Rookie Darrion Weems signed his contract in the locker room Wednesday afternoon. He then began the process of getting to know his new teammates.
The Cowboys have had a lot of new faces lately. Center Phil Costa became the 10th player the Cowboys have placed on season-ending injured reserve this season. Six of those players, including Costa, are starters. (Rookie safety Matt Johnson is the player the team designated as returnable injured reserve.)
Costa partially dislocated his ankle against Carolina on Oct. 21 and has missed the six games since. He played in only three games this season — 120 total plays — after injuring his back in the first series of the season against the Giants and missing the next three games.
In Costa’s absence, Dallas has started two other centers, Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Weems was signed off Denver’s practice squad. He now is with his fifth team since signing first with the Vikings this summer as a rookie free agent out of the University of Oregon. He also had short stints in New England and Indianapolis.
Weems started 22 of 41 college games, including all 14 at left tackle as a senior.
Despite his late start to joining the Cowboys, Weems said he isn’t looking at this as an audition for 2013.
"It’s now," Weems said. "It’s about now. I’m here now and work hard now and do what they tell me to do now."
The Cowboys were forced to make a move to their practice squad Wednesday. The Raiders signed running back Jamize Olawale off the Cowboys’ practice squad. Dallas replaced Olawale with tight end Chase Ford, a rookie who briefly was on the Eagles’ practice squad.
RELATED: Cowboys waited on Costa because he ‘really improved’ this year and might have still helped
The Cowboys gave center Phil Costa a chance to come back from the dislocated ankle he suffered at Carolina six weeks ago because in the limited time he had been healthy this year, he had played well.
But this week, they finally put him on injured reserve.
“We feel like he could have provided some presence for us toward the end of the year,” coach Jason Garrett said Thursday at Valley Ranch. “But when you start counting, how many weeks until we think he’s back and how many weeks left in the season, you kind of do that math. We made that decision.
“He did some real good things in the limited time he played this year. Just has to get that thing better and get ready for 2013.”
Costa played in only three games, but he finished only one. He played only the first three snaps of the season opener at the Giants before leaving with a back injury, the full game at Baltimore on Oct. 14 and then the first half of the game at Carolina the next week, when he was hurt in the second quarter.
“We were all very hopeful,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t played a lot of football for us this year. He missed a lot of training camp. But when he did come back, he played well. He really improved from last year.”
IRVING, Texas – While the players and coaches will be off most of the weekend here during the bye, the Cowboys are still trying to churn the bottom of the roster.
There is an open roster spot, and the Cowboys have worked out two players now this week after former receiver Raymond Radway had a workout Friday at Valley Ranch.
Radway has spent the last two training camps with the team and all of last year on injured reserve after he broke his leg on the final play of the 2011 preseason. Radway returned this season and just didn’t show the same burst during training camp and the four preseason games.
He worked out for the scouts and selected coaches on Friday. Radway does have practice-squad eligibility so there is a chance the Cowboys could sign him to the squad and call up another player to the active roster.
The current practice squad consists of receivers Danny Coale and Tim Benford, defensive tackles Robert Calloway and Ben Bass, guard Ron Leary, fullback Jamize Olawale and running back Lance Dunbar, who actually went on a road trip to New York to start the season with the plan he would be called up to the roster. That never materialized but Dunbar is someone with speed and quickness that could bolster the special teams.
Earlier this week, the Cowboys worked out former cornerback Bryan McCann, although it’s unlikely he will be re-signed at this point.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In just another example how the 53-man roster is never final, the Cowboys made a late roster move this morning, just a few hours before the season opener.
The club signed rookie tailback Lance Dunbar to the active roster, likely meaning the undrafted rookie from North Texas will indeed play tonight against the Giants for his NFL debut.
To make room for Dunbar, the Dallas Cowboys released tight end Colin Cochart, who was just claimed off waivers from the Bengals last week. Cutting Cochart doesn’t exactly indicate that Jason Witten will play Wednesday.
The Cowboys are sticking with “game-time decision” for Witten, who visited his doctor for the lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday. Witten flew up after the team but is now in New York with his teammates.
