2014-2015 GAME 9 PRIMER: Cardinals vs. Cowboys | Romo rest, Weeden test | Rushman DeMarcus Lawrence activated | Josh Brent signs extension | Keeping Hope Alive | Injury and Practice Report
IRVING, Texas – It’s looking more and more likely that Brandon Weeden will start Sunday against Arizona, but the Cowboys aren’t willing to rule Tony Romo out just yet. Continue reading →
2014 GAME 9 PRIMER: Arizona vs. Dallas | ‘Round the Roster update–Linebacker lumps; Leary bumped | Meet your new Cowboy | DeMarcus Lawrence debut | Melton on the Mend
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. Continue reading →
2014 GAME 9 INJURY UPDATE: Arizona vs. Dallas | OLB Justin Durant season ends; MLB McClain sits | LB Tim Dobbins signed | Breaking down the breakdown | Emphasis placed on solid tackling | Cowboys-Cardinals Injury and Practice Report
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed linebacker Tim Dobbins to the active roster and moved Justin Durant to season-ending injured reserve. Continue reading →
2014 GAME 8 INJURY UPDATE: Washington vs. Dallas | OLB Bruce Carter returns | Only two Cowboys miss this week | Cowboys-Redskins Injury and Practice Report
IRVING, Texas – It appears the Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps is at full health once more – or as close as it can get to full health this season. Continue reading →
There are reasons that teams try and protect themselves with players at certain positions throughout the season. This team has had a history of carrying extra players on the roster just in case they had to deal with an injury or two. There is no question that the investment that Jerry Jones made in Kyle Orton two seasons ago, was clearly in mind for the situation that they are now dealing with Tony Romo.
There are important positions that you must have backups on your team but to go short at quarterback, you are just asking for disaster. To Kyle Orton’s credit, he put aside his feelings and desires to compete as a starting quarterback, for an opportunity to sit behind Tony Romo and be ready if he is called on. What do you get from Kyle Orton against the Eagles on Sunday? Here are my thoughts:
- Is ready at a moment’s notice. Regardless of what people might believe, Orton gets no reps in practice with the first offense. When the team practices on offense, whether it is 8 to 10 plays, Romo takes all the snaps, it’s just the team’s way of getting Romo ready to play. Orton will get reps with the receivers, tight ends and backs when he throws drills during 1-on-1 or 7-on-7, but that is largely where he gets work with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, or DeMarco Murray.
- Where Orton is completely different from Romo is in the area of mobility, so those 2nd chance throws that we see from Romo where he buys time with his feet, you will not see those types of plays. Orton has to play with his smarts in this area by knowing where to go with the ball.
- Orton like Romo, is just as willing to take a chance on a tight window throw. Orton does play with a great deal of confidence in his ability to put the ball right on the receiver. I have seen him make throws where the receiver is completely covered, but he somehow managed to fit the ball right in there. Not afraid to rip the ball down the middle of the field.
- In the times that I have seen Orton work, have always been impressed with his smarts when it came to reading the defense and getting rid of the ball. Knows he has to be smart in setting the protection and making the right reads because of his lack of foot quickness. Is more likely to hang in there and deliver the ball but you know it is coming out of there. Does a really nice job of keeping his eyes down the field.
- Throws a very catchable ball. Has some power on it but he is one of those quarterbacks that doesn’t make his receivers have to work for it. Can hit receivers stationary or on the move. Knows how to throw them open. Doesn’t put his guys in bad spots. Ball will arrive on time, not the type to throw it late. Does a nice job of reading coverage and going the right direction.
- Would not say that he is the ball handler or faker of Romo. Not going to completely sell the fake but more likely to hit it quick, then get the ball down the field.
- Has really nice touch for screens and check down passes. Threw one of the prettiest touch passes I had ever seen to Cole Beasley in a game during the preseason against the Raiders for a touchdown that was just right over the top of the defender.
- Do not see the offense changing much with him at quarterback. Still can run your scheme because he has the experience and ability to make plays. Do not have to hold things back because of him.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Dallas Cowboys Analyst/Former Scout
GAME 15 GAMEPLAN – COWBOYS VS REDSKINS: It’s time to “let your star be the star” | Cowboys injury shuffle continues in Dallas
IRVING, Texas – Twenty-four hours from now, the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game will be in the history books. Here are some final thoughts prior to the game …
Let Your Star Be The Star
Where Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan have done a much better job in the 2nd half of this season is finding ways to move Dez Bryant around in order to find him space in the defense. By using Bryant on the outside but also in the slot has prevented teams from getting a read on where he is going to operate from. Also give Bryant credit for embracing all the moving around and doing a solid job with his assignments and routes. Against this Redskins secondary, there will be opportunities for some productive plays that are simple throws. Keep an eye on Bryant out of the slot this week if the Redskins decide not to bring DeAngelo Hall with him inside. Usually Josh Wilson will play the slot and there is no way that if Bryant continues to run those routes across the field and underneath, that he can match him. Expect Garrett and Callahan to become even more creative in where they move Dez Bryant around in this game.
