SO LONG, COWBOY: Sun sets on Spencer’s career in Big D | Dallas defender to go marching on in The Big Easy | Anthony Spencer reunited with Rob Ryan
IRVING, Texas – When word got out that defensive lineman Ben Gardner had obtained Anthony Spencer’s jersey number for the upcoming offseason workouts, most assumed Spencer’s eight-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys was over. Continue reading →
VETERAN COWBOY ON A MISSION: Dallas Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer dedicated to rehabilitation and recovery
Dallas Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer: | 6:11 | Anthony Spencer gives an injury update, and talks about what it has been like trying to recover from microfracture surgery. (Watch | Listen)
IRVING, Texas – While yesterday’s (Friday) focus was mainly on the near-50 players at the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp, defensive end Anthony Spencer was one of the veterans at the facility after his rehab workout.
Although he said he was on schedule and optimistic about his recovery from microfracture surgery, he didn’t give a specific timetable when he might return this season.
But later in the day, Dallas Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones was a little more detailed.
IN CAREER RELAUNCHING MODE: Dallas Cowboys re-sign DE Anthony Spencer to one-year contract | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys answered one of their final lingering questions of this offseason this afternoon.
COWBOYS CALENDAR COUNTDOWN: 2014-2015 NFL season officially begins on March 11th | Tough decisions looming with Dallas’ free agents
IRVING, Texas – In other sports, this is the month where pen goes to paper for a bracket, or teams are playing sunny practice games at spring training.
In the NFL, the month of March has its own madness with the upcoming start of the new league year, which is the beginning of free agency. That officially takes place on March 11 this year, but this is also the time when things start happening around the league. High-profile guys will get cut, possibly sign new deals or in some cases, both.
The franchise tag deadline passed on Monday with the Cowboys, to no one’s surprise, choosing not to tag any of their players. Anthony Spencer had been tagged in each of the last two years, but after undergoing microfracture surgery, he’s just hoping to get back healthy enough to play football this season, whether it’s with the Cowboys or another team that signs the unrestricted free agent-to-be.
What to do with Spencer is one of many decisions the Dallas Cowboys have to make here in the next few days. In fact, Spencer might be the last guy the Cowboys decide about, considering he will be a free agent on March 11 but far from healthy. If teams, including the Cowboys, choose to pay big bucks to Spencer, it’ll be with a hope that he can return to form.
But there are plenty of other guys on whom the Cowboys must decide. Let’s break down the team’s free agents and other players who could be cut or have their salaries restructured and/or lowered this month.
Miles Austin – The most likely offseason scenario involves Austin, an eight-year veteran who was once a fan favorite when he burst onto the scene in 2009. A two-time Pro Bowler, Austin’s career has spiraled downward as hamstring injuries have taken their toll. It’s not really about if the Cowboys cut Austin, but when. If they make him a June 1 cut, it can’t happen until March 11. They can save about $5.5 million on the cap, which won’t come off the books until June. That will still be plenty for the Cowboys to sign their draft picks and maybe other cap-casualties that occur in the summer.
DeMarcus Ware – Probably the biggest decision the Cowboys have to make this year, and perhaps in the last several years. Ware has been one of the more consistent and dominant players in franchise history, but injuries have slowed him down the last two seasons. Ware is coming off elbow surgery this offseason, and it’s clear the Cowboys don’t want him to count $16 million on the cap. If the two sides can come to an agreement for a lower base salary, Ware will probably agree to that and stay. But if the Cowboys try to trim too much off his $12.25 million base, Ware could decide against that and be released. That move saves the Cowboys $7.5 million on the cap this year. And there wouldn’t be a reason to make him a June 1, considering they would need to use that extra cap space in free agency now.
Justin Durant – The veteran linebacker was a solid player last season, but with DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber both showing enough promise late last year, coupled with the $1.2 million the Dallas Cowboys save by cutting Durant, it seems likely he will not return in 2014 – at least not at that price.
Phil Costa – Like Durant, here’s another player that will probably be on his way out. Costa backed up Travis Frederick and is scheduled to make $1.5 in base salary. Perhaps they could restructure that and lower his base but at that price, a $1.725 million cap charge, it’s likely Costa will be released.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents:
Jason Hatcher – One of the top defensive linemen on the free-agent market, he’ll be 32 when the season starts and that could affect his payday. Don’t rule out the Cowboys getting back into the mix if Hatcher doesn’t get the early-market cash he’s seeking.
Anthony Spencer – This will be interesting because of the nature of his injury. Microfracture surgery won’t be an easy rehab for any player, but Spencer has enough time to get ready for the start of the season. The Cowboys will know his rehab process better than anyone, so they should be the favorites to re-sign him. The key will be how much risk teams like the Cowboys will take by paying him and how much of a pay cut or below-market price will Spencer be willing to accept.
Danny McCray – The Cowboys’ best special teams player over the last four years has been beat up here of late. Injuries have been tough to overcome for McCray, who has proven he is more of a special teams ace only. Likely to sign somewhere else, look for the Bears to have interest with former special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis in Chicago.
Ernie Sims – He filled some voids for this team, but with the development of Wilber and Holloman, don’t expect Sims back in the mix anytime soon. The Cowboys tried to go in another direction last year, but he played too well in training camp to get released.
Brian Waters – The veteran guard hasn’t publicly made a decision on his future, which could include retirement. Waters has not undergone biceps surgery and might not at all if he decides to retire. If he does choose to play, he will likely time it out right so he’ll miss camp but be ready for the season. The Cowboys have to move on mentally, but if he chooses to play, Waters could end up back in Dallas for the right price.
Jarius Wynn – He could be back in 2014, but probably for nothing more than the veteran minimum. But he played well at times last season and since defensive end is a need, Wynn could be a solid option, considering his development last year and his current knowledge of the system.
HURRY UP AND WAIT MODE: A slight chance for the Dallas Cowboys to keep defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer
IRVING, Texas – From a Dallas Cowboys-centric point of view, here is the good and bad just a little less than two months away from the start of free agency.
First, the bad.
As we all know by now, the Cowboys once again will have to engage in their yearly fat-trimming to get under the salary cap by the March 11 start to the new NFL year. While many seem to have their own ideas about how the Cowboys get to that NFL maximum, some quite wild I might add, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones does not seem quite as perplexed.
