IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys made the decision to cut David Arkin on Saturday because they needed the roster spot. But they haven’t completely given up on their three-year investment.
The Cowboys decided to bring back Arkin on the practice squad today. Arkin has only been active for eight games in his career but has yet to play a single snap, which gives him practice-squad eligibility despite this being his third season with the club.
The Cowboys cut Arkin to make room for rookie safety Jakar Hamilton, who played because of an injury to J.J. Wilcox. Hamilton will likely stay up on the roster with Wilcox’s status uncertain and now Barry Church has a hamstring injury.
“We got to the point where we needed a safety based on our safety situation,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “And that was the one we felt we could make that move on the 11th hour and hopefully he can get past through and we can bring him back and put him on our practice roster and we’ve invested in him and we do like him.”
Garrett was asked if he was disappointed in Arkin’s progress, considering he was a fourth-round pick in 2011 and has yet to contribute in the regular season.
“There’s probably nobody on our football team who works harder and is more committed than David Arkin,” Garrett said. “He’s the right kind of guy and he’s working at it and he’s getting better. I think he has improved over the last couple of years and that’s why we’re happy to get him back and put him back on the practice roster and continue that development.”
During the last two training camps and preseasons, Arkin received more practice reps than any other linemen the last two years. With an abundance of injuries on the line, Arkin has played both at guard and center. This past summer, he was mostly at guard. He started the first preseason game at right guard, then started the third and fifth games at left guard.
The year before, he started the first three preseason games at center.
Let’s go into the film room to take a closer look at Edgar Jones and Kyle Bosworth, the newest members of the Dallas Cowboys.
· Edgar Jones 6-3, 262 Southeast Missouri State 7th season
Edgar Jones comes to the Dallas Cowboys from the Kansas City Chiefs through a trade. The Cowboys sent their 6th round selection to the Chiefs in 2014, for Jones and their 7th round selection in the same draft. Jones will wear #55 and most likely see action as a Sam linebacker in this scheme for Monte Kiffin even though he has a build like what they use at defensive end.
For the Chiefs, he played as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 but there were times where he did put his hand on the ground similar to what we had seen from Anthony Spencer in the past. The times that I did observe him rush, it was usually from the defensive right side. Not as explosive as what you would see from Ware or Spencer but can be slippery getting up the field. Will match power with some counter pass rush moves.
Tries to attack the edge and work his way around the corner. Doesn’t have a closing burst to finish the play but can get there if the quarterback does hold the ball for a tick longer. Plays with nice desire and effort.
Main contribution to the squad is on special teams. Plays as the R5 or next to the kicker on the kick off team. Runs well for his size, is more than willing to attack blockers, hard for smaller blockers to handle. Will physically run through blockers. Works to the ball, keeps his eyes on the returner. Does a nice job with his hands shedding.
Is a second wedge blocker on the kickoff return. Club had two touchdowns in the preseason on returns to his side. Can get in position, will work his hands inside to control his man. Comes close to holding every return but doesn’t draw a call. He is a big body that is hard to get around.
Is the left guard on the punt team. Will handle his responsibility, get rid of man, then work up the field. Did not see him give up any pressures. Plays as a blocker on the punt return. Like his work on kickoff return, he grabs his man and stays with him up the field. Looks more mobile in space doing this than playing on defense. Did not see any huge problems or mistakes with his assignments. Plays with good awareness.
· Kyle Bosworth 6-1, 243 UCLA 3rd season
Kyle Bosworth was claimed off waivers from the New York Giants after spending his two previous seasons in Jacksonville. Plays as a Mike linebacker but also saw some action as a Sam. Bosworth will wear #58 and should provide depth at both spots. Would not call him the best foot athlete but there are things he does on special teams in space that would make you believe he can handle some aspects of the position.
On tape, he plays with a great deal of awareness. He was hard to fool. Has to be this way because I would not call him an explosive player running but I would say that he does play with explosiveness when he gets into position to tackle. Did see him carry the tight end into the flat against Pittsburgh. Is a physical player that can take on blocks, use his hands then shed. Will step up no problem at all. There is some stiffness in his game in the way he runs but I have seen him work down the line, work through the bodies and get to the ball. Wrap up, get the man on the ground type of tackler.
Like Edgar Jones, will be a core player on the special teams, plays on all of them. Plays as the R5 as well on the kickoff team. Great effort to hustle down, take on the blocker, then find the ball. Really like his awareness. Reads well. Had two tackles in the New England game.
