Monthly Archives: March, 2013

FREE AGENTS AND MORE: Dallas Cowboys 2013 NFL Draft (Video/Audio)

VIDEO - The Draft Show with Bryan Broaddus and Ed Cahill - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Draft Show: FA’s, QB’s and More

Bryan Broaddus and Ed Cahill take a look at how the Cowboys free agent moves could impact the draft, the quarterback position, and also interview the man who has been turning in the Cowboys draft selections for the past 26 years.

AUDIO - Download audio MP3

TODAY IN COWBOYS HISTORY: 1980 – Roger Staubach announces retirement

Roger Staubach retires - March 31 1980 - The Boys Are Back blog

Roger Staubach, with his wife Marianne at his side, takes to the microphones at Texas Stadium Monday, March 31, to announce his retirement as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. DMN file photo

ROGER HANGS ‘EM UP – March 31, 1980

Roger Staubach, the man who became the yardstick to measure the success of the Dallas Cowboys during the ’70s, announced his retirement from football Monday at one of the largest news conferences ever held in Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach retires - March 31 1980 - The Boys Are Back blog

Roger and Marianne Staubach (backs to camera) are shown at Texas Stadium as he announces his retirement from football. DMN staff photo by John F. Rhodes

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12 Roger Staubach12 Roger Staubach
Quarterback
1969-1979

 

Good things come to those who wait, and certainly the Dallas Cowboys’ patience in the mid-60’s was supremely rewarded, landing one of the best players in franchise history because they were willing to wait for Roger Staubach to fulfill his military commitment.

For that five years of patience, the Cowboys landed the guy who became better know as “Roger The Dodger” over the next 11 years when he was selected to six Pro Bowls – including five consecutively – and was named the NFL Players Association Most Valuable Player in 1971. Staubach led the NFL in passing four times and was selected to the All-NFC team four times.

Roger Staubach Honor Roll - The Boys Are Back blog

“He is one of the finest to ever play the game,” Green Bay Packers Quarterback Bart Starr once said of Staubach. “I think if I had some of that Staubach competitiveness, I’d have been much better.”

Staubach was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 from the Naval Academy, but did not join the team until 1969 due to his Navy commitment. Former president and general manager Tex Schramm signed Staubach to a futures contract in a hotel room in 1964, actually scribbling out the details on a legal-sized tablet that would have Staubach paid annually to participate in training camp practices when he had enough leave built up.

The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner showed up in Dallas as a 27-year-old rookie, but in those 11 seasons still managed carve out the franchise’s all-time leading quarterback rating of 83.42 and became a five-time NFL passing champion. But Staubach almost became better known for his scrambling ability, and to this day ranks eighth on the Cowboys’ all-time rushing list with 2,264 yards.

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NEW BEAST IN THE EAST: Philadelphia Eagles land 6-foot-7 WR Ifeanyi Momah

We still don’t know what coach Chip Kelly’s offense will look like next season, but the Philadelphia Eagles are getting bigger at wide receiver.

Ifeanyi Momah - Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

A pair of recent additions — Arrelious Benn from earlier this month and Ifeanyi Momah on Saturday — give the Eagles two taller wideouts.

Benn, who flamed out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is 6-foot-2, and Momah is an outrageous 6-foot-7 and recently clocked a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.

The Eagles announced they agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Momah, who spent all of last season recovering from a knee injury suffered at Boston College as a senior in 2011.

Kelly is adding bodies to a receiver group long led by 5-foot-10 DeSean Jackson and 6-foot Jeremy Maclin.

Taller receivers give quarterbacks options in a league trending toward bigger, more physical corners. Philly isn’t the only team mining for larger wideouts.

DALLAS COWBOYS 2013 CALENDAR: Minicamp and off-season workout schedule

dallas cowboys tight end jason witten 2012 2013 training camp stretch - the boys are back blog

The league released the 2013 off-season workout dates for all teams.

