Category Archives: Charean Williams

DALLAS COWBOYS OTA UPDATE: McClain in Pain, Hitchens Hobbled | Press-Packed Presser | Green in the green | Cowboy Buzz–Live sideline OTA reactions & comments | Purple Proposition

Jason Garrett press conference - 2015 Dallas Cowboys OTAs - Media packed - The Boys Are Back 2015

There was a packed house for Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s OTA’s opening press conference. Listen (or download) the full MP3 from the new Dallas Cowboys Audio Archives page featured here on your The Boys Are Back website.   Continue reading →

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CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

Cowboys Football

Monte Kiffin doesn’t hold the title of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator anymore, but he’s as fired up as ever. Just ask him.

“I’m really excited. I’m really fired up,” Kiffin said. “I’m not down one bit. I’m really not. I can’t coach that way. I wouldn’t stay here. If I didn’t feel right, if I knew I wasn’t going to contribute, and it wasn’t going to be a good situation, I promise you I would have moved on. I like it here. I like the head coach. But Rod Marinelli is the guy.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD - Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands - 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff c

Kiffin was hired a little over a year ago to oversee the team’s transition from the 3-4 to the Tampa Two 4-3 style (commonly referred to as the Texas-2 Defense on this site).

Continue reading →

THE TRUE BLUE ROSTER TEST: Name all ten of the Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen currently on the roster | Special Feature

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

You know the Dallas Cowboys don’t have Jason Hatcher or DeMarcus Ware on their defensive line anymore.

Do you know who they do have?

Hint: There are currently 10 defensive linemen under contract.

Another Hint: Three of them are defensive tackles and seven are defensive ends.

How many can you name off the top of your head?

STOP READING NOW AND THINK ABOUT IT …

SPOILER ALERT!

THE ANSWERS ARE BELOW … NO PEEKING!!!

EVALUATING THE TEXAS-2 DEFENSE - Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli coaching havoc and reaping rewards - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dallas Cowboys Selvie and Hayden

George Selvie? That’s a start. Nick Hayden? That’s two. Tyrone Crawford? On a roll.

dallas cowboys defensive end tyrone crawford (70) applies pressure to tampa bay buccaneers quarterback josh freeman - the boys are back blog

And? Maybe Ben Bass?

How about the two new signeesJeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain?

FOUR TO GO …

Give up?

Martez WilsonTristan OkpalaugoCaesar Rayford, and Frank Kearse are the others.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

The 10 defensive linemen currently on the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys roster have combined to play in 268 games, making 457 tackles and 39.5 sacks. Ware and Hatcher combined to play 260 games with 779 tackles and 144 sacks.

Editors note: This post inspired by Charean Williams of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Current Dallas Cowboy unrestricted free agents Anthony Spencer, Edgar Jones, and Jarius Wynn are not included in this count … but you get bonus points for naming them!


True Blues, keep up with the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys roster 2014-2015 right here, on The Boys Are Back

website …

dallas cowboys roster -The Boys Are Back website 2014

SACKED FOR FIFTH TIME: Dallas Cowboys living legend Charles Haley again denied induction into NFL Hall of Fame

Charles Haley won’t be included in NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2014 - The Boys Are Back

IRVING, Texas – Once again, Charles Haley’s been left out of the latest Hall of Fame class.

This marked the fifth year Haley, who’s the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings, was a Hall of Fame finalist without getting in. Michael Strahan, Andre Reed, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy all were named into the Class of 2014.

Haley ranks 12th in Cowboys history with 34 sacks and had 100.5 for his career.  He would have been the 13th former Cowboys player who accrued at least five years with the team to be named to the Hall of Fame.

Haley, who was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career, joined the Cowboys in 1992 in a trade from San Francisco. Many believe Haley was the difference-maker on defense to put the team over the hump. Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin were already in place and leading a high-octane offense, but it was Haley’s presence that added a needed piece.

The converted defensive end had six sacks in his first season but played a big role in the Cowboys having the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL in 1992. In Super Bowl XXVII, Haley made a game-changing play when he sacked Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and forced a fumble, which was recovered in midair by Jimmie Jones for a touchdown. The Cowboys eventually pulled away for a convincing 52-17 win.

Haley had four sacks in 1993 but his most memorable moment came after a Week 2 loss to Buffalo, which dropped the Cowboys to 0-2. Haley emphatically slammed his helmet through a locker room wall at Texas Stadium and voiced his anger in the Cowboys’ not having signed Emmitt Smith, who was two games into a contract dispute with Jerry Jones and the organization. Haley’s comment, “We can’t win with a rookie,” in reference to Smith’s backup Derrick Lassic, might have been the final straw as the Cowboys and Smith came to terms the next week. Smith went on to have an MVP season and the Cowboys won another Super Bowl.

The Cowboys went back to the No. 1 defense in 1994 and Haley had his first double-digit sack season with the club with 12.5, including four in the season opener in Pittsburgh.

Haley had 10.5 sacks in 1995, battling through a bad back all season. He had a sack against the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, which helped him earn his league-best fifth Super Bowl ring.

In three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Haley had 2.5 sacks and he had 4.5 sacks in his five Super Bowl games played


RELATED: Charles Haley won’t be included in NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2014

SACKED FOR FIFTH TIME - Dallas Cowboys living legend Charles Haley denied his induction into NFL Hall of Fame - The Boys Are Back 2014

NEW YORK – Charles Haley’s wait continues.

The fifth time was not the charm for the former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, who again was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey form the Class of 2014, announced Saturday night. Brooks and Jones earned enshrinement as first-year eligible candidates, and Strahan made it after missing last year in his first year of eligibility.

Williams and Reed have waited longer, with Reed in his ninth year of eligibility and Williams in his fifth. Guy, the first punter to earn induction and only the second true specialist, and Humphrey were seniors nominees.

The seven-man class will be enshrined in Canton this summer.

The 46 selectors met for a record 8 hours, 59 minutes, with Haley’s discussion taking 25 minutes. Discussion on Tony Dungy lasted 47 minutes, the longest of the day, with Brooks taking only 10 minutes.

