Initial reports of the guidelines laid out for Dez Bryant may have been mischaracterized, according to his advisor, Dallas bail bondsman David Wells.
Specifically, Wells told KESN-FM 103.3 in Dallas on Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys did not impose restrictions on Bryant’s off-the-field comings and goings. Instead, the wide receiver sought such guidance on his own.
“He wanted to make some changes himself,” Wells said. “He wanted to put some people around him that also could be there in case something happened, that they would be able to attest to what’s going on with him. He first of all said that he wanted to make sure his safety was good, because a lot of times athletes are vulnerable to things that go on out there in society.
“But he also wanted to make sure, to the Dallas Cowboy fans, that he’s going to do everything he can to make sure that he’s out there every day, not only practicing as hard as he can, but also on game day producing the product that the Dallas Cowboys want. That’s what Dez is about. … He came to me and said ‘Hey man, can you help me? I want help.”
The panel that laid out guidelines included a “group of well-respected men,” Wells said, including Bryant’s attorney, Senator Royce West, and local ministers. Wells insisted that the so-called rules have not been enforced by the Cowboys, but that the team is happy with the system.
“He looks at life a lot different now,” Wells said. “Dez just wanted to make sure that his welfare is taken care of, as well as the name of the Dallas Cowboys.”
On Monday, head coach Jason Garrett affirmed the team’s desire to support Bryant and his family, and said he’s pleased with the personal progress Bryant has made.
"Fundamentally, Dez does, I’m convinced, want to do many things that give him the opportunity to get on track the way he needs to both on and off the field,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “He does believe he has a great opportunity.”
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t seen much of Jay Ratliff since last season. They might not see much of him in the next couple of weeks either. Although the Cowboys haven’t ruled out Ratliff for the season opener, it seems unlikely he could return that quickly from a high-ankle sprain. The injury typically takes 2-4 weeks, and given that the Cowboys open the season Sept. 5, that means Ratliff would have to return in 11 days.
Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowler, has not missed a game since the 2007 season. He played 750 plays last season in 16 games, making 42 tackles with two sacks and 18 quarterback pressures.
"He’s a tough guy like everybody knows," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Ratliff missed most of the off-season, most of training camp and the first two preseason games with plantar fasciitis in his foot. He returned to the lineup for Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams and injured his ankle.
So his backups, Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent, are in a familiar spot. They had been splitting first-team reps in Ratliff’s absence and will continue to do so as long as Ratliff is out this time.
"It was something I think Josh and I both needed, getting some more reps with the No. 1 defense and against our No. 1 offense and stuff," Lissemore said. "In that sense, it was really beneficial. It prepared us for this situation, possibly. It was better competition and higher tempo. We’re glad we got that."
Lissemore, a seventh-round pick in 2010, played 282 plays at end and nose last season. He made 39 tackles with two sacks and five quarterback pressures. He had been expected to have a bigger role this season, even before Ratliff’s latest injury.
Brent, a seventh-round supplemental pick in 2010, has 30 tackles in two seasons. He played 137 plays last year while giving Ratliff a breather.
At 320 pounds, 17 pounds heavier than Lissemore, Brent is expected to play more of the team’s base package with Lissemore getting work in the substitution packages.
"At that position, there are so many different combinations you can play with," Garrett said. "We have a number of different guys who we like to play. We play a variety of fronts, so as the game goes on, I would expect Josh Brent and Lissemore to play in his place [if Ratliff is out]."
IRVING, Texas — Go ahead and put most of these names in ink.
There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs entering Wednesday’s preseason finale, but the vast majority of the decisions will have already been made. The toughest calls come at the last spots for receiver, offensive line, defensive end and how to handle Matt Johnson’s situation (great potential, but can’t count on him this season).
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
If Stephen McGee wants to stick around for a fourth season, he needs to give the front office and coaches good reason to keep him with a strong performance in the preseason finale. At this point, it makes more sense to try to put Rudy Carpenter on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Phillip Tanner
Tanner didn’t help his cause with a blown assignment in pass protection that almost got Orton killed against the Rams, but he’s a solid No. 3 back and core special teams player. North Texas alums Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale are good practice squad candidates.
