NEXT MAN UP: With Morris Claiborne out, Dallas Cowboys counting on rookie B.W. Webb to play in the slot
B.W. Webb got his feet wet on special teams. He played 75 snaps on special teams the first seven games, but the Cowboys didn’t need him on defense, limiting him to only 31 of 504 defensive snaps.
Now, the Dallas Cowboys need their fourth-round draft pick.
Morris Claiborne will miss the next two games with a hamstring injury. Claiborne watched from the sideline at the end of Sunday’s game as Webb played 39 of 80 snaps.
Webb was thrown into the fire against Calvin Johnson, who set the single-season record for receiving yards in 2012 and had the second-biggest receiving day in NFL history against the Cowboys on Sunday.
“I tried not to think about it too much,” Webb said. “It didn’t bother me too much. It’s just another guy out there. I mean, I understand it’s Calvin Johnson and everything, but I try not to focus on the person too much when I’m playing.”
Webb, a William & Mary product, caused the Cowboys to use a timeout coming out of a TV timeout at the start of the fourth quarter when he wasn’t on the field.
“That was on me,” Webb said of his rookie mistake.
He ended up with three tackles.
Webb said he is ready for his opportunity to play more. He will play in the slot in the Cowboys’ nickel packages, with Orlando Scandrick staying outside.
“It’s a huge opportunity just to get on the field and showcase what I really can do,” Webb said.
Webb led the team with three pass breakups in the preseason, and he also contributed an interception. It got him ready for what he’s about to face this week against the Vikings.
“I think I showed a little bit,” Webb said. “I’ve been working on my craft since then, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better. …I think I’ve come a long way.”
TEXAS 2 TAKEAWAYS: Cowboys’ defenders create sacks, but no turnovers
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys failed to create a single takeaway in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs after forcing six turnovers a week prior.
Safety Will Allen and linebacker Bruce Carter both had opportunities for interceptions, and it still sticks with them a day later that they weren’t able to secure the picks.
“Not creating the turnovers, not getting the takeaways, that’s what’s painful about (the loss),” Allen said. “If we get one at a crucial moment, that’s the game for us.”
The safety, who had an opportunity early on while crashing on a route to secure a tough pick, said the lack of takeaways sticks in his mind more than the fact that the defense allowed the Chiefs to eat up time and pick up crucial first downs to secure their win.
“If we get takeaways, it doesn’t even matter at the end of the game,” Allen said.
Pressure on the quarterback wasn’t the problem for the Cowboys’ defense, as they brought Alex Smith down four times for sacks. They just couldn’t capitalize on the pressures, failing to intercept a pass and allowing the quarterback to scramble and run for 57 yards on eight attempts.
Carter had one of those sacks, but he also had an opportunity to potentially take an out-route back for six points. He read the pass, but he couldn’t secure the catch near the sideline at midfield.
“That was a key play that I have to make to put my team in position to win the game,” Carter said. “I just have to finish and catch and go to the house. I was already thinking about going to the end zone before I caught it.”
Carter said it’s difficult to go through a game without a takeaway, considering how hard the defense works in practice to rip the ball out.
The special teams unit also had a chance to secure a fumbled kickoff return by the Chiefs, but Knile Davis recovered the catch he muffed inside the Chiefs’ 20-yard line. B.W. Webb was one of the defenders close to the play.
“I was pretty close, but I was hesitating because that really wasn’t my job to be in that area,” Webb said. “I was like, ‘Should I go or stay in my job?’ I was the safety on that play and didn’t know if he was going to get it back. When I looked at it, I was closer than I thought.”
The Cowboys had a few opportunities to make the game-changing types of plays the Kansas City defense came up with. The Chiefs ended the night leading the turnover ratio, 2-0, after forcing two fumbles.
Allen said the defense can’t go entire games without forcing a takeaway and that keeps him up at night, but they have to forget about it now and move on.
“Me and Bruce Carter both had opportunities to turn the game around, to get the offense an extra possession or two,” he said. “We didn’t do that.”