Plays on the front line at the guard on the kickoff return. Will drop, turn, then work himself into position to block. Really productive staying with his man. Knows how to use his hands inside to control. His holding is not as noticeable as Jones’ is. Is very aware to let go of his block if he gets into a bad position. Don’t see fouls here. Will hold his position on the block. If he misses his block, will struggle to get back into position. Not a fluid moving athlete.
Plays as the left wing on the punt team. I know I question his athletic ability in space but he seems to function well here. Able to get wide, control the rusher, then make his way down the field. Once again, there is a physical side to his game here. Don’t see him get knocked back or off balance.
Saw action on the punt return unit as an inside hold up man. Like on the kickoff return, he does a solid job of adjusting to his man down the field. Really has to fight to keep himself in position but plays like he really knows what he is doing. Size really helps him as a blocker. Dependable.
Like how physical he does play along with his smart. You can see on tape that he takes pride in his work.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys stayed active after the weekend cuts by trading former seventh-round pick Sean Lissemore to the Chargers on Sunday and claiming linebacker Kyle Bosworth off waivers.
Lissemore signed a three-year extension worth $7.17 million in September 2012 when the Cowboys’ defense ran the 3-4 scheme. He was traded for a 2015 seventh-round pick.
All six of Lissemore’s starts since joining the Cowboys in 2010 came last season. He’s admitted the switch to the new 4-3 has been a tough transition.
“I can definitely play in this defense, it’s just taking a little bit to transition,” Lissemore said after training camp. “It’s a little bit different than last year, playing the 3-4 defense, kind of two-gapping it. It’s kind of forgetting everything I’ve learned for the past three years and training myself to do something different.”
Lissemore, who suffered a concussion in the preseason finale, will be going back to the 3-4 scheme in San Diego. He was slated as a backup in Dallas after a strong offseason from Nick Hayden, who’s played on the interior next to Jason Hatcher.
The Cowboys used their open spot on the roster after trading Lissemore to claim Bosworth off waivers from the Giants. Bosworth, a local product who played high school football at Plano West, played 25 games the last two seasons with the Jaguars after going undrafted in 2010 out of UCLA.
The team will rely on Ben Bass, Kyle Wilber, George Selvie, and Landon Cohen for depth behind starters Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Nick Hayden and DeMarcus Ware, unless they make another move on the waiver wire.
Lissemore’s trade is the second the Cowboys have made since Saturday’s cuts. They placed guard Nate Livings on injured reserve as well, which opened up a spot on the roster for Dallas to trade for Kansas City linebacker Edgar Jones. The Cowboys sent over next year’s sixth-round pick and also got a seventh-round pick in that deal.
RELATED: Veteran guard Nate Livings placed on Injured Reserve
The Dallas Cowboys have decided to place veteran guard Nate Livings on injured reserve with a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery last month.
Livings’ roster spot was immediately filled by former Chiefs linebacker Edgar Jones, a six-year veteran who should provide depth on special teams.
Jones played just one year in Kansas City after five seasons in Baltimore. He played all 16 games for the Chiefs last year but has just 57 total games played since 2007.
The Cowboys initially kept just five linebackers when they trimmed the roster to 53 late Saturday afternoon. The club decided to waive Caleb McSurdy, Brandon Magee, and Cam Lawrence on the final cuts.
Jones will join a linebacker group consisting of Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims, and rookie DeVonte Holloman.
Although Livings’ base salary of $2.4 million is guaranteed for this season, the Cowboys were preparing for 2013 without the veteran who joined the Cowboys last year in free agency.
Heading into the Sept. 8 game with the Giants, the Cowboys will likely go with Mackenzy Bernadeau and David Arkin as the starting guard, unless Ron Leary can return from a knee scope in time. Leary did some light running before Thursday’s preseason finale with the Texans.
IRVING, Texas – While the focus on this day is typically the players who are released, here’s a look at the guys who actually made the team – for now.
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Kyle Orton – The Cowboys decided once again to keep just one backup for Romo. Alex Tanney had promise and will likely get back to the practice squad if he’s not claimed off waivers. For now, the team had too many needs at other positions to keep a luxury third quarterback.
Running Back (4): DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Phillip Tanner – Four running backs is not uncommon, but it’s usually three tailbacks and a fullback. With no fullback on the roster, the Cowboys will stick with four runners, especially with Lance Dunbar (foot) banged up. Randle and Tanner will provide some depth and special teams ability.
Wide Receiver (5) – Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Dwayne Harris, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley – The Cowboys decided to cut veteran Anthony Armstrong, who had a good camp and preseason and is likely the fastest player on the team. Armstrong could get resigned in Week 2 when his roster would not be guaranteed. Beasley’s ability to work the middle of the field proved to be too valuable.
