BACK IN THE SADDLE: Team adjusts sack leader salary | DE Jeremy Mincey back with the ‘boys | 2015-2016 Dallas Cowboys training camp
OXNARD, CA – Defensive end Jeremy Mincey spent the first few days of camp at odds with the Dallas Cowboys. In his first day back with the team, he was back to his team-leading, peace-making ways once again. Continue reading →
THE BATTLING BACK ‘BOYS: The Journey from Injured Reserve to Redemption | Comeback Cowboys Sean Lee & Morris Claiborne fighting back
For some Cowboys, there has been no offseason.
For the few players that ended the 2014 campaign on the injured reserve list, the offseason consisted of about one week before returning to the Valley Ranch facility to continue their rehabilitation process. Continue reading →
GOING DEEP–BEYOND THE HUDDLE: Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence answers your questions | True-Blue special feature
Dallas Cowboys rising star DeMarcus Lawrence answers fan submitted questions. A part of being a True-Blue is getting to know your players, beyond their jersey numbers and stats. Check out his answers: Continue reading →
TONY ON THE TUBE: Tony Romo on Jimmy Kimmel Live from Austin | Feelings about losing DeMarco Murray | Future of the Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo shares his feelings about losing DeMarco Murray and talks about the future of the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo recalls the controversial Dez Bryant “catch” made during the playoffs and talks about being an underrated player.
DIRECT YOUTUBE LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEDC69r-uwY
THE BOY IS BACK: Morris Claiborne returns to Valley Ranch facility after Tuesday afternoon departure | Coach speaks | Mo speaks | Scandrick speaks | Fan and Media reaction
IRVING, Texas – Morris Claiborne has returned to the Dallas Cowboys following a brief and unexcused absence Tuesday night – a result of a demotion following Sunday’s win against St. Louis. Continue reading →
COWBOYS BATTLING COWBOYS: DeMarcus Lawrence’s daily practices with Tyron Smith will eventually pay off
ARLINGTON, Texas – Ever since the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the second round of the NFL Draft back in early May, DeMarcus Lawrence said being an NFL player wasn’t exactly “official.”
QUARTERBACK BACK ON TRACK: Tony Romo feels like he’ll make it through another five years | Dallas Cowboys Injury Update 2014
IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo might not be completely recovered from the back surgery that ended his 2013 season, but he spoke like a man ready to take the field.
VETERAN COWBOY ON A MISSION: Dallas Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer dedicated to rehabilitation and recovery
Dallas Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer: | 6:11 | Anthony Spencer gives an injury update, and talks about what it has been like trying to recover from microfracture surgery. (Watch | Listen)
IRVING, Texas – While yesterday’s (Friday) focus was mainly on the near-50 players at the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp, defensive end Anthony Spencer was one of the veterans at the facility after his rehab workout.
Although he said he was on schedule and optimistic about his recovery from microfracture surgery, he didn’t give a specific timetable when he might return this season.
But later in the day, Dallas Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones was a little more detailed.
CLEARING OUT THE WEEDS: New Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden appreciates the fresh start from Believeland to Big D
IRVING, Texas — Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.
Now Weeden is a Dallas Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed — a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”
Weeden will work behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton (provided he continues to play in 2014) and work with Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Wade Wilson.
He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”
Weeden comes to the Dallas Cowboys with no pressure.
The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.
“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”
Editors note: For our loyal fans that also support the AFC’s Cleveland Browns … check out this site to become a citizen of BelieveLand.
STAND-UP MOMENT: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo makes it to team meeting
Three days after back surgery, Tony Romo made it to Valley Ranch for the final team meeting.
“I think that just speaks to what he is,” tight end Jason Witten said. “Going to find a way to come in, see the guys. It was obviously an emotional time. No team stays the same. It’s just what he’s all about. I thought it was great of him to come and be here and just share this time. It’s tough, and he’s a big part of this team. That was very stand-up of him to be here in the midst of the pain I’m sure he’s in.”
Asked if he is worried about Romo’s future, Witten said the quarterback will come back better than ever next season.
