Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be an NFL player? This may be as close as you ever get. Check out the first in a series, as DeMarco Murray sports the Dallas Cowboys new “Helmet Cam”.
Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones open up training camp from Oxnard, California with their annual press conference. (Duration: 41:00)
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IRVING, Texas – It’s a dangerous proclamation to ever call the Dallas Cowboys particularly healthy these days.
Injuries have devastated the Cowboys recently, ending the season for Barry Church, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Jay Ratliff last year and forcing DeMarcus Ware to hobble through the last few games. Add to that list Tony Romo’s back surgery prior to Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this year, and it’s clear Dallas needed the offseason break as much as any team.
But that time off benefited the Cowboys tremendously, and the majority of the regulars finally appear ready to participate fully for the beginning of training camp.
The starting guards nursed injuries once again this offseason and only participated on a limited basis during practices, but Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings are expected to be back on the field for the start of camp. They should be joined by tackle Jermey Parnell and safety Danny McCray, both of whom missed time during minicamp.
The backfield will also regain its key members. DeMarco Murray missed time this offseason, working out on the side with resistance cords early on, but he’s expected to be full go and ready to take on the workload after proclaiming he’ll play every game this year.
He’ll be joined for the first time by the draft pick selected to be his backup, Joseph Randle, who’s been off to the side during every practice thus far while waiting for his surgically repaired wrist to heal. The cast he’s worn could be replaced by a splint or brace of some sort, but he’s already said he’ll be ready to go for camp.
“It’s not going to be anything that’s going to hinder me from doing what I’ve got to do,” Randle said after minicamp.
That should give the Cowboys a handful of players to keep an eye on at running back, with Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner needing to prove their worth and undrafted rookie Kendial Lawrence looking to make another impression.
This doesn’t mean the injury bug won’t come biting back once again.
The injuries are inevitable, especially early during training camp when the roster is packed full of players trying to make
the final roster. Hamstring injuries, in particular, ran rampant throughout the Cowboys’ roster last offseason.
Guard David Arkin was forced to play center for a significant chunk of time during training camp last year, because the center position was so decimated.
The Cowboys’ trainers and coaches have monitored some of the players coming off injury and those that have dealt with recent injuries during OTAs and minicamp, holding them out of certain drills to make sure they’re as healthy as possible for training camp.
That seems to have worked out, as the Cowboys appear to be as healthy now as they’ve looked in a while.
IRVING — Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten isn’t idle anymore. He was working on the resistance cord with an athletic trainer during the early part of the team’s Monday morning practice at Valley Ranch.
Witten was told he needed to be idle for seven to 10 days after he lacerated his spleen during the Cowboys’ first preseason game at Oakland on Aug. 13. His status for the season opener Sept. 5 at the Giants is still in doubt. He’ll learn more about his condition when he visits a doctor Tuesday.
Other notables from the first 20 minutes of the Cowboys’ practice Monday (that was all the media was allowed to observe):
- WR Dez Bryant was also working on the resistance cord with an athletic trainer. He’s battling tendinitis in his right knee, but he’s expected to play in the season opener.
- Starting center Phil Costa was in uniform and working with the first-team offensive line in practice. He’s been out with a back injury since Aug. 10.
- WR Miles Austin and LB DeMarcus Ware — both nursing hamstring injuries — weren’t in uniform for practice. Neither was CB Mike Jenkins (right shoulder). Austin and Ware are expected to be ready to play in the season opener. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Austin wouldn’t likely return to practice until the end of the week (in other words, at the earliest Thursday, the day after the Cowboys’ preseason finale against Miami). Jenkins won’t likely play in the season opener because he has yet to fly to Florida to visit with Dr. James Andrews again and be released to practice.
- Third-round pick DE Tyrone Crawford missed practice Monday morning because he was sick.
Football players often take the field and say they’re “going to war.”
The Cowboys got a taste of what that actually means when they visited the Navy SEALs at their base in Coronado, Calif., before departing home Wednesday from San Diego.
While coach Jason Garrett said the work put into football is incomparable to the sacrifices made by the Navy SEALs, the Cowboys could still learn about discipline, preparation and the need for training.
“I’m very quick to point out for our football team that what they do is very different from what we do,” Garrett said. “They’re in life and death situations, we’re trying to win football games. But I’d be hard-pressed to think that we can’t learn something from them, about how they go about their job every day, how they build their teams and how they lead their teams, and the trust they have in each other.”
As Garrett put it, the Navy SEALs are “the best of the best,” and he wanted his team to get a glimpse at “the kind of warriors those guys are.”
“Your eyes are wide open,” running back DeMarco Murray said of the field trip. “I asked those guys a lot about mental toughness despite different types of distractions, how do they go through and differentiate between going home with their family and going to work. I learned so much stuff, it’s unbelievable. I have so much respect for those guys, and that was an opportunity that I’ll never be experience (again) in my life. … It’s something I’ll never forget.
The majority of the Naval Special Warfare training is conducted at the United States Phil Bucklew Naval Special Warfare Center, which is part of the base where the Cowboys visited in Coronado.
“It was a fantastic visit, Garrett said. “As impressed as I was going into it, I was more impressed coming out of it, getting a chance to get to know those guys a little bit more in what they do and what they believe in and how they go about really their everyday life, everyday existence to prepare themselves for the challenges that they have.”
RELATED: SEAN LEE – Navy SEALs visit ‘puts things in perspective’ for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys closed training camp Wednesday by traveling to a Navy SEAL’s base in Coronado, Calif.
