Monthly Archives: September, 2012

THE FLEX FACTOR: Cornerback Mike Jenkins finds his fit with Dallas Cowboys Triple-Flex defense

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING — Mike Jenkins reached down to his locker and knocked on it when someone mentioned the Dallas Cowboys’ cornerbacks have yet to allow a touchdown.

Jenkins, in fact, has not even allowed a catch.

The Cowboys knew all along they would need him, which is why he is still here despite the team’s off-season acquisitions of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh missed last week’s 16-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs with a calf injury, and the other starting safety, Barry Church, joined him on the sideline with a season-ending Achilles injury. That forced the Cowboys to play cornerback Carr at safety with Jenkins back in his familiar spot at outside corner. Jenkins played 31 of 60 plays and broke up a pass.

"We really like Mike Jenkins," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We like him a lot as a player, and we like him a lot as a person. There are a lot of reasons to like him. We just needed to be patient with his injury. He needed to fight through some of the business aspects of this decision, get him back, embrace him and get him going. That was our philosophy all along."

Jenkins missed all of the 2011 preseason with a neck injury. He played through shoulder and knee injuries during the season and still was the team’s best cornerback. Garrett said it was a turning point in Jenkins’ career as the "respect level" rose for the former first-round pick with what he played through for 12 games.

Jenkins needed shoulder reconstruction after the season, and while he was in Florida rehabbing, the Cowboys signed Carr to a $50.1 million contract and moved up in the draft to take Morris Claiborne.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins could see his first action in Sunday's game against Seattle Seahawks - The Boys Are Back blog

The moves were welcomed by everyone at Valley Ranch. While it was much needed for a defense that had yielded the second- and third-most passing yards in team history in consecutive seasons.

Jenkins’ agent requested a trade. The Cowboys, in what might have been their best off-season move, showed patience with the fifth-year veteran.

"It was kind of a crazy situation whether he was going to be back or not," Sensabaugh said. "For him to fight through his injury, work hard and get back on the field, just to see him out there competing the other day, it almost brings a tear to your eye, a guy having that much passion for the game. He’s the Mike Jenkins that he was for us when he was a Pro Bowl player [in 2009]."

Jenkins finished last week’s game with only one stat — a knockdown of a pass intended for Vincent Jackson. But it was an important play. It let Jenkins know he was back, that his shoulder was good as new.

"I used the [surgically repaired] arm to go up and get the ball," Jenkins said. "It was a big challenge for me just going up. That was actually my first time really using my arm like that. Going through practice, I never really get a chance to actually go all out and jump up for a ball and come down on my arm that physical. …It felt good."

Jenkins’ role remains somewhat uncertain. Carr and Claiborne are the starters. Orlando Scandrick is the nickel back. Carr, Claiborne and Scandrick have combined to allow only 13 catches for 188 yards.

Jenkins doesn’t know where he fits in, but he accepts that he likely will play less than in recent seasons.

"I always want to be on the field," said Jenkins, who is in the final year of his contract. … "I’m just going to leave it up to Rob [Ryan]."

PINK PROFITGATE–OVER REACTION: Dallas Cowboys remain relevant even without the wins; Mac Engel critical of Jerry Jones’ money making flair

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones under the star - The Boys Are Back blog

One week after the Dallas Cowboys re-unveiled the five banners that celebrate their glorious Super Bowl past, they will open a store that says everything you need to know about what they are today.

Every single time we think the Dallas Cowboys are returning to their core values of winning football as the primary means to make more money, they remind us a "W" is no longer as vital as the $.

On Monday, a few hours before the Cowboys host the Bears, Cowboys Stadium will become the first professional sports arena to house a Victoria’s Secret store.

Next up: The Gap, Starbucks, Best Buy and Frederick’s of Hollywood.

This is a joke that isn’t a joke.

The Cowboys should not be providing any potential punch lines that aid in questioning their toughness or suggest that they — cough, cough — play like a bunch of girls.

Pink Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

The good news is that finally a fan can go to a Cowboys game, buy a Cowboys hat and a pair of Cowboys "Huddle Up" panties for $10.50. A pair of Dallas Cowboys underwear is far cheaper than a parking spot for a Dallas Cowboys game.

The bad news is that this Victoria’s Secret "PINK" store is only going to carry Dallas Cowboys-themed merchandise, including yoga bras, lace panties, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Jerry Jones, if you are going to consummate this marriage between the Dallas Cowboys and Victoria’s Secret, you must go all in. With just a little cross marketing, there are far greater opportunities than just T-shirts and sweatshirts.

I can’t make these up: Victoria’s Secret offers "The Showstopper" bra, "Dream Angel" panties, "Dream Angel" perfect coverage bra and "Boy Shorts" panties. The pun possibilities are endless.

The franchise that was always so far in front of the professional sports curve remains that way because no team understands its current landscape better than the Cowboys.

The reason the Cowboys have those five Super Bowl banners is because, at that time, winning was the way to national relevance and revenue. You had to be good.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Kandi Harris - The Boys Are Back blog

Former Cowboys president Tex Schramm believed the best money spent on marketing was on scouting.

The world is a much different place than the one Tex operated in, or even the one Jerry bought into.

The reason the Cowboys are today valued by Forbes at an NFL-high $2.1 billion is because they recognize and have fully exploited the reality that being relevant is as potentially lucrative as being good.

Look no further than Jerry’s recent comments regarding the replacement officials in the NFL. He thought it was good entertainment, and exciting, and it was. But "good" or "right" had no place in the conversation because quality did not matter.

In the entertainment world, and that’s what professional sports is, relevance serves as an effective impostor for quality.

If you can’t win, you must create other areas of interest to remain relevant, and more lucrative. No team loses and yet retains its relevance any better than the Cowboys.

In lieu of winning games, there may not be a better way of creating relevance in pro sports these days than girls who don’t wear a lot of clothes.

The franchise that changed the landscape of NFL sidelines by adding professional cheerleaders — officially combining sex and sports — now brings us Victoria’s Secret to a stadium. The Cowboys are the first, and you know they will not be the last.

Smack your head and curse Jerry if you must, and go ahead and laugh at the Victoria’s Secret Cowboys.

