2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Miami Dolphins sign David Arkin from Dallas practice squad | Injured defensive tackle Marvin Austin released
IRVING, Texas – The Miami Dolphins signed guard David Arkin from the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.
The 2011 fourth-round pick from Missouri State was released by the team on Oct. 26 to make room for safety Jakar Hamilton on the 53-man roster. Arkin then returned to the Cowboys’ practice squad two days later.
Arkin was inactive for six of his seven games this year on the 53-man roster and never played in a regular season game for the Cowboys. He appeared to be taking strides this preseason from where he was at in past years.
Given the recent goings-on in Miami and the suspension of offensive lineman Richie Incognito, the Dolphins are looking for all the depth they can get.
The Dallas Cowboys also parted ways today with defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who was waived/injured.
Austin signed with the Cowboys on Oct. 21 and played that weekend against the Lions, finishing with a tackle. He was unable to push through a back injury Sunday against the Vikings that bothered him in practice late in the week.
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas guard David Arkin returns to the practice squad
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.
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas releases David Arkin and adds safety Jakar Hamilton today
IRVING, Texas – A fourth-round pick in 2011, David Arkin never played an offensive snap for the Dallas Cowboys.
Now it seems as if they never will. The Cowboys officially waived Arkin on Saturday to make room for rookie safety Jakar Hamilton, who was signed off the practice squad. Hamilton will travel to Detroit and likely make his NFL debut with starter J.J. Wilcox (knee) ruled out for Sunday’s game with the Lions. Jeff Heath is expected to make his first career start while Hamilton and veteran Danny McCray will serve as the backups.
The Cowboys are high on Hamilton, who even had a fifth-round grade on their draft board. When he went undrafted, they immediately signed him as a priority rookie free agent. He has spent the first seven weeks of the season on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.
If it works out of the Cowboys, Arkin could likely take Hamilton’s place there. Arkin has practice-squad eligibility and could get re-signed if he’s not claimed off waivers.
The Cowboys have been patient with the development of Arkin, who played various positions in college at Missouri State. Arkin came to Dallas and has played both guard and center.
During training camp last year, he started three preseason games at center. He started two games at guard this year.
But when it came to playing in the game, the Cowboys have not put him out there on offense. Through the first seven games this year, he was inactive in all but one week.
Without Arkin, the Cowboys are down to just nine offensive linemen. They’ve usually been keeping only seven active for the games with Mackenzy Bernadeau serving as the backup at guard and center and Jermey Parnell as the backup tackle. Last week, Phil Costa was active in Philly but has typically spent game days on the sidelines with Arkin and reserve tackle Darrion Weems.
2013 PRESEASON INJURY UPDATE: Ronald Leary to undergo arthroscopic surgery on right knee tomorrow
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys’ problems at the guard position have taken another hit.
Second-year pro Ron Leary is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday, a procedure that will put his chances of playing the Sept. 8 opener against the Giants at AT&T Stadium in jeopardy.
Leary sat out of Wednesday’s walk-through practice in Oxnard, which put David Arkin running with the first-team again at left guard.
Leary had been working with the starters since he returned from a hamstring injury two weeks ago. Leary took every snap of the Aug. 5 game with the Dolphins in Canton, and also played into the second half against Oakland last week.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the injury is to his right knee and not the left knee that scared off many teams from drafting Leary in 2012.
This injury further raises the question about the Cowboys’ interest in veteran Brian Waters. The club has reached out to the 36-year old veteran who hasn’t played since 2011. Waters, a five-time Pro Bowler apparently has interest in playing again, but doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to join a training camp.
The Cowboys tried to sign veteran Brandon Moore last week but the former New York Jet standout decided not to reunite with coach Bill Callahan and chose to stay retired.
Don’t forget about veteran Nate Livings, who also had a knee scope two weeks ago and has a shot to be ready by the start of the season.
For Saturday’s game in Arizona, the Cowboys are expected to start Arkin at left guard and Mackenzy Bernadeau on the right side.
TRADING PLACES: Dallas Cowboys activate C Kevin Kowalski and place S Matt Johnson on IR
The Dallas Cowboys have activated center Kevin Kowalski. To make room for him on the roster, they moved safety Matt Johnson to injured reserve.
Kowalski underwent surgery for severe tendinitis in his ankle and was placed on the physically unable to perform list to open the season. He returned to practice only last week.
The move is a strong indication that the club does not believe starting center Ryan Cook, who has a hyperextended knee, will be able to play in Sunday’s game against Cleveland. Mackenzy Bernadeau will slide over to start at center while veteran Derrick Dockery will assume Bernadeau’s job at right guard.
Kowalski will likely be active for the game as a backup center, since it’s clear the club has no faith in reserve guard/center David Arkin.
Johnson had been carried on the active roster the entire season even though a series of hamstring injuries meant he never played in a regular season game and rarely practiced. This move means he can now focus on getting ready for the 2013 season.
INJURY PUPDATE: Dallas Cowboys ready to call up Kevin Kowalski
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will activate guard/center Kevin Kowalski off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday and will have a three-week window in which to call him up to the active roster or hold him out for the season.
Kowalski has not practiced this year because of a serious case of tendinitis, which required training camp surgery. He has been running for the last month. If he is able to return, then the Cowboys would have to create a spot on the 53-man roster.
Kowalski played in 11 games last year as a rookie at guard and center and the Cowboys hoped he would be able to compete for the starting center spot over the summer.
“Fortunately being on PUP I’ve been able to sit in the meetings all year long, so I’ve stayed engaged in that aspect of knowing what’s going on and understanding both positions,” Kowalski said.
Phil Costa is expected to miss at least three more weeks if not more with a severe ankle injury. With Ryan Cook as the starting center the Cowboys have dressed David Arkin as the backup but he has yet to play a snap.
“I just need to go out there and try to improve and get back into it,” Kowalski said.
GAMEDAY ROSTER: Deciding which 46 players the Dallas Cowboys will use vs. Carolina Panthers
IRVING, Texas – Maybe there will come a time this season in which Jason Garrett will be able to roll out the same 46-man roster in back to back weeks.
But it won’t happen this week as we ponder the 46-man roster for Sunday’s game at Carolina.
Chris Jones was on the practice field Friday but did not punt during the portion of practice open to the media. Brian Moorman punted Thursday and was extremely effective in his practice work. So let’s say Moorman fills in this week for Jones.
You can rule out DeMarco Murray (foot) and Sean Lissemore (ankle) and all but rule out Ryan Cook (hamstring), as inactive players.
Where do the final two come from?
Well, if Matt Johnson suffered an injury in Friday’s practice that forced him to leave the session early, he would be another.
The other candidates to dress would be Kyle Wilber, Orie Lemon, Derrick Dockery, Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley.
