in the second round of the past two drafts. And the Cowboys may have been lucky, considering both players undoubtedly slipped in the draft because of knee injuries. Lee suffered his injury in 2008 while Carter’s occurred in 2010.

Now that both players are close to being healthy enough to line up together – Carter made his NFL debut on special teams in Philadelphia and took his first snaps on defense last week against Seattle – the Cowboys can start to take a small glimpse into the future.

Despite Lee having his left hand and wrist enclosed in a cast, he and Carter took part in a padded-practice on Wednesday.

Carter said his goal of that practice was working on his communication with Lee, knowing where Lee’s at on certain plays while also understanding his own assignments.

“I obviously think that we’ll play together good,” Carter said. “Sean’s very smart. He’s a physical player. He brings a lot to the game. I can’t wait to get out there with him.”

A torn anterior cruciate ligament prevented Carter from participating in pre-draft workouts, all of Cowboys training camp and the first six weeks of the season.

He stated on Wednesday that it’s been a “long, long journey” and it feels good to finally be back and able to contribute.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said that Carter was “OK” in his defensive debut. Ryan added that the game was moving fast for the rookie, whose play was highlighted by a deflected pass on third-and-12 early in the third quarter.

“We played him some at regular and some at nickel and dime, so he got a little bit of everything, just with limited calls,” Ryan said after Sunday’s game. “I thought he did fine. He had a real nice play on third down.

“He’ll be OK. It’s tough with no training camp. You talk about throwing a kid in the fire, that’s what he’s getting. With [Seattle’s] zone running game and all that, it’s tough. But he’ll be good.”

Carter agreed that the game was moving fast for him.

“I think as I get more experience it will slow down for me,” he said. “Just knowing my assignment and being able to read keys before anything actually happens, that helps the game slow down for me. Overall, it was a good experience.”

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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A closer look at Laurent Robinson’s contribution

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson

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IRVING, Texas — Generally speaking, wide receivers that join teams in the middle of a year with little attempt to learn the playbook or the quarterback tend to struggle.

Laurent Robinson is proving that rule wrong.

In six games, Robinson has 24 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He has two 100-yard games as well. Tony Romo has come to trust him quickly and Robinson’s numbers figure to improve if Miles Austin misses the next 2-4 weeks with a hamstring injury.

Since 2004, the Cowboys have added some big-name wide receivers to their roster either via trade or a free agent signing.

In 2004, they traded Antonio Bryant to Cleveland for Quincy Morgan, who had 22 catches for 260 yards and no touchdowns in nine games.

In 2005 they signed Peerless Price in hopes his reunion with Drew Bledsoe would push him back to prominence. It never happened. In seven games he had six catches for 96 yards.

And then there’s the Roy Williams trade of 2008 with Detroit. Williams had 19 catches for 198 yards and a touchdown in 10 games.

In fewer games, Robinson has better numbers than any of those guys.

REMEMBER WHEN: Last Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills was a wild W for Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo vs Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo vs Buffalo Bills

IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo had quite an interesting night the last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Buffalo Bills.

Tony Romo threw a career-high five interceptions in that game … and somehow managed to regain his composure to lead the Dallas Cowboys to an improbable comeback win.

“I look back now, it seems a little silly some of the stuff I did,” Romo said Thursday. “It is what it is.”

It is a key moment in Romo’s career, as far as his coach is concerned.

Tony Romo, who was in his first full season as a starter, played about as poorly as possible for the first three and a half quarters that Monday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He had two picks returned for touchdowns in the first half. His club-record-tying fifth interception came in the fourth quarter, when he also lost a fumble.

But Tony Romo came through when the Dallas Cowboys needed him most. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 99 yards on two drives in the final 3:45. Those possessions ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton and a game-winning 53-yard field goal by Nick Folk, who had to make the kick twice because the Buffalo Bills called timeout just before the first attempt.

“I learned a lot about him that night,” Jason Garrett said. “When it came down to the critical time in the ballgame late when you’ve [thrown five interceptions], it takes a special mentality, a special competitor to come back and keep banging away and give your team a chance to win that game. Tony Romo did that. He didn’t blink. …

“I thought it was a really important night for him. Often times as a quarterback, when it’s easy, it’s easy. Things are rolling, everything’s clicking. But I think you really get measured at that position – and, really, as a football team, as individual players and coaches – when things are hard. How do you respond?”

Romo’s response for the then-undefeated Cowboys gave Jerry Jones more reason to believe he found a franchise quarterback. The Cowboys signed Romo to a six-year, $67 million extension weeks later.

It was also a valuable learning experience for a quarterback early in his tenure as a starter.

“I think you need to understand that, no matter what is going on around you, it’s the next play,” Romo said. “Like we’ve said before, if you’ve thrown an interception or a touchdown you need to come back and be your best on the very next play. That was an example of you can be down, you know you put your team and yourself in a hole, but we had a chance to win late in the game.

“At that time, you need to think you’ve thrown four touchdowns and everything is going your way so that you’re emotionally and mentally renewed to go win a game. That was an important lesson there.”

The other lesson learned by Tony Romo that night: “Don’t throw five interceptions. It makes it harder to win.”

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NEXT MAN UP: Temporary role could increase Barry Church’s value

Dallas Cowboys Barry Church brings down Seattle-Seahawks-running-back-Marshawn-Lynch-24

Dallas Cowboys Barry Church

While the Dallas Cowboys are definitely hopeful that Sean Lee will be back in action this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, and can function with that wrapped-up left wrist, at least they’re working on some solid contingency plans just in case.

