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DALLAS’ DREADED DEAD-MONEY DEALS: Winds of change–The Dallas Cowboys transition of power is shifting | Stephen Jones Era–From Texas Hold’em 2 Texas Fold’em | NFL salary cap leads to philosophy shift
WAR ROOM SNEAK PREVIEWS: Annual NFL Pre-Draft visits are a window into most of the Dallas Cowboys recent draft picks
IRVING, Texas — In the coming weeks you will hear about NFL teams bringing in college players from around the country for the annual pre-draft visits. Each club is allowed to bring 30 players into their complex up until the week before the actual NFL draft.
These players will have the opportunity to visit with the front office and coaching staff for group or one-on-one meetings, tour the complex and take a physical if necessary. The clubs are not allowed to work these players out unless it is that player’s hometown, or if the school they attended is in the metro area of that team’s complex.
Earlier in the year, teams had the opportunity to visit with most these players for just fifteen minutes while they were in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. During these official visits, the clubs are allowed to keep the players overnight and then meet with them the entire next day if necessary.
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Will McClay, along with the coaches and scouts will be able to interact with these players in a more comfortable setting. They can sit down and watch game tape with the players, as well as test them on X’s and O’s to see their ability to retain information.
Coaches always welcome the opportunity to sit down with players and see what makes them tick. There were numerous times in my experiences preparing for a draft where a coach did or did not like what he heard from a player in one of the pre-draft visits.
I remember an example from Randy Moss’ pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch. The wide receivers coach at the time, Dwain Painter, brought up in a final draft meeting with Jerry Jones that he was turned off by Moss and his attitude. That feedback ultimately affected Jones’ decision not to draft him.
In these pre-draft visits you will hear about names like Aaron Donald and Kony Ealy, who are likely first round picks. But there will be other names on these visits that will be considerations much later in the draft. Maybe these players didn’t have a chance to go to the Combine and the club needs a physical on them before the draft. During this period, this is where you will see those physicals take place.
Along with the annual Dallas Day, these pre-draft visits are vital to working toward building the final draft board that the Cowboys will use. Impressions good or bad will shape that board and ultimately shape this team. As we start to bring you news of who is visiting Valley Ranch, pay close attention who they are because trust me, other teams around the league sure are.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys’ pre-draft visits headlined by top defenders
To get a clearer understanding who the Dallas Cowboys might take with their 16th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, keep an eye on who their bring in for pre-draft visits, starting today and running through Wednesday.
The Cowboys are allowed to bring in 30 top prospects for national visits and considering the names reportedly already here or on the invite list for the up close and personal meet and greet, targeting the defense is the obvious focal point.
Many of the prospects came in Sunday night.
The expected visitors include Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (pictured above), Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, Arizona State defensive end Davon Coleman, Southeast Louisiana State defensive tackle Jerrod Black, Northwest Missouri cornerback Brandon Dixon, Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward.
These visits are important considering that DeMarcus Ware in 2005 and Morris Claiborne in 2012 were the only top picks taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the past nine drafts who didn’t make pre-draft visits to the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.
Travis Frederick in 13, Tyron Smith in 2011, Dez Bryant in 2010, Jason Williams in in 2009, Felix Jones in 2008, Anthony Spencer in 2007 and Bobby Carpenter in 2006 were among the pre-draft visitors the year they were taking first by the Dallas Cowboys.
DALLAS COWBOYS NFL SALARY CAP: Team under 2014-2015 cap after releasing Phil Costa and renegotiating Mackenzy Bernadeau contract | DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin decisions pending
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are now under the salary cap after cutting the center many thought could be the starter prior to last year’s draft.
The Cowboys cut Phil Costa and renegotiated the contract of Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday, putting themselves in better position financially prior to the start of free agency on March 11, which is the beginning of the new league year and the time all teams must be under the cap.
The restructuring of Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee already saved the Cowboys more than $16 million in cap space, and the move to release Costa saves another $1.5 million. Despite their continual cap restraints, the Dallas Cowboys will have no issue being under the new cap figure next week.
Costa appeared in only six games the last two seasons after starting all 16 games at center in 2011. He started three games at center in 2012 before injuries cut his season short. Costa, who signed a two-year deal worth $2.7 million last year, appeared in three games in 2013, but rookie Travis Frederick started all 16 games at center.
Costa’s been with the Cowboys since signing in Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Maryland, playing in a total of 26 games with 20 starts. He didn’t take a pay cut, and the Cowboys decided to part ways with the center to help get under the cap.
The Cowboys also saved cap space by renegotiating Bernadeau, who came on strong at the end of the 2013 season after getting replaced by Brian Waters. Bernadeau started the first three games of the season before the change was made, and the offensive line remained a strong point of the team when Bernadeau returned to the starting lineup for the final eight games of the season. Bernadeau will challenge for a starting guard spot in 2014.
The Dallas Cowboys sat high above the projected cap figure just weeks ago but figured out a way to get under the cap relatively smoothly and much more easily than many (in the media) anticipated.
They still have decisions to make on the futures of DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin, among others, and could make more moves and restructures to free up space for free agent signings.
If nothing changes, Ware will count $16 million against the cap and Austin will count $8.25 million against the cap. The Cowboys can save $7.4 million by releasing Ware and $5.5 million by designating Austin a post-June 1 cut. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys could also rework Ware’s deal to save cap space if he’s willing to cooperate on a reduction.
RELATED: DeMarcus Ware will listen to Dallas Cowboys offer
Former Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware doesn’t want to take a pay cut but will listen to the Dallas Cowboys thoughts about a restructured deal.
He also hopes for a quick resolution.
The Cowboys informed Ware and representatives earlier this week about their need to lower his salary and cap figure. Ware is due a base salary of $12.25 million in 2014 with a salary cap hit of $16 million. The team would save $7.8 million if they cut Ware.
However, the Cowboys say they want the team’s all-time leading sacker back in 2014.
Ware will be 32 next season and recently underwent surgery for second consecutive off season. He had a career-low six sacks in 2013 when he has hampered by neck, quad and elbow injuries.
Ware expects to be back to his old dominant ways after surgery to repair nerve damage in his elbow last month. He will listen to the Cowboys thoughts on a restructured deal but remains hesitant about taking a major shave in salary.
Ware, who is shoo-in for the Cowboys’ hallowed Ring of Honor and likely future Hall of Famer, is expecting to draw a lot of interest on the free-agent market if he is released.
A decision on Ware would allow them to set a game plan for the start of free agency.
The Cowboys must address the defensive end position in the draft and free agency. Without Ware, it makes the situation even more acute because there are no players on the roster with his talent or prior production.
Even during an injury-plagued and limited 2013 campaign, Ware was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the ninth-most productive 4-3 defensive end as a pass-rusher and third in run-stop percentage. Ware was picked 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 NFL Draft. He has 117 sacks in nine years to rank first in team history and 18th in NFL history.
DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL CLUB: Looking back at Jerry Jones’ 25 year ownership of America’s Team | Special Feature
IRVING, Texas – Man, 25 wild and crazy years, zigging and zagging, laughing and crying, running and running faster, trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Never, ever – ever – a dull moment, from the one win of 1989 that kept the Dallas Cowboys from an unprecedentedly poor 16-game NFL season to the eight wins – again – of 2013, one short of acceptable for the third straight year.
Who knew 25 years ago this past Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1989, sitting in the Dallas Cowboys team meeting room out here at what we then were referring to as Cowboys Ranch late that Saturday night, that so many lives would irrevocably change when the then-Arkansas stranger Jerral Wayne Jones was being introduced as just the third owner of the world-renowned Dallas Cowboys.
His life, along with those of his wife Gene’s and their three kids: Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry Jr.
The lives of so many who had worked for the Cowboys – made the Dallas Cowboys – from Day One or for the majority of those first 29 years of the NFL’s first expansion franchise’s existence.
The lives of those who would follow the Joneses to Dallas.
And our lives, too, those of us in the media crammed into a room big enough to house a team of football players but bursting at the seams with nearly everyone already on deadline when the long-awaited announcement began sometime after 8 p.m.
Me, I have mental snapshots of that evening, seeing on one hand the pure joy and excitement laced with some anxiety of the Jones Family and all of Jerry’s partners when he was introduced as the next owner of the Dallas Cowboys. But on the other hand, there was basically the team’s godfather, Tex Schramm, standing off to the side, with the glum look of a man attending his own funeral, realizing then the fact he no longer had a seat on center stage was symbolic of what was to come.
Hey, if Tom Landry was no longer needed, and he wasn’t since Jimmy Johnson was coming along with Jones in a package deal and had already been told by Jones what previous owner Bum Bright should have since he more or less resented Landry, surely the appropriately named Tex was not long for his world of 29 years either.
There was Jones, with almost preacher-like enthusiasm, rapidly talking of immediately winning with the 3-13 team he was inheriting, emphasizing his positivity with a fist pounding the air.
There were the arched eyebrows of the skeptical media, wondering what in the world … realizing the 29 years of Cowboys stability was being rattled as if the ground beneath an Apollo capsule launching into space.
A new day was dawning at dusk.
The last snapshot: After the final 30 was put on however many stories we could pound out by midnight, several writers gathered in Tex’s office, soon to be Jerry’s and still is. Sitting-on-the-floor room only. Again, a day of celebration on one hand, and rightfully so when you pledge $140 million you didn’t really have for an NFL franchise and accompanying stadium that were losing money hand over fist, and on this other hand a somber gathering, reminiscing about the good old days that were mostly great but now suddenly just good and old, growing more feint by the minute in the rearview mirror.
It was as if with these stories Tex was giving away his final possessions over drinks – stiff ones I might add – with the very people he had heartily laughed with yet angrily sparred with oh the many years.
“This is a very sad night for me,” Tex said needlessly.
And I distinctly remember this too: My Dallas Times Herald teammate, Frank Luksa, who had covered the Cowboys and Tom and Tex from nearly their 1960 inception, a man who thought he had seen it all, sitting on the floor next to me. He began to rise, held up his near-empty drink in a toast, saying unbeknownst to the rest of us, “Well, time to go home to celebrate what remains of my birthday.”
Will never forget his birthdate, singed into my mind.
And this, too, I’ll never forget, ever. A few days later, March 1, my life, as I perceived at the time, was turned upside down. A guy who was the sports department’s general assignment writer, handling an assortment of jobs, from helping out on the Cowboys to the Rangers to the Mavericks, college football, basketball and baseball, writing lengthy features and having just come off the previous year of covering the Olympics in Calgary and then Seoul, was told the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones were your beat, buddy.
You have been chosen to inherit the tradition set by such esteemed writers as Sherrod, Perkins, Luksa and Dent. No way, I said, not me. I’m not cut out for this. They told me I was perfectly fit, having helped out since the middle of the 1984 season and having covered nearly every game over what turned out to be the final four and a half seasons of Landry’s coaching career.
So there I went kicking and screaming, into what seemingly was a daily towering inferno. Every day – every day – there was something, starting with Jimmy Johnson’s introductory press conference on Monday, the Port Arthur native apologizing with hat in hand if he somehow had danced on Landry’s coaching grave, saying to those who had perceived so, “I’m sorry,” and me finishing my story that night with one line:
And so the Cowboys new era begins apologetically.
Then there came all the coaching changes. Jimmy’s new assistants being hired. Tom’s old assistants being fired.
Then there was Jerry, armed with the first pick in the NFL Draft saying, “Troy Aikman should play for half the price” just to get to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization. Oh my.
Next day having to do a long profile on Jimmy.
Next day Cowboys lower ticket prices for end-zone seats.
Then the start of Plan B free agency.
Then the owners meetings, along with the start of implementing instant replay and the league’s initial crackdown on steroids.
Then there was no vote on approving the Dallas Cowboys sale to Jones, leaving the deal hanging.
Then 29-year NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle’s retirement, he having just compared Landry’s dismissal with “the death of Lombardi.”
Then Jimmy’s first minicamp, along with the real possibility of Randy White and Danny White not being back with the team, which eventually came to fruition a few months later. Then the contract struggle with quarterback Steve Pelluer.
Let’s see, then Too Tall staying, Doug Cosbie leaving, Jimmy playing coy on Aikman being their No. 1 pick, Mike Sherrard leaving, Nate showing up at 358 pounds for offseason workouts, Barry Sanders challenging the NFL’s draft rules, petitioning as an unheard of underclassman for the draft. Landry throwing out the first pitch at a Rangers game. A Landry parade downtown Dallas. The schedule released, at New Orleans becoming the new era’s opener.
Tex Schramm resigning to head up the NFL’s Worldwide American Football League. Cowboys vice president Joe Bailey resigning to join him. Then eventually business manager Billy Hicks, too, to head across the pond. Then the NFL at a meeting in New York finally approving the sale to Jones. Then negotiations began with Aikman’s agent Leigh Steinberg. Then Aikman signing a six-year, $11 million deal, the richest contract for an NFL rookie to date as the Cowboys No. 1 pick. Then the draft.
Oh, we’re just getting started, and these moves were expected, Jerry wanting to get his own people in place, people he could trust not relying solely on those with allegiances to Tex and Tom. Sort of like if you’ve ever been to an Italian wedding or seen an old-day Italian restaurant run. Only the immediate family handles the money, you know, and immediate means wife, husband, kids, mother, father or grandparents. Seriously.
Then longtime Cowboys employees being let go: Day-Oner Gil Brandt, treasurer of 18 years Don Wilson, public relations man of 18 years Doug Todd, 22-year ticket manager Ann Lloyd. All hard to watch.
Gosh, and it wasn’t even May yet.
And remember, back in those days there were three daily newspapers in the Metroplex: ours, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The competition was fierce. And remember, too, no internet. Ha, internet. No social media. No cell phones. Dimes and quarters were important commodities for payphones. You had one shot to get every story every night. And if you were a competitor you wanted the impossibility of every story every night, so that meant working to 11 nearly every night. Anxiety filled your sleep.
