COWBOY RAMS THE RAMS: Dwayne Harris uses practice drill to split defense on second touchdown (SEE VIDEO)
Who says the monotonous drills you use in practice don’t come into play during games?
Look no further than Dwayne Harris’ 38-yard touchdown reception against the Rams as proof that practice drills certainly do help.
Harris caught a cross route over the middle and as he neared the sideline, instead of going out of bounds, he turned up field and split the two defenders trying to box him in. He tip toed up the sideline and into the end zone.
"We have a drill we do where we split two defenders," Harris said. The drill came into effect on that play, lower your pads and stay low. Keep your feet moving."
Harris did just that en route to a three-catch, 118-yard night that included two touchdowns. The first one was a 61-yard bomb from quarterback Tony Romo.
"Dwayne did a good job," Romo said. "It’s never been about the big things. It’s the little things. If he can get the little things down he can really help our football team."
Harris had a brief splash as a rookie last preseason as rookie with a 100-yard receiving game. But never was able to put it all together and didn’t have much of an impact.
This year he says his focus has been on being more consistent and not thinking as much.
"They know I can play football," Harris said. "They just want me to execute the play. Don’t do too much thinking and just play. I just came out and just played today."
COSTA ON THE ROSTA: Garrett hopeful Costa will practice Monday; Jerry Jones expects him in preseason final
While Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was a little more cautious in saying that he hopes injured center Phil Costa will practice on Monday and then determine whether he will make his preseason debut against preseason final against the Dolphins on Wednesday, owner Jerry Jones had no doubts about the center’s availability.
"I’m expecting him to play Wednesday," Jones said. "It would surprise me if he doesn’t play Wednesday."
Costa has missed the first three preseason games with a back injury. The Cowboys would like to get him some time on the field against the Dolphins with guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings to gain some chemistry before the season opener against the Giants Sept. 5
Jessica Jones is a senior at the Episcopal School of Dallas, a model with the Campbell-Wagner Runway agency and — oh, yes — the granddaughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (Her dad is Stephen Jones, Cowboys’ chief operating officer. “He basically does what my granddad does but isn’t as recognized,” is how Jessica explains it.) Caught at home this week on a snow-and-ice day, the Highland Park 18-year-old revealed where she likes to shop, who she wants to meet this week and which parties she might be crashing.
Are you sick of talking about the Big Game?
Everyone is asking me about the Super Bowl. I am just as excited as everyone else. I have only been to one Super Bowl since we were in it, in 1992. And all my friends want me to get them into parties. But we can only bring so many people, so they’re really sucking up to me. My family is throwing a party on Thursday for all the owners. It’s black-tie. Jamie Foxx is performing.
Which celebs will you be looking out for this weekend?
I would love to meet Rihanna. I love her fashion. I would love to meet Katy Perry. If I ran into those two it would be a good day. There are some rumors they’re coming.
Are there parties you’re trying to score invites to?
I am going to try to go to Leather and Laces and I want to get into the [official Cowboys] party with Drake. I’m a little underage, but hopefully they can put a little “X” on my hand. That means I can’t drink.
Some Dallas fashion folk are wondering what out-of-towners will think of local style. And local style makers. Your family is pretty high-profile. Feeling the pressure?
Everyone thinks Dallas is big hair, pink clothing and preppy. But we have really high fashion here, too. I mean Forty Five Ten is here. If I had more money I would shop there every day.
I’m pretty sure people think you do.
Yes, but I have a budget, about $500 a month. My mom gives me money on my debit card. I was overdrawn this month and she threatened to take it away. Most of my allowance goes to jeans.
Courtesy: JASON SHEELER
In the Dallas Cowboys’ third pre-season game, yet another candidate stepped up to make his case in the race to become the team’s third receiver.
But Saturday’s case made by Dwayne Harris, which included a pair of long-distance touchdown receptions from quarterback Tony Romo, resounded louder than anything seen previously in the pre-season by other contenders for the position.
