Tag Archives: Martellus Bennett

MARTY B’ GONE: Bennett busts out of Witten’s shadow, good enough to start for New York Giants

New York Giants - Former Dallas Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett - The Boys Are Back blog

Oh, it’s an easy annoyance. The second-round pick who never really made it here in four years goes to the division rival, the Super Bowl champions, and has now done something no player in the Giants’ storied history has ever done.

Martellus Bennett became the first Giants player to record a touchdown catch in each of his first three games.

Are you kidding? No, it’s a reality and one that obviously has Cowboys fans wondering why it didn’t work out like that in Dallas.

It doesn’t really take a Sherlock Holmes investigation to figure out. The Cowboys had Jason Witten. He was and still is the starter. He was and still is a better overall player. And Martellus Bennett’s contract expired and he wanted to be a starter.

He found that in New York and so far, he’s taking advantage.

In three games, Bennett has 15 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns. He needs two catches to tie last year’s total and he’s already surpassed his 144-yard production from all of last year. And the three touchdowns? Well, that’s one shy of the four he had in his entire four years in Dallas, which all occurred in his rookie season.

Not just good for Martellus, but great for Martellus. That’s all he ever wanted was to be a starting tight end in the NFL and he’s getting the chance to do that. And on a big stage with a great quarterback throwing the ball to him.

Like anything involving the Cowboys, this will probably be turned back at them for not developing him better, but the reality of the situation is this: It wasn’t going to work here in Dallas, not to the point of making anyone happy.

When you take a guy in the second round, you expect production. You expect a good starting player who can possibly get to a Pro Bowl level. You don’t expect a backup who sometimes contributes and sometimes he’s just a blocker that often had no impact on the game.

And on the flip side, when you’re taken in the second round like he was in 2008, Bennett expects to one day be that starting player and a go-to member of the offense.

With Witten in the fold, it wasn’t going to happen. And it’s nothing new. It didn’t work for Anthony Fasano in 2006 either. He was a second-round pick that was here two years and the Cowboys traded him to Miami, one day before the draft in which they got Bennett with the 60th overall pick.

If anyone is to be blamed here, it has to be the Cowboys for drafting Bennett and creating these expectations that simply couldn’t be fulfilled.

And while everyone wants to bring the New England Patriots into the conversation because they manage to have a successful two-tight end offense, it’s really not the same at all. For starters, Aaron Hernandez is the biggest, slowest wide receiver in the NFL. He’s great at what he does, but not even the Patriots really consider him a true tight end. Sure, you might put him in the “TE” slot for your fantasy team, but he’s not asked to do the same things as most tight ends.

And New England runs a more inside-out offense. They focus on the slots with the tight ends and Wes Welker. They don’t invest huge money on the outside receivers. They lucked into a record-setting season with Randy Moss, but they thought they were getting an aging veteran on his last legs. That’s the approach they take with guys like Deion Branch, Reche Caldwell, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch, who keeps coming back.

They don’t pay $9 million a season for a speedster like Miles Austin or a first-round pick such as Dez Bryant.

It’s not the same. And if you go around the league, there aren’t many teams, if any, that get the ball to BOTH tight ends on a regular basis.

Sure, it probably sucks to see Bennett doing so well for the Giants when he was here for four years, but a part of that is also on him.

Truth be told, the Cowboys did want Martellus back this year. They offered him the same one-year deal he got with the Giants. But it was clear when Bennett cleaned out his locker on the last day of the season that he simply wanted out.

His act here in Dallas had gotten old for everyone. He was tired of playing behind Witten and not getting the ball. The Cowboys were probably tired of seeing him coast through seasons, where he often seemed more excited about non-football interests such as art or his clothing line. One of Bennett’s biggest storylines last year occurred in the locker room when he got into some words with a member of the media and one of my colleagues.

That really wasn’t even a big deal, but it goes to show what kind of season he had on the field.

He needed a change and a fresh start. He’s getting that in New York.

But I think it’s a stretch to say that he’s all of a sudden a better player and a more developed tight end. He still has an issue with drops and he got into a shouting match with a coach on the sidelines Thursday night against Carolina for a miscommunication in personnel.

I don’t think we’re seeing a different player at all. I think we’re seeing a guy with an opportunity – one that just wasn’t available here in Dallas.

