EXPECT EXTRA-LONG EXTRA POINT: NFL owners approve PAT rule changes for 2015 season | Kickers moved back 15 yards | Defensive scoring opportunity created
The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. Continue reading →
LOOKING FOR NEXT MAN UP: Dallas Cowboys exploring options to replace injured MLB Sean Lee | Watch Jason Garrett video
ARLINGTON, Texas – A community event held during the second day of Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) isn’t the typical setting to address seismic changes in the Dallas Cowboys upcoming season.
COACHES REALIGNED AND DEFINED: Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett provides insight into 2014 coaching changes
IRVING, Texas – So the Dallas Cowboys will make major staff changes after all, especially on defense.
Through a press release sent last night, the Cowboys announced several coaching moves, including the switch at defensive coordinator. Rod Marinelli, who served as defensive line coach, will replace Monte Kiffin as the DC. Kiffin has been moved to the assistant head coach/defense. The Cowboys finished with the worst statistical season in franchise history, allowing 415.3 yards per game, the fourth-worst season total in NFL history.
Marinelli served as defensive coordinator in Chicago under Lovie Smith for three seasons. The Bears ranked ninth, seventeenth, and fifth in total defense during his three years.
“Rod’s responsibilities will be those typical for a defensive coordinator,” Garrett said Tuesday evening. “He’ll be the point person on defense all throughout the offseason and game-planning and certainly on game plan when he calls the defense.”
While Kiffin’s role has changed, Garrett said the veteran coach will take on a larger role as the assistant head coach and remains a big part of the team’s transition in defenses.
“Kiff has been such an instrumental piece for us transitioning from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense,” Garrett said. “No better guy than Monte Kiffin to help us do that and spearhead that transition. And that transition continues. He’ll oversee the coaches coach and providing a different perspective than he had last year. He has invaluable experience as our defense continues to grow.”
As for the offense, the Dallas Cowboys officially hired Scott Linehan as the team’s passing game coordinator. Linehan, who coached one season with Garrett in Miami in 2005, will be the third play-caller in three seasons, replacing Bill Callahan in that capacity.
However, Callahan will remain as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. Callahan reportedly has received offers from Baltimore to become the OC and perhaps Cleveland, although the Cowboys decided not to grant those teams permission to interview Callahan, who is under contract another season.
“We’re excited about Scott Linehan,” Garrett said. “He’s one of the best coordinators in this league and has been for a number of years. I had the good fortune of working with him in 2005 in Miami. He was our coordinator and I was the quarterback coach. I worked very closely with him and have a great deal of respect for him. His track record speaks for itself. We think he’s a great addition to our staff.”
The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to having a passing game coordinator. In fact, Garrett said he sees this current setup as very similar to what was in place two seasons ago when Garrett called the plays and Callahan remained the OC and coached the line. Now, Linehan will be the play-caller but will work alongside.
“The roles and responsibilities will be similar to what we had a couple of years ago with Scott being in the role I was in,” Garrett explained. “As passing game coordinator, he will call the plays and work closely with Bill Callahan and the rest of the offensive staff in a role we’re comfortable with. He has a comfort level with our system and the language and terminology of our system. That transition we think will be fairly smooth. The perspective and ideas he brings, we think will be a positive thing for our team.”
While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense. The Lions ranked 17th in rushing as Reggie Bush had 1,006 rushing yards.
Linehan also served as head coach of the Rams from 2006-08, making him the third assistant with NFL head coaching experience along with Marinelli and Callahan.
While there is a natural perception that both Callahan and Kiffin have been demoted, yet remain on staff, Garrett said it will be his responsibility to make sure every coach is on the same page and has the same goal.
“Embracing your role is a critical piece to this,” Garrett said. ”As coaches and players, we do that all the time. We’re excited to get going and build on positive things we’ve done. You’re always trying to build chemistry on your football team. Every day is an opportunity to do that.”
In other coaching staff news, Garrett said Marinelli is expected to oversee the defensive line but Leon Lett and Ben Bloom will also work closely with that position.
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.”
The Dallas Cowboys expect to have all available hands on deck among their defensive linemen Sunday.
“Injures are a part of this league, and it’s just the nature of this league,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday morning. “You put the next guy in, and you go forward, and that’s what the situation is. That’s the mindset we have as an organization, as a coaching staff and as players. You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do. And that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league. We have those examples on this football team so there are things you can point to and that’s the mindset you have.”
Starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games while recovering from a groin injury. Starting defensive end Anthony Spencer is not on the practice field again today (Friday) and may not play Sunday. Spencer has not practiced since undergoing right knee surgery July 25 and said Thursday he had a setback in his rehab over the weekend.
The Cowboys then added reserve defensive tackle Ben Bass to the injury list Thursday when he dislocated his shoulder in practice. Bass, who is in a sling, will miss at least this week, leaving the Cowboys with preseason standout Landon Cohen behind Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden at defensive tackle.