Harris grabbed three passes for 118 yards, including scoring strikes of 61 and 38 yards from Romo, during Saturday’s 20-19 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
In previous games, receivers Andre Holmes (Oakland), Kevin Ogletree (San Diego) and Cole Beasley (San Diego) enjoyed standout moments. But none of them produced touchdowns against an opponent’s first-team defense or finished plays the way Harris did Saturday.
“Dwayne did a good job … It’s never been about the big things (with Harris),” Romo said. “If he can get the little things down, he’s got a chance to really help our football team.”
Harris’ performance moved him to the forefront of the third receiver race, although Ogletree (5 catches, 75 yards) and Beasley (3 catches, 40 yards) also had moments against the Rams.
“Where the conversation starts and ends about that situation, I’ve got a job to do,” Ogletree said. “And that’s to come in and compete and be at my best when the time comes. Guys have been getting an opportunity to make some plays and they’re making the most of it.”
With top receivers Miles Austin (hamstring), Dez Bryant (knee) and tight end Jason Witten (spleen) all missing with injuries, Romo expressed confidence in the team’s young receivers. Dallas threw for 297 yards in the first half, with Romo completing 9-of-13 for 198 yards _ and the two TDs to Harris _ in the first quarter in what projected as his final pre-season tune-up before the Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants.
“It’s good to know we have some depth and the guys can do some things,” Romo said. “Our young guys knew what they were doing and it showed.”
Harris topped the list.
“If you’re in the right place at the right time, Tony’s going to find you. He’s a great quarterback and he’s going find the open guy,” Harris said. “Tony tells me, ‘Harris, you’ve got great ability. But you’ve got to eliminate the mental mistakes’ That’s what I tried to do tonight. Eliminate all the mental mistakes and cut down on missed assignments and just do my job.”
He did it well enough to keep his cell phone buzzing during the post-game interview session. How many congratulatory messages did he field?
“I don’t know. It’s still ringing,” Harris said. “I went out there and executed, which is what the coaches wanted to see. It was a really good game for me.”
Members of the Dallas Cowboys’ first-team defense completed their third consecutive pre-season game without allowing a touchdown Saturday against the St. Louis Rams.
In all likelihood, most _ if not all _ of the team’s defensive starters will watch, rather than play, in Wednesday’s pre-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.
Against the Rams, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan dialed up a wide variety of blitzes. The Cowboys responded with four sacks, getting at least one from each level of the defense.
“That shows we’ll be coming from everywhere,” said outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, who played for the first time since tweaking a hamstring during training camp.
Cornerback Brandon Carr said the defense’s confidence level will be high as starters begin turning their focus toward their Sept. 5 opener at the New York Giants.
“We are very confident in ourselves,” Carr said. “It means a lot to us, even though it’s pre-season, to go out there and not give up a touchdown in three games for the amount of plays we’re out there.”
Asked if this defense is primed and ready to start the season, inside linebacker Sean Lee said: “We’re right on the verge. But if we’re going to play the Giants and be successful … then we’re going to have to have all the details cleaned up.”
Lee, who recorded one of the sacks, said he was glad to see the defensive line, secondary and linebackers all involved in taking down Rams’ quarterbacks.
“It just shows we have different guys trying to get pressure and it also shows coach (Rob) Ryan’s pressure is really showing through,” Lee said. “The guy can dial up pressure, and we’ve learned a lot from him.”
In the NFL, an owner and his team don’t profit directly from hosting a Super Bowl. The league takes over the stadium rent-free and treats the host the same as every other club. All 32 teams share equally from the sale of tickets, concessions and merchandise.
“There is really no direct benefit,” said Bill Prescott, chief financial officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hosted the 2005 game. Other recent hosts say the same.
But Jerry Jones will be an exception.
Because of his ownership stakes in the concessions company that operates at Cowboys Stadium, and dozens of Papa John’s stores in North Texas, the Dallas Cowboys owner benefits from every food and beverage item sold at the stadium and every pizza ordered from his Papa John’s stores by fans converging on the area.