Lawrence Vickers Shaun Chapas
Chapas, a fixture on first-team special teams units Saturday, is likely to last only one week on the roster. An extra fullback can help mask the lack of depth at tight end in case Jason Witten misses the season opener.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
The Cowboys could opt to go with rookie Andrew Szczerba as temporary insurance instead of Chapas.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree Dwayne Harris Cole Beasley Danny Coale
It comes down to Coale vs. Andre Holmes, the Jerry Jones pet cat who reported to camp in poor shape and has shown no consistency. Holmes has more upside. Coale, who has hardly been on the field due to injuries, is more likely to contribute this season. The Cowboys envisioned Coale as a Sam Hurd-type No. 4 receiver/special teams stud (without the felonious side business, of course) when they invested a fifth-round pick in him.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Nate Livings Mackenzy Bernadeau Phil Costa
David Arkin Jermey Parnell Ronald Leary Pat McQuistan
Is being a third guard good enough reason to keep Derrick Dockery? He probably wouldn’t be active on game days due to his lack of position versatility. McQuistan has experience at tackle, guard, blocking tight end and has even worked some at center. Addressing the lack of depth at center would be a wise move after Week 1.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff Jason Hatcher Kenyon Coleman Sean Lissemore Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford Josh Brent
Clifton Geathers (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) looks the part, but he hasn’t done enough to push Coleman or Spears off the roster. The Cowboys can save a little money by cutting (or perhaps trading) one of the veterans, but keeping both gives them quality depth in the defensive end rotation.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor Orie Lemon
Lemon is a guy you notice a lot in practices and preseason games. He has developmental potential and can contribute now on special teams.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright
Can the Cowboys get pass rusher Adrian Hamilton through waivers onto the practice squad? It appears that they will try. He’s not getting reps with the first-team special teams units, a strong sign that they don’t see him as a fit for the 53-man roster this season.
Brandon Carr Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick Mike Jenkins Mario Butler
Jerry Jones has said there is a roster spot for Jenkins, meaning the Cowboys don’t plan for him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the season opener.
Gerald Sensabaugh Barry Church Danny McCray Mana Silva
What to do with fourth-round pick Matt Johnson? He has hardly practiced because of a hamstring injury and he strained the other hamstring in his preseason debut Saturday night. The Cowboys could try to get him through waivers to the practice squad or put him on injured reserve, essentially making this a redshirt season. With such limited practice time, putting him on the 53 would be a waste of a roster spot.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones L.P. Ladouceur
No drama here after rookie deep snapper Charley Hughlett’s release Monday. The Cowboys were willing to pay more for the proven commodity.
When Dez Bryant’s lawyer, Royce West, publicly declared in July that his client didn’t commit family violence against his mother a little more than a week before the Dallas Cowboys receiver was to depart for training camp, there was never a claim of innocence — from the standpoint of Bryant’s character.
Nothing has ever been innocent about Bryant, from his displaced childhood in Lufkin to lies he told to the NCAA that got him banned from football at Oklahoma State to the string of controversies he has been embroiled in since joining the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office has yet to decide whether to pursue misdemeanor family violence charges against Bryant for the July 14 incident against his mother, Angela. She has signed a waiver, declining to pursue charges.
But the Cowboys and Bryant know that this escalating pattern of behavior, which could wreck his life — let alone his football career — needs to stop.
His adviser, David Wells, and the Cowboys are setting up strict guidelines to help Bryant manage and remake his life. They include:
■ No consumption of alcohol
■ No attending strip clubs
■ Attending weekly counseling sessions
■ A full-time security team to take Bryant to and from practice and escort him when he is out after midnight
This is not just about the Cowboys putting restrictions on Bryant. Those closest to him, including West, Wells and his agent, Eugene Parker, agree that the stipulations are necessary.
"We have some things in place and we are still in the process of working out the rest," Wells said. "We are all working together to accomplish some things to help him succeed."
Wells will set up the security team as he did when the Cowboys wanted one for Adam "Pacman" Jones when he was with the team in 2008.
The similarities end there, as Adam Jones already was considered a poster child for bad-boy behavior in the NFL. He had already served a year-long suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
That was a reclamation project.
This is an effort to save Bryant’s life and career before it gets to that point.
What it’s also not about is an attempt to curry favor with the district attorney’s office or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who still could discipline Bryant. (Editors comment: It will curry favor with the DA’s office and Roger Goodell. The agreement should pave the way for final action, if any, to be announced by the DA and NFL).
"We are going to help him as a man. If you treat the man first, the rest will come later."
It also must be noted that Bryant is a man willing to be helped. He has agreed to the guidelines, which are voluntary rather than mandatory.
Nothing in the NFL Players Association guidelines allows a team to forcibly restrict a player’s comings and goings.
