Daily Archives: October 7th, 2012

INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys Guard/Center Kevin Kowalski kicks up his rehab

Dallas Cowboys G-C Kevin Kowalski - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Kevin Kowalski is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list on Oct. 15, and the second-year center/guard is hoping to be back on the field in about a month.

Kowalski had surgery during training camp because of a severe case of tendinitis in his ankle. He first felt the pain in March, and when rest wasn’t able to cure the problem he opted for surgery.

“We’re making good progress, just kind of seeing how it goes from here and hopefully I’ll get back in the next month or so,” Kowalski said.

The Cowboys have until Nov. 3 to activate Kowalski off PUP. Once they activate him they have a three-week window to either add him to the 53-man roster or rule him out for the season.

Kowalski said he started running and doing on-field training Tuesday for the first time. He appeared in 11 games last year as an undrafted rookie, playing center and guard. The Cowboys hoped he would have been able to compete for the center job in the offseason with Phil Costa, but the injury took care of that.

“I’m very anxious,” Kowalski said. “I’m looking forward to being back out there and being healthy again and having an opportunity … It’s a process, but I’m kind of going through all of that right now so hopefully when I get out there I’ll be able to perform.”

JERRY JONES’ PHILOSOPHY: “I like the coach being one of the coordinators …”

Jason Garrett and Dez Bryant - The Boys Are Back blog

Four of Jason Garrett’s worst losses as Cowboys head coach have come in the team’s last six games. The Cowboys have lost those four by an average of 16.5 points.

In a league structured for parity, those lopsided defeats to the Bears, Seahawks, Giants and Eagles are somewhat alarming.

Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager says he doesn’t see it that way.

“I could go into each game and see how we got on a lopsided score,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “But I thought, candidly, one of the worst games we’ve played is against Tampa. We didn’t play well against Tampa, so the score can be misleading. For instance, I can say turnovers last week against Chicago. I can say we really did become generally careless, I guess would be the word. But once we got three scores down, we were running out of time (and) we certainly did cut and chew and basically throw into … coverage. Chicago’s real good, so those last two interceptions were right into the teeth of what they do the best. They’re a Cover 2 team. You do those outside, little elongated throws in there and you’re going to get them intercepted against Chicago. I look at that. That’s a couple of scores right there. … That’s a couple right there that contributed to the lopsidedness of things.”

Is there too much on Garrett’s plate? With Garrett being both head coach and offensive coordinator, Jones was asked if there has been any talk of handing the play-calling over to offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also carries the title of offensive coordinator.

“No, there haven’t,” Jones responded.

Entering Friday, the Cowboys ranked last in the NFC in points scored, averaging 16.2 per game. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only NFL team averaging less at 15.5 per game.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Bill Parcells - The Boys Are Back blog

“I believe in a head coach being one of the coordinators,” Jones said. “That’s debatable. I’ve had people say the head coach needs to be what I call a walk-around head coach, and that is he just looks at everything. We’ve had at least two of them in Bill Parcells and Tom Landry — of course I wasn’t here when Tom was here — that did everything. They ran the whole thing. Although they had coordinators or run coaches or passing coaches. I’m sounding a way that I don’t want to sound because it can work.

Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips and owner Jerry Jones, in the war room during the first round of the NFL draft at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas on April 22, 2010 - The Boys Are Back blog

“I like the coach being one of the coordinators, preferably the offensive coordinator. But of course in Wade Phillips’ case, he was the defensive coordinator. When you do that, you’re going to get in down times, loss times. You’re going to get people to say, ‘They do too much. They’ve just got too much on their plate.’ You have to look at that. Jason has huge capacity to cover a lot of ground, so if anybody can do it, or look to the future, he can.”

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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett calls plays from the sideline - The Boys Are Back blog

SOURCE: The Jerry Jones Show on 105.3 The Fan

AUDIO - Play The Jerry Jones Show - Elf & Slater - 1053 The Fan KRLD

Click on the PLAY button to listen to the entire show. Several issues are covered, including ‘being in the stew’. Enjoy!