Pink loves the Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

You can’t say Jerry Jones is Bengals owner Mike Brown and that he doesn’t care about winning. For Jerry, making a deal or making a ton of coin is akin to defeating the Redskins, Giants or Bears. It all brings the juice.

Today it is a Victoria’s Secret store and a cameo on the TV show The League. In a month or two, it will be a casino, or sponsoring a space station.

Until the Cowboys really win, they will be defined by their ability to always be relevant.

Ever since Jerry bought the team, the Dallas Cowboys have remained relevant because of their ability to win, the personalities of their players and their coaches, through tradition and now because of bra and panties.

Mac Engel | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

used OBIT SCHRAMM

EDITORS COMMENTS: Tex Schramm was no slouch when it came to marketing. Jerry Jones benefits from Tex’s foresight. Who do you think was in charge when the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders came into existence? Jerry’s no fool. He’s going to put money in his pocket when he has an opportunity … then, he’s going to sign players within the confines of the NFL salary cap. Jerry Jones has taken what Tex Schramm built (America’s Team and all that it encompasses) and ran with the ball (pardon the pun). I have no issue with whatever JJ does to enhance the venue. Cowboys Stadium is a gameday experience and showcase … utilized eight days (or nights) a year (plus playoffs and special events). Do whatever it takes to draw attention, make money, stay in the publics mind. The wins will come … just like they have five times in the past.

If he hooks her up with something naughty or nice from the Victoria’s Secret store. Who really benefits here. I say, it’s win-win. Let the games begin - The Boys Are Back blog

To question Jerry Jones’ desire and commitment to win is ridiculous … both at the bank, and on the field. The NFL and the Dallas Cowboys are about MORE than sports, it’s sports entertainment. We’re getting what we pay for. Ask fans in the other 31 NFL cities … who offers the best NFL experience in the country?

There have been two GM’s in Dallas Cowboys history. Tex made the block, and Jerry ran for the touchdown.

Never forget who we are … and what we are. Mostly, we’re dudes. Watching a game of grime and grind. If a hardworking guy takes his girl to the game, has a cold beer, sports a new hat and jersey, stands up – raises hell, and hooks her up with something (naughty or nice) from the Victoria’s Secret store. Who really benefits here? I say, it’s win-win. Let the games begin.

BIG D FLEX IS BACK: Brandon Carr’s position move not without Dallas Cowboys precedence

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson (83) is unable to grab a touchdown pass as Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (39) defends - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys’ use of $50.1 million cornerback Brandon Carr as a nickel safety against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week was born out of necessity.

With free safety Gerald Sensabaugh sidelined with a calf strain, the Cowboys felt Carr had the best combination of size and athleticism among the cornerbacks to make the move and help the team. That Carr was willing to move showed his team-oriented attitude, which is another reason why the Cowboys were excited to add him as a free agent from Kansas City in the off-season.

Brandon-Carr-interception-Dallas-Cowboys -The Boys Are Back blog

"Brandon embraced this," coach Jason Garrett said. "He saw how he could help our football team absorb an injury."

Sensabaugh should be back for the Chicago Bears game on Monday. But with strong safety Barry Church out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, Carr might be called on again to help out at safety. The Cowboys have yet to make a final decision.

Either way, Carr joins an elite list of Cowboys whose greatness was founded or enhanced by their in-game and in-career position flex and versatility.

S/CB/KR Mel Renfro

The epitome of versatility. Renfro was a two-time All-America running back in college at Oregon who moved to defense after being drafted by the Cowboys in 1964. He made the Pro Bowl at safety in each of his first six seasons then moved to cornerback and made four consecutive Pro Bowls, making him arguably the best safety/cornerback in NFL history. He led the NFL as rookie in kick and punt returns and had seven interceptions. He is still the team leader with 52 career interceptions, including 30 during his first six years at cornerback. His 26.4-yard career kickoff return average is also a club record. In the 1971 Pro Bowl, Renfro started at cornerback and returned two punts for touchdowns, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the NFC’s 27-6 victory.

S/CB Darren Woodson

An undersized linebacker in college, Woodson moved to safety after being drafted by the Cowboys. He proved to be a hard-hitting strong safety who had the range of a free safety and the coverage ability of a cornerback. He is the team’s all-time leading tackler and a five-time Pro Bowler, arguably the Cowboys best safety and best special teams player. It was the Cowboys’ use of him as a nickel cornerback covering slot receivers on passing downs that really stands out. Playing close to the line allowed him to support the run, pressure the quarterback as well as cover receivers such as Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the slot. It made him the most versatile safety in the league but hurt his overall numbers, as he was unable to pile up interceptions.

OG/OT Larry Allen

There has never been any questioning Larry Allen’s greatness and dominance as an offensive lineman. He is a member of the NFL All-Decade team of the 1990s and 2000s. He made 11 trips to the Pro Bowl in 14 seasons in the NFL. A career guard, Allen started at left tackle in 1998 and made the Pro Bowl. He is one of three players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl at two line positions. Allen played right guard, right tackle, left guard and left tackle during his career. It was in 1997 when Allen helped invent a new position for the Cowboys, the nickel tackle. George Hegamin replaced injured Mark Tuinei at left tackle midway through the season. He was a good run blocker, but weak pass blocker. For a two-game stretch, the Cowboys moved Allen from guard to left tackle on passing downs to protect Troy Aikman’s blindside. He did it so well, he became the full-time starter there for the final four games of the season.

CB/WR/KR Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders is the ultimate Mr. Versatile. A former football, baseball and track standout at Florida State, he joined Bo Jackson as the most decorated modern-day, two-sport professional when he played in the NFL and Major League Baseball at the same time. In 1998, he became the first player to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week. He is also the only player to play in a Super Bowl and in the World Series. His versatility in football was always evident during his Hall of Fame career because of his shutdown play at cornerback and game-changing play as a returner. He joined the Cowboys in 1995 for a then-record $13 million signing bonus for the chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls and the opportunity to play receiver on offense. In helping the Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX, Sanders started at cornerback, returned a punt and caught a 47-yard pass to set up the first touchdown. He went on to make eight starts at receiver in 1996 because of injuries, as well as play at cornerback, catching 36 passes for 475 yards, ranking second on the team in receiving yards.

