Daily Archives: August 9th, 2012

BACK IN PADS: Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Danny Coale learning from his mistakes

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Danny Coale - The Boys Are Back blog

Rookie receiver Danny Coale practiced for the first time in pads this Tuesday, and he was glad to listen to the play in the huddle, line up and make mistakes.

Mistakes?

“You never want to go out there and make mistakes, but I personally think I learn best when I make mistakes and learn from them,” he said. “It was good to get out there mentally and get back into the pace of things.”

Coale was sideline with a broken foot for three months. He suffered the injury in the rookie minicamp in April, one week after the Cowboys took the Virginia Tech receiver in the fifth round of the draft.

So he missed all of the preseason work except two rookie minicamp practices. All that was left for him to do was his rehab and playbook study.

“You can study all you want, but nothing beats getting in the huddle and actually hearing the play call live, getting lined up, learning from your mistakes,” he said.

“I don’t know how open I got. But it’s nice just to be out there running around. You find that things sort of come back to you and you remember seeing coverages and making a route conversion versus a certain coverage – certain things you can’t do just watching film.”

Coale, the second-leading receiver in catches and yards at Virginia Tech, said his foot is healed. He just has to trust it now as practice intensity goes up and preseason games approach.

“Physically, I think everything’s fine,” he said. “It’s just the mechanics of getting back into it. Just trusting your foot. It’s fully healed and fully healthy. I just have to get back into running routes like I did 11, 12 weeks ago. There’s going to be a transition phase. You’re going against NFL-caliber guys. There’s going to be a learning curve here, but hopefully it doesn’t last too long.”

Courtesy: Carlos Mendez | FWST

JON MACHOTA: Downtown Dallas billboard warns QBs of threat of Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware

If you’re a Cowboys fan driving through downtown Dallas, check out a billboard on the Crowne Plaza hotel on the corner of Elm Street and South Griffin Street. The advertisement sounds a warning to quarterbacks that will be facing the Cowboys this season.

The sign covers about 10 stories along the side of the building facing the Woodall Rogers Freeway. Half the banner, which is sponsored by Red Bull, is the face of Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. The other half says: “QBSBWARE.”

Ware finished with 19.5 sacks last season and 20 in 2008. With the improvements the Cowboys made to their secondary — drafting cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick and signing cornerback Brandon Carr — there’s a reasonable chance Ware will be given the extra time to get to the quarterback and have another 20-sack season.

The single-season sack record is 22.5, set by Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001. Strahan was 30 that season, the same age Ware is currently.

Here’s a camera phone snapshot of the sign:

Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware - qbsbware billboard - The Boys Are Back blog - DeMarcus Ware billboard in downtown Dallas. (Jon Machota)

Courtesy: Jon Machota | Special Contributor

HISTORIC DAY: Shannon Eastin breaks NFL’s on-field gender barrier

PHOTO: Line judge Shannon Eastin, left, takes the field prior to an NFL preseason football game between the San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in San Diego. Eastin is a replacement line judge who will make her NFL debut in the exhibition game. The regular officials are locked out by the league after their contract expired. Photo: Denis Poroy / AP - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Line judge Shannon Eastin, left, takes the field prior to an NFL preseason football game between the San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in San Diego. Eastin is a replacement line judge who will make her NFL debut in the exhibition game. The regular officials are locked out by the league after their contract expired. Photo: Denis Poroy / AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Shannon Eastin has become the first woman to officiate an NFL game.

Eastin broke the NFL’s on-field gender barrier Thursday night, serving as the line judge for a seven-man crew working a preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers.

The 42-year-old from Tempe, Ariz., was dwarfed by the players as she lined up in front of San Diego’s sideline and had a camera following nearly every move just before kickoff. She seemed at ease in the spotlight and had at least two players shake her hand.

She is among a group of replacement officials working NFL games while the regular refs are locked out.

Eastin is a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, college football’s second-highest level, and a 16-year veteran of officiating.

