Tag Archives: Cowboys Stadium

EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s BOLD predictions for Week #3

Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, the humidity in Seattle fogged up his crystal ball. We’re gonna let that one slide. Everyone (including the Dallas Cowboys) has a bad week! Right? Surely, the sunny skies in Dallas will help beam in some clear images!

The GREAT Robbini is psyched about the 2012-2013 Dallas Cowboys vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. I’m sure you’ll agree … a lot of these will come true. OK, here we go …

The GREAT Robbini – Week #3 predictions:

Cowboys continue the winning streak against Bucs with a win at home.

The Dallas Cowboys defense coordinator Rob Ryan flexes his 24-7 defense. DeMarcus Ware and the ‘boys mix it up against Tampa Bay, break the Bucs rhythm.

  • 5 team sacks, including:
  • 1 sack for Sean Lissemore
  • 2 sacks for DeMarcus Ware
  • Sean Lee gets a turnover
  • Bruce Carter leads in tackles
  • 1+ takeaways per half
  • 1 Morris Claiborne interception
  • Cowboys defend opening kick

The Dallas offense puts on a show in Big D, light it up on offense:

  • 3 Tony Romo TD’s, 400 yards passing
  • Dez Bryant TD
  • Jason Witten TD
  • DeMarco Murray TD, rushes for 100 yards
  • Dallas uses seven different receivers
  • Cowboys win by 7

The GREAT Robbini

TEXAS SIZED TAILGATE: Pregame activities expand in Cowboys Stadium plazas

AT&T Stadium - Cowboys Stadium screen - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys games are no longer just four quarters of football. Going to AT&T Stadium is an all-day event, a celebration that starts hours before the first kickoff. Parking lots will fill, grills will be fired up, families and friends will unite as Arlington, Texas, becomes a canvas of blue and silver.

Kids Zone - family fun destination at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

But the lots won’t be the only place fans can eat, drink and prepare for every home matchup this year, with pregame activities planned four hours before kickoff on the East Plaza and two hours before kickoff on the West Plaza.

“Everything out in both our plazas is free,” says Matt Coy, executive producer of event presentation for the team. “We don’t charge for anything except food and beverage. We make sure the East Plaza is more of a 21 and up, fun tailgate crowd. The West Plaza is more for families. That’s all ages. We have the Kids Zone out there.”

The East Plaza at the stadium will feature a “Cowboys Tailgate Party,” with food and drink discounts and specials, including $4 sausages and hamburgers, $3 hot dogs and $3 beers and bottled waters to wash them down.

The Dallas Cowboys Kids Zone is the home for all kids on gameday

Fans can get autographs and photos with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and enjoy performances by the cheerleaders, the Rhythm & Blue Dancers, the Rhythm & Blue Drumline and the Rhythm & Blue Break Boys Dancers.

“We program out there four hours before kickoff, until kickoff,” Coy says. “Then we have a DJ out there. Sometimes we’ll play PlayStation and Madden on one of the four big screens.”

Sybil Summers from 105.3 FM “The Fan” hosts the Cowboys’ entertainment stage, which will feature DJ SC and special guest entertainers and performers.

Prizes, including game-used helmets and jerseys, will be doled out to winners of games and contests. Fans can compete in a bag-toss tournament, washer tournament, karaoke contest, dance contests and more.

The Dallas Cowboys Kids Zone offers free face painting - The Boys Are Back blog

Of course, the pregame festivities aren’t limited to adults. The Kids Zone in the West Plaza allows children the opportunity to receive free face painting and balloon animals. And, the games aren’t limited to adults in the East Plaza, either. The West Plaza’s Kids Zone offers six free inflatable rides and games, including a quarterback toss, field goal kicking game, obstacle course and bounce houses.

Stilt walkers and jugglers will demonstrate their skills, and Rowdy will even make his way over. While beer will be available in the East Plaza, kids can sip on free hot cocoa for cold days or cold water on hot days on the West side.

Coy says the event presentation team amped the pregame activities up last year, and are continuing to expand and develop new ideas and activities this season.

“This year, we’re adding two new things,” Coy says. “We’re adding two zip lines, so any family members, kids or older, can go on a zip line across the plaza for free. Then we’re also adding a mechanical bull ride for all ages that’s also free.”

The cheerleaders will also sign autographs and take photos with the kids in the West Plaza, though they likely won’t be trying the zip line.

Dallas Cowboys Kids Zone - The Boys Are Back blog

Every home contest for the Cowboys will include a different theme, with corresponding games and activities, including a U.S. Apache helicopter, a tank and flight simulators for the Military Appreciation Game on Nov. 18.

Dallas Cowboys mascot Rowdy gets the fans fired up at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

The season began with a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month for the home opener, while the Week 4 matchup against the Bears is promoting Breast Cancer awareness. The list goes on as the season progresses, the themes also featuring Halloween (Oct. 28), Thanksgiving (Nov. 22), First Responder Appreciation (Dec. 2), an NFL Hall of Fame Ceremony (Dec. 16) and the holidays (Dec. 23).

“We’ve got Santa Claus, reindeer, elves and photo opportunities and gifts for the kids,” Coy says of the team’s plans for the final home game. “We do a bunch of stuff on Christmas. The other games, like the Military and the First Responder Appreciation games, those we have a lot of static displays.”

Whether fans choose to partake in the contests, games, drinks, food, prizes or pregame entertainment, there will be plenty of fun available in the West and East plazas throughout the season.

NFC EAST RIVAL WATCH: Scouting the division going into week three

Dallas Cowboys coming home to Cowboys Stadium this weekend - The Boys Are Back blog

After the first two weeks of the regular season, the NFC East is just about as hard to judge as most people thought it would be coming into this year. All four teams in the division, including the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles, have had one game that left their fans cringing and one game that gave them playoff hopes.

Below is a quick recap of the division going into Week Three.

Philadelphia Eagles              2-0

Dallas Cowboys                    1-1

Washington Redskins           1-1

New York Giants                   1-1

Eagles:

Of course, as the only undefeated team in the conference, the 2-0 Eagles are leading the division ahead of the other three teams sitting at 1-1.

Philadelphia had a very impressive 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, which included a 1-yard touchdown run by Michael Vick to take the lead with 1:55 left in the game.

But while any win is a good win, the Eagles certainly challenged that theory in their sloppy week one victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week One. Philly managed to squeak out a one-point win despite Vick’s four interceptions and two fumbles. The Eagles needed a last-minute touchdown to beat a Browns team that featured an abysmal performance by rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee - The Boys Are Back blog

Cowboys:

The Cowboys might have been the most “bipolar” team in the division through two weeks. They came out prepared and ready to play the defending champion Giants on the road. Tony Romo picked apart a depleted New York secondary, Demarco Murray ran for 131 yards and Kevin Ogletree had a breakout performance.