They will have to have some position flex with their defensive ends. George Selvie is expected to start in place of Spencer, with DeMarcus Ware at his usual spot. The Cowboys traded for ends Caesar Rayford and Edgar Jones in recent days. They also have second-year veteran Kyle Wilber.
“You just kind of work with the guys we have,” Garrett said. “We’re excited about the group we have. You’d like to have them together for longer, but that’s the nature of this league. You’ve just got to make do with what you have and go forward. Excited to see those guys play and take advantage of their opportunity.”
RELATED: Cowboys confident with DE depth, even if Spencer can’t go
IRVING, Texas – It’s looking more and more like the Cowboys won’t feature Anthony Spencer in their lineup on Sunday against the Giants, despite claims to the contrary.
Spencer spoke to the media yesterday (Thursday) following the Cowboys’ afternoon practice. The hope all week, according to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, has been to have Spencer work gradually back into practice.
Spencer said he suffered a minor setback this past weekend, when his knee, which he had surgery on about a month ago, reacted negatively to a light workout.
“That’s what happened this weekend, like I was doing a little bit of running and whatnot, and it kind of just swelled up on me,” he said. “It’s hard for me to do anything once that happens, so we try to just minimize that as much as possible.”
The Cowboys hope to see Spencer go through at least part of practice today, but it looks increasingly likely they won’t have their Pro Bowler on the defensive line Sunday night.
From asking around the locker room, that doesn’t sound too concerning. Injuries are nothing new on the Cowboys’ defensive line, as injuries have sidelined Spencer and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff throughout training camp. In their absence, young George Selvie, Nick Hayden, and Landon Cohen have stepped into the void.
Cohen (photo above) and Selvie (photo below) were two of the first players to join the team during training camp, once the injuries to Ratliff and Spencer became known. Through several dozen other roster moves, Garrett said neither lineman has given the Cowboys a reason to cut them.
“Each of them have shown up. You’ve heard me say it a lot,” Garrett said. “They show up in practice, they show up in the preseason games, every opportunity we give them, each of those guys said ‘Hey, I’m worthy of making this football team,’ and that’s good for your team.”
That effort hasn’t gone unnoticed with the defense’s elder statesman, either.
“You’ve got guys practicing in 105-degree weather, being effective against our offense – a high-powered offense,” said defensive end DeMarcus Ware. “They’ve been playing really, really well, so I have a lot of confidence in those guys to come in and fill the shoes of Jay and Spencer, if Spencer doesn’t play. We’ve got to be effective with what we have.”
Plenty of the focus is going to fall on Selvie, who has turned Spencer’s injury into a starting spot in the last six weeks. In four preseason games at left defensive end, he notched six tackles with three sacks.
“When you have a guy that’s coming in off the couch – we call him the brick layer,” Ware said. “He comes in and it’s a brick at a time, being effective. He’s built a pretty nice little house over there at left end.”
Selvie’s not a stranger to the regular season, with 36 career games under his belt in three seasons. But the combination of learning from two Pro Bowlers has been something he said he’s used to improve considerably.
“Spencer is always giving tips – ‘Angle this way. Do this and do that,’” he said. “Any time you’ve got the Defensive MVP of this team helping you, it’s a good thing. D-Ware is always helping me too.”
Adding into that pass rush is new acquisition Caesar Rayford, who said Wednesday he’s ready to play. As has been widely noted, Rayford’s five sacks led the NFL during the preseason.
It’s all enough to give Ware confidence in the defensive line – regardless of who’s starting. Ware said he’d like to see Spencer on the field if it’s at all possible, but he’s not concerned about the Cowboys’ options up front.
“You know, I’m not worried about it at all. I don’t want to see Spence out there on the field, I want to see Spencer. I want the 100 percent Spencer,” Ware said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play this week, I just – I don’t know — I hope he does. I want the guy out there, and that goes for everybody else, too.”
RELATED: Garrett doesn’t believe Ben Bass injury is season-ending
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he does not know how long defensive end Ben Bass will be out while he recovers from a separated shoulder, but that the team does not believe it is season-ending.
“We have a pretty good feel for what he has,” Garrett said, “but the nature of that injury is that he dislocated his shoulder, so the question I asked is, ‘OK, what does that mean?’ Well, if he gets it relocated and there’s no damage, he can be back in a few days. If there’s a little damage in there as a result of it, can be a couple three weeks. So we’ll see.”
Garrett said, “We don’t think it’s season-ending by any means, but it might be a week, a couple of weeks. We’ll just see how it goes.”
Missing starters Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer and backup Tyrone Crawford. Ratliff is gone for at least six weeks while he begins the season on the PUP list. Crawford is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury. Spencer’s could be next week, but that is not certain.
“You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do, and that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league,” Garrett said. “We have those examples on this football team. So there are things you can point to, and that’s the mindset you have.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys newcomer Caesar Rayford ready for Sunday
Caesar Rayford was just happy to be here earlier this week after arriving from Indianapolis via a trade, but he better be ready to play at defensive tackle.