With Cook out, I can’t imagine Dockery is inactive as the Cowboys are going to great lengths to make sure David Arkin is needed only in an emergency. Mark it down that the Cowboys keep eight offensive linemen active vs. the Panthers.
The Beasley-Holmes debate comes down to special teams and since Beasley doesn’t cover kicks, Holmes gets the nod. Holmes, however, does not add much to the offense and Beasley seems to be giving guys fits in practice. But the Cowboys will go with five wides again and it looks like Beasley is down.
Lemon was inactive last week at Baltimore, but could he get the call over Wilber with Anthony Spencer set to return? The Cowboys would not need a fifth outside linebacker active and Lemon might be the better special teams player.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Late trade for depth already pays dividends, Ryan Cook steps up
IRVING, Texas – For all the talk about the Dallas Cowboys’ starting offensive line not having time to work together in practice enough heading into Wednesday’s opener at New York, at least they had a week.
But after starting center Phil Costa went down with back tightness, the new front five really did have zero experience together, with new addition Ryan Cook taking over the duties, really only five days after being acquired in a trade from Miami.
However, Cook finished the game and held his own against the Giants’ dominant pass rush. Tony Romo was sacked only once after Costa went down, and DeMarco Murray was given the room to run for 131 yards.
Some coaching staffs would have been hesitant to activate a player who was barely familiar with the offense in the middle of a crucial Week 1 game. In the locker room after the 24-17 win, the 29-year-old Cook explained that in his few practices, the Cowboys staff watched closely to determine if he would be ready to have his name called if needed.
“I think they gauged it in practice the first couple days of me being in the facility,” Cook said. “I guess they were comfortable with me and my progress thus far.”
Cook’s ability to jump in at center is all the more impressive when he revealed how few snaps he had taken with Tony Romo prior to the game.
“The first day I was here I took two or three in the walkthrough,” Cook said. “But that’s about it.”
As Costa’s cramping on Wednesday was simply an aggravation of the injury that knocked him out of the first three preseason games, the Cowboys need reliable depth at center.
While the bottom line shows Cook he was able to get the job done, he was surprisingly not very pleased with his own performance. When asked to rate his time on the field, he was not exactly quick to pat himself on the back, calling it instead “average at best,” and indeed the game was not flawless, but Cook and the Cowboys overcame the situation
“The adversity issue comes up when your starting center goes down after play three and you bring a guy in who just got here,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought our team handled that well. First of all, that’s the reason he is here. He is a veteran player, he is a smart guy, he has handled the ball a lot in his career, so we thought that was an important thing for us and he went in and played like a veteran. I think the guys around him played well and communicated well. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought they handled it as well as they could.”
Cook, too, chose to defer some of the credit to his fellow offensive linemen, who along with Tony Romo took over a significant part of making the pre-snap calls.
“Communication is a huge factor,” Cook said. “The other guys did a great job of helping me out with certain situations and we made sure that everyone was on the same page.”
A seemingly small move like the trade of a seventh-round pick for Cook shows ample foresight in the Cowboys’ front office.
Though an under-the-radar trade, the move already has provided depth, was exactly what the Cowboys needed to help them start off the season 1-0.
RELATED: Phil Costa hurt, Arkin inactive, newcomer Ryan Cook holds his own
The Dallas Cowboys chose to make offensive center/guard David Arkin, who started three preseason games, inactive. That left newcomer Ryan Cook to play most of the game after starting center Phil Costa re-injured his back.
Costa strained his lower back Aug. 10. He returned to practice Aug. 27 and played 12 snaps of the preseason finale against the Dolphins. But he lasted only three plays Wednesday.
Cook, acquired in a trade from the Dolphins on Saturday, played the rest of the game at center. He had been beaten out for the backup center job by undrafted rookie Josh Samuda in Miami and was destined for the waiver wire before the Cowboys relinquished a seventh-rounder for him.
"I thought our team handled that well," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "First of all, that’s the reason he is here. He is a veteran player. He is a smart guy. He has handled the ball a lot in his career, so we thought that was an important thing for us, and he went in and played like a veteran. I think the guys around him played well and communicated well. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought they handled it as well as they could."
RELATED: Phil Costa hurts his back again; Jerry Jones says it’s cramps
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dallas Cowboys starting center Phil Costa lasted only three plays Wednesday night against the Giants, leaving the game after the first offensive series after he aggravated a back injury.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Costa is “fine” and he only had back cramps.
“I would assume it’s the same thing he had and we’re going to have to continue to work through it so he doesn’t continue to get that back cramping up,” Jones said.
Costa injured his back during training camp and missed the Cowboys’ first three preseason games before starting and getting in for 12 plays in the preseason finale against Miami.
Costa was replaced at center by Ryan Cook, who joined the Cowboys on Friday via a trade from Miami for a seventh-round draft pick in 2013. Cook had only three practices with the Cowboys last week.
INTERIOR DEPTH INSURANCE: Why the Dallas Cowboys traded for Miami offensive lineman Ryan Cook
On the day of final cuts in the NFL, the Cowboys continued to address a problem area from last season by bolstering the interior of their offensive line.
The Cowboys acquired veteran offensive lineman Ryan Cook from the Miami Dolphins for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick. Cook (6-6, 325) will be a backup center and guard for the Cowboys.
Cook, 29, has started 40 of the 77 games. A second-round pick out of New Mexico in 2006, has started games at center, right guard and right tackle.
The Cowboys were able to get an up-close look at Cook on Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium when he started at center against Dallas in the preseason finale.
“We knew that there was a possibility here, so we really evaluated him in the ballgame,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday on “The Fan” KRLD-FM (105.3). “This really was done for our depth, plus he’s very capable because he’s started several games in the NFL. He’s very capable of getting out there and competing. Hopefully you’ll see a lot of him this year.”
The Cowboys still plan to start Phil Costa at center. Costa started Wednesday and was in for 12 offensive plays. He had been out since Aug. 10 with a back injury but is expected to play in the season opener Wednesday at the Giants.
The Cowboys signed free-agent guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau this off-season with the expectation that they would start. Both battled injuries but are healthy now.
Ankle injuries to reserve interior offensive linemen Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski hurt the Cowboys’ depth. Nagy was waived in mid-August, and Kowalski has been placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, keeping him out of the team’s first six games.
The Cowboys started working guard David Arkin at center in training camp, but he struggled with his shotgun snaps throughout the preseason. Arkin, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Missouri State, didn’t appear in any games last season.
“We all know that we’ve been struggling to some degree with Kowalski out the entire spring as well as during training camp,” Jones said. “We have counted on him for depth and don’t want to totally dismiss him, but he’s down the road with where we are and what we’ve seen.”
Brandon George | DMN
TRENCH TRIPLE-PLAY: If trade for Cook turns out like Holland deal, job well done | UPDATED with scouting report
Ryaaan Cooook … he keeps on blockin’ …. He keeps on blockin’ … shake it Ryan. Shake, shake it Ryan.