But as prepared as the Cowboys looked in Week One, they came out flat against the Seahawks. Seattle held a huge advantage in special teams and the Cowboys offense was never able to sustain any consistent execution. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch had little trouble with a Dallas defense that spent too much time on the field.

The Cowboys are the only team with a divisional win under its belt, but they are also the only team with negative net points as they enter Week Three at -13 net points.

Giants:

In typical Giants form, it took a 14-point comeback for this team to avoid being in borderline panic mode. After the disappointing home loss to the Cowboys, the Giants followed up by falling behind to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

To stage a comeback and take the lead with 55 seconds left in the game required a very full box score from Eli Manning. The quarterback managed to throw for a career-high 510 yards and three touchdowns to go along with his three interceptions.

Redskins:

The Redskins are 1-1, but it’s unlikely that Washington fans are talking about the team’s record nearly as much as Robert Griffin III’s ability to somehow exceed expectations. Through two games, RG3 has three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns, earning a signature victory over the Saints in New Orleans.

The Redskins also had a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Rams in a close game, but the silver lining was that Griffin once again looked like a veteran QB who knew exactly what he was doing. The Redskins have proven that they are certainly beatable, but that Griffin’s playmaking ability will keep them in nearly any game.

Injuries:

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have been hampered by injuries since the preseason, but they have been fortunate enough to not lose any major players to season ending injuries. Phil Costa’s back injury will likely keep him sidelined for at least another week or two. Injuries to starting safeties Barry Church (quad) and Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) will be something to monitor going into Week Three. And the unusual struggles of Jason Witten have some people questioning the health of his recovering spleen.

New York Giants: The Giants’ main injury concern is a neck injury sustained by running back Ahmad Bradshaw in their victory over the Buccaneers. Bradshaw sat out of practice Tuesday and it is unknown how much time he will miss, but because the Giants are playing the Thursday night game, it is likely he will sit out against the Panthers. This should be trouble for the Giants who already had a weak running game before Bradshaw’s injury.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles sustained a number of injuries in their victory over the Ravens. Impact receiver Jeremy Maclin hurt his knee and was carted off of the field to the locker room. Their offensive line also took a hit as starting center Jason Kelce will miss most of the season after tearing his ACL, while staring left tackle King Dunlap may sit out Week Three with a strained hamstring.

Washington Redskins: The Redskins suffered a huge blow in their loss to the Rams by losing arguably their two best defensive players to season-ending injuries. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo tore a left pectoral muscle and defensive end Adam Carriker suffered a torn quadriceps near his knee. Both of these injuries could have huge implications on the Redskins’ competitiveness moving forward.

Miscellaneous:

– The Cowboys and Redskins are the only two teams in the NFL that opened up the season with their first two games on the road. Expect an improvement in energy and focus in their home debuts in Week Three.

– Just through Week Two, the starting QBs of the NFC East have combined for 12 interceptions with the rookie, Griffin, being the most efficient with only one.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

Week 3 Schedule:

New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers

Thursday, September 20th, 7:20 CT (NFL Network)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, September 23rd, 12:00 CT (FOX)

 

Cincinnati Bengals @ Washington Redskins

Sunday, September 23rd, 12:00 CT (CBS)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, September 23rd, 3:05 CT (FOX)

NFL Game Rewind

Keep up with the NFC East rivals on NFL Game Rewind. Watch, re-watch, and pause EVERY NFL game in high definition on your computer, tablet, or phone! View 30 minute condensed games or full broadcast versions! ALL COMMERCIAL FREE!

NFL Game Rewind - The Boys Are Back blog

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AVERAGE IN ARLINGTON: No home field advantage at Cowboys Stadium

There’s an old adage or a simple formula that has been created as to what a good football team should be during the regular season.

Win your home games, split on the road and you’re in good shape. Obviously in the NFL, that’d be a 12-4 record and in this league of constant parity, that’d be much better than “good shape.”

But it sounds simple enough. Just protect your home turf and then be average when you’re going into other team’s hostile territory.

So far, I guess you could say the Dallas Cowboys are on that path. They’ve split their first two road games, with two home games to play – stating Sunday against Tampa Bay, followed by a Monday night game against Chicago on Oct. 1.

But while the road games are a different animal all together, the home games have been anything but cakewalks for this Cowboys team, especially since they moved into Cowboys Stadium in 2009.

In 24 games played in what is widely considered the top sporting venue in all of sports, the Cowboys hold just a pedestrian 13-11 record, and it’s just 7-9 in the past two seasons. That inaugural year of the stadium, the Cowboys went 6-2 at home and even won their first playoff game in 16 years as well.

But lately, it’s been anything but a picnic. There are different reasons for that. It’s still considered a palace for opposing teams who likely bring incredible energy that is tough for a team that practices often in the same stadium to match.

You can say the Cowboys’ fans just aren’t as loud as other places, and that’s pretty much been the case dating back to Texas Stadium.

Or you can factor in the fact the Cowboys as an entire team, just haven’t been that great. So if it’s at home, road or even a neutral site, the results have been about the same.

All of those factors seem to be somewhat accurate.

But the fact remains, the Cowboys need to start protecting their home turf. There are road games looming in Baltimore, Carolina, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Washington. Three of those teams made the playoffs last year. The other three have Cam Newton, Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III to deal with and could be eyeing a playoff spot this year.

So staying on this .500 level on the road would be quite a feat.

But taking care of business at home is where the focus needs to be. And it starts Sunday against a Tampa Bay team that has beaten the Cowboys in Dallas just once, and not since 2001.

I’M GOING TO JERRYLAND: Cost for four to attend a Dallas Cowboys game ranks highest in NFL

daniel snyder looking up to jerry jones dallas cowboys

A Sept. 2012 team marketing report from fancostexperience.com indicates that the Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s highest fan cost index to attend a game.

The report describes fan cost index as follows: The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

The Cowboys’ FCI is $634.78. The New York Jets’ FCI is $617.25. Only four teams – the Cowboys, Jets, Bears and Patriots – have FCIs of more than $600.

Those same four teams, plus the New York Giants, are the only franchises with an average ticket price of more than $100.

The reason the Cowboys – and not the Jets – have the highest FCI is parking. The report lists parking at Cowboys Stadium at $75. Parking for Jets’ games is listed at $25. The report lists no other NFL team with parking that costs as much as $50 (Chicago Bears, $49).

The NFL average FCI is $443.93. The Cowboys’ prices for beer, soft drinks and hot dogs are pretty much in line with the other franchises.

Here are the FCIs for the Cowboys’ NFC East rivals: Giants, $592.24; Eagles, Redskins, $461.53 and Eagles, $397.48.

Philadelphia is one of only 11 teams with FCIs that come in below $400.

The lowest FCI? That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars at $342.70.

