BOYS LACK D-BACK ATTACK: Seeking Seriously Solid Secondary–Brewing Backend Bubble Trouble | Promising Players & Prospects | 2015 NFL Draft primer
IRVING, Texas – For quite a while now, it’s been a yearly source of consternation for the Cowboys and their fans: the lack of a top-notch, dependable safety in the Dallas secondary. Continue reading →
THE ROOKIES IN REVIEW: Evaluating the youngest Dallas Cowboys value going into the 2014 2015 NFL season | Team needs emerging stars to impact roster depth
Some of them played active roles, had to grow up quickly and learn on the run.
Looking ahead, it’s time to rank the best rookies on the roster. The criteria is about performance last year and also their big-picture perspective heading into 2014 and beyond.
When the season concluded, the Dallas Cowboys had exactly 10 rookies on the depth chart, so without any honorable mentions, let’s jump right in.
10. Cameron Lawrence – Forced into action because of the injuries at linebacker, Lawrence finished second on the team with 12 special teams tackles, despite playing just 10 games. Lawrence might have a hard time making this team again if all the linebackers are healthy in camp but he proved he can be a difference maker on special teams and that always helps.
9. Jakar Hamilton – He wasn’t as productive as Lawrence by any means, but in terms of long-term, Hamilton could have more upside, especially considering the question marks at safety. Hamilton got put in a bad spot in the Detroit game and his inexperience was put on display. What a rough spot for any rookie to make his debut. But he once started at Georgia as a freshman, so talent is there.
8. B.W. Webb – This fourth-round pick wasn’t much of a contributor this past season. He was also forced into action more than the Cowboys wanted and there were more struggles. And that was somewhat expected considering he came from William & Mary and now he’s playing slot cornerback. He was eventually replaced by Sterling Moore in the nickel, but let’s see what kind of jump he makes from Year 1 to Year 2.
7. Jeff Heath – If this was about production and stats, Heath would’ve likely been No. 3 on this list. Say what you want about the New Orleans game when he had a night to forget or some other plays in which his coverage skills are in question, but Heath showed a lot of promise for an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State. Heath started only six games but finished sixth in tackles with 60 and tied for fourth with six pass breakups.
6. J.J. Wilcox – He gets the nod over Heath on this list because of upside only. Don’t forget Wilcox only played one year of safety in college before joining the Cowboys so it’s still a learning process for him. He had some moments where he flashed his athletic ability but there were also some “lost” moments. Come next year, Wilcox likely gets the chance to win the job once again.
5. Joseph Randle – His placement’s based more on what he could mean in the future than what he contributed as a rookie, finishing with 54 carries for 164 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Unless an extension gets worked out, this upcoming year will be DeMarco Murray’s last season under contract with the Cowboys. Dallas drafted Randle as a potential carry-the-load back and someone capable of handling the full duties. The Cowboys have to figure out if he can be a long-term option next year.
4. Gavin Escobar – He flashed his potential a few times throughout the year but was only used sparingly. This offseason might be more essential for him than any other rookie on this team. The coaches continually emphasized just how important it will be for Escobar to get stronger prior to the start of next season. The backup tight end finished with nine catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns, serving more as a passing option than a stout run blocker.
3. DeVonte Holloman – The rookie, who never played middle linebacker prior to the 2013 season, finished the year as the starter at that spot after various injuries. The sixth-round pick also happened to be one of the most valuable contributors among the rookie class, finishing with 28 tackles and tied for fourth on the team with two sacks, both of which came in the finale. That was his best game of the year, leading the team with 11 combined tackles. He should compete for a starting outside linebacker spot next year.
2. Terrance Williams – One of the more inconsistent players early in the year and in training camp became one of the offense’s most accountable, consistent options late in the year. The receiver’s ability to get behind the defense added an element for Tony Romo and Kyle Orton that few other players possessed on the team. His 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns all rank in the top five in team history among rookies, and he got noticeably better as the year went on.
1. Travis Frederick – The Cowboys were highly criticized for moving back and grabbing the Wisconsin center late in the first round, but he couldn’t have exceeded expectations much more than he did. Frederick immediately stepped in as the center and stayed on the field all year, helping to anchor the Cowboys’ best rushing attack in years. There were some growing pains early on, but by the end of the year he helped the Cowboys’ offensive line become one of the most formidable in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys decided today (Wednesday) to release defensive end Marcus Spears, one of their longest-tenured players.
Spears, 30, was scheduled to make $2 million this season and count $2.7 million against the salary cap.
The Cowboys will designate Spears as a post-June 1 cut, meaning they can spread the $2.1 of dead money — a total equivalent to the guaranteed bonus remaining on his contract — over the next two years. The savings, $2 million this year, won’t be credited until after that date, and as a result the Cowboys are still roughly $175,000 below the payroll ceiling set by the NFL.
With Spears gone, the Cowboys will lose one of their most charismatic leaders. Selected in the first round of the 2005 draft nine spots after DeMarcus Ware, Spears became a fixture in the Cowboys’ defensive line. He started 89 games with Dallas and recorded 10 sacks, 50 quarterback pressures. In 2011, he signed a five-year, $19.2 million contract. But soon thereafter he was demoted and used mostly as a reserve.
Eventually Spears, who started only six games last season, became expendable when the Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator in January and decided to switch to a 4-3 scheme. Once picked by former coach Bill Parcells to be one of the linchpins in the team’s 3-4 system, Spears now didn’t have a role that suited him.
“Fans of Dallas thank u all so much for 8 yrs the good and bad times ill be moving on!!” Spears wrote on his Twitter account. “The support has been tremendous! From my family thx U.”
RELATED: Cowboys move on from Spears, no immediate salary-cap benefit
Marcus Spears’ eight-year run in Dallas is over.
The Cowboys designated the defensive end as a post-June 1 cut, meaning they will get no salary-cap relief now. They still are only $175,000 under the cap, keeping them on the sideline in free agency. (They would have saved only $600,000 if they had released Spears now and not designated him as a post-June 1 cut.)
Spears, the 20th overall pick in 2005, was scheduled to make $2 million in 2013 in the third year of a five-year deal and would have counted $2.7 million against the salary cap. His release in June will save the Cowboys $2 million this season, though he will count $700,000 in dead money. Spears will count $1.4 million against the team’s cap in 2014.
Spears tweeted his release Wednesday, saying, “Fans of Dallas thank u all so much for 8 yrs the good and bad times ill be moving on!! The support has been tremendous! From my family thx. Guys don’t be sad for me please! I’ve been blessed beyond measure! Everything you do in life is for a season except for family!”
Spears started 89 games in his career, making 314 tackles, 10 sacks, 50 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. But he did not fit the 4-3 defense the Cowboys are moving to under Monte Kiffin.
