Category Archives: Carlos Mendez

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES: Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES: Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

New tight ends coach Mike Pope is “nit-picking” with him, but Jason Witten said it’s for his own good.

“He’s been honest with me in trying to really push me to ‘Let’s even take this to another level,’ ” Witten said of his new coach, a 32-year veteran NFL assistant who started with the Giants under Bill Parcells in 1983 and was on the staff of all four of the franchise’s Super Bowl championship teams.

“I appreciate that challenge and the way he’s gone about it,” Witten said. “I know he’s kind of the guru of tight end coaches.”

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES - Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope - 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

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THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching | Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014

THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching - Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli: Time For Teaching | 2:54 | Rod Marinelli talks about why it’s an important time for teaching instead of competition. He also talks about where he could envision Tyrone Crawford playing on the defensive line. (Watch | Listen)


Former Marine, and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s not into nursing anyone’s confidence, or lack thereof.

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HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: Miles Austin finally roped by Cleveland Browns

dallas cowboys wr miles austin nearly breaks free for a td vs cleveland browns - the boys are back blog

IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Austin agreed to terms today with the Browns, who are in need of receiver help, considering the looming suspension of top receiver Josh Gordon.

dallas cowboys wide receiver miles austin (19) jumps above cleveland browns cornerback trevin wade for a first down reception - the boys are back blog

Cleveland also passed on taking a receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns added Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins, but many believed they needed more help at the position, and Cleveland hopes Austin can provide that.

Austin’s success will largely be determined by his health, which was the issue in Dallas. The Cowboys designated Austin a post-June 1 cut to free $5.5 million from the salary cap this year, after he was limited to just 11 games and 244 receiving yards in 2013.

The receiver’s recurring hamstring issues limited what Austin, who was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2009 and 2010, could do the rest of his tenure in Dallas. Austin caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010.

He played in every game in 2012, but the Cowboys admitted he was not 100 percent in all of them.

He signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Cowboys in 2010, but he never reached the 1,000-yard mark again after that 2010 season.

Despite the decline the last few years, Austin, 29, will  go down as one of the best undrafted free agents in Dallas Cowboys history. He ranks ninth in team history with 301 catches, seventh with 4,481 yards and 10th with 34 touchdowns. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown in a playoff game at Seattle as a rookie.

He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010.

Prior to signing with the Browns, head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Austin returning to the Cowboys, but it was certainly not a given after the selection of fifth-round pick Devin Street. The Cowboys appeared ready to turn the page after watching the receiver fight through injuries every year toward the end of his time in Dallas.

“The economics of his situation really factored into the decision we made with him, coupled with his injuries,” Garrett said after the draft. “We’ll look at the landscape when we get done. Miles is a guy that we have great respect for as a person and as a player.”

In Cleveland, Austin will be the most experienced of the receivers available for Manziel, the celebrated Texas A&M quarterback drafted by the Browns in the first round last week.

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK: Dissecting the Dallas Cowboys 2014 2015 regular season schedule | Dallas Cowboys Schedule 2014

2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys schedule 2014 2015 - Print 2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys schedule 2014 2015 Print - The Boys Are Back website

The 2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule doesn’t have the mostly home-road-home-road pattern of the 2013 season, or the home opener and closer.

It’s back-loaded with road games.

But there are small advantages within it.

For one, the Dallas Cowboys don’t face any rested team coming off its bye week. No team will get the extra week to prepare for new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli or play-caller Scott Linehan.

For another, the Dallas Cowboys don’t have to travel to a home opener in a rabid environment like last year, when they went to Kansas City and got ambushed. This season, the Cowboys are the home opener for Tennessee.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers will be on equal footing, schedule-wise, when they open the season at AT&T Stadium. But when the Cowboys host the Saints on a Sunday night game in Week 4, it will be the third road game in four weeks for the Saints. The Saints will have opened with two on the road, at Atlanta and Cleveland, before their home opener.

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COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Veteran Scott Linehan added to Dallas Cowboys coaching staff | Coaches role’s realigned and defined

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS - Veteran Scott Linehan added to Dallas Cowboys coaching staff - Coaches role’s realigned and defined

The Dallas Cowboys elevated Monte Kiffin to position of assistant head coach/defense, elevated Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator, hired Scott Linehan to be passing game coordinator/play-caller, and announced that Bill Callahan will remain as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.

The team made the official announcement in an emailed press release tonight.

It provided this statement from Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:

“Our responsibility is to bring quality people into our organization and find the best fit for them. That applies to players, and it applies to coaches. Rod Marinelli’s production in terms of creating turnovers and changing field position as a defensive coordinator is well documented. Monte Kiffin’s overall knowledge and understanding of this defensive scheme will be put to use in mentoring all of the players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball. Monte was brought here to direct a transition in philosophy to the 4-3 scheme, and he will continue to oversee the development of our defense in this scheme.

“The opportunity to add someone of Scott Linehan’s expertise and experience will benefit our offensive unit, and we believe the combination of him and Bill Callahan working closely together will give us a great chance to build upon the strides we made offensively last year.”