April 10 Dallas Day workouts (Valley Ranch)
April 15 Voluntary off-season workouts at Valley Ranch
April 25 2013 NFL Draft – Round 1: Thursday (8 p.m. ET)
April 26 2013 NFL Draft – Round 2-3: Friday (6:30 p.m. ET)
April 27 2013 NFL Draft – Round 4-7: Saturday (Noon ET)
May 10-12 Rookie minicamp following the NFL draft
May 20-22 NFL Owners Spring league meeting, Boston
May 21-23 Organized Team Activities (OTAs)
May 28-30 Organized Team Activities (OTAs)
June 3-6 Organized Team Activities (OTAs)
June 11-13 Dallas Cowboys mandatory minicamp
July 20 Training camp tentatively scheduled – Oxnard, CA
Aug. 4 Hall of Fame game – Canton, Ohio – vs. Miami Dolphins
Aug. 8-11 tbd Preseason Game 2 – at Oakland
Aug. 15-19 tbd Preseason Game 3 – at Arizona
Aug. 22-25 tbd Preseason Game 4 – vs. Cincinnati
Aug. 29-30 tbd Preseason Game 5 – vs. Houston
Aug. 31 *Cutdown to maximum 53 players
Sept. 1 *Practice squads can be established
Sept. 5 NFL 2013 regular-season opener
Sept. 8-9 2013 NFL season begins
Sept 23 Josh Brent trial scheduled to begin – Dallas County
Oct. 16 *NFL Owners Fall league meeting
Oct. 16 *Trade deadline (4 p.m. ET)

* These were the dates for the NFL 2012-2013 season. Will be updated as information becomes available for the upcoming NFL 2013-2014 season.

Several Cowboys players are participating in voluntary work at Valley Ranch already, including injured players who are doing rehab.

EDITORS NOTE: The NFL will announce the rest of the schedule next month (April). To stay updated, click HERE to visit the NFL Schedules (Dallas Cowboys schedule) page.

TBAB Button - NFL Schedules

MUST SEE VIDEO: Tony Romo talks about his new deal

COWBOY FOR LIFE - Tony Romo agrees to six-year, $108 million contract extension - Jerry Jones - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

COWBOY FOR LIFE: Tony Romo agrees to six-year contract extension (Click HERE)

Tony Romo discusses the new contract extension and the future of the Dallas Cowboys.

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, quarterback Tony Romo, wife Candice (Crawford) Romo, and young Hawkins Crawford Romo (who turns one year old on April 9th).

MAN ON A MISSION: It was important to Tony Romo that he finish his career in Dallas

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo signs 108 million extension - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Tony Romo was insistent on only one thing in negotiations: Romo made it clear to his agent that he intended to finish his career in Dallas.

Mission accomplished.

Romo, who turns 33 next month, should finish his career in Dallas after signing a six-year, $108 million extension. When the contract is scheduled to end following the 2019 season, Romo will be four months from turning 40.

Tony Romo’s agent, R.J. Gonser, at Creative Artists Agency - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

“He’s always considered himself a Cowboy for life,” said R.J. Gonser, Romo’s agent, said Friday afternoon. “He’s able to do what a lot of players aren’t, and that’s finish his career in one spot. He’s got that star on his helmet. That’s awfully special.”

Only six players in NFL history have had contracts worth more than $108 million. Add in 2013, and Romo’s deal is a seven-year, $119.5 million deal. He is guaranteed $55 million, tying for the second-most in NFL history behind only Tom Brady.

Romo, who received a $25 million signing bonus, will make $57 million in the first three years of the deal.

“This deal was never in doubt,” Gonser said. “Quite frankly, if it was about leverage and getting more money, we would have waited until we got closer to the season. Tony was not interested in playing this thing out to get a couple more bucks. …This has never been a concern of his. He’s probably as focused as any client I’ve ever been around. Obviously, money is a part of this business. But he just wants to play ball.”

Talks on a new deal began a year ago, but Romo put them on hold once the season began. Gosner said talks were a “slow burn” the last couple of weeks before heating up even more the past few days.

“The organization made it clear to us the past couple of years that Tony was their long-term franchise quarterback, and Tony made it clear to us that he would never play for another organization and that he wanted to finish his career as a Dallas Cowboy,” Gonser said. “Once you have that, you figure it out. Obviously, every negotiation takes its own path, and you have to go through the process. But never was there any doubt in our mind, Tony’s mind, and I’m guessing the Cowboys’ minds that we could get this done.”

Romo’s cap figure for 2013 has been reduced by $5 million to $11.8 million, freeing the Cowboys to jump back into the free-agent market if they so choose.

STABILITY SECURED: Jerry Jones excited about moving into the next several years with Tony Romo

dallas cowboys owner jerry jones window of opportunity - the boys are back blog

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones released a statement about the six-year extension the team gave to Tony Romo today (Friday).