The Cowboys have another post-June 1 designation they could use, and right tackle Doug Free is a candidate. Free is scheduled to make $7 million and count $10 million against the cap in 2013.
IRVING, Texas – Among the two groups of futures signings the Cowboys have announced since the season ended one name is missing: wide receiver Andre Holmes.
Last year Holmes was anointed by owner and general manager Jerry Jones as a possible candidate for the No. 3 wide receiver job.
At 6-4, 223 pounds, Holmes had the build of a top-end wide receiver although he came from Hillsdale College. The Cowboys were hoping Holmes would grow the way Miles Austin did from Monmouth, but it never happened.
He failed the conditioning test in training camp and while he had a couple of moments in Oxnard, Calif., he never took advantage of the opportunity they way Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley did.
The Cowboys kept him in the active roster through Thanksgiving but he dressed for only seven games and caught two passes for 11 yards. He was inactive four times before he was cut and re-signed to the practice squad.
Since the season ended the Cowboys have signed receivers Anthony Armstrong, Jared Green, Carlton Mitchell, Tim Benford and Danny Coale. Holmes has not put pen to paper to return in 2013 and it doesn’t look like he will be back.
It’s quite a fall from 13 months ago.
Anthony Armstrong’s stint with the Cowboys this past season lasted 26 days. But the receiver from Carrollton will get another chance to make the team. He played in one game for the Dallas Cowboys, failing to record any statistics in Dallas’ 27-24 overtime victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 16.
Armstrong was signed to Dallas’ reserve/future list along with a group of eight other players, including tight end Colin Cochart, guard Ray Dominguez, receiver Jared Green, long snapper Charley Hughlett, receiver Carlton Mitchell, linebacker Cameron Sheffield, tackle Aderious Simmons and cornerback Brandon Underwood.
Cochart was on the Cowboys’ active roster for 10 days in September. Hughlett had been a member of the team through training camp until being cut Aug. 27.
The Cowboys had previously signed the following players to the reserve/future list: Cornerback Vince Agnew, receiver Tim Benford, receiver Danny Coale, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, cornerback Micah Pellerin, defensive tackle Brian Price, linebacker Brashton Satele, tight end Andre Smith, quarterback Nick Stephens and linebacker Monte Taylor.
IRVING, Texas – The wide receiver position had plenty of question marks at the beginning of the year. After 16 regular season games, the group became a MASH unit. Had the Cowboys won in Washington Sunday night, it would’ve been very interesting to see how they would’ve played the game against Seattle this week.
Dez Bryant could barely walk on his own power for two days with a back injury. While the X-rays were negative showing no structural damage, it’s hard to think Bryant would’ve been able to be close to 100 percent, if he’d even play at all.
Miles Austin and Dwayne Harris both suffered high-ankle sprains. Austin couldn’t return in the game and Harris’ injury occurred late and he didn’t come back either. It’s unlikely they would’ve played. And Cole Beasley suffered a shoulder injury that would’ve probably had him limited, if not out.
It’s kind of ironic the player who has taking the most ‘beatings’ from fans and media this year, is the only receiver still standing at the end of the year. Kevin Ogletree started the season with two touchdown catches against the Giants and had another one in the finale against Washington.
Now in between, Ogletree’s production was hit or miss, and mainly miss. He ranked fourth on the team in both catches (32) and receiving yards (436) and third in touchdowns with four.
As an unrestricted free agent once again, Ogletree might not return in 2013. But then again, it could come down to the same thing as last year when the Cowboys didn’t have a lot of players with experience and Ogletree’s presence in the offseason was needed. And then in training camp, the group of Andre Holmes, Harris, Beasley, Danny Coale and anyone else, never did enough to unseat him.
But this time, with Harris and Beasley showing some promise, coupled with Coale’s return, Ogletree might not get re-signed at the start of free agency.
But let’s shift the focus back to the top.
Dez Bryant’s consistency has been in question since he arrived in 2010. And in the second half of the season, Bryant was arguably the team’s most consistent player. He caught a touchdown in seven straight games, which tied a franchise record, but was dominating in the second half of games. He finally reached the potential the Cowboys saw in him to draft him despite some of the off-season risks.
But injuries have been a concern for him all along. Toughness shouldn’t be questioned, considering he played through a fractured left index finger towards the end of the season, and still continued his touchdown streak, including a career game of 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.
Where the Cowboys might have some decisions to make involves Austin, who should be healthy for the start of the offseason conditioning program despite the ankle injury. Overall, it was a quiet 66-catch, 943-yard season that included six touchdowns. His numbers were solid, considering he ranked third in catches and yards, but the “wow-factor” wasn’t always there.
And with a contract that averages $9 million per season, Austin needed more of the big plays, especially in big games. Austin had a catch in every game this season except the two Redskins games, where he suffered a hip injury and then ankle injury last week.
The Cowboys might look to restructure Austin’s deal, but outright releasing him, or even trading him, would take a hit on the salary cap – one they can’t really afford considering they may attempt to re-sign Anthony Spencer and/or Tony Romo this offseason.
Editors note: The Dallas Cowboys will bring in Anthony Armstrong (if still available), Donavon Kemp (IR), and Tim Benford (Practice squad), drafted receivers, and any number of free agents in the offseason. Based on the performance of Harris (and Beasley to a lesser degree) late in the season, it seems unlikely that Ogletree will be back in 2013-2014. Bringing in another veteran is not out of the question. Anybody you like in San Diego? That worked nicely in 2011.
HARSH REALITY OF 8-8: Jerry Jones is looking for answers; truthful advisers key to decision-making process
When those final seconds ticked off the clock at FedEx Field, the harsh reality was that the 2012 season had come to an end. All those goals and dreams were now replaced with the thoughts of what caused the team to be in the situation that they are currently in, out of the playoffs for the second straight season. In this business, you are always looking for answers and the minute that searching for those answers stops, you are in trouble. It was a season that started with so much promise in New York but ended with a thud in our nation’s capital and now the process to figure out why starts.
As an organization you have to be truthful with the evaluation of what was successful and what you can build from but you also have to take a look at the decisions you made where you failed. I spent six years of my life working for Jerry Jones in his personnel department and there are still times even today where I felt like we didn’t help him. This general manager is relying on his coaches and scouts to provide him the best possible information to make critical choices.
In listening to him speak on Wednesday, it is very clear that his frustration level is very high right now. I have experienced that level myself and rightfully so. It is truly a bottom line business and it always will be. As an owner he does make a huge investment in the product that is on the field but as the general manager he is also responsible for that roster which is a unique situation but to a fault he is too good of a listener. He wants to hear what people he trusts has to say before he makes a decision.