“Obviously, it’s been a tough eight months for him physically,” Witten said. “But I feel confident in him. I know what he’s made of. I know how he works, I know how he competes, I know how he trains. But he’ll bounce back and be even better next year. He’ll use this time to evaluate and get healthy and provide perspective and be a better quarterback because of it. I’m confident he’ll come back. I know what he’s made of. I’ve seen it for a long time, how he goes about it, and he’ll bounce back and be better than he’s ever been. I believe that to the bottom of my heart.”
Witten said it was also an emotional week for Romo.
“Obviously, it was difficult not having him out there,” he said. “You know, it was an emotional week for him. Fighting with him every week, you go into that last game, I know it was tough for him not to be in that moment with us, leading that charge. But yeah, he’ll be back. Better than ever.”
This article contains a portion of information contained in the following video:
Jason Witten: Talks about the Cowboys 2013 seasons end
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spoke to the media for the final time this season while cleaning out his locker at Valley Ranch. (Watch Video | Listen Audio)
SALARY CRAP ON SALARY CAP: DeMarcus Ware wants clarification about “pay cut” media reports
In the aftermath of the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 season-ending loss to the Eagles Sunday night, defensive end DeMarcus Ware said he would consider taking a pay cut to help the team manage the salary cap.
(Editors comment: No, he didn’t say that. The media twisted his words. DeMarcus Ware expressed his willingness to help restructure his contract to help the Dallas Cowboys salary cap).
Ware clarified those comment Monday.
“The question was with the salary cap stuff and everything, would you be able to maneuver some things in your contract,” Ware said. “I said I’ll do what I need to do to help the team out. It’s nothing new to me. But pay cut and restructure are two different things. You hear what I’m saying. Clar-i-fy.”
So you didn’t say pay cut?
“No, I didn’t say that,” Ware said. “I said I will do whatever I need to do to maneuver some things around to help the team out. I’m for that.”
Ware is scheduled to make a base salary of $12.2 million next season including a $500,000 workout bonus. Ware’s 2014 cap figure is $16 million.
The looming question is how much Ware is worth at this point. He had just six sacks in 2013, his fewest since his rookie year 2005.
Ware also battled elbow, quad and back injuries this year. He plans to have surgery to clean up issues with his elbow in the off season.
But he will be 32 next season and there is also a question of whether he has lost a step.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Ware said. “Like going back into training camp, I felt better than I have in a long time. Then the little injuries happen with the quad and your elbow and your back so you sit back and think about what can I do now this off-season to make sure this doesn’t happen again, because I know exactly where I can be and how I can play. Injuries took a toll on me a lot this season. But that’s no excuse because I got out there and played. I’ve got to figure out some way to get healthy this off-season for next season.”
DeMarcus Ware postgame interview: I will do whatever I need to help team out
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware talks about the disappointing ending to the 2013 Dallas Cowboys season. (Watch Video | Listen Audio)
NO CHANGE, FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE: Veterans express faith in Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
IRVING, Texas – A third straight 8-8 season hasn’t lost the core veterans’ faith in Jason Garrett.
Tight end Jason Witten and defensive end DeMarcus Ware stood staunchly behind their head coach despite a third consecutive disappointing Week 17 outcome.
“When you think about the thing that he brings to the team, him being a great leader to us, motivating us, each and every week no matter what the circumstance is, he’s had three seasons where he’s been 8-8 and not part of the NFC East championship, but that lets you know that he is there,” Ware said. “We do have opportunities and we can’t forget that. He’s a great coach and I’m behind him 100 percent.”
It appears their owner/general manager feels the same way, as Jerry Jones has stated his belief in Garrett and how he’s decided to move forward with Garrett regardless of the bitter ending.
Jones said records don’t always indicate the talent of a coach. He also pointed to the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have been in position to win the division three straight years, rather than the fact that they failed to cash in on that opportunity every time.
If frustration would build on any group of players, it’s the veterans who’ve been through the consistent disappointments for years upon years. That group would include Witten, but he’s also behind his head coach entirely.
He said it’s reassuring to hear Jones’ faith in Garrett and the likelihood of the head coach sticking around. Meanwhile, six other coaches were immediately canned after a failed season, including Mike Shanahan with the NFC East rival Redskins.