In a recent conversation, though, Jones said, “I don’t think there are any Houdini-type things we need to do to make the salary cap work in terms of being efficient and ultimately improve our roster. Obviously the focus still is with our cap situation, the draft and young players.
“But you don’t ever rule out trying to improve with one or two guys from the free-agent market who can help us.”
Then there is this: Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, two mainstays on the defensive front over the past several years, are free agents, and the one thing the Dallas Cowboys have always seemingly accomplished since free agency began in 1994 is retaining their own free agents of choice.
Your chances of doing so considerably decrease with limited available salary cap dollars.
Doubly not good when it comes to Hatcher this year – as if it wasn’t going to be tough enough to even attempt to re-sign him, what with his breakout, career-high 11-sack season playing for the first time from the defensive tackle position in a 4-3 defense – is what took place on Thursday. Hatch has been named a replacement to the Pro Bowl team, and any time you are out there in free agency trying to market yourself – in other words, get the best offer possible – just returning from a Pro Bowl appearance in Hawaii is like a slot machine going ding, ding, ding.
No matter what you say, the Dallas Cowboys certainly would hate to write off the defensive tackle who led the NFL in sacks this past season. Double-digit sacks from inside is rather remarkable, and in fact Hatcher recorded the most sacks for a Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White racked up 12.5 in 1984.
Good for Hatcher, who hit the personal mother lode, being named to the Pro Bowl team while his wife was in the process of giving birth to their baby girl.
For the Cowboys, bad, bad, bad.
Now, the good …
OK, let’s move on to what might become a couple of good breaks for Dallas. Let it be known the Cowboys certainly have not washed their hands of either player, but will be forced to sit back and see what the market might bear. Theirs must be a wait-and-see approach, knowing they can’t be the ones to set market value for either player.
“With our cap situation, that’s pretty much the way we have to go,” Jones said, “and that has nothing to do with the respect we have for Jason Hatcher or Anthony Spencer. They’ve obviously had great careers here in Dallas. We hope they continue to. But at the same time we certainly respect they have to take care of their families and do what’s best for them individually, and we fully expect that to happen.
“But hopefully they can do that and still be a Cowboy. We’ll just have to see. We’ll certainly be watching that. We don’t burn any bridges. I think Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek went into free agency without any contracts and they came home. … We certainly want to be in the mix.”
Let’s start with Spencer. This may play out in the Dallas Cowboys favor, since most figure no way the team can afford to re-sign their two-time franchised player. Well, not so fast.
Last time anyone saw Anthony Spencer following his Oct. 1 microfracture knee surgery he was still on crutches. That was in December. His recovery from the surgery that tries to promote the regrowth of missing cartilage under the kneecap is not going as well as expected. Chances are, because there was a pretty big divot of cartilage missing, there is no way he’ll be fully recovered when free agency begins on March 11. That means some team would have to take a leap of faith to sign an otherwise healthy Spencer to one of those five-year, $40 million deals with like $20 million guaranteed if he’s still limping around.
That will kill your market value faster than anything, and why players normally squawk when getting franchised as he was the past two seasons, knowing all they have is a one-year guarantee and any sort of long-term injury can kill your market value the coming offseason.
So who knows, maybe teams will take a hands-off approach to Spencer, and if that happens and if his knee doesn’t come around until like May or June, Spencer might be a prime candidate for one of those one-year minimum deals laced with some incentives, but without any guaranteed money.
That might be right up the Dallas Cowboys cap-depleted alley, and what better place to take a chance on yourself than by staying put. Now this all is unfortunate for Spencer, but let’s remember he’s made roughly $20 million over the past two seasons with the Cowboys while playing but one game this past season to collect half the sum.
Guys have been known to sign one year deals for a chance to re-establish their market value – that is, if that knee ever does come around – rather than sign some longer-term deal for far below what you might think your worth might be. Sort of like betting on yourself.
And as for Jason Hatcher, turning 32 in July? Well, you know how the many know-it-all’s keep saying no way the Cowboys should “pay age,” meaning don’t sign an aging player to one of these lucrative long-term deals that will outlive his productivity even if you have the funds, which the Cowboys really don’t.
Well, if you’re thinking that, maybe decision-makers for teams around the league are thinking the same thing. If they are, maybe that drives down his market value. Maybe Hatcher isn’t offered what he richly deserves. Just maybe then that means the going rate for a 32-year-old Pro Bowl defensive tackle becomes something more palatable for the Cowboys budget.
Who knows? We’ll see. Only time will tell for both guys.
But without Jason Hatcher and/or a healthy and affordable Anthony Spencer, a Dallas Cowboys defensive front already in bad need of refurbishing will need an even more intensive re-do. Any success doing so then rests at the mercy of the upcoming NFL draft.
DALLAS PUP RECOVERING: Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff rehab continues to linger
The Dallas Cowboys are holding out hope Jay Ratliff will be on the field at some point this year, but there’s still no set date for the defensive tackle’s return.
Ratliff may not be ready to play when he’s eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list next week. He’s also not rehabbing with the Dallas Cowboys, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Jones told 105.3 FM “The Fan” that Ratliff has “had his frustrations in terms of his medical situation,” and the Cowboys gave him the opportunity to explore different avenues in his rehab, though the team didn’t prefer it.
“This is rare, but we felt like if it mentally helped him and gave him a better chance to get back to where he thinks he needs to be, we were up for him doing that,” Jones said. “As far as knowing where he is, we get reports daily and understand how he’s progressing, so we’re aware of what’s going on.”
Ratliff only played in six games last season before getting sports hernia surgery at the end of the year. He injured his hamstring during the conditioning test at the beginning of training camp this year and hasn’t played since.
“Any time you reward a player, you hope he plays at a high level,” Jones said. “Any time it doesn’t work out, it’s frustrating, obviously. But that’s a part of the business we’re in.
“I’m sure Jay wishes it were different. I know we wish it was different. We could use him, but that’s not the way it is.”
