IRVING, Texas – Greg Hardy is on hand for the start of the Dallas Cowboys OTAs, but he’ll be absent Thursday when he heads to Washington D.C. for the appeal of his 10-game suspension.
It’s unclear when a verdict will be reached, but it will at least begin the process of resolving the issue.
The Dallas Cowboys signed the 2013 Pro Bowler in March, and he was suspended for 10 games on April 23.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has given the appeal to Harold Henderson, who upheld the commissioner’s ruling in the Adrian Peterson case last fall.
This looks likely to be the final milestone in determining Hardy’s availability for this season. For the time being, he is eligible to participate in all offseason workouts, training camp and the preseason – but he won’t be available for a game until Thanksgiving, against Carolina.
The Dallas Cowboys have said from the time they signed Hardy that they were prepared for any disciplinary action the league levied.
Despite that, the Cowboys would undoubtedly prefer to see a reduced suspension for their premiere free agency acquisition. Dallas signed Hardy to a one-year, low-risk contract on March 18. The deal comes with no guarantees and pays the six-year veteran just $750,000 in base salaries, but it is loaded with up to $9.2 million in per-game bonuses.
If Hardy does in fact miss 10 games, the Cowboys will save roughly $5.78 million on the contract.
Hardy combined for 27 sacks during the 2012 and 2013 seasons with Carolina. He played in just one game during the 2014 season before he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while his legal issues played out.
Dallas Cowboys sign former first-round WR A.J. Jenkins; Boyd waived
The Dallas Cowboys added to their wide receiver corps this morning by signing free agent A.J. Jenkins – one of nine players who worked out with the team last Thursday.
Jenkins is a former first-round pick, taken No. 30 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. He played one season in San Francisco, appearing in three games without a reception, before he was traded to Kansas City. He played two seasons with the Chiefs, logging 17 catches for 223 yards before he was released this past February.
To make room for Jenkins, the Dallas Cowboys waived/injured Chris Boyd, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last spring and took part in training camp. He was released at the end of the 2014 preseason, but he spent the final month of last season the practice squad.
The move gives the Cowboys another competitor for their fifth receiver spot, which is vacant after Dwayne Harris departed in free agency in March. The Cowboys didn’t address the position in the NFL draft, but they signed five undrafted free agents in addition to Jenkins.
The decision to sign Jenkins also should help offset the absence of Dez Bryant during Organized Team Activities, which begin this morning. Bryant isn’t expected to participate in OTAs, as he has yet to sign his franchise tender. Without Bryant in the fold, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Devin Street are the team’s only returning receivers.
Also, during the preseason, and the first-teamers have played their quota, someone needs to be able to help out Brandon Weeden or Dustin Vaughan.
Jenkins was one of four free agent receivers to work out with the Cowboys last week, along with B.J. Cunningham, Tommy Streeter and Kris Durham. Jenkins was an All-Big Ten receiver at Illinois, as he tallied 146 catches for 2,022 yards and 15 touchdowns in his last two seasons in college.
Dallas Cowboys kicking tires on free agent running backs
Kicking tires, that is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys were doing last week (Thursday) when working out a combination of nine running backs and wide receivers at The Ranch.
Doing their homework in case. Just because the Cowboys worked out running back Ben Tate, that didn’t mean they were giving up on Darren McFadden or Joseph Randle or Lance Dunbar or Ryan Williams.
They were just examining the field in case one of those guys should get hurt between now and the Sept. 13 season opener. Tate’s surgically repaired knee from his 2011 rookie season would not suggest long-term confidence. And it’s not as if the Cowboys are trying to turn back the clock on Felix Jones. It’s a look-see.
Word at The Ranch is a world of confidence in McFadden and Randle. As a reminder, the Cowboys paid Williams a $240,000 signing bonus on his offseason two-year deal. That had to do with teams (near the end of last season) trying to sign him off the practice squad.
Dallas Cowboys turn CB Orlando Scandrick’s frown upside down
The Dallas Cowboys helped put a smile back on disgruntled CB Orlando Scandrick’s face without putting a huge burden on their salary cap over the next five seasons.
The Cowboys added one year to his contract and a total of $9.5 million. Nearly half that total is a non-guaranteed $4 million base salary in the now final year of 2019 when he will be 32 years old.
