Tag Archives: Andre Holmes

A FUTURE IN QUESTION: Quite a fall for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver prospect Andre Holmes

Dallas Cowboys WR Andre Holmes goes after an onside kick by Dan Bailey. The Cowboys recovered - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Among the two groups of futures signings the Cowboys have announced since the season ended one name is missing: wide receiver Andre Holmes.

Last year Holmes was anointed by owner and general manager Jerry Jones as a possible candidate for the No. 3 wide receiver job.

At 6-4, 223 pounds, Holmes had the build of a top-end wide receiver although he came from Hillsdale College. The Cowboys were hoping Holmes would grow the way Miles Austin did from Monmouth, but it never happened.

He failed the conditioning test in training camp and while he had a couple of moments in Oxnard, Calif., he never took advantage of the opportunity they way Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley did.

The Cowboys kept him in the active roster through Thanksgiving but he dressed for only seven games and caught two passes for 11 yards. He was inactive four times before he was cut and re-signed to the practice squad.

Since the season ended the Cowboys have signed receivers Anthony Armstrong, Jared Green, Carlton Mitchell, Tim Benford and Danny Coale. Holmes has not put pen to paper to return in 2013 and it doesn’t look like he will be back.

It’s quite a fall from 13 months ago.

COWBOYS 2013-2014 ROSTER TALK: The wide receiver spot has plenty of question marks

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs in a touchdown as teammate John Phillips (89) looks on - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – The wide receiver position had plenty of question marks at the beginning of the year. After 16 regular season games, the group became a MASH unit. Had the Cowboys won in Washington Sunday night, it would’ve been very interesting to see how they would’ve played the game against Seattle this week.

Dez Bryant could barely walk on his own power for two days with a back injury. While the X-rays were negative showing no structural damage, it’s hard to think Bryant would’ve been able to be close to 100 percent, if he’d even play at all.

Miles Austin and Dwayne Harris both suffered high-ankle sprains. Austin couldn’t return in the game and Harris’ injury occurred late and he didn’t come back either. It’s unlikely they would’ve played. And Cole Beasley suffered a shoulder injury that would’ve probably had him limited, if not out.

It’s kind of ironic the player who has taking the most ‘beatings’ from fans and media this year, is the only receiver still standing at the end of the year. Kevin Ogletree started the season with two touchdown catches against the Giants and had another one in the finale against Washington.

Now in between, Ogletree’s production was hit or miss, and mainly miss. He ranked fourth on the team in both catches (32) and receiving yards (436) and third in touchdowns with four.

As an unrestricted free agent once again, Ogletree might not return in 2013. But then again, it could come down to the same thing as last year when the Cowboys didn’t have a lot of players with experience and Ogletree’s presence in the offseason was needed. And then in training camp, the group of Andre Holmes, Harris, Beasley, Danny Coale and anyone else, never did enough to unseat him.

But this time, with Harris and Beasley showing some promise, coupled with Coale’s return, Ogletree might not get re-signed at the start of free agency.

But let’s shift the focus back to the top.

Dez Bryant’s consistency has been in question since he arrived in 2010. And in the second half of the season, Bryant was arguably the team’s most consistent player. He caught a touchdown in seven straight games, which tied a franchise record, but was dominating in the second half of games. He finally reached the potential the Cowboys saw in him to draft him despite some of the off-season risks.

But injuries have been a concern for him all along. Toughness shouldn’t be questioned, considering he played through a fractured left index finger towards the end of the season, and still continued his touchdown streak, including a career game of 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.

Where the Cowboys might have some decisions to make involves Austin, who should be healthy for the start of the offseason conditioning program despite the ankle injury. Overall, it was a quiet 66-catch, 943-yard season that included six touchdowns. His numbers were solid, considering he ranked third in catches and yards, but the “wow-factor” wasn’t always there.

And with a contract that averages $9 million per season, Austin needed more of the big plays, especially in big games. Austin had a catch in every game this season except the two Redskins games, where he suffered a hip injury and then ankle injury last week.

The Cowboys might look to restructure Austin’s deal, but outright releasing him, or even trading him, would take a hit on the salary cap – one they can’t really afford considering they may attempt to re-sign Anthony Spencer and/or Tony Romo this offseason.

Editors note: The Dallas Cowboys will bring in Anthony Armstrong (if still available), Donavon Kemp (IR), and Tim Benford (Practice squad), drafted receivers, and any number of free agents in the offseason. Based on the performance of Harris (and Beasley to a lesser degree) late in the season, it seems unlikely that Ogletree will be back in 2013-2014. Bringing in another veteran is not out of the question. Anybody you like in San Diego? That worked nicely in 2011.

DALLAS COWBOYS ROSTER UPDATE: Andre Holmes released; Free Agent WR likely to Sign

Dallas Cowboys WR Andre Holmes goes after an onside kick by Dan Bailey. The Cowboys recovered - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Wide receiver Andre Holmes was released Saturday, just two days after snagging his second career NFL catch.

Most of Holmes’ work occurred on special teams, and with wide receiver Kevin Ogletree missing Thanksgiving Day with a concussion, the Cowboys may have felt Holmes roster spot could be better utilized with a more established player.

Anthony Armstrong #17 of the Dallas Desperados is tackled by Levy Brown of the New York Dragons - The Boys Are Back blog

Free agent wide receiver Anthony Armstrong worked out with the team this week and is the likely replacement, unless the Cowboys choose to bring in a player who can help at another shorthanded position. He would provide the Cowboys with more speed and NFL experience on the outside.

Armstrong played Arena League Football for the Dallas Desperados before signing with the Redskins’ practice squad in 2009. He emerged as a deep threat, snagging a combined 51 passes for 974 yards in Washington in 2010 and 2011 before bouncing between Miami and Jacksonville this year. 

Who replaces Holmes on the roster is uncertain. The Cowboys most likely will lose inside linebacker Bruce Carter for the season when he undergoes elbow surgery next week, and cornerback Orlando Scandrick had surgery Friday to repair a broken hand. Scandrick’s long-term status hasn’t been determined.

Holmes challenged to be a possible third receiver candidate in the offseason. He towered over the other receiving options with his 6-foot-4 frame, but he only caught two passes for 11 yards this year. Holmes was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft and waived before the preseason, allowing the Cowboys to sign him to their practice squad last year.

Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris played more prominent roles in the passing game this year. While Holmes caught one pass for four yards against the Redskins, Beasley finished with seven catches for 68 yards and Harris had four receptions for 71 yards.

GAMEDAY ROSTER: Deciding which 46 players the Dallas Cowboys will use vs. Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley (14) makes a catch during Dallas Cowboys training camp - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Maybe there will come a time this season in which Jason Garrett will be able to roll out the same 46-man roster in back to back weeks.

But it won’t happen this week as we ponder the 46-man roster for Sunday’s game at Carolina.

Chris Jones was on the practice field Friday but did not punt during the portion of practice open to the media. Brian Moorman punted Thursday and was extremely effective in his practice work. So let’s say Moorman fills in this week for Jones.

You can rule out DeMarco Murray (foot) and Sean Lissemore (ankle) and all but rule out Ryan Cook (hamstring), as inactive players.

Where do the final two come from?

Well, if Matt Johnson suffered an injury in Friday’s practice that forced him to leave the session early, he would be another.

The other candidates to dress would be Kyle Wilber, Orie Lemon, Derrick Dockery, Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley.

With Cook out, I can’t imagine Dockery is inactive as the Cowboys are going to great lengths to make sure David Arkin is needed only in an emergency. Mark it down that the Cowboys keep eight offensive linemen active vs. the Panthers.

The Beasley-Holmes debate comes down to special teams and since Beasley doesn’t cover kicks, Holmes gets the nod. Holmes, however, does not add much to the offense and Beasley seems to be giving guys fits in practice. But the Cowboys will go with five wides again and it looks like Beasley is down.

Lemon was inactive last week at Baltimore, but could he get the call over Wilber with Anthony Spencer set to return? The Cowboys would not need a fifth outside linebacker active and Lemon might be the better special teams player.

PEAKS AND VALLEYS: Dallas Cowboys lose heartbreaker but find hope, running game

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) is consoled by tight end Jason Witten (82) after missing a 51 yard field goal that would have won the game - The Boys Are Back blog

BALTIMORE — When Dan Bailey lined up the potential game-winning kick at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t even bother to look.

He had watched his team overcome 13 penalties for 82 yards, including four penalties for 40 yards on an 18-play, 80-yard touchdown drive just minutes earlier to get them within two points.

A 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to receiver Dez Bryant with 32 seconds to go was followed by a drop by Bryant on the 2-point conversion.

Yet, Jones was undeterred in his faith.

He had watched the Cowboys survive the loss of running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end Sean Lissemore to injuries, and battle at times without cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins, Bryant and running back Felix Jones, who replaced Murray, because of injuries and dehydration. And yet they still battled back from an 11-point deficit.

He had watched them overcome a Romo interception for the sixth consecutive game and an NFL record-tying 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jacoby Jones.

He watched Andre Holmes recover an onside kick with 30 seconds left in the game to set up the Bailey try.

Dallas Cowboys WR Andre Holmes goes after an onside kick by Dan Bailey. The Cowboys recovered - The Boys Are Back blog

Jones didn’t look because he had no doubt that Bailey would make it, sending the Cowboys to a seemingly season-changing victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Never mind that it was from 51 yards out and in front of 71,384 fans who hadn’t witnessed a home defeat since 2010. And never mind that clock management issues with Romo and coach Jason Garrett prevented the Cowboys from running another play to possibly get a closer kick for Bailey.

Jones’ optimism proved futile when Bailey’s kick was wide left, giving the Ravens a 31-29 victory.

"We had the play with the kicker," Jones said. "We didn’t get it done. That’s putting more than maybe we should on him. But with the wind at our backs and him kicking, I had it counted. I had no doubt he would make it. I literally looked away because I thought he would make the kick."

It was Bailey’s first miss of the season. He was 8 for 8 before that try, including three earlier in the game from 42, 43 and 34 yards.

"It’s not a good feeling," said Bailey, who made four game-winning field goals for the Cowboys as a rookie last season. "Everybody worked their butts off, and it came down to a kick, and it didn’t go in. I don’t know what else to say but it hurts."

The pain of losing was felt throughout the locker room. It was their second consecutive loss as they fell to 2-3 and under .500 for the first time since last season.

The Cowboys left Baltimore (5-1) with something they didn’t have coming into the game: a sense of pride, a sense of self-respect and a feeling of optimism for the rest of the season.

They didn’t have any of that following the 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears before last week’s bye.

"I’m sick about losing this game," Jones said. "I feel good about this team. Even though we’re at 2-3, I feel good about the way we held up, stayed in there, fought. The way we did some things, executed, the way our offensive line played. There are some things I feel good about our future with, future being this year. I feel a lot more encouraged than I did after Chicago."

Dallas rushed for 227 yards, the most ever against the Ravens. Murray had 13 carries for 95 yards before going out. Felix Jones had 18 carries for 92 yards, including a 22 yard touchdown run.

Raven Jameel McClain tackles Dallas Cowboys RB Felix Jones - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys dominated time of possession as than ran 79 plays, which tied for the most in team history, set Nov. 12, 1978 at Green Bay, while holding the ball for more than 40 minutes.

Coach Jason Garrett understands that fixing the penalties remains a huge issue. Dallas, however, had 13 penalties for third time this season, including a number of drive-killing pre-snap penalties that forced the Cowboys to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns on each of Bailey’s first three attempts.

Those plays and the record kickoff return for the touchdown proved to be the difference in the game — despite clock mismanagement after the onside kick.

The Cowboys were unable to get another play to get a little closer for Bailey. The play began with 26 seconds to go and was down to 16 seconds when Bryant caught a pass at the Baltimore 34. The Cowboys had a timeout, but they didn’t get to the line fast enough so Garrett let it run down to attempt the final missed kick with six seconds left.

"We had guys who were trying to get off the pile and receivers needing to come back to the huddle," said Romo, who completed 225 of 36 passes for 261 yards in the game with one touchdown and one interception. "There just wasn’t enough time."

But the Cowboys do have time to save their season and they are encouraged by their ability to fight back on Sunday — as evidenced by their converting a third-and-27 play, thanks to a litany of penalties, before Bryant’s score. A 17-yard pass to Bryant was followed by a 16-yarder to tight end Jason Witten to get the conversion.

"I thought we fought really well through a lot of different adversities," Garrett said. "We battled. We continued to battle. Our team grew a lot in this game. At the end of the day, we have to finish the game. We have to win the game. We can learn from that. But I love how our team battle and believe we can grow from this game."

Bryant was the last player to walk out the postgame locker room and was defiant in saying he and the Cowboys will be better going forward.

"I feel this game has made us 10 times stronger than what we were. I know it’s something we can build off of," said Bryant, who caught a career-high 13 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the dropped two-pointer.

Dez Bryant catches a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens - The Boys Are Back blog

OFFENSIVE SNAPS: QB Kyle Orton, Beasley, Holmes, and Tanner impress late in the game

Dallas Cowboys offensive line vs Chicago Bears - Line of scrimmage - The Boys Are Back blog

A look at the snaps played by Cowboys’ offense in the team’s 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears, while analyzing what it means:

RT Doug Free: 70 of 70

RG Mackenzy Bernadeau: 70 of 70

LT Tyron Smith: 70 of 70

C Ryan Cook: 70 of 70

TE Jason Witten: 70 of 70

LG Nate Livings: 70 of 70

WR Dez Bryant: 68 of 70

QB Tony Romo: 59 of 70

WR Miles Austin: 49 of 70

WR Kevin Ogletree: 49 of 70

RB DeMarco Murray: 47 of 70

WR Cole Beasley: 13 of 70

FB Lawrence Vickers: 11 of 70

QB Kyle Orton: 11 of 70

RB Phillip Tanner: 11 of 70

TE John Phillips: 10 of 70

RB Felix Jones: 9 of 70

WR Andre Holmes: 8 of 70

WR Dwayne Harris: 6 of 70

You can tell the Chicago Bears blew out the Cowboys because Tony Romo missed 11 snaps and he wasn’t hurt. Down by three touchdowns and three two-point conversations in the fourth quarter, Jason Garrett gave backup Kyle Orton his first playing time. Orton, with Cole Beasley and and Andre Holmes receiving extensive playing time by their standards, led Dallas on a scoring drive. … Late in the fourth quarter, Phillip Tanner replaced DeMarco Murray. … Felix Jones played only nine snaps but showed some burst and quickness on his only carry, which could increase his playing time down the road.

MILESTONES: Achieved during Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game

Here are the notes compiled after tonight’s game:

Jason Witten (112 yards) and Dez Bryant (105) each topped 100 receiving yards to mark the first time the Cowboys had a pair of100-yard receivers in a game since Miles Austin (143) and Witten (102) did it at San Francisco (9/18/11).

Miles Austin’s 57 yards tonight gave him 3,594 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (3,565), Jay Novacek (3,576) and Terrell Owens (3,587) for eighth in club record books.

Austin’s touchdown catch gave him his 31st career scoring reception to tie Lance Rentzel for ninth in Cowboys history.

Cole Beasley had his first career reception tonight, finishing with two for 14 yards.

Josh Brent notched his first career sack tonight.

Dez Bryant’s eight receptions tonight gave him 129 for his career to pass Pettis Norman, Alvin Harper (124 each) and Eric Bjornson (127) and tie Dan Reeves for 33rd in franchise history.

Bryant totaled 105 receiving yards tonight to give him 1,758 yards for his career to pass Pettis Norman (1,672) and Dan Reeves (1,693) for 31st in club history.

Bryant’s 105-yard performance was his second career 100-yard game and a career-high. His first was at the N.Y. Giants (11/14/10) when he finished with 104 yards.

Victor Butler recovered his second career fumble following the force by DeMarcus Ware’s sack.

Andre Holmes had caught his first career pass tonight for seven yards.

Danny McCray made the first start of his career, filling in at safety after Barry Church was placed on Reserve/Injured (Achilles) last week.

Brian Moorman made his Cowboys debut, punting in place of Chris Jones (knee). Moorman punted three times for a 37.0 average, a 34.3 net and two downed inside the Bears 20.

DeMarco Murray rushed 11 times tonight to give him 237 career rushing attempts. He passed Chris Warren (217) and Daryl Johnston (232) for 25th in Dallas record books.

Murray rushed for 24 yards tonight to up his career rushing yards total to 1,134 and pass Doug Dennison (1,112) for 22nd in franchise history.

Kyle Orton made his Cowboys debut tonight in the fourth quarter and completed nine-of-10 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown.

Tony Romo’s touchdown toss tonight was his 154th career touchdown throw. He broke a tie with Roger Staubach for sole possession of third place on the Dallas Cowboys all-time touchdown pass list.

Romo finished the game with 307 passing yards, to up his club record of 300-yard passing games to 33.

Romo also suffered five interceptions tonight to tie his career high previously established at Buffalo (10/8/07).

Phillip Tanner had his first career catch tonight and finished with two grabs for 20 yards.

DeMarcus Ware had a sack tonight in which he forced his 30th career fumble to extend his club record. His last three sacks (two from last week) have each resulted in a forced fumble.

Ware now has three forced fumbles on the season, his sixth career season with three-or-more forced fumbles which ties the fifth-highest figure by a defender in league history.

Jason Witten finished with 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown tonight. His 112 yards tied the ninth-most receiving yards in a game in his career while his 13 receptions were the third-most in his career, tied the third-most by a Cowboys pass catcher in franchise history – Lance Rentzel (vs. Washington, 11/19/67) and tied the eighth-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history.

Witten’s Single-Game Receptions

No.            Opp.(Date)

15………… at Detroit (12/9/07)

14………… at N.Y. Giants (12/6/09)

13………… vs. Chicago (10/1/12)

Witten’s 100-yard outing upped his Cowboys tight end record of 100-yard games to 15.

Witten’s touchdown reception tonight was his 42nd career scoring grab and his first since his 59-yard score at Washington (11/20/11). His 42 touchdown catches broke a tie with Billy Joe DuPree for sole possession of sixth on the club’s all-time touchdown receptions list.

DALLAS’ SLEEPING GIANT: Jason Garrett says Andre Holmes could wind up in team’s Hail Mary mix

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

Andre Holmes, at 6-foot-5, is the Dallas Cowboys’ tallest receiver. One of his highlight moments in training camp came when he grabbed a Hail Mary pass from backup quarterback Kyle Orton on the final play of a live team session in Oxnard, Calif.

But Holmes has yet to be in the Cowboys’ end-of-the-half, multiple-receiver mix during the regular season because he has been battling a knee ailment. Jason Garrett left open the opportunity today that Holmes may work his way into the team’s Hail Mary mix as his health improves.

“He will get an opportunity to do that going forward the more chances he gets in practice to get ready for it,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t done it that much, coming off of an injury. So you put the guys out there who are most comfortable doing that.

INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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.

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: 14 players make the list this week, including DeMarco Murray

IRVING, Texas — The first official injury report was released this afternoon, and the Dallas Cowboys have 14 players listed.

There was one surprise with running back DeMarco Murray listed with a wrist issue. He was a full practice participant, and it doesn’t seem serious.

Tight end Jason Witten (spleen), linebacker Kyle Wilber (thumb) wide receiver Andre Holmes (knee), linebacker Dan Connor (hip) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder) were limited in practice.

Nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle) and safeties Matt Johnson (hamstring) and Danny McCray (neck) did not practice.

Running back Phillip Tanner (hamstring), linebacker DeMarcus Ware (hamstring), wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), wide receiver Dez Bryant (knee) and center Phil Costa (back) are also listed on the injury report but were full participants in practice.

Name Position Injury Sun Mon Tues Game Status
Austin, Miles WR Hamstring FP
Bryant, Dez WR Knee FP
Connor, Dan LB Hip LP
Costa, Phil C Back FP
Holmes, Andre WR Knee LP
Jenkins, Mike CB Shoulder LP
Johnson, Matt S Hamstring DNP
McCray, Danny S Neck DNP
Murray, DeMarco RB Wrist FP
Ratliff, Jay NT Ankle DNP
Tanner, Phillip RB Hand FP
Ware, DeMarcus LB Hamstring FP
Wilber, Kyle LB Thumb LP
Witten, Jason TE Abdomen LP

 

New York Giants

Name Position Injury Sun Mon Tues Game Status
Prince Amukamara CB Ankle DNP
Marvin Austin DT Back DNP
Will Beatty T Back LP
Michael Boley LB Hamstring FP
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Hand FP
James Brewer T Back DNP
Jayron Hosley CB Toe FP
Mathias Kiwanuka LB Groin LP
Hakeem Nicks WR Foot DNP
Adrian Tracy DE Hamstring LP

 

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Practice Status

  • DNP = Did not participate in practice
  • LP = Limited Participation in Practice – Less than 100% normal repetitions
  • FP = Full Participation – 100% of a player’s normal repetitions
  • Out = Player will not play
  • (-) = Not Listed = No practice status available

Game Status

  • Out = Player will not play
  • Doubtful = 25% chance a player will play
  • Questionable = 50% chance a player will play
  • Probable = 75% chance a player will play
  • (-) = Not Listed – No game status available

DID YOU KNOW?: You can stay up to date on the Dallas Cowboys (and weekly opponents) Injury Update status right here on The Boys Are Back blog. Look in the pages at the top (and the right side) of this blog. The page is titled: INJURY UPDATES

TALKIN’ WIDE RECEIVERS: Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree, and rising stars

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant appears to get both feet down inbounds while making a touchdown reception - The Boys Are Back blog

SMU grad and undrafted free agent Cole Beasley’s impressive preseason campaign was rewarded on Friday with a spot on the 53-man roster. The 5-foot-8 Beasley impressed the coaching staff with his quickness out of the slot and is considered along with Kevin Ogletree a strong candidate for the No. 3 receiver when the Cowboys take the field against the Giants  on Wednesday night.

“I’m willing to accept any role that they’ll give me,” Beasley said Saturday at Valley Ranch. “I’m glad to be here, and I want to do anything I can to get on the field and help the team win.”

Beasley has been working with the first team during three-wide sets in most practice scenarios. Despite the early success, Beasley remains humble.

“I’m just trying to get better every day and trying to move up the ladder,” said Beasley. “Trying to make my teammates better while I’m out there, and hopefully they help me get better too.”

Jared L. Christopher

RELATED: Bryant’s knee tendinitis hasn’t changed plans on punt returns

Jason Garrett said the Dallas Cowboys have not settled on their kickoff and punt returners yet, and that Dez Bryant’s knee injury has not affected their thinking about him returning punts.

“If he’s the best guy, and he’s healthy, we’ll give him a chance to do it,” Garrett said Saturday at Valley Ranch, where the Cowboys started their practice week for Wednesday’s season opener against the New York Giants. “Those guys have to be reliable, first and foremost, in taking care of the ball. And then you obviously want to evaluate their playmaking ability after that. Dez has shown that he’s capable of doing both, and if he’s healthy, we’ll give him a chance to do it.”

Bryant was found to have patellar tendinitis after an MRI exam in San Diego two weeks ago, when he came off the practice field with a knee injury.

The Cowboys kept him out of action after that until Saturday’s practice.

Garrett said Bryant has learned to “manage his energy better” and understand what kind of physical condition he needs to be in.

“He’s more consistent with how he approaches practice, and that’s carried over to the competitive situations that we’ve been in,” Garrett said.

Carlos Mendez

RELATED: How to work Miles Austin up to speed

IRVING, Texas – Miles Austin will practice for just the second time in about a month today because of a hamstring suffered in Oxnard, Calif., and he will have to get used to a pitch count so to speak.

Because of his history of hamstring injuries, the Dallas Cowboys have established the number of snaps Austin will get in practice to make sure he will be good to go for Wednesday’s game against the New York Giants.

“The other thing with receivers is you have to get them warmed up prior to practice to get ready for those team reps and you have to monitor those as well,” coach Jason Garrett said, “and make sure they get enough to get warmed up and ready to go but not too many to where they leave it over in the individual period.”

Without playing in a preseason game and not practicing for such a long spell, can Austin play a full game against the Giants with limited practice snaps?

“You want to get him over the course of the week where you feel like he can go play,” Garrett said. “You want to monitor those reps in practice and you want to monitor them in the games, but you want to get to the point where you give him a thumbs up, ‘Hey, go play like you’ve always played.’”

Garrett said Austin and Dez Bryant, who missed the final two preseason games with knee tendonitis, “worked their way back into practice (on Saturday) and we’re hopeful they’ll continue to progress as the week goes on.”

Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas

RELATED: Dallas Cowboy Kevin Ogletree 2.0 playing with confidence

One of the main job openings on the Cowboys roster this summer was the No. 3 receiver position. There were many applicants, and after a few releases it appears Kevin Ogletree has secured the position.

It’s the second consecutive season that Ogletree has emerged as the No. 3 receiver, but he lost the gig to veteran Laurent Robinson last season.

"I feel good about how I’m playing right now," Ogletree said. "I don’t have any idea of what I look like this first practice back at Valley Ranch. Two years ago, I’m sure it was similar, it’s definitely a good feeling I have."

The offseason was troubling for Ogletree given how his brother, Calvin Ogletree, was shot in the head and is still recovering. Ogletree also dealt with being on the free-agent market but was brought back by the Dallas Cowboys.

On top of everything else, Ogletree battled past draft pick Danny Coale — who was released Friday and brought back to the practice squad — the rising Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley and of course Dwayne Harris, a draft pick a year ago.

Ogletree has built a good chemistry with quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys want receivers who are ‘quarterback friendly’ because it allows the quarterback to play with more confidence and it gives coach Jason Garrett, the offensive play caller, another option to call plays for.

"I’m practicing confidently, going to meetings confidently, coming to work confidently, it’s my approach," Ogletree said. "With confidence comes a lot of other things, that’s definitely for sure."

Calvin Watkins | ESPN Dallas

SATURDAY PRACTICE UPDATE: Witten, Austin, Bryant return; Jenkins not on the field

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Raymond Radway makes catch during Dallas Cowboys Training Camp (Star-Telegram Ron Jenkins) - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas — A busy day at Valley Ranch was highlighted by the release of Stephen McGee, but Jason Witten (spleen), Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (knee) also made news by returning to the practice fields Saturday.

The Dallas Cowboys are not required to release a practice report until Sunday so it’s not known how much work Witten, Austin and Bryant received.

Bryant, however, was wearing a sleeve on his right knee and all the players were in full pads.

Mike Jenkins (shoulder) was supposed to practice Saturday, but during the open media portion of practice, he wasn’t on the field. He could have gotten some work in the walkthrough session or was getting some rehab work done inside the facility.

Fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber (hand) was in full pads, but he was wearing a small cast during the special team drills.

Nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), wide receiver Andre Holmes (undetermined), safety Danny McCray (stinger) and safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) didn’t practice.

Wide receiver Cole Beasley has changed numbers. He is now 11.

Newly signed guard Ryan Cook is No. 63.

LAST DAY IN THE LIMELIGHT: Twenty-Two Dallas Cowboys playbooks will be turned in tomorrow

A large Dallas Cowboys star is moved off the field - Symbolic of the 22 players that will be cut Friday - The Boys Are Back blog

Every year is the same it seems. We go into this final preseason game with a handful of players right there on the verge of making the team.

It’s always around the same number of players, with only the names changing, this year’s group including the likes of Hamilton, Coale, Lemon, Bass, Dunbar and Olawale. Oh, there were a few more, but those were the main guys.

But this year, the differences include more than just a few name changes.

Because as soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Wednesday’s 30-13 win over the Dolphins, the regular season was upon us. Just like that, it’s on.

No longer do the Cowboys have about 10 days to get ready. With the Wednesday night game on Sept. 5, the team only has a full seven days before they face the defending champs.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to key players such as Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin. Throw in Dez Bryant, Mike Jenkins and Danny McCray, and that puts quite a strain on the Cowboys trying to trim the roster down to 53 by Friday, at the same time they’re getting ready for a real game week.

Because of that, those injuries might have popped a few bubbles in the process.

We’ll see on Friday, but with the Giants game right around the corner, it might be too soon for some of these guys, particularly Witten and Ratliff. The Cowboys certainly won’t rule out either player. In fact, doctors checked out Witten’s lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday and it appears it will be a game-time decision on next Wednesday.

As for Ratliff, who has a high ankle sprain and was still on crutches as of Tuesday, it’ll also likely go up until kickoff before the Cowboys figure out his status.

In the meantime, the team has to prepare for the worst. In doing so, you must go long at those positions.

We could see Josh Brent and Robert Calloway make this team, at least for Week 1.

At tight end, either the Cowboys go and claim a player who gets cut, sign a veteran tight end or maybe keep Andrew Sczcerba around. Perhaps fullback Shaun Chapas makes it, mainly for his special teams ability.

Either way, moves like that knock off luxury keeps. By that, I mean keeping players who aren’t really ready to play just yet, but possess a certain quality. Guys like Ben Bass who plays with a high-motor on the defensive line, or Adrian Hamilton, who hasn’t figured out the 3-4 defense and/or special teams just yet, but he can rush the passer. Those guys are hurt by these injuries.

At running back, a guy like Lance Dunbar might have made the team in the past – solely because of that dazzling 58-yard run. Who knows, maybe he still does. A play like that will get noticed around the league and getting a player like that through waivers will be tough. Still, that’s one of those “luxury keeps” that might not happen because you’ll have a hard time getting him active each week. Personally, after that run, I think I’d make an exception. He’s got some wiggle to him and might be a decent kickoff returner, too.

The Cowboys like Andre Holmes and Danny Coale, who would be the sixth and seventh receivers. They’ll probably like a receiver or two that gets cut over the next few days. But they won’t keep eight and probably not even seven. They’d like to go long at receiver, especially if it means hanging onto Coale, a fifth-round pick who has been injured most of the offseason.

Now if Austin and Bryant were bigger question marks to play, it’d be a different story. However, it seems like both players have been held out of action just to be ready for the Giants. Bryant and Austin will start, and it looks like Harris and Ogletree will be next, with possibly Cole Beasley or maybe Holmes going to the game as a special teamer.

Then you go to the secondary. Mike Jenkins is not going to Florida after all to get an update on his shoulder. He passed his physical on Wednesday and will come off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) to practice as early as Saturday.

Still, you wonder how quickly he can get back into the mix. Yes, he’s a veteran and yes he knows the Giants and yes he plays a cornerback position that doesn’t always need the strongest continuity with his teammates. But football shape is a different thing. I still have hard time thinking Jenkins can get back to Dallas and start practicing Saturday and Sunday and be ready to play. It’s certainly a possibility, but if you remember last year’s game in New York against the Jets, Jenkins also battled a stinger/shoulder injury all preseason but played in the game. He went in and out about four times, battling all sorts of injuries.

The Cowboys likely have to go long at cornerback, not only on the roster, but the 46-man game-day roster as well. Expect Mario Butler to be active either way.

At safety, Matt Johnson (hamstring) will likely make the team although he’s barely played. McCray will obviously make it because he’s the special teams ace, but he’s battling a shoulder/stinger injury. So Mana Silva probably makes this team to start the season – and who knows, maybe he’ll stick around. He’s played pretty well this preseason. He’s a solid tackler and good on special teams. But still, that’s five safeties to keep.

This probably happens every year – injuries that cloud roster decisions. But it’s different when the guys injured are Pro Bowlers like Witten, Ratliff, Jenkins and Austin, who says he will play, but you probably have to make sure there is plenty of backup because of the nature of the injury and his history with hamstrings.

We’ll find it all out on Friday. But with so many guys playing for roster spots Wednesday night, it’s unfortunate for them that their fate was probably already sealed with a few of these preexisting injuries.

ON THE BUBBLE: Nine wide receivers competing for six (maybe seven) roster spots

Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris were on the field Monday. The two receivers ran routes and worked to get open. But they didn’t have anything left to prove. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said so Tuesday on KRLD-FM (105.3).

“I’d say as I look at them right now, they both have a place on the field for us against the Giants,” Jones said, referring to the team’s opponent for the regular-season opener next Wednesday.

But what about the other five wideouts who were competing for jobs? Where did Danny Coale, Saalim Hakim, Cole Beasley, Tim Benford and Andre Holmes stand? And could they make a great enough impact in the final preseason game against Miami to claim a spot on the team?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs. Miami Dolphins – STAR-TELEGRAM/RON JENKINS

On Wednesday, in the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over Miami in their final preseason game, few answers were provided. Beasley, identified as the most promising of the bunch during training camp, didn’t make a catch. Then again, he didn’t play that much, which seemed to be a good sign he could be sticking around.

“Hopefully,” Beasley said. “But if some of the other guys might have stepped up, they might forget about me.”

That’s now not a concern for Beasley because while Hakim, Coale, Benford and Holmes recorded at least one reception, they didn’t do anything especially noteworthy Wednesday. Together they made just six catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns.

“I put everything out there,” said Holmes, who had one reception for 32 yards and felt tightness in his right knee. “I just went as hard as I could.”

DALLAS MORNING NEWS HEADLINE: Dallas Cowboys reserves roll over Miami Dolphins, 30-13

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries with a 7.0 yard average in preseason finale victory over Miami - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries with a 7.0 yard average in preseason finale victory over the Miami Dolphins.  Vernon Bryant |Staff Photographer

ARLINGTON — Orie Lemon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, No. 3 running back Phillip Tanner had a 1-yard score and the Dallas Cowboys finished their preseason with a 30-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday night.

A week before playing in the NFL’s kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Cowboys (3-1) kept quarterback Tony Romo and most of their front-line starters standing on the sideline.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the first-round draft pick from Texas A&M already tabbed Miami’s starter, was 5-of-7 passing for 35 yards playing the first two series. The Dolphins led 3-0 when he was done.

Miami (0-4) finished its preseason winless under new coach Joe Philbin. The season opener is Sept. 9 at Houston.

Undrafted rookie running back Lance Dunbar had 15 carries for 105 yards, including a 58-yard TD run, for Dallas in the third quarter. Tanner started with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones sitting, and finished with nine carries for 48 yards.

Another former Texas A&M quarterback, Stephen McGee, possibly took his last snaps for the Dallas Cowboys after playing the entire first half and going 9 of 18 for 124 yards.

Two years ago in another preseason finale against the Dolphins, McGee passed for 304 yards while going all the way in the victory that probably assured him the spot as the team’s third quarterback that season.

McGee, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, has played in only three regular-season games and started one.

With Kyle Orton signed during the offseason to be Romo’s backup, Dallas likely will carry only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster. Plus, McGee is no longer eligible for the practice squad like Rudy Carpenter would be.

Carpenter was 4 of 10 for 48 yards in the second half.

Even though they were playing at home again only four days after a win over the St. Louis Rams, the Cowboys have already turned their attention to the Giants.

When they get to their Valley Ranch practice facility Thursday, it will be essentially a Monday of game week.

Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin didn’t play in the preseason because of hamstring issues, and receiver Dez Bryant was held out for the second straight game because of right knee tendinitis. Both are expected to be ready for the Giants, though Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten (lacerated spleen) is less certain for the unprecedented Wednesday night opener.

Dallas Cowboys Orie Lemon capitalizes on an interception by returning it 26 yards for a touchdown - The Boys Are Back blog

Lamar Miller had 17 carries for 60 yards and a TD for the Dolphins.

Miller’s 1-yard run capped a 14-play, 89-yard drive that took exactly half of the third quarter to complete.

Dan Bailey kicked three field goals for the Cowboys while Dan Carpenter had field goals of 21 and 53 yards for Miami less than 2 minutes apart late in the first quarter.

After Carpenter’s shorter kick, Teddy Williams fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Cowboys 33. That’s when Matt Moore took over for Tannehill, failing to get a first down and leading to the long field goal by Carpenter.

On Dallas’ first snap after that, cornerback Quinten Lawrence was called for pass interference against Kevin Ogletree that was good for 43 yards. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Bailey.

Moore was only 4 of 12, including the pass over the middle early in the second quarter that Lemon picked off and took into the end zone for a 10-6 lead.

The Cowboys had two big passing plays to set up Tanner’s 1-yard score.

Andre Holmes caught a deep pass from McGee for a 32-yard gain. Later in that drive, McGee scrambled and kept avoiding defenders as he rolled to the left. He was near the sideline and threw off one foot, hitting Tim Benford for 36 yards.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys vs Miami Dolphins helmets

Preseason.

It’s finally coming to an end.

The Miami Dolphins visit the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium tonight to close it out.

Here’s a preview.

Stephen McGee vs. Rudy Carpenter: The Cowboys are thinking about going with two quarterbacks. Tony Romo and Kyle Orton have guaranteed roster spots. After that, McGee, the third quarterback since 2009, and Carpenter, who is trying to make the active roster, will get a shot Wednesday night. McGee has been inconsistent this summer in camp practices and in three preseason games. Carpenter has led the third unit on a touchdown drive. McGee is the better talent, but roster issues could force the Cowboys to go with just two quarterbacks, unless someone emerges.

Claiborne and Spears should play: First-round pick Morris Claiborne and veteran defensive end Marcus Spears should play a little on Wednesday. Here’s why. Claiborne, who missed the first preseason game with a knee sprain, needs to get more snaps before getting ready for the New York Giants on opening night. Spears is getting snaps with the second team and will most likely get a few snaps just to either keep him sharp or see if the Cowboys still want him on the team.

What’s uncertain?: The third quarterback for one thing. And in reality, it doesn’t matter who the No. 3 receiver is. Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley will make the team, but who gets the sixth receiver spot is the question. Andre Holmes? Danny Coale? Tim Benford? The swing tackle is Jermey Parnell, but who out of Pat McQuistan, Daniel Loper, Derrick Dockery and Ronald Leary make the team? Orie Lemon, Shaun Chapas, Jamize Olawale, Adrian Hamilton, Lance Dunbar and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are competing for a some of the final three or four roster spots.

The series with the Dolphins: The Cowboys lead the preseason series 4-2 and lost the last meeting 17-3 in South Florida. In that game, Sept. 1, 2011, receiver Raymond Radway fractured his leg on a pass in the end zone at the end of the game. Radway missed the regular season. He was cut this week by the Cowboys.

Connections: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was a former executive with the Cowboys, and Brian Gaine, the Dolphins’ assistant general manager, worked in the personnel department with the Cowboys. At one point the Dolphins had many former Cowboys. Now, there are only a few. Linebacker Kevin Burnett, for one, plays for the Fins.

Parking, parking, parking: For the second consecutive time, the Cowboys and Texas Rangers are playing at nearly the same time. Rangers first pitch is around 6:05 p.m. CT. Kickoff is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. CT. Cowboys Stadium parking lots open at 2:30 p.m. East Plaza is open at 3:30 p.m. and stadium gates to all plazas open at 5:30 p.m. Fans who have pre-purchased parking in the Ranger Lots A-B and M will have their passes honored. Stadium officials ask fans to get their early due to the Rangers game.

By the way: Regular season starters like Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Brandon Carr and Sean Lee won’t play. Just telling you.

Local TV and radio: The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m., on KTVT/Ch. 11 (CBS).

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

In many markets, you can listen to ‘The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, Brad Sham on The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network for pregame, play-by-play action, and post game interviews and analysis.

In the Dallas area, tune to 105.3 FM.  In all other cities, click HERE for more information.

GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE: For 22 men, it’s the last chance to make a good impression

Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Stephen McGee (7) Tony Romo (9) and Rudy Carpenter (right) during Dallas Cowboys training camp - The Boys Are Back blog

Tony Romo’s mind will be 1,500 miles away tonight. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback and most of the team’s other starters already are thinking ahead to next week when they open the season against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

But for many other players, including third-string quarterback Stephen McGee, this is a last chance to make a good impression. The Cowboys, who have 75 players on their roster, must pare down to a final 53 by Friday night. So jobs are on the line tonight at Cowboys Stadium when they take on the Miami Dolphins:

McGee’s shot

Stephen McGee has started the final preseason game against the Dolphins each of the past two years, completing 48 of 67 passes for 537 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He needs another good outing against Miami to convince the Cowboys he has potential to be something other than a career third-string quarterback. The Cowboys could choose to keep only two quarterbacks, with Rudy Carpenter going to the practice squad. But McGee gets one last shot to try to change the Cowboys’ minds.

Costa’s snaps

Most of the team’s 22 starters won’t play, but center Phil Costa is expected to be an exception. Costa returned to the practice field Monday and, because he hasn’t played this preseason, should get at least a few snaps against the Dolphins. Costa had been out with a lower back strain since Aug. 10. David Arkin had started in Costa’s place in the first three preseason games, but Costa is in line to start the season opener against the Giants.

Receiver watch

The Cowboys like what they have seen from Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley this preseason. They need to see more from Andre Holmes and Danny Coale. Holmes, a favorite of Jerry Jones, did himself no favors when he reported to camp out of shape. A back injury and inconsistency might have done in his bid to make the 53-player roster, as he has six catches for 58 yards this preseason. Coale was drafted in the fifth round with high hopes for his special teams work as much as for his receiving ability. But injuries have prevented him from doing much until now. He made his preseason debut last week and had one catch for 8 yards and one run for 9 yards, but he did not play special teams. Coale, who played 82 snaps on special teams last year at Virginia Tech, is expected to play on kickoff coverage and kickoff return units and possibly on punt returns against Miami.

Third running back

Phillip Tanner earned a roster spot in 2011, as the fourth running back, off his preseason work. He had 24 carries for a team-leading 128 yards in the 2011 preseason. But injuries have slowed Tanner since. A hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve midway through last season, and a broken right hand Aug. 3 has not helped his bid to keep his job this season. He had two carries for 2 yards in his preseason debut last week. He is battling a pair of former North Texas players, Jamize Olawale and Lance Dunbar.

Nose tackle

The Cowboys haven’t ruled Jay Ratliff out of the season opener yet, but the starting nose tackle has only 11 days in which to come back from a high-ankle sprain if he is to play against the Giants. More than likely, Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent will split the job on opening day. This could be the dress rehearsal for Lissemore, who is expected to play in the substitution packages, and Brent, who is expected to play in the base package

PROJECTION: Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster

The Boys - The Boys Are Back blog

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).

QUARTERBACKS (2)

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.

FULLBACKS (2)

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.

Danny Coale

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.

CORNERBACKS (5)

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.

SAFETIES (4)

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.

SPECIALISTS (3)

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.

THIRD RECEIVER RACE: Dwayne Harris takes lead, but Romo cites progress with all young WRs

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) makes a touchdown reception against the St. Louis Rams - The Boys Are Back blog

In the Dallas Cowboys’ third pre-season game, yet another candidate stepped up to make his case in the race to become the team’s third receiver.

But Saturday’s case made by Dwayne Harris, which included a pair of long-distance touchdown receptions from quarterback Tony Romo, resounded louder than anything seen previously in the pre-season by other contenders for the position.

Harris grabbed three passes for 118 yards, including scoring strikes of 61 and 38 yards from Romo, during Saturday’s 20-19 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree - The Boys Are Back blog

In previous games, receivers Andre Holmes (Oakland), Kevin Ogletree (San Diego) and Cole Beasley (San Diego) enjoyed standout moments. But none of them produced touchdowns against an opponent’s first-team defense or finished plays the way Harris did Saturday.

Romo noticed.

“Dwayne did a good job … It’s never been about the big things (with Harris),” Romo said. “If he can get the little things down, he’s got a chance to really help our football team.”

Harris’ performance moved him to the forefront of the third receiver race, although Ogletree (5 catches, 75 yards) and Beasley (3 catches, 40 yards) also had moments against the Rams.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) against the St. Louis Rams - The Boys Are Back blog

“Where the conversation starts and ends about that situation, I’ve got a job to do,” Ogletree said. “And that’s to come in and compete and be at my best when the time comes. Guys have been getting an opportunity to make some plays and they’re making the most of it.”

With top receivers Miles Austin (hamstring), Dez Bryant (knee) and tight end Jason Witten (spleen) all missing with injuries, Romo expressed confidence in the team’s young receivers. Dallas threw for 297 yards in the first half, with Romo completing 9-of-13 for 198 yards _ and the two TDs to Harris _ in the first quarter in what projected as his final pre-season tune-up before the Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants.

“It’s good to know we have some depth and the guys can do some things,” Romo said. “Our young guys knew what they were doing and it showed.”

Harris topped the list.

“If you’re in the right place at the right time, Tony’s going to find you. He’s a great quarterback and he’s going find the open guy,” Harris said. “Tony tells me, ‘Harris, you’ve got great ability. But you’ve got to eliminate the mental mistakes’ That’s what I tried to do tonight. Eliminate all the mental mistakes and cut down on missed assignments and just do my job.”

He did it well enough to keep his cell phone buzzing during the post-game interview session. How many congratulatory messages did he field?

“I don’t know. It’s still ringing,” Harris said. “I went out there and executed, which is what the coaches wanted to see. It was a really good game for me.”

WWJD: What Would Jerry Do? What Would Jason Do?

Ok Dallas Cowboy fans. WE have little time to figure out what to do with the 2012 – 2013 Dallas Cowboys roster. NFL requires a cut-down to 75 players on Monday … then down to the final 53 the following Monday. What would YOU do???

The Dallas Cowboys play their third preseason game at 7 p.m. tonight against the St. Louis Rams. Here’s what I’ll be watching…

Who excels under pressure: The backup wide receivers. I’m very interested to see who catches Tony Romo’s passes in this game. Kevin Ogletree has been the standout among the No. 3 wide receiver candidates so far this preseason, but Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Cole Beasley and others are still in the mix and should get opportunities with the first-team offense tonight. It’s still audition time for those guys, and with this likely to be Romo’s final preseason game of the year, it’s probably their best chance to show their stuff.

On the other side of the ball: The defense looks to be getting healthy, as nose tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive end Jason Hatcher and linebacker Anthony Spencer all have a chance to see their first preseason action. The Cowboys have struggled a bit against the run in the preseason so far, but Hatcher and Spencer are two of their best run defenders, and Ratliff’s presence in the middle of the defensive line should shore things up there. Seeing the starting defense on the field together all at the same time will be encouraging to Cowboys fans, and it should be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the playing time at that defensive end spot opposite Hatcher. Some roster decisions looming over there.

The horses: DeMarco Murray’s touches have been very limited this preseason, and Dallas doesn’t want to risk injury to the running back on whom it plans to rely on a great deal this year. Murray will probably get more carries in this game, but don’t expect to see very much of him.

The top dog: I’ll be looking at Morris Claiborne again at cornerback, as he’s going to have to hit the ground running if the defense is to function the way they want it to.

And of course: The offensive line, whose struggles have been the story of the preseason. Are they getting healthier and/or better there?

 

WWJD (What Would Jerry Do or What Would Jason Do) is what every other site will be speculating on in the next 10 days.

At The Boys Are Back … we want to know what YOU would do … and why! Leave a comment.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys–Preseason game 3

St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys – 2012 Preseason game 3 - Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys are finally home after nearly a month on the road for training camp and two preseason games which saw them go 1-1. Dallas takes on the St. Louis Rams (1-1) tonight at Cowboys Stadium.

Here’s a preview.

Get there early: The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are playing in Arlington on the same day for the first time this season. Parking lots for the Cowboys game open at 2 p.m. East Plaza is open at 3 p.m. and stadium gates open at 5 p.m. The Rangers start at 3:05 p.m. Cowboys officials are asking fans to leave early to help prevent possible traffic delays.

Connections: St. Louis tackle Jason Smith attended W.T. White high school in Dallas. … Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2007. … Wide receivers coach Ray Sherman was with the Cowboys for a few years.

$100 million corners: The Cowboys and Rams employ the two highest paid corners from this year’s free agency class. The Rams have Cortland Finnegan and the Cowboys have Brandon Carr. Combined, the two players’ total contracts hit a little over $100 million.

Dress rehearsal: The Cowboys will play their starters for nearly the first half. It will be a good test for the interior of the offensive line consisting of center David Arkin and guards Nate Livings (making his preseason debut) and Mackenzy Bernadeau. This trio could change again if starting center Phil Costa returns from a strained lower back. Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris will start at wide receiver with Dez Bryant (knee) and Miles Austin (hamstring) out with injuries. DeMarcus Ware (hamstring) won’t play. Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher are expected to play together for the first time this preseason after recovering from injuries. It’s another good test for rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, who plays in his second preseason game. In his debut last week, the first-round pick had zero pass breakups but made two good tackles.

Who needs to play well: QB Stephen McGee, CB C.J. Wilson, LB Orie Lemon, WR Danny Coale, WR Andre Holmes, S Matt Johnson, DE Clifton Geathers and CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

Game Trackers: Click HERE for LIVE NFL GAMEDAY scoreboards and game trackers on The Boys Are Back blog. For the NFL on FOX Gametrax, click HERE

GAMETRAX - Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams

Local TV and radio: The game kicks off at 7 p.m., on KTVT/Ch. 11 (CBS).

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

In many markets, you can listen to ‘The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, Brad Sham on The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network for pregame, play-by-play action, and post game interviews and analysis.

In the Dallas area, tune to 105.3 FM.  In all other cities, click HERE for more information.

REST PRESCRIBED: Dez Bryant’s MRI reveals Patellar Tendinitis, no major damage

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) jumps to catch a pass at practice - The Boys Are Back blog

An MRI on Dez Bryant‘s injured knee revealed patellar tendinitis, according to a source, which should only require rest before the star receiver can return to practice.

Bryant hurt his knee Monday practicing against the Chargers when he slipped coming out of a break. The MRI revealed no major structural damage and provides a much less severe diagnosis than originally feared when Bryant limped off the field. It’s unknown at this time how long Bryant will be out.

Patellar tendinitis is also known as "jumper’s knee," and occurs most frequently in athletes who jump routinely, as Bryant did when he soared into the air to snag a ball in the back of the end zone Saturday.

The Cowboys are short in receiving threats, with Miles Austin and Jason Witten both sidelined. A spleen injury to Witten and a lingering hamstring issue for Austin raised the dependence on Bryant in the passing game. Bryant was one of the few starters not dealing with an injury in training camp, besides missing the end of a practice in Oxnard, Calif., with a sore hamstring.

The receivers finished Saturday’s preseason game healthy against the Chargers, but they couldn’t stay on the field in Monday’s practice against San Diego, as Bryant, Andre Holmes and Donavon Kemp joined the injury list.

Kemp also suffered a knee injury and Holmes left with a sore back. Wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said he knew Holmes’ tight back flared up on him, but he didn’t see what happened to Bryant, who slipped coming out of a break and limped off the field. 

“Hopefully it’s not anything too serious,” Robinson said.

Bryant’s been on point with Tony Romo throughout the preseason, making athletic catches routinely, including a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone against the Chargers that was called back for a penalty and ruled out of bounds. Bryant didn’t play much against the Chargers, catching two passes for 15 yards on three targets.

San Diego Chargers defensive back Atari Bigby breaks up a pass in the endzone intended for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree - The Boys Are Back blog

Kevin Ogletree took a majority of the first-team snaps in practice after Bryant’s departure. He said Bryant “became a man” this offseason and preseason with his consistent play.

Ogletree also didn’t see the play that forced Bryant to the sidelines.

“We all know his talents and how hard he works and his determination and drive and competitiveness,” Ogletree said. “You can give a bunch of words to describe his role on the team and how important he is to us. He’s a leader, one of our best players and I’m praying for him. I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s a strong kid.”

The injury to Austin already bumped Ogletree to the starter opposite Bryant. His practice reps increased more when Bryant left Monday.

He said the practices at the end of training camp are essential with the Sept. 5 opener against the Giants looming in a couple weeks.

“It was a great opportunity for myself and some of the other young guys to get some extra practice reps with some unfamiliar corners and secondary’s and defenses,” Ogletree said. “It’s something I think we took advantage of as a group today.”

Rowan Kavner

INJURY UPDATE: Dez Bryant injured in Monday’s workout

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant appears to get both feet down inbounds while making a touchdown reception - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant appears to get both feet down inbounds while making a touchdown reception in Saturday’s preseason game vs. San Diego. ‘Holding’ was called on the Dallas offensive line. Tony Romo appeared to be throwing the ball away, and Dez Bryant leaped up and caught the ball with one hand.

A Cowboys team that can’t afford to lose any more offensive skill players holds its breath as it awaits the result of an MRI on Dez Bryant’s right knee.

The receiver suffered the injury during a one-on-one drill in the early part of Monday’s practice with San Diego and didn’t return. On his way to have the MRI, Bryant replied “yeah’’ when asked by reporters if he was OK.

The club won’t know if he is OK until it receives the results later today.

“Hopefully this injury is not too severe,’’ head coach Jason Garrett said. “But if it is, we’ll deal with it and go forward.’’

The offense has had a lot to deal with this training camp. Receiver Miles Austin hurt his hamstring and has been held out since the opening days of camp. Tight end Jason Witten lacerated his spleen against Oakland and has availability for the regular-season opener on Sept. 5 is in doubt.

That left quarterback Tony Romo without his three top targets for the majority of Monday’s practice. Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris lined up with the starters with John Phillips at tight end.

“Dez has become a man out here,’’ Ogletree said. “We all know his talents, how hard he works, his drive and competitiveness. He’s one of our best players.

“I’m praying for him. I’m sure he’ll be fine.’’

Garrett and owner Jerry Jones have both commented that Bryant’s conditioning is noticeably improved in this camp compared to his first two. Bryant did have him hamstring tighten up two days before the Cowboys played the Raiders, but he played in that game and hauled in a 24-yard reception from Romo.

“Dez has been outstanding,’’ Garrett said. “He’s been outstanding all through the off-season. He really came back committed to being in the best shape possible. He’s practiced really well.

“I think he’s matured in a lot of ways as a receiver.’’

Receivers Andre Holmes (back) and Donovan Kemp (left knee) were also forced to leave practice early with injuries.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Major blunder by replacement officials in San Diego

Replacement NFL Officials - The Boys Are Back blog

Be glad Saturday night’s game against the Chargers didn’t count, because this one really might have been the refs’ faults.

Saturday night’s Cowboys-Chargers game had the worst call of the preseason so far — a preseason that is being officiated by replacement officials.

On a pass to Cowboys receiver Andre Holmes, Chargers safety Eric Weddle applied an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.  The ball bounced around and Chargers linebacker Donald Butler came up with the interception before it hit the ground.

Following yet another extended discussion after the play, the officials gave the ball to San Diego and marked off the personal foul against the Chargers for the illegal hit.  The correct move, as anyone who pays attention to NFL football knows, would have been to wipe out the interception, give the ball back to the Cowboys, and mark off the penalty against the Chargers from the previous spot.

The article goes on to point out that it’s a more embarrassing gaffe, since under the new rules, all turnovers are subject to review, and even after a replay review, none of the officials properly returned the ball to the Cowboys and wiped away the interception.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett joins his staff with an inquiry to side judge Mike Riley - The Boys Are Back blog

We all know preseason wins and losses don’t count, but you can bet Kyle Orton would love to have that interception next to his name erased, and a number of Cowboy receivers on the 53-man roster bubble would have liked one more red-zone opportunity to get a key touchdown that could bring them one step closer to a roster spot.

And so the Cowboys lost what should have been a first down on the San Diego 15 with 53 seconds left in the second quarter.

Even though this game didn’t count, we’ve got a feeling that the league office will be hearing from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

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