Missing Lawrence Vickers, who is recovering from back surgery, the Cowboys gave themselves a look at two players at fullback in OTAs this week.
Caleb McSurdy, a linebacker taken in the seventh round last year, and Kevin Kowalski, an undrafted offensive lineman two years ago, both gave it a shot.
“We did work out McSurdy as a fullback as well as a linebacker when he was coming out of school, so he has a little versatility that way,” coach Jason Garrett said.
McSurdy even got a shot at a pass during 11-on-11 goal-line work. The ball, from Kyle Orton, was a little low and wide, so McSurdy didn’t make the catch.
But the Cowboys just wanted to get a feel.
“It wasn’t a full-speed deal, obviously,” Garrett said. “It gives us a chance to look at a few of those kinds of things that you might need to get to at some point once we get into training camp and in preseason.”
McSurdy spent all of his rookie year on injured reserve after suffering an Achilles tear in training camp.
Kowalski spent most of last year on PUP because of a foot injury.
The Dallas Cowboys released long snapper Charley Hughlett, tackle Levy Adcock, punter Delbert Alvarado, tight end Harry Flaherty, receiver David Little, tackle Tyrone Novikoff, receiver Raymond Radway, running back Javarris Williams and cornerback C.J. Wilson. They also waived/injured receiver Donavon Kemp and linebacker Caleb McSurdy.
Kevin Kowalski, a guard/center who hasn’t been able to go at all since the start of training camp, has been placed on the physically unable to perform list.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said quarterback Tony Romo and the first-team offense will get more than the 11 snaps they received in Monday’s 3-0 win at Oakland when the starting offense struggled.
Garrett said he plans to "inch that up a little bit" in tonight’s game against San Diego to get Romo some more opportunities.
That probably translates to Romo playing until early in the second quarter.
But Garrett acknowledged that the absence of Miles Austin (hamstring) and Jason Witten (spleen) as primary targets, compounded by an injury-riddled offensive line, could impact how long he keeps Romo in the game.
"We certainly wouldn’t put him out there with people we weren’t comfortable blocking in front of him," Garrett said. "I think the issues with the skill guys, with [no] Witten and Miles, those are opportunities for other guys to play. So we’re excited to see how [young receivers] play up, so to speak.
"We would never put Tony or anybody out there where we felt like there was a situation where they could get hurt. We don’t think that’s the case right now."
Garrett said a similar usage plan is surfacing on defense, where there is a lack of depth at inside linebacker.
"Sean Lee and Bruce Carter and Dan Connor won’t be playing that long into this game. They’ll probably play into the second quarter," Garrett said, adding that the rest of the game will be handled by reserves whose ranks have depleted this week with injuries to Kyle Wilber (broken thumb) and Caleb McSurdy (torn Achilles).
Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said Friday he will not play in tonight’s game because of a hamstring ailment.
Ware described the injury as not serious and indicated he would play if this were a regular-season game.
Ware becomes the seventh, and most recent, player to miss time in training camp because of a hamstring-related injury.
Other starters impacted with hamstring ailments in camp include receiver Miles Austin, linebacker Anthony Spencer, guard Nate Livings and defensive end Jason Hatcher.
Felix Jones said with the exception of one thing, he has had a great training camp.
"You subtract the conditioning test, I think I did pretty good," the Cowboys running back said.
The reporters around him chuckled. Somebody said they had forgotten about the conditioning test, which he failed and had to retake three days into training camp.
"I hope a lot of people forget about the test!" Jones said with a smile.
Then he turned serious. "But you know, it happened. I’ve got to deal with it. People talk about it. But I’m past that now. It’s in the background," he said.
Jones said he is 100 percent healthy after off-season shoulder surgery.
Last year, he couldn’t raise his arm to catch passes, and he said the pain in his shoulder affected the way he ran.
"You try to baby it and try not get hit on it, but you know, with this game, you can’t do that," he said. "You can’t play your game and try to protect yourself at the same time. I’m glad I did what I did this off-season. Now I’m ready for 2012. I can’t wait to get going."
As if the Dallas Cowboys hadn’t been bitten enough by the injury bug, Wednesday was a big blow to the squad, as they learned not only that Jason Witten would be out for a few weeks with a lacerated spleen injury, but a rookie linebacker would be out for the year.
