IRVING, Texas – This time of year is always a tough time to make judgments on the roster. And it’s not for a lack of news, but only because we should know by now the roster is far from fluid.
We’ve already seen a few changes since Saturday’s 22 roster moves to get down to 53 players.
But if we’ve seen any kind of theme here in the last few days pertaining to the roster, it’s a rare emphasis on improving the special teams units.
For starters, the Cowboys decided to keep both Danny McCray and Eric Frampton as backup safeties, along with Jeff Heath and J.J. Wilcox. McCray and Frampton have lead the team in special teams tackles over the last three years.
McCray has been the special teams captain the last two years. He showed last year that he struggles as a safety, especially in coverage. But when it comes to covering kickoffs and punts, few have been as good or consistent as McCray in recent history.
The one decision the Cowboys didn’t make regarding the kicking game centered on wide receiver. They chose to keep just five receivers, including Cole Beasley, who is a better route-runner and slot player than Anthony Armstrong. However, Armstrong played with every special teams unit and had more speed than arguably any other player on the squad.
After the cuts, the Cowboys started making more special-teams related moves. A few hours after trimming the roster to 53, the club put Nate Livings on IR and traded a seventh-round pick to Kansas City for linebacker Edgar Jones, a six-year veteran who thrives on special teams. He is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end as a position, but special teams is his forte.
On Sunday, after the Cowboys sent Sean Lissemore to San Diego for 2015 seventh-round pick, they filled his spot by claiming linebacker Kyle Bosworth from the Giants. Yes, it’s that Bosworth – he’s the nephew of former Seattle Seahawk first-rounder Brian Bosworth. And Kyle is another local product, having starred at Plano West before attending UCLA. He played the last two years for the Jaguars, playing 25 games, including five starts last season.
Again, Bosworth is a special-teams player. That will be his role here with the Cowboys.
They tried to fill Alex Albright’s (lost during the preseason, placed on waived/injured list) spot from within. Rookies Brandon Magee, Cam Lawrence and Taylor Reed, along with first-year pro Caleb McSurdy all made it to the final preseason game. But the Cowboys chose to put all of them on waivers on Saturday.
The goal was to bring Magee back to the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by the Browns. Lawrence, an undrafted rookie from Mississippi State, has been added to the Cowboys’ practice squad.
But the Cowboys weren’t confident in any of them being ready to play Sept. 8 against the Giants. That’s why Bosworth has been signed. The same goes for Jones. And ditto for having both McCray and Frampton on the team.
I’m sure new special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is appreciative. After watching five games in the preseason, it was clear the kicking game had its issues. Although sometimes those tend to show up more because the players are being shuffled more than a deck of a cards in Vegas.
Who knows if the special teams miscues will carry over into the regular season. But if they do, it’s not likely they can blame personnel on this one.
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.”
No more whistles, no more playbooks, no more coach’s dirty looks. Sure, not quite as catchy as the iconic “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks,” but we’re talking football grades here, not math, science and social studies.
The biggest difference in grading pupils and players is expectations. All students are created equal; not so much for a professional football team. Just doesn’t make sense to hold Miles Austin, one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the game and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and Cole Beasley, an undrafted free agent rookie, to the same standard. Ditto for DeMarcus Ware, headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and some dude signed off his couch midseason. Not even Batman.
Without further ado, here are our final grades for the 2012 Dallas Cowboys:
Tony Romo – B
This one is difficult, because for 80-plus percent of the season, 13-of-16 games, Romo played as well as any quarterback in franchise history. Yes, including Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. His numbers for those contests include 303.1 yards per game, 24 touchdown passes, seven picks and a 100.2 rating. Even with the other three games – vs. the Bears and Giants and at the Redskins – Romo had the league’s sixth-highest rating by Football Outsiders, behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.
He threw for nearly 5,000 yards, and on many occasions was his own best pass protector in terms of finding an extra second or two. There were times when he was brilliant, and never before has he shown the leadership he did this season. Still, in the end, Romo flunked his final. Again. That’s not easy to write. Romo has been sort of the teacher’s pet these last five years, but there is no excuse for those final two picks at Washington.
Kyle Orton – I
He broke Clint Longley’s 38-year-old mark for highest passer rating (minimum 10 attempts) with a ridiculous 137.1. Played just the one game, though, giving him an incomplete.
DeMarco Murray – C
A disappointing season for the second-year back who was expected to anchor the offensive load. Didn’t rush for 100 yards after Week 1 at the Giants and rarely showed the explosiveness from his rookie season with just five 20-plus carries. Finished tied for 21st in the league with 2.5 yards per attempt after contact. He also picked the worst of times for his first two NFL fumbles. His durability has also become a concern as he has missed nine of the team’s last 19 games with injuries.
Felix Jones – C
Finished with more offensive touches than expected, was much improved in picking up the blitz, caught the ball well, and for the most part, maximized his rushing yards with the gaps provided. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry after entering the year at 5.1 for his career.
Lance Dunbar – B
Was impressed with the free agent rookie from North Texas from the first preseason game through Week 17. Finished with eight special teams tackles, was solid if unspectacular on kick returns and showed a little burst on offense. Should play a bigger role in 2013.
Phillip Tanner – C
Solid on special teams with 10 tackles, although he didn’t show much in limited action carrying the ball.
Lawrence Vickers – C
Showed promise catching passes, that little dump-off was seemingly always available. But his blocking was average and his four penalties in 305 snaps was the highest percentage of any fullback playing 25 percent of his team’s snaps.
A lot has been made about the Cowboys’ switch from the 3-4 defense to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3, and rightfully so. Although a great defense ultimately comes down to talented players executing a well-crafted scheme, it’s not as if elite players can simply line up at any position and succeed. If the chances of success at a particular position are optimized at a certain height, weight and speed, it follows that getting farther from those ideal traits will lower the probability of succeeding.