Scott Linehan is a former head coach in the NFL, with the St. Louis Rams in 2006-08, and was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions for the past five seasons. Linehan will take on the role of the Dallas Cowboys offensive play caller for the 2014 season. While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense.

NO LOVIE IN CHICAGO - Rod Marinelli gave up a chance to be Bears defensive coordinator to reunite with Dallas Cowboys DC Monte Kiffin - The Boys Are Back blog

Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach in 2013, was most recently the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith from 2010 to 2012 where the Bears units finished ninth, 17th, and fifth, respectively. In 2012, the Chicago Bears led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (44), and were third in points allowed (17.3 points per game).

STAND-UP MOMENT: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo makes it to team meeting

STAND-UP MOMENT - Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo makes it to team meeting - 2013 Dallas Cowboys

Three days after back surgery, Tony Romo made it to Valley Ranch for the final team meeting.

“I think that just speaks to what he is,” tight end Jason Witten said. “Going to find a way to come in, see the guys. It was obviously an emotional time. No team stays the same. It’s just what he’s all about. I thought it was great of him to come and be here and just share this time. It’s tough, and he’s a big part of this team. That was very stand-up of him to be here in the midst of the pain I’m sure he’s in.”

Asked if he is worried about Romo’s future, Witten said the quarterback will come back better than ever next season.

“Obviously, it’s been a tough eight months for him physically,” Witten said. “But I feel confident in him. I know what he’s made of. I know how he works, I know how he competes, I know how he trains. But he’ll bounce back and be even better next year. He’ll use this time to evaluate and get healthy and provide perspective and be a better quarterback because of it. I’m confident he’ll come back. I know what he’s made of. I’ve seen it for a long time, how he goes about it, and he’ll bounce back and be better than he’s ever been. I believe that to the bottom of my heart.”

Witten said it was also an emotional week for Romo.

“Obviously, it was difficult not having him out there,” he said. “You know, it was an emotional week for him. Fighting with him every week, you go into that last game, I know it was tough for him not to be in that moment with us, leading that charge. But yeah, he’ll be back. Better than ever.”


This article contains a portion of information contained in the following video:

video - jason witten postgame interview - 2013 Dallas Cowboys season finale - press play

Jason Witten: Talks about the Cowboys 2013 seasons end

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spoke to the media for the final time this season while cleaning out his locker at Valley Ranch. (Watch Video | Listen Audio)

THE NEXT MAN UP: Jason Garrett’s 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys find a way to win, even without centerpiece Sean Lee on the field

Dallas Cowboys helmet - The Next Man Up - The Boys Are Back

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 without Sean Lee in the middle of the defense, but it’s not like his influence has not been felt.

DeMarcus Ware said Lee remains a big presence everywhere except the field, continuing to work with his replacement, Ernie Sims, like a coach.

“When you have guys like Lee still in there, in the meeting rooms, still teaching Ernie what to do – everybody in this league is athletic – but if you can instill what you do mentally first, especially like Sean Lee, he’s showing them so many things and what to key on, and they’ve gotten better,” Ware said after the Thanksgiving Day victory against Oakland. “He’s still there, but just in another person’s body, of Ernie’s or whatever.”

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Lee has been missed, but there have been benefits.

“It caused us to do some moving around a little bit,” he said. “It’s probably caused us to see Wilber, who was steady against the Giants and again tonight. That may be a blessing for us.”

Lee said the defense has played “fantastic” without him.

“I think it shows you have a lot of guys who have worked hard, who have stepped up – guys like Kyle Wilber and Ernie Sims, who put in a ton of work,” he said. “And you have to give them a ton of credit, because they’ve been a huge reason why we’ve been able to win these two football games.”

Sean Lee said he is on track to play in the next game, Dec. 9 at Chicago.

POSITIVE CHANGE IN PLAYCALLING: Jason Garrett wanted return to sideline relationship with Tony Romo

POSITIVE CHANGE IN PLAYCALLING: Jason Garrett wanted return to sideline relationship with Tony Romo

Bill Callahan said coach Jason Garrett wanted to return to the relationship he used to have with Tony Romo on the sideline, one reason the Dallas Cowboys changed their play-calling mechanism.

“He’s had that relationship with him on the sideline in his career, and he wanted to get back to that a little bit more,” Callahan said Wednesday in his weekly meeting with reporters. “And he should, and rightfully so, as the head coach.”

Callahan, the offensive coordinator and play-caller, was joined in the coaches box by quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson last week. Wilson used to be on the sideline, receiving the play calls from Callahan and sending them to Romo. Now Garrett receives the calls and passes them to Romo.

But Callahan said that does not mean Garrett changes the calls.

“We’re all on the same page. Nothing’s changed in terms of the play-calling, whatsoever,” he said. “There’s not changes of plays, or anything like that. Here is what I think everyone needs to understand: that there’s great communication among the offensive coaches. Jason’s a part of this process, of game-planning, and being on the sideline during the game, I think he’s just become more active with Tony in that regard.”

Callahan said the changes wait until halftime.

“Then we’ll tweak it or we’ll look at what we want to amend or maybe bring up or possibly showcase a little bit more,” he said. “But really, there’s no changing of plays. There’s no power struggle or anything like that. I have this responsibility, and we communicate, I think, really well, as we have been. But anything that gets us going is always positive. If Coach feels it was a good change, we’re all for it. I was all for it.”