The cap she is wearing will be sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Courtesy: JOHN MARSHALL | AP Sports Writer

NFL official Shannon Eastin works during the Seahawks' NFL football training camp in Renton, Wash. The Associated Press examines six of the top questions that will be answered in the preseason starting on Thursday, Aug. 9, including how replacement referees will perform while traditional officiating crews are locked out due to labor negotiations. Photo: Seattle Seahawks, Rod Mar / AP

NFL official Shannon Eastin works during the Seahawks’ NFL football training camp in Renton, Wash. The Associated Press examines six of the top questions that will be answered in the preseason starting on Thursday, Aug. 9, including how replacement referees will perform while traditional officiating crews are locked out due to labor negotiations. Photo: Seattle Seahawks, Rod Mar / AP

JASON WITTEN: Mr. Nice Guy with different approach this season

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and son - The Boys Are Back blog

He won’t say it officially. In fact, he’s rather uncomfortable about being at the top of this list.

But like it or not, Jason Witten is the leader of this team.

Not only is he one of the best overall players on the squad, and arguably in the entire NFL for his position, but he’s the most outspoken player the Cowboys have.

One thing is for certain out here in the first 10 days of training camp in Oxnard: Jason Witten has a different demeanor about him.

Call it focused. Call it determined. Call it frustrated or maybe just downright pissed off.

But Witten’s crankiness is evident here as he goes about his business in his 10th pro season. (And let’s focus on that for a second. Ten years for Jason Witten? Really?)

Now, the fans might not even notice a change. Witten still signs as many autographs after practice as any player. He’ll pose for pictures and smile and do the very things that have made him a fan favorite since the moment he got here in 2003.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten 2012 2013 Training Camp stretch - The Boys Are Back blog

But when it comes to football and the things that matter on the field and in the meeting rooms, Witten has a different mindset.

“I am a little different than I’ve been before and that’s just because I think we feel a true sense of urgency,” Witten said. “We’ve had feelings like this every year, but this year just seems different. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the same ol’ stuff. We say the same things every year and the results have been the same.

“I think in the past we’ve had an attitude like, ‘Hey don’t worry guys. We’ll fix that problem. We’ll get better here or there.’ And at some time you just want to say enough is enough.”

It actually reminded me of a conversation I had a month ago with former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who was also the vocal leader during the last few seasons of his career. Woodson said he realized at some point that being “Mr. Nice Guy” wasn’t going to cut it. Woodson said he ultimately decided he didn’t care if the players liked him or not.

And to some degree, Witten is the same way.

“You can’t be everyone’s friend all the time,” Witten said. “If I see something happen, where a guy doesn’t line up right or keeps making the same mistake, I’m going to say something. I’ve always been that way, but I think it’s a little more of that this year. Players can hear it from the coaches for so long, but when you hear it from a player, it’s different.”

Witten credits former tight end Dan Campbell for having that same approach with him when he first entered the league. And Campbell was a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy. He was blunt to the media and probably the same way to his teammates.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten 2012 2013 Training Camp - The Boys Are Back blog

Witten said this year he’s already confronted one of his younger teammates who had made a repeated mistake, basically just laying it out there in simple terms.

“I told him, ‘Hey, you’re not doing anything for them to keep you right now,’” Witten said. “I mean, sometimes you have to be honest like that. But I’ll be honest, this really has been a good group. You have some things that happen and guys need to pick it up, but I think everyone is getting the message.”

And Witten won’t ever call himself the only leader. He said guys lead in their own way, pointing out Jay Ratliff as the emotional leader on the field, while DeMarcus Ware leads by example as one of the best in the NFL. Witten said Tony Romo is “a great leader” in the way he works with the younger players.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten 2012 2013 Training Camp signing autographs - The Boys Are Back blog

I can’t really speak about those other players’ attitudes this year. Maybe they’ve got a different mindset, too. But it’s rather clear that Witten has cranked it up a notch. That’s definitely what a leader does.

On Twitter, Witten has nearly 144,000 followers. But with this attitude, there are 89 individuals at training camp who need to be following Witten in a different way.