You get what you pay for I guess.

MONEY MAGNET: How Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found a way to profit on Super Bowl

Jerry Jones, shown large on the video board, delivers his preseason message to those in attendance at the 2011 Dallas Cowboys Luncheon at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

In the NFL, an owner and his team don’t profit directly from hosting a Super Bowl. The league takes over the stadium rent-free and treats the host the same as every other club. All 32 teams share equally from the sale of tickets, concessions and merchandise.

“There is really no direct benefit,” said Bill Prescott, chief financial officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hosted the 2005 game. Other recent hosts say the same.

But Jerry Jones will be an exception.

Because of his ownership stakes in the concessions company that operates at Cowboys Stadium, and dozens of Papa John’s stores in North Texas, the Dallas Cowboys owner benefits from every food and beverage item sold at the stadium and every pizza ordered from his Papa John’s stores by fans converging on the area.

In addition, the Super Bowl will produce nearly $10 million in ticket and parking taxes dedicated to paying off a portion of stadium debt that Jones guarantees.

In a news conference this week, Jones talked about the game lifting “all boats” economically in the region. As one of the most innovative owners in the NFL, he just happens to have more boats.

Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels acknowledged the owner’s private business connections with this game but said, “You really host a Super Bowl for the region, prestige and global exposure, not for the money.”

Indeed, hosting the game can cost an owner money. Super Bowl preparations have tied up Cowboys Stadium since mid-January, Daniels said, precluding other possible revenue-generating events during that time.

Long term, the biggest potential payoff for the Cowboys owner could come if his stadium — and, therefore, Legends Hospitality Management, the stadium’s concessionaire — is picked to host the Super Bowl on a regular basis.

“Having that sort of revenue and profit boost every four to five years increases the value of the company significantly,” said Mike Rawlings, chief executive of Legends.

Jones owns about a third of Legends, giving him a large interest in the company’s market value and profits, including from the Super Bowl.

Concessions

Rawlings expects Super Sunday sales of food and beverages at the stadium to approach $5 million or more. Proceeds will be divided between the NFL and Legends. During the regular season, Legends splits revenue with the Cowboys.

Rawlings wouldn’t reveal that split, but typical agreements can give teams 35 percent to 50 percent of revenue, depending upon the category of item sold.

The concessions company was founded two years ago in partnership with the Steinbrenner family, owner of the New York Yankees, two investment firms and the Jones family.

Legends’ annual revenue is at least $150 million, Rawlings said. If the company continues its rapid growth, the enterprise has the potential to be worth several hundred million dollars, based on a comparison with a competitor, Centerplate, which was once publicly held.

Asked in a brief interview after his news conference if he agreed with The Dallas Morning News’ analysis of the potential valuation for Legends, Jones said, “Yes.”

For regular-season games, Legends also handles merchandise sales at Cowboys Stadium. But the NFL brings in a separate company for the Super Bowl.

Pizza sales

On the pizza front, Papa John’s International expects a super boost from the Super Bowl, nationally and in North Texas, said John Schnatter, the company’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive.

The Jones family owns a 49 percent stake in 75 Texas Papa John’s stores, primarily in North Texas. Papa John’s, a sponsor of the Cowboys and the NFL, owns 51 percent. Nationwide, Papa John’s has 2,875 stores.

“I think we’ll have a record week in Dallas,” Schnatter said, boosted by out-of-town fans here for the game.

Super Sunday is one of the biggest days for pizza in America. Schnatter predicted his company would sell 1 million pizzas nationwide on Sunday, up from 900,000 a year ago. He estimated, roughly, that Jones’ stores would sell about 26,000 pizzas. Most of those would be sold even if the game weren’t played in North Texas.

Papa John’s declined to say how much revenue those numbers would produce. But multiplying by $10 (the special price for any large Papa John’s pizza in the days leading up to the game) offers at least a ballpark idea of possible revenues: a quarter of a million dollars for Jones’ stores and $10 million companywide.

Schnatter said Jones and the Cowboys have been good business partners. “I wish I had 30 more Jerry Joneses, frankly,” Schnatter said. “I couldn’t find a better partner.”

Jones acquired his stake in the Papa John’s stores in mid-2004, when they were losing money. “We’re talking about going from millions and millions of dollars negative to millions and millions of dollars positive,” Schnatter said of Jones’ stores, declining to be more specific. “He’s by far the most talented businessman I’ve ever met.”

Ticket tax

Arlington contributed $325 million to the cost of Cowboys Stadium, funded primarily through an increase in the local sales tax. An additional $148 million of the original stadium debt involved bonds issued by Arlington and backed by Jones.

That obligation has two dedicated funding sources: a 10 percent ticket tax on stadium events and a $3-per-vehicle parking tax that produces minimal revenue.

The NFL estimates that the ticket tax for the game will total about $9.5 million, said Bill Lively, president and chief executive of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. According to the committee’s agreement with the league, the NFL pays the tax to the city, and the committee reimburses the NFL. It’s the host committee’s single largest expense.

The ticket tax ultimately benefits Jones by paying down a debt that he guarantees.

Extra tickets

Indirect benefits for the host owner and team go beyond prestige and exposure. Even though the NFL gets all the revenue, the extra tickets that the host receives can benefit current ticket holders and be used as marketing incentives for season ticket and suite renewals.

The Jaguars, according to Prescott, the team’s CFO, were able to increase renewal rates because of Jacksonville’s Super Bowl.

As host, the Cowboys receive 5 percent of Super Bowl game tickets. The two participating teams each receive 17.5 percent of the tickets, the 29 other teams each receive 1.2 percent and the NFL gets 25.2 percent.

Also, every suite holder at Cowboys Stadium is entitled to buy his or her full allotment of tickets, half in a suite (not necessarily their own), half elsewhere in the stadium. These tickets come out of the NFL’s allocation.

“The Super Bowl enhances value for everybody,” Jones said, and makes the stadium more attractive for events in the future.

Last year, less than three weeks before the Super Bowl, Sun Life became the naming rights sponsor for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. Some think hosting the game helped the timing of that deal, which directly benefited the Dolphins.

That won’t happen this year for Cowboys Stadium. But New York Giants co-owner John Mara has said that hosting a Super Bowl could help his new stadium attract a named sponsor.

New Meadowlands Stadium, shared with the Jets, hosts the 2014 game. Still, Mara said last year after the site announcement: “You do not make any money hosting the Super Bowl. You are lucky if you break even.”

He could take some tips from Jerry.

Courtesy: GARY JACOBSON | DMN

DALLAS LEGACY TRADITION: Current, former Dallas Cowboys bond for the second straight year

Dallas Cowboys America's Team - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas – For the second straight year, Jason Garrett invited alumni to Cowboys Stadium to watch a practice as a way to mix the franchise’s generations.