Well, that remains to be seen, actually, but if the newly acquired swing lineman Ryan Cook can be as steady a role player as Montrae Holland was for the Cowboys, then Friday’s trade will have to be considered a win, just like the 2008 deal that sent Holland over from Denver must now be seen, in full retrospect.
Cook won’t be asked to start, at least for the time being, but once he learns the offense, will hold a valuable role as the backup for three positions, the two guard spots and center. A beefy veteran with six years in the league and 40 starts under his belt at only 29 years old, Cook gives the Cowboys more strength, athleticism and experience than a David Arkin. The Pro Bowl probably isn’t in his future, but valuable contributions to the Cowboys’ line should be.
A utility offensive lineman may not seem like an important role, but it is, because players get hurt in the trenches. The playing time Holland received over his Cowboys tenure, and Cory Procter before him, is evidence of that. So a seventh-round pick is not a high price to pay, at all, if the Cowboys believe they can trust Cook, just like a fifth-rounder wasn’t too much to give for Holland, especially considering how dreadful the Cowboys have been in the fifth lately.
There was definitely a comfort zone with Holland, acquired just before the ’08 season. He didn’t immediately pick up the offense and replace Procter (the injury fill-in for Kyle Kosier), making the deal initially look like a bad one, but his consistency changed opinions over time.
Four seasons, 31 appearances and 14 solid starts later, Holland should be seen as a good backup for these recent Cowboys teams. After falling out of shape when he was hurt last summer, Holland worked his wide butt off to cut weight, and when the Cowboys needed him by Week 7, he was ready to help DeMarco Murray break the team rushing record, and went on to play well down the stretch. He’s kept himself in great shape this offseason, and the Cowboys had interest in bringing him back, but he held out for more money and incentives.
Like Cook, Holland was 29 when acquired by the Cowboys, with a lot of starts under his belt, though Cook has the extra dimension of center experience, while Holland was a guard only. Holland had two years left on his contract, while Cook has only one. But, if the Cowboys like what he brings this year, they’ll certainly have first dibs to re-sign him in March, just like they re-upped Holland in 2010.
Should they decide to do so, and Cook at least holds his own when his number is called, then Friday’s trade will eventually be considered a slam dunk.
RELATED: Scouting Report on OL Ryan Cook
Here is my scouting report on Ryan Cook, who was acquired via trade from the Dolphins late Thursday night.
- Was drafted in the league as a tackle by the Vikings, has since moved inside to see time at both center and guard. Observed him as a center in the Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina games. Played right guard against the Falcons.
- Made the line calls as a center, aware of responsibilities when uncovered. Showed the ability to help across the pocket. Plays with some upper body strength, can hold his man along the line in pass protection.
- Little overextended and wide base at times but you didn’t see him get jerked out of his stance. Was able to get outside on the screen packages.
- Decent initial quickness out of his stance as a guard. Can make the reach or cut off block when asked. Several times where he did a nice job of getting his head across his man staying on his feet and working for a finish.
- Was impressed with his effort to finish blocks. Didn’t see him flopping around on the ground when doing his job. Played in position and showed some balance for the most part, only got a little out of whack on an inside twist stunt against Dallas but was fine on the same move against Tampa.
- Veteran player that gives you some position flexibility at three spots. Plays with a little power inside.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst-Scout
PRESEASON GAME RECAP: Dallas Cowboys 30, Miami Dolphins 13
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up the preseason with a 30-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. Unlike last season when wide receiver Raymond Radway was injured in the closing seconds of the preseason at Miami, there were no such major health issues coming from this game. This was the last chance for several players to make an impact on the coaches and scouts and join the 53-man roster.
What it means: The Dallas Cowboys finish the preseason 3-1 and have to make some hard decisions regarding the No. 3 quarterback spot, whether or not to keep a fourth running back or which running back to keep, whether Orie Lemon and Mario Butler make the team and should Danny Coale and Matt Johnson earn paychecks in September.
McGee vs. Carpenter: There is this battle for the No. 3 quarterback position. Stephen McGee played the first half and led one touchdown drive and converted 13 first downs. He completed 9-of-18 passes for 124 yards. The Cowboys led 20-6 at the break. Rudy Carpenter also led the Cowboys on a touchdown drive — capped by a a 58-yard run by Lance Dunbar — and finished 4-of-10 for 48 yards. Carpenter also had a 21 yard scramble. But it would appear neither quarterback did enough to secure a shot on the roster.
Only one starter plays: Between both units, only center Phil Costa played. Costa missed the first three preseason games with a strained lower back and the Cowboys wanted to give him some snaps before putting him in a regular season game. Costa didn’t have any bad snaps and it’s unknown if he had any blown assignments. David Arkin replaced Costa.
The running game is strong: There are no questions regarding the status of DeMarco Murray as the starter. Felix Jones has been guaranteed a roster spot by owner/general manager Jerry Jones. We thought the No. 3 running back gig was going to Phillip Tanner, but Lance Dunbar came on strong Wednesday night. Dunbar ran with a burst, scoring on a 58-yard run. Let’s not forget about Tanner, who burst up the middle for a 1-yard score. Dunbar rushed 15 times for 105 yards and Tanner rushed for 48 yards on nine carries.
Orie Lemon made his case: If linebacker Orie Lemon was a bubble player, he should make the roster. He returned an interception 26 yards to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead in the second quarter. Lemon was also active on defense and, given what he does on special teams, should make the 53-man roster. Adrian Hamilton was also fighting for a roster spot, but he hasn’t shown his pass rush abilities on a consistent basis with the Cowboys.
Cowboys lose three players: Guard Derrick Dockery left the game for personal reasons and fellow guard Daniel Loper suffered a hamstring injury. Cornerback Lionel Smith departed the game with a concussion. None of the three returned.
Who played well: Tyrone Crawford, Orie Lemon, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Dan Bailey.
Who didn’t: Teddy Williams, David Arkin, Stephen McGee.
Bailey is perfect: Kicker Dan Bailey finished the preseason 8-for-8 on field goal attempts. Bailey made kicks of 25, 30 and 26 yards Wednesday night. The Cowboys didn’t have any concerns about him heading into the preseason but unlike last season when the team had a kicking competition, nothing was going on here. It was all Bailey. The longest kick of the preseason by Bailey was 49 yards.
Ryan Tannehill makes the start: The eighth-pick of the NFL draft, quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the start for the Dolphins. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 41 yards. The former Aggie played with a presence and threw some strong passes, but he still has a ways to go to help the Dolphins.
What’s next?: The Cowboys must cut their roster to 53 players by Friday night and then finalize their practice squad roster with as many as eight players. The team will practice over the weekend at Valley Ranch and prepare for the regular season opener at the New York Giants.
GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE: For 22 men, it’s the last chance to make a good impression
Tony Romo’s mind will be 1,500 miles away tonight. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback and most of the team’s other starters already are thinking ahead to next week when they open the season against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
But for many other players, including third-string quarterback Stephen McGee, this is a last chance to make a good impression. The Cowboys, who have 75 players on their roster, must pare down to a final 53 by Friday night. So jobs are on the line tonight at Cowboys Stadium when they take on the Miami Dolphins:
Stephen McGee has started the final preseason game against the Dolphins each of the past two years, completing 48 of 67 passes for 537 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He needs another good outing against Miami to convince the Cowboys he has potential to be something other than a career third-string quarterback. The Cowboys could choose to keep only two quarterbacks, with Rudy Carpenter going to the practice squad. But McGee gets one last shot to try to change the Cowboys’ minds.
Most of the team’s 22 starters won’t play, but center Phil Costa is expected to be an exception. Costa returned to the practice field Monday and, because he hasn’t played this preseason, should get at least a few snaps against the Dolphins. Costa had been out with a lower back strain since Aug. 10. David Arkin had started in Costa’s place in the first three preseason games, but Costa is in line to start the season opener against the Giants.
The Cowboys like what they have seen from Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley this preseason. They need to see more from Andre Holmes and Danny Coale. Holmes, a favorite of Jerry Jones, did himself no favors when he reported to camp out of shape. A back injury and inconsistency might have done in his bid to make the 53-player roster, as he has six catches for 58 yards this preseason. Coale was drafted in the fifth round with high hopes for his special teams work as much as for his receiving ability. But injuries have prevented him from doing much until now. He made his preseason debut last week and had one catch for 8 yards and one run for 9 yards, but he did not play special teams. Coale, who played 82 snaps on special teams last year at Virginia Tech, is expected to play on kickoff coverage and kickoff return units and possibly on punt returns against Miami.
Third running back
Phillip Tanner earned a roster spot in 2011, as the fourth running back, off his preseason work. He had 24 carries for a team-leading 128 yards in the 2011 preseason. But injuries have slowed Tanner since. A hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve midway through last season, and a broken right hand Aug. 3 has not helped his bid to keep his job this season. He had two carries for 2 yards in his preseason debut last week. He is battling a pair of former North Texas players, Jamize Olawale and Lance Dunbar.
The Cowboys haven’t ruled Jay Ratliff out of the season opener yet, but the starting nose tackle has only 11 days in which to come back from a high-ankle sprain if he is to play against the Giants. More than likely, Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent will split the job on opening day. This could be the dress rehearsal for Lissemore, who is expected to play in the substitution packages, and Brent, who is expected to play in the base package
PROJECTION: Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster
IRVING, Texas — Go ahead and put most of these names in ink.
There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs entering Wednesday’s preseason finale, but the vast majority of the decisions will have already been made. The toughest calls come at the last spots for receiver, offensive line, defensive end and how to handle Matt Johnson’s situation (great potential, but can’t count on him this season).
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
If Stephen McGee wants to stick around for a fourth season, he needs to give the front office and coaches good reason to keep him with a strong performance in the preseason finale. At this point, it makes more sense to try to put Rudy Carpenter on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Phillip Tanner
Tanner didn’t help his cause with a blown assignment in pass protection that almost got Orton killed against the Rams, but he’s a solid No. 3 back and core special teams player. North Texas alums Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale are good practice squad candidates.
Lawrence Vickers Shaun Chapas
Chapas, a fixture on first-team special teams units Saturday, is likely to last only one week on the roster. An extra fullback can help mask the lack of depth at tight end in case Jason Witten misses the season opener.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
The Cowboys could opt to go with rookie Andrew Szczerba as temporary insurance instead of Chapas.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree Dwayne Harris Cole Beasley Danny Coale
It comes down to Coale vs. Andre Holmes, the Jerry Jones pet cat who reported to camp in poor shape and has shown no consistency. Holmes has more upside. Coale, who has hardly been on the field due to injuries, is more likely to contribute this season. The Cowboys envisioned Coale as a Sam Hurd-type No. 4 receiver/special teams stud (without the felonious side business, of course) when they invested a fifth-round pick in him.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Nate Livings Mackenzy Bernadeau Phil Costa
David Arkin Jermey Parnell Ronald Leary Pat McQuistan
Is being a third guard good enough reason to keep Derrick Dockery? He probably wouldn’t be active on game days due to his lack of position versatility. McQuistan has experience at tackle, guard, blocking tight end and has even worked some at center. Addressing the lack of depth at center would be a wise move after Week 1.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff Jason Hatcher Kenyon Coleman Sean Lissemore Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford Josh Brent
Clifton Geathers (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) looks the part, but he hasn’t done enough to push Coleman or Spears off the roster. The Cowboys can save a little money by cutting (or perhaps trading) one of the veterans, but keeping both gives them quality depth in the defensive end rotation.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor Orie Lemon
Lemon is a guy you notice a lot in practices and preseason games. He has developmental potential and can contribute now on special teams.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright
Can the Cowboys get pass rusher Adrian Hamilton through waivers onto the practice squad? It appears that they will try. He’s not getting reps with the first-team special teams units, a strong sign that they don’t see him as a fit for the 53-man roster this season.
Brandon Carr Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick Mike Jenkins Mario Butler
Jerry Jones has said there is a roster spot for Jenkins, meaning the Cowboys don’t plan for him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the season opener.
Gerald Sensabaugh Barry Church Danny McCray Mana Silva
What to do with fourth-round pick Matt Johnson? He has hardly practiced because of a hamstring injury and he strained the other hamstring in his preseason debut Saturday night. The Cowboys could try to get him through waivers to the practice squad or put him on injured reserve, essentially making this a redshirt season. With such limited practice time, putting him on the 53 would be a waste of a roster spot.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones L.P. Ladouceur
No drama here after rookie deep snapper Charley Hughlett’s release Monday. The Cowboys were willing to pay more for the proven commodity.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys–Preseason game 3
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys are finally home after nearly a month on the road for training camp and two preseason games which saw them go 1-1. Dallas takes on the St. Louis Rams (1-1) tonight at Cowboys Stadium.
Here’s a preview.
Get there early: The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are playing in Arlington on the same day for the first time this season. Parking lots for the Cowboys game open at 2 p.m. East Plaza is open at 3 p.m. and stadium gates open at 5 p.m. The Rangers start at 3:05 p.m. Cowboys officials are asking fans to leave early to help prevent possible traffic delays.
Connections: St. Louis tackle Jason Smith attended W.T. White high school in Dallas. … Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2007. … Wide receivers coach Ray Sherman was with the Cowboys for a few years.
$100 million corners: The Cowboys and Rams employ the two highest paid corners from this year’s free agency class. The Rams have Cortland Finnegan and the Cowboys have Brandon Carr. Combined, the two players’ total contracts hit a little over $100 million.