It was the second time in the last two weeks that the Cowboys spent time with military personnel. A week after U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez spoke to the Cowboys about preparation and toughness, the group got a lesson about teamwork and sacrifice from the Navy’s special operations force.
Garrett said it was a good learning experience for the team and linebacker Sean Lee agreed. Lee said he believes the visit is something that will make the Cowboys a better team.
“It just puts things in perspective for you,” Lee said. “You think you’re mentally tough, you think you work hard, but those guys take everything to another level. You think you’re sacrificing. Well, they’re sacrificing their lives to protect this country.”
Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale, an undrafted free agent from North Texas, experienced an unexpected surprise during tonight’s Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium. The public address announcer nailed the pronunciation of his name (juh-MAZE oh-lah-WALL-ee).
That is more than some of his coaches have been able to muster. Not that Olawale (6-foot-1, 238 pounds), who has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises of training camp, is complaining.
“Over the PA, they announced my name correctly,” Olawale said. “Some of the coaches, they have trouble pronouncing my name. Some coaches got it right from the outset. Some are still having trouble.”
Who’s having trouble?
“I’m not going to name any names,” Olawale said, smiling.
That could change soon. Olawale, who has led the Cowboys in rushing in both of their pre-season games, is considered a serious contender to land a spot on the team’s 53-man roster because of the versatility he has shown in training camp.
He could wind up competing for the final running back spot against his former college teammate, Lance Dunbar, a Haltom High School grad who played running back at UNT while Olawale worked primarily at receiver.
Although his emergence as a runner has been a pleasant surprise to Cowboys’ coaches, who initially viewed him as a backup fullback, it has not surprised Olawale.
“That’s how I’ve played my whole life. I started off my career playing running back,” said Olawale, who scored the team’s lone rushing touchdown of the pre-season on a 2-yard blast in last week’s 28-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers. “I feel like I can help in (goal-line) situations. Whatever they ask me to do, I feel like I can step up and help.”
His strong performance in camp makes Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Rams a potentially pivotal one for Olawale and others on the bubble of making the Cowboys’ roster. Olawale doesn’t think much about that, either.
“I don’t know. I’m not in the coaches’ meetings,” Olawale said. “That’s not really my concern. My concern is to come out here and play every day and to do my best. I’ll let the coaches sort through all of that.”
When the unexpected happens on the football field, coaches call it “sudden change.”
The best teams rise to the moment and meet the challenge, whether that means a defense keeping an opposing offense out of the end zone after a short-field turnover or an offense capitalizing on a long punt return and scoring a touchdown while momentum is on its side.
Fans who watched the Cowboys go through tonight’s Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium saw the team respond to a lot of unscripted moments, whether it was a beat-the-clock drive by the offense or a defense suddenly forced to into a goal-line situation after an imaginary turnover declared by coach Jason Garrett.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the spontaneous work was good for the team.
“Jason put in a lot of situations where no one knew them,” Ryan said. “Coaches had to react to them. Players had to react to them. So it was really good. A lot of good work.”
Ryan said players also enjoyed seeing the thousands of fans who showed up to watch the free practice in Arlington.
“It’s fun to get back here in front of the loyal crowd that’s here,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a lot of big things to get done and we’re working hard to get them done.”
Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform before the 2012 Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut crowd.
ARLINGTON — After taking their training camp show on the road for the past month, the Dallas Cowboys opened their preseason preparations to their hometown fans for the first time with a public practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday.
The annual "Silver and Blue Debut" was well received as usual by eager Cowboys fans, wearing Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware jerseys among others.
Fans filled the parking lots before 3 p.m. and lined up at the turnstiles in 90 degree temperatures before being let in the building for the 4:30 pm practice.
The practice, which was the team ’s first workout since breaking training camp in California on Tuesday, featured performances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Rhythm and Blue Dance Team.
It was a non-padded workout, which would be the team’s last before Saturday’s home preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett were met with cheers as they walked across the field.
For many fans, it didn’t matter that it was a practice. It was their first and only free look at the team before the 2012 season begins.
Here’s the third installment. Will the final, 53-man roster look exactly like this? Probably not. Injuries make this a moving target. But here’s the latest stab on what the roster will look like on opening night.
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
Comment: Can the Cowboys afford to carry a third quarterback with there injury issues at so many other positions? It’s unlikely.
Running backs (4)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Lawrence Vickers Lance Dunbar
Comment: Jamize Olawale has made the most of his opportunity with Dunbar and Phillip Tanner out. He’s an intriguing prospect. But Dunbar has looked good in his two days back and intrigued the coaches before Olawale was on the radar screen.
Wide receiver (6)
Diamond Dez Bryant Miles Austin Kevin Ogletree
Andre Holmes Cole Beasley Danny Coale
Comment: Still believe the No. 3 receiver will come off the waiver wire. That will reduce this list by one.
Tight ends (4)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna Andrew Szczerba
Comment: Witten’s injury creates a scenario where the team carries an extra player here for the first week or two of the regular season.
Offensive line (9)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Mackenzy Bernadeau Nate Livings Phil Costa
David Arkin Ronald Leary Jermey Parnell Pat McQuistan
Comment: Going with 10 remains a possibility here.
Defensive line (7)
Jay Ratliff Jason Hatcher Kenyon Coleman Tyrone Crawford Sean Lissemore
Josh Brent Clifton Geathers
Comment: Hard to envision a scenario where Coleman and Marcus Spears both make this group. If the coaches see enough promise in another young player, it’s not out of the question that both are gone.