Then, well, mornings were hell. You were scared to death to grab those other papers for fear of getting beat in black and white. Remember, too, no updating if you didn’t have it all until the next day. Trying to keep up with Jerry and Jimmy was exhausting. They weren’t letting any grass grow under their feet. Blowin’ and goin’ was the slogan. Theirs was an immediate program, not some three-year plan.
By the first of June, felt as if my head was being centrifuged. We had a meeting of sorts, me and the sports editor, who told me I was doing a fine job. Maybe, I said, but I want out. I want my old job back. This is going to kill me. He said no way. I said I can’t. He said we’re eliminating your old position anyway.
I said, well, of course I’ll cover the Dallas Cowboys. Who wouldn’t want to, right? But again, not before agreeing kicking and screaming, having wanted desperately to run for cover.
So here it is 25 years later, and still covering the Cowboys in some form or fashion every single day since, and well, let’s see. By my count, the last game I missed was the season finale in 1988, 23-7 loss to Philadelphia. And swear, I’ve never done this before, so hang with me, that’s 25 seasons times 16 regular-season games a season, equaling, no way, an even 400 straight, along with the majority, but not every preseason game during that span of time.
Seen 1-15 and 13-3. Seen three Super Bowl victories and three consecutive seasons of 5-11. Seen a plane ride home from Philadelphia in 1991 after the Cowboys clinched their first playoff berth in six seasons – first winning season, too, in those six – that barely needed jet fuel to get off the ground, and now three consecutive seasons of 8-8.
Seen a losing franchise, both financially and athletically, become the richest in the United States and first to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. Seen Hall of Fame coronations and the Jerry-Jimmy spat. Seen Switzer make me laugh until I thought I’d cry and Bill leave me in stitches even when he wasn’t trying to be funny. Seen Jimmy cry How ‘bout dem Cowboys! and smack those lips hard as he could losing those opening two games in 1993.
Seen triplets born to Bill Bates and Triplets land in the Ring of Honor. Seen Dave Campo come and go, and then come back again. Seen a free-agent quarterback rise into becoming the head coach and another rookie free-agent quarterback rise out of nowhere to become the franchise’s all-time leading passer. Seen Texas Stadium come crumbling down and AT&T Stadium rise from that gigantic hole in the ground.
Watched every carry of the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Saw Michael Irvin the day he arrived hugging the life-sized cardboard cutout of Tom Landry and similarly hugging Jerry Jones the day he retired. Seen tragedies and attended funerals.
Seen it all for 25 years, every step of the way only because someone forced me to take that first step running after a guy I had never met until 25 years ago this past Tuesday. Exhausting, yes. Exhilarating, you bet.
And maybe the best part: 25 years is but a milestone. Got a feeling there’s still much more to come.
Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola | Columnist
RELATED: 25th Anniversary of Jerry Jones’ ownership of the Dallas Cowboys
25 Years – Jerry Jones reflects on buying Dallas Cowboys; Replacing Tom Landry
This day, 25 years ago, Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys. Listen to the Jerry Jones himself talk about the trials of the purchase, and the journey through the last twenty-five years.
Tuesday, Feb. 25 marked the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones franchise purchase of the Dallas Cowboys from Bum Bright in 1989.
Jones spent more than an hour Sunday on the Cowboys bus outside Lucus Oil Stadium in Indianapolis reminiscing about the historic transaction and the days leading up to it _ the nervousness and excitement that caused him to develop a heart condition called Arrhythmia and the huge risk he took, considering the Cowboys were not only a mess on the field at the time but where swimming in debt, losing $1 million per month.
“It was quite a trying time for me. I get emotional talking about it and I’ve asked a professional about why I get emotional talking about it in public or private and they said, well, that was a traumatic time for you. It was a pretty significant reach risk-wise and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, so it was a nervous time for me. I developed arrhythmia, and I had never had an unhealthy day in my life. Arrhythmia is called by a lot of people and a lot of med students get it. It was from not resting and never sleeping and then getting up just after you lay your head down. So that kind of describes for me that period of time.”
On the warning his father told him about what would happen if he failed:
“I didn’t know, but I quickly found out the visibility that was involved there. My father called me about 10 days, two weeks into this thing and he said, ‘Jerry, I had no idea this thing would have the visibility it’s got and he said, I don’t care you are a young guy, and he said, ‘I don’t care whether you do it by mirrors, smoke or what, if you are not successful, you’ve got to make it look successful or you will be known by a loser and you won’t be able to do anything else for the rest of your life in terms of getting people to go along with you.’ “
On his biggest regret:
“If I had a chance to do it over again I would’ve waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate changes that I made. If I had to do that over again, I probably would do it because probably it was the urgency with how fast we had to move. That got a lot of the criticism that the changes that were made with the staff.”
So you regret hiring Jimmy Johnson and firing Tom Landry so callously:
“I don’t regret what I said was looking back because that contributed to the seemingly insensitive way that coach Landry was changed out and that contributed to it, the fact that it was done at the same time that we made the announcement there 25 years ago, that we made the announcement that I was buying the team, that I was going to be the general manager and all of that was done almost the same night. As a matter of fact, that was done the same night. So if I look back at the criticism, that’s one where you might have taken more time.”
Was Jimmy Johnson always going to be the guy to replace Landry:
“I thought of Barry (Switzer). I did think of Barry. But Jimmy is, of course, more active. He probably had more proximity. I kept up with Jimmy. My oil and gas partners were in Oklahoma City and I spent a lot of time around them. They were very prominent in OSU, Oklahoma State’s athletic department. So that all fit real good. When I called Jimmy to tell him that I was looking at it, that I was interested — what would you think about joining me? His quote was: ‘I always wanted to be with you, work with you. If you called me to sell insurance, I’d sell insurance.’ So actually Jimmy came on and we officially – not officially – but we announced he was going to be the head coach and it was a significant period of time after that before we every got around to doing an agreement about money, before we even talked about money. He committed and left Miami and came to the Cowboys before we even talked about money.”
Jones on the nervousness of the financial risk because of the state of the Cowboys and NFL:
“I was excited. I was very nervous. I knew I had huge financial obligations. I knew they were ahead of me and I didn’t have all the answers as to how we were going to address them. I knew there were a lot of pitfalls in just the buying of the Cowboys, not necessarily clean. I bought 13 percent of the Cowboys from the FDIC. They had been foreclosed on. And so it was not in a nice complete operational routine. The franchise was not. All that made me extremely nervous. But had I not had the just sheer positiveness of just getting to be involved in the NFL, knowing that when I got up in the morning I would be in the NFL, knowing that I would be part of the Cowboys then those would have been issues in normal business that might have buckled my knees. But because it was so exciting to me to be part of the Cowboys I give that a lot of credit for working through those things. That was 25 years ago.”
