Monthly Archives: August, 2012

BREAKDOWN: Analysis of the 23 Dallas Cowboys cut today

Here are comments on each of the team’s 23 cuts:

OT Jeff Adams – The Cowboys like his size and think he has potential. He is a possibility for the practice squad.

LB Baraka Atkins – He is a good-sized linebacker, at 265 pounds, but it is a numbers game at this position.

DL Ben Bass – He was very active in the preseason games against San Diego and St. Louis. The former A&M standout is a prime practice squad candidate.

WR Tim Benford – He was the star of the Blue-White scrimmage in training camp, but he did not get many chances for balls in the first three preseason games.

DL Robert Callaway – He intrigued the coaches in the OTAs and minicamp but didn’t stand out in training camp.

QB Rudy Carpenter – He was never a real possibility for the 53-player roster, regardless what he did, but he is eligible for the practice squad.

FB Shaun Chapas – The 2011 seventh-round pick spent most of last season on the practice squad but did play in three games, mainly on special teams.

WR Danny Coale – He was hurt most of training camp and lost the last receiver spot to Andre Holmes.

RB Lance Dunbar – North Texas’ all-time leading rusher made a case for himself with 105 yards on 15 carries vs. Miami, but the Cowboys chose to keep only three running backs. They hope to slip him through to the practice squad.

DL Clifton Geathers — He has been inconsistent since the Cowboys claimed him off waivers late in the 2010 season.

G/C Harland Gunn — Undrafted rookie out of Miami, he became the backup center to David Arkin when Phil Costa was hurt in training camp. He picked up the center position quickly, but he faced an uphill battle to make the roster from the start.

WR Saalim Hakim – The Cowboys value his speed, but Hakim rarely got a chance to show his receiving skills because of a broken finger in training camp.

LB Adrian Hamilton – Hamilton is an under-the-radar pass rusher from Prairie View A&M. He made some speed plays, which makes him a practice squad candidate.

OG Ronald Leary – The Cowboys liked Leary enough that they signed the undrafted free agent to a contract guaranteeing him $214,000. He could be back on the practice squad.

LB Orie Lemon – Lemon returned an interception for a touchdown Wednesday against the Dolphins, but it wasn’t enough. The Cowboys would like him on the practice squad another season.

OG Daniel Loper – Loper, who was on and off the Cowboys’ 53-player roster last season, was re-signed Aug. 3 after injuries made the team thin in the interior. He was waived/injured.

OT Pat McQuistan – A former Cowboy brought in for tackle depth, but he also played guard in training camp.

RB Jamize Olawale – He became a fan favorite as a goal-line rusher when he scored on two runs from the 4 against San Diego in the preseason. He was a receiver in college, trying to transition to fullback.

S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah – A fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2010, he has never developed like the team had hoped.

TE Andrew Szczerba – He is an athletic tight end with good hands. He had a solid training camp. The Cowboys like his build and blocking. He might have been one of the team’s tougher decisions.

CB Lionel Smith — The Cowboys like his size, but he is the victim of a numbers game. And he had a concussion in the last preseason game.

S Eddie Whitley – He is a capable player, but one of too many players at his position. Rookie Matt Johnson, veteran Danny McCray and first-year player Mana Silva are ahead of him as backup safeties.

CB Teddy Williams – Williams, who did not play collegiate football but was a sprinter, was a project signed by the Cowboys in 2010. He spent the past two seasons on the practice squad.

Carlos Mendez | Charean Williams

OFFICIAL ROSTER CUTS: Dallas Cowboys down to 53 players.

The Dallas Cowboys just officially announced their cuts today. There aren’t any surprises, but here’s the complete list from the team:

  • Jeff Adams OT
  • Baraka Atkins LB
  • Ben Bass DT
  • Tim Benford WR
  • Robert Callaway DT
  • Rudy Carpenter QB
  • Shaun Chapas FB
  • Danny Coale WR
  • Lance Dunbar RB
  • Clifton Geathers DT
  • Harland Gunn OG
  • Saalim Hakim WR
  • Adrian Hamilton LB
  • Ronald Leary OG
  • Orie Lemon LB
  • Jamize Olawale RB
  • Pat McQuistan OT
  • Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB
  • Lionel Smith CB
  • Andrew Szczerba TE
  • Eddie Whitley S
  • Teddy Williams CB

Among those players cut, the Cowboys would probably want to bring back these players for their practice squad, which can’t be set until 11 a.m. Saturday:

  • QB Rudy Carpenter,
  • WR Danny Coale,
  • RB Lance Dunbar,
  • LB Orie Lemon,
  • RB Jamize Olawale,
  • LB Andrian Hamilton
  • OG Ronald Leary

The Cowboys waived/injured guard Daniel Loper on Friday night.

The Cowboys traded their 2013 seventh-round draft pick to Miami for center/guard Ryan Cook on Friday morning. Cook, a seven-year veteran out of New Mexico, was originally a second round pick (51st overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played his first five years with the Vikings before signing with Miami as a free agent on September 5, 2011. Cook has started 40-of-77 career games, making starts at right tackle, right guard and at center.

NFL ROSTER TRACKER: Watch all 32 teams cut down to 53 players

Updated: September 1, 2012 at 12:33 a.m

Teams had until 9 p.m. ET Friday to reduce their rosters to 53 players. Below are the player cuts:

Arizona Cardinals

CB Crezdon Butler, LB Anthony Coleman, DB Blake Gideon, LB Clark Haggans, OL Russ Hochstein, DT Ricky Lumpkin, LB Colin Parker, CB Larry Parker, WR DeMarco Sampson, TE Steve Skelton, RB Alphonso Smith, LB Quan Sturdivant, DE Ronald Talley, DE Everrette Thompson, TE Martell Webb, OL Scott Wedige, LB Brandon Williams, WR Isaiah Williams, WR Stephen Williams, OT D.J. Young.

Atlanta Falcons

LB Spencer Adkins, TE LaMark Brown, LB Rico Council, FB Mike Cox, WR Drew Davis, CB Dominique Franks, OL Andrew Jackson, OL Bryce Harris, LB Jerrell Harris, OL Tyler Horn, WR Marcus Jackson, CB Marty Markett, WR Kerry Meier, RB Dimitri Nance, DT Conrad Obi, DT Micanor Regis, WR James Rodgers, LB Pat Schiller, CB Peyton Thompson, DB Suaesi Tuimaunei, LS Joe Zelenka.

Baltimore Ravens

RB Anthony Allen, DB Omar Brown, LB Josh Bynes, LB Nigel Carr, OL Jack Cornell, WR Dorian Graham, OL Cord Howard, NT Nicolas Jean-Baptise, NT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, OL Antoine McClain, DT Terrence Moore, QB Curtis Painter, WR Logan Payne, DB Cyhl Quarles, LB Chavis Williams, OL Tony Wragge.

Buffalo Bills

WR Kamar Aiken, OL Mark Asper, TE Kevin Brock, RB Zach Brown, LB Tank Carder, OL James Carmon, WR Marcus Easley, DE Robert Eddins, DT Dwan Edwards, DT Jarron Gilbert, DB Isaiah Green, WR Derek Hagan, DT Kellen Heard, WR Ruvell Martin, LB Scott McKillop, P Shawn Powell, WR Naaman Roosevelt, LB Nick Saenz, OL David Snow, RB Johnny White, OL Keith Williams.

Carolina Panthers

WR Seyi Ajirotutu, G Bryant Browning, WR Lamont Bryant, CB Darius Butler, DT Nate Chandler, TE Joe Jon Finley, WR Jared Green, S Jonathan Nelson, LB David Nixon, DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo, RB Tauren Poole, S Jordan Pugh, OL Matt Reynolds, TE Nelson Rosario, RB Armond Smith, S Reggie Smith, CB R.J. Stanford, DE Ryan Van Bergen, G Justin Wells, LB Jason Williams, G Zack Williams, LB Kion Wilson.

Chicago Bears

LB Xavier Adibi, RB Armando Allen, WR Joe Anderson, OT Cory Brandon, CB Cornelius Brown, OL James Brown, WR Terriun Crump, DE Chauncey Davis, WR Rashied Davis, CB Isaiah Frey, OT A.J. Greene, WR Brittan Golden, OL Ricky Henry, DB Mark LeGree, QB Josh McCown, CB Greg McCoy, DT Jordan Miller, TE Brandon Venson, DE Aston Whiteside, LB Jabara Williams, DB Jonathan Wilhite.

Cincinnati Bengals

FB Jourdan Brooks, TE Colin Cochart, LS Bryce Davis, FB James Develin, DE DeQuin Evans, WR Vidal Hazelton, DT Nick Hayden, CB T.J. Heath, RB Daniel Herron, OL Otis Hudson, LB Grant Hunter, DE Micah Johnson, LB Emmanuel Lamur, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, DT Vaughn Meatoga, LB Roddrick Muckelroy, OL Matthew O’Donnell, QB Zac Robinson, OL Reggie Stephens.

Cleveland Browns

OL Dominic Alford, DT Ronnie Cameron, WR Josh Cooper, OL Stanley Daniels, CB James Dockery, OL Garth Gerhart, DE William Green, TE Dan Gronkowski, LB Benjamin Jacobs, TE Evan Moore, DL Ernest Owusu, DL Brian Schaefering, OL Jarrod Shaw, OL Jeff Shugarts, FB Brad Smelley, LB Quinton Spears, RB Adonis Thomas, DL Kiante Tripp, QB Seneca Wallace, WR Rod Windsor.