Kiffin’s defenses have typically emphasized speed over size at most positions, and that’s certainly a plus for a Cowboys defense that seems as if it hasn’t kept up with the NFL’s pass-happy evolution. Still, the truth is that the best defensive coordinators tailor their scheme around their personnel.
Kiffin’s version of the 4-3 in particular, known as a 4-3 Under, could potentially accommodate the Cowboys’ personnel better than most other 4-3 schemes. One reason is the presence of the 1-technique defensive tackle. A 1-technique tackle shades the offensive center, nearly playing heads-up over the top of him like a 3-4 nose tackle. The other defensive tackle, the 3-technique, is typically a smaller player that almost acts as a large defensive end in the interior.
There are certainly areas where the Cowboys might have holes to fill, of course. To figure out just how far away Dallas might be from Kiffin’s “dream” defense, we’ve researched the height and weight of each defensive player for Tampa Bay from 2003 to 2008. Kiffin was the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers during that stretch, emphasizing specific traits at each position. Below are the averages of each player on the roster at every position.
1-DT: 6’3’’ 304 pounds
As mentioned, the 1-technique tackle is a strong presence in the inside, but he also has to be nimble enough to shoot up field.
Cowboys’ fit: Jay Ratliff (6’4’’ 303 pounds) matches Kiffin’s prototypical player at this position to a tee. The issue is whether or not the Cowboys can afford to continue to pay Ratliff the big bucks. Sean Lissemore (6’3’’ 303 pounds) also fits the bill.
3-DT: 6’2’’ 285 pounds
The 3-technique defensive tackle is much smaller than the 1-technique. Also note that, at an average of just 6’2’’, the 3-technique is shorter than the defensive ends.
Cowboys’ fit: This position in particular is difficult to project for the Cowboys. Jason Hatcher could potentially play any position along the defensive line, although at 6’6’’ 305 pounds, he’s much taller and heavier than the typically short, light tackles Kiffin has used in the past. Tyrone Crawford (6’4’’ 285 pounds) will probably play defensive end, but he also could have some versatility.
DE (Strong): 6’3’’ 279 pounds
Kiffin has typically used a very large, bulky player to man his strong-side defensive end position.
Cowboys’ fit: If there’s evidence that the Cowboys could let Anthony Spencer walk, this might be it. At 250 pounds, Spencer doesn’t come anywhere near matching the profile of Kiffin’s past ends. As mentioned above, Crawford checks in around this size, but his pass-rushing ability is a question.
DE (Weak): 6’3’’ 267 pounds
On the weak side, Kiffin’s defensive ends have been relatively close to the same size as the typical 3-4 outside linebacker.
Cowboys’ fit: DeMarcus Ware will play this position, although even he is listed at only 254 pounds. Ware shouldn’t have much of a problem adjusting, however. Alex Albright might need to transition to this position as well at 6’5’’ 260 pounds.
MLB: 6’1’’ 232 pounds
The “Mike” linebacker in Kiffin’s 4-3 defense has to have the ability to turn and run, so it’s no surprise that they’ve averaged only 232 pounds.
Cowboys’ fit: At 6’2’’, 245 pounds, Sean Lee is a bit oversized compared to the average 4-3 middle linebacker. He’ll often be asked to run downfield when tight ends run vertically, but Lee should be up for the challenge.
WLB: 6’1’’ 224 pounds
At only 224 pounds, the average “Will” linebacker in Kiffin’s defense must have the speed to run sideline-to-sideline.
Cowboys’ fit: Like Lee, Carter is “oversized” for the 4-3 at 240 pounds, but it really shouldn’t matter. As one of the fastest linebackers in the NFL, Carter won’t have a problem transitioning to the 4-3. He could potentially play any of the three linebacker spots, giving the Cowboys plenty of flexibility heading into the draft.
SLB: 6’1’’ 235 pounds
As the biggest of Kiffin’s linebackers, the “Sam” is still smaller than all but one linebacker the Cowboys had on the roster in 2012, Ernie Sims.
Cowboys’ fit: Assuming Carter plays the “Will,” the Cowboys may have a hole to fill here (and vice versa if Kiffin uses Carter as the “Sam.” If Dan Connor (6’2’’ 242 pounds) ends up starting for Kiffin, he’ll almost assuredly play this position and Carter will play the weak side.
CB: 6’0’’ 193 pounds
Due to Kiffin’s emphasis on Cover 2, his cornerbacks don’t turn and run in man coverage as much as in other defenses. Playing near the line, they need to be able to press and play the run, meaning they’re typically tall, although perhaps not as heavy as many believe.
Cowboys’ fit: Although there are questions about how Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne can transition to Kiffin’s scheme, I think they’ll be just fine. Carr has great size at 6’0’’ 210 pounds, and it isn’t as if they’ll be in Cover 2 every play. Even at 5’11’’ 185 pounds, Claiborne isn’t that far off from Kiffin’s prototypical cornerbacks over the years.
S: 6’0’’ 207 pounds
Since Kiffin generally plays with two-deep alignments and dares offenses to run, his safeties don’t need to be excessively big, but rangy.
Cowboys’ fit: The Cowboys could have an issue here since starters Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church are both at least 212 pounds and don’t necessarily excel in deep coverage. Kiffin has made it work with big safeties like John Lynch in the past, however, but the ’Boys still might need to look for a faster safety of the future in this upcoming draft.
We so often hear that teams need to find “their guys” that fit into their particular schemes, and that’s true; certain players are tailored to play in specific ways. However, the job of any coordinator is to mold their scheme to fit the skill sets of the current personnel. It’s certainly preferable to have a roster full of players built for a particular scheme, but creating that is a whole lot more challenging than slightly altering the scheme to fit the most talented players on the team.
When all is said and done, the success of Kiffin’s tenure in Dallas will be determined by how well he can manage this delicate balancing act, acquiring “his” guys while still being flexible with his scheme to accommodate what he already has.