Tight Ends (5): – Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, Dante Rosario, Andre Smith -The Cowboys have shown they will use more tight ends this year. Jason Witten will get most of the touches, but there will be plenty of packages that featured both James Hanna and Gavin Escobar. This spot might see some changes before the start of the season. Rosario is really the only fullback-type player on the roster, but Smith did enough things to keep him around.
Offensive Line (10): Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings, Doug Free, Phil Costa, Darrion Weems, David Arkin, Jermey Parnell – This position was tough to cut because of the injury situations to Leary and Livings. Don’t be surprised if there are more moves to make on Sunday.
Defensive Line (9) – DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Nick Hayden, George Selvie, Kyle Wilber, Ben Bass, Landon Cohen, Sean Lissemore – The Cowboys might be in the process of making moves here. Keeping Cohen and Lissemore was somewhat surprising. Cohen is probably the closest thing to a one-technique the Cowboys have as backups. Lissemore’s concussion could play a role in keeping more tackles.
Linebacker (5) – Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims, DeVonte Holloman: Like the others, expect some changes here. The Cowboys decided not to keep a sixth linebacker, releasing Brandon Magee, Cam Lawrence and Caleb McSurdy. Holloman was so impressive in the preseason, he likely jumped several players on the projected depth chart. Don’t be surprised if Sims works his way into the starting lineup at some point.
Defensive Backs (10): Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Will Allen, Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb, J.J. Wilcox, Danny McCray, Eric Frampton, Jeff Heath: Six safeties made the club. It’s somewhat surprising that both McCray and Frampton made the team. McCray had to take a considerable pay cut but the Cowboys will need his special teams experience. Cutting both Sterling Moore and Micah Pellerin was a surprise as well. The Cowboys currently have just four cornerbacks.
Specialists (3) – Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur – No surprises here. These three were the expected group last January and nothing has changed.
IRVING, Texas – As I write this story, there is a personnel meeting going on down the hall from me.
Having sat in that room for a number of years, the feelings I had never changed. Along with the draft, this was the most important day of a scout’s year. In this meeting with Jerry and Stephen Jones, there is going to be a healthy debate on how this roster is going to be shaped.
For five weeks there have been meetings, practices and games to evaluate to put together the best 53 players for the upcoming season. There is going to be a time where a coach is not going to agree with a scout and vice versa, but in the end, both parties have to put their feelings aside and do what is right for this organization.
I no longer sit in those meetings, but I still have a strong enough feeling of what this team might try and do in selecting its best 53 players. So with that being said, here is my crack at the roster.
Tony Romo and Kyle Orton
I understand the thoughts of trying to keep Alex Tanney as the third quarterback on this roster but I need his spot on the roster to help me try and win games now. This club is too banged up injury wise to carry him on this roster. My hope is to get him to the practice squad. If it works out great, if not I am moving on. That’s just part of the NFL you deal with.
Wide Receivers: 5
Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrence Williams, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley
There was a side of me that was trying to get Anthony Armstrong on this squad as the fifth receiver but Beasley is just too valuable to the offense to put him on the street. Another position that you would like to carry an extra player but numbers play a factor here.
Tight Ends: 4
Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Dante Rosario
Andre Smith would be an option here but he doesn’t play all the positions on the offense and the coaches have confidence in Rosario on special teams even though I thought he had a rough night against the Texans. Just a gut feeling but Smith has played well enough to be a guy that you would consider claiming.
Offensive Line: 10
Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, Phil Costa, Nate Livings, David Arkin, Darrion Weems
I am not totally comfortable with that final spot because they could decide they still want to work with Demetress Bell but I am going with the younger Weems, who I believe has more to work with. That last spot could also come down to a waiver claim. But we need to remember is that if Free plays at guard, this club is going to need a swing tackle. I kept Livings because his salary is guaranteed. However, he could be a candidate for IR, which would give the Cowboys an open spot.
Running Backs: 4
DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner, Joseph Randle
Two of the four backs play major roles on the special teams. There is a side of me that believes that we might not see Dunbar in this opening game against the Giants, so Tanner and Randle will be asked to help Murray get through this game.
Defensive Line: 9
Demarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Nick Hayden, Anthony Spencer, Kyle Wilber, George Selvie, Ben Bass, Landon Cohen, Jason Vega
I feel better about the starting four with Spencer in the lineup over Selvie. Hayden will give the defense nice effort inside and if Bass can continue to play like he did against the Texans, then the nickel pass rush will be better. My surprise in this group is that the front office decides to keep Jason Vega which means that Sean Lissemore is out of the mix. Like Cohen, there is something to Vega’s game that interests me. In Lissemore’s spot you can play Cohen at the one behind Hayden. Like the offensive line, this is a position that you could see a waiver claim or two.