GOING INSIDE OUT: Dallas Cowboys coverage advantages with LB’s Bruce Carter, Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Bruce Carter (54) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Dallas Clark - The Boys Are Back blog

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the Cowboys may be one of the few teams that can afford to play nickel defense on third down. That’s because their inside linebackers, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, can cover.

“We can keep both those guys in because most people have liability in coverage,” Ryan said. “These guys excel in coverage. We like to keep both of them out there as much as possible. They’ve been doing a great job.”

Lee and Carter are the leading and fourth-leading tacklers on the team, with 67 tackles between them. Each has a pass defensed and two tackles for loss. Lee has an interception.

Head coach Jason Garrett said Carter learned from the touchdown catch behind him in short yardage last week against Tampa.

“The biggest thing on the touchdown was, it’s a really difficult play for a linebacker,” Garrett said, “because you’re down in that short-yardage situation, that goal-line situation, and he has to be the guy who fits the run and hits the run and makes the play in the run game – and, oh, by the way, you gotta cover that 7-route by that tight end. So it’s a hard play. He was playing the run more than he was playing the pass and reacted back late to it. But that’s what you have to do. You see teams around the league complete that play all the time.”

Garrett said with time, Carter will see tell-tale signs when that play is coming.

“Seeing the separation between the back and the quarterback, maybe not seeing the linemen come off quite as low and firm as if it’s a run, maybe processing all that, and that’s just going to take time,” Garrett said. “But he certainly has the physical skills for it. He made a ton of plays for us.”

DALLAS’ SLEEPING GIANT: Jason Garrett says Andre Holmes could wind up in team’s Hail Mary mix

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

Andre Holmes, at 6-foot-5, is the Dallas Cowboys’ tallest receiver. One of his highlight moments in training camp came when he grabbed a Hail Mary pass from backup quarterback Kyle Orton on the final play of a live team session in Oxnard, Calif.

But Holmes has yet to be in the Cowboys’ end-of-the-half, multiple-receiver mix during the regular season because he has been battling a knee ailment. Jason Garrett left open the opportunity today that Holmes may work his way into the team’s Hail Mary mix as his health improves.

“He will get an opportunity to do that going forward the more chances he gets in practice to get ready for it,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t done it that much, coming off of an injury. So you put the guys out there who are most comfortable doing that.

INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears

The Dallas Cowboys listed five players as out for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, but they stopped short of that with punter Chris Jones, listing him as doubtful.

That still means the punter, who has a strained knee after being hit last week against Tampa, has a 25 percent or less chance of playing. But the Cowboys apparently are keeping open the possibility for him for now.

Linebacker Anthony Spencer, who led the team in tackles last week, is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Listed as out were defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee), center Phil Costa (back), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) and linebacker Alex Albright (neck).

Fullback Lawrence Vickers, who missed practice Friday, was back with full participation Saturday and is listed as probable.

Others listed probable are Miles Austin (hamstring), Sean Lissemore (chest), Gerald Sensabaugh (calf), Marcus Spears (knee), DeMarcus Ware (hamstring) and Kyle Wilber (thumb).

.

Name Position Injury Thu. Fri. Sat. Game Status
Albright, Alex LB Neck LP LP LP Out
Austin, Miles WR Hamstring FP FP FP probable
Coleman, Kenyon DE Knee DNP DNP DNP Out
Costa, Phil C Back DNP DNP DNP Out
Johnson, Matt S Hamstring DNP DNP DNP Out
Jones, Chris P Left Knee DNP DNP DNP doubtful
Lissemore, Sean DE Chest FP FP FP probable
Ratliff, Jay NT Ankle DNP DNP DNP Out
Sensabaugh, Gerald S Calf LP LP LP probable
Spears, Marcus DE Knee FP FP FP probable
Spencer, Anthony LB Shoulder DNP DNP DNP questionable
Vickers, Lawrence FB Illness DNP FP probable
Ware, DeMarcus LB Hamstring FP FP FP probable
Wilber, Kyle LB Thumb FP FP FP probable

ROAD TRIP: NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame going on the road

Pro Football Hall of Fame - Canton, Ohio - The Boys Are Back blog

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is taking some of its show on the road, sharing parts of its shrine in Canton, Ohio, with fans around the country.

Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark, the Vince Lombardi Trophy and an authentic interactive instant replay booth are among the hundreds of items that will be on display in Gridiron Glory.

The 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibition will make its debut Oct. 6 in Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center.

"The coolest thing is the replay booth," Hall of Famer and Gridiron Glory ambassador Sanders said. "You step into it and can review a play and make the call to see if you can get it right."

Will the infamous ending of the Green Bay-Seattle game be a reviewable play for fans?

Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks game-ending call sparks outrage - The Boys Are Back blog

"That would be ideal for this," Sanders said. "You figure that play is going to make it into NFL history books."

Gridiron Glory will move to New Orleans — where the next Super Bowl will be — this winter before going on to St. Louis next summer, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, Detroit and Minneapolis.

"It really gives people a good taste and feel for what they can see in Canton," Sanders said. "This will reach people who haven’t been to Canton and might give them even more motivation to make the trip. They’re going to tailor it to each city they’re in, so there will be things that will really appeal to fans in each city."

NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton - The Boys Are Back blog

Someone visiting the exhibit might even run into Sanders, who was inducted in 2004, and share a laugh about how he was an elusive player to interview and has become a spokesman in retirement.

"I think it’s pretty ironic," he acknowledged. "I wouldn’t figure I’d be at the top of their list."

Barry Sanders rushed for over 2,000 yards in 1997 - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark against the Chicago Bears.

PINK PALACE: The secret is out … Jerry Jones tickled pink

Cowboys Stadium opening a Victoria's Secret store - The Boys Are Back blog

It might make the Dallas Cowboys the butt of jokes, but Jerry Jones will go pink for profit in his $1.2 billion football palace.

A Victoria’s Secret PINK store will open Monday at Cowboys Stadium, a first at a professional sports stadium or venue.

"We think it’s cute as a bug and very in place to show it and sell it out there," Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM.

Cowboys Stadium has pretty much everything Jerry Jones could imagine packing into a single building, but if there’s one thing it lacks, it’s a certain feminine touch. No longer.