My experience in this organization was that after the season, the general manager, coaches and head of the scouting department would meet and discuss the roster from top to bottom. Several days were spent reviewing players and how not only they played during the season but where they fit into next year’s plans. I always found these meetings interesting because this is where I felt like we let the general manager down. We were a 5 -11 team for three straight seasons but listening to the staff talk in this meeting, I swore we were 11 – 5.
When you misevaluate your team, you have no shot, that is reality. There are players on this team that just didn’t play well enough and the general manager wants answers why. Jerry Jones is not foolish enough to believe that injuries didn’t rob his team of some opportunities to maybe win this division outright before they went to Washington that night but he also knows everyone in this league has injuries this time of the year.
As these next few days will be spent with the coaches submitting their written and verbal reports to the front office about these players and putting that part of the evaluation to bed. Jones will then focus on the other issues he has in his mind about fundamental questions or changes that he would like to see moving forward. These meetings are generally with Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett going deeper into questions about the staff and is his expectations being met with the current group.
There has been much rumor and speculation that the club was looking to hire an offensive coordinator such as a Norv Turner to come in a coordinate the offense. There has been an insistence by Garrett to continue to call the plays for this offense which is a thought that was shared by Jones but what he has seen throughout this season is there a now a change in that thinking? This is the meeting where Jones will have to get the majority of his questions answered. He will listen to the coaches about what they feel about the players but this meeting with Jason and Stephen will be the one that gives him the ideas that he has going forward because listening to him talk, there are fundamental questions that he has in his mind and as the general manager, it’s his responsibility to ask and if he doesn’t get the answers he likes, then you will see change, how big? That’s soon to be determined.
Jerry Jones did not sound like a man that was willing to just sit here and let things run its course and hope for the best. There has to be a clear plan and focus on what needs to be done because there are going to be some decisions that are going to have to be made about this roster and potentially this coaching staff. Jones spoke of an uncomfortable feeling for the next several months at Valley Ranch and to be honest, that is not a bad thing. There needs to be a focus and a purpose going forward here but there also needs to be a truthful evaluation of what the positive points are but more importantly what is not. The next couple of weeks will shape your plans going forward when the off season has begun.
RELATED: The future of Tony Romo and offseason priorities
Football analyst Bryan Broaddus discusses pressing questions for the Dallas Cowboys as the enter the offseason … the future of quarterback Tony Romo and offseason priorities.
If you’re the GM of this team, are you trying to evaluate Tony Romo in terms of possibly replacing him, or do you learn towards the side of giving him more help?
Broaddus: I am trying to get him help. I know that might not be the most popular answer and I can understand why people are mad at him but if that is the case, you haven’t watched the whole season. I am trying to develop more weapons on the outside, I am trying to build a better offensive line so he is not running for his life every other pass. I am trying to find a way to get another back behind DeMarco Murray so when he gets hurt for six games that the offense can still run the ball. Tony Romo made some poor decisions against the Redskins but give them credit too for forcing him into some of those decisions. I have been with this team when it didn’t have a quarterback and that situation got a lot of men fired. We were not ready in 2000 when Troy Aikman moved on to the broadcast booth, with that being said, I am looking very hard at this draft and working to try and find a quarterback that can step in when that time comes but until then, I am finding him help.
As we stand right now, can you give us a position on this team that should be the highest priority to change next year?
Broaddus: I know that everyone is yelling for offensive linemen and I understand your concern but pull out you depth chart and talk to me about this defensive line. It’s the one position that has the most age to it. With age, you have players that breakdown and we are starting to see that now. You lost an outstanding player when Josh Brent’s life changed forever and he was a young guy but he is now gone. Look at Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff even include Jason Hatcher. Veteran guys with wear and tear on their bodies. Behind those guys are Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore and Rob Callaway who was called up from the practice squad after the accident. Crawford has a chance to develop and I have always liked Lissemore as a backup end and role player but you saw what happened when he had to play a ton of snaps. Would this defense be better if Sean Lee and Bruce Carter had bigger, younger bodies in front of them allowing them to run and make plays? I would think so. There are issues with the offensive line and I am willing to do something about that but again, look at this defensive line going forward.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
IRVING, Texas – This is the time of year teams will try to sign young practice squad players around the league to build for the future.
The Cowboys made sure guard Ron Leary wouldn’t be a part of that for anyone else.
With a few teams showing heavy interest in him, Leary was signed to the 53-man roster on Saturday. To make room, the Cowboys decided to waive wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, who played in his first game for the team just last week.
Armstrong signed with the Cowboys on Nov. 26 but was inactive the first two games. He played on special teams last week against the Steelers.
The decision to cut him is somewhat surprising, considering he has a speed element the Cowboys don’t have with any other player. Plus, with Leary now in the mix, the Cowboys have an abundance of backup linemen, along with David Arkin, Derrick Dockery, Kevin Kowalski, Jermey Parnell and Darrion Weems.
And the Cowboys are still holding on to Jay Ratliff’s roster spot. Ratliff had sports hernia surgery last week and likely wouldn’t return for another three weeks at the earliest.
Leary’s addition to the 53-man roster doesn’t exactly mean he will play Sunday against the Saints, or even suit out for the game.
Leary is another player the Cowboys had high hopes for this year. An undrafted tackle from Memphis with a potential knee injury that scared off many teams from drafting him, Leary quickly moved to guard, where the Cowboys thought he could thrive. In fact, he was working with the first-team at guard early in training camp when Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings were both injured.
But Leary’s progress slowed as camp went on and the Cowboys decided he wasn’t ready, putting him on the practice squad, where he has been all season.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys claimed cornerback Michael Coe off waivers from Miami to get a more veteran backup and waived Vince Agnew.
Coe played in one game with Miami before his release and in seven games with the New York Giants. Coe has played in 35 games with 19 tackles, four pass deflections and two fumble recoveries with the Giants, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Miami.
Agnew played in four games after he was called up from the practice squad.
The Cowboys have also re-tooled their practice squad, adding tight end Andre Smith, defensive lineman Robert Rose, linebacker Brashton Satele and cornerback Micah Pellerin. The Cowboys released cornerback Reggie Jones and tight end Chase Ford from the practice squad.
Satele spent part of the offseason with the Cowboys before his release in May.
Rookie Darrion Weems signed his contract in the locker room Wednesday afternoon. He then began the process of getting to know his new teammates.
The Cowboys have had a lot of new faces lately. Center Phil Costa became the 10th player the Cowboys have placed on season-ending injured reserve this season. Six of those players, including Costa, are starters. (Rookie safety Matt Johnson is the player the team designated as returnable injured reserve.)
Costa partially dislocated his ankle against Carolina on Oct. 21 and has missed the six games since. He played in only three games this season — 120 total plays — after injuring his back in the first series of the season against the Giants and missing the next three games.