“This is a significant day in terms of securing stability for our team for the future. Tony is uniquely qualified to lead this team at the quarterback position for the next several years. He has an abundance of experience and familiarity with our offensive philosophy, our head coach and the personnel around him. He is moving into a period of time where he can maximize all of his natural skills while continuing to build upon the talents that he has developed since entering the NFL. He has a proven-veteran-quarterback grasp of the intellectual side of the game. He knows how to run an offense and run a team. He knows how to win games and has done it in a lot of different settings and under a lot of difficult circumstances.

“We couldn’t be more excited about moving onto the next several years with Tony, a time where he will have a significant level of input and contribution to the planning and implementing of our offensive approach – both in the meeting room and on the field. In today’s game, every NFL franchise understands the importance of production and continuity at the quarterback position, and, historically, few franchises have enjoyed those benefits more than the Dallas Cowboys.  We are very confident in this investment and commitment.”

COWBOY FOR LIFE: Tony Romo agrees to six-year, $108 million contract extension

dallas cowboys qb tony romo prepares to pass - the boys are back blog

Good Friday has turned into a great Friday for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys and QB Tony Romo have reached agreement on a six-year, $108 million deal that would make him the highest-paid player in club history. More than half, $55 million, is guaranteed.

Romo is scheduled to make $11.5 million in 2013.

The contract will likely make Romo a Cowboys player for life and provides Dallas with a franchise quarterback through 2019. Romo, 32, will turn 40 years old the April after he plays the last season of his new contract.

Romo becomes the highest-paid player in Cowboys’ history and receives the second-most guaranteed money in NFL history at $55 million. New England quarterback Tom Brady received $57 million guaranteed, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees received $55 million guaranteed.

The contract extension will also significantly reduce Romo’s 2013 salary cap hit of $16.8 million, giving the Cowboys more money to possibly sign other free agents in an effort to upgrade their roster.

Romo’s new contract was negotiated by Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones and Romo’s agent, R.J. Gonser, at Creative Artists Agency.

RYAN ROBBING ROSTER: Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman joins Saints

defensive coordinator rob ryan walks the sideline during the game against the new orleans saints - the boys are back blog

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t want Rob Ryan, but the defensive coordinator will take his former players.

The New Orleans Saints have signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman today. Coleman started five games for the Cowboys in 2012, but he was placed on injured reserve after he tore the triceps in his left arm.

Coleman, 33, was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round of the 2002 draft. He was a regular starter with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Cowboys from 2007 to 2011. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder had 36 tackles and one sack in 2011.

Former Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler signed with the Saints earlier this week. Coleman played for Ryan in Dallas and Cleveland. He’ll help New Orleans transition to Ryan’s 3-4 scheme.

Cowboys Raiders Football

DIAMOND DEZ IN DEPTH: Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver becoming more comfortable with spotlight

dallas cowboys wr dez bryant in the spotlight - the boys are back blog

Throughout his third season with the Dallas Cowboys it seemed as if Dez Bryant became more comfortable speaking to the media in the locker room at Valley Ranch and after games at Cowboys Stadium. Bryant continued to demonstrate that comfort Wednesday as he appeared on a couple of NFL Network shows and a podcast on NFL.com.

Being one of the most popular players in the NFL, Bryant’s actions are constantly viewed under a microscope. For example, when Bryant says it’s possible for him to catch 20 touchdowns and total 2,000 receiving yards in a season, critics say he should be more focused on team goals than individual accomplishments.

And Bryant hears the criticism.

“I dislike it a lot, but I live with it, I deal with it,” Bryant said on The Dave Dameshek Football Program podcast. “I love football. That’s what I focus on. I don’t really care too much what anybody has to say.”

To clarify his comments about a potential 2,000/20 season, the 24-year-old said it’s “possible” but not where his focus is at.

“You still have to win – that’s the main goal – have to get into the playoffs and we are going to work to do that,” Bryant said.

dallas cowboys wide receiver dez bryant (88) runs in a touchdown as teammate john phillips (89) looks on - the boys are back blog

Bryant added on the TV show NFL Fantasy Live: “I feel like if you’re a wideout, you should be trying to reach 2,000. Calvin Johnson almost did it, so that should be your goal.”

During that fantasy football show Bryant was asked about the outstanding statistics he turned in during the 2012 season. Bryant had a career-high in catches (92), yards (1,382) and touchdowns (12).

The former Oklahoma State standout really turned things up during the second half of the season, totaling 10 touchdowns and 879 yards during the final eight games.

“I wanted to be like Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald,” Bryant said. “I wanted to make a big impact, be a big playmaker for Tony Romo.”

When asked where he would draft himself among the elite fantasy football receivers in the NFL, Bryant said fifth, behind Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall.