The Cowboys sent out a news release promoting a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event that will take place a few hours before the Cowboys kick off against the Chicago Bears. Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jessica Hart will be among the dignitaries there along with Charlotte Anderson, Jones’ daughter and the Cowboys’ executive vice president for brand management.

According to the release, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a "fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women that include bras, panties, loungewear and sleepwear."

Dallas Cowboys lace trim thong panty by Victoria's Secret - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys Stadium store, which will be located on the main concourse club area above Entry A, will sell Victoria’s Secret PINK merchandise that features the Cowboys’ name and star logo.

No need to wait ’til Monday Night to have your emblazon your crotch with the Cowboys Star. May I suggest the Jerry-approved lace trim thong panties? You can order them online right now.

 

RELATED: The Jerry Jones Show

The Jerry Jones Show - The Fan - The Boys Are Back blog

The Jerry Jones Show 105.3 The Fan, September 28, 2012

ALTERNATE LINK: Click HERE to listen to the show (listed on the right column)

EDITORS COMMENT: You really SHOULD listen to this show. Always a few gems!

WORK IN PROGRESS: Rob Ryan says it’ll be a bigger deal if Cowboys are No. 1 on defense after 16 weeks

Video - Rob Ryan press conference - Week 3 2012 Season - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan promised he’d bring a No. 1-rated defense to the Cowboys, and he’s done it.

Three weeks into the season, the Cowboys lead the NFL in fewest yards allowed, the league’s traditional measure for defensive ranking.

Big deal, coach?

“It’s going to be big if we can get it after 16 weeks,” Ryan said Saturday at Valley Ranch in his usual ‘Friday’ meeting with reporters. “It’ll be good. We’re happy with where we are. Guys have been working hard. We’re not ashamed of being No. 1, that’s where we want to be. We’re excited about that. We want to keep getting better.”

The Cowboys have gotten to No. 1 on defense despite injuries that have knocked out three starters – nose tackle Jay Ratliff (who hasn’t played yet), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (one game), safety Gerald Sensabaugh (one game) and safety Barry Church (season-ending Achilles last week).

Now, linebacker Anthony Spencer is slowed. He’s missed practice all week with a shoulder injury.

“We’ve had a lot of guys play for us, which a lot of people do – you go through injuries, that’s part of the game,” Ryan said. “It’s exciting. Our guys have really worked hard for that, and we’re not making apologizes for being No. 1.”

Ryan was asked if he simply has better players to work with this year as opposed to his first year with the Cowboys.

“Well, I definitely think we have excellent players,” he said. “We’ve got excellent coaches. With our team the way we play all three phases, yeah, we can definitely be successful. I think we could have been successful last year. We weren’t as successful obviously. But those guys worked hard, and we had some good veteran players on that group as well. But the guys are really functioning together as a group. And I think no one wants to let the others down, that’s for sure.”

Video - Watch Now - The Boys Are Back blog - Press play

Rob Ryan: Not ashamed To be #1

Rob Ryan talks about his Dallas Cowboys new triple-flex defense through the first three weeks, and what they need to do for the remainder of the season.

TALE OF TWO QUARTERBACKS: Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo, Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler share similarities

Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo vs Chicago Bears Jay Cutler - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jay Cutler and Tony Romo have been starting in the NFL since 2006.

There are other distinct similarities as well between the quarterbacks, from the number of games started — Cutler has 81 starts, and Romo 80 — to the number of playoff victories at one each. Both lead teams that are 2-1 this season despite their own somewhat underwhelming individual performances, though they might not be solely to blame for those.

Cutler has been sacked 11 times already. Things got so bad for the Chicago Bears in their second game, when he was sacked seven times and threw four interceptions, that Cutler visibly berated and bumped his left tackle on the sideline.

Romo found himself sandwiched between defenders on several occasions - The Boys Are Back blog

Romo found himself sandwiched between defenders on several occasions in the Dallas Cowboys’ last game, when he was sacked four times and had three turnovers — two of those fumbles after crushing hits.

"I’m not going to sugarcoat this. … We are not playing well right now," said Bill Callahan, the Cowboys’ new offensive line coach who also has the title of offensive coordinator. "We’ve got some things to fix. Believe me. We are not ducking that."

Like Romo, Cutler was bailed out in a victory last week by his own team’s suffocating defense.

Now they go head-to-head Monday night at Cowboys Stadium, and against those powerhouse defenses.

The Cowboys and Bears are both among the top six in the NFL total defense, and both allowed under 170 total yards a week ago.

If the Cowboys don’t get some things fixed, Romo might have to duck a lot against the Bears, who have an NFL-high 14 sacks. Three Chicago linemen already have multiple sacks.

"Obviously, he’s our starting quarterback, and we’d like to keep him in that position for the remainder of the year," said center Ryan Cook, who didn’t join the Cowboys until after the preseason.

Cutler has to worry about perennial Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware (four sacks, seven quarterback pressures).

"Make sure we’re taking care of 94 (Ware) because he can be a problem," Cutler said. "If you leave him alone too many times one on one, he’s going to make a play. So you’ve got to keep him guessing, throw a lot of stuff at him, and hopefully at the end of the day keep him off you."

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler against DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas Cowboys defense - The Boys Are Back blog

Cutler, now in fourth season in Chicago, got everything he wanted this offseason from the Bears.

They haven’t gotten a lot in return so far for reuniting the quarterback with Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, who were part of his three seasons in Denver.

Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill has the only quarterback rating lower than Cutler, who is tied for the league interceptions lead with six. The Bears have managed 25 points a game while only gaining 290 yards per game, though they anticipate a boost with the expected return of Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte, who missed last week’s 23-6 win over St. Louis because of a sprained right ankle.

"It’s the first year in the offense. It’s going to take time," Cutler said. "Very few offenses go out there first year offensively with a new offensive coordinator, new system, and put up 30-40 points a game. It’s a whole season. You’ve got build on each and every game and get better."

Cutler has re-connected with Marshall, the Bears’ top receiver with 16 catches for 214 yards.

"I’m excited, but now the honeymoon’s over. Now we’re focused on being Chicago Bears and leaving a legacy here," Marshall said. "We’re off to a good start and we need to get better definitely. We’re not even close to where we want to be."

As for Cutler handling continued criticism, Marshall can’t think of anyone who could handle the situation better than his quarterback.