Haley made the cut to 10, but he, Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison and Will Shields were eliminated in the reduction to five. Morten Andersen, Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy and John Lynch were eliminated from consideration in the first reduction ballot from 15 to 10.

Haley, whose final retirement came following the 1999 season, has been eligible for enshrinement for 10 years. In that time, he has watched seven teammates inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It had seemed this might be Haley’s year.

He remains the only player with five Super Bowl rings, winning two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Cowboys.

Haley’s teams went 153-66, including 19-6 in the postseason. Only once in 12 regular seasons did his team have a losing record. That was in 1999 after he had retired and then unretired.

His teams won 10 division titles, and he played in seven NFC Championship Games. His teams missed the playoffs only twice.

COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith’s NFL record

COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith's record

Adrian Peterson is on Emmitt Smith’s pace. Peterson has 9,420 yards seven games into his seventh season. Smith had 9,488 to this point.

But Peterson would have to play five-plus seasons after this one, averaging the 1,475 he has averaged per season in his career, to break Smith’s all-time rushing record of 18,355.

Peterson, a Palestine and Oklahoma product, thinks it’ll be sooner than that. He predicted last summer that he would become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher in Week 16 of 2017.

He stuck by that prediction in the conference call with Dallas media today. 

“I definitely have to keep my game up to par.. and that record can be broken,” Peterson said. “But I’m not focusing on that. I set goals, and I just go out and play and if happens, it happens and if doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t harp on it.”

Peterson, 28, nearly set the single-season rushing record last season with 2,097 yards. He is behind that pace this year with 571 yards.

“Coming off last year, MVP, 2,000 yards, guys are coming in to stop the run, and this is how they’ve always played the Vikings for the past seven years — come in and stop the run,” Peterson said, “definitely with a more emphasis on it now. So you’re going to have those. Then again, you’re going to have the opportunity to break the long one, too. I just take them when it comes.”

Here’s the math:

He would need to rack up 8,936 yards over the next 73 games to break Smith’s record. That comes to an average of 122.4 yards a game. Peterson currently averages 98.1 yards a game for his career.


know the enemy - adrian peterson - minnesota vikings vs dallas cowboys - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - button

Know The Enemy: Adrian Peterson (3:12)

Film break down on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. (Watch Video)

CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR: Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion (Special Feature)

CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez watching Dallas defensive players

Jason Garrett talked to Dez Bryant after Sunday’s game, encouraging the receiver to put his passion and emotion to better use than with sideline outbursts.

“You talk to him very direct, man-to-man and you just say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get locked in on what’s happening,’” Garrett said on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “We appreciate the passion, the enthusiasm. That’s what we want from all of our players. The great players have that, the great teams have that, but you just have to focus it and channel it. He understands that.” 

Since Bryant received national headlines for his behavior on the sideline Sunday, including criticism from analyst Brian Billick during the telecast, the Cowboys repeatedly have defended Bryant, insisting his emotional outbursts are not a distraction.

TV cameras twice caught sideline rants by Bryant. In the third quarter, Bryant appeared to be expressing his displeasure at not getting the ball more. Tony Romo targeted Bryant six times in the game, with Bryant catching three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

After the Lions scored with 12 seconds left, Bryant had a heated exchange with teammates Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, who said they were trying to calm down Bryant and get him focused for the final play.

“I know everybody wants to read into Dez’s emotion on the sidelines, but contrary to popular belief, he’s not as negative as you would think over there,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “He’s not every time that happens, saying, ‘Give me the ball! Give me the ball! Give me the ball!’ He’s encouraging in his way. Obviously, everyone has their opinion, and they’ll have that. But Dez will be fine.

“…It’s not an issue. The only thing Jason Witten was telling him, ‘Get your mind right here. We may have to get back out and try a Hail Mary.’ …Dez is highly competitive. He really wants to win the game. Winning is important to him.”

Editors note: Bill Billick was selected in the 11th round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers but was cut by the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, and never played in the NFL. Billick coached for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1998, and was the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007.

RELATED: Dez Bryant explains his sideline emotions

CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez with coach

Dez Bryant wants to make it perfectly clear: He is a team player who wants nothing except to win.

Bryant talked for some 15 minutes Monday, explaining his sideline behavior that drew national attention during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-30 loss tot he Lions. He said he is misunderstood outside the locker room.

“I think for the most part, all of my teammates, they know,” Bryant said. “They know how much I love this game. They know we compete; we battle; we go hard. It’s all about wanting to win. But I honestly feel – me speaking for myself – that’s the kind of attitude you have to have to try to get where you want to go.”

The Cowboys have defended Bryant, whom TV cameras caught ranting on the sideline twice.

The first came in the third quarter after a Tony Romo incompletion on a pass intended for Dwayne Harris on third down, leading to a field goal and a 13-7 lead. Bryant yelled at Romo, receivers coach Derek Dooley and head coach Jason Garrett, none of whom seemed to pay him much attention.

Bryant said he was not demanding the ball, though he had only two catches for 22 yards to that point.

“It wasn’t directly to [Romo],” Bryant said. “It was like, ‘Our defense, they’re getting turnovers. We’ve got to help them out.’ I’m saying that to everybody, including myself. We’ve got to help them out.”

After the Lions scored to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining, Bryant and tight end Jason Witten were seen yelling at each other with defensive end DeMarcus Ware stepping in calm Bryant. Witten and Bryant both said the tight end was trying to get Bryant to focus on the task at hand, which was a final offensive play.

Bryant said his relationship with Romo and Witten remains solid.

“All Witt was doing was trying to get me focused and get me ready for the next play,” Bryant said. “I was just kind of heated, because they scored. As far as Romo, I know you all got sound bites and stuff on these cameras, I mean, or whatever, if you go back and look at it what I was saying to Romo, Terrance [Williams] just scored a touchdown and I was like, ‘They’re going to play him like that, keep throwing him the ball.’ From all the good stuff that was going on, go look at it. I had the same demeanor, the same demeanor. It was just one of those guys to where you know, we’ve got to win this game.”

