Former Cowboys linebacker Bradie James has signed with the Houston Texans.
The terms of his contract weren’t disclosed, according to the team’s official website.
James, 31, had played his entire career in Dallas, starting 111 games in nine seasons for the Cowboys after he was drafted in the fourth round in 2003.
In Houston, he will be reunited with former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, the Texans’ defensive coordinator.
During his final season with the Cowboys, James’ role was reduced as 2010 second-round draft pick Sean Lee became the team’s primary inside linebacker.
As Lee made headlines, James faded into the background. He was on the field for only 414 snaps — fewer than half the total he played the previous season.
Once a fixture in the Cowboys’ lineup, he led the team in tackles each season from 2005 until 2010.
But despite his contributions, the Cowboys didn’t make an apparent effort this off-season to re-sign James, who was an unrestricted free agent. Instead, they acquired Dan Connor of the Carolina Panthers last month, leaving James to go to Houston.
Sean Lee said he modeled his game after Dan Connor, one of the seven free agents the Cowboys signed in the offseason.
Connor is expected to compete with second-year player Bruce Carter for a spot opposite Lee, the Cowboys’ leading tackler last year, at inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.
“He was a guy that I modeled myself after in college and a guy that I really looked up to,” Lee said Wednesday night at a charity event at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. “He’s a guy that’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a guy that leads by example every day. He had a great career at Penn State. He’s a really good linebacker and a complete player. I’m excited to play with him again.”
Lee and Connor played together at Penn State in 2007, when Connor set the school’s career tackles record.
But Lee is also optimistic about Carter, the Cowboys’ second-round draft pick a year ago who will go into this season fully recovered from knee surgery in his last year of college at North Carolina.
“He looks great,” Lee said. “We’ve been working out together at the facility. The knee isn’t an issue. I think he’s ready to go. I think he did a great job coming off a knee injury and transitioning to the NFL. He’s very talented. We need him to step up for us, and I think he understands that. I think he’s going to put the work in. It’s a matter of time until he becomes a very good football player.”
The emergence of Lee and Carter, combined with the signing of Connor, probably leaves no room for veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James. But Lee said either player could still help.
“Brook and Bradie are both unbelievable football players. I look up to Brook. I look up to Bradie," Lee said. "Brook’s a guy that I think is underrated and still can do a lot of good things for a football team. Obviously, from a leadership standpoint, from a football standpoint, we’d love to have him back. But obviously, there’s a business involved with that. We’ve got to let things play themselves out.”
Laurent Robinson got big money from Jacksonville. Martellus Bennett will be relocating his clothing line to the East Coast for at least a year. Everybody else?
Well, they’ve probably gotten into the habit of checking the phone a lot over the last week.
The free agency period is far from over – it never ends, really – but most of the Cowboys players on the open market are drawing very little interest, it seems.
Between the guys they’ve cut, their unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and exclusive right players, the Cowboys allowed 19 players to hit the market who had finished 2011 on the roster. Only Robinson and Bennett have found new teams thus far, while receiver Kevin Ogletree returned to Dallas on a one-year deal.
A lot of under-the-radar signings will happen in the coming weeks, but so far only a couple of the Cowboys’ free agents have been reported to have gotten so much as a sniff from other clubs. On Tuesday running back and special teams ace Chauncey Washington was part of a massive tryout for the San Francisco 49ers, per a report. Late last week, the Minnesota Vikings checked in on defensive back Alan Ball, per another report.
As for the bigger names, like Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier, Tony Fiammetta, Derrick Dockery, Montrae Holland and Mat McBriar, no substantive interest has come to light.
IRVING (AP) – Owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly said the Dallas Cowboys are just getting started with Jason Garrett as their head coach.
For a core group of veteran players such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, losing yet another season finale with a playoff spot on the line is another chance lost.
An 8-8 season that raises questions about the future of some of the other players who have been around, and where the still-average Cowboys go next after Garrett’s first full season.
“We have to take advantage of their talent and experience, players like Romo and Witten, a lot of those players, because they’re not going to be around forever,” Jones said. “We have to accept this and move forward.”
That means accepting that Dallas lost four of its last five games, including 31-14 against the New York Giants in the finale Sunday night that determined the NFC East champion and sent the Cowboys home for another long offseason.
“Now we’re watching the (playoff) games this week. I encouraged them to remember the feeling that we had after the game,” Garrett said Monday after wrapping up individual meetings with each player. “You have to keep that feeling, you have to make that palpable as you go forward and use it as a motivation to get better, individually and collectively as a team.”