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor
Victor Butler Alex Albright Kyle Wilber Adrian Hamilton
Comment: You haven’t heard a lot about Hamilton. But the Cowboys like his upside.
Brandon Carr Morris Claiborne Barry Church Gerald Sensabaugh Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins Mario Butler Matt Johnson Danny McCray
Comment: Butler’s versatility is a big plus here.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones LP Ladouceur
Comment: If the Cowboys want to save money and get younger, Charley Hughlett has a chance
Courtesy: David Moore
On Thursday, Cowboys Stadium opens its doors to fans of all ages for the Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut Presented by Miller Lite.
The event will be a free practice, open to all Cowboy fans anxious to see the team in action before the 2012 season officially kicks off. The practice will officially start at 4:30 p.m. However, parking will open up at 2:30 p.m., the plazas will open at 3 p.m. and the doors to the stadium will open at 3:30 p.m.
Parking at the stadium will be $10.
The team will be preparing to face the St. Louis Rams in their third preseason game and first home game of the season.
Dan Bailey has had a perfect preseason – 3-for-3 on field goals, 2-for-2 on extra points – and he drilled a 49-yard field goal Saturday night against the Chargers.
So he’s ready for the regular season, right? Surely he doesn’t need to kick any more in preseason.
“I just enjoy playing,” he said. “So any opportunity I can get out there, it’s fun for me. It’s also good to get the game experience. I like it. … You can always get better, so I don’t know if there’s really a benchmark that I’m hoping to achieve, necessarily, to get myself ready for the season. My idea is to just improve each game throughout the whole year. It’s good to get some attempts now, early on, especially a long one like the kind I had tonight.”
Bailey said the long kick was into the part of the stadium where the wind was pushing the ball, and the kick drew back left on him. But he said he struck it well, and it felt good off his foot.
Bailey also credited the work of long snappers Charley Hughlett and L.P. Ladouceur and holder Chris Jones. Hughlett, a rookie, was the snapper for the field goals, and he and the veteran Ladouceur each had one of the PAT snaps.
“The operation’s been great,” Bailey said. “Everybody worked really hard in the offseason. I think it’s just really been a smooth process. Everybody’s locked in and focused. It’s been a pretty easy transition coming back into this year.”
Now it’s time to go back to turf. The next two games are at Cowboys Stadium, then the Cowboys go to MetLife Stadium (Giants) and CenturyLink Field (Seahawks) before coming home for two more home games.
“I don’t think about it too much,” Bailey said. “Especially Cowboys Stadium. That’s like a kicker’s paradise there. We’ve been fortunate enough. We’ve had pretty good grass in Oxnard, and the grass was good here tonight.”
An MRI on Dez Bryant‘s injured knee revealed patellar tendinitis, according to a source, which should only require rest before the star receiver can return to practice.
Bryant hurt his knee Monday practicing against the Chargers when he slipped coming out of a break. The MRI revealed no major structural damage and provides a much less severe diagnosis than originally feared when Bryant limped off the field. It’s unknown at this time how long Bryant will be out.
Patellar tendinitis is also known as "jumper’s knee," and occurs most frequently in athletes who jump routinely, as Bryant did when he soared into the air to snag a ball in the back of the end zone Saturday.
The Cowboys are short in receiving threats, with Miles Austin and Jason Witten both sidelined. A spleen injury to Witten and a lingering hamstring issue for Austin raised the dependence on Bryant in the passing game. Bryant was one of the few starters not dealing with an injury in training camp, besides missing the end of a practice in Oxnard, Calif., with a sore hamstring.
The receivers finished Saturday’s preseason game healthy against the Chargers, but they couldn’t stay on the field in Monday’s practice against San Diego, as Bryant, Andre Holmes and Donavon Kemp joined the injury list.
Kemp also suffered a knee injury and Holmes left with a sore back. Wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said he knew Holmes’ tight back flared up on him, but he didn’t see what happened to Bryant, who slipped coming out of a break and limped off the field.
“Hopefully it’s not anything too serious,” Robinson said.
Bryant’s been on point with Tony Romo throughout the preseason, making athletic catches routinely, including a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone against the Chargers that was called back for a penalty and ruled out of bounds. Bryant didn’t play much against the Chargers, catching two passes for 15 yards on three targets.
Kevin Ogletree took a majority of the first-team snaps in practice after Bryant’s departure. He said Bryant “became a man” this offseason and preseason with his consistent play.
Ogletree also didn’t see the play that forced Bryant to the sidelines.
“We all know his talents and how hard he works and his determination and drive and competitiveness,” Ogletree said. “You can give a bunch of words to describe his role on the team and how important he is to us. He’s a leader, one of our best players and I’m praying for him. I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s a strong kid.”
The injury to Austin already bumped Ogletree to the starter opposite Bryant. His practice reps increased more when Bryant left Monday.
He said the practices at the end of training camp are essential with the Sept. 5 opener against the Giants looming in a couple weeks.
“It was a great opportunity for myself and some of the other young guys to get some extra practice reps with some unfamiliar corners and secondary’s and defenses,” Ogletree said. “It’s something I think we took advantage of as a group today.”
For the record, Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale (an undrafted free agent from North Texas) pronounces his name this way: juh-MAZE oh-lah-WALL-ee. It probably is a name that Cowboys’ fans should begin learning to recognize, and pronounce, as the 2012 season unfolds.
Olwawale (6-foot-1, 238 pounds) arrived in camp targeted to be a possible backup to starting fullback Lawrence Vickers. But the broken hand of Phillip Tanner, the projected No. 3 running back heading into camp, an opportunity for extra carries and Olawale has led the team in rushing in both pre-season games. He scored the team’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to San Diego on a powerful, 2-yard run between the tackles.