Sean Lee, Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, DeVonte Holloman, Ernie Sims, Cameron Lawrence
I had no trouble with five of the six that I wanted to keep, it was that sixth spot that had me thinking. As much as I thought that Brandon Magee could have been a factor on this roster after the draft, it just hasn’t been the case. I didn’t see that nose for the ball until they played against Arizona then he suffered a concussion in practice the following Monday after the Arizona game. I really believed that he was going to be more active but that just wasn’t the case. Cameron Lawrence has made plays and when he has been asked to play snaps, he has done a nice job. I believe he gives you something as a backup linebacker and potential core special teamer. He gets my last spot over Magee.
Defensive Backs: 10
Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Will Allen, Barry Church, B.W. Webb, Sterling Moore, J.J. Wilcox, Orlando Scandrick, Jeff Heath, Eric Frampton
At that this position, I kept Frampton over McCray because I know that he can be a core special teamer but I also felt like that he could play snaps in the secondary and be productive doing it. With two rookie safeties behind Allen and Church, I needed that veteran player and I just felt better about Frampton doing that job. There also might be a consideration of savings between the two that I have to measure.
Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
No questions with this group. Solid.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
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2013-2014 ROSTER BATTLE: Dallas Cowboys receiver Anthony Armstrong believed to be among final roster cuts
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys don’t have to officially turn in their 22 roster cuts until Saturday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
However, some of the players being released have already been informed by the team.
According to reports, veteran wide receiver Anthony Armstrong has been let go by the Cowboys. However, the club might not make all of the moves official until Saturday.
Armstrong had a good training camp, showcasing his experience and blazing speed.
But with the club likely keeping four tight ends, it appears only five receivers will be kept. Armstrong, who turned 30 last March, has four years of NFL experience under his belt. If on the Week 1 roster, Armstrong’s salary for 2013 would be fully guaranteed.
That means it’s possible the Cowboys could bring back Armstrong at some point after Week 1. Last year, they signed Armstrong on Nov. 26 and then cut him on Dec. 22 to add Ron Leary to the roster from the practice squad. Armstrong was then signed on Jan. 7, cut on March 27 for salary-cap reasons and then re-signed on April 9.
So the veteran knows a thing or two about the business side of the NFL. But it’s not a guarantee Armstrong isn’t claimed by another team.
In five preseason games, Armstrong had just four catches for 47 yards. He played on just about every special teams unit as well.
For now, it’s likely the Cowboys will keep five receivers: Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley.
Armstrong does not have practice-squad eligibility. If the Cowboys keep any receivers on the practice squad, the candidates would likely be Tim Benford, Eric Rogers, and Danny Coale.
Also, rookie linebacker Taylor Reed, an undrafted free agent from SMU, announced via twitter he was also waived by the Cowboys Friday.
ARLINGTON, Texas – The preseason ended in underwhelming fashion for the Dallas Cowboys’ backups trying to make their final impressions Thursday at AT&T Stadium.
The backups got the work all day against a Texans team that rushed for 190 yards in a 24-6 loss in the fifth and final preseason game for the Dallas Cowboys.
“They did a good job running the football on us,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “It didn’t seem like we were getting lined up very quickly on defense and some of that goes to a lot of young players playing and those guys responsible for making those calls and adjustments. That goes into the evaluation as well.”
The thrashing doesn’t mean a whole lot going forward outside of deciding final roster spots. Tackle Jermey Parnell and linebacker Ernie Sims were the only potential starters to find the field Thursday.
Just three years ago, the Cowboys played the Texans in the fourth preseason game of the year and lost by 16 points in the dress rehearsal. Dallas faced Houston again when it actually mattered in Week 3 of the regular season and won by 14, so the score of Thursday’s lopsided defeated shouldn’t be dwelled upon.
But many of the backups didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression in the game.
The offense managed just 219 total yards to the Texans’ 427. Houston had eight more first downs than Dallas and finished with a 42 percent third-down efficiency to the Cowboys’ meager 21 percent. The special teams didn’t make any drastic mistakes this week and Chris Jones dropped five punts inside the 20-yard line, but the Cowboys also allowed a 29-yard punt return to the Texans.
“You want to play better than we played tonight in all three phases of our football team, but again, a lot of young guys were playing, a lot of different combinations of guys for us and for them,” Garrett said. “You try to evaluate individuals as much as you evaluate the whole group.”
While the game didn’t mean much to the starters who were held out, it did hold significant value for the players on the bubble attempting to make the 53-man roster.