Editors comment: Monte Kiffin’s Texas-2 Defense was predicated on having both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff in the rotation. As you know, Spencer is out for the rest of the season and Ratliff has had lingering issues for months. Dallas Cowboys DL coach Rod Marinelli has managed to make the best of a bad situation. Let’s hope we see Ratliff in the rotation at some point in the 2013-2014 season. The standout still needs to get into ‘football shape” before Jason Garrett can put him on the field. Doesn’t look like Dallas will have this dog in the fight anytime soon.
2013 PURSE CURSE: Dallas Cowboys Anthony Spencer latest hit on NFL Franchise Tag list
IRVING, Texas – The news that Anthony Spencer has undergone season-ending microfracture surgery on his injured knee continues an extensive curse of the franchise tag early this year.
Half of the eight players who received the tag are either likely to miss the entire season or haven’t played a snap this year.
Spencer is now the third player on the franchise tag to be out for the year just three weeks into the season. Broncos tackle Ryan Clady (foot) is already on injured reserve, while defensive tackle Henry Melton tore his ACL in the Bears’ most recent game against the Steelers.
They’re not the only ones suffering from injuries, either. Five of the eight players who received a franchise tag this year are hurt in some degree.
Bills safety Jairus Byrd hasn’t played this season with plantar fasciitis in his foot. He was upgraded from doubtful to questionable but still hasn’t made his way onto the field. In addition, Chiefs tackle Branden Albert sprained his shoulder against the Cowboys, leaving for part of that Week 2 contest. He may need to fight through that injury for a while.
That leaves just three players – Colts punter Pat McAfee, Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson and Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks – as the healthy players on a franchise tag right now. Apart from Johnson and his 1.5 sacks this year, the season hasn’t exactly started mesmerizingly for anyone on the tag.
Starks wasn’t a starter at all to begin the season for the Dolphins, as Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai manned the tackle spots the first two weeks of the season in Miami. It wasn’t until Soliai got hurt that Starks started for the first time in Week 3. Meanwhile, McAfee ranks 13th in the league in punting average at 46.8 yards and 14th in net punting average at 41.5 yards.
The franchise tag can be a risky investment for a team in the short-term if the player doesn’t meet lofty expectations, but it frees a team up from investing far into the future. Meanwhile, it puts a nice sum of cash in the pocket of a player in the short-term, but it’s also risky for those players’ long-term security and stability.
A serious injury and a down year can put the tagged players in a bind when searching for a hefty, long-term contract after the season. That looks like it’ll be the case for many of those players in what appears to be a cursed year for the franchise tag.
MICROMANAGING ENDS: Options without Anthony Spencer for duration of Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 season
IRVING, Texas – With the news coming from Jerry Jones today, of the likely knee surgery for Anthony Spencer ending his season, lets take a look at the options for the Cowboys and how they will manage this situation.
You have to give Jerry and Stephen Jones along with Will McClay and these scouts a great deal of credit for what they have done this off season and throughout training camp adding depth to this roster. There has to be a willingness by the front office and coaches to consistently want to churn the roster. Jason Garrett and this staff should also be commended for their part as well to take on players even when it would be very easy to stand pat with their current 53 man roster. I have always believed that one of Garrett’s great strengths is his understanding of how player personnel works in this league.
There are a couple of different ways the Cowboys will be able to manage this. The first one and most obvious, is to continue to start George Selvie in Spencer’s spot. Next to Jason Hatcher, Selvie has been one of the most consistent players this defensive line has had. He has given Rod Marinelli quality snaps, down-after-down and his play has also allowed Monte Kiffin to move DeMarcus Ware around to gain favorable pass rush situations. There has been no let down in Selvie’s game in regards to whether it has been run or pass. He has shown the ability to hold up at the point which was an area that I believed he would struggle with playing on the left side, but that has not been the case at all.
The next move from the front office and coaches will most likely be to move towering Caesar Rayford from his defensive tackle spot back to his more natural position of defensive end. Rayford has been getting that work inside but his game is better suited to play on the edge, so that should be a nice fit. Edgar Jones has also seen work at end so he will get more work as well. The club could also choose to bring Jason Vega up off the practice squad to play end. Vega was signed very late in camp and made a push for a 53 man spot with some nice work against the Houston Texans in a preseason game.
McClay and his staff might also choose to try and poach a player off another club’s practice squad. Some options might be Craig Roh with the Panthers, Xavier Proctor with the Lions and John Youboty with the Broncos. If they go this route, those players have to remain on their active roster for at least three weeks. The staff could also look toward a veteran free agent but they have proven that signing younger players and trying to work with them, tends to be a better option. Also don’t discount the possibility of a trade. This club has done a nice job of collecting late round picks that could also be used to move for players.
With this injury to Anthony Spencer lasting the majority of the summer and now into the fall, this front office and coaching staff were prepared to handle it. This could have gone the other way and they could have been dealing with an injury that happened Sunday and from my experience, that is no fun. There are solid options and place and with the way this scouting department has been operating lately, they will have answers in place sooner rather than later which wasn’t always the case.
$10.63 MILLION MICROFRACTURE: Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer could miss remainder of 2013-2014 season
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will be without Anthony Spencer for several more weeks and possibly the rest of the season, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who said the defensive end could need microfracture surgery.
“It’s a real setback,” Jones told 105.3 “The Fan” in Dallas this morning. “It could be out for the season.”
Spencer, who has played only one of three games this year, is expected to have his second surgery on his left knee that has given Spencer problems since the first days of training camp back in mid-July. Spencer underwent what was believed to be a minor arthroscopic procedure and the timetable was to return by the first game of the season against the Giants.
Spencer missed that game but returned the following week in Kansas City. However, he wasn’t able to practice much this week and was held out Sunday against the Rams.
“Here’s a case of a guy you almost have to tie him up to get him off the field,” Jones said of Spencer. “He was so diligent in his rehab. The individual that I have the most empathy for is Spencer because of the type of person he is.
In the offseason, the Cowboys cleared enough cap space to put the $10.63 million franchise tag on Spencer for the second straight year. Spencer made his first trip to the Pro Bowl last year when he had a career-high 11 sacks.
The Cowboys are fortunate to have veteran George Selvie, a late-camp addition who has started the last three games.
RANDOM GAMEDAY NOTES: Miles Austin relieved by Harris; OG rotation; Spencer still on hold; and more
ARLINGTON, Texas – The announcement in the AT&T Stadium press box momentarily hushed the crowd – Miles Austin had left the game against St. Louis with hamstring problems.