Ring of Honor members Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris and Larry Allen were among the 54 alums in attendance.

During the practice DeMarcus Ware was able to catch up with Billy Joe DuPree. Sean Lee got some tips from Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. Tony Romo was able to see former teammates in Dexter Coakley and Darren Woodson.

After the practice the current and former players got together for a dinner inside the stadium.

“It just shows you how much tradition this has and the standard you need to hold,” Lee said. “When you see the great players, you want to be like that. You want to win to make them proud and hold that tradition up. That happens by working hard every day and trying to learn some knowledge from them about how to be successful.”

The practice also allowed the alums to catch up with each other.

“Garrison, I love talking to Walt,” Staubach said. “He was telling a story that he gave me a little Skoal. I never had it before and he remembered how I broke out into a sweat and unfortunately got sick. So I said, ‘Walt, how do you remember that?’ He said he never forgot it. I think a lot of stories are half truths, but it’s fun to reminisce. There was a great turnout with the old, veteran players.”

Dallas Cowboys - Americas Team -Five super bowl rosters - The Boys Are Back blog

STABILIZING THE TRENCHES: Guard Nate Livings’ return helps Dallas Cowboys to build OL continuity

Dallas Cowboys guard Nate Livings (71) during organized team activities - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON — Little by little, the Dallas Cowboys vision of what to expect from their retooled offensive line has come into focus throughout training camp. The operative word is "little," because the projected starters have yet to line up shoulder-to-shoulder in a preseason game.

That is not expected to change Saturday in Cowboys Stadium against the St. Louis Rams (7 p.m., KTVT/Ch. 11), with center Phil Costa projected to miss his third consecutive game with a back ailment. But left guard Nate Livings, who has yet to take a preseason snap, plans to make his debut in a Dallas uniform after returning to practice this week from a hamstring injury.

That will give the Cowboys four projected starters in the trenches, plus reserve center David Arkin, to protect quarterback Tony Romo for the brunt of the team’s most extended dress rehearsal in preparation for a Sept. 5 regular-season opener at the New York Giants.

How is Romo’s comfort level with the guys protecting him?

"It’s comfortable," Romo said. "They’re fighting. They’re getting better and better, and they just keep working hard. We’re going to be all right."

Livings (6-foot-4, 320 pounds), a starter for Cincinnati the past two seasons, joined right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau as the team’s free-agent additions to shore up a suspect area from last season. For the first time, the two will play in tandem Saturday against the Rams.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said continuity among his three interior linemen "might be as important as at any position on your team" and that he is eager to gauge how the pieces are fitting together as the regular season approaches.

"They work together in combination blocks, identifying fronts … all of that stuff that centers and [guards] need to do," Garrett said. "It is really, really important to the success of the play, the success of your run game and your pass protection. The more experience you have spending time with these guys, taking snaps together, the better you’re going to be."

Livings cannot wait to turn it loose after being given a clean bill of health from Cowboys trainers.

"It’s all good, baby," Livings said of his physical condition. "In the game the other day [against San Diego], when we were coming out of the tunnel, I was getting chills myself. But I wasn’t playing. And that’s a feeling I don’t like. I’m here to play football. I’m looking forward to [Saturday]. I’m just getting my feet back under me and getting better one day at a time."

Bernadeau, who missed most of the off-season while recuperating from hip and knee surgeries, believes Livings — a former LSU player who started 41 of his last 46 games with the Bengals — can be a stabilizing force.

"It’s good to have ‘Big Nate’ back," Bernadeau said. "He’s a big force inside, a big influence. We’re excited to have him back and give him as many reps as we can."

Livings, Bernadeau and Arkin joined starting tackles Doug Free and Tyron Smith for the majority of the first-team reps in Thursday’s Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium. Garrett said he is eager to get his projected starters together for as much work as possible in the preseason and expressed disappointment that injuries to Costa, Livings and Bernadeau during various stages of training camp prevented that.

But he’ll at least see four of the five — including both newcomers at guard — operate together Saturday.

"You control what you can control in life," Garrett said. "We just had a rash of injuries … Ideally, you want that starting offensive line to be in place year after year. That’s not necessarily the nature of the NFL. We have some new guys. They have been banged up, and we’re going to try our best to get that continuity as well as we can, as fast as we can."

In terms of the Rams’ game, Livings will be under the microscope. The Cowboys’ offensive line struggled to protect Romo or create running lanes in its preseason opener, a 3-0 victory over Oakland, but fared much better in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to the Chargers.

Garrett envisions Livings’ return as another step toward stability in the trenches.

"He’s a pro. You can see that, the way he approaches it," Garrett said. "He needs to play in our offense more, [understand] the communication next to guys, the adjustments he needs to make. He’s got … a quiet intensity that we like."

Although he has yet to take the field in a Cowboys jersey, Livings went through the entire off-season with the team and pointed to training camp as a bonding experience for him and his line mates. He said the group is becoming cohesive despite minimal game snaps together in the preseason, and he is eager to showcase that.

"We’re around each other all day long in meetings and talking," Livings said. "We’re dealing with certain situations on the field [in practice]. That’s our job: to get better every day. To get closer every day. We know what it takes. We’ve just got to get ready to roll."

DALLAS COWBOY HALL OF FAMER: Roger Staubach sees the ‘Boys in playoffs

Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

Roger Staubach admits he sometimes doesn’t always see straight when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys because of his loyalty to the team and the people he has gotten to know over the years.

When the Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback looks at the 2012 version of the squad, he sees a playoff team.

“I say it’s either going to be 10-6 or 11-5,” Staubach said after Thursday’s practice at Cowboys Stadium. “That’s not bad. That gets you in the playoffs … If you stay healthy and get people healthy at the end of the year, Dallas will be in the hunt.”

Staubach admits concern about the team’s overall depth, especially at wide receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

“They have a great quarterback,” Staubach said. “I think Jason (Garrett) is growing to be a heckuva coach. Last year we were hurting in the secondary and I think hopefully we’ve solved some problems there. Keep the run game healthy. Make sure the wide receivers, Miles, he’s got to stay healthy, and Dez, on paper if we keep people healthy, we’ll be in thick of it.”

Staubach has never hidden his affinity for Tony Romo.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo Troy Aikman Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

“How do you not? I don’t get it,” Staubach said. “To be honest, this guy is one heck of a quarterback. He doesn’t have all the ammunition around him. I’m a big (Troy) Aikman fan and I think Troy will say he had pretty good people around him. I know I did. But Romo, they’re fortunate to have one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.”

SILVER & BLUE DEBUT: Spontaneous on-field adjustments at Cowboys Stadium tonight

Fans attend the 2012 Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

When the unexpected happens on the football field, coaches call it “sudden change.”