Dunbar, who missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, had an electrifying end to the preseason with a 105 rushing yards, including a 59-yard touchdown run against the Dolphins.
He impressed the Cowboys with his speed and quickness all throughout the summer. Dunbar will likely play mostly on special teams, including kickoff return. However, Felix Jones is expected to be the primary return specialist, but Dunbar could get also be back as a side returner.
When the Cowboys trimmed the roster down to 53 last week, Dunbar and his college teammate Jamize Olawale, survived the first big cut, although the roster remained at 54. In the end, the Cowboys cut both Dunbar and Olawale and re-signed them to the practice squad, which now has seven players.
IRVING, Texas – Nothing is ever final when it comes to the roster.
After cutting 23 players to get down to the 53-man limit Saturday night, the Dallas Cowboys made more moves Saturday, just before their first regular-season practice in preparation for the Giants.
The Cowboys have claimed tight end Colin Cochart (6-4, 260) off waivers from the Bengals. In doing so, they have officially waived quarterback Stephen McGee, who initially survived Friday night’s cuts.
Minutes earlier, coach Jason Garrett was asked in his Saturday morning press conference about keeping three quarterbacks on the roster. He said they valued the position and McGee, but Garrett also hinted that it’s the time of year to make tough decisions.
The addition of Cochart could be an indicator of Jason Witten’s availability for Wednesday’s game with the Giants. Witten is expected to practice Saturday for the first time since suffering the lacerated spleen injury.
Cochart played in 10 games last year as a rookie in Cincinnati, including three starts. Considered more of a blocker, Cochart caught five passes for 44 yards and one touchdown in 2011.
The Cowboys have also re-signed eight players to the practice squad, virtually getting everyone back they wanted. The squad includes:
- RB Lance Dunbar
- RB Jamize Olawale
- DT Robert Calloway
- WR Danny Coale
- LB Orie Lemon
- DE Ben Bass
- WR Tim Benford
- G Ronald Leary
Five of the eight players were undrafted rookies.
The Dallas Cowboys just officially announced their cuts today. There aren’t any surprises, but here’s the complete list from the team:
- Jeff Adams OT
- Baraka Atkins LB
- Ben Bass DT
- Tim Benford WR
- Robert Callaway DT
- Rudy Carpenter QB
- Shaun Chapas FB
- Danny Coale WR
- Lance Dunbar RB
- Clifton Geathers DT
- Harland Gunn OG
- Saalim Hakim WR
- Adrian Hamilton LB
- Ronald Leary OG
- Orie Lemon LB
- Jamize Olawale RB
- Pat McQuistan OT
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB
- Lionel Smith CB
- Andrew Szczerba TE
- Eddie Whitley S
- Teddy Williams CB
Among those players cut, the Cowboys would probably want to bring back these players for their practice squad, which can’t be set until 11 a.m. Saturday:
- QB Rudy Carpenter,
- WR Danny Coale,
- RB Lance Dunbar,
- LB Orie Lemon,
- RB Jamize Olawale,
- LB Andrian Hamilton
- OG Ronald Leary
The Cowboys waived/injured guard Daniel Loper on Friday night.
The Cowboys traded their 2013 seventh-round draft pick to Miami for center/guard Ryan Cook on Friday morning. Cook, a seven-year veteran out of New Mexico, was originally a second round pick (51st overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played his first five years with the Vikings before signing with Miami as a free agent on September 5, 2011. Cook has started 40-of-77 career games, making starts at right tackle, right guard and at center.
Every year is the same it seems. We go into this final preseason game with a handful of players right there on the verge of making the team.
It’s always around the same number of players, with only the names changing, this year’s group including the likes of Hamilton, Coale, Lemon, Bass, Dunbar and Olawale. Oh, there were a few more, but those were the main guys.
But this year, the differences include more than just a few name changes.
Because as soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Wednesday’s 30-13 win over the Dolphins, the regular season was upon us. Just like that, it’s on.
No longer do the Cowboys have about 10 days to get ready. With the Wednesday night game on Sept. 5, the team only has a full seven days before they face the defending champs.