Dallas Cowboys

OL Jeff Adams, LB Baraka Atkins, DE Ben Bass, WR Tim Benford, DT Robert Callaway, QB Rudy Carpenter, FB Shaun Chapas, WR Danny Coale, RB Lance Dunbar, DE Clifton Geathers, OL Harold Gunn, WR Saalim Hakim, LB Adrian Hamilton, OL Ronald Leary, LB Orie Lemon, RB Jamize Olawale, OL Daniel Loper, OT Pat McQuistan, DB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB Lionel Smith, TE Andrew Szczerba, DB Eddie Whitley, CB Teddy Williams.

Denver Broncos

DE James Blatnick, DB Rafael Bush, CB Drayton Florence, LB Jerry Franklin, DT Ben Garland, OL Adam Grant, OL Ryan Harris, WR Jason Hill, OL Tony Hills, DB Duke Ihenacho, TE Cornelius Ingram, RB Jeremiah Johnson, LB Mike Mohamed, WR Greg Orton, WR Gerell Robinson, OL Sealver Siliga, CB Syd’Quan Thompson, OL Wayne Tribeu, QB Adam Weber.

Detroit Lions

OL Rodney Austin, OL Pat Boyle, DE Everette Brown, DE Ugo Chinasa, P Ryan Donahue, WR Patrick Edwards, DT Andre Fluellen, OL Dan Gerberry, TE David Gottlieb, WR Nate Hughes, DB Reshard Langford, WR Lance Long, DE Edmon McClam, LB Carmen Messina, WR Wallace Miles, CB Justin Miller, DT Tracy Robertson, CB Alphonso Smith, WR Maurice Stovall, CB Ross Weaver, TE Austin Wells.

Green Bay Packers

OL Shea Allard, WR Diondre Borel, TE Brandon Bostick, QB B.J. Coleman, FB Nic Cooper, OL Andrew Datko, OL Tommie Draheim, WR Tori Gurley, OL Sampsun Genus, WR Curenski Gilleylen, DE Lawrence Guy, DB Anthony Levine, CB Otis Merrill, WR Dale Moss, DT Daniel Muir, RB Marc Tyler, OL Greg Van Roten.

Houston Texans

TE Logan Brock, LB Keith Browner, LB D.J. Bryant, DT Hebron Fangupo, RB Jonathan Grimes, NT David Hunter, WR Juaquin Iglesias, WR Jerrell Jackson, LB Delano Johnson, QB Case Keenum, DT Mitch King, LB Shawn Loiseau, WR Jeff Maehl, OT Nathan Menkin, DB Troy Nolan, LB Rennie Moore, FB Moran Norris, DB Eddie Pleasant, TE Philip Supernaw, OL Cody Wallace, OT Cody White.

Indianapolis Colts

DE James Aiono, DT Chigbo Anunoby OL Steven Baker, LB Jerry Brown, RB Darren Evans, OL George Foster, LB Tim Fugger, OL Hayworth Hicks, RB Deji Karim, CB Brandon King, LB Greg Lloyd, TE Kyle Miller, WR Kashif Moore, DB Mike Newton, WR Jeremy Ross, DT Jason Shirley, TE Andre Smith, LS Justin Snow, OL Zane Taylor, DB Latarrius Thomas, OL Mike Tepper.

Jacksonville Jaguars

OT Daniel Baldridge, OL Lee Barbiasz, TE Colin Cloherty, S Courtney Greene, DT Corvey Irvin, CB Rod Issac, CB Trumaine McBride, RB Richard Murphy, QB Jordan Palmer, DE Odrick Ray, OL William Robinson, LB J.K. Schaffer, RB Will Ta’ufo’ou, CB Leigh Torrence, WR Demetrius Williams.

Kansas City Chiefs

DL Brandon Bair, DB Mikail Baker, WR Josh Bellamy, OL Patrick Bruggeman, FB Patrick DiMarco, DB Chandler Fenner, DL Amon Gordon, OL Darryl Harris, WR Junior Hemingway, DL Jerome Long, LB Gabe Miller, OL David Mims, WR Jamar Newsome, DB Terrance Parks, OL Lucas Patterson, OL Rich Ranglin, DB Neiko Thorpe, DB Donald Washington, LB Leon Williams.

Miami Dolphins

NT Isakko Aaitui, CB Vince Agnew, LB Ryan Baker, OT Will Barker, OL Chandler Burden, LB Cameron Collins, WR B.J. Cunningham, OL Ray Feinga, WR Jeff Fuller, WR Clyde Gates, LB Gary Guyton, WR Chris Hogan, CB Quinten Lawrence, LB Shelley Lyons, OT Andrew McDonald, OT Lydon Murtha, DE Jarrell Root, DB Anderson Russell, CB Kevyn Scott, WR Roberto Wallace, DE Jamaal Westerman.

Minnesota Vikings

WR Emmanuel Arceneaux, DT Chase Baker, CB Chris Carr, DE Jeff Charleston, OL Chris DeGeare, FB Ryan D’Imperio, CB Bobby Felder, DB Eric Frampton, DT Trevor Guyton, RB Lex Hilliard, OL Tyler Holmes, CB Reggie Jones, OL Kevin Murphy, LB Corey Paredes, OL Austin Pasztor, DE Nick Reed, QB Sage Rosenfels, OL Quentin Saulsberry, TE Mickey Shuler, RB Jordan Todman.

New England Patriots

WR Deion Branch, DB Sergio Brown, OL Derek Dennis, WR Jeremy Ebert, DL Marcus Harrison, WR Jesse Holley, QB Brian Hoyer, DB James Ihedigbo, FB Eric Kettani, OL Matt Kopa, OL Dan Koppen, LB Niko Koutouvides, DE Aaron Lavarias, DB Derrick Martin, TE Alex Silvestro, LB Jeff Tarpinian, WR Kerry Taylor, TE Tyler Urban, OL Dustin Waldron, OL Jeremiah Warren, OL Darrion Weems, DB Malcolm Williams.

New Orleans Saints

DE Braylon Broughton, LB Kadarron Anderson, LB Ezra Butler, WR Greg Camarillo, QB Sean Canfield, DE Alex Daniels, TE Michael Higgins, CB Nick Hixson, K John Kasay, DB Jerico Nelson, OL DeOn’tae Pannell, TE Derek Schouman, OL Alderious Simmons, WR Andy Tanner, OL Matt Tennant, LB Lawrence Wilson.

New York Giants

DE Matt Broha, OL Selvish Capers, WR Dan DePalma, TE Larry Donnell, WR David Douglas, OL Stephin Goodin, DT Dwayne Hendricks, CB Dante Hughes, CB Bruce Johnson, LB Greg Jones, DE Craig Marshall, OT Matt McCants, LB Jake Muasau, QB Ryan Perrilloux, DB Laron Scott, WR Isaiah Stanback, DT Marcus Thomas, RB D.J. Ware, OL Chris White.

New York Jets

WR Joseph Collins, OL Paul Cornick, LB Marcus Dowtin, CB Donnie Fletcher, RB Terrance Ganaway, OT Robert Griffin, OL Fred Koloto, P Spencer Lanning, DB LeQuan Lewis, TE Tarren Lloyd, DB D’Anton Lynn, C Matt Kroul, WR Royce Pollard, DB Julian Posey, DE Jay Richardson, WR Eron Riley, LB Brett Roy, LB Ricky Sapp, TE Hayden Smith, QB Matt Simms, NT Martin Tevaseu, WR Jordan White.

Oakland Raiders

LB Kaelin Burnett, K Eddy Carmona, WR Derek Carrier, WR Brandon Carswell, DE Hall Davis, TE Kyle Efaw, DL Dominique Hamilton, OL Kevin Haslam, OL Nick Howell, LB Chad Kilgore, OL Dan Knapp, WR Eddie McGee, C Colin Miller, RB Lonyae Miller, WR Roscoe Parrish, WR Travionte Session, LB Nathan Stupar, S Curtis Taylor.

Philadelphia Eagles

DB Oshiomogho Atogwe, TE Brett Brackett, LB Keenan Clayton, DT Landon Cohen, DT Antonio Dixon, TE Chase Ford, WR Mardy Gilyward, WR Chad Hall, CB Joselio Hanson, FB Emil Igwenagu, OL D.J. Jones, QB Mike Kafka, P Mat McBriar, WR Marvin McNutt, LB Adrian Moten, DT Ollie Ogbu, LB Ryan Rau, DE Monte Taylor, DB Philip Thomas, DT Frank Trotter, OL Steve Vallos, OL Julian Vandervelde, OL Brandon Washington.

Pittsburgh Steelers

WR Tyler Beiler, DL Corbin Bryant, WR Toney Clemons, DB Damon Cromartie-Smith, OL Trai Essex, DB Terrence Frederick, WR David Gilreath, RB DuJuan Harris, LB Brandon Hicks,  DL Igbinosun Ikponmwosa, QB Jerrod Johnson, P Jeremy Kapinos, OL Ryan Lee, OL John Malecki, WR Marquis Maze, LB Marshall McFadden, OL Chris Scott, DL Jake Stoller, DB Josh Victorian, WR Derrick Williams.