In his press conference on Friday morning, Jason Garrett was asked about how hard it was to practice and prepare for the Redskins this week with all the players that were missing at one time or another for various medical reasons. His answer was that it wasn’t easy but you find ways to adjust. The biggest problem for this club is trying to field enough players for your scout teams to give your first and second groups the plays they need to work against to get ready for the ball game. If you just take the defensive group for example, with Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware, and George Selvie missing time, that meant guys like Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn, and Martez Wilson had to take double reps working with both the defense, then turning around and playing on the scout team for the offense. DeVonte Holloman will be getting his first start at Mike (middle linebacker) because of injuries to Sean Lee, Justin Durant and Ernie Sims, but there he was getting work on the scout team, just trying to help out. Kyle Wilber is another guy that does this as well. Brandon Carr missed the last two days of practice dealing with a virus, so Sterling Moore who now starts in the nickel on the outside was working as a scout team corner with B.W. Webb. Garrett even spoke of offensive players such as receivers working as corners, just so they could field 11 players to work against. If things had gotten any worse, I am sure, that defensive back coach, Jerome Henderson, who was a former NFL cornerback could have took a rep or two. The last thing a coaching staff wants to deal with is problems during their weekly preparation but it sounds like they were able to work around the issues they had.
Not A Simple Replacement
It will be another week without Dwayne Harris in the lineup due to his hamstring injury. Harris is like that Swiss Army Knife in your pocket. He is the blade, spoon and scissors all in one. Of all the injuries down the stretch, the one to Sean Lee was huge. You could make a case that the injury to Harris has been the one that is the most difficult to replace. There are so many roles that he has on the team, that you just can’t bring one player on board and feel like that is taken care of. In an attempt to find Harris’ replacement, the front office turned to the coaching staff in hope that their experience with certain players over the years, that there might be someone on the street that could maybe fill that void. In this case, Rich Bisaccia had been with Michael Spurlock during two different stops with the Buccaneers and Chargers. What you get from Spurlock is a punt and kickoff return man, an outside flyer on the punt team and a player you can use on the kickoff team as the L3 or R3 as a cover man. I am not going to tell you that Spurlock will be as productive as Dwayne Harris but it is important that his coach believes that he can more than handle the job and with so much on the line you need that type of confidence in the player.
Important Practice Squad Addition
It’s not normal to get too up (or down) about practice squad addition. It was important for various reasons to consistently add and subtract players. In order to not only give the coaches the best group of players to function every day for practice, but also trying to develop (one or two) players that might be able to use as future starters. Much like the Dallas Cowboys did with Ronald Leary in 2012. There are also other reasons you use your practice squad and that is to bring a player or two on that might have been with a future opponent and pick their brain about ways that they might operate. The Cowboys made a very interesting practice squad move on a player that was with the Redskins through their game in Atlanta just last week. Lance Lewis (see below) is a receiver that was on the active roster for the Redskins for the last month of the season and active in games against the 49ers, Giants, and Falcons. He takes the place of Jamar Newsome who was on the practice squad, but was injured this week. Usually teams will not add players this late in the week unless they are rolling guys on and off to have a nine or ten man roster. Lewis got to suit up with the Cowboys and practice on Friday and will do so again today before the team leaves this afternoon. As a staff, you look for any advantage that you might get in a matchup and in this case, the Dallas Cowboys might have found a good one.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys sign wide receiver Lance Lewis from Redskins squad
The Dallas Cowboys placed practice squad wide receiver Jamar Newsome on practice-squad IR on Friday. Newsome, who has been on the squad most of the year, suffered a calf strain.
The club has replaced him with wide receiver Lance Lewis, who has been with the Washington Redskins organization the last two years, mostly on the practice squad.
Adding Lewis gives the Cowboys three receivers on the practice squad, along with Tim Benford and Lanear Sampson.
There was some speculation that one of the practice-squad receivers could get a call-up this week, depending on Terrance Williams’ hamstring injury. After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, Williams returned to practice Friday and is listed as questionable to play against the Redskins on Sunday.
COWBOYS @ REDSKINS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 15 | Friday
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Redskins | Friday Practice (11:39)
- Brandon Carr’s illness and practice outlook
- Who else was sent home because of illness
- Redskins went for 2-point conversion to win last week; preparing for aggressive team
- Is team having to build up players confidence due to recent losses
- What is the mood and atmosphere around Valley Ranch this week
- Brian Orakpo vs.Tyron Smith matchup (Film breakdown on Orakpo)
- Barry Church’s grade in the past month
- How DeVonte Holloman looking so far in practice (as middle linebacker)
- Challenges of using backup players due to injuries of starters
- Is there extra pressure to score on first possession with his defense struggling
- Expectations for Bruce Carter with Sean Lee being out of the lineup this week
- What motivates a team like Washington with a loosing record to win games like these
- Evaluation of Tony Romo’s throws and accuracy during the Green Bay game
- (Reporter from Japan) How do you plan to improve your defense after two losses
- Advantages and disadvantages of running the dime defense vs. Redskins
- Is passing inaccuracy due to now really throwing very many deep passes this season
- Is Romo ranked 19th in pass attempts of 20 yds or longer surprising
- Progress on veteran Michael Spurlock’s practice this week; anticipate help on offense
- Adaption to having a true fullback on the team now
- Has Terrance Williams been around long enough to start with only a few practices
- Description of Alfred Morris’ running style
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 9:39
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 8:20
GAME 15 BLACK AND BLUE REPORT: Dallas Cowboys injury and practice update | 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys were without two linebackers, two cornerbacks and two receivers at practice today.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), cornerback Brandon Carr (illness), receiver Dwayne Harris (hamstring), receiver Terrance Williams (hamstring), linebacker Sean Lee (neck) and linebacker Ernie Sims (groin) did not practice.