The best teams rise to the moment and meet the challenge, whether that means a defense keeping an opposing offense out of the end zone after a short-field turnover or an offense capitalizing on a long punt return and scoring a touchdown while momentum is on its side.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo - The Boys Are Back blog

Fans who watched the Cowboys go through tonight’s Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium saw the team respond to a lot of unscripted moments, whether it was a beat-the-clock drive by the offense or a defense suddenly forced to into a goal-line situation after an imaginary turnover declared by coach Jason Garrett.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) tries to return a punt but is stopped by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter - The Boys Are Back blog

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the spontaneous work was good for the team.

“Jason put in a lot of situations where no one knew them,” Ryan said. “Coaches had to react to them. Players had to react to them. So it was really good. A lot of good work.”

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks with team members - The Boys Are Back blog

Ryan said players also enjoyed seeing the thousands of fans who showed up to watch the free practice in Arlington.

Cowboys Practice

“It’s fun to get back here in front of the loyal crowd that’s here,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a lot of big things to get done and we’re working hard to get them done.”

Cowboys Silver & Blue practice

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Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform before the 2012 Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut crowd - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform before the 2012 Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut crowd.

SILVER AND BLUE DEBUT: Thousands arrive to see the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - Valley Ranch - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON — After taking their training camp show on the road for the past month, the Dallas Cowboys opened their preseason preparations to their hometown fans for the first time with a public practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday.

The annual "Silver and Blue Debut" was well received as usual by eager Cowboys fans, wearing Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware jerseys among others.

Fans filled the parking lots before 3 p.m. and lined up at the turnstiles in 90 degree temperatures before being let in the building for the 4:30 pm practice.

The practice, which was the team ’s first workout since breaking training camp in California on Tuesday, featured performances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Rhythm and Blue Dance Team.

It was a non-padded workout, which would be the team’s last before Saturday’s home preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett were met with cheers as they walked across the field.

For many fans, it didn’t matter that it was a practice. It was their first and only free look at the team before the 2012 season begins.

LADIES ONLY: Registration begins for Cowboys 101 at Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys 101 - The Boys Are Back blog

Looking for a ladies night out?

Learn the X’s and O’s of Dallas Cowboys football with your girlfriends at Cowboys 101 Presented by State Farm on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The event, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, is a crash course in full contact football and a behind the scenes look at America’s Team with team insiders and experts on hand to interact with fans.

All attendees receive a Cowboys 101 presented by State Farm t-shirt and goodie bag. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m., with a mixer to follow until 6:30 p.m. A cash bar will be open to patrons, along with the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, the wall-to-wall source for all Cowboys gear.

From 6:30-8:30 p.m., groups will rotate between stations throughout the stadium including on the field and in the Cowboys locker room, to learn the X’s and O’s of the game. Group photos will also be taken and made available for purchase online.

A raffle and final remarks will conclude the course from 8:30-9 p.m.

Tickets are now available for $50 per person. Enrollment is limited and participants must be 18 years of age.

Cowboys 101 - Agenda - The Boys Are Back blog

Click here to register for Cowboys 101 presented by State Farm or

email Cowboys101@dallascowboys.net for more information

DALLAS COWBOYS SCHEDULE: Silver & Blue Debut At Cowboys Stadium Set For Thursday

Silver and Blue Debut Logo

On Thursday, Cowboys Stadium opens its doors to fans of all ages for the Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut Presented by Miller Lite.

The event will be a free practice, open to all Cowboy fans anxious to see the team in action before the 2012 season officially kicks off. The practice will officially start at 4:30 p.m. However, parking will open up at 2:30 p.m., the plazas will open at 3 p.m. and the doors to the stadium will open at 3:30 p.m.

Parking at the stadium will be $10.

The team will be preparing to face the St. Louis Rams in their third preseason game and first home game of the season.

HOLD YOUR HORSES: Lance Dunbar returns to practice, Cowboys reminded what they like about him

Running back Lance Dunbar returned to practice Monday after missing two weeks with a hamstring. He missed the first two preseason games, so the Cowboys hope to see him Saturday at Cowboys Stadium against the St. Louis Rams.

“He’s mentally into what we’re doing. He understands what we’re doing. He has a good feel for our offense,” running backs coach Skip Peete said after the work at Chargers Park against the San Diego Chargers. “We just have to, obviously, give him the opportunity to get in there and get the work as a runner – carrying the ball, running routes, catching the ball. But he was doing fine before he got injured.”

The former North Texas and Haltom High standout has fallen behind another North Texas product, running back Jamize Olawale, but still remains high in the coaches’ minds.

“He’s a talented runner,” Peete said. “He’s a much better protector than I anticipated, being a guy of his size. So that’s a plus that was very impressive the first couple of days of practice. He’s a very explosive player and very dangerous. I’m excited to see what he can do in a preseason game.”

Carlos Mendez

HIGH POINTS: Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey likes the grass in California

Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones (6) kicker Dan Bailey (5) D long snapper LP LaDouceur (91) long snapper Charley Hughlett (44) and punter Delbert Alvarado (4) - The Boys Are Back blog

Dan Bailey has had a perfect preseason – 3-for-3 on field goals, 2-for-2 on extra points – and he drilled a 49-yard field goal Saturday night against the Chargers.

So he’s ready for the regular season, right? Surely he doesn’t need to kick any more in preseason.

“I just enjoy playing,” he said. “So any opportunity I can get out there, it’s fun for me. It’s also good to get the game experience. I like it. … You can always get better, so I don’t know if there’s really a benchmark that I’m hoping to achieve, necessarily, to get myself ready for the season. My idea is to just improve each game throughout the whole year. It’s good to get some attempts now, early on, especially a long one like the kind I had tonight.”

Bailey said the long kick was into the part of the stadium where the wind was pushing the ball, and the kick drew back left on him. But he said he struck it well, and it felt good off his foot.

Bailey also credited the work of long snappers Charley Hughlett and L.P. Ladouceur and holder Chris Jones. Hughlett, a rookie, was the snapper for the field goals, and he and the veteran Ladouceur each had one of the PAT snaps.

“The operation’s been great,” Bailey said. “Everybody worked really hard in the offseason. I think it’s just really been a smooth process. Everybody’s locked in and focused. It’s been a pretty easy transition coming back into this year.”

Now it’s time to go back to turf. The next two games are at Cowboys Stadium, then the Cowboys go to MetLife Stadium (Giants) and CenturyLink Field (Seahawks) before coming home for two more home games.

“I don’t think about it too much,” Bailey said. “Especially Cowboys Stadium. That’s like a kicker’s paradise there. We’ve been fortunate enough. We’ve had pretty good grass in Oxnard, and the grass was good here tonight.”

