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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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).
|Jones, Chris||P||Left Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||doubtful|
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?
"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."
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."
PHOTO: Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark against the Chicago Bears.