IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are already without their most productive linebacker for the rest of the season and today, received another scare when Bruce Carter left practice with a finger injury.
After getting X-rays, Carter has a broken ring finger but said he still expects to play against the Cardinals on Sunday.
“I’ll be fine. They’re just going to use kind of like this splint I have now,” Carter said Thursday in the locker room. “Wrap it up and I should be fine. I don’t want no big club. I have to be able to get the interceptions. I always try to stay away from those.”
Carter said his finger got caught while trying to cover running back Lance Dunbar in practice.
“I guess my finger got caught in his pads,” Carter said. “I ran off and I was kind of just settling and then I don’t know and I had this pinch in my finger and I opened it up and my finger was broke I guess.”
Carter returned Monday night against the Redskins after missing three games with a quad injury. With Justin Durant now out for the season with torn biceps injury, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to start Rolando McClain, Bruce Carter and likely Kyle Wilber (although Anthony Hitchens will get some reps as well).
IRVING, Texas – Rolando McClain returned to practice, though Tony Romo was once again absent with his back contusion.
McClain showed up on the injury report with a shoulder problem Wednesday after missing the first practice of the week. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he believed it was an injury sustained during the Monday night loss to Washington.
“He started feeling it over the last 48 hours or so,” Garrett said. “We anticipate him doing something today, the extent of which we don’t know yet.”
The Cowboys were not fully-padded for Thursday’s session, but they did wear helmets and shoulder pads as they continue their prep for Arizona. Garrett said the more physical nature of Thursday, as opposed to Wednesday’s walkthrough, would help determine McClain’s readiness for Sunday.
As for Romo, the quarterback missed his second-consecutive day of practice after taking a knee to his back on Monday night. Garrett classified the problem as a bone contusion today, and he said Romo’s status for the Cardinals game continues to be “day-by-day.”
“Don’t anticipate him doing much, but we hope that he’s going to be out there and be able to do something. We’ll see as the day goes on,” Garrett said.
Romo was not present for the media portion of practice, which encompasses the first 20 minutes of the session. Garrett also reiterated Romo’s point from Wednesday, that this injury is unrelated to prior ones and doesn’t pose a threat to become a long-term problem.
“We don’t think that’s the nature of this injury. As much as anything else, it’s being able to handle the pain to the point where he can function and do his job,” Garrett said. “And that’s where we are and we’ll see how he does over the next few days to answer that question.”
The Dallas Cowboys three new signings, linebacker Tim Dobbins (more on him below) and practice squad players Will Smith and Jeff Baca, were also at practice. Dobbins, who was signed to replace Justin Durant, will wear No. 48. Smith, a seventh-round draft pick by the team back in May, will wear No. 40. Baca, a guard who was signed Wednesday evening, will wear No. 62.
MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: Scouting Report – LB Tim Dobbins
College: Iowa State | NFL Seasons: 9 | Drafted: San Diego Chargers, 5th round 2006
NFL Stops: San Diego, Miami, Houston, Atlanta
Games Scouted: Atlanta, Preseason 2014: Miami, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville
- Played as an inside linebacker. Has some explosive pop to his game. In scouting terms we would say he is more of a “thumper.”
- Shows some strike and balance. Plays on his feet. He’s able to hold his ground at the point of attack. Will step up and take on blockers. Would like to see him be better with his hands when taking on those blocks. There were some snaps where he got tied up. Needs to shed quicker.
- Sees the ball, but I didn’t feel like he had a burst to it. There were snaps where he was making effort to get to the ball but was a step late. Not much start-stop quickness. Effort and hustle was good.
- Had one missed tackle in the hole when he came off the ball carrier in the Miami game, but from that point on did a solid job in the other games as that wrap up tackler. Showed the ability to work down the line searching the ball and finish the play.
- Showed awareness to play in coverage. Was able to take the tight end in the flat. Struggled a little in coverage not in giving up plays but with his technique. Was fine when the ball was underneath but when he had to carry a man down the field he was clutching and grabbing the whole way due to his lack of foot quickness but worked hard to stay in position. Would not call this a strength of his.
- Only had a couple of shots as a blitz guy and nothing really jumped out there. Would rush but didn’t show the counter moves or quickness to make much happen.
- Has special teams experience as the R4 on the kick off team, ROG on the kickoff return, left tackle on the punt team, blocker on the punt return.
- Had a chance to visit with some front office guys that had been with him say he has an outgoing, energetic personality. Can be physical but does have average speed which limits him at times. His playing experience will be an asset especially this time of the year.
BROADDUS BREAKDOWN: DeMarcus Lawrence debut; Beasley could neutralize pressure
He’s not even officially on the roster yet, but it’s being tabbed as a big debut opportunity for DeMarcus Lawrence. The Dallas Cowboys need to generate a pass rush, and there’s no time like the present for the rookie to help out.
On top of that, the Cowboys need to utilize a quick passing game if they’re going to neutralize this Arizona pressure scheme. A big component of that is going to be the often-overlooked Cole Beasley.
Let’s get into the breakdown of this week’s two biggest matchups:
Rookie DE DeMarcus Lawrence against Cardinals OT Jared Veldheer
This will be the first professional action for Lawrence and his availability couldn’t have come at a better time for this defense. When training camp opened, I believed Lawrence was going to play his way into this starting lineup, but with him breaking those bones in his foot — it was a disappointing set back to say the least.
