AROUND THE NFC EAST – DOWN THE HATCH: Washington Redskins will open 2014 training camp without Jason Hatcher | Former Dallas Cowboys DE sidelined
RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive end Jason Hatcher and three other players will be sidelined when training camp practice begins Thursday.
Gruden said today that Hatcher, defensive end Stephen Bowen and receiver Leonard Hankerson are still recovering from knee surgeries, while backup guard Maurice Hurt is out of shape.
Hatcher, acquired as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys, had arthroscopic surgery last month. He is expected to return quicker than Bowen and Hankerson, who had more significant injuries.
The coach says quarterback Robert Griffin III’s physical condition is “not an issue” 18 months removed from major knee surgery. Says Gruden: “The key for him is to learn from his mistakes.”
Gruden is leading a camp for the first time. He says he’ll have “butterflies” making sure everything’s right.
BACK TO THE 3-4 DEFENSE: Jason Hatcher departs 4-3 system; signs 4-year deal with rival Redskins | Dallas Cowboys Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – A third Pro Bowl player has now departed Valley Ranch in as many days, as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher signed with the Washington Redskins on Thursday afternoon.
Hatcher, who was the NFL’s sack leader among defensive tackles with 11 last season, signed a four-year deal worth roughly $27.5 million with the Washington Redskins – the Dallas Cowboys oldest rival.
The news ends days (actually months) of speculation about the veteran’s future, as Hatcher made several visits around the NFL to potential suitors. Hatcher visited with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders earlier in the week, and he reportedly had visits with the Redskins and the Tennessee Titans lined up.
“My hard work paid off. I just left a great organization and now I’m with a great organization,” Hatcher said. “Things change. I just have to take it all in stride.”
Hatcher said he didn’t close the door on returning to the Dallas Cowboys, but said it was clear to him he wouldn’t be returning.
“Once me and my agent met and they didn’t show no signs they wanted me back,” Hatcher told 105.3 The Fan Thursday afternoon. “So I know the fans are upset, they should be. But I made the right decision for me. If we could’ve made it work out, we could’ve, but I’m in a great place with the Redskins, a great organization.”
Hatcher was a third round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2006 NFL Draft, going No. 92 overall out of Grambling State. He played in at least 13 games in every year of his career, from 2006 to 2013. He didn’t start his first game until 2010, and he didn’t become a regular starter until 2011.
In 2012 and 2013, Hatcher became a full-time starter for the Cowboys, starting in 31 of a possible 32 games. He featured primarily as a 3-4 defensive end in the final year of Rob Ryan’s tenure as defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli made Hatcher the three-technique defensive tackle in their 4-3 scheme upon arriving in Dallas last spring.
It’s safe to say Hatcher flourished in that role.
Prior to 2013, Hatcher had 16 career sacks with his career highs being 4.5 in 2011 and 4.0 in 2012. He nearly tripled that during the 2013 campaign, earning his first-ever Pro Bowl selection in the process. He posted two-sack performances in three different divisional games – Oct. 13 against Washington, Nov. 24 against New York, and Dec. 29 against Philadelphia.
Hatcher said during the season he planned to test the market when the NFL’s free agency window opened in March. He played the final years of his Cowboys career on a three-year $6 million contract he signed following the 2011 NFL lockout.
“I’m going to test the market – I’m going to test the market. But you guys just leave me alone about my contract. I just once to focus on – I’m a Cowboy,” Hatcher said in December. “I’ve got a star on my helmet. I’m not trying to think about that. I’ll let it take care of itself when it happens. I’ve got four games to play, to be the best three-technique in the league and help my team go to the playoffs. That’s my approach.”
That clearly won’t be the case going forward, as the Dallas Cowboys have now parted ways with their all-time sack leader in DeMarcus Ware and their 2013 sack leader in Hatcher. New free agent acquisition Jeremy Mincey is now the team’s sack leader with 20 career sacks. George Selvie is behind him with 10 career sacks, seven of those coming last season.
RELATED: Career stats for former Dallas Cowboys DE Jason Hatcher
COWBOYS CALENDAR COUNTDOWN: 2014-2015 NFL season officially begins on March 11th | Tough decisions looming with Dallas’ free agents
IRVING, Texas – In other sports, this is the month where pen goes to paper for a bracket, or teams are playing sunny practice games at spring training.
In the NFL, the month of March has its own madness with the upcoming start of the new league year, which is the beginning of free agency. That officially takes place on March 11 this year, but this is also the time when things start happening around the league. High-profile guys will get cut, possibly sign new deals or in some cases, both.
The franchise tag deadline passed on Monday with the Cowboys, to no one’s surprise, choosing not to tag any of their players. Anthony Spencer had been tagged in each of the last two years, but after undergoing microfracture surgery, he’s just hoping to get back healthy enough to play football this season, whether it’s with the Cowboys or another team that signs the unrestricted free agent-to-be.
What to do with Spencer is one of many decisions the Dallas Cowboys have to make here in the next few days. In fact, Spencer might be the last guy the Cowboys decide about, considering he will be a free agent on March 11 but far from healthy. If teams, including the Cowboys, choose to pay big bucks to Spencer, it’ll be with a hope that he can return to form.
But there are plenty of other guys on whom the Cowboys must decide. Let’s break down the team’s free agents and other players who could be cut or have their salaries restructured and/or lowered this month.
Miles Austin – The most likely offseason scenario involves Austin, an eight-year veteran who was once a fan favorite when he burst onto the scene in 2009. A two-time Pro Bowler, Austin’s career has spiraled downward as hamstring injuries have taken their toll. It’s not really about if the Cowboys cut Austin, but when. If they make him a June 1 cut, it can’t happen until March 11. They can save about $5.5 million on the cap, which won’t come off the books until June. That will still be plenty for the Cowboys to sign their draft picks and maybe other cap-casualties that occur in the summer.