"He is part of the process. He knows it’s in his best interest. It shows that he is willing to be held accountable."
Bryant admits that he has made mistakes. He understands that he needs to make better decisions, better choices and know how to keep his emotions in check.
He gets it.
Now he just wants some patience and privacy while he goes through the process of remaking his life and saving his career.
"Dez is making better decisions and he is learning from it," Wells said. "With this he is just taking better precautions about his moves and whereabouts and the Cowboys support what he is trying to do. All he is doing is asking for support from the Cowboys, his loved ones and the fans."
If all goes according to plan, what was hoped to be a breakout season for Bryant on the field in 2012 also might coincide with him making a breakthrough in managing his life.
Aug. 31 — Cutdown to maximum 53 players.
Sept. 1 — Practice squads can be established.
Sept. 5 — Regular-season opener, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants.
Sept. 9-10 — First full regular-season weekend.
Oct. 16 — Fall league meeting, Chicago.
Oct. 16 — Trade deadline (4 p.m. ET)
The Cowboys could go heavy at defensive line by carrying eight players at that position when the 53-man roster is determined, but one veteran could be in jeopardy of not making it.
Marcus Spears, who has played on the second team the last two seasons, is a productive player who at times seems better than Kenyon Coleman, the other veteran starting end.
"I’m not worried about that," Spears said about his roster status. "That’s for you guys to talk about. I got to go out and play as well as I can and perform when I’m out there and let the chips fall where they may."
The interesting thing about Coleman is sometimes you don’t realize he’s making plays because he’s a run stopper and his goal is to keep the tackle from pushing him downfield. In three preseason games, Coleman has zero tackles.
Spears has been pretty active around the ball this preseason, given his seven solo tackles.
In his eight-year career, Spears had always been a starter — prior to last season, when Coleman, signed in free agency because he knows defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme, took over one starting end spot and Jason Hatcher grabbed the other. It appears with some younger linemen with position flexibility — such as Sean Lissemore — there could be a chance Spears’ status is in question.
However, with nose tackle Jay Ratliff’s status for Week 1 in question because of an ankle injury, the decision to cut Spears could prove to be a difficult one.
"You got to do what you gotta do," Spears said. "You gotta do your part. That’s what I’m called to do right now and I focus on doing that and playing well when I’m in the game. … You go with what the coaches decide to do when you’re in there and you try and perform."
At the end of the last season, the Dallas Cowboys were looking for anyone to help and provide some depth on defense and special teams.
Mana Silva was able to do that last year, but despite spending the final month of the regular season with the Cowboys, he wasn’t exactly a favorite to claim another roster spot this year.
The Cowboys signed a veteran in Brodney Pool and drafted Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Barry Church was pegged to compete for a spot and Danny McCray’s roster spot seems rather solid as he continues to be the best special teams player on the team.
But as the Cowboys sit just nine days from the season opener, Silva’s chances of making the team seem better than ever.
The safety position shuffled around because of injuries to both Johnson and now McCray. And more importantly, Silva is taking advantage of those opportunities, with three solid performances in the first three preseason games.
But as the Cowboys enter Wednesday’s preseason finale against the Dolphins, Silva knows he will be playing a lot on both defense and special teams. He also knows it’s his final chance of the preseason to shine. But he promises his mindset won’t change.
“I’m just focused on what I’ve done from the first day,” Silva said. “I just go as hard as I can every play. I’ve done that and now I just let the chips fall as they may.”
While Church and Gerald Sensabaugh seem to have the starting spots locked up, Johnson figured to be a solid No. 3 safety with McCray also contributing on defense, along with his special teams “ace” role. But Johnson once again suffered a hamstring injury, an injury that kept him out for most of camp.
And McCray sustained a neck injury that might keep him out of action for a few days.
So once again, it opens the door for Silva, who made a game-clinching interception in the first preseason game against Oakland. The former University of Hawaii standout has also been praised by his coaches for his all-out effort on defense and special teams.
“Yeah I just try to go as fast as I can on every play and just try to make a play,” said Silva, who admits this year has been more comfortable as he finally has a full offseason. “Last year was tough with the lockout. But I’ve been able to pick up the system more this summer and it’s helped me be more comfortable in what I’m doing. Now I just want to keep playing and try to make this team.”
IRVING — Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten isn’t idle anymore. He was working on the resistance cord with an athletic trainer during the early part of the team’s Monday morning practice at Valley Ranch.