Is the passion and excitement still there:
“Yes, of course. It is. Its actually there more than it was because I’m able to think more offense. I’m not as concerned as I was financially about the state of the franchise, about the NFL, about the game. The future is significantly brighter than it was in 1989 for the NFL, for pro football and for that matter pro sports today. I never thought Gene (his wife) would be waiting tables over this deal. But I did think it had the potential to really knock my stuff in the dirt. I knew that it did. Lamar Hunt got up at one of our NFL owners meetings maybe 12 to 13 years ago. He got up and told the entire ownership that the greatest risk I have ever seen taken in sports was the one the Jerry took when he bought the Cowboys, financial risk. He was well aware of the situation with Cowboys. He was well aware of the lay of the land”
Jones blames his reputation as an owner who only cares about making money on his aggressiveness of being an agent of change in the NFL because of the poor financial state of the Dallas Cowboys organization and the league at time.
“That’ll motivate you to be an agent of change. That’ll motivate you to want to change some things, and that was a part of the driving thing that early on in the NFL that I wanted to change for the benefit of everyone, but for the benefit of the clubs, for the benefit of the fans, I felt that we could do some things that would create more strength, more energy, and that was one of the reasons that I initially was as aggressive, and the other things was timing. I didn’t have time to sit there and wait on some of these changes 15 years or 10 years, you know the days and the time was burning, and so it had to be really, you had to move on it. So that’s one of the reasons that the perception of aggressiveness, or the perception of, for that matter, one of the things that I regret is that the perception about financial, the facts are I had financial security and gave it up to buy the Cowboys, and I didn’t buy the Cowboys to go make money. But once you get in the chair, once you get in the position, then you want to be as good and do as good as you can do. So that’s kind of how things have evolved over the years.”
RELATED – There’s MORE about Jerry Jones:
SPOTLIGHT – Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones
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TIPPING THE BALANCE: DeMarco Murray is ready and willing to carry a bigger load
With quarterback Tony Romo sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton set to start in his place, there is no question the Dallas Cowboys will lean heavily on the running game in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the midst of the best stretch in what has already been the best season of his career, said he is ready and willing to carry a bigger load.
“If they do, then great,” Murray said. “If they don’t, then so be it. I’m preparing like I do any other week. I’m working hard, making sure I know my assignments and knowing my keys and things of that nature, so I’ll be ready.”
Murray has 1,073 yards in 13 games, becoming the first Dallas Cowboys running back to top 1,000-yard mark since 2006.
He has rushed for 376 yards the past three games combined, averaging a whopping 6.4 yards carry during those contests.
“We’ve been really jelling together,” Murray said. “I think the offensive line, they’re doing a great job of blocking and I’m doing a great job of running and making guys miss …. Since I’ve been here this is the best [it’s been].”
Coach Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan are both on record saying they are not going to change up the offense much with Orton at helm. But both acknowledge that balance is important and being successful on the ground would be a great help to a new quarterback, especially one with only five pass attempts this season and just 15 the past two seasons combined.
Again Murray said he is ready for whatever. His only goal is a successful game plan to win the game and reach the playoffs.
“I just want to win, run the ball or not,” Murray said. “I just want to win the game.”
TOO PAINFUL TO WATCH: Dez Bryant explains why he walked off the field
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant took to Twitter last night to explain why he walked to the locker room with 1:21 left in the 37-36 loss to the Packers.
It came after the game-sealing interception from quarterback Tony Romo. Bryant walked off after the replay officials reversed the call on the field that the pass was incomplete, giving the interception to cornerback Tramon Williams.
Bryant, after declining to speak with reporters after the game, later explained his actions in a tweet on @dezbryant:
“I walked back to the locker room because I was emotional…it had nothing to do with my teammates we had it… We fought and didn’t finish.”
Bryant was the only Cowboys player to leave the field early, but quarterback Tony Romo refused to criticize him for his actions.
“It’s an emotional game,” Romo said. “You get to the end there, obviously, it’s not fun for any of us to lose a football game. It’s not an enjoyable process the way it ends, no matter how it ends. It’s always tough emotionally so it is what it is.”
Bryant had a solid game, finishing with 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdowns. However, he could have had better numbers as Romo underthrew him on two deep balls and overthrew him on another in the end zone.
“I think the worst thing you can do sometimes with Dez is overthrow him,” Romo said. “Obviously, you’d like to hit him perfectly in stride. He’s such a great athlete, he comes down with most of them. I look back and I wish I had one or two where I gave it a little bit more. But usually, I make sure if I err ever it’s slightly less because he always goes up and gets it. Obviously, I look back, I’ll push those down the field if I have that opportunity.”
RELATED: Dez Bryant couldn’t stand to watch Green Bay kneel the ball down
Dez Bryant regrets it. He wishes he wouldn’t have walked off the field with 1:21 left and the Green Bay Packers a couple kneels away from a 37-36 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Bryant spoke about the incident Monday morning as the Cowboys were on their annual visits to area children’s hospitals, which included Bryant visiting Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
“I was wrong,” Bryant said. “It didn’t have anything to do with my teammates. I just … I couldn’t watch Green Bay kneel the ball down on the field after a tough loss like that.
“I was very emotional. I cried when I got into the locker room. I didn’t want to show that stuff on the sideline.”
The Cowboys blew a 23-point halftime lead and wasted an impressive performance by Bryant. He had 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. The TD catch might have been the most remarkable of all, as he grabbed the ball away from several Green Bay defenders and kept his feet inbounds near the back of the end zone.
But that catch was overshadowed by Bryant’s early exit.
“Whenever I’m out on the football field, it’s all about the team,” Bryant said. “I’m a team guy and that’s what I think about and that’s what I focus on. I extremely, extremely apologize for leaving, but my teammates and coaches understand. I am a very emotional player and we didn’t finish.”
The hospital visit, though, did provide some comfort for Bryant and the other players to get away from the tough loss by bringing smiles to children’s faces.
“This is something I really enjoy doing,” Bryant said. “Whenever you’re able to make someone’s day, you should feel good about it.”
Editor’s Comment: I’m going to share my own opinion of this situation. If you have one, I encourage you to express it in the comment section below. The media at large is making light of Dez Bryant’s emotional and tearful reaction to this loss. No, he shouldn’t have left. No, he will not do it again.
If you follow the Dallas Cowboys closely (like most regular visitors on this site), you already know how emotional Dez Bryant is. That’s a big part of his personality. HE’S DETERMINED TO WIN! The coaches and players are quick to point out that his emotions are one of the key elements that make his such a valuable member of the team. Most of the players that Jason Garrett has kept with his team, or brought in, have the same type of workmanlike traits. The thing with Dez is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s outwardly expressive. I think that’s a good thing and also believe it’s something that this locker room needs. A player that HATES losing that bad needs to be heard. With only two games remaining, this could be something that ignites or unites this team. They sure need it. The players on this roster want to win for Jason Garrett, the coaches … and veterans Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and DeMarcus Ware. You can add Dez Bryant to that list.
Photo above: Dallas Cowboys on their annual visits to area children’s hospitals, which included Bryant visiting Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
THROWBACKS THROWN BACK: Dallas Cowboys won’t be wearing throwback uniforms on Thanksgiving Day
The Dallas Cowboys had planned to wear their throwback blue jerseys and their throwback helmets for today’s Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders.