DeMarcus Ware – Probably the biggest decision the Cowboys have to make this year, and perhaps in the last several years. Ware has been one of the more consistent and dominant players in franchise history, but injuries have slowed him down the last two seasons. Ware is coming off elbow surgery this offseason, and it’s clear the Cowboys don’t want him to count $16 million on the cap. If the two sides can come to an agreement for a lower base salary, Ware will probably agree to that and stay. But if the Cowboys try to trim too much off his $12.25 million base, Ware could decide against that and be released. That move saves the Cowboys $7.5 million on the cap this year. And there wouldn’t be a reason to make him a June 1, considering they would need to use that extra cap space in free agency now.
Justin Durant – The veteran linebacker was a solid player last season, but with DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber both showing enough promise late last year, coupled with the $1.2 million the Dallas Cowboys save by cutting Durant, it seems likely he will not return in 2014 – at least not at that price.
Phil Costa – Like Durant, here’s another player that will probably be on his way out. Costa backed up Travis Frederick and is scheduled to make $1.5 in base salary. Perhaps they could restructure that and lower his base but at that price, a $1.725 million cap charge, it’s likely Costa will be released.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents:
Jason Hatcher – One of the top defensive linemen on the free-agent market, he’ll be 32 when the season starts and that could affect his payday. Don’t rule out the Cowboys getting back into the mix if Hatcher doesn’t get the early-market cash he’s seeking.
Anthony Spencer – This will be interesting because of the nature of his injury. Microfracture surgery won’t be an easy rehab for any player, but Spencer has enough time to get ready for the start of the season. The Cowboys will know his rehab process better than anyone, so they should be the favorites to re-sign him. The key will be how much risk teams like the Cowboys will take by paying him and how much of a pay cut or below-market price will Spencer be willing to accept.
Danny McCray – The Cowboys’ best special teams player over the last four years has been beat up here of late. Injuries have been tough to overcome for McCray, who has proven he is more of a special teams ace only. Likely to sign somewhere else, look for the Bears to have interest with former special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis in Chicago.
Ernie Sims – He filled some voids for this team, but with the development of Wilber and Holloman, don’t expect Sims back in the mix anytime soon. The Cowboys tried to go in another direction last year, but he played too well in training camp to get released.
Brian Waters – The veteran guard hasn’t publicly made a decision on his future, which could include retirement. Waters has not undergone biceps surgery and might not at all if he decides to retire. If he does choose to play, he will likely time it out right so he’ll miss camp but be ready for the season. The Cowboys have to move on mentally, but if he chooses to play, Waters could end up back in Dallas for the right price.
Jarius Wynn – He could be back in 2014, but probably for nothing more than the veteran minimum. But he played well at times last season and since defensive end is a need, Wynn could be a solid option, considering his development last year and his current knowledge of the system.
HONOLULU — The NFL wanted Pro Bowl drama. The NFL got Pro Bowl drama.
Alex Smith, the final pick in last Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Draft, led Team Rice on the final touchdown drive on a rain-soaked field. Then Jerry Rice and Riverboat Ron Rivera went for two and clinched a 22-21 win over Team Sanders in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.
This was the best Pro Bowl in a long, long time.
Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s game (Watch highlight video):
1. Even if the banter was manufactured by the 2014 Pro Bowl Draft, players after the game said they enjoyed the process and the opportunity to play with guys they never had a chance to team with before. It was a theme all week.
2. Teammates hitting each other didn’t seem like a big deal. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson laid the wood on teammate Jamaal Charles early. Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward later flipped Josh Gordon to the ground. We never did get that teammate-on-quarterback sack, though.
3. Speaking of quarterback sacks, the defensive lines dominated. The two teams ended up with nine sacks. Early in the contest, we wondered if Sean Payton would call Team Rice’s coach (and division rival) Ron Rivera and ask him to sit Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback was sacked twice and battered often. The QB pressures were a big reason for all the turnovers.
4. J.J. Watt was a beast. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh and later Greg Hardy, Watt was unblockable. With Team Rice double-teaming Watt, Hardy picked up a sack. Don’t think management in Houston didn’t see that and ponder what Jadeveon Clowney would look like next to Watt.
5. The playful teammate trash talk was constant and likely will linger in texts and tweets the next couple days. Mike Tolbert’s SuperCam mock-celebration after his two-point conversion was emblematic. “I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to,” Tolbert said laughing.
6. The lack of continuity on offense clearly hurt the product. Not only were there fewer teammate combinations due to the draft, the new format also lessened the practice time by one day. There were a multitude of miscommunications between quarterback and receiver.
7. Speaking of teammates, Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for an early touchdown pass. On the play, Brent Grimes (all 5-foot-10 of him) ended up on the 6-foot-7 tight end. That, friends, is a mismatch.
8. What was going through Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s mind as he rumbled toward the end zone after his second-quarter interception? “I was thinking of a touchdown celebration dance,” Poe said after the game. “I didn’t get there, but next time I will though.”
The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.
Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.
Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.
In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.
Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.
The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.
Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.
Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.
Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.
Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.
Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.
DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.
DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.
Team Jerry Rice
Team Deion Sanders
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
|Total First Downs||24||Total First Downs||14|
|By Rushing||7||By Rushing||4|
|By Passing||16||By Passing||10|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||6/16 – 37%||Third Down Efficiency||2/11 – 18%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Fourth Down Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Total Net Yards||384||Total Net Yards||285|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||78||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||56|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.9||Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.1|
|Net Yards Rushing||114||Net Yards Rushing||62|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||17|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||5.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.6|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–1||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–3|
|Net Yards Passing||270||Net Yards Passing||223|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||4 – 21||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||5 – 41|
|Gross Yards Passing||291||Gross Yards Passing||264|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||26 – 54 – 4||Pass Comp-Att-Int||20 – 34 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.7||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.7|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||4 – 49.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 49.2|
|Net Punting Average||47.0||Net Punting Average||38.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||56||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||109|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||5 – 56||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 8|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 0||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||4 – 101|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||4 – 20||Penalties (Number-Yards)||2 – 10|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||2 – 1||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 1|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Red Zone Efficiency||2/3 – 66%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2/3 – 66%||Goal To Go Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Final Score||22||Final Score||21|
|Time of Possession||32:47||Time of Possession||27:13|
NFL Pro Bowl 2014
COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII: DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys initially had just two Pro Bowlers heading to Hawaii. Now they have five.