A receiver in college, he also caught four passes for 30 yards against the Chargers and has the size and skills to be an effective blocker.
Olawale’s emergence contributed to Friday’s release of former TCU running back Ed Wesley, who had struggled in camp, before Wesley ever touched the ball in a pre-season game. Olawale’s versatility will make it hard for coaches to drop him from the team’s 53-man roster if he continues to perform the way he has in Dallas’ first two pre-season games and in training camp practices.
“He really has (stepped up) throughout training camp,” said coach Jason Garrett. “He came in more as a fullback candidate, but has also shown that he can be a big back. He’s played a lot as a halfback. He’s played in third-down situations. He’s really done some positive things running the football for us.”
“They’re giving me a fair shot,” said Olawale, who declared it “nice to get my first NFL touchdown” against the Chargers. “I feel like I was able to slow things down a little bit (in his mind). Everything’s still moving fast … I’m here to play where they want me to play. I try to be a team player and help them win however I can. Obviously, we didn’t do that (against San Diego). I fee like I failed in that aspect.”
Of course, the bottom line for pre-season games is about player evaluations more than wins and losses. And Olawale’s stock is rising with Cowboys’ coaches. Fans might want to learn to pronounce his name. Just in case.
RELATED: Is there a role for Jamize Olawale?
Raise your hand if you had Jamize Olawale scoring the Dallas Cowboys’ first touchdown of the preseason.
Olawale probably wouldn’t raise his hand either. His last touchdown came at El Camino Junior College. His last rushing touchdown came in high school.
With 8:32 left in the second quarter, Olawale, a wide receiver at North Texas turned fullback with the Cowboys and moved to tailback because of injuries in training camp, bulled his way into the end zone from 2 yards with some serious help from the offensive line.
For a team that scored just five rushing touchdowns in 2011, it was a good thing.
At 6-foot-1, 238 pounds, Olawale is the Cowboys’ biggest runner, but there’s still a long way to go before he makes it on the final roster.
“I think they’re trying to evaluate me and see where I fit,” Olawale said. “Any place I can fit on the team, I’m going to try to give 100 percent every play. However I can help the team, I’m down to help.
He did make one mistake after he scored.
“My brother told me to keep the ball and I forgot,” Olawale said. “In the moment I don’t know what I did with the ball.”
Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas
Editors comment: TBAB is showing a little love for actor Ron Palillo, who played class clown Arnold Horshack on the 1970s television comedy "Welcome Back, Kotter". Palillo died of a heart attack in the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on Tuesday. Source: CNN
When he was thinking about quitting football and coming home for good, Cole Beasley knew whom he wanted to call.
"He called me. I don’t think he wanted to talk to his dad," Danette Beasley said with a smile and a shake of her head. "He wanted me to talk to him first."
Cole’s instinct was right.
His dad, a former high school football coach, wasn’t exactly warm to the idea of his son, signed by the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted out of SMU, suddenly wanting to drop it all.
"I was kind of [upset]," Mike Beasley said.
But he put that aside. He and his wife drove to Dallas to meet their youngest child. They had an idea of what was going on. They knew they could talk it out, and after a day, Cole was on another flight back to California to rejoin the Cowboys.
Which now looks like the best decision for everyone.
Beasley had his best two practices of training camp when he got back. One afternoon, he caught three passes in a two-minute drill, including a touchdown. He drew a flag in the end zone to set up his short scoring catch.
The momentum from practice didn’t carry over to the preseason opener in Oakland. He got only one pass his way, and it was too long for him. But the Cowboys continue to show signs that they like what they see in the 5-foot-8, 177-pound rookie. They used him in the slot with the first offense this week, and he’s still the first punt returner.
Now, just two weeks after he was ready to leave it all behind, Beasley appears to have an inside track in the nine-man competition for one of the two or three roster spots behind veterans Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree.
"I think he’s doing pretty danged good," his father said Wednesday at training camp. "They’re finding out he can do some things some of the bigger guys can’t do. He can be a good safety valve, a drop-off, and be valuable there. He can get some yards after catch."
The Beasley’s have been in California with their son since last weekend. They went to the game against Oakland and will go to the San Diego game on Saturday before heading back to Texas on Sunday.
Then they’ll be much closer to Cole, who two weeks ago seemed simply overwhelmed by the idea of professional football and the high profile that comes with it.
"I think he got a little taste of the media, the attention, what it’s like," Beasley’s father said. "He just wasn’t sure."
In July, Beasley, asked by Dallas radio station KRLD/105.3 FM if he gets tired of comparisons to Wes Welker, said, "I get tired of it a little bit because I feel like I have a little bit more speed than Wes Welker does. He’s got a little bigger frame than me, but I feel like I’ve got a little more versatility to my game than he does."
Coming in the dead time between minicamps and training camp, the comments got attention not only in Dallas but also nationally. Writers and fans sniped at Beasley on Twitter and in blog posts for not being flattered by comparisons to the Patriots receiver.
Beasley had already spent the spring answering questions about playing like Welker. He had performed well in the rookie minicamp and organized team activities at Valley Ranch. He was being scrutinized. And now camp was in full swing.
So two weeks ago today, following the first off day of camp, Beasley went to head coach Jason Garrett and said he didn’t want to play anymore. Garrett said Beasley told him his heart wasn’t in it. The Cowboys agreed to let Beasley go home and think about it for a couple of days.