Here are a few other highlights from Bryant’s time with the NFL Network.

On which team is the front-runner to win the NFC East in 2013:

“I’d say us. We’re going to be the front-runner. I feel like what we’re trying to do now is build a championship football team.”

On if there’s pressure on him as a receiver in Dallas to follow in the footsteps of Bob Hayes, Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens:

“Not at all. I love football and I love all those guys that you just said. I’m me. I’m my own guy. There’s really no pressure about me wearing 88. I actually love it. I want to build my own, wearing Mike’s number.”

On how a team builds chemistry:

“It doesn’t have to be football things. [We] can spend time outside of the facility, get to know each and everyone on the team; just gaining each and everyone’s respect.”

On if he has spent time with other players in the offseason:

“I go up the facility and Sean Lee is there – he is a monster. I see a lot of guys there, Miles (Austin). We all talk about the season, the upcoming year, what we want to do, the goals we are trying to set. We are really trying to get it.”

On attending a rally against domestic violence in Dallas last week:

“I feel like real men don’t hit women, point blank, period. I am against domestic violence. I just wanted to be out there to show my support, be there for a friend. It felt great to be out there.”

On what it’s like to be a rookie in the NFL:

“It gets crazy. It gets hectic. Everything’s coming so fast. That playbook is crazy. It’s a lot of work.”


AUDIO - Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant joins Dave Dameshek and the gang live in Studio 66 -Nick Lucero NFL - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant joins Dave Dameshek and the gang live in Studio 66 (Nick Lucero/NFL) – Click HERE to listen.

VIDEO - Dez Bryant - Playoffs, not 2,000 yards, is my true goal - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

To watch the NFL FANTASY LIVE video, click HERE. Enjoy!

SALARY CAP COMPLICATION: Josh Brent’s Sept 23 trial date a setback for Dallas Cowboys

dallas cowboys josh brent vs new york giants - the boys are back blog

The Dallas Cowboys’ hopes of using defensive tackle Josh Brent’s salary to help free up salary cap room took a hit when Brent’s trial for intoxication manslaughter was set for Sept. 23. A Dallas County grand jury in December indicted the defensive lineman in the wake of a Dec. 8 crash in the Dallas suburb of Irving that killed teammate Jerry Brown.  

There is little chance Brent plays again for the Cowboys. But his $630,000 is still on the books for next season.   The Cowboys put him on the reserve non football injury list at the end of last season and can do the same in 2013.

Any hopes of the salary-cap strapped Cowboys have of using his salary to clear space this year so they can sign some free agents now rest with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.   The Cowboys need Brent to be suspended under the NFL’s Personal Conduct policy so they can get the salary cap room back. But last week NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Goodell wouldn’t rule on Brent’s status until his case was resolved with the courts.   If the Cowboys hope to get money back to use in free agency they need Goodell to rule on Brent’s case earlier.  

CLASS OF ‘09 VANISHED: Backup linebacker Victor Butler joins Rob Ryan in New Orleans

victor butler and alex albright gaining experience with spencer and ware sidelined - the boys are back blog

Backup linebacker Victor Butler has left the Cowboys for a free-two-year agent deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to a report by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which cited a league source.

The move puts Butler back in the hands of former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was dismissed in January after two seasons in Dallas.

The move also leaves the Cowboys with nothing to show for the 2009 draft class. The Cowboys had 12 picks in that draft, and the last two remaining — Butler and tight end John Phillips — each signed free agent contracts with other teams this year. Only Butler, Phillips, kicker David Buehler and third-string quarterback Stephen McGee lasted more than two years with the Cowboys from that group.

Butler played in 63 games for the Cowboys, started three, and had 11 sacks. He played in all 16 games each of the last two years. Last year, on special teams, he caused a fumble on a punt return that set up a Cowboys comeback victory against Pittsburgh.

ESPN’S WHIMP BRAINLESS: Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant uses Twitter to enlighten Skip Bayless

Twisting Dez Bryant words - Skippy Bayless is an idiot - The Boys Are Back blog - Whimp Brainless

Dez Bryant really wants to be clear that he never said he was going to record 2,000 receiving yards in a season. He simply said it was possible.

The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has used Twitter the last two days to defend comments he made in a Tuesday article on ESPNDallas.com.