Dress rehearsal: The Cowboys will play their starters for nearly the first half. It will be a good test for the interior of the offensive line consisting of center David Arkin and guards Nate Livings (making his preseason debut) and Mackenzy Bernadeau. This trio could change again if starting center Phil Costa returns from a strained lower back. Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris will start at wide receiver with Dez Bryant (knee) and Miles Austin (hamstring) out with injuries. DeMarcus Ware (hamstring) won’t play. Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher are expected to play together for the first time this preseason after recovering from injuries. It’s another good test for rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, who plays in his second preseason game. In his debut last week, the first-round pick had zero pass breakups but made two good tackles.
Who needs to play well: QB Stephen McGee, CB C.J. Wilson, LB Orie Lemon, WR Danny Coale, WR Andre Holmes, S Matt Johnson, DE Clifton Geathers and CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.
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Local TV and radio: The game kicks off at 7 p.m., on KTVT/Ch. 11 (CBS).
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STABILIZING THE TRENCHES: Guard Nate Livings’ return helps Dallas Cowboys to build OL continuity
ARLINGTON — Little by little, the Dallas Cowboys vision of what to expect from their retooled offensive line has come into focus throughout training camp. The operative word is "little," because the projected starters have yet to line up shoulder-to-shoulder in a preseason game.
That is not expected to change Saturday in Cowboys Stadium against the St. Louis Rams (7 p.m., KTVT/Ch. 11), with center Phil Costa projected to miss his third consecutive game with a back ailment. But left guard Nate Livings, who has yet to take a preseason snap, plans to make his debut in a Dallas uniform after returning to practice this week from a hamstring injury.
That will give the Cowboys four projected starters in the trenches, plus reserve center David Arkin, to protect quarterback Tony Romo for the brunt of the team’s most extended dress rehearsal in preparation for a Sept. 5 regular-season opener at the New York Giants.
How is Romo’s comfort level with the guys protecting him?
"It’s comfortable," Romo said. "They’re fighting. They’re getting better and better, and they just keep working hard. We’re going to be all right."
Livings (6-foot-4, 320 pounds), a starter for Cincinnati the past two seasons, joined right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau as the team’s free-agent additions to shore up a suspect area from last season. For the first time, the two will play in tandem Saturday against the Rams.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said continuity among his three interior linemen "might be as important as at any position on your team" and that he is eager to gauge how the pieces are fitting together as the regular season approaches.
"They work together in combination blocks, identifying fronts … all of that stuff that centers and [guards] need to do," Garrett said. "It is really, really important to the success of the play, the success of your run game and your pass protection. The more experience you have spending time with these guys, taking snaps together, the better you’re going to be."
Livings cannot wait to turn it loose after being given a clean bill of health from Cowboys trainers.
"It’s all good, baby," Livings said of his physical condition. "In the game the other day [against San Diego], when we were coming out of the tunnel, I was getting chills myself. But I wasn’t playing. And that’s a feeling I don’t like. I’m here to play football. I’m looking forward to [Saturday]. I’m just getting my feet back under me and getting better one day at a time."
Bernadeau, who missed most of the off-season while recuperating from hip and knee surgeries, believes Livings — a former LSU player who started 41 of his last 46 games with the Bengals — can be a stabilizing force.
"It’s good to have ‘Big Nate’ back," Bernadeau said. "He’s a big force inside, a big influence. We’re excited to have him back and give him as many reps as we can."
Livings, Bernadeau and Arkin joined starting tackles Doug Free and Tyron Smith for the majority of the first-team reps in Thursday’s Silver & Blue Debut at Cowboys Stadium. Garrett said he is eager to get his projected starters together for as much work as possible in the preseason and expressed disappointment that injuries to Costa, Livings and Bernadeau during various stages of training camp prevented that.
But he’ll at least see four of the five — including both newcomers at guard — operate together Saturday.
"You control what you can control in life," Garrett said. "We just had a rash of injuries … Ideally, you want that starting offensive line to be in place year after year. That’s not necessarily the nature of the NFL. We have some new guys. They have been banged up, and we’re going to try our best to get that continuity as well as we can, as fast as we can."
In terms of the Rams’ game, Livings will be under the microscope. The Cowboys’ offensive line struggled to protect Romo or create running lanes in its preseason opener, a 3-0 victory over Oakland, but fared much better in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to the Chargers.
Garrett envisions Livings’ return as another step toward stability in the trenches.
"He’s a pro. You can see that, the way he approaches it," Garrett said. "He needs to play in our offense more, [understand] the communication next to guys, the adjustments he needs to make. He’s got … a quiet intensity that we like."
Although he has yet to take the field in a Cowboys jersey, Livings went through the entire off-season with the team and pointed to training camp as a bonding experience for him and his line mates. He said the group is becoming cohesive despite minimal game snaps together in the preseason, and he is eager to showcase that.
"We’re around each other all day long in meetings and talking," Livings said. "We’re dealing with certain situations on the field [in practice]. That’s our job: to get better every day. To get closer every day. We know what it takes. We’ve just got to get ready to roll."
GAMEDAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers – What to watch for
The Dallas Cowboys face the San Diego Chargers in the second game of the preseason. Here’s a preview:
Who’s not playing: It would take you an hour to figure out who’s not playing for the Cowboys. We give you the highlights: OLB DeMarcus Ware, OLB Anthony Spencer, WR Miles Austin, TE Jason Witten, G Nate Livings, NT Jay Ratliff and C Phil Costa are the projected starters who will miss the game.
The starters play how much, again?: Jason Garrett wanted the first-team offense to go about 8-to-10 plays in the preseason opener at Oakland. Tonight, maybe into the second quarter, with center David Arkin expected to go into the third, maybe fourth quarter. When Arkin comes out, expect Harland Gunn to take over the center snaps. With second-team tackle Jeremy Parnell out, Jeff Adams slide in and take some snaps. Safety Barry Church played with the second team a little bit at Oakland. It could continue again.
Who needs to play well: It’s easy to say everybody, but based off the Raiders game and the last two days of practice, we’ve come up with a few names: WR Raymond Radway, CB Morris Claiborne, DE Marcus Spears, DE Kenyon Coleman, CB Mario Butler and G Ronald Leary.
Mo debuts: First-round pick Morris Claiborne will make his NFL debut at the Chargers. He’s not sure if he’ll start, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Cowboys come out in a three-cornerback setup with Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr alongside Claiborne. The rookie needs the snaps against different competition and he might play the entire first half. He’s battled Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree among others for nearly two weeks of practices, when he’s been healthy, so it will be interesting to see him against someone else.
About the series: If you’re scoring at home, this is the 14th meeting between the teams. Dallas holds the preseason series advantage at 7-6. The Chargers won the last meeting, in 2009, 20-17.