And it certainly doesn’t help that the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to key players such as Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin. Throw in Dez Bryant, Mike Jenkins and Danny McCray, and that puts quite a strain on the Cowboys trying to trim the roster down to 53 by Friday, at the same time they’re getting ready for a real game week.
Because of that, those injuries might have popped a few bubbles in the process.
We’ll see on Friday, but with the Giants game right around the corner, it might be too soon for some of these guys, particularly Witten and Ratliff. The Cowboys certainly won’t rule out either player. In fact, doctors checked out Witten’s lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday and it appears it will be a game-time decision on next Wednesday.
As for Ratliff, who has a high ankle sprain and was still on crutches as of Tuesday, it’ll also likely go up until kickoff before the Cowboys figure out his status.
In the meantime, the team has to prepare for the worst. In doing so, you must go long at those positions.
We could see Josh Brent and Robert Calloway make this team, at least for Week 1.
At tight end, either the Cowboys go and claim a player who gets cut, sign a veteran tight end or maybe keep Andrew Sczcerba around. Perhaps fullback Shaun Chapas makes it, mainly for his special teams ability.
Either way, moves like that knock off luxury keeps. By that, I mean keeping players who aren’t really ready to play just yet, but possess a certain quality. Guys like Ben Bass who plays with a high-motor on the defensive line, or Adrian Hamilton, who hasn’t figured out the 3-4 defense and/or special teams just yet, but he can rush the passer. Those guys are hurt by these injuries.
At running back, a guy like Lance Dunbar might have made the team in the past – solely because of that dazzling 58-yard run. Who knows, maybe he still does. A play like that will get noticed around the league and getting a player like that through waivers will be tough. Still, that’s one of those “luxury keeps” that might not happen because you’ll have a hard time getting him active each week. Personally, after that run, I think I’d make an exception. He’s got some wiggle to him and might be a decent kickoff returner, too.
The Cowboys like Andre Holmes and Danny Coale, who would be the sixth and seventh receivers. They’ll probably like a receiver or two that gets cut over the next few days. But they won’t keep eight and probably not even seven. They’d like to go long at receiver, especially if it means hanging onto Coale, a fifth-round pick who has been injured most of the offseason.
Now if Austin and Bryant were bigger question marks to play, it’d be a different story. However, it seems like both players have been held out of action just to be ready for the Giants. Bryant and Austin will start, and it looks like Harris and Ogletree will be next, with possibly Cole Beasley or maybe Holmes going to the game as a special teamer.
Then you go to the secondary. Mike Jenkins is not going to Florida after all to get an update on his shoulder. He passed his physical on Wednesday and will come off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) to practice as early as Saturday.
Still, you wonder how quickly he can get back into the mix. Yes, he’s a veteran and yes he knows the Giants and yes he plays a cornerback position that doesn’t always need the strongest continuity with his teammates. But football shape is a different thing. I still have hard time thinking Jenkins can get back to Dallas and start practicing Saturday and Sunday and be ready to play. It’s certainly a possibility, but if you remember last year’s game in New York against the Jets, Jenkins also battled a stinger/shoulder injury all preseason but played in the game. He went in and out about four times, battling all sorts of injuries.
The Cowboys likely have to go long at cornerback, not only on the roster, but the 46-man game-day roster as well. Expect Mario Butler to be active either way.
At safety, Matt Johnson (hamstring) will likely make the team although he’s barely played. McCray will obviously make it because he’s the special teams ace, but he’s battling a shoulder/stinger injury. So Mana Silva probably makes this team to start the season – and who knows, maybe he’ll stick around. He’s played pretty well this preseason. He’s a solid tackler and good on special teams. But still, that’s five safeties to keep.
This probably happens every year – injuries that cloud roster decisions. But it’s different when the guys injured are Pro Bowlers like Witten, Ratliff, Jenkins and Austin, who says he will play, but you probably have to make sure there is plenty of backup because of the nature of the injury and his history with hamstrings.
We’ll find it all out on Friday. But with so many guys playing for roster spots Wednesday night, it’s unfortunate for them that their fate was probably already sealed with a few of these preexisting injuries.
Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner said he wasn’t out to prove anything in the fourth and final preseason game Wednesday night. But he did show the ability that helped him stick last year.
He carried nine times for 48 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins in the first half before giving way to Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale in the second half. The other backs were brought in to give him competition for the third running back spot, and Olawale gained an edge on the others when Tanner was out with a broken hand and Dunbar missed time with a hamstring injury.
“It wasn’t like me going out here and proving anything,” Tanner said. “Like we’ve talked before, it was just going out, having fun, playing football – something I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old. Just going out, gelling with the team.”
Tanner gave credit to center Phil Costa and fullback Shaun Chapas for creating running room for him. His first seven carries gained 45 yards. And he said he felt sharp.
“I made sure I stayed in mentally when I was out with the hand,” he said. “I stayed in my playbook, stayed watching film, just going out and gelling with the guys. That’s the biggest thing.”
It’s finally coming to an end.
The Miami Dolphins visit the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium tonight to close it out.
Here’s a preview.
Stephen McGee vs. Rudy Carpenter: The Cowboys are thinking about going with two quarterbacks. Tony Romo and Kyle Orton have guaranteed roster spots. After that, McGee, the third quarterback since 2009, and Carpenter, who is trying to make the active roster, will get a shot Wednesday night. McGee has been inconsistent this summer in camp practices and in three preseason games. Carpenter has led the third unit on a touchdown drive. McGee is the better talent, but roster issues could force the Cowboys to go with just two quarterbacks, unless someone emerges.
Claiborne and Spears should play: First-round pick Morris Claiborne and veteran defensive end Marcus Spears should play a little on Wednesday. Here’s why. Claiborne, who missed the first preseason game with a knee sprain, needs to get more snaps before getting ready for the New York Giants on opening night. Spears is getting snaps with the second team and will most likely get a few snaps just to either keep him sharp or see if the Cowboys still want him on the team.
What’s uncertain?: The third quarterback for one thing. And in reality, it doesn’t matter who the No. 3 receiver is. Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley will make the team, but who gets the sixth receiver spot is the question. Andre Holmes? Danny Coale? Tim Benford? The swing tackle is Jermey Parnell, but who out of Pat McQuistan, Daniel Loper, Derrick Dockery and Ronald Leary make the team? Orie Lemon, Shaun Chapas, Jamize Olawale, Adrian Hamilton, Lance Dunbar and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are competing for a some of the final three or four roster spots.
The series with the Dolphins: The Cowboys lead the preseason series 4-2 and lost the last meeting 17-3 in South Florida. In that game, Sept. 1, 2011, receiver Raymond Radway fractured his leg on a pass in the end zone at the end of the game. Radway missed the regular season. He was cut this week by the Cowboys.
Connections: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was a former executive with the Cowboys, and Brian Gaine, the Dolphins’ assistant general manager, worked in the personnel department with the Cowboys. At one point the Dolphins had many former Cowboys. Now, there are only a few. Linebacker Kevin Burnett, for one, plays for the Fins.
Parking, parking, parking: For the second consecutive time, the Cowboys and Texas Rangers are playing at nearly the same time. Rangers first pitch is around 6:05 p.m. CT. Kickoff is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. CT. Cowboys Stadium parking lots open at 2:30 p.m. East Plaza is open at 3:30 p.m. and stadium gates to all plazas open at 5:30 p.m. Fans who have pre-purchased parking in the Ranger Lots A-B and M will have their passes honored. Stadium officials ask fans to get their early due to the Rangers game.
By the way: Regular season starters like Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Brandon Carr and Sean Lee won’t play. Just telling you.
Local TV and radio: The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m., on KTVT/Ch. 11 (CBS).
In many markets, you can listen to ‘The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, Brad Sham on The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network for pregame, play-by-play action, and post game interviews and analysis.
In the Dallas area, tune to 105.3 FM. In all other cities, click HERE for more information.
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
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.
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.”
Running back Lance Dunbar returned to practice Monday after missing two weeks with a hamstring. He missed the first two preseason games, so the Cowboys hope to see him Saturday at Cowboys Stadium against the St. Louis Rams.