Bryant told the website that he could “potentially” be the first player to record 2,000-receiving yards in a single season, but added that stats don’t mean anything to him if the Cowboys are not “strapping up for the playoffs.”

skip-bayless aka whimp brainless - The Boys Are Back blog

ESPN’s Skip Bayless (aka Wimp Brainless on The Boys Are Back blog) obviously didn’t read the story, tweeting Wednesday: “Just when I thought it was safe to trust the ‘maturing’ Dez, he makes a ‘me’ statement about 2K yds instead of a ‘we’ about making playoffs.”

skip bayless - idiot hired by ESPN - The Boys Are Back blog - Whimp Brainless

Bryant got wind of Bayless’ comment and responded Wednesday with the following tweets:

“My bad skip I forgot you and your buddy get paid to twist up stories whenever you already know the truth.”

“Correction…i was asked a question.. i didn’t predict anything…basically all i said was it was possible.”

Bryant is coming off his best NFL season, finishing with 92 catches for 1,382 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

Courtesy: Jon Machota | Special Contributor | Dallas Morning News

Reader comments:

ZoneBlitz.com says: Dez Bryant isn’t perfect, but Skip Bayless is one of the most self-important douchebags in sports journalism.

Nathan Adams says: Some day, Some place, Skip Bayless is going to get his ass handed to him for his big mouth!

Lars Hedegaard says: I agree with Nathan. Skip is a big mouth and really never has anything to say worth listening too!

John Leonard says: Thanks, Zone. You saved me the trouble of posting the same sentiment.

EYE CANDY: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders prepare for 2014 calendar shoot

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders prepare to head out on the 2014 calendar shoot - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Whitney Isleib (Click HERE to watch video)

As the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders prepare to head out on the 2014 calendar shoot, we recap some of the best looks from their 2013 calendar shoot in Mexico.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Emma Marys prepare to head out on the 2014 calendar shoot - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Emma Mary (Click HERE to watch video)

DEALS CLOSED: Dallas Cowboys officially make free agency moves

Dallas Cowboys cut wide receiver Anthony Armstrong 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys finally jumped into the NFL free-agent market with the signings of linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen on Wednesday.

Both players visited the team on Monday and took physicals. Both agreed to deals on Tuesday, but they couldn’t be made official until the Cowboys cleared room under the salary cap.

The Cowboys had just $102,000 in space under the 2013 cap of $123 million heading into Wednesday. But that was before they restructured the contract of backup quarterback Kyle Orton and released wide receiver Anthony Armstrong to free up roughly $1 million.

The Cowboys have less than $25,000 in cap space now. But they accomplished their goal of getting Durant and Allen in the fold to give them some insurance at linebacker and safety, where the unproven likes of Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson are at the top of the depth chart.

Durant will compete with Wilber, a 2012 fourth-round pick, for the starting job at strongside linebacker. The six-year veteran has 68 career starts with Jacksonville and Detroit. He had 14 starts last year in Detroit, recording 103 tackles.

Allen has largely been a backup in a nine-year career with the Buccaneers and Steelers with just 33 career starts. He has had seven starts the past three years in Pittsburgh, all coming as a injury replacement in 2012.

But Allen is an excellent special teams player who has a history with Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin dating back to their days together in Tampa Bay.

He knows the new scheme and will give the Cowboys a veteran option if Johnson doesn’t develop at free safety. The signing also doesn’t preclude the Cowboys from still targeting a safety in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Johnson was picked in the fourth round last year but didn’t play and rarely practiced because of a litany of injuries. The Cowboys, however, believe in his upside.

Kyle Orton is the latest Cowboys player to restructure his contract to help the team clear cap room, joining receiver Miles Austin, linebacker DeMarcus Ware, tight end Jason Witten, center Ryan Cook, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

FREE AGENT IN ESCROW: Linebacker Justin Durant close to signing with Dallas Cowboys

Despite the current lack of funds, the cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys appear to be close to adding an extra body on defense.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant plans to sign a two-year contract with the Cowboys once they create more cap space.

Justin Durant expected to join the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that Durant’s visit amounted to nothing more than an “informational” meeting because the Cowboys, with just $102,000 in cap room, lack the finances to officially make a move. The same applied to visits by free-agent safeties Michael Huff and Will Allen. Apparently Durant’s visit went well enough for the six-year veteran to agree to wait while the Cowboys get their books adjusted.

That likely will come as the team negotiates a multi-year deal with pass rusher Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys also have to sign their draft class.

Durant gives the Cowboys a solid linebacker to add to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense. He started 26 games over the past two seasons for the Lions and racked up 103 tackles in 2012. The 27-year-old figures to start opposite Bruce Carter with Sean Lee occupying the middle.