Austin had a quiet afternoon before aggravating his legs on a deep route in the third quarter. He came away with two catches for 22 yards.
The veteran wideout didn’t reappear, though Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that was a precautionary move.
“The discussion we had was that he was going to continue to stay warmed up,” Garrett said. “I said ‘That’s a good thing, he needs to be ready, but we’ll keep looking at that scoreboard and making sure we can handle the situation without him.’”
The lopsided win against the Rams certainly made it an easy call to rest Austin. The Cowboys scored to go up 31-7 with roughly 12 minutes remaining in the game and were able to cruise to a comfortable win without their No. 2 receiver.
“Because the game – you know, we were ahead in the ballgame – we decided to keep him out of it,” Garrett said. “We’ll just evaluate it over the next couple of days.”
Austin’s absence opened the door for receiver, Dwayne Harris, for his first touchdown of the season.
“He really showed a lot of mental and physical toughness throughout the game,” Garrett said.
Fittingly enough, it was Harris’ hands – shaky to start with the muffed punt – which sealed the win, as he brought in his lone catch for a 24-yard touchdown.
“It was a bad play,” Garrett said of the muffed punt. “It was a bad play by him and our defense went out and responded the right way, and I think Dwayne responded the right way himself as the game wore on.”
Here are some more notes from the Cowboys’ 31-7 win against St. Louis:
- Anthony Spencer was inactive for the second time in three weeks with the same knee injury he had surgery on in July. The Cowboys managed fine without the Pro Bowler, as they racked up six sacks, but there’s no doubt they’d like to get one of their sack artists back to the field. “It’s just real frustrating for this to be the same lingering problem, but it is what it is and I’m handling it the best way I can,” Spencer said. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said the team had an idea earlier in the week that Spencer would be unavailable. Spencer tried to work out on the knee as late as Friday but “it wasn’t going.” The thought is that the knee is still sore from the stress of playing against Kansas City, and Spencer said he’ll “play it by ear” going forward.
- Brian Waters said following the win he thought he could play a full game on the offensive line. Waters and Mackenzy Bernadeau rotated at guard against the Rams, after Waters worked just a few series of each half last week against the Chiefs. “At the end of the day, that’s the coaches’ call. I’m just going to continue to do what I can,” Waters said. “We got some good guys – we got a good group, and the more players the better, because it’s a long season. As we find in the NFL, you’ve got to have more than five offensive linemen to be successful.”
- At one point, both Bernadeau and Waters played guard together, as Ronald Leary tweaked his knee in the third quarter. Garrett said it was the same knee Leary injured during training camp, but he was fine and was able to return to the game.
- Like Harris, Gavin Escobar made the most of a small opportunity. The rookie tight end managed just one catch, but it isn’t one he’ll soon forget. Escobar brought in a beautiful 24-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to put Dallas up, 24-0. “I was very excited,” Escobar said. “That’s usually not a play where I’m the go-to guy, but you never know and you have to be ready to catch the ball.” The play was actually the exact same as the one Harris would late score on. Escobar had just missed on several opportunities this season, but Tony Romo said the rookie is coming along nicely. “He almost had one earlier in the game. I think he lost his shoe against New York on one where he would have had one. So it was just a matter of time,” Romo said.
- Not everything went swimmingly for the Cowboys in an otherwise easy win. Kicker Dan Bailey missed a manageable field goal wide right from just 35 yards out. Harris’ muffed punt also factored into a forgettable day.
- Orlando Scandrick’s sack of Sam Bradford in the first quarter gave the cornerback 7.5 sacks for his career – fourth-best among defensive backs in Cowboys history. It seems like a stat that could be more common for Scandrick in this defense. “He’s got good timing, and he wants to be around that football,” Garrett said. “He’s got that big ass chip on his shoulder, too.”
2013 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Dallas Cowboys vs. Saint Louis Rams
The Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams show similarities after the first 2 weeks
With the first loss of the season out of the way, the Cowboys can now go about assessing how they respond to it. During the past two 8-8 seasons, the team has never lost more than two games in a row, but they have lost two in a row on six different occasions.
The Cowboys’ ability to run the ball – or lack thereof – is going to dominate the discussion all week after the loss to the Chiefs. Regardless of anything else, 37 rushing yards probably won’t beat many NFL teams.
Coach Jason Garrett stressed early in the week that the running game has to improve, and perhaps a large role from Brian Waters could help that. Perhaps the Cowboys can rediscover some of the 2011 magic that helped then-rookie running back DeMarco Murray set the franchise rushing record of 253 yards against the Rams three seasons ago.
The Rams haven’t been quite as careful with the ball as the mistake-free Chiefs. St. Louis has given the ball away three times in two games – the same as Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense is going to have to find a way to take a ball or two away, as everyone saw last week how tough it is to win with a negative turnover margin.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer received a good amount of playing time against Kansas City, and he was moderately effective. It looks likely that the 2012 Pro Bowler will follow the same routine from last week and look to suit up again Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys might be hoping they run the ball like they did against the 2011 Rams, but these are not the 2011 Rams.
For starters, they can stop the run, as they held Atlanta to 36 yards on 16 carries in a close loss Sunday. The Rams have only allowed 122 rushing yards on 42 attempts through two games, which is sixth-best in the NFL and a far cry from the average of 152 yard per game they allowed in 2011.
These Rams also have Sam Bradford, who missed six games, including the Cowboys game, in 2011. Bradford is off to a hot start and with the help of free agency acquisition Jared Cook and rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin, he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns.
Bradford’s 352 yards against the Falcons helped St. Louis rally from a 24-3 halftime deficit, though it wasn’t enough. His efforts were much more effective in Week 1, when he led the Rams 50 yards in the final two minutes to down Arizona with a 48-yard field goal.
Just like the Cowboys, though the Rams’ passing attack couples with a lackluster ground game. Leading rusher Daryl Richardson has just 98 yards on 30 carries – sound somewhat familiar?
Also like the Cowboys, St. Louis looks relatively strong against the run, but the secondary looks vulnerable. The Rams are allowing 330 yards per game through the air, which could open the playbook up for Tony Romo and Co.