With eight healthy bodies in the defensive line — three at DT — the Cowboys are counting on Rayford to take some snaps come Sunday. It doesn’t matter that he arrived here only Tuesday. It doesn’t matter that his natural position is at DE.
“He has to be viable for us at some point in this ball game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Rayford, an outside linebacker in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme, had a league-leading five sacks in the preseason.
“I feel like I’ve made plays, but I’m always about the next game, the next day,” Rayford said. “I made plays in the preseason, but the preseason is over, and now it’s the next game. I’ve got to keep it going, keep it consistent and just at it.”
Rayford, played in the Canadian and the Arena Football Leagues before getting his chance in the NFL with the Colts. Now, he’s with the Dallas Cowboys.
“The way I describe my journey is some people get in the front door; some people get in the back door; but guys like me have got to climb the house and jump in the chimney,” Rayford said. “That’s been basically my journey. It’s been long and hard. I’ve stayed the course, and now I’m here.”
The Dallas Cowboys waived three players, including linebacker Alex Albright. Albright will have season-ending surgery on his back this week. If he clears waivers, Dallas will put him on injured reserve.
Defensive linemen Travis Chappelear and Toby Jackson also were waived. Chappelear was wearing a walking boot Monday after being injured in pregame warm-ups. Jackson has a hamstring injury.
Albright, who had sports hernia surgery after last season and then hurt his back in May, was one of the team’s core special teams players. He had 17 tackles on special teams last season. He also had been expected to contend for playing time as the backup at the strong side and middle linebacker spots.
“He’s been a good player for us in that role, as a backup linebacker and a teams guy,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “An expression we’ve used a lot with him is ‘ugly production.’ Sometimes it doesn’t always look great. He seems to make a lot of tackles. He’s around the ball a lot, both on defense and the kicking game. Last year, he’s out there against Pittsburgh, and he’s covering a really fast running back [Chris Rainey] they have and as a coach, we say, ‘Boy, we don’t want to see that guy in space against him.’ Sure enough, he just covers him. He’s done that since he’s’ been here. He’s done that on defense. He’s done that on teams. Disappointed for him not to be able to show us that he can play again like he’s done all throughout his career. Certainly disappointed for us as well because of the role he’s played for us.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ offense loses some “juice” with scatback Lance Dunbar sidelined by a sprained foot.
That’s the term coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo use to describe Dunbar’s dynamic quickness and explosiveness. It’s what makes Dunbar, a second-year player who was undrafted out of North Texas, unique among the four running backs likely to make the Cowboys’ roster.
Never mind the unimpressive numbers from Dunbar’s rookie season, when he gained 75 yards on 21 carries and caught six passes for 33 yards. He had carved out a significant role as a change-of-pace and third-down back behind DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys envision Dunbar as their version of Darren Sproles, the New Orleans Saints’ undersized spark plug. They are especially enamored by his receiving skills and ability to make plays in space, a couple of attributes Dunbar displayed on his 43-yard catch-and-run that unfortunately ended with a fumble inside the Arizona 5 in Saturday’s preseason loss.
“Totally forgive him,” Jerry Jones said after the game. “I’m so glad our fans got to see him. He’s quick, fast and makes plays.”
That will be the last fans see of Dunbar making plays for at least three or four weeks. The season opener against the New York Giants is scheduled for three weeks and a day after Dunbar suffered the injury.
Murray missed six games with a sprained foot last season. If Dunbar takes that long to recover, he’s in jeopardy of missing the first three or four games of the season.
A sprained foot is especially a concern for a player whose best trait is his quickness. The Cowboys can only hope that Dunbar recovers quickly and brings the juice when he comes back.
As a fourth-round draft pick, B.W. Webb’s spot on the roster is all but guaranteed. The Cowboys have carried David Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, for two years. But if Webb wasn’t a high pick, he might be in danger of not making the roster.
The William & Mary product has struggled mightily thus far.
He had three tackles in 76 plays in the Hall of Fame Game against the Dolphins, giving up four passes for 29 yards while being targeted six times. He had three tackles against the Raiders and was a favorite target of Raiders’ quarterbacks. He also fumbled a punt.
As if it couldn’t get worse for Webb, he was called out by his coach — who rarely does that publically — afterward.
“You are not allowed to have one of those nights,” Garrett said. “One of things you are looking for in any kind of players, a young guy or a veteran is you want to make sure they respond to the successes and adversities of the game. He had a couple of missed tackles early on for him. I thought he came back and tackled better. Then, he had the dropped punt. You’re not allowed to have bad nights. You never excuse it away to that. You have to keep battling, fighting, whatever opportunity you get, you’ve got to make sure you are taking advantage of it.”
It is safe to say Webb will not be used on punts. His fourth-quarter muff was recovered by the Raiders at the Dallas 9, and they scored the go-ahead field goal.