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive end George Selvie (back), defensive end DeMarcus Ware (back) and defensive end Jarius Wynn (chest) were limited.
Linebacker Bruce Carter (hamstring) was a full participant.
Dallas Cowboys injury and practice update for today:
Today’s Washington Redskins Injury and Practice update
Did you know? Your 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys (and each week opponents) Injury and Practice updates are always only a click away!
COWBOYS VS. REDSKINS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 15 of 16 | Wednesday
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Redskins | Wednesday Practice (13:35)
- Addressing the “available” linebacker’s roles in practices and upcoming game
- If ever been in similar position of ‘not knowing’ what players will be available on gameday
- How do you help the defense with even more injuries on offense than last week
- Any scheme changes planned to help boost the offensive output
- Is it easier to gameplan with replacement players when QB is a traditional type player
- How do you combat against the types of beatdowns the Cowboys have faced recently
- How do you keep faith in Tony Romo when you start seeing late in game mistakes
- Does Romo need to be convinced how good the running game can be right now
- If JG is surprised by recent improvement in the running game
- OLs adaption and recent success with the zone blocking scheme
- Addressing Dwayne Harris’ injury situation regarding gameday
- What’s wrong with Terrance Williams this week
- The recent impact of losing the Special Teams field position with Harris being out
- The signing of new (big) defensive lineman Frank Kearse
- With LB Orie Lemon back, where does he best fit in this defense (W/M/S)
- Miles Austin’s return (from injury) has been incrementally better; grade on last game
- What is it about Jim Haslett defense that holds Cowboys offense back (scoring)
- Latest on Sean Lee and Ernie Sims injuries
- Sean Lee’s tests and results from them
- How did Holloman do (film room) with filling in for Sean Lee in last game
- Dealing with headset issue for the middle linebacker (went out in Green Bay game)
- Anticipate using a ‘dime package’ this week vs. Washington Redskins
- Was Jason Hatcher hurt or did he just have a bad game vs. Packers
- How effective can the Cowboys be with personnel packages due to lack of depth
- Has Brandon Carr lost his confidence
- Why is he not playing as well as he has earlier in the season
- Are teams targeting Carr more in the past couple of weeks
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DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Several key players not practicing today | Terrance Williams pulls hamstring | Special Teams veteran added to roster | Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 2013-2014 NFL Game 15 of 16
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys returned to practice at Valley Ranch with several players not in attendance, as expected.
In fact, there were a handful out on the field working with strength coaches and the athletic trainers.
Among those players included DeMarcus Ware, who has been slowed by a quad strain this year, although he has played the last five games.
Terrance Williams (see below), the latest player to suffer a hamstring injury, was on the field going through stretches, along with Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and Ernie Sims (groin/hip). Wide receiver Dwayne Harris was also in that group as he is recovering from a hamstring injury as well.
Defensive end George Selvie was in uniform but standing to the side. He might get limited work when the team turns in the official report.
For some good news, the Dallas Cowboys did have Bruce Carter out there practicing. The team was in full pads and Carter was participating. The defense could certainly use his experience and leadership for a linebacker corps that has been derailed by injuries. Sean Lee was not practicing or on the field because of a neck injury he sustained against the Bears.
If Carter can play, he will likely join rookie DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber as the starters, although Orie Lemon has been re-signed and practiced today. Rookie Cameron Lawrence is an option as well.
On offense, Michael Spurlock (see below) was practicing at receiver, wearing No. 15. He will also help in the return game, especially if Williams is out this week.
RELATED: Rookie WR Terrance Williams suffers latest hamstring injury
IRVING, Texas – Terrance Williams may not be available for the Dallas Cowboys Week 16 game against Washington, coach Jason Garrett said today.
Garrett said at his daily press conference that injured his hamstring during the team’s loss to Green Bay last weekend. He said Williams “may or may not be available” to play.
“Terrance has a little bit of a tweak to his hamstring,” he said.
That news adds another name to the list of hamstring injuries the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys have suffered since the season started. For those keeping track, Sean Lee, Justin Durant, Morris Claiborne, Dwayne Harris, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Miles Austin, Danny McCray, Lance Dunbar, Dez Bryant, Gavin Escobar and now Terrence Williams have all dealt with hamstring problems for varying amounts of time.
Garrett also said that Harris’ injury status is also undetermined for the Redskins game. The loss of both players would be a blow to the Cowboys’ depth at receiver, but it would also leave the team without its preferred punt and kick returners.
The Dallas Cowboys are looking into “contingency plans” in the event neither receiver is able to go, including signing of veteran return man Michael Spurlock (see below).
“We have to make sure we have some options. Joseph Randle is certainly in the mix there – someone who has done that before,” Garrett said. “We signed Michael Spurlock to come in. He’s been a returner in this league – both a punt returner and a kickoff returner. He also helps with our depth at receiver. Those are all the factors involved.”