IN THE TRENCHES: Key matchups for Sunday’s Showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs
Cowboys center Travis Frederick versus Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe:
This will be rookie center Travis Frederick’s first experience playing with a man on his nose the entire game. He has had to deal with shades, but in training camp and during the preseason games, he was largely uncovered.
Dontari Poe is an interesting player because when he came out in the draft two seasons ago, he had the tag of boom-or-bust. My observation of him then was that he had more boom because of his natural ability. I did not see him play all that well with his technique, but I felt like once he got into the league that would all change.
Poe has always been a powerful, point-of-attack player, who if you attempted to run the ball at him, blockers were going to have a difficult time moving him. That is still the case today.
Where Poe has made his biggest improvement is in how he is playing with his hands. He is doing a much better job of quickly working them inside to control the blocker. He is shedding blockers with more consistency, and then working to his left or right to find the ball.
Frederick will also need to be on guard for Poe’s swim move, run or pass. For a big man, Poe is surprisingly very nimble with his footwork. If he does have a weakness, and this is where Frederick can take advantage of him, it’s that he tends to be a tick late off the snap.
Frederick is smart enough and savvy enough to find ways to work the edges on Poe but also put himself into position when getting help. This should be a good battle inside between two young players.
Cowboys defensive ends George Selvie and Anthony Spencer versus Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher:
Eric Fisher is making his second career start, and after a week against Jacksonville where he had some questionable moments at right tackle, these Cowboys defensive ends should be anxious to attack him. There is no doubt that one day Fisher will be a factor for the Chiefs, but right now he has struggled when he has had to face a rusher that plays with power.
Technique-wise, Fisher can put himself into position to secure the block. Finishing it, though, is where he gets in the most trouble.
From what I have seen in George Selvie, I do not believe that he can play with the same power as Anthony Spencer, so that might be a wash for the Cowboys defense.
Look for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to find plenty of ways to get Spencer off the edge in this game, which will allow him to take advantage of Fisher. Spencer will also be able to attack Fisher with more pass-rush moves, which is always difficult for a rookie to deal with.
I fully expect to see DeMarcus Ware move to the opposite side and take some cracks at Fisher as well. Selvie will then move to the right side and face Brandon Albert, who I feel like is the best of the Kansas City offensive line. Ware, like Spencer, can present a whole set of different challenges as well. We have talked about this before in that Ware has that ability to turn speed into power and get blockers off balance.
As long as Selvie can hold up at the point of attack against the Chiefs, then Kiffin can continue to move these rushers around to create the best possible matchups and get pressure on Alex Smith.
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE: Jason Garrett’s impressions from Giants win, looking to Kansas City
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke extensively Monday evening following his team’s season-opening win on Sunday night.
Garrett answered questions for roughly a half hour, both about the Cowboys’ performance against the Giants and the upcoming trip to play the Chiefs.
The storyline of six defensive takeaways has dominated much of the discussion of the young season since the Cowboys cemented their 36-31 victory against the Giants. Garrett said it was refreshing to see such a large point of emphasis come to fruition in live action.
“What you preach and what you practice and what you drill is not your team – it’s what shows up on Sunday,” he said.
Having acknowledged that, Garrett admitted there was plenty to work on, as the defense allowed 450 passing yards and four touchdowns to Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his receivers.
“They did make some big plays – they had six pass plays of 20 yards or more – so we have to get better in that area,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with our guys individually on that and also from a scheme standpoint – making sure our guys are standing where we want them to.”
Garrett said the Cowboys secondary needs to work on defending tighter in passing situations.
Here are a few more notes from Garrett’s Monday press conference:
- Garrett was asked about the availability of several players who missed the Giants game for Week 2 against the Chiefs. He said he had “no idea” about what to expect from defensive end Anthony Spencer, though he hopes to see Spencer practice this week.
- He also reiterated that guard Brian Waters has a strong week of work in his first days with the team, and the coaching staff will evaluate his availability going forward.
- Much was made of the Giants’ apparent practice of faking injuries in order to slow down Dallas’ no-huddle offense on Sunday. Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones addressed it following the game. Garrett addressed the issue, by saying, “Our officials do such a great job with handling all those situations, and that’s a challenge for the league,” he said. “What you have to do as an offense is just go play.”
- Garrett was asked about the Cowboys’ use of the pistol formation, which puts a running back behind the quarterback in a slight tweak of the shotgun formation. Garrett said the formation gives defenses less of an idea of what the offense plans to do with its running back. “We probably started running it about five years ago, but we’ve never used it as extensively as we did last night.”
- With eight tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown, safety Barry Church earned the Cowboys’ weekly boxing glove award, given to the game’s outstanding player.
- Regarding Dez Bryant: “He got a lot of attention from their defense, and he has to understand that’s the world he’s going to live in for the rest of his career.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett Press Conference 9/9/2013
Jason Garrett speaks to the media from Valley Ranch about the win over the New York Giants and upcoming game vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Coach Garrett discussed:
- Six takeaways vs. big plays given up
- OL grade vs. very good NYG defensive pressure
- Tony Romo’s injury, x-rays, and going back in to play
- Explanation of secondary in this scheme, angles, anticipated help
- Attitude of players that fight thru injuries (Romo, Claiborne, Bryant)
- Barry Church came in as free agent, impact on team, young leader
- New York Giants faking injuries to slow down no-huddle
- Player of the Game awards and recognition
- Extensive information on the ‘pistol formation’
- Lessons on last years week-1 win followed by week-2 loss
- Respecting KC’s win (vs. JAX) and Andy Reid’s track-record vs. Cowboys
- Wants more balance from OC Callahan
- Romo2Williams INT breakdown and DeMarco Murray stopping TD
- Murray’s stop vs. last years stop with Tyron Smith, allowed goal-line stand
- Dez Bryant drawing attention and respect from defenses
- Trend of No-Huddle around league, Cowboys implementing similar
- OG Brian Waters progress towards upcoming Kansas City game
- Running No-Huddle at home vs. road stadiums
- Gameday execution and relation to meetings, practices, drills, and coaching
- Continually moving playmakers into different looks and fronts
- Young starters Frederick and Leary grade vs. NYG front
- Special Teams production and Bailey’s impact with deep kickoffs
- Recent roster additions impact on Special Teams
- Harris’ playing complete game as receiver, ST tackles, and ST returns
- DeMarco Murray production running and catching the ball
- Jason Hatcher and rotation of linemen to gain experience, provide relief
- Offseason planning for week 1 vs. short prep times for remaining games
- Gameday preparation for familiar coach Andy Reid and his system
- Miles Austin rise from past and his first start vs. Kansas City few years ago
- Big school vs. small school analysis of players coming into league
Spread the word about The Boys Are Back blog! Use the SHARE buttons below!