The latest addition is yet another first-timer as running back DeMarco Murray has been added, replacing San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who was injured in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks.
Murray makes his first Pro Bowl trip of his three-year career after enjoying his first 1,000-yard season. He rushed for 1,124 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns during the 2013 season. He also scored six of his nine touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Murray becomes the first Cowboys running back since Marion Barber in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl and just the second since Emmitt Smith’s eighth and final selection in 1999.
Murray joins a running back group of Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy, who were all initially selected. Adrian Peterson was also picked but won’t play because of injury and Marshawn Lynch is out because of the Super Bowl. Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris have been added as replacements for those two but Murray now replaces Gore.
Originally, the Cowboys only had two Pro Bowl selections – Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a pair of first-round picks who are going for the first time. Last week, Jason Hatcher was added to the roster as a replaced for Baltimore’s injured nose tackle Haloti Ngata. And on Sunday, Jason Witten made it to the Pro Bowl after Denver’s Julius Thomas had to be replaced after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl.
The first ever “Unconferenced” Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, airing on NBC at 6 p.m. (CST). The first-ever NFL Pro Bowl draft will be nationally-televised on NFL Network Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m. CST) as alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the teams.
RELATED: TE Jason Witten fourth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. – Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will now be heading to his ninth career Pro Bowl.
Witten was added to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday to replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who’s now Super Bowl bound.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith were initially the only two players selected to the Pro Bowl from the Dallas Cowboys, but Jason Hatcher (and now Witten) were additions this week. Witten’s ninth Pro Bowl appearance ties him with Randy White for the fourth-most in team history, behind only Bob Lilly, Larry Allen and Mel Renfro.
Jason Witten started all 16 games this year for the Cowboys and played in all 16 games for the 10th straight season. He finished with 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, which marked his second-highest touchdown total of his career behind only the nine he scored in 2010.
He finished the 2013 season placing fifth in catches and yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns among all tight ends around the league.
Witten made the Pro Bowl every year from 2004-2010 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, in which he recorded a career-high 110 catches. All the other three Cowboys will be going to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
HURRY UP AND WAIT MODE: A slight chance for the Dallas Cowboys to keep defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer
IRVING, Texas – From a Dallas Cowboys-centric point of view, here is the good and bad just a little less than two months away from the start of free agency.
First, the bad.
As we all know by now, the Cowboys once again will have to engage in their yearly fat-trimming to get under the salary cap by the March 11 start to the new NFL year. While many seem to have their own ideas about how the Cowboys get to that NFL maximum, some quite wild I might add, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones does not seem quite as perplexed.
In a recent conversation, though, Jones said, “I don’t think there are any Houdini-type things we need to do to make the salary cap work in terms of being efficient and ultimately improve our roster. Obviously the focus still is with our cap situation, the draft and young players.
“But you don’t ever rule out trying to improve with one or two guys from the free-agent market who can help us.”
Then there is this: Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, two mainstays on the defensive front over the past several years, are free agents, and the one thing the Dallas Cowboys have always seemingly accomplished since free agency began in 1994 is retaining their own free agents of choice.
Your chances of doing so considerably decrease with limited available salary cap dollars.
Doubly not good when it comes to Hatcher this year – as if it wasn’t going to be tough enough to even attempt to re-sign him, what with his breakout, career-high 11-sack season playing for the first time from the defensive tackle position in a 4-3 defense – is what took place on Thursday. Hatch has been named a replacement to the Pro Bowl team, and any time you are out there in free agency trying to market yourself – in other words, get the best offer possible – just returning from a Pro Bowl appearance in Hawaii is like a slot machine going ding, ding, ding.
No matter what you say, the Dallas Cowboys certainly would hate to write off the defensive tackle who led the NFL in sacks this past season. Double-digit sacks from inside is rather remarkable, and in fact Hatcher recorded the most sacks for a Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White racked up 12.5 in 1984.
Good for Hatcher, who hit the personal mother lode, being named to the Pro Bowl team while his wife was in the process of giving birth to their baby girl.
For the Cowboys, bad, bad, bad.
Now, the good …
OK, let’s move on to what might become a couple of good breaks for Dallas. Let it be known the Cowboys certainly have not washed their hands of either player, but will be forced to sit back and see what the market might bear. Theirs must be a wait-and-see approach, knowing they can’t be the ones to set market value for either player.
“With our cap situation, that’s pretty much the way we have to go,” Jones said, “and that has nothing to do with the respect we have for Jason Hatcher or Anthony Spencer. They’ve obviously had great careers here in Dallas. We hope they continue to. But at the same time we certainly respect they have to take care of their families and do what’s best for them individually, and we fully expect that to happen.
“But hopefully they can do that and still be a Cowboy. We’ll just have to see. We’ll certainly be watching that. We don’t burn any bridges. I think Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek went into free agency without any contracts and they came home. … We certainly want to be in the mix.”
Let’s start with Spencer. This may play out in the Dallas Cowboys favor, since most figure no way the team can afford to re-sign their two-time franchised player. Well, not so fast.
Last time anyone saw Anthony Spencer following his Oct. 1 microfracture knee surgery he was still on crutches. That was in December. His recovery from the surgery that tries to promote the regrowth of missing cartilage under the kneecap is not going as well as expected. Chances are, because there was a pretty big divot of cartilage missing, there is no way he’ll be fully recovered when free agency begins on March 11. That means some team would have to take a leap of faith to sign an otherwise healthy Spencer to one of those five-year, $40 million deals with like $20 million guaranteed if he’s still limping around.
That will kill your market value faster than anything, and why players normally squawk when getting franchised as he was the past two seasons, knowing all they have is a one-year guarantee and any sort of long-term injury can kill your market value the coming offseason.
So who knows, maybe teams will take a hands-off approach to Spencer, and if that happens and if his knee doesn’t come around until like May or June, Spencer might be a prime candidate for one of those one-year minimum deals laced with some incentives, but without any guaranteed money.
That might be right up the Dallas Cowboys cap-depleted alley, and what better place to take a chance on yourself than by staying put. Now this all is unfortunate for Spencer, but let’s remember he’s made roughly $20 million over the past two seasons with the Cowboys while playing but one game this past season to collect half the sum.
