RISKY BUSINESS: Laurent Robinson released by Jaguars
IRVING, Texas – Laurent Robinson only got one year into his five-year, $32.5 million deal he signed last season, which guaranteed him $14 million.
It was a bold, hopeful move when the Jaguars gave him the charitable deal after his best professional season, finding the end zone on 11 of his 54 catches with the Cowboys in 2011. He only had four touchdowns in his previous four seasons, and his 858 yards in Dallas nearly doubled his receiving total from every previous year.
Robinson finished with just 24 catches, 252 yards, no touchdowns and a fumble for the Jaguars in 2012, but he only played in seven games after a whopping four concussions last season. He passed a physical for the Jaguars before his release, but even if he can pass a physical for his next team as well, his NFL future remains hazy.
Still, an offer to rejoin the Cowboys wouldn’t seem farfetched. He had chemistry with Tony Romo that he hadn’t found in any other quarterback since getting drafted by Atlanta in the third round in 2007.
He knows he won’t cash in the same way he did last season, when the Cowboys wouldn’t match the tremendous deal from Jacksonville for a third option. But the Cowboys could use his services once again, even with Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley on the rise, particularly considering Miles Austin’s health situation last year.
Whether or not Robinson is healthy enough to play is one thing. But for a cap strapped team in free agency, he wouldn’t be a poor addition if weeks or months down the line he chooses to return to Dallas for a much heftier bargain than what the Cowboys would have paid last year.
RELATED: Laurent Robinson’s NFL future clouded by concussions
Following four concussions during a four-month span in 2012, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Laurent Robinson acknowledged to NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer that his NFL future is cloudy.
Still experiencing symptoms, Robinson remains sensitive to light and cannot be around his crying infant daughter because of the “throbbing” headaches. The aftereffects have been severe enough that Robinson won’t go to the grocery store or even take out the trash during daylight hours.
Robinson concedes that it was the “wrong decision” to keep coming back last season after the first couple of concussions, but he’s still turning to hyperbaric-chamber sessions and resistance flexibility training in an effort to alleviate the symptoms and continue his football career. The Jaguars have simply told Robinson to stay home and rest his brain this offseason.
Although Robinson is tentatively allowing himself two more concussions before cutting the cord on his football career, his conscientious wife, Kat, is taking a more cautious approach.
“I’m worried every day that it’s going to affect our future,” Kat said. “I said one more concussion, you need to be done … I thought how are you going to try to compromise with me on your health, and your brain, and a concussion.”
It’s been two and a half months since Robinson last played an NFL game. It’s an ominous sign that his life is still adversely affected by the concussion symptoms.
“The players know when they sign up for this in the NFL that they’re susceptible to getting injuries,” Robinson said. “I don’t know if it’s worth it or not. I’ve been playing for six years and I want to continue to play, but I still want to live until I’m 80, 90 years old.”
Courtesy: Chris Wesseling | NFL.com
IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING: Tony Romo on Dez Bryant; why Laurent Robinson was successful with the Cowboys
Tony Romo rarely goes into detail about the Cowboys offense. During his weekly interviews at Valley Ranch he routinely states how he doesn’t want to give anything away to opposing defenses, which results in generic answers.
Tuesday was an off day for the Cowboys, so Romo had some extra time to call into 103.3 [KESN-FM] and talk about a variety of topics, and the Cowboys offense was part of the discussion.
It’s no secret that the Cowboys are hurting offensively without the 11 touchdown receptions Laurent Robinson provided last season in his 14 games with the club. Many wonder why he and Romo worked so well in their only season together.
According to Romo, it’s because Robinson was usually in the right place at the right time.
“Laurent did a good job of … if it was a 12-yard curl route, he’d hit 12 yards and turn,” Romo said. “You don’t have to win by three yards every time. … Sometimes receivers will want to give the extra moves here and there and in some systems they allow you the freedom to do a lot of stuff.
“My thing is that our timing is pretty good as an offensive unit that you just need to be where you need to be on time. If you’re covered, you’re covered and I’ll move through to the next guy. If you’re not, then you’re not. But you can’t be places late. And that’s really what we preach as an offensive system and I think Laurent did a good job of that. But we got some pretty darn good guys now that do that.”
Dez Bryant is obviously someone that needs to be on the same page with Romo. While that hasn’t always been the case, Romo says Bryant has improved greatly since his rookie year and is continuing down the right path.
As a rookie, Bryant finished with 45 receptions for 561 yards. He improved to 63 catches for 928 yards last season. Through nine games in 2012, Bryant is on pace for 80 catches and 1,040 yards. However, after catching six touchdowns as a rookie and nine last season, Bryant has only three this season.
“Dez has come full circle from where he was a couple of years ago,” Romo said. “We go by catches whether or not someone has a good game as fans or as media, sometimes. But when we watch the tape, we go by how he blocked, did he get open? The coverages are going to dictate who’s going to get the ball. But does he run his route right? Is it precise? Is he quick in it?
“He’s come 180 degrees, almost full circle where he basically gets to a point where he understands the game. Let’s say he started off doing it 70 percent when he first got here. Then he got to 85. He’s really close to being a guy where it’s 100 percent. You got to go through some things sometimes but he’s a kid that wants it, that works hard, and he’s got a really bright future.
INTEGRATING TALENT: Jason Garrett likes Cowboys’ success with free agent additions
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Ernie Sims, who joined the team last week, made a positive impact in his 10 snaps against the New York Giants, said coach Jason Garrett, and could see more playing time Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Safety Charlie Peprah, also signed last week, could be active against Atlanta and Garrett said he has “done a nice job acclimating himself into the defense” during practices.
Taking players off the street and turning them into productive performers during the regular season has become a recurring theme with the Cowboys in recent seasons. Last year, Dallas watched receiver Laurent Robinson (11 TD catches) and offensive guard Montrae Holland (10 starts) step up as key contributors who were added to the roster after the start of the regular season.