This has been a very average team since winning three Super Bowls in a four-year period in the first half of the 1990s. The Cowboys are 120-120 in the regular season since the start of 1997, a 15-season span with one playoff victory in seven postseason appearances.
LAST HURRAH: Do or die for some Dallas Cowboys, possibly Spencer, Martellus Bennett, Bradie James and Terence Newman
Sunday’s winner take all match up against the Giants has been billed as a do or die game for Cowboys.
A win puts them in the playoffs. A loss ends their season.
What’s also true is that the game could possibly be the last one in a Cowboys uniform for a number of players.
That includes 20 Cowboys who are in the final year of their contracts, including linebacker Bradie James, safety Abe Elam and tight end Martellus Bennett.
The case could be the same for a few others like Terence Newman, who is signed through 2014 but could be salary cap casualty because age, injury and declining production.
Bradie James has seen the writing on the wall since the beginning of the season when his role was diminished because of the emergence of Sean Lee. James ranks eighth in tackles with 51, ending a club record streak of leading the team in tackles the last six years.
The nine-year veteran would like to continue his career with the Cowboys but he knows nothing is guaranteed. He acknowledges that a loss on Sunday could possibly usher in wholesale changes to more than just the players who are no under contract for next season.
"It could all just change around," James said. "That is just the reality of it."
Anthony Spencer, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, is of the same mindset after what has been a disappointing season for him. The Cowboys have not engaged in talks of a contracts with the former 2006 first round pick.
"It could be that," said Spencer was asked if this could be his last game with the Cowboys. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. So I’m not worried about it. I’m just trying to get through the season."
Spencer and the Cowboys had huge expectations come into the season that he would thrive under new coordinator Rob Ryan and provide legitimate pass rushing threat opposite Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. But after getting three sacks in the first thee games, he has just three over the last 12. His six sacks on the season are a huge disappointment for him and certainly weren’t enough to prompt the Cowboys into signing him to a long-term contract extension.
"I started fast," Spencer said. " I had high hopes for more sacks. It didn’t end up that way. (Playing more coverage) had something to do with it. You can’t get sacks when you are not rushing. I want to be here. I like it here. But I got to do what’s best for my family."
Other Cowboys whose contracts expire at the end of the season are cornerback Alan Ball, guard Derrick Dockery, fullback Tony Fiammetta, defensive end Clifton Geathers, guard Montrae Holland, receivers Jesse Holley, Laurent Robinson and Kevin Ogletree, quarterback Jon Kitna, guard Daniel Loper, punter Mat McBriar, running back Sammy Morris, tackle Jeremy Parnell, cornerback Frank Walker and running back Chauncey Washington.
IRVING – A team that features a dynamic quarterback, one of the best league’s best running backs and a collection of fleet-footed receivers can look as good on paper as it does on the field. Cowboys linebacker Bradie James acknowledged as much after Philadelphia trounced Dallas 34-7 Oct. 30.
"They’re so dynamic," James said. "There are guys all over the place. They pose a big, big challenge."
On the surface, the Eagles have no perceivable offensive weakness. They are third in the league in total yards, rushing production and big plays. But dig deeper and the flaws become more obvious. Even glaring. The Eagles, after all, have the given the ball away 35 times – the highest total in the NFL.
"That’s a very important category and I think it is one of the reasons that they haven’t won as many games as they probably should have," said Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking. "A key component to winning in this league is taking care of the football and creating turnovers. So when you don’t do that you’re going to put yourself in really bad situations. And they have done that this year.
"So, more than anything, we’ve got to try to create those turnovers. Defensively, we’ve done a pretty good job of that and put ourselves in a good situation. That’s going to be key for us."
But of all the opponents the Eagles have played this season, the Cowboys were the only one that didn’t recover a fumble or record an interception against Philadelphia. In every game, with the exception of the blowout victory over Dallas, Philadelphia committed at least one turnover.
"As a defense you need to get the ball back to your offense," linebacker Sean Lee said. "But especially against this team. It seems like the more turnovers they’ve had the more likely they are to lose games. That’s a big deal against a team as talented as they are."
Courtesy: Rainer Sabin | Dallas Morning News
Dallas Cowboys defense is full of talent. Bruce Carter hoping to break into starting lineup in the near future.
His torn ACL from last November fully recovered, rookie linebacker Bruce Carter made his NFL debut against the Eagles in Week 8, saying at the time he expected mostly special teams work this year, but was hoping to take on a nickel role by the end of the year.
Half the season has gone by since then, the second-round pick having been proven correct as far as the special teams aspect of his predication. Now that the Eagles have come back around for the second game of the season series, and it’s the end of the year, this could be a good week for Carter to see some playing time on defense.