Guys have been known to sign one year deals for a chance to re-establish their market value – that is, if that knee ever does come around – rather than sign some longer-term deal for far below what you might think your worth might be. Sort of like betting on yourself.
And as for Jason Hatcher, turning 32 in July? Well, you know how the many know-it-all’s keep saying no way the Cowboys should “pay age,” meaning don’t sign an aging player to one of these lucrative long-term deals that will outlive his productivity even if you have the funds, which the Cowboys really don’t.
Well, if you’re thinking that, maybe decision-makers for teams around the league are thinking the same thing. If they are, maybe that drives down his market value. Maybe Hatcher isn’t offered what he richly deserves. Just maybe then that means the going rate for a 32-year-old Pro Bowl defensive tackle becomes something more palatable for the Cowboys budget.
Who knows? We’ll see. Only time will tell for both guys.
But without Jason Hatcher and/or a healthy and affordable Anthony Spencer, a Dallas Cowboys defensive front already in bad need of refurbishing will need an even more intensive re-do. Any success doing so then rests at the mercy of the upcoming NFL draft.
TOP NFL FREE AGENTS 2014: Pro Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher among NFL’s top 25 Free Agents
As the NFL’s 2013-2014 season comes to a close, let’s take a first glance at the 2014 NFL free-agent market.
It’s early in the offseason process. Franchise tags have yet to be discussed. There’s still time for clubs to lock up young stars to long-term contracts. Many of these names will be removed from consideration by the time the upcoming 2014 NFL free agents list is compiled in early March.
This list places the highest value on ascendant players with little or no reason to expect a dropoff in production over the next few years.
Here’s the Top-25 NFL Free Agents for 2014:
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints tight end
2. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers defensive end
3. Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins linebacker
4. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety
5. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns safety
6. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans cornerback
7. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs left tackle
8. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end
9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders defensive end
10. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback
11. Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens left tackle
12. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts cornerback
13. Linval Joseph, New York Giants defensive tackle
14. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle
15. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders left tackle
16. Aqib Talib, New England Patriots cornerback
17. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos cornerback
18. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center
19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos wide receiver
20. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive end
21. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers defensive tackle
22. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers cornerback
23. Walter Thurmond, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
24. Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers linebacker
25. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle
RELATED: Jason Hatcher added to NFL’s Pro Bowl 2013-2014 Roster
IRVING, Texas – And now the Dallas Cowboys have three Pro Bowlers. And once again, it’s a first-timer headed to Hawaii.
Jason Hatcher has been added to the Pro Bowl roster, replacing the spot of Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, who will not play for injury reasons.
Hatcher led all NFL defensive tackles in sacks last year with a career-high 11 as just edged out Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey with 10.5.
Hatcher had the most sacks by a Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White had 12.5 in 1984.
He was the first player other than DeMarcus Ware to have the team’s outright sack title since 2004 when Greg Ellis had nine. Hatcher’s 11 sacks was the first double-digit finish other than Ware since Tony Tolbert’s 12 in 1996.
Along with his team-high in sacks, Hatcher was second on the team with 33 quarterback pressures, just behind Ware’s 35. Hatcher and George Selvie tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss and his 48 tackles ranked eighth on the defense.
Hatcher, who is an unrestricted free agent, has openly said he will test the free-agent market come March, so it’s very likely this game in Hawaii could be his last in a Dallas Cowboys helmet. However, he also said he thought he wouldn’t return to the Cowboys in 2011, but signed a three-year deal to remain in Dallas.
NFL RIVAL NEWSPAPER HEADLINES: 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants postgame press | Jason Hatcher eats Giants video
Jason Hatcher with blood on his face: “I Just Ate A Giant”
Jason Hatcher speaks with the press immediately after his Dallas Cowboys win (holiday feast) over the New York Giants. (Watch Video)
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said he’s been outfitted with a neck brace that will reduce the chance he gets another stinger. It’s so restrictive, it keeps him from moving his neck back.
“I can’t even see in my stance, hardly,” he said Thursday, smiling about it with reporters. “I have to get down super low.”
But he said he’ll take part of the brace off down the line so he can have more range of movement.
“I’ll take that off eventually, in about three or four weeks from now, I’ll take that off so I can get my neck back,” he said.
Hatcher was limited again in practice Thursday. The native of Jena, La., missed the New Orleans game two weeks ago because of a stinger.
“That hurt me bad, just going home to my home state and not being able to help my team,” he said. “I’m not saying the outcome would have been different or whatnot, but I’m pretty sure knowing me, a healthy me, I could have done some stuff to help my team. So I’m excited to be back, just excited to see how this game is going to go for me, as well as my team.”
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Jason Hatcher
When Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli were brought on board after the conclusion of the 2012 season, their vision of what this defensive line was going to consist of was a four man line of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, and Jason Hatcher. As they sit today, only Ware and Hatcher are currently in the mix. The offseason ranking of these four players were: Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, and Hatcher.
To his credit, Hatcher has gone far and above what most believed that he could have done. We really wasn’t sure where he was going to play in this scheme, whether that was the one or three technique. Likely, the front office and coaches were having the same thoughts. Few believed he was going to be able to play with enough power at the one. To his credit, he has proven people wrong. That’s not to say that’s his best spot, because at the three he has also done things thought that he couldn’t have done. It was very evident without him in the lineup against the Saints. His ability to help in the run but maybe more importantly, was how well he rushes the passer inside was missing.
What Jason Hatcher has done through his play is make this front office sit up and take notice when it comes to making a decision on his future with this team.
Need More From: DeMarcus Ware
Right or wrong, on the radio show “Talkin’ Cowboys”, DeMarcus Ware was challenged to once again rise up and be the player that we all have seen in seasons gone by. This young defense needs that kind of player.
When Ware was lining up in those practices in Oxnard, it appeared that Ware had turned the clock back five years and this season could turn out to be one of his best ever. Injury has once again robbed him of that opportunity. Ware showed a great deal of guts playing last season at half the player he is capable of being and this year, could very well be the same. As hard as this to say for a player that has given his team so much, he is going to have to dig deeper and find ways to not only be a factor in the running game but be that dominate player against the pass.