San Diego Chargers

RB Edwin Baker, OL Colin Baxter, LB Bront Bird, OL Charlie Bryant, DE Jacques Cesaire, OL Anthony Davis, LB Ricky Elmore, LB Daryl Gamble, CB Greg Gatson, DE Logan Harrell, OL Mario Henderson, FB Jacob Hester, CB Arthur Hobbs, QB Jarrett Lee, P Robert Malone, K Nick Novak, CB DeAndre Presley, DE Damik Scafe, OL Stephen Schilling, TE Kory Sperry, WR Mike Willie.

San Francisco 49ers

LB Ikaika Alama-Francis, LB Eric Bakhtiari, FB Rock Cartwright, OL Derek Hall, LB Joe Holland, DT Tony Jerod-Edie, LB Cam Johnson, QB Josh Johnson, DT Matthew Masifilo, CB Anthony Mosley, TE Kyle Nelson, OL Al Netter, WR Chris Owusu, WR Nathan Palmer, OL Mike Person, TE Konrad Reuland, WR Brett Swain, DB Michael Thomas.

Seattle Seahawks

DB Philip Adams, DE Pierre Allen, LB Allen Bradford, WR Deon Butler, WR Kris Durham, OL Paul Fanaika, TE Cooper Helfet, OL Rishaw Johnson, WR Jermaine Kearse, LB Kyle Knox, DE Cordarro Law, WR Ricardo Lockett, TE Sean McGrath, OL Kris O’Dowd, QB Josh Portis, DB DeShawn Shead, LB Korey Toomer, RB Vai Taua, WR Lavasier Tuinei.

St. Louis Rams

DT Cornell Banks, OL Tim Barnes, QB Tom Brandstater, DE Mason Brodine, LB Sammy Brown, CB Kendric Burney, QB Kellen Clemens, DE Vernon Gholston, FB Ben Guidugli, TE Cory Harkey, OL T-Bob Hebert, DE Jamaar Jarrett, WR Nick Johnson, OL Joe Long, OL Bryan Mattison, FB Ovie Mughelli, TE Deangelo Peterson, RB Chase Reynolds, DE Scott Smith, OL Jose Valdez.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

S Larry Asante, S Sean Baker, WR Landon Cox, LB Rennie Curran, LB Jacob Cutrera, TE Drake Dunsmore, K Kai Forbath, OL Jamarcus Hardrick, FB Robert Hughes, FB Cody Johnson, RB Mossis Madu, DT Jordan Nix, DT Frank Okam, DT Amobi Okoye, OL Moe Petrus, TE Zack Pianalto, QB Brett Ratliff, CB James Rogers, WR Jordan Shipley, WR Tiquan Underwood, DT Teryl White, DE E.J. Wilson, G Desmond Wynn.

Tennessee Titans

WR Devin Aguilar, TE Brandon Barden, DT Zach Clayton, OL Kyle DeVan, NT Lamar Divens, DB Aaron Francisco, TE Cameron Graham, CB Chris Hawkins, OL Michael Jasper, WR James Kirkendoll, FB Collin Mooney, OL Chris Morris, WR Michael Preston, DT Malcolm Sheppard, DB Tracy Wilson, WR D.J. Woods.

Washington Redskins

WR Anthony Armstrong, WR Terrance Austin, CB Travon Bellamy, FB Dorson Boyce, OT Tom Compton, OL Eric Cook, QB Jonathan Crompton, RB Tristan Davis, DT Marlon Favorite, OL Grant Garner, LB Donnell Holt, DT Delvin Johnson, LB Bryan Kehl, CB David Jones, RB Tim Hightower, LB Brian McNally, TE Richard Quinn, DL Darrion Scott, OT Willie Smith, CB Brandyn Thompson, LB Markus White, DE Doug Worthington.

Courtesy: National Football League


CONTRACT UNDER FURTHER REVIEW: National Football League, referees reportedly resuming negotiations

NFL replacement officials - The Boys Are Back blog

Perhaps the NFL won’t start the regular season with replacement officials after all.

NFL replacement officials, shown here before a recent exhibition game in New Orleans, would be sent to the sidelines if reports of renewed negotiations between the league and the officials union bear fruit.

The league and the NFL Referees Association were slated to resume negotiations Friday, according to two league sources. reported the sides "exchanged information and numbers."

Given that the two sides haven’t met at the bargaining table since late July — and with the NFL informing teams this week that it would enter Week 1 with the replacement officials who worked the preseason — the meeting might signal that the labor standoff can be resolved in the 11th hour.

The NFL would not confirm or deny a meeting.

Mike Arnold, the lead negotiator for the referees, was unavailable to comment but has repeatedly suggested recently he believed a deal could be struck quickly because the economic differences amounted to roughly $6,000 a game.

It is also notable that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an interview with the league-owned NFL Network on Thursday, would not rule out a return by the locked-out officials for Week 1 — despite announced plans to the contrary.

"We’re, right now, planning on putting the replacement officials on the field," Goodell told NFL Network. "We would love to get an agreement. We respect our officials, and we’d work all night to get it done."

If a deal is struck quickly, could officials hit the field for Week 1?

It is conceivable, with the bulk of the regular-season openers nine days away.

The NFL’s kickoff game is five days away, with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.

Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president, recently told USA TODAY Sports the league projected needing seven to 10 days to get the crews back on the field after striking a labor deal. Anderson said the timing included getting a new collective bargaining agreement ratified by membership, physical exams, security background checks and a two- or three-day clinic that would include a refresher on rulebook changes.

Arnold, however, told USA TODAY Sports last week that the 121 locked-out officials would be ready to hit the field almost immediately. Arnold said the officials took their physicals in May, and he believes the NFL has had time to initiate security checks.

A number of locked-out officials also attended a concussion forum at the NFL Players Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., in July to better educate themselves for the additional task the league is requiring of them to spot players suffering head injuries.

Arnold said the officials are up to speed on rules changes, particularly given the efforts of referee Ed Hochuli, who has led conference call meetings and electronically distributed periodic rulebook quizzes for the officials.

"Ed Hochuli has done a great job of carrying the ball on that," Arnold said.

Arnold said the officials would have preferred to work during preseason games and training camp practices to develop timing and rhythm, much like summer repetitions help players prepare for the season. But in lieu of that, he insists that the officials have trained for conditioning.

"We’re doing everything we can to be ready," Arnold said.

Maybe that assertion will be put to a fast-track test.

Jarrett Bell | USA TODAY

TRENCH TRIPLE-PLAY: If trade for Cook turns out like Holland deal, job well done | UPDATED with scouting report

Dallas Cowboys OL Ryan Cook - The Boys Are Back blog

Ryaaan Cooook … he keeps on blockin’ …. He keeps on blockin’ … shake it Ryan. Shake, shake it Ryan.

Well, that remains to be seen, actually, but if the newly acquired swing lineman Ryan Cook can be as steady a role player as Montrae Holland was for the Cowboys, then Friday’s trade will have to be considered a win, just like the 2008 deal that sent Holland over from Denver must now be seen, in full retrospect.

Cook won’t be asked to start, at least for the time being, but once he learns the offense, will hold a valuable role as the backup for three positions, the two guard spots and center. A beefy veteran with six years in the league and 40 starts under his belt at only 29 years old, Cook gives the Cowboys more strength, athleticism and experience than a David Arkin. The Pro Bowl probably isn’t in his future, but valuable contributions to the Cowboys’ line should be.

A utility offensive lineman may not seem like an important role, but it is, because players get hurt in the trenches. The playing time Holland received over his Cowboys tenure, and Cory Procter before him, is evidence of that. So a seventh-round pick is not a high price to pay, at all, if the Cowboys believe they can trust Cook, just like a fifth-rounder wasn’t too much to give for Holland, especially considering how dreadful the Cowboys have been in the fifth lately.

There was definitely a comfort zone with Holland, acquired just before the ’08 season. He didn’t immediately pick up the offense and replace Procter (the injury fill-in for Kyle Kosier), making the deal initially look like a bad one, but his consistency changed opinions over time.

Four seasons, 31 appearances and 14 solid starts later, Holland should be seen as a good backup for these recent Cowboys teams. After falling out of shape when he was hurt last summer, Holland worked his wide butt off to cut weight, and when the Cowboys needed him by Week 7, he was ready to help DeMarco Murray break the team rushing record, and went on to play well down the stretch. He’s kept himself in great shape this offseason, and the Cowboys had interest in bringing him back, but he held out for more money and incentives.

Like Cook, Holland was 29 when acquired by the Cowboys, with a lot of starts under his belt, though Cook has the extra dimension of center experience, while Holland was a guard only. Holland had two years left on his contract, while Cook has only one. But, if the Cowboys like what he brings this year, they’ll certainly have first dibs to re-sign him in March, just like they re-upped Holland in 2010.

Should they decide to do so, and Cook at least holds his own when his number is called, then Friday’s trade will eventually be considered a slam dunk.

RELATED: Scouting Report on OL Ryan Cook

Here is my scouting report on Ryan Cook, who was acquired via trade from the Dolphins late Thursday night.

  • Was drafted in the league as a tackle by the Vikings, has since moved inside to see time at both center and guard. Observed him as a center in the Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina games. Played right guard against the Falcons.
  • Made the line calls as a center, aware of responsibilities when uncovered. Showed the ability to help across the pocket. Plays with some upper body strength, can hold his man along the line in pass protection.
  • Little overextended and wide base at times but you didn’t see him get jerked out of his stance. Was able to get outside on the screen packages.
  • Decent initial quickness out of his stance as a guard. Can make the reach or cut off block when asked. Several times where he did a nice job of getting his head across his man staying on his feet and working for a finish.
  • Was impressed with his effort to finish blocks. Didn’t see him flopping around on the ground when doing his job. Played in position and showed some balance for the most part, only got a little out of whack on an inside twist stunt against Dallas but was fine on the same move against Tampa.
  • Veteran player that gives you some position flexibility at three spots. Plays with a little power inside.

