BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: Rookie center Travis Frederick has stabilized the offensive line by playing beyond his years
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Rookie center Travis Frederick
From what we experienced last season with this Dallas Cowboys offensive line, there has been improvement with Ronald Leary at left guard, the contributions of Brian Waters on the right side along with Doug Free and the continued growth of Tyron Smith at left tackle.
But if you really want to focus where this line improved the most, it would be at center with Travis Frederick in the lineup. Drafted to be a starter since day one, Frederick has played with the skill and knowledge far above what many scouts around the league had projected him to be able to accomplish. Frederick has been steady in his approach and reliable in his execution. As a player, he is truly playing beyond his years in one of the most demanding positions along the offensive line.
For Frederick it has been a learning experience throughout this season from the time where he had to face Dontari Poe in Kansas City to Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins in New Orleans, Frederick has improved every week that he has had the opportunity to line up in a game.
What Travis Frederick has given this offensive line is something they have not had in recent seasons and that is stability in the middle. One of the reasons that this line can survive a loss like they suffered with Waters is because Frederick has been able to adjust to whomever he has lined up next to and for a rookie to be able to handle that says a great deal about his game.
Need More From: Doug Free in the running game
It would be real easy to say this offensive line needs more from Mackenzy Bernadeau, and they do. But, they need even more from Doug Free. No disrespect to how Free is playing, because he has been the least of their problems on offense.
Where we need more from Free is on that right side playing next to Bernadeau. There are going to be matchups down the stretch where opponents are going to feel that going over him is a better option than trying to get by Tyron Smith. If you look at the upcoming games, there will be no break for this line in the types of pass rushers that they are going to face.
If this offense is going to get back on track, they are going to need Free to be at his absolute best. Though they were able to get away from the sacks in the Vikings game, where Free struggled against Brian Robinson, they might not be so fortunate against Justin Tuck or Clay Matthews. Free has done a much better job of playing with his technique and really that has allowed him to return to the type of player that we observed three seasons ago.
Where this offense also needs more from Free is in the running game. When he is really on his game and the ball is going to the outside, he can secure the edge and he has done a much better job with this, but like Jason Garrett says, there is always room for improvement.
Six-Game Forecast: It always comes down to what you do in the trenches
There is going to be a great deal of pressure put on this offensive line as they work through these final six games.
When this group gives Tony Romo time, we have seen that plays can be made. At times, they have been able to create opportunities when DeMarco Murray has the ball in his hands, so that has been a positive as well. As much as you want to say that the skill players on this team need to pick up their game, this offensive line is going to have to be the difference makers.
They have been getting consistent play from their tackles, the left guard and center are basically rookies, and they have been able to hold their own. They have to find a way to replace the veteran leadership of Brian Waters, but Mackenzy Bernadeau is not a terrible option. The starting five against the Giants this week are the same starting five that opened the season together in a victory that night.
This group has been more of a solution this season than a problem, and if this club is going to win the division, it’s going to be on their shoulders.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray back in lineup
ARLINGTON – DeMarco Murray will be active today against the Vikings after missing each of the Dallas Cowboys’ previous two games with a sprained knee.
DeMarcus Ware, on the other hand, highlights the inactives list, which also includes wide receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety J.J. Wilcox, linebacker DeVonte Holloman, tackle Darrion Weems and tight end Andre Smith.
Wilcox (knee), Holloman (neck) and Claiborne (hamstring) were all ruled out after Friday’s practice. Ware (thigh) and Austin (hamstring) were both listed as doubtful. Along with Murray, Ware’s also missed each of the last two weeks after getting injured against the Redskins, and he’ll now miss his third straight game.
Austin has been given rest and sat out last week after trying to give his sore hamstring a try against the Eagles on Oct. 20.
All the Cowboys players who were probable entering the weekend will be active, including Jason Hatcher (neck), George Selvie (shoulder) and Barry Church (hamstring).
Guard Brian Waters was also ruled out after Friday’s practice with a triceps injury, which has since moved him to injured reserve. Defensive back Micah Pellerin took Waters’ spot on the 53-man roster and will be active.
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas RG Brian Waters placed on IR | Micah Pellerin promoted from practice squad
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have officially placed guard Brian Waters on injured reserve after a week of evaluation.
Waters suffered a strained rib, a hyperextended knee and a torn triceps in last weekend’s loss to Detroit, with the triceps injury proving to be the most severe.