The continued theme of hamstring injuries is something that has drawn more attention as the season has gone on. With such an inordinate amount of players sidelined with hamstrings, Garrett said it’s something the team is actively trying to address.
“It’s an ongoing thing. It’s not like we’re saying ‘Hey, we’ll figure that out.’ We’re talking about it now – what we can do a better job of,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll evaluate what we’re doing, what other teams are doing, who’s doing it best, who’s not doing it well – see if there’s some common ground there.”
Spurlock should be able to help with wide receiver depth, should Harris and Williams sit out. Garrett said the availability of Escobar and James Hanna at tight end may offset the need to add other receivers to the roster.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys sign special teams veteran receiver Michael Spurlock
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys need all the confidence they can get this week as they head to Washington in a game they need to win to likely keep their season alive.
And while they’ve already defeated the Washington Redskins 31-16 back in mid-October, the Dallas Cowboys probably won’t have the star of that game this week.
Dwayne Harris has been ailing with a nagging hamstring injury that has forced him out of two of the last three games. He’ll likely miss this week’s game in Washington as well and with that, he might not be back for the rest of the regular season.
So in an attempt to add a veteran presence who can at least try to fill in for the do-it-all Harris, the Cowboys have signed veteran Michael Spurlock, who reunites once again with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia.
Spurlock has played for Bisaccia in both Tampa Bay and San Diego, although he played nine games in Detroit this year.
Like Harris, Spurlock has experience as a punt returner, kick returner and also covers kicks. For his career, he has 80 punt returns for a 9.0 yard average and 104 kickoff returns, averaging 24.5 yards a return. He has five career touchdowns returns on punts (two) and kickoffs (three).
Losing Harris will be a big blow for the Dallas Cowboys. Harris ranks sixth in the NFL with a 30.5 kick return average. And his 14.0 yard punt return average would rank second in the league if he had enough returns to qualify.
Against the Redskins back in October, Harris was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week when he returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and later had a 90-yard kickoff return that led to another touchdown.
Spurlock is one of three players to be signed to the roster, along with linebacker Orie Lemon, who was with the team but cut last week to make room for Edgar Jones. The Cowboys are also expected to add defensive tackle Frank Kearse, who was on Tennessee’s practice squad but has played six games in his career with the Panthers.
IRVING, Texas – While the Dallas Cowboys will be playing in cold weather on Monday night, they were forced indoors yesterday because of heavy frozen rain and sleet in the Dallas area that left a blanket of ice on the Cowboys’ practice fields at Valley Ranch.
The Cowboys attempted to get the ice removed before practice but instead opted to bus the team to Highland Park High School in Dallas, where the Cowboys practiced in the school’s indoor facility.
While some of the coaches stayed overnight at Valley Ranch, a few of the players had to be picked up by staff members and team officials to get them in the facility for practice and meetings.
The practice, which was closed to the media, was like a normal Thursday practice on a normal week. With the Cowboys playing on Monday night, head coach Jason Garrett has tried to simulate a regular routine, even moving the normal Tuesday day off to Wednesday. The Cowboys are leaving on Sunday afternoon for the Monday night game.
“Ideally you’d like to be out today and simulate the elements we’re going to play in Monday night,” Garrett said. “But we couldn’t get that done. The field is ice. You have to get the ice off the field. Rather than wait 3-4 hours to get that done, we thought we should go to Plan B. This was a good alternative for us. We’re hopeful to be out there (Saturday).”
As for yesterday’s practice, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said the change of venue didn’t have a negative effect.
“I thought practice was great. When you get into an environment where it’s enclosed and you’re on a Field Turf, it lends itself to a fast practice. Because of the travel, we cut down on the number of reps we had today. I thought the players did a great job of executing. More than that, the tempo of practice compared to (Thursday), coming off the long break, we came up a few notches. It was encouraging to see.”
The expected temperatures for kickoff Monday night in Chicago have actually gone up, but will still be treacherous. The low on Monday is 13 degrees with a high of only 27. With the winds gusting around 20 mph, the wind chill could be around zero or below-zero by kickoff.
When asked about the double-edged sword of wanting to practice in the elements of the game, but also having a practice environment that isn’t distracting to the flow of practice, Callahan said coaches can’t always have it both ways.
“We’ve had some good outside work done in the last few weeks,” said Callahan, who coached in Oakland and Nebraska in his career. “I remember being with the Raiders, we’d practice in the 85 degree weather and then fly from sunny California to the cold northeast and you’d have to play the elements or even in Denver. Players adapt pretty quickly.”
Whether they practice in the elements or not, some players don’t think the preparation matters much on game day.
“I’m not a believer that it helps at all,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “Whether you practice in it or you play in it, you’re going to be cold. You’ve got to have the mental toughness and the focus and the will to go out and do it. I don’t like being cold, period.”
The weather doesn’t seem to bother tight end Jason Witten, who said he won’t be wearing any sleeves come Monday night.
“Football ain’t meant to be played like that,” Witten said with a smile. “But I do bundle up there on the bench. But no, I don’t allow that to get in the way. When you’re out there playing, you can’t worry about the elements. It’s always tough. Both teams have to play in it.”
As for the guy throwing the ball to Witten, he doesn’t seem too concerned about cold-weather games either.