Garrett is hoping Sims and Peprah could join that list.
“When an injury happens, you need to have a go-to guy at that spot,” Garrett said. “Our scouting department does a really good job, having those short lists and understanding not only where the guy was the last time he was playing but where he is now … Some times, it’s a go-to four or five guys to see who fits best for that given circumstance. But we have done a good job with that. It’s an important part of your team because, over the course of the season, you’re going to have injuries. To be able to absorb them with your current roster and then go out on the street to get guys who can be productive, it’s an important part of the course of the 16-game season.”
Garrett indicated Sims, signed in the wake of a season-ending injury to leading tackler Sean Lee, could have a bigger role this week but did not elaborate.
“I don’t want to go into specifics of that, but (Sims) did a nice job in last week’s game,” Garrett said. With more work, Garrett said Sims could “play even better” against the Falcons.
Former Dallas Cowboys WR Laurent Robinson suffers another concussion
Laurent Robinson’s first season in Jacksonville isn’t going quite as well as he or the team hoped.
Robinson got off on the wrong foot when training camp started and has just nine catches and 134 yards in four games this season. Now he’s dealing with his third concussion since the start of camp as well. Robinson was injured in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, making it two straight games with a concussion for the wide receiver.
Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Robinson isn’t expected to play against Chicago in Week Five, which is to be expected given the short interval between concussions. The Jaguars have a bye in Week Six, so he could wind up missing just one game although it wouldn’t be surprising if Robinson wound up missing more time.
We’re not sure how much that would actually hurt the Jaguars passing offense. The Jags are gaining just 146.1 yards per game through the air, which leaves them next to last in that statistic. Robinson’s absence clearly isn’t what the team wanted when they signed him to a five-year, $32.5 million deal, but things can’t really get too much worse in the passing game.
THE OTHER GARRETTS: Dallas Cowboys Pro Scouting Department delivers again
Last year, it seemed like whoever the Cowboys brought in during the regular season, it was smart move.
Laurent Robinson wasn’t just a steal, but one of the best pickups off the street you will ever see on any team. The guy had four touchdowns in four years and he gets 11 in 14 games.
But he wasn’t the only one. Tony Fiammetta started games at fullback, while Frank Walker was a big addition in the secondary. Even tailback Sammy Morris helped out when DeMarco Murray went down.
PHOTO: The three Garrett brothers played football at Princeton in the late 80’s. In 1987, the three played together for the Princeton Tigers. From left to right, Judd, Jason, and John.
Now, the guys in the Pro Scouting Department – Judd Garrett and Will McClay are at it again. Trading for Ryan Cook seemed like a nice cushion to the interior line. That’s before Phil Costa played just three snaps against the Giants and now will be out a while.
Cook is THE guy at center and the Cowboys seemingly made a nice call with him, especially since he’s been mostly a guard and tackle during his seven years in the league. But they saw enough of him at center, and obviously trusted former Cowboys scouting director Jeff Ireland, who is the GM in Miami and traded him to Dallas for the seventh-round pick.
What they did last year on the fly to get Robinson, Fiammetta, Walker and company, coupled with this free agent period in March to get Brandon Carr, Kyle Orton, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings and Dan Connor, suggests those pro scouts have a good feel for what the coaching staff is looking for.
And that only makes sense considering Judd Garrett is running the pro scouting department and happens to be the brother of the head coach.
But already Cook looks to be a good pickup, and it makes me think the addition of cornerback LeQuan Lewis should be rather helpful, too.
RELATED: Everything you ever wanted to know about Judd Garrett, and more!
Judd Garrett (born June 25, 1967) is a former coach and running back. He is currently the director of pro scouting for the Dallas Cowboys.
Playing career: Early years
Judd Garrett went to high school at University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio, where he earned a varsity letter in football, basketball, and baseball. He was named Most Valuable Player in all three sports his senior year. In football, as a senior, Garrett gained a school record 2,011 yards rushing and scored 35 touchdowns. He was selected first team all-state and he won the Cleveland Touchdown Club’s Lou Groza Award which is given to the Most Valuable Player in Northeast Ohio. Garrett graduated from University School in 1985.
Prior to University School, Garrett attended grade school at Saint Ann’s Catholic School which is located in Cleveland Heights, Ohio from 1978-1981. His three years at Saint Ann’s, Garrett played in three consecutive City Championship Football Games and his team won the City Championship in 1979.
Garrett is a 1990 graduate of Princeton University where he was a three year starter at running back. In his three seasons, Garrett gained 3,109 yards rushing, caught 137 passes and scored 41 touchdowns. In his senior year, Garrett lead the Tigers to their first Ivy League championship in 20 years. Following his senior season, Garrett was awarded the Asa S. Bushnell Cup which is given to the Ivy League Player of the Year, and he was selected to the Division 1-AA All-American team. He played in the 1990 Hula Bowl where he scored the first touchdown of the game. He also represented the Ivy League with a group of 40 league All-Stars in the Epson Ivy Bowl in Tokyo Japan vs. a team of Japanese All-Stars.
Garrett was drafted in the 12th round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. After being released by the Eagles, Garrett spent part of the 1990 season on the Dallas Cowboy’s injured reserve list. Garrett then played the next two seasons (1991–1992) with the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football. His first season in London, he led the league in receptions with 71 while helping the team amass an 11-1 record and the first ever World Bowl Championship. In that championship game, Garrett set a World Bowl record of 13 receptions and caught the game sealing touchdown with less than a minute left in the first half. After the 1991 season, Garrett was selected to the All-World League team. Following his two seasons in the World League, Garrett spent the 1993 season on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, earning a Super Bowl ring. He finished his playing career with two stints in the Canadian Football League with the Las Vegas Posse (1994) and the San Antonio Texans (1995).