In Costa’s absence, Dallas has started two other centers, Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Weems was signed off Denver’s practice squad. He now is with his fifth team since signing first with the Vikings this summer as a rookie free agent out of the University of Oregon. He also had short stints in New England and Indianapolis.
Weems started 22 of 41 college games, including all 14 at left tackle as a senior.
Despite his late start to joining the Cowboys, Weems said he isn’t looking at this as an audition for 2013.
"It’s now," Weems said. "It’s about now. I’m here now and work hard now and do what they tell me to do now."
The Cowboys were forced to make a move to their practice squad Wednesday. The Raiders signed running back Jamize Olawale off the Cowboys’ practice squad. Dallas replaced Olawale with tight end Chase Ford, a rookie who briefly was on the Eagles’ practice squad.
RELATED: Cowboys waited on Costa because he ‘really improved’ this year and might have still helped
The Cowboys gave center Phil Costa a chance to come back from the dislocated ankle he suffered at Carolina six weeks ago because in the limited time he had been healthy this year, he had played well.
But this week, they finally put him on injured reserve.
“We feel like he could have provided some presence for us toward the end of the year,” coach Jason Garrett said Thursday at Valley Ranch. “But when you start counting, how many weeks until we think he’s back and how many weeks left in the season, you kind of do that math. We made that decision.
“He did some real good things in the limited time he played this year. Just has to get that thing better and get ready for 2013.”
Costa played in only three games, but he finished only one. He played only the first three snaps of the season opener at the Giants before leaving with a back injury, the full game at Baltimore on Oct. 14 and then the first half of the game at Carolina the next week, when he was hurt in the second quarter.
“We were all very hopeful,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t played a lot of football for us this year. He missed a lot of training camp. But when he did come back, he played well. He really improved from last year.”
IRVING, Texas – Brady Poppinga did not need long to get adjusted to being a member of the Dallas Cowboys defense.
“For me, one step,” said Poppinga, who signed Monday after the Cowboys placed Bruce Carter on injured reserve.
He wasn’t joking.
“Guys, I’ve been doing this since I was 5 years old,” Poppinga said. “Imagine doing something since you were 5 and getting back into it. It’s like riding a bike. That’s probably the best example I can give as to what it’s like to step on the football field after being out for 10 months.”
Poppinga worked out for Kansas City and was nearly signed by the Cowboys earlier in the month before they opted for Gary Guyton instead. Guyton was released before he could play in a game.
The Cowboys opted for Poppinga this time because of his experience. He spent his first six years in Green Bay and started 12 games for St. Louis last year. He developed a training program that he hopes kept him in proper game shape so as he won’t need a long time to get ready to play.
“I’ve been taught very well by my position coaches, by my strength and conditioning coaches, and from them I formulated a plan customized to how I like to feel,” Poppinga said. “So I call it Batman shape. Meaning when you get the call, boom, I put the mask on and I go. I’ve got the mask on, and here I am.”
The time away from the game was difficult.
“Gosh, you kidding me?” Poppinga said. “You won’t believe how many times I wanted to run through a door and blast something, but you’ve got to have patience and you’ve got to understand when you’re a regular civilian in this world you can’t break laws and break doors and you’ve got to hold your aggression inside of you.”
IRVING — Former Carrollton Newman Smith receiver Anthony Armstrong said Monday it feels good to be back home and playing for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys released wide receiver Andre Holmes and signed Armstrong to fill the roster spot. Armstrong immediately becomes the Cowboys’ fastest player.
Armstrong was asked Monday what’s the fastest 40-yard dash time he’s ever run and he said it was a 4.25. He said he did it in 2007 and it’s what helped him catch the eyes of Dallas Desperados coach Will McClay, who is now the Cowboys’ director of football research. McClay helped get Armstrong a workout with the Cowboys last week.
But what is Armstrong’s 40 time now?
“Well, it’s still fast enough,” Armstrong said. “I wanted to get to the point where I didn’t have to run the 40 in a workout. I can still run down the field and actually catch a deep ball, so we’re looking to do that again.”
Armstrong is expected to immediately help the Cowboys on special teams and work his way into the offense.
“I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I think I can catch on to the offense pretty well,” Armstrong said. “From what I’ve seen so far, the way the system is, it makes it easy to catch on and hopefully I’ll be able to get plugged in right away and make an impact soon.”
Armstrong said that when he played college football at West Texas A&M, Cowboys assistant offensive line coach Wes Phillips was an assistant coach for the school (2004-05).
Armstrong said that when he saw Cowboys receiver Miles Austin leave Thursday’s game with a right hip injury he knew that he could soon get a call to join the Cowboys.
“I saw that and I started stretching actually,” Armstrong said. “I was eating Thanksgiving dinner and I was like, ‘This happened, and I might be participating a lot sooner than some may have expected.’ But I’m ready for the challenge. It’s always exciting to go to a new team and learn new things. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Armstrong said he still has gear from his Dallas Desperados days. Armstrong played for three previous NFL teams in Washington, Miami and — most recently — Jacksonville.
“I have gear from everywhere still,” Armstrong said. “I figure if I’m going somewhere I might as well swipe some shirts while I’m there. It makes for good pajamas.”
IRVING, Texas – Boy, isn’t it a good thing the Dallas Cowboys didn’t dabble in reckless fantasy football roster machinations before this season began?
Remember? Remember all the suggestions?
Man, go ahead, trade Felix Jones. He’s in the last year of his contract. DeMarco Murray will carry the load, and he can be backed up by Phillip Tanner and rookie free agent Lance Dunbar. Hmmmm …
Or, now that they have Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne, along with Orlando Scandrick, no need for the disgruntled Mike Jenkins. Trade the guy. Right?
Marcus Spears, too. Why, Kenyon Coleman is going to be the starter and you got Sean Lissemore and drafted Tyrone Crawford in the third round. What do you need an eight-year veteran in a backup role for? See what you can get for the guy.
Oh, and let’s go one more. How many of you wanted Anthony Spencer out of here? Now come on, don’t be shy, raise your hands high. Get ’em up.
Scary the bind the Cowboys could be in had the team’s coaching staff and front office resorted to these kneejerk reactions, as if there would be something wrong with having a little depth on this roster littered with 23 guys in no more than their third NFL season. And because they didn’t, check this out:
Jones is preparing to start his fifth consecutive game of the season since Murray’s foot sprain, which nearly needed surgery, is still keeping him out of practice. And not only is he doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, but with only one semi-tough practice available during the short week prior to the Thanksgiving tradition, he’s possibly out for the Washington game four days later, too.