NFC EAST RIVAL RANT: Jason Garrett feels Giants TE Martellus Bennett is “Complimentary” Player

Following a week 17 loss to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett was already thinking ahead. As his team exited the field with their heads hung, Bennett approached quarterback Eli Manning to offer him congratulations … and to suggest the two might be playing together in 2012.

NFC EAST RIVAL RANT - Jason Garrett feels Giants TE Martellus Bennett is Complimentary Player

Bennett’s foresight proved to be incredible as the Giants signed the free agent during the offseason.

No longer in the shadow of Jason Witten, Bennett now feels he can show the football world exactly what he’s made of. And thus far, he’s done that. Save for a rough game against the New England Patriots in week four of the preseason, Bennett has drawn nothing but praise from coaches and teammates, with Tom Coughlin going as far as calling Bennett a "vertical threat" – not the usual verbiage that describes one of the NFL’s premiere blocking tight ends.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett disagrees, however. He maintains that, although solid, Bennett is nothing more than a complimentary player.

"Martellus is complementary; I think we played to his strengths. We felt like he was a very good run-blocker and a very good pass-protector, and when he got opportunities in the passing game, he generally did a very good job with those as well," Garrett said.

Already anxious to "kick their asses," this is sure to add a little extra spark to what the Black Unicorn plans to unleash this coming Wednesday.

Courtesy: Dan Benton | Giants101

Editors Rant: This is a great example of taking a fraction of a much more in-depth, comprehensive interview and re-spinning it. This single quote takes the Jason Garrett assessment of Marty B completely out of context. In reality, Garrett was overly complimentary of the ex-Cowboy. A much more realistic version of what Garrett said can be found right here on The Boys Are Back blog … and numerous media outlets around Dallas … in print, audio, and video formats.

I reposted this New York rant only to make a few points: 

  • There is a lot of crap floating around the internet, reader beware
  • As fans, we should listen to the entire interview, or read the entire transcript
  • Mar‘tellus all about it’ Bennett is a selfish, self-serving dipshit
  • Why can’t Marty B have success in preseason game #4 (no starters)?
  • Bennett doesn’t have and never will have Jason Witten’s class, grit, or skill set
  • Martellus Bennett was a 2nd round bust for Dallas, never reached potential

Here’s the entire conference call from two days ago, September 1, 2012:

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants - Jason Garrett - The Boys Are Back blog

 Jason Garrett: Last Season Was Last Season

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks with the New York media via his pregame conference call and talks about the differences from last year to this year.

To listen, click HERE

LET’S CUT THE BULL: Dallas Cowboys won’t say it, but Martellus Bennett was bust

Former Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett joins the New York Giants - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ coaches never did seem to figure out how to light a motivational fire under Martellus Bennett’s butt during his four disappointing seasons in Dallas.

Jason Garrett certainly isn’t about to do it now that the tight end, known for his wild personality and wasted potential, plays for the New York Giants.

Garrett had nothing when asked about Bennett on Sunday, disagreeing with the premise of a question about why things didn’t work out for the Cowboys’ 2008 second-round pick in Dallas.

Garrett claimed that Bennett did what the Cowboys wanted him to do as the second tight end behind seven-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten. Garrett’s said Bennett performed “very well” in his primary roles as a run blocker and pass protector and did “a pretty good job” when he had opportunities in the passing game.

“The business of the NFL is that you can’t keep everybody when their contracts run out,” Garrett said. “We feel good about what Martellus did here. He’s going to go up to New York and do a nice job for them. He’s going to play a long time in this league.”

cowboys-wont-say-it-but-martellus-bennett-a-bust-in-dallas - The Boys Are Back blog

Let’s cut through the bull: You don’t draft a blocking tight end in the second round.

Give the Cowboys’ front office credit for not being complete fools, although they did draft a complementary back (Felix Jones) in the first round that year. They know you can find grunt-work tight ends, such as John Phillips, in the draft’s later rounds. They believed Marty B, with his size and athleticism, would be much more than that.

Valley Ranch folks raved about Bennett’s explosiveness early in his Cowboys tenure. They gushed about the way that he came out of breaks like a wide receiver. They dreamed of the possibilities while watching him make acrobatic catch after acrobatic catch in the Alamodome during the 2009 training camp.

But Bennett’s four-year totals would be one so-so season for Witten: 85 catches, 846 yards and four touchdowns. After teasing with four touchdowns as a rookie, Bennett failed to reach the end zone in the last three seasons.