BROTHERLY LOVE: Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb honors teammate by wearing J.J. Wilcox’s No. 27 in practice
Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb wanted J.J. Wilcox to know that he was thinking of him. So Webb wore Wilcox’s No. 27 jersey to practice Friday.
“That’s like my brother, so I’m just showing my love, let him know I’m still here with him,” Webb said. “Whatever he needs I’ve got him.”
Wilcox has been excused from practice since his mother, Marshell Wilcox, became gravely ill. Marshell Wilcox died Tuesday after a long battle with lupus, a chronic and lifelong autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue and organs. The funeral is Saturday in Cairo, Ga.
Wilcox is expected to rejoin the team in Dallas.
“I’ve talked to him,” Webb said. “He’s doing a little better, but it’s hard right now. I can’t imagine losing your parent. I’m just want to let him know I’m here for him if he needs anything.”
Webb will wear his own No. 20 in the game Saturday against the Cardinals.
RULED AND SCHOOLED: Dallas Cowboys rookie corner B.W. Webb gets counseling from Tony Romo
Count quarterback Tony Romo as one of the people rookie cornerback B.W. Webb sought advice from after his bad outing in the 19-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders last Friday. Webb gave up six catches for 65 yards in coverage and fumbled a punt that led to the game-deciding score.
Coach Jason Garrett was critical of Webb’s demeanor and confidence in the game and the rookie fourth-round pick acknowledged that he let his poor play at cornerback bleed into the fumbled punt.
“Yeah, I guess I thought about my bad plays too much,” Webb said. “I didn’t really put them behind me. In this league you to put those in your back pocket and keep going. I kind of dwelled on those too much and it led into the punt, dropped the punt so it was just…I got to put things behind me and get on on with the game.”
Webb said he talked to a few people after the game for advice, including cornerback Brandon Carr and secondary coach Jerome Henderson. He also approached the veteran quarterback for his perspective.
“His position is crazy and you have your up and down games,” Webb said. “He really told me you got to be able to put that in past. He told me he messes up at times and coaches jump him and it’s on to the next play, just getting that perspective from especially him.”
In two games, Webb has played 108 plays. He has been targeted 13 times, giving up 10 catches for 94 yards.
PRESEASON GAME 2 WRAP-UP: Texas 2 linebacker Sean Lee already looks to be in midseason form
OXNARD, Calif. – Just a little clearing of the notebook following Friday’s 19-17 loss to the Raiders in the second preseason game.
— In the amount of snaps that DeMarcus Ware played the other night, he was very productive but the best player on the field for the Cowboys defense was Sean Lee. If there is concern of how he would bounce back from his injury he suffered last season, well put those thoughts to rest. Lee was in midseason form with his reads, adjustments and the manner in which he attacked the ball.
The Raiders offensive line does not touch him the entire opportunity he was in the game and his blitz that caused the first turnover of the game was textbook. His quickness and agility was outstanding but the physical way in which he finished the play was even better.
— Jason Hatcher continues to impress in the way he is going about his business in this camp and in the way he played in this game. Hatcher has been able to handle a steady diet of playing in this scheme.
He not only has played with tremendous quickness and agility but his power has shown to be better as well. I worried about him getting off blocks consistently but now that he doesn’t have to two gap blockers and he can attack the gap, it’s a much better fit for him. He has also shown the ability to understand what Rod Marinelli is asked him to do technique wise. He is better with his hands and you really see it when he rushes the passer.
— Some were expecting a big game from Dwayne Harris but instead, got it from Cole Beasley. Every time I want to doubt Beasley or question his roster spot on this club, he reminds me of the unique skill set in which he plays with.
The Raiders had no answer in how to deal with his quickness and his route running ability. He was money on third downs and his touchdown in the red zone was also a reminder that despite his height, he can still make plays down there. He is a confident and reliable receiver that when put in the right situations can make those catches when no one else will.
Instead of thinking about all the things he can’t do like play consistently on the outside and by the way, he is getting better at that, we need to concentrate on what he does well and that is the reason he will be in this wide receiver mix. If he can give you something in the return game its a plus but there has to be packages that Bill Callahan can do to get him the ball because he has proven he can make plays.