He got to his brother’s home in Dallas at 5 a.m. the next morning, Saturday, Aug. 4. His parents had been there since 1 a.m.
"It was too late to talk that night. He went straight to sleep," his mother said.
When he woke up, Cole, his parents and his brother Shayne spent the day talking.
"It was all getting to be a little much for him," Mike Beasley said. "He’s always been a little nervous when it’s something new. He used to throw up in high school before games. He even did it at SMU."
By the afternoon, Cole was thinking about football again. He knew he was an underdog in Cowboys camp, but he had always been an underdog. Something was re-lit in him that made him want to be competitive again.
"By that evening, you could see him back to himself," Danette Beasley said. "He said he was going to go back. He had already decided to go back."
Beasley got on a 6 a.m. flight out of DFW — he was up to leave for the airport at 4:30, less than 24 hours after he had reached his brother’s place — and made it back to Oxnard in time for that Sunday’s morning walk-through.
The Cowboys welcomed him back.
"Sometimes when you’re a rookie in the NFL — when you’re a rookie free agent in the NFL — the world seems really big to you, and these days seem monumental and hard and challenging, and maybe they take a little of the spirit out of you," Garrett said that day. "And what he needed was to step back for a little bit, take a breath, regain some perspective…. When I spoke with him, it was like the guy that we signed back after the draft, and so we’re excited to have him back."
On the field, the Beasley’s now see the Cole they have always known.
"Undersized, overachiever-type," Mike Beasley said. "We’ve always heard that."
And the Cowboys? No one knows yet. But at least Cole has given himself another chance.
Editors comment: The Dallas Cowboys have had several undersized, overachiever-types throughout their storied history. One name immediately comes to mind … Bill Bates. If Cole Beasley can harness his unique talent with Bill Bates Texas-sized heart and determination, he’ll have a tremendous career as a Dallas Cowboy.
That was me the other night, sitting on the couch in an otherwise empty house, yelling choice words at Jason Garrett, who was 1,400 miles away, working the sideline of a fake football game, also billed by the NFL as "the preseason."
Yelling at people on your TV screen probably indicates a mental health issue, but we’ll leave that one for the shrinks to ponder.
Actually, I had just departed the Dallas Cowboys training camp in California a couple of days earlier, having spent eight days out there sending back mostly favorable opinions on the head coaching work of Mr. Garrett.
And then there I sat in Grand Prairie, with Garrett in Oakland, and I’m dog-cussing the man.
Why in the bleep was Tony Romo still playing in that worthless, meaningless exhibition game?
From last Monday, however, let’s fast forward to Saturday night, when the Cowboys play fake football game No. 2, this one against the Chargers in San Diego.
Garrett’s decision on playing time for top players — the absolutely essential players — will be under much heavier review because of what turned out to be a very bad week for the Cowboys.
Two days after the Raiders game it was announced that tight end Jason Witten would not be participating in any form of football for at least two weeks, and his loss to the team might stretch into the regular-season opener.
(By the way, that regular-season opener in the Meadowlands, against the world champs, is, gulp, 20 days away.)
Proven to be a tough, tough football customer over the years, Witten took a hit against the Raiders that resulted in a lacerated spleen, an injury that nobody spits on or rubs dirt on and then suits up anyway.
But once the Witten injury was revealed, it has been noticed locally that many are currently sitting on the couch and delivering a load of second-guesses at Garrett.
These howls ask, what the bleep was Witten still doing in that game? Even Jerry Jones was asked this week in Oxnard if he wanted to second-guess his head coach on Witten. Jones, who has been very talkative all camp, swiftly declined.
To each his own here, but allow me, the initial sofa screamer at Garrett, to defend the head coach here.
To rehash an old Parcells-ism, "football players play football in football season."
This is football season in the NFL, or at least a form of it.
But there is one position that has to be protected in these August games. Protected at all costs. Obviously, that position is quarterback. Even Bill Parcells agreed.
Otherwise, football players play football in football season.
Bad luck can happen, and it did. A key cog like Witten caught some real bad luck.
But his injury, on a blind-side hit after catching a desperation pass from Romo, also brings me back to the Oakland game dog-cussing of Garrett in the first place.
With a makeshift offensive line because of camp injuries, Romo played the first series, and then he came back for the second series. The ball was not moving. In that second series, there were also two massive breakdowns in the offensive line.
On the first one, Romo was scrambling for his health, and still got off the pass to Witten, and that’s the play that later proved extremely costly. On the next play, Romo was again in a scramble, but was hauled down, and his body twisted sideways. It was a scary moment.
Once surviving that, there was no way Romo would be back out there, right? But wait. Garrett did send his quarterback into the game for a third series, obviously because he thought some positive results for the offense would be a camp boost.
Witten, amazingly, also came back for the third series, caught a pass, and took another hit. Ouch. Nobody, of course, knew about the spleen at the time.
The complaint from here centers on one area and one area only.
On that third series, Garrett foolishly risked the dang quarterback in the exhibition season and did so even after having seen the jailbreak rush on Romo the series before.
For Saturday’s game, allow me to first-guess.
I wouldn’t play Romo even one snap, not with the state of the offensive line remaining in severe flux.
Aim Romo for the third game in Arlington next week, and then even for some snaps in the fourth game, also in Arlington, although the final exhibition game is usually always a no-no for the starting QB.
Red J, of course, will indeed play Romo on Saturday, but didn’t we see enough of the O-line against the Raiders to consider not risking Romo, at least at this point?