TALKIN’ TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: New DE Caesar Rayford feels ready to play in New York Giants game
Newly-acquired defensive end Caesar Rayford said he feels confident he could be ready to play the Giants if asked to this weekend. “I got a lot of snaps this preseason, and I pretty much feel like I’m in game shape,” he said.
The makeshift sign above Rayford’s locker might have been spelled wrong, but Rayford’s presence at Valley Ranch is no mistake. Rayford has only been with the Cowboys for about 18 hours after being traded from Indianapolis, so it’s understandable a member of the training staff would spell his name “Ceasar” on the masking tape sign above his new locker. But with Spencer’s status still questionable for Sunday, Rayford’s proficiency as a pass rusher – five sacks in the preseason – could come in handy. “There’s definitely a different transition from 3-4 to 4-3 – I guess I don’t really have to worry about coverage as much as I used to,” Rayford said. “I’m definitely going to study that playbook and make sure I pick up everything.”
Rayford had perhaps the line of the week when asked about his journey to the Cowboys’ locker room. The first-year NFL player spent time in the CFL and the Arena Football League before he eventually received a call from the Colts. “Some people get in the front door, some people get in the back door. But guys like me have got to climb the house and jump through the chimney,” he said. That’s been my journey – long and hard, and I stayed the course, and now I’m here.”
- Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will be one of the happiest people to add Rayford to the rotation. Asked about Spencer’s availability for Sunday, he said “it depends on how he looks tomorrow and the next day – if it looks like he can play I think he’ll still be a game time decision.” If Spencer can’t go, it’ll be all hands on deck for the Cowboys’ reserves.
- Kiffin said anyone who lines up on Sunday night will have to play their best against the Giants, regardless of what his name is. He said it remains to be seen how the likes of defensive tackle Nick Hayden and defensive end George Selvie will perform, but he said they earned an opportunity with good training camps.
- Kiffin acknowledged that cornerback Morris Claiborne’s play is a big key for Sunday’s game. Claiborne didn’t play any preseason games after he jammed his knee during training camp. Kiffin said Claiborne looked good at Monday’s practice and had a good day of work Wednesday.
Spread the word about The Boys Are Back blog! Please use the SHARE buttons below!
JASON GARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants–Veteran OG Brian Waters
Jason Garrett Press Conference 9/4/2013 (Duration – 10:44)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team continues their preparation for opening night with the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Garrett discussed:
- Brian Waters visits on Monday and Tuesday
- History with Brian Waters
- Vetting Waters with film and actual workout
- Impact of being off for a full NFL season
- Domino effect of linemen by bringing in Waters
- Evaluating Waters current condition at Valley Ranch
- Competitive nature of the team’s roster spots
- Track record of backups given playing time after earning it
- Scouts and support staffs impact on finding viable players
- Veteran presence will help younger players
- Missing training camp in New England,
- Ron Leary recovery and practice
- Route running importance in this system
- Spencer factors into recent defensive signings
- Romo’s game-planning role this week
Spread the word about The Boys Are Back blog! Please use the SHARE buttons below!
2013 PRESEASON INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys Bernadeau and Hatcher on bikes; Claiborne and Beasley return
Cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver Cole Beasley returned to practice with the season opener 13 days away, but guard Mackenzy Bernadeau and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher stayed in as the Cowboys began the final week of preseason.
Claiborne’s final chance to play in the preseason is Thursday in the finale against the Houston Texans. He has not played in a game because of a “jammed” knee he suffered in training camp on Aug. 6. Beasley hurt an ankle in the preseason game against Oakland on Aug. 9.
Bernadeau, who played left guard Saturday against the Bengals, has an ankle injury. He and Hatcher rode the exercise bike as practice began Monday.
Guard Ronald Leary also did not make it out for the start of practice. Leary is recovering from knee surgery less than two weeks ago.
Also not out for the start of practice were linebacker Brandon Magee (concussion), safeties Matt Johnson, Eric Frampton and Danny McCray, defensive linemen Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, running back Lance Dunbar and center Ryan Cook.
2013 PRESEASON INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys Lance Dunbar out; Kowalski and Dominguez return
IRVING, Texas – None of the defensive players who were inactive for Saturday’s preseason game returned to practice Monday at Valley Ranch, while the offense received a mixed bag of news.
Guards Kevin Kowalski and Ray Dominguez returned from knee and shoulder injuries, respectively, but running back Lance Dunbar missed practice for the first time with a foot sprain.
Five offensive players were out Monday, including Dunbar, wide receiver Cole Beasley (foot) and offensive linemen Ryan Cook (back), Ron Leary (knee) and Nate Livings (knee). Leary and Livings are both on the mend from knee scopes.
Safety Matt Johnson (foot) thought he’d be able to return in some capacity Monday, but he wasn’t on the field during the early portion of practice available to the media. Morris Claiborne, whose day-to-day knee injury has now become week-to-week, was also out.
Some good news for the defense was the return of safety Will Allen, who left Saturday’s game after injuring his ribs. Head coach Jason Garrett said after the game the injury wasn’t serious and he could have returned.
The usual suspects were still out on defense, including Anthony Spencer (knee) and Jay Ratliff(hamstring), while Ernie Sims, Sean Lissemore and Eric Frampton are all still recovering from injuries suffered toward the end of camp.
J.J. Wilcox hasn’t returned yet for personal reasons, but has been given as much time as he needs following the death of his mother and is expected back around the middle of this week.
Travis Chappelear and Toby Jackson weren’t at practice for the beginning portion, either. Chappelear wore a boot as he left the field Saturday.