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst-Scout

UNNAMED SOURCES: Twenty-One notified, 1 trade, 2 to-go as Dallas trims down to 53

Miami Dolphins traded backup center Ryan Cook to Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys will make their final cuts today to reach the 53-man limit, but they have already notified 21 players that they have not made the cut.

According to sources, the Cowboys have informed Shaun Chapas, Adrian Hamilton, Danny Coale, Eddie Whitley, Orie Lemon, Ronald Leary, Pat McQuistan, Jeff Adams, Teddy Williams, Harland Gunn, Daniel Loper, Clifton Geathers, Rudy Carpenter, Lionel Smith, Baraka Atkins, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Andrew Szczerba, Ben Bass, Saalim Hakim, Tim Benford and Robert Callaway of their release.

They have two more roster moves to make by 7 p.m. after the trade for offensive lineman Ryan Cook from Miami.

The Cowboys would like to bring some — like Hamilton, Coale and Leary — back on the practice squad if they clear waivers.

Leary was the apple of Jerry Jones’ eye as an undrafted free agent and early in training camp, but he will not be on the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys considered drafting Leary despite a knee condition, but ended up guaranteeing him $214,000 in base salary and signing bonus to sign as an undrafted free agent. When the interior line was hit by injuries early in camp Leary took some first-team snaps but he hit a wall midway through camp.

Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas

Editors Note: This is NOT the official release that will be filed by the Dallas Cowboys. That deadline is at 7:00 pm. Check back here for the ‘official’ release, once it’s submitted to the NFL.

RELATED: Dolphins trade Ryan Cook to Dallas for seventh-round pick

The Miami Dolphins traded backup center Ryan Cook to the Dallas Cowboys late Thursday night, acquiring a 2013 seventh-round pick for a player who wasn’t going to make Miami’s 53-man roster.

The Dolphins acquired Cook, who was the Vikings’ 2006 second-round pick, off the waiver wire last year and he played center and guard for the team in 2011. But Cook was beaten out by rookie Josh Samuda, an undrafted prospect from UMass, for the backup center spot.

Samuda, a Hollywood Hills product, was one of camp’s most pleasant surprises, and is expected to make Miami’s 53-man roster today.

Cook, who has started 40 NFL games, spent most of camp as the third-team center and never manned the guard spot, which happens to be Miami’s weakest area. But he did surprisingly start Wednesday night’s 30-13 loss to Dallas, which was clearly an audition.

Cook was slated to earn $1 million this season, but moving him clears all but $100,000 from Miami’s books.

The Cowboys have been struggling with their depth this camp because of numerous injuries to key reserves, which include center Phil Costa, who has been limited by a back injury.

The Cook trade now means the Dolphins could have multiple picks in the second, third, seven and possibly the sixth-round (it is conditional) of the 2013 NFL draft because of trades involving Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis.

Courtesy: Omar Kelly | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

COWBOYS GOLDEN FOOT: Versatile Dan Bailey ready for full kickoff duty, too

Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo and Jason Witten congratulate kicker Dan Bailey - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas — Remember last year’s final cuts and how the Cowboys were picking among five kickers? Yep, five.

Shayne Graham, Dave Rayner, David Buehler, Dan Bailey and Kai Forbath were on hand, though Forbath was on the physically unable to perform list at the time. Graham got hurt. Rayner missed a kick. Buehler was too inconsistent.

Bailey won the job almost by default, then went on to have one of the best seasons in team history.

No such decision to be made this year. Bailey made all eight field goal attempts in the preseason and had three touchbacks on kickoffs. Eleven of his 17 kickoffs reached the end zone.

“It’s still an area I’m trying to improve upon,” Bailey said. “We’ve worked hard in the offseason to try to improve that. Hopefully this week I’ll get a little rest and be ready for the Giants.”

Bailey had 24 touchbacks on 67 kickoffs last year and the team eventually put Buehler, a kickoff specialist, on injured reserve with a hip injury.

“I worked hard this year to try to improve leg strength and explosiveness, stuff like that,” Bailey said. “It’s a little bit of (technique and power), but really more just strength and getting a good approach down.”

RELATED: Dan Bailey has no worries this year

This time a year ago, Dan Bailey was on the bubble. The Cowboys had to go through four other kickers before deciding to keep Bailey, and perhaps if Dave Rayner hadn’t gone 0-for-2 against the Dolphins in the preseason finale, the job would have been his.

What a difference a season makes.

Bailey has a secure spot on the Cowboys, having gone 32-for-37 with four game-winners in his first season for the Cowboys. He followed up this preseason by going 8-for-8 after making kicks of 25, 30 and 26 yards Wednesday night.

"It is different, but at the same time, it’s really the same," Bailey said. "My focus now is the same as it was last year. You just make every kick. I go out and give it my best shot. Yeah, there’s not as many people here, but mentally, as far as my approach to the game, it’s the same this year as it was last year."

The Cowboys cut kicker Kris Brown before training camp last year. They cut Shayne Graham and Dave Rayner after training camp. Kai Forbath and David Buehler, both of whom ended up on injured reserve last season, were released this off-season. There no longer is doubt who the Cowboys’ kicker is.

RELATED: LP Ladouceur will be the team’s long snapper another season

Every year, the Cowboys bring in competition for LP Ladouceur. Every year, he keeps his job.

Ladouceur, an unsung and valuable asset, is the team’s long snapper for an eighth season. That was assured when the Cowboys released Charley Hughlett. Hughlett, a rookie from Central Florida, was signed with great expectations. But he was the last of the team’s cuts last Monday.

THE CORNERS BACK: Dallas Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins starts practice and conditioning Saturday

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins - The Boys Are Back blog

The long road to recovery for Mike Jenkins should end Saturday, when he’s eligible to begin practicing for the first time since his shoulder surgery.

Head coach Jason Garrett said the Dallas Cowboys doctors gave Jenkins an in-house exam and forwarded that information to Dr. James Andrews, who gave the cornerback permission to return and avoid the Physically Unable to Perform List to begin the season.

Jenkins fought through injuries throughout 2011, including shoulder, hamstring and neck issues, to finish tied for the team lead with 10 pass deflections.

“He hasn’t practiced a whole lot of football in a while,” Garrett said. “Conditioning is certainly a factor, getting himself acclimated to just playing football is a factor. We’ll evaluate him day by day. It’s good to see that he is cleared. It’s going to be good to have him out on the practice field on Saturday.”

Garrett isn’t concerned with how much Jenkins will play or how they’ll use the fifth-year defensive back yet. He just wants to see him running in full pads with the team. Garrett said during training camp that Jenkins would have to practice before he could start playing in games.

“All we want to do with Mike Jenkins is get him back on the practice field, see how he’s moving around,” Garrett said. “We’re not overly focused on any particular role that he has.”

Jenkins started the last three seasons at right cornerback after winning the job in 2009. Following the acquisitions of first-round pick Morris Claiborne and free agent Brandon Carr, Jenkins role is still unclear this year. Garrett said he hasn’t had any conversations with Jenkins about playing special teams.

ALLIANCE FORMED: NFL teams with US Army for concussion program

US Military Academy - West Point - The Boys Are Back blog

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — The NFL and U.S. Army have teamed up on a long-term program to care for and prevent concussions and head trauma, as well as other health issues.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and General Raymond T. Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, announced the initiative at the U.S. Military Academy on Thursday.

Goodell and Odierno cited the common traits between soldiers and football players, particularly when dealing with stressful situations that can lead to injury.

"We can bring greater awareness not just to our two organizations, but to the general public," Goodell said of the program. "We will do all we can to get our players and the soldiers to under what each other goes through. We’ll work to change our cultures by working closely together."

Changing the culture is the biggest test, Goodell and Odierno said during a panel discussion on safety before nearly 200 cadets. Odierno even admitted he would have struggled to take himself out of combat with a non-visible injury such as a concussion. But he recognizes the need for leaders who will overrule the injured person.

General Raymond T. Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff - The Boys Are Back blog

"That is our most difficult challenge," Odierno said. "We all base ourselves on the warrior ethos and the soldiers’ creed as soldiers. If you have a problem and you identify it, to me that is courageous, too. But self-selection is really difficult. There has to be a bond to take care of each other."

Goodell echoed that approach.

"We understand the risk involved when you play any sport and we want people to share the responsibility," Goodell said. "It’s not just the player injured who has to raise his hand. It’s the coaches, his teammates."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - The Boys Are Back blog

The league is being particularly proactive in the head trauma diagnosis and treatment area. Recently, dozens of lawsuits against it were consolidated into one massive complaint involving more than 2,400 people, most of them former players. By joining with the military, it hopes to "integrate the uncompromising devotion to win with a need to address traumatic brain injuries with the necessary care, consideration and commitment to prevention that these injuries require," Goodell and Odierno said in a letter sent to soldiers and current and former NFL players.

Also on hand were former players Troy Vincent, now the NFL’s vice president of player engagement, and Bart Oates. Both said they often were concussed while playing — Vincent seven times — and Oates said he returned to action with a concussion.

"Would I try to stay in the game again? Absolutely," he said, noting that was — and often still is — the mentality of players. "You can’t be expected to self-police yourself as a player. You won that position, it’s your job, you are there to help the team win and that is the most important thing. So individually, if you are trying to police it, it can’t be fixed."