The blame game for Bennett’s poor production in the passing game can be a chicken-or-the-egg kind of deal. Was it because he didn’t get enough opportunities? Or did he not get opportunities because he failed to earn the trust of the coaches and the quarterback?

We’ll find out this season.

We already know that Bennett was a wasted second-round pick for the Cowboys, whether or not Garrett wants to admit it a few days before facing the Giants.

Tim MacMahon | ESPN Dallas

TALKIN’ TIGHT ENDS: Jason Witten, Colin Cochart, and Martellus All About It Bennett

IRVING — Even though he was limited, Jason Witten practiced in pads Saturday for the first time since suffering a lacerated spleen in the team’s Aug. 13 preseason opener.

“I’m doing everything I can to put myself in position to play, see if I can get cleared in time,’’ Witten, the seven-time Pro Bowler, said. “I’m doing more and more each day. It feels really good. I feel really good.’’

But Witten is still waiting to learn if the doctors and the team’s medical staff will allow him take the field Wednesday against the New York Giants.

He is holding out hope he will be permitted to play but added “obviously, it’s beyond me.’’

In the event he is cleared, he is expected to wear additional Kevlar padding to protect his mid-section. The Cowboys, though, have prepared themselves in case Witten can’t play. On Saturday, they acquired former Cincinnati tight end Colin Cochart off waivers. Cochart, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, played in 10 games last season and made five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.

But Giants tight end Martellus Bennett (Marty B), who played with Witten the previous four seasons, said Cochart may not be needed. Knowing Witten’s history of playing with injuries, Bennett told New York reporters, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he picked up his spleen, held it in his hand and tried to run routes.”

RELATED: SCOUTING REPORT – TE Cochart can give Cowboys blocking boost

On Saturday morning the Cowboys put in a claim for and were awarded tight end Colin Cochart from the Cincinnati Bengals. Here is a scouting report from what I was able to observe.

Games viewed: Preseason 2012, New York Jets, Atlanta, Green Bay

  • Cochart has nice size and a thicker lower body. Plays as a true in line “Y” but can also give you something as a “U” or “M” guy as well.  
  • Not the most fluid moving athlete up the field on routes. Is more like Phillips than Witten or Hanna. Is not the type that is going to get open naturally.  But you do see him do some athletic things when it comes to adjusting on the move. 
  • Showed really nice awareness on the goal line against the Jets to push his man to the tackle, then pick up the linebacker. Only saw one time and that was against the Falcons where he missed on his adjustment on the second level in getting the linebacker. 
  • Did a nice job of walling off his man on the down block. Stout enough to hold that position and allow the ball to get to him. Makes the effort to finish blocks, can get into his man and has some snap to his game. Good initial pop but his hands will get outside the frame work of defender and he becomes a push-shove blocker. 
  • Can get some push one on one against linebackers but didn’t see many opportunities against linemen. Used some in pass protection as well, got a little over extended against the Falcons but didn’t give up a sack or pressure. 
  • As mentioned, most routes were limited for him and only saw one chance to catch the ball and that was a pass to the flat that he can to turn back, adjust and grab against Green Bay. 
  • What he brings is a big body at the point of attack that is used to playing along the line. Not going to beat you with his hands but how he is able to block. 

Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst – Scout

RELATED: Jason Garrett on former Dallas Cowboy TE Marty B

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said former backup tight end Martellus Bennett is going to do a nice job for the Giants and will play in the NFL for a long time.

He said Bennett did what he was asked to do with the Cowboys – run-block and pass-protect – while playing behind a seven-time Pro Bowl tight end in Jason Witten.

“We drafted Martellus, and Martellus  had a role as our backup tight end, or our second tight end,” Garrett said. “We used him a lot. The personnel group that he played in most, what we called ‘12’ – two receivers, two tight ends and one back – we probably used that more than any other personnel group in our offense, and certainly we used that personnel group probably as much as anybody in our league. Martellus’ role for us was to be a run-blocker. He did that very well. And a pass protector. He did that very well. And when he had opportunities to catch the ball, for the most part he did a pretty good job.”

Bennett caught 85 passes for 846 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons with the Cowboys, who drafted him in the second round in 2008 out of Texas A&M. He never scored after his rookie year, however, and in his best receiving season, caught 33 passes with a 7.9 average. He played in 60 games.