“I think the guys in this locker room would do anything for Coach Garrett,” Witten said. “We’re so fortunate to have him. You want to win for each other, but you also want to win for a guy that pours everything into your football team for a head coach and gives you every opportunity.”
Witten said he understands it’s a bottom-line business, and the bottom line is the Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs with three straight opportunities in Week 17 win-or-go-home games. But he’s glad to hear from Jones that Garrett will likely have another chance to change that fate.
“That was great for me to hear and I think for our team to hear, because he’s very well respected in this locker room and guys are all in for him as the head coach,” Witten said.
From 5-3 to 8-8 to 8-8 to 8-8, it’s difficult to point to or to justify significant progress made during Garrett’s tenure as a head coach when looking at wins and losses. But while the record wouldn’t show it, Witten said there has been progress in some areas.
“Last year, we didn’t run the ball very well,” he said. “This year, we proved that we could. There’s different things. We didn’t turn the ball over very much.”
Ultimately, though, he knows the Dallas Cowboys need to find ways to not just say things need to change. He said the Cowboys have to find ways to do it and come out the other end.
Rather than focus on yet another late season defeat, Cowboys players said Garrett’s final message centered more on how proud he was of the group and to be a part of their journey. But the tone from his head coach and his owner both weren’t cheery.
“There’s a tone of disappointment from everybody because of the way we ended the season,” Ware said. “But you can’t sort of look at it and be so negative about that, knowing that you had the guys in place to get the job done but you just didn’t pull it through. There were, I don’t know, five games where we lost within either a point or two.”
In total, the 2013 Dallas Cowboys finished 2-5 in games decided by three points or fewer and 1-4 in games decided by two points or fewer.
“You’ve got to be able to look and think about, ‘What could we have done to get over that hump and win those games?’ Ware said. “That’s what you’ve got to think about this offseason and let that be the motivating factor to keep pushing.”
THE OLE BOY IS BACK: Dallas Cowboys sign veteran Jon Kitna as emergency quarterback | Kitna donating game check to school
IRVING, Texas — In a move reminiscent of their 2010 season, the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran quarterback Jon Kitna to help offset an injury to Tony Romo.
The team made the move official Wednesday morning. Kitna rejoins the Dallas Cowboys as an emergency quarterback behind Kyle Orton.
Veteran return man Michael Spurlock, who had a 62-yard punt return in the win against the Redskins, was cut to make room for Kitna.
The Dallas Cowboys called the 41-year-old Kitna sight-unseen from his retirement as a math teacher and football coach at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., after working out several other quarterbacks on Tuesday — David Carr, Tyler Thigpen, John Skelton, and Richard Bartel.
Kitna arrived in Dallas on Tuesday night in order to undergo a physical on Christmas Morning. The Cowboys are scheduled to practice Wednesday afternoon in a schedule somewhat altered to let the players and coaches spend the morning with their families.
This will be Kitna’s second stint in Dallas. He backed up Romo from 2009-11 and started nine games in 2010 when Romo went out with a broken clavicle. He retired after the 2011 season, which paved the way for the Cowboys to sign Orton in March of 2012.
Unlike that 2010 season, Kitna would not be the starter against the Eagles, but an insurance policy for Orton. The Cowboys have only carried two quarterbacks on their roster since Alex Tanney was signed off their practice squad by Cleveland on Nov. 26.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said adding another quarterback helps the team in practices.
Kitna played 15 NFL seasons prior to his retirement. He played for Seattle from 1996-2000, Cincinnati from 2001-05, and Detroit from 2006-08 prior to joining the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys gave Orton a three-year, $10 million contract in 2012 for this exact situation.
“We’re in as good of shape under these circumstances as you possibly could be in,” Jones said. “I have every reason to think Kyle Orton could step out there and do a really good job for us. We’ve planned on that very event.”
RELATED: Dallas QB Jon Kitna to donate his game check to Lincoln High School
IRVING, Texas – Lincoln High School’s student-athletes in Tacoma, Wash., may benefit more than the Dallas Cowboys with Jon Kitna rejoining the team.