Carlos Mendez

HOT SEAT II: Jerry Jones sits down with Bonnie-Jill Laflin

Bonnie-Jill Laflin talked recently with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - The Boys Are Back blog

Sitting down with Jerry Jones at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., I’m greeted with simple southern hospitality that’s extended to anyone he meets. That holds true whether the person is a current member of the Cowboys family or a former Cowboys cheerleader like myself.

Jones’ business savvy, along with the power of the Cowboys franchise and its brand, makes him one of the most powerful owners in sports.

We recently discussed his background, Cowboys Stadium and his appearance on "Dallas” in an interview for ESPN Playbook.

How did you enjoy your guest appearance on the new “Dallas”?

They’ve done a great job with this "Dallas." We all know what "Dallas" meant years ago. I enjoyed my scene with J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), but I’m particularly excited that they showed different perspectives, different views of the stadium. I especially liked the scene with the helicopter flying into the stadium. I personally walked off the measurements and had the helicopter pad put in.

What is your favorite part of the stadium?

The Glass. I spent hundreds of hours looking at models that would show 40, 50 and up to 90 feet of glass in some places. But inside the glass is a material that is denser on the bottom and less dense on the top. This material allows the glass to reflect the actual color of the sky on that particular day. If it’s a grey cloudy day, then the stadium will have a silvery-grey appearance. If it’s a bluebird day, it will be blue.

We all know Cowboys football is 24/7 for you, but besides football, what other interests do you have?

Hunting. Before the Cowboys, I would take my business [clients] on Thanksgiving and go into the darkest spots in Arkansas. I would grow a beard and not come out till Santa Claus came.

Most people associate you with Arkansas or Texas, but…

I was actually born in Southern California and I’m a favorite son of El Segundo. I have so many cousins out here, and they say, "But Jerry, we don’t sound like you." My family moved to Springfield, Mo., when I was in college, and they still have holdings and a ranch there.

Can you talk about your relationship with the "triplets" — Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin — and how close you are with them today?

Those relationships developed right when I first came into the NFL. I was 45 when I bought the Cowboys, so there was 20 years difference in age. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I don’t look in the mirror and think, "I’m your age" or the players’ age, although sometimes I act it. I take some of the things that have happened to me and, as a friend, share my experiences. Troy is a great friend. Michael and I have an outstanding relationship. He asked me to introduce him when he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. We have a real bond. As for Emmitt, I can remember like it was yesterday when he came to me and asked if he could slide into the back of the office and listen to me on the phone on his breaks during training camp. He was hoping to be exposed to some of the business aspects of the sports industry. At first I was a little hesitant, but then it worked out and he did it for several years.

How important are cheerleaders to the Dallas Cowboys brand?

The cheerleaders have represented us well. They have entertained our troops and have done more USO Tours than Bob Hope. We don’t have any part of the Cowboys legacy that is as well respected as the cheerleaders. Our cheerleaders’ appearances on battleships and behind the lines boost the morale of our troops. Of all of my "sweet nothings," and I call them my "sweet nothings," the biggest stack of letters of letters I have in my files are from people with 15-to-20 years of service, after seeing our cheerleaders and how much it meant to them.

Bonnie-Jill Laflin is a former NFL cheerleader and wrote this exclusively for ESPN.com.

HOT SEAT: Jerry Jones sued by woman who burnt her buttocks

HOT SEAT: Jerry Jones sued by woman who burnt her buttocks

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has endured and created his share of headaches this offseason. Constant chatter of windows closing, "beating the Giants’ ass," and the typical drama from Dez Bryant have made for a colorful summer. And now this.

Jennelle Carrillo, of Cleburne, Texas, is suing Jones and the team after attending the Blue & Silver scrimmage at Cowboys Stadium way back in August 2010. Carrillo claims she parked herself on a bench outside the facility and endured third-degree burns on her buttocks.

The suit alleges there was no warning sign alerting fans that the benches could be hot.

Wash told KDFW-TV that Carrillo has "suffered mental anguish, physical pain and disfigurement as a result of her wounds."

"Prior to entering the seated area of Cowboys stadium, plaintiff sat down on a black, marble bench outside of and near entrance ‘E’ to the stadium," the lawsuit reads, via CBSSports, "The bench was uncovered and openly exposed to the extremely hot August sun. The combination of the nature of the black, marble bench and hot sunlight caused the bench to become extremely hot and unreasonably dangerous. … As a result of sitting on the bench, plaintiff suffered third degree burns to her buttocks."

Carrillo’s attorney, Mike Wash, couldn’t confirm how long his client sat on the bench. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported "when she got up to use the restroom, she discovered her burns."

Carrillo’s lawsuit hinges on her claim that the "defendants knew or reasonably should have known that the material used to construct the bench would become unreasonably hot when exposed to the August sun."

We wish her well, but this is absurd. We are trained as human beings to presuppose that sun-scorched objects tend to heat up during a summer’s day (in Texas of all places). Any adult sitting down on a black, marble bench in August has probably sat down on a black, marble bench in August before. They’re steamy.

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are an easy target. It’s hard to root against them this time around.

Marc Sessler

NCAA NEWS: College football playoff approved

VIDEO - College Playoff System approved - The Boys Are Back blog

Video: BCS committee speaks – Click on picture above or HERE to watch video

 

WASHINGTON (AP) Playoffs and tournaments long have determined champions of every college sport from baseball to bowling.

The exception was major college football.

That ended Tuesday. Come 2014, the BCS is dead.

A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team playoff put forward by commissioners of the top football conferences.

For years, the decision-makers had balked at any type of playoff because they said it would diminish the importance of the regular season. If only two teams had a chance to win a championship in the postseason, even one loss could be too many. That made for some very high stakes regular-season games. As recently as 2008, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive proposed the type of plan adopted Tuesday, and it was quickly shot down.

Four years later, minds changed. The 12 university presidents stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage at a news conference in a posh hotel in the nation’s capital and delivered the news.

”It’s a great day for college football,” BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said. ”As soon as the commissioners realized they could do this and protect the regular season, the light went on for everybody.”

The move completes a six-month process for the commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from fans. The latest configuration is certain to make even more money for the schools than the old system — and not satisfy everyone.

”There were differences of views,” said Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, who headed the BCS presidential oversight committee. ”I think it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp.”

Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman was the most notable holdout. He had said he preferred the status quo or a tweak of the Bowl Championship Series. Perlman said the playoff still wouldn’t be his first choice, but he was not going to stand in the way of progress.

”This is the package that was put forth and we will strongly support it,” he said.

Instead of simply matching the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a title game after the regular season, the way the BCS has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals.

Many college football fans have been clamoring for a playoff for years, and the BCS has been a constant target for criticism. Lawmakers have railed against it. A political action committee was formed, dedicated to its destruction. The Justice Department looked into whether it broke antitrust laws. Even President Obama said he wanted a playoff.

Now it’s a reality.