Tony Romo, who grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin and played at Eastern Illinois said if he sticks to his mechanics, the cold air and high winds will have no factor in his performance.
“I’ve played a lot of our games in cold weather. I think you become comfortable with it over time. The more technically sound and fundamental you are with your throwing motion, you can neutralize that stuff and take advantage of it.”
Overall, Garrett said there won’t be a lot of discussions about the weather come Monday night, other than making sure the players are prepared.
“Certainly we’ll try to make sure we’re wearing the right gear and making sure our cleats are right so we can be most effective,” Garrett said. “I don’t think you want to overdo that, but you certainly want to make sure what you’re wearing on your feet is right for those conditions.”
Dallas Cowboys move practice inside: Locker room reacts
IRVING, Texas – The defensive injuries have become crippling enough that a rookie who still hasn’t taken contact in four weeks since his neck injury is now lining up in drills as a starting linebacker.
DeVonte Holloman, who’s never started a regular season game at linebacker, ran with the first-team unit during Wednesday’s no-pads practice, while Ernie Sims manned the middle linebacker spot and Bruce Carter stuck at weak side linebacker.
“We don’t know that for sure, but that’s what we’re looking at right now,” said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “That’s what I say about the bye week, we don’t have to be ready Sunday. We’ve got some time.”
The Cowboys will need all that time to see how Sims, who says he hasn’t played middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense since his third year in Detroit in 2008, and Holloman can adjust. Holloman still isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to play against the New York Giants after what he described as a C3 and C4 spinal contusion, which occurred a month ago in practice.
He said the trainers and coaches are taking it slow with him and waiting until the team gets back in pads to take a couple hits and see how he holds up.
“I still haven’t hit anything, so can’t really say that yet,” Holloman said. “But it felt good to be out there running around with the team again.”
Holloman’s been a special teams contributor this season, totaling four tackles and a fumble recovery, but moving to starting linebacker would be a colossal jump for the rookie. Head coach Jason Garrett said he liked what Holloman was able to do before the injury and that Holloman made “a very favorable impression” early in camp.
One of the main goals for Holloman now is to get back in shape and work out as hard as possible during the bye week so he can physically be ready to go if he’s medically cleared. He’s working in primarily at the strong side linebacker spot, but he’s also played middle linebacker before.
“I’m just waiting on my chance,” Holloman said. “Seeing how things played out last week, it looks like it’s coming up. I’m just trying to be as prepared as possible.”
Of course, all these possibilities have arisen because of injuries to Sean Lee and Justin Durant, who are both expected out at least for the Giants game with hamstring injuries. Garrett said the Dallas Cowboys have to explore every possibility with their current roster to see how to adjust, including looking at defensive end Kyle Wilber at linebacker.
The Cowboys had moved Wilber from outside linebacker to the defensive line to start the year, but this is the time to experiment with the bye week.
“That’s not really a permanent move right now,” Kiffin said. “We don’t know. We’re banged up right now at linebacker and we’re short some guys. Some of the guys are going to be out for a while.”
Regardless of what happens around him, it does seem like Sims will be given the first opportunity to take hold of the middle linebacker spot. He said he’s excited for the opportunity ahead of him, but it’s disappointing for him to see Lee, the leader of the defense, go down the way he did.
“Guys just got to step up to the plate,” Sims said. “It’s not going to come easy.”
It took a while last week against New Orleans for Sims to even realize Durant had joined Lee on the injured hamstring list and off on the sideline.
“Last game it kind of happened on the run,” Sims said. “Durant was in there at Mike. Literally, we were in the middle of a drive, and me and Bruce didn’t see Durant in the game. It was just kind of second nature to me to just kind of take the initiative to put myself at Mike.”
Though Carter had played the middle linebacker spot last year after Lee went down, Kiffin said right now they’d like to keep Carter at his current spot.
That means Sims will lean on Lee to teach him the intricacies of the middle linebacker position in this particular 4-3 defense. It’s not all that different from the situation Sims found himself in last year, when the Cowboys signed him and he had to learn the 3-4 defense for the first time when Lee went out.
“This type of stuff happens all the time,” Sims said. “Me and the other guys are going to have to step up to the plate. I’m going to have to really get some extra time with the coaches.
“I haven’t played Mike linebacker in this scheme in a long time. Schemes have changed drastically. At the end of the day, I’m a football player, I’m a competitor, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to study the details of Sean’s position and try to help this team out to win ballgames.”
RELATED – WEDNESDAY PRACTICE UPDATE: DeVonte Holloman returns
IRVING, Texas – With Sean Lee sitting out for a few weeks, the Dallas Cowboys showed a new look for their depleted linebacker corps at todays bye week practice.
Ernie Sims took Lee’s place in the middle of the unit, while Bruce Carter remained outside (weak side linebacker). In a surprise move, rookie DeVonte Holloman, who has been injured since the Cowboys’ Oct. 13 win against Washington, returned as a starter at outside linebacker (strong side).
The trio of Carter, Sims and Holloman got all of the first-team reps during the portion of practice that was open to the media.
Holloman wasn’t the only injured player to return to practice during the Dallas Cowboys’ bye week. Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher both participated in the practice, which was not padded, after missing last week.
Dez Bryant, who missed last Wednesday’s practice with back problems, was also participating with the Cowboys’ offense.