“He’s mentally into what we’re doing. He understands what we’re doing. He has a good feel for our offense,” running backs coach Skip Peete said after the work at Chargers Park against the San Diego Chargers. “We just have to, obviously, give him the opportunity to get in there and get the work as a runner – carrying the ball, running routes, catching the ball. But he was doing fine before he got injured.”
The former North Texas and Haltom High standout has fallen behind another North Texas product, running back Jamize Olawale, but still remains high in the coaches’ minds.
“He’s a talented runner,” Peete said. “He’s a much better protector than I anticipated, being a guy of his size. So that’s a plus that was very impressive the first couple of days of practice. He’s a very explosive player and very dangerous. I’m excited to see what he can do in a preseason game.”
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
Score the second dress rehearsal of the pre-season a significant upgrade for Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo and the first-team offense in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to San Diego.
Romo played the first quarter, completed 9-of-13 passes for 75 yards, and was not sacked. None of his starting receivers took a big hit, much less departed with an injury (Jason Witten, Monday in Oakland).
With Romo in the game, the Cowboys produced 102 yards, drove for a field goal and converted a fourth-and-1 situation with a 10-yard slant to Dez Bryant. It could have been better if not for two holding penalties.
By comparison, the Cowboys’ first-team offense had 14 net yards in 11 snaps in last week’s 3-0 victory over the Raiders.
“Yeah, we moved it good,” Romo said. “But we hurt ourselves with penalties and, as a football team, we need to correct that. It is very hard to score points … We have to get that (penalty issue) corrected or otherwise we have no chance.”
Penalty problems: The Cowboys were penalized nine times for 86 yards after drawing 12 flags for 91 yards against Oakland.
Olawale shines again: Jamize Olawale, an undrafted free agent from North Texas, made his presence felt as a rusher and receiver for a second consecutive game. Olawale scored a second-quarter touchdown, the Cowboys’ first of the pre-season, on a 2-yard blast. He also grabbed four passes and turned up some heat on Phillip Tanner, who is out with a broken hand, in the battle to be the team’s third running back. Olawale (10 carries, 30 yards) led the team in rushing for a second consecutive game in the pre-season.
"He really has shown that throughout training camp," said coach Jason Garrett. "He came in more as a fullback candidate. But he has also shown 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."
Defensive streak ends: It will not matter in September but the Cowboys’ defense put together a scoreless streak of 94 minutes, 30 seconds to begin the pre-season. That was broken when San Diego receiver Vincent Brown grabbed an 18-yard touchdown pass with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter. Dallas led, 10-0, at the time and none of the Cowboys’ defensive starters were still in the game.
Claiborne debut: Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, the team’s first-round pick, started and played the first half. He made the tackle on the first pass thrown in his area, a 5-yard receiver screen, and lined up at both cornerback spots. He had no pass breakups but neither did any other Dallas defender while Claiborne was in the game.
During the first half, Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers threw 15 passes and none of them hit the ground. He completed 13 and had two interceptions, both by Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones said he liked Claiborne’s debut and envisions him following Carr’s lead in time.
“We’ve seen him do the same kind of play that we saw Carr do,” Jones said. “They are centerfielders. He can play that ball, too. You need those kind of big plays.”
Third receiver battle: Cole Beasley, an undersized free agent from SMU, grabbed nine passes for 104 yards in the contest, most of them against the Chargers’ reserves. But the best showing by someone battling to claim the third receiver spot came from veteran Kevin Ogletree (4 catches, 60 yards), whose 35-yard reception set up a touchdown.
Jerry Jones said Ogletree may be the team’s fastest receiver and projects as “the logical third guy” in the offense.
McGee’s mistake: Quarterback Stephen McGee threw a fourth-quarter interception into double-coverage that was returned 73 yards by Shareece Wright to set up the Chargers’ go-ahead touchdown. McGee later lost a fumble when blindsided by Wright on a corner blitz.
Murray gets wish: Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said earlier this week that he wanted a heavier work load against San Diego than he received Monday against Oakland (2 carries, no yards). That happened by the fourth snap, with three of the Cowboys’ first four plays featuring Murray (two runs, one pass). The team’s starter handled the ball on five of the first six plays, producing 30 yards, before yielding the field to backup Felix Jones.
