MEET YOUR NEW TIGHT END: Dallas Cowboys add TE Dallas Walker prior to Training Camp | Dallas Cowboys Roster 2014-2015
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t wait for training camp to make their next addition.
THE EBERFLUS EXPERIMENTS: Defining Dallas Cowboys rookie LB Anthony Hitchens role means being tested inside and out
IRVING, Texas – Last Monday and Tuesday, Anthony Hitchens had to take final exams in sociology, earth science and sports promotion at the University of Iowa.
The first two days of the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp have been a more difficult test.
“It’s just starting out, so of course it’s supposed to be,” the fourth-round draft pick said.
Hitchens (31) moved to inside linebacker after playing on the weak side at Iowa (pictured above), where he led the Hawkeyes in tackles his last two seasons. He now has to call the defenses, call the checks and communicate with the entire group.
CLEARING OUT THE WEEDS: New Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden appreciates the fresh start from Believeland to Big D
IRVING, Texas — Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.
Now Weeden is a Dallas Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed — a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”
He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”
Weeden comes to the Dallas Cowboys with no pressure.
The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.
“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”
Editors note: For our loyal fans that also support the AFC’s Cleveland Browns … check out this site to become a citizen of BelieveLand.
IRVING, Texas – In Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys believe they have one of the best coaches in the NFL.
It appears he might be a pretty good recruiter, too.
The Cowboys’ ability to land free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton was a lot about the contract, a lot about Melton possibly wanting to play at home, and a lot about Marinelli.
“I’m excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form,” Melton told Calvin Watkins.
Melton developed into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle under Marinelli with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12. Melton had 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl after a six-sack season in 2012. He also had 71 tackles and nine tackles for loss with Marinelli as his mentor.
He might talk softly, but Marinelli has a way of forging relationships with defensive linemen. He did it with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did it with Melton and Julius Peppers with the Bears. He did it with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were forced to use 20 defensive linemen in 2013 and were one game away from making the playoffs. Marinelli was able to make it work to a certain degree with guys such as George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Jarius Wynn, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse.
Mincey was coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars by Joe Cullen, who coached under Marinelli with the Detroit Lions.
“Genuine and a believer,” Mincey said last week. “He believes in what I believe: Going out there and giving your all and trusting the process and seeing what happens. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a bunch of guys who are hungry, who are dedicated and motivated for a larger purpose.”
The job is not over. The Dallas Cowboys concluded a visit with Jared Allen today and the veteran could be the next one added to the Marinelli mix.
DON’T MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: Veteran LB Will Herring brings special teams leadership and depth to defense | Professional Scouting Report | NFL Free Agency 2014 | UPDATED
UPDATE: HERRING AND COWBOYS DEAL IS NOW OFF THE TABLE
IRVING, Texas – The deal between the Dallas Cowboys and former Saints linebacker Will Herring is now off.
Herring had announced the agreement with the Cowboys on Thursday on Twitter, stating that he’s “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization,” but the deal fell apart by Friday before Herring had signed.
It was a mutual parting of the ways that had to do with the language of the contract.
The move would have been the third signing for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, after inking deals with defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain.
Herring’s signing would have also put into question the future of Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams star who’s now an unrestricted free agent. Herring finished second on the Saints with seven special teams tackles last season.
EDITORS NOTE: If you’re a regular reader, you already know The Boys Are Back website goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure information is ‘official’ and “accurate” before it’s posted here. This site is not a rumor mill. We wait for official confirmations and verify stories via multiple inside sources before anything is posted here. Our apologies. The team and Herring’s agent had a verbal agreement that broke down this afternoon regarding language in the contract. Deals off.
INITIAL REPORT FROM THE OFFICIAL DALLAS COWBOYS RESOURCE:
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have now signed a third player in free agency, adding veteran linebacker Will Herring.
The seven-year pro first announced the move on Twitter, saying “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization”
Herring, a fifth-round pick of Auburn in 2007, spent four years in Seattle and the last three in New Orleans, where he played all 16 games each of the last two seasons, registering 13 tackles in each year.
Herring spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker. He was the Saints’ special teams captain in 2013.
In his three years with the Saints, Herring started three games and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and forced one fumble. He joined the Saints after a four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks. He had three tackles on defense and two on special teams in New Orleans’ win against the Cowboys last season.
This move could signal the end of free agent Danny McCray’s time with the Cowboys. The team’s most productive coverage player since 2010, McCray is an unrestricted free agent.
Editors note: Herring was signed to a one year contract. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed by the team at this time.