"That’s what I’m hoping for," Carter said. "It’ll really show what I can really do as far as covering athletically skilled guys, especially a situation like this with (LeSean) McCoy and (Michael) Vick, that’ll help me just use the tools I have."
Given the Eagles’ great team speed on offense, and how helpless veteran linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking were in coverage after Sean Lee was injured in the 34-7 blowout, playing Carter on passing downs may be a necessity this time.
If harnessed, Carter’s athleticism could be a real asset as the Cowboys attempt to limit tight end Brent Celek to less than 94 yards receiving while keeping Vick and McCoy from gashing the defense in the open field.
Carter’s initial hurdle to get on the field, his overall grasp of the defense, has come a long way in the last two months, he said. With Barry Church on the injured reserve and Danny McCray battling a knee injury of his own, Carter believes he’s ready to take on the hybrid role that had been filled by those safeties.
He’s worked on that assignment in practice and got some playing time in the second half against Tampa Bay.
"A little bit of that," Carter said. "It hasn’t really been that bad, it’s just guarding tight ends and backs. It’s just kind of the same thing as playing linebacker . . . the more experience you get, the comfortable you are playing out there, so I think that’s the key."
Tony Romo was nearly flawless in getting the Dallas Cowboys back on track in the NFC East.
Romo threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth score Saturday night, helping the first-place Cowboys beat the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-15.
Dallas stopped a two-game losing streak in which it blew fourth-quarter leads to allow a seemingly solid grip on the division lead slip away.
The victory gave the Cowboys (8-6) a half-game lead over New York. Although the Giants hold a tiebreaker advantage after beating Dallas 37-34 last week, the Cowboys can claim the division title and host a playoff game by finishing with wins the next two weeks over Philadelphia at home and the Giants on the road.
The Bucs (4-10) lost for the eighth straight time and played a miserable first half that certainly didn’t do anything to help coach Raheem Morris make a case for keeping his job.
Romo threw a pair of 8-yard TD passes to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in the first quarter, then finished a seven-play, 89-yard drive with a 9-yarder to Laurent Robinson to make it 21-0 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Romo made it 28-0 on a quarterback sneak in the closing seconds of the opening half.
Tampa Bay managed just one first down and was outgained 279 yards to 55 in the first two quarters, but found a way to make it interesting in the second half.
The Bucs, who had had yielded 69 consecutive points dating to the second quarter of the previous week’s 41-14 loss to Jacksonville, finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when rookie Adrian Clayborn sacked Romo from behind, forcing a fumble that linebacker Dekoda Watson returned 4 yards for a TD for a much-needed spark.
Josh Freeman’s 13-yard TD pass to Dezmon Briscoe and a two-point conversion throw to Kellen Winslow trimmed the Dallas lead to 31-15 heading into the final quarter.
The Cowboys have led in the fourth quarter in five of their six losses, however there wouldn’t be a late collapse this time. Tampa Bay turned the ball over on downs twice in the last six minutes, and Sammy Morris picked up a first down inside the Bucs 10 to give the Cowboys an opportunity to run out the clock.
Austin’s TD midway through the first quarter was set up by Tampa Bay’s NFL-leading 32nd turnover, a fumble by Freeman on the fifth play of the game.
The Tampa Bay quarterback scrambled 25 yards on third-and-5 to march the Bucs near midfield, but the opening possession of the night came to an abrupt halt on the next play when Freeman took off again for a 7-yard gain and was stripped of the ball at the Cowboys 44.
Linebacker Bradie James recovered and it took Romo seven plays to get Dallas in the end zone for the first time. The Cowboys marched 69 yards in 10 plays on their next possession, with Romo finishing the drive by finding a wide-open Bryant in the back of the end zone to make it 14-0.
In three career games against Tampa Bay – all lopsided victories – Romo has thrown for 908 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was 23 of 30 for 249 yards and was sacked twice Saturday night.
Felix Jones, back in the starting lineup after DeMarco Murray broke his right ankle last week in a 37-34 loss to the Giants, broke a 38-yard run on the drive leading to Robinson’s TD and finished with 108 yards on 22 carries – his second straight 100-yard performance had 67 yards rushing on 12 carries at halftime.
Freeman, making his second start since missing a game because of an injured throwing shoulder, was 17 of 27 for 148 yards and no interceptions. He led the Bucs in rushing with 37 yards on four attempts and was sacked three times, once by DeMarcus Ware, who notched his 16th of the season.
Thanks to a large contingent of Cowboys fans, the Bucs played before a sellout crowd at home for just the second time in two seasons. Judging by all the blue and white jerseys scattered throughout the 65,000-seat stadium, at least half the house appeared to be rooting for Dallas.