The veteran guard, who was halfway through his 13th NFL season, sought out several secondary opinions that would allow him to continue playing this year, but those were of no avail.
Mackenzy Bernadeau will start in place of Waters on Sunday against Minnesota. Bernadeau started in all 16 games last season, and he was the starter for the first three weeks of 2013 before Waters replaced him in Week 4.
It remains to be seen what Waters will do going forward. The Cowboys signed him to a one-year contract just five days before the season opener against the New York Giants. The six-time Pro Bowler played to his lofty reputation in five starts this season, but he will be 37 by the start of the 2014 campaign.
In Waters’ place, the Cowboys called up defensive back Micah Pellerin from the practice squad. This marks the fourth week in a row the Cowboys have activated a practice squad player. They called up linebacker Cameron Lawrence on Oct. 11, defensive end Jason Vega on Oct. 18 and safety Jakar Hamilton on Oct. 26.
Pellerin was a standout for the team in training camp after joining the practice squad at the tail end of 2012. He has experience playing both safety and cornerback, though he has played primarily as a corner during his time with Dallas.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hinted on Friday that Pellerin would get the nod, as the team will be without Morris Claiborne for Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Claiborne injured his hamstring in the loss to the Lions.
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas RG Brian Waters is out for the season; Mackenzy Bernadeau back in lineup
Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Brian Waters is out for the year, owner Jerry Jones confirmed on his radio show today.
Waters, 36, had started the past five games at right guard. Waters injured his knee and his ribs during Sunday’s loss to the Lions, but it was a triceps injury that had concerned the Dallas Cowboys the most. As it turns out, they were right to be concerned.
Mackenzy Bernadeau will return to the starting lineup, and Jones said the Cowboys will look to their practice squad for depth. They released guard David Arkin on Saturday and signed him back to the practice squad yesterday.
“[Bernadeau] started for us the entire year last year and played well, came in and played about 20 snaps and played well yesterday,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “Then, we’ll look to what we do with depth off our practice squad.”
Bernadeau started 19 consecutive games after signing a four-year, $11 million deal with the Cowboys during the 2012 off-season. But he lost his job to Waters in Week 4 after Waters got back into football shape.
Now, it’s Bernadeau’s turn again.
“It’s an adjustment just for the fact that you go from being in the game all the time to being on the sideline and waiting around,” Bernadeau said Monday. “You never want anybody to go down and get hurt. At the same time, when your number is called, you’ve got to be prepped, and that’s how I’ll be.”
Waters missed the 2012 season and all of training camp this year. He signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys on Sept. 4, the week of the season opener against the Giants.
The Cowboys have been pleased with Waters, not only for his play on the field, but for how he has taken their young offensive linemen under his wing.
“He’s done a lot,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Maybe as much as anything else, it’s his demeanor. He’s a guy that plays the game the right way. He’s physical. He’s tough. He knows what to do. He plays with a little bit of an edge to him, and that’s a positive thing, and I’ve talked to our team about it. It’s contiguous. You get a guy like that who can do it again and again and again, always kind of making an impression, trying to break their will, and other guys see that it’s OK, and it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for your team. He’s good for the offensive line, and he’s good for everybody on our team. He’s had a real positive influence.”
POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | MO down; Church praying; and we’re wondering about Waters
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church both left with hamstring injuries Sunday. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said today that Church’s isn’t serious, and he should be back this week.
But Jones was more pessimistic about Claiborne’s injury. He said Claiborne could miss a couple of games, which would point toward Claiborne’s return after the bye week in a Nov. 24 game at the Giants.
“Church, his injuries kept him out there a little bit at the end,” Stephen Jones said on KRLD-FM 105.3. “I do think he can recover and get back for the Vikings. Claiborne, on the other hand, has a soft tissue injury there with his hamstring that is a real deal, and probably more than likely we’re looking at him missing the next couple of weeks.”
Claiborne has had a tough season. He dislocated his shoulder in the season opener against the Giants and has played with a harness. He temporarily lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, though the Cowboys have started several games in the nickel, including Sunday’s at Detroit, with three cornerbacks in the starting lineup.
In three games, Claiborne has come off the bench. He played 33 of 80 plays Sunday, missing the end of the game with his hamstring injury. Church played 64 of 80 plays, with Jakar Hamilton replacing him late in the game because of his hamstring injury.