Scouting Report: Herring Stands Out On Special Teams
Will Herring | Linebacker, Auburn | Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Drafted: Fifth round, No. 161 overall, 2007 Draft by Seattle
Games Studied: 2013 preseason vs. Kansas City, Oakland, Houston; regular season vs. Dallas
Herring was mainly used as a special teams player during his three seasons with the New Orleans Saints — my look at him as a linebacker was from preseason film. He’s 6-3, 235 pounds and can play all three positions, but he’s most likely better suited to play as a weak side linebacker in this scheme (Editors note: That would put him in as Bruce Carter’s backup if the positions remain the same as 2013).
In Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, Herring played as a weak inside linebacker for the Saints last season. He has a nose for the ball, and an easy flow and drop in coverage. He’s aware of the back out of the backfield and assignment to pick up — able to see the ball, than drive on it to make a wrap up tackle.
In the preseason tape against the Chiefs, he was a little too aggressive when it came to their waggle packages and defending them. He went hard after the fakes but while reading was reacting in a hurry. Herring isn’t the biggest player weight-wise, so he has to keep himself active to avoid blocks. Works with his hands and feet to keep himself free. Herring is aware to take his hands, jam the blocker, then move to the ball — you see him do this in his special teams as well.
He plays on the edge of the blocker more than square, but he’s effective in the way he does this. When he sees the ball, he will go get it. There were several times where he beat the blockers to the spot and was able to either make the tackle or be near the ball.
If he has an issue as a tackler, it’s not the physical side of wrapping up, but he will over-shoot the ball carrier with his angle because of his aggressive play. There were a couple of snaps where he freed himself but just overran the play. He moves well in coverage and appears to have an understanding of where he needs to be — whether that is in zone or man. He’s aware of crossers in zone and doesn’t labor in his movements — plays with a burst. Judging from the tape, he knows how to work through the traffic, doesn’t get hung up or slowed down.
All of that said, where Herring makes his living is as a special teamer. He plays as the center in the kickoff return, punt return blocker, L3, L4, L5 on the kick off team. He’s the left guard on punt team and field goal rush. On special teams, he showed the same traits he had on defensive snaps — nose for the ball, the use of hands and the wrap up tackle.
He runs well on the cover teams and keeps his eyes open and aware of blockers. Has a plan when he covers. I’d like for him to better a little better on his sustain as a blocker when he becomes engaged. He hustled down the field on the kickoff coverage. In the Dallas game, he was able to control James Hanna at the point, then make the tackle inside the 20 on Dwayne Harris.
With the Cowboys, he will be asked here to be a backup linebacker most likely as a Will but more importantly as a core special teamer in all phases of the kicking game. There are plenty more positives to his game than negatives.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout
IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones has signed his exclusive rights tender of $645,000.
The move chews up $150,000 of the roughly $2 million worth of salary-cap space.
Jones averaged 45 yards per punt in his first full season with the Cowboys. He appeared in two games in 2011 as an injury replacement for Mat McBriar and four games in 2012 before a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season.
Jones had a 39.1-yard net average and had 30 of his 77 punts end up inside the opponents’ 20. Teams averaged only 9.2 yards per punt return against the Cowboys in 2013.
Earlier in the offseason the Cowboys signed kicker Dan Bailey to a seven-year extension worth $22.5 million.
THE KYLE ORTON FACTOR: The offseason buzz (media boredom) around Valley Ranch concerning the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys backup QB questions
Adding a backup quarterback didn’t seem like a significant need a month ago. But in the last couple weeks it has been revealed that Kyle Orton has yet to decide if he’ll return for the 2014 season. If Orton chooses to retire, the Dallas Cowboys could draft Tony Romo’s backup or add a QB through free agency. Even if the Cowboys draft a quarterback, they could still sign another veteran arm. Here’s a list, courtesy of DMN’s writer John Machota, of 10 quarterbacks he thinks the Cowboys could/should target when free agency begins next Tuesday (March 11).
1.) Shaun Hill.(pictured) The 34-year-old has spent the last four seasons in Detroit, playing in 15 games behind Matthew Stafford. His experience working with Scott Linehan, could make Hill the perfect fit to backup Tony Romo.
2.) Colt McCoy. Could the former Texas Longhorn standout make a return to the Lone Star State? McCoy hasn’t started a game the last two seasons and he attempted only one pass in 2013.
3.) John Skelton. The Dallas Cowboys worked him out in December after Tony Romo was injured. Skelton started 17 games for the Cardinals during his first three years in the league. He spent the previous two seasons in San Francisco and Tennessee.
4.) David Carr. The first overall pick in the 2002 draft also worked out for the Dallas Cowboys in December. Dallas chose to go with Jon Kitna, a journeyman who has played for Houston, Carolina, New York (Giants) and San Francisco.