–As much as I want to have concerns about that breakdown in kickoff coverage against the Raiders on Friday night, I am aware that it’s about the opportunity to evaluate players and not for what the scheme looks like.
Still it was a great example of how important that these teams are when young guys like Jakar Hamilton, Kendial Lawrence, and Jared Green are trying to make the team or get noticed by the coaches. Special team are about effort and desire but also playing with smarts. The Greg Jenkins return came after the Joseph Randle had put the Cowboys ahead and though the defense held, the field position was in the favor of the Raiders who recovered the muffed punt from B.W. Webb and kicked the game winning field goal.
But focusing on the kickoff coverage, Green was knocked into Lawrence who both went to the ground. Hamilton was doubled at the point and couldn’t release off the blocks. As the ball came down the hash, two players were on the ground and Webb was widen, which caused a huge crease which Jenkins was able to take advantage of for the return. It really was nice execution by the Raiders on the return but for some young players on this team trying to get noticed, it was the wrong way to get noticed.
ROOKIE FACING ADVERSITY: Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb draws wrath of Jason Garrett
As a fourth-round draft pick, B.W. Webb’s spot on the roster is all but guaranteed. The Cowboys have carried David Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, for two years. But if Webb wasn’t a high pick, he might be in danger of not making the roster.
The William & Mary product has struggled mightily thus far.
He had three tackles in 76 plays in the Hall of Fame Game against the Dolphins, giving up four passes for 29 yards while being targeted six times. He had three tackles against the Raiders and was a favorite target of Raiders’ quarterbacks. He also fumbled a punt.
As if it couldn’t get worse for Webb, he was called out by his coach — who rarely does that publically — afterward.
“You are not allowed to have one of those nights,” Garrett said. “One of things you are looking for in any kind of players, a young guy or a veteran is you want to make sure they respond to the successes and adversities of the game. He had a couple of missed tackles early on for him. I thought he came back and tackled better. Then, he had the dropped punt. You’re not allowed to have bad nights. You never excuse it away to that. You have to keep battling, fighting, whatever opportunity you get, you’ve got to make sure you are taking advantage of it.”
It is safe to say Webb will not be used on punts. His fourth-quarter muff was recovered by the Raiders at the Dallas 9, and they scored the go-ahead field goal.
“Certainly, he’s got enough skill and has done enough good things out there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve seen him on punts and seen him have to get used to it. He’s not ready, as far as training camp is concerned, to drop back there and get under those punts. We saw that some in training camp. We’ve seen it. It was disappointing he couldn’t get his feet back under him and get back and at least recover the ball. First of all, it really gave us an uphill battle in the ball game. That will be something I’m sure he keeps in his mind.”
NFL ROOKIE TRADITION: Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick sings ‘I’m a Little Teapot’
If you were starting a new job and were required to sing a song in front of all of your co-workers, what song would you pick?
Would it be your favorite song? A song you think sounds good in the shower? Maybe something funny?
Well, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick went with humor when it was his turn to sing in front of his teammates in Oxnard, Calif.
The 6-3, 311-pounder picked “I’m a Little Teapot.”
“I thought it would be a good song,” Frederick said. “Obviously the point of it is to make yourself look like a fool, so I thought that was a good song to do that, and show your weakness and hopefully the team likes you.
“I gave it my all. I thought I did a decent job.”
When the first-round pick heard that some of his teammates said his song was the worst of the group, he replied: “Well, that really hurts.”
“I heard from several people that the execution was just fine, though,” he said. “It was good execution. I tried. I did what I could. I was enthusiastic about it.”
Second-round pick Gavin Escobar sang “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” The 6-6, 249-pound tight end choose the Temptations song because he had some experience singing it in front of a group.
Escobar said he performed the song with a few of his teammates during his freshman year at San Diego State. The group went around to several sororities, singing songs in an attempt to promote the football team.
Fourth-round pick B.W. Webb said Escobar did “alright.”
Who was the worst?
“J.J. [Wilcox] was by far the worst,” Webb said. “He sang a Big Poppa song. He was terrible.”