RELATED: Five players to watch vs. San Diego Chargers
Preseason game No. 2 kicks off tonight at Qualcomm Stadium against San Diego Chargers and for some players their time to make an impression is running out.
Here is a look at five guys to watch:
Alex Albright – He was everywhere against Oakland on Monday, credited with a game-high nine tackles, and he will start tonight because of DeMarcus Ware’s absence due to a slight hamstring strain. Albright is a virtual lock to make the team, but he can show he can be a regular contributor on the defense with a good performance. He will also play some inside linebacker again, which would help the team’s ability to carry more players at other positions when they make the final cuts.
Mario Butler – After a so-so offseason, Butler has done much better when the pads came on. He is not the fastest or quickest, but he has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. He understands his limitations and stays out of trouble. He can play in the slot some and has taken some turns at safety. As the Cowboys ponder how many corners and safeties to keep, Butler could be that swing guy the way Alan Ball was a swing guy for a few seasons.
Ronald Leary – He came in with a lot of acclaim as an undrafted free agent but he has leveled off over the last week of camp. Against Oakland he tired and did not fire off the ball as well as he had been earlier in camp. The Cowboys have guaranteed him $214,000, a high number for an undrafted player, so he should make the team, but with a good showing tonight he could still work his way into the starting lineup or at least one of the active offensive linemen on Sundays.
Kevin Ogletree – Nobody likes hearing this but Ogletree has had a nice camp. Of the guys competing for the No. 3 receiver spot he has the most ability to play as a starter should something happen to Miles Austin or Dez Bryant. He does not help much on special teams but if he can prove to be reliable and make plays regardless of the quarterback tonight, he can cement a spot on the roster. Even with Andre Holmes good outing vs. the Raiders, Ogletree is still the leader for the No. 3 spot.
Mana Silva – He was a late-season pickup in 2011 after he was signed of Buffalo’s practice squad and had four special teams’ tackles. He had an interception to clinch the win at Oakland on Monday and Rob Ryan is intrigued about this prospect. Silva, however, will need to make his mark on special teams to make a dent because the Cowboys still like Matt Johnson’s potential even though the fourth-round pick has taken part in one full-padded practice in camp.
PRESEASON GAME 2: Five things to watch when Dallas Cowboys face San Diego Chargers | Eight Starters out
Dallas Cowboys fans could allow themselves to be depressed about all the players who won’t participate in tonight’s preseason game against San Diego or be excited about the debut of top pick Morris Claiborne in the secondary. Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware has a tight hamstring and is one of at least eight starters who won’t play tonight. Claiborne, picked sixth overall out of LSU, will get his first real test against the pass-happy Chargers.
1 Starting over again: Quarterback Tony Romo and the starters will play into the second quarter, prompting owner Jerry Jones to hold his breath again that no one gets hurt. The Cowboys are balancing the fine line between being cautious and getting Romo and company the needed work to get ready for the season.
2 Life without Witten: There will be an increased focus on the tight end position, which will be without Jason Witten for the rest of the preseason and possibly the season opener. John Phillips will get the start. It’s also a good opportunity for James Hanna, the rookie from Oklahoma, who could have a bigger role as a pass catcher
3 Who’s No. 3? The Cowboys will use more three-receiver sets with the shortage of tight ends, giving them a better chance to evaluate the receivers. Can underdog Cole Beasley of SMU outshine Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, etc.?
4 No snap decision: David Arkin gets another long look at center. He starts again for Phil Costa, who is out with a back injury. Monday the goal was not to botch any snaps. Tonight the Cowboys hope he gets the blocking part down and doesn’t allow any free hits on the quarterbacks, namely Romo.
5 Linebacker minutes: Bruce Carter and Dan Connor continue their battle for the starting linebacker job opposite Sean Lee. Both will play a lot as the Cowboys will be in the 4-3 look as much as they are in the 3-4 this year. Carter has the potential to be special, and his continued development is key after missing much of last year with a knee injury.
RELATED: Ware to miss Chargers’ game with hamstring injury
Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said today he will not play in Saturday’s pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers because of a hamstring ailment. Ware described the injury as not serious and indicated he would play if this were a regular-season contest.
Ware becomes the seventh, and most recent, player to miss time in training camp because of a hamstring-related injury. Other starters impacted with hamstring ailments in camp include receiver Miles Austin, linebacker Anthony Spencer, guard Nate Livings and defensive end Jason Hatcher.
PRESEASON OFFENSE: Tony Romo not discouraged; praises Arkin’s work at center
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played three series against the Raiders, producing zero points and gaining 22 yards in that stretch. He took one sack, narrowly avoided another and watched the team take a false start penalty on third down.
But he said he was not discouraged by the lack of production.
“I want to see us move it up and down the field as well,” Romo said. “But we made a couple of mental errors. And when you get behind the chains, it’s very difficult to overcome that situation. Sacks and penalties, they just put you behind the 8-ball. You can’t have 2 or 3 of those in a two-or-three drive span. We’re going to look at them and we’re going to correct them.”
Romo praised the work of guard-turner-center David Arkin, who had no errant snaps in three-plus quarters of work in his first NFL action at the position. During practices, Arkin had struggled snapping the ball, especially in the shotgun.
Arkin expressed satisfaction at going glitch-free as a snapper but acknowledged he shared blame for the one sack on Romo (minus-12 yards) because of a communications error. Still, Romo praised Arkin.
“He’s done a great job this week,” Romo said. “I just took snaps from him for the first time three days ago. He’s playing his butt off, so it’s a good sign.”
Romo suggested the Cowboys’ offense would have been better, based on what the Raiders’ showed defensively, in a regular-season setting.
“You look at the coverages they were running, we could have gotten to some thing we really like but that’s not what we do in the pre-season. And for good reason,” Romo said.
GAMEDAY: 5 things to watch in tonight’s Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders preseason opener
After two weeks of training camp, the Dallas Cowboys are ready to hit someone else. They will get that chance tonight in their preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders. Don’t expect to see many of the front-line players on the field for more than a series, because this game is more about the backups and young players.
- The Cowboys had planned to take an extended look at the backup receivers battling for the No. 3 job even before Dez Bryant and Miles Austin suffered hamstring injuries. Look for Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris to start with the starters sidelined. But the question is whether Cole Beasley, Andre Holmes and Tim Benford, who have played the best in camp, can continue to perform under the lights and the pressure of a game.
- Who’s at center? With Phil Costa nursing an ailing back and Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski sidelined indefinitely, it will be mystery meat for the Cowboys at the position. David Arkin is expected to start, but he has struggled with snaps all camp. Linemen Harland Gunn and Pat McQuistan also have been cross-trained at center and will play there tonight.
- Bruce Carter, who has had a strong camp, is the favorite to win the inside linebacker job opposite Sean Lee. But the starting spot will not be given to Carter. He will share first-team reps against the Raiders with veteran Dan Connor as they have done in practice the past two weeks. Carter has shown range, coverage ability and a nose for the football, but must show it in a game.