Beyond that, however, football players will be playing football in football season. And the rest of us will sit on our butts and watch it, armed and dangerous with the second-guess if there’s a key injury.
Editors Note: I disagree with Randy Galloway on this. I think Jason Garrett likes to end on a positive regarding starters in the preseason. I don’t have a problem with Romo or any other starter being in for the first few drives (including Jason Witten). What is your view?
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he brought in a guest speaker before Wednesday’s practice who was “off the charts” in terms of stressing themes about preparation, adaptability, mental toughness, accountability and trust.
The speaker: Gen. David Rodriguez, who oversees the 800,000 troops in the U.S. Army. Rodriguez, a former defensive end at Army who recently led U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is the brother-in-law from the other side of the family of one of Garrett’s brother-in-laws.
“He’s in a different league than the rest of us. Off the charts,” Garrett said today. “He made a presentation and then guys asked questions. He took over the room and it was remarkably good. It was emotional for some of our players. He got an ovation.”
After Rodriguez’s presentation, he received a signed Dallas Cowboys’ helmet from quarterback Tony Romo and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. He also sat in on some meetings.
Garrett said Rodriguez, at 6-foot-5, related well to football players because of his size.
“You didn’t have to say, ‘Quiet down’ very much,” Garrett said. “It was a great learning experience for everyone.”
In terms of bringing in guest speakers, Garrett said he is very selective.
“You’ve got to pick your spots on it,” Garrett said. “If you do too many of them, they start losing the message. But if you have an ongoing theme with your team and have a guest speaker than can support it, that can be really effective.”
From all indications, Rodriguez nailed the message Garrett asked him to deliver.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice-president Stephen Jones wrapped up today’s final workout in Oxnard, Calif. by saying that the team’s entire 2013-2014 camp will be back in the same location next year (… in other words, The Boys Are Back in town).
He’ll get no argument from Dallas Cowboys veterans who have seen the training camp bounce between multiple locations through the years, including last year’s stop in San Antonio.
Safety Gerald Sensabaugh said he’s in favor of Oxnard because “the weather’s always great” and the team can work with a heightened focus.
“We were able to get some optimum work in,” Sensabaugh said. “We’ve been taking full advantage of it. We got better as a football team.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett agreed.
“The weather … allows you to get more work in,” Garrett said of Oxnard’s daily high temperatures in the 70s, as opposed to triple-digit heat in Texas. “The players are more focused on what we ask them to do instead of the Gatorade and the water jug behind us. We have all practiced in some of those hot Texas days when the focus isn’t on competing. It’s, ‘Where’s the trainer? Where is the water? Give me a cold towel.’ All that stuff. This gets you away from that mindset and lets you go to work.”
Having a full off-season of work, rather than last year’s truncated schedule created by the NFL lockout, also helped the team achieve more in this training camp, said veteran receiver Kevin Ogletree.
“I think there was definitely more work put in. More work that got done because we were able to have that off-season time where a lot of the installations were put in,” Ogletree said. “We were out here reviewing it. Guys were able to go out there and play a little more loosely instead of worrying about making mistakes like in last year’s training camp.”
No one is to blame for the lacerated spleen tight end Jason Witten suffered Monday night in the Dallas Cowboys’ first preseason game.
Not offensive tackle Doug Free. Not quarterback Tony Romo. And certainly not head coach Jason Garrett. So can we please stop searching for a scapegoat? One doesn’t exist.
Jason Witten was injured on the Cowboys’ sixth offensive play in the preseason opener.
Witten is the recipient of some awful luck. No more, no less.
By the way, there wasn’t a single tweet or Facebook post at the time Witten was hurt that blamed Free, Romo or Garrett after the play or all day Tuesday.
If you didn’t blame any of the play’s key participants at the time, there’s no need to cast aspersions now.
The best you can hope is that after being idle for 7-10 days, doctors will see that Witten’s injury is healing properly, and he won’t need any surgery.
The best case scenario says Witten will return in 3-4 weeks.
Just so you know, Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Brandon Carr are the most indispensable players on the roster because no one on the team comes close to duplicating their skill sets.
Witten, as tough as they come, has missed only one game in his NFL career, the result of breaking his jaw as a rookie, so you know the 10-year veteran will do everything humanly possible to be on the field for the opener against the New York Giants on Sept 5.
But Witten isn’t dealing with a broken bone or some other injury that will only test his pain threshold. This is a serious internal injury. The training staff won’t allow Witten to put himself in jeopardy.
In the meantime, maybe owner Jerry Jones can appease the Cowboys’ Nation by petitioning the NFL to forfeit the team’s last three preseason games because it has an injury-ravaged offensive line and fans don’t want to see any more key players hurt.
There’s no sympathy in Cincinnati, which lost four starters in its first preseason game.
Trying to assign blame for a random play is a waste of time.
Seriously, you should have read some of the absurdities on my Twitter timeline Wednesday.
Some folks want to blame Free because he missed the block that resulted in heavy pressure from defensive end Lamarr Houston. The pressure screwed up the play’s timing and that’s how linebacker Rolando McClain positioned himself to deliver a big hit on Witten for a two-yard loss.
This isn’t former fullback Chris Gronkowski making a mental mistake and failing to pick up a blitzing inside linebacker that resulted in Romo’s broken collarbone in 2010.
This was a poorly executed block, but Romo escaped and Houston had nothing to do with Witten getting hurt.
If you want to criticize Free for his overall lackluster play since signing a four-year, $32 million deal before last season, then please do so. One, however, has nothing to do with the other.