The season is over and it’s time to think about a few things. For example, is Miles Austin earning his money? Is it time for Felix Jones, who’s now a free agent, to find a new team? What do the Cowboys need to stop the run in 2013? And finally, should Dallas keep cornerback Mike Jenkins?
1. In 2010, Miles Austin signed a seven-year $57.1 million contract. Austin’s deal meant a few things: He moved into an elite level in regards with his contract and was to become the No. 1 receiver on the Cowboys. After signing that deal, Dez Bryant surpassed him as a bigger threat, Austin has had just one 1,000 yard season, 2010, he fell 57 yards short of it in 2012 and his health continues to be a question. He failed to finish the game against Washington on Sunday night because of a high-ankle sprain. He’s endured hamstring issues the last two seasons. Austin is scheduled to earn $6.7 million in 2013 and it raises a question: Is Austin earning his money? I doubt if the Cowboys are going to release Austin because no matter how good Bryant is, there is still an unpredictability about him away from the field. Austin is a good player but the team needs more from him considering the money he’s making.
2. Felix Jones won’t return in 2013 but he did finish the final game of the season with 24 yards on five carries. Jones hit holes with a burst and seemed to run with little limitations. He’s battled injuries to both knees and he probably should have stayed on the bench. But he displayed a toughness that was necessary from the running back position. Jones was put in a bad situation by the Cowboys. He was drafted as a backup to then-starter Marion Barber. When Barber’s health started to betray him, the Cowboys asked Jones to become a starter but his own health failed him too. It’s time for Jones, who becomes a free agent, to find a new team and for the Cowboys to stop drafting players to become backups. If the Cowboys draft a running back this spring, it should be designed to give competition to DeMarco Murray. If Murray is better than the new back, fine, keep the job. Life for a NFL running back is dangerous. One week he’s healthy, the next he’s not and you need to have quality ones on the depth chart. Jones is an average running back, but not starters material and when it was time for him to take over for an injured Murray and Barber, he couldn’t do the job on a consistent basis.
3. Want to know why the Cowboys failed to stop the run in 2012? They lost of four players that clogged the middle of the field. Jay Ratliff (injury), Josh Brent (suspension), Sean Lee (injury) and Bruce Carter (injury) were the force up the gut for the Cowboys. When the Cowboys didn’t have Ratliff at the start of the season, the club still had Brent a solid run stopper. But when Brent was lost, Sean Lissemore was moved from defensive end to nose tackle. The Cowboys also moved Robert Callaway and signed Brian Schaefering to help inside. Lee and Carter replacements at inside linebacker were Dan Connor, Ernie Sims and at times Alex Albright. The backups failed to produce for the Cowboys as evident by the run defense allowing at least 100 yards in six of the last seven weeks of the season. Moving forward the Cowboys need to draft or sign another inside linebacker in free agency who can provide depth. The Cowboys allowed 274 rushing yards in the regular season finale and gave up at least 150 rushing yards twice and 125 or more yards five times. It’s hard to win games when that happens regularly.
4. The Cowboys have 16 unrestricted free agents and one of them is a former first-round pick, cornerback Mike Jenkins. It seems the Cowboys were never quite happy with Jenkins the entire offseason. He didn’t rehab his surgically repaired shoulder in Dallas, instead doing it in Florida. Jenkins didn’t attend the voluntary workouts, although he was there for the mandatory sessions. But as is always the case in the NFL, injuries dictate a lot of things. Jenkins saw playing time, especially when slot corner Orlando Scandrick went down with a hand injury. Jenkins even played some at safety and on special teams. It appears Jenkins may not return in 2013, leaving the Cowboys looking for a fourth corner in free agency or the draft. "Do I want to come back?" Jenkins asked. "I’ve grown attached, I’ve been here for five years, I’ve grown attached to everybody here. It’s hard to just get up and leave and not want to come back. At the same time ,you want to go somewhere and have a fair opportunity and I guess go on from there."
Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware missed practice Wednesday with shoulder and elbow injuries. He played in only 59 of 95 plays in Sunday’s game after leaving with a shoulder strain. He left with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter and returned for one play of overtime. He said Wednesday that he would play Sunday.
Five other players missed practice, which was moved indoors to Cowboys Stadium. Linebacker Brady Poppinga and nose tackle Robert Callaway had travel problems getting back to DFW after the two-day Christmas break. Defensive end Jason Hatcher (thigh) said he would play Sunday. Linebacker Victor Butler (groin) also was out. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who had sports hernia surgery two weeks ago, will be out again this week.
Linebacker Alex Albright (knee) was limited.
Receiver Dez Bryant (finger), running back DeMarco Murray (foot), running back Felix Jones (knee) and linebacker Ernie Sims (concussion) were full participants.
RELATED: Jason Hatcher’s thigh will be fine come Sunday, he says
Defensive end Jason Hatcher said he missed practice only as a precaution. His thigh will be "100 percent by the time Sunday comes," Hatcher promises.
"It’s doing good," Hatcher said Wednesday. "I’m a veteran. I understand. I listen to my body. It was one of those days I felt like I should have just rested a little bit more. Tomorrow, I’ll do a little bit more.
"Am I worried about me playing Sunday? No."
Hatcher has had 68 tackles, 4 sacks and 21 quarterback pressures this season.
RELATED: DeMarcus Ware promises to play through pain
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware said he will not wear any type of harness on his strained shoulder nor will be take a pain-killing injection. But he will be in the lineup come Sunday.
"I feel a lot better right now," Ware said Wednesday. "I’m going regardless."
Ware, who already was playing with a hyperextended elbow, had to leave last week’s game with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter after "tweaking" the shoulder. He returned for a third-down play in overtime. Ware played 59 of 95 plays. He did not practice Wednesday.
"I’m going to tell you something, 75 percent of DeMarcus Ware is probably better than 90 percent of the guys who play the position at the end of the day," Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "I’ll take 75 percent vs. no DWare any day. Wherever he is right now, I’ll take it."