Asked for specifics on what Garrett communicates to him, Callahan said, “It’s more like,  ‘What are you thinking on this series, Bill? What are your thoughts going into this next drive? What do you have going?’ He just wants to know, and that’s communicated. ‘We’re gong to do this, we’re going to try to get to this personnel grouping, we’re going to try to get to this run or this group of passes.’ That’s what’s communicated, essentially, on the headset during the course of the game.”

BRACED FOR THE RACE: Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher will play with a neck brace

BRACED FOR THE NFC EAST RACE - Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher will play with a neck brace - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule 2013 2014

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said he’s been outfitted with a neck brace that will reduce the chance he gets another stinger. It’s so restrictive, it keeps him from moving his neck back.

“I can’t even see in my stance, hardly,” he said Thursday, smiling about it with reporters. “I have to get down super low.”

But he said he’ll take part of the brace off down the line so he can have more range of movement.

“I’ll take that off eventually, in about three or four weeks from now, I’ll take that off so I can get my neck back,” he said.

Hatcher was limited again in practice Thursday. The native of Jena, La., missed the New Orleans game two weeks ago because of a stinger.

“That hurt me bad, just going home to my home state and not being able to help my team,” he said. “I’m not saying the outcome would have been different or whatnot, but I’m pretty sure knowing me, a healthy me, I could have done some stuff to help my team. So I’m excited to be back, just excited to see how this game is going to go for me, as well as my team.”

COWBOYS WORKING ON WRINKLES: Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for Dallas’ offense

COWBOYS WORKING OUT WRINKLES - Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys offense

Jason Witten said it’s frustrating when he and Dez Bryant get coverage that limits them, but he said the Dallas Cowboys coaches are working on wrinkles to solve that.

“It’s been tough with the coverage we have seen,” he said. “When the opportunities are limited, it makes it tough. We will work through that. The bye comes at a good time to get guys healthy and review and try to get a couple wrinkles.”

But Witten said it’s not up to the system as much as the players.

“At times, the execution has been there. We have seen success,” Witten said. “But overall, it hasn’t been good enough. We have to do a better job of it. We feel confidence in the system and the players within the system. That’s what’s good about the system. It’s held up for a long time. We have to continue to work within it.”

Witten said Jason Garrett emphasized the opportunity the Dallas Cowboys have at the top of the NFC East.

“Obviously, we know we have to play a lot better football if we want to win this division,” Witten said. “We have a great opportunity to reflect on that and say, ‘We know we have to play better, here is how we are going to do it,’ and just execute. As an offense, our focus is to find ways to do those things. There are all kinds of wrinkles of putting guys in different situations and plays, but ultimately, us executing this system we have had success in and been a powerful offense.”


Watch Video Dallas Cowboys - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dallas Cowboys newsListen to Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dallas Cowboys news

Editors comment: Listen to Jason Witten’s full interview with media for more details about the Dallas Cowboys plans during the bye-week. Same advice applies to any video posted here, including the one below. Enjoy!


COWBOYS WORKING ON WRINKLES - Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for Dallas’ offense - Bill Callahan talks to Dallas media

Dallas Cowboys play caller Bill Callahan – 3rd down issues; consistency (4:28)

Bill Callahan spoke to the media about the teams offensive struggles as the Dallas Cowboys prepare to head out on their bye week. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE: DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for playoff push

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE - DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys playoff push - DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware said a team like the Saints will take advantage of a defense that doesn’t have its most experienced players, like the Cowboys on Sunday night.

“I mean, when you have five guys, six of the starters out, the best way to fix it is get your guys back,” Ware said, asked what the Cowboys can do to get better following the 49-17 loss. “Sometimes you have guys in there who sort of don’t know what they’re doing because it’s probably their first time playing in a long time. When you have a team that doesn’t make mistakes and sort of exposes you that way, with those guys that are in the game, that’s what they did. So you’ve got to get the guys back who know what’s going on and use that bye week to make a big push.”

Ware said the scheme is fine.

“It’s the play. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound,” he said. “It’s so simple, but the thing is you’ve got to be fundamentally sound when you’re doing it.”

Ware said it was a helpless feeling for him when he wasn’t in the game. He aggravated his quadriceps injury on a sack in the second quarter and was in and out of the game. He said the leg is good, however.

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE - DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys playoff push - DeMarcus Ware sacks Drew Brees

“I’m doing everything I can not to let it happen again,” he said. “It was something minor on the sack. The play I got the sack, it’s just my knee hit the ground and tweaked it a little bit, and it was like that the whole game.”

Ware said he’s optimistic about playing in the Giants game, and he looked back on the season as a whole as the Dallas Cowboys hit their bye week.

“It was a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “There wasn’t enough consistency like we needed. Right now we’re half and half. We’re at 5-5. We’ve got to find some way to take this bye weekend and rejuvenate ourselves, get all the guys back and come to the table with a relentless demeanor of trying to win every game out.”