This scheme requires pressure from its front four and without that pressure, it is difficult to have success in it. If this team in fact are going to make a run in these last six games and win this division, it is going to be on the shoulders of Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware. For six games, this defense needs DeMarcus Ware’s very best otherwise we will all be talking about what could have been.
Six-Game Forecast: Defensive linemen cant rely on safety net to stop the run
There have been some difficult games for this defensive line this season. There have also been some times where they have played well and helped this team to a victory. The road doesn’t get much easier with three division games and the matchup with the Bears and Packers remaining.
What worries the most about this group is the ability to get off blocks in the running game especially the last three weeks against the Lions, Vikings and Saints. There have been too many games this season where this defense has allowed offenses to be in manageable down and distance situations because of their inability to hold up against the run. For the next six week, this defensive line is going to be tested each and every snap to have to be physical in playing in the running game and with Sean Lee out at least the next two games, there is not that safety net of him being there to make plays.
This line needs to do a much better job of playing on the other side of the ball like they did against the Redskins and Eagles, which then will help them with their pressure in the passing game.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints | Dez Bryant back tightness
ARLINGTON, Texas – For a couple of reasons, the Dallas Cowboys moved practice indoors Wednesday to AT&T Stadium in preparations for Sunday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.
But a few key players were not included, highlighted by the absence of wide receiver Dez Bryant. Early reports indicate tightness in his back.
Other players not in attendance were Jason Hatcher (stinger), cornerback Morris Claiborne
(hamstring), wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and safety J.J. Wilcox (knee).
One player back to practice was DeMarcus Ware, who has missed the last three games with a quad strain. Ware could be limited when the team releases the official injury report later in he day.
One new face on the field was defensive tackle Everett Dawkins, who signed with the team today. Dawkins, who joined the team from Minnesota’s practice squad, is wearing No. 90.
Coach Jason Garrett said the team went inside to escape the rainy conditions and to crank up the noise inside to try simulating the expected noise at the Superdome in New Orleans.
The Cowboys Hour, is broadcast live from the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Grapevine Lake. The voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Brad Sham, hosts the weekly radio show with one or two Cowboys players as guests.
Brad’s guests last night were Jason Hatcher and George Selvie. Selvie came to the show last night wearing a shirt with the slogan “Hatcher’s Heroes” across the front of it.
When Brad asked George about the shirts, he said “Charlie had his angels, Professor X had his X-Men and we’re Hatcher’s Heroes. We’re going out there and playing hard and it’s catching on, so I love it.”
According to Hatcher and Selvie, the slogan was born on Twitter and has carried over to the members of the Dallas Cowboys defensive front. (Editors note: At The Boys Are Back website, we affectionately refer to them as Marinelli’s Misfits).
Later in the show, Sham counted 15, yes 15, different defensive linemen that have started at some point this season for the Dallas Cowboys. With injuries piling up on this team, Cowboys’ fans hope Hatcher’s Heroes show up again this weekend in New Orleans.
The Cowboys Hour with Jason Hatcher and George Selvie (59:51)
Jason Hatcher and George Selvie join Brad Sham on The Cowboys Hour live radio show. Brad Sham is also the ‘Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Worked out on Monday, signed on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … so naturally Everette Brown had a big sack and forced fumble in the final seconds of Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
Now, Brown didn’t get a turnover, but the play was still a big play to help prevent Minnesota from driving deep in Dallas territory.
Brown, who said his focus was starting up a new Smoothie shop with his fiancée in Charlotte before the Cowboys called him last week, is the latest of several defensive linemen who have rolled through the organization this year.
In fact, if you’re scoring at home, Brown is the 16th defensive linemen to play a snap for the Dallas Cowboys this season. That doesn’t include Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Sean Lissemore, who once figured into the rotational plans for this D-line.
“Every week, it’s a new guy,” said Jason Hatcher, who has been the most consistent and the best lineman so far this year. “But I think they’re coming in and doing a great job of contributing right away. I give them credit and Rod (Marinelli) for getting them ready. They were big again today.”
One of the biggest plays of the game occurred from a trio of defensive linemen who might not have been in the NFL at all had it not been for the Cowboys giving them a shot.
Nick Hayden scored his first career touchdown by falling on a loose fumble in the end zone. George Selvie stripped the ball right before Jarius Wynn blasted Christian Ponder.
“I got him pretty good … it felt good, too,” Wynn said. “But it’s nice to come in here and help this team any way I can. I feel more comfortable now.”
Speaking of comfortable, Hayden looked right at home in the end zone after his first touchdown since his high school days.
Afterward, Hayden displayed what appeared to be a rather rehearsed dance.
“It was me rocking out,” Hayden said. “I just played the air-guitar and then smashed it at the end. It’s something we had talked about before for a sack dance. But I just used it today with my touchdown. I’ve got some other (dances), too, if I ever need them.”
While Hayden is far from the new guy anymore, he was also one of the players back in training camp just trying to revive his career.
“This group … we’re relentless,” Hayden said. “We’ve got new guys coming in each week, but they’ve been stepping up for us. It’s been great. We just try to learn from Coach Marinelli. He’s done a great job with us. We just keep playing for him.”
|George Selvie end zone strip and Nick Hayden recovery for TD replay||Locker room comments from Marinelli’s Misfits and Sean Lee|
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INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray back in lineup
ARLINGTON – DeMarco Murray will be active today against the Vikings after missing each of the Dallas Cowboys’ previous two games with a sprained knee.
DeMarcus Ware, on the other hand, highlights the inactives list, which also includes wide receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety J.J. Wilcox, linebacker DeVonte Holloman, tackle Darrion Weems and tight end Andre Smith.
Wilcox (knee), Holloman (neck) and Claiborne (hamstring) were all ruled out after Friday’s practice. Ware (thigh) and Austin (hamstring) were both listed as doubtful. Along with Murray, Ware’s also missed each of the last two weeks after getting injured against the Redskins, and he’ll now miss his third straight game.
Austin has been given rest and sat out last week after trying to give his sore hamstring a try against the Eagles on Oct. 20.
