Daily Archives: August 11th, 2012

OXNARD FIELDS: 2012 Practice Schedule for Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

Logo - Dallas Cowboys 2012 Training Camp schedule - 2012 2013 NFL Season - The Boys Are Back blog

2012 Practice Schedule for Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
City of Oxnard Fields next to the Marriott Residence Inn, 2101 West Vineyard Ave., Oxnard, CA 93036
Schedule is subject to change (all times Pacific Coast time)

Monday, July 30th 2:30 p.m. Practice
5:30 p.m. – DCC performance
Tuesday, July 31st 2:30 p.m. Practice
Wednesday, August 1st 2:30 p.m. Practice
Thursday, August 2nd No practice
Friday, August 3rd 2:30 p.m. Practice
Saturday, August 4th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Sunday, August 5th 2:30 p.m. – Blue-White Scrimmage
Monday, August 6th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Tuesday, August 7th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Wednesday, August 8th No practice
Thursday, August 9th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Friday, August 10th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Saturday, August 11th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Sunday, August 12th 10:30 a.m. – Walk-Thru
Monday, August 13th

No practicePreseason Game Dallas @ Oakland

Tuesday, August 14th No practice
Wednesday, August 15th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Thursday, August 16th 2:30 p.m. Practice
Friday, August 17th TBA Morning Walk-Thru
Break Camp


RELATED: Sunday’s Morning Walkthrough Opened To Fans In Oxnard

There’s been a change in schedule before the Cowboys depart for Oakland on Sunday (Aug. 12).

The 10:30 a.m. walkthrough has been opened to the public. It will NOT be a full scale padded practice, but a walkthrough.

The parking lot will open at 8:00 a.m. and the midway at 8:30 a.m.

True Blue Fan Club members will be able to go down to the field level at 9:30 a.m. and general admission will be at 10:00 a.m.

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EDITORS NOTE: For the FULL Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Preseason schedule and Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Regular Season schedule, click HERE (or click on the tabs at the top or right side of this blog). Enjoy!

DAY 11 TRAINING CAMP: Dallas Cowboys Observation Deck

Dallas safety Brodney Pool (23) covers receiver Andre Holmes (15) during Dallas Cowboys Training Camp - The Boys Are Back blog

Here’s what stood out from Day 11 of Cowboys’ training camp practices Saturday in Oxnard, Calif.:

  • The Cowboys spent a lot of time working on their hurry-up offense Saturday and working more on situational plays. The defense had the upper hand most of the practice.
  • Actor Ashton Kutcher was in attendance for the Saturday afternoon practice. He spent some time watching practice with owner Jerry Jones and talked with QB Tony Romo after the practice.
  • Recently signed veteran OL Derrick Dockery took first-team left guard repetitions and Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary continued to rotate at first-team right guard.
  • With starting C Phil Costa out with a back injury, David Arkin took first-team reps at center with Harland Gunn at second-team center and Pat McQuistan at third team. Over the last three days, McQuistan has seen work at offensive tackle, blocking tight end and now at center.
  • During the morning walkthrough, QB Tony Romo and C David Arkin spent some extra time working on shotgun snaps, which have been one of the big issues of camp because of all the injuries at center.
  • QB Tony Romo gave some fans high-fives along the fence line as he came out onto the field for the afternoon practice and stopped to sign a few autographs. That’s been rare for him this camp.
  • WR Raymond Radway continues to fade. He struggled catching kickoff returns early and also had his problems during team drills. Radway appeared to run the wrong route – going long instead of breaking his route short – during team drills. QB Kyle Orton threw the pass underneath as Radway streaked down the field, allowing safety Danny McCray to make an easy interception. Later, Radway dropped a pass in team drills.
  • WR Dez Bryant used a double move in 1-on-1 drills to beat CB Brandon Carr for a touchdown deep. Bryant then beat rookie CB Morris Claiborne for a catch along the left sideline. Bryant, however, missed the last half of the afternoon practice because of tightness in his hamstring.
  • In 1-on-1 drills, WR Donovan Kemp dropped a pass on a slant route. WR Cole Beasley also had a drop along the right sideline. CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah intercepted a pass intended for WR David Little. WR Tim Benford had a drop after beating CB Mario Butler in coverage. WR Andre Holmes used three moves to finally get free from Owusu-Ansah and make a catch. CB C.J. Wilson dropped a pass intended for Beasley that he should have intercepted.
  • Twice during 1-on-1 drills, speedy CB Teddy Williams ran step-for-step down the sideline with WR Kevin Ogletree and WR Raymond Radway. Tony Romo didn’t even attempt a pass with Williams blanketing Ogletree, and the pass to Radway was incomplete. Both times, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yelled, “Nice coverage, Teddy.”
  • In individual receiving drills and during team drills, RB Javarris Williams dropped passes in the flat.
  • LT Tyron Smith had a false start during a hurry-up situation inside the red zone. The offensive line scrambled to get to the line of scrimmage in a hurry and before Tony Romo snapped the ball to spike it, Smith moved.
  • CB Brandon Carr had a pass breakup in the end zone against WR Kevin Ogletree on a pass from Tony Romo.
  • Safety Barry Church continued his strong play by breaking up a pass from Tony Romo intended for TE Jason Witten near the goal line. Church nearly intercepted the pass.
  • Safety Gerald Sensabaugh broke up a pass in the end zone from Tony Romo and almost intercepted the ball.
  • RB DeMarco Murray dropped a quick pass out to the left flat from Tony Romo.
  • CB Orlando Scandrick had good coverage on WR Andrew Holmes on a deep past down the left sideline from Tony Romo. The ball was overthrown and Scandrick almost intercepted the pass, getting one hand on it.
  • LB DeMarcus Ware would have sacked Tony Romo during team drills, flying past him before he threw the ball.
  • WR Dwayne Harris dropped a pass to the left side from QB Kyle Orton. Safety Danny McCray was there with tight coverage.
  • LB Bruce Carter broke up a pass over the middle from Tony Romo, but the ball hit both of his hands and he should have made the interception.
  • On back-to-back plays during team drills, the secondary maintained tight coverage and QB Kyle Orton would have been sacked both times.
  • CB Brandon Carr knocked down a quick pass out to the right side intended for WR Kevin Ogletree from QB Tony Romo in a hurry-up situation.
  • The Cowboys’ first-team offense was finally able to score late in practice in a hurry-up situation, with QB Tony Romo connecting with TE Jason Witten for a short touchdown pass.
  • WR Andre Holmes used his 6-4 height to pull down a Hail Mary pass to end team drills with a touchdown catch from QB Kyle Orton. Holmes jumped over a pack of players in the middle of the end zone to pull down the ball.

Brandon George

NUMBER CRUNCH: Dallas Cowboys Window Of Opportunity

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones window of opportunity - The Boys Are Back blog

Sound the alarms, because the Cowboys’ window of opportunity is closing. The team is littered with players in their prime and, before you know it, the opportunity for a deep playoff run will vanish. Right?

Well, not so fast. One of the most underrated aspects of Jason Garrett’s reign as the head coach in Dallas has been the team’s emphasis on getting younger. The defense in particular has witnessed a youth movement of late. Bradie James and Keith Brooking are out at inside linebacker, with Bruce Carter and Dan Connor filling their shoes. Terence Newman is gone from the cornerback position, and Barry Church appears ready to start at safety.

All told, the Cowboys aren’t really an old team at all. Actually, only 10 players on the roster are over the age of 30, including just six starters (Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Nate Livings, Jason Hatcher, Jay Ratliff, and DeMarcus Ware).

Of course, four of those players are key components of the roster. Even if the rest of the team is quite young, the importance of Romo, Witten, Ratliff, and Ware is so immense that owner Jerry Jones might be right about the potentially closing window of opportunity.

To determine exactly where the Cowboys’ “Core Four” currently sit within their careers, I tracked the past production of other players at their positions. Below, you can see the career outlooks for pass rushers (4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 linebackers), defensive tackles, tight ends and quarterbacks. All production is measured in terms of career approximate value.

There are a few really interesting points on this graph. First, note that the peak production for pass rushers comes at around age 25. Despite the early rise, pass rushers retain at least 85 percent of their peak production until they are 33 years old. Defensive tackles peak a bit later than edge rushers, but their fall from grace is a quick one. During ages 31 and 32, defensive tackles’ production is only about 73 percent of what it was during their peak. That number plummets even more to 55 percent in the subsequent two seasons.