Sitting out: A total of 19 Cowboys missed the game because of injuries, including eight starters (WR Miles Austin, C Phil Costa, G Nate Livings, TE Jason Witten, NT Jay Ratliff, LB Anthony Spencer, LB DeMarcus Ware, DT Jason Hatcher). Also out: WR Saalim Hakim, CB Mike Jenkins, RB Lance Dunbar, RB Phillip Tanner, S Matt Johnson, LB Isiah Greenhouse, LB Kyle Wilber, LB Caleb McSurdy, C/G Kevin Kowalski, OT Jermey Parnell and WR Danny Coale.
Still perfect: Dan Bailey hit both of his field-goal attempts, from 40 and 49 yards. He is 3-for-3 in the pre-season.
Progress is definitely being made.
If the first preseason, a thrilling 3-0 affair in Oakland, was a study in frustration and worry for the Cowboys faithful, then the team’s performance in San Diego on Saturday at least showed signs of excitement and hope, especially concerning the first-teamers.
With nine starters out of the lineup, tender hamstrings seemingly the largest culprit, Dallas lost to the Chargers 28-20, their preseason record falling to 1-1. But the Cowboys’ defense, and in particular cornerback Brandon Carr, gave notice that they might be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
Even with DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher not in the lineup, the first-unit group held the Chargers to only 69 total yards, never allowing San Diego to cross the 50-yard line. Taking center stage in the effort was Carr, who grabbed not one, but two interceptions in his quarter-and-a-half of play.
On the first grab, Carr was admittedly beaten on the route, wide receiver Robert Meachem getting behind the defense. But an underthrown ball by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers allowed Carr to gain ground and time his jump perfectly to bring down the pick.
The second interception was nothing short of a circus catch. Literally. Carr tipped a pass, then tipped it again, and again, finally completing his juggling act with another prized turnover.
Being able to go and get the ball is why Dallas opened the checkbook for the free agent Carr back in March. He and rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was making his NFL debut, have all the makings of a dramatically upgraded secondary for the Cowboys this season.
"The first unit did pretty good,” said Carr. “We shut them out once again. It was good to go against Philip Rivers one more time and get the two picks off him this time. But the guys were just flying around trying to make plays on the ball.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the line, the first-team offense showed improvement from its near dysfunctional effort against the Raiders in the preseason opener. Quarterback Tony Romo, who finished the game with 75 yards on 9-of-13 passing, had a clean pocket for most of the two series in which he was in the game, although his own deft moves helped his own cause.
Romo was able to get his side into field goal range midway through the first quarter, Dan Bailey seemingly in midseason form with a 40-yard field goal to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.
"Yeah, I thought some of the young guys stepped up and played pretty good tonight,” said Romo. “I think our offense is continuing to get better and better each week, and I like the direction we are heading, but we have to eliminate the mistakes.”
DeMarco Murray, back from an ankle injury that cut short his 2011 campaign, also looked solid in his one possession of work, catching two passes for 18 yards. He also had two runs that went for just seven yards, but made something out of nothing in both instances.
The point being, Romo and Murray can make even an average line look good.
But the preseason is also about earning roster spots, and one in particular stepped up and made solid a solid case for himself – Kevin Ogletree.
One of the biggest question marks still to be determined is who will be the Cowboys’ third receiver. And although Ogletree is the veteran of the contending bunch, he has been perhaps the most overlooked. Not any more. He had a solid night, finishing with 60 yards on four receptions, including a tough 35-yard catch down the middle that saw him get hit by two defenders but still hang onto the ball.
There is, of course, still much to be determined in the wideout ranks. After all, rookie Cole Beasley led all receivers with 104 yards on seven catches and Dwayne Harris picked up 42 yards on four receptions of his own. But Ogletree made it known tonight that he’s the lead horse in the race for the third position … for now.