Courtesy: Nick Eatman | Dallas Cowboys

SCOUTING REPORT: Bryan Broaddus – A cure for the Center-QB exchange problems

Just a few ideas from Oxnard:

Dallas Cowboys QB Kyle Orton - The Boys Are Back blog

* On Thursday I asked Jason Garrett about the quarterback–center exchange problems the offense has had during this camp. In  my years working in this league as a scout, I was always taught that if the ball goes straight down to the ground, it’s most likely that the quarterback pulled out from underneath too soon and it’s his fault. I have seen a couple of balls end up like this during camp, but I thought Garrett’s answer was actually a better one. He is not trying to make excuses for David Arkin or Phil Costa, but both the centers and quarterbacks should share in the blame for the ball being on the ground. Arkin, especially, has never played center, and Kyle Orton needs to realize that and try to work with him if he needs more pressure, or to put his hands differently to help Arkin get a feel. What I have noticed about Arkin’s high snaps in the shotgun is that when your butt goes up, the launch angle of the ball goes high. Arkin needs to snap like he is sitting in a chair. When your butt is down, the ball stays down. It’s an old long snapper’s trick.

* Watch the second offensive line in the game against the Raiders on Monday night. There are no rookies in it, which I don’t think is a bad situation when you are trying to evaluate your squad on offense. Jeremy Parnell is the left tackle, Derrick Dockery is at left guard, Arkin is the center, while Daniel Loper is at right guard and Pat McQuistan is at right tackle. It’s a nice mix of some veteran players with a group of first and second year guys as well. It looks like a much better unit than the third, with Levy Adcock, Harland Gunn, Tyrone Novikoff and Jeff Adams out there. Your offensive line plays a large role in how your offense looks in these preseason games once the starters are out. Jason Garrett and his staff will get a chance to look at those younger players in the fourth quarter but until then, they will be able to get a much better read on the skill players, hopefully without many mistakes.

Dallas Cowboys safety Mario Butler - The Boys Are Back blog

* I really have liked what I have seen from Mario Butler in this camp when he has been asked to play both as a corner and in the safety spot. These preseason games are huge for him. The coaches have put him in a spot to make this team in a reserve role and on special teams. If Butler struggles, rookie Lionel Smith or C.J. Wilson will look to take that spot. I really do like Smith because he can play inside on the slot as well.

* Before we came to camp in California, some members of the front office told me that wide receiver Cole Beasley was going to get an extensive look during camp to see if he could line up in the various roles at wide receiver. In the morning walkthrough, Beasley was running with the first receiver group when they went to the three wide receiver package, playing in the slot. Beasley will also take the first rep when the team goes on the punt return against the Raiders on Monday night.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley - The Boys Are Back blog

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

UPDATE: Mario Butler misses morning drills for birth of child

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mario Butler missed this morning’s walkthrough to join his significant other in the birth of their child. Coach Jason Garrett said he was unsure about the timetable for Butler’s return to practice.

RELATED: Cole Beasley strong since returning to camp, draws praise from Stephen Jones

Two days away from training camp seems to have done wonders for former SMU receiver Cole Beasley, who had another strong practice Tuesday. Beasley left the team briefly to attend to personal issues but has turned in back-to-back strong efforts in Oxnard.

“I think he’s actually playing better now than he did the first couple of days of camp,” said Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ director of player personnel. “Obviously, there were some things he needed to get straightened out in his mind. And it looks like he’s gotten that done.”

Jones said that is why the Cowboys remained “open-minded” when Beasley approached coach Jason Garrett and acknowledged thoughts about ending his football career. Beasley, a rookie, missed two days of camp before returning.

Courtesy: Jimmy Burch | FWST

INJURY UPDATE: Jason Garrett anticipates Bernadeau, Spears, Williams to play against Oakland

2012 - 2013 Dallas Cowboys offensive line - The Boys Are Back blog

Among the Dallas Cowboys’ injured players, coach Jason Garrett said today he anticipates having offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau, defensive tackle Marcus Spears and cornerback Teddy Williams play in Monday’s game against Oakland.

Bernadeau is scheduled to take part today in his first padded practice since returning from off-season hip surgery and a knee ailment. Spears and Williams have been cleared from concussions.

Garrett said he has not ruled out cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee), although Claiborne said trainers were pointing him more toward the San Diego game on Aug. 18. Garrett also has not ruled out  receiver Danny Coale (foot) or tight end John Phillips (ankle) for the contest.