Jones was not asked about Brian Waters‘ injury, but a source said the Cowboys do not have an update on the offensive guard yet. Waters left with knee, rib and triceps injuries, playing 32 of 57 snaps.
Brian Waters had not played football in a year and a half when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 4. It took him a couple of weeks, but playing guard apparently is like riding a bike for him. He has not missed a beat since taking over as the starting right guard in Week 4.
“He’s pretty darn close to being back to himself,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday. “There’s no question about that. That was a concern, or something we talked about a lot, in bringing him back, understanding that he hadn’t played last year and didn’t go through training camp. We have a tremendous respect for the game and the level of competition that goes on every Sunday afternoon. So guys have to be ready to do that. He’s done it really well for a long time. So he had to get back in football shape and just move around and really get his feet underneath him, get his hands back, all that stuff that came so naturally to him for a long time. If you haven’t done it, it just takes you a little bit to get it back.
“I think conditioning, as much as anything else, was an issue for any player in his position. He was surprisingly in very good shape, wasn’t overweight when he first came back. He had to lose a little bit of weight, but more than anything else just get comfortable playing ball again. I think he’s done that over the last few weeks.”
Waters, 36, sat out the 2012 season, returning to football when the Dallas Cowboys signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal. The six-time Pro Bowler has allowed two sacks, according to STATS, and has one holding penalty.
“I’m working just like everybody else,” Waters said. “I’m trying to get better and better. There are some things in my game that I really feel like I need to fix. But I think that’s everybody. We’re Week 7. It’s a long season still yet, and hopefully we’ll have an extended part of our season. I’ve always said you want to be at your best at the end of the season, not at the beginning of the season, not in the middle. We definitely have a ways to go and individually I have a ways to go as well.”
Waters has no regrets about returning. He already lived in Dallas, so it was coming home in a way.
“I’m excited about that,” Waters said. “I’m still ecstatic.”
Watch Video | Play Audio
Offensive Line Ready To Face Their Biggest Test
Go inside the Dallas Cowboys locker room to see how the offensive line feels about their toughest test of the season so far.
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys play coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan didn’t want to rush Brian Waters into the lineup.
Now, after three weeks to settle into the Cowboys’ offense after a year off from football, the veteran guard and his coaches feel like he’s ready to start for the first time this year after rotating with Mackenzy Bernadeau the first three games.
“We think so,” Callahan said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll adjust it accordingly. We’ve got a lot of confidence in both he and Mackenzy. We’ll see how it plays out, but I think there’s been good communication along the lines of where he’s at from a strength and conditioning standpoint, also in terms of where his stamina is out. We’ll watch that carefully.”
Callahan said he wouldn’t have given Waters more than he was physically capable of handling, but he can tell the quality of play the veteran still brings to the game. The 36-year-old will continue to be monitored, but it sounds like the coaches are preparing him for a more permanent role.
That would mean Bernadeau’s role could shift around.
“I have a lot of respect for Bernadeau, in terms of what he can do,” Callahan said. “Of course, if he has to step in and play and start, he’s very capable. He’s a starter anywhere in this league. We’re utilizing him at a lot of different spots. He could be in a position to help backup at center just like he did a year ago when we lost a few guys, and of course he could play the left side as well if he needed to.”
Not every player can take more than a year off in the NFL and return and play at a high level, but if anyone’s seen it work on the line, it’s Callahan. He believes Waters, a former six-time Pro Bowler, is ready to do the same.
“Steve Wisniewski did it in Oakland, and when he came back, he was in great shape,” Callahan said. “Those guys know how to take care of their bodies. They’re Pro Bowlers for a reason. They know what their limitations are, they know that their body needs, they know how to train, they know how to prepare. They wouldn’t get to the level that they’re at as a player if they don’t have an understanding and awareness of all those other factors.”
He expected Waters’ progression to be gradual as the season began, and Bernadeau seemed to pick his play up from last year to allow the veteran guard to ease his way in. Callahan compared Waters’ situation to a lineman entering training camp.
“For the veteran lineman playing that first preseason game of 10 to 12 snaps or 14 snaps and then playing a quarter or playing a half, we believe that progression has helped him,” Callahan said. “We just didn’t want to throw him out there and force him into a situation that he wasn’t physically ready for. Now, is he mentally tough enough to do that? Sure, he could do that. But I think in all fairness to him and our team, we want him to be in the best possible condition so he can play at the highest level.”