Spears will start at his old left defensive end position Sunday against the Browns since Coleman has been placed on injured reserve following surgery to repair the torn triceps muscle he suffered in the win over Philadelphia. Crawford will be the next guy up there, since Lissemore still isn’t practicing thanks to the high ankle sprain he suffered against Baltimore a month ago. And the guy they kept on the practice squad, rookie free-agent Ben Bass, an after-thought signee just because they needed another body on the defensive line for that first rookie minicamp – and he was close, having grown up in Plano, Texas – he’s now their sixth defensive lineman for Sunday and will get some snaps.
Then there is Jenkins. You know what? Wouldn’t it have been nice this past Sunday in Philadelphia, with Claiborne suffering from rookie-itis, becoming grabby and of all things for a corner, jumping off sides, if the Cowboys could have turned to the veteran cornerback to give the kid a series or two to collect himself? But no, Jenkins’ back was still weak, having suffered spasms, leaving him a game-day inactive. And the way things are going this week – he still hasn’t practiced – he’s likely inactive again.
Looking at defensive stats, Spencer, the guy everyone wailed over after the Cowboys franchised him at $8.8 million to reserve his rights, is fourth on the team in tackles, his 53 behind only Sean Lee (77), Bruce Carter (66) and DeMarcus Ware (54). These stats also say he is second on the team (just where he finished last year) with 3.5 sacks, behind only Ware’s 9.5; tied for second with Ware with three tackles for losses (behind only Carter’s eight); and his 15 QB pressures is second behind Ware’s 20. And if not for Claiborne unnecessarily grabbing on the other side, Spencer would have had an interception this past Sunday against the Eagles, and maybe even returned it for a touchdown.
The lesson, loud and clear?
In football – and remember this isn’t basketball or baseball, it’s football – there is nothing wrong with having a couple of good guys at the same position since there usually is enough plays to go around. And, as you’ve been reminded when watching the Cowboys this season, people do get hurt. A lot.
“I mean all that is foresight from the Joneses, their communication,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “People say whatever they say, they run the team, sure, but they are also smart. It’s unbelievable.
“We kept depth on the roster, we kept the right guys, we kept the best players for this very reason. Sometimes you want to keep a young kid, he’s got promise, but you let a big-time veteran go. Well, that’s not the right thing to do. We did the right things. We kept these guys around and it’s helped us.”
Inject the word “immensely.”
With seven games remaining, the next two in a five-day span, the Cowboys already have three season-opening defensive starters on injured reserve (Barry Church, Lee and Coleman). They are just getting Lee’s backup, Dan Connor, back after missing two games with nerve damage in his neck (stinger) and have placed one of his called-up backups, former practice squadder Orie Lemon, on IR.
And how about this? Nine games into the season, 11 defensive players have missed a total of 37 games, and that total will skyrocket since Lee, Church and Coleman definitely will miss seven more each. That’s 58, and it doesn’t appear at this point that Lissemore is ready to return and who knows about Jenkins? Rookie Matt Johnson? The fourth-round draft choice has missed all nine games and was just placed on IR.
On offense, three guys, Murray, Phil Costa and his backup Ryan Cook have totaled 11 missed games, and Murray could miss two more. Costa (high ankle sprain) will also miss at least two more and the Cowboys are highly uncertain if Cook (knee), who has yet to practice this week, will be ready to play Sunday.
And by the way, let’s not forget punter Chris Jones also landing on IR four games ago, assured of missing a total of 11 this season. I mean, the punter for heaven sakes.
Catching my drift?
The Cowboys are ridiculously testing this next guy up notion, but hey, what you going to do? And guarantee you they aren’t the Lone Rangers when it comes to injuries in the National Football League. They are rampant, and why you never, ever should consider depleting a position of strength … if … you happen to be lucky enough to have a couple three at the same spot and can afford them with the salary cap.
“We have been recycling guys all year,” Spears said the other day, realizing Jay Ratliff missed the first four games of the season, Spencer missed Games 4 and 5, Lee, the defensive captain, along with its heart and soul, will end up missing 10 of 16, Church will finish with 13 missed games, Lissemore likely with at least six and now Coleman the final seven.
But so far defensively, the Cowboys have been duck-taping these positions with multiple solutions. Take safety. Danny McCray was the next guy up, but they also have relied on Carr and Jenkins to move from their corner positions at times on the nickel and dime packages, and also have brought on veterans Eric Frampton and Charlie Peprah to play roles.
At linebacker, without Lee and then immediately Connor, they sign Orie Lemon from the practice squad and Ernie Sims off his couch.
“To lose Lee was a big blow,” Spears said, “but we have the guys to get it done.”
At defensive end, they now return Spears to his starting spot, play Crawford more and sign Bass off the practice squad, a guy another team came calling for a few weeks back.
At running back, the Cowboys simply insert Felix Jones, but with him trying to play through a bum knee and shoulder, they lean on Tanner and sign Dunbar off the practice squad and get the rookie ready for snaps.
At center, the team first for Cook when Costa was injured – the first time – when it became obvious David Arkin wasn’t good enough to sufficiently back up the position. Cook can’t go Sunday (listed as doubtful), the Cowboys activated Kevin Kowalski off PUP, which necessitated placing Matt Johnson on IR to make room.
At punter, Brian Moorman fortuitously was released by Buffalo when Chris Jones first injured his knee, and is signed the next day.
And at corner, with Jenkins missing last week, they sign Vince Agnew off the practice squad and basically let Claiborne take his lumps at Philly.
This is exhausting, isn’t it? And still there are seven games to go?
Fortunately for the Dallas Cowboys, they have a few good men with quality heads on their shoulders.
“My mindset from the beginning is you need to know all three positions,” said Mackenzy Bernadeau, who realized when he returned from offseason hip surgery of his own a couple of weeks into training camp that he needed to learn both guard positions and the center position as well, which he has only played in a preseason game.
And then there is Spears, who could have pouted after Ryan brought Coleman with him to Dallas, immediately bumping Spears off the position where he started in his first six seasons with the Cowboys into a backup role. Didn’t happen.
“You have personal feelings, you get angry not being in there, but if you’ve been around long enough you know you’re going to get your chance to play,” Spears said, and best of all, he’s not being vindictive toward this opportunity. “Not trying to beat my chest and prove I should have been playing. I just want to help this team win.”
That’s some right stuff there, all of it, including every one of those insightful decisions made nearly 12 weeks ago to preserve the depth now available for this current excavation project from that 3-5 hole.
DALLAS COWBOY EVOLVING: Carter has gone from untested rookie to defensive signal caller in one calendar year
In the span of one calendar year, Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Bruce Carter has gone from untested rookie to the signal-caller of the team’s defense heading into Sunday’s game at Atlanta (7-0).