Then there’s the faction that wants to blame Romo for throwing the ball to Witten. Romo should’ve thrown the ball away, they proclaim.
Only in Dallas-Fort Worth can a quarterback make a tremendously athletic play to avoid a sack and complete a pass, yet get criticized.
Romo had less than a split second to make a decision to throw Witten the ball. If he knew the completion was going to result in Witten getting hurt, obviously he would’ve made a different decision.
Then again, Nostradamus died in 1566, though you can still pick up a copy of his book, Les Propheties, on Amazon for less than $20. Perhaps, there’s a mention of Monday’s play in the book?
And no, you can’t blame Garrett for Witten’s injury either.
Garrett wanted his starters to play 8-12 plays, and Witten was injured on the sixth play. He left the game immediately, but returned for the offense’s third series because he probably figured he was just in pain — not injured.
We’re talking about a dude who once ran nearly 50 yards without a helmet after making a catch against Philadelphia in 2007.
On the next possession, Witten capably blocked a defensive end on first down, was the intended receiver on a second-down incompletion and caught an eight-yard pass on third down.
The NFL is a tough, physical game in which mangled digits and broken bones are accepted parts of the game. You can’t place the best players in bubble wrap. Or glue styrofoam peanuts to their bodies.
There’s no blame to be assigned. Fans should simply be thankful Witten won’t be lost for the season.
Commentary: Jean-Jacques Taylor
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys will have their final practice in Oxnard today. The team will have a walkthrough Friday before breaking camp and leaving for San Diego.
What to expect: The Cowboys are hoping to get more practice snaps for some players returning from injury, including safety Matt Johnson, who made his practice debut, albeit limited, Wednesday. Defensive end Jason Hatcher (hamstring) will also get more practice snaps after looking good in Wednesday’s practice. David Arkin will continue at center and get more snaps against the first- and second-team defenses. Harland Gunn will get second-team snaps, but don’t be surprised to see Pat McQuistan receive second-team snaps at center.
The weather: Let’s be honest: The hottest it’s been here was about 80 degrees last week. The weather is fantastic, averaging around 75 degrees for the full practices and a little cooler for the morning walkthroughs. No biggie. Oxnard is a perfect place to have practice — grass fields, fans on top of you along the sidelines and sunshine. Coach Jason Garrett is right: You’re not putting players in boiling water; you’re practicing under the sunshine of California.
James Hanna and John Phillips: The Big Two will see plenty of snaps at tight end the next few days with Jason Witten out for the remainder of preseason. Phillips is the starter, and Hanna will be the backup. The interesting deal about these two is Hanna is a better receiver than Phillips, but they each can improve on their blocking.
2012 Practice Schedule for Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
City of Oxnard Fields next to the Marriott Residence Inn, 2101 West Vineyard Ave., Oxnard, CA 93036
Schedule is subject to change (all times Pacific Coast time)
|Monday, July 30th||2:30 p.m. – Practice
5:30 p.m. – DCC performance
|Tuesday, July 31st||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Wednesday, August 1st||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Thursday, August 2nd||No practice|
|Friday, August 3rd||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Saturday, August 4th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Sunday, August 5th||2:30 p.m. – Blue-White Scrimmage|
|Monday, August 6th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Tuesday, August 7th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Wednesday, August 8th||No practice|
|Thursday, August 9th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Friday, August 10th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Saturday, August 11th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Sunday, August 12th||10:30 a.m. – Walk-Thru|
|Monday, August 13th||
No practice – Preseason Game – Dallas @ Oakland
|Tuesday, August 14th||No practice|
|Wednesday, August 15th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Thursday, August 16th||2:30 p.m. – Practice|
|Friday, August 17th||TBA – Morning Walk-Thru
RELATED: Sunday’s Morning Walkthrough Opened To Fans In Oxnard
There’s been a change in schedule before the Cowboys depart for Oakland on Sunday (Aug. 12).
The 10:30 a.m. walkthrough has been opened to the public. It will NOT be a full scale padded practice, but a walkthrough.
The parking lot will open at 8:00 a.m. and the midway at 8:30 a.m.
True Blue Fan Club members will be able to go down to the field level at 9:30 a.m. and general admission will be at 10:00 a.m.
- - - - –
EDITORS NOTE: For the FULL Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Preseason schedule and Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Regular Season schedule, click HERE (or click on the tabs at the top or right side of this blog). Enjoy!
Here’s what stood out from Day 11 of Cowboys’ training camp practices Saturday in Oxnard, Calif.:
- The Cowboys spent a lot of time working on their hurry-up offense Saturday and working more on situational plays. The defense had the upper hand most of the practice.
- Actor Ashton Kutcher was in attendance for the Saturday afternoon practice. He spent some time watching practice with owner Jerry Jones and talked with QB Tony Romo after the practice.
- Recently signed veteran OL Derrick Dockery took first-team left guard repetitions and Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary continued to rotate at first-team right guard.
- With starting C Phil Costa out with a back injury, David Arkin took first-team reps at center with Harland Gunn at second-team center and Pat McQuistan at third team. Over the last three days, McQuistan has seen work at offensive tackle, blocking tight end and now at center.
- During the morning walkthrough, QB Tony Romo and C David Arkin spent some extra time working on shotgun snaps, which have been one of the big issues of camp because of all the injuries at center.
- QB Tony Romo gave some fans high-fives along the fence line as he came out onto the field for the afternoon practice and stopped to sign a few autographs. That’s been rare for him this camp.