"And I’m talking about outwardly, I’m talking about inwardly. When you get criticized nationally for the world to watch, it’s really tough for some people to bounce back," the receiver said. "To be criticized the way he does, it’s really amazing to see him handle adversity and bounce back and really continue to lead us."

Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) in the huddle with receiver Miles Austin (19) Dez Bryant (88) DeMarco Murray (29) in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Since an impressive 433 total yards in the season-opening victory at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Cowboys haven’t achieved any real balance on offense. They have been held to less than 50 yards rushing in consecutive games.

Along with the pressure Romo is getting from defenders, the Cowboys’ offense has already been flagged for 15 pre-snap penalties, including 12 false starts.

Romo has an interception in each game, including the fourth play last week that led to Tampa Bay’s only touchdown in the Cowboys’ 16-10 victory.

"He’s had to handle some different situations. We talked a lot about the bad down and distance situations we’ve been in the last couple of weeks," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He has to manage his way through that and make sure we don’t get in those situations as well."

NFL OFFICIALS VOTE: Veteran officials approve deal, ready to ref

NFL head linesman Tom Stabile, left, and referee Ed Hochuli arrive at an Irving, Texas hotel Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL referees are ready to go unnoticed again, just as they prefer.

The refs approved a new eight-year contract with the league by a 112-5 vote Saturday, officially ending a lockout that led to three weeks of increasingly chaotic games run by replacement officials.

After a few hours of final preparations with league officials, the next stop for the referees will be the airport. Most will be heading straight to their Sunday game sites.

"It was pretty much ‘Come on in and vote,’" said Scott Green, president of the referees’ association. "We’re going to talk football now. We’re going to stop talking about CBAs and lockouts and now we’re going to talk about rules and video and getting ourselves ready to work football games."

They may get ovations similar to the one bestowed on the crew that worked Thursday’s Cleveland-Baltimore game with the tentative deal in place. Before long, they expect to go back to being mostly anonymous and sometimes hated. They’re OK with both.

"The last Super Bowl that I worked, when we got in the locker room, I said, ‘You know, the best thing about this game, nobody will remember who refereed this game,’" Green said. "That’s how we like to work."

The referees met for about an hour and a half Friday night to go over the contract, then gathered for another 30 minutes Saturday morning before approving the contract.

"We are obviously pleased to hear it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Because they were aware of the financial parameters, most of the discussion by the referees involved non-economic issues such as year-round work and developmental squads, said Tim Millis, the association’s executive director.

The deal came quickly this week after an increasing chorus of complaints became impossible to ignore when a disputed touchdown call on the final play gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on national television Monday night. Many thought the ruling of a Seattle touchdown instead of a Green Bay interception was botched, and the labor dispute drew public comments.

By late Wednesday, the sides had a contract calling for refs’ salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service.

The defined benefit plan will then be frozen. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials to work year-round. The NFL also can retain additional officials for training and development and assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

The officials that worked Thursday’s Ravens-Browns game were cheered from the moment they walked onto the field. The difference between the regular crew and replacements was clear. The officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace that had marred the first three weeks of the regular season.

"I think the thing we’re most proud of is the lesson that we all learned," Green said. "If you’re going to be in a professional league, you’ve got top-notch coaches, you need professional officials as well."

Courtesy: Associated Press

THE ROAD TO DALLAS: Kyle Orton happy to be in Big D

Dallas Cowboys QB Kyle Orton ready to step in at any moment - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was drafted by the Chicago Bears and spent the first four years of his career in Chicago. He was 21-12 as a starter there, but the Bears traded him to Denver for Jay Cutler in 2009.

Dallas Cowboys QB Kyle Orton former Chicago Bear - The Boys Are Back blog

“Kyle Orton was super for us when he was here," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Thursday in a conference call with Cowboys reporters. "One of the best guys you’ll ever be around. Confident, smart, a natural born leader. He was good at everything we asked him to do while he was here. The Cowboys really did well getting him to come backup Tony.”

The Bears offense has changed since Orton was there, but the defensive scheme and many of the faces on that side of the ball are the same. So Orton has been able to help the Cowboys with some insights into the Bears’ D.

"I know the defense pretty well," Orton said. "This is a team that hasn’t changed too much [on defense]. A lot of guys around here have seen them for a while as well. You’ve just got to beat a good football team. They’re not too complicated. They’re just really good at what they do and have a lot of good players."

Dallas Cowboys QB Kyle Orton former Denver Bronco - The Boys Are Back blog

Even though he won’t play unless Tony Romo is injured, Orton is looking forward to seeing some old friends Monday night.

"I had four good years there," Orton said. "They’ve got a great locker room over there, a lot of great guys. Brian Urlacher is a great leader of the organization, and I really respect him and all the time I spent there."

Orton, though, was not eager to talk about the trade that sent him from Chicago to Denver. The Broncos cut him during the 2011 season, and the Chiefs claimed him off waivers. Chicago, which had lost Cutler to injury, had was interested in re-acquiring his services. The Cowboys and Bears both put in waiver claims on him, but the Chiefs had the worst record among the three teams.

Dallas Cowboys QB Kyle Orton former Kansas City Chief - The Boys Are Back blog

Orton signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent in the off-season.

"Long time ago. Different point in my career," Orton said. "I’m just happy to be where I am."

ROMO ON THE RUN: Tony Romo showing patients during offensive slump

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) makes a call at the line of scrimmage - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has spent the past two games being used as a piñata by opposing defensive linemen and watching his favorite receiver, tight end Jason Witten, let a season’s worth of passes slip through his fingers.

Although there has been no public grumbling from Romo, teammates understand the frustration that is building within their offensive leader as the Cowboys (2-1) prepare to face Chicago (2-1), the team that leads the NFL in sacks (14), in Monday’s game at Cowboys Stadium.

“We’ve been around Tony long enough that we can tell, based on his facial expressions, how he’s feeling. He shows his emotions to us,” said offensive guard Nate Livings. “So he doesn’t have to say anything. We see what he’s going through.”

That included four sacks and multiple knockdowns, triggering two lost fumbles in pass-rush situations, in last week’s 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. It has included an NFL-high five dropped passes this season by Witten, a seven-time Pro Bowler whose season average for drops had been three per year over the past four seasons (2008-2011), based on data collected by STATS, Inc.