Alex Tanney threw 31 of the Cowboys’ 32 passes, as he got the majority of the work throughout the day but was pressured and battered around constantly, getting sacked seven times. The Cowboys failed to score a touchdown throughout the day, despite getting into Houston territory multiple times.
Tanney finished 17-of-31 with 177 yards and one interception. Garrett and the coaching staff will take into account the barrage of defenders in his face as they assess the quarterback.
“But then you have to assess how he responds to that,” Garrett said. “That’s part of playing this position. It looked like he kept his composure, moved around, kept his eyes up the field, but just couldn’t get into much of a rhythm throughout the football game.”
Some of the players entering Thursday’s game knew beforehand they had a decent chance at cracking the final roster. But they know that doesn’t mean their spot is completely safe.
Cole Beasley, who could hardly put weight on his injured foot a week ago, managed to heal up enough in time to make a final impression, catching two passes for 30 yards and nearly breaking enough tackles on a catch in Texans’ territory to get past the defense. Beasley said he may have had enough pep in his step to break free if he wasn’t injured recently, but the foot felt good enough to play through.
“Hopefully I did enough to make it, and at least I’ll have another opportunity to get better and keep improving and come back and try to get a role somehow,” Beasley said.
The Cowboys now have one day to make decisions on their 53-man roster. As the backups wait to hear their fate, the starters will continue to prepare for the opener against the Giants, which they’ve had their sights set on since training camp.
“It’s what everybody wants to see,” Bryant said. “Both teams are going to come in, and we want to put on a show.”
RELATED: 2013 preseason finale confirms no need for 3 QBs on roster
ARLINGTON, Texas – Honestly, this article was planned out long before the final outcome of the matchup with the Texas Thursday – a night that mercifully ended a five-game preseason schedule.
So it’s not actually news-breaking at this point, considering the Dallas Cowboys barely did anything on offense in this 24-6 loss to Houston.
The Cowboys don’t need three quarterbacks on the roster.
Alex Tanney got all but one series Thursday night – a golden opportunity to showcase his skills. He had the chance to prove he could orchestrate drives, throw the ball on the run and make plays in and out of the pocket.
Plain and simple, Tanney had nearly four quarters to prove he needed to be on this 53-man roster.
At some point, he might be on this team. Right now, the Dallas Cowboys simply can’t afford to keep him. With the offensive line injuries, they need to go longer with guards and centers. They likely need to keep more safeties than normal and keeping a sixth receiver or a fifth tight end is actually more of a debate than keeping a third quarterback.
You know, we’ve seen this before.
Just three years ago, the Cowboys were in this same situation going into this very game – the fifth and final preseason contest against Miami. Heading into the game, it seemed like Stephen McGee was on the outside looking in, in terms of making the 53-man roster. He needed a great game to basically save his roster spot – and he delivered. Not only did he lead the Cowboys to a win, but he threw for 304 yards and a touchdown.
Tanney needed that performance Thursday night. Needless to say it didn’t happen. Was it all his fault? Not at all, considering the second-team offensive line might have been the worst-looking group the Cowboys have thrown out there in several years. But then again, if you’re worried about the first-team line, certainly the second group is going to struggle.
But back to Tanney, who was 17 of 31 for 177 yards and one interception (58.1 QB rating). He was on his back most of the night, getting sacked seven times, although it felt like 22 times with that dreadful final drive in the fourth quarter.
It was 10 years ago when Tony Romo was pretty much in the same situation. Only that year, Romo and Clint Stoerner were battling for the No. 3 spot. Romo fired a 60-yard touchdown to Randal Williams and that was just enough to prove he had potential and was worth keeping. We all know what happened next.
And yes, I might have been the first one to say this early in training camp, but Tanney does remind me of a YOUNG Romo. Not the Romo that has started for this team since 2006. But the young, athletic, live-arm thrower who really doesn’t know everything there is to know but is just out there slinging it. That’s the Romo I remembered 10 years ago and I’ve seen Tanney flash the same type of skills.
Obviously, keeping Romo was the right call. But right now, it’s not something the Cowboys should do.
For every Romo, there’s a Matt Baker, Matt Moore, Jeff Mroz, Nick Stephens, or Dalton Williams. Earlier this week, a reporter asked Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones if the club had learned its lesson by cutting Moore back in 2007. Jones was quick to reply with some honesty, pointing out that Moore not only has been a so-so quarterback on a so-so team, but he wouldn’t have ever played over Tony Romo.
I think Tanney should be one of the 22 cuts the Cowboys make Saturday afternoon to get down to 53 players. Certainly, he’s good enough to bring back to the practice squad. And he’d be a good scout team quarterback because not only does he give you a strong arm in the pocket, but he’s also athletic enough to at least run the zone-read stuff that they’ll see a few times this year. No, I’m not saying he’s quick like Robert Griffin III or Michael Vick, but he’s a lot closer to that than Kyle Orton.