“The business of the NFL is, you can’t keep everybody when their contracts run out,” Garrett said. “So we feel good about what Martellus did here. He’s going to go up to New York and do a nice job for them. He’s going to play a long time in this league.”

RELATED: Tom Coughlin – NY Giants preparing as if Witten will play in opener

IRVING, TexasThe NFL scheduled the defending champion New York Giants to kickoff the season in a marquee game against the Dallas Cowboys because they considered it to be a star-studded matchup.

With that in mind, Wednesday’s game just wouldn’t be the same without Witten on the field.

Despite the seriousness of his spleen injury, Witten’s status for the game remains up in the air, and he did participate, at least on a limited basis, in Saturday’s practice. Witten has been the image of durability and toughness during his eight-year career only missing one game.

For that reason, the New York Giants are preparing themselves for the game as if Witten will play. In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin talked about their stance on Witten.

“We usually take the position that the player is going to play,” Coughlin said. “If it’s otherwise, it’s otherwise, but we’re not going to be surprised the other way. We’re not going to say that he’s not going to play and then he plays.”

Coughlin went on to explain the importance of Witten to the Cowboys. He explained the danger that he poses as a weapon if a team does not come in prepared to face him.

“All you’ve got to do is look at the tape,” Coughlin said. “He leads the team in receptions far and away. The quarterback is very comfortable in all circumstances getting him the ball. He does an outstanding job of maneuvering and getting open and finding a way to advance the ball once he catches it.”

Coughlin also recognized the difference Witten can make and what the Cowboys’ offense would truly be getting back with the return of their starting tight end.

“He’s very versatile and used in a lot of different ways,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin is justifying his preparation to face Witten based on the danger of being caught off guard if he does play, but like the rest of us he has no idea one way or the other if Witten will take the field Wednesday night.

GIANT TWIT: Ex-Cowboy Martellus Bennett still running his mouth

 

Not only is former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett not looking back on his days in Dallas, he’s looking forward to playing them and showing them what they will be missing.

Bennett joined the Giants this off-season and the New York media got to know his eagerness to express himself early. In a tweet from Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Bennett discussed his eagerness to beat his old team.

Ralph Vacchiano@RVacchianoNYDN

New TE Martellus Bennett can’t wait to play his old Cowboys team. "I just want to kick those guys’ asses," he said. #NYG

 

According to Vacchiano, the Cowboys aren’t the only ones on Bennett’s bad list.

Ralph Vacchiano@RVacchianoNYDN

Bennett said he has "ill feelings" towards the Cowboys … and everyone. "I don’t like a lot of people. I’m kind of an a–hole." #NYG

Vacchiano also said Bennett compared himself to Gandhi.

MARTELLUS BENNETT: Eli Manning is the best QB in the NFL

MARTELLUS BENNETT: Eli  Manning is the best QB in the NFL - The Boys Are Back blog

The last time we heard from former Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett, now with the New York Giants, he was explained that his weight had reached 291 pounds because he was in too good of shape.

Now he’s complimenting his new quarterback, Eli Manning, which is perfectly fine. He used to say nice things about his old quarterback all the time.

But he never called Tony Romo the best in the league.

"I don’t think there’s a better quarterback than (Manning) in the NFL right now," Bennett told The Star-Ledger. "Watching his approach to the game and the way he coaches everybody up and gets everybody involved, I think he’s an unselfish quarterback, which is what you want. He throws a very catchable ball, which is always awesome. He’s a great guy, a great quarterback."

Bennett, who caught only 85 passes in four seasons in Dallas, was frustrated the Cowboys didn’t give him more chances as a receiver.

He apparently believes Romo played favorites, and that Manning won’t.

"I mean, he’s just looking for the open guy," Bennett said. "It doesn’t matter who it is or what number you are. If you’re open, he’s going to hit you. You have to be ready. That’s what makes it so fun playing in this offense because anytime you beat your guy, you know you could get the ball."

LAST HURRAH: Do or die for some Dallas Cowboys, possibly Spencer, Martellus Bennett, Bradie James and Terence Newman

dallas-cowboys-2011-team-composite

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.

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Bennett’s to face each other for first time

Dallas Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett vs SF

Michael and his younger brother Martellus played on the same teams until they reached the NFL. They have never played against each other. That will change Saturday night when Michael’s Bucs face Martellus’ Cowboys in Tampa.