Webb had not yet performed in front of the team at the time he was interviewed, but said he was going to sing “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. When a TV reporter asked for a preview, Webb responded: “Not happening. I don’t want to embarrass my mother like that.”
Asked if he was a good singer, Webb replied: “Not at all.”
THE GAMES THIRD PHASE: Danny McCray still the Dallas Cowboys special teams ace
If you break down the last five seasons of league leaders when it comes to special teams tackles, the Cowboys had only one player that finished in the top five and that was Sam Hurd in 2010 with 19 tackles. The other seasons, the club has not had a player finish better than 28th.
New special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia brings an aggressive, attacking style that should translate well for a player like Danny McCray. What will be different for McCray this season as opposed to last is that his responsibility as a safety will not be as demanding. His special teams play may have suffered because he was called upon to fill that role as a starter. McCray made this team because of his role on special teams and to his credit he was even named it’s captain.
With the safeties that this club has added to the roster in the off season plus Matt Johnson also coming back from injury, McCray can focus solely on being one of the top special teams players in the league. It was just too much to ask for him to handle both the safety responsibilities and be the main contributor of the special teams.
In 2011, McCray finished 26th in the league with 13 special teams tackles. Last season, Eric Frampton managed 12 to lead the team. McCray should flourish in this new scheme and will finish with 20 or more special teams tackles which will place him in the top five for the league and put him back in his natural role on this team.
Nothing against McCray getting an opportunity to play in the defensive scheme this season but there are some players in this league that provide more than just being ok at what they do. Danny McCray is an ok safety but he is much more valuable as a special teams ace and difference maker for a team that needs him just to focus on that task alone.
With training camp right around the corner, let’s take a look at special teams.
Top of the chart: Dan Bailey
It’s been a while since the Cowboys have had a reliable kicker for three straight years. Chris Boniol, who is ironically enough the kicking coach for Dan Bailey these days, was really the last guy to be this steady. But if Bailey has another year like his first two, he’ll likely be considered one of the best kickers in the NFL, if he’s not there already. Bailey hasn’t just made his share of game-winners – seven in the last two years to be exact with two more clutch kicks to force overtime – but he’s been money inside of 50 yards. Last year, Bailey made all 26 attempts of 49 yards or less. He was 3 of 5 from 50 and beyond. If there is one area of his game that needs more work, Bailey admits it has to be on kickoffs. But he did improve with that last year and said he’s spending more hours this offseason working on his kickoffs.
Need to see more: Chris Jones
When he punts – in games – he’s pretty good. He had a 45.2-yard average early last year before he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. At one point, former special teams coach Joe DeCamillis called him the early-season MVP because he was placing the ball at perfect locations and doing so with the necessary hang time. Now, in practice, Jones doesn’t always strike the ball with perfection and will have a shank or two that often raises a few eyebrows. But let’s not forget that he’s still a 23-year-old punter who is learning his way in the NFL. He probably won’t have much competition in training camp but when the games start, the Cowboys need him to rise to the occasion like he’s done before. Jones will likely get another yard and a half away from the line this year, moving back to a full 15 yards from the line of scrimmage in Rich Bisaccia’s scheme.
Still need to know … who takes over on kickoff returns
Three different players had at least 11 kickoff returns last year, including Lance Dunbar, who led the team with 12. Dwayne Harris and Felix Jones each had 11 and, of course, we know Jones has since signed with the Eagles. Dunbar could be the guy with the first crack at this. He is developing a role in the offense, but if he can solidify kickoff returns, it would only help his cause as a mainstay on the roster. Rookies B.W. Webb and Terrance Williams might get a shot in there as well.
Don’t forget about … Dwayne Harris
Had it not been for Bailey’s excellence the last two years, Harris likely could’ve gone in the “Top of the Chart” category. Harris’ ability to return punts won’t be forgotten. He came on strong at the end of 2012, ranking second in the NFL with his 16.1-yard average. His 78-yard punt return against the Eagles turned the tide in that game and he also had a field-position-altering return against the Steelers in an overtime win. Even if he doesn’t win the No. 3 receiver spot from Williams, Harris has a defined role as a shifty, crafty return specialist who seemed to elevate his play on offense with every stellar return he had on special teams.