Several remaining injuries still lingered, however, as the team is still struggling to get healthy. Lee’s absence was a given, but DeMarcus Ware, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox also did not participate.
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Friday practice with Injury Update
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints road game (12:02)
- Update on DT gameplan regarding Hatcher, Hayden, and other linemen
- How the team prepares next man up when dealing with injuries
- Thoughts on Everett Brown flexibility along the defensive line
- How 4-3 linemen flex compared to traditional 3-4 scheme
- Long term concern about Dez Bryant’s back issues
- Difference in game planning for a high scoring opponent
- What impacts DeMarcus Ware’s injuries in either the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme
- Familiarity with Saints because of coaches former ties with Dallas Cowboys
- Opinion on Saints draft pick Kenny Vaccaro – Safety
- Bringing injured players to a road game to help coach; sideline presence
- Weathering the Storm approach in hostile road games; adaption
- Thoughts on Dwayne Harris this season
- Need for the bye-week as compared to other seasons
- This weeks contradictions about running the ball more and balance
- How to view stats when comparing balance and wins
DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE – FRIDAY
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Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints road game (9:37)
- Dez Bryant’s back issue and status
- Dez Bryant injury similar to Washington game last season
- DeMarcus Ware movement
- Nick Hayden rib update
- DeMarcus Ware pushing and pulling reps
- Last time Cowboys was in New Orleans comparison, record confidence
- Guarding against criticism overcorrections and exterior forces
- Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin taking game personally because of coaching changes
- Signs that the offense is functioning like it should be
- Jason Hatcher stinger
- Personal feelings about facing Rob Ryan and his Saints defense
- Tony Dorsett’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
- Player safety issues addressed by NFL and Cowboys
- Crash Davis – Bull Durham
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IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant is once again working through a back issue, but it didn’t keep him out of todays morning practice.
Bryant was present for the second practice of the week, and he appeared to move well in the early portion of the day’s work. It remains to be seen how involved he will be in the full day’s worth of work, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he doesn’t expect the injury to have a significant effect.
“His back was bothering him (Wednesday), we didn’t think he could practice so we didn’t practice him,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his Thursday morning press conference. “It’s a health issue that we don’t think is a long-term deal at all. Hopefully he’ll practice today and be ready to go on Sunday.”
Back problems affected Bryant during the 2012 season finale against Washington, and he has dealt with similar problems at times through the first nine weeks of this season.
“It’s bothered him a little bit off and on – I don’t know if it’s the exact same thing, but we don’t think it’s a significant deal.”
IRVING, Texas – There’s not going to be a dramatic game time decision this week –DeMarcus Ware is playing Sunday in New Orleans.
If Ware’s participation in the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday and Thursday practices wasn’t indication enough, the All-Pro defensive end said so himself outside the Dallas locker room.
It’s been roughly a month since Ware left Dallas’ Oct. 13 win against Washington early with a quad injury. His absence – three games’ worth – has to feel like an eternity for a player who had never missed a game prior to this season.
“You get frustrated, but you’ve got to find some type of positive note,” Ware said. “For me, watching the game from the sideline was a little bit different. I see how guys attack us and how they attack me in certain situations, and it’ll make me better coming in this week.”
The parallels to the Cowboys’ last trip to New Orleans couldn’t be more obvious. Four years ago, the Cowboys limped into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with an 8-5 record, having lost two straight, to play an undefeated Saints squad.
To make matters worse, Ware had suffered what appeared to be a devastating injury in San Diego just a week prior. Ware wasn’t just doubtful for the tilt against Drew Brees and Co. – he was doubtful, period.
“I didn’t think I was going to play for a long time, until – sometimes, when you go in certain places, you get certain vibes or you feel a certain way that you can do it,” he said. “And I think you get confidence from your teammates to get out there and play. That’s the way I felt – not letting them down.”
Of course, Ware didn’t just wind up playing – he starred. He sacked Brees twice, pressured him three times and forced two fumbles, the second of which ended New Orleans’ hope of a comeback. The Cowboys used the win to catapult to a 11-5 record and their most recent playoff appearance.
“I think how monumental that game was – it was a big game for us. It was like one of those turn-around-season games,” Ware said. “It was one of those type of things where it was like ‘OK, it’s a blessing to be out here again, from what I went through.”
Brees certainly hasn’t forgotten, and it’s not just the 2009 game, either. In four career meetings against the Saints, Ware has notched 10 tackles, four sacks, one tackle for loss, four quarterback hits and the aforementioned two forced fumbles.
Those aren’t the type of numbers the opposing quarterback is likely to forget.
“He’s a stud – he’s such a stud,” Brees said. “He’s a guy you’ve got to have a plan for at all times – where is he, how do you protect him, how are you taking care of him and all that stuff. You know the leadership he brings, you know the productivity he brings, and he’s just a game changer. You’ve just got to be ready for him.”
The ideal scenario is a return to typical form, but it remains to be seen how effective Ware can be when he does return. His worst outing against the Saints came in last season’s overtime loss, when he was hampered by injuries.
Ware knows he has some catching up to do once he does return. He recorded all four of his sacks this season in just two of his six appearances, and problems with stingers bothered him in those outings.