One of which we saw some last week against Buffalo included backup safety Barry Church working into the nickel packages as a linebacker closer to the line of scrimmage.

Barry Church responded with one of his most productive games of his career, with a career-high tying six tackles. Those six tackles also tied for second-most on the squad Sunday and he did so in a limited role.

“He did a really good job,” head coach Jason Garrett said of Church. “He’s a guy that’s always taken advantage of his opportunities shows up in the kicking game, very physical very instinctively and he stuck his nose in there a number of times and he actually caused a holding penalty on an offensive lineman before then, just very instinctively kinda getting away from potential blockers and making some plays on the runners. I thought he did a nice job and took real advantage of that opportunity we gave him.”

Church said taking on 300-pound linemen wasn’t an easy adjustment early in the game.

“It was rough, but towards the end of the game, I was able to use my quickness to get around them,” Church said. “I just had to use my quickness to my advantage. I think I did well overall. I miss a couple of run-fits. Those will come with more experience and more time at that position. Hopefully, I’ll get some more playing time there.”

Barry Church, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie from Toledo, played mostly on special teams. He began training camp as a starting safety before the team signed Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam. But with both of the Cowboys’ starting safeties signing just one-year deal, it opens the door for guys like Church, especially if they show they can take on additional roles like the one he handled last Sunday.

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UNRESTRICTED: Tony Romo could shed the Kevlar jacket this week

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was completely healthy Sunday. It was the first time since the season opener against the Jets that he felt 100 percent. Romo fractured a rib and punctured a lung on the third play of the Week 2 victory over the 49ers.

Last week against the Seahawks, Romo did not take a pain-killing shot for the first time since his injury. He did, however, play with the specially fitted Kevlar jacket. He said he wore it as a “precaution.”

He is unsure whether he will wear it this week.

“I don’t know,” Romo said Thursday. “I’m going to toy with it a little bit, and I’ll see. It was nice playing healthy last week and it will be nice again, I can tell you that.”

Romo said the rib is fully healed.

“I believe it’s fully healed,” he said. “We haven’t had an X-ray here in awhile, but it was healing properly. We basically came to the conclusion it’s good.”

Romo is battling a cold this week.

“It’s probably going to keep me out of the game this week,” he said with a chuckle. “I think I’ll be all right. No, we’re good.”

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AMERICA’S TEAM: Dallas Cowboys reach training camp deal with Oxnard

The Boys Are Back - Dallas Cowboys training camp Oxnard California
The Boys Are Back – Dallas Cowboys training camp Oxnard California

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The Dallas Cowboys will continue their tradition of training camp in California. The team announced Thursday it has reached an agreement in principle on a three-year deal with the city of Oxnard.

But San Antonio isn’t out of the picture yet.

The deal with Oxnard, which must be approved by the city council on Tuesday, calls for the Dallas Cowboys to spend anywhere from two weeks to 40 days in Oxnard, according to the Ventura County Star. The newspaper also reported that it includes an option for three additional years.

The Cowboys split their 2010 camp between San Antonio and Oxnard, and owner Jerry Jones has said he would consider that for the future.

San Antonio and Oxnard have been the home to Cowboys training camps since 2001.

“San Antonio and Oxnard have provided absolutely outstanding settings for every single aspect of our training camps for the past ten years,” Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. “We look forward to going back to California next year. We are also exploring avenues to have a continued Dallas Cowboys presence in San Antonio, because it has always been a special home for the Dallas Cowboys. The support of the City and the fans in San Antonio are outstanding.”

The Cowboys have held training camp or a portion of training camp in California for 32 of 52 seasons. That includes five camps in Oxnard.

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INJURED RESERVE: Dallas Cowboys kicker David Buehler reinjures his groin | Bailey ready | Roster move

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey

Cowboys kickoff specialist David Buehler reinjured his groin late in Wednesday’s practice, prompting his move to injured reserve Thursday, coach Jason Garrett said. Buehler did not appear on the injury report Wednesday.

“David has been working through an injury really all year long,” Garrett said. “We felt like it was important for us to give him a chance to come back and kick, so we were very patient with him. I’m not so sure he was completely healthy. He was kicking yesterday and after practice he really aggravated it severely. He went down to get it checked out. We just feel it’s going to take him much too long to come back. You start factoring in how long is he going to be? How many games do we have left. We felt like that was the best decision for our team.”

The Dallas Cowboys had been the only team in the league to carry two kickers. Dan Bailey handles the field goals and extra points.

Buehler missed four games earlier this season with the injury to his right groin.

Kai Forbath began kicking this week. He remains on the non-football injury list, and the Cowboys have a couple more weeks before deciding what to do with him. Garrett said Thursday that kickoff specialist is not in Forbath’s immediate future.

“Kai is someone we really liked coming out of school and we haven’t seen a whole lot of him just because he has been hurt,” Garrett said. “He just really started kicking a couple of days ago for the first time. We’ll evaluate him and what his role will be as we go forward. I don’t know that we pinpoint him right now as a guy who is going to be our kickoff guy, though.”

Buehler had nine touchbacks in four games this season. Bailey has six touchbacks in the four games he has kicked off.

The Cowboys re-signed guard Daniel Loper to take Buehler’s spot on the 53-player roster, but they are expected to have to make another before the end of the week. Since Miles Austin will miss Sunday’s game, Dallas likely will activate practice-squad receiver Dwayne Harris. Harris played special teams in the first five games.

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