IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox is arguably coming off the best game of his young career last week in Philadelphia. But it’s unlikely he’ll be able to follow head coach Jason Garrett’s motto and “stack good games together” when the team travels to Detroit.
Wilcox will likely have to miss Sunday’s matchup against the Lions after suffering a sprained right knee, which required an MRI Thursday afternoon. Wilcox said he had a sprained MCL, an injury he suffered on his left knee in college at Georgia Southern.
“It feel better this time than that injury,” Wilcox said. “I’m disappointed, but that’s football. That’s the way it goes.”
Wilcox suffered the injury late in today’s practice during red-zone drills when he came down awkwardly after competing for a pass with tight end Gavin Escobar.
Wilcox agreed he likely wouldn’t be able to play this week against the Detroit Lions and said it’s too early to tell if the Nov. 2 game with Minnesota Vikings is a possibility. But the rookie definitely perked up when asked about a possible return for the Saints game on Nov. 10.
“I don’t know just yet, but I don’t think it’ll be that bad,” Wilcox said. “I just have to work hard to get back soon.”
A third-round pick in the 2013 draft, Wilcox has been improving each week, and made a key play in last Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
“I really felt like I was coming on,” Wilcox said. “I’ve always had a lot [of confidence] but I know I’ve gotten better and felt like I was starting to really help the team. So hopefully this won’t be a big setback.”
If Wilcox doesn’t play, the Cowboys will likely start rookie Jeff Heath, who is battling an injury sustained on his right forearm last week. He said the issue won’t keep him out of practice or the game.
“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.”
The Cowboys also have Danny McCray, who is one of the team’s better special teams contributors. The club could add a fourth safety – possibly rookie Jakar Hamilton, who is currently on the practice squad.
Wilcox is currently seventh on the team with 28 tackles. He took over as a starter in Week 3 against the Rams and started five straight games, making a career-high nine tackles against Denver.
He won the starting job outright from Will Allen, who was eventually waived. Wilcox had a stellar training camp and preseason despite having to miss nearly a week in the middle of camp to be with his ailing mother, who passed away in August.
Wilcox still returned to play in the last two preseason games and got a few snaps in the first two regular-season games before the coaching staff made him a starter. Wilcox has had two interceptions nullified this year – one by penalty against the Rams and the other by the replay booth last week.
NO “I” IN TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Sean Lee believes other teammates more deserving of Defensive Player of the Week Award
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee doesn’t think much of being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team with 11 tackles and recorded an interception.
Lee said it didn’t have a perfect game and that other teammates were more deserving. Mostly, his focus on helping the Cowboys continue to improve defensively rather than an individual award, while pointing out that they are just two games removed from giving up 51 points in a loss to the Broncos.
“I think there are guys on our defense who played better than I did who probably could have gotten that award instead of me,” Lee said. “It was a great team effort and great win. The key for us is to continue cause you look back two games ago and we gave up 51 points. We still have room to improve.”
Jay Ratliff left the building only a week before his No. 90 and his locker went to another defensive tackle. Marvin Austin has taken over both after the Dallas Cowboys signed him Tuesday.
Austin spent two seasons with the Giants after they made him a second-round pick in 2011. He spent two games with the Dolphins this season before his release Oct. 15.
“It’s definitely a new beginning and a lot to build on,” Austin said.
Austin, listed at 6 foot 2, 312 pounds, still was pouring with sweat a half hour after practice. He admits he is not in football shape.
“Not good enough,” Austin said. “To be honest with you just the way they practice and the way they want you to go out there and play, I’ve got to keep working every day to get in shape to go out there and perform.”
Austin hopes defensive line coach Rod Marinelli can work the same magic with him as Marinelli has with several no names along the defensive line.
“His record speaks for itself and coach [Monte] Kiffin also,” Austin said. “The way that those guys coach, and the success they’ve had in this league, I have no excuses.”