5.) Tyler Thigpen. He also worked out for the Cowboys after Romo went down. Thigpen has played six seasons in the NFL, bouncing around from Kansas City, Miami and Buffalo.
6.) Caleb Hanie. The fourth member of QBs to work out for the Cowboys in December. Hanie started four games for the Bears in 2011 but hasn’t appeared in a game since.
7.) Jimmy Clausen. The former Notre Dame standout was a second-round pick in 2010. But Carolina drafted Cam Newton in 2011 and Clausen hasn’t played in a game since.
8.) Jonathan Crompton. The 26-year-old spent last season playing for Edmonton in the CFL. He was a fifth-round pick by the Chargers in 2010. Crompton had success his senior year at Tennessee while he was coached by Monte Kiffin’s son, Lane.
9.) Matt Flynn. He started five games last season, which included leading Green Bay to a 37-36 comeback victory over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. In that game, the Tyler native threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
10.) Tim Tebow. Jerry Jones probably won’t kick the tires on Tebow but you never really can be sure. Tebow does have 16 regular season starts and a playoff victory under his belt.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys backup QB options if Kyle Orton retires
IRVING, Texas — With free agency starting in about a week, the Dallas Cowboys still don’t know if Kyle Orton wants to play in 2014.
At the NFL scouting combine, owner and general manager Jerry Jones assumed Orton would want to play basically because of the money. Orton is set to make $3.25 million in 2014 and Jones wonders how anybody could walk away from that kind of money, especially a backup quarterback. And if Orton does retire, he would have to repay $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012.
Since Jones is assuming, let’s go with the assumption that Orton won’t play in 2014. That leaves the Dallas Cowboys with a pretty big hole behind Tony Romo, who is coming off a second back surgery in eight months.
With head coach Jason Garrett at the controls of the team’s offense since 2007 (initially as offensive coordinator), the Cowboys have invested in their backups to Romo: Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Orton have filled the role. Dallas values the backup quarterback position more than other teams in the NFL.
Jones has said that the Cowboys will not look at a quarterback early in the draft, so that rules out the top-shelf prospects. They interviewed Jimmy Garoppolo and David Fales (among others) at the combine, so there’s at least some interest in those two.
But could the Cowboys trust their backup job to a rookie or inexperienced player? History says no.
So who could be available when free agency begins? Options include Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Derek Anderson and David Garrard. Do they do anything for you?
They have started games in the NFL, which is a plus. Some of them have won at different times, if not for long stretches.
One thing to consider: Cassel and Anderson are represented by David Dunn, who also is the agent for Garrett and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. One more thing to consider: Hill played for Linehan with the Detroit Lions.
Linehan will be bringing in new terminology to the offense. It would make sense to look at a guy like Hill to help with the process because of his experience. Hill is 34, but he has thrown just 12 passes in the past three years behind Matthew Stafford. Hill’s career stats include a 13-13 record, 41 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions.
Courtesy: Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter | Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003 | Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins | Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children
EDITORS NOTE: Personally, I think Kyle Orton will stay and this is a big waste of offseason brainpower (or lack of). Nevertheless, it’s a storyline around Dallas today. What do you think? Any of these guys worth seriously considering?
IRVING, Texas — Maybe there is a different way to look at Jerry Jones’ decision to keep Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach for a fourth season.
Maybe the owner is aware the general manager has not delivered enough for the head coach to have more than an 8-8 record. Bill Parcells used to say the goal was to get his team to play to the level that he perceived it to be.
Jerry Jones must allow Jason Garrett more control of his own fate.
Could Jones be conceding he has not done enough for Garrett, despite his statements that the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to not only make the playoffs but make a run to the Super Bowl as well? It requires you to believe Jones separates the owner job description from the general manager job description, but it is not that far-fetched.
Late in the season, Jones mentioned the team lacked the personnel in some key spots because of injuries. Of the 12 regulars — including the nickel corner — on defense, seven were in their projected spots when training camp began in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne essentially flipped roles. George Selvie, Nick Hayden, DeVonte Holloman, Kyle Wilber, and Jeff Heath were starters.
Perhaps Garrett maximized the 8-8 finish this year and last year because of injuries.
In his address to the media Monday, Garrett repeated the statement he made after the 2012 season ended in a Week 17 loss in an NFC East title game: it takes time to build a program. While he acknowledged wins and losses matter most, he failed to recognize the guy he lost to last week, Chip Kelly, was in his first year and took over a 4-12 team. Mike McCoy brought the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs in his first year. Andy Reid took the Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason after they had the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.