HOMECOMING HONOR: Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley’s No. 11 high school jersey number retired

Cowboys Chargers Football

IRVING, Texas — On Friday night, Cole Beasley’s No. 11 jersey was retired at Little Elm High School.

Beasley, the Cowboys’ rookie wide receiver, rushed for 1,184 yards and 12 touchdowns while also passing for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season at Little Elm.

In his last three high school games, Beasley rushed 60 times for 430 yards and five touchdowns.

"It’s an honor to get your jersey retired from any place really," Beasley said prior to the ceremony. "It’s a great opportunity to go back to my high school …"

Beasley chose the bye week to get his jersey retired and his school responded with a solid 49-14 homecoming victory over Frisco Liberty.

Beasley was in Monday night’s game against Chicago for 13 plays and had a pair of 7-yard catches, his first receptions of his NFL career.

“It was great to finally get my feet wet and get on the field,” Beasley said.

ACHILLES HEEL OR ACHILLES HEAL: Injury puts Barry Church’s future with Dallas Cowboys in a vulnerable spot

An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, that can potentially lead to downfall - The Boys Are Back blog

Prior to his season-ending Achilles injury Sept. 23 against Tampa Bay, safety Barry Church was offered a new contract by the Dallas Cowboys. Church didn’t turn down the offer or present a counter.

Church’s agent, Bruce Tollner, didn’t respond to the new deal. The amount of the contract is unknown, but the Cowboys were willing to lock Church up for a couple of years.

Church is in the final year of his contract with a base salary of $540,000 and will become a restricted free agent. With Church’s injury, it’s doubtful the Cowboys will allow him to sign a new deal.

“Achilles’ heel” as an expression used for “area of weakness, vulnerable spot” dates - The Boys Are Back blog

Church should return healthier than ever from his injury, but whether the Cowboys want to give him a new contract appears doubtful until they see if he’s ready to play.

If Church didn’t get hurt, then we assume he would have gotten a new deal and might be in the Cowboys’ plans for three to four years.

Now, the Cowboys have the leverage to place a tender on Church.

A player can get placed under the first-round tender and based on 2012 salary figures, that was worth $2.742 million. Second-round tenders are worth $1.927 million and rights for first refusal are $1.26 million.

The Cowboys value Church’s skill set and he did enough to earn the starting job opposite Gerald Sensabaugh in the offseason.

Injured Cowboys safety Barry Church’s pain isn’t only from his torn Achilles - The Boys Are Back blog

But now the business side takes over and Church’s injury complicates matters for the Cowboys.

Do you still give him a new contract? He’s coming off a major injury.

Or do you give him a second-round tender, knowing few teams will be willing to give up a second-round pick?

RUNNING THROUGH THE GLORYHOLE: Jason Garrett, “We’ll get this running game going.”

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

IRVING, Texas – The running game is trending the wrong way.

After rushing for 131 yards in the opener, running back DeMarco Murray’s yards on the ground have consistently decreased every week since, culminating in 24 yards rushing against the Bears.

But head coach Jason Garrett won’t stop feeding Murray the ball anytime soon.

“His patience, his persistence, his toughness have all been good,” Garrett said. “He just needs to understand we’re going to keep trying to give him opportunities. He needs to keep doing what he’s supposed to do and trust the other guys that they’re going to do what they’re supposed to do, and we’ll get this running game going.”

The average per rush for Murray isn’t as much of a problem as the constant negative rushes and the Cowboys falling behind early, forcing them to throw.

Murray is currently rushing for 3.9 yards per carry. That number is only over 3.0 yards per carry because of his 6.6 yards per carry performance in the opener. Of the 18 running backs with 60 or more carries this season, Murray is one of seven rushing for fewer than 4.0 yards per carry.