Garrett started his NFL coaching career as an offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints under Mike Ditka from 1997-1999. After leaving the Saints, Garrett spent six seasons with Miami Dolphins from 2000–2005, as an assistant coach under Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban during which time the Dolphins had five winning seasons, won a Division Title and two playoff appearances. After the 2005 season, Garrett was hired by the St. Louis Rams to coach tight ends. He stayed with the Rams from 2006-2007. He was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as the director of pro scouting in May 2008.
Judd Garrett was married to the former Kathleen Kobler, an all-American soccer player at Princeton University, for 14 years, and together they had four children, Calvin, Frances, Campbell and Kassity. Kathy died unexpectedly on August 19, 2007 from a heart attack.
He has two brothers who currently coach in the NFL. Jason Garrett is the current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and John Garrett is the tight ends coach of the Cowboys.
His father (Jim Garrett) was an assistant coach for the New York Giants (1970–1973), New Orleans Saints (1976–77), and Cleveland Browns (1978–84), head coach of the Houston Texans of the fledgling WFL (1974), and head football coach at Columbia University (1985). From 1987-2004, he served as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys
Career highlights and awards
COWLISHAW: Ten receivers who are still available
SportsDay columnist Tim Cowlishaw answered reader questions during a live chat Thursday. Here are some highlights:
I would like to know , if you think it is a good idea for the Cowboys to sign Plaxico Burress to a contract or trade for James Jones or Percy Harvin. The Cowboys need a solid number 3 receiver. what are your thoughts? Have a great day!
Cowlishaw: I continue to believe that the bigger concerns at WR are 1 and 2, not 3. Can Dez stay out of trouble and produce for four quarters? He has had one 100-yard game in his pro career. Can Miles Austin bounce back? He has had declining numbers ever since his 2010 breakout season got him Kim Kardashian (briefly) and a rule-breaking contract. If they perform and Witten performs, there aren’t too many worries in terms of pass receiving production. If they don’t, then your question is valid and I don’t see any of the candidates for the No. 3 job duplicating Laurent Robinson’s last season. Then again, Robinson wasn’t here at this time a year ago.
Why won’t the Cowboys bring in a wideout for a tryout?
Cowlishaw: I will answer a question with a question. Why are fans so wrapped up in third wide receiver talk? Is this a holdover from the Drew, Tony and Butch days? I don’t think so. Quick, who was the 3rd WR on the Cowboys Super Bowl teams in the 90s? Heck, the 2nd WR (Alvin Harper) was irrelevant in lots of games (yes, he made big plays, too, I was there). If the key players perform, the battle between Radway-Beasley-Coale-Ogletree will be insignificant.
I think Chris’s question regarding bringing in a wideout might have been due to Miles’s injury history and the likelihood of a suspension for Dez. Would either of these factors make it reasonable for the team to shop for a veteran receiver?
Cowlishaw: I don’t think there’s a veteran to shop for. I have said Plaxico would be an OK signing but I was never in favor of Owens or Edwards (who both landed in Seattle, telling us a lot about the Seahawks). If Dez is suspended I presume it will be for one game. Miles isn’t on the injury report for New York yet. Let’s hold off on the panic button here.
A LOOK AT 10 RECEIVERS WHO ARE STILL AVAILABLE: Things went south in a hurry for the Cowboys’ receiving corps when Laurent Robinson bolted for Jacksonville. With Dez Bryant struggling through off-field issues, Miles Austin fighting yet another hamstring injury and a slew of unproven wideouts in training camp. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, options aren’t exactly plentiful in free agency, with most of the available wideouts either over the hill or harboring injury concerns. But if the Cowboys do decide to comb the market, here’s a look at 10 of the most well-known receivers who are still looking for jobs. Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer
Courtesy: Tim Cowlishaw | DMN
Plaxico Burress: Burress has plenty going for him — he’s big (6-5, 232 pounds), tough, and an ideal end zone target, which are often in short supply. He also quashed any questions about his ability to play after two years away from the NFL by hauling in 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns with the Jets in 2011. There have been reports that Burress is seeking more money than most think he’s worth, but if he’s not signed in a few weeks’ time, he may have no other choice but to lower his asking price. Louis DeLuca/Photographer
Dallas Cowboys like young WRs, still keeping “Eyes Peeled”
IRVING, Texas — With no clear No. 3 receiver on the roster right now, it’s understandable that observers listed Dallas as a potential landing spot for five-year veteran Jacoby Jones after the Texans waived him Wednesday.
For now, the Cowboys seem to be taking a similar approach to last year, when Roy Williams’ release created an opening for the No. 3 spot: they want to see how their young receivers progress this offseason, but they won’t pass up a chance to add a veteran player if they believe it’s a good fit.
“For the most part, we’re patient right now. We feel comfortable," Stephen Jones said when asked about the depth behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. "We’re not against adding somebody, but we kind of want to see how these young guys do. And if they don’t do the work or if it doesn’t pan out or if we’re not pleased, player acquisition is 365 days a year. I say that; I believe it.
“You never know when something’s going to come up and you get an opportunity to get a Laurent Robinson or somebody like that. We have to keep our eyes peeled and if the right guy comes up and he’s better than what we have, we’ll make a move.”
Robinson was the among the team’s biggest surprises last season. Signed on two separate occasions in early September, he stuck on the roster and caught a team-high 11 touchdown passes. In March, the Cowboys chose not to match an offer from Jacksonville that will pay Robinson more than $6 million per season.
As for those young wideouts currently on the team, Jones said fourth-year veteran Kevin Ogletree "has a ton of talent" and could have a Robinson-like breakout season if he continues to work at it. He said Raymond Radway likely "would have been on the 53 (man roster)" last season if not for a season-ending leg injury in the preseason finale, and Andre Holmes is a guy “everybody’s looking forward to seeing” in the upcoming workouts.