The Lions made little effort to re-sign Durant, but he went out of his way to thank the team and city on Twitter.

“Shout out to Detroit man I wanna thank y’all for the luv and support y’all showed me the past couple years I really appreciate it,” Durant wrote Tuesday. “I thank the organization for allowing me the opportunity to play the last 2 years I am forever grateful.”

RELATED: Dallas Cowboys agree to terms with free agent linebacker

The salary cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys made a ripple today (Tuesday) by reportedly agreeing to terms with former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant.

The team is expected to sign the seven-year veteran to a two-year deal once it creates more space under the salary cap.

Durant started 14 games last season. He finished second on the team with 103 tackle while playing outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense, which the Cowboys will use this season after employing the 3-4 scheme every season since Bill Parcells installed it in 2005.

Second-year pro Kyle Wilber is projected as the starter at strong-side linebacker for Dallas in 2013, but the club now has two veterans to push him in Durant and Alex Albright.

A seven-year veteran, Durant spent the last two seasons with the Lions after he started his NFL career with a four-year stint with Jacksonville. Durant, who carries 240 pounds on 6-foot-1 frame, turns 28 in September.

TWO-MILLENIUM MILESTONE: Dez Bryant sets lofty (but reachable) goal of 2,000 yards

dallas cowboys' wide receiver dez bryant celebrates vs pittsburgh steelers - the boys are back blog

If the Dallas Cowboys appreciate Dez Bryant’s newfound maturity off the field, they’re going to love his on-field goals for 2013.

After last year’s breakout season, Bryant believes he’s “still scratching the surface.”

Can he bypass Calvin Johnson as the NFL’s top receiver while becoming the first player in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards in a single season?

“I feel like it can be a lot more,” Bryant told ESPN-Dallas. “That’s just being honest. I honestly feel like [2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns] can potentially happen.”

While Bryant’s elite talent is beyond dispute, former Oakland Raiders great Tim Brown recently questioned the physical receiver’s ability to make it through 16 games with an out-of-control, “kamikaze” style of play.

Bryant risked his long-term NFL future by playing through a fractured finger in December, closing out the season with a lower-back injury that left him wheelchair-bound as he exited the stadium.

Yet to run routes this offseason due to the back injury, Bryant could end up missing all or part of organized team activities this offseason. There’s no concern that the injury will linger into training camp.

Don’t expect him to adopt a more cautious, less physical approach to avoid future injuries. “That’s just how I play. That’s my type of game. That’s my style of play,” Bryant said via the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to keep playing that way. I don’t think about injuries. I just go out there and play.”

The final eight games of Bryant’s 2012 season project to 1,758 yards and 20 touchdowns across a full season. In an increasingly pass-heavy NFL, he’s capable of reaching the 2,000-yard in a best-case scenario.

The key is to maintain that production level while staying out of the trainers’ room.

DIAMOND DEZ: Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett see Bryant’s maturation translate to results

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones think Dez Bryant’s just tapping into his potential - The Boys Are Back blog

Turning A Leaf – Head coach Jason Garrett and owner/general manager Jerry Jones think Dez Bryant’s just tapping into his potential. His rise to prominence on the field can be attributed to his development off it, according to Garrett.

IRVING, Texas – The Dez Bryant that head coach Jason Garrett sees now is much more jubilant and upbeat than the one who darted into his office after the Bengals game in December.

Bryant’s transformation on and off the field began before that game, but his increased maturity level, grit and determination were all evident after the thriving star snagged a late touchdown grab in Cincinnati, only to find out after the game he broke his finger and could need season-ending surgery.

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant scores - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

“He was very emotional after he hurt his finger up there in Cincinnati,” Garrett said. “He hurts his finger, then catches what amounted to be the game-winning touchdown pass with a broken finger, and he came in the next day and our doctors saw him and they said, ‘Hey, you broke this thing, we might have to do surgery, you might have to go on IR.’

Bryant was stunned. Garrett said it took the receiver just two minutes to run into Garrett’s office and plead to finish the season and play through the injury.

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

“It just speaks to his passion, his maturity as a player,” Garrett said. “He’s always been very physically tough, and we saw that right from the start. He demonstrates that he’s mentally tough, too, and I think he handled it well during the season, and I think he’s handled it well since then.”