All the Cowboys players who were probable entering the weekend will be active, including Jason Hatcher (neck), George Selvie (shoulder) and Barry Church (hamstring).
Guard Brian Waters was also ruled out after Friday’s practice with a triceps injury, which has since moved him to injured reserve. Defensive back Micah Pellerin took Waters’ spot on the 53-man roster and will be active.
IRVING, Texas – Forget three or four weeks. DeMarcus Ware might still be playing this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys’ all-time sack leader doesn’t know his status yet, but he’ll travel with the team on the flight to Philadelphia, and he thinks he’ll be a game-day decision. He said he doesn’t need to practice this week to remain a possibility to play.
“I’m not going to be out three or four weeks,” Ware said. “I don’t know where that came from, but somebody said it. My recovery’s pretty fast, and I’m feeling pretty good today.”
Ware has never missed a game in his career, despite suffering hamstring, shoulder and elbow injuries last year and dealing with stinger problems this season. The latest thigh injury had many thinking he’d be out multiple weeks, but he said he’s already started running and will continue to work off to the side at practice before the ultimate decision is made.
He admitted the leg is still sore, but he’s continuing to get treatment and believes he’ll be in proper shape if he’s able to go this weekend. Ware said he can’t worry too much about his remarkable games played streak, which sits at 134.
“I think when you look at it, the bigger picture is always important,” Ware said. “You don’t want to ever be defined as just a number. You want to be somebody that when you get out there, you’re wreaking havoc and playing. If I can do that this week, I’m going to get out there and play.”
In addition to running, Ware said he can also plant and cut. It wouldn’t really be a surprise to see him return to action and play, despite the initial prognosis.
Ware’s iron man streak of consecutive games played continued even after getting carted off the field with a neck injury in 2009 that left him temporarily motionless. He played six days later against the Saints after missing practice throughout that week.
“I know that I can get through injuries, but you never can (predict) what one injury’s worse than another,” Ware said. “Each week, just like I took it with that injury, you’ve got to take it that whole week and make a game-day decision.”
He said he needs to weigh the importance of being on the field this week against the potential for future harm. He said he needs to be able to run, pass-rush and change direction with ease, particularly considering the speed at which the Eagles play.
If Ware can’t go, Kyle Wilber will get the call at defensive end. Wilber went in after Ware’s injury last week, recorded a strip sack on Robert Griffin III and secured the fumble.
“Last week, when I went down, Wilber went in there and made a big play on a really great tackle,” Ware said. “I know that he can get out there and play, me just showing him a lot of things, his confidence level has boosted through the roof. You’ve got to let him keep playing that way, and I know he can get the job done.”
Wilber continues to talk to Ware as the second-year player prepares himself for a starting opportunity. Head coach Jason Garrett preaches the “next man up” philosophy, while Wilber hears from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin that everyone in the defensive room should consider himself a starter. For Wilber, it’s now time to play like one.
“It’s pressure and it’s a challenge, but it’s good pressure and a good challenge,” Wilber said. “You want to be a dependable guy, so the team looks at you like, ‘This person right here, we can count on him.’”
Wilber went from 240 pounds last year to 248 pounds this year, as he made the move from linebacker to defensive end. He said it’s difficult for him to put on weight, but eventually he’d like to be around the 255-pound mark. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik is pushing him to help reach that total.
It’s been tough for Wilber to serve as a backup since getting drafted in the fourth round in 2012. He’s accustomed to starting, and last year was particularly tough for him after getting injured because he felt like he didn’t help the team.
“You have to kind of motivate yourself,” Wilber said. “It’s kind of hard being a backup, especially behind a Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. You’re not seeing yourself getting a lot of playing time. You definitely have to prepare yourself mentally.”
He may now get his chance to stand out on a “no-name” defensive line. Well, almost a no-name defensive line. Wilber said Jason Hatcher has become more of a household name after his five-sack start to the season.
“As long as we’ve got ‘Hatch,’ I feel like we’re good,” Wilber said. “He’s one of the best three-techniques out there.”
Wilber, however, feels like a no-namer until he demonstrates what he can do consistently. Even after his performance last week against the Redskins, he knows teams aren’t going to strategize for him, but they will have to plan for his presence.
He feels more ready than ever for a starting role if Ware can’t go, and a lot of that has to do with the star pass-rusher getting him ready.
“Definitely,” he said. “D-Ware, he’s still on me, still coaching me up. He’s making sure I can do everything.”
Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli apologized moments after getting a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, coach Jason Garrett said.
“He’s a stand-up guy,” Garrett said. “As soon as the flag happened, he turned to me and apologized. But if everybody brings it like Rod Marinelli brings it, we’ve got a really good chance of being a good football team.”
The penalty gave Washington a first down after Jason Hatcher’s sack would have set up second-and-20. Initially, the play was ruled an incompletion, but a replay reversed the call. Marinelli had argued that the quarterback was down.
Garrett described what happened like this:
“He had a short conversation with the official on the play that Hatcher got the sack,” Garrett said. “I think initially, they ruled it that the quarterback had thrown the ball away, and I think we all saw that his knee was down, and I think Rod was just trying to let the official know that, and I guess the official didn’t like how he said it.”
Hatcher laughed about it Monday.
“We got him on a grade sheet. I think he got an F today for that penalty,” he said. “He fought for my sack, so I got a sack. That’s my fifth one of the season. I thank him for that.”
Asked which Eagles quarterback he’d rather face on Sunday, Michael Vick or Nick Foles, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said it was a no brainer.
He’d rather face Foles because he was more of a drop back passer rather than having to chase Vick all over the field.
“I would like to see Foles, because Vick is like a rabbit,” Hatcher said. “He’s all over the place. Foles is more like a stationary guy in the pocket.
“But both of them are awesome quarterbacks. Foles is playing his butt off these last couple of games. Either one, but I would take Foles over Vick.”
Well, Hatcher will get his wish as the Eagles have ruled Vick out for the game because of an injury, leaving Foles as the starter for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
Foles has been pretty good in wins over the Giants and Buccaneers in place of the injured Vick the past two weeks, completing 38 of 56 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns.