Kitna, who teaches and coaches at the school, said he’ll be donating his game check to the school’s booster program, which his wife runs.
He said he didn’t have a second thought than to give the money to the program to help out and get protein for the students. Kitna said 85 percent of the student population is below the poverty line, and his family’s dedicated itself to helping out.
“My wife runs our booster program and spends roughly $25,000 a year feeding this young men and things like that in a lot of different avenues. One of the things we committed to this year for our booster program was our first $25,000 that we raised we were going to use on protein for the young men,” Kitna said.
Kitna and his family started a foundation specifically for what he’s doing now, giving young men the opportunity to grow in school and on the field.
“Unfortunately with the market dropping, all that stuff, when things when under, the foundation did too,” Kitna said. “But it’s what my wife does. She started a booster program along with my sister. They spend about $25,000 a year just feeding the young men.
“Then for us, we feel like we have some Division-I talented young men in our program that are doing great, but they need some supplement to their diet. One of the things we’re going to do is use money that we raised, and we’ve had a lot of donations and things like that, to get protein for these young men so that their body gets what they need.”
Kitna said whether it’s his teacher’s salary – he was an algebra teacher for two years at the school – or this player’s salary, he’s dedicated to helping out the school. He previously gave his teacher’s salary to chip in before adding this money on top.
“That’s what we do,” Kitna said. “I’ve lived a great life.”
2013 COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Dwayne Harris questionable, but wants to take Soldier Field
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could get their top returner and coverage player back for Monday night’s matchup against the Chicago Bears.
Dwayne Harris described himself as questionable for the game with a hamstring injury he sustained against the Giants, but he’s running routes and doing sprints and hopes he can be ready to go in Chicago.
“I’ve just got to keep it as warm as possible if I do play,” Harris said. “I’ve just got to see how I feel. I can’t say I’m going to be able to go or I’m not going to be able to go, because I’ve been running around and feeling good. We’re just going to see how it feels come game day.”
Harris, who’s second in the league in both punt return average and kick return average, was sorely missed in last Thursday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Not only is Harris the team’s top returner, but he’s also their best special teams player on the coverage units and still leads the team in special teams tackles despite being out last week.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley filled in as a punt returner for Harris, while rookie Terrance Williams served as the kick returner against the Raiders. Harris tried to boost Williams’ spirits after the rookie fumbled the opening kickoff on Thanksgiving.
“I gave him some words,” Harris said. “It was a rough thing to happen to him, first kickoff return you fumble and they score on it. It’s going to make you down, but I just tell him there’s a lot of football to play. You’ve got to keep your head up and keep going.”
Harris said he’s going to go through this week of practice to see how it feels before making a conclusion on his playing status. Harris and cornerback Morris Claiborne were the only players listed as non-participants in Thursday’s practice, with both suffering from hamstring injuries.
Harris sustained a hamstring injury early in his NFL career, but he said this one is different because it’s lower down on the back of his leg closer to his knee. Typically, the higher hamstring pulls are the ones that take longer to heal.
“It’s not a bad pull, but it’s one of them things you’ve got to take care of or it’ll get worse,” Harris said.
The hamstring isn’t yet 100 percent and still feels sore, but if Harris feels ready to go later in the week, he said he’ll be on the field.
“I’ve been running full speed,” Harris said. “I went out last week and ran, came out today and ran. I ran some routes today, did routes Monday. So I’ve been feeling good.”
The one bright spot for Harris is the rest allows him to rest the bevy of injuries he fought through previously during the season. He said he’d been playing with a shoulder injury, a hip injury and a tear in his lower abdomen.
“It definitely gives me a chance to get a little bit more healthy,” he said. “It just gives me a chance to rest up, get my whole body back together, so that way I can be back to my old self and be back quicker, faster and more explosive.”
NFL RIVAL NEWSPAPER HEADLINES: 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants postgame press | Jason Hatcher eats Giants video
Here’s what the covers of the New York Post and New York Daily News looked liked on Monday morning.