"I kind of don’t want to play against him honestly, because we’re not like the brothers who are like, ‘I want to kick your ass, blah, blah, blah,’" Martellus said. "We were always on same team. It was always, ‘Hey, let’s go play basketball. I’ve got my brother first pick,’ whatever like that. It’s going to be weird. We lived together at A&M. Even in spring football at A&M, one day I’d be on the twos and he’d be on the ones; the next day I’d be on the ones, and he’d be on the twos. Because when we lined up, all we talked about was girls and what we were going to eat later on."

Martellus is a tight end. Michael is a defensive end. So Martellus could be forced to block Michael.

"It’s a big deal playing against each other," Michael said. "We’re always talking about who’s the best player, and it’s going to be a good game. I told him ‘I’m not going to take it easy on you ’cause you’re my brother.’ He said the same thing. I said, ‘Yeah, it is our job. We’ve got to play hard against each other.’"

Martellus missed last week’s game with a pulled muscle in his mid-section. He is back at practice and ready to play Saturday. The whole Bennett family will be there to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the game.

"They’ve got their half-and-half jerseys," Martellus said. "I’ve got a lot of gifts I’ve got to bring on the plane."

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SPECIAL FEATURE: Dallas Cowboys looking to plug exposed middle of offensive line by utilizing all of their offensive tools

IRVING — It happened in an instant. During the second quarter of the New York Giants’ 41-35 victory over Dallas in October 2010, linebacker Michael Boley flashed through a gap and slammed Tony Romo to the turf, fracturing the Cowboys quarterback’s left collarbone.

The impact of Boley’s devastating hit reverberated the rest of the season because Romo would never take another snap after being injured.

More than a year later, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked to reflect on the collision that rocked the Cowboys’ universe in 2010.

"That’s a long time ago," Garrett said Friday. "That’s really not part of our concern right now."

Boley’s hit may no longer be on the Cowboys’ minds but what caused it to happen – poor pass protection – is.

"That’s one of the things we have to work on," said Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck.

Last week, in Dallas’ 19-13 overtime loss to Arizona, the Cardinals were able to create sustained pressure by attacking the interior of the Cowboys’ line – just like Boley did when he blitzed up the middle a season ago.

Against Arizona, the Cowboys conceded five sacks – two of which were surrendered by center Phil Costa and right guard Kyle Kosier. The Cowboys are under the assumption the Giants, who have recorded 33 sacks, will copy the Cardinals’ plan.

"Whatever they throw at us, we’ve got to deal with it," left guard Montrae Holland said. "But we’re trying to solidify the middle."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo working with a young, but improving, offensive line in 2011.

Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo working with a young, but improving, offensive line in 2011.

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The Fiammetta Factor:

The numbers don’t lie.

Running back DeMarco Murray rushed for a team record 601 yards in four games with fullback Tony Fiammetta leading the way.

With Fiammetta out the past three games with an illness, Murray has tallied 198 yards.

It goes without saying that Murray is excited to have Fiammetta back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

“He’s a hard working guy,” Murray said. “He does all the dirty work for me. I am very excited to have him back. I definitely I knew I wasn’t going to go for a 150 every game. I understand that. You are going to have ups and downs. You got to continue to get better, it’s all about the next game. But I’m feeling good about this week.”

Beginning this weekend, we’ll see how the Fiammetta Factor effects both DeMarco Murray and running back Felix Jones.

Continue reading →

THE DeMARCUS WARE SHOW: New York Giant talk | Dallas Cowboys injury update (Video)

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and receiver Laurent Robinson practiced again Friday, so they’re likely to be ready to play Sunday night against the New York Giants. Ware had a neck stinger in last week’s game, and Robinson had a shoulder injury. Both sat out Wednesday’s practice but returned Thursday.

Again missing practice were quarterback Jon Kitna (back), tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs), defensive back Danny McCray (ankle), running back Phillip Tanner (hamstring) and nose tackle Josh Brent (knee).

Safety Abe Elam missed practice to be at his father’s funeral in Florida. He also missed practice, but he is expected to play Sunday.

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Video - The DeMarcus Ware show - Press play to watch

The Demarcus Ware Show

DeMarcus Ware joins The Fan for his weekly show.