They also gave him a $3 million signing bonus, which means prorated over the next five years only adds $600,000 to the cap each year.
The average of his next five base salaries total $3.3 million . . . not bad for a starting corner.
Consider those numbers when reading some of the bloated ones being tossed around. Also, remember the previously poor $1.5 million base salary for 2015 would have been $5 million if the Cowboys had not advanced him the difference in signing bonus during the 2013 restructure … at his request.
PRO SCOUTING REPORT: New Dallas Cowboys WR A. J. Jenkins
A.J. Jenkins | Wide Receiver | 6-0 192 | College: Illinois
Games Studied: Kansas City 2014 vs. Denver, New England, San Francisco, San Diego, New York Jets, Buffalo
Nice quickness off the line when he had the opportunity to run those types of routes. Was mainly used as a screen and slant route runner. Coaches did their best to try and get the ball into his hands quickly and let him create on his own.
Jenkins did an outstanding job shaking loose of tacklers in the Chargers game and nearly taking a screen to the house – but he stepped out of bounds. He shows some initial quickness with the burst. From what I observed, he only had one opportunity where he went on a vertical route where he had a chance to separate but he didn’t.
It was amazing how many poor passes that he had to adjust to from Alex Smith. Even with the screens, he had to adjust back with his body to make catches. Worked hard to make the catch. Has no issues trying to catch the ball in a crowd. Limited run after catch with the exception of the Chargers game. Didn’t appear to fight the ball when it came in his direction – made some soccer goalie type of plays. Will extend to catch the ball away from his body.
His catching radius is wide. Did not see many snaps where he was used as a blocker. Would line up tight to the formation or in a bunch formation – was even used out of the backfield on some running plays to the corner.
I’m not quite sure why he has had the issues catching on with the 49ers or Chiefs. I have seen receivers on the street that have far worse talent than him. Appears to be a flyer that is worth taking a chance on just from the snaps that I was able to see in these games. Surprises you with the plays that he makes due to the numbers of passes he sees.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | NFL Analyst/Former NFL Scout
SILVER AND BLUE LINING: While Dez is away, the others will play
As long as Dez Bryant continues to miss the Dallas Cowboys voluntary offseason workouts without a signed franchise tag tender or a new long-term contract, there’s a silver lining offered by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan …
Additional reps are available for third-year receiver Terrance Williams and Devin Street, the team’s fifth-round pick last year who worked with the first-team offense during today’s first organized team activities (OTAs) session.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Terrance and Street for these guys to up their reps, especially with the first group,” Linehan said three weeks ago during the team’s rookie minicamp. “You’re kind of practicing on your depth and giving guys an opportunity to work with that first group. Normally that’s not going to happen – you’re kind of isolating that first group, Dez and (Jason) Witten, Terrance only at the Z (position) and all that. Now it really gives us a chance to develop guys that normally would be working with the second or third group, with our first group.
“You’ve got to look at it as a great opportunity, and I think it is.”
Ideally, of course, the Cowboys would like their star receiver on the field for every workout. Bryant wasn’t expected to participate in OTAs today because he’s technically not under contract yet, and for that reason, he has mostly worked out away from Valley Ranch since the voluntary strength and conditioning program began in late April.
That could change at some point, but given Bryant’s experience and his diligent approach to preparation, his absence from voluntary workouts hasn’t been a sizable concern. The club did sign former 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins for depth during OTAs. Without Bryant available, Williams, Street and Cole Beasley are the only receivers from last year’s roster.
And those first-team reps with quarterback Tony Romo are invaluable for Street, who has drawn praise from the coaching staff but couldn’t find a consistent role as a rookie. He also got additional work with Romo during the Phase Two offseason teaching sessions.
The Cowboys OTAs are the first practice-like atmosphere (helmets and shorts, no live contact) for new defensive end Greg Hardy, as well as the first look at a revamped running back rotation with Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden likely to share first-team reps.
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is also back after receiving his extension. One player who could not practice Tuesday was seventh-round offensive tackle Laurence Gibson due to a finger injury.
“Once we started the off-season program, attendance was great and the work ethic was great,” head coach Jason Garrett said last week. “We try to focus on each day and try to be great in whatever we’re doing, whether it’s a meeting, a walkthrough, (or) we’re out on the practice field we have a lot of guys who love to play the game and want to make it as great as it can be.”