Jerry Jones has a lot invested in Garrett beyond money. He believes in how Garrett is building the team and how he prepares the team. Quibble about the execution, but players’ effort has not been an issue with Garrett as coach. Jones wants Garrett to be his long-term coach. If Garrett finishes out 2014, only Jimmy Johnson will have coached the Cowboys longer under Jones.
Jones is right to bring back Garrett in 2014.
What he needs to do now is allow Garrett more control of his own fate. If Garrett wants to call plays, then let Garrett call plays. If Garrett wants to change the defensive coordinator, then let him, and if he doesn’t want to replace Monte Kiffin, Garrett will only be hurting himself.
Jones made sure everybody was “uncomfortable” in 2013 and it produced the same 8-8 record. He wanted Bill Callahan to call plays. He wanted Kiffin. He wanted Tony Romo more involved in the offense. He wanted Garrett to become a walk-around head coach.
Much will be made of Garrett’s lame-duck status in 2014 but if he doesn’t win, then he shouldn’t get an extension.
The pressure will be good.
It’s time Jones is “uncomfortable.” At least a little bit anyway.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys now have a true fullback on their roster.
The Cowboys signed Tyler Clutts after he was among five running backs to work out for the team. To make room for Clutts, running back Lance Dunbar, who had knee surgery Tuesday, was placed on injured reserve.
Clutts, 6-2, 254 pounds, played in four games earlier this season for the Miami Dolphins before his release. He has played for the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears. He caught eight passes for 48 yards for the Bears in 2011.
The Cowboys did not carry a fullback on their active roster this season and parted ways with veteran Lawrence Vickers on July 12. They had used tight ends Jason Witten and James Hanna and linebacker Kyle Bosworth at fullback in different situations this season.
With a cold weather game coming Monday night at Chicago and another one possible on Dec. 22 at Washington, the Dallas Cowboys could be forced to run the ball more, but coach Jason Garrett does not believe the signing would be a shift from what they have done this season.
“You certainly want to be able to run the ball and be physical in bad weather games,” Garrett said. “Sometimes you’re not able to throw the ball as well as you’d like because of the conditions and the next best thing to do is run it. Being physical, being able to run downhill would certainly help you in those kinds of environments.”
RELATED: Scouting Report – New Dallas Cowboys fullback Tyler Clutts
Tyler Clutts | 6-2 | 254 | 4.94 40-Yard Dash | Fresno State
Game film viewed:
Miami regular season 2013: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans
Clutts was a defensive end at Fresno State before being converted to fullback when he made the transition to the professional game. He got his start in the Canadian Football League with Edmonton.
He then made stops in the NFL with Cleveland, where he played with current Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown. Clutts was with the Browns in 2011, then Chicago 2011-2012. He played for Houston in 2012, where he worked in a zone running scheme, before finally heading to Miami for the first four games of the 2013 season.
- Plays as a true fullback in “I” formation; will also line up offset and on the line as a tight end or wing (Editors note: Think Jason Witten’s usual spot or sometimes DeMarco Murray).
- Good path to search out defender. Can locate the correct man on the move.
- Shows a good initial pop and strike, but I thought he needed to do a better job with overall sustain. Likes to grab and hold for control.
- Needs to be careful in the way he uses his hands. Didn’t see any holding calls, but they were always on the outside of the frame work of the body.
- Will try and dig linebacker out of the hole. He had times where he was square to strike at the point, then others where he was on the edge and got him knocked off.
- Thought he needed to do better job of running through his man when inside at the point of attack. Needs to keep his feet working once he is engaged.
- Thought he was a much better blocker when he was leading the play on the outside or to the edge. Just played more comfortably when he could work to the outside, find his man, then try to secure his block. Did a better job of staying with his man this way.
- Will strike his man, then work up the field or into the flat. I did not have the opportunity to see him use his hands catching the ball for the Dolphins (Editors note: Because he didn’t have any with Miami. Only receptions were with Chicago in 2011. 8 for 48 yards with 6 yard average. Included his longest catch of 10 yards). Appeared to be good in getting into his route, really saw no issues here.
- Played on special teams for the Dolphins as the right back in the second line working on the two-man wedge. Was able to work to his spot to execute his assignment. Would like to have seen him do a better job of attacking his man, then catch the block to control. Was told that in the workout for coaches, he worked as a deep snapper but really just an emergency option at best.
- Has the bulk and square build to be a dependable blocking full back, but I would have liked to see more nasty play when he got the opportunity. Didn’t see a guy that just hammered defenders with his play. Will be interested if we see that from his play now that he is on this roster.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-24 win against the Oakland Raiders tonight.
What it means for the Cowboys: Things started poorly when Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff and Greg Jenkins returned it 23 yards for a score just 12 seconds into the game.