Must see video: Hatcher ate Giants
Jason Hatcher with blood on his face: “I Just Ate A Giant”
Jason Hatcher speaks with the press immediately after his Dallas Cowboys win (holiday feast) over the New York Giants. (Watch Video)
BRACED FOR THE RACE: Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher will play with a neck brace
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said he’s been outfitted with a neck brace that will reduce the chance he gets another stinger. It’s so restrictive, it keeps him from moving his neck back.
“I can’t even see in my stance, hardly,” he said Thursday, smiling about it with reporters. “I have to get down super low.”
But he said he’ll take part of the brace off down the line so he can have more range of movement.
“I’ll take that off eventually, in about three or four weeks from now, I’ll take that off so I can get my neck back,” he said.
Hatcher was limited again in practice Thursday. The native of Jena, La., missed the New Orleans game two weeks ago because of a stinger.
“That hurt me bad, just going home to my home state and not being able to help my team,” he said. “I’m not saying the outcome would have been different or whatnot, but I’m pretty sure knowing me, a healthy me, I could have done some stuff to help my team. So I’m excited to be back, just excited to see how this game is going to go for me, as well as my team.”
SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE: DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for playoff push
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware said a team like the Saints will take advantage of a defense that doesn’t have its most experienced players, like the Cowboys on Sunday night.
“I mean, when you have five guys, six of the starters out, the best way to fix it is get your guys back,” Ware said, asked what the Cowboys can do to get better following the 49-17 loss. “Sometimes you have guys in there who sort of don’t know what they’re doing because it’s probably their first time playing in a long time. When you have a team that doesn’t make mistakes and sort of exposes you that way, with those guys that are in the game, that’s what they did. So you’ve got to get the guys back who know what’s going on and use that bye week to make a big push.”
Ware said the scheme is fine.
“It’s the play. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound,” he said. “It’s so simple, but the thing is you’ve got to be fundamentally sound when you’re doing it.”
Ware said it was a helpless feeling for him when he wasn’t in the game. He aggravated his quadriceps injury on a sack in the second quarter and was in and out of the game. He said the leg is good, however.
“I’m doing everything I can not to let it happen again,” he said. “It was something minor on the sack. The play I got the sack, it’s just my knee hit the ground and tweaked it a little bit, and it was like that the whole game.”
Ware said he’s optimistic about playing in the Giants game, and he looked back on the season as a whole as the Dallas Cowboys hit their bye week.
“It was a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “There wasn’t enough consistency like we needed. Right now we’re half and half. We’re at 5-5. We’ve got to find some way to take this bye weekend and rejuvenate ourselves, get all the guys back and come to the table with a relentless demeanor of trying to win every game out.”
FORGET THE WON THAT GOT AWAY: Tony Romo compares winning Super Bowl to finding wife
Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy would be the ultimate way for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback to stick it to his critics. The years of ridicule for Tony Romo not being able to win big games and choking in the clutch would all take a back seat to winning the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl title.
So how much does Tony Romo want to prove his critics wrong? Well, in an interesting way, Romo explained why it’s not as big of a deal to him as some might think.
During a Wednesday interview on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, Romo told Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth that winning a Super Bowl would be like finding his wife.
“Let’s say, you like this girl in college right when you first got there,” Romo began to explain. “I can remember high school, and it didn’t work out. She liked some other guy. And then you’re upset and you’re like, I can’t wait to one day be walking with my wife or girlfriend and just come up and show her, ‘Hey, good to see you. Yeah, this is my wife right here.’ And you just keep walking by.
“But invariably what I found, though, is when you get that great wife that I was lucky enough to find, you really don’t care to go back and show her off. You kind of won. You don’t need to kick people in any way. You just when you get there, you don’t really care about what everybody said along the way.”
In regards to not having the postseason success up to this point in his career, Tony Romo said he understands the criticism. The 33-year-old says quarterbacks should be judged by winning championships.
“I really wouldn’t want it any other way,” Romo said. “Granted, we haven’t won a championship yet. But I’ll tell you I wouldn’t want it to be judged by other things because I put that much emphasis and onus on that specific goal.