Jason Garrett talked to his fourth-year receiver about Bryant better channeling his emotions.

“We love the passion,” Garrett said Monday. “We love the enthusiasm. Just got to keep the focus. We addressed it with him during the game. We addressed it with afterward. And he is going to be ready to go.”

Bryant said he has no regrets and will continue to wear his emotions on his jersey. 

“No regrets,” he said. “It’s all love. Like I said, I know it looks crazy, but I promise you all it’s not.”

RELATED: Dez Bryant passionate about winning

CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant is not going to apologize for his antics on the sidelines. He’s a passionate and emotional player who is driven to win. Something, he said, that has been going on since he first stepped on a football field.

So, yes, he’s going to get into animated and sometimes heated conversations. He had a couple with quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten in the second half of the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss to the Lions on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.

And there will be more throughout his career.

“I love this game. I love my teammates,” Bryant said. “That’s what it is. It’s going to forever remain the same. It started in Pop Warner, went to middle school, went to high school, went to college, and it’s here. It’s going to stay that way. It won’t change.”

Nobody in the Cowboys’ locker room has any issues with Bryant wearing his heart on his sleeve. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and his teammates all approved of it in a positive light, saying passion is necessary to succeed in the NFL.

Here’s some reaction on Bryant’s sideline antics:

Jason Witten: “He has more passion than anyone I’ve ever played with. That’s a good thing to have. With 12 seconds left, we were all upset but there was still time left. I tried to communicate that. There was more football to play. We were going to get the ball back and the play we had drawn up, he was a big part of that play. We were trying to get him to calm down because we were going to try to get him the ball on that play.”

Tony Romo: “He’s a competitive guy. … He’s never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows the ball is going to where it’s supposed to. He knows that. I think more than anything it’s about him willing the team. When you guys see emotion sometimes from Dez, it’s just rah rah more than it is being a me guy. That’s not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him for it to be a me situation. He does a great job…sometimes, it’s come on guys, we’re better than this, really emotionally. But he’s never a selfish guy.”

Jason Garrett: “Dez is a very passionate player. He is a very competitive player. He gets a lot of attention from the opposing defenses. He wanted the football. We want guys who want the football. Dez has never been a distraction to our team. He is a really positive asset to our team on the field and off. The way he works. The passion for the game. That is good stuff.”

Jerry Jones: “That’s emotion and I don’t place any issue on his demeanor or his sideline activity. He’s a very emotional player and this was a tough game for him to compete in because he wanted to really contribute and do everything he could for the team and to win. I have no issue at all in terms of criticizing him for sideline demeanor or sideline behavior.”

CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez one handed catch


Related: Dez Bryant sideline audio (1:53) – (Watch Video)

Want to find out what Dez Bryant says during his sideline appeals vs. the Detroit Lions? Watch and listen as he interacts with quarterback Tony Romo, players, and Dallas Cowboys coaches.

Related: Dez offers further explanation of sideline emotions (11:51) – (Video | Audio)

Dez Bryant spoke to the media on Monday for an extended period of time to try to clear up what happened on the sideline on Sunday.

Original reports:

MOTOWN MELTDOWN: Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant flips out

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS: Gameday perspectives from Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions

OFFENSIVE SLUMP CONTINUES: Last three games not pretty for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense

OFFENSIVE SLUMP CONTINUES - Last three games not pretty for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

In Detroit, the Dallas Cowboys had 134 yards in the first three quarters. They had 134 in the fourth quarter.

“Give them credit,” Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “That was a very good front we just played against. It felt eerily similar to the Minnesota game up in the dome in the playoffs, scheme-wise and a little bit with the way they were able to rush the passer. If you can rush the passer like that in this environment, it’s going to be a very tough place to play. You’re not going to be able to get to your progressions, and you’re not going to be able to get the ball to certain spots. I thought the guys did a good job as the game went on, giving us a little more time to get to the second and third reads. We were able to exploit that a little bit more.”

In the past three games, Tony Romo has completed only 56.1 percent of his passes for 693 yards – an average of 231 a game – with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Cowboys went 2-1 the past three games, averaging only 283 yards in them. And it’s not like the Cowboys have played some great defenses.

The Redskins were 32nd in total defense when the Cowboys played them three weeks ago. The Eagles ranked 32nd in total defense when the Cowboys played them two weeks ago. The Lions entered this week ranked 31st.

POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | MO down; Church praying; and we’re wondering about Waters

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys injury report - nurse button

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church both left with hamstring injuries Sunday. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said today that Church’s isn’t serious, and he should be back this week.

But Jones was more pessimistic about Claiborne’s injury. He said Claiborne could miss a couple of games, which would point toward Claiborne’s return after the bye week in a Nov. 24 game at the Giants.

“Church, his injuries kept him out there a little bit at the end,” Stephen Jones said on KRLD-FM 105.3. “I do think he can recover and get back for the Vikings. Claiborne, on the other hand, has a soft tissue injury there with his hamstring that is a real deal, and probably more than likely we’re looking at him missing the next couple of weeks.”

Claiborne has had a tough season. He dislocated his shoulder in the season opener against the Giants and has played with a harness. He temporarily lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, though the Cowboys have started several games in the nickel, including Sunday’s at Detroit, with three cornerbacks in the starting lineup.

In three games, Claiborne has come off the bench. He played 33 of 80 plays Sunday, missing the end of the game with his hamstring injury. Church played 64 of 80 plays, with Jakar Hamilton replacing him late in the game because of his hamstring injury.

Jones was not asked about Brian Waters‘ injury, but a source said the Cowboys do not have an update on the offensive guard yet. Waters left with knee, rib and triceps injuries, playing 32 of 57 snaps.