It was the quickest touchdown given up by the Cowboys in their history, but they were able to overcome a 14-point second-quarter deficit to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East with the win.
At 7-5, the Cowboys lead the division by a half-game over the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) and are two games over .500 for the first time this season and the first time since Week 15 last season when they moved to 8-6.
The Dallas Cowboys will enter December with control of their fate and on a little bit of a roll. Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass in the 25th straight game and improved to 6-1 on Thanksgiving for his career.
Stock watch: Lance Dunbar, rising. Needing a boost, the Cowboys found it in Dunbar, the second-year running back from North Texas. He had 78 yards rushing in the third quarter that set up touchdowns by Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. He finished the game with 82 yards and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.
Defense turns it around: Struggling is nothing new for the Cowboys’ defense, but the Raiders had their way with them in the first half. In putting up 21 points, Oakland gained 185 yards and converted on four of seven third-down opportunities.
The saving grace was a fumbled snap by Matt McGloin that Kyle Wilber recovered at the Oakland 3 that the Cowboys turned into a touchdown.
In the second half, things were much improved. The Raiders had one first down and just 25 yards to start the second half as the Cowboys tied the game in the third quarter and took the lead for good on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Brandon Carr rebounded from a poor first half to intercept McGloin on an underthrown ball in the end zone to Jacoby Ford. The Cowboys turned that into a clinching Dan Bailey field goal with 1:56 to play.
Finding the end zone: DeMarco Murray might have been surpassed as the star of the ground game by Lance Dunbar, but he contributed the first three-touchdown game of his career.
The last Cowboys running back with three rushing touchdowns in the same game was Julius Jones, who had three in a 43-39 win against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 6, 2004.
The Cowboys have nine rushing touchdowns on the season. A modest total, but the most they have had since 2010 when they had 10.
What’s next: The Dallas Cowboys have a mini-bye of sorts until the play again on Dec. 9 at the Chicago Bears. While winning the NFC East is the best and easiest way to make the playoffs, if the Cowboys want to have any wild-card hopes they almost have to win this game.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With a 4-0 record in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be in control of the division, but Jerry Jones is not ready to order up any banners just yet.
“I know the caliber of the teams,” Jones said. “I see how close these games are. You see what you did within the framework of a ballgame and you know how close it is. But we’ve given ourselves a chance. We’ve got a short week, but Oakland does, too. We want to come back and make the most of this win.”
At 6-5, the Dallas Cowboys are atop the NFC East again and could take sole possession of first place with a win against the Raiders. Their 17-3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles gives them a tiebreaking edge heading into Thursday’s game.
Jason Witten has been around the Cowboys long enough to know one win — even one as satisfying as the 24-21 win against the New York Giants — does not a season make. He knows it will mean little if the Dallas Cowboys cannot follow it up with a win on Thursday against the Raiders.
“We needed to get this win on the road against a division opponent like this, but we’re 6-5, you know?” Witten said. “We’ve got a lot of football to play and we’re still right in the hunt. We’re one game above .500. We’ve got a lot more wins to get.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have brought back a player that seemingly had a good training camp but has been on the street for the entire season.
Cornerback Sterling Moore rejoins the Dallas Cowboys this week and will likely play against the Raiders Thursday. Once again, Morris Claiborne has a hamstring injury and is expected to miss the Thanksgiving Day game.
To make room for Moore, the Cowboys have released tight end Andre Smith, who has been inactive eight of 11 games this year.
Claiborne had missed two straight games with a hamstring injury he sustained against the Lions on Oct. 27. He returned against the Giants and technically started the game as the Cowboys opened up in nickel. He played the first half but the injury occurred in the third quarter and he did not return.
The Dallas Cowboys continued with Orlando Scandrick shadowing Victor Cruz all over the field, and B.W. Webb played on the outside, opposite of Brandon Carr.
Moore, who joined the Dallas Cowboys last season off the New England Patriots practice squad, was cut just before the start of the regular season when the team trimmed the roster down to 53 players.
Since Moore was not practice-squad eligible, the Cowboys kept Micah Pellerin on the squad and eventually called him up to the roster two weeks ago. Pellerin was waived Thursday to make room for linebacker Orie Lemon.
Moore was among the Cowboys’ final cuts on Aug. 31 when they made the somewhat surprising decision to go with only four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Moore is not a stranger to having to play on a quick turnaround for the Cowboys. Last year he officially had one day of practice before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 2 after he was signed off the New England Patriots’ practice squad.
He finished with six tackles and two pass breakups in six games.
Tight end Andre Smith could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
The Dallas Cowboys had hoped cornerback Micah Pellerin would clear waivers last week, but he was claimed by the Tennessee Titans. If Pellerin had returned to the practice squad, the Cowboys would have called him up to the active roster for the second time this season.