Seventh-round pick Caleb McSurdy tore his Achilles and will miss the entire season.
But the Dallas Cowboys did have some other notable injury news as well.
- Defensive end Jason Hatcher has been out a week with a hamstring injury but returned to practice Wednesday afternoon with full pads. He did participate in some of the drills and team work, but then went to the side field for extra conditioning during the 11-on-11 sessions.
- Jay Ratliff had his most extensive work during training camp. The Cowboys have been overly cautious with Ratliff, who is suffering from plantar fasciitis in his foot. Ratliff was able to get through the practice without seemingly any problems.
- Anthony Spencer (hamstring) and Miles Austin (hamstring) both participated in the morning walk-through. They were limited to just condition drills in the afternoon. Still, it seems likely they are getting close to practicing again. Their status for Saturday’s game in San Diego seems doubtful.
- Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) was practicing for the second straight day in full pads. He has a good chance of playing Saturday against the Chargers.
- Rookie wide receiver Danny Coale did not practice in full pads Wednesday, after going in full on Tuesday. It’s not likely a setback but the Cowboys’ way of monitoring a young player as he rehabs from a broken foot injury.
- Safety Matt Johnson has yet to practice here in the afternoon practices. His hamstring injury hasn’t allowed him to get cleared, but he was in full pads running wind sprints on Wednesday.
- Linebacker Orie Lemon did not practice Wednesday because of a neck strain.
The Cowboys have begun the process of signing their rookie draft picks with wide receiver Danny Coale, tight end James Hanna and linebacker Caleb McSurdy coming to terms.
In the past, the Cowboys have waited until the week before training camp to begin talks with the agents but will take a more proactive approach this year, especially with most of the deals a mere formality because of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Coale, Hanna and McSurdy received four-year deals. They will receive base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 from 2012-15.
Coale, the Cowboys’ fifth-round pick, was drafted with the idea that he would compete for the No. 3 wide receiver role, but a broken foot suffered on the first organized team activity will leave him on the sideline until training camp begins in July. The Cowboys like his feel for the game and his ability to play inside and outside. He left as Virginia Tech as the school’s second-leading receiver in catches and yards. He can also return punts.
Hanna, a Flower Mound, Texas, native, was the 186th overall pick and 16th pick in the sixth round. In four years at Oklahoma he caught 52 passes for 720 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a career-high 27 catches for 381 yards as a senior to go along with two touchdowns. He opened eyes at the NFL combine with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and brings the ability to stretch the field vertically at tight end.
McSurdy, 6-1, 245 pounds, was the Cowboys’ seventh-round pick, No. 222 overall. He was a two-year starter at Montana and had 131 tackles as a senior. He is competing for a backup inside linebacker spot with Orie Lemon and Isaiah Greenhouse.
The Cowboys have yet to sign first-rounder Morris Claiborne, defensive end Tyrone Crawford (third), linebacker Kyle Wilber (fourth) and safety Matt Johnson (fourth). None have been able to take part in the OTAs, but Johnson will be on hand for this week’s minicamp. Claiborne (wrist), Crawford (calf) and Wilber (finger) are injured.
Courtesy: Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas
RELATED: Cowboys sign Pat McQuistan
The Dallas Cowboys announced Friday that they have signed offensive tackle Pat McQuistan. McQuistan, 29, was Dallas’ seventh-round pick in 2006.
A Cowboy from the day he was drafted through 2009, McQuistan stands 6-foot-6, 319 and has experience at both guard and tackle. He’ll be primarily a tackle in Dallas, competing for a roster spot behind Tyron Smith and Doug Free.
McQuistan bounced from the Dolphins to Saints over the past two seasons.
In a corresponding move, the Cowboys waived undrafted rookie tackle Taylor Dever.
Courtesy: Evan Silva | NBC Sports
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave a recap of the seven players the team drafted.
Here is what he told reporters Saturday night at Valley Ranch:
“I’ll start with Morris Claiborne. We talked about him before. We felt like he was a player worth moving up the draft board for. He was our number one defensive player on our board and number two player on our board and we feel like he has a chance to be a great, great football player. He’s everything we want physically, and it’s a premium position, and he’s the right kind of guy.