Like defensive tackles, tight ends tend to see a sharp decline in production around age 31. With their peak production coming at ages 29 and 30, the 28 percent drop in production that arrives in the following two seasons is the largest of any position. Quarterbacks, on the other hand, have the ability to lead their teams at near-optimal efficiency into their late-30s.

For the Cowboys, I think these numbers are both good and bad. The good news is that Romo, Ratliff, Witten and Ware are all in the prime of their careers. All except Romo (32) are 30 years old, and none figure to witness a major decrease in production this season.

The bad news is that only Romo isn’t expected to see a drop in productivity in 2013 and beyond. For Ware, the decline could be minimal. For Witten and Ratliff, the drop might be more substantial.

One of the major problems the Cowboys will face over the next couple of years is finding capable replacements for these players. Just as the team did when they replaced James, Brooking, Newman and others, they’ll eventually need to find another well-rounded tight end, productive nose tackle, dominating outside linebacker, and (gasp) even a new quarterback.

The ’Boys should be able to wait on replacing Romo for at least a few years. Quarterback play remains stable until right around age 36, so the Cowboys will likely have Romo in his prime for another four or five seasons.

The above numbers are just averages, however, and an individual player can certainly overcome history to produce well into his 30s. With the dedication exemplified by Witten, Ratliff and Ware and the manner in which they take care of their bodies, they’re just the types of players to defy the odds.

Ultimately, I think the proverbial “window of opportunity” is only closing for those teams that let it. The best organizations in the NFL find replacements for players whose production figures to decrease before the decline actually happens. For years, the Cowboys waited too long to restock their roster. With Garrett manning the ship, however, the ’Boys have shown they’re willing to let go of veterans in favor of youngsters, creating a superior long-term winning strategy.

So while the Cowboys’ window might very well be closing in the sense that some of their best players are aging, that happens to every team. All it takes is an influx of young talent – the kind seen with the acquisitions of Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray – to open that window right back up.

Courtesy: Jonathan Bales | DMN

JERRY JONES: Andre Holmes “Has Chance To Play A Lot This Year”

Dallas Cowboys safety Brodney Pool (23) covers receiver Andre Holmes (15) - The Boys Are Back blog

Fresh off Thursday’s rejection letter to Plaxico Burress, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was talking up a tall wide receiver already on the roster.

Jones has been hyping second-year pro Andre Holmes since February. While Holmes starting camp with a whimper, failing his conditioning test, he has bounced back by putting together a string of much-improved practices this week. Jones’ dismissal of Thursday’s Burress rumors had everything to do with wanting to see what the young receivers already on the roster can do during preseason, and Holmes is right at the top of the watch list in Monday’s exhibition opener at Oakland.

“Holmes will get his opportunities,” Jones said Friday. “I’m seeing him be more consistent. He is getting his assignments down better, for a fact, and you know he’s got that height and got the ability to catch the ball. So that’s why he’s certainly someone that’s got a chance to get to play a lot this year.”

In addition to the 6-5 Holmes, Jones also singled out 5-8 receiver Cole Beasley as a player to watch on Monday.

Then again, there are countless rookies, first-year and second-year players that the owner is most interested in seeing against the Raiders.

“I think the usual cast, which are your young players,” Jones said. “Some of the free agents, (Brandon) Carr, I don’t need to see. I really don’t need to see (Lawrence) Vickers. I don’t need to see guys that are veteran players. I know they need to get some snaps, but I know what they can do. Frankly, I don’t want to be too aggressive relative to seeing a (Mackenzy) Bernadeau and some of those players like that. I don’t need to see (Jason) Witten.

"We need to see players and make sure that they can play when the lights are on the way that they practice out here. And that, to me, is what these first two preseason games are about.”

Courtesy: Josh Ellis

RELATED: Another big day for undersized Cowboys’ receiver Cole Beasley

Dallas Cowboys first-round CB Morris Claiborne covers Cole Beasley - The Boys Are Back blog

Another day, another strong practice for free-agent receiver Cole Beasley. The rookie from SMU, who left camp for two days with thoughts about quitting football before returning, made several clutch catches in today’s afternoon workout, including a one-handed grab in front of Lionel Smith, a rookie from Texas A&M.

Beasley (5-foot-8, 177 pounds) worked with both the first- and second-team offense. After making a catch in traffic from quarterback Tony Romo, a fan urged coaches to pay attention because the Cowboys “need a (Wes) Welker.” Beasley’s one-handed grab of a pass from Kyle Orton only served to stir the crowd more and trigger more comparisons to the New England Patriots’ undersized standout from Texas Tech.