Without Claiborne, the Cowboys could use rookie B.W. Webb outside and keep Orlando Scandrick in the slot when they play their nickel defense.
PRYING EYES IN THE SKY: Communication tweaked in the Dallas Cowboys offense by Wade Wilson elevation
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For all the discussions regarding Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s move to relay the offensive plays to quarterback Tony Romo for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, it was all about improving communication and reiterating the value of quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.
This season when Bill Callahan took over the play-calling duties, Wilson moved into the role of relaying the signals to Romo. But when Garrett decided to take over for the Giants game, Wilson moved to the press box and tight ends coach Wes Phillips moved to the sidelines.
Cowboys officials contend Wilson helped in the play calling by seeing the defense from the press box, in comparison from the sidelines because he can recognize defenses better.
“I thought it was an opportunity to get Wade upstairs to see the game that way,” Garrett said. “Wade has great eyes. He sees the game as well as anybody I know. Just getting him up there I thought was good for us. We brought Wes Phillips down and Wes does a great job just interacting with the players and I just thought the whole thing worked out well.”
The Cowboys’ offense wasn’t great, the windy conditions had something to do with it, but Romo threw for 250 yards and finished a solid game-winning fourth-quarter drive to help the Cowboys defeat the Giants, 24-21.
The rushing attack had a solid effort, gaining 107 total yards including 86 from starter DeMarco Murray. While the third-down issues continued, going 4-for-12 overall, the Cowboys needed to do something with the offense.
Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the change wasn’t about Garrett or Callahan but more about Wilson helping the offense.
“That’s the wrong interpretation of the decision,” Jones said when asked whether it was about Garrett. “The decision was to give Wade, who is standing on the sidelines an aerial view of the field. It was all about that and it’s a skill that we’ve long [for], since [we] haven’t taken advantage of Wade Wilson. Wade Wilson is outstanding and can do a better job for us.”
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants postgame press conference
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 24-21 win against the New York Giants this afternoon.
What it means for the Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys find themselves back in first place in the NFC East with the win thanks to the tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles and can claim an outright share of first place in the division with a win Thursday against the Oakland Raiders.
The Cowboys are 4-0 in the NFC East and swept the Giants for the first time since 2007. It is the fourth time since 1989 the Cowboys have started out 4-0 in the division.
With two weeks to stew over the worst loss of the Jason Garrett era (49-17 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 10), the Dallas Cowboys were able come up with a drive that led to a 35-yard game-winning field goal by Dan Bailey.
A loss would have been traumatic for a team that would have started its traditional December slide a month earlier. Now the Cowboys figure to find themselves in the race for the rest of the season. They all but eliminated the Giants, who entered on a four-game winning streak.
Stock watch: Tony Romo responded on the Cowboys’ final drive, completing 6 of 9 passes to set up the winning kick. Two of the incompletions were drops by Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. With everybody wondering what Romo would do in a big moment, he came up big.
Clutch late: Before the final drive of the game for the Cowboys the only third-down conversion was Jason Witten’s third-quarter touchdown. On the winning drive, the Cowboys converted three times on third down.
Bryant had a 19-yard grab after a third-and-7 following a Tyron Smith false start penalty. Bryant converted on third-and-5 with an 8-yard grab from the slot. On third-and-10, Cole Beasley picked up 13 yards to set up Bailey’s game-winner.
Still can’t stop the run: The Cowboys have been historically bad with their pass defense through 10 games, but what was lost in the New Orleans game was just how poor their run defense was.
The Saints ran for 242 yards against the Cowboys. The Giants ran for 202. Andre Brown had 127 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 75 yards.
The Cowboys missed Sean Lee badly. Ernie Sims was consistently out of position but the defensive line didn’t do much to help the linebackers either.
It was the third time the Cowboys have allowed 200 yards rushing in a game. The Washington Redskins had 216 on Oct. 13.
What’s next: The Cowboys have a quick turnaround with the Oakland Raiders visiting AT&T Stadium on Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving Game. The Cowboys have lost two of their past three games on Thanksgiving, but beat the Raiders 24-7 on Nov. 26, 2009
IRVING, Texas — Since May 16, the Dallas Cowboys have signed, traded, acquired, put on injured reserve or released 28 defensive linemen. They saw another, Josh Brent, retire on July 18.
Everett Dawkins and Hall Davis are the latest additions. Dawkins was signed off the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad to the active roster, and Davis filled the final practice-squad vacancy.
There has been an incredible amount of movement on the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line. If you remember the Travis Chappelear era consider yourself fortunate.