Video | Audio
Bill Callahan talks about improving their play on the road, and why the feel the offense left some yards on the field in the first three weeks.
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.”
IRVING, Texas – However prepared Bill Callahan is to call Sunday’s gameplan against the Rams, he’s certainly prepared to answer the inevitable questions about it.
The whirlwind of questioning about the Dallas Cowboys offense – from playcalling to the ineffectiveness of the running game – turned its attention to Callahan on Thursday after moving past Jason Garrett and Tony Romo earlier in the week.
In his first season as the Cowboys’ playcaller, Callahan seemed well-prepared for the second-guessing that comes with a head-scratching loss to the Chiefs last weekend.
“We just felt like there were some real matchups that we liked in that game, and we wanted to go with that. That’s the way it played out, and when it doesn’t play out, that’s a part of the job. I shoulder that, and I don’t shun that responsibility whatsoever,” he said. “Going forward, we’re trying to put together a run gameplan we can all be proud of and we all like, and we can hopefully get to that balance that we’re looking for.”
Most of the expectation to fix the Dallas running game, which ranks 26th in the league with just 62 yards per game, is going to fall on Callahan. It’s a line that has been repeated around Valley Ranch to this point in the season, but Callahan said the offense can’t get too caught up in meeting quotas as opposed to doing what works.
“By and large it’s circumstantial – we just took advantage of some opportunities that existed and we went after coverage and honestly some coverages that we liked,” Callahan said. “It’s not that we didn’t want to run it, it’s just that during the course of a game, you’re going to go ahead and attack a defense in a certain way and a certain manner.”
Garrett fielded the question earlier on Thursday, and Romo faced it when he talked to reporters Wednesday: at what point do you decide between taking what the defense gives you and running purely for the sake of the running game.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be able to run when they’re playing the run, and you’ve got to be able to pass when they’re playing the pass,” Garrett said.
Callahan added on to that Thursday afternoon with the thought that the running game doesn’t always have to look like a running game – an idea that might explain the prevalence for short passes in the first two weeks of the season.
“There’s so many aspects of running the football – there’s play action, there’s run action, there’s movement passes. There are numerous things that can equate to a run as well,” he said. “It could be the screen game, it could be the check down system, whatever that may be – in the passing game, that it really becomes like a run. Sometimes I think that gets kind of lost in translation.”
He did stress that he didn’t mean that as an excuse, however. With 39 attempts through two games, Dallas ranks 27th in the league in rushes – a stat he conceded isn’t good enough even if the Cowboys are using other means of moving the ball.
“We’ve got to do a better job — I’ve got to do a better job calling more runs,” he said. “So that’s something that we’re working hard on.”
He added: “No excuses, but we have to run it more and we’ve got to put it in DeMarco’s hands, because he’s capable of doing a lot of great things.”
As has widely been speculated, the return of Brian Waters to a large in-game role may help rejuvenate the rushing attack. Callahan said Waters has adapted quickly – an impressive accomplishment, given the required cohesion between offensive linemen — because he is familiar with the Cowboys’ system.
That said, the Cowboys’ playcaller seemed to embrace the responsibility for the offense’s success or failure, as he avoided calling out the offensive line. Callahan said the playcalling needs to improve – something there’s still plenty of time for, he added.
“We like our line — our line is physical. But we’ve got to do a better job calling it, and I’ve got to do a better job personally, and that’s my responsibility – one that I own up to and one that we all want to get better at,” he said. “But we’re working hard, our guys still believe and it’s still early on in this season to build our run game and get to where we want to go. But as we all know, talk is cheap and we’ve got to put it into action.”
IRVING, Texas – He might have taken 18 months off, but Brian Waters is starting to get back in the groove.
It would be one thing for a 13-year NFL veteran to simply pick back up where he left off. But starting with practice last week, and building from the Chiefs game up through this week’s routine, Waters said he’s starting to get re-acclimated.
“I’m getting back into the continuity of the game. These weeks start to add up,” he said. “You know what you want to do on Wednesday, you know what you want to do on Thursday and Friday. As the week goes on, you know where you want to be. I’m starting to get back into that.”
It’s too early to tell what that means for his playing time, however. Waters ceded most of Sunday’s playing time to fellow guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, and that rotational role could continue.