“Certainly, he’s got enough skill and has done enough good things out there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve seen him on punts and seen him have to get used to it. He’s not ready, as far as training camp is concerned, to drop back there and get under those punts. We saw that some in training camp. We’ve seen it. It was disappointing he couldn’t get his feet back under him and get back and at least recover the ball. First of all, it really gave us an uphill battle in the ball game. That will be something I’m sure he keeps in his mind.”
MUST SEE VIDEO: Dallas Cowboys top three draft picks meet Dallas media | Jason Garrett on NFL Network
Meet three of the newest Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams as they are introduced at Valley Ranch.
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MEET THE STUDS: Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference (Special Feature)
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett joins NFL Network to discuss the team’s picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jason Garrett likes where the Cowboys are offensively, but he also thinks they can be even better.
The Dallas Cowboys coach said they have evaluated the offense over the past six seasons since he arrived in Dallas as offensive coordinator. The past six seasons combined, the Cowboys rank fourth in total offense (370.7 yards per game), seventh in scoring (24.1), fourth in passing (262.0) and 22nd in rushing (108.6).
“You look at those things, and you say, ‘Boy, a lot of that stuff is pretty good,'” Garrett said. “You say, ‘OK, we want to build on that stuff. We want to continue down that track with our offensive football team.'”
Garrett, however, will give up play-calling duties for 2013. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan likely will take over that role. The Cowboys made four changes to their offensive coaching staff, with Wes Phillips moving from assistant line coach to tight ends coach, newcomer Frank Pollack taking over as assistant offensive line coach, Derek Dooley being hired as receivers coach and Gary Brown coming in as running backs coach.
The Cowboys will see some changes in personnel, too, though maybe not many with Felix Jones, Kevin Ogletree and John Phillips as the only unrestricted free agents on offense. None of those three is a starter. Center Phil Costa is a restricted free agent. Dallas again might be looking to shore up its offensive line after adding a pair of free agent guards in Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau last off-season.
“This is an opportunity to add some people, add some influence to our offense,” Garrett said, “and hopefully it’s a tweak for us that can help us get a little bit better and help us break through as a football team. So that’s really the approach right now. We want to stay on the same track, but also we want to add coaches to our staff that can really help us break through.”
Despite being one of the league’s best offenses, the Cowboys are 55-41 over the past six years with only two playoff berths. They are 1-2 in postseason games in that stretch.
What may be a sore subject for Jason Garrett has once again become a hot topic of conversation around these parts. In recent days, the Dallas Cowboys coach has had to deal with questions about whether he will continue to serve as the team’s offensive play-caller.
On Monday, less than 24 hours after Dallas’ fate was sealed, Garrett indicated he wasn’t planning to relinquish those duties even though the Cowboys were ranked lower in offensive points scored in 2012 than they’ve been in any season since he joined Dallas’ staff as an assistant in 2007.
“I would certainly anticipate the status quo from that standpoint,” Garrett said Monday,
Two days later, on his KRLD-FM radio show, owner Jerry Jones bristled when asked if he wanted Garrett to maintain his dual role as head coach and play-caller next season and beyond.
“We’re not having a meeting like that this morning and I’m not ready to have that kind of meeting and I’m not so sure when I’ll have that meeting,” he said.
But what would happen if Jones did have a sit-down with Garrett and suggested to his coach that he recruit someone else to call the plays?
“We would just talk it through,” Garrett said on KRLD-FM. “Line 1 for me and the position that I’m in is what is best for the Dallas Cowboys — in every way, shape and form and however we’re doing anything. Everything is on the table. If we think collectively that something can help us and doing something differently than what we’re doing now is going to make us a better football team I’m open to it. And I’ve made no bones about that from the beginning. I just believe in that. I believe in that from the bottom of my heart. I’m trying to help this football team be the best it can be and everything is on the table.”
If the Cowboys bring in another offensive coordinator, former Chargers coach Norv Turner would seemingly be a primary option. Turner is a former Cowboys offensive coordinator who called played for the Super Bowl title teams in 1992 and 1993.
Garrett was a backup quarterback on the 1993 team and the two have a similar offensive philosophy.
IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett’s process-oriented press conferences can seem unemotional and mechanical, as the same answers to questions tend to pop up every week.
Garrett said he’s mindful of the audience listening to him every time he takes the podium, and his answers can reflect that as he attempts to speak in the team’s best interest.
“One of the things I’ve always tried to do is be very respectful of the person who’s asking me the question and try to the best of my ability to answer that question for him or for her. But all the while, I understand that my first obligation is to the Dallas football Cowboys,” Garrett said on his radio show on 105.3 FM. “That’s the first thing that goes through my mind every time I attempt to answer a question, so there’s a filter. That’s the first filter.”
The next “filter” for Garrett is to understand the audience, which includes Cowboys’ coaches and members of the rest of the 31 other teams in the NFL, including that week’s opponent.
“You’re always thinking about the competitive advantages or disadvantages of every answer that you give,” Garrett said. “I would love to sit back and be very candid with every answer. You ask me a question and I shoot from the hip and give you the most honest, straightforward answer I can give you.”