“Tyrone Crawford is someone that we took with our third round pick, pick No. 81, defensive end from Boise State. We feel like he has some real position flexibility for us. He has a chance to be a third down rusher for us, as well as grow into a five-technique defensive end. He has an outstanding motor, that’s Line 1 when you talk about him. It jumps off the screen when you watch him play, and somebody we’re excited about.
“Kyle Wilber is the next player. He’s an outside linebacker from Wake Forest. We see him as a SAM linebacker, who does an outstanding job defending the run. We feel like he has a chance to be a pass rusher from the edge. He’s an outstanding special teams player and, again, the right kind of guy. You look at the list of the seven players we drafted. We really feel good about the kind of people they are, and Kyle Wilber certainly is one of those.
“Matt Johnson is a safety from Eastern Washington. He’s a guy that we feel can play on the back end and be a safety that drops down. He’s a good run defender as well. He made a number of plays on the ball. I think 15 career interceptions. The safety position is a little tricky. Sometimes, you have guys that are good pass defenders and sometimes you have guys that are good run defenders. We feel like he’s demonstrated he can do both. We had him in here for one of our 30 visits. We really like the person he is. He can be a special teams player, but is also going to be a position player for us.
“Danny Coale is the next player we took. He’s a receiver from Virginia Tech. He’s a guy that has all the measurables to play. He’s almost 6-feet tall, ran in the 4.3’s as a receiver. We feel like he has good traits to be an inside receiver and also the physical skills to be an outside receiver. We’re excited about him at the receiver position but also as a special teams contributor. Very good career there at Virginia Tech.
“James Hanna is a receiving tight end out of Oklahoma. He’s a local guy out of Flower Mound. He’s a guy that we would consider an ‘F,’ not an on-the-line ‘Y’ tight end, a guy who can block on the back side of things. That’s how we describe our ‘F’ position. And also has some receiving skill. He ran below 4.5 at the combine, so he’s a guy that can get down the field and threaten the defense that way. He really has the measurables to be a blocker, as well, and you see that. He obviously played at an outstanding program. We really like James Hanna.
“Lastly, we took Caleb McSurdy. He’s a linebacker from Montana. You hear a lot of people talk, ‘He’s just a football player.’ We feel like this guy is that. He played the Mike linebacker position at Montana and just made a lot of tackles. We think he has a chance to be an inside linebacker candidate for us and also a special teams contributor for us, and you can’t have enough football players on your roster. He’s one of those guys. We have a lot of competition at the linebacker position. We think that’s good. Those guys are natural special teams players and each of these guys we took we feel like they’re the right kind of guys.”
NOTE: You can listen to the entire press conference by clicking HERE! Enjoy!
SPECIAL FEATURE: Listen as each new draft pick is officially welcomed to the Dallas Cowboys organization
Listen as the Dallas Cowboys call their first round pick, LSU CB Morris Claiborne. The traditional congratulatory phone call from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett, and this time … defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
To listen to the other calls to each draft pick, click on the links below:
In 2011, after 30 years of not drafting an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft, the Cowboys bucked their own trend by selecting Tyron Smith. Likewise, three decades of history didn’t hold up in 2012.
For the first time since 1982, the Cowboys led off their selections with four straight defensive players. LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne was the big splash on Thursday, the team trading up eight spots and surrendering a second-round pick to land the draft’s top defensive player.
Though the Cowboys’ selections on Friday and Saturday came with far less sizzle, the team did manage to fill needs at every level of the defense. The cornerback upgrade in Round 1 was followed by consecutive additions at defensive end, outside linebacker and safety.
The Cowboys say they didn’t intentionally target defensive players early, but they make no apologies for adding talent to that side of the ball, either. The defense was middle-of-the-road statistically in 2011, but had a particularly disappointing finish to the season.
“We didn’t feel like we had a gun to our head saying we’ve got to take this position,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We were pretty true staying to our board. We had mock drafts this week where we took all of these offensive players. … It just fell the way that it did.”
Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford was the team’s lone pick on Day 2, at selection No. 81 overall. The Cowboys the led off Saturday’s five picks by snagging Wake Forest outside linebacker Kyle Wilber (No. 113) and Eastern Washington safety Matt Johnson (No. 135) in the fourth round.