In addition, the Super Bowl will produce nearly $10 million in ticket and parking taxes dedicated to paying off a portion of stadium debt that Jones guarantees.
In a news conference this week, Jones talked about the game lifting “all boats” economically in the region. As one of the most innovative owners in the NFL, he just happens to have more boats.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels acknowledged the owner’s private business connections with this game but said, “You really host a Super Bowl for the region, prestige and global exposure, not for the money.”
Indeed, hosting the game can cost an owner money. Super Bowl preparations have tied up Cowboys Stadium since mid-January, Daniels said, precluding other possible revenue-generating events during that time.
Long term, the biggest potential payoff for the Cowboys owner could come if his stadium — and, therefore, Legends Hospitality Management, the stadium’s concessionaire — is picked to host the Super Bowl on a regular basis.
“Having that sort of revenue and profit boost every four to five years increases the value of the company significantly,” said Mike Rawlings, chief executive of Legends.
Jones owns about a third of Legends, giving him a large interest in the company’s market value and profits, including from the Super Bowl.
Rawlings expects Super Sunday sales of food and beverages at the stadium to approach $5 million or more. Proceeds will be divided between the NFL and Legends. During the regular season, Legends splits revenue with the Cowboys.
Rawlings wouldn’t reveal that split, but typical agreements can give teams 35 percent to 50 percent of revenue, depending upon the category of item sold.
The concessions company was founded two years ago in partnership with the Steinbrenner family, owner of the New York Yankees, two investment firms and the Jones family.
Legends’ annual revenue is at least $150 million, Rawlings said. If the company continues its rapid growth, the enterprise has the potential to be worth several hundred million dollars, based on a comparison with a competitor, Centerplate, which was once publicly held.
Asked in a brief interview after his news conference if he agreed with The Dallas Morning News’ analysis of the potential valuation for Legends, Jones said, “Yes.”
For regular-season games, Legends also handles merchandise sales at Cowboys Stadium. But the NFL brings in a separate company for the Super Bowl.
On the pizza front, Papa John’s International expects a super boost from the Super Bowl, nationally and in North Texas, said John Schnatter, the company’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive.
The Jones family owns a 49 percent stake in 75 Texas Papa John’s stores, primarily in North Texas. Papa John’s, a sponsor of the Cowboys and the NFL, owns 51 percent. Nationwide, Papa John’s has 2,875 stores.
“I think we’ll have a record week in Dallas,” Schnatter said, boosted by out-of-town fans here for the game.
Super Sunday is one of the biggest days for pizza in America. Schnatter predicted his company would sell 1 million pizzas nationwide on Sunday, up from 900,000 a year ago. He estimated, roughly, that Jones’ stores would sell about 26,000 pizzas. Most of those would be sold even if the game weren’t played in North Texas.
Papa John’s declined to say how much revenue those numbers would produce. But multiplying by $10 (the special price for any large Papa John’s pizza in the days leading up to the game) offers at least a ballpark idea of possible revenues: a quarter of a million dollars for Jones’ stores and $10 million companywide.
Schnatter said Jones and the Cowboys have been good business partners. “I wish I had 30 more Jerry Joneses, frankly,” Schnatter said. “I couldn’t find a better partner.”
Jones acquired his stake in the Papa John’s stores in mid-2004, when they were losing money. “We’re talking about going from millions and millions of dollars negative to millions and millions of dollars positive,” Schnatter said of Jones’ stores, declining to be more specific. “He’s by far the most talented businessman I’ve ever met.”
Arlington contributed $325 million to the cost of Cowboys Stadium, funded primarily through an increase in the local sales tax. An additional $148 million of the original stadium debt involved bonds issued by Arlington and backed by Jones.
That obligation has two dedicated funding sources: a 10 percent ticket tax on stadium events and a $3-per-vehicle parking tax that produces minimal revenue.
The NFL estimates that the ticket tax for the game will total about $9.5 million, said Bill Lively, president and chief executive of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. According to the committee’s agreement with the league, the NFL pays the tax to the city, and the committee reimburses the NFL. It’s the host committee’s single largest expense.