Carter, a second-round draft choice in 2011, spent the first six weeks of last season rehabbing from knee surgery for a torn ACL suffered during his senior season at North Carolina. He was activated for the first time on Oct. 29 and played in the final 10 games, primarily on special teams.
Carter has been a starter this season and, because of a season-ending toe injury to teammate Sean Lee, will call the defensive signals for the Cowboys (3-4) for the second consecutive week against the Falcons.
“It’s a whole lot different. Last year, I was just kind of nervous coming in to play in my first game in the NFL,” Carter said, reflecting on the increased responsibility he has shouldered for the Cowboys within the past year. “This year, I’m really in the mix. The situation is different, with Sean (Lee) being out. I’m trying to take it one play at a time and just study as much as I can and make sure everyone is on the right track.”
Coach Jason Garrett praised Carter, who played all 60 defensive snaps in last week’s 29-24 loss to the New York Giants, for playing “particularly well” in his debut as the Cowboys’ defensive signal-caller. Carter said he is adjusting to his new role and hopes to continue making progress against Atlanta.
“It’s obviously going to take a little bit to get used to, but I think it went pretty well,” Carter said. “I think we did a great job of communicating.”
In terms of whether he feels like a veteran on the field, Carter said: “I still feel like I’m young. There’s still a lot of my game ahead of me. I’m learning every day … I wouldn’t say I’m a rookie on the field. I’ve played, obviously. But I still feel like I’m young in the NFL.”
IRVING, Texas – Maybe there will come a time this season in which Jason Garrett will be able to roll out the same 46-man roster in back to back weeks.
But it won’t happen this week as we ponder the 46-man roster for Sunday’s game at Carolina.
Chris Jones was on the practice field Friday but did not punt during the portion of practice open to the media. Brian Moorman punted Thursday and was extremely effective in his practice work. So let’s say Moorman fills in this week for Jones.
You can rule out DeMarco Murray (foot) and Sean Lissemore (ankle) and all but rule out Ryan Cook (hamstring), as inactive players.
Where do the final two come from?
Well, if Matt Johnson suffered an injury in Friday’s practice that forced him to leave the session early, he would be another.
The other candidates to dress would be Kyle Wilber, Orie Lemon, Derrick Dockery, Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley.
With Cook out, I can’t imagine Dockery is inactive as the Cowboys are going to great lengths to make sure David Arkin is needed only in an emergency. Mark it down that the Cowboys keep eight offensive linemen active vs. the Panthers.
The Beasley-Holmes debate comes down to special teams and since Beasley doesn’t cover kicks, Holmes gets the nod. Holmes, however, does not add much to the offense and Beasley seems to be giving guys fits in practice. But the Cowboys will go with five wides again and it looks like Beasley is down.
Lemon was inactive last week at Baltimore, but could he get the call over Wilber with Anthony Spencer set to return? The Cowboys would not need a fifth outside linebacker active and Lemon might be the better special teams player.
IRVING, Texas – In addition to punters Daniel Sepulveda, T.J. Conley and Chas Henry, the Dallas Cowboys will work out 12 players today at Valley Ranch.
Former Baylor guard Robert Torrez Griffin (let’s call him RG-T), a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets, will be in attendance, as will nine defensive backs, a quarterback, a wide receiver and tight end.
Charlie Peprah, who was not among the Cowboys’ tryouts two weeks ago when they signed Eric Frampton, is the most accomplished safety on hand after spending two stints with Green Bay. The other defensive backs include: Morgan Trent, Kevin Thomas, Reggie Jones, Rod Issac, Vincent Agnew, Larry Asante, Gerald Alexander and Mikail Baker.
Quarterback Nick Stephens, who played high school at Flower Mound before attending Tennessee and Tarleton State, will work out as well. He went to camp this summer with the Tennessee Titans. Tight end Fendi Onubun and wide receiver John Haggerty round out the group.
EDITORS NOTE: Robert T. Griffin, aka, "RG2,” "Deuce,” or "Big Griff,” was the "other Robert Griffin” at Baylor, the senior guard and two-year starter on the offensive line who helped protect and clear the way for RG3.
Listen to The Jerry Jones Show …
Link will be added when the show is released on KRLD – 105.3 The Fan
Each of these articles relate to quotes from The Jerry Jones Show on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan (The home of the Dallas Cowboys and The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network) …
RELATED: Jerry Jones – Cowboys FB Lawrence Vickers
The offensive line will shoulder the majority of the blame when a team is struggling to run the football, but the fullback also deserves some of the responsibility.
After signing Lawrence Vickers in the off-season, Jerry Jones said the Cowboys “can be the best we’ve been at fullback since Daryl [Johnston].”
With the Cowboys averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, which ranks 28th in the league, it’s hard to believe Jones would compare Vickers to Moose Johnston.
But Jones says he’s optimistic that Vickers’ best days as a Cowboy are still ahead of him.
“What I look for in a fullback, and he’s got it, is the ability to instinctively pick up a guy that maybe isn’t his guy, that just shows up,” Jones explained this morning on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “When you play his spot, especially in the running game, I guess you could say this about the passing game too, your assigned guy is not always the one that’s the freest. And I emphasize that ‘est’ because it’s the guy that’s coming first that he has to pick up. He’s got good instincts there. I think we can look forward to that. That hasn’t diminished in any way.
“I look for him to play better. I’m still as excited about him as I’ve been. I’m crazy about his work ethic. He works, brings that enthusiasm for the team but also backs it up with work. I think we’ll see better play than what we think we’ve seen so far this year.”
RELATED: Jerry Jones – Felix Jones as kick returner
The Dallas Cowboys added undrafted rookie free agent Lance Dunbar to their 53-man roster on Monday to help on special teams.
Dunbar said after Monday’s practice that he would be participating in all phases of special teams, but it seems the former North Texas standout running back would be best used as a kickoff returner. The Cowboys haven’t had any success in their kick return game and the youngster could provide a spark.
But the team’s current kick returner, former first-round pick Felix Jones, hasn’t lost the job yet, according to Jerry Jones.
“I still think that Felix has the ability to do what we want to do, which is make some plays,” the Cowboys owner and general manager said today on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “He’s showing more burst the last couple of weeks, so I don’t want to dismiss him.”
Jerry Jones said he didn’t know if Dunbar would get a chance to return kicks Sunday in Baltimore because the coaching staff still wanted to see how comfortable he looked back there throughout the week of practice.
“You worry a little about his size, but he sure could help us,” Jerry Jones said of Dunbar. “He’s instinctive, and I think that’s the key word for him. He just finds a way, finds holes and has some burst when he sees it, to find the soft spot. If he can add that to our kicking game, then we’ve stepped it up.”