After a superb rushing performance on 20 carries against the Giants, his average fell to 3.7 yards per rush against the Seahawks, 2.1 against Tampa Bay and 2.2 against the Bears. He finished 39th in rushing last week with his 24 yards at home, as he was met in the backfield on most of his 11 rushes.

He was stopped at the line of scrimmage or met in the backfield on five of his 11 rushes. Murray never got a rushing opportunity in the fourth quarter.

“Teams have done a good job trying to move around up front,” Garrett said. “Sometimes the run isn’t always as clean as you want it to be. He’s been a running back for a long, long time, and he understands that.”

Until the offensive line can start creating (GLORY) holes for the running back, containing the frustration might be difficult.

Garrett said the lack of a running game can’t be placed on Murray’s shoulders. Even in his stellar performance against the Giants, Murray’s 48-yard run came as a result of a busted play where he had to make something out of nothing, cutting inside on a toss play to the right before bursting back outside along the sideline.

“I think he does a really good job,” Garrett said. “He’s done a good job just being persistent throughout the ballgame and trying to continue to be true to the runs and trying to find the (glory) hole that’s there.”

Courtesy:  Rowan Kavner (Edited/butchered/humorized by Robert D Knight)

DALLAS COWBOYS PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Practice squad RB has already had amazing journey

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar joins the 53-man roster - The Boys Are Back blog

Patricia Jones says that her son, Lance Dunbar, first told her when he was 12 that he wanted to play in the NFL.

In the family’s native New Orleans, that meant a standout career at a local high school, followed by a short drive west on I-10 around Lake Pontchartrain to Baton Rouge to play for LSU, and finally, hopefully, a contract with the New Orleans Saints.

That’s the dream anyway, but few young men are talented enough or lucky enough to make it happen.

Dunbar’s path to the NFL did take him through his local college and his local NFL team. But it was the University of North Texas and the Dallas Cowboys, not LSU and the Saints.

You see, New Orleans isn’t home to Dunbar anymore. It hasn’t been since Hurricane Katrina.

“When I was in New Orleans I was actually a starting safety and a running back,” Dunbar says. “So there’s no telling what position I would have played, what college I would have gone to, or where I would have ended up. Coming to Texas, it felt like I got a new start. I went to play at Haltom (High School) and ended up playing offense the whole time.”

Even seven years later, the mention of “Hurricane Katrina” resonates mightily with those who lived through it. The violent storm swept through the Bayou and by the time the disaster was over, the levees were broken, more than 1,000 people had died and thousands more hade fled, never to return.

“I go back to New Orleans for holidays and I have a good time,” Dunbar says. “It’s kind of how it used to be now. But I don’t like staying there more than a week. I feel like I get bored. It doesn’t seem like it’s home to me anymore. I’ve moved away for so long, most of my friends that were there have grown up and gone away.”

Katrina

Opening day of football season was less than a week away when it became apparent Hurricane Katrina would hit New Orleans in August 2005. Dunbar had just played in his Jamboree game for De La Salle, the equivalent of a preseason scrimmage. De La Salle was one of the best prep schools in the city, a private school that excelled both academically and athletically. Dunbar was good enough to play varsity athletics in the eighth grade and had already put in two years on both the varsity football and basketball teams. He entered the 2005 season as a starting safety and a backup running back.

There is little doubt in Jones’ mind that had the family stayed in New Orleans, Dunbar would have found his way to a Division I school and, perhaps, the NFL.

By the Saturday before landfall, Jones knew it was time to get out of New Orleans. She packed up what she could and took the entire family to a Red Cross shelter in Hazelhurst, Miss., about two hours from New Orleans. The shelter was the family’s home for the next two weeks. From there, Jones and her family watched Katrina come and go, and watched the levees hold, then break. Because Jones heeded the warnings, her family didn’t have to live through the hell that became New Orleans in the days after Katrina. But she faced the same decision as others in the wake of the storm.

Where do we go now?

New Orleans had been home. De La Salle was a great school for a gifted athlete and smart kid like Dunbar. Plus, Jones admits, their home didn’t suffer as much damage as others in New Orleans. The family could have returned, but watching her city descend into lawlessness and despair was too much. She said she never really entertained the thought of taking her family back.

“New Orleans was pretty crazy after the storm,” Dunbar says. “There was too much happening. Everyone came to one side (of the city), the side that wasn’t flooded. It kind of got out of hand and mama didn’t want us around that environment.”

The storm provided a unique opportunity to start over. Jones could have moved the family anywhere. One day she received a phone call from one of Lance’s former youth coaches (J.R. Sheppard) in New Orleans, who was now living in Haltom City, a suburb northeast of Fort Worth. He encouraged her to move the family there.

Jones worked in a hospital system and was able to transfer from New Orleans to North Hills Hospital in North Richland Hills. So, sight unseen, Jones moved her family and some friends – 13 in all – to Haltom City that fall. Jones’ friend set up a hotel for the family near the school so Lance and his siblings could start school as soon as possible.

It didn’t take long for the family to make its final decision on where to stay.

“The kids really wanted to stay in Texas,” Jones says. “Once the kids started at Haltom, they loved it. They actually asked if we could stay. So that was really all I needed to hear.”

The hotel was a temporary residence. When the family did find its first permanent residence, its location was of  little surprise to anyone who knows Lance. It was right behind Haltom High School’s practice field.

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar ran 15 times for 105 yards and a 58-yeard touchdown in 2012 Preseason game vs Miami - The Boys Are Back blog

Home in Haltom City

Clayton George found himself in a unique position to relate to Dunbar when he arrived as Haltom’s head coach in the spring of 2006.

George had just spent a couple of years as the head football coach at Dallas Hillcrest, his first head-coaching job after leaving Southlake Carroll. Hillcrest became a hub for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. He coached several players from New Orleans and heard their stories about the storm and the tragedy that came afterward.

“I still can’t imagine what they went through and what they saw,” George says. “I had heard those things before I met Lance. I kind of knew where he was coming from.”

George inherited a player with unique talent as both a rusher and a receiver. Dunbar joined Haltom midway through the 2005 season and gained 640 yards and scored four touchdowns. In his one season at Haltom, George says he did everything possible to put the ball in Dunbar’s hands. That translated into 1,100 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, along with 750 yards receiving and two more scores in 2006.

George spent just one year at Haltom because, shortly after the end of the 2006 high school football season, he accepted a job as the wide receivers coach at the University of North Texas offered by his former Southlake boss, Todd Dodge.

But in less than 12 months, Dunbar and George had connected on a personal level. George got to know not just Dunbar but Jones and the rest of Dunbar’s extended family. George and Dunbar still talk regularly and the family invited George to their home on the final day of the NFL Draft. George was there to watch the dream come together for the player he calls his “favorite” of any player he’s coached.

Their relationship extends beyond Dunbar’s obvious talent.

“Lance is quiet and humble,” George says. “He’ll open up, but he’s reserved and quiet. He’s that way but he has a great sense of humor. He’s someone that was raised well. His character and integrity are tremendous. I sound so cliché talking about him.”

When George left for UNT, he told Dunbar he would come back for him. Dunbar finished off his career at Haltom in 2007 with a 1,200-yard season. Oklahoma State wanted him. Colorado wanted him. So did Virginia.

But Dunbar chose North Texas.

“Initially, I was going to go to Oklahoma State,” Dunbar says. “(But) I also wanted to play as a freshman. I didn’t want to sit out. I’ve always felt if you’re good enough you can make it anywhere.”

So Dunbar signed with UNT, a decision that admittedly made Jones happy. She and her husband went to every game. So did Lance’s father, Lance Dunbar Sr. Denton, Texas is a heck of a lot closer to Haltom than Stillwater, Okla. And it was proof that Texas was now home. The test? The day he signed with UNT, guess who called the Mean Green’s newest recruit?

LSU.

“LSU was definitely the school I wanted to go to when I was down there,” Dunbar says. “They were one of my favorite schools growing up. I was a big LSU fan, but that all switched after I went to North Texas.”

Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee hands the ball to Lance Dunbar - The Boys Are Back blog

Making History

Dunbar wanted to play right away, and he did. When he received his first start for the Mean Green, he torched Louisiana-Lafayette for 224 yards and four touchdowns.

By the time he ended his UNT career, he had torn up the Mean Green record book, which was once the sole property of Patrick Cobbs. Dunbar finished with 4,224 yards, making him the program’s all-time leading rusher. Additionally, he is now UNT’s all-time leader in touchdowns (49), all-purpose yards (5,375), 100-yard rushing games (21), points (294) and rushing touchdowns (41). He was also the only Mean Green runner to have three straight 1,000-yard seasons and became just the sixth back in FBS history to compile 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards for a career. He earned All-Sun Belt first-team honors twice and Sports Illustrated named him honorable mention All-America twice.

He ended his tenure in Denton with a crescendo. He rushed for 313 yards against Middle Tennessee in a game played in a cold, driving rain for most of the contest. That night he broke Cobbs’ career rushing mark with Cobbs in attendance.

But that wasn’t enough to entice NFL teams to draft Dunbar in April. Had one done so, he would have become just the second Mean Green player to be drafted in the last 16 years.

But had one done so, he might not have ended up in Dallas.

Dunbar did not earn an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, so his one opportunity to impress NFL scouts came in March at the Mean Green’s pro day at Apogee Stadium. The Cowboys were among the teams in attendance, as was current UNT coach Dan McCarney.

“He did a great job,” McCarney says. “He opened some eyes that day that he does have quality speed and quickness and hands.”

George heard about it later from a friend, Cowboys offensive assistant Keith O’Quinn.

“He told me before Lance was picked up how well Lance stood out and how (Cowboys running backs coach) Skip (Peete) liked him,” George says. “It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me when Dallas called him. He did well in front of them.”

Draft day was quite the party at the Dunbar house, even though there was no guarantee Dunbar would be drafted. George says the house was packed with more than 60 relatives and friends, some from Haltom and others from New Orleans. Late in the draft, Dunbar received a call from the Cowboys letting him know they were interested in signing him as a free agent, if no one drafted him.

“By the time the draft ended the process was already rolling,” George says.

So does Dunbar have the goods to stick with the Cowboys? Well, George believes that if anyone can overcome the long odds that face any undrafted free agent, it’s Dunbar, who says he loves competition. McCarney compares Dunbar to a player he coached while an assistant at Iowa, Ronnie Harmon. Harmon carved out a 12-year NFL career in which he gained nearly 9,000 yards. McCarney says Dunbar has similar strength, hands and versatility.

The Cowboys are intrigued. Peete likes Dunbar’s pass receiving skills, decision-making and quick adjustment to learning NFL schemes. Dunbar spent plenty of time with the second team offense in the ramp-up to training camp.

The man Dunbar replaced in the Mean Green record book, Cobbs, was an undrafted free agent coming out of college. Before spending 2011 on New Orleans’ injured reserve list, he played five seasons as a backup running back and special teams star for several teams, including Miami, where he served as a captain in 2010.

What lies ahead for Dunbar? We’ll just have to wait and see. But his circuitous path in life and to the NFL has proven he can overcome just about anything.

“Thank God for the opportunity to be here in Texas, a football state,” Jones says. “I think it was an act of God that placed us here because we could have gone back home.”

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar signs autographs - The Boys Are Back blog

Courtesy: Matthew Postins | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine

This story originally appeared in Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click here.

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