That’s not what typically occurs. Instead, the result at his press conferences tends to be a reserved, calculated response to every question that’s asked, which he knows can get monotonous. But he remained adamant that his politically correct responses don’t reflect how much he cares.
“The point I’d like to make is unemotional does not mean detached,” Garrett said. “We’re all very, very committed to this. We’re all very, very passionate about this. We’re all very, very emotional about this. Some of us show it in different ways, but you cannot be involved in this business without being emotional and passionate.
“Those guys in the media who know me a little bit away from those press settings know that I can be more candid with them 1-on-1, and I think that’s an important thing, too. But when everything you say is going to be on a radio or going to be on TV for lots of different kinds of people to hear, I just think you have to be very careful with what you say.”
Garrett said he realizes the frustration that can follow for media members and the fans when he doesn’t answer as candidly as he could. He said he doesn’t take that lightly, and he wants to convey as best as possible to the fans what he’s trying to accomplish, while also keeping his team’s integrity intact.
“I want people to know that my motivations are pure and they’re in the interest of the Dallas Cowboys, and anything I can do to make sure I serve that first and then be entertaining beyond that, I’ll try my best to do that,” Garrett said.
IRVING — The first day of the Dallas Cowboys’ organized team activities, Jason Garrett stood before his team and had them envision something that hasn’t happened here in 17 years.
“I said, ‘Picture yourself holding the Super Bowl trophy over your head,’ ” Garrett said Monday. “That’s the first thing out of my mouth [every year]. ‘So put that in the forefront of your mind. Really feel that. Feel that experience, where we all want to go?’ Then, you say, ‘OK, take that and put it in the back of your mind. Now what you need to do is focus on today. Focus on this Wednesday practice.’
“That’s the mindset. They hear that from me a lot: This is where we want to go. This is where everybody wants to go. This is why we’re doing all this stuff. Now, we have to get back right here. Let’s get back to focusing on what we need to do today to advance ourselves to that goal. It’s a pretty simple philosophy.”
It’s a pretty simple scenario for the Cowboys if they are to have a chance to do what they envisioned in May: They have to beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday night to extend their season.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he expects outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to play in Sunday’s winner-take-all battle for the NFC East title against Washington despite being sidelined with a strained shoulder in crunch time of the team’s 34-31 loss to New Orleans.
“Somehow, some way, DeMarcus is going to get himself right to play in this Washington game,” Garrett said during today’s news conference at Valley Ranch. “He’ll battle through anything.”
Ware, a six-time Pro Bowler, never has missed a game in his Cowboys’ career. But he took part in only 59 of 95 plays in Sunday’s game against New Orleans. Ware, the team’s sack leader (11.5), missed the entire fourth quarter and returned for only one play in overtime _ to rush the passer on a third-and-3 situation.
Ware has been playing with a hyperextended elbow and also battled a hamstring ailment earlier this season. Garrett stressed that team trainers will make sure Ware is “functional and can protect himself” during practices this week before he suits up against the Redskins. But he made it clear Monday that he is counting on Ware to be in Sunday’s lineup.
“DeMarcus Ware is such a talented athlete, I think a lot of times, people lose sight of the kind of person he is and how mentally and physically tough that he is,” Garrett said. “He’s a very willful guy … He wants to get out there and help our football team.”
Garrett said Ware’s track record for durability speaks for itself.
“He just somehow, some way gets himself ready to play in a ballgame,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t had the gaudy numbers that he’s had in the past in terms of sacks, but he’s certainly been a productive player for us. I think a lot of that goes to his will and his passion for playing, his passion for his teammates and his love for the game.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Doug Free (68) and Jermey Parnell (78) responded well to a rotation at right tackle. They alternated series Sunday in the win against the Bengals.
After Free played the first series, Parnell came in at right tackle for the second series. It became clear when Free was not receiving treatment for an injury and came back in for the third series that the Cowboys were trying to work in Parnell.
“Well, we just wanted to give Jermey a chance,” Garrett said. “He has done a good job. He played a few weeks ago when Tyron was out and showed that he can play in this league. We tried to give him some snaps in practice. He responded well to that. Doug responded well to it.”
The NFL report said Free played 58 snaps and Parnell played 15, plus four on special teams.
Parnell played without a penalty, as he did in the Thanksgiving Day start against Washington at left tackle in place of Tyron Smith. Free had one holding penalty in the Bengals game.
“So we just felt like in that situation, it was justified,” Garrett said. “We started Doug. Then we put Jermey in there, and we kept that rotation going throughout the ballgame.”
KANSAS CITY AFTERMATH: Garrett repeats his message to players — there’s no issue that can’t be solved
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he stresses to the players to come to him or anyone in the organization if they have anything in their lives they want to talk about or want help with, and that the Cowboys will do anything they can to provide help.
“Literally, I said I’ll get down on my hands and knees, and I beg you to do this because it’s the most important thing there is,” Garrett said Monday, talking about the effect of the murder-suicide on Saturday involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins.