TWEAKING THE TEXAS-2 TEMPO: Dallas Cowboys offense and defense simulate Eagles pace this week

TWEAKING THE TEXAS-2 TEMPO - Dallas Cowboys offense and defense simulate Eagles pace this week

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!

IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE: Jason Garrett likes the passion of the defensive line coach Rod Marinelli

Cowboys Giants Football

Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli apologized moments after getting a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, coach Jason Garrett said.

“He’s a stand-up guy,” Garrett said. “As soon as the flag happened, he turned to me and apologized. But if everybody brings it like Rod Marinelli brings it, we’ve got a really good chance of being a good football team.”

IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE - Jason Garrett likes the passion of the defensive line coach Rod Marinelli - Dallas Cowboys Jason Hatcher's sack Robert Griffin III RG3

The penalty gave Washington a first down after Jason Hatcher’s sack would have set up second-and-20. Initially, the play was ruled an incompletion, but a replay reversed the call. Marinelli had argued that the quarterback was down.

Garrett described what happened like this:

“He had a short conversation with the official on the play that Hatcher got the sack,” Garrett said. “I think initially, they ruled it that the quarterback had thrown the ball away, and I think we all saw that his knee was down, and I think Rod was just trying to let the official know that, and I guess the official didn’t like how he said it.”

Hatcher laughed about it Monday.

“We got him on a grade sheet. I think he got an F today for that penalty,” he said. “He fought for my sack, so I got a sack. That’s my fifth one of the season. I thank him for that.”

NFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dwayne Harris earns his second special teams award

NFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Dwayne Harris earns his second  special teams award - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

In the least suspenseful announcement of the week so far, Dallas Cowboys kick returner Dwayne Harris was named NFC special teams player of the week.

It is the second time this year and the third time in his career that Harris has won the award.

watch video - Dallas Cowboys returner Dwayne Harris Adds 90-yard Return To Impressive Day

The third-year receiver had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return against the Washington Redskins Sunday night. The punt return was the fifth-longest in team history and his second punt return for a touchdown. He finished the game with 109 punt return yards, seventh-most in team history.

The 90-yard kickoff return, to the 15-yard line to set up a touchdown that put the Cowboys ahead 21-9, was the 10th-longest in team history.

He finished the game with 222 combined return yards, fourth-most in team history.

He also had two tackles on special teams and leads the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys in special teams tackles.

RELATED: Harris takes home NFC special teams award for 2nd time

IRVING, Texas – For the first time in 10 years and just the third time in franchise history, a Cowboys’ player has won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in a season.

To no surprise, Dwayne Harris won the weekly honor for his performance in Sunday’s 31-16 win over the Redskins. Harris’ 222 return yards outgained the Cowboys’ entire offense by nine yards.

His 86-yard punt return for a touchdown broke the game open in the second half and his 90-yard kickoff return led to another touchdown.

Watch video - Dwayne Harris - Credit To The Guys Up Front

Back in Week 1, Harris won the award for his coverage skills in a win over the Giants. He had three tackles and was involved in a fumble recovery on the punt team. The last time a Cowboys player won this award twice in one season was Billy Cundiff in 2003, when he had two big games against the Giants, kicking a combined 11 field goals. Cowboys kicking coach Chris Boniol also won the award twice in the 1996 season, although the second award was for his performance occurred in the Wild Card win over Minnesota.

Along with this weekly award, Harris also achieved some milestones as well. He now has 623 punt return yards to move into ninth place in Cowboys history.

The 86-yard return was the fifth-longest in franchise history and he became just the third player in club history to have a 90-yard kickoff return without scoring a touchdown.

And his 222 total return yards ranked fourth in club history for a single-game. Mel Renfro holds the club record with 273 against Green Bay in 1964.

EXPLOSIVE MENTALITY: Dez Bryant believes Dallas Cowboys mindset from Broncos loss can be a new foundation for offense

EXPLOSIVE MENTALITY - Dez Bryant believes Dallas Cowboys mindset from Broncos loss can be a new foundation for offense - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant did not like the loss, but he thinks the Cowboys found something on offense out of it.

“I feel damned good about the way we played,” he said Monday at Valley Ranch. “I just feel like if we keep doing that, we can stack some wins up.”

Bryant, who caught six passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, said the game can be a foundation for the offense.

“I think what we take from it is how explosive we played, the mindset that we had – to go out there and try to score on every possession,” he said. “I think we did a great job of that. It ain’t like we played some mediocre team. We just have to build on the success and learn from those mistakes that we made.”

EXPLOSIVE MENTALITY - Dez Bryant believes Dallas Cowboys mindset from Broncos loss can be a new foundation for offense - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez TD

Bryant said the Dallas Cowboys showed something in coming back from a 35-20 deficit.

“We were explosive. We didn’t back down like everybody expected us to,” he said. “We went in at halftime, 28-20, and they came back out and scored. It was 35-20. I know a lot of people thought we were going to fold. Terrance came back over the top, 82 yards, big-yard play for a TD, big post route.”

Bryant described the mentality the Cowboys took in facing off against the league’s top quarterback and offense.

“It was to fight, fight, fight,” Bryant said. “We knew it was going to be a battle going in. Like I said, we weren’t going to back down, and we didn’t. Like I said, we just have to take care of some minor things, which I feel like, each and every week, those minor things are decreasing. So we’ve just got to keep on. We’ve got to stack plays on top of plays – good plays.”

