IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys placed defensive end Edgar Jones on injured reserve/designated to return (IR/DTR) list this afternoon.
The move will make Jones unavailable to practice for six weeks, which is the week of the Thanksgiving game against Oakland. He had successful surgery on the injury Thursday and will be eligible to return to game action after eight weeks, which is the Cowboys’ Week 15 game against Green Bay on Dec. 15.
The Cowboys acquired Jones from Kansas City in a trade at the end of the preseason, sending their sixth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to the Chiefs in exchange for Jones and the Chiefs’ 2014 seventh round pick.
Jones has played several positions in his seven-year career, but he has served at defensive end in the Cowboys’ 4-3 defensive scheme. He played in four games this season and registered five tackles with a pass deflection before suffering a groin/abdomen strain in the Week 4 loss to San Diego.
Jason Vega signed to 53-man roster
Defensive end Jason Vega was signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ 53-man roster from the practice squad for this weekend’s game against the Eagles.
The Cowboys had an open roster spot and needed the help with a bevy of injuries along the defensive line. DeMarcus Ware might not play this weekend, Edgar Jones is definitely out, Jason Hatcher and George Selvie were limited this week and Jay Ratliff was cut.
Vega played in the final preseason game for the Cowboys after coming to Dallas from the Patriots. He made the most out of that opportunity, totaling four tackles and a fumble recovery against the Texans, which earned him a spot on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
“I had an idea that it might be possible, but it was just kind of hard to guess,” Vega said. “You don’t really anticipate roster moves, because that’s not my job. I’m supposed to show up in practice. I just try to wait for it to be official, and now it is.”
Vega thought the opportunity might be there for him early this week, and he was told Friday that he’d be getting the call up. He’s valued his time on the practice squad for the first six weeks of the season.
“I can kind of spend time with the older guys, learn as much as I can, go against the offensive guys and learn a lot as well, so it’s been a good learning experience for me to be able to work on my skills and lead up to a moment like this,” Vega said.
The defensive end’s grateful for this chance after going undrafted in 2011 from Northeastern. He went to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before signing with the Patriots in 2013. He’s carrying a legacy at Northeastern, which has dropped its football program.
“I think it’s more so for the guys that I used to play with,” Vega said. “I hear from them every once in a while, they’re just kind of like, ‘You’ve got to keep playing for us, you’re the last one’ type thing, and that’s really good to hear.”
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles road game (6:29)
- Offensive success at home this season vs. road games
- Resting Miles Austin from practice past two days
- Practice and preparation for new Philadelphia Eagles offensive pace
- Eagles sub or keep starters in during offensive drives
- Countering substitutions during fast tempo
- Scouting Oregon-Eagles types of offense
- Game planning McCoy in their new system
- Holloman neck injury | status
- DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware gameday decisions
- Latitude given to veteran players regarding injuries and starting
- Learning from Barry Church flagged hits and related penalties
Murray & Ware give injury updates; Don’t rule them out (1:55)
The Dallas Cowboys look to take division lead over the Philadelphia Eagles this week.
Their Nemesis: Dwayne Harris
Dwayne Harris has only faced the Philadelphia Eagles three times in his career, but in those games, he has made more than his share of big plays. In games when the Eagles have kicked off in his direction, he has averaged over 35 yards per return.
For the 2013 season, Harris has returned nine kickoffs for an average of 34.7 yards per return. In 2013, the Eagles are ranked 31st in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing opponents an average of 28.8 yards per return.
Of the 36 kickoffs the Eagles have had this season, they have had 16 of them returned, so Harris should get opportunities to bring a ball back up the field to expand on that average. When the Eagles have punted the ball to Harris, he has an average of 14.2 yards per return, with a touchdown also to his credit – the one he scored in Philadelphia last November.
For this season, Harris has returned eight punts for an average of 23.6 yards and one touchdown, which he scored last week against the Redskins. With two teams as equally matched as the Cowboys and Eagles are, Dwayne Harris has proven in the past that he can in fact be a difference maker in a game.
Our Weapon: Orlando Scandrick
What Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff have shown the last two weeks is that they are not afraid to match their best corners on the opponent’s best threats. The way that DeSean Jackson has been playing this season, the Dallas Cowboys will need to match him with a corner that can play with quickness and straight line speed. Scandrick is that guy.
Where the Eagles might work their way around this is to try and keep Jackson out of the slot, which is where Scandrick does the majority of his work. Kiffin doesn’t have anyone that he trusts enough to take Scandrick out of that role.