RELATED: Jerry Jones – Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff
With Jay Ratliff limited during training camp with a foot injury, Jerry Jones wondered if his Pro Bowl nose tackle got enough practice time before seeing his first action in the Cowboys’ third preseason game.
Ratliff suffered a high ankle sprain in that game and left the locker room on crutches.
“Did we let him get back in enough practice to get used to the speed of the game and were there things we could’ve done that might’ve prevented him from having that high ankle sprain,” Jones questioned today during an interview on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “Of course, [Ratliff] was the expert on the matter as it would be. He said there was no way in the world that I could’ve prepared for the guy falling over on the back of my leg like that, creating an ankle sprain.”
Ratliff returned to practice on Monday and it’s likely he’ll make his season debut Sunday in Baltimore. His return would bring an immediate impact considering opponents often double team the four-time Pro Bowler.
If Ratliff is out there, Jones doesn’t anticipate the 31-year-old slowly easing himself back into the mix.
“It’s not we’re going to turn him loose, he’s going to turn loose,” Jones said. “He doesn’t know but one speed, and that is getting after it. We’ve missed him and he’ll help us.”
RELATED: Jerry Jones – At 2-2, we’re in pretty good shape, considering
With how poorly the Dallas Cowboys played in losses to the Seahawks and Bears and even during a win over the Buccaneers, a 2-2 record might be better than what they deserve.
Today, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones gave his thoughts on where his team sits entering Week 6. Despite being outscored by a 61-25 total in their two losses, the Cowboys are fortunate that each team in the NFC East has at least two losses.
“We got to play better,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “I’m disappointed that we’re not putting more points on the board. I’m disappointed that we’re not getting the turnovers. All of that tells me that at 2-2, we’re in pretty good shape, considering the way we’ve played. I’m not saying we’re lucky to be 2-2, but we haven’t played any better than 2-2. We can play better though. That’s the good news.
“You look at where we are with our division, where everybody has lost two games in the division. What does that tell you? Nothing, other than we’ve got the games ahead of us – one more against the Giants and two against each of our division opponents. You got to look at your division hard and keep an eye on it. We have a lot to be encouraged about where we are in our division relative to records and nobody’s gaining on us here.
“We’ve got to do this from within. We just got to play better from within, across the board. It isn’t in just one spot, it’s across the board. I emphasize the interior blocking of the offensive line, but we got so many other areas that we can play better in. But that’s football.”
Lance Dunbar finally will get his chance to play. The Cowboys promoted him from the practice squad Monday to fill their 53-player roster. Dallas released cornerback LeQuan Lewis, a special teams standout who they brought in to help against returners Leon Washington and Devin Hester, last week.
"We’re going to bring Dunbar up and give him a chance just to contribute as a teams guy and also on offense when necessary," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.
The Cowboys nearly called up Dunbar before the season opener against the Giants. Dunbar, North Texas’ all-time leading rusher, ran for 106 yards on 18 carries in the preseason and caught three passes for 11 yards.
Dunbar could be a possibility on kickoff returns. He had three punt returns in the preseason but did not handle any kickoff returns. Felix Jones has averaged 21.5 yards on kick returns this season, and the Cowboys rank next to last in average start after a kickoff (19.2 yard line).
"He’s a quick guy," Garrett said. "He’s shown that he can be a good gunner and make some plays. He’s very aggressive and active. So want to give him a chance to do that. He’s also done some returning for us as well. So just wherever he’s needed. We’ll give him some work in practice at the different spots and see how he responds."
The Dallas Cowboys also brought back receiver Raymond Radway, signing him to the practice squad. Radway spent last season on injured reserve and was among the team’s final cuts this year. Danny Coale has a hamstring injury, necessitating the move for practice purposes.
RELATED: Radway will help Cowboys get through practice while others not at full speed
Wide receiver Raymond Radway is “more healthy now,” one reason the Cowboys have brought him back.
The team announced today the signing of Radway to the practice squad and the promotion of running back Lance Dunbar from the practice squad to the active roster.
“He had a really good preseason two preseasons ago and got hurt and missed all of last year and came back this past training camp and really wasn’t himself, and was trying to fight through some things,” Garrett said. “But we feel like he’s more healthy now and we needed a receiver on the practice roster, just really to help us function in practice, and we thought he was a good one to give another chance to.”
Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree and practice squad receiver Danny Coale worked with trainers in practice Monday.
In preseason two years ago, as an undrafted rookie, Radway caught six passes for 91 yards and averaged 25.4 yards on four kickoff returns. He was set to make the 53-man roster. But he suffered a broken leg with three seconds left in the final preseason game and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve.
He had one kickoff return for 26 yards.
IRVING, Texas – While the players and coaches will be off most of the weekend here during the bye, the Cowboys are still trying to churn the bottom of the roster.
There is an open roster spot, and the Cowboys have worked out two players now this week after former receiver Raymond Radway had a workout Friday at Valley Ranch.
Radway has spent the last two training camps with the team and all of last year on injured reserve after he broke his leg on the final play of the 2011 preseason. Radway returned this season and just didn’t show the same burst during training camp and the four preseason games.
He worked out for the scouts and selected coaches on Friday. Radway does have practice-squad eligibility so there is a chance the Cowboys could sign him to the squad and call up another player to the active roster.
The current practice squad consists of receivers Danny Coale and Tim Benford, defensive tackles Robert Calloway and Ben Bass, guard Ron Leary, fullback Jamize Olawale and running back Lance Dunbar, who actually went on a road trip to New York to start the season with the plan he would be called up to the roster. That never materialized but Dunbar is someone with speed and quickness that could bolster the special teams.
Earlier this week, the Cowboys worked out former cornerback Bryan McCann, although it’s unlikely he will be re-signed at this point.
The Dallas Cowboys brought back a familiar face to the Valley Ranch complex today, hoping to find some help on special teams and possibly cornerback depth.
Bryan McCann, who played for the team in 2010 and actually spent two training camps with the Cowboys, worked out for coaches, scouts and front-office personnel.
The Cowboys have an open spot on the 53-man roster after cutting cornerback LeQuan Lewis this week. Lewis played the last two games, mostly on special teams but was called into duty on defense.
Coach Jason Garrett said this week the Cowboys needed that spot to provide more on special teams than Lewis was able to. McCann has experience not only to cover kicks, but also in the return game.
McCann has played 11 games with the Cowboys, including nine as a rookie in 2010. He’s remembered most for his two long touchdown returns in consecutive weeks, starting with a 101-yard interception runback against the Giants in Jason Garrett’s first game as interim head coach.
The next week against the Lions, McCann alertly knew the NFL rulebook well enough to know he could scoop up a deflected punt without jeopardy of fumbling, and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown in the Cowboys’ win over Detroit.