DALLAS’ TEXAS 2 CLOSER: Henderson pushing Brandon Carr for early impact

Brandon Carr has shown he can come up big late in games. He had a fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown last year in Philadelphia, an overtime interception against Pittsburgh also last year, and last week, he had a fourth-quarter pick-six against the New York Giants.

But secondary coach Jerome Henderson can’t help imagining what could happen if the Cowboys can get Carr making a bigger impact earlier in games.

“Let’s go do it all the time,” Henderson said. “I think he’s got that ability, that he can be a difference-maker for our team, and we keep talking about it and pushing him that direction, to be a difference-maker.”

With four interceptions, Carr has already made a difference 17 games into a Cowboys career that began with a $50.1 million contract over five years.

But what Henderson is talking about is influencing the game from the start. He believes Carr has the level of talent that he doesn’t need to always let the game come to him.

“You impose your will on the game, but you do it in a sound way,” Henderson said. “You don’t do that being unsound and taking chances and doing things that will get you beat. Just with the force of your play, your attention to detail, you impose your will on the game. And there are players that do that, and again, we’re always pushing him to become that.”

Carr already has a knack for one thing Henderson and the new defensive coaches preach – scoring with a turnover. Carr has returned two interceptions for a touchdown with the Cowboys, and another return reached the 1.

“We really beat it into their heads this year: score,” Henderson said. “Because it’s hard for defensive players to tackle good runners. It’s hard. We miss tackles, and we practice that skill all the time. Offensive players don’t practice it. So when you get the ball, make them tackle you. Don’t go out of bounds. Make somebody tackle you because they don’t do it very often. We get it, we want to score.”

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: New York Giants undefeated at Cowboys Stadium; New era begins today at AT&T Stadium

Dallas Cowboys expect AT&T Stadium to become important in the playoff runs - The Boys Are Back blog

The Giants are 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium. They know that. The Cowboys know that.

It’s not a pretty stat.

Some Cowboys players look at it in the face and stare back. Some ignore it.

But just about everyone interviewed this week was asked about it. Here are some of the reactions from the week at Valley Ranch:

Dez Bryant: “You just brought it back to my attention. That’s in the past to me. It’s what’s going to go down on Sunday, that’s what we’re looking forward to. All that stuff about them being undefeated in the past, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Sunday, and we can’t wait.”

DeMarco Murray: “Are they? I don’t know. Maybe they like it here. We definitely got to make sure we change that around a little bit.”

DeMarcus Ware: “I look at it as it’s time to have a turnaround. They’ve won every game here at our stadium. It’s all about image, how you want to build your image in that first game. Why not go out there and have a good game against a great team?”

Jason Witten: “Obviously you get upset about that. It’s disappointing more than anything, just that division opponents handled you that way. But every year is different, and so the games, when you look at them, they all came up different ways. I don’t think you can allow that to affect you. Regardless of where we’re playing, this is a big game.”

Jason Hatcher: “You want to protect your house. You don’t want nobody to come in here and kick your butt in your own house. But at the same time, we’ve got to go out there and play great football. We be the team we’re supposed to be and play like we’re supposed to be, doing what we did in training camp, Sunday’s game, we’ll come out with a win. We can’t just forget about what we did in training camp, how hard we worked, and go out there and play like crap, like we did the last couple years. That ain’t going to get it.”

Tony Romo: “Obviously, they’ve done a good job recently playing at the stadium. More than anything, we need to make sure that we create a home-field advantage. Our fans have done a great job. We need them to be at their best on Sunday night. When they are, they’re very tough to deal with here in Dallas. I expect them to be like that on Sunday, and I think that will help us gain a big advantage if we get that.”

Orlando Scandrick: “They only played in it what, three times? Yeah, I mean we need to go out and protect our home turf. I mean, people got to feel like when they come to Dallas to play it’s going to be a tough environment, that these guys play hard at home, that they play hard all the time.”

Jason Garrett: “The Giants are a good football team. We have had some great games with them and we’ve gone out there and played some great games with them. They have come down here and played some great games. They always seem to be close. They are always competitive. It’s an outstanding organization. It’s been a great organization for a long time. Their head coach is outstanding. He is a Hall of Fame coach. And they’ve got a lot of really, really good football players. So regardless of where you play them, it’s going to be a great challenge. We have great battles with them in both stadiums.”

And, the Giants, too, were asked about it in a conference call with DFW reporters …

Tom Coughlin: “Well, both teams play extremely hard. We’ve been fortunate enough to win them at the end.”

Eli Manning: “I don’t think there’s anything to it. We’ve had some tight games. Last year, literally a game of inches where the receiver had a pinkie out of bounds on the last play. A few years before that, we’re down 12 with five minutes and fought back for a win. There’s just been some games over the years, and so hopefully we can just find a way to hang in there and put ourselves in a situation to win the game at the end.”

TEXAS-2 FRONT FOUR: New hands on deck for the Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen (Roster Update)

Reinforcements coming. Dallas Cowboys bring back Jerome Long - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys put Ben Bass on injured reserve moments ago.