The result is that he’s tied for just 37th in the league in sacks – a good bit off the league pace of 11.5 set by Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis, and the NFC lead of 10 by St. Louis’ Robert Quinn.
“You know I’m behind, so I guess I’ve got to hop on the saddle and start riding a little bit,” Ware said.
Of course, now that Ware has rounded into shape, it’s starting defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden on the injury report. Hatcher has missed both practices this week with stinger issues of his own, while Hayden is battling rib issues.
With the issues they’ve already overcome, though, Ware said he’s got confidence in whoever lines up on what has now become a famous group of non-famous people (Marinelli’s Misfits).
“You know what? It’s the no-name defensive line,” Ware said with a smile. “We’ve got guys coming in that can play, and we have confidence in those guys to play. Hatcher and Nick will get out there and play and do the best that they can.”
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints | Dez Bryant back tightness
ARLINGTON, Texas – For a couple of reasons, the Dallas Cowboys moved practice indoors Wednesday to AT&T Stadium in preparations for Sunday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.
But a few key players were not included, highlighted by the absence of wide receiver Dez Bryant. Early reports indicate tightness in his back.
Other players not in attendance were Jason Hatcher (stinger), cornerback Morris Claiborne
(hamstring), wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and safety J.J. Wilcox (knee).
One player back to practice was DeMarcus Ware, who has missed the last three games with a quad strain. Ware could be limited when the team releases the official injury report later in he day.
One new face on the field was defensive tackle Everett Dawkins, who signed with the team today. Dawkins, who joined the team from Minnesota’s practice squad, is wearing No. 90.
Coach Jason Garrett said the team went inside to escape the rainy conditions and to crank up the noise inside to try simulating the expected noise at the Superdome in New Orleans.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray expected to start
IRVING, Texas – As expected, the Dallas Cowboys had some key players missing from today’s practice, including five starters.
DeMarcus Ware (quad) once again is not participating in teams drills, probably meaning his availability for Sunday will be in question. He’s already missed two games and sitting out a third game Sunday vs. Minnesota seems likely.
Miles Austin was also working with the training staff on the side field because of a nagging hamstring injury. Austin and Ware were joined by DeVonte Holloman (neck).
Other players not even on the practice field included safety J.J. Wilcox (knee), Danny McCray (toe), Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and guard Brian Waters, who is expected to go to injured reserve this week with a triceps injury. Claiborne will likely miss the next two games, although Wilcox might have an outside shot to return Sunday.
As for players actually on the field, running back DeMarco Murray was on the field despite missing the last two games with a knee injury. Jason Garrett said he’s hopeful Murray can play Sunday.
The same goes for safety Barry Church, who missed the last two drives of the game last Sunday with a hamstring injury. Church practiced on Wednesday and appears in position to play this weekend against the Vikings.
Also, the Cowboys welcomed newly-signed defensive end Everette Brown, who practiced Wednesday, wearing No. 71.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys made the decision to cut David Arkin on Saturday because they needed the roster spot. But they haven’t completely given up on their three-year investment.
The Cowboys decided to bring back Arkin on the practice squad today. Arkin has only been active for eight games in his career but has yet to play a single snap, which gives him practice-squad eligibility despite this being his third season with the club.
The Cowboys cut Arkin to make room for rookie safety Jakar Hamilton, who played because of an injury to J.J. Wilcox. Hamilton will likely stay up on the roster with Wilcox’s status uncertain and now Barry Church has a hamstring injury.
“We got to the point where we needed a safety based on our safety situation,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “And that was the one we felt we could make that move on the 11th hour and hopefully he can get past through and we can bring him back and put him on our practice roster and we’ve invested in him and we do like him.”
Garrett was asked if he was disappointed in Arkin’s progress, considering he was a fourth-round pick in 2011 and has yet to contribute in the regular season.
“There’s probably nobody on our football team who works harder and is more committed than David Arkin,” Garrett said. “He’s the right kind of guy and he’s working at it and he’s getting better. I think he has improved over the last couple of years and that’s why we’re happy to get him back and put him back on the practice roster and continue that development.”
During the last two training camps and preseasons, Arkin received more practice reps than any other linemen the last two years. With an abundance of injuries on the line, Arkin has played both at guard and center. This past summer, he was mostly at guard. He started the first preseason game at right guard, then started the third and fifth games at left guard.
The year before, he started the first three preseason games at center.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | DeMarcus Ware doubtful for NFC matchup
The Dallas Cowboys list defensive end DeMarcus Ware as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. He has not practiced since injuring his thigh two weeks ago against the Washington Redskins. Ware missed the first game of his career last week.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) was limited in Friday’s practice and is questionable. So is running back DeMarco Murray, who was limited this week with a sprained knee that kept him out of last week’s game.
The Dallas Cowboys have ruled starting safety J.J. Wilcox out with a sprained knee and rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck) will miss a second consecutive game.
The other eight players on the team’s injury report are probable. Receiver Dez Bryant (wrist/hamstring), cornerback Morris Claiborne (migraine), running back Lance Dunbar (hamstring), receiver Dwayne Harris (hip), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (back), guard Ron Leary (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (shoulder) were deemed good to go.