The point is, there will be other Alex Tanney’s out there.
If, and it’s a pretty big if after this performance, Tanney gets claimed by another team that wants to put him on the 53-man roster, the Cowboys will be fine. I really don’t see any NFL team deciding Tanney is good enough for their squad.
Maybe that’s the silver lining in Thursday’s night game. Tanney likely will get cut but his performance here probably doesn’t have any team foaming at the mouth to sign him.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a rip-job toward Tanney. I actually like his potential. I think he’s got a nice arm, good awareness in the pocket, quick feet and he’s got that moxie that all good quarterbacks must have.
And obviously he’s got good accuracy or he wouldn’t have a YouTube video on his trick-shot passes. But he certainly wasn’t filming that video with a pass rush in his face. It makes a difference.
I think Alex Tanney should and will be with the Cowboys next week. But it’ll likely be on the practice squad. And if he doesn’t make it, the Cowboys can’t worry about it.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS ROSTER: Saturday’s dress rehearsal vs. Cincinnati Bengals brings “what ifs” into forefront
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys got a taste of the past Thursday night at AT&T Stadium, stepping back in time to interact with their rich history.
Present were Pro Football Hall of Famers galore, the likes of Roger Staubach, Rayfield Wright and Mel Renfro, along with Ring of Honor members such as Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris and Charles Haley. And then maybe the less decorated but certainly not forgotten, from center Mike Connelly, a member of the franchise’s inaugural 1960 team, to locally-raised cowboy Walt Garrison to exciting wide receiver Butch Johnson and stalwart center Tom Rafferty and invaluable tight end Jay Novacek, all the way to 11-year deep snapper Dale Hellestrae.
“I think we’re fortunate to be in an organization where such a high standard has been set,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says of the franchise’s alumni being invited in for practice and the dinner afterward.
Saturday night at AT&T Stadium we’ll all get a better taste of the future and hints to if those previously high-set standards can be met, Garrett intending to play his starters at least a half and those in need of more work into the third quarter in the fourth of five preseason games this year, this one against the Cincinnati Bengals, the current Hard Knocks subjects on HBO. This exercise will be as close to real as a preseason game gets, though minus any sort of game plan or regular-season strategic intentions.
No sense showing your hand before being called upon, and believe me, that will definitely include the final preseason game, too, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29, against the Houston Texans, also at AT&T Stadium, where starters will mostly sit and sitters will mostly start.
So Saturday night maybe you see Tony Romo throw the ball 10 to 15 times; maybe you see DeMarco Murray carry the ball a handful of times; maybe you see DeMarcus Ware actually play a couple of series instead of just a couple of plays in this new 4-3 defensive alignment; and maybe you see the likes of recently-extended Sean Lee, the up-surging Jason Hatcher and a seemingly revitalized Miles Austin play more than previously. Still, bank on the Cowboys not wanting to overexpose any of them to injury possibilities with the season opener just 15 days away.
Oh, we know all about these guys, and for sure you’d like to see this Cowboys first-team offense score its first touchdown of the preseason, even if that drought encompasses but five series over the two games Romo has played in, and for them all to do a better job of hanging onto the football than what took place last Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.
Fine and good, but this Cowboys coaching staff also must use this game to address the near future, as in the Sunday night of Sept. 8 when the New York Football Giants come calling on national television at the newly named and re-carpeted AT&T Stadium. There still are so many compelling what-ifs so close to the season opener.
What if projected starting left guard Ronald Leary does not return in time as expected from arthroscopic knee surgery for the opener?
What if starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is not ready to play as expected in the opener after missing the entire offseason, entire training camp and as expected at least the first four preseason games?
What if starting defensive end Anthony Spencer does not return in time as expected from having his knee scoped at the start of training camp to man the strong side of this 4-man front against the Giants?
What if cornerback Morris Claiborne, bothered by patella tendinitis in his knee for the past two weeks, isn’t as ready to play in the opener as he seems to insist?
Oh, and while we’re at it, what if injured safeties Matt Johnson (ankle) and Eric Frampton (calf) aren’t ready for season-opening duty? First of all, how are you cutting that position down to a probable five and just who are the immediate backups to starters Barry Church and Will Allen?
These are the present dilemmas that must be solved with time running short, and for that reason you should get an eye-full Saturday night of possible solutions.
Already the Cowboys have been bracing for the worst on the offensive line. Chances are the do-si-do we witnessed this week in practice will continue Saturday night, with Jermey Parnell being inserted at right tackle, right tackle Doug Free moving over to right guard and right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau leapfrogging over to left guard.