“I’m starting to get a few reps with the 1’s. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty good,” Beasley said. “I’ve still got some things I need to get better at. So I’m just working every day.”

Beasley agreed with the assessment of Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ director of player personnel who surmised that Beasley has elevated his play since returning to camp.

“My mind is totally focused on football now,” Beasley said. “I’m just having fun and playing with my teammates.”

Beasley said he is aware of his surroundings when lining up against first-team defenders.

“You always know who’s across from you. But you have to ignore it and be confident in your abilities and go out there and make plays,” Beasley said. “In my heart, I think I’m the biggest guy out there. I feel like I’m just one of the guys out there competing for a spot, like everyone else.”

Asked about the one-hand grab, Beasley said: “Orton really just put it where the DB couldn’t get it. I just stuck my hand out there, happened to make the play.”

Beasley said he appreciates the fan support, hears the Welker comparisons and understands them.

“I would love to have the career that he’s had,” Beasley said. “But you try to block it out and focus on practice. I’m a little bit of an underdog and everyone loves an underdog … I appreciate all the people out there supporting me and helping me get through it.”

Courtesy: Jimmy Burch

BIGGEST CONCERN – 2012 SEASON: The Dallas Cowboys offensive line

LT Tyron Smith Jermey Parnell Jeff Adams Tyrone Novikoff
LG Nate Livings Derrick Dockery Ronald Leary
C Phil Costa Bill Nagy Kevin Kowalski Harland Gunn
RG Mackenzy Bernadeau David Arkin Daniel Loper
RT Doug Free Pat McQuistan Levy Adcock

RED: Injury concerns

Injuries piling up at Center, starting to become a concern

When the Dallas Cowboys arrived at training camp nearly two weeks ago, the center position was hardly a concern.

Not only did they have a young starter in Phil Costa entering his second full season at center, but they had two second-year backups that have versatility to play guard.

But a high-ankle sprain to Bill Nagy, coupled with a nagging ankle injury for Kevin Kowalski that got worse, and suddenly the center spot has the Cowboys scratching their heads as they prepare to start the preseason Monday night in Oakland.

Do they go get a veteran center and crowd the position even more, or simply try to make do and piece the position together until either one of the young guys catches on or the injured players return.

For now, it sounds like the Cowboys are going with Option No. 2. But don’t think they haven’t done their due diligence with the first option as well.

“Trust me, we’ve scoured the short lists,” head coach Jason Garrett said in regards to free-agent center. “We’ve talked to different agents about trying to address that. Right now, we feel like the best way to address it is with the guys we have in house. If someone comes available that is attractive to us, we’ll certainly address it that way.”

For now, the Cowboys are using the players on the roster to patch up the center spot, particularly with the backup spots.

Guards David Arkin and Harland Gunn have worked at center in practice and on Thursday, tackle/guard Pat McQuistan took a few snaps before practice.

Costa isn’t expected to have much competition now for the starting job, but don’t be surprised if the Cowboys at least explore the option of using Mackenzy Bernadeau at center, at least as a backup.

While he on Thursday was practicing for the first time since joining the Cowboys, Bernadeau might be an option down the line. For now, he’s a guard and that’s where the focus will remain.

“We’ve just got to see him play guard first,” Garrett said. “That’s where he’s most comfortable. That’s one of the things that we liked about him when we signed him in free agency was his position flex. He has played center, had the ball in his hands before, so that’s a positive thing. But right now we just want to see him break the huddle and play some football first and foremost, and hopefully he’ll function in practice and keep growing day-by-day.”

In the last few days, there have been several poor snaps, with botched shotguns and quarterback-center exchanges. Garrett, a former quarterback in his own right, said most of the center issues this team has stem from injury.

“We felt very good about our center, our backup center, our third center, the guys who can play both center and guard going into training camp – we just had a rash of injuries,” Garrett said. “So you try to adjust as best as you can. Arkin’s done a nice job. He hasn’t snapped before in his life and he’s just taking snaps at guard and then he goes over and he’s trying to learn to play center. We’re trying to cross-train some other guys. It’s part of what you go through when you have a rash of injuries at a particular position. You just try to scramble a little bit and come up with a way to handle it.”