- Rookie defensive end Tyrone Crawford had been one of the raves of camp because of his quickness and pass rush skills. Thought to be a project, Crawford has been a quick study and could vie for immediate playing time. He will get a look at left and right end and tackle on passing downs.
- Quarterback Tony Romo and the first-team offense and defense likely will go one series, or certainly no more than eight or nine plays. The Cowboys don’t want to risk injuries to their front-line players. Several starters are not expected to play due to injury, including Austin, Costa, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and defensive end Jason Hatcher. Bryant’s status is a game-time decision.
Courtesy: Clarence E. Hill Jr.
PRESEASON WEEK ONE: 2012 Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster projection
The regular season starts for the Dallas Cowboys in just a few weeks. Here’s our first of weekly projections on how the 53-man roster will shake out.
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
Comment: Teams that keep three like the third to be a young quarterback that can one day develop into a starter. Does Stephen McGee still fit that profile? Cowboys could save a roster spot here and try to slip Rudy Carpenter by on the practice squad for protection.
Running backs (5)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner Lance Dunbar Lawrence Vickers
Comment: The Cowboys like Dunbar, but he picked a bad time to get injured. He needs to get on the field soon to earn a spot.
Wide receiver (5)
Dez Bryant Miles Austin
Andre Holmes Danny Coale Cole Beasley
Comment: Even though Kevin Ogletree is starting now that Austin is injured, it’s not a lock he makes the team. If the team adds a veteran here as the season nears, a distinct possibility, he could lose his spot to a younger player with more upside. If the Cowboys decide to keep six here it will likely be at the expense of a running back.
Tight end (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
Comment: No intrigue here.
Offensive line (10)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Phil Costa Mackenzy Bernadeau Nate Livings
Ronald Leary David Arkin Jeremy Parnell Pat McQuistan Derrick Dockery
Comment: There remains a lot to sort through here but injuries to Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski have thinned the field.
Defensive line (7)
Jay Ratliff Kenyon Coleman Jason Hatcher Tyrone Crawford Sean Lissemore
Josh Brent Clifton Geathers
Comment: One veteran is likely to go as the Cowboys try to get younger in the line. Marcus Spears is odd lineman out at this stage but it could be Coleman.
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright Orie Lemon
Comment: Who excels on special teams will have an edge on the final couple of spots.
Morris Claiborne Brandon Carr Mike Jenkins Orlando Scandrick
Mario Butler Barry Church Gerald Sensabaugh Matt Johnson Danny McCray
Comment: Mana Silva is still in the running for a spot. He makes plays.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones LP Ladouceur
Comment: Jones is no Mat McBriar as a punter, but he’s the best the team has in camp. It wouldn’t hurt to watch the waiver wire here.
Courtesy: David Moore
Editors Note: RED indicates an injury concern going into the season.
DAY 11 TRAINING CAMP: Dallas Cowboys Observation Deck
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.
BIGGEST CONCERN – 2012 SEASON: The Dallas Cowboys offensive line
|LT||Tyron Smith||Jermey Parnell||Jeff Adams||Tyrone Novikoff|
|LG||Nate Livings||Derrick Dockery||Ronald Leary|
|C||Phil Costa||Bill Nagy||Kevin Kowalski||Harland Gunn|
|RG||Mackenzy Bernadeau||David Arkin||Daniel Loper|
|RT||Doug Free||Pat McQuistan||Levy Adcock|
RED: Injury concerns
Injuries piling up at Center, starting to become a concern
When the Dallas Cowboys arrived at training camp nearly two weeks ago, the center position was hardly a concern.
Not only did they have a young starter in Phil Costa entering his second full season at center, but they had two second-year backups that have versatility to play guard.
But a high-ankle sprain to Bill Nagy, coupled with a nagging ankle injury for Kevin Kowalski that got worse, and suddenly the center spot has the Cowboys scratching their heads as they prepare to start the preseason Monday night in Oakland.
Do they go get a veteran center and crowd the position even more, or simply try to make do and piece the position together until either one of the young guys catches on or the injured players return.
For now, it sounds like the Cowboys are going with Option No. 2. But don’t think they haven’t done their due diligence with the first option as well.
“Trust me, we’ve scoured the short lists,” head coach Jason Garrett said in regards to free-agent center. “We’ve talked to different agents about trying to address that. Right now, we feel like the best way to address it is with the guys we have in house. If someone comes available that is attractive to us, we’ll certainly address it that way.”
For now, the Cowboys are using the players on the roster to patch up the center spot, particularly with the backup spots.
Guards David Arkin and Harland Gunn have worked at center in practice and on Thursday, tackle/guard Pat McQuistan took a few snaps before practice.
Costa isn’t expected to have much competition now for the starting job, but don’t be surprised if the Cowboys at least explore the option of using Mackenzy Bernadeau at center, at least as a backup.
While he on Thursday was practicing for the first time since joining the Cowboys, Bernadeau might be an option down the line. For now, he’s a guard and that’s where the focus will remain.
“We’ve just got to see him play guard first,” Garrett said. “That’s where he’s most comfortable. That’s one of the things that we liked about him when we signed him in free agency was his position flex. He has played center, had the ball in his hands before, so that’s a positive thing. But right now we just want to see him break the huddle and play some football first and foremost, and hopefully he’ll function in practice and keep growing day-by-day.”
In the last few days, there have been several poor snaps, with botched shotguns and quarterback-center exchanges. Garrett, a former quarterback in his own right, said most of the center issues this team has stem from injury.
“We felt very good about our center, our backup center, our third center, the guys who can play both center and guard going into training camp – we just had a rash of injuries,” Garrett said. “So you try to adjust as best as you can. Arkin’s done a nice job. He hasn’t snapped before in his life and he’s just taking snaps at guard and then he goes over and he’s trying to learn to play center. We’re trying to cross-train some other guys. It’s part of what you go through when you have a rash of injuries at a particular position. You just try to scramble a little bit and come up with a way to handle it.”
Players on the street include former Cowboys Pro Bowler Andre Gurode, along with other vets Jeff Faine, Jason Brown and Jamaal Jackson.
But most of those guys would likely come in looking to start. The Cowboys have that guy in Costa, whom the coaches and scouts will say has improved tremendously over the offseason.
Costa said his on-field communication with the starting quarterback has been one of the most important aspects he’s tried to improve this year.
“Being on the same page with Tony is really important, making the calls and helping him out in that respect is important,” Costa said. “I’ve been working on the techniques and that makes a big difference.”
Garrett said he’s seen a different player in Costa this year.