IRVING, Texas – For the majority of 54 seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed the moniker of being America’s Team.
Now, they’re going to officially take the show to England.
For the first time in franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys will play a regular-season game overseas. In 2014, Dallas will participate in one of the NFL’s three scheduled games in London for the 2014 International Series. The Cowboys will play the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are giving up their home game, to play America’s Team at Wembley Stadium.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the move this week in London, revealing all three matchups. Along with the Cowboys and Jaguars, the Falcons will host the Lions and Oakland will host the Dolphins.
While the dates have the game will be announced at a later time, the Cowboys and Jaguars are expected to have their bye week following their matchup in London.
For years, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said his team could play in the London game, but always as the road team. With AT&T Stadium drawing anywhere from 80,000 fans to as much as 105,000, the Cowboys would never agree to give up one of their eight home games.
However, the crowds in London have been rather respectable over the years. Since the NFL first started playing regular season games in London in 2007, the games are averaging 82,443 in seven games. From 2007-2012, the NFL has played just one game per season in London. This year, two games are scheduled and next year the league is bumping the number up to three.
“Our fans in the UK continue to demonstrate their passion for more football,” Goodell said. “Next year for the first time we will play three regular-season games in London. We have scheduled three attractive games with four teams playing in their first International Series game. The growing enthusiasm for the NFL internationally is exciting and we look forward to continuing to respond to this interest in our game.”
The International Series has increased NFL fan interest in the UK, with a current fan base of more than 12 million, including 2.5 million avid fans, a 30 percent increase in avid fans in the past two years.
Television ratings have shown substantial growth in the UK since 2006 – with Sunday viewership of NFL games almost doubling and the Super Bowl audience having increased 75 percent. The league also has developed new and stronger business partnerships.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen since the start of the International Series, growing by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007.
The Cowboys’ opponent next year might garner a few fans in London by next year’s game. Not only are the Jaguars playing the 49ers this week, but Jacksonville has agreed to play in the UK every year through the 2016 season.
The Dallas Cowboys played in the first American Bowl in 1986, when they met Chicago at Wembley Stadium. Dallas also played Detroit in London in the 1993 preseason.
The Dallas Cowboys have also played preseason games in Tokyo, Toronto, Mexico City and Monterrey.
But unlike all of the other meetings, next year’s game will actually count in the standings.
Editor comments: This website can vouch for the NFL’s claim about significant interest coming from the UK. Our website hits from the United Kingdom are ranked fourth behind the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Fans following the Dallas Cowboys (and NFL) on this website have originated from 152 countries around the world. The European nations, when combined, are ranked #2.
While facing Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is daunting enough, the Dallas Cowboys might have to do it without one of their starting safeties.
Rookie J.J. Wilcox suffered a knee injury in today’s practice and will undergo an MRI later in the afternoon. The Cowboys are fearing a possible MCL sprain but at this point, before the test results, it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending injury. The injury occurred in the red-zone drills when he battled tight end Gavin Escobar for a ball in the end zone and came down awkwardly on his knee.
A third-round pick from Georgia Southern, Wilcox has been improving each week, and made a key play in last week’s game against the Eagles when he deflected away what appeared to be a touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. Wilcox also had an interception that was called back when replay officials said the ball first hit the ground, ruling an incomplete pass.
If Wilcox doesn’t play, the Dallas Cowboys will likely start rookie Jeff Heath, who is battling an injury of his own. Heath sustained a right forearm injury last week but said the injury won’t keep him out of practice or the game.
The Cowboys also have Danny McCray, who is one of the team’s better special teams contributor. But if Wilcox can’t go, it’s likely the club would need to add a fourth safety – possibly rookie Jakar Hamilton, who is currently on the practice squad. To sign Hamilton, the Cowboys would have to release another player.
Wilcox is currently seventh on the team with 28 tackles. He took over as a starter in Week 3 against the Rams and started five straight games. He made a career-high nine tackles against Denver.