To change that mindset, Oates insisted educating players at a young age to what he wasn’t aware of about concussions when he was growing up is essential.

Vincent believes the protocols and education on awareness of head injuries within the NFL will work, but agreed with Oates that athletes won’t self-regulate.

"There’s no such thing as making the right decision in the heat of battle. You stay in the game to win," Vincent said.

But Goodell explained that making the correct decision in the end will prolong players’ careers. And that correct decision — whether it involves taking yourself out of the game or someone else forcing you to leave when you show signs of head trauma — will become easier to make as everyone becomes more aware of the symptoms.

The panel discussion was the third between the NFL and the military, including one at the Pentagon. The new program guarantees more interaction.

"A lot of attributes are quite alike between soldiers and NFL players," Odierno said. "We’ve come together, two groups of people who are dedicated and courageous, to see how we can help both players and soldiers to deal with this important issue. With nearly 1.1 million soldiers, we have a wide audience we have to deal with. I think this (program) will help bring more awareness to these issues."


SUPER BOWL CALIBER: Jason Garrett compares Tony Romo to John Elway NFL senior writer Peter King attended Dallas Cowboys practice last week and wrote about some of his discoveries on Tuesday.

King received exclusive interview access to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo. Some of the highlights include Garrett discussing Romo’s ability to win a Super Bowl and Romo’s take on the additions to the team’s offensive line.

“He’s more than capable of winning a Super Bowl in this league,” Garrett said of Romo. “Look at John Elway. He went 14, 15 years without winning one, and all of a sudden Denver runs it better and plays better defense, and he wins two, and now people think of him as a top three quarterback of all time. With Tony, we’ve just got to be better around him, and I think we will be.”

That’s certainly high praise coming from Garrett, a former NFL quarterback. Getting better around Romo will depend greatly on him having time to make plays. If the offensive line remains as shaky as it’s been during the preseason, Romo won’t get a chance to find receiving options like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

According to Romo, all he needs from the offensive line is an extra half-second to make a play.

“I feel good about where we are,” Romo said. “We’ve changed our two guards (adding Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau), and they’ll be important to what we do. If they can give me an extra half-second more after the snap, that can be eternity for our offense. It’s interesting to consider what we’d be able to do.”

RELATED: PETER KING – Romo already in mental battle against Giants’ D


2011 New York Giants - NFC East Champions - The Boys Are Back blog

I don’t normally talk to quarterbacks at midnight Pacific time, but we’d missed each other after practice, and we were both tied up in the evening, so he told me to call before 11, and I did, and he was talkative, so we spoke for a while. The quote had to do with us talking about how complicated some defenses are getting, and how smart the Giants’ defensive front was and a few other things, and Romo, who was sitting in his hotel room in San Diego studying some tape of the Giants, just knew that no matter how much he studied, the Giants would do some things in the opener 15 nights away that he wouldn’t — couldn’t — be prepared for. On this night, he looked at six Giants games from last season. He said he felt good about being able to study the Giants so much — but he’s no fool. He knows Eli Manning is probably doing exactly the same thing, studying the Dallas D back in New Jersey, whether it’s on this night or some others. (Editors note: Wouldn’t that also mean Manning in a mental battle against the Cowboys’ D?)

"We run an offseason study on the teams we’re going to play, like all teams do,” Romo said. "They [the Giants] will structurally be the same team; why would you change when you’ve won the Super Bowl? Structurally, they’ll probably run the same blitzes. But when you look at games from last year, you see their imagination. Against Buffalo [way back in Week 6], they did some really new stuff. I’ve watched a lot of that Buffalo game, with how they played a stack alignment and how they handled the [Bills’] screen game. What you do is take all that in and try to determine how they’ll react to what you’re going to do.”

Chess match. Spy vs. spy, especially in a first game, when two teams that played each other twice in 22 days at the end of last year then had eight months to wonder: How will they counter us when we do X?

"The first game of the year is always an in-season adjustment game,” Romo said. "But I feel good about where we are. We’ve changed our two guards (former Bengal Nate Livings and ex-Panther Mackenzy Bernadeau now start), and they’ll be important to what we do. If they can give me an extra half-second more after the snap, that can be eternity for our offense. It’s interesting to consider what we’d be able to do.”

That presumes that ascending star Tyron Smith, at left tackle, and right tackle Doug Free can also keep pressure off Romo. Last year, according to, Free allowed 49 pressures/hurries/sacks, so it’s no sure thing that Romo will be cleaner this year.

Romo was better last year than our memories of him: 66 percent accuracy (and one memorable overthrow of Miles Austin in the close December loss to New York), 4,184 yards passing, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, a 102.5 rating. "He’s more than capable of winning a Super Bowl in this league,” Jason Garrett told me earlier in the day. "Look at John Elway. He went 14, 15 years without winning one, and all of a sudden Denver runs it better and plays better defense, and he wins two, and now people think of him as a top three quarterback of all time. With Tony, we’ve just got to be better around him, and I think we will be.”

The reason I’d feel good about Romo as my quarterback if I were a Cowboys fan was accentuated late in our conversation. We were talking about the contentious practice session against the Chargers, which ended with a Romo rainbow deep into the end zone to a fifth-round receiver who looked like he didn’t get both feet in. The official looking at the play looked around for help. The Chargers screamed that the kid was out of bounds. With no help coming, the ref threw both hands in the air and called out "Touchdown!” The Chargers were furious.

"I went back and looked at the play on tape tonight,” Romo said. "Threw it to Danny Coale. Cover 2, soft zone. Safety bit on the fake too hard. Danny came down with it. Great play. And he got both feet in. He definitely got both feet in.”

BONUS VIDEO: Jason Garrett Press Conference

VIDEO Pop Out - Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett Press Conference - The Boys Are Back blog

Jason Garrett Press Conference 8/30 (Click on picture above to play video)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spoke to the media as the Dallas Cowboys prepare to face the Giants on Wednesday. Duration: 16:10 Enjoy!

VIDEO Pop Out - Talkin Cowboys with Mickey Spagnola - Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - The Boys Are Back blog

Talkin’ Cowboys: Preseason Wrap-Up (Click on picture above to play video)

Mickey, Bryan, and Rowan are in the studio to break down Wednesday nights game and begin looking ahead to the New York Giants this coming Wednesday.

HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: Jason Garrett describes difficulties of player cuts

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett describes difficulties of player cuts - The Boys Are Back blog

Months of practices and four preseason games all culminate in one final cut day, which 22 Cowboys players won’t survive.

That time is 8:00 p.m. Aug. 31, and it’s a day that head coach Jason Garrett called one of the worst for a player or a coach in the NFL.

“I think what makes it difficult is the work that they put in,” Garrett said. “Most of our coaches and administrators are former players. They understand the commitment these guys have made. Anybody who’s been around our football team for the last month or so has seen the commitment these guys have made.”

Garrett, the offensive or defensive coordinator and a position coach all talk to the released player and try to explain why the decision was made, provide them constructive coaching and thank them for their effort. Afterward, their time as a Cowboy is finished.

Dallas has been plagued with injuries throughout the preseason, which could force them to go deep at some positions and light at others. Garrett said it’s not always the 53 best players, but the 53 players who give the Cowboys the best chance to win. No official announcement on the final roster will be made until Friday.

Garrett said the draft picks will get every opportunity possible to show the reason they were selected, but there are other players worthy of a chance. The Cowboys have a history of turning undrafted free agents into top talents, including Eastern Illinois’ Tony Romo and Monmouth’s Miles Austin.

“If you have an attitude that it doesn’t matter where players come from, it matters what they do when they get here, I think you’re more able to find some of those guys,” Garrett said. “That’s been our approach. We preached that to our players from Day 1.”

Garrett said it warms his heart to think about the commitment the Cowboys players made in the offseason to fulfill their dreams.

“We have a lot of discussions about who we should keep, what we should do with different players, what role he might have and might not have, so those are difficult discussions,” Garrett said. “What makes it hard is, in a lot of ways, many of these guys’ dreams have come to an end or have changed.”

COMMENTARY: Roster spots are too valuable to keep backups Stephen McGee or Rudy Carpenter

ARLINGTON, Texas — In three seasons, Stephen McGee has shown little indication he will ever become a starting NFL quarterback.

Tim Heitman/US Presswire - Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee completes for backup roster spot - The Boys Are Back blog

So it’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to move on. The same goes for Rudy Carpenter.

(Those two) roster spots are just too valuable to invest in a third quarterback, who has no shot to ever unseat Tony Romo or backup Kyle Orton.

When the Cowboys signed Orton to a three-year contract with a $5 million signing bonus in the offseason, it was an indictment of McGee, a fourth-round pick in 2009.

The day the Cowboys acquired Orton, McGee’s days were numbered.

Besides, McGee will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The odds he’d be on the roster next season are less than zero.

McGee entered Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins needing a strong performance to persuade the Cowboys not to release him.

He started and played the first half. The results, as you would expect, were mixed.

McGee completed nine of 18 passes for 124 yards playing with backups. Center Phil Costa was the only offensive starter who played.

McGee’s best moments occurred in the second quarter, when he made a terrific throw from the near hash mark and completed a 32-yard pass to Andre Holmes, who was covered tightly along the sideline.

It was the kind of throw that will excite Garrett and the coaching staff when they see it on video. Then they’ll wonder why they don’t see throws like that more often.