The Bucs have lost eight straight following a 4-2 start that included wins over NFC South rivals New Orleans and Atlanta. The skid has coach Raheem Morris on the hot seat just a year after the NFL’s youngest head coach led his team to a surprising 10-6 finish that heightened expectations coming into this season.
Tampa Bay played Saturday night without starting receiver Arrelious Benn, who suffered a concussion during last week’s loss at Jacksonville. He was replaced by Briscoe, who began the night with just 23 receptions yet shared the team lead in touchdown catches with three.
Watch the highlights HERE
COWBOYS v GIANTS TRASH TALK CONTINUES: High stakes rivalry game brings out vitriol between the teams
The Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware and Mike Jenkins fired the first salvos Wednesday. Ware, the NFL sack leader with 15, took Giants defensive end Justin Tuck to task after being told Tuck called Cowboys Stadium a dump in 2009.
“He says that because maybe he wants to play here,” Ware told reporters in Irving. “Everybody wants to play for the Cowboys.”
Jenkins did his part by calling outspoken, bruising New York running back Brandon Jacobs “a bully.”
On Thursday, the Giants responded.
“First of all, I don’t know when I called Cowboys Stadium a dump,” ESPNNewYork.com quoted Tuck as saying. “Obviously, they have a pretty nice stadium. And me wanting to be a Cowboy … hmm. I don’t wear Wranglers, Cowboy hats or boots or those buckle belts. I don’t wear none of that. And I don’t need a star on my helmet to tell me I’m pretty good at what I do.”
Jacobs termed Jenkins’ jab a compliment.
“I am a bully,” Jacobs said. “… People who call out bullies are afraid of bullies.”
The 7-5 Cowboys and the 6-6 Giants, who have lost four straight, play Sunday night in Arlington. If New York wins, it will be in first place in the East based on its possession of the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Giants also beat the Cowboys on Jan. 1 at the Meadowlands, they win the East provided they also beat the Redskins or the Jets.
Adding spice to the race is the venom of the rivalry. Sunday marks the 99th game in the 51-year series, which Dallas leads 56-40-2.
“They hate us, and we hate them,” Tuck said.
That was evident in the last several meetings:
The only playoff encounter between the clubs came after the 2007 season, when the fifth-seeded Giants upset the top-seeded Cowboys in the divisional round en route to a Super Bowl win.
In 2009, the Giants won the inaugural game at Cowboys Stadium and left an autograph on the locker room wall afterward.
In 2010, the Giants upped their record at Cowboys Stadium to 2-0, breaking Tony Romo‘s collarbone in the process. The injury doomed Dallas to a 6-10 finish.
Three weeks after the Giants’ ended Romo’s season, the Cowboys gained revenge with a 16-point win at the Meadowlands in Jason Garrett‘s first game as interim coach.
Next up: a primetime affair with huge stakes.
“Ever since (the 2007 playoff game), it’s always been a battle to the end,” Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said. “The implications don’t really matter. … We like to get after each other. There’ll be some out-of-character plays sometimes when you see our defensive going against their offense.”
Ware said the Cowboys will be trying to get their “manhood” back after losing two straight at home to the Giants, a comment met with derision by Jacobs.
“They need to get their manhood back?” Jacobs said. “I don’t know what to say about that. I never felt like I lost my manhood. I don’t care if we lose 16 straight, I am going to have my manhood.
“(Ware) is a great player we have to pay extra attention to. If he felt like he don’t have it (his manhood), I hope he ain’t got it this week.”
Courtesy: Tom Orsborn | San Antonio Express-News
Vitriol: Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.
Thanksgiving Day is about tradition. Inside linebacker Bradie James smiled as he reminded reporters about another one.
“We got to break out the Turkey Dance,” he said.
That’s the elbow-flapping, high-knee stepping move the Cowboys defenders started doing three years ago if they made a good play in the Thanksgiving Day game.
“We motivate each other,” James said with a smile. “It makes us go out there and play a little harder.”
It all started in 2008, when defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Marcus Spears were playing catch, and Hatcher made a nice grab along the sideline. He started dancing.
“I did the Billy ‘White Shoes’ first,” Hatcher said that year. “I said, ‘You know what? We need to break it into The Turkey. And pretty much all of the guys bought into it.”
Everyone was required to break out a Turkey Dance in that ’08 game, or face a fine from their teammates. The game had no lack of opportunities – the Cowboys sacked Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck seven times in a 34-9 victory.
DeMarcus Ware had three sacks. Bradie James had two. Tank Johnson and Greg Ellis each had one.
But does anybody actually look good doing the Turkey Dance?