NFL TRADE DEALINE APPROACHING: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones open to a trade, but it’s got to fit salary cap

stephen jones - dallas cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are open to making a trade before the Tuesday deadline, but making it work with their salary-cap situation is another matter entirely.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the defensive line is the obvious spot the Cowboys would be willing to listen to offers.

“We’re certainly open to it,” Jones said Friday. “I know our guys are working back there. I’m working. If the right situation presented itself, we would certainly do something. I mean, it’s no secret we’re moving a lot of guys in and out in our defensive line and that will probably continue to be the case. I think we already have some workouts scheduled for Monday. We’re just taking a look at guys. [Defensive line coach] Rod [Marinelli] is doing a heck of a job. I admire our young guys that are in there playing hard. To some degree, it’s a good situation. The guys know it’s week to week, and they’ve got to play hard and give it their best and play the right style of defense. You’ve got to admire what that group is getting accomplished. But we certainly would look at any type of situation there if the right deal was there, but we also can’t, for a quick fix, do something that would hurt long term.”

The Dallas Cowboys are only $2 million under the $123 million salary cap. They are projected to be $31 million over next year’s cap.

“At the end of the day it’s got to fit our cap, and that’s another thing,” Jones said. “It would have to really just fit right to sacrifice our cap some, because it will be an issue for us next year, and we certainly manage our salary cap hand in hand with ’13, ’14 and ’15 all side by side as we manage and we see how that affects each year.”

The player also would have to be the right fit on the field. A new player, no matter how talented and experienced, enters as a rookie in terms of his knowledge of the team’s playbook.

The Colts recently made a splash by trading for former first-round pick Trent Richardson, but in four games with Indianapolis, Richardson has rushed for 228 yards on 75 carries and has lost a fumble.

“You have to measure everything,” Jones said. “You have to measure the cap but I think people are getting more and more skilled at that in terms of how they look at it and know that if you trade for a guy he’s got to fit. He’s got to fit under the cap. He’s got to fit under improving your team and I think teams are understanding that and that’s why you’re probably seeing more trades but it’s certainly not as easy as it would be if you didn’t have a salary cap but I don’t think we’re ever going to have to worry about that again. As far as I’m concerned it looks like we’re going to have a salary cap for a long time.”


NFL TRADE DEALINE APPROACHING - Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones open to a trade, but it's got to fit salary cap - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster
(Watch Video | Play Audio)

Stephen Jones on NFL Trade Deadline options and Jay Ratliff 

Stephen Jones spoke with the media about the legal issues involving Jay Ratliff, and what the team is looking at heading into the NFL Trade Deadline.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4

TALKIN’ TEXAS TRENCHES - Veteran Brian Waters gives Dallas’ young linemen a solid mentor

Brian Waters had not played football in a year and a half when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 4. It took him a couple of weeks, but playing guard apparently is like riding a bike for him. He has not missed a beat since taking over as the starting right guard in Week 4.

BACK TO THE FUTURE - Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4 - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

“He’s pretty darn close to being back to himself,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday. “There’s no question about that. That was a concern, or something we talked about a lot, in bringing him back, understanding that he hadn’t played last year and didn’t go through training camp. We have a tremendous respect for the game and the level of competition that goes on every Sunday afternoon. So guys have to be ready to do that. He’s done it really well for a long time. So he had to get back in football shape and just move around and really get his feet underneath him, get his hands back, all that stuff that came so naturally to him for a long time. If you haven’t done it, it just takes you a little bit to get it back.

“I think conditioning, as much as anything else, was an issue for any player in his position. He was surprisingly in very good shape, wasn’t overweight when he first came back. He had to lose a little bit of weight, but more than anything else just get comfortable playing ball again. I think he’s done that over the last few weeks.”

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4

Waters, 36, sat out the 2012 season, returning to football when the Dallas Cowboys signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal. The six-time Pro Bowler has allowed two sacks, according to STATS, and has one holding penalty.

Dallas Cowboys Brian Waters - 6-Time Pro Bowl Guard Returns to Where Career Started - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

“I’m working just like everybody else,” Waters said. “I’m trying to get better and better. There are some things in my game that I really feel like I need to fix. But I think that’s everybody. We’re Week 7. It’s a long season still yet, and hopefully we’ll have an extended part of our season. I’ve always said you want to be at your best at the end of the season, not at the beginning of the season, not in the middle. We definitely have a ways to go and individually I have a ways to go as well.”

Waters has no regrets about returning. He already lived in Dallas, so it was coming home in a way.

“I’m excited about that,” Waters said. “I’m still ecstatic.”


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Offensive Line Ready To Face Their Biggest Test

Go inside the Dallas Cowboys locker room to see how the offensive line feels about their toughest test of the season so far.

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | DeMarcus Ware doubtful for NFC matchup

Dallas Cowboys Injury Update Report - NFL Injury Update Report - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dallas Cowboys Injuries 2013

The Dallas Cowboys list defensive end DeMarcus Ware as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. He has not practiced since injuring his thigh two weeks ago against the Washington Redskins. Ware missed the first game of his career last week.

Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) was limited in Friday’s practice and is questionable. So is running back DeMarco Murray, who was limited this week with a sprained knee that kept him out of last week’s game.

The Dallas Cowboys have ruled starting safety J.J. Wilcox out with a sprained knee and rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck) will miss a second consecutive game.

Dallas Cowboys Injury Update Report - NFL Injury Update Report - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - button

The other eight players on the team’s injury report are probable. Receiver Dez Bryant (wrist/hamstring), cornerback Morris Claiborne (migraine), running back Lance Dunbar (hamstring), receiver Dwayne Harris (hip), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (back), guard Ron Leary (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (shoulder) were deemed good to go.