- WR Raymond Radway continues to fade. He struggled catching kickoff returns early and also had his problems during team drills. Radway appeared to run the wrong route – going long instead of breaking his route short – during team drills. QB Kyle Orton threw the pass underneath as Radway streaked down the field, allowing safety Danny McCray to make an easy interception. Later, Radway dropped a pass in team drills.
- WR Dez Bryant used a double move in 1-on-1 drills to beat CB Brandon Carr for a touchdown deep. Bryant then beat rookie CB Morris Claiborne for a catch along the left sideline. Bryant, however, missed the last half of the afternoon practice because of tightness in his hamstring.
- In 1-on-1 drills, WR Donovan Kemp dropped a pass on a slant route. WR Cole Beasley also had a drop along the right sideline. CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah intercepted a pass intended for WR David Little. WR Tim Benford had a drop after beating CB Mario Butler in coverage. WR Andre Holmes used three moves to finally get free from Owusu-Ansah and make a catch. CB C.J. Wilson dropped a pass intended for Beasley that he should have intercepted.
- Twice during 1-on-1 drills, speedy CB Teddy Williams ran step-for-step down the sideline with WR Kevin Ogletree and WR Raymond Radway. Tony Romo didn’t even attempt a pass with Williams blanketing Ogletree, and the pass to Radway was incomplete. Both times, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yelled, “Nice coverage, Teddy.”
- In individual receiving drills and during team drills, RB Javarris Williams dropped passes in the flat.
- LT Tyron Smith had a false start during a hurry-up situation inside the red zone. The offensive line scrambled to get to the line of scrimmage in a hurry and before Tony Romo snapped the ball to spike it, Smith moved.
- CB Brandon Carr had a pass breakup in the end zone against WR Kevin Ogletree on a pass from Tony Romo.
- Safety Barry Church continued his strong play by breaking up a pass from Tony Romo intended for TE Jason Witten near the goal line. Church nearly intercepted the pass.
- Safety Gerald Sensabaugh broke up a pass in the end zone from Tony Romo and almost intercepted the ball.
- RB DeMarco Murray dropped a quick pass out to the left flat from Tony Romo.
- CB Orlando Scandrick had good coverage on WR Andrew Holmes on a deep past down the left sideline from Tony Romo. The ball was overthrown and Scandrick almost intercepted the pass, getting one hand on it.
- LB DeMarcus Ware would have sacked Tony Romo during team drills, flying past him before he threw the ball.
- WR Dwayne Harris dropped a pass to the left side from QB Kyle Orton. Safety Danny McCray was there with tight coverage.
- LB Bruce Carter broke up a pass over the middle from Tony Romo, but the ball hit both of his hands and he should have made the interception.
- On back-to-back plays during team drills, the secondary maintained tight coverage and QB Kyle Orton would have been sacked both times.
- CB Brandon Carr knocked down a quick pass out to the right side intended for WR Kevin Ogletree from QB Tony Romo in a hurry-up situation.
- The Cowboys’ first-team offense was finally able to score late in practice in a hurry-up situation, with QB Tony Romo connecting with TE Jason Witten for a short touchdown pass.
- WR Andre Holmes used his 6-4 height to pull down a Hail Mary pass to end team drills with a touchdown catch from QB Kyle Orton. Holmes jumped over a pack of players in the middle of the end zone to pull down the ball.
MOUNTING FRUSTRATION: Jerry Jones holding his breath about O Line even before todays injury to Phil Costa
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was already worried about the interior offensive line and holding its breath about whether it would hold up in front of quarterback Tony Romo.
And that was before center Phil Costa left practice on Friday with a back injury. David Arkin took reps in his place on the first team.
The Cowboys don’t believe the injury is serious but it came at a bad time with just one practice remaining before the preseason opener against the Raiders.
It’s also another setback for the interior offensive line that is already without three players because of injury in guard Bill Nagy (ankle), center Kevin Kowalski (ankle) and guard Nate Livings (hamstring). Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau returned to practice this week for first team after being undergoing hip and knee surgeries in the offseason.
The Cowboys have not decided if he will play against the Raiders as they choosing to remain cautious.
It all Jones admittedly frustrated.
"I think frustration is probably good in this case," Jones said. I must tell you that I am holding my breath a little bit because I need the interior of this line to be a source of confidence for Tony and to feel good about his protection in there. We can talk about the running game. I know that helps protect him in our passing game. But I look at it principally by it beginning with protection for him. That’s got me a little angst right now, but I am liking some of the things I am seeing in there, although Costa raised his head late out here in the afternoon, but I don’t know how serious it is."
Clarence Hill | FWST
RELATED: Injury Report: Phil Costa hurts lower back
The Dallas Cowboys were just starting to get healthy and then center Phil Costa hurt his lower back and missed the last 45 minutes of practice Friday afternoon. David Arkin and Harland Gunn moved up the depth chart to get snaps. Costa’s status is uncertain, but it comes at a bad time with the Cowboys having just one more practice before the preseason opener at Oakland on Monday night.
- Nose tackle Jay Ratliff got some more snaps in practice Friday after getting — well sneaking — in one snap Thursday afternoon. Ratliff (foot) looked pretty good moving around on the field. After he came out, Ratliff had a chat with the trainers to talk about how he’s feeling. Ratliff is used to playing with power and quickness and he displayed that Friday.
- Tight end John Phillips didn’t practice in pads but did pat-and-go without a helmet in the walkthrough.
- Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hip and knee) worked with the first and second teams and showed some power and good lateral movement during the practice.
Editors Note: An in-depth post will be available in the morning about this issue, with related video and articles.