Jackson is too quick for both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, which presents a big problem when you match him on the outside. With Jackson, there is that fear that he can score from anywhere on the field, and that is why you need to match him with a player that has the ability to function under that pressure.
There has been little that has affected Scandrick this season. He has been the best player in the secondary. Orlando Scandrick also has faced DeSean Jackson enough in his career to understand how he needs to play him and that is very important when you are trying to match a player with this much talent.
Under Their Radar: Joseph Randle
Last week against the Redskins, rookie Joseph Randle saw his first NFL action as a running back in this league. This week against the Eagles, in a divisional game on the road, he will make his first start.
Randle had little time to prepare when DeMarco Murray left the game with a knee injury. During the week before the game, he might get one or two reps with the first offense while Murray takes the majority of the others.
As Randle prepares for this opportunity, he will be getting all the reps with the offense in practice, and to be honest, he will need every one of them. In reviewing the game, Randle did not appear nervous or out of his element, but this week should be much easier for him because of the extra work he is getting in practice.
There is a confidence that he can come in and get the job done. His teammates are going to need him at his best to beat the Eagles. There are so many things that Murray does well and his play will be missed. Where Randle can help this team is with hard running, a check down or two catching the ball and being absolutely sure of who he has on these blitz pickups, because that is where this defense will test him the most.
Our Nemesis: DeSean Jackson
If you look at DeSean Jackson’s career against the Dallas Cowboys, it’s actually quite impressive.
Jackson’s most productive game that he has ever played in this league came against the Cowboys on a December day. He was unstoppable that afternoon, catching four passes for 210 yards and one touchdown. As a matter of fact, if you look at Jackson’s top 11 career games, two of them have come against the Cowboys.
Jackson currently leads the Eagles in receptions and touchdowns due to how this Chip Kelly lines him up all over the field in different formations — either getting the ball on the move or vertically down the field.
What makes him so difficult to deal with is the speed and quickness he plays with. Jackson is one of those players that, if you play off coverage on him, he is going to eat up your cushion in a hurry. He is on you right now and if he is on you, he is by you.
There have been days, though, where Jackson has been his own worst enemy with drops. As many times as I have seen him catch the ball on the move, there have been times where he has appeared to hear footsteps and drop a ball or two that he should have made a play on.
I would not say that he has the most consistent hands and there are times where they have let him down. Jackson still is a unique talent and has rare ability.
Their Weapon: LeSean McCoy
Nervous as this Cowboys defense is about playing against DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy presents an even more difficult problem. This Chip Kelly offense is perfectly tailored to his running style.
McCoy is one of those backs that can take simple plays and make them into huge gains. It doesn’t matter if it is a handoff out of the read-option or a screen pass in the flat, he is going to be hard to handle. He has the unique ability to make the first man miss, then get into the open field and make others miss.
He is an explosive runner, and when he can turn his shoulders and go downhill, he can be tough to bring down. The best way to slow him down is get him going sideways and not allow him to turn up the field. He makes some violent cuts in the way he runs the ball. He can plant his foot in the ground and explode off of it.
McCoy can take the ball off the read option, allowing the line to get into their blocks, then hit it to the back side as the defense over-runs the play. He plays with outstanding hands, and it’s rare to see him drop a pass. He has a feel for how to work himself open, secure the catch and head up the field. He’s a hard player to completely shut down, and the Cowboys will have their hands full with him.
Under The Radar: Mychal Hendricks
The Eagles have several good, young players on their defensive roster, but one guy that really caught my eye was linebacker Mychal Hendricks.
He was a second round selection by the Eagles in 2012, and, right now, he looks like a quality pick. The first thing you notice about him is how quick he plays. He is very active and is a difficult guy to block when he is on the move.
He looks like a nice scheme fit for this 3-4 defense, because he can get away from blocks. He’s short, but he does play with some pop at the point of attack. He will be used on blitzes to attack the pocket, and he can be a relentless guy when it comes to rushing the passer.
Hendricks does a really nice job of chasing the ball. He’s strong enough to play off blocks, and he can be physical when he needs to be.
He’s a very good tackler in space and a hard guy to get away from when he has the ball carrier wrapped up. He can really close when he sees the ball, and he has a burst and some explosive traits. He showed the ability to carry the back out of the backfield, and he moves with ease and is able to stay in position while playing the route.
Hendricks one of those defensive players you have to be aware of and make sure you get a hat on him at all times.