Garrett doesn’t like players who flash. He wants consistent playmakers.

Late in the second quarter, McGee showed his athleticism, scrambling and eluding several defenders before launching a 36-yard pass to Tim Benford as he stepped out of bounds.

The completion set up Phillip Tanner’s 1-yard touchdown run.

"I thought he played a pretty solid half," said Garrett, who complimented McGee’s ability to make plays out of the pocket.

McGee has every physical tool you want in an NFL quarterback, which is why the Cowboys used a fourth-round pick on a guy from a simplistic, run-oriented offense at Texas A&M.

They knew it would take time for him to develop and take advantage of his 6-3, 225-pound frame and 4.61 speed in the 40-yard dash.

The problem: McGee gets paralysis by analysis.

Whether he has difficulties reading defenses, making his progressions or is simply afraid of throwing interceptions, McGee throws way too many check-down passes.

In the three games McGee has had substantial playing time, he’s thrown three touchdown passes and no interceptions, which is fine. But he has averaged just 5.12 yards per attempt, which is awful.

He’s cautious to a fault.

Understand, Tony Romo has a career average of 8.0 per pass and the best quarterbacks average at least 8.5 per attempt.

Now, it’s time for Garrett to make a decision.

Garrett values the quarterback position, but he has to decide whether McGee or Carpenter, who was 4-of-10 for 48 yards, are worthy of a roster spot.

Then he must determine whether it’s better to keep an extra receiver such as Andre Holmes.

Or whether running back Lance Dunbar, who gained 105 yards on 15 carries, or linebacker Orie Lemon, who returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, deserve to be on the roster.

It’s unlikely McGee or Carpenter will help the Cowboys win a game this season.

The Cowboys would be better served signing a quarterback to their practice squad after final cuts are announced Friday or drafting one next year and trying to develop him into a starter.

They had the right idea using a fourth-round pick on McGee. It just didn’t work out.

Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPN Dallas

LAST DAY IN THE LIMELIGHT: Twenty-Two Dallas Cowboys playbooks will be turned in tomorrow

A large Dallas Cowboys star is moved off the field - Symbolic of the 22 players that will be cut Friday - The Boys Are Back blog

Every year is the same it seems. We go into this final preseason game with a handful of players right there on the verge of making the team.

It’s always around the same number of players, with only the names changing, this year’s group including the likes of Hamilton, Coale, Lemon, Bass, Dunbar and Olawale. Oh, there were a few more, but those were the main guys.

But this year, the differences include more than just a few name changes.

Because as soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Wednesday’s 30-13 win over the Dolphins, the regular season was upon us. Just like that, it’s on.

No longer do the Cowboys have about 10 days to get ready. With the Wednesday night game on Sept. 5, the team only has a full seven days before they face the defending champs.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to key players such as Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin. Throw in Dez Bryant, Mike Jenkins and Danny McCray, and that puts quite a strain on the Cowboys trying to trim the roster down to 53 by Friday, at the same time they’re getting ready for a real game week.

Because of that, those injuries might have popped a few bubbles in the process.

We’ll see on Friday, but with the Giants game right around the corner, it might be too soon for some of these guys, particularly Witten and Ratliff. The Cowboys certainly won’t rule out either player. In fact, doctors checked out Witten’s lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday and it appears it will be a game-time decision on next Wednesday.

As for Ratliff, who has a high ankle sprain and was still on crutches as of Tuesday, it’ll also likely go up until kickoff before the Cowboys figure out his status.

In the meantime, the team has to prepare for the worst. In doing so, you must go long at those positions.

We could see Josh Brent and Robert Calloway make this team, at least for Week 1.

At tight end, either the Cowboys go and claim a player who gets cut, sign a veteran tight end or maybe keep Andrew Sczcerba around. Perhaps fullback Shaun Chapas makes it, mainly for his special teams ability.

Either way, moves like that knock off luxury keeps. By that, I mean keeping players who aren’t really ready to play just yet, but possess a certain quality. Guys like Ben Bass who plays with a high-motor on the defensive line, or Adrian Hamilton, who hasn’t figured out the 3-4 defense and/or special teams just yet, but he can rush the passer. Those guys are hurt by these injuries.

At running back, a guy like Lance Dunbar might have made the team in the past – solely because of that dazzling 58-yard run. Who knows, maybe he still does. A play like that will get noticed around the league and getting a player like that through waivers will be tough. Still, that’s one of those “luxury keeps” that might not happen because you’ll have a hard time getting him active each week. Personally, after that run, I think I’d make an exception. He’s got some wiggle to him and might be a decent kickoff returner, too.

The Cowboys like Andre Holmes and Danny Coale, who would be the sixth and seventh receivers. They’ll probably like a receiver or two that gets cut over the next few days. But they won’t keep eight and probably not even seven. They’d like to go long at receiver, especially if it means hanging onto Coale, a fifth-round pick who has been injured most of the offseason.

Now if Austin and Bryant were bigger question marks to play, it’d be a different story. However, it seems like both players have been held out of action just to be ready for the Giants. Bryant and Austin will start, and it looks like Harris and Ogletree will be next, with possibly Cole Beasley or maybe Holmes going to the game as a special teamer.

Then you go to the secondary. Mike Jenkins is not going to Florida after all to get an update on his shoulder. He passed his physical on Wednesday and will come off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) to practice as early as Saturday.

Still, you wonder how quickly he can get back into the mix. Yes, he’s a veteran and yes he knows the Giants and yes he plays a cornerback position that doesn’t always need the strongest continuity with his teammates. But football shape is a different thing. I still have hard time thinking Jenkins can get back to Dallas and start practicing Saturday and Sunday and be ready to play. It’s certainly a possibility, but if you remember last year’s game in New York against the Jets, Jenkins also battled a stinger/shoulder injury all preseason but played in the game. He went in and out about four times, battling all sorts of injuries.

The Cowboys likely have to go long at cornerback, not only on the roster, but the 46-man game-day roster as well. Expect Mario Butler to be active either way.

At safety, Matt Johnson (hamstring) will likely make the team although he’s barely played. McCray will obviously make it because he’s the special teams ace, but he’s battling a shoulder/stinger injury. So Mana Silva probably makes this team to start the season – and who knows, maybe he’ll stick around. He’s played pretty well this preseason. He’s a solid tackler and good on special teams. But still, that’s five safeties to keep.

This probably happens every year – injuries that cloud roster decisions. But it’s different when the guys injured are Pro Bowlers like Witten, Ratliff, Jenkins and Austin, who says he will play, but you probably have to make sure there is plenty of backup because of the nature of the injury and his history with hamstrings.

We’ll find it all out on Friday. But with so many guys playing for roster spots Wednesday night, it’s unfortunate for them that their fate was probably already sealed with a few of these preexisting injuries.

ON THE BUBBLE: Nine wide receivers competing for six (maybe seven) roster spots

Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris were on the field Monday. The two receivers ran routes and worked to get open. But they didn’t have anything left to prove. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said so Tuesday on KRLD-FM (105.3).

“I’d say as I look at them right now, they both have a place on the field for us against the Giants,” Jones said, referring to the team’s opponent for the regular-season opener next Wednesday.

But what about the other five wideouts who were competing for jobs? Where did Danny Coale, Saalim Hakim, Cole Beasley, Tim Benford and Andre Holmes stand? And could they make a great enough impact in the final preseason game against Miami to claim a spot on the team?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs. Miami Dolphins – STAR-TELEGRAM/RON JENKINS

On Wednesday, in the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over Miami in their final preseason game, few answers were provided. Beasley, identified as the most promising of the bunch during training camp, didn’t make a catch. Then again, he didn’t play that much, which seemed to be a good sign he could be sticking around.

“Hopefully,” Beasley said. “But if some of the other guys might have stepped up, they might forget about me.”

That’s now not a concern for Beasley because while Hakim, Coale, Benford and Holmes recorded at least one reception, they didn’t do anything especially noteworthy Wednesday. Together they made just six catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns.

“I put everything out there,” said Holmes, who had one reception for 32 yards and felt tightness in his right knee. “I just went as hard as I could.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee scrambles for 53rd roster spot

Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee on sideline bench - The Boys Are Back blog

By the time the locker room opened to the media Wednesday night, Stephen McGee was gone. Whether his locker is cleared out for good remains to be seen.

McGee completed only 9 of 20 passes for 124 yards and a 65.4 passer rating in a first half of work. The Cowboys scored on three of five first-half possessions, but the Dallas Cowboys defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense in the first 30 minutes. Linebacker Orie Lemon had the play of the game, intercepting a Matt Moore pass and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee scrambles vs Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys will make the decision whether to keep three quarterbacks or whether to keep only two on the 53-player roster with Rudy Carpenter, assuming he clears waivers, on the practice squad.

“I think we saw some things out of McGee tonight that were really encouraging,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on the Channel 21 halftime show. “It’s been vintage McGee. Other teams have shown interest in Stephen McGee. We know somebody thinks he’s a pretty good ballplayer. We do, too. It really depends on our 53rd guy, without McGee. If we think we can live with him, or do we think we need a third quarterback? That will be something we’ll go through tomorrow after the game, and we’ll make a decision tomorrow."

The Cowboys drafted McGee in the fourth round in 2009 knowing he would take some time to develop. He has one career regular-season start. He went 11-for-27 for 127 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 victory over the Eagles to end the 2010 season after Romo and Jon Kitna were injured.

Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee hands the ball to Lance Dunbar - The Boys Are Back blog

ON THE BUBBLE: Phillip Tanner showed what helped him make team last year

Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner (34) runs against Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner said he wasn’t out to prove anything in the fourth and final preseason game Wednesday night. But he did show the ability that helped him stick last year.

He carried nine times for 48 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins in the first half before giving way to Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale in the second half. The other backs were brought in to give him competition for the third running back spot, and Olawale gained an edge on the others when Tanner was out with a broken hand and Dunbar missed time with a hamstring injury.

“It wasn’t like me going out here and proving anything,” Tanner said. “Like we’ve talked before, it was just going out, having fun, playing football – something I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old. Just going out, gelling with the team.”

Tanner gave credit to center Phil Costa and fullback Shaun Chapas for creating running room for him. His first seven carries gained 45 yards. And he said he felt sharp.

“I made sure I stayed in mentally when I was out with the hand,” he said. “I stayed in my playbook, stayed watching film, just going out and gelling with the guys. That’s the biggest thing.”

Dallas Cowboys Phillip Tanner - The Boys Are Back blog

ON THE BUBBLE: Lance Dunbar rushes for 105 yards towards a roster spot

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar signs autographs - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar, a rookie free agent from North Texas and Haltom High School, made his final audition for a roster spot a memorable one Wednesday night in Cowboys Stadium.

Dunbar rushed for a team-high 105 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown burst in the third quarter of a 30-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Dunbar (5-foot-8, 191 pounds), who missed the team’s first two pre-season games with a hamstring injury, also mixed in a 27-yard punt return and a tackle on kickoff coverage. He averaged 7.0 yards per rush (15 carries, 105 yards).

Dunbar’s touchdown marked the longest run from scrimmage by a Cowboys’ back during the pre-season. His performance drew post-game praise from coach Jason Garrett, who acknowledged that several performances in Wednesday’s game “probably made us rethink some things” in regard to the makeup of the team’s 53-man roster.

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar vs Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

Asked about landing a spot on the Cowboys’ roster, Dunbar said: “I think I did enough. But I think I could have done better. I could have made more tackles on special teams … it was an alright performance.”

But Dunbar said “it meant a lot” to top the 100-yard mark in a game he viewed as an all-or-nothing evaluation opportunity after missing the brunt of training camp with the hamstring injury.

“I think I did pretty good,” Dunbar said. “They’ll evaluate, and we’ll see what happens soon.”

Garrett called Dunbar’s performance one of the bright spots in Wednesday’s contest.

“I thought Dunbar ran the ball really well. He showed his lateral quickness, his ability to burst through a hole and, obviously, make big runs,” Garrett said. “And he’s a tough guy. He’s not afraid to stick it up in there, either. We’ve felt really good about Dunbar all through the off-season and through training camp. He just hasn’t had a chance to play because he got banged up.”

Dunbar is competing with incumbent Phillip Tanner, who carried nine times for 48 yards and a TD, to be the team’s third running back.

“We like our backup running backs,” Garrett said. “Phillip Tanner has done a really nice job since he’s been here, both as an offensive player and also on special teams.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Orie Lemon’s pick-six against Miami draws praise

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Orie Lemon scores on interception - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Orie Lemon, who spent last season on the practice squad, made the type of play in Wednesday’s pre-season finale against Miami that could earn him a roster spot this season.

Lemon, an Oklahoma State product, scored a second-quarter touchdown on a 26-yard interception return. Lemon read the eyes of Miami quarterback Matt Moore, undercut the route of running back Marcus Thigpen and jogged into the end zone for the score.

Lemon’s play was the first to draw praise from Cowboys coach Jason Garrett during his post-game news conference, when Garrett acknowledged that multiple performance against the Dolphins could cause some last minute tweaks to the 53-player makeup.

“Orie Lemon made a huge play in the game with the interception return for a touchdown,” said Garrett, adding that Lemon played “with the right spirit and the right mentality.”

But will it earn him a roster spot?

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Orie Lemon interception return - The Boys Are Back blog

“You never know,” Lemon said. “I’ve got to get better at a lot of things on the defensive side of the field. I’ve got to get better on special teams also. I know if I do, I’ll be on somebody’s team. I’ll be on special teams mostly. I think I opened up a couple of eyes.”

Lemon, a Houston native, said he hopes the eyes he opened belong to Dallas coaches. He said: “I want to stay here. I don’t want to go anywhere else. It’s like family to me. I would love to stay here. But if I had to go somewhere else, I’ll do what I have to do … I feel like I put some good film out (for other teams to notice).”

Consider Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee among those who has noticed Lemon throughout training camp.

“Orie Lemon is a real physical football player. He improved a lot through the year last year and he worked hard this off-season,” Lee said. “There’s one thing you can’t teach and that’s the ability to make plays with the football. That’s an ability he has. He works hard. He’s a smart guys and he’s a great teammate. I’m really excited to see him do well.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Guard Ronald Leary disappointed because of ‘silly mistakes’

Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary practices - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys rookie guard Ronald Leary said his performance in the preseason games disappointed him because he made “silly mistakes.”

“It wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” he said after Wednesday night’s preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins. “I don’t blame anybody else but myself. I didn’t perform. I went back and watched the film. The mistakes I made were silly mistakes, technique mistakes.”

Leary, undrafted out of Memphis, was one of the Cowboys’ top targets after the draft. The Cowboys went after him because he had third-round quality, falling out of the draft only because of concerns about a knee problem that could affect him in the future.

Despite being a favorite of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Leary said he never thought he was guaranteed a spot on the roster.

“I never thought like that, from Day 1,” he said. “I know my performance hasn’t been where I want it to be. I felt like I had a lot better night tonight. So right now, I’m putting it in God’s hands. It’s up to the coaches now.”

Leary said his mistakes come from foot placement. His feet aren’t going where they need to go, but not fast enough.

“Your hands are where your feet are, so if your feet aren’t right, your hands aren’t going to be right,” Leary said. “Coach tells us that all the time. My big emphasis has been on just getting my feet right. I work with JP all the time. Every day after practice, we’re doing extra stuff. He’s been helping me. He had the problem before, too. He worked on it. I just keep working on it. We’ll just see where it goes the next few days.”

REFEREE CBA STANDSTILL: NFL to use replacement officials for as long as necessary


NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will open the regular season with replacement officials.

Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Cowboys visit the Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union,

The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement went nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.

In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized.

Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo Wednesday that the replacements will work "as much of the regular season as necessary," adding that training with each crew will continue.

A request for comment from the NFLRA was not immediately answered. The NFL Players Association, which of course went through a 4 1/2- month lockout last year before settling on a new contract, expressed disappointment about the decision to use replacements.

Colts safety Antoine Bethea said there is a feeling of solidarity with the officials.

"They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, and we were in a similar situation a little while ago," Bethea said. "So you can’t fault those guys for doing what they have to do."

Anderson said the sides remain considerably apart on economic issues, including salary and retirement benefits. He also told the teams there is a substantial difference on operational issues.

"One of our key goals in this negotiation is to enhance our ability to recruit, train, and replace officials who are not performing adequately," Anderson said. "We believe that officials should be evaluated and performance issues addressed in the same way as players, coaches, club management and league staff. We have proposed several steps to accomplish this, including having a number of full-time officials and expanding the overall number of officials."

The NFL is offering to add three full officiating crews, increasing the total number of officials to 140. The NFLRA insists the compensation being offered with such an increase would reduce their pay.

The league is proposing having seven officials – one per position of referee, umpire, line judge, side judge, back judge, field judge, head linesman – who would train, scout, handle communications, safety issues and rules interpretations year-round. Now, all NFL game officials are part-time employees, with outside jobs ranging from lawyer to teacher to business owner.

In response, the NFLRA has said it is not opposed to full time officials "if they are fairly compensated."

PRESEASON GAME RECAP: Dallas Cowboys 30, Miami Dolphins 13

Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner (34) breaks free against the Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up the preseason with a 30-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. Unlike last season when wide receiver Raymond Radway was injured in the closing seconds of the preseason at Miami, there were no such major health issues coming from this game. This was the last chance for several players to make an impact on the coaches and scouts and join the 53-man roster.

What it means: The Dallas Cowboys finish the preseason 3-1 and have to make some hard decisions regarding the No. 3 quarterback spot, whether or not to keep a fourth running back or which running back to keep, whether Orie Lemon and Mario Butler make the team and should Danny Coale and Matt Johnson earn paychecks in September.

McGee vs. Carpenter: There is this battle for the No. 3 quarterback position. Stephen McGee played the first half and led one touchdown drive and converted 13 first downs. He completed 9-of-18 passes for 124 yards. The Cowboys led 20-6 at the break. Rudy Carpenter also led the Cowboys on a touchdown drive — capped by a a 58-yard run by Lance Dunbar — and finished 4-of-10 for 48 yards. Carpenter also had a 21 yard scramble. But it would appear neither quarterback did enough to secure a shot on the roster.

Only one starter plays: Between both units, only center Phil Costa played. Costa missed the first three preseason games with a strained lower back and the Cowboys wanted to give him some snaps before putting him in a regular season game. Costa didn’t have any bad snaps and it’s unknown if he had any blown assignments. David Arkin replaced Costa.

The running game is strong: There are no questions regarding the status of DeMarco Murray as the starter. Felix Jones has been guaranteed a roster spot by owner/general manager Jerry Jones. We thought the No. 3 running back gig was going to Phillip Tanner, but Lance Dunbar came on strong Wednesday night. Dunbar ran with a burst, scoring on a 58-yard run. Let’s not forget about Tanner, who burst up the middle for a 1-yard score. Dunbar rushed 15 times for 105 yards and Tanner rushed for 48 yards on nine carries.

Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale (49) has his helmet knocked from his head after being hit by Miami Dolphins linebacker Cameron Collins - The Boys Are Back blog

Orie Lemon made his case: If linebacker Orie Lemon was a bubble player, he should make the roster. He returned an interception 26 yards to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead in the second quarter. Lemon was also active on defense and, given what he does on special teams, should make the 53-man roster. Adrian Hamilton was also fighting for a roster spot, but he hasn’t shown his pass rush abilities on a consistent basis with the Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Orie Lemon (58) is congratulated by teammates after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins

Cowboys lose three players: Guard Derrick Dockery left the game for personal reasons and fellow guard Daniel Loper suffered a hamstring injury. Cornerback Lionel Smith departed the game with a concussion. None of the three returned.

Who played well: Tyrone Crawford, Orie Lemon, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Dan Bailey.

Who didn’t: Teddy Williams, David Arkin, Stephen McGee.

Bailey is perfect: Kicker Dan Bailey finished the preseason 8-for-8 on field goal attempts. Bailey made kicks of 25, 30 and 26 yards Wednesday night. The Cowboys didn’t have any concerns about him heading into the preseason but unlike last season when the team had a kicking competition, nothing was going on here. It was all Bailey. The longest kick of the preseason by Bailey was 49 yards.

Ryan Tannehill makes the start: The eighth-pick of the NFL draft, quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the start for the Dolphins. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 41 yards. The former Aggie played with a presence and threw some strong passes, but he still has a ways to go to help the Dolphins.

What’s next?: The Cowboys must cut their roster to 53 players by Friday night and then finalize their practice squad roster with as many as eight players. The team will practice over the weekend at Valley Ranch and prepare for the regular season opener at the New York Giants.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) goes after the ball against Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

DALLAS MORNING NEWS HEADLINE: Dallas Cowboys reserves roll over Miami Dolphins, 30-13

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries with a 7.0 yard average in preseason finale victory over Miami - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries with a 7.0 yard average in preseason finale victory over the Miami Dolphins.  Vernon Bryant |Staff Photographer

ARLINGTON — Orie Lemon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, No. 3 running back Phillip Tanner had a 1-yard score and the Dallas Cowboys finished their preseason with a 30-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday night.

A week before playing in the NFL’s kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Cowboys (3-1) kept quarterback Tony Romo and most of their front-line starters standing on the sideline.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the first-round draft pick from Texas A&M already tabbed Miami’s starter, was 5-of-7 passing for 35 yards playing the first two series. The Dolphins led 3-0 when he was done.

Miami (0-4) finished its preseason winless under new coach Joe Philbin. The season opener is Sept. 9 at Houston.

Undrafted rookie running back Lance Dunbar had 15 carries for 105 yards, including a 58-yard TD run, for Dallas in the third quarter. Tanner started with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones sitting, and finished with nine carries for 48 yards.

Another former Texas A&M quarterback, Stephen McGee, possibly took his last snaps for the Dallas Cowboys after playing the entire first half and going 9 of 18 for 124 yards.

Two years ago in another preseason finale against the Dolphins, McGee passed for 304 yards while going all the way in the victory that probably assured him the spot as the team’s third quarterback that season.

McGee, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, has played in only three regular-season games and started one.

With Kyle Orton signed during the offseason to be Romo’s backup, Dallas likely will carry only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster. Plus, McGee is no longer eligible for the practice squad like Rudy Carpenter would be.

Carpenter was 4 of 10 for 48 yards in the second half.

Even though they were playing at home again only four days after a win over the St. Louis Rams, the Cowboys have already turned their attention to the Giants.

When they get to their Valley Ranch practice facility Thursday, it will be essentially a Monday of game week.

Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin didn’t play in the preseason because of hamstring issues, and receiver Dez Bryant was held out for the second straight game because of right knee tendinitis. Both are expected to be ready for the Giants, though Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten (lacerated spleen) is less certain for the unprecedented Wednesday night opener.

Dallas Cowboys Orie Lemon capitalizes on an interception by returning it 26 yards for a touchdown - The Boys Are Back blog

Lamar Miller had 17 carries for 60 yards and a TD for the Dolphins.

Miller’s 1-yard run capped a 14-play, 89-yard drive that took exactly half of the third quarter to complete.

Dan Bailey kicked three field goals for the Cowboys while Dan Carpenter had field goals of 21 and 53 yards for Miami less than 2 minutes apart late in the first quarter.

After Carpenter’s shorter kick, Teddy Williams fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Cowboys 33. That’s when Matt Moore took over for Tannehill, failing to get a first down and leading to the long field goal by Carpenter.

On Dallas’ first snap after that, cornerback Quinten Lawrence was called for pass interference against Kevin Ogletree that was good for 43 yards. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Bailey.

Moore was only 4 of 12, including the pass over the middle early in the second quarter that Lemon picked off and took into the end zone for a 10-6 lead.

The Cowboys had two big passing plays to set up Tanner’s 1-yard score.

Andre Holmes caught a deep pass from McGee for a 32-yard gain. Later in that drive, McGee scrambled and kept avoiding defenders as he rolled to the left. He was near the sideline and threw off one foot, hitting Tim Benford for 36 yards.

MIAMI HERALD: Miami Dolphins fall to Dallas Cowboys in preseason finale


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee (7) scrambles and throws for a completion near the goal line in the second quarter as Miami Dolphins defensive end Ryan Baker (90) looks on in NFL preseason action on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas — The good news for the Dolphins: Their exhibition season has mercifully come to an end.

But here’s the rub: That might be their bad news, too.

Miami closed out a winless exhibition season with a 30-13 loss to the Cowboys Wednesday. In short, Dallas’ backups were better than Miami’s, since neither team played their starters beyond the first couple of series.

The night’s biggest takeaway: Ryan Tannehill played near-flawlessly in the short time he was in. But there’s a catch: Tannehill only faced Dallas’ backup secondary, and his greatest success came against guys on the fourth line of the depth chart.

Tannehill completed 6 of his 8 pass attempts for 41 yards, but both of his incompletions were on the money. The first hit Legedu Naanee in the hands, but was dropped.

On the other, Tannehill targeted Naanee on fade route in the end zone, but corner Teddy Williams mugged Naanee, preventing him from making a play. Yet the officiating crew – replacements, it should be noted – missed a clear pass interference call.

But even with Tannehill’s solid night, he again couldn’t get the Dolphins into the end zone. Miami has scored just two touchdowns in Tannehill’s 20 drives this preseason. The Dolphins even got a special teams turnover – Dan Carpenter recovered a fumble – but couldn’t advance the ball.

“No touchdowns,” Joe Philbin said at the half. “Our special teams did a great job and got a takeaway for us and we went backwards.”

Tannehill may have been lucky to simply get out of Big D on two legs, considering who he had blocking for him.

The only starter on the offensive line to play was Jonathan Martin – a rookie who has struggled throughout much of the preseason.

Ray Feinga started at left tackle for Jake Long, who hurt his right knee during practice Monday. That at least was expected. But the rest of the changes – Chandler Burden for Richie Incognito, Ryan Cook for Mike Pouncey and John Jerry for Artis Hicks – were a surprise.

Tannehill escaped the night without taking a sack, although he did sustain a pretty nasty late hit, which he shook off.

Tannehill’s replacement, however, wasn’t nearly so lucky. The Cowboys sacked Matt Moore three times, including one by Victor Butler in which the Dallas defensive end completely schooled Feinga.

Not long after that, Feinga got the hook, Martin shifted to left tackle and Andrew McDonald played on the right side.

The constant pressure seemed to get to Moore. A play after taking a sack, Moore threw a horrendous interception that Orie Lemon returned for a touchdown. Moore apparently didn’t see Lemon dropping in coverage, and threw it right to the linebacker.

Moore, who lost out in the training-camp quarterback competition to Tannehill, finished the preseason completing just 20 of his 51 passes for 234 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. His quarterback rating: 37.5.

Yet with David Garrard’s knee still not healed, Moore will likely entered the season as Miami’s backup quarterback.

Who Tannehill and Moore will be throwing to remains unclear.

Neither Brian Hartline nor Davone Bess played Wednesday. But both are likely on the team.

Meanwhile, none of the eight other receivers trying to fill out the opening-day depth charts did anything to distinguish themselves. Naanee and Marlon Moore got the start Wednesday, and had identical stat lines: 2 catches for 19 yards.

Rishard Matthews again was the team’s most productive receiver, catching a team-high 3 passes for 47 yards. But Matthews has played mainly in mop-up duty, which doesn’t bode well for Friday’s final cut-downs.

The Dolphins are expected to be very active once hundreds of players released in the coming days hit the waiver wire. General manager Jeff Ireland said on My 33’s pregame show that he was “very excited about what’s going to happen the next three days.”

Thanks to last year’s 6-10 season, Miami should be in good position to capitalize on more than a few castoffs. They have they league’s eighth-highest waiver priority.

Whether or not Pat Devlin makes this team as its third quarterback remains to be seen. Devlin completed 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards Wednesday, and led the Dolphins on their only touchdown drive. The score came on a 1-yard plunge by Lamar Miller, who had 60 yards on 17 carries.

Courtesy: ADAM H. BEASLEY | Miami Herald

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