ON THE CLOCK: Arkansas’ Joe Adams could help ease loss of Laurent Robinson
Spotlight: Joe Adams, Arkansas
Based on the composition of the team and the financial considerations involved, it would be foolish for the Cowboys to expend either of their two highest draft picks on a receiver who would complement Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
So if the Cowboys are looking for another wide out, don’t expect them to grab one until later in the draft. A player who may be still available at that point is Arkansas’ Joe Adams. With a 5-11, 179-pound frame, Adams has the dimensions of a receiver who typically operates in the slot.
Last season, he made 54 receptions for 652 yards and three touchdowns and repeatedly showed the ability to make big plays. Although Adams had a disappointing performance at the combine, completing the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, he recently won the Johnny Rodgers Award as the nation’s top return specialist.
Last season, the Cowboys lacked a playmaker on special teams and used a rotation of running backs and wideouts to handle kicks and punts. Adams, who returned four punts for touchdowns as a senior, could improve that area and serve as a viable replacement for Robinson.
“A lot of teams are looking at me as being a receiver first and then being a returner as a plus,” Adams said at the combine. “I mean, that’s just part of the game that I play. … It just comes natural.”
JERRY JONES: Laurent Robinson’s roster spot is an opportunity for some of the younger players to fill
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Without the NFL’s salary cap sanctions coming down on the eve of free agency, the Cowboys would have had an extra $5 million to spend — possibly in an attempt to re-sign wide receiver Laurent Robinson.
But word around Valley Ranch before March 13 was Robinson had dropped a bit on their priority list, likely because there was a sense his market value would be too high. Indeed, Robinson got a $34 million offer from the Jaguars — and Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones conceded this week that they weren’t going to match it, no matter how much money they had available under the cap.
"I know Robinson was one we obviously wanted to have, but there was never a thought that if he had the opportunity to go to a team for starting receiver money, relative to his skill level, we never would have done it," Jones said. "It does not fit the profile you have to look at, which is not only this year but years to come."We said it umpteen times, if a team comes along and pays him as he’s a top two receiver, we’ll just move on. It’s a good opportunity for (Andre) Holmes, a good opportunity for some of the young guys we’ve got, (Dwayne) Harris and guys like that."
The Cowboys do have an opening at the third receiver spot. Don’t count practice squad member Teddy Williams on that list, though; head coach Jason Garrett said the former track star is heading back to corner when on-field workouts start.
NEXT MAN UP: Who will replace Laurent Robinson as number 3 receiver?
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Now that Laurent Robinson has taken his Cowboys-high 11 touchdown catches to Jacksonville, Jason Garrett is looking for one of his younger receivers to take his spot as the No. 3 receiver.
The team re-signed Kevin Ogletree to one-year deal and like the potential of second-year wideouts Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris. Raymond Radway has been recovering from a serious leg injury suffered at the end of his rookie preseason.
In the meantime, Garrett said the Cowboys will comb through the latter stages of free agency and the draft for depth.
"Now there is that void again, a guy who wants to step up into that third receiver role," Garrett said. "We’re hopeful those young guys step into that role and grab it like Laurent did, but at the same time we’re always on the lookout to try to help our team with players from outside our organization."
Dallas Cowboys bring back Ogletree after loss of Robinson
When the Cowboys declined to tender receiver Kevin Ogletree a restricted free agent contract of $1.2 million on Tuesday, making him an unrestricted free agent, it was more about the money than an desire to get rid of him.
They always left open the possibility of him returning at the league minimum.
After Ogletree took a free-agent visit to the New York Giants on Wednesday, the Cowboys reeled him back in with a one-year deal for $700,000.
Ogletree, a New York native, announced the move on his twitter account: "Loyalty Over Royalty. I’m really excited about what’s in front of us #Cowboys".
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hinted at the move on Thursday when said Ogletree was "still in the mix" when asked how team was going to address the third receiver spot after losing free agent Laurent Robinson to the Jaguars.
Ogletree is not the targeted answer at the position. He has largely been a disappointment since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He has 25 career catches and no touchdowns and was beating out by Robinson last year for the third receiver spot.
The Cowboys will still look at receivers in free agency and the draft.
They also like the potential of some of the young receivers on the roster, including Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris.
Ogletree gives them a veteran option who has played before in case one of the young players doesn’t develop.
Laurent Robinson turns his career year into $32.5 million with the Jaguars, to the surprise of no one
That didn’t take long. Two days into free agency, the Cowboys lost their leading touchdown receiver from last year, Laurent Robinson.
The sixth-year veteran signed a five-year deal worth $32.5 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars, making him a $6 million a year receiver, out of the Cowboys’ range for their third option. Except, Robinson also filled in as a superb No. 2 receiver when Miles Austin missed time. Robinson caught 11 touchdown passes, playing in 14 games after he was signed off the street in Week 2.
Now that the Cowboys determined they couldn’t afford Robinson after his career year, they’ll need to find another third option. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said at the NFL combine that the team is high on Andre Holmes, a practice squad player a year ago. Raymond Radway will also get a chance after a strong preseason last year, although it ended with him suffering a broken leg on the second-to-last play of the final preseason game.
ESPN DALLAS KEEP AND TRASH: Vote to approve or ditch players on the Dallas Cowboys roster
With more than 200,000 votes in our take ’em or trash ’em feature, our readers consider two rookies the most valuable members of the franchise.
Running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Sean Lee are the only players to have a 99 percent approval rating from you.
The top keepers:
1. Murray 99%
1. Lee 99%
2. Jason Witten 98%
2. Laurent Robinson 98%
2. Tyron Smith 98 %
2. DeMarcus Ware 98%
2. Dan Bailey 98%
Other notable keepers: Tony Romo 91%, Dez Bryant 97%.