2013 COWBOYS ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas makes a few personnel changes on special teams
Photo: Dallas Cowboys rookie WR Terrance Williams returning to the field
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys made some personnel changes today (on Sunday) involving special teams, an area that struggled somewhat in Friday’s second preseason game in Oakland.
However, the changes made weren’t exactly a result of Friday’s problems or even deemed solutions to the miscues.
The Cowboys added punter/kicker Brett Maher and long snapper P.J. Mangieri. Both played collegiately at Nebraska.
The Cowboys had to waive long snapper Jackson Anderson, the only player who did not play in the Raiders game. The team already had an open spot on the roster after cutting guard Jeff Olson on Thursday. But the Cowboys also waived punter Spencer Benton last week after he had four punts for in the first preseason game against Miami.
Last year, Maher was 20 of 27 on field goal attempts and also had 61 punts for a 41.8 yard average.
Mangieri played four years at Nebraska, serving as the full-time snapper for punts, field goals and extra points.
It’s likely the Cowboys would like to give veteran L.P. Ladouceur some rest over the next three preseason games. Maher will likely serve as the kickoff specialist and could relieve kicker Dan Bailey and punter Chris Jones occasionally as well.
Injury and Practice update:
The Dallas Cowboys return to practice at 7:15 p.m. (Dallas time). They will be without receiver Cole Beasley, who sprained ligaments in his left foot in the game against the Raiders. They will get back receiver Terrance Williams, who sat out more than a week with a concussion.
Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) are among the players who will remain out until after the Cowboys return home next week.
COWBOYS 2013 INJURY UPDATE: Anthony Spencer surgery a success, should be ready for start of the season
Defensive end Anthony Spencer had successful surgery on his left knee today (Thursday), according to his agent Jordan Woy.
Spencer will be be sidelined about a month while recovering, likely keep him out the majority of the preseason. He should be ready for the start of the season.
The surgery was necessary after Spencer experienced discomfort in the knee during pre-camp conditioning tests on Saturday. It’s the same knee he hyper-extended during organized team activities in June. A magnetic resonance imaging exam confirmed a bone-bruise in Spencer’s left knee.
The Cowboys felt surgery was the best option and wanted to get this taken care of so it wouldn’t be a lingering issue during the season. Spencer will make $10.6 million after being designated as the team’s franchise player.
RELATED: Cowboys finally got some good news on the injury front
Starting left guard Nate Livings has been given the OK to practice and was removed Friday from the active non-football injury list. He’s expected to practice Friday afternoon after missing the start of camp with a foot problem.
Coach Jason Garrett said several other injured players could be back next week, including tight end James Hanna (hamstring), guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hamstring) and guard Ron Leary (calf).
Backup right tackle Jermey Parnell (hamstring) probably need another week, Garrett said.
Garrett also said that defensive ends Anthony Spencer (knee) and Tyrone Crawford (Achilles tendon) had successful surgeries in Dallas. Spencer is expected back in camp sidelines this week, while Crawford will remain in Dallas.
COWBOYS 2013 ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas bringing in two defensive linemen to shore up depth concerns
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys are bringing in two defensive linemen to make up for their lack of depth after injuries at the position.
They’ll take a look at defensive end George Selvie, a former South Florida defender who’s made stops in the NFL in St. Louis, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay since 2010, and veteran defensive lineman Landon Cohen, who’s played in 25 games throughout his career.
Selvie spent a month in Tampa Bay after signing with the Buccaneers in April of this year before getting released. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Rams in 2010, playing in all 16 games for St. Louis his rookie season. He was waived in September 2011 and then spent time with Carolina and Jacksonville in 2011-2012.
The defensive lineman played in 11 games in 2011, including four with Carolina and seven with Jacksonville. He stayed with the Jaguars in 2012, playing in nine games that season.
Cohen’s bounced around the league since getting drafted out of Ohio in the seventh round in 2008. He played in Detroit in 2008-09, suiting up for 20 games during that time. He spent time with Jacksonville, New England, Seattle, Arizona and Philadelphia since then, suiting up for two games with the Jaguars and three with the Patriots.
After adding three players to start training camp in quarterback Alex Tanney, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and tackle Demetress Bell, the team has one spot open on the 90-man roster. Tanney was the only one of those three to pass his conditioning test when arriving in California.
The Cowboys need help and depth at defensive line after losing Tyrone Crawford for the season on the first full day of training camp practices Sunday when the former third-round pick tore his Achilles tendon.
Crawford was a backup player expected to play an increased role, but it’s not just the backups who are hurting on the defensive line. Starter Anthony Spencer also sat out of practices early in training camp with a bone bruise on his knee, and he’s slated to have surgery that will keep him out two to four weeks.
Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is also not participating in practice after hurting his hamstring during the conditioning drills, while defensive lineman Ikponmwosa Igbinosun sat out Tuesday with his foot in a boot.
COWBOYS 2013 INJURY UPDATE: Anthony Spencer knee surgery scheduled; young players get opportunity
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer will require surgery on his left knee later this week.
An MRI confirmed a bone bruise after Spencer aggravated the knee during the team’s conditioning test Saturday. Spencer has been pained by the knee since the team’s OTAs in May and sat out the minicamp last month in hopes rest would heal it. But after this latest setback, doctors have advised minor surgery.
He is expected to be back in a few weeks, well in time for the season-opening game against the Giants. Spencer will miss valuable practice time as the Cowboys shift from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. Spencer and DeMarcus Ware are moving from outside linebacker to defensive end.
With DE Tyrone Crawford out for the season with a torn achilles, defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the physically unable to perform list because a strained hamstring and defensive Anthony Spencer with a bone bruise, the Cowboys acknowledge a need for help and added numbers on the defensive line.
The Cowboys will scan the waiver wire for possible additions for depth purposes but they will look to the current players on the roster to step up and help fill the void. If they need to add a veteran like John Abraham or Richard Seymour, it will be at the end of the preseason, a source said.
“Injuries provide opportunity,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We have a lot of young guys who we like. Guys we want to see more of. This gives them a chance to show us what they can do.”
The Cowboys will look to guys like Cameron Sheffield to step up at end behind Spencer, DeMarcus Ware and Kyle Wilber and former Texas A&M tackle Ben Bass to fill the void inside. There is a chance Bass could get a look at end but the Cowboys are holding off on that right now.