He suffered a dislocated shoulder in practice on Thursday, and coach Jason Garrett initially said the team did not believe it was season-ending.

But a separated shoulder, if it requires surgery, can mean six months of recovery.

Bass is the second Cowboys defensive end lost for the season. They lost Tyrone Crawford to an Achilles injury in the first practice of training camp. Since then, they have placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks.

The Dallas Cowboys acquired two defensive ends in the past week. Edgar Jones of Kansas City and Caesar Rayford of Indianapolis. Additionally, they will bring back defensive end Jerome Long (article below), who was released at the end of training camp.

RELATED: Reinforcements coming. Dallas Cowboys bring back Jerome Long

Jerome Long of the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys will bring back Jerome Long for defensive line help this week, and veteran Jason Hatcher is looking forward to it.

The Cowboys can use reinforcements with another injury this week, following a shoulder separation for Ben Bass.

“Yeah, you really don’t think about getting tired, for the most part. You’re just trying to get to the football,” Hatcher said. “It’s going to be a very tough for me, but I’m built for it. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve just got to go out there and take it one snap at a time. When I get tired, I trust the guys who are coming in that they’re going to do the job just like I left.”

Hatcher said Long was a solid contributor in training camp, and that Landon Cohen, who made the team, will also help.

“He understands the scheme better than anybody,” Hatcher said of Long. “He’s just one of those guys who got caught up in the numbers game. I thought he did a great job. … He can come in and spare me a lot. And you’ve got Cohen. He can play 3-technique and nose tackle. So we’re really not worried about the game at all.”

Long was a seventh-round pick of Kansas City in 2012 who spent the year with the Chiefs on the practice squad, was signed by Jacksonville at the end of the season and released in April. The Cowboys signed him in June and brought him to training camp.

Hatcher said defensive line depth matters in the NFL these days.

“It’s called red ball. They just attack you,” Hatcher said of today’s NFL offenses after he watched the Thursday night game between Denver and Baltimore. “If they know you’re a good defense and you can really get to the quarterback, they try to wear you down early in the game so you won’t have nothing left in the fourth quarter. So we’ve got to do a good job of just rotating guys, and we’ll be OK.”

TEXAS-2 FRONT FOUR: All hands on deck for the Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen (Special Feature)

TEXAS-2 FRONT FOUR - All hands on deck for the Dallas Cowboys D-linemen (Special Feature)

The Dallas Cowboys expect to have all available hands on deck among their defensive linemen Sunday.

“Injures are a part of this league, and it’s just the nature of this league,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday morning. “You put the next guy in, and you go forward, and that’s what the situation is. That’s the mindset we have as an organization, as a coaching staff and as players. You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do. And that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league. We have those examples on this football team so there are things you can point to and that’s the mindset you have.”

Starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games while recovering from a groin injury. Starting defensive end Anthony Spencer is not on the practice field again today (Friday) and may not play Sunday. Spencer has not practiced since undergoing right knee surgery July 25 and said Thursday he had a setback in his rehab over the weekend.

The Cowboys then added reserve defensive tackle Ben Bass to the injury list Thursday when he dislocated his shoulder in practice. Bass, who is in a sling, will miss at least this week, leaving the Cowboys with preseason standout Landon Cohen behind Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden at defensive tackle.

TEXAS-2 FRONT FOUR - All hands on deck for the Dallas Cowboys D-linemen (DeMarcus Ware)

They will have to have some position flex with their defensive ends. George Selvie is expected to start in place of Spencer, with DeMarcus Ware at his usual spot. The Cowboys traded for ends Caesar Rayford and Edgar Jones in recent days. They also have second-year veteran Kyle Wilber.

“You just kind of work with the guys we have,” Garrett said. “We’re excited about the group we have. You’d like to have them together for longer, but that’s the nature of this league. You’ve just got to make do with what you have and go forward. Excited to see those guys play and take advantage of their opportunity.”

RELATED: Cowboys confident with DE depth, even if Spencer can’t go

Cowboys confident with DE depth, even if Spencer can’t go - Nick Hayden - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

IRVING, Texas – It’s looking more and more like the Cowboys won’t feature Anthony Spencer in their lineup on Sunday against the Giants, despite claims to the contrary.

Spencer spoke to the media yesterday (Thursday) following the Cowboys’ afternoon practice. The hope all week, according to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, has been to have Spencer work gradually back into practice.

Spencer said he suffered a minor setback this past weekend, when his knee, which he had surgery on about a month ago, reacted negatively to a light workout.

“That’s what happened this weekend, like I was doing a little bit of running and whatnot, and it kind of just swelled up on me,” he said. “It’s hard for me to do anything once that happens, so we try to just minimize that as much as possible.”

The Cowboys hope to see Spencer go through at least part of practice today, but it looks increasingly likely they won’t have their Pro Bowler on the defensive line Sunday night.

From asking around the locker room, that doesn’t sound too concerning. Injuries are nothing new on the Cowboys’ defensive line, as injuries have sidelined Spencer and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff throughout training camp. In their absence, young George Selvie, Nick Hayden, and Landon Cohen have stepped into the void.