If there is a silver lining to Lawrence being out, these first eight games of the season it has allowed him to physically remake his body in the weight room. In his rehab time away from the game, it has allowed him to put on ten good pounds of muscle, which most scouts were concerned he sure could have used.
With the added strength and lack of seasonal wear and tear on his body, he will be ready to provide a much needed pass rush to a defense that has been good in providing pressure but doesn’t have the sack numbers to show for it. Jermey Mincey will continue to be the starter at the right defensive end, but instead of Anthony Spencer or Laver Edwards as the backup it will be Lawrence off that edge.
Another benefit with Lawrence returning is that it will also allow Mincey to play down inside in the nickel, where he has shown the ability to get that pressure when he lined up over the guard. Putting two pressure players on that right side should generate some really nice opportunities against Jared Veldheer and guard Ted Larsen.
WR Cole Beasley against Cardinals CB Jerraud Powers
Last week against the Eagles, Jerraud Powers was forced into the starting lineup when Patrick Peterson went out of the game with a concussion. Powers will normally line up as the nickel cornerback when the Cardinals go to that package.
With the way that the Cardinals like to play their corners in man-to-man coverage, there is a tremendous amount of confidence in both Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson — but on tape you see the confidence these coaches have in Powers and his ability to make plays. For the Cowboys, whether it’s Tony Romo or Brandon Weeden at quarterback, the ball is going to need to get out quickly.
Offensively, when you deal with a defense that likes to bring pressure, receivers must win on the outside. Of the Cowboys receivers that can win off the snap, Cole Beasley can make that happen with his routes. There were several snaps against the Redskins last Monday night where the Cowboys were faced with pressure and Beasley was open, but the ball did not come in his direction.
I do not see this offense making the same mistakes in their protections or failing to get the ball in Beasley’s hands. The Broncos did a really nice job of taking advantage of some of the matchups that they were able to create inside against the Cardinals. I expect we will see the exact same thing scheme-wise from Scott Linehan against this Arizona defense.
Henry Melton wants to put opposing QBs in their place … on the ground
Henry Melton only got half of his two major goals last Monday night.
Sacking a fellow Texas Longhorn was on the list, and he did that twice. But winning the game the biggest goal on his mind and obviously the Cowboys came up short.
“I had a good celebration planned out and I didn’t get to do it.” said Henry Melton Wednesday afternoon at Valley Ranch.
But overall, Melton said he’s happy about the progress he made individually moving forward.
“It’s a week to week thing,” Melton said. “I’m just going to go out and practice and really just trying to still get my feet under me and work on my craft.”
Dallas took a flyer on Melton this season, just months after tearing his ACL while playing with the Chicago Bears and it could be starting to pay off. His most productive years, 2011 and 2012, were spent in the “Windy City” where he tallied 13 sacks and he believes a return to form is near.
“There’s no doubt in my mind. Anybody will tell you around here that’s what I’ve been doing,” Melton said. “Just preparing myself to be the guy that this defense needs.”
And this defense is desperate to turn pressure into sacks. Through eight weeks, Dallas has registered a measly nine sacks as a team. Only four teams are worse in that category so you can imagine how pleased Jason Garrett was to see Melton pull Colt McCoy to the ground twice.
“He showed up maybe as much as he has all year long,” Garrett said of Melton’s Monday night performance. “He’s playing more and more and he seems active and he looked quick and fast and explosive to me, making some plays that made a difference in the game.”
But that doesn’t mean the former fourth round draft pick is resting on his laurels.
“I still have things to work on,” Melton said. “We’re halfway there (in the season). Hopefully were just going to gain momentum.”
Next up, the Arizona Cardinals who have weapons galore on the outside in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd or John Brown. Even Ted Ginn has the capability of making the game changing play. If Melton can make Carson Palmer’s life uncomfortable, the Cowboys could not only get back in the win column, but beat the Cardinals for the first time since 2006.
“We gotta get to him. He likes to be in the pocket,” Melton said. “Doesn’t matter where I line up I need to be the one pressing the pocket.”
One of his sacks against the Redskins came at the defensive end position. Something rarely done in his six-year career.
“Anytime I’m in position to help the team then it feels good.”
And feeling good is Jason Garrett watching Henry Melton do Henry Melton type things up front.
“He seemed very comfortable out there. He’s a very athletic guy,” said Garrett. “I think as much as anything, the health thing with him is a big factor, him getting back to being himself.”
So whether that’s throwing up the “Hook ‘Em Horns” sign or unveiling the “other” celebration he’s got planned out. If Melton’s celebrating, that means he’s put another opposing quarterback where he belongs: on the ground.
In their own words … plus, local analysis shows …
Jason Garrett: Optimistic about Romo; Prepping for Arizona | Listen/Download | 12: 29
Weeden confident he can “Keep the train on the track” | Listen/Download | 4:41
Cowboys Lunch Break: Winning with Weeden | Listen/Download | 47:51
Rod Marinelli: It’s about winning, not about stats | Listen/Download | 4:56
Talkin’ Cowboys: Previewing the Cardinals defense | Listen/Download | 58:45