Dallas Cowboys injury report update
Detroit Lions injury report update
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions road game (8:09)
- Defensive challenges this season when covering TEs/RBs out of backfield
- J.J. Wilcox status
- Thoughts on the current roster at safety positions
- Jeff Heath’s evolution and potential for him to start
- Brian Waters conditioning
- DeMarco Murray evaluation over past few days
- Difficulty and challenges of back-to-back road games
- DB Jakar Hamilton standing out on practice squad
- Pressure in middle vs. pressure on the edge effects QB position
- Miles Austin physical progress this week
- Miles Austin mental state with Williams and Beasley emerging
- LB DeVonte Holloman neck injury recap and prognosis
- Morris Claiborne illness and prognosis
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HOMECOMING DEBUT: Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath returning to Lions country with a star on his helmet
IRVING, Texas – Not long after Jeff Heath signed with the Dallas Cowboys, he noticed they were actually playing this season in Detroit, which is located just 39 miles from his hometown of Lake Orion, Mich.
His first thought was how great it’d be if he were on the team and traveling to the game.
But now, it looks like Heath will be doing even better than that. Because of a sprained knee injury to rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, there is a good chance Heath will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Lions, a team whom he grew up following.
And better yet, he’ll have quite a contingent of family and friends there to see him. Heath said this week he’s in the neighborhood of 80 tickets, and that number could grow now with his possibility of starting.
“It’s just a weird coincidence if it happens this week with me going back home,” Heath said. “But you never know when it’s going to be your time and your number gets called. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
While head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out Wilcox to play, Wilcox himself said it’s unlikely he would play this week and maybe not even next week against the Vikings. Garrett did have some positive things to say about Heath, an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.
“We certainly like him. He’s done a lot of nice things for us,” Garrett said. “He’s a college free agent who came in and said ‘I’m going to make your football team.’ He first showed up on [special] teams but he’s been a solid performer on defense.”
Garrett was asked to name his best attribute but he didn’t come up with just one.
“He has a lot of good traits. Physically, he has a lot of tools,” Garrett said of Heath. “He’s big enough to play the position. He runs well. He has good ball skills. He’s physical. He just finds a way to get away from people and gets to the football.”
Last week, the Cowboys rotated Heath into the game on defense in the first quarter. While it was perceived at first that Wilcox was getting benched, it was simply a way to rotate Heath into the game.
“I think that really helped me and my confidence,” Heath said. “I know if I start this week, I’ll be more prepared for it because of I’ve gotten to play a little more.”
In the Eagles game, Heath was credited with a tackle on defense and another on special teams. He currently has five tackles and ranks second on the team with seven special teams stops.
Last week in Philly, Heath did come out of the game with a sore right forearm, which required an MRI on Monday. He downplayed the injury, though, and said it’s nothing that would keep him out of playing this week.
“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of a possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.”
It sounds like it’s going to take a lot more than a bruised forearm to keep Heath out of Sunday’s game, which has a chance to be a homecoming and his first NFL start, rolled into one.
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.
IRVING, Texas – There were some encouraging signs for the Dallas Cowboys today as they took the field for their first practice in preparation of the Detroit Lions.
It remains to be seen if DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware will be able to contribute in Detroit this weekend, but both players were at practice. Murray dressed out in shoulder pads and a helmet and was active in the open portion of the Cowboys’ practice, though he did wear sweatpants instead of football pants.
Ware did not dress out, but he did work out with the team trainers using conditioning cords. He seemed to be moving well, though it’s unclear how far he has progressed with his quad injury.
“We’ll see what they do today. They seem to have gotten better over the last couple of days,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his morning press conference. “They might warm up a little bit today and we’ll see if they can practice.”
Lance Dunbar returned to the practice field, as predicted by Garrett.
“We’re going to warm him up today and see how he responds,” Garrett said. “He’s done well with his running the last few days.”
Miles Austin and Dez Bryant both dressed out for practice, though neither receiver participated in individual drills with the rest of the wide receivers.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter said some of the defensive players might wear wristbands with the calls on them to help get the defense organized against Philadelphia’s tempo offense.
“That’s their scheme, to get guys tired, get them thinking too much,” Carter said Friday at Valley Ranch, after a week of practice in which the Cowboys tried hard to simulate the pace of the Eagles’ offense.
Safety Barry Church said the Cowboys used two scout teams on offense, shuttling in to get snaps off within 15 seconds.
Carter said it made a difference.
“Wednesday, we were kind of rough,” he said. “But as the week went on, we got used to it. … We actually sped it up to where we can get it between 10 and 15 seconds, so when we get in the game, it’ll actually be a lot slower than what we’re used to in practice.”
Carter said there won’t be much time for communication, but the information that does get communicated will come from the linebackers.
“We’ve got to make sure everybody gets lined up and gets the call,” he said. “If we don’t know what the call is, just make sure we all get lined up, cause they run a lot of tackle-over and unbalanced looks. So we got to make sure the line is set and echo the call.
“I doubt we’ll huddle up at all this game.”
Editors note: Just a little food for thought. Since the Dallas Cowboys offense used the Eagles pace to prepare their defense, is it possible they’ll incorporate some of that in the offensive gameplan vs. Philly? After all, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Bill Callahan and Jason Garrett hinted at some offensive twists earlier this week. Could be interesting to see the Dallas Cowboys offense use the Philadelphia tempo and turn the tables!