No. 1 will play No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3 on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. The sites of those games will rotate among the four current BCS bowls — Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar — and two more to be determined. One of the new sites will likely be wherever the newly formed bowl created by the SEC and Big 12 is played, Slive said.

The Cotton Bowl, played at the $1.1 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has long wanted to be part of the BCS and is expected to make a strong push to be in the semifinal rotation.

The winners of the semis will advance to the championship on the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the last semifinal. The first ”Championship Monday,” as it was called in the BCS release, is set for Jan. 12, 2015.

The site of the title game will move around the way the Super Bowl does, with cities bidding for the right to host.

The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set. The men’s tournament has 68 teams, and 37 at-large bids.

The football committee will have a much tougher task, trying to whittle the field down to four. This season, 125 schools will play at the highest level of college football.

Among the factors the committee will consider are won-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether a team is a conference champion. The selection committee will also play a part in creating matchups for the games at the four sites that do not hold a semifinal in a given year.

”I think it’s tremendous progress,” Washington State coach Mike Leach, a playoff proponent, said in a telephone interview. ”Five years ago there wasn’t even dialogue about a playoff. Instead of diving in the water, they dipped their toes in. I think it’s’ going to be ridiculously exciting and it’s going to generate a bunch of money. I wish they dived in.”

The BCS had given automatic qualifying status to six conferences, the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Big East. That allowed those leagues better access to the big, high-payout games than the other five conferences, such as the Mountain West and Conference USA.

Automatically qualified status is gone and the commissioners believe the new system will create more interesting games beyond the ones that determine the national title.

”What the system now is, several semifinals, championship game and some access bowls. By creating a couple of access bowls, people will be able to play high-quality opponents in big venues with big brands,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.

No one has put a hard number on it yet, but this new format figures to more than double the TV revenue of the current BCS and Rose Bowl contracts. Those pay out about $155 million annually.

The commissioners want to lock in this format for 12 years with a television partner. The current four-year BCS deal with ESPN runs through the 2013 season. The new format will be presented to potential TV partners in the fall, starting with ESPN.

”I think we have found what we think is the right place and it stabilizes the postseason for a length of time that I think is healthy for the game,” said Slive, whose members have won the last six BCS championships.

There are still some details to work out — such as who will be on the committee and what new bowls will be involved in the semifinal rotation — but all the decision-makers are on board.

Lower divisions of college football already have a playoff, but the highest level has always used bowls and polls to determine its champion. Those days are coming to an end.

”We believe this new format will be good for student-athletes, for the alumni and for our institutions,” Steger said. ”It’s a best of both worlds result. It captures the excitement of the playoff while protecting the regular season.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Tony Romo planning more offseason work with offensive players

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT - Tony Romo planning more offseason work with offensive players - The Boys Are Back blog 2012

Officially the Cowboys’ offseason ended with last Thursday’s final minicamp practice at Cowboys Stadium, but Tony Romo has plans to throw to his running backs, tight ends and wide receivers before training camp begins in late July.

“People are going to take a little break, but we’ll get together for sure before camp,” Romo said, “and that’s just part of being good in the NFL and getting better.”

The work will have to be without the help of coaches and run, in effect, like the practices the players held last year during the lockout in Southlake. This time, however, they can be at Valley Ranch. Most of the players got together before the official beginning of the offseason program on April 16 for workouts.

“You’re lifting, running, throwing, studying tape,” Romo said. “For my position, that’s always how you do it. It doesn’t stop. It’s year round.”

Romo will be joined by the quarterbacks, rookies and injured players at Valley Ranch for the first portion of training camp July 25. The first full-squad workout in Oxnard, Calif., will be held July 30.

Romo came away impressed with the work the Cowboys put in during the nine organized team activities and three minicamp practices.

“We got a lot of new stuff in and yet at the same token we wanted to perfect some of the things we hope that will pay big dividends this year and had a lot of repetitions,” Romo said. “I think we got a lot accomplished. The effort was outstanding. The competitive vibe every day, you could tell the guys are excited and want to get better. That’s all you can ask for. It’s been a great offseason for us, but we have to keep it going. It’s not over yet.”

DeMarcus Ware says there weren’t a lot of mistakes on defense in OTAs, minicamp

The Cowboys’ top defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, summed up the offseason in glowing terms for the defense - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys’ top defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, summed up the offseason in glowing terms for the defense.

He said the players were aggressive and comfortable with the plan.

“When I think about the defense, from last year to this year, it’s sort of like night and day,” he said Thursday at Cowboys Stadium after the final minicamp practice and the last work of the offseason until training camp. “There weren’t a lot of mistakes we were making. Guys were really aggressive, really comfortable. In the defense, whatever Rob called, we were ready for the situation.

“I feel really good about the defense, how things are progressing. Especially the young guys”

The Cowboys will likely have at least four new starters on the defense in 2012 – safety Brodney Poole, cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr and inside linebacker Bruce Carter. Defensive end Sean Lissemore might win a job, too.

“I think it was just a great offseason,” Ware said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, always. But we’ve gotten a lot better.”

Training camp is scheduled to begin with the first practice July 30 in Oxnard, Calif. Ware said it should be competitive defensively.

“Brandon Carr, Claiborne, a lot of the younger linebackers – defensively, it’s a battle out there,” he said. “You can see those guys and the tenacity that they bring. It’s going to be good.”

Jerry Jones says Garrett can learn on the job and take Cowboys where they want to go

Jerry Jones says Garrett can both learn on the job and take Cowboys where they want to goThe Cowboys want their players to perform up to their potential, but not only them.

Owner Jerry Jones said that includes head coach Jason Garrett.

“We need him to be coaching at a level that can get us where we want to go next year,” Jones said last week at an OTA practice at Cowboys Stadium. “If he can do that, and I think he has the potential to do that, it’s almost unthinkable of what he could become over the years as a head coach.”

Garrett will be entering his second full season as Cowboys’ head coach.

He took over in mid-season in 2010 for Wade Phillips, who was fired after a 1-7 start. Under Garrett – a first-time head coach – the Cowboys finished that year 5-3 and went 8-8 last season.

“I think Jason is just in the first steps out of the box,” Jones said. “With his intellect and with his passion and his temperament – he’s an overachiever, but a smart one – I think the sky is the limit for him. Lou Holtz told me he’s got a real challenge, talking about Jason. He said, ‘I made my early head coaching mistakes at Appalachian State. Nobody cared.’ With all due respect, nobody cared. When Jason makes one it’s with the Dallas Cowboys. Big difference.”

Garrett drew criticism down the stretch, when the Cowboys lost four of their last five games, including the season finale that would have given them the NFC East title and a playoff berth.

Against Arizona, Garrett used a timeout that interrupted a field goal that would have won the game. The next week, in a home game against the Giants, Garrett was late with a timeout that could have saved time for a last-minute drive.