Witten was told he needed to be idle for seven to 10 days after he lacerated his spleen during the Cowboys’ first preseason game at Oakland on Aug. 13. His status for the season opener Sept. 5 at the Giants is still in doubt. He’ll learn more about his condition when he visits a doctor Tuesday.
Other notables from the first 20 minutes of the Cowboys’ practice Monday (that was all the media was allowed to observe):
- WR Dez Bryant was also working on the resistance cord with an athletic trainer. He’s battling tendinitis in his right knee, but he’s expected to play in the season opener.
- Starting center Phil Costa was in uniform and working with the first-team offensive line in practice. He’s been out with a back injury since Aug. 10.
- WR Miles Austin and LB DeMarcus Ware — both nursing hamstring injuries — weren’t in uniform for practice. Neither was CB Mike Jenkins (right shoulder). Austin and Ware are expected to be ready to play in the season opener. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Austin wouldn’t likely return to practice until the end of the week (in other words, at the earliest Thursday, the day after the Cowboys’ preseason finale against Miami). Jenkins won’t likely play in the season opener because he has yet to fly to Florida to visit with Dr. James Andrews again and be released to practice.
- Third-round pick DE Tyrone Crawford missed practice Monday morning because he was sick.
Rappin’ Jerry Jones, whose rhyme-busting pizza commercials became an instant YouTube classic, can dance, too. (Check it out … video provided below)
That was clear when the Cowboys’ owner/general manager was grilled about the strict set of rules put in place for troubled, talented receiver Dez Bryant. Jones danced around the subject matter, going so far as to state that he wasn’t sure any new rules have been created.
“I’m not so sure where media has come up with detail of this nature,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM, referring to guidelines first reported by ESPN Dallas that include Bryant having a midnight curfew, being forbidden from drinking alcohol or attending strip clubs, and having a security team that will take him to and from practices, games and team functions.
“Fundamentally, Dez does – and I’m convinced – want to do many things that give him the opportunity to get on track the way he needs to both on and off the field. I think any of this talk or any of these references to what he’s going to be doing or what he’s not going to be doing in general is one that says let’s conform to good behavior, the kind of behavior the commissioner expects, that society expects, that anybody expects if you’re going to get the opportunities you are. He does believe he has a great opportunity.
“We’re fully supportive of him, his family, his mother. We want to do anything in that direction that we can. As far as the specifics of rules, I think [there are] just rules that let him concentrate on what he’s doing on the field, let him do his work and not have the distractions of not doing it right off the field.”
Asked if the Cowboys created the rules, Jones firmly said, “No.” He declined to answer when asked if the rules were created by Bryant’s adviser David Wells, a former bail bondsman who has worked with several former Cowboys and was the head of Adam “Pacman” Jones’ four-man security team during the controversial cornerback’s lone season in Dallas.
“I’m not going to discuss any of the rules, because that implies that there are a certain set of rules,” Jones said. “I don’t know that that’s correct, either. So really, just by the nature of it, it’s not one that you would really discuss. We have rules of behavior in the NFL and we have rules of behavior with the Cowboys as well. So I’m not so sure there’s been any new rule created here.”
Asked about consequences if rules are broken, Jones spoke in general terms.
“I think it’s pretty clear,” Jones said. “We’ve got behavior rules in the NFL that have been made very clear by the commissioner’s office. Then I think it’s real clear that if you don’t abide by the rules of society what happens. All of those are answers that any adult deals with every day.”
There is no denying that Bryant, whose arrest on a misdemeanor family violence charge a couple of weeks before training camp was the most serious of several off-field missteps, is a unique case that necessitates much more guidance than the normal NFL player.
The Cowboys knew that when they drafted him, having done thorough research into his difficult upbringing. They decided Bryant’s immense potential was worth dealing with his problems.
Nothing has changed Jones’ mind so far.
“There have been absolutely no surprises for us with Dez,” Jones said, repeating a line he’s used several times over the last year.
Pressed on the matter, Jones got agitated and cut off the line of questioning. He was done dancing.
RELATED AUDIO: The Jerry Jones Show (Regarding Dez Bryant, and more)
Editors Note: You’ll be taken to a website outside of The Boys Are Back blog. From there, click on the PLAY button to listen to the entire 15 minute show. You may experience a reload at 5 minute intervals. If so, refresh and start the audio where it last ended. Enjoy!
Secondary Link to The Jerry Jones Show … click HERE.