“I’m sure he’s wondering what’s wrong,” Witten said of his uncharacteristic drops of Romo passes. “At the end of the day, those are big plays for him, big plays for our offense. You don’t just get built in to get those throws … next time because of what number is on the back of the jersey. It’s a show-me game.”

And Romo, for now, is showing remarkable patience while maintaining a positive outlook about a Dallas offense that is tied for last among NFL teams in scoring average (15.6 per game). The Cowboys’ 47 points marks the fewest in a three-game stretch by a Romo-led offense since 2009.

Despite Romo’s 89.3 passer rating and 64.8 completion rate, the offense regularly plays from behind the chains because of 12 false-start penalties in three games. But Romo said Friday that his confidence level working behind the team’s rebuilt offensive line remains high — he gave it a “10” on a 1-10 scale — and that frustration, from his perspective, has yet to surface.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) warms up - The Boys Are Back blog

“No,” Romo said. “It’s about winning and losing. You want to execute to the highest level each week. But at the same time, [winning and losing] is what it comes down to. All the other stuff is just about getting better.”

From an offensive standpoint, Romo acknowledged the Cowboys “need to do the little things better” if they are to build on their 2-1 start. Toward that end, he has addressed the offense’s shortcomings, particularly the pre-snap penalties, in discussions with teammates.

“You’re always letting the team know what you need to do to be successful,” Romo said. “And me being in a leadership role, that obviously needs to be addressed.

“We need to do the little things better. That will help us a lot because we’re already doing enough good things. We just need to minimize the stuff that you can control. The stuff that should be stuff that we’re good at.”

At the top of the list, Romo cited penalties and negative-yardage runs. So did offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who said shortcomings in those areas against Tampa Bay put the offense in too many obvious passing situations that led to too many “hellacious hits” on Romo, who is 32.

“We have to do a better job keeping Tony clean,” Callahan said.

Romo, who was sacked a career-high 36 times last season, downplayed any concerns about residual hits taking a toll on his abilities or his escapability in the pocket. In fact, he cited making creative plays as part of his job description.

“If somebody gets beat, my job is to help them out once in a while and [make a play],” Romo said. “You don’t want to make a living at that. But, at the same time, part of my job is to do that. And they are going to make me look better on other plays.”

But those “other plays” have been few and far between the past two weeks, when Dallas managed just one offensive touchdown against Tampa Bay and during a 27-7 loss to Seattle. Romo figures to do his fair share of freelancing, once again, against the Bears’ stellar pass rush.

In those scramble situations, Romo said he’s “always judging and balancing” his next move based on the circumstances at hand: score, down-and-distance, time remaining.

“You just learn over time what you can do with certain things,” Romo said.

And when things go awry, as they have the past two weeks, Romo has learned to be patient and avoid letting frustrations become public. Even if teammates sense he is masking his emotions.

“It’s not always going to go perfect back there,” Romo said. “But … just keep grinding away and you can do some things. We’re going to continue to get better. I feel very confident.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) hands the ball of to Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray - The Boys Are Back blog

TWIN ENVY: Dallas Cowboys defense tops NFL, “stings a little bit” in New York

Having the NFL’s top-rated defense has been downplayed this week by Dallas Cowboys’ players. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher made that clear when asked about the significance of leading the league in total defense, which is based on fewest yards allowed (250 yards per game), after three games.

“We don’t care where we are on the stats sheet as a defense. Not at all,” Hatcher said. “We’ve just got to keep improving and doing the right things.”

But there is a little twin envy going on in New York, where Jets’ coach Rex Ryan – a former defensive coordinator — has a unit ranked only 21st among NFL teams while his twin bother, Rob, has the Cowboys (2-1) perched atop the NFL statistical heap.

“When my twin brother is No. 1 in the league in defense and we’re 21st, that stings a little bit, there’s no question,” Rex Ryan said during a news conference in New York.

13 FOR ’13: Pro Football Hall of Fame announces nominees for new class

CANTON, Ohio — John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Steve McNair and Morten Andersen are among 13 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame .

Safety Lynch, defensive end Strahan, quarterback McNair and kicker Andersen join offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and 121 other total nominees for induction. The list will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in late November.

Fifteen finalists from the modern era will be announced in early January, with elections taking place Feb. 2, 2013, the day before the Super Bowl.

Between four and seven new members will be selected, with inductions next August.

Other first-time nominees are running back Priest Holmes, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, center Tom Nalen, defensive tackles Sam Adams and Ted Washington and defensive end Bryant Young.

Among the contributors nominated are former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots . Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, who died this month, also is a nominee.

Other holdover nominees include receivers Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields, defensive end Charles Haley, linebacker Kevin Greene and defensive back Aeneas Williams, all finalists for the 2012 class.

NUMBER ONE DEFENSE: Spears, Hatcher react to Dallas Cowboys being No. 1 on defense in NFL

The Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium 2012 - Rob Ryan's defense comes up big - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys are No. 1 in defense. Just like defensive coordinator Rob Ryan predicted they would be a year ago when he got the job.

“He said it, and he did it,” defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “Kudos to our coach.”

But what does it mean? Strictly speaking, that the Cowboys have allowed the fewest yards of any team in the NFL.

“It’s not a big deal at all,” defensive end Marcus Spears said. “Each one of you guys know that this is a marathon, and you can go from the penthouse to the outhouse in this game within a matter of seven days. That’s for our fans and you guys to talk about, but next week, it could all be different if we don’t perform. So we don’t really pay much attention to it.”

But there is some meaning in it psychologically, Jason Hatcher says.

“It makes you feel good to be a part of it,” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep playing the way we have been. Hopefully, we can keep just putting games together each and every Sunday. It makes me feel good just to be starting on a No. 1 defense.

“Stick my chest out a little bit, man.”

So can the Cowboys keep it up?

“I think we’ve definitely got the talent to do it,” Hatcher said. “We just got to keep honing in. It’s just the small things we’ve got to take care of. It keeps showing up every Sunday. We still do some good things, but if you go back and look, it’s the small, detail things we’ve got to keep working on and keep getting better.”