The last time the Cowboys went defense-heavy to start a draft was in 2005, when outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, defensive end Marcus Spears and inside linebacker Kevin Burnett were chosen in the first two rounds.
The Cowboys’ broke their string of defensive picks later on Saturday, adding Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale in the fifth round, at pick No. 152 overall, and Oklahoma tight end James Hanna in the sixth, with pick No. 186.
The club actually selected five straight defensive players to start the 1982 draft, beginning with cornerback Rod Hill in the first round. In no other year had the Cowboys selected as many as four straight defenders off the top of the class.
A fifth defensive player, Montana inside linebacker Caleb McSurdy, was the Cowboys’ seventh-round pick, No. 222 overall. The 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Sky Conference, he’ll attempt to win a roster spot behind Sean Lee, Dan Connor and Bruce Carter.
While Claiborne can be expected to claim a starting job as early as training camp, the Cowboys’ other draft picks will try to fill depth roles, at least for now.
“I think overall the afternoon went really well,” team vice president Stephen Jones said. “As you can see, we didn’t do a lot of moving around. We kind of went with our picks, and I think the biggest reason was when we got ready to pick, there was a player there we really liked and really fit with what we were trying to get accomplished for our team.”
In free agency, the Cowboys added several players who will fill starting roles, most notably cornerback Brandon Carr, who received a five-year, $50 million contract. Between their efforts in free agency and the weekend’s draft, the Cowboys believe they are much improved.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that he thought his team had enough talent to sneak into the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl, like the 2011 Giants.
“I thought we could win nine games with this team,” Jones said. “And if we could win nine, then we could get in there and maybe have the same run that the Giants did. That’s where I thought we were then. I think we’re better. We’re better. And certainly we’re better with what we’ve done in free agency, but just all the way around.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see, again, 30 percent new faces on this roster, with what we’ve done.”
2012 DALLAS COWBOYS DRAFT PICKS
Caleb McSurdy, ILB
School: Montana | Conference: BSKY
College Experience: Senior | Hometown: Boise, ID
03/12/2012 – There were nearly two dozen NFL teams represented at the University of Montana’s pro day on Friday, and any number of them would like to have Caleb McSurdy suiting up and making big hits next fall. Some of them, though, think it might happen on offense. McSurdy was one of 22 players who went through several drills in front of NFL scouts at UM, including speed drills on the SprinTurf of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He’d been through all of them before at the NFL scouting combine on Feb. 27, but that was at linebacker. Some of these guys want McSurdy to play fullback. “It’s awesome,” said the 242-pounder, who was the Big Sky Conference’s defensive player of the year. “There’s a few teams that just let me know that’s what they saw me at. They tell you, ???Hey, we want to work you out as a fullback at your pro day,’ and you just do it.” McSurdy earned all-conference honors at tight end as a senior at Borah High in Boise, Idaho, and also played some running back. It seems safe to assume he excelled. “No, not really,” he said. “I was kind of a bruiser. And not to throw anybody under the bus, but my O-line wasn’t terrific. So there were a lot of 2-yard runs that took a lot of effort.” Five years later he was back on that side of the ball, if only for an afternoon. “Obviously they want to see you catch the ball and run some routes,” he said. “I went out and did that and felt pretty decent.” McSurdy also re-tested in the 40-yard dash, and lowered his time from 4.97 at the combine to 4.68 and 4.70. “Coach (Aric) Williams had me at 4.66,” McSurdy added. “I think he might’ve given me the home-town discount. But, good day.”
McSurdy was a force in the Big Sky Conference in his senior year, recording 114 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. He is a thick, short inside linebacker who doesn’t have great speed but should be able to use his strength, instincts and tackling ability to find playing time early and often at the next level. He could be selected in the late rounds to a team seeking linebacker depth.
Strengths: McSurdy is a very instinctual linebacker who relies on his play recognition and pre-snap keys to put himself in a strong position to make plays. He is a quick-twitched mover once the ball is snapped and easily sniffs out run plays. He is a solid, reliable wrap-up tackler on the inside and shows a polished ability to dip his hips, fend off a low block and make a quick move towards the ball.
Weaknesses: McSurdy is a bit undersized for the inside linebacker position. Given his inexperience with top-line collegiate play, he could struggle against bigger offensive linemen working toward the second level in the NFL. He struggles against tight ends.