Hmmm. Everyone seems occupied with Free moving to guard. My concern, and this coaching staff’s, too, is if Parnell is ready to play right tackle. He’s started only one NFL game, and injuries have caused him to miss the entire offseason, the first three preseason games and the first three weeks of training camp. And that’s who you want to trust on the right edge against those Giants ends?
“So we haven’t seen him,” Garrett says of Parnell, and hasn’t since he rotated in with Free at right tackle in the final month of last season. “We got him back the end of last week, doing some good things and playing a little bit like he did the end of last season. At the end of the day, we want to put our best five guys out there.”
Parnell definitely is on trial Saturday night, and if he can’t hold up, and Leary isn’t ready, don’t be surprised if rookie center Travis Frederick moves to one guard spot, Phil Costa returns to center and Free stays put … that is if a starting-quality free-agent guard is not claimed or signed.
OK, the defensive line. So far with Ratliff and Spencer missing the Cowboys have gone with Nick Hayden at defensive tackle and George Selvie at the strong-side defensive end. Hayden seems to be gaining the staff’s confidence that he can hold down the one-technique DT spot in a pinch, thus allowing Hatcher to play – and play well, so far – Ratliff’s three-technique position. Hayden has started 13 of the 28 games he’s played over his four years in the NFL, but did not play this past season.
“He’s done a nice job,” Garrett said of Hayden, who also has the ability to play either DT position. “Regardless of what combination he’s in there with or who he is going against he seems to show up and make some plays.”
As for Selvie, well, let Garrett tell you what he thinks of the 6-4, 270-pounder who previously has been with four teams since drafted in the seventh round by the Rams in 2010. The player who has yet to start a game (36 played) in the NFL and wasn’t signed by the Cowboys until a week into training camp:
“He played particularly well in the game up there in Canton (Dolphins), played well last week in Arizona – just kind of showing up … a guy we want to keep looking at and see if he has a role on this football team.”
Who knows for sure, backups today, starters tomorrow?
At least Claiborne has started running a bit, and hopes to practice next week. If not, well, the Cowboys have been running nickel back Orlando Scandrick with the firsts at right corner. So, the dilemma there is this: On nickel, does Scandrick move inside to his slot-cover position and the Cowboys then bring in either Sterling Moore or rookie B.W. Webb to play right corner, or do they leave Scandrick outside and go with either Moore or Webb inside? Scandrick previously has struggled doing both in the same game.
Not sure they’ve decided on which, so keep an eye out on Saturday night.
And then safety: Johnson and Frampton haven’t practiced for two weeks, and with the final preseason game next Thursday, hardly seems possible they would practice fully on Monday and Tuesday and play against the Texans on Thursday after being out so long. And then would they be ready for the Giants the following Sunday? Heck, will they even make the final 53-man roster?
If not in either case, then you are looking at Wilcox, who returned Wednesday after going home for his mother’s funeral and is expected to play against the Bengals; veteran Danny McCray, more of a special teams player than a true safety; and then rookie free agents Jeff Heath (Saginaw Valley State) and Jakar Hamilton (South Carolina State).
A little bit of a roster conundrum for sure.
So call this a dress rehearsal if you wish. But with so many what-ifs hanging over the Cowboys’ heads, this just might be last call for many of these guys since the cuts to 75 come Tuesday (August 27th), then the ones to 53 by the following Saturday (August 31st), and since this likely will be the final chance to prove yourself against first-team opposition.
See there? So much to decide, so little time left to do so.
As much as Dallas Cowboys fans might want Alex Tanney as the backup to Tony Romo, that role again will go to Kyle Orton. The Cowboys signed the veteran quarterback to a three-year, $10.5 million deal, with $5 million to sign, last year.
Despite Orton’s struggles Saturday against the Cardinals, the Cowboys still have faith in him if something were to happen to Romo.
“He’s played a lot of good football for us — both in practice and preseason games and when he had a chance to play last year,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
But Orton made a “couple of bad decisions” against the Cardinals. In three offensive drives, Orton was 4-for-8 for 36 yards with two interceptions and a 22.9 passer rating.
“Anytime you get to go out and play, you don’t want to turn the ball over, especially the way the game started,” Orton said Monday. “To go out and add to it and throw a couple of picks, it was just two poor decisions. Nothing that I haven’t seen. I just made two bad decisions. I’ll learn from it like everybody else and go out and play great next week.”
In three preseason games, Orton is 12-for-17 for 113 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Tanney got Cowboys fans excited with his performance last week when he completed 14 of 19 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception for an 88.9 passer rating.