“There’s no issue that you have in your life that we can’t somehow solve in some way and in some way make it better,” Garrett said. “I just say that from the bottom of my heart because you never know what guys are going through, and you just let them know they have a place to turn. It’s a real tragedy there, so you just want to make sure you do everything you can to make sure something like that doesn’t happen here, and you want to make them really aware that we have the resources to help them.”
Garrett said he spoke to the team about the shootings on Saturday night at the team hotel and that everyone listened and he hoped he got the message across. He said the macho image of a football player shouldn’t prevent him from seeking help.
“You have to make clear to them there’s no judgment involved,” Garrett said. “We’re not judging you, we’re helping you. We’re here to help. We’ve got a lot of resources to help you. We’ve got professional people who are experts in this area to help you. Everybody’s got my cell phone. They’ve got all their position coaches’ cell phone numbers. Just call us. Players, watch out for each other if you see something that doesn’t look right or feel right, because you never know. Some guys might just have a feeling that I’ve got to handle it myself, I don’t want anybody else to know. Somehow, someway, you’ve got to break through that.”
Garrett said cornerback Brandon Carr, who spent his first four years in Kansas City before joining the Cowboys this year, knew the deceased player well and did a good job of getting himself ready to play as best he could.
The suicide of Belcher touched Carr most directly, but Garrett said everyone felt its effect.
“That’s part of our fraternity. That happened in the Kansas City Chiefs’ organization, but it happened in the NFL, and we had some guys on our team who knew him and knew that situation really well,” Garrett said. “It directly affects them, but it affects everybody. Again, what you want to do is take the football part out of it, put the human part in it and make sure that anybody knows we have resources to help them if they’re thinking about anything like that at all, we can help. I can’t try to convey that too much. I mean, it’s really the most important thing you’ll hear me say.”
IRVING – First safety Barry Church went down. Then linebacker Sean Lee. On Sunday, defensive end Kenyon Coleman became the third defensive starter for the Cowboys to suffer a season-ending injury, tearing his left triceps muscle in the third quarter of Dallas’ 38-23 victory over Philadelphia.
The Cowboys received the sobering news about Coleman’s status after he underwent an MRI. The 11th-year veteran will undergo surgery Tuesday and will be placed on the team’s injured reserve list, according to head coach Jason Garrett.
“That’s a loss for us because he’s been such a good player for us,” Jason Garrett said. “He is one of the leaders of the defensive line and certainly one of the leaders of our defense. He is a very, very good run defender and has shown that he can push the pocket and pressure the quarterback a little bit, too. He’ll be a loss for us, but like with the other guys that have gone out this year, the next man has to be up.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they have plenty of candidates, including 2005 first-round pick Marcus Spears, rookie Tyrone Crawford and injured veteran Sean Lissemore, who has missed the last four games with a high-ankle sprain.
Garrett said the Cowboys are “hopeful” Lissemore will be cleared to return this week. But in the event that he isn’t, the Cowboys already developing a contingency plan. In fact, Garrett said the team will likely promote one of their two practice-squad defensive linemen, Robert Callaway and Ben Bass, to the active roster this week.
“We anticipate making a move to add to the defensive line and those are the logical ones,” Garrett said.
For the Cowboys, it’s uncertain how the absence of Coleman will affect on the defense. The 33-year-old defender made 15 tackles and forced one fumble in 167 defensive snaps while frequently being spelled by Spears, Lissemore and Crawford at left end.
“It’s a rotational position anyway,” Garrett said. “Those guys have been playing some snaps through the early part of the season. They will play more now.”
IRVING, Texas – It has been about 51 weeks, but the Cowboys haven’t forgotten.
Sure, so much has happened to this football since then and most of it hasn’t been memorable. And without a doubt, the Cowboys’ last visit to Lincoln Financial Field wasn’t a fun time, mainly because of one LeSean McCoy.
The Cowboys were trounced that night in Philly, 34-7, and McCoy was the biggest reason. He was also the fastest, the quickest, most elusive and most dominating.
While the Eagles aren’t exactly playing at a high level this season – entering the game with the same 3-5 record as the Cowboys – let’s not forget about 2011. The Eagles weren’t exactly setting the world on fire when these two teams met in Philly last year. In fact, they were a dismal 2-4 when the Cowboys showed up. But, the Eagles made it pretty clear they were going to get McCoy involved.
It turned out to be a good plan, considering McCoy totaled 200 all-purpose yards, including 185 on the ground, the sixth-highest single-game total in Eagles history.
In the rematch at Cowboys Stadium on Christmas Eve – a game that turned out to be one of the more meaningless regular-season matchups ever, McCoy rushed for just 30 yards on 13 carries as the Eagles won 20-7.
This year, McCoy ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing with 623 yards, but has only two touchdowns. He’s also dangerous out of the backfield with 30 catches for 148 yards and three scores.