Check out these transactions by date involving only the defensive line:
May 16 – Signed Anthony Hargrove
June 5 – Waived/injured Robert Callaway
June 11 – Signed Jeris Pendleton
June 20 – Cut Hargrove
June 25 – Signed Jerome Long
July 18 – Josh Brent retired
July 26 – Signed George Selvie and Landon Cohen
July 31 – Cut Ike Igbinosun, signed Toby Jackson
Aug. 1 – Waived/injured Cameron Sheffield
Aug. 6 – Waived Monte Taylor, signed Jabari Fletcher
Aug. 12 – Signed Travis Chappelear
Aug. 13 – Claimed Thaddeus Gibson
Aug. 19 – Waived Chappelear, Jackson
Aug. 21 – Signed Jason Vega
Aug. 26 – Cut Pendleton
Aug. 31 – Cut Fletcher, Gibson, Long, Vega; acquired Edgar Jones from Kansas City
Sept. 1 – Traded Sean Lissemore to San Diego
Sept. 2 – Signed Vega to practice squad
Sept. 3 – Acquired Caesar Rayford from Indianapolis
Sept. 5 – Chappelear waived off injured reserve
Sept. 7 – Placed Ben Bass on injured reserve; re-signed Long
Sept. 17 – Cut Cohen, signed David Carter
Sept. 24 – Cut Long, signed Drake Nevis
Sept. 25 – Placed Anthony Spencer on injured reserve
Oct. 15 – Cut Carter, Signed Jarius Wynn
Oct. 16 – Released Ratliff off reserve/PUP
Oct. 18 – Signed Vega off practice squad; placed Jones on IR to return list
Oct. 21 – Signed Marvin Austin
Oct. 29 – Released Vega; signed Everette Brown
Oct. 31 – Signed Vega to practice squad
Nov. 5 – Cut Austin
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means for the Cowboys: They didn’t make it look easy, going down to the final minute before dropping the one-win Vikings.
Tony Romo’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris won the game with 35 seconds to go and kept the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East with a 5-4 record. They also continued a trend of beating teams .500 or worse under Jason Garrett. The Cowboys are now 17-1 since 2011 against the bad teams.
The win was the Cowboys’ fourth at AT&T Stadium, matching their home win total from a year ago.
It was an ugly win, but Garrett will undoubtedly say winning in the NFL is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder when you let bad teams stick around.
Stock watch: After an ugly :58 minutes, and with the game on the line, Romo responded with a game-winning drive after throwing what could have been a crippling interception. Romo completed 7 of 9 passes on the 90-yard drive.
Forget the ground game: The return of DeMarco Murray was supposed to bring some sort of renewed emphasis of the running game, but it never happened.
The Cowboys chose to attack through the air against the 29th-ranked defense, but it’s not as if Minnesota has a great run defense. In the second quarter, the Cowboys got to the Vikings’ 12 and did not even give a pretense of running the ball with back-to-back plays out of an empty set and a three-wide receiver formation. The result was a drop and two sacks, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a Dan Bailey field goal.
Murray, who was playing after a two-game absence with a knee injury, finished with four carries for 31 yards and the Dallas Cowboys had just nine carries for the game.
Seeing stars: Last week the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t stop Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 329 yards. This week it was Adrian Peterson.
It wasn’t a historic day for Peterson, but he had some vintage moments when it mattered most on his way to 140 yards rushing. He busted free for a 52-yard run at the Minnesota 28 and then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:40 to play when he ran through safety Jeff Heath and linebacker Justin Durant for an 11-yard score on fourth-and-1.
What’s next: The Dallas Cowboys travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints next week. This was a game New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has had circled since he joined the Saints after he was dismissed as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator last January. The Cowboys have lost seven of their eight games to the Saints. Their only victory came at the Superdome in 2009, 24-17, when New Orleans was undefeated.
IRVING, Texas — A day apart in September of 2011, the Dallas Cowboys signed DT Jay Ratliff and TE Jason Witten to five-year contract extensions.
Each player had two years remaining on his deal at the time, but the Cowboys wanted to reward the Pro Bowl performers with new contracts in hopes that they would retire with the club. The Cowboys also received some salary-cap relief in the early part of the contracts even though it cost them up-front cash.
Yesterday, Ratliff was cut by the Dallas Cowboys amid acrimony stemming from a groin injury suffered last season that is still bothering him today. Witten, meanwhile, was on the practice field getting ready for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The adage that has been repeated by many lately is you don’t pay age in the NFL. Well, sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t.
Ratliff had just turned 30 when he signed and was entering his seventh season. Witten turned 29 a few months before signing but was entering his ninth season
The Cowboys did not get a return on Ratliff on the most recent extension. He played in only 22 games after signing on Sept. 9, 2011. He recorded only two sacks and seven tackles for loss.