Dallas Cowboys injury report update

Name Position Injury Wed. Thu. Fri. Game Status
Austin, Miles WR Hamstring LP LP LP questionable
Bryant, Dez WR Hamstring/Wrist LP FP FP probable
Claiborne, Morris CB Illness DNP FP probable
Dunbar, Lance RB Hamstring LP LP FP probable
Harris, Dwayne WR Hip FP FP FP probable
Hatcher, Jason DT Neck LP LP FP probable
Hayden, Nick DT Back DNP DNP LP probable
Holloman, DeVonte LB Neck DNP DNP DNP Out
Leary, Ronald G Knee DNP FP FP probable
Murray, DeMarco RB Knee LP LP LP questionable
Selvie, George DE Shoulder LP LP FP probable
Ware, DeMarcus DE Thigh DNP DNP DNP doubtful
Wilcox, J.J. S Knee LP DNP Out

Detroit Lions injury report update

Name Position Injury WED. THU. FRI. Game Status
Nate Burleson WR Forearm Out Out Out Out
Reggie Bush RB Knee     DNP Probable
Louis Delmas S Knee DNP LP DNP Probable
Andre Fluellen DT Concussion DNP LP FP Probable
Jason Fox T Knee LP LP LP Questionable
Corey Hilliard T Knee DNP DNP DNP Out
Calvin Johnson WR Knee DNP LP LP Probable
Rashean Mathis CB Groin LP LP LP Probable
Ashlee Palmer LB Ankle   LP LP Probable
Brandon Pettigrew TE Hamstring   LP LP Probable
Riley Reiff T Hamstring DNP LP LP Questionable
Theo Riddick RB Concussion FP FP FP Probable

NUMBER 90 REBRANDING: Cowboys DT Marvin Austin assigned Jay Ratliff’s locker and his jersey number

NUMBER 90 REBRANDING - Marvin Austin assigned Jay Ratliff's locker and his jersey number - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

Jay Ratliff left the building only a week before his No. 90 and his locker went to another defensive tackle. Marvin Austin has taken over both after the Dallas Cowboys signed him Tuesday.

Austin spent two seasons with the Giants after they made him a second-round pick in 2011. He spent two games with the Dolphins this season before his release Oct. 15.

“It’s definitely a new beginning and a lot to build on,” Austin said.

Austin, listed at 6 foot 2, 312 pounds, still was pouring with sweat a half hour after practice. He admits he is not in football shape.

“Not good enough,” Austin said. “To be honest with you just the way they practice and the way they want you to go out there and play, I’ve got to keep working every day to get in shape to go out there and perform.”

Austin hopes defensive line coach Rod Marinelli can work the same magic with him as Marinelli has with several no names along the defensive line.

“His record speaks for itself and coach [Monte] Kiffin also,” Austin said. “The way that those guys coach, and the success they’ve had in this league, I have no excuses.”

OK, MORE SUSPENSE: Ex-Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff cleared to play, looking for a new home

OK, MORE SUSPENSE - Ex-Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff cleared to play, looking for a new home

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys last week, has been medically cleared to return to action, according to his agent.

Agent Mark Slough sent a letter to 31 NFL teams, advising them of Ratliff’s availability. Slough said in the letter than Dr. William Meyers, who performed sports hernia surgery on Ratliff in December, cleared Ratliff to play Wednesday after an examination in Philadelphia.

“Jay will now continue his individual workouts in Dallas and work hard to regain further strength and improve his conditioning,” Slough said in his letter to front-office executives. “His goal is to be ready to [work out] for clubs in a couple of weeks. He currently weighs 304 [pounds] and is in very good shape … just needs to take his workouts up a notch.”

Ratliff, 32, played in only six games last season because of injuries, but he is a four-time Pro Bowler.

RELATED: Jason Garrett wishes Jay Ratliff nothing but the best

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett declined get into a discussion regarding disconnect between last week’s decision to cut former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jay ‘Ratliff for health reasons and yesterday’s announcement that he had been cleared to play immediately and soliciting offers from other teams.

“We made a decision like we talked about last week that we felt was in the best interest of our football team,” Garrett said. “And we wish Jay nothing but the best going forward.”

Ratliff has not played football since undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia last December. He missed all of training camp and the preseason because of complications with his rehab. The Cowboys placed him the physically unable to perform list to start the season with hope of him returning after six weeks.

The Cowboys released him last week because it was believed that Ratliff was no where near close to being ready to return to the field and would not likely be healthy again until 2014.

That was then, before Ratliff met with the doctor who performed his surgery and was cleared to play, roughly one week later.

“Certainly health was a huge factor in that decision,” Garrett said. He hasn’t been able to play for us for the last year and a half. That was the primary reason we made that decision and again, we wish him nothing but the best going forward.” 

What’s also played a factor in the decision is the friction between Ratliff and the team for much of the last year. He had his surgery and rehab with private doctors because of disagreements with the team’s medical and training staff.

He also had physical altercation in the locker room with owner Jerry Jones last season because he erroneously felt his commitment was being questioned.

This was one year after Jones signed him to a five-year, $40-million contract extension in 2011.

The Dallas Cowboys showed patience with Ratliff because his great play and passion in practice and games over the years.

With him now cleared to return to the field, in what has proven to be a clear disconnect in communication between the Cowboys and Ratliff’s camp, last week’s decision was certain evidence that the patience has run out.

“Again, from a health standpoint, we didn’t feel like he was ready to go. We just felt like that was the best decision for our club,” Garrett said.

RELATED: Jerry Jones expresses disappointment over Jay Ratliff drama

There is obvious lingering disappointment among the Dallas Cowboys brass regarding former defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and drama surrounded his release week for health reasons and yesterday’s announcement that he had been cleared to play immediately and was soliciting offers from other teams.

Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett declined to go into detail regarding the disconnect between Ratliff too injured to play for the Dallas Cowboys and being free resume football activities with other teams a week later.

Jerry Jones alluded to pending legal issues for his silence stemming from the five-year, $40 contract extension Ratliff signed in 2011.

“I won’t be commenting about this because of the fact there are legal issues involved here relative to the league and otherwise,” Jones said. “But all agreements require people to abide by the agreements. That’s why you have legal issues. We obviously have an agreement with him, had an agreement with him, and to the extent that you have some concern within that, that’s why you have legal.

But Jones however couldn’t help but acknowledged there was certain disappointment with the Ratliff drama.