“No, not at all,” James said and smiled. “But that’s why you can get away with it on Thursday.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys Turkey Dance (Thanksgiving football sack dance)
The Dallas Cowboys traditionally play a home football game on Thanksgiving (“Turkey Day”). On November 27, 2008, the Cowboys defense recorded seven quarterback sacks. After each sack, the player who sacked the quarterback went into a “turkey dance,” flapping his arms like they were wings.
Cowboys linebacker Bradie James doesn’t have to worry about getting into the game this week. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the Redskins are going to “play football” – line up with running backs and run the ball – which means James is going to play football.
“When the other team is going to play football, Bradie is going to be out there,” Ryan said.
James got into only one play last week against Buffalo. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the Bills’ four- and five-receiver sets kept the Cowboys out of their base offense, which is where James contributes most.
That’s not what Ryan expects from the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan, who built his reputation in the NFL with strong running teams in Denver.
“We know Shanahan is going to run his stretch plays, he’s going to run his boots,” Ryan said. “We don’t know what formation or personnel groups they’re coming from, but they’re coming. When it’s all lined up and they’re playing the game of football as we know it, Bradie James is going to be right there.”
James has been the Cowboys’ leading tackler the past six years. But this year, his role has been far reduced by the emergence of second-year linebacker Sean Lee, who leads the team in tackles. James is eighth on the team with 30 tackles.
“He’d be one of the first picks you’d take from the whole roster,” Ryan said of James, a nine-year veteran. “You’d go, ‘Hey, I want him, I want him.’ He’d be out there. This should be one of his types of games. Last week was definitely not.”
Inside linebacker Sean Lee is on the practice field with a heavily protected left arm. Lee dislocated his left wrist in the Cowboys’ loss to the Eagles on Oct. 30. He sat out Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
He will play with a cast, if he plays against the Bills as expected, though it will have to be a less heavily padded club than what he is practicing with Wednesday.
Lee’s 73 tackles still leads the team, 30 more than Gerald Sensabaugh.
The Cowboys made do without Lee on Sunday, using Keith Brooking and Bradie James primarily as well as rookie Bruce Carter and Barry Church. Brooking had five tackles, according to the coaches’ stats, and James had six.
Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) is out of practice. He missed last Wednesday’s practice, too, to rest his torn plantar fascia. But he has not missed a game with the injury.
Backup offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell was not at practice Wednesday morning.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and running back Felix Jones (ankle) also missed the start of practice. Felix Jones is rehabbing and could play this week. Jenkins and Austin will miss this week.
Did you know? You can check the current Dallas Cowboys AND weekly opponents injury status right here on The Boys Are Back blog! Just click on the “INJURIES” tab at the top of every page.
Rookie linebacker Bruce Carter, a second-round pick out of North Carolina, got his first opportunity to play with the defense Sunday and “did fine,” according to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
“The game is real fast for him, obviously,” Ryan said. “He did all right. We played him some in nickel and dime, so he got a little bit of everything just with limited calls.”
Carter didn’t register a tackle but Ryan noted that he made “a real nice play” when he broke up a third-down pass to Doug Baldwin in the third quarter. With starter Sean Lee out with a dislocated left wrist, Carter spelled veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James.
Carter played on special teams in last week’s game against Philadelphia, his first action since Nov. 20. That’s when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a game against the Tar Heels’ rival, North Carolina State. He wasn’t able to practice with the team until Oct. 19.
“He’ll be OK. It’s tough with no training camp,” Ryan said of Carter. “You talk about throwing a kid in the fire, now that’s what he’s getting.”
Keith Brooking doesn’t understand what the big deal is.
Standing in front of his locker Friday, the 13-year veteran was getting asked numerous questions about the possibility of playing a full game Sunday against the Seahawks, with Sean Lee possibly out with a dislocated wrist.
Brooking, who is expected to start in place of Sean Lee, sounded somewhat offended by the line of questioning if he could hold up for an entire game, something he hasn’t been asked to do this year.
“I don’t think it’s concerning to me at all. I don’t know about it being too much or a lot,” Brooking said on Friday. “I’ve played every snap for 13 years. I think I can handle. If I play every snap this game, which is probably unlikely, I’m ready for it.”
Brooking and Bradie James will both likely play more with Lee out. Both of them have taken a backseat to Lee, who has been stellar this year, leading the team in tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries.
Still, head coach Jason Garrett has applauded both veterans for their ability to handle their new roles, and even take on things such as special teams.
“I knew my role before last week when Sean went down,” Brooking said. “I was comfortable with that and I’ve accepted that with everything I’ve had inside of me. Obviously my role has increased this week with his injury. Hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible. If not, I’m willing to do whatever. I haven’t done that this year, but I’m ready for it. I’ve had success in this league doing it before and I feel pretty comfortable that I can do it right now.”