Beasley and Harris did most of their damage in the second half, when little else went particularly well for the team. Rob Ryan saw his defense’s shutout streak come to an end soon after the third quarter got underway. They hadn’t given up a point and had surrendered only 376 yards of total offense through six quarters of play, but with the regulars calling it a night, the second unit allowed the Chargers to come out of the break and march 80 yards on 10 plays for a score, the lead narrowed to 10-7.
Dallas got on the board late in that same frame thanks to a fumble recovery from linebacker Orie Lemon, who gave the Cowboys field position at the San Diego 35. The offense was unable to pick up a first down, but Bailey came out again, this time for a 49-yarder, and put three more points on the board.
And then the wheels fell off for the Cowboys, as San Diego put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to run away with the game. Two of those touchdowns came after Stephen McGee turnovers, one on an interception and the other a fumble after the quarterback took a big hit from behind.
With Rudy Carpenter taking the helm, Dallas did manage to get in the end zone with 53 seconds left on the clock, Wright catching a pass from 15 yards out to wrap up the scoring, 28-20.
Dallas will now stay in San Diego for two days of workouts with the Chargers before returning home for the annual Silver & Blue Debut, a practice open to the public that will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Kurt Daniels | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine
RELATED: Jamize Olawale, rookie FB turned RB, impresses in San Diego
Which player fighting for a roster spot made a positive impression? His name is hard to pronounce. But now people know it. That’s a positive sign for Jamize Olawale, the Cowboys’ rookie fullback-turned-running back. A 6-1, 238-pound product of North Texas, Olawale has the size and strength pound away at opponents. During the second quarter, he demonstrated that might when he barged into the end zone and finished off a two-yard run that resulted in the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the preseason. But Olawale isn’t just powerful. He’s also quick. Olawale flashed that acceleration on a 10-yard pass from Romo in the first quarter, turning up field to gain a first down.
Photos: Rainer Sabin
Being at Cowboys training camp is like being at home for rookie fullback Jamize Olawale, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and went to junior college at El Camino in Torrance. He’s trying to make the team as a blocking back and on special teams. He might get a chance to showcase his running and catching ability in Monday night’s game because of injuries to Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar. But being at an NFL training camp is an eye-opening experience for any rookie. The former North Texas receiver talks about five things that make rookie life in the NFL an experience to remember.
1 The environment. "Just getting to know all the fans, all the attention that the Cowboys get, is interesting. It’s fun."
2 Learning how to prepare. "You bring your hard hat to work every day, as coach [Jason] Garrett says. Come to work. Have that mindset every day when you wake up."
3 The apartment setup. "It’s nice. It’s nicer than what I stay in at home, so I have no problem with that. And they feed us well. We’re taken care of."
4 Initiations, like carrying the veterans’ pads in after practice. "It’s not the first time. It’s cool, it’s fine. It’s part of the game, part of being a rookie. I’ll take it in stride."
5 It’s tough. "I expected it to be hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So far, Coach has been helping us get through it and prosper."
Cole Beasley, the tiny undrafted receiver from SMU, has a ton of fans already at Cowboys training camp. And why not? He keeps making catches — and tough catches. After he went to the ground for one ball, grabbing it and holding on as he went down in the arms of cornerback Lionel Smith, a fan yelled out: "Pay attention, coaches! We need a Welker!"
Fox Sports reporter and MMA entrepreneur Jay Glazer visited the Cowboys sideline for Friday’s practice. He has an eye for MMA talent, and he said DeMarco Murray is excellent. "He’s got great knees," Glazer said.
Brill Garrett, the wife of Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, spent practice on the sideline with her trusty camera. She’s a photography enthusiast, and collecting her own camp pictures is a tradition.
They said it
"If we weren’t in the system we are in, I’d probably wreck this thing trying to spend money to get players to win a Super Bowl. But that’s not the system we are in. We’ve got to do it other ways." — Jerry Jones
Former Cowboys defensive tackle Tony Casillas got away from three days at Disneyland to make it to Friday’s practice. He liked the shape the players are in, and he said he’s down to about 240 from his playing weight of 295. But he said that’s nothing compared to how Leon Lett, coaching for the Cowboys, looks like a different person.
Courtesy: Carlos Mendez