“I don’t want to comment because of the legal aspect of it,” Jones said. “I had said earlier that I thought I was going to focus on good things, the contribution that he made here, we all need him real bad, this team needs him read bad, needed him real bad, was disappointed that he wasn’t playing, disappointing that the resources that are involved here aren’t going to guy out here making plays.”

The Dallas Cowboys released him last week because it was believed that Ratliff was no where near close to being ready to return to the field and would not likely be healthy again until 2014.

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY: Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY - Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time, as FB

Kyle Bosworth had been practicing with the offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until Sunday that he got to play on that side of the ball. Bosworth, who makes his living as a linebacker, got to play three snaps at fullback against the Washington Redskins.

It’s the first time the Plano West graduate has been on offense since high school.

“It was a great experience,” Bosworth said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played fullback. I know they want me to be versatile and as a utility player as possible. It was just the next step in the process. It was really exciting I got the three plays.”

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY - Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time, as full back

The Cowboys lack a true fullback on their roster after cutting Lawrence Vickers in the off-season. Bosworth is a perfect fit in the team’s jumbo package, which also utilizes an extra offensive tackle in Jermey Parnell.

“I think we had three short-yardage plays in the game, and he did a good job,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Bosworth. “He’s learning. He hasn’t really done it before. But I thought one was particularly good. I thought a couple of other runs were OK. I think he’s just learning how to do it. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. We know that. That’s a positive thing.”

The Cowboys converted on all three plays Bosworth played. DeMarco Murray had a 1-yard run on third-and-one on the fourth snap of the game. On the Cowboys’ second drive, Murray followed Bosworth into the hole for a 2-yard gain on third-and-one. Then, on their third drive, Phillip Tanner gained 2 yards on a third-and-1 behind Bosworth.

“I was pleased with the second and third [plays],” Bosworth said. “The first one could have been better. But I was 3-for-3 in getting the first downs, so that’s good.”

Bosworth laughed when asked if he’d start lobbying to get a pass thrown his way.

“Man, I have great hands,” he said. “I know coach throws me a lot of balls when we’re in scout team and stuff like that, and I haven’t dropped one yet. Knock on wood. But progression. I hope that comes, because that would be just unbelievable. But in time. I’m good with blocking right now.”

Bosworth played three plays on offense, 19 on special teams and none on defense against the Redskins.

LUCKY THIRTEENTH: Orlando Scandrick is making mark as starting corner and special teams ace

Orlando Scandrick no longer is just a nickel corner. He also is no longer just close to blocking a field goal.

Scandrick started at right corner in place of Morris Claiborne, against the Chiefs and he played all 67 snaps. Morris Claiborne, who has a dislocated shoulder, played 37 snaps in nickel situations. Scandrick made three tackles. He also blocked the first field goal of his career after being close dozens of times in his career.

“Scandrick did some good things,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Orlando’s a good football player. He’s one of those guys that sometimes you pigeon hole guys and say, ‘Hey, he’s an inside guy. He’s a nickel.’ He’s got a little something to him. He always has. A little bit of a chip on his shoulder, kind of like a bolder or a mountain. We think that’s good. He brings that with every opportunity we give him, whether it’s a as teams guy or an inside cover guy, as a nickel or as an outside guy. I thought he competed well with some good receivers.”

Scandrick has started only 20 games in six seasons, but he has been as valuable and productive in his role as any player on the team over that time.

During the off-season, he won a team award for the gains he made in the weight room. His biggest improvement, thought, might be in blocking out the bad plays as well as the criticism.

“I think I’ve grown a lot mentally,” said Scandrick, who has been targeted 12 times and allowed only six catches totaling 49 yards and a touchdown, according to STATS.

“I think physically I did a good job in the off-season of getting a lot stronger. I put a lot into it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I’ve taken a lot of criticism around here, and I don’t take it well. It eats me inside. It ate me up the whole last season that my season ended the way it did. So I’ve been working a lot. I started working as soon as I was healthy in January, and I haven’t stopped since.”

Although he is listed as the backup at right corner, Scandrick likely will continue to start. Claiborne will wear a harness that will limit his effectiveness the rest of the season. Scandrick now is as comfortable playing outside as he is in the slot.

“I just feel like I’m finally trusting myself,” Scandrick said. “A lot of the times I was second-guessing myself when I’d see things and not go get them and I would let outside things affect me and get down on myself if I give up a play or if I don’t make a play. Now I’m so focused if I make a play, if I don’t make a play, I’m onto the next play.”

Scandrick finally got his long-awaited first blocked field goal when he came around the corner to get Ryan Succop’s 57-yard attempt at the end of the first half.

“Coach Rich Bisaccia has been a big believer in me since he got here,” Scandrick said. “He’s been very positive since he got here. I give him the credit. The guy’s on me every day. I’ve been close for years. He’s on me every day, ‘Go get it! Go get it! Visualize it.’ Just another part of playing hard every play.”

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Jason Witten passes Shannon Sharpe, moving into second among TEs in career catches

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten moved up on the league’s tight end charts, passing Shannon Sharp with his 815th career catch.

Witten considers it an “honor” to be in the same company as Tony Gonzalez, Sharpe and Ozzie Newsome.

“It’s special,” Witten said. “A lot of these that I’ve been able to achieve, it’s a lot of guys I have a lot of respect for. I really think for any tight end around my age, Shannon Sharpe was the guy you looked to in Denver. Him and Elway with what they were able to achieve. To pass him, that was pretty special and definitely humbling for sure. At this point, it’s not about that. You just hope that you can be some small piece of this puzzle that helps win games and compete for a championship.”

Witten has 817 catches. He trails only Gonzalez, who has 1,249. Witten ranks third among tight ends in career receiving yards with 9,030. He trails only Gonzalez (14,337) and Sharpe (10,060).

WILD BILL CALLAHANDOFF: Dallas OC not thrilled with his last play call

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan wasn’t thrilled with his last play call Sunday. He called for a screen to running back DeMarco Murray with 16 seconds remaining with the Cowboys at their own 4. Murray gained 10 yards and time expired before they got off another play.