Top of the trash heap:
1. Terence Newman 97%
1. Chauncey Washington 97%
2. Frank Walker 94%
3. David Buehler 93%
4. Keith Brooking 92%
5. Jon Kitna 91%
You can still vote who to keep and trash here.
Courtesy: ESPN Dallas
Five Players Who Actually Did Get Better
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo
Get better, get better, get better. All. Season. Long. Get better as the year goes on.
Everyday it’s all we heard from Jason Garrett, Tony Romo, this guy, that guy. Just about everyone in the locker room took it up as a personal motto, or default answer to questions from reporters.
And yet the Cowboys went from 7-4, leaders of the NFC East after Thanksgiving, to 8-8 and out of the playoffs because of a 1-4 finish to the season. The team did not get better.
Some guys did, though. Here are the five who improved their play most as the year went along.
QB Tony Romo – Long derided as a guy who falls apart in big games late in the season, he was actually at his worst in September and early October. He had the awful finish at the Jets in the opener and facilitated the collapse against Detroit in Week 4. But as he got healthy, his play improved, and he cut out the turnovers that had been a problem. In those last five games, his rating was a superb 115.9.
WR Laurent Robinson – The deeper into the season the Cowboys got, the more Robinson was depended upon offensively. An under-the-radar pickup who was actually released then brought back, he quickly picked up the offense and gained more of Romo’s trust each week.
RT Tyron Smith – The Cowboys expected growing pains for their first-round pick, and he did experience his share, though mainly at the beginning of the season. Just 20 years old for most of the year, his pass protection continued to improve, and he cut down on the penalties. Smith committed four fouls in the first five games of the year, and just four more in the remaining 11.
DL Sean Lissemore – Used only sparingly as a rotational player during the early going, Jay Ratliff’s injury situation put the 2010 seventh-round pick on the field much more down the stretch. He played both end and nose tackle, and managed to be productive with the reps he received, registering two sacks in December and a season-high six tackles against Philadelphia in Week 16.
LB Bruce Carter – Due to a knee injury suffered in November of 2010, Carter was on the PUP list the first six games of the year, but became active against the Eagles in Week 8, playing on special teams. As he continued to gain trust in the knee he started flashing more and more on special teams, even blocking a punt against Philadelphia, and by the must-win game in Week 17, had earned enough trust from coaches to register a lot of defensive snaps.
RISING STAR: Two TDs boost market value for Laurent Robinson
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson (81) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown catch with fellow receivers Dez Bryant and Jesse Holley
At the time, they were huge plays in the game, the two touchdowns to Laurent Robinson which brought the Cowboys momentarily back to within one score Sunday night, after falling behind 21-0 in the first half.
The comeback effort was in vain, as it turned out, but Robinson’s two scores were far from meaningless. Touchdowns No. 10 and 11 on the season, they just further boosted the future market value of the free agent-to-be wide receiver.
At the time, though, that wasn’t what he and the rest of the team were thinking about.
"We were excited," Robinson said of the second-half charge, which crescendoed with his six-yard slant route touchdown with 10:15 to play. "We were moving the ball well, just trying to make plays. Unfortunately it came up a little short."
Now that the season is over, the business of trying to improve for next year starts immediately. For the wide receiving corps, at least, that would be tougher if Robinson leaves via free agency.
"I want to be a Cowboy," Robinson said. "I love it here, they love me here, it seems like I’ve got a great connection with Tony (Romo). I love the guys, Dez (Bryant), Miles (Austin), (Kevin) Ogletree, (Jesse) Holley. We’ll just wait and see what happens . . . I’ll sit back and talk to my agent and see what happens, but I love it here. That’s all I can say."
Robinson finished the year with 54 catches for 858 yards and the 11 scores, nine more than his previous career high. A fifth-year pro, Robinson was originally a third-round pick of Atlanta, but was traded to St. Louis in 2009. He went to training camp with San Diego this summer, but was released before the season began.
Signing with the Cowboys in Week 1 and injuring a hamstring in his first practice with the team, he made his debut in Week 3 against Washington.
He recorded his first of three 100-yard games the next week against Detroit, and beginning in Week 8 against Philadelphia, caught a touchdown in five straight games, nine in a span of eight weeks.
All along the way, his value on the market and his value to the Cowboys continued to rise.
"It was a good feeling," Robinson said. "I knew I had talent, I knew I could make plays, but I finally got an opportunity to show what I can do, and I thank them for taking a chance on me."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Milestones achieved during the Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants game
Here are notes compiled by the Dallas Cowboys:
The Dallas Cowboys finished tonight’s game with 300 yards to give the club 6,008 for the season. The club’s total this season is the second-most in a season in franchise history:
Laurent Robinson caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season tonight. It is the 15th time in team history and Robinson is the eighth different Cowboy to reach double-digit touchdown catches in a season.
Robinson had his second touchdown catch of the game in the fourth quarter for his third multiple touchdown game of the season and his career.
Tony Romo threw for 289 yards tonight to give him 4,184 for the season. He eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark for the third time in his career and the third time in team history. He is the 14th quarterback in league history with three-or-more 4,000-yard seasons. Romo’s three 4,000-yard seasons tie him with Dan Fouts, Drew Bledsoe, Kurt Warner,Trent Green, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning for the eighth-most. Above that group are Warren Moon and Tom Brady with four, then Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Drew Brees with six. Peyton Manning tops the list with 11 4,000-yard seasons.