Ware has never missed a game in his NFL career and has failed to start only one of 127 games. He didn’t start a 2009 game against New Orleans because of a neck injury.
Ware has 11.5 sacks this season, but only 2.5 have come in the past seven games. He has been without a sack in three of his past five games.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys made some last-minute roster moves before heading to Philadelphia on Saturday.
With cornerback Mike Jenkins hurting with a back injury, the Cowboys called up Vincent Agnew from the practice squad. Agnew (5-10, 196) will travel to Philly and likely play Sunday against the Eagles, depending on Jenkins’ status, which was questionable on Friday’s injury report.
To make room on the roster, the Cowboys have waived newly-signed linebacker Gary Guyton, who joined the team Wednesday and practiced all week. The Cowboys were hoping Guyton’s experience – four years with the Patriots – and his background in the 3-4 defense would make him a valuable addition to a linebacker corps that has been decimated by injuries.
While Guyton’s release might suggest the Cowboys are confident Dan Connor (stinger) will be able to pay, he’s actually listed on the injury report as doubtful.
The Cowboys will likely start Bruce Carter and Ernie Sims at inside linebacker with Alex Albright, who is listed as an outside backer and former defensive end in college, will be the main backup inside.
As for Jenkins, he suffered the back injury on Wednesday and underwent an MRI after having spasms earlier in the day. Jenkins was on the practice field Friday but didn’t participate much.
Agnew spent training camp with the Dolphins before being released and signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad on Oct. 16.
Jason Garrett speaks to the media LIVE from Valley Ranch as his team begins their preparations for the Giants. See what he has to say about the injury to Sean Lee and how it could affect the team going forward.
IRVING, Texas – Veteran linebacker Ernie Sims will visit with the Cowboys on Wednesday with the anticipation of signing with Sean Lee to miss the rest of the season with a severe case of turf toe.
UPDATE (10:05 a.m.): The Cowboys are signing Sims and moving Lee to IR.
Sims, 27, played in 13 games last year for Indianapolis with four starts and was credited with 32 tackles. In 2010 he started 15 games for Philadelphia and had 55 tackles and two sacks. He spent his first four seasons with Detroit.
Lee will have season-ending surgery on his right big toe after suffering the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s win at Carolina. Lee had a second MRI on Tuesday which revealed the ligament damage.
Lee leads the Cowboys in tackles with 77 in the first six games, according to the coaches’ film. He has two tackles for loss, eight quarterback pressures, one interception, two pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Dan Connor will replace Lee in the starting lineup, and Bruce Carter will take over as the defensive signal caller.
The Cowboys feel the need for a more experienced linebacker with Orie Lemon as the only true backup inside linebacker on the 53-man roster. Outside linebacker Alex Albright has worked in practice and preseason games at inside linebacker.
The Dallas Cowboys are bracing for rotten news on inside linebacker Sean Lee, who could need season-ending surgery on his right big toe. Lee injured the toe in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory over the Panthers in Carolina and said after the game that he expected to be fine. But he had an MRI on Monday, and it sounds as though the results were quite discouraging.
There are plenty of people on the Cowboys’ roster who can play linebacker:
Dan Connor would replace Lee in the starting lineup, and he earned praise from coach Jason Garrett for his work against the Panthers, which included a third-down stop of Cam Newton and a pass deflection, after taking over for Lee. Second-year linebacker Bruce Carter would become the defensive signal caller. The Cowboys have Orie Lemon and Alex Albright as backup inside linebackers on the 53-man roster but could look to add another inside linebacker.
However, in spite of the depth the Cowboys have at the position, Lee is not a replaceable player for them. Not only is he their defensive captain and one of their most important leaders, he has played consistently better this year than has any other player on their defense, including superstar outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and either of their two new and very talented cornerbacks. Lee’s instincts and playmaking ability cannot be replicated by players like Carter or Connor, no matter how capable they are.
When you’ve watched the Cowboys’ defense this year, you’ve generally been impressed. And I believe they’ll continue to cover receivers well with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, continue to rush the passer well with Ware and Jason Hatcher and continue to defend the run capably with the help of Anthony Spencer. They have more good players on defense at this point than they do on offense, and I think they will still play fairly good defense the rest of the way.
But Lee has been playing at a transcendent, superstar-type level — one of the absolute best defensive playmakers at any position on any team in the league this year. The closest comparison of which I keep thinking is the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu in his prime — the way he was always able to be around the ball, whether it was due to speed, instincts, pre-snap positioning or a combination of everything. That’s what Lee was delivering this year — a player who at times made it look as though the Cowboys were playing with an extra man on defense. They simply don’t have anyone else on the roster who can play football the way Lee has been playing it. Few teams, if any, do.
Courtesy: Dan Graziano | ESPN Dallas
RELATED: Free Agent signee Dan Connor will replace starting LB Sean Lee
IRVING — Now that we know the Cowboys could be without starting inside linebacker Sean Lee the rest of the season, the team’s free agent signing of Dan Connor this off-season looks more important than ever. Lee and Connor are both Penn State products.
First off, Lee isn’t replaceable. He’s perhaps the Cowboys’ best defensive player. He leads the team with 77 tackles. He’s a defensive captain, a team leader and he relays the play-calls on the field.
An MRI on Monday revealed ligament damage in his toe and he could be facing season-ending surgery. The Cowboys are still trying to decide whether they’ll go ahead and have Lee undergo the surgery that would end his season. Lee was on crutches Monday at Valley Ranch. When he left the locker room Sunday at Carolina, Lee was wearing tennis shoes with his suit instead of dress shoes and had a slight limp.
Connor replaced Lee in the third quarter Sunday against his former team, Carolina, and finished the game. Connor has struggled early in the season in his limited playing time, but he was solid Sunday against the Panthers.
Connor said Monday that he knows he has to be ready for more playing time. He’ll start Sunday against the Giants alongside Bruce Carter. Connor said “that’s how the NFL goes” when he was asked about getting more playing time because of another player’s injury.