“We have more confidence in him. He’s played center for us in games, and for the most part he’s done a pretty decent job,” Garrett said. “He’s had some hiccups over the last year or so with that as well. When you have the ball in your hands it’s a big responsibility. There’s a reason why centers typically are among the smartest guys up on the offensive line because they can handle some of that responsibility, intellectually and also the responsibility that comes with having the ball in your hands. So we’re always working on it, we’re always emphasizing it to our team. We’ve just got to do it better.”
EDITORS NOTE: Excellent video below. You owe to to yourself to check out this show. An MP3 download is also available for your computer or phone. Enjoy!
Cowboys Break: Who Makes Team On O-Line (Press PLAY to watch/listen)
The Break takes a look at the offensive line today as they continue to break down a position each day of training camp. Duration: 1:01:35 (Download the MP3 HERE)
RELATED: Jerry Jones not concerned about bad snaps, said that’s what practice is for
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not concerned about the spate of bad snaps that have turned practice into a circus at times. He said he has no interest in signing a center just to get through practice and believes centers Phil Costa and David Arkin will improve.
“That is what practice is about,” Jones said. “That gives you a good chance to see if the guy can think about the snap as well as concentrate on what he is doing out there. Arkin hasn’t been doing this much, so I give him some slack. Costa needs more consistency.
RELATED: Derrick Dockery takes a few snaps with first team
Veteran guard Derrick Dockery who joined the team a week into training camp has opened a few eyes of late.
So much so that he has thrown himself into the competition for a possible starting job with Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ron Leary and David Arkin. Dockery alternated some first team reps in practice with Arkin on Thursday.
“I was impressed with Dockery today,” owner Jerry Jones said. “Dockery has a chance to be what he wasn’t last year because of his late arrival last year and his injury situation last year. He did look impressive out there to me.”
Bernadeau and Livings were signed in free agency to be the starters but both have missed time in camp with injury. Bernadeau practiced on Thursday for the first time, alternating at the other guard spot with Leary.
If Dockery continues to impress, it could give the Cowboys even more of a chance to try Bernadeau at center where he compete with Phil Costa.
RELATED: Mackenzy Bernadeau excited to practice for first time
Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau took practice reps with the Cowboys first time in camp.
Actually they were his first reps since joining the Cowboys in free agency with a four-year, $11 million contract after spending the first four years of his career with the Panthers.
He has been sidelined since May because of hip and knee surgeries and began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"Yeah it’s always good to get reps with your teammates," Bernadeau said. "I’m excited about that. I’m feeling great. I want to get in there and get as many reps as I can.
It’s been a while since I’ve been out there with the guys. Getting the reps, being there, working hard and being able to hit people will be fun."
Bernadeau alternated first team reps with rookie free agent Ron Leary but that’s just part of the process for Leary who was signed to help solidify the Cowboys offensive line.
Bernadeau said he was eager to prove himself to his teammates.
"Yeah you have to earn the respect of your teammates," Bernadeau said. "We have a great group of guys here that I’ve worked with. I’ve got their respect but you still want to prove yourself on the field every day and every practice. So I look forward to doing that."
Bernadeau will work first at guard but the Cowboys will give him some reps at center as well in hopes that he can compete with Phil Costa for the starting job or at least give them an option there in case of injury. Costa’s primary two backups and would be competitors for the starting job _ Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski _ are sidelined for the entire preseason and possible into the regular season with ankle injuries.
Bernadeau took some snaps in some preseason games in Carolina but none in the regular season. He said he is ready to do whatever is asked of him.
"I’m just going to do what I’m told," Bernadeau said. "I’ll be ready to compete."
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.
SCOUTING REPORT: Bryan Broaddus – A cure for the Center-QB exchange problems
Just a few ideas from Oxnard:
* On Thursday I asked Jason Garrett about the quarterback–center exchange problems the offense has had during this camp. In my years working in this league as a scout, I was always taught that if the ball goes straight down to the ground, it’s most likely that the quarterback pulled out from underneath too soon and it’s his fault. I have seen a couple of balls end up like this during camp, but I thought Garrett’s answer was actually a better one. He is not trying to make excuses for David Arkin or Phil Costa, but both the centers and quarterbacks should share in the blame for the ball being on the ground. Arkin, especially, has never played center, and Kyle Orton needs to realize that and try to work with him if he needs more pressure, or to put his hands differently to help Arkin get a feel. What I have noticed about Arkin’s high snaps in the shotgun is that when your butt goes up, the launch angle of the ball goes high. Arkin needs to snap like he is sitting in a chair. When your butt is down, the ball stays down. It’s an old long snapper’s trick.
* Watch the second offensive line in the game against the Raiders on Monday night. There are no rookies in it, which I don’t think is a bad situation when you are trying to evaluate your squad on offense. Jeremy Parnell is the left tackle, Derrick Dockery is at left guard, Arkin is the center, while Daniel Loper is at right guard and Pat McQuistan is at right tackle. It’s a nice mix of some veteran players with a group of first and second year guys as well. It looks like a much better unit than the third, with Levy Adcock, Harland Gunn, Tyrone Novikoff and Jeff Adams out there. Your offensive line plays a large role in how your offense looks in these preseason games once the starters are out. Jason Garrett and his staff will get a chance to look at those younger players in the fourth quarter but until then, they will be able to get a much better read on the skill players, hopefully without many mistakes.
* I really have liked what I have seen from Mario Butler in this camp when he has been asked to play both as a corner and in the safety spot. These preseason games are huge for him. The coaches have put him in a spot to make this team in a reserve role and on special teams. If Butler struggles, rookie Lionel Smith or C.J. Wilson will look to take that spot. I really do like Smith because he can play inside on the slot as well.
* Before we came to camp in California, some members of the front office told me that wide receiver Cole Beasley was going to get an extensive look during camp to see if he could line up in the various roles at wide receiver. In the morning walkthrough, Beasley was running with the first receiver group when they went to the three wide receiver package, playing in the slot. Beasley will also take the first rep when the team goes on the punt return against the Raiders on Monday night.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
UPDATE: Mario Butler misses morning drills for birth of child
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mario Butler missed this morning’s walkthrough to join his significant other in the birth of their child. Coach Jason Garrett said he was unsure about the timetable for Butler’s return to practice.
RELATED: Cole Beasley strong since returning to camp, draws praise from Stephen Jones
Two days away from training camp seems to have done wonders for former SMU receiver Cole Beasley, who had another strong practice Tuesday. Beasley left the team briefly to attend to personal issues but has turned in back-to-back strong efforts in Oxnard.
“I think he’s actually playing better now than he did the first couple of days of camp,” said Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ director of player personnel. “Obviously, there were some things he needed to get straightened out in his mind. And it looks like he’s gotten that done.”
Jones said that is why the Cowboys remained “open-minded” when Beasley approached coach Jason Garrett and acknowledged thoughts about ending his football career. Beasley, a rookie, missed two days of camp before returning.
Courtesy: Jimmy Burch | FWST