Romo threw for 4,184 yards this season to rank third in a season in club history:
Player (Year) Yards
Tony Romo (2009)……. 4,483
Tony Romo (2007)……. 4,211
Tony Romo (2011)……. 4,184
Danny White (1983)…… 3,980
Drew Bledsoe (2005)…. 3,639
Romo’s two touchdown passes tonight gave him 31 for the season. Along with his club record 36 from 2007, it is the second time in team history a quarterback has topped 30 touchdowns, making Romo the 19th quarterback in NFL history to top 30 touchdowns more than once in his career.
Romo’s 31 touchdowns in 2011 rank in a season in team history:
Player (Year) TDs
Tony Romo (2007)……. 36
Tony Romo (2011)……. 31
Danny White (1983)…… 29
Danny White (1980)…… 28
Roger Staubach (1979) 27
Tony Romo (2008, 09). 26
Romo completed 29 pass completions tonight to give him 346 for the season. His 346 this season are second in a season in team history:
Player (Year) Comps
Tony Romo (2009)……. 347
Tony Romo (2011)……. 346
Tony Romo (2007)……. 335
Danny White (1983)…… 334
Troy Aikman (1992)…… 302
With his 106.0 rating, Romo has topped 100.0 nine times this season to tie his figure from 2009 for the most 100.0-plus rating games by a quarterback in a season in team history. It was also his 43rd career game with a passer rating of at least 100.0 for the second-most 100-plus rating games in team history:
Troy Aikman………… 44
Tony Romo………….. 43
Roger Staubach…… 37
Danny White………… 33
Craig Morton………… 24
DeMarcus Ware’s 1.5 sacks tonight gave him 19.5 on the season – the second-most in his career and in team history:
Player (Year) Sacks
DeMarcus Ware (2008)……. 20.0
DeMarcus Ware (2011)…… 19.5
DeMarcus Ware (2010)……. 15.5
Jim Jeffcoat (1986)………… 14.0
DeMarcus Ware (2007)……. 14.0
DeMarcus Ware’s 1.5 sacks tonight upped his club record of multiple sack games to 23. It was also his sixth multi-sack game this season. Ware’s six multi-sack games this season are the most in his career and the most in a season in franchise history:
Multi-sack games (Cowboys season)
Player (Year) Games
DeMarcus Ware (2011)………. 6
Randy White (1984)……………. 4
Jim Jeffcoat (1989)…………….. 4
Charles Haley (1995)………….. 4
Greg Ellis (2007)………………… 4
DeMarcus Ware (2007, 09-10) 4
Ware’s 1.5 sacks tonight also gave him back-to-back multi-sack games for the second time this season (Weeks 1-2) and the fourth time in his career.
Jason Witten’s seven catches tonight gave him 79 for the season. It was his sixth season with 75-or-more receptions – the second-most among tight ends in NFL history. Tony Gonzalez has the top spot with eight. The 2011 season was Witten’s fifth consecutive with 75-plus receptions – the most by a tight end in league history.
Witten also led the team in receptions for the fifth straight season and sixth overall. Only Michael Irvin (eight times and eight straight) has led the team in receptions more times than Witten’s six.
Witten’s 69 yards tonight gave him 942 for the season, his sixth season with at least 900 yards. He trails only Gonzalez (eight) for the most by a tight end in league history.
Witten has reached 900 yards in each of the last five seasons trailing only Gonzalez (six straight) for the most consecutive 900-yard seasons by a tight end in league history.
Witten’s 942 receiving yards this season is the sixth-most by a tight end in franchise history:
Player (Season) Yards
Jason Witten (2007)………………. 1,145
Jason Witten (2009)………………. 1,030
Jason Witten (2010)………………. 1,002
Jason Witten (2004)…………………. 980
Jason Witten (2008)…………………. 952
Jason Witten (2011)………………… 942
VIDEO: Meet the Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach–Jimmy Robinson
TWO DEEP: Dallas Cowboys wide receivers with a chance to make club history
Obviously with a game like this on the horizon, it’s difficult to focus on anything other than the factors that play the biggest role in Sunday’s gigantic matchup with the Giants.
To win, the Cowboys will obviously need big plays from the offense, particularly the passing game. That’s what they did against the Giants in the first meeting back on Dec. 11 with Tony Romo throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
And it’s that type of distribution that could give the Cowboys a franchise first.
If Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant each catch a touchdown pass Sunday, it would mark the first time in the Cowboys’ 52-year history to have two different players with double-digit touchdown catches.
Both Robinson and Bryant have nine each this year not too far behind is Miles Austin, who has seven touchdowns despite missing six games this season. And let’s not rule him out completely since he does have a three-touchdown-catch game already this year in San Francisco.
But with all the great receivers this team has had over the years, and even the great 1-2 combinations of Alworth and Hayes, Pearson and Hill, Irvin and Harper and even Owens and Glenn, you would think it’s a feat that has occurred at least once before.
And it still hasn’t happened yet. Having both Robinson and Bryant catch a touchdown pass in the same game isn’t a given, although it has happened four times this year, including twice already this month.
The Cowboys are 3-1 this year when both Robinson and Bryant have a touchdown in the same game. Of course, the one loss . . . was to the Giants.
LAST HURRAH: Do or die for some Dallas Cowboys, possibly Spencer, Martellus Bennett, Bradie James and Terence Newman
Sunday’s winner take all match up against the Giants has been billed as a do or die game for Cowboys.
A win puts them in the playoffs. A loss ends their season.
What’s also true is that the game could possibly be the last one in a Cowboys uniform for a number of players.
That includes 20 Cowboys who are in the final year of their contracts, including linebacker Bradie James, safety Abe Elam and tight end Martellus Bennett.
The case could be the same for a few others like Terence Newman, who is signed through 2014 but could be salary cap casualty because age, injury and declining production.
Bradie James has seen the writing on the wall since the beginning of the season when his role was diminished because of the emergence of Sean Lee. James ranks eighth in tackles with 51, ending a club record streak of leading the team in tackles the last six years.