“It’s a long season. It’s a grind and guys get nicked up,” Connor said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team where everyone is able to stay healthy every play the whole year. So, it’s all about being ready and waiting on your opportunity pretty much and helping the team however you can, getting your role and taking advantage of your role but always being prepared to go in there and play.”
Connor said playing at inside linebacker isn’t old hat for him.
“I’ve mostly been the middle [linebacker[ wherever I’ve been, so it’s a little adjustment,” Connor said.
Remember this about Lee and the possibility of season-ending surgery before going to bed tonight.
Last year, Lee was facing season-ending surgery on his dislocated left wrist. Lee, however, ended up missing only one game and he played the remainder of the season with a cast. If there’s any chance Lee can play through the injury at some point, he’ll certainly want to give it a shot.
But the Cowboys also have to be smart and safe with Lee’s health. He’s still a young player and will be the centerpiece for the Cowboys’ defense for years to come.
Here are the historical notes compiled after todays game with the Baltimore Ravens:
The Dallas Cowboys amassed 481 yards of total offense, the most since gaining 511 against Tennessee (10/10/10).
Among Dallas’ 481 yards of total offense were 227 rushing yards, the most since racking up 294 against St. Louis (10/23/11).
Dallas’ 227 rushing yards were the most ever given up by the Baltimore Ravens.
The Cowboys had 42 rushing attempts today, the most since running 46 times at Indianapolis (12/15/10).
Dallas ran 79 plays today to tie the most plays in a single game in franchise history. The first time the Cowboys ran that many plays was at Green Bay (11/12/78).
The Cowboys had 30 first downs in the game to tie the second-most in a game in team history. The club record is 32, accomplished against Minnesota (11/26/98). The last time Dallas had 30 first downs was at Cleveland (9/7/08).
Alex Albright made the first of his career, starting in place of Anthony Spencer (chest).
Dez Bryant caught a career-high 13 passes for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns today.
Bryant’s two touchdown receptions today were his first of the season and gave him 17 for his career. He passed Golden Richards and tied Dan Reeves, Bill Howton and Mike Renfro for 17th on the team’s all-time touchdown receptions list.
Lance Dunbar made his NFL debut and had his first career carry for an 11-yard run.
Felix Jones’ 22-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter today was his first rushing touchdown since taking one in during the 2011 season opener at the N.Y. Jets (9/11). It was his longest rushing touchdown since he had a 73-yarder in the Divisional Playoff Game against Philadelphia (1/9/10) and his longest of the regular season since a 49-yarder against Philadelphia (1/3/10) one week earlier.
DeMarco Murray rushed 14 times today to give him 237 career rushing attempts. He passed Daryl Johnston (232) for 25th in Dallas record books.
Murray rushed for 93 yards today to up his career rushing yards total to 1,227. He passed Tashard Choice (1,139), Sherman Williams (1,162), Preston Pearson (1,207), Don Meredith (1,216) and Timmy Newsome (1,220) for 18th in franchise history.
Among Murray’s 93 rushing yards today were 72 in the first quarter (on eight carries) for the seventh-most first quarter rushing yards in franchise history.
Tony Romo’s two touchdown tosses today gave him 156 career touchdown throws. He passed Danny White for second place on the Dallas Cowboys all-time touchdown pass list.
Romo’s two touchdown passes today gave him 50 career multiple-touchdown games to improve his club-high of multi-touchdown games and allow him to place fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Cowboys Career Multi-TD Games
NFL Multi-TD Games (since 2006)
*The above totals do not include this afternoon’s games
IRVING — Multiple Cowboys players who had been sidelined with injuries were seen in uniform at practice today at Valley Ranch.
Nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who had been out since suffering a left high-ankle sprain Aug. 25, was stretching along with center Phil Costa, who hasn’t played since hurting his back on the first offensive series of the Cowboys’ victory over the New York Giants on Sept. 5. Also back was rookie safety Matt Johnson (hamstring/back), linebacker Alex Albright (neck) and Kenyon Coleman, who missed the previous two games with a right knee injury.
It’s uncertain how much activity all four players will be involved in Wednesday because an official practice report won’t be released by the club.
Among the players who were not present or weren’t in uniform were linebacker Anthony Spencer (strained pectoral muscle), center Ryan Cook (strained left hamstring), punter Chris Jones (left knee) and tight end John Phillips.
Dallas Cowboys’ outside linebacker Anthony Spencer is not expected to play Monday night against the Bears with a shoulder injury that has forced him to miss all week of practice.
Spencer remains on the injury report as “questionable” to play but sources inside Valley Ranch suggest the sixth-year pro will not be able to face Chicago this week.
That means Victor Butler will likely get the start. And while he’s been a steady pass-rusher at times, the Cowboys have always wondered just how effective he would be as a full-time player having to stop the run.
Look for the Bears to test him early and often, especially if Matt Forte plays. Chicago head coach Lovie Smith called Forte a game-time decision to play, after missing last week with a high-ankle sprain. Michael Bush is a big, physical runner and will get some carries, whether or not Forte plays.
Spencer is off to a good start this year, with two sacks, and a team-high nine quarterback pressures. Spencer is second on the defense with 29 tackles.
In a limited role, Butler has two tackles this year and one quarterback pressure.
If Spencer is indeed out, the Cowboys will be very thin at outside linebacker, especially if Alex Albright misses another game with a stinger injury. Albright is also questionable to play and was limited all week in practice. Rookie linebacker Kyle Wilber will likely get a few more reps this week as well.
The Dallas Cowboys listed five players as out for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, but they stopped short of that with punter Chris Jones, listing him as doubtful.
That still means the punter, who has a strained knee after being hit last week against Tampa, has a 25 percent or less chance of playing. But the Cowboys apparently are keeping open the possibility for him for now.