“It’s a great, great rewarding thing to have if you’re able to accomplish that. It’s what makes you tick, wake up, work your butt off and keep going after it over and over again. I just don’t think it’d be so special if it was so easy or if it didn’t require some sacrifice and some struggle.
“I think that’s a beautiful thing if you’re able to reach that pinnacle. I look forward to that. And it’s part of the reason you do everything possible in your career to make that happen.”
GOOD BACK .. BAD BACK: DeMarcus Ware back on attack … Dez Bryant attacked by his back
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant is once again working through a back issue, but it didn’t keep him out of todays morning practice.
Bryant was present for the second practice of the week, and he appeared to move well in the early portion of the day’s work. It remains to be seen how involved he will be in the full day’s worth of work, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he doesn’t expect the injury to have a significant effect.
“His back was bothering him (Wednesday), we didn’t think he could practice so we didn’t practice him,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his Thursday morning press conference. “It’s a health issue that we don’t think is a long-term deal at all. Hopefully he’ll practice today and be ready to go on Sunday.”
Back problems affected Bryant during the 2012 season finale against Washington, and he has dealt with similar problems at times through the first nine weeks of this season.
“It’s bothered him a little bit off and on – I don’t know if it’s the exact same thing, but we don’t think it’s a significant deal.”
IRVING, Texas – There’s not going to be a dramatic game time decision this week –DeMarcus Ware is playing Sunday in New Orleans.
If Ware’s participation in the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday and Thursday practices wasn’t indication enough, the All-Pro defensive end said so himself outside the Dallas locker room.
It’s been roughly a month since Ware left Dallas’ Oct. 13 win against Washington early with a quad injury. His absence – three games’ worth – has to feel like an eternity for a player who had never missed a game prior to this season.
“You get frustrated, but you’ve got to find some type of positive note,” Ware said. “For me, watching the game from the sideline was a little bit different. I see how guys attack us and how they attack me in certain situations, and it’ll make me better coming in this week.”
The parallels to the Cowboys’ last trip to New Orleans couldn’t be more obvious. Four years ago, the Cowboys limped into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with an 8-5 record, having lost two straight, to play an undefeated Saints squad.
To make matters worse, Ware had suffered what appeared to be a devastating injury in San Diego just a week prior. Ware wasn’t just doubtful for the tilt against Drew Brees and Co. – he was doubtful, period.
“I didn’t think I was going to play for a long time, until – sometimes, when you go in certain places, you get certain vibes or you feel a certain way that you can do it,” he said. “And I think you get confidence from your teammates to get out there and play. That’s the way I felt – not letting them down.”
Of course, Ware didn’t just wind up playing – he starred. He sacked Brees twice, pressured him three times and forced two fumbles, the second of which ended New Orleans’ hope of a comeback. The Cowboys used the win to catapult to a 11-5 record and their most recent playoff appearance.
“I think how monumental that game was – it was a big game for us. It was like one of those turn-around-season games,” Ware said. “It was one of those type of things where it was like ‘OK, it’s a blessing to be out here again, from what I went through.”
Brees certainly hasn’t forgotten, and it’s not just the 2009 game, either. In four career meetings against the Saints, Ware has notched 10 tackles, four sacks, one tackle for loss, four quarterback hits and the aforementioned two forced fumbles.
Those aren’t the type of numbers the opposing quarterback is likely to forget.
“He’s a stud – he’s such a stud,” Brees said. “He’s a guy you’ve got to have a plan for at all times – where is he, how do you protect him, how are you taking care of him and all that stuff. You know the leadership he brings, you know the productivity he brings, and he’s just a game changer. You’ve just got to be ready for him.”
The ideal scenario is a return to typical form, but it remains to be seen how effective Ware can be when he does return. His worst outing against the Saints came in last season’s overtime loss, when he was hampered by injuries.
Ware knows he has some catching up to do once he does return. He recorded all four of his sacks this season in just two of his six appearances, and problems with stingers bothered him in those outings.
The result is that he’s tied for just 37th in the league in sacks – a good bit off the league pace of 11.5 set by Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis, and the NFC lead of 10 by St. Louis’ Robert Quinn.