The nine-year veteran would like to continue his career with the Cowboys but he knows nothing is guaranteed. He acknowledges that a loss on Sunday could possibly usher in wholesale changes to more than just the players who are no under contract for next season.
"It could all just change around," James said. "That is just the reality of it."
Anthony Spencer, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, is of the same mindset after what has been a disappointing season for him. The Cowboys have not engaged in talks of a contracts with the former 2006 first round pick.
"It could be that," said Spencer was asked if this could be his last game with the Cowboys. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. So I’m not worried about it. I’m just trying to get through the season."
Spencer and the Cowboys had huge expectations come into the season that he would thrive under new coordinator Rob Ryan and provide legitimate pass rushing threat opposite Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. But after getting three sacks in the first thee games, he has just three over the last 12. His six sacks on the season are a huge disappointment for him and certainly weren’t enough to prompt the Cowboys into signing him to a long-term contract extension.
"I started fast," Spencer said. " I had high hopes for more sacks. It didn’t end up that way. (Playing more coverage) had something to do with it. You can’t get sacks when you are not rushing. I want to be here. I like it here. But I got to do what’s best for my family."
Other Cowboys whose contracts expire at the end of the season are cornerback Alan Ball, guard Derrick Dockery, fullback Tony Fiammetta, defensive end Clifton Geathers, guard Montrae Holland, receivers Jesse Holley, Laurent Robinson and Kevin Ogletree, quarterback Jon Kitna, guard Daniel Loper, punter Mat McBriar, running back Sammy Morris, tackle Jeremy Parnell, cornerback Frank Walker and running back Chauncey Washington.
Diamond Dez switches agents; Signs with Drew Rosenhaus
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) and Laurent Robinson (81) celebrate Bryant’s first quarter touchdown as the Dallas Cowboys play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Dez Bryant still has three more years remaining on his contract after this year, don’t be surprised if a renegotiation isn’t too far away.
Especially since Bryant has changed agents, replacing Eugene Parker with Drew Rosenhaus, arguably the most visible sports agent in the NFL.
Bryant’s ties to Deion Sanders likely led him to sign with Parker before being drafted. But Sanders, who has been more like a mentor for Bryant, has reportedly severed ties with the second-year receiver.
So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Bryant is moving on to a new agent in Rosenhaus, who also represents Mike Jenkins and Kevin Ogletree. Rosenhaus did have Abram Elam as a client when he signed a one-year deal but no longer servers as his agent.
Bryant is just two seasons into a five-year, $11.8 million contract that included $8.5 million guaranteed. However, if the Cowboys have interest in keeping Laurent Robinson, who will be a free agent and could warrant starting receiver dollars, the club might want to redo Bryant’s deal as well. It’s likely Bryant and Rosenhaus won’t be comfortable with being the third-highest paid receiver on the team behind Austin and Robinson.
Then again, the Cowboys might not even make a strong push for Robinson, or at least until after he tests the free-agent market.
Regardless of that situation, it’s clear Bryant is already thinking about his next contract and has found the guy to help him get there.
Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis
Former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin signs autographs before the Dallas Cowboys play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Beat Writers Recap: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Jimmy Robinson, Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers, with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88), wide receiver Miles Austin (19) and wide receiver Laurent Robinson (81) on the bench in the second quarter.
The Cowboys finished their 15th game of the season with a 20-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday afternoon. We review the game in our weekly Beat Writers Recap.
- If the Cowboys-Eagles game told us anything it’s that Stephen McGee is not ready to become a full-time No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo. McGee’s line on Saturday: 24-of-38 for 182 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and three sacks. McGee dumped off too many passes and just didn’t seem relaxed in the pocket. The Eagles’ pass rush had something to do with that of course, but there was this drive starting with 9:33 to play in the game that McGee could have used to prove something to the coaching staff. It started at the Cowboys’ 23 and ended when McGee tried to throw to Martellus Bennett in the end zone while missing an open Miles Austin. During the drive, McGee’s longest completed pass was a 15-yarder to third-string running back Chauncey Washington.
- It was interesting that coach Jason Garrett didn’t sit some regular offensive starters, other than Felix Jones, in the late stages of the game. Yes, Garrett is trying to win and didn’t want to present a front that he didn’t care. Yet, there would have been nothing wrong with sitting Kyle Koiser (foot) and Laurent Robinson (shoulder) and maybe giving a few snaps to Jeremy Parnell at tackle with the game out of reach. One of the problems we have with Garrett’s decision making last year was his refusal to play young tackle Sam Young. At some point you need to find out if young players can play.
- The more we watch defensive end Sean Lissemore, the more we like him. He finished with four tackles and has performed well with extended snaps with Josh Brent (knee) out. What the Cowboys do next year at end is an interesting debate. We believe Jason Hatcher will return, but we’re not sure about Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears coming back. In the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme, it’s hard to judge the defensive ends on stats, because Coleman and Spears are asked to play the run. Spears has been more active than Coleman the last few weeks, though Coleman did have a tackle for loss on Saturday, his first since Thanksgiving.
- Punter Mat McBriar had a nice day versus Philadelphia. Of his nine punts, he landed a season-high five inside the 20. He’s been bothered by nerve damage in his left (non-kicking) foot, which cost him one game this year. McBriar is still one of the best punters in the NFL, as evident by his effort at Arizona on Dec. 4 where he held the dangerous Patrick Peterson to just 1 return yard, but his health has bothered him at times in 2011.
- Romo didn’t complete a pass Saturday, marking the first time in his career that’s ever happened. The main concern going forward with Romo regarding his bruised hand is the ability to grip the ball. If he struggles in that area, he will have difficulty passing and handing off. … With Kevin Ogletree (knee) being inactive for the Eagles game, you have to wonder about his own future. The Cowboys expected so much out of him, but Robinson surpassed him on the depth chart. … Good to see Dwayne Harris with a 51-yard kickoff return. He is running with confidence and might break one in the regular-season finale at the New York Giants.
Calvin Watkins | ESPN Dallas
INJURY UPDATE: Montrae Holland to get an MRI | Tony Romo and Felix Jones pulled | Others playing through the pain
Dallas Cowboys starting guard Montrae Holland (64) suffered a left arm injury with 7:25 to play in the fourth quarter.
ARLINGTON, Texas — It won’t be an easy Christmas Day for starting right guard Montrae Holland. He suffered a left arm injury with 7:25 to play in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 20-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.
Holland said he might have hurt his elbow and will undergo an MRI exam Sunday.
Inside linebacker Sean Lee left the game with a hamstring injury but said he could have returned if the game had mattered.
"I’m fine," Lee said. "The trainers didn’t let me go back in. It’s a non-issue. I’ll be rolling as soon as next week starts up again."
The Cowboys, of course lost starting quarterback Tony Romo to a bruised right hand, and his status is uncertain for the regular season finale at the New York Giants next week.
Among the nicked up players: DeMarcus Ware (neck), Jay Ratliff (ribs), Mike Jenkins (shoulder), Felix Jones (hamstring), Laurent Robinson (shoulder), Kyle Kosier (foot) and Gerald Sensabaugh (foot) all played through the game.
Jones was taken out after a handful of snaps in the first half. He finished with 24 yards on four carries.
"Felix was getting himself ready all week to try and play in this game," coach Jason Garrett said. "He didn’t practice the whole week. He did more stuff [Friday] to get himself ready and warmed up well before the game. That was going to be a situation we were going to monitor based on what was happening up in New York. If he was ready to go and play we were going to try and give him a go."
Jones wanted to play in the game as did other players such as Ware, who only played seven snaps last week at Tampa Bay. Ware got significant snaps versus Philadelphia and performed well.
Ware had four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback pressures.
"If [Ware] is out there everybody got to be out there," Jenkins said.
Stay up-to-date with the Dallas Cowboys (and weekly opponents) injury status right HERE on The Boys Are Back blog. Check out the INJURIES page, located at the top of every post.
Why the Cowboys won’t try and lock up Laurent Robinson until after this season
Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis
Dallas Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson scores against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
IRVING – Receiver Laurent Robinson said he would love to wear the blue star on his helmet the rest of his career, but the Cowboys can’t try to re-sign him until the 2012 free agency period opens.
San Diego made Robinson one of its final training camp cuts and it’s turned into a huge gain for the Cowboys. Robinson has enjoyed a breakout season by setting career highs with 49 catches for 792 yards and nine touchdowns.
Robinson is playing under a one-year contract for $685,000. It would seemingly make perfect sense for the Cowboys to re-sign him now. But they simply can’t do that because Robinson is a vested veteran (with four previous years of experience) signed under a minimum-salary benefit contract that doesn’t allow the Cowboys to renegotiate with him during his contract year.
That means Robinson will become a free agent regardless and every other NFL team will have a chance to sign him when the free agency period opens, which usually happens in early March.
"There will be a lot of teams that want him, but at the right, proper time if the Cowboys say, ‘We want to make you our guy here,’ nothing would make us happier," said Harold Lewis, Robinson’s agent who is the president of the National Sports Agency in St. Louis. "Common sense tells you they want him back."
Just two weeks ago, the Cowboys signed safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who was playing under a one-year contract, to a five-year extension for $22.5 million.
Robinson has left no doubt about his value to the Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo, who has completed a touchdown pass to Robinson inside the red zone in six of the last seven games.
"I can’t look too much into the future because we have such a big game ahead of us this week, but hopefully it’s a bright future. Hopefully I can stay here in Dallas," Robinson said. "I love playing here. I love playing with these guys. I love playing with Tony and wearing the star every day, so hopefully we can make it happen."
ROSTER MOVES/INJURY UPDATE: Felix Jones | Chauncey Washington promoted | Daniel Loper released
With running back Felix Jones listed as questionable for the Eagles game with a hamstring injury, Chauncey Washington was signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
Washington was needed for depth purposes. Jones has not practiced all week and his primary backup is 12-year veteran Sammy Morris who has been with the team less than two weeks.
Washington signed to the Cowboys practice squad on November 30, 2011. He was originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round (213th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of USC.
He played in six games with the Jaguars as a rookie carrying the ball four times for nine yards and adding one catch for nine yards. He spent most of the 2009 season with the Dallas Cowboys bouncing between their practice squad and active roster – seeing action in two games.
In 2010, he was on the N.Y. Jets practice squad until signing with the St. Louis Rams on September 28, where he appeared in one game before being added to their practice squad. He was released by St. Louis on August 4, 2011.
The club released guard Daniel Loper. Loper was inactive for seven games this season with Dallas.
Running back Felix Jones is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. He again did not practice on Friday, so he missed all week with a tight hamstring. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said every day he was hopeful Jones could play.
Jones spent the week working on the side with the training staff. He did not appear to be struggling in his rehab drills Thursday during the part of practice open to reporters.
Also listed as questionable are cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder), receiver Kevin Ogletree (knee), nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ribs), receiver Laurent Robinson (shoulder), linebacker DeMarcus Ware (neck stinger) and backup safety Danny McCray (ankle).
Guard Kyle Kosier (foot) had a full practice on Friday and is listed as probable, along with linebacker Sean Lee (wrist) and punter Mat McBriar (foot).
Nose tackle Josh Brent (knee) and receiver Andre Holmes (hamstring) are out.
Did you know? You can keep up with the Dallas Cowboys (and weekly opponents) Injury Updates right here on The Boys Are Back blog. Just click on the “INJURY UPDATE” tab at the top of each page.