Linebacker Anthony Spencer, who led the team in tackles last week, is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Listed as out were defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee), center Phil Costa (back), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) and linebacker Alex Albright (neck).
Fullback Lawrence Vickers, who missed practice Friday, was back with full participation Saturday and is listed as probable.
Others listed probable are Miles Austin (hamstring), Sean Lissemore (chest), Gerald Sensabaugh (calf), Marcus Spears (knee), DeMarcus Ware (hamstring) and Kyle Wilber (thumb).
|Jones, Chris||P||Left Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||doubtful|
IRVING, Texas – In an attempt to bolster the special teams units for Sunday’s game with the Bucs, the Dallas Cowboys have signed first-year linebacker Orie Lemon from the practice squad.
Lemon will be active Sunday against Tampa Bay, making his NFL debut as he is expected to play on most special teams units. Lemon, who spent all of last year on the practice squad, led the Cowboys with three special teams tackles during the preseason. He also had an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale against Miami.
Lemon will likely assume a lot of the special teams duties held by Alex Albright, who is out this week with a stinger injury.
To make room for Lemon, the Cowboys waived cornerback/safety Mario Butler, who like Lemon, was also on the practice squad in 2011. Butler was on the 53-man roster for the first two games this year, and active in the season opener against the Giants.
He was expected to play some this week with Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) doubtful for the Bucs game and Barry Church (quad) also banged up. But it appears the Cowboys will go an alternate route for some backup safety help. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have all received some work at safety this week in a nickel package and could provide some depth if needed.
Butler is still practice-squad eligible and it’s likely the Cowboys will try to bring him back on the eight-man squad.
Like Lemon, another linebacker expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday is fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber, who has been inactive the first two weeks. Wilber had a broken thumb that required surgery and now a soft cast.
Five Dallas Cowboys players, including three starters, have been ruled out of Sunday’s game because of injuries: nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee), center Phil Costa (back), linebacker Alex Albright (neck) and safety Matt Johnson (hamstring). Ratliff, Coleman and Costa are starters.
A fourth starter, safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf), is doubtful and did not participate in Friday’s workout. Defensive tackle Marcus Spears took part in limited drills and is questionable.
Players listed as probable included receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), safety Barry Church (quad), receiver Andre Holmes (knee), cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder), linebacker Sean Lee (hip), linebacker DeMarcus Ware (hamstring), linebacker Kyle Wilber (thumb) and tight end Jason Witten (spleen). Lee was limited in Friday’s drills. The rest participated fully.
DID YOU KNOW? The Boys Are Back blog provides Dallas Cowboys AND opponent injury updates from the team practices and those officially reported to the NFL. See the Injury Updates page at the top of every page or look on the right side of any post.
SEATTLE – There was a moment in the second half of Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Seahawks where it started to look like the first week of training camp in Oxnard.
That’s the point of camp where injuries were mounting to an extreme and it seemed like the Cowboys couldn’t take two steps without suffering another injury.
Obviously, this was much worse, considering the Cowboys weren’t just playing a real game, but getting manhandled by a more aggressive Seattle squad that was dishing out a few big hits.
But the injuries were occurring in a variety of ways, especially to the defensive side of the ball. Safety Barry Church went out of the game in the first quarter with a quad injury. Gerald Sensabaugh joined him on the sidelines in the second half with a calf strain.
Both players said after the game they would be fine and should play next week against Tampa.
Alex Albright suffered a stinger injury and was in street clothes before the end of the game. Sean Lee missed a few plays after taking a nasty hit but returned on the same drive.
And in the middle of the third quarter, Miles Austin had to go to the locker room to treat dehydration.
The Cowboys typically don’t provide a lot of injury information after the game, but it appears none of the setbacks are deemed serious. Head coach Jason Garrett will likely address the injury situation in his Monday afternoon press conference.
Sunday’s game was the first live action of the season for cornerback Mike Jenkins following a nine month recovery from reconstructive shoulder surgery. Jenkins had missed all of training camp and only on Wednesday did he don shoulder pads for the first time since New Year’s Day.
Jenkins’ role on the defense had been a hot topic in the week leading up to the game and over the offseason, when he had reportedly asked for a trade following the additions of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, which knocked him out of a starting job. As it turned out, he was the Cowboys’ fourth cornerback against the Seahawks, playing on sparingly in passing down sub-packages.
Orlando Scandrick remained the slot corner in the nickel defense. Jenkins played some special teams, but was on the field less than 10 snaps on defense, mostly working deep in prevent coverage or matched up against tight ends.
SEATTLE — The Dallas Cowboys want to be taken seriously in the NFL. They don’t want to be known as a team with all the hype that doesn’t have substance.
The Cowboys didn’t respond well Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. After a 27-7 defeat at Century Link Field, one thing is clear: The Cowboys are not ready for the big stage.
There were five drops, two turnovers and two costly penalties that hurt the Cowboys. It wasn’t a terrible performance, but the Cowboys came up small after such a statement victory 11 days ago over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
What it means: The Cowboys failed to take any momentum with them following the season-opening victory against the Giants. It was an opportunity for the Cowboys to maintain a one-game lead over the Giants and remain tied with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Now just two weeks into the season, the Cowboys raised questions about their ability to become an elite team.
Defense doesn’t respond: Yes, it was hard to stop the Seattle running game, but this was bad. The Cowboys failed to pressure rookie quarterback Russell Wilson on a consistent basis and didn’t stop the run overall. Marshawn Lynch rushed 26 times for 122 yards and one touchdown. Wilson completed 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Golden Tate laid a hit on Sean Lee, knocking him briefly from the game, and DeMarcus Ware was also hit hard on a run play. There was no response from the defense, but it’s not totally to blame for this one. It did allow just six first-half points, but it’s a 60 minute game. Despite losing several players to injuries, the D didn’t play well in the second half.