THE SECRETS OUT: Nachos, beer, jerseys,–and you can pick up some Victoria’s Secret at Cowboys Stadium, too

Victoria’s Secret and Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

Only the Cowboys.

Only at Cowboys Stadium.

The team and lingerie titan Victoria’s Secret are teaming up with a store at the stadium. A ribbon-cutting is planned for 4 p.m. Monday, hours before the game against the Chicago Bears.

Here is the release from the team. It tells it all:

“The Dallas Cowboys and Victoria’s Secret PINK will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new Cowboys Stadium store located on the Main Concourse Club above Entry A. 

“Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jessica Hart will join Charlotte Anderson, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President for Brand Management for the celebration and opening.  Starting October 1st, 2012, Cowboys fans can shop the limited edition Victoria’s Secret PINK NFL Collection at the first ever PINK store in a professional sports stadium or arena. 

VICTORIA'S SECRET PINK

“The Victoria’s Secret PINK Cowboys Collection includes an assortment of co-branded Victoria’s Secret PINK and Cowboys merchandise and is also available in Victoria’s Secret stores in the North Texas area. This unique line features VS PINK’s highly recognizable brand iconography outfitted with the names and logos of the Dallas Cowboys and will include tees, sweats, hoodies and tanks.

“Launched in 2004, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women that include bras, panties, loungewear and sleepwear.”

ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys waive Mana Silva to make room for new punter Brian Moorman

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys must feel safety Gerald Sensabaugh will be able to return from a right calf strain against the Chicago Bears on Monday night after the team waived Mana Silva to make room for new punter Brian Moorman.

Sensabaugh pronounced himself ready to go Wednesday after taking part in a walkthrough. The Cowboys will resume their normal practice schedule Thursday.

The Cowboys needed Moorman because of a knee injury suffered by Chris Jones after he nearly had his second punt blocked in as many weeks. He will not require surgery, but Jones could miss a couple of weeks. Moorman was cut by Buffalo after putting up a 45.5-yard average with only a 32.7-yard net average, which ranked 31st in the league. He will also serve as Dan Bailey’s holder on field goal attempts and PATs.

Silva made two defensive tackles and one special teams’ stop in the first three games. With the loss of Barry Church to a torn Achilles, the Cowboys signed veteran Eric Frampton on Tuesday. He had been a special teams’ stalwart in five years in Minnesota but did not start a game at safety.

The Cowboys will go into the Bears’ game with Sensabaugh and Danny McCray as their safeties in the base defense and can move Brandon Carr to safety in their sub packages. Frampton is the only other healthy safety on the 53-man roster with rookie Matt Johnson coming back from hamstring and back injuries.

OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: NFL, veteran officials agree to deal

NFL, veteran officials agree to deal - The Boys Are Back blog

The NFL and its locked-out officials agreed to terms on a new deal late Wednesday night which would put officials in place for this weekend’s games — including Thursday night’s game — sources close to the situation confirmed. Both the NFL and the officials’ union later issued statements confirming the deal.

According to the sources, the final sticking point related to the much-discussed pension plan, but that stalemate finally ended.

The sides are currently working on paperwork according to sources and at least half of the 121 locked-out members must approve the new deal, but sources said that is expected to be a formality, with the vote coming Friday.

”Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, commissioner Roger Goodell said. ”We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

The agreement, which is an eight-year deal, culminated two long days of talks that included Goodell at the table. The deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday and Saturday in Dallas.

”Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. ”We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

The replacements worked the first three weeks of games, triggering a wave of frustration that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season. After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, the two sides really got serious.

The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned – but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.

The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

”As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we’re excited to be back. And ready,” referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”And I think that’s the most important message – that we’re ready.”

UNOFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Ref lockout could end soon

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association made enough progress in negotiations Tuesday night that the possibility of the locked-out officials returning in time to work this week’s games has been discussed, according to sources on both sides.

An agreement in principle is at hand, according to one source familiar to talks, although NFL owners have postured with a “no more compromise” stance.

Although league sources said it would take a week to get the locked-out officials on the field, the NFLRA says its 121 referees have been trained on the new rules implemented last season, have already passed physicals or are prepared to pass physicals immediately. New official game uniforms designed by Nike are “hardly an obstacle,” according to a source.

Both sides have made concessions on previous sticking points such as a taxi squad of 21 new officials and pension plans that sources say the final meaningful hurdle is, as one source said, “about a little more money.”

While league sources say owners who participated in a conference call with commissioner Roger Goodell during Tuesday’s talks had instructed the negotiating team to set a firm barrier for the financial settlement, the NFLRA is prepared to accept a new agreement primarily in the form of a “ratification bonus,” which would compensate its 121-member union for concessions it is willing to make.

The NFLRA and the league have all but agreed on developing a 21-member “taxi squad” that Goodell has pushed, but not at the financial cost of the union members.

The NFLRA, citing that it once utilized the now-defunct NFL Europe as a training ground of prospective officials, is willing to train 21 officials from the major college ranks by including them in offseason seminars as well as incorporate them in training camp work.

The NFLRA would not unionize those officials and would want them compensated by the league if “they are brought up from the minors” to work a regular-season game.

Goodell has wanted the power to “bench” officials who underperform or are downgraded during the season. The NFLRA contends the league already has that ability because there are always between one and four crews that sit home each week and would be more qualified to substitute in such a scenario.

The NFLRA also wants to form an “expert committee” that would be major contributors to the league’s stated goal to improve officiating. Under this proposal, the committee would be comprised of some of the top retired officials and supervisors of major college conferences who had served as NFL officials.

ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys CB Mario Butler returns to practice squad

IRVING — After being cut last weekend, cornerback Mario Butler resurfaced on the Cowboys’ practice squad.

Butler, who signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2010, appeared in the Cowboys’ victory over the New York Giants on Sept. 5. But he was inactive the following week against Seattle.

And when linebacker Orie Lemon was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad last Saturday it was Butler who was sacrificed.

DALLAS’ TRIPLE-CORNER FLEX DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboy CB Brandon Carr willing to play safety the rest of the season; three cover corners could be the solution to pass-happy NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson (83) is unable to grab a touchdown pass as Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (39) defends - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr has accepted the accolades that accompanied his surprising – and successful – debut as an NFL safety in Sunday’s 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Carr played much of the game at safety in place of injured starter Gerald Sensabaugh, who skipped the contest with a strained calf.