“You know I’m behind, so I guess I’ve got to hop on the saddle and start riding a little bit,” Ware said.
Of course, now that Ware has rounded into shape, it’s starting defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden on the injury report. Hatcher has missed both practices this week with stinger issues of his own, while Hayden is battling rib issues.
With the issues they’ve already overcome, though, Ware said he’s got confidence in whoever lines up on what has now become a famous group of non-famous people (Marinelli’s Misfits).
“You know what? It’s the no-name defensive line,” Ware said with a smile. “We’ve got guys coming in that can play, and we have confidence in those guys to play. Hatcher and Nick will get out there and play and do the best that they can.”
COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Minnesota StarTribune | Tony Romo came from out of nowhere
Tony Romo has turned into a star after going undrafted 10 years ago. Romo’s spring of 2013 was a tad more lucrative than his spring of 2003.
Eight months ago, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback signed a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million in guaranteed money.
And 10 years before that?
“I was a very sought-after [rookie] free agent,” Romo, tongue firmly in cheek, told Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday.
Romo said he had nibbles from 15 to 20 NFL teams immediately after the 2003 draft. Of course, as Romo noted, that interest level came from 15 to 20 teams, “that really didn’t like [me] enough the previous 48 hours.”
So, Tony, what did the Cowboys have to fork over to get the late-bloomer from Eastern Illinois? Five hundred bucks?
“Yeah, I made a little more than that,” he said. “I think it was 10 grand, actually, which felt like a year’s paycheck coming out of college. It was nice.”
Say what you want about Romo. He has been labeled as a guy who can’t win the big game. A guy who is prone to mistakes late in games. A guy who is 1-3 in the postseason. But there aren’t too many teams, the Vikings obviously included, who wouldn’t swap quarterbacks for Romo.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Romo ranks fifth in passer rating (101.7) behind only Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Romo is 59-42 heading into his 102nd NFL start. Among quarterbacks through 100 starts, Romo ranks No. 1 in completions (2,262) and passing yards (27,485). He also ranks third in touchdown passes (189) behind only Dan Marino (214) and Brett Favre (194).
In that 2003 draft, 32 teams made 262 selections. Thirteen quarterbacks were selected. Only one of them — Carson Palmer, selected No. 1 overall by the Bengals — ever made a Pro Bowl. Romo has made three.
The other quarterbacks selected in the first round that year were Byron Leftwich (seventh), Kyle Boller (19th) and Rex Grossman (22nd). Later rounds saw names such as Chris Simms, Senaca Wallace, Brian St. Pierre, Brooks Bollinger, Drew Henson and Kliff Kingsbury.
“I think more than anything, I was just very raw,” Romo said. “[The scouts] were all right. But at the end of the day, they just didn’t see the things that can separate you.”
Romo was asked what it is about quarterbacks and the draft selection process that can lead to No. 1 overall picks flopping and undrafted free-agents flourishing.
“I think sometimes only certain people can evaluate the quarterback position at a high level,” Romo said. “I think it’s a very tough thing to do because there are so many things that go into it. And I think it’s a difficult position to gauge. Just [the offensive] system alone dictates differing decision-making processes and I think that unless you’re really the guy coaching him and teaching him, you don’t necessarily know his strengths and negatives.”
So what’s the one trait Romo would look for if he were in charge of drafting a quarterback coming out of college?
“Instincts,” he said. “Just their ability to get through progressions at a fast rate. You can always work on accuracy, you can always work on footwork. You can get guys to do the right things and be leaders and all that stuff. But inherently what you can’t teach him is to see the field quickly, react quickly and get through stuff fast. That’s where I find that [teams] just miss the mark the most times with young guys.”
Courtesy: MARK CRAIG | Minnesota Star Tribune
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas RG Brian Waters is out for the season; Mackenzy Bernadeau back in lineup
Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Brian Waters is out for the year, owner Jerry Jones confirmed on his radio show today.
Waters, 36, had started the past five games at right guard. Waters injured his knee and his ribs during Sunday’s loss to the Lions, but it was a triceps injury that had concerned the Dallas Cowboys the most. As it turns out, they were right to be concerned.