Offense struggles: It’s not Tony Romo’s fault that tight end Jason Witten dropped three passes or Dez Bryant did two, but overall the run game didn’t get going. DeMarco Murray rushed for just 44 yards. The protection was there at times for Romo, but he just couldn’t get to his prime receiving threats in Miles Austin, Bryant and Witten. Romo did overthrow a wide-open Bryant and had miscommunication with other receivers. He had a loud discussion with receiver Kevin Ogletree after one series in which receivers coach Jimmy Robinson stepped in.
Time to move on from Felix: We’re not saying cut the backup running back, but Felix Jones’ fumble on the opening kickoff and his questionable decisions on kick returns, leaving 5 and 8 yards deep, didn’t look good. The Cowboys have to find a playmaker on this unit. Jones returned five kicks for a 21.8 average and didn’t make an impact.
Injuries: Gerald Sensabaugh (calf), Alex Albright (stinger), Kenyon Coleman (unknown), Barry Church (quad), Lee (checked for concussion) and Marcus Spears (leg) suffered injuries. Lee and Spears returned.
What’s next?: The Cowboys will have their home opener next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium against Tampa Bay. The health of several key players will have to be evaluated.
One of the most intriguing developmental prospects of the Cowboys’ training camp has moved on to a new team after being cut on Friday.
Linebacker Adrian Hamilton, who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View A&M in 2011, joined the Baltimore practice squad on Saturday, according to Ravens insider Aaron Wilson. The Cowboys did not attempt to sign Hamilton to their own eight-man practice roster, instead keeping only one linebacker, Orie Lemon. He had been on the Cowboys practice squad throughout 2011.
Hamilton had one sack for the Cowboys this preseason, also forcing a fumble against St. Louis.
He came up short in a battle for a 53-man roster spot. The Cowboys kept five outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber and second-year pro Alex Albright, who can also play inside.
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys are being stricter about who they consider drafting.
In turn, they’re being stricter about who they consider signing after the draft.
The result of the approach, born under former coach Bill Parcells, appears to mean a higher quality of undrafted free agent is going to training camp with the team lately, and so more are making the squad.
Former SMU receiver Cole Beasley made the Cowboys’ 53-man roster this week as an undrafted rookie, joining four such players who made it in 2011 and four in 2010. In the three years before that, Kevin Ogletree was the only undrafted rookie to make the team.
"We used to put 250 players on the board, however many get drafted. Now we put about 100, 120 players on our board, and they’re just the players we want," pro personnel director Stephen Jones said in training camp at Oxnard, Calif., last month.
"We don’t think about, ‘That guy is going to get drafted,’ so we put him on our board. If he doesn’t fit what we want, even though he may get drafted in the first or second round, we don’t put him up there. It keeps us focused not only all the way through the draft, but also through college free agency."
Last year, the leading scorer on the team came out of the leftover draft pool. Kicker Dan Bailey had the second-highest field goal percentage by a rookie in team history, making 32 of 37 kicks, and set an NFL record for consecutive kicks made by a rookie (26).
Guard Kevin Kowalski played in 11 games, linebacker Alex Albright played in all 16 and running back Phillip Tanner played in eight and scored a touchdown.
The undrafted class of 2010 has yielded a starting safety, Barry Church, and the starting center, Phil Costa.
"I just think if you have an attitude that it doesn’t matter where players come from, it matters what they do once they come here, I think you’re more susceptible, or more able, to find some of those guys, and that’s been our approach," coach Jason Garrett said.
Jones said the approach is a holdover from Parcells’ days as head coach (2003 to 2006). He drafted to a template and paid no mind to players who didn’t fit it.
"He may not fit from a scheme standpoint or from a cultural standpoint or a character standpoint, and those guys, we don’t want them on our football team," Jones said. "So let’s focus on guys that we do like. I think that’s the biggest change is the philosophy there — let’s go after Dallas Cowboys."
The Cowboys’ biggest hits with undrafted players came while Parcells was head coach.
Under his watch, the team found Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo and Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin. Nine other undrafted players made the initial 53 in Parcells’ four seasons.
"We’ve evolved from a personnel department, I think, when you look back at the way we used to do it versus the way we do it now," Jones said. "We’ve got better scouts, better people. We’ve got better philosophies.
"And pretty much every time we sign those 15 to 20 guys, we sign them from our draft board. I think that’s why we’ve had some really good success with players who weren’t drafted."
IRVING, Texas — Go ahead and put most of these names in ink.
There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs entering Wednesday’s preseason finale, but the vast majority of the decisions will have already been made. The toughest calls come at the last spots for receiver, offensive line, defensive end and how to handle Matt Johnson’s situation (great potential, but can’t count on him this season).
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
If Stephen McGee wants to stick around for a fourth season, he needs to give the front office and coaches good reason to keep him with a strong performance in the preseason finale. At this point, it makes more sense to try to put Rudy Carpenter on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Phillip Tanner
Tanner didn’t help his cause with a blown assignment in pass protection that almost got Orton killed against the Rams, but he’s a solid No. 3 back and core special teams player. North Texas alums Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale are good practice squad candidates.
Lawrence Vickers Shaun Chapas
Chapas, a fixture on first-team special teams units Saturday, is likely to last only one week on the roster. An extra fullback can help mask the lack of depth at tight end in case Jason Witten misses the season opener.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
The Cowboys could opt to go with rookie Andrew Szczerba as temporary insurance instead of Chapas.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree Dwayne Harris Cole Beasley Danny Coale
It comes down to Coale vs. Andre Holmes, the Jerry Jones pet cat who reported to camp in poor shape and has shown no consistency. Holmes has more upside. Coale, who has hardly been on the field due to injuries, is more likely to contribute this season. The Cowboys envisioned Coale as a Sam Hurd-type No. 4 receiver/special teams stud (without the felonious side business, of course) when they invested a fifth-round pick in him.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Nate Livings Mackenzy Bernadeau Phil Costa
David Arkin Jermey Parnell Ronald Leary Pat McQuistan
Is being a third guard good enough reason to keep Derrick Dockery? He probably wouldn’t be active on game days due to his lack of position versatility. McQuistan has experience at tackle, guard, blocking tight end and has even worked some at center. Addressing the lack of depth at center would be a wise move after Week 1.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff Jason Hatcher Kenyon Coleman Sean Lissemore Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford Josh Brent
Clifton Geathers (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) looks the part, but he hasn’t done enough to push Coleman or Spears off the roster. The Cowboys can save a little money by cutting (or perhaps trading) one of the veterans, but keeping both gives them quality depth in the defensive end rotation.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor Orie Lemon
Lemon is a guy you notice a lot in practices and preseason games. He has developmental potential and can contribute now on special teams.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright
Can the Cowboys get pass rusher Adrian Hamilton through waivers onto the practice squad? It appears that they will try. He’s not getting reps with the first-team special teams units, a strong sign that they don’t see him as a fit for the 53-man roster this season.