COWBOYS IN THE CLUTCH: Dallas’ Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams rank 1-2 among NFL receivers when targeted
IRVING, Texas – There’s an old adage that gets tossed around a lot when talking about wide receivers. The ones with good hands get described as players who “catch everything that is thrown their way.”
For Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams, they’re taking that to another level.
In fact, through six games of the season, Beasley and Williams are the two best wide receivers in the NFL in terms of catching passes when targeted.
Among players with at least 10 targets this year, Beasley has the highest reception percentage among NFL wide receivers at 92.3 percent. He’s caught 12 of the 13 passes thrown in his direction. His only miss occurred in last week’s win over Washington when Tony Romo led him too far on a sideline route, although Beasley nearly hauled it in with one hand. He also caught a pass thrown behind him where he trapped it against his leg to make the catch.
Overall, Beasley ranks third in the NFL in receptions, and he’s the only wide receiver among the list’s Top-10. The next receiver is Williams, who actually might be even more impressive than Beasley because of his 17.2-yard average per catch.
Of all receivers with at least 10 targets, Williams’ average per catch is the highest of the top 15 players.
Williams has come on strong the last three weeks with Miles Austin injured and slowed by a hamstring injury. Williams has caught a touchdown in each of his last two games. In the first three games of the year, he had five receptions for 60 yards. In the last three, he has 13 catches for 249 yards and two scores.
More importantly, and just like Beasley, he’s catching the passes that are thrown his way.
IRVING, Texas – Nearly seven years ago exactly, Tony Romo led the Dallas Cowboys on the field in Carolina for a Sunday Night Football clash with the Panthers. Ultimately, the goal that game was to help the Cowboys get off the 3-3 mark and get a big road win.
Obviously, that will be the same goal for the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia in a matchup of 3-3 teams for the NFC East lead.
But what a difference 99 starts can make.
That game in Carolina was Romo’s first-ever start in the NFL. Heading into it, he was simply the rookie free-agent quarterback who had been a backup for four seasons and was taking over for Drew Bledsoe.
Now, he’s the franchise quarterback of America’s Team and holds numerous passing records.
Romo enters Sunday’s game with the Eagles for his 100th career start, knowing the mindset now is much different than it was the first time around.
“You’re always trying to get better,” Romo said. “Start one, you’re excited to prove to yourself if you can actually do this. Start 100, it’s all about getting your team to where you want to go. It’s a little more individual to prove to yourself. With 100, it’s all about bringing the team there and winning as a team.”
Overall, Romo is 58-41 as a starter, but things haven’t exactly been on the rise over the last three seasons. Since 2009, when Romo led the Cowboys to the franchise’s first playoff win in 13 seasons, he is just 20-24 as a starter and has yet to lead the team to a winning season, much less a playoff spot.
This year, Romo is putting up great numbers despite the team’s average record. He ranks second in the NFL behind only Peyton Manning with a 108.6 passer rating. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions, although one of them was rather costly in a 51-48 loss to Manning and the Broncos. Romo threw for a Cowboys’ record 506 yards and also tossed five touchdowns before the late-game mistake.
A lot has transpired for Romo since his first start. In fact, Romo said he’ll enter Sunday’s game with the Eagles worrying about things that he barely knew existed when he first got the nod against Carolina.
“It’s a far different process before a game now,” Romo said. “It’s just what I’m looking for – what I know I need to be very sound leading up to the game to gain an advantage.”
For the record, Romo led the Cowboys to a win that night in Carolina. The Panthers grabbed a 10-0 lead and Romo tossed an early interception. But he fired a touchdown strike to Jason Witten to help the Cowboys get back to 14-10 at halftime and that was the score heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Cowboys turned the tide, outscoring the Panthers 25-0 in the fourth to pull away for a 35-14 win. Romo went 24 of 36 for 270 yards with a touchdown and interception. And he actually led the Cowboys to five wins in his first six starts, including a four-game winning streak. Romo made the first of three Pro Bowl selections during that 2006 season. And it all started that night in Carolina.
Overall, Romo ranks third on the Cowboys’ all-time list in starts, behind only Troy Aikman (165) and Roger Staubach (114). Last year, he surpassed Danny White (92) and Don Meredith (85).
Tony Romo: Winning On The Road (7:40)
IRVING, Texas – Forget three or four weeks. DeMarcus Ware might still be playing this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys’ all-time sack leader doesn’t know his status yet, but he’ll travel with the team on the flight to Philadelphia, and he thinks he’ll be a game-day decision. He said he doesn’t need to practice this week to remain a possibility to play.