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EXECUTION IS KEY: Dallas Cowboys can’t expect O to take off

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) gets sacked by Arizona Cardinals defensive end

Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) gets sacked by Arizona Cardinals defensive end

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IRVING, Texas — Tony Fiammetta has become something of a present-day mix of Walt Garrison, Ron Springs, Robert Newhouse and Daryl Johnston in his three-game absence due to an illness. Miles Austin’s stature has grown in his four-game absence even with the stellar play of Laurent Robinson in his place.

What the Cowboys have to guard against is thinking just because Austin and Fiammetta are back all will be well with the offense on Sunday at 7:20 p.m. against the New York Football Giants at Cowboys Stadium.

“You can’t make more than what it is,” said Jason Witten, who should benefit from Austin’s return. “At the end of the day you still have to execute and not think, ‘Oh, he’s going to get his.’ You’ve got to be ready.”

When Austin returned from a left hamstring injury at New England after missing two games, he caught seven passes for 74 yards. There is no doubt he and Tony Romo have a special connection that was built through years of practice.

Can he just step in and excel right away after a month-long absence?

“We’ll see,” Romo said. “He’s done a good job in practice and he’s a great player, so I hope so.”

While it looks doubtful that Martellus Bennett will play against the Giants because of a muscle strain in his rib cage, this will be the first time since that New England game that Jason Garrett has his mainstay offensive players available.

He will never admit that his play calling was compromised by the absences of Austin and Fiammetta, but their returns should at least open up more dimensions.

“It’s nice to get your team back again,” Garrett said. “I think the teams that play the best are the teams that are able to absorb the adversities that happen and injuries are a part of this league. Every team has them. You have to be able to deal with them but it’s nice to get your guys back though.”

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WEDNESDAY INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys limping into NYG game

Dallas Cowboys injury update - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys got Miles Austin back in practice on Wednesday as they start getting ready for Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants with the NFC East lead on the line.

But two other starters sat out the start of practice, and right tackle Tyron Smith came out with a wrap on his right hand. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and wide receiver Laurent Robinson stayed in. Both were hurt in the game against Arizona. Ware suffered a neck stinger in the fourth quarter, and Robinson had a hurt shoulder. Both returned to the game.

Also missing the start of practice were tight end Martellus Bennett, who left the Arizona game because of a rib injury, special teams ace Danny McCray, backup quarterback Jon Kitna and running back Phillip Tanner.

For Austin, it’s his first practice since he hurt his hamstring against Seattle on Nov. 6. He has missed four games since then. He also missed two games earlier in the year with a hamstring injury in the other leg.

Smith, the Cowboys’ No. 1 pick, has played in every game. He hyperextended his right knee in practice before the season opener.

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DALLAS DINGED UP: Robinson, Ware return from injuries; Bennett doesn’t

Wide receiver Laurent Robinson injured a shoulder in the second quarter but returned to the game. He said someone landed on his shoulder, and he thought someone else was stepping on it, so hard he expected a penalty. He said he will be fine for the next game.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware suffered a neck stinger, left the game briefly and returned.

Tight end Martellus Bennett left the game in the first half with a rib injury and did not return.

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TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Martellus Bennett shows off his full potential (Video)

Video - Martellus Bennett - Postgame interview - Press play

Video - Martellus Bennett - Postgame interview - Press play

Martellus Bennett talks about contributing in the passing game.

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Maligned Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett said every one was thinking after catching three passes for 31 yards.

It was a season high output for Bennett, one that he admittedly needed, considering his drops earlier in the season.

“I needed a game like that,” Bennett said. “I get stuck in a role of block, block, block…I am thankful to make some plays when I got the opportunity. I know people don’t think I have good hands,” Bennett said. “But I have pretty good hands. These hands are great.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett commended Bennett for his play on Sunday. Jones hopes it’s the beginning of hot streak for his big tight end.

“I’ve told him he’s probably a big-time play away, a couple big-time plays with his confidence, of really taking some of the how he’s viewed and turning that around,” Jones said. “And we know he blocks good.”

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Ex-Cowboy Scott Chandler a TD machine for the Buffalo Bills

IRVING, Texas – Tight end Scott Chandler bounced between the bottom of the roster and the practice squad during his tenure with the Cowboys.

Now he’s near the top of the NFL leaders in touchdown catches.

Buffalo picked up Chandler off waivers when the Cowboys