Carr’s future could include an extended run at that position now that Barry Church, the other starting safety, is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Sensabaugh’s availability remains day-to-day, said coach Jason Garrett, which could mean additional time for Carr at safety while Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins handle the cornerback spots.

Although he signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract in the off-season to be the Cowboys’ shutdown cornerback, and coaches still consider him their best player at that position, Carr said he would embrace an extended run at safety if that is in the best interest of the team.

“If that’s what we have to do for us to get our best 11 on their 11 and to get off the field and win ball games, I’m all for it,” Carr said. “I came here with one thing in mind and that was to win ball games.”

Although he last played safety in high school, and only briefly then, Carr said he is willing to spend the rest of the season there if coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan believes it is in the team’s best interest.

“If this is the role that I’m going to have to have this whole season, then I’m going to accept it and be ready to work and have everybody ready to go when my number’s called,” Carr said.

Because the Cowboys are expected to sign a veteran safety this week to replace Church, who is headed to the injured reserve list, Carr’s days at the position may be numbered. But it became clear against Tampa Bay that having three cover corners on the field at the same time _ Carr, Jenkins and Claiborne _ can be a positive defensive move in today’s pass-happy NFL.

Might the three-corners defense become a Cowboys’ staple going forward? 

“I have no clue,” Carr said, smiling. “That’s the good thing about being a player. After each game is over with, you tell me what to do and I say, ‘Ok, coach’ and get ready and prepare myself for Sunday. Each week is going to be exciting to see what new wrinkle we add to our defense. I feel like we have a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions, so, hopefully, that will help us out in our versatility and our different looks. It’s going to be fun.”

RELATED: Jason Garrett credits Rob Ryan, Jerome Henderson for idea of Carr to safety

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett enjoys the win - The Boys Are Back blog

Jason Garrett gave defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and secondary coach Jerome Henderson credit for finding a way to have Brandon Carr play safety and Mike Jenkins to play cornerback while also keeping Vincent Jackson in check.

The Cowboys needed a way to make up for the loss of safety Gerald Sensabaugh, and putting Carr at safety was one way to do that and also to open up snaps at cornerback for Jenkins, who had been working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.

“I think it was a real good idea by Rob and by Jerome early on in the week to do that,” Garrett said. “I think it was a great job by Brandon Carr of embracing the idea, saying, ‘Hey, I can do this. Absolutely, I’m excited to do this. I haven’t played safety since high school.’ He was kind of champing at the bit to do it.

“The concerns we had in the discussion was, they have this big guy, Vincent Jackson, and we have this big corner, this is the best matchup, should we really do this? And I think the combination of him playing corner but also playing safety and getting Jenks out there was a good way to go, and I think everybody responded really well to it.”

Garrett said now that Carr has put in some time at safety, the Cowboys have developed a little versatility.

“It’s nice to have that option in your hip pocket,” he said. “If we get in trouble and don’t have other options, we can say, let’s go back and do that again. We obviously want him to play corner. That’s what we feel like he’s best at. But to be able to do that with a guy to absorb an injury, that’s a good thing to have in your hip pocket going forward.”

THE FLEX FACTOR: How signing S Eric Frampton helps the Dallas Cowboys

Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) is tackled by safety Eric Frampton - The Boys Are Back blog

Before the Dallas Cowboys defeated Tampa Bay 16-10 last Sunday, the ranks were thinning at safety. Starter Gerald Sensabaugh had been listed as inactive for the game, prompting the Cowboys to partially use cornerback Brandon Carr to fill his spot.

Yet just as the Cowboys patched one hole, another opened when Barry Church tore his right Achilles tendon.

With Sensabaugh’s status unclear for the Cowboys’ next game against Chicago and Church placed on the injured reserve list, management began seeking reinforcements at the position. And after working out five veteran defensive backs today, the Cowboys signed Eric Frampton to fill Church’s roster spot.

“Obviously, you would like a guy who is game-ready to play and knows our system that can play quickly and contribute quickly,” head coach Jason Garrett said Monday before any move was made. “But you’d also like a guy who is young and who can contribute on specials teams when the starter comes back.”

Frampton, who was cut by Minnesota last month, seemed to meet Garrett’s criteria, particularly because of his sterling performance on special teams. Over the previous five seasons he led Minnesota’s coverage units with 85 tackles.

Eric Frampton #37 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field - The Boys Are Back blog

Frampton could conceivably assume the responsibilities of safety Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams captain who has taken on more defensive duties in wake of the injuries to Sensabaugh and Church.

At the very least, Frampton gives the Cowboys more options as they try to manage the situation at safety.

So far, the Cowboys have already shown some flexibility by positioning Carr there.

ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys sign Eric Frampton to boost safety position, special teams | Barry Church placed on IR

Dallas Cowboys sign safety Eric Frampton - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys signed safety Eric Frampton to take Barry Church’s roster spot.

Church was placed on injured reserve today after season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Church started the first three games of the season, with eight tackles and two passes defensed. He also had two special teams tackles.

Frampton, a fifth-round choice of the Raiders in 2007, has played in 76 career games, mostly on special teams. He has four tackles and one forced fumble.

Besides the Raiders, Frampton played the last five seasons in Minnesota, mostly as a special teams contributor. He was a fifth-round pick by Oakland in 2007, but the Raiders cut the safety from Washington State in September of that year. 

He went to the Detroit Lions for a month and a half before signing with the Vikings in Oct. 2007. Frampton didn’t make Minnesota’s final 53-man roster this year.

Frampton should be able to provide more depth at safety in the coming weeks. The injuries at safety caused the Cowboys to bring in a player who’s had some experience in regular season games. Though he’s never started a game at safety in the NFL, Frampton appeared in all but two games the last four seasons.

The Cowboys worked out four others — Dan Carey, Tyrone Culver, Antwaun Molden and Aaron Rouse — on Tuesday before deciding on Frampton.

Danny McCray, the team’s best special teams player, is expected to start in Church’s spot. The Cowboys’ other starting safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, missed last week’s game with a calf injury. Cornerback Brandon Carr played safety in the nickel packages, with Mike Jenkins playing in Carr’s spot at corner.

%d bloggers like this: