EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Stepping into the room used by the New York Giants’ defensive linemen is like walking into a game.
Everything is a competition. Getting off the best joke. Hitting more baskets. Claiming bragging rights for most tackles and most sacks. And making the best plays in practice, preseason and, of course, games.
It never ends, and this is just competition among teammates.
Imagine when the defensive line of the Super Bowl champions goes against someone they want to really beat, like the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL season opener Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo better be ready.
At least that’s the game plan for what might be the NFL’s best defensive line. It was the formula it used in a season closing six-game game winning streak where they played a major part in limiting opponents to an average of 14 points while recording 23 sacks.
It carried them to a second Super Bowl in five seasons and, with All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, who is coming off a 16 ½- sack season, and two-time Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora once again leading one of the league’s deepest lines, they believe they can make a run on a second straight title.
It’s not a popular opinion, and Tuck likes that.
"It’s very similar to what happened last year, if I recall," Tuck said. "There were some teams already fitting their fingers for rings before they even played a football game. It doesn’t look like people learned too much from last year. We relish having the opportunity to defend the title, and do it with people thinking that we can’t. We are looking forward to having a great season."
IRVING, Texas — A busy day at Valley Ranch was highlighted by the release of Stephen McGee, but Jason Witten (spleen), Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (knee) also made news by returning to the practice fields Saturday.
The Dallas Cowboys are not required to release a practice report until Sunday so it’s not known how much work Witten, Austin and Bryant received.
Bryant, however, was wearing a sleeve on his right knee and all the players were in full pads.
Mike Jenkins (shoulder) was supposed to practice Saturday, but during the open media portion of practice, he wasn’t on the field. He could have gotten some work in the walkthrough session or was getting some rehab work done inside the facility.
Fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber (hand) was in full pads, but he was wearing a small cast during the special team drills.
Nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), wide receiver Andre Holmes (undetermined), safety Danny McCray (stinger) and safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) didn’t practice.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley has changed numbers. He is now 11.
Newly signed guard Ryan Cook is No. 63.
One of the most intriguing developmental prospects of the Cowboys’ training camp has moved on to a new team after being cut on Friday.
Linebacker Adrian Hamilton, who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View A&M in 2011, joined the Baltimore practice squad on Saturday, according to Ravens insider Aaron Wilson. The Cowboys did not attempt to sign Hamilton to their own eight-man practice roster, instead keeping only one linebacker, Orie Lemon. He had been on the Cowboys practice squad throughout 2011.
Hamilton had one sack for the Cowboys this preseason, also forcing a fumble against St. Louis.
He came up short in a battle for a 53-man roster spot. The Cowboys kept five outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber and second-year pro Alex Albright, who can also play inside.
IRVING, Texas – Nothing is ever final when it comes to the roster.
After cutting 23 players to get down to the 53-man limit Saturday night, the Dallas Cowboys made more moves Saturday, just before their first regular-season practice in preparation for the Giants.
The Cowboys have claimed tight end Colin Cochart (6-4, 260) off waivers from the Bengals. In doing so, they have officially waived quarterback Stephen McGee, who initially survived Friday night’s cuts.
Minutes earlier, coach Jason Garrett was asked in his Saturday morning press conference about keeping three quarterbacks on the roster. He said they valued the position and McGee, but Garrett also hinted that it’s the time of year to make tough decisions.
The addition of Cochart could be an indicator of Jason Witten’s availability for Wednesday’s game with the Giants. Witten is expected to practice Saturday for the first time since suffering the lacerated spleen injury.
Cochart played in 10 games last year as a rookie in Cincinnati, including three starts. Considered more of a blocker, Cochart caught five passes for 44 yards and one touchdown in 2011.
The Cowboys have also re-signed eight players to the practice squad, virtually getting everyone back they wanted. The squad includes:
- RB Lance Dunbar
- RB Jamize Olawale
- DT Robert Calloway
- WR Danny Coale
- LB Orie Lemon
- DE Ben Bass
- WR Tim Benford
- G Ronald Leary
Five of the eight players were undrafted rookies.
|5||Bailey, Dan||K||6-0||188||24||2||Oklahoma State|
|9||Romo, Tony||QB||6-2||228||32||9||Eastern Illinois|
|11||Beasley, Cole||WR||5-8||177||23||R||Southern Methodist|
|17||Harris, Dwayne||WR||5-10||208||24||2||East Carolina|
|19||Austin, Miles||WR||6-2||215||28||7||Monmouth (N.J.)|
|21||Jenkins, Mike||CB||5-10||202||27||5||South Florida|
|31||Butler, Mario||CB||6-0||191||23||1||Georgia Tech|
|32||Scandrick, Orlando||CB||5-10||191||25||5||Boise State|
|34||Tanner, Phillip||RB||6-0||218||24||2||Middle Tennessee State|
|37||Johnson, Matt||S||6-1||210||23||R||Eastern Washington|
|39||Carr, Brandon||CB||6-0||207||26||5||Grand Valley State|
|43||Sensabaugh, Gerald||S||6-1||208||29||8||North Carolina|
|50||Lee, Sean||LB||6-2||245||26||3||Penn State|
|51||Wilber, Kyle||LB||6-4||239||23||R||Wake Forest|
|52||Connor, Dan||LB||6-2||231||26||5||Penn State|
|54||Carter, Bruce||LB||6-3||233||24||2||North Carolina|
|55||Albright, Alex||LB||6-5||256||24||2||Boston College|
|57||Butler, Victor||LB||6-2||249||25||4||Oregon State|
|62||Arkin, David||G||6-5||310||24||1||Missouri State|
|63||Cook, Ryan||T||6-6||325||29||7||New Mexico|
|68||Free, Doug||T||6-6||323||28||6||Northern Illinois|
|70||Crawford, Tyrone||DE||6-4||282||22||R||Boise State|
|88||Bryant, Dez||WR||6-2||218||23||3||Oklahoma State|
|95||Lissemore, Sean||DE||6-4||306||24||3||William & Mary|
|97||Hatcher, Jason||DL||6-6||302||30||7||Grambling State|
|79||Bass, Ben||DE||6-4||288||22||R||Texas A&M|
|16||Benford, Tim||WR||5-11||196||22||R||Tennessee Tech|
|72||Callaway, Rob||DL||6-4||333||24||1||Saginaw Valley State|
|81||Coale, Danny||WR||6-0||196||24||R||Virginia Tech|
|25||Dunbar, Lance||RB||5-8||191||22||R||North Texas|
|58||Lemon, Orie||LB||6-1||246||24||1||Oklahoma State|
|49||Olawale, Jamize||FB||6-0||235||23||R||North Texas|
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys have parted ways with third-string quarterback Stephen McGee from Texas A&M. The Cowboys cut McGee on Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after they had set their 53-man roster with McGee a part of it.
McGee will be replaced on the 53-man roster by tight end Colin Cochart, who was waived Friday by the Cincinnati Bengals. The 25-year-old Cochart (6-4, 254) was signed by the Bengals in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State. Cochart was the only undrafted free agent rookie to make the Bengals’ initial 53-man roster last year. He played in 10 games, catching five passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.
McGee, 26, was entering the final year of his rookie contract. He had been the Cowboys’ third-string quarterback since the team selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He was entering the final year of his contract.
McGee tweeted this out just after his release Saturday, “Thankful for my time in Dallas and the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. God is doing some cool things in this city. Press on.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talked on Saturday morning about how they “value the quarterback” and having three quarterbacks on their roster, but with starting tight end Jason Witten unlikely to play in the season opener Wednesday at the Giants because of his lacerated spleen, the Cowboys felt the need to add a tight end for depth.
Cutting McGee leaves the Cowboys with only two quarterbacks on their roster: Starter Tony Romo and backup Kyle Orton.
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys are being stricter about who they consider drafting.
In turn, they’re being stricter about who they consider signing after the draft.
The result of the approach, born under former coach Bill Parcells, appears to mean a higher quality of undrafted free agent is going to training camp with the team lately, and so more are making the squad.
Former SMU receiver Cole Beasley made the Cowboys’ 53-man roster this week as an undrafted rookie, joining four such players who made it in 2011 and four in 2010. In the three years before that, Kevin Ogletree was the only undrafted rookie to make the team.
"We used to put 250 players on the board, however many get drafted. Now we put about 100, 120 players on our board, and they’re just the players we want," pro personnel director Stephen Jones said in training camp at Oxnard, Calif., last month.
"We don’t think about, ‘That guy is going to get drafted,’ so we put him on our board. If he doesn’t fit what we want, even though he may get drafted in the first or second round, we don’t put him up there. It keeps us focused not only all the way through the draft, but also through college free agency."
Last year, the leading scorer on the team came out of the leftover draft pool. Kicker Dan Bailey had the second-highest field goal percentage by a rookie in team history, making 32 of 37 kicks, and set an NFL record for consecutive kicks made by a rookie (26).
Guard Kevin Kowalski played in 11 games, linebacker Alex Albright played in all 16 and running back Phillip Tanner played in eight and scored a touchdown.
The undrafted class of 2010 has yielded a starting safety, Barry Church, and the starting center, Phil Costa.
"I just think if you have an attitude that it doesn’t matter where players come from, it matters what they do once they come here, I think you’re more susceptible, or more able, to find some of those guys, and that’s been our approach," coach Jason Garrett said.
Jones said the approach is a holdover from Parcells’ days as head coach (2003 to 2006). He drafted to a template and paid no mind to players who didn’t fit it.
"He may not fit from a scheme standpoint or from a cultural standpoint or a character standpoint, and those guys, we don’t want them on our football team," Jones said. "So let’s focus on guys that we do like. I think that’s the biggest change is the philosophy there — let’s go after Dallas Cowboys."
The Cowboys’ biggest hits with undrafted players came while Parcells was head coach.
Under his watch, the team found Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo and Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin. Nine other undrafted players made the initial 53 in Parcells’ four seasons.
"We’ve evolved from a personnel department, I think, when you look back at the way we used to do it versus the way we do it now," Jones said. "We’ve got better scouts, better people. We’ve got better philosophies.
"And pretty much every time we sign those 15 to 20 guys, we sign them from our draft board. I think that’s why we’ve had some really good success with players who weren’t drafted."
CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The Pro Football Hall of Fame plans to raise funds and awareness for the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
The hall announced Thursday that it will donate $9.11 from every adult admission from Sept. 9-12 to the memorial, which was established on the site where the United Airlines flight crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, after passengers attempted to take back the jet from terrorists. The memorial is the only national park dedicated to the events of 9/11 and serves as a place of remembrance as well as education.
Neil Mulholland, president and of the National Park Foundation, is grateful for the hall’s support and said "the story of Flight 93 and the tragic events of September 11, 2001 must never be forgotten."
NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame – Canton, Ohio
On the day of final cuts in the NFL, the Cowboys continued to address a problem area from last season by bolstering the interior of their offensive line.
The Cowboys acquired veteran offensive lineman Ryan Cook from the Miami Dolphins for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick. Cook (6-6, 325) will be a backup center and guard for the Cowboys.
Cook, 29, has started 40 of the 77 games. A second-round pick out of New Mexico in 2006, has started games at center, right guard and right tackle.
The Cowboys were able to get an up-close look at Cook on Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium when he started at center against Dallas in the preseason finale.
“We knew that there was a possibility here, so we really evaluated him in the ballgame,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday on “The Fan” KRLD-FM (105.3). “This really was done for our depth, plus he’s very capable because he’s started several games in the NFL. He’s very capable of getting out there and competing. Hopefully you’ll see a lot of him this year.”
The Cowboys still plan to start Phil Costa at center. Costa started Wednesday and was in for 12 offensive plays. He had been out since Aug. 10 with a back injury but is expected to play in the season opener Wednesday at the Giants.
The Cowboys signed free-agent guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau this off-season with the expectation that they would start. Both battled injuries but are healthy now.
Ankle injuries to reserve interior offensive linemen Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski hurt the Cowboys’ depth. Nagy was waived in mid-August, and Kowalski has been placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, keeping him out of the team’s first six games.
The Cowboys started working guard David Arkin at center in training camp, but he struggled with his shotgun snaps throughout the preseason. Arkin, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Missouri State, didn’t appear in any games last season.
“We all know that we’ve been struggling to some degree with Kowalski out the entire spring as well as during training camp,” Jones said. “We have counted on him for depth and don’t want to totally dismiss him, but he’s down the road with where we are and what we’ve seen.”
Brandon George | DMN