“I think he’s outstanding,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “He has such great lateral quickness, such great elusiveness, speed, ability to get to the edge, ability to break tackles. He just makes so many great runs over and over again. It will be a challenge for us to corral him, get a lot of people around the ball and tackle him to the ground. That’s what we need to do.”
Seems to be harder than it sounds.
“You have to stop ‘Shady’ McCoy,” defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “He’s one of the top five backs in the league. He’s slippery. He cuts and plays like Barry Sanders. He’ll cut it all the way across the field to get yards.”
Linebacker Bruce Carter, who is coming off a 10-tackle game against the Falcons last week, said his experience on special teams might come in handy when facing a guy like McCoy, who is not afraid to change directions, especially in the open field.
“We just have to be disciplined, especially with our ends and outside linebackers,” Carter said. “You have to set the edge. He’s always got a counter move where he can cut it back. He can go the distance the other way. What (linebackers coach Matt Eberflus) told us, every play is like a kickoff return. You just never know.”
The Cowboys need Carter to be effective inside, especially with the injury situation at the other linebacker spot. Sean Lee is out for the season after undergoing toe surgery two weeks ago. His immediate replacement, Dan Connor, missed last week’s game with a stinger and hasn’t practiced in full this week. Second-year pro Orie Lemon suffered a hamstring injury and was placed on injured reserve.
ATLANTA — If you are young and a member of the Dallas Cowboys, chances are something bad happened to you recently.
That is, unless your name is Morris Claiborne or Bruce Carter.
While clouds hang over the heads of youngsters plagued by either injuries (DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee), legal/family issues (Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith) or mistake-riddled play (Bryant), life for Claiborne and Carter just keeps getting better.
Tonight, the Cowboys need the two sons of the South to shine in the Georgia Dome.
Claiborne, a first-round pick from LSU, and fellow cornerback Brandon Carr will be charged with slowing down Atlanta’s dynamic receiving duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan agree Claiborne seems up to the tall task after watching him record five tackles, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery in last week’s loss to the Giants.
Claiborne is the only Dallas defender to record turnovers in back-to-back games this season. Two weeks ago, he intercepted a pass in the end zone in the win at Carolina.
“If you look at him over the course of the season, you’ve seen him grow physically and also in his demeanor and how aggressive he’s playing,” Garrett said. “There were a couple of plays against the Giants where he’s making tackles, and he’s really consciously trying to rip the ball out.
“The ball didn’t come out, but his mentality is that of a playmaker. And in relation to the football on the back end, that’s a real positive for us. He’s grown right before our eyes.”
Told Claiborne’s confidence level seems to increase each game, Ryan said, “Doesn’t it jump off the tape that way? The game is really starting to slow down for Mo. And he’s just going to get better and better.”
The same can be said of Carter, a second-year inside linebacker from North Carolina who also excelled against the Giants, notching seven tackles, a tackle for loss and one pass breakup. With Lee out, Carter also called the defensive signals.
It was a remarkable performance, considering that a year ago last week, Carter made his NFL debut after starting his rookie season in the trainer’s room rehabbing a knee injury left over from his senior year.
“It’s a whole lot different,” said Carter, who was limited to special-teams duty against Philadelphia on Oct. 30, 2011. “Last year, I was nervous playing in my first NFL game. This year, I’m really in the mix.”
Garrett said Carter played “particularly well” against the Giants.
“He handled his communication role and did a good job covering and running to the ball and making hits on the ball,” Garrett said.
Like Claiborne, Carter has a tough matchup tonight, facing future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez.
“It’s going to be our biggest challenge of the season,” Carter said of facing the Falcons, who average nearly 30 points a game. “But we’ve got to go in there, stick together and fight our way through.”
Count on Claiborne and Carter swinging to the very end.
Orie Lemon had not played much on defense before Sunday against the Giants. Two plays is all, in fact.
But the Cowboys didn’t suffer when Lemon had to replace Dan Connor, who went out after 10 plays with a neck strain. Lemon played 23 plays and newly signed Ernie Sims 10.
"Orie did play some in the game," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Ernie Sims did play some in the game. I think those guys handled themselves well going into that situation."
Lemon, who spent all of last season and two games this season on the practice squad, was activated to the 53-player roster the day before the Cowboys’ game against Tampa Bay. He has been a special teams contributor in three games but had played only two plays on defense this season until Sunday.
He made three tackles against the Giants.
"It was good for me to get it against a good team like the Giants, being able to go in and do what I did," Lemons said. "I have a lot to work on, but I know what I’ve got to work on."
With Sean Lee out for the year with a toe injury, and Connor’s status undetermined for Sunday’s game against the undefeated Falcons, Lemon is preparing as if he will start.
"I know at any moment anything can happen, so I’ve got to be mentally ready for anything," Lemon said. "I study like I’m a starter, so I make sure if I do go in there, there won’t be any drop-off."
IRVING, Texas — There is a consistent trend with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant that probably needs to stop: He’s arguing with the referees. Too much.