The ticket tax ultimately benefits Jones by paying down a debt that he guarantees.
Indirect benefits for the host owner and team go beyond prestige and exposure. Even though the NFL gets all the revenue, the extra tickets that the host receives can benefit current ticket holders and be used as marketing incentives for season ticket and suite renewals.
The Jaguars, according to Prescott, the team’s CFO, were able to increase renewal rates because of Jacksonville’s Super Bowl.
As host, the Cowboys receive 5 percent of Super Bowl game tickets. The two participating teams each receive 17.5 percent of the tickets, the 29 other teams each receive 1.2 percent and the NFL gets 25.2 percent.
Also, every suite holder at Cowboys Stadium is entitled to buy his or her full allotment of tickets, half in a suite (not necessarily their own), half elsewhere in the stadium. These tickets come out of the NFL’s allocation.
“The Super Bowl enhances value for everybody,” Jones said, and makes the stadium more attractive for events in the future.
Last year, less than three weeks before the Super Bowl, Sun Life became the naming rights sponsor for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. Some think hosting the game helped the timing of that deal, which directly benefited the Dolphins.
That won’t happen this year for Cowboys Stadium. But New York Giants co-owner John Mara has said that hosting a Super Bowl could help his new stadium attract a named sponsor.
New Meadowlands Stadium, shared with the Jets, hosts the 2014 game. Still, Mara said last year after the site announcement: “You do not make any money hosting the Super Bowl. You are lucky if you break even.”
He could take some tips from Jerry.
Courtesy: GARY JACOBSON | DMN
Matt Johnson said he felt his hamstring go on the first play
Rookie safety Matt Johnson said he felt a hamstring problem on the first play he was in during Saturday night’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams.
“I kind of thought to myself, ‘That’s not a hamstring.’ I just didn’t want to believe it,” he said. “But it kept getting worse. So I told one of the trainers.”
For Johnson, a fourth-round pick that the Cowboys were hoping could compete for a starting position, it was an extreme disappointment. He had spent all but a week of training camp rehabbing from a hamstring injury in his other leg, and he had been able to go through his first full practices in pads last week in San Diego.
Now, his future is uncertain. He almost certainly won’t play in the final preseason game on Wednesday.
“I try to believe that everything happens for a reason, but it’s kind of hard to see why it keeps happening,” he said. “Trying to do everything right rehab-wise, diet-wise, strengthening it. And then the other one happens. So we’ll just get on top of it, try to get it healthy as soon as I can.”
Ratliff suffers ankle sprain, injury could be more serious than recent foot problem
Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff suffered a sprained ankle in the game against the Rams.
He was on crutches in the locker room after the game. He did not come back to the field after halftime.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not want to say whether it was a high ankle sprain.
For Ratliff, it could be a more serious injury than the plantar fasciitis that limited him for much of the second half of last season, the offseason and training camp. A Cowboys source said it could be more difficult to recover from.
Danny McCray suffers neck strain in second quarter
The Dallas Cowboys lost one of their best special teams’ player in safety Danny McCray, who suffered a neck strain on a fourth-down defensive stop.
McCray, who also plays in the dime package, was hurt after he collided with teammate Gerald Sensabaugh while going for a tipped ball in the end zone with 2:42 left in the first half.
McCray was able to walk off the field under his own power but was holding his right arm close to his side.
On the play, St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was looking for Steve Smith across the back of the end zone, but cornerback Morris Claiborne deflected the pass
Tony Romo looks ready. Same for DeMarco Murray. Rob Ryan’s defense? Definitely.
In the third game of the preseason, the “dress rehearsal” for what’s to come on Sept. 5, the Cowboys first-teamers appeared good to go in a 20-19 defeat of the Rams, a team that’s likely headed for a very long and frustrating 2012 campaign.
A crowd of 75,226 saw Murray on the field for only the first quarter, but he averaged 5.2 yards per carry (5 attempts, 26 yards) and added two catches for 16 more.