2013-2014 TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys dealing with Crawford’s season-ending injury
OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys are now well underway in training camp here at the Oxnard River Ridge complex. The club wrapped up another light walk-through practice Monday, followed by a regular press conference from Jason Garrett.
Here are some highlights from the morning and early afternoon occurrences today:
- Defensive end Anthony Spencer didn’t participate because of a bone bruise on his leg. Spencer told reporters after practice he is trying to be smart about all injuries. His goal is to be “ready for that first game against the Giants.” From the sound of things, Spencer will be limited in his practice participation.
- With Spencer out, and after the torn Achilles injury of Tyrone Crawford, it put second-year pro Kyle Wilber working with the first-team defense at end.
- Running back Joseph Randle, who has been limited for most of the summer with a broken thumb injury, said he is “pretty much” 100 percent healthy now. Randle said he is wearing a small splint that fits inside his glove.
- Tight end James Hanna suffered a slight hamstring strain towards the end of the walk-through.
- When asked after practice what keeps Jason Witten’s motor running after 10 seasons, the Pro Bowl tight end said, his drive to “win a Super Bowl” is the biggest motivator. However, Witten said having the goal isn’t good enough. Putting in the hard work and long hours of camp and the offseason is only half of the battle. But still, Witten doesn’t deny the ultimate prize is to be holding that Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. “When that day happens around here, it’ll be very special.”
- Jason Garrett said in his press conference the Cowboys won’t be able to put Crawford on IR until the roster is trimmed to 75 players. While they won’t gain a spot on the roster because of his injury, they already had one open spot. In regard to the defensive end, Garrett said “we need to reload there. We just need to continue to look at available options there.”
- Garrett on Tyrone Crawford: “I thought he had an outstanding year last year. He was a different player at the end of the year than the start. You know he’ll do his rehab right and we know he’ll be better and stronger than ever.”
- The head coach said defensive tackle Ben Bass has “some position flex” and he’ll get the chance with Crawford out, to play both end and tackle in the next few days.
- Jason Garrett was asked a few questions about his team-meeting speech on Saturday that has become viral in the internet Monday. The coach said motivational speaking is the biggest part of his job. “I think you have to give them a path, a roadmap, some inspiration and motivation to get up each and day to accomplish that vision. It’s my job as the head coach to do that. If you’re a human being, you need motivation and inspiration. It’s something I believe I have to do.
- Injured defensive end Tyrone Crawford said he will try to remain upbeat after his disappointing Achilles injury that will put him on IR for the entire season. “I’m still a part of the team. But I’m just not going to be there on the field. I learned a lot from DeMarcus Ware this offseason. I learned a lot from Hatcher, Ratliff this offseason. Now, I’m going to learn a lot from (Barry) Church and Britt Brown and the rest of the medical staff. But I’m going to work hard. I’ll make it back.”
- Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, the team’s director of player personnel, said Tyrone Crawford’s replacement is already on the roster. “We certainly like the guys we’ve got better there anyone out there.”
PLAYING FOR A CONTRACT: No long-term deal for Anthony Spencer
Ever since the Dallas Cowboys placed the franchise tag on defensive end Anthony Spencer in March it was a long-shot that they would be able to sign him to a long-term deal.
The depressed free-agent market have driven the prices down and Spencer, though he wants to stay in Dallas, had no intention of taking a below market deal when he was already guaranteed $10.6 million this year with the franchise tag.
Not surprisingly the two sides decided to end the impasse and just concentrate on the 2013 season with no further talks.
“Both sides are happy with the one-year deal,” Spencer’s agent Jordan Woy said Tuesday. “We tried hard but could not work out a deal. We have a very positive relationship with the Cowboys. Anthony is happy and he will play to the best of his ability again this season”
The Cowboys had until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with Spencer, per league rules.
Woy said no one has broken off talks but he acknowledged that they aren’t talking and will probably just concentrate on the season.
“Obviously we have to take a look at what people signed for and what they’ll make going forward,” Cowboys vice-president Stephen Jones said ominously two weeks ago. “There’s some good football players that what they got paid might affect what we want to pay Anthony going forward.”
“There’s nothing here that’s not on the up and up and friendly,” Jones said. “If it works out, it works out. We’d love to have Spencer here, but we also understand it has got to work for him, too.”
Spencer will most certainly get a long-term deal next spring in Dallas or elsewhere as the Cowboys will not put a franchise tag on him for a third straight year, guaranteeing him roughly $15.2 million in 2014.
HANDS-ON APPROACH: Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware working with instinctive DE Kyle Wilber this spring
Anthony Spencer watched Kyle Wilber fill in for him at defensive end in the OTAs and mini-camp, and he said Wilber showed instinct for the position.
“He’s quick off the ball,” Spencer said of the second-year player, drafted in 2012 as an outside linebacker but moved to defensive end in the switch to the 4-3. “He’s just got to trust in himself to get off the ball and doing that every play. Just his get-off alone makes up for a lot of his type of size, playing in the trenches. That’s what he’s definitely working on right now.”
Wilber got a chance to get first-team snaps in the offseason practices while Spencer sat out with a knee injury. It gave the Cowboys an extended look at the 6-4, 252-pound Wilber. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has said he believes Wilber can be a speed rusher.
Spencer, speaking at the mini-camp last week at Valley Ranch, said Wilber held his own against tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free in the practices. It reminded Spencer of his days as a young edge rusher going against former Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams.
“I got my butt whipped by Flo a lot when I was a rookie and my second year,” Spencer said. “It definitely helped me develop and get to where I am right now. I tell him all the time, it happens to everybody. So it’s good for you. It’s humbling, and it gets you on the right track, definitely.”
Spencer said he and DeMarcus Ware were literally hands-on in showing Wilber everything they could about the position, much as former defensive end Greg Ellis did for them.
“When Greg was here, he would always try to help us with our hand placement. Just talking it out, it helps us at the same time, to be able to explain what we’re doing to somebody else,” Spencer said. “And it helps us to realize what we’re doing. So it helps him, it helps me at the same time, especially with me being out right now. It’s kind of like living vicariously through him right now.”
Photo: Dallas Cowboys 2012 Draft pick – Defensive End Kyle Wilber