Brooking ranks fourth on the defense with 36 tackles, while James is eighth with 24. Together, their 60 tackles is still 13 behind Lee, who only had one stop last week before leaving the game with the wrist injury.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee hasn’t practiced this week, and it still seems unlikely he’ll play Sunday against the Seahawks. But the Cowboys are fitting his dislocated left wrist with a cast.
“Typically what happens is there are a lot of different iterations of that thing. What is comfortable? What feels good?” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “And you kind of keep working through those kinds of things.”
Lee consulted with Dr. Bo Frederick, a Dallas hand and wrist specialist, on Monday. The doctor determined Lee’s wrist does not need immediate surgery, which would end Lee’s season.
But there is a good chance that Lee, who leads the team with 73 tackles, misses at least this week.
Bradie James and Keith Brooking will fill in for Lee, but the Cowboys also are trying to get second-round pick Bruce Carter familiar enough with the defense to give him some plays in relief of the veterans.
IRVING — Bruce Carter said Wednesday that Sean Lee is the teammate that has helped him most since Carter was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in April.
Coincidentally, an injury to Lee’s left wrist could result in Carter getting defensive snaps earlier than the Cowboys’ coaching staff had planned.
With Lee possibly sidelined for Sunday’s game against Seattle, Bruce Carter, who saw time on special teams last week in Philadelphia, could be forced into action.
“It’s an opportunity for me to step up and show my teammates what I can do,” Carter said. “I want to go in and fill that void.”
During his Wednesday media session, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was noncommittal about Carter lining up at inside linebacker against the Seattle Seahawks, stating that Carter “just hasn’t played enough football in this scheme.”
However, fellow inside linebacker Bradie James said that it didn’t matter if Bruce Carter was ready or not.
“It doesn’t matter now,” James said. “He has to be ready. We need him to get up in there and really get his letter. When you’re in college you got to earn that letter, and that’s where he is. This is big boy football. We’re all helping him out. We’ll help him out as much as possible, and he’ll be ready.”
Now his top priority is studying plays and getting familiar with the teammates he’s lining up alongside. Garrett cautioned that Wednesday’s practice was only the third padded-session that Bruce Carter has participated in. But that’s something that Bruce Carter didn’t sound too concerned about.
“It don’t really matter,” he said. “It’s just hitting, so it’s the same thing you did in high school and college. So it’s not really that much of a difference if you don’t have any pads on. Just making sure your technique’s down and focusing on your fundamentals.”
Another obstacle could be overcoming the pressure of stepping in for the Dallas Cowboys’ top inside linebacker. Sean Lee leads the Cowboys in combined tackles with 51 and interceptions with three.
“It could be a lot but I try not to really think about it,” Carter said. “I try to go out there and control what I can.”
Second-round pick Bruce Carter made his NFL debut and his first career tackle Sunday against the Eagles. He hopes to see some spot duty on defense for the first time this week.
With Sean Lee’s status for Sunday’s game in doubt, the Cowboys are trying to get Carter up to speed on the defense. He could play some snaps in relief of Bradie James and Keith Brooking if Lee is unable to play. The Cowboys have no other inside linebackers besides, Lee, Brooking, James and Carter, though Orie Lemon is on the practice squad.
“I think he has a long way to go,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Carter. “He just hasn’t played a lot of football in this scheme yet. I thought he did a really good job in the game as a special teams player, and he just needs to get more and more comfortable, playing on the field in this defense. He’s a smart guy. He does pick it up well in the meeting room and when he’s watching tape. He just needs to have reps added and really that’s the case for any player, particularly a young player who has missed as much time as he has. He’s picking it up well. He’s been productive in practice. We’re hopeful he can take the next step and get in the game and be productive as well.”
Carter missed all of training camp and the first six weeks of the season while rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee from last November while he was at North Carolina. He played only special teams against the Eagles, stopping Jeremy Maclin on a punt return at the end of the first half.
“It definitely felt good to get my first tackle and get that underneath my belt and move forward,” Carter said.
He said he will stay late this week, trying to cram for Sunday.
“It’s an opportunity for me to go in and step up and show everybody what I can do and help this team out,” Carter said. “I don’t want the team, especially on defense, to fall any from where [Lee] was. I want to go in there and fill that void.”
By Adam Schefter | ESPN
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee suffered a dislocated wrist that will prevent him from playing Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and possibly well beyond, a source close to the situation said.
Some doctors believe he should have season-ending surgery, others believe he can cast the injury and play through it, the source said.