Mackenzy Bernadeau will return to the starting lineup, and Jones said the Cowboys will look to their practice squad for depth. They released guard David Arkin on Saturday and signed him back to the practice squad yesterday.
“[Bernadeau] started for us the entire year last year and played well, came in and played about 20 snaps and played well yesterday,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “Then, we’ll look to what we do with depth off our practice squad.”
Bernadeau started 19 consecutive games after signing a four-year, $11 million deal with the Cowboys during the 2012 off-season. But he lost his job to Waters in Week 4 after Waters got back into football shape.
Now, it’s Bernadeau’s turn again.
“It’s an adjustment just for the fact that you go from being in the game all the time to being on the sideline and waiting around,” Bernadeau said Monday. “You never want anybody to go down and get hurt. At the same time, when your number is called, you’ve got to be prepped, and that’s how I’ll be.”
Waters missed the 2012 season and all of training camp this year. He signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys on Sept. 4, the week of the season opener against the Giants.
The Cowboys have been pleased with Waters, not only for his play on the field, but for how he has taken their young offensive linemen under his wing.
“He’s done a lot,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Maybe as much as anything else, it’s his demeanor. He’s a guy that plays the game the right way. He’s physical. He’s tough. He knows what to do. He plays with a little bit of an edge to him, and that’s a positive thing, and I’ve talked to our team about it. It’s contiguous. You get a guy like that who can do it again and again and again, always kind of making an impression, trying to break their will, and other guys see that it’s OK, and it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for your team. He’s good for the offensive line, and he’s good for everybody on our team. He’s had a real positive influence.”
CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR: Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion (Special Feature)
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
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
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.”
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.
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
ROOKIE’S MRI NEGATIVE: J.J. Wilcox has a sprained right knee; doubtful for Lions game
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox is arguably coming off the best game of his young career last week in Philadelphia. But it’s unlikely he’ll be able to follow head coach Jason Garrett’s motto and “stack good games together” when the team travels to Detroit.
Wilcox will likely have to miss Sunday’s matchup against the Lions after suffering a sprained right knee, which required an MRI Thursday afternoon. Wilcox said he had a sprained MCL, an injury he suffered on his left knee in college at Georgia Southern.
“It feel better this time than that injury,” Wilcox said. “I’m disappointed, but that’s football. That’s the way it goes.”
Wilcox suffered the injury late in today’s practice during red-zone drills when he came down awkwardly after competing for a pass with tight end Gavin Escobar.
Wilcox agreed he likely wouldn’t be able to play this week against the Detroit Lions and said it’s too early to tell if the Nov. 2 game with Minnesota Vikings is a possibility. But the rookie definitely perked up when asked about a possible return for the Saints game on Nov. 10.
“I don’t know just yet, but I don’t think it’ll be that bad,” Wilcox said. “I just have to work hard to get back soon.”
A third-round pick in the 2013 draft, Wilcox has been improving each week, and made a key play in last Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
“I really felt like I was coming on,” Wilcox said. “I’ve always had a lot [of confidence] but I know I’ve gotten better and felt like I was starting to really help the team. So hopefully this won’t be a big setback.”
If Wilcox doesn’t play, the Cowboys will likely start rookie Jeff Heath, who is battling an injury sustained on his right forearm last week. He said the issue won’t keep him out of practice or the game.
“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.”
The Cowboys also have Danny McCray, who is one of the team’s better special teams contributors. The club could add a fourth safety – possibly rookie Jakar Hamilton, who is currently on the practice squad.
Wilcox is currently seventh on the team with 28 tackles. He took over as a starter in Week 3 against the Rams and started five straight games, making a career-high nine tackles against Denver.
He won the starting job outright from Will Allen, who was eventually waived. Wilcox had a stellar training camp and preseason despite having to miss nearly a week in the middle of camp to be with his ailing mother, who passed away in August.
Wilcox still returned to play in the last two preseason games and got a few snaps in the first two regular-season games before the coaching staff made him a starter. Wilcox has had two interceptions nullified this year – one by penalty against the Rams and the other by the replay booth last week.
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.”