“I’m not going to be out three or four weeks,” Ware said. “I don’t know where that came from, but somebody said it. My recovery’s pretty fast, and I’m feeling pretty good today.”
Ware has never missed a game in his career, despite suffering hamstring, shoulder and elbow injuries last year and dealing with stinger problems this season. The latest thigh injury had many thinking he’d be out multiple weeks, but he said he’s already started running and will continue to work off to the side at practice before the ultimate decision is made.
He admitted the leg is still sore, but he’s continuing to get treatment and believes he’ll be in proper shape if he’s able to go this weekend. Ware said he can’t worry too much about his remarkable games played streak, which sits at 134.
“I think when you look at it, the bigger picture is always important,” Ware said. “You don’t want to ever be defined as just a number. You want to be somebody that when you get out there, you’re wreaking havoc and playing. If I can do that this week, I’m going to get out there and play.”
In addition to running, Ware said he can also plant and cut. It wouldn’t really be a surprise to see him return to action and play, despite the initial prognosis.
Ware’s iron man streak of consecutive games played continued even after getting carted off the field with a neck injury in 2009 that left him temporarily motionless. He played six days later against the Saints after missing practice throughout that week.
“I know that I can get through injuries, but you never can (predict) what one injury’s worse than another,” Ware said. “Each week, just like I took it with that injury, you’ve got to take it that whole week and make a game-day decision.”
He said he needs to weigh the importance of being on the field this week against the potential for future harm. He said he needs to be able to run, pass-rush and change direction with ease, particularly considering the speed at which the Eagles play.
If Ware can’t go, Kyle Wilber will get the call at defensive end. Wilber went in after Ware’s injury last week, recorded a strip sack on Robert Griffin III and secured the fumble.
“Last week, when I went down, Wilber went in there and made a big play on a really great tackle,” Ware said. “I know that he can get out there and play, me just showing him a lot of things, his confidence level has boosted through the roof. You’ve got to let him keep playing that way, and I know he can get the job done.”
Wilber continues to talk to Ware as the second-year player prepares himself for a starting opportunity. Head coach Jason Garrett preaches the “next man up” philosophy, while Wilber hears from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin that everyone in the defensive room should consider himself a starter. For Wilber, it’s now time to play like one.
“It’s pressure and it’s a challenge, but it’s good pressure and a good challenge,” Wilber said. “You want to be a dependable guy, so the team looks at you like, ‘This person right here, we can count on him.’”
Wilber went from 240 pounds last year to 248 pounds this year, as he made the move from linebacker to defensive end. He said it’s difficult for him to put on weight, but eventually he’d like to be around the 255-pound mark. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik is pushing him to help reach that total.
It’s been tough for Wilber to serve as a backup since getting drafted in the fourth round in 2012. He’s accustomed to starting, and last year was particularly tough for him after getting injured because he felt like he didn’t help the team.
“You have to kind of motivate yourself,” Wilber said. “It’s kind of hard being a backup, especially behind a Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. You’re not seeing yourself getting a lot of playing time. You definitely have to prepare yourself mentally.”
He may now get his chance to stand out on a “no-name” defensive line. Well, almost a no-name defensive line. Wilber said Jason Hatcher has become more of a household name after his five-sack start to the season.
“As long as we’ve got ‘Hatch,’ I feel like we’re good,” Wilber said. “He’s one of the best three-techniques out there.”
Wilber, however, feels like a no-namer until he demonstrates what he can do consistently. Even after his performance last week against the Redskins, he knows teams aren’t going to strategize for him, but they will have to plan for his presence.
He feels more ready than ever for a starting role if Ware can’t go, and a lot of that has to do with the star pass-rusher getting him ready.
“Definitely,” he said. “D-Ware, he’s still on me, still coaching me up. He’s making sure I can do everything.”
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys players and coaches had plenty of time to organize their thoughts of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jay Ratliff in the hours between his release Wednesday and Thursday’s open locker room session.
Aside from the medical and financial implications surrounding Ratliff’s release, members throughout the Cowboys organization were quick to point out the defensive tackle’s value and impact within the playing field.
Ratliff appeared in 104 games and started 85 as a seventh round pick by the Cowboys in 2005. He notched 27 sacks and 317 total tackles in his eight seasons with the team. His efforts earned him four straight Pro Bowl trips from 2008-11 and established him as one of the league’s best 3-4 nose tackles in that time period.
“Heck of a player — I keep going back to that, because he played the right way for the Cowboys. He was always a guy who practiced hard, he played hard, the game was important to him. Anybody that was around him knows the demeanor that he played with,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “He was an intimidating figure. He was an incredibly productive player for us, a Pro Bowl player, and a great example to his teammates about how to play the game.”