Brandon Carr Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick Mike Jenkins Mario Butler
Jerry Jones has said there is a roster spot for Jenkins, meaning the Cowboys don’t plan for him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the season opener.
Gerald Sensabaugh Barry Church Danny McCray Mana Silva
What to do with fourth-round pick Matt Johnson? He has hardly practiced because of a hamstring injury and he strained the other hamstring in his preseason debut Saturday night. The Cowboys could try to get him through waivers to the practice squad or put him on injured reserve, essentially making this a redshirt season. With such limited practice time, putting him on the 53 would be a waste of a roster spot.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones L.P. Ladouceur
No drama here after rookie deep snapper Charley Hughlett’s release Monday. The Cowboys were willing to pay more for the proven commodity.
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense opened Monday’s game in a package that included three inside linebackers on the field at the same time (Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Connor). It remains unclear how much the package will be used throughout the season, but Lee said it is one of many fresh wrinkles that fans can expect in the team’s second season under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
“We’ve used it some in camp,” Lee said of the three ILB approach. “And we have a lot of things waiting. As we use more and more packages, I think we’ll get better with them.”
The alignment offers more opportunities to get Carter, an athletic second-year pro, on the field. Carter made only one tackle in a scrimmage situation during a 2011 season in which he primarily rehabilitated from a knee injury suffered in college.
“It felt good to get out there and move around a little bit,” said Carter, who made the Cowboys’ first tackle of the game. “Just to get the feel for it. I’ve been out a while.”
Alex Albright, a second-year pro who has been training at both inside and outside linebacker, led the Cowboys with tackles (9) while lining up at both positions. Albright said he “felt a lot more comfortable (at ILB)” against the Raiders than at any time last season while he was learning the position.
But he’s still not ready to pull double-duty in a game at tight end, the position where he practiced one day last week in Oxnard.
“Not yet. Their play calls sound like Spanish,” Albright said. “I’m still trying to learn that.”
The Cowboys pitched their third preseason shutout in franchise history with Monday’s 3-0 win against Oakland.
The last preseason shutout was Aug. 26, 1995, at the Alamodome when the Cowboys beat Houston, 10-0. The first preseason shutout came Sept. 8, 1977, when the Cowboys beat Pittsburgh, 30-0.
The 3-0 game was also the Cowboys’ lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The previous low was their 5-0 victory in the divisional round of the 1970 playoffs against Detroit.
“Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment,” inside linebacker Sean Lee said. “If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”
It also can do nothing but help the confidence of a unit that was beaten down over the final month of last season when a playoff spot slipped out of its hands.
The defenders talk about how coordinator Rob Ryan simplified the scheme and how an offseason of work helped familiarize them more with Ryan’s scheme.
“It’s big for morale,” linebacker Alex Albright said, “That’s what we strive to do. Even if it’s the preseason, it’s still something that’s tough. It’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of the defense.”
The regular season starts for the Dallas Cowboys in just a few weeks. Here’s our first of weekly projections on how the 53-man roster will shake out.
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
Comment: Teams that keep three like the third to be a young quarterback that can one day develop into a starter. Does Stephen McGee still fit that profile? Cowboys could save a roster spot here and try to slip Rudy Carpenter by on the practice squad for protection.
Running backs (5)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner Lance Dunbar Lawrence Vickers
Comment: The Cowboys like Dunbar, but he picked a bad time to get injured. He needs to get on the field soon to earn a spot.
Wide receiver (5)
Dez Bryant Miles Austin
Andre Holmes Danny Coale Cole Beasley
Comment: Even though Kevin Ogletree is starting now that Austin is injured, it’s not a lock he makes the team. If the team adds a veteran here as the season nears, a distinct possibility, he could lose his spot to a younger player with more upside. If the Cowboys decide to keep six here it will likely be at the expense of a running back.
Tight end (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
Comment: No intrigue here.
Offensive line (10)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Phil Costa Mackenzy Bernadeau Nate Livings
Ronald Leary David Arkin Jeremy Parnell Pat McQuistan Derrick Dockery
Comment: There remains a lot to sort through here but injuries to Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski have thinned the field.
Defensive line (7)
Jay Ratliff Kenyon Coleman Jason Hatcher Tyrone Crawford Sean Lissemore
Josh Brent Clifton Geathers
Comment: One veteran is likely to go as the Cowboys try to get younger in the line. Marcus Spears is odd lineman out at this stage but it could be Coleman.
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright Orie Lemon
Comment: Who excels on special teams will have an edge on the final couple of spots.
Morris Claiborne Brandon Carr Mike Jenkins Orlando Scandrick
Mario Butler Barry Church Gerald Sensabaugh Matt Johnson Danny McCray
Comment: Mana Silva is still in the running for a spot. He makes plays.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones LP Ladouceur
Comment: Jones is no Mat McBriar as a punter, but he’s the best the team has in camp. It wouldn’t hurt to watch the waiver wire here.
Courtesy: David Moore
Editors Note: RED indicates an injury concern going into the season.