But that was before the NFL sent out memo in September banning throwback helmets because of safety concerns regarding concussions because may not be broken in properly.
Without the throwback helmets, the Cowboys decided against the throwback jerseys and will go with the regular blue road jerseys against the Raiders.
Vice-president Stephen Jones said it’s all about “putting player safety first and foremost.”
“I don’t know that it’s a given by moving from one helmet to another that it’s an issue but we haven’t proven that it’s not either,” Jones said. “So anytime we’re always going to err on the side of safety, so it’s going to give us a new look this year, but some times there’s nothing wrong with that either. We’ll continue to look at that. It doesn’t mean you won’t see alternative helmets in the future but we want to make sure right now we always err on the side of payer safety until we’ve really dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s.”
This will be the first time since 1964 that the Cowboys will wear their blue jersey at home and it not be a throwback.
COWBOYS VS. GIANTS GAME PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Thursday practice | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett had the expected response when told owner Jerry Jones guaranteed his return for next year.
The man, who preaches “process” and taking it “one day at a time, one game at a time”, said his focus is only on Sunday’s game against the Giants.
“We’re talking about practicing well today,’’ Garrett said. “That’s what we’re going to focus on, and that’s something we emphasize to our team. That’s something we have to live as a coaching staff. We understand we have a great challenge this week and we’re trying to get ready for it.’’
As a long-time player and son of a former coach and a scout, Garrett understands the nature of the business. No matter what Jones says, he knows that if the Cowboys don’t get in the playoffs, anything could happen. His approach of always doing your best every day has been the same since he took over the Cowboys and it won’t change now with Jones’ vote of confidence.
“I think it’s the nature of the league,’’ Garrett said. “You have to focus on what you’re doing each and every day to play your best football on Sunday. That’s what the focus is.’’
Garrett certainly has the support of the Cowboys locker room. The players greeted news of Garrett’s job security with excitement.
Said quarterback Tony Romo of Garrett’s impending return: “It’s good. I think he is a fantastic coach. We are lucky to have him. He is doing a great job here right now. We’re continuing to try and win games and Jason’s done a great job putting us in position to have that opportunity and I think he’s done a great job. Anytime that happens, it’s always just a positive.”
Receiver Dez Bryant was in full agreement, saying Garrett is the best coach he has been around.
“He’s the guy. Coach Garrett is the guy,” Bryant said. “This stuff is a process. Don’t count us out quick, because we’re still here. We believe we’ve got a shot at doing something good this year. Coach Garrett does a great job. I pay attention to him. I listen to him. I love him. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants practice (8:18)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media before his team takes the practice field for the upcoming game with the 2013-2014 New York Giants. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Matching intensity of the outspoken New York Giants players
- Preparations for playing in windy, cold environments this time of the year
- Linebackers DeVonte Holloman limitation and addition of Orie Lemon
- Precautions with DeVonte Holloman’s neck injury
- Expectations for 3-4 LB Orie Lemon coming back to play in Dallas’ 4-3 scheme
- Dez Bryant’s handling of the New York Giants comments in the past week
- Troy Aikman’s radio comments about line of scrimmage delay’s vs. Saints
- Mindset of the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys mindset this week
- Tailored player motivation through overcoming adversity and rewards for playing time
- Running short high percentage plays to Witten/Dez in slumps; vs. broad list plays
- How the recent NY Giants have changed their attack; two-back base offense
- DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne’s practice yesterday
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XMAS AND THE X-FACTOR: Dez Bryant is surprise Santa at Dallas-area Wal-Mart
Dez Bryant is on his bye week as the Dallas Cowboys go-to wide receiver.
He was on buy night Thursday at an area Wal-Mart store (some had said Best Buy). Bryant walked into the store and became an impromptu Santa Clause by purchasing PlayStation4 game systems for six people.
A lot of Dez Bryant fans went to his Twitter page to commend the popular Cowboy for his generosity. And rightfully so.
The Dallas Cowboys are off this week but receiver Dez Bryant scored big in the court of public opinion.
Bryant was there to buy the new Sony PlayStation 4 video game system. And according to several people on Twitter, Bryant bought the system for six people in line. The PS4 retails for $399.00, so it was an early Christmas gift for the lucky few who were blessed by Bryant.
Here are a few other tweets about Bryant’s night at Wal-Mart from some customers, teammate Phillip Tanner and Texas receiver Mike Davis.
Money Magic Davis jr @MikeDavis_110h
My bro @DezBryant have always had a good heart .Now he done bought some people some PS4s everybody want to say everything great about him…
Phillip Tanner @PTanner3411h
S/O to my boy @DezBryant- I’m not surprised at all #Respect
Ben Freeman @BWayneFree11h
Holy crap @DezBryant is cool… just bought a bunch of people PS4s wish I was there lol
Marquis Rodgers @MRodgers240511h
Damn, @DezBryant just bought whoever was in line at a Wal-Mart in Dallas a PS4.
TEXAS-2 DEFENSIVE GAME BALL: Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick continues to shine in 2013
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick had arguably the best game of his career Sunday against the Vikings. Five tackles, four pass deflections and an interception. Most importantly, he made plays on an astonishing nine of ten opportunities in the game.
He was given a defensive game ball by the Cowboys. He also graded as the second-best cornerback in NFL for his play this week by Pro Football Focus.
“He played really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Probably his best game. He got the defensive game ball. He showed up in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of different ways that we evaluate and grade our players. One of them on defense with the defensive backs is there were 10 chances that went his way and he won nine of them. He had three pass breakups, an interception, a critical tackle at the end of the ballgame. He was very active throughout the game.”
It was the continuation of what has been a strong season by Scandrick who has been one of the team’s most consistent defensive performers along with linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and cornerback Brandon Carr.
Scandrick attributes his strong play to being named a full-time starter for the first time in his career. The six-year veteran replaced a struggling Morris Claiborne in Week 2 and has not looked back.
Scandrick said there is a certain freedom in your play when you don’t have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake. Starting has only boosted his already sky-high confidence and allowing him to play loose and focus only on making plays.
PERPLEXED IN THE METROPLEX: Jerry Jones frustrated because teammates could have used a healthy Jay Ratliff
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was cordial when initially asked about defensive tackle Jay Ratliff signing with the Chicago Bears two weeks after being cut by the Cowboys because he was too injured to play this season.
“We wish him the best,” Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM. “Sounds like we could be playing him when we meet the Bears.”
The Dallas Cowboys face the Bears Dec. 9 in Chicago. It appears that Ratliff will be ready to go by then after telling the Bears he needs a couple of weeks to get ready.
That he will be ready at all is what’s perplexing to Jones and the Cowboy after Ratliff missed all of training camp and the preseason recovering from a sports hernia surgery that his representatives said was much more serious than reported.
Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season. And when he still wasn’t ready to return and gave the Cowboys the understanding that he would not be ready to play at all this season, he was released.
Ratliff was cleared to play by his surgeon a week later and began soliciting offers from other teams, culminating with his signing with the Bears.