Landon Cohen - NFL defensive tackle Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Cohen (photo above) and Selvie (photo below) were two of the first players to join the team during training camp, once the injuries to Ratliff and Spencer became known. Through several dozen other roster moves, Garrett said neither lineman has given the Cowboys a reason to cut them.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

“Each of them have shown up. You’ve heard me say it a lot,” Garrett said. “They show up in practice, they show up in the preseason games, every opportunity we give them, each of those guys said ‘Hey, I’m worthy of making this football team,’ and that’s good for your team.”

That effort hasn’t gone unnoticed with the defense’s elder statesman, either.

“You’ve got guys practicing in 105-degree weather, being effective against our offense – a high-powered offense,” said defensive end DeMarcus Ware. “They’ve been playing really, really well, so I have a lot of confidence in those guys to come in and fill the shoes of Jay and Spencer, if Spencer doesn’t play. We’ve got to be effective with what we have.”

Plenty of the focus is going to fall on Selvie, who has turned Spencer’s injury into a starting spot in the last six weeks. In four preseason games at left defensive end, he notched six tackles with three sacks.

“When you have a guy that’s coming in off the couch – we call him the brick layer,” Ware said. “He comes in and it’s a brick at a time, being effective. He’s built a pretty nice little house over there at left end.”

Selvie’s not a stranger to the regular season, with 36 career games under his belt in three seasons. But the combination of learning from two Pro Bowlers has been something he said he’s used to improve considerably.

“Spencer is always giving tips – ‘Angle this way. Do this and do that,’” he said. “Any time you’ve got the Defensive MVP of this team helping you, it’s a good thing. D-Ware is always helping me too.”

Adding into that pass rush is new acquisition Caesar Rayford, who said Wednesday he’s ready to play. As has been widely noted, Rayford’s five sacks led the NFL during the preseason.

It’s all enough to give Ware confidence in the defensive line – regardless of who’s starting. Ware said he’d like to see Spencer on the field if it’s at all possible, but he’s not concerned about the Cowboys’ options up front.

“You know, I’m not worried about it at all. I don’t want to see Spence out there on the field, I want to see Spencer. I want the 100 percent Spencer,” Ware said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play this week, I just – I don’t know — I hope he does. I want the guy out there, and that goes for everybody else, too.”

RELATED: Garrett doesn’t believe Ben Bass injury is season-ending

Cowboys Roster Moves -Ben Bass - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he does not know how long defensive end Ben Bass will be out while he recovers from a separated shoulder, but that the team does not believe it is season-ending.

“We have a pretty good feel for what he has,” Garrett said, “but the nature of that injury is that he dislocated his shoulder, so the question I asked is, ‘OK, what does that mean?’ Well, if he gets it relocated and there’s no damage, he can be back in a few days. If there’s a little damage in there as a result of it, can be a couple three weeks. So we’ll see.”

Garrett said, “We don’t think it’s season-ending by any means, but it might be a week, a couple of weeks. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Missing starters Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer and backup Tyrone Crawford. Ratliff is gone for at least six weeks while he begins the season on the PUP list. Crawford is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury. Spencer’s could be next week, but that is not certain.

“You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do, and that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league,” Garrett said. “We have those examples on this football team. So there are things you can point to, and that’s the mindset you have.”

RELATED: Dallas Cowboys newcomer Caesar Rayford ready for Sunday

Caesar Rayford joins the Dallas Cowboys Texas 2 defense - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Caesar Rayford was just happy to be here earlier this week after arriving from Indianapolis via a trade, but he better be ready to play at defensive tackle.

With eight healthy bodies in the defensive line — three at DT — the Cowboys are counting on Rayford to take some snaps come Sunday. It doesn’t matter that he arrived here only Tuesday. It doesn’t matter that his natural position is at DE.

“He has to be viable for us at some point in this ball game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

Rayford, an outside linebacker in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme, had a league-leading five sacks in the preseason.

“I feel like I’ve made plays, but I’m always about the next game, the next day,” Rayford said. “I made plays in the preseason, but the preseason is over, and now it’s the next game. I’ve got to keep it going, keep it consistent and just at it.”

Rayford, played in the Canadian and the Arena Football Leagues before getting his chance in the NFL with the Colts. Now, he’s with the Dallas Cowboys.

“The way I describe my journey is some people get in the front door; some people get in the back door; but guys like me have got to climb the house and jump in the chimney,” Rayford said. “That’s been basically my journey. It’s been long and hard. I’ve stayed the course, and now I’m here.”

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys listed defensive Anthony Spencer, running back Lance Dunbar and safety Danny McCray as not practicing Wednesday and guard Ron Leary as going through a full practice.

Leary, who had knee surgery on Aug. 15, is on track to start at left guard in the season opener against the Giants on Sunday. But the others, notably Spencer, are unlikely to play. The Cowboys are holding out hope that Spencer, who had knee surgery in July at the start of training camp, can get in the game for spot duty on Sunday.

For the Giants, three players did not practice. Center David Baas (knee), tight end Adrein Robinson (foot) and tackle David Diehl (thumb) sat out. Limited in practice were receiver Victor Cruz (heel), fullback Henry Hynoski (knee), defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back).