Nine year veteran long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will be the lone long-snapper on the Dallas Cowboys camp roster
Dwayne Harris tallied 354 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 attempts with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012
COWBOY CONTRACTS: Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb inks his four-year deal with Dallas
Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb signed a four-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday worth approximately $2.5 million.
A fourth-round pick from William & Mary, Webb is the third member of the team’s seven-play draft class to sign. Sixth-round linebacker DeVonte Holloman and fifth-round running back Joseph Randle signed last week.
Webb, who recorded 11 interceptions while starting a school-record 48 games for William & Mary, was one of the standout-performers at rookie minicamp, which ended Sunday. He’s expected to back up slot corner Orlando Scandrick.
“He has quickness and playmaking ability,” coach Jason Garrett said Webb. “He’s a guy we would describe as a football player who can come in and compete.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined Sirius XM’s Late Hits show this week to talk about the draft and the Cowboys’ rookie mini-camp. He said, “Certainly, one of the players that Gil [Brandt] noted to me when I was out at practice… B.W. Webb, the corner that we got in the fourth round, we basically really liked what we saw of him this weekend. He’s got such confidence… He really did show the skills and the quickness and really comes in as a real, legitimate candidate to come in and compete for a lot of playing time, especially in our money packages.”
More on Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb …
GRADUATION GOAL ACHIEVED: B. W. Webb excused from final day of mini camp
Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb has been one of the more impressive players in the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie minicamp so far. But the fourth-round pick, who is expected to compete with Orlando Scandrick for the starting spot at nickel cornerback, will miss the final day of camp on Sunday to return to William and Mary for graduation.
Webb counts his family as his biggest motivation for wanting to succeed in the NFL. They are also the reason why he had to go back to attend graduation.
“If it was up to my parents, it’s graduation before football,” Webb said. “They are more happy about that than [me] being in the NFL.”
Columnist Rick Gosselin answered questions in a chat on Monday. Here’s a highlight.
Can B.W. Webb take Orlando Scandrick’s spot despite Scandrick having a bigger contract?
If Webb proves to be the better player this summer, he will supplant Scandrick as the nickel corner. The Cowboys need to win games this season to save some jobs and you do that by putting the best players on the field — not necessarily the most expensive ones. Webb will wind up starting for this team at some point in the future. The Cowboys believed they stole him in the third round. This player probably had second-round skill but slid to the third because of his quality of college competition. He’s coming from a small school and the NFL will be a huge step up in competition. He’s not going to challenge either Carr or Claiborne any time soon, but Scandrick better bring his A-game to training camp.
FORMER NFL SCOUT: Dallas Cowboys rookie B.W. Webb ‘has playing traits like Asante Samuel’
After reading a story about Senior Bowl standouts in January I decided to save the article in case any of the players mentioned were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Going through some old stories earlier today I came across that particular piece written by CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang — and B.W. Webb was on the list.
Webb, a William & Mary cornerback the Cowboys drafted in the fourth round, was one of five prospects who improved their stock according to NFL scouts who Rang interviewed.
“Scouts knew Webb could cover, as he had shown quick feet, speed and route recognition on tape,” Rang wrote. “Needless to say, however, the jump in competition from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Senior Bowl was significant. But Webb certainly proved up to the task. The 5-10, 183-pounder showed improved physicality in Mobile and stepped up his play against the bigger receivers he faced on the South squad, showing the feistiness necessary to make the significant jump to the NFL.”
Rang also linked to a CBSSports.com article where former NFL scout and coach Pat Kirwan wrote that Webb “has playing traits like Asante Samuel.”
“He looks like a solid cover two corner with 48 college starts,” Kirwan wrote. “He holds up well in the man-to-man drills and has good anticipation in his zone drops.”
Webb should enter the 2013 season as the No. 4 corner on the Cowboys’ roster, behind Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. Pretty good depth if Webb can be anything close to Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion who has intercepted 50 passes in his 10-year NFL career.