Jones chaffed when asked if he was fooled and misled by Ratliff.
“No one fooled anybody here,” Jones said. “We thought we had a good clear understanding of his injuries and what he thought about them. He was very articulate about that. It’s very unfortunate. We could use a healthy Jay Ratliff. His teammates could use a healthy Jay Ratliff. We were counting on him from the get go. It’s ironic we would end up playing him. That’s frustrating.”
NO “I” IN TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Sean Lee believes other teammates more deserving of Defensive Player of the Week Award
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee doesn’t think much of being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team with 11 tackles and recorded an interception.
Lee said it didn’t have a perfect game and that other teammates were more deserving. Mostly, his focus on helping the Cowboys continue to improve defensively rather than an individual award, while pointing out that they are just two games removed from giving up 51 points in a loss to the Broncos.
“I think there are guys on our defense who played better than I did who probably could have gotten that award instead of me,” Lee said. “It was a great team effort and great win. The key for us is to continue cause you look back two games ago and we gave up 51 points. We still have room to improve.”
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.
HATCHER WISH GRANTED: Nick Foles will start for the Eagles; Vick out
Asked which Eagles quarterback he’d rather face on Sunday, Michael Vick or Nick Foles, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said it was a no brainer.
He’d rather face Foles because he was more of a drop back passer rather than having to chase Vick all over the field.
“I would like to see Foles, because Vick is like a rabbit,” Hatcher said. “He’s all over the place. Foles is more like a stationary guy in the pocket.
“But both of them are awesome quarterbacks. Foles is playing his butt off these last couple of games. Either one, but I would take Foles over Vick.”
Well, Hatcher will get his wish as the Eagles have ruled Vick out for the game because of an injury, leaving Foles as the starter for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
Foles has been pretty good in wins over the Giants and Buccaneers in place of the injured Vick the past two weeks, completing 38 of 56 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns.
“Foles can throw it, now,” Hatcher said. “He can throw it. It’s going to be a challenge either way.”
ROSTER WHEELS ARE TURNING: Dallas Cowboys expected to address defensive line injuries
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated the obvious on his radio show this morning. He said the defensive line is the Dallas Cowboys biggest concern six weeks into the season.
The loss of defensive end DeMarcus Ware for at least a week or two is the latest setback up for a unit that is already without ends Tyrone Crawford and Anthony Spencer for the season and has seemingly given up hope of getting back defensive tackle Jay Ratliff at any point this season.
The Cowboys are scouring the waiver wire and the streets for help up front but Jones said the team will not trade a future high draft pick to get a defensive lineman.
“It’s pretty well known, I imagine, around the league, some of the issues we got with our defensive front,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM], “so if some other GMs or personnel people are sitting there saying, ‘I bet Dallas might be interested in this lineman,’ then their wheels are turning, too. That could still happen, but we’re not going to be in a position, and don’t want to give up a high draft pick to get a defensive lineman right now.”
The Cowboys are expected to sign veteran defensive end Jarius Wynn, who has five years of experience with the Packers and Chargers.
BRINGING DOWN THE HAMMER: Jason Hatcher demands teammates best effort
Dallas Cowboys Jason Hatcher voluntarily spoke to his teammates after practice earlier this week, making an impassioned plea for them be accountable and lay it all on the line heading into Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
Hatcher called out rookies and veterans alike in hopes of helping the Cowboys break through the malaise of mediocrity and self-inflicted wounds that has engulfed this franchise for more than a decade.
The Cowboys (1-1) are off to another win-one, lose-one start to what has been a win-one, lose-one decade.
They have a 105-105 record since 2000. And some of the same problems that plagued during them last season’s 8-8 campaign reared their ugly heads in last Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Chiefs, namely turnovers, failures in the red zone, untimely penalty and an inability to get a stop when needed.
Hatcher didn’t want to talk about what he said but defensive end DeMarcus Ware backed him up in explaining the overall message in the locker room this week. They are tired losing games they supposed to win because of their own undoings.
“It’s forget about that game but remember your accountability and where you were and how you played in that last game,” Ware said. “Did you play hard enough and did you do what you needed to do to leave it all out there on the field? We’ve been telling that to the younger guys and even the leaders on the team, the older guys too. Each week you’ve got to leave it out there on the field. Some weeks there are games you’re supposed to win and you’ve got to win those games. We look at it as now, it’s an etching stone each week, you’ve got to be immediate in your actions and plans.”
Ware added this is not just about pointing the fingers at the young guys and saying follow me, its demanding accountability from the veterans and leaders too.
“You’re calling out all of the leaders and saying hey, this is how we need to play, calling out the rookies, this is how we need to play, week in and week out, because that’s how we’re going to win,” Ware said. “It’s not like we don’t have enough talent to win or have the guys not to win, but what type of demeanor, what type of heart are you going to play with every week.”
ROOKIE ON THE VERGE: J.J. Wilcox climbs depth chart at safety
J.J. Wilcox set be first rookie to start at safety for Dallas Cowboys since 2006; Garrett says he’s ready
Coach Jason Garrett hasn’t fully admitted it and rookie safety J.J. Wilcox did his to best play coy with the media.
But the third-round pick from tiny Georgia Southern has worked with the starters alongside strong safety Barry Church in practice and is target to place veteran Will Allen with the first team in Sunday’s game against the Rams.
Team vice president Stephen Jones confirmed on the radio Friday afternoon, however, that Wilcox will indeed start, becoming the first rookie to start at safety for the Cowboys since Pat Watkins in 2006.
“He did get some snaps with the first team,” Garrett said. “He has done a nice job. He is getting better and better over the course of training camp and the early part of the season. He is a good football player. Will Allen has done some nice things for us as well. We are just getting those guys ready to play.”
That Wilcox is on the verge of being a starter for the Cowboys is even more interesting when you consider his background. He played running back and receiver at tiny Georgia Southern for three years before moving to safety as a senior. And even after being drafted by the Cowboys, he was forced to miss 11 days in training camp following the death of his mother, Marshell, thus slowing his development.
“Yeah, but it’s all about what you dream of,” Wilcox said when asked if the he’s surprised by the opportunity so early. “When u get a chance to finally do it, you got to be ready, it’s a dream come true, a small town kid, a small time school coming to the big show and this is what you look for what you dream for.”
Garrett admits to having had concerns about Wilcox’s background but that was before he showed up. Since then, he’s been nothing but impressive with his attitude, instincts, athleticism and playmaking skills. He said Wilcox has certainly progressed enough for an opportunity to start.
“Well, we like what he’s done and we drafted him where we drafted him for a reason and that was a concern of ours just really based on biography more than anything else,” Garrett said. “It wasn’t anything we necessarily saw on tape that would be a concern for us. He was a small school guy, didn’t have a lot of experience playing the position in college but since playing here he’s demonstrated the ability to pick things up quickly. He’s an instinctive player. He has a good feel for the game and a good feel for being around the football and making plays.”
Despite missing 11 days in training camp and one preseason game dealing with his mother’s death, Wilcox still led the Cowboys in tackles during the preseason. He also had an interception. But he said he had some making up to do.