“Yeah, I’ve got to do better with that,” Callahan agreed Sunday. “I’ve got to do a better job of making a better call in that situation. Yeah.”

The chances were slim the Cowboys were going to get in field-goal range anyway, needing 50-plus yards and without a timeout. But quarterback Tony Romo said the Cowboys were trying to get in position for a jump ball for the final play.

“Ninety-five percent of the teams are going to be really soft in that situation,” Romo said. “You think you can get a good 30 to 40 yards to throw a jump ball. With that much time, you can get out of bounds to the 40, to the 50 and have a chance at it, so I thought that was a good call, and it gives you a chance, an opportunity to do that. They played a little bit of an aggressive defense, two-man, at that point, which you don’t normally see.”

SETTING THE TEMPO: DeMarco Murray likes being the workhorse

DeMarco Murray had 20 rushes and eight receptions in the Dallas Cowboys 36-31 victory over the Giants. His 28 total touches was the second-most of his career, and the second-most touches by an NFL running back last week.

Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy had 32 touches. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin and Detroit’s Reggie Bush each had 25.

“Whenever I can get the ball, trying to make something happen, give this offense a spark, it’s going to be good for our team,” Murray said. “They did a good job of giving me opportunities to do that last weekend.”

Murray had 31 touches against the Redskins two years ago, the only time he’s ever had more.

Murray has a history of injuries, having missed nine games in his first two seasons, but coach Jason Garrett said he is not worried about exposing Murray to more hits with an increased load. Murray played 69 of 77 snaps, with Phillip Tanner taking five snaps. Joseph Randle did not play despite being active on game day.

“It’s how the game plays out,” Garrett said. “It’s good to get him the football. He’s a good football player. He’s the kind of guy who can control the tempo of a game and the pace of a game for you. That’s a good thing. There are a lot of good running backs in the history of the league who have been able to do that by either handing it to them or throwing it to them. So we think that’s a good thing for our offense and a good thing for our team. Obviously, we’ll be very aware if he’s getting worn down and we need to put somebody else in there. You do that in games. You do that over the course of games. But I don’t think that number is out of the ordinary at all.”

The Cowboys will have Lance Dunbar back this week to ease some of the burden off Murray. Dunbar missed last week’s game with a sprained foot.

“He’s a special player,” Murray said. “We’ll definitely get some touches [for him].”

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.”

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Cowboys DT Sean Lissemore is practicing and eager to play

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Sean Lissemore was quick with an answer when asked if he would play Saturday against the Bengals: “I’ll be playing this Saturday,” Lissemore said.

It was a long eight days for Lissemore after he injured his groin in practice Aug. 11. Lissemore had been getting plenty of reps with starter Jay Ratliff rehabbing hernia and hamstring injuries since the start of camp on July 20.

“It’s always frustrating to be injured, but you’ve got to kind of look at it and say, ‘Well, what can I do to get better?’” Lissemore said Tuesday. “So you just watch film; you watch the guys ahead of you; you watch practice. You just try to watch your position and get better every day.”

Lissemore returned to practice Tuesday. He did individual work, followed by metabolics “just to get my wind back.” He expects to work into team drills this week.

signed and sealed - dallas cowboys de sean lissemore contract extended through 2016 - the boys are back blog

By design, Lissemore has lost some 12-14 pounds since camp started, down to 298. He hopes that helps him better fit into the Tampa 2 defense the Cowboys are using this season under Monte Kiffin.

“I think I can definitely play in this defense,” Lissemore said. “It’s just taken a little bit to transition. It’s a little bit different from last year, playing a 3-4 defense, kind of two-gapping. So it’s kind of forgetting everything I’ve learned for the past three years and kind of training myself to do something different.”

Two other defensive players injured the same day as Lissemore have yet to return.

Linebacker Ernie Sims, who was competing with Justin Durant for the starting strong side spot, said he was encouraged by his rehab work Tuesday on his pulled groin. He cut and changed directions without a problem.

Sims hopes to return to practice this week.

“I want to be back this week,” Sims said. “But we’re taking it day by day right now, just trying to keep strengthening it. I’m definitely making a big improvement, though, because I’m feeling a whole lot better. I’m moving a whole lot better. Running a whole lot better. Right now, I’m just in the strengthening, trying to build my strength back up.”

Defensive back Eric Frampton, one of the team’s core special teams players, has a calf injury and is expected to be the last of the three to return to the field. He is not yet running, though he is using the AlterG, a anti-gravity treadmill.

Frampton said there is no timetable for his return.

“The way I see it, I want to be able to just contribute on the field once the season starts and whatever it takes to get to that point is what’s important,” Frampton said.

DALLAS COWBOYS 2013 ROSTER: Team waives three players, including LB Alex Albright

DALLAS COWBOYS 2013 ROSTER - Team waives three players, including LB Alex Albright - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys waived three players, including linebacker Alex Albright. Albright will have season-ending surgery on his back this week. If he clears waivers, Dallas will put him on injured reserve.

Defensive linemen Travis Chappelear and Toby Jackson also were waived. Chappelear was wearing a walking boot Monday after being injured in pregame warm-ups. Jackson has a hamstring injury.

Albright, who had sports hernia surgery after last season and then hurt his back in May, was one of the team’s core special teams players. He had 17 tackles on special teams last season. He also had been expected to contend for playing time as the backup at the strong side and middle linebacker spots.

“He’s been a good player for us in that role, as a backup linebacker and a teams guy,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “An expression we’ve used a lot with him is ‘ugly production.’ Sometimes it doesn’t always look great. He seems to make a lot of tackles. He’s around the ball a lot, both on defense and the kicking game. Last year, he’s out there against Pittsburgh, and he’s covering a really fast running back [Chris Rainey] they have and as a coach, we say, ‘Boy, we don’t want to see that guy in space against him.’ Sure enough, he just covers him. He’s done that since he’s’ been here. He’s done that on defense. He’s done that on teams. Disappointed for him not to be able to show us that he can play again like he’s done all throughout his career. Certainly disappointed for us as well because of the role he’s played for us.”