And now he’s gone.
Witten, now 31, has not missed a game, playing through a lacerated spleen early last season, and has 220 catches for 2,321 yards and 11 touchdowns since the extension. Last year, he set an NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end with 110 and played in his eighth Pro Bowl.
And still he plays on.
IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys gave wide receiver Miles Austin a day off today to make sure he is closer to 100 percent to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Austin was on the elliptical machine at the start of practice. He played in Dallas’ win Sunday against the Washington Redskins but did not have a catch after missing two games with a hamstring strain.
Running backs DeMarco Murray (knee) and Lance Dunbar (hamstring) are also missing from practice, as is DeMarcus Ware, who has a quadriceps strain that could keep him out Sunday. Murray has hopes of playing, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones already ruled him out.
Defensive end George Selvie returned to the practice field after he sat out Wednesday’s workout because of a sore shoulder.
Linebacker DeVonte Holloman is not practicing because of a neck strain he suffered Wednesday. Defensive end Edgar Jones (groin) is also not at practice. He did not play against Washington.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 victory against the Washington Redskins.
What it means for the Cowboys:
It might be too early in the season to say this was a must-win for the Dallas Cowboys, but coming off the disheartening 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos last week it really was.
Falling to 2-4 would have been devastating with back to back road games upcoming and the team in the midst of the first three-game losing streak of the Jason Garrett era.
This was by no means a masterpiece, but the Cowboys travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles with a 3-3 record and feeling a lot better about their team. The Cowboys are 2-0 in the division for the first time since 2007.
The special teams kick-started the victory with Dwayne Harris‘ punt return for a touchdown and the offense was able to take advantage of two short-fields (set up by a Harris kick return and a Kyle Wilber fumble recovery) for two touchdowns.
The first touchdown was a thing of beauty from Tony Romo, side-stepping a blitzing Josh Wilson and putting a pass to the corner for Terrance Williams. The second score was Joseph Randle‘s from 2 yards with 9:36 to play, but center Travis Frederick should get an assist from helping push the rookie running back across the goal line.
Rising — Jason Hatcher. He was without DeMarcus Ware for most of the game but he was simply a terror on the interior, giving the Redskins fits throughout. He had two sacks of Robert Griffin III to give him five on the season, which is a career high.
A special returner:
Dwayne Harris was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his three-tackle effort vs. the New York Giants in Week 1. He could win his second honor of the season for his returns against the Redskins.
Harris had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Cowboys a 14-3 lead. His 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter set up Terrence Williams’ 15-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 21-9 lead.
It was the third kickoff return of at least 90 yards in franchise history that did not go for a touchdown.
Defense makes a stand:
It wasn’t perfect, but after allowing 1,023 yard and 81 points in their previous two games it didn’t need to be perfect though they still allowed 416 yards.
The Cowboys allowed a 45-yard touchdown to Alfred Morris, but made him work for his yards. After allowing back-to-back 400-yard passing games, they kept Robert Griffin III in check for most of the game as well, limiting him to 246 yards.
Kyle Wilber came up with a sack/fumble of Griffin to set up the clinching touchdown, and Orlando Scandrick had a pick of Griffin in the end zone to end a fourth-quarter threat
The defense even had three sacks after putting up one in the previous two games.
The Dallas Cowboys travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. For defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin it will be a chance to show he can slow down Chip Kelly’s offense at the NFL. He didn’t do it at Southern Cal. In three games against Oregon, Kiffin’s defense allowed on average 601 yards and 50 points in losing two games. Last November the Trojans gave up 730 yards in a 62-51 loss.
IRVING, Texas — For only the second time this season the Dallas Cowboys will activate five wide receivers with Miles Austin’s return from a two-game absence due to a hamstring strain.
The decision was made somewhat easier by the hamstring injury that will keep running back Lance Dunbar out of tonight’s game against the Washington Redskins, but with the evolution of the offense the Cowboys could figure to go in this direction even if all of the backs are healthy.
As we Ponder the 46 for the Redskins game, the decisions come down to health and reliability. The defensive line needs help if not numbers, but with Justin Durant questionable and Edgar Jones out, Cameron Lawrence, newly added from the practice squad, will be active.
Would the Cowboys rather carry nine defensive linemen (David Carter or Caesar Rayford) or eight offensive linemen (Phil Costa)? They got little from either of the defensive linemen against the Denver Broncos, but with Jason Hatcher battling a stinger and Jones out it might make more sense to keep a defender up over Costa.
So the inactives should be: Jones, Dunbar, Andre Smith, David Arkin, Costa, Darrion Weems and Chris Greenwood.