McCann was cut two games into the 2011 season, picked up by the Ravens for three games before finishing year in Oakland. McCann spent training camp with the Raiders this season and played against the Cowboys in the preseason opener.
He has a 24.2 yard kick return average and 15.9 on punt returns in his career.
UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys opt not to sign CB Bryan McCann
The Cowboys worked out cornerback Bryan McCann on Thursday but they have determined they won’t sign him. Management has no immediate plans to bring anyone else in but it is discussing its options.
McCann, 25, is a former member of the team who last played for Oakland before being cut by the Raiders in early September.
After taking another look at McCann more than a year later, the Cowboys decided against bringing him back.
IRVING, Texas – The bye week typically is a time for a few tweaks and changes, especially after a tough loss like the Cowboys had Monday night against the Bears, falling to 2-2.
Expect a few roster alterations to either the 53-man roster and/or the practice squad before the Oct. 14 game in Baltimore.
The Cowboys made on Tuesday, waiving cornerback LeQuan Lewis from the roster, dropping the roster down to 52 players. Obviously, the move was made to add another player although the Cowboys didn’t officially announce a roster addition. The Cowboys might use it to bring back safety Mana Silva, who was released a week ago.
Lewis, who was added from the Jets’ practice squad two weeks ago, played in the last two games, mostly on special teams. He was forced into action near the end of the Tampa Bay game on Sept. 23, playing cornerback in nickel situations as the Bucs were throwing into the end zone to try and claw back into the game.
The speedster was the gunner on the punt team and one of the middle players on the kickoff coverage units as well. Brought in three weeks ago as they were getting ready to face Seattle’s return ace, Leon Washington. Monday night, they got past Chicago’s Devin Hester.
Lewis had one tackle and one pass defensed in the regular defense.
IRVING, Texas – In an attempt to bolster the special teams units for Sunday’s game with the Bucs, the Dallas Cowboys have signed first-year linebacker Orie Lemon from the practice squad.
Lemon will be active Sunday against Tampa Bay, making his NFL debut as he is expected to play on most special teams units. Lemon, who spent all of last year on the practice squad, led the Cowboys with three special teams tackles during the preseason. He also had an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale against Miami.
Lemon will likely assume a lot of the special teams duties held by Alex Albright, who is out this week with a stinger injury.
To make room for Lemon, the Cowboys waived cornerback/safety Mario Butler, who like Lemon, was also on the practice squad in 2011. Butler was on the 53-man roster for the first two games this year, and active in the season opener against the Giants.
He was expected to play some this week with Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) doubtful for the Bucs game and Barry Church (quad) also banged up. But it appears the Cowboys will go an alternate route for some backup safety help. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have all received some work at safety this week in a nickel package and could provide some depth if needed.
Butler is still practice-squad eligible and it’s likely the Cowboys will try to bring him back on the eight-man squad.
Like Lemon, another linebacker expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday is fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber, who has been inactive the first two weeks. Wilber had a broken thumb that required surgery and now a soft cast.
|5||Bailey, Dan||K||6-0||188||24||2||Oklahoma State|
|9||Romo, Tony||QB||6-2||228||32||9||Eastern Illinois|
|11||Beasley, Cole||WR||5-8||177||23||R||Southern Methodist|
|17||Harris, Dwayne||WR||5-10||208||24||2||East Carolina|
|19||Austin, Miles||WR||6-2||215||28||7||Monmouth (N.J.)|
|21||Jenkins, Mike||CB||5-10||202||27||5||South Florida|
|31||Butler, Mario||CB||6-0||191||23||1||Georgia Tech|
|32||Scandrick, Orlando||CB||5-10||191||25||5||Boise State|
|34||Tanner, Phillip||RB||6-0||218||24||2||Middle Tennessee State|
|37||Johnson, Matt||S||6-1||210||23||R||Eastern Washington|
|39||Carr, Brandon||CB||6-0||207||26||5||Grand Valley State|
|43||Sensabaugh, Gerald||S||6-1||208||29||8||North Carolina|
|50||Lee, Sean||LB||6-2||245||26||3||Penn State|
|51||Wilber, Kyle||LB||6-4||239||23||R||Wake Forest|
|52||Connor, Dan||LB||6-2||231||26||5||Penn State|
|54||Carter, Bruce||LB||6-3||233||24||2||North Carolina|
|55||Albright, Alex||LB||6-5||256||24||2||Boston College|
|57||Butler, Victor||LB||6-2||249||25||4||Oregon State|
|62||Arkin, David||G||6-5||310||24||1||Missouri State|
|63||Cook, Ryan||T||6-6||325||29||7||New Mexico|
|68||Free, Doug||T||6-6||323||28||6||Northern Illinois|
|70||Crawford, Tyrone||DE||6-4||282||22||R||Boise State|
|88||Bryant, Dez||WR||6-2||218||23||3||Oklahoma State|
|95||Lissemore, Sean||DE||6-4||306||24||3||William & Mary|
|97||Hatcher, Jason||DL||6-6||302||30||7||Grambling State|
|79||Bass, Ben||DE||6-4||288||22||R||Texas A&M|
|16||Benford, Tim||WR||5-11||196||22||R||Tennessee Tech|
|72||Callaway, Rob||DL||6-4||333||24||1||Saginaw Valley State|
|81||Coale, Danny||WR||6-0||196||24||R||Virginia Tech|
|25||Dunbar, Lance||RB||5-8||191||22||R||North Texas|
|58||Lemon, Orie||LB||6-1||246||24||1||Oklahoma State|
|49||Olawale, Jamize||FB||6-0||235||23||R||North Texas|
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys have parted ways with third-string quarterback Stephen McGee from Texas A&M. The Cowboys cut McGee on Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after they had set their 53-man roster with McGee a part of it.
McGee will be replaced on the 53-man roster by tight end Colin Cochart, who was waived Friday by the Cincinnati Bengals. The 25-year-old Cochart (6-4, 254) was signed by the Bengals in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State. Cochart was the only undrafted free agent rookie to make the Bengals’ initial 53-man roster last year. He played in 10 games, catching five passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.
McGee, 26, was entering the final year of his rookie contract. He had been the Cowboys’ third-string quarterback since the team selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He was entering the final year of his contract.
McGee tweeted this out just after his release Saturday, “Thankful for my time in Dallas and the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. God is doing some cool things in this city. Press on.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talked on Saturday morning about how they “value the quarterback” and having three quarterbacks on their roster, but with starting tight end Jason Witten unlikely to play in the season opener Wednesday at the Giants because of his lacerated spleen, the Cowboys felt the need to add a tight end for depth.
Cutting McGee leaves the Cowboys with only two quarterbacks on their roster: Starter Tony Romo and backup Kyle Orton.