Players on the street include former Cowboys Pro Bowler Andre Gurode, along with other vets Jeff Faine, Jason Brown and Jamaal Jackson.

But most of those guys would likely come in looking to start. The Cowboys have that guy in Costa, whom the coaches and scouts will say has improved tremendously over the offseason.

Costa said his on-field communication with the starting quarterback has been one of the most important aspects he’s tried to improve this year.

“Being on the same page with Tony is really important, making the calls and helping him out in that respect is important,” Costa said. “I’ve been working on the techniques and that makes a big difference.”
Garrett said he’s seen a different player in Costa this year.

“We have more confidence in him. He’s played center for us in games, and for the most part he’s done a pretty decent job,” Garrett said. “He’s had some hiccups over the last year or so with that as well. When you have the ball in your hands it’s a big responsibility. There’s a reason why centers typically are among the smartest guys up on the offensive line because they can handle some of that responsibility, intellectually and also the responsibility that comes with having the ball in your hands. So we’re always working on it, we’re always emphasizing it to our team. We’ve just got to do it better.”

Nick Eatman

EDITORS NOTE: Excellent video below. You owe to to yourself to check out this show. An MP3 download is also available for your computer or phone. Enjoy!

VIDEO - Cowboys Break show - The Boys Are Back blog

Cowboys Break: Who Makes Team On O-Line (Press PLAY to watch/listen)

The Break takes a look at the offensive line today as they continue to break down a position each day of training camp. Duration: 1:01:35 (Download the MP3 HERE)

RELATED: Jerry Jones not concerned about bad snaps, said that’s what practice is for

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not concerned about the spate of bad snaps that have turned practice into a circus at times. He said he has no interest in signing a center just to get through practice and believes centers Phil Costa and David Arkin will improve.

“That is what practice is about,” Jones said. “That gives you a good chance to see if the guy can think about the snap as well as concentrate on what he is doing out there. Arkin hasn’t been doing this much, so I give him some slack. Costa needs more consistency.

Clarence Hill

RELATED: Derrick Dockery takes a few snaps with first team

Veteran guard Derrick Dockery who joined the team a week into training camp has opened a few eyes of late.

So much so that he has thrown himself into the competition for a possible starting job with Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ron Leary and David Arkin. Dockery alternated some first team reps in practice with Arkin on Thursday.

“I was impressed with Dockery today,” owner Jerry Jones said. “Dockery has a chance to be what he wasn’t last year because of his late arrival last year and his injury situation last year. He did look impressive out there to me.”

Bernadeau and Livings were signed in free agency to be the starters but both have missed time in camp with injury. Bernadeau practiced on Thursday for the first time, alternating at the other guard spot with Leary.

If Dockery continues to impress, it could give the Cowboys even more of a chance to try Bernadeau at center where he compete with Phil Costa.

Clarence Hill

RELATED: Mackenzy Bernadeau excited to practice for first time

Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau took practice reps with the Cowboys first time in camp.

Actually they were his first reps since joining the Cowboys in free agency with a four-year, $11 million contract after spending the first four years of his career with the Panthers.

He has been sidelined since May because of hip and knee surgeries and began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

"Yeah it’s always good to get reps with your teammates," Bernadeau said. "I’m excited about that. I’m feeling great. I want to get in there and get as many reps as I can.

It’s been a while since I’ve been out there with the guys. Getting the reps, being there, working hard and being able to hit people will be fun."

Bernadeau alternated first team reps with rookie free agent Ron Leary but that’s just part of the process for Leary who was signed to help solidify the Cowboys offensive line.

Bernadeau said he was eager to prove himself to his teammates.

"Yeah you have to earn the respect of your teammates," Bernadeau said.  "We have a great group of guys here that I’ve worked with. I’ve got their respect but you still want to prove yourself on the field every day and every practice. So I look forward to doing that."

Bernadeau will work first at guard but the Cowboys will give him some reps at center as well in hopes that he can compete with Phil Costa for the starting job or at least give them an option there in case of injury. Costa’s primary two backups and would be competitors for the starting job _ Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski _ are sidelined for the entire preseason and possible into the regular season with ankle injuries.

Bernadeau took some snaps in some preseason games in Carolina but none in the regular season. He said he is ready to do whatever is asked of him.

"I’m just going to do what I’m told," Bernadeau said. "I’ll be ready to compete."

Clarence Hill

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