Lee has not made any decision yet. He and the Dallas Cowboys will continue consulting with doctors until they make a determination of what’s best for the linebacker’s future. The team hasn’t officially ruled him out for Sunday’s game.
Sean Lee still has some swelling. If he does undergo a surgical procedure, the recovery time would take six-to-eight weeks.
Lee hurt the wrist trying to tackle quarterback Michael Vick in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
If the Cowboys don’t have Sean Lee, Bradie James and Keith Brooking would split the workload at inside linebacker.
The Boys Are Back comment: Adam Schefter is hit or miss on his reporting. Take this report with a grain of salt. Once Sean Lee’s status is officially resolved, it’ll be reported here on The Boys Are Back blog.
THE VILLAGE IS BURNING: DMN columnist Rick Gosselin chats with readers after the Cowboys vs Eagles game
Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin chatted with readers Monday in the aftermath of the Cowboys-Eagles game to talk about a number of Cowboys-related items. Here are some highlights from the chat:
QUESTION: How is it that I can seemingly call exactly what they are going to do on offense about 70% of the time? Am I a football genius or are they truly that predictable?
Rick Gosselin: Until Dez Bryant learns how to run routes, this will be predictable offense. Hand it to Murray, throw short crossing routes to Jason Witten and work the intermediate areas with Miles Austin. Bryant is the wild card. He can make plays short, medium and long. But until he develops some discipline in his route running, Romo isn’t going to trust him. Bryant also better figure out how to beat press coverage by a defensive back. Nnamdi Asomugha schooled Bryant last night. When Bryant doesn’t have his way with defensive backs, he gets frustrated. Asomugha was so deep into Bryant’s head last night he became a non-factor.
QUESTION: Did the eagles figure out their problems and become a dominant team or was that more of an example of Dallas laying an egg against a 2-4 team?
Rick Gosselin: All of the above. The Eagles were the most talented team in the NFC East on opening day, and they remain the most talented team today. I believed the Eagles would have their struggles early and they might lose a few games as all the new pieces were attempting to fit together. I never expected them to lose four of their first six, though. Still, they have nine new starters, a new defensive coordinator and two new line coaches, one on offense and one on defense and it was going to take time for all of them to mesh. It appears the entire package came together last night and you saw what a juggernaut the Eagles could be. Still, the Cowboys played timid. Had they won, they would have all but ended Philadelphia’s season. The Eagles would have had to go 8-1 the rest of the way to win the division. With the rugged schedule the Giants face, I think the Eagles may have put themselves in a position to win the division last night. The Cowboys could have done the same with a victory. The Eagles succeeded, the Cowboys failed.
Veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking would likely start at inside linebacker if Sean Lee misses any time with his dislocated left wrist. But rookie Bruce Carter also would like to get in the mix there after making his season debut against the Eagles.
Carter, a second-round pick, missed the first six games of the season on the non-football injury list because of a college knee injury. He played only special teams against the Eagles.
“It felt good,” Carter said. “It was a lot of emotions running around. I got my first snaps. It felt good to run down on kickoffs. I can’t wait to get out there in the regular defense and show everybody what I can do.”
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was impressed with Carter’s work on special teams. Carter had a tackle on special teams, stopping Jeremy Maclin on a punt return on the final play of the second quarter, limiting Maclin to 7 yards.
“Bruce did a nice job. He really did,” Garrett said. “He’s gotten himself acclimated to playing football in a short period of time, has not had a lot of practices, but you can tell he’s a pretty natural, instinctive football player — a lot of what we saw of him on tape, coming out of school. He made a big tackle in the game on the punt coverage team. Maclin kind of broke out into the open, and Bruce made a nice angle tackle to get him down, really to prevent possibly a big return. He certainly has explosiveness, speed and quickness, and it looks like he’s getting acclimated to play football. The more he’s able to do, the more we’ll be able to give him.”
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the initial diagnosis was a dislocation. Lee, the Cowboys’ leading tackler, suffered the injury on the final play of the first quarter of Sunday night’s loss 34-7 loss in Philadelphia when his wrist was bent backward while attempting to tackle Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
“I’m hoping I could play next week,” said Lee, who had his wrist in a brace after the game. “I couldn’t return tonight. The doctors would not let me out there. Hopefully I can get it re-evaluated and it’ll be all right.”
Any absence from Lee would hurt the defense. Entering Sunday’s game the coaches had credited Lee with 72 tackles, 41 more than any other defender. He also has a team-leading three interceptions and recovered two fumbles.
Before his injury, the Cowboys’ defense struggled but it got worse in Lee’s absence. Brooking and James struggled in containing Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and were beat in coverage too.