Likewise, Romo saw only one quarter of action, but had his way with the St. Louis secondary, spreading the ball around to six different receivers while racking up 198 yards on 9-of-13 passing, his rating a healthy 151.4. He led his team to points in each of their first three possessions of the game, the opening drive going 60 yards in 13 plays before Dan Bailey split the uprights on a 38-yard field goal.
Romo then struck twice through the air, both his scoring throws connecting with Dwayne Harris, one of several in the thick of the battle for the third wide receiver position. On the first, Harris beat his man down the middle for a nifty 61-yard bomb. Then on the Cowboys’ next possession, Harris appeared headed for the sideline on a routine pickup, but at the last minute, he turned it upfield, split two Rams defenders and scampered the remaining yards before diving into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown.
Harris likely solidified his place on the team, finishing with 118 receiving yards on three catches, but he wasn’t the only wideout to have a good showing with the first team offense. Kevin Ogletree picked up 75 yards on five catches with rookie Cole Beasley adding 40 yards on his three grabs. In the end, the Cowboys may not need a designated third receiver, instead taking the committee approach, one of the advantages of having a quarterback like Romo who can make any potential target look good.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the starting defense played the entire first half, limiting the visitors to lengthy field goals of 55 and 52 yards, the first points allowed by the starters this preseason.
The first of those field goals was set up by a 47-yard kick return that gave St. Louis possession on their own 40. That was followed by a 26-yard pass from Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to tight end Lance Kendricks to the Dallas 34, where the defense then held their ground.
Field goal No. 2 for St. Louis came in the second quarter after Kyle Orton was hit on a blitz up the middle, the Rams falling on the fumble to give them the ball at the Dallas 38. They couldn’t move the chains, but did add three points, the score now 17-6.
The Cowboys defense got their first real test of the preseason with their backs against the wall when the Rams marched all the way down to the Dallas 5-yard line, thanks in part to a successful fake punt when they originally faced fourth and 1 at their own 27-yard line. But on fourth and goal, rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne dove and knocked away a Bradford attempt to receiver Steve Smith, keeping St. Louis out of the end zone.
Safety Danny McCray was injured on the play when he and Gerald Sensabaugh collided as the ball was in the air. He suffered a neck strain and did not return to the game.
Taking over with 2:42 remaining in the half, Orton then worked the two-minute offense to perfection. He hit Beasley on an 8-yard pass, then found Felix Jones for gains of 12 and 9 yards. Continuing to spread the ball around, Orton found tight end James Hanna for 11, Ogletree for 12, Harris for 9, and then back to Ogletree for 15, the Cowboys calling their last timeout with 10 seconds left at the St. Louis 13-yard line. Bailey came on for the chip shot, the score 20-6 at the break.
In the first half overall, the Dallas defense limited the Rams to just 114 yards of total offense, or four fewer than what Harris alone earned for receiving yards in the first 30 minutes.
With the third quarter getting underway, the starters put on their ball caps and called it a night, leaving it to those fighting for roster spots. And St. Louis won the battle of reserves, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the game a little more interesting.
For their first score, the Rams started on their own 30 with 2:42 left in the third quarter, and went the distance, reserve quarterback Kellen Clemens throwing a dart to receiver Austin Pettis from two yards out early in the fourth. But kicker Garrett Lindholm’s extra point was no good, the scoreboard reading 20-12.
Two possession later, St. Louis found the end zone again, this time starting at its own 21 and needing 10 plays on the drive to reach pay dirt. The extra point was good, the score now 20-19.
But with 2:10 remaining in the game, that would be all the Rams could muster. Dallas able to run out the clock for their second preseason victory of the season.
The Cowboys will now have an extremely short week as they prepare for their final exhibition game on Wednesday against Miami, a last-ditch tryout of sorts for those fighting for roster spots, the starters content to remain on the sidelines and get ready for the Giants and the season opener a week later.
Kurt Daniels | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine