Sean Lee said he modeled his game after Dan Connor, one of the seven free agents the Cowboys signed in the offseason.
Connor is expected to compete with second-year player Bruce Carter for a spot opposite Lee, the Cowboys’ leading tackler last year, at inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.
“He was a guy that I modeled myself after in college and a guy that I really looked up to,” Lee said Wednesday night at a charity event at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. “He’s a guy that’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a guy that leads by example every day. He had a great career at Penn State. He’s a really good linebacker and a complete player. I’m excited to play with him again.”
Lee and Connor played together at Penn State in 2007, when Connor set the school’s career tackles record.
But Lee is also optimistic about Carter, the Cowboys’ second-round draft pick a year ago who will go into this season fully recovered from knee surgery in his last year of college at North Carolina.
“He looks great,” Lee said. “We’ve been working out together at the facility. The knee isn’t an issue. I think he’s ready to go. I think he did a great job coming off a knee injury and transitioning to the NFL. He’s very talented. We need him to step up for us, and I think he understands that. I think he’s going to put the work in. It’s a matter of time until he becomes a very good football player.”
The emergence of Lee and Carter, combined with the signing of Connor, probably leaves no room for veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James. But Lee said either player could still help.
“Brook and Bradie are both unbelievable football players. I look up to Brook. I look up to Bradie," Lee said. "Brook’s a guy that I think is underrated and still can do a lot of good things for a football team. Obviously, from a leadership standpoint, from a football standpoint, we’d love to have him back. But obviously, there’s a business involved with that. We’ve got to let things play themselves out.”
Laurent Robinson got big money from Jacksonville. Martellus Bennett will be relocating his clothing line to the East Coast for at least a year. Everybody else?
Well, they’ve probably gotten into the habit of checking the phone a lot over the last week.
The free agency period is far from over – it never ends, really – but most of the Cowboys players on the open market are drawing very little interest, it seems.
Between the guys they’ve cut, their unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and exclusive right players, the Cowboys allowed 19 players to hit the market who had finished 2011 on the roster. Only Robinson and Bennett have found new teams thus far, while receiver Kevin Ogletree returned to Dallas on a one-year deal.
A lot of under-the-radar signings will happen in the coming weeks, but so far only a couple of the Cowboys’ free agents have been reported to have gotten so much as a sniff from other clubs. On Tuesday running back and special teams ace Chauncey Washington was part of a massive tryout for the San Francisco 49ers, per a report. Late last week, the Minnesota Vikings checked in on defensive back Alan Ball, per another report.
As for the bigger names, like Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier, Tony Fiammetta, Derrick Dockery, Montrae Holland and Mat McBriar, no substantive interest has come to light.
IRVING (AP) – Owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly said the Dallas Cowboys are just getting started with Jason Garrett as their head coach.
For a core group of veteran players such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, losing yet another season finale with a playoff spot on the line is another chance lost.
An 8-8 season that raises questions about the future of some of the other players who have been around, and where the still-average Cowboys go next after Garrett’s first full season.
“We have to take advantage of their talent and experience, players like Romo and Witten, a lot of those players, because they’re not going to be around forever,” Jones said. “We have to accept this and move forward.”
That means accepting that Dallas lost four of its last five games, including 31-14 against the New York Giants in the finale Sunday night that determined the NFC East champion and sent the Cowboys home for another long offseason.
“Now we’re watching the (playoff) games this week. I encouraged them to remember the feeling that we had after the game,” Garrett said Monday after wrapping up individual meetings with each player. “You have to keep that feeling, you have to make that palpable as you go forward and use it as a motivation to get better, individually and collectively as a team.”
This has been a very average team since winning three Super Bowls in a four-year period in the first half of the 1990s. The Cowboys are 120-120 in the regular season since the start of 1997, a 15-season span with one playoff victory in seven postseason appearances.
IRVING – A team that features a dynamic quarterback, one of the best league’s best running backs and a collection of fleet-footed receivers can look as good on paper as it does on the field. Cowboys linebacker Bradie James acknowledged as much after Philadelphia trounced Dallas 34-7 Oct. 30.
"They’re so dynamic," James said. "There are guys all over the place. They pose a big, big challenge."
On the surface, the Eagles have no perceivable offensive weakness. They are third in the league in total yards, rushing production and big plays. But dig deeper and the flaws become more obvious. Even glaring. The Eagles, after all, have the given the ball away 35 times – the highest total in the NFL.
"That’s a very important category and I think it is one of the reasons that they haven’t won as many games as they probably should have," said Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking. "A key component to winning in this league is taking care of the football and creating turnovers. So when you don’t do that you’re going to put yourself in really bad situations. And they have done that this year.
"So, more than anything, we’ve got to try to create those turnovers. Defensively, we’ve done a pretty good job of that and put ourselves in a good situation. That’s going to be key for us."
But of all the opponents the Eagles have played this season, the Cowboys were the only one that didn’t recover a fumble or record an interception against Philadelphia. In every game, with the exception of the blowout victory over Dallas, Philadelphia committed at least one turnover.
"As a defense you need to get the ball back to your offense," linebacker Sean Lee said. "But especially against this team. It seems like the more turnovers they’ve had the more likely they are to lose games. That’s a big deal against a team as talented as they are."
Courtesy: Rainer Sabin | Dallas Morning News
Dallas Cowboys defense is full of talent. Bruce Carter hoping to break into starting lineup in the near future.
His torn ACL from last November fully recovered, rookie linebacker Bruce Carter made his NFL debut against the Eagles in Week 8, saying at the time he expected mostly special teams work this year, but was hoping to take on a nickel role by the end of the year.
Half the season has gone by since then, the second-round pick having been proven correct as far as the special teams aspect of his predication. Now that the Eagles have come back around for the second game of the season series, and it’s the end of the year, this could be a good week for Carter to see some playing time on defense.
"That’s what I’m hoping for," Carter said. "It’ll really show what I can really do as far as covering athletically skilled guys, especially a situation like this with (LeSean) McCoy and (Michael) Vick, that’ll help me just use the tools I have."
Given the Eagles’ great team speed on offense, and how helpless veteran linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking were in coverage after Sean Lee was injured in the 34-7 blowout, playing Carter on passing downs may be a necessity this time.
If harnessed, Carter’s athleticism could be a real asset as the Cowboys attempt to limit tight end Brent Celek to less than 94 yards receiving while keeping Vick and McCoy from gashing the defense in the open field.
Carter’s initial hurdle to get on the field, his overall grasp of the defense, has come a long way in the last two months, he said. With Barry Church on the injured reserve and Danny McCray battling a knee injury of his own, Carter believes he’s ready to take on the hybrid role that had been filled by those safeties.
He’s worked on that assignment in practice and got some playing time in the second half against Tampa Bay.
"A little bit of that," Carter said. "It hasn’t really been that bad, it’s just guarding tight ends and backs. It’s just kind of the same thing as playing linebacker . . . the more experience you get, the comfortable you are playing out there, so I think that’s the key."
IRVING,Texas — The networks love to show the Cowboys in primetime. It just doesn’t seem the Cowboys love primetime back that much, especially Sunday nights.
The Cowboys have lost five straight games on NBC’s Sunday Night Football over the last two seasons and six of their last eight overall. That came after a stretch from 2006-08 in which they won eight of nine Sunday night tilts.
This year, the Cowboys have lost to the New York Jets (27-24) and Philadelphia (34-7) on Sunday nights. After Sunday night’s game against the Giants, the Cowboys travel to Tampa Bay for a Dec. 17 showing on NFL Network at 7:20 p.m.
Jason Garrett believes Sunday night streak is more coincidental than anything else.
“That’s another trend that some people might want to point to,” Garrett said. “Our job is to prepare as well as we can if we’re playing at home, on the road, in the division, out of the division, if we’re playing in a parking lot. We just want to be our best with this football team right now.”
Most coaches don’t like Sunday or Monday night games because it throws off the schedule for the following week.
Sunday night games can become a problem because of the long wait to kickoff. The Cowboys alter their schedule from noon or 3:15 p.m. kickoffs. Garrett will host his normal team meeting Saturday night, but the offensive and defensive meetings to go over the game plan one final time will happen Sunday morning.
“I think with experience you learn you just don’t need to be sitting in your room horizontally watching football on TV all day,” linebacker Keith Brooking said. “Get up, walk around and get the blood flowing. That’s important.”
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (93) as middle linebacker Keith Brooking (51) runs in to help
The Cowboys went through a four-game stretch where they had only one sack in three of the games. But now they’re back on a sack roll. They have 12 in the past three games, boosting their confidence.
“We believe we’ve got some of the best pass-rushers in the league,” said defensive end Anthony Spencer, second on the Cowboys with six sacks. “It’s all about confidence, and I think we have the right type of confidence in this room. I don’t think we really lost any confidence in that game. We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to make last weekend. We know we have the personnel to make plays. We’ve got all the confidence in the world right now.”
The Cowboys sacked Kevin Kolb four times in the first half last week, but they got to him only once after halftime. A game earlier, they sacked Matt Moore three times in the first half but only once in the second half.
Both quarterbacks proved more elusive in the second half, and the same might be true of Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who the Cowboys face Sunday night. Despite being a pocket passer, Manning has been sacked only 21 times in 12 games. The Giants have allowed the fifth-fewest sacks in the league.
“He’s the same way,” Spencer said. “He makes plays out of the pocket. He gets out on the run when he has to. He’s a proven quarterback in this league. He’s been playing well. We have to bring our ‘A’ game, we know that.”
Inside linebacker Sean Lee is on the practice field with a heavily protected left arm. Lee dislocated his left wrist in the Cowboys’ loss to the Eagles on Oct. 30. He sat out Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
He will play with a cast, if he plays against the Bills as expected, though it will have to be a less heavily padded club than what he is practicing with Wednesday.
Lee’s 73 tackles still leads the team, 30 more than Gerald Sensabaugh.
The Cowboys made do without Lee on Sunday, using Keith Brooking and Bradie James primarily as well as rookie Bruce Carter and Barry Church. Brooking had five tackles, according to the coaches’ stats, and James had six.
Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) is out of practice. He missed last Wednesday’s practice, too, to rest his torn plantar fascia. But he has not missed a game with the injury.
Backup offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell was not at practice Wednesday morning.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and running back Felix Jones (ankle) also missed the start of practice. Felix Jones is rehabbing and could play this week. Jenkins and Austin will miss this week.
Did you know? You can check the current Dallas Cowboys AND weekly opponents injury status right here on The Boys Are Back blog! Just click on the “INJURIES” tab at the top of every page.
Rookie linebacker Bruce Carter, a second-round pick out of North Carolina, got his first opportunity to play with the defense Sunday and “did fine,” according to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
“The game is real fast for him, obviously,” Ryan said. “He did all right. We played him some in nickel and dime, so he got a little bit of everything just with limited calls.”
Carter didn’t register a tackle but Ryan noted that he made “a real nice play” when he broke up a third-down pass to Doug Baldwin in the third quarter. With starter Sean Lee out with a dislocated left wrist, Carter spelled veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James.
Carter played on special teams in last week’s game against Philadelphia, his first action since Nov. 20. That’s when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a game against the Tar Heels’ rival, North Carolina State. He wasn’t able to practice with the team until Oct. 19.
“He’ll be OK. It’s tough with no training camp,” Ryan said of Carter. “You talk about throwing a kid in the fire, now that’s what he’s getting.”
Keith Brooking doesn’t understand what the big deal is.
Standing in front of his locker Friday, the 13-year veteran was getting asked numerous questions about the possibility of playing a full game Sunday against the Seahawks, with Sean Lee possibly out with a dislocated wrist.
Brooking, who is expected to start in place of Sean Lee, sounded somewhat offended by the line of questioning if he could hold up for an entire game, something he hasn’t been asked to do this year.
“I don’t think it’s concerning to me at all. I don’t know about it being too much or a lot,” Brooking said on Friday. “I’ve played every snap for 13 years. I think I can handle. If I play every snap this game, which is probably unlikely, I’m ready for it.”
Brooking and Bradie James will both likely play more with Lee out. Both of them have taken a backseat to Lee, who has been stellar this year, leading the team in tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries.
Still, head coach Jason Garrett has applauded both veterans for their ability to handle their new roles, and even take on things such as special teams.
“I knew my role before last week when Sean went down,” Brooking said. “I was comfortable with that and I’ve accepted that with everything I’ve had inside of me. Obviously my role has increased this week with his injury. Hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible. If not, I’m willing to do whatever. I haven’t done that this year, but I’m ready for it. I’ve had success in this league doing it before and I feel pretty comfortable that I can do it right now.”
Brooking ranks fourth on the defense with 36 tackles, while James is eighth with 24. Together, their 60 tackles is still 13 behind Lee, who only had one stop last week before leaving the game with the wrist injury.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee hasn’t practiced this week, and it still seems unlikely he’ll play Sunday against the Seahawks. But the Cowboys are fitting his dislocated left wrist with a cast.
“Typically what happens is there are a lot of different iterations of that thing. What is comfortable? What feels good?” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “And you kind of keep working through those kinds of things.”
Lee consulted with Dr. Bo Frederick, a Dallas hand and wrist specialist, on Monday. The doctor determined Lee’s wrist does not need immediate surgery, which would end Lee’s season.
But there is a good chance that Lee, who leads the team with 73 tackles, misses at least this week.
Bradie James and Keith Brooking will fill in for Lee, but the Cowboys also are trying to get second-round pick Bruce Carter familiar enough with the defense to give him some plays in relief of the veterans.
Second-round pick Bruce Carter made his NFL debut and his first career tackle Sunday against the Eagles. He hopes to see some spot duty on defense for the first time this week.
With Sean Lee’s status for Sunday’s game in doubt, the Cowboys are trying to get Carter up to speed on the defense. He could play some snaps in relief of Bradie James and Keith Brooking if Lee is unable to play. The Cowboys have no other inside linebackers besides, Lee, Brooking, James and Carter, though Orie Lemon is on the practice squad.
“I think he has a long way to go,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Carter. “He just hasn’t played a lot of football in this scheme yet. I thought he did a really good job in the game as a special teams player, and he just needs to get more and more comfortable, playing on the field in this defense. He’s a smart guy. He does pick it up well in the meeting room and when he’s watching tape. He just needs to have reps added and really that’s the case for any player, particularly a young player who has missed as much time as he has. He’s picking it up well. He’s been productive in practice. We’re hopeful he can take the next step and get in the game and be productive as well.”
Carter missed all of training camp and the first six weeks of the season while rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee from last November while he was at North Carolina. He played only special teams against the Eagles, stopping Jeremy Maclin on a punt return at the end of the first half.
“It definitely felt good to get my first tackle and get that underneath my belt and move forward,” Carter said.
He said he will stay late this week, trying to cram for Sunday.
“It’s an opportunity for me to go in and step up and show everybody what I can do and help this team out,” Carter said. “I don’t want the team, especially on defense, to fall any from where [Lee] was. I want to go in there and fill that void.”
By Adam Schefter | ESPN
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee suffered a dislocated wrist that will prevent him from playing Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and possibly well beyond, a source close to the situation said.
Some doctors believe he should have season-ending surgery, others believe he can cast the injury and play through it, the source said.
Lee has not made any decision yet. He and the Dallas Cowboys will continue consulting with doctors until they make a determination of what’s best for the linebacker’s future. The team hasn’t officially ruled him out for Sunday’s game.
Sean Lee still has some swelling. If he does undergo a surgical procedure, the recovery time would take six-to-eight weeks.
Lee hurt the wrist trying to tackle quarterback Michael Vick in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
If the Cowboys don’t have Sean Lee, Bradie James and Keith Brooking would split the workload at inside linebacker.
The Boys Are Back comment: Adam Schefter is hit or miss on his reporting. Take this report with a grain of salt. Once Sean Lee’s status is officially resolved, it’ll be reported here on The Boys Are Back blog.
THE VILLAGE IS BURNING: DMN columnist Rick Gosselin chats with readers after the Cowboys vs Eagles game
Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin chatted with readers Monday in the aftermath of the Cowboys-Eagles game to talk about a number of Cowboys-related items. Here are some highlights from the chat:
QUESTION: How is it that I can seemingly call exactly what they are going to do on offense about 70% of the time? Am I a football genius or are they truly that predictable?
Rick Gosselin: Until Dez Bryant learns how to run routes, this will be predictable offense. Hand it to Murray, throw short crossing routes to Jason Witten and work the intermediate areas with Miles Austin. Bryant is the wild card. He can make plays short, medium and long. But until he develops some discipline in his route running, Romo isn’t going to trust him. Bryant also better figure out how to beat press coverage by a defensive back. Nnamdi Asomugha schooled Bryant last night. When Bryant doesn’t have his way with defensive backs, he gets frustrated. Asomugha was so deep into Bryant’s head last night he became a non-factor.
QUESTION: Did the eagles figure out their problems and become a dominant team or was that more of an example of Dallas laying an egg against a 2-4 team?
Rick Gosselin: All of the above. The Eagles were the most talented team in the NFC East on opening day, and they remain the most talented team today. I believed the Eagles would have their struggles early and they might lose a few games as all the new pieces were attempting to fit together. I never expected them to lose four of their first six, though. Still, they have nine new starters, a new defensive coordinator and two new line coaches, one on offense and one on defense and it was going to take time for all of them to mesh. It appears the entire package came together last night and you saw what a juggernaut the Eagles could be. Still, the Cowboys played timid. Had they won, they would have all but ended Philadelphia’s season. The Eagles would have had to go 8-1 the rest of the way to win the division. With the rugged schedule the Giants face, I think the Eagles may have put themselves in a position to win the division last night. The Cowboys could have done the same with a victory. The Eagles succeeded, the Cowboys failed.
Veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking would likely start at inside linebacker if Sean Lee misses any time with his dislocated left wrist. But rookie Bruce Carter also would like to get in the mix there after making his season debut against the Eagles.
Carter, a second-round pick, missed the first six games of the season on the non-football injury list because of a college knee injury. He played only special teams against the Eagles.
“It felt good,” Carter said. “It was a lot of emotions running around. I got my first snaps. It felt good to run down on kickoffs. I can’t wait to get out there in the regular defense and show everybody what I can do.”
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was impressed with Carter’s work on special teams. Carter had a tackle on special teams, stopping Jeremy Maclin on a punt return on the final play of the second quarter, limiting Maclin to 7 yards.
“Bruce did a nice job. He really did,” Garrett said. “He’s gotten himself acclimated to playing football in a short period of time, has not had a lot of practices, but you can tell he’s a pretty natural, instinctive football player — a lot of what we saw of him on tape, coming out of school. He made a big tackle in the game on the punt coverage team. Maclin kind of broke out into the open, and Bruce made a nice angle tackle to get him down, really to prevent possibly a big return. He certainly has explosiveness, speed and quickness, and it looks like he’s getting acclimated to play football. The more he’s able to do, the more we’ll be able to give him.”
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the initial diagnosis was a dislocation. Lee, the Cowboys’ leading tackler, suffered the injury on the final play of the first quarter of Sunday night’s loss 34-7 loss in Philadelphia when his wrist was bent backward while attempting to tackle Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
“I’m hoping I could play next week,” said Lee, who had his wrist in a brace after the game. “I couldn’t return tonight. The doctors would not let me out there. Hopefully I can get it re-evaluated and it’ll be all right.”
Any absence from Lee would hurt the defense. Entering Sunday’s game the coaches had credited Lee with 72 tackles, 41 more than any other defender. He also has a team-leading three interceptions and recovered two fumbles.
Before his injury, the Cowboys’ defense struggled but it got worse in Lee’s absence. Brooking and James struggled in containing Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and were beat in coverage too.
Depth would be an issue, too. Rookie second-round pick Bruce Carter made his season debut against the Eagles, but the plan was to ease him into the lineup on special teams. Without Lee, Carter could be called on more quickly than anticipated to help in pass coverage.
The Cowboys lost another defensive starter for the night after cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Jenkins had been bothered earlier in the year with a stinger injury suffered in training camp and a shoulder injury suffered in the season opener, but he had not missed a game. He was replaced by Orlando Scandrick.
Meanwhile, punter Mat McBriar left the game with a left foot injury. Mat McBriar has some nerve issues in his left foot (non-kicking) which prevents him from planting. Dan Bailey replaced him and Chris Jones was signed to the practice roster on Friday as a precaution.
Jay Ratliff left the game late in the fourth quarter but is Ok. He went to the sidelines and was looked at by the trainers. He played numerous snaps on Sunday night with the Cowboys keeping Josh Brent inactive and with Sean Lissemore being used in his place it meant a heavy load for Ratliff.
Here are 15 things to know about Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles – Dallas Cowboys matchup:
1. The Eagles are going to have their hands full with Diamond Dez Bryant. The second-year receiver has 19 catches for 339 yards in five games. He’s averaging 17.8 yards per catch and has scored four times. Bryant has six catches of 25+ yards, tied for seventh-most in the NFL, according to STATS.com. And that doesn’t mean it’s just Tony Romo taking shots deep down the field with Bryant. Yards after the catch are a big part of the equation. Bryant is tough to bring down, and if the Eagles’ defensive backs don’t tackle, Bryant will pile up the YAC. Bryant caught one ball against the Rams at the St. Louis 37. Quintin Mikell met him 6 yards later, but couldn’t bring him down. Bryant broke the tackle and scampered all the way to the 21 for a 34-yard gain, which included 16 yards after the catch. The previous week, against the Patriots, he turned a 5-yard catch into a 33-yard gain, juking two New England defensive backs to the ground.