“I’m just going to do whatever coach tells me,” Waters said. “Obviously, I hadn’t played football in a while.”
He might not have played much in the loss, but that didn’t save him from the bombardment of questions about the Dallas Cowboys rushing deficiencies.
Waters knows a thing or two about productive ground games, as he paved the way for Priest Holmes in Kansas City. But the six-time Pro Bowler said moving the ball is what matters most, period.
“During the course of a game, games go differently. I know there’s going to be a lot of emphasis this week with you guys focusing on the running game, but honestly, I want to win the football game,” Waters said. “Our job as an offense is to move the football, any way the play is called. If it’s a pass, we want to move the ball that way. If it’s a run, we want to move the ball that way. If we get into numbers, we’re playing into the defense.”
Rather than focusing on one specific problem, such as the running game, Waters said his goal is to improve himself as completely as possible going forward. One such aspect in need of practice is bound to be footwork, which he said is crucial.
“As an offensive lineman, you have to make sure your feet are right. If not, you’re going to be in some bad situations when it comes to attacking the defensive lineman,” he said. “You’re going to be out of position, your hands are going to be out of place. You want to make sure your feet are positioned properly.”
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.
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.
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!
IRVING, Texas – If the phrase “perception is reality” holds true to form, the Dallas Cowboys are certainly hoping for that in regards to their new-look offensive line.
Recently, the perception of the offensive line hasn’t been that good. In reality, they weren’t, especially in the running game.
Now, with the addition of veteran Brian Waters, who practiced for the first time today, teamed with a first-round pick at center and an emerging young guard in Ron Leary, the perception of the entire offensive line is one that is vastly improved.
The Cowboys can only hope that becomes a reality.
Vice president Stephen Jones, who is the Cowboys’ director of player personnel, said he is hopeful the offensive line will go from one of the team’s weaknesses, to possibly a strength with the added experience and depth.
“Getting Waters obviously takes it from being a big, big question mark, but from not only being a question mark on the front end, but now we’ve got good depth,” Jones said. “You take a starter in Mackenzy Bernadeau and he may ultimately be a backup here. I’m sure he’s not going to give the job away. He’s been competing well. You know what we think about Phil Costa and Jermey Parnell gives you a solid eight there. We’re pleased.”
And that’s not something the Cowboys have been able to say about the line in the last few years – even the last few weeks. There have been several questions, ones that still haven’t been fully answered.
While Travis Frederick looks the part and has played well in the preseason, Sunday night will be his NFL debut. The same goes for Ronald Leary, who has been battling to get back from a knee scope he had in mid-August. Leary practiced in full Wednesday and said he’s “definitely” playing Sunday against the Giants. However, it’ll also be his NFL debut.
Tyron Smith has been solid at left tackle and Doug Free has played well on the right side this preseason. But he certainly benefitted from Anthony Spencer’s camp-long knee injury that often had him battling the likes of Kyle Wilber and George Selvie, instead of a 2012 Pro Bowler who had 11 sacks.
So the question marks remain along the line. And they likely won’t go away with one game – regardless if Waters plays or not. From the sound of things, the 11-year veteran is not expected to suit up against the Giants. While he practiced some early with the second-team offense, the bulk of his afternoon was spent with trainers working on his conditioning.
It appears the goal with Waters is to have him ready for Week 2, which just so happens to be in Kansas City, a place he spent the first 10 seasons of his career, earning five Pro Bowls. Waters picked up a sixth Pro Bowl trip in 2011 when he signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. Similar to this situation, Waters joined New England on Sept. 3, 2011, eight days before the opener in Miami, where he played 85 percent of the offensive snaps. Waters was able to get five practices in before that first game, compared to just three this week. So getting him ready for the Chiefs makes more sense, although the savvy veteran in Waters wouldn’t let him look that far ahead.
“I’m just going to think about the Giants right now, take it one game at a time,” Waters said (video | audio). “Obviously, I have a great amount of affection for the Kansas City program and organization, but right now our focus is on the Giants.”
Despite his experience, Waters said he can learn a lot from Frederick, who was eight years old when Waters completed his first training camp.
“I have a lot of experience, a lot of game-time experience,” Waters said. “If those guys need me, in any way, form or fashion, I think I can offer some insight on different ways to do things and different players that I’ve played against. But this center is young and smart. He’s not going to need much help from me. I’m probably going to need more help from him than he’s going to need from me.”
“I don’t think I’m teaching him anything. Really all I’m doing is helping facilitate the switching of terminology and things like that, and even at that, it’s not a whole lot,” Frederick said. “He obviously knows what he’s doing. He’s got the playbook and will have probably by (Thursday), have it all done. The things you learn from playing in the NFL for 10 years, I have no idea. But those are the things that I can learn from him, and I think those are harder to learn and they take more time and they take somebody that’s been through it all to help you if you want to get it faster than they got it or faster than it takes you 10 years down the road. I think the things that he’s teaching me are more important.”
Whether Frederick is helping Waters learn the system, or Waters is helping Frederick learn the ropes of being an NFL lineman, they’re going to lean on each other.
More importantly, they’re likely going to give this offensive line a possible edge that we haven’t seen around here in a while.
Now that would be quite a reality check.
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!
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Veteran guard Brian Waters officially signs; injured Eric Frampton waived by Dallas
IRVING, Texas – More than 14 years after he signed with his hometown as an undrafted rookie fullback, Brian Waters as returned home … again.
Waters has officially signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the team he grew up idolizing as a native of nearby Waxahachie and later a standout at North Texas in Denton.
To make room for Waters, the Cowboys will put safety Eric Frampton on the waived/injured list and likely give the veteran an injury settlement for his calf injury. The Cowboys initially kept Frampton as one of six safeties but he wasn’t expected to play this week against the Giants.
Waters, who hasn’t played a snap since 2011 with the Patriots, officially signed his contract late tonight at Valley Ranch. The deal is worth 1.5 million in base salary. However, Waters can earn up to $3 million total based on play-time incentives.
Wearing a T-shirt and gym shorts, Waters arrived to the Cowboys’ complex to sign the deal, then immediately went to the coaching offices, where he met with assistants Bill Callahan and Frank Pollard for what was expected to be a long night of film session.
However, Waters is not expected to play Sunday night against the Giants, and that appears to be the Cowboys’ call. However, he’s no stranger to quick turnarounds. When he signed in New England, Waters joined the team on Sept. 3 and played in 85 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps in a win over Miami.
A six-time Pro Bowler who spent the first 10 years of his career in Kansas City, Waters is still expected to practice with the Cowboys on Wednesday. While he likely won’t play Sunday, count on Waters being ready for the Sept. 14 game with the Chiefs, a team he spent a full decade with.
So what does this mean for the Cowboys’ offensive line this season, or even this week against the Giants?
It seems like that could be two different answers.
The Cowboys will likely prepare to get both Ron Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau ready to start. Leary hasn’t practiced since early August when he underwent a minor knee scope that kept him out of the final three preseason games.
Leary is expected to practice Wednesday at left guard.
Assuming Waters won’t be ready, Bernadeau will likely start. But after that is up in the air. Leary has never started an NFL game so it’s not a given he would keep his role. The Cowboys would obviously prefer for Leary to win the job, but it will have to be earned.
This move also allows the Cowboys to keep veteran Doug Free at right tackle. The club experimented with Free at guard the last few weeks when they were unsure about the status of Leary.
HOLD YOUR HORSES: Veteran guard Brian Waters remains in the mix after reported workout with Dallas Cowboys
IRVING, Texas – Veteran guard Brian Waters is apparently still in the picture for the Dallas Cowboys this year.
According to multiple reports, the club worked out Brian Waters on Tuesday and are in the process of working out a deal for the veteran guard. In fact, some reports are suggesting the deal is done.
As of Tuesday evening, the Cowboys have not confirmed Waters worked out, much less agreed to a deal.
The 36-year-old veteran, who last played in 2011 with the Patriots, likely would not be ready to play this Sunday against the Giants. However, it’s more realistic he would get himself ready to play in Week 2 against in Kansas City, where he spent the first 10 years of his career.
Waters is a six-time Pro Bowler, making five with the Chiefs and one with New England.
The Cowboys remain confident Ron Leary will be ready to start Sunday’s game with the Giants at left guard. Mackenzy Bernadeau is expected to start at right guard.
If signed, Waters would likely replace Bernadeau, who would then move to a versatile backup role at both guard and center.
And that scenario would also suggest Doug Free would get to move back to right tackle and Jermey Parnell would be the game-day swing tackle.