Garrett said Wednesday he knows improvement is important, and that there is no area where he cannot improve.

“Every phase of my job, I have to get better at,” he said. “I have to get better at the leadership phase. I have to get better at the organizational phase. I’ve got to get better at what we’re doing on offense, how we’re doing things on defense and in the kicking game. I never look at any part of my job and say, “Boy, I’ve got that down.”

Garrett said he judges his success like everyone else in professional sports – by winning.

“Everybody who is in our business knows it’s a bottom-line business,” he said. “You have to win. If you don’t win, you’re not going to be here for very long. I understood that early on as a player. I certainly understand that as a coach. Having said that, if you’re so focused on the bottom line or the result in what you do, in or out of football, you’re not going to be your best, in my opinion. I think you have to focus on the process. I think you have to focus on whatever you’re doing, doing it to the best of your ability and doing it with the best people you can do it with and then constantly evaluating what you’re doing and improving upon on what you’re doing. That’s the approach that we take in this organization.”

Garrett, 46, played 12 years in the NFL, was an assistant coach for five years and is the son of a 21-year veteran scout for the Cowboys, Jim Garrett.

But even with that background, he must learn on the job as a head coach and yet deliver results.

“That’s the challenge for him,” Jones said. “He’s up to it. He’s got the right stuff to effectively learn as he goes and, at the same time, coach at a level that will get us to where we want to go next year. He’s very up to it. I don’t know of anybody else in the country that has that upside potential, yet is capable as he is to get the job done this year. That’s why I’m excited about him being our head coach.”

NEW VIBE IN THE SECONDARY: Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr excited about Morris Claiborne

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr spent Thursday night watching the first round of the NFL Draft with a few of his teammates at Cowboys Stadium.

Shortly after he began autographing memorabilia for fans, his night took a bit of a surprising turn when the Cowboys announced that they had traded their first and second round picks to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the sixth overall selection, a pick then used to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Dallas Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne - The Boys Are Back blog

Some might think Carr, who signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract with the Cowboys last month, would be concerned that his new team was adding another cornerback, especially after already having Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick on the roster.

But that wasn’t the case.

“It’s only going to make everybody better,” Carr said after an NFL Play 60 fitness event Sunday in North Dallas. “As far as secondary, this league is so pass-happy now that you need an ample amount of DBs to go out there and defend the pass. I’m all about competition.

“If [Claiborne] can push me, I can push him. We both get something out of it. As far as the other DBs we got on the squad, we’re all going to push each other. That’s how we’re going to get to that elite level.”

By adding a pair of shutdown corners in Carr and Claiborne, the Cowboys have turned their defensive backfield from weakness to strength in less than two months.

Shortly after the selection was announced, Carr jumped on his Twitter account and typed: “Uh ohhhhhhhhh it’s on now!!!!!!!!!!”

And before the night was over, without talking directly to Carr, Claiborne made a positive draft night impression on his new teammate, simply by the way he answered questions in a television interview with former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders.

“I was looking at the screen, and told my girlfriend, ‘Yeah, he’s going to be special,'” Carr said. “He pretty much said that he got drafted but it’s not the end of the road, he’s going to work to become that elite corner. That’s the same way I felt going through this whole free agency process.

“When I got my deal, I was like, ‘I’m just getting started.’ Hopefully we’ll be on the same page and get this thing going.”

Carr added: “I feel like he’s a young guy that has incredible talent. Hopefully somebody I can work with and kind of mold a little bit. But he’s his own man. He has an outstanding track record, playing in arguably the best conference in college football, so I know he has what it takes.”

Jon Machota

COWBOYS SADDLE-SORE: Lonely Home Stadium Early In 2012

I know we like to talk a lot about the December games as soon as the schedule comes out, especially with the way this team has struggled in the final month of the year.

But the first thing that popped out to me when noticing this schedule that got released on Tuesday was the lack of home games to start the year.

Just three games at Cowboys Stadium in the first 11 weeks of the season

Wow – just three games at Cowboys Stadium in the first 11 weeks of the season? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything close to that before.

Yeah, December matters most of the time. But if you’re a team that struggles on the road like this Cowboys squad has here lately, will the final month even matter? Does it help to have five of your last seven games at home if you’re already on the ropes because you’re not road warriors?

That’s a tough break for the Dallas Cowboys. And it’s not just road games, but tough games.

For the eighth time in nine years, the Cowboys open the season on the road – against the Giants on Sept. 5. Fun! For the second straight year, the first two games are away from home as the Cowboys once again start out the first two weeks with an East Coast/West Coast swing, having to play the Seahawks on Sept. 16. Remember last year it was the Giants then 49ers in the first two games.

After home games against the Bucs and Bears and then a bye week, the Cowboys hit the road for four of the next five weeks, playing at Baltimore and Carolina, then a home game with the Giants before road games at Atlanta and Philly.

That’s a lot of time to be on the road. And it’s not just playing in another stadium and in front of another crowd, but constantly having somewhat short weeks while traveling on Saturdays can take its toll, even early in the year.

Hey, it is what it is. But the schedule doesn’t favor a team trying to get out of the blocks with a hot start.

Nick Eatman

JASON GARRETT: Free agents will allow team to be ‘a little less need-based in the draft and take the best players’

ARLINGTON — The Cowboys were as busy the first week of free agency as they ever have been in their storied history. They signed seven free agents and re-signed wide receiver Kevin Ogletree.

The Cowboys’ free agency haul was headlined by Kansas City cornerback Brandon Carr, who joined Dallas on a five-year, $50.1 million contract. The Cowboys also signed Kyle Orton as their backup quarterback, two offensive guards, a safety, a linebacker and a fullback.

So, did the Cowboys fill enough holes with their free agent signings to be able to select the best player available in next month’s NFL draft?

"That was one of our objectives. You want to address the needs where you can in free agency," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Saturday morning at Cowboys Stadium after speaking at the Nike Winforever coaches’ workshop. "We tried to address some needs with players that we really liked in free agency and hopefully that will allow us to be a little bit less need-based in the draft and take the best players, guys who can help our football team.

"You have to look at the landscape of how you acquire personnel. It’s free agency, it’s the draft and it’s re-signing your own players and you have to kind of put them all together and maybe understand when you step back a little bit how the whole thing will play out."

Garrett said the Cowboys’ goal in free agency was to be "active early" because they had targeted some players they really liked.

"We went through kind of a recruiting process with them and I think they understood what we’re trying to accomplish here with the Cowboys and it’s an attractive spot for them," Garrett said. "I think they understand that they can come in here and compete for a spot on our football team, and we think that’s good. But again, it’s an ongoing process with free agency leading up to the draft and if there are opportunities to acquire players who we think can help us we’ll continue to do that."

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