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (foot) and safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) are not expected to play, Garrett said.

Courtesy: Jimmy Burch | FWST

MAN ON A MISSION: Goal-line drill leaves Dallas Cowboys DT Sean Lissemore mad that he got moved

MAN ON A MISSION: Goal-line drill leaves Dallas Cowboys DT Sean Lissemore mad that he got moved - The Boys Are Back blog

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore is 6-foot-3 and weighs 303 pounds. He does not believe he should be moved off the line of scrimmage in short yardage.

So that must explain the scowl he had on his face after practice.

“There was one play where I didn’t play very well,” he said Tuesday at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard. “And it’s really bothering me.”

What happened?

“I think I just got displaced a little bit on it,” he said. “I want to hold that point pretty tough. I don’t feel like I did that the way I should.”

Who moved you?

“Two guys. Maybe two guys behind them, too.”

He wasn’t smiling.

“It’s a tough job, but it’s got to be done.”

So far, Lissemore must be doing it well. He is getting a lot of work at right defensive end while Marcus Spears is out with a concussion. Lissemore, a seventh-round pick out of William & Mary in 2010, is thriving.

He has been one of the most physical players on the defensive line, and he was competing hard in Tuesday’s goal-line and short-yardage drills, the emphasis of the practice.

“It was pretty physical,” he said.

He said he takes seriously his responsibility to hold his ground.

“Absolutely. It’s something that needs to be done,” he said. “It’s something I don’t take lightly.”

Courtesy: Carlos Mendez | FWST

STANDOUT PLAYER: Undrafted rookie receiver Tim Benford gaining momentum in Dallas Cowboys camp

STANDOUT PLAYER: Undrafted rookie receiver Tim Benford gaining momentum in Dallas Cowboys camp - The Boys Are Back blog

When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chatted with reporters this week about the Blue-White scrimmage, he talked about the players that stood out to him.

He mentioned Jermy Parnell, Bruce Carter, one or two others.

And Tim Benford.

Who?

Tim Benford, a 6-foot undrafted rookie receiver out of Tennessee Tech. He  was the conference player of the year there as a senior after catching 65 passes for 923 yards.

He smiled when he was told Jones said his name.

“I guess it’s coming from the big man upstairs, so I just got to keep being consistent – come out here and work every day,” he said. “Everybody wants to make the team. Everybody wants to play for the Cowboys, especially me.”

Benford caught two touchdown passes in the scrimmage on Sunday, and he is gaining attention for being the steadiest of the young receivers in camp, a cast that includes veterans Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris and rookies Cole Beasley, Donavan Kemp, Salim Hakim and Danny Coale.

“It was OK, but I can get better,” Benford said of his scrimmage performance. “Try to come out here and work on some things. Being a little more consistent so I don’t have to press and everything. I felt like it was OK, but there’s still more improvement to come.”

Of the touchdown catches, Benford said, “I don’t think I was the first option, but I just tried to get open, make a look for the quarterback going through his progression. If he found me, I just made it happen.”

Benford said Tennessee Tech’s diverse offense helped him learn NFL-type routes.

“We were a multiple offense. We went to the pro, we stayed in the spread,” he said. “It depended on what the other team gave us. I’m used to it a little bit. I’m adjusting to the NFL level, how fast it works. Everybody’s good, so I’m just ingesting. I’m just coming to compete, fighting for a job.”

Courtesy: Carlos Mendez | FWST

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: The GREAT Robbini is older and wiser!

It’s August 9th … time to take a pause and recognize one of the most cherished days of the year! Today, The Great Robbini (aka Robert A Knight) celebrates his birthday. Please join me in wishing him the very best on this special day! No one really knows his exact age. He has the wit of a 20 year old … but, the wisdom and fortitude of a centurion. If I had to guess … I’d say he’s exactly 30 years old today.

Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini during the football season. His new crystal ball has been dragged out of the closet … dusted … and polished. The GREAT Robbini is already psyched about the 2012 Dallas Cowboys vibe … and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week.

I do know, for a fact, that he’s Jerry Jones’n for the Glory Hole days of the Dallas Cowboys. Let’s be honest … aren’t we all?

Happy Birthday to The Great Robbini.

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