QUARTERBACK SECURE: Cowboys remain confident in QB Kyle Orton

dallas cowboys qb tony romo kyle orton and coach jason garrett - the boys are back blog

As much as Dallas Cowboys fans might want Alex Tanney as the backup to Tony Romo, that role again will go to Kyle Orton. The Cowboys signed the veteran quarterback to a three-year, $10.5 million deal, with $5 million to sign, last year.

Despite Orton’s struggles Saturday against the Cardinals, the Cowboys still have faith in him if something were to happen to Romo.

“He’s played a lot of good football for us — both in practice and preseason games and when he had a chance to play last year,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “and we have a lot of confidence in him.”

But Orton made a “couple of bad decisions” against the Cardinals. In three offensive drives, Orton was 4-for-8 for 36 yards with two interceptions and a 22.9 passer rating.

“Anytime you get to go out and play, you don’t want to turn the ball over, especially the way the game started,” Orton said Monday. “To go out and add to it and throw a couple of picks, it was just two poor decisions. Nothing that I haven’t seen. I just made two bad decisions. I’ll learn from it like everybody else and go out and play great next week.”

In three preseason games, Orton is 12-for-17 for 113 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Tanney got Cowboys fans excited with his performance last week when he completed 14 of 19 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception for an 88.9 passer rating.

But Jason Garrett always has had a veteran quarterback behind Romo with Brad Johnson, then Jon Kitna and now Orton. Tanney isn’t likely to change the Cowboys’ minds about keeping a third quarterback on the 53-player roster either. They have too many injuries at other positions that will need addressing with roster spots.

“We value the quarterback position a lot,” Garrett said. “We would love to have a third quarterback, but roster spots are competitive in this league. You have to make a lot of decisions. You’ve got to figure out who is going to help your team, developing a player versus this guy can help our team right now. That is a good question we have.

“We feel good about our starting quarterback. We feel good about our backup quarterback. Now would like to bring a guy along, what capacity would you like to bring him along in? I don’t know that. Tanney did a good job the other night, though.”

BROTHERLY LOVE: Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb honors teammate by wearing J.J. Wilcox’s No. 27 in practice

BROTHERLY LOVE - B.W. Webb honors J.J. Wilcox by wearing Wilcox's No. 27 in practice

Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb wanted J.J. Wilcox to know that he was thinking of him. So Webb wore Wilcox’s No. 27 jersey to practice Friday.

“That’s like my brother, so I’m just showing my love, let him know I’m still here with him,” Webb said. “Whatever he needs I’ve got him.”

Wilcox has been excused from practice since his mother, Marshell Wilcox, became gravely ill. Marshell Wilcox died Tuesday after a long battle with lupus, a chronic and lifelong autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue and organs. The funeral is Saturday in Cairo, Ga.

Wilcox is expected to rejoin the team in Dallas.

“I’ve talked to him,” Webb said. “He’s doing a little better, but it’s hard right now. I can’t imagine losing your parent. I’m just want to let him know I’m here for him if he needs anything.”

Webb will wear his own No. 20 in the game Saturday against the Cardinals.

PRESEASON PRIMER: Tony Romo may play into the second quarter against the Cardinals | Tanney in the spotlight

TOP 8 COMPENSATION - Tony Romo getting paid to win in the future - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Tony Romo will play “15 or so” plays in Saturday’s preseason game against the Cardinals before turning it over to the backup quarterbacks.

“It depends how it goes,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We have kind of a play idea for the starters and Romo is a part of that. Fifteen or so ball plays, and we’ll see what happens. It might turn into 20 if they’re really good. It might be less than that. I anticipate him probably playing into the second quarter.”

Romo didn’t play in the Hall of Fame Game. He played 14 plays last week against the Raiders.

In his second preseason game last season, Romo played the first quarter. He got in 20 snaps, leading the Cowboys to a field goal.

Terrance Williams and David Arkin will be among the starters who will get more snaps.

Williams, a rookie, will make his preseason debut after missing the first two games with a concussion. The Cowboys are counting on him as their third receiver this season.

“It’s been disappointing for him that he hasn’t been able to play in the first two games, but he’ll get some action in this ball game, probably more action than some of the other starting type players will,” Garrett said. “He’ll play a little bit longer just because he missed the first two weeks.”

Arkin will start in place of Ron Leary, who had successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday morning. The Cowboys are without their top two left tackles in Leary and Livings, who had left knee surgery two weeks ago. 

“Ark is going to play a lot in this ball game,” Garrett said. “Ron Leary had surgery this morning and we felt like the surgery went well. It was a scope. We don’t think it’s a major, major thing. We think he’s going to be back in a couple of weeks, but it gives a guy like Arkin a lot of opportunities both in practice and in games to show what he can do.”

RELATED: QB Alex Tanney ready to show what he can do

Four Dallas Cowboys QBs in 2013 Training Camp - Tony Romo - Kyle Orton - AlexTanney - Nick Stephens

Alex Tanney played only seven plays against the Raiders last week. He will play more this week.

Tanney will be the third quarterback on the field for the Cowboys in their preseason game against the Cardinals on Saturday. He will follow Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. Nick Stephens also will play.

“I’m excited just to get in there and continue to show all the hard work I’ve put in in the classroom and out here after practice, before practice, just trying to get as many reps as I can possibly get,” Tanney said. “It’s pretty beneficial.”

The Cowboys are expected to keep only two quarterbacks on their 53-player roster. But Tanney is auditioning for other teams as well as trying to compete for a spot on the Cowboys’ practice squad.

Stephens has played 50 plays, completing 11 of 19 passes for 102 yards with an interception. Tanney has played 38 plays, completing 6 of 17 passes for 66 yards.

“I’m improving,” Tanney said. “I was only two weeks into the playbook then [for the Hall of Fame Game]. It’s basically double the knowledge at this point.”

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