PLAYCALLING DECISION: New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin says there are benefits of delegating

PLAYCALLING DECISION - NYG coach Tom Coughlin says there are benefits of delegating - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave up play-calling duties this year, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said there are benefits.

“There was a point in time for me, I just said, ‘You know what? I’ve got to be the head coach of the entire team.’ ” Coughlin said in a conference call with DFW reporters Wednesday, asked about the change in Garrett’s duties. “I thought I was spending so much time trying to be prepared for the play-calling duties, that I felt like it was maybe closing some doors of opportunity for me to be involved in motivation of our players, the management of our players, to a better extreme. So that was the reason for me.

tom coughlin - new york giants camp - the boys are back blog

“I do think that it does allow you to become very, very familiar with the opponent. It does allow you to be in position perhaps to be a situation or a play or a series ahead from where you might be if you were the play-caller. It also allows you, I think, to get more involved in special teams, which is so critical.”

Coughlin said he gave up play-calling when he came to the Giants from Jacksonville, and he said he had been “back and forth on it” when he was with the Jaguars.

“I think it’s an individual thing,” Coughlin said. “There’s no general statement about how it should be done. People have obviously done an excellent job of coaching their team and still being the defensive play-caller or the offensive play-caller. I do think it’s an individual- and situational- and knowledge-of-your-franchise-type of decision.”

INDIANAPOLIS TRADE: Dallas Cowboys acquire DE Caesar Rayford from Colts

INDIANAPOLIS TRADE - Dallas Cowboys acquire DE Caesar Rayford from Colts - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys have filled their roster with the 53rd player on Tuesday, acquiring rookie linebacker/defensive end Caesar Rayford from the Colts.

The Cowboys have sent a late round (undisclosed) draft pick to Indy in exchange for the undrafted rookie, who started out with the Redskins before joining the Colts in May. Rayford made their roster, only to be sent to the Cowboys three days later.

Rayford had five sacks for the Colts, not only leading the team, but all NFL players in the preseason.
He’s considered a rangy player with long arms. Rayford ran a 4.56 in the 40 coming out of college at the Univ. of Washington. He’s also shown the ability to block kicks.

Rayford went undrafted out of Washington in 2008 and spent the last four years in the Arena Football League, where he had 28.5 sacks with the Utah Blaze. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound defensive end signed with the Colts in May and had a team-high five sacks, four tackle for loss and five quarterback hits in preseason. He also had two forced fumbles.

Rayford also played for the British Columbia Lions of the CFL and Spokane Shock of the Arena League.

Rayford came out of nowhere this summer, piling up a league-leading five sacks in the preseason. The undrafted defender — who projects as a 4-3 end in Dallas — earned high praise from Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who called Rayford a “football junkie.”

Rayford, 27, fills out the roster after the Cowboys had an empty spot after trading veteran tight end Dante Rosario. This is the fourth trade the Cowboys have made since Saturday. They’ve acquired Edgar Jones from the Chiefs, traded Sean Lissemore to the Chargers and Rosario to Chicago.

The trade might suggest the Cowboys are not that confident in Anthony Spencer’s return from a knee injury. Spencer has yet to practice since the first few days of training camp, before he underwent a scope on his knee.

Currently, the Cowboys are prepared to play George Selvie and Kyle Wilber at the end positions if Spencer doesn’t play.

SPECIAL TEAMS ACE: Edgar Jones’n to be a Dallas Cowboy

Dallas Cowboys banner - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Edgar Jones, traded to the Cowboys from the Kansas City Chiefs over the weekend, said he knows he is in Dallas because of special teams, and that’s fine. It is what has kept him in the NFL, he said.

“I emphasize it myself,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been blessed to be around in the NFL on special teams. First, I try to be accountable and put it on myself. I know that’s what’s looked upon me when I got here, to help out on special teams and contribute as much as I can.”

Jones said he understood early in his NFL career that he had to find something to be known for.

“I enjoy it, man. You’re on special teams, you only get 20, 25 plays a game, but each play is going 100 mph,” he said. “I’ve just always enjoyed special teams. I found my knack and what it was that I could do, and it was covering kicks and protection.”

Jones, who grew up in Monroe, La., said he is glad to be close to home, despite the shock of being traded. He spent last year with the Chiefs and his first five years with the Baltimore Ravens.

“This is a league where you just adapt,” he said. “Anything can happen, and when it happens, you just respond. Whether you take it in a good or bad way, I took it in a good way. I feel like God worked things out for a reason for me to be here. This has always been one of my favorite teams. Close to family and stuff like that. Just getting the opportunity to play for a great team, I was excited about it. You embrace it, man.”

KANSAS CITY TRADE: Chiefs special teams vet Edgar Jones to Cowboys

KANSAS CITY TRADE - Chiefs special teams vet Edgar Jones to Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys traded for defensive end Edgar Jones from the Kansas City Chiefs, according to the Chiefs’ Twitter account tonight.

Jones, 28, is a special teams veteran who spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri in 2007. He was a pass rusher in college but also played tight end and linebacker with the Ravens.

Jones, 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, He will take the roster spot of Nate Livings, who was placed on injured reserve.

Jones had a special teams score in a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.

 

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