“Anytime you stay a day away from football, it puts you weeks behind,” Wilcox said. “So I had to catch up mentally and physically; Just get back into shape and get back mentally, just getting back into a groove and getting a feel for it and catching up with the schemes. Coach (Monte) Kiffin does a great job with me day in and day out staying after (practice), and it’s coming along pretty good.”
Garrett said Wilcox’s development has been rapid.
“He has improved a great deal,” Garrett said. “He played really well in the spring. He had a good start to camp, then his mom passed away. That took him away from what we were doing here and rightfully so. It took him a little time coming back from that. Those are difficult things to do deal with. but he has found his stride again in the last few weeks. He has done a lot of good things.”
The decision to move Wilcox into the start’s role is also timely considering what lies ahead for the Cowboys. They play against the pass-happy Rams on Sunday, followed by the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers and the Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Wilcox is faster than Allen. He covers better and plays better in space as well as being a ferocious hitter. Church said the rookie will bring more play-making skills to the secondary that will be under fire the next few weeks.
“His coverage skills are great and his hitting across the middle is going to have receivers scared and have alligator arms,” Church said of Wilcox. “He brings that physical presence to the secondary. It should help create a lot of turnovers and be a boost.”
There is a chance is Wilcox’s father James and sister Lesha might be on hand for his first start on Sunday _ if they can find the time following his sister’s cheerleading competition.
Certainly his thoughts before the game will return to his mother, whom he has called his inspiration for making the league. But there will be no regrets about her missing out on his momentous achievement.
“She’s seen me play,” Wilcox said of his mother. “She’s had a chance to see her son actually make it to what I’ve always wanted to do. That’s the main thing, and I have to keep it living and just make her happy and do what she wanted me to do.”
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: DeMarcus Ware closing in on Harvey Martin’s Dallas Cowboy sack record
DeMarcus Ware 1.5 sacks from becoming Cowboys all-time leader; wants to learn about Harvey Martin
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware is 1.5 sacks from surpassing the late Harvey Martin as the Cowboys all-time leading sacker.
Ware has 113 heading into Sunday’s game against the Rams. Martin ended his career with 114.
Ware said he dosen’t know much about Martin but plans to learn more about the legendary Cowboys pass rusher who was the co-MVP of Super Bowl XII.
“I’m not a big historian, but when you have an opportunity to break someone’s record, it’s always a blessing. So you need to know the reason why you’re doing it, and you need to know about that person,” Ware said. “I need to make sure I learn about him.”
Ware said the record will mean a lot because of the long list of pass rushers in Cowboys history. But he still is searching for the thing that really sets those before him apart _ a Super Bowl title.
“You know with the tradition the Cowboys have had, the pass rushers they’ve had, Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Randy White, Charles Haley, Harvey Martin, you can keep going,” Ware said. “Being part of that tradition, being able to get your name with those guys, that’s what it’s about when you talk about playing with the Dallas Cowboys. There is always one more thing you need to add to that, and that’s winning a championship. That’s what we’re trying to do this year.”
CORNERBACK ON TRACK: Morris Claiborne shaking off rust
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne got a full practice and then some on Monday for the first time in month.
Sidelined since the first week of the preseason because of sore knee, Claiborne took all the first reps and some scout team reps in preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Giants.
“I got all the reps today and scout team,” Claiborne said. “I didn’t get all the scout team, but some. It’s been good for me because I haven’t been out there. To get those extra reps, trying to get into some shape will be good. I feel like I’m getting closer. I know if I had to go play a game tomorrow I feel like I can get through that whole game, but I’m going to get a little winded. I ran some sprints after practice. That’s why I’m still a little winded.”
In addition to working on his conditioning, Claiborne is using the extra reps to shore up his technique and get his body to catch up with his mind.
“I feel like I can clean up my feet a little bit,” Claiborne said. “I’m a little bit all over the place right now, but I know that’s no problem. I feel like my mind is right. I feel like my mind is ready. I’ve just got to get by body caught up with my mind.”
The second-year cornerback, however, expects the Giants to come after him with quarterback Eli Manning and receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks just as he experienced last year as a rookie.
“Well, last year I knew they were going to come after me regardless of the fact, if I had double coverage, triple coverage, they were coming at me,” Claiborne said. “But last year I learned a lot going against those receivers, they’ve got some good receivers over there, getting that work in, try to carry over what I learned last year all the way up to this year.
Oh, yeah, I expect everybody to (come at me again),” he continued. “It’s my mindset, each and every play they’re coming after me. I like it. It’s good for me when guys throw the ball at me to actually seize the moment and have a chance to go make a play.”
CHICAGO TRADE: Dallas Cowboys deal TE Dante Rosario to the Bears
IRVING, Texas –The Dallas Cowboys traded tight end Dante Rosario to Chicago for a 2014 seventh round pick this morning ahead of the first practice of the regular season.
Rosario joined the team in early June and worked through the duration of training camp before being dealt to the Bears.
They now have an open roster spot less than a week before Sunday’s season opener against the Giants.
Tight end was position of strength for the Cowboys as they had kept five tight ends on original 53-man roster on Saturday with Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar and Andre Smith joining Rosario.
The trade with the Bears was the third trade by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in as many days. The Cowboys acquired defensive end Edgar Jones from the Chiefs on Saturday and traded defensive tackle Sean Lissemore to the Chargers on Sunday.
Positions the Cowboys could target for the extra roster spot include cornerback, defensive line and offensive line.
RELATED: Rosario move more about faith in Andre Smith
IRVING, Texas – When the front office decided to keep five tight ends on the active roster, I had a feeling there was potentially a different plan in place, and this (Monday) morning we learned what that plan was.
Dante Rosario was traded to the Chicago Bears for a conditional seventh round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Rosario was brought in to be a jack-of-all-trades type of a player, a stunt man that did those dirty jobs that no one else wanted to do. He had a special teams history with Rich Bisaccia from the Chargers and that alone made me believe that he had a real shot to stay on this roster, but his play in the preseason was less than spectacular.
This move is more about the type of training camp that Andre Smith was having. Smith was projected more as a blocker that was too slow and clumsy to be any type of a threat in this “12” personnel package, but he proved he was far from that type of tag. He was able to get down the field and become a reliable target.
There were several practices in Oxnard and in the Cincinnati game where we observed soft hands and nimble moves on routes. His ability to sustain and stay square on blocks at the point was noticeable as well. He gives them some power at the point of attack that the other tight ends don’t provide.
After the roster reduction on Saturday, I spoke with several teams that were disappointed that Smith was not on the street to be claimed. The overall belief was he was much better than just some ordinary tight end that you get for camp. He had some qualities of the type of player that you could play down after down and not struggle at the position. I like what they were able to do in moving Rosario, which was something they worked hard on, but to keep Andre Smith was a real bonus in my book.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
TEXAS 2 TWISTER: Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff vows to return
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff finally broke his silence regarding the groin and hamstring injuries that have landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, sidelining him for at least the first six games of the season.
Ratliff, 32, said he’s extremely disappointed in the setbacks in his rehab and vowed that he would return to the field with season, while alluded to tensions with the Cowboys training staff as reasons why he worked away from the facility during the off season.
“Absolutely I’m disappointed,” Ratliff said of the team’s annual kickoff luncheon at AT&T Stadium on Wednesday. “But everyone knew what the issue was way before hand. Everyone knew what it was since last year. I’m not going into much more detail other than that…It’s for sure it’s not a hamstring tweak. Thank you.
Ratliff missed ten games last season, including the last six because surgery to repair a sports hernia. He didn’t use the Cowboys doctors for surgery and paid for his own rehab in the off season.
Ratliff returned the Cowboys for OTAs and minicamp and appeared to be gearing up for training camp when he suffered a hamstring injury during pre-camp conditioning drills.
Asked why he rehabbed away from the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch headquarters, Ratliff declined to go into details.
“I’d rather not say,” Ratliff said. “Let’s just keep the focus on these guys going out there and playing and winning games. I’m not going to be here and be a distraction to anybody. Just stay as professional as possible about the whole situation. But everyone that is involved knows what is going on.”
Ratliff said he “absolutely” believes he will return to the field this season.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered a similar answer regarded his expectations of Ratliff not only return in 2013 but playing at a high level.
But Jones acknowledged the loss of the former Pro Bowler for the first six games of the season is a huge setback for the Cowboys.
Ratliff was expected to be a key component in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys envisioned Ratliff being an inside pass rusher from the under tackle position in Kiffin’s defense similar to Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was during their time together in Tampa Bay.
“It is a setback. No, it is a setback,” Jones said. “We will have to adjust just as we would if it was a mid-season injury. What we’re doing there and his status is that hopefully will move the process along faster. We’re hopeful this will let us rehab-wise, strength-wise that we can do more than just address this where he is.”
Jones said he didn’t know of any tension between Ratliff and the athletic training staff.
“I don’t know about that,” Jones said. “What I’m saying I don’t know any of the details and I don’t have any comment on that.”
Jones also refused to second-guess the decision to allow Ratliff to participate in the pre-camp conditioning test, where he complicated his rehab from the sports hernia with the additional hamstring injury.
“Again, everybody that was involved in the decision thought he could run the conditioning test for sure,” Jones said. “So everybody involved in that decision thought he could run it. Everyone. 100 percent.”
Jones said there no thought from anyone on the Cowboys that Ratliff won’t play this season. He said if that was the case they would have done something different to address the position and not just him on PUP.
Despite the setback, Jones said his hopes and expectations for Ratliff haven’t changed. Once he get’s healthy and returns to the field, the Cowboys believe he will be an impact player in the defense and help extend the season beyond the 10 games that would be left and into the playoffs.
“I hope he’s an All-Pro player,” Jones said. “I hope he can be. He can have let’s see, he could have certainly 13, 14 to go if it went like you’d like for it to be. A player like this as we again we’re just getting tested on our depth right out of the shoot, right off the bat, but hopefully we’ve got the depth to hold it until we can get him out there.”
STUD REMAINS SIDELINED: Dallas Cowboys DT Ratliff out at least six weeks
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys had been optimistic about Jay Ratliff’s chances of returning to the field for the season opener against the Giants.
Now, the earliest they will see the defensive tackle on the field will be Oct. 20 against the Eagles.
Ratliff was placed on Reserve/PUP today (on Tuesday) in an effort to trim the roster down to 75 players. The Cowboys also put Tyrone Crawford (torn Achilles) and Ryan Cook (back) on injured reserve, along with releasing nine players.
Ratliff is dealing with both a hamstring and groin injury, a possible re-aggravation from his sports hernia surgery he underwent last December.
The defensive tackle missed all of training camp nursing what was believed to be only the hamstring injury he sustained on July 20 at the conditioning test in Oxnard, Calif. He stayed with the team for the remainder of camp when other injured players were sent back to Dallas early for rehab.
Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, the team’s director of player personnel was asked Tuesday if he thought Ratliff would even play at all in 2013.
“I feel confident that he will. I believe in Jay. I think he’s a competitor,” Jones said. “There’s some things that can be frustrating when you have injuries. Jay has a real injury. Those things happen. I’m convinced that we’ve got a (rehab) program now — he’s had a few setbacks — that hopefully will put him on the road where he can play for us at some point this season.”
The four-time Pro Bowler missed 10 games last year – the final six games with the groin injury and the first four because of a high ankle sprain. He also missed most of camp with a nagging foot injury.
The last 12 months have also included a heated exchange with Jerry Jones in the locker room last December and then a DWI arrest in January. His hearing was recently pushed back to February 2014.
Until Ratliff gets back, the Cowboys will likely start Nick Hayden and Jason Hatcher at tackle with a backup rotation of Sean Lissemore, Ben Bass, and perhaps Landon Cohen, a journeyman vet who has taken advantage of extra snaps with Ratliff out.
RELATED: Jerry Jones on Jay Ratliff starting season on PUP
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted the obvious today (Tuesday) when he confirmed on his radio show that defensive tackle Jay Ratliff could start the season on the physically unable to perform list, sidelining him for the first six games of the season.
Ratliff has been sidelined since the start of training camp with hamstring and groin injuries. The Cowboys had long held out hope that he could return for the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 8.
But Ratliff has yet to take his rehab to the point where it’s realistic he could be ready by then. Jones is still holding out hope but he can’t deny that sitting Ratliff for the first six weeks of the season might be the best move and the Cowboys only move.
“It’s certainly more of a possibility than I would’ve ever thought two to three weeks ago,” Jones said Tuesday on the New School show on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “But we’ve got to look at the next two weeks, carefully look at his progress over the next two weeks.”
Editors test … click on button below to download the MP3 file (Box.com)
RULED AND SCHOOLED: Dallas Cowboys rookie corner B.W. Webb gets counseling from Tony Romo
Count quarterback Tony Romo as one of the people rookie cornerback B.W. Webb sought advice from after his bad outing in the 19-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders last Friday. Webb gave up six catches for 65 yards in coverage and fumbled a punt that led to the game-deciding score.
Coach Jason Garrett was critical of Webb’s demeanor and confidence in the game and the rookie fourth-round pick acknowledged that he let his poor play at cornerback bleed into the fumbled punt.
“Yeah, I guess I thought about my bad plays too much,” Webb said. “I didn’t really put them behind me. In this league you to put those in your back pocket and keep going. I kind of dwelled on those too much and it led into the punt, dropped the punt so it was just…I got to put things behind me and get on on with the game.”
Webb said he talked to a few people after the game for advice, including cornerback Brandon Carr and secondary coach Jerome Henderson. He also approached the veteran quarterback for his perspective.
“His position is crazy and you have your up and down games,” Webb said. “He really told me you got to be able to put that in past. He told me he messes up at times and coaches jump him and it’s on to the next play, just getting that perspective from especially him.”
In two games, Webb has played 108 plays. He has been targeted 13 times, giving up 10 catches for 94 yards.