FOURTH ROUND SPOTLIGHT: B.W. Webb has promise at nickel back, punt returner
IRVING, Texas – To the surprise of no one, the thrill of being drafted into the NFL doesn’t wear off after 24 hours, or even a full weekend.
Newest Dallas Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb can attest to that, as the Newport News, Va., native said he’s still trying to wrap his mind around it four days later.
“It’s been exciting. I still don’t really think it settled in that I got drafted to America’s Team,” Webb said. “Everybody’s been happy for me around here; it’s just been a great time.”
Webb still has a little bit of time to adjust to the news. The former William & Mary All-American doesn’t report to rookie minicamp until May 9, nearly two weeks away. That doesn’t mean he is taking that time off, however. Webb said that since he has been drafted, he’s been in touch with Cowboys coaches to get a game plan for the coming workouts. As head coach Jason Garrett noted following the draft, Webb’s résumé on the field makes him stand out more than the typical FCS player.
“All the time as coaches and as evaluators and our scouting department, you’re looking for guys who are ball players. I think that’s what we’ve seen in B.W. Webb,” Garrett said. “He was very productive a couple of years ago intercepting passes. They didn’t throw at him as much last year, but he’s a guy who just shows up on the table.”
It’s not always expected for a fourth rounder like Webb, who was selected 114th overall, to contribute upon his arrival at the next level. But with three years of All-America consideration in the Colonial Athletic Association, Webb said the Cowboys’ staff hopes to see him on the field immediately – though not necessarily at starting cornerback.
“Right now, they’re pretty much established at cornerback with [Brandon] Carr and [Morris] Claiborne,” he said. “They want me to come in and be a starting nickel back and play a role in the punt return game. That’s pretty much going to be my role.”
As one of the Tribe’s top players in college, Webb spent most of his career closing down his half of the field as an outside corner. He nabbed a career-high eight interceptions during his freshman season, though that number tapered off as teams learned to avoid him.
“At times, it gets boring during the games, but you just have to find ways to show up during the game, whether it’s coming up to make tackles or contributing on special teams,” he said.
Webb said the amount of space given for a slot receiver to work with makes the nickel spot markedly different from the outside. But given the offseason to work on the change, he feels confident he can adapt.
“Everything happens a little quicker inside,” he said. “The receiver has two ways to go, whereas on the outside you can pretty much tell where he’s going right away, whether it’s out or in.”
As noted, Webb also figures to at least provide some competition to incumbent punt returner Dwayne Harris. The second-year Cowboys receiver averaged 16 yards per return on 22 attempts last year. Webb was a return man for the Tribe all four years, and averaged 8.6 yards per return for his career, with a best average of 11.2 coming in 2012.
“I love having the ball in my hands. I started punt returning my freshman year, so I started every year and came to love it,” Webb said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Conference Call: B.W. Webb
B.W. Webb has a chance to speak with the Dallas media for the first time after being selected in the 4th round of the NFL draft.
THREE POTENTIAL SLEEPERS: Dallas Cowboys nab trio of players on Scott Wright’s list
Trying to find future stars in the later rounds of the NFL Draft is a tough task, but if Scott Wright’s sleeper list is any indication, the Dallas Cowboys could have a head start on the competition.
Wright composed a lengthy list of 95 potential sleepers in the 2013 draft class, and a pair of Cowboys draft picks are right near the top.
William and Mary cornerback B.W. Webb is No. 4 on the list, earning a 2nd- or 3rd-round grade from Wright. The Cowboys snagged Webb in the 4th round on Saturday.
Right behind Webb is Georgia Southern safety J.J. Wilcox at No. 5, who the Cowboys took in the 3rd round. Wilcox is a strong athlete, but his stock wasn’t especially high because he only played one year at safety in college.
One other new Cowboys made the cut on Wright’s list. South Carolina State safety Jakar Hamilton, who the Cowboys signed as an undrafted free agent, came in at No. 48. Hamilton was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, but wound up transferring to South Carolina State in 2011.
See list below