“Foles can throw it, now,” Hatcher said. “He can throw it. It’s going to be a challenge either way.”
Offensive Game Ball: Offensive Line
It would be real easy to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray for his effort in this game, but without those guys up front, Murray would not have had the day that he did. Murray received his share of blame for his lack of production last week against the Chiefs, but he alone should not have shouldered the criticism. This Cowboys offensive line was outstanding today both in the run and pass. Murray had more than enough room to operate and Tony Romo was hardly touched as he sat in the pocket. Head coach Jason Garrett and his offensive staff have strived for balance, and they got it today from a line that hasn’t always been given the credit that it deserves.
Defensive Game Ball: Jason Hatcher
Going into this game, the Rams offensive line was expected to have problems handling the Cowboys defensive tackles. For the third straight game, Jason Hatcher was outstanding. For a player who had questions about staying consistent in this scheme, he has more than proved himself. Hatcher played with explosive quickness and power. He was disruptive on the move and was relentless in the way he attacked the pocket. His play did not allow Rams quarterback Sam Bradford any room to step up and make a throw. Hatcher was quick to shed blocks, and he was technique-sound the entire day. His play overall caused this Rams’ offensive scheme huge issues.
Coaches Game Ball: Rod Marinelli
The Rams were going to have trouble running the ball, which meant that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and his troops were going to have to play the majority of the game rushing the passer. Bradford put the ball up 49 times for St. Louis with an average gain of only 3.6 yards per completion. Bradford was never comfortable in the pocket, and it started on the opening series and did not end until the final whistle. Despite playing shorthanded without Anthony Spencer, Marinelli’s group put on quite a show. There was a slot blitz or two mixed in from Orlando Scandrick, but the majority of the pressure came from a four-man rush. Marinelli has always preached quickness off the snap and to get up the field as quickly as you can. He did an outstanding job of rotating his defensive line, and they rewarded him with a dominating performance against a Rams club that has some explosive offensive weapons, totally holding them in check. Today, it started up front with his guys.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Whatever might have been spoken behind closed doors, there was nothing but love in the Dallas Cowboys’ open locker room Sunday afternoon.
Reports surfaced during the weekend of an altercation between Jason Hatcher and Tony Romo, in which the veteran defensive tackle took the $100 million quarterback to task.
To hear it from Hatcher, it’s really quite the opposite.
“Where is Romo at? Tell him to come over here. I’m going to hug his neck,” Hatcher said. “We ain’t got no issues. Where’d you all get that from? I love Romo – Romo loves me. We are teammates, we are brothers – brotherhood.”
Hatcher’s own words are the most telling, as it was he who had reportedly called out the Cowboys’ quarterback this week for audibling too much and not committing to the run.
Plenty of other voices within the organization begged to differ, however. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Hatcher certainly spoke during the Cowboys’ preparation for St. Louis, but it wasn’t merely directed at Romo so much as the whole team.
“I think those reports are inaccurate,” Garrett said. “One of the things we try to do as a football team is empower the people – get everybody invested. Get players invested, get coaches invested and guys to take leadership roles. This is their football team, and leadership manifests itself a lot of different ways. It’s best when it’s just by performance – by what you do, by example. But sometimes you need to step up and say something. I thought Hatcher’s words after practice were directed at our entire football team.”
That message was one of consistency, to hear it from the players. The Cowboys have had a recent inability to string together positive results, highlighted by last week’s ugly loss to Kansas City – something Hatcher said needs to change.
“The main thing I got from Hatcher’s speech was being consistent, being consistent, not being a roller coaster team, not being up and down, winning a big game then going a losing a game,” said DeMarcus Ware. “That’s what we did last week, losing a game that we should have won — not to talk about the past. Now, how consistent can we be playing week in and week out, that’s one thing that Hatch talked about. Let’s be a consistent team. We can be a great team, but the consistent teams are the ones that are going to win.”
Romo himself agreed with that assessment. Asked about it following his postgame press conference, the Cowboys’ quarterback said he hadn’t heard about the report. He did say Hatcher’s words were good for the team and the team’s younger players to hear.
“He wants the guys – young guys – to understand how important this is,” Romo said. “I thought it was a great talk … Guys who have been around – when Witten talks, guys listen. When I talk, when Hatch talks, they listen.”
It remains to be seen how the message resonates going forward. This is the eighth time in 11 years the Cowboys have managed a 2-1 record through three weeks. They failed to improve to 3-1, instead falling to 2-2, on six of those seven previous occasions.
Next week’s game against San Diego will be telling in that regard.
“I love Romo to death, man. I wasn’t getting on Romo – I love Romo to death,” Hatcher said. “He came out and balled out tonight. Did you see that? He balled out. They ran the ball, he threw the ball great – he’s the best quarterback in the league. So I love Romo to death. That’s my brother.”
Editors comment: A lot is said about the ‘start’ of the season with the Dallas Cowboys in the past decade. Some of that ebb and flow is the result of NFL scheduling, some of that is NFL parity … and yes, some of that is finishing 8-8 in consecutive years. I think the emphasis should be on how they finish, not necessarily as much about how they start. It’s an interesting thing to watch, based on this recent history of on-again and off-again peaks and valleys. At this point, we should all hope to see a team mentally balanced … and confident enough to put together some nice long winning streaks. Jimmy Johnson was a master at keeping the players psych up, even during tough stings of games. It’s Jason Garrett’s job to build on the confidence gained during these big wins, not to let it slip away with the next opponent. It’s the players responsibility as well. Kudos to Jason Hatcher and the other leaders on this roster. The St. Louis (and New York Giants) games show the potential of this years’ Dallas Cowboys. If this is the ‘slow start’ … I can’t wait to see how they develop as the year progresses.
Dallas Cowboys Jason Hatcher voluntarily spoke to his teammates after practice earlier this week, making an impassioned plea for them be accountable and lay it all on the line heading into Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
Hatcher called out rookies and veterans alike in hopes of helping the Cowboys break through the malaise of mediocrity and self-inflicted wounds that has engulfed this franchise for more than a decade.
The Cowboys (1-1) are off to another win-one, lose-one start to what has been a win-one, lose-one decade.
They have a 105-105 record since 2000. And some of the same problems that plagued during them last season’s 8-8 campaign reared their ugly heads in last Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Chiefs, namely turnovers, failures in the red zone, untimely penalty and an inability to get a stop when needed.
Hatcher didn’t want to talk about what he said but defensive end DeMarcus Ware backed him up in explaining the overall message in the locker room this week. They are tired losing games they supposed to win because of their own undoings.
“It’s forget about that game but remember your accountability and where you were and how you played in that last game,” Ware said. “Did you play hard enough and did you do what you needed to do to leave it all out there on the field? We’ve been telling that to the younger guys and even the leaders on the team, the older guys too. Each week you’ve got to leave it out there on the field. Some weeks there are games you’re supposed to win and you’ve got to win those games. We look at it as now, it’s an etching stone each week, you’ve got to be immediate in your actions and plans.”
Ware added this is not just about pointing the fingers at the young guys and saying follow me, its demanding accountability from the veterans and leaders too.
“You’re calling out all of the leaders and saying hey, this is how we need to play, calling out the rookies, this is how we need to play, week in and week out, because that’s how we’re going to win,” Ware said. “It’s not like we don’t have enough talent to win or have the guys not to win, but what type of demeanor, what type of heart are you going to play with every week.”
IRVING, Texas – Several big names returned to practice Monday morning, while the Dallas Cowboys also began the process of cutting their roster down.
The team released defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton on Monday morning. It’s the only cut the team is expected to make Monday, which gives the Dallas Cowboys 12 more cuts to make in order to reach the NFL-mandated number of 75 by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Pendleton made seven tackles during his preseason action. He played Saturday against Cincinnati, but he did not record any statistics.
While Pendleton left the roster, key defenders Morris Claiborne and Ernie Sims rejoined the team at Monday morning’s practice. Sims has been missing for several weeks with a groin injury, while Claiborne appears to be recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him in Oxnard, Calif.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley also returned to practice after injuring his foot during the Cowboys’ loss to Oakland on Aug. 9.
As if the Cowboys didn’t have enough problems at the guard position, starter Mackenzy Bernadeau missed practice with an ankle injury. Safety Danny McCray was also held out of practice with a hamstring injury, while defensive tackle Jason Hatcher missed with a minor groin injury.
2013 PRESEASON INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys Bernadeau and Hatcher on bikes; Claiborne and Beasley return
Cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver Cole Beasley returned to practice with the season opener 13 days away, but guard Mackenzy Bernadeau and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher stayed in as the Cowboys began the final week of preseason.
Claiborne’s final chance to play in the preseason is Thursday in the finale against the Houston Texans. He has not played in a game because of a “jammed” knee he suffered in training camp on Aug. 6. Beasley hurt an ankle in the preseason game against Oakland on Aug. 9.
Bernadeau, who played left guard Saturday against the Bengals, has an ankle injury. He and Hatcher rode the exercise bike as practice began Monday.
Guard Ronald Leary also did not make it out for the start of practice. Leary is recovering from knee surgery less than two weeks ago.
Also not out for the start of practice were linebacker Brandon Magee (concussion), safeties Matt Johnson, Eric Frampton and Danny McCray, defensive linemen Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, running back Lance Dunbar and center Ryan Cook.
OXNARD, Calif. – Just a little clearing of the notebook following Friday’s 19-17 loss to the Raiders in the second preseason game.
— In the amount of snaps that DeMarcus Ware played the other night, he was very productive but the best player on the field for the Cowboys defense was Sean Lee. If there is concern of how he would bounce back from his injury he suffered last season, well put those thoughts to rest. Lee was in midseason form with his reads, adjustments and the manner in which he attacked the ball.
The Raiders offensive line does not touch him the entire opportunity he was in the game and his blitz that caused the first turnover of the game was textbook. His quickness and agility was outstanding but the physical way in which he finished the play was even better.
— Jason Hatcher continues to impress in the way he is going about his business in this camp and in the way he played in this game. Hatcher has been able to handle a steady diet of playing in this scheme.
He not only has played with tremendous quickness and agility but his power has shown to be better as well. I worried about him getting off blocks consistently but now that he doesn’t have to two gap blockers and he can attack the gap, it’s a much better fit for him. He has also shown the ability to understand what Rod Marinelli is asked him to do technique wise. He is better with his hands and you really see it when he rushes the passer.
— Some were expecting a big game from Dwayne Harris but instead, got it from Cole Beasley. Every time I want to doubt Beasley or question his roster spot on this club, he reminds me of the unique skill set in which he plays with.
The Raiders had no answer in how to deal with his quickness and his route running ability. He was money on third downs and his touchdown in the red zone was also a reminder that despite his height, he can still make plays down there. He is a confident and reliable receiver that when put in the right situations can make those catches when no one else will.
Instead of thinking about all the things he can’t do like play consistently on the outside and by the way, he is getting better at that, we need to concentrate on what he does well and that is the reason he will be in this wide receiver mix. If he can give you something in the return game its a plus but there has to be packages that Bill Callahan can do to get him the ball because he has proven he can make plays.
–As much as I want to have concerns about that breakdown in kickoff coverage against the Raiders on Friday night, I am aware that it’s about the opportunity to evaluate players and not for what the scheme looks like.
Still it was a great example of how important that these teams are when young guys like Jakar Hamilton, Kendial Lawrence, and Jared Green are trying to make the team or get noticed by the coaches. Special team are about effort and desire but also playing with smarts. The Greg Jenkins return came after the Joseph Randle had put the Cowboys ahead and though the defense held, the field position was in the favor of the Raiders who recovered the muffed punt from B.W. Webb and kicked the game winning field goal.
But focusing on the kickoff coverage, Green was knocked into Lawrence who both went to the ground. Hamilton was doubled at the point and couldn’t release off the blocks. As the ball came down the hash, two players were on the ground and Webb was widen, which caused a huge crease which Jenkins was able to take advantage of for the return. It really was nice execution by the Raiders on the return but for some young players on this team trying to get noticed, it was the wrong way to get noticed.