Of any teammate that saw that example, DeMarcus Ware stands out. Following Ratliff’s release, Ware is the final member of the Cowboys’ 2005 draft class on the roster – Ware was taken 11th overall, in the first round, while Ratliff’s seventh round selection came all the way at No. 224.
Ware said it’s odd looking around the locker room and seeing only long snapper L.P. Ladouceur remaining from the team’s 2005 rookie class.
“When you talk about just the business of the game, things happen for certain reasons, reasons I don’t know. You’ve just got to keep playing,” Ware said. “He came in with me. I feel like now, me and L.P., we’re the last Mohicans here. You’ve just got to look at it as a business. I know Jay, he’s going to end up going to another team because he’s a great player like that.”
Having spent nine seasons on the defensive line with him, Ware is well qualified to talk about Ratliff, but several other Cowboys veterans had thoughts to offer.
As of Thursday afternoon, Ratliff’s locker had yet to be cleaned out. Jason Witten, whose locker sits our feet away, said he’ll remember the high level of play evidenced by the Pro Bowl sticker’s adorning Ratliff’s area.
“He’s a guy I’ve known for a long time. We played together a long time – a core group of us, and he’s a guy you wanted on your side on Sundays, that’s for sure,” Witten said.
In Ratliff’s official statement, delivered by his agent Mark Slough on Wednesday, he was sure to thank Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones for taking the chance of drafting him. In addressing the decision to release him Thursday, Jones repaid those thanks to the veteran.
“You know, I have a long history of having an appreciation for guys who give it up and work and play through pain, and I do with Jay. So it is disappointing that that great career of his has to end. As it turns out, all great players have to have a time,” Jones said. “Now, his career has maybe not ended, but I know he gave us great effort. He’s a tremendous competitor. I don’t look at anything but positives, I really don’t. We needed him when we had him, and we need him now that we don’t have him. But that’s just not the way it is – that’s the reality of it. We do, as I certainly would, wish him the very best and a speedy rehab and hope for him that he has more career.” (Watch video | Play audio)
RELATED: Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones discuss details of Jay Ratliff’s release
IRVING, Texas – One day after their decision to release Jay Ratliff, the Cowboys spoke about the implications and issues surrounding the move.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, as well as coach Jason Garrett spoke to the media about the past year of uncertainty around Ratliff. Jones said the decision to release the veteran involved a number of variables – most notably, consideration of the salary cap and the team’s prospects this season.
“This was a decision that certainly had salary cap implications – every decision does in this day and time,” Jones said. “But it also had immediate consideration for what it’s going to mean for this season, and we’re excited about what our opportunities are here. So both of those things were part of this decision.”
The decision to cut Ratliff will save the team the cost of paying him had he been moved to the injured reserve. That raises the question of why the Cowboys placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform List to start the season. But Garrett said he still had hope of using Ratliff after he strained his hamstring during his pre-training camp conditioning test.
“I think you’re always hopeful about the health of every player and you make designations accordingly,” he said. “I can give you 50 examples of decisions we’ve made as to when to put someone on IR and why, when to put someone on PUP and why, and when to keep someone on the active roster and why. That was the decision we made.”
The matter of Ratliff’s debilitating injury, not the hamstring strain but the one suffered against Cleveland in 2012, remains confusing. Mark Slough, Ratliff’s agent, said Wednesday that his client’s lower body injury had been mischaracterized as a sports hernia, when it in fact involved severe ligament and muscle damage.
Neither Jones nor Garrett would speak in specifics, as a matter of legal obligations. But both supported the reliability of the team’s medical staff in its evaluations.
“I can’t comment on the medical aspects of this thing. Without being trite, I don’t want to be because this is not a trite matter,” Jones said. “It’s a sad matter, because we do need him and he wants to be out competing and helping his teammates and helping us win. But I can’t operate in a world where I go back and take today’s information and apply it to decisions made one year ago.”
Garrett added: “We have a tremendous amount of confidence in our medical staff, and the only way that I can answer that is injuries are challenging and you don’t always know how a player’s
going to respond. The ability for him to come back in a timely manner – you make a lot of highly educated guesses about the status of a player based on the player, based on what the injury is, what particular position he may play. So you’re always doing that. We do that every day.”
That extends to the conditioning test, which both Garrett and Jones said is only ever performed at the discretion of the player involved. Again, though, few specifics were provided.