Bryant wants calls. He says his jersey is getting pulled by defensive backs and that there are push-offs. On his second touchdown catch against Baltimore, Bryant pushed off cornerback Cary Williams. But Bryant wanted a call made when he failed to catch a potential game-tying two-point conversion when he felt Williams made contact before the play.
Said Williams: "He needs to step up and be a man. You can’t be a baby about stuff. You’ve got to man up. It’s one-on-one. Mano-a-mano. I got you. Sometimes you’re going to win. Sometimes you’re going to lose."
Coach Jason Garrett said the arguing with the officials has to stop and Bryant has to concentrate and move to the next play.
"Absolutely. We try to emphasize that to everybody on our team," Garrett said. "There’s certainly a natural reaction that a lot of guys have. You see it all around the league. There’s an attention to the officiating, and you’ve just got to make sure to focus on doing your job. Obviously he felt a couple of different occasions where he was getting held, he was a little bit restrictive."
Bryant is a talented player who wears his emotions not just on his sleeve, but on his entire body.
In pregame warm-ups, he’s bouncing around catching passes from anybody who will throw them. During the game, there is a natural chirping that goes on between players. Bryant is almost always in the middle of it. At times Bryant has to be pulled away by a teammate after complaining to a referee. Sometimes he’s the only offensive player on the field still barking at the refs.
After Bryant caught a 1-yard pass in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was complaining to the referee.
"But again, we emphasize to him, get that guy off of him and go make the play," Garrett said. "At times (in the Baltimore game) he did an outstanding job of that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out on the two-point play. But Dez is getting better and better every week. We’re excited to have him on our football team."
RELATED: INJURY UPDATE – Dez Bryant expected to play at Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to play today at Carolina.
Bryant, who has been battling groin soreness, didn’t practice Friday and was officially listed as questionable. He will test his groin in pre-game warm-ups and – if he doesn’t have a setback – will start for the Cowboys.
Bryant is coming off the best two-game stretch of his career and leads the team with 34 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tony Romo has targeted Bryant a combined 28 times over the last two games compared to 11 times to Miles Austin.
The Cowboys, however, could take Bryant off of punt returns and use Dwayne Harris in his place to help manage the injury throughout the game.
Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray had been expected to join the ranks of elite running backs this season. But after opening the season with 131 yards on 20 carries. Since then, he has 106 yards on 41 carries, a 2.6 yards per carry average.
The Cowboys now rank 30th in rushing with a 67.8 yards per game average.
Murray has had little room to run. Far too often, he e is being met in the backfield by defenders.
Murray is tied for first for the most times being “stuffed” with 13. Murray had only 14 runs that resulted in negative yardage last season when he carried the ball 164 times.
"I think he’s done a good job just being persistent throughout the ball game and trying to continue to be true to the runs and trying to find the hole that’s there," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. "Teams have done a good job moving around up front and sometimes the run isn’t always as clean as you want it to be. But he’s been a running back for a long, long time, and he understands that. His patience, his persistence, his toughness have all been good. He just needs to understand that we’re going to keep trying to give him some opportunities. He needs to keep doing what he’s supposed to do, trust the other guys can do what they’re supposed to do and we’ll get this running game going."
The Cowboys’ last three opponents, the Seahawks (2nd vs. the run), the Bucs (4th vs. the run) and the Bears (3rd vs. the run), all rank among the best teams in the league against the run. The Ravens, the Cowboys’ next opponent, rank 13th.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he is disappointed in his team’s 2-2 start, but he is not ready to give up hope because he still has Tony Romo and because the Cowboys have the example of the New York Giants from last year.
“I’m tempered by the fact that it’s early in the season,” said Jones in the hallway outside his offices at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters. “I’m tempered by the fact the world champions last year won nine in the regular season, lost their first two and at one point were behind by two games.
“I’m tempered by the fact that we are 2-2 along with the rest of the league. I like Bill Callahan what he is doing with the offensive line. We played as well with offensive line as we did the last three games. But I’m not trying to say I’m happy at all. I’m disappointed.”
Jones said he thinks Romo is going to bounce back like he did last year after a bad start.
“I like where we are with Romo at quarterback,” Jones said. “No one learns more from his experiences than Tony. This time last year with Detroit in the fourth game. He came back, never played better. I think the Detroit game had something to do with that. If we can get the same kind of response he had last year when he had a downer, if he can come back and do that we will be fine.”
Coach Jason Garrett agreed in his press conference.
“Tony did a great job last year coming out of some games early on in the season just saying, ‘I’m not going to make those plays anymore,’ ” Garrett said. “I think he went a stretch of 11 or 12 games where he threw one or two interceptions. So that’s the way you have to play quarterback in this league, and he understands that, he understands that better than anybody. He’s done it, and he has to do it again for us.”
Last year after four games, Romo had five interceptions and three fumbles. He threw five interceptions and had three fumbles the rest of the season.
Jerry Jones talks to the Dallas press about the loss that set the Dallas Cowboys back to 2-2 before heading into their bye week.
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