But Jason Garrett always has had a veteran quarterback behind Romo with Brad Johnson, then Jon Kitna and now Orton. Tanney isn’t likely to change the Cowboys’ minds about keeping a third quarterback on the 53-player roster either. They have too many injuries at other positions that will need addressing with roster spots.
“We value the quarterback position a lot,” Garrett said. “We would love to have a third quarterback, but roster spots are competitive in this league. You have to make a lot of decisions. You’ve got to figure out who is going to help your team, developing a player versus this guy can help our team right now. That is a good question we have.
“We feel good about our starting quarterback. We feel good about our backup quarterback. Now would like to bring a guy along, what capacity would you like to bring him along in? I don’t know that. Tanney did a good job the other night, though.”
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys are bringing in two defensive linemen to make up for their lack of depth after injuries at the position.
They’ll take a look at defensive end George Selvie, a former South Florida defender who’s made stops in the NFL in St. Louis, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay since 2010, and veteran defensive lineman Landon Cohen, who’s played in 25 games throughout his career.
Selvie spent a month in Tampa Bay after signing with the Buccaneers in April of this year before getting released. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Rams in 2010, playing in all 16 games for St. Louis his rookie season. He was waived in September 2011 and then spent time with Carolina and Jacksonville in 2011-2012.
The defensive lineman played in 11 games in 2011, including four with Carolina and seven with Jacksonville. He stayed with the Jaguars in 2012, playing in nine games that season.
Cohen’s bounced around the league since getting drafted out of Ohio in the seventh round in 2008. He played in Detroit in 2008-09, suiting up for 20 games during that time. He spent time with Jacksonville, New England, Seattle, Arizona and Philadelphia since then, suiting up for two games with the Jaguars and three with the Patriots.
After adding three players to start training camp in quarterback Alex Tanney, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and tackle Demetress Bell, the team has one spot open on the 90-man roster. Tanney was the only one of those three to pass his conditioning test when arriving in California.
The Cowboys need help and depth at defensive line after losing Tyrone Crawford for the season on the first full day of training camp practices Sunday when the former third-round pick tore his Achilles tendon.
Crawford was a backup player expected to play an increased role, but it’s not just the backups who are hurting on the defensive line. Starter Anthony Spencer also sat out of practices early in training camp with a bone bruise on his knee, and he’s slated to have surgery that will keep him out two to four weeks.
Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is also not participating in practice after hurting his hamstring during the conditioning drills, while defensive lineman Ikponmwosa Igbinosun sat out Tuesday with his foot in a boot.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys current roster will likely expand by three shortly after landing in Oxnard, Calif.
The team is expected to sign quarterback Alex Tanney, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and offensive tackle Demetress Bell, pending physicals in Oxnard. That would leave one more open spot on the 90-man roster, which will be filled at a later date after the team gathers.
Bell is the player among that group with the most NFL experience, having started five games last year for the Eagles. He’s played in 40 games during his career, including 35 starts, spending four years in Buffalo before joining Philadelphia.
The tackle was released by the Eagles shortly after the season in February and will quickly provide depth for the Cowboys, who still have a right tackle spot up for grabs.
Tanney and Tuinei both worked out for the Cowboys earlier this week, along with six other players. Tanney originally signed with the Chiefs after going undrafted last year but spent the year on injured reserve before being released. The former Division-III quarterback set the NCAA record for all-time career touchdown passes at Monmouth, finishing with 157.
Tuinei played three seasons at Oregon, scoring 10 touchdowns on 48 catches his final season in 2011. He’s spent time with the Bengals and Seahawks since then and demonstrated enough during his workout this week for the Cowboys to give him a look at camp.
RELATED: Cowboys reportedly set to sign former NBA star’s son
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys reportedly will fill one of their vacant roster spots with a veteran offensive tackle.
Dallas will sign former Philadelphia Eagle Demetress Bell to bolster depth along the offensive line.
Bell, who started five games last season for the Eagles, must pass a physical before signing. Philadelphia released him in February in a salary-cap move.
The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Bell is a sixth-year player from Northwestern State-La. He started 35 of the 40 games he’s played for Buffalo and Philadelphia after the Bills drafted him in the seventh round in 2008.
Bell is the son of former NBA star Karl Malone. The two do not have a relationship.
“I treat it as if my mother went to the sperm bank,” Bell said in 2008. “I don’t hate him for (not being in my life). It made me a better person.”
The Cowboys plan to sign quarterback Alex Tanney rather than former Alamo Heights and Rice standout Chase Clement and wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei.
The signings of Bell, Tanney and Tuinei would leave the club one player shy of the 90-man NFL training camp roster.