Depth would be an issue, too. Rookie second-round pick Bruce Carter made his season debut against the Eagles, but the plan was to ease him into the lineup on special teams. Without Lee, Carter could be called on more quickly than anticipated to help in pass coverage.
The Cowboys lost another defensive starter for the night after cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Jenkins had been bothered earlier in the year with a stinger injury suffered in training camp and a shoulder injury suffered in the season opener, but he had not missed a game. He was replaced by Orlando Scandrick.
Meanwhile, punter Mat McBriar left the game with a left foot injury. Mat McBriar has some nerve issues in his left foot (non-kicking) which prevents him from planting. Dan Bailey replaced him and Chris Jones was signed to the practice roster on Friday as a precaution.
Jay Ratliff left the game late in the fourth quarter but is Ok. He went to the sidelines and was looked at by the trainers. He played numerous snaps on Sunday night with the Cowboys keeping Josh Brent inactive and with Sean Lissemore being used in his place it meant a heavy load for Ratliff.
The top run defense in the NFL was dominated by Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy, who ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns Sunday night.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys’ embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Eagles.
1.) What a debacle. That’s one of those high school games that you hope your parents and friends forgot to attend. However, for the Cowboys, that game was not only on television but prime time national television. The Cowboys were absolutely embarrassed against their hated-rival and every NFL fan near a TV got to view it. Philadelphia dominated almost the entire way and in every facet of the game, handing the Cowboys their worst loss of the Jason Garrett head-coaching era. No one outside of the Philadelphia locker room was expecting a beat down like this. I mean, it was so bad that the Cowboys didn’t force a punt until the fourth quarter.
2.) Are Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Tony Romo on the same page or was the all-world Philly secondary simply too good? Romo didn’t complete one pass to Bryant or Austin the first half. Sure, there wasn’t much time for Romo to throw and the Cowboys only had four first-half possessions, but you would think he could get a couple of short tosses to his top two receivers. Bryant’s first catch didn’t come until there was 6:42 left in the game, and that was after the Oklahoma State product was showed complaining on the sidelines. The Cowboys’ top receiver was Laurent Robinson on Sunday. Does Romo feel most comfortable with a receiver that didn’t make his Cowboys debut until Week 3? It sure looked that way.
3.) For anyone who wasn’t sure who the best quarterback in the division was, you received your answer Sunday night. Michael Vick did whatever he wanted against a group that was supposed to be one of the best units in the league. His offensive line allowed him plenty of time to operate, which gave him the opportunity to be nearly flawless in his decision-making. Vick rushed only when he needed to, finishing with 50 yards on seven carries, and completed 21-of-28 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. If Philly gets that type of production from Vick every week, the Eagles will be playing the Packers for the NFC championship.
4.) It’s not going to happen, but Rob Ryan should probably chill out on the bulletin board material. Ryan’s “we’re going to beat their [expletive] when we play them” sure made the Cowboys defensive coordinator look silly. I love his enthusiasm but like Bradie James said on Wednesday, coach, can you save those comments for when the Cowboys play the Rams? Ryan wanted to make a bold statement and he did. But the Eagles certainly made him eat his words.
5.) Positive spin: DeMarcus Ware, DeMarco Murray and Robinson all played well despite the Cowboys’ horrible showing. Those three all kept fighting to the end and it showed in their stats. Ware finished with four sacks and 11 tackles, Murray rushed for 74 yards in the first half and Robinson caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Also, despite a horrible blowout loss, the Cowboys have a favorable schedule over the next five weeks. If Jerry Jones’ group can do their best impression of Nolan Ryan’s bunch, and quickly put this one behind them, a month from now this game could be looked at as something that brought the team together.
Here are 15 things to know about Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles – Dallas Cowboys matchup:
1. The Eagles are going to have their hands full with Diamond Dez Bryant. The second-year receiver has 19 catches for 339 yards in five games. He’s averaging 17.8 yards per catch and has scored four times. Bryant has six catches of 25+ yards, tied for seventh-most in the NFL, according to STATS.com. And that doesn’t mean it’s just Tony Romo taking shots deep down the field with Bryant. Yards after the catch are a big part of the equation. Bryant is tough to bring down, and if the Eagles’ defensive backs don’t tackle, Bryant will pile up the YAC. Bryant caught one ball against the Rams at the St. Louis 37. Quintin Mikell met him 6 yards later, but couldn’t bring him down. Bryant broke the tackle and scampered all the way to the 21 for a 34-yard gain, which included 16 yards after the catch. The previous week, against the Patriots, he turned a 5-yard catch into a 33-yard gain, juking two New England defensive backs to the ground.