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TALKIN COWBOYS SHOW: Offseason signings and contracts timeline (Video/Audio)

VIDEO - Talkin Cowboys with mickey spagnola, Bryan B, and Sydney - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Talkin’ Cowboys: Offseason Timeline (Click HERE)

Mickey, Bryan, and Sydney take a look at the timeline of the rest of the offseason when it comes to signings and contracts, and also get an update from Rowan Kavner at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix. (Duration – 1:01:00)

AUDIO - Download audio MP3

RISING STAR IN DALLAS: A dream come true for tight end James Hanna (Special Feature)

Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna has a chance to shine in 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

After starting high school as a wide receiver playing six-man football, James Hanna has since faced a steady diet of adjusting and learning.

A Cowboys fan growing up in the Dallas suburbs, Hanna transferred from Coram Deo Academy to Flower Mound for his last two years of high school and thrived in the more intricate 11-man game. Despite outstanding success at the position, though, his large body seemed to make him a better fit at tight end, a position he converted to as a college freshman at Oklahoma.

Hanna gradually made the transition, and after a big senior year with the Sooners that saw him accumulate 27 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns, the Cowboys made him their sixth-round draft choice (186th overall) back in April.

Now the highly athletic 6-4, 249-pound Hanna wrapped up perhaps his most challenging task, adapting to the more complex duties required of an NFL tight end.

“I think I have a lot to learn. I think I haven’t reached my potential or even close to it,” says Hanna, who wowed scouts with his blazing speed at the 2012 Scouting Combine, topping all tight ends in five different categories. “The coaches told me it’s on me to develop as much as I can to be the best I can be, and I feel like, with hard enough work, I can be a contributor here.”

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THE BIG GUYS: Dallas Cowboys 2013 NFL Draft (Video/Audio)

VIDEO - The Draft Show with Bryan Broaddus and Ed Cahill - The Boys Are Back blog 2013
The Draft Show: The Big Guys

Join Bryan Broaddus and Ed Cahill as they break down the latest Dallas Cowboys news, the defensive tackles, and also do a little odds-making in the final segment. (Duration: 1:01:28)

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SPAGNOLA COMMENTARY: Dallas Cowboys just may get the last laugh in free-agency 2013 (Special Feature)

IRVING, Texas – Broke out chuckling several times this week, in private mostly, so time to out myself.

         First over the NFL’s new rule prohibiting ball carriers outside the box from lowering their heads to create forcible contact with the crown of the helmet, and vice versa for defenders trying to make a tackle.

trent richardson idol emmitt smith - the boys are back blog

         Makes sense to me if the NFL is going to continue its vigilance to prevent head injuries in the game, but evidently not much sense to former running backs like Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett and Marshall Faulk, who have been crying out against this now 15-yard penalty from the highest mountain someone will transport them to.

         Funny thing is, not sure any of those three ever ran over a defender outside the box using their suddenly-turning knuckleheads, but the guy who made a living running over guys – mashing many to the ground in violent fashion – Jim Brown, says this is a good rule, that he never believed sticking his head where it didn’t belong was ever a good idea.

         Maybe the NFL should call this the Earl Campbell rule. That is, if anyone has seen the Tyler Rose’s physical condition anytime lately.

         Then, not quite two full weeks into free agency, reading different website’s free agency Winners and Losers lists have been very amusing. Here is one that had me mumbling “Are you kidding me?”and since I was by myself, I’m guessing no one else heard. Now you will.

         “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” because as would be predicted, the Dallas Cowboys were consistently in the “big losers” category of free agency. Guess few have been moved by the re-signings of Phil Costa and Ernie Sims, and as Jerry Jones is wont to say, I’m smiling when I say that.

new-york-giants-vs-dallas-cowboys rematch - the boys are back blog

         But here is what got me: The New York Giants were listed as winners. Winners, I’m telling you, for re-signing linebacker Keith Rivers and offensive tackle Will Beatty, free-agent tight end Brandon Myers to replace Martellus Bennett and linebacker Dan Connor, cut by the Cowboys, and for good financial and performance reasons.

         Come on, seriously? Winners for that?

         Sorry, and I probably do this every year, but allow me to climb on my soapbox to scream about how overrated free agency really is, that in most cases you overpay on the open market for whatever you purchase. Because – get ready – if these free agents are so good, why are they available?

         Teams, usually no matter their cap problems, figure out how to keep guys worthy of big contracts. Building a team through free agency, meaning bringing in a bunch of mercenaries who have no sweat equity in the program, to me is asking for trouble. How fortunate the Cowboys didn’t fork over the other $10 million for some guy named Nnamdi that summer of 2011. Two years later the Eagles have divested their $60 million investment in him

         OK, there, that’s off my chest.

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TOP 10 FRANCHISE HISTORY: Ranking the best Dallas Cowboys Safeties

Dallas Cowboys Top 10 Safeties - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

IRVING, Texas – Rarely do the Dallas Cowboys enter a draft with a glaring need at any one position. And by the time it rolls around this late-April, who knows how badly the Cowboys will need a safety.

But as it stands currently, the team looks rather thin at the position, where they are counting on two players who were injured most of last year.

In fact, the Cowboys have entered several drafts in recent history with a need at safety.

So it begs the question: Just who are the best safeties in Cowboys history. It’s a rather top-heavy list, but the staff of DallasCowboys.com came up with the Top 10 with a couple of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention: The two that just missed the list had tons of potential. One developed into a better safety after he left and the other had injuries that plagued his career. Randy Hughes was supposed to be the next Cliff Harris and was on his way. He was a fearless hitter with range. But constant shoulder injuries cut Hughes’ career short, as he played just six years with the Cowboys (1975-80). As for Brock Marion, a seventh-round pick who started alongside Darren Woodson, he went to the Dolphins and became a Pro Bowler.

Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates started 47 games, mostly from 1986-88 - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

10. Bill Bates – It’s hard to leave off Bates on any list, particularly one featuring top safeties. That was Bates’ position his entire career although he thrived more as a special teams player. Still, Bates started 47 games, mostly from 1986-88. He did have a game-clinching interception in the 1991 playoffs to give Jimmy Johnson his first postseason win.

Mike Geachter – A seven-year starter for the Cowboys in the 1960's, Gaechter had 21 career interceptions, good for 13th in club history - The Boys Are Back blog

9. Mike Gaechter – A seven-year starter for the Cowboys in the 1960s, Gaechter had 21 career interceptions, good for 13th in club history. His 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was the longest in franchise history for nearly 40 years before Bryan McCann (101 yards) topped that in 2010.

8. James Washington – If you can make the list for basically one game, Washington has done that. Sure he was a starter on Super Bowl teams, but not all of them. He was a role player at times, but his performance in Super Bowl XXVIII was one of the best in franchise history. He was involved in three turnovers, including a game-tying fumble return to open the second half. He also had an interception and forced a fumble in the Cowboys’ 30-13 win over the Bills.

7. Michael Downs– He was the other rookie free agent who started for the Cowboys in 1981. Everson Walls got the attention with his 11 interceptions as a rookie, but Downs also made his mark early on. He started for about eight seasons on some bad teams, but still led the team in picks three times and is tied for fifth in franchise history with 34 interceptions.

Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams - He started off on fire, making five Pro Bowls - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

6. Roy Williams –When the Cowboys drafted him eighth overall in 2002, they anticipated having the best safety in franchise history when it was all said and done. As it turned out, Williams did make five Pro Bowls and had quite a start to his career. But it turned sour toward the end as he struggled in coverage and seemingly lost his confidence. Still, early on, Williams was a catalytic player who had a presence in the secondary. Continue reading →

FIVE GAME PRESEASON: Jerry Jones excited about Cowboys being in Hall of Fame game, early camp

The Dallas Cowboys got their wish and will play in the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game on August 4 in Canton, Ohio, against the Miami Dolphins.

Cowboys guard Larry Allen is being inducted this year along with former coach Bill Parcells clearing the way for a Cowboys-themed weekend. Allen played for the Cowboys from 1994-2005. Parcells coached the team from 2003-2006.

The Cowboys last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2010 when Emmitt Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will present Allen, a first-ballot selection in this year’s class. Jones was also Smith’s presenter.

Being in the game means the Cowboys will play five preseason games and will this have an earlier start to training camp. The Cowboys plan to report to camp in Oxnard, Calif. July 19 with first practice set for July 21.

Jones and coach Jason Garrett also wanted the game so they could have the extra practice time as they transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.

“We will start camp early,” Jones said. “Excited, because we’re going to go to Canton. Jason’s excited, we’re excited. … we’ve known the possibility for two or three weeks.”

Why do you want to do it other than you’re there presenting?

“Well that’s a reason, I’d like the free ride to Canton,” Jones “Always nice to have one you can be going anyway. But the other thing is I like the extra game. I like the extra game, the fifth game, I like the extra practice.”

And because you’re going to 4-3?

“Just in general. But that’s also good reasoning,” Jones allowed. “The more practice we can get here, the better off we are.”

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