Daily Archives: October 9th, 2012

NEXT FIVE–NFC EAST SCHEDULE: Dallas Cowboys road trip; then a home stretch

The Dallas Cowboys are starting a stretch with four of five games on the road, which will take them to Baltimore this week, Carolina next week, then Atlanta and Philadelphia. In the middle is a home game against the New York Giants.

The Cowboys are the only NFC East team that will go four of five on the road this year. But once the Cowboys come out of that stretch, they have a three-game Thanksgiving home stand that could provide momentum for December. No other NFC East team has three straight games at home.

“You can’t really think that far out,” veteran defensive end Marcus Spears. “I think it becomes a distraction when you start thinking about how well you’re doing on the road or what you’ve got in front of you after this game. I think this league is week to week. If your mindset is not like that, you put yourself behind the 8-ball because you’re not focused on what you need to be focused on, and obviously that gets you in trouble.”

The Cowboys (2-2) are even in the loss column with the Giants (3-2) and Eagles (3-2), all with two. The Redskins are 2-3.

“I don’t even know nobody’s record in the division except for ours,”cornerback Brandon Carr said. “I’m just focused on what’s going on in this locker room, what’s going on in this organization. At the end of the day, I’m a Dallas Cowboy, and that’s all that matters to me right now.”

But the rest of us can think down the road.

The Next Five - Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Schedule - The Boys Are Back blog

Here are the other NFC East schedules in the next five weeks:

New York Giants

at San Francisco

vs. Washington

at Dallas

vs. Pittsburgh

at Cincinnati

Washington Redskins

vs. Minnesota

at New York Giants

at Pittsburgh

vs. Carolina

bye

Philadelphia Eagles

vs. Detroit

bye

vs. Atlanta

at New Orleans

vs. Dallas

The Three-Game Home Stretch:

The Home Stretch - Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Schedule - The Boys Are Back blog

EDITORS NOTE: Actually, five of the remaining seven games will be played at Cowboys Stadium. Click HERE to see the Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 NFL Schedule.

The Final Four - Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Schedule - The Boys Are Back blog

THE JERRY JONES SHOW: Lawrence Vickers | Felix Jones | Jay Ratliff | 2-2 after four games

KRLD - The Fan - Elf and Slater - The Boys Are Back blog

Listen to The Jerry Jones Show …

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

Link will be added when the show is released on KRLD – 105.3 The Fan

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Each of these articles relate to quotes from The Jerry Jones Show on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan (The home of the Dallas Cowboys and The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network)  …

RELATED: Jerry Jones – Cowboys FB Lawrence Vickers

The offensive line will shoulder the majority of the blame when a team is struggling to run the football, but the fullback also deserves some of the responsibility.

After signing Lawrence Vickers in the off-season, Jerry Jones said the Cowboys “can be the best we’ve been at fullback since Daryl [Johnston].”

With the Cowboys averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, which ranks 28th in the league, it’s hard to believe Jones would compare Vickers to Moose Johnston.

But Jones says he’s optimistic that Vickers’ best days as a Cowboy are still ahead of him.

“What I look for in a fullback, and he’s got it, is the ability to instinctively pick up a guy that maybe isn’t his guy, that just shows up,” Jones explained this morning on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “When you play his spot, especially in the running game, I guess you could say this about the passing game too, your assigned guy is not always the one that’s the freest. And I emphasize that ‘est’ because it’s the guy that’s coming first that he has to pick up. He’s got good instincts there. I think we can look forward to that. That hasn’t diminished in any way.

“I look for him to play better. I’m still as excited about him as I’ve been. I’m crazy about his work ethic. He works, brings that enthusiasm for the team but also backs it up with work. I think we’ll see better play than what we think we’ve seen so far this year.”

RELATED: Jerry Jones – Felix Jones as kick returner

The Dallas Cowboys added undrafted rookie free agent Lance Dunbar to their 53-man roster on Monday to help on special teams.

Dunbar said after Monday’s practice that he would be participating in all phases of special teams, but it seems the former North Texas standout running back would be best used as a kickoff returner. The Cowboys haven’t had any success in their kick return game and the youngster could provide a spark.

But the team’s current kick returner, former first-round pick Felix Jones, hasn’t lost the job yet, according to Jerry Jones.

“I still think that Felix has the ability to do what we want to do, which is make some plays,” the Cowboys owner and general manager said today on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “He’s showing more burst the last couple of weeks, so I don’t want to dismiss him.”

Jerry Jones said he didn’t know if Dunbar would get a chance to return kicks Sunday in Baltimore because the coaching staff still wanted to see how comfortable he looked back there throughout the week of practice.

“You worry a little about his size, but he sure could help us,” Jerry Jones said of Dunbar. “He’s instinctive, and I think that’s the key word for him. He just finds a way, finds holes and has some burst when he sees it, to find the soft spot. If he can add that to our kicking game, then we’ve stepped it up.”

RELATED: Jerry Jones – Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff

With Jay Ratliff limited during training camp with a foot injury, Jerry Jones wondered if his Pro Bowl nose tackle got enough practice time before seeing his first action in the Cowboys’ third preseason game.

Ratliff suffered a high ankle sprain in that game and left the locker room on crutches.

“Did we let him get back in enough practice to get used to the speed of the game and were there things we could’ve done that might’ve prevented him from having that high ankle sprain,” Jones questioned today during an interview on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “Of course, [Ratliff] was the expert on the matter as it would be. He said there was no way in the world that I could’ve prepared for the guy falling over on the back of my leg like that, creating an ankle sprain.”

Ratliff returned to practice on Monday and it’s likely he’ll make his season debut Sunday in Baltimore. His return would bring an immediate impact considering opponents often double team the four-time Pro Bowler.

If Ratliff is out there, Jones doesn’t anticipate the 31-year-old slowly easing himself back into the mix.

“It’s not we’re going to turn him loose, he’s going to turn loose,” Jones said. “He doesn’t know but one speed, and that is getting after it. We’ve missed him and he’ll help us.”

RELATED: Jerry Jones – At 2-2, we’re in pretty good shape, considering

With how poorly the Dallas Cowboys played in losses to the Seahawks and Bears and even during a win over the Buccaneers, a 2-2 record might be better than what they deserve.

Today, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones gave his thoughts on where his team sits entering Week 6. Despite being outscored by a 61-25 total in their two losses, the Cowboys are fortunate that each team in the NFC East has at least two losses.

“We got to play better,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “I’m disappointed that we’re not putting more points on the board. I’m disappointed that we’re not getting the turnovers. All of that tells me that at 2-2, we’re in pretty good shape, considering the way we’ve played. I’m not saying we’re lucky to be 2-2, but we haven’t played any better than 2-2. We can play better though. That’s the good news.

“You look at where we are with our division, where everybody has lost two games in the division. What does that tell you? Nothing, other than we’ve got the games ahead of us – one more against the Giants and two against each of our division opponents. You got to look at your division hard and keep an eye on it. We have a lot to be encouraged about where we are in our division relative to records and nobody’s gaining on us here.

“We’ve got to do this from within. We just got to play better from within, across the board. It isn’t in just one spot, it’s across the board. I emphasize the interior blocking of the offensive line, but we got so many other areas that we can play better in. But that’s football.”

BYE-WEEK RESET: Dallas Cowboys ready for fresh start

NFL - National Football League - Football - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys are disappointed with their 2-2 start.

But there is nothing they can do about that now.

So cornerback Brandon Carr said the Dallas Cowboys have let go of the first four games and returned Monday after their bye focused on the second quarter of the season, which arguably features the toughest stretch of the year, with three of the next four on the road.

"Guys are just eager to get out there and to have fun, just to get out there and mix it up a little bit," Carr said Monday.

The upcoming schedule takes them to Baltimore on Sunday, Carolina the next, home against the New York Giants, and then to Atlanta. With a road game at Philadelphia the following week, the Cowboys have four of the next five on the road.

"We have to focus on the now, and the now is the Baltimore Ravens," he said. "This week, getting ourselves prepared both mentally and physically for a 60-minute dogfight, and that’s what we’re going to get."

Ratliff’s return

The best news coming out of last week’s bye is that Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a number of other injured defenders are ready to return.

The others include linebacker Anthony Spencer, who missed the Chicago Bears game with a strained pectoral muscle, and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, who missed the past two games with a hyperextended knee.

Ratliff missed the first four games with a high ankle sprain.

He practiced on Monday and should be ready to make his season debut against Baltimore.

"Getting Jay back is like getting three guys back," defensive end Marcus Spears said Monday. "In the nickel packages, in the base packages and then teams actually game plan for Jay Ratliff."

Costa’s role

Center Phil Costa practiced Monday for the first time since going out with a back injury on the first series in the season opener against the New York Giants.

He worked with the first team and appears ready to step back into the starting lineup for Ryan Cook, who replaced him the past three games.

Though Cook missed practiced on Monday because of a lingering hamstring issue, Costa’s possible return to the lineup could give the line comfort and improve the communication, hopefully resulting in better protection and few false starts.

Dunbar activated

The Cowboys signed former North Texas running back Lance Dunbar to the active roster from the practice squad and signed receiver Raymond Radway to the practice squad.

Dunbar, an undrafted free agent who played in high school at Haltom, was added to help the kickoff return unit. He will also be a gunner on punt coverage, but his biggest role is on kickoff returns where Felix Jones ranks 24th in the NFL, averaging 21.5 yards per return.

The Cowboys’ average starting field position on kickoff is the 19-yard line, ranking 31st in the league.

"They just want somebody to make plays, get past the 20," Dunbar said Monday.

"I think I can do that. This is my time. I can’t let it pass."

TURNOVER TURNAROUND: Dallas Cowboys defense challenge themselves to increase interceptions

Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee (50) snares a first quarter interception that was tipped up in the air by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys came back to work this week with their mind on turnovers.

At least, that was one of the main things they were asked about after their bye-week break.

“We’re stressing that every day at practice,” safety Danny McCray said. “We should get it right sometime.”

The Cowboys are minus-7 in turnover ratio, second-worst in the league. Only Kansas City, at minus-15, is worse. New England and Atlanta are first at plus-10.

“Some of it is luck,” McCray said. “Some of it is catching the ball when it comes to you. And other ones are disruptions – getting hands up in the quarterback’s face. If you know you’re not going to get there when we’re blitzing on a sack or something, just try to get a hand up and get a tipped ball.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr, with eight interceptions in four years before coming to Dallas, said each player must aim to find a way to make a takeaway.

“It’s a personal challenge that each one of us has to accept,” he said. “You have to challenge yourself to put it upon yourself within the scheme of our defense to go out there and you be the one to make that play. You be the one to make the difference for the defense. But at the same time, you have to be smart about it, read your keys. Just try to remember everything you went over in film, studying what your coaches taught you and just go out there and just play.”

The Cowboys have one interception this year, from linebacker Sean Lee off a ball that bounced off the intended receiver. Victor Butler, Barry Church and Orie Lemon have each recovered fumbles. DeMarcus Ware has forced three fumbles, and Lee has caused one.

Still, the Cowboys have only two interceptions over the past 10 games. They had only one in the final six games last year (also Sean Lee, against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium) and have only one in the first four games this year.

“You work on a lot of different things during the week with drills, and those things have been good for us in the past, and you just have to carry those things to the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But it’s a team thing, we talk about that all the time. On offense, the ball security is a team thing. It starts with the guys up front, the guys protecting, the guys blocking, certainly the guys who have the ball in their hands, and similarly on defense, if you create havoc for the quarterback, and he has to do things quicker than he wants to do, typically those result in interceptions.”

RIVAL HEADLINES: Dez Bryant met with the Ravens before being drafted

RIVAL HEADLINES - Dez Bryant met with the Ravens before being drafted - The Boys Are Back blog

Shortly before the NFL draft three years ago, the Ravens flew in mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant for a visit.

The Oklahoma State standout met with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh and went out to dinner with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

However, Bryant was drafted by Dallas with the 24th overall pick of the first round. And the Ravens subsequently traded their 25th overall pick to the Broncos, dropping out of the first round in exchange for second-round, third-round and fourth-round selections used to pick linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Pitta and Ed Dickson.

It’s unclear if the Ravens would have drafted Bryant, a talented player whose character drew red flags on several NFL teams’ draft boards.

Although Bryant has been involved in multiple controversies off the field, he’s caught 129 career passes for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“We liked him,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Whether we would have taken him with that pick if we hadn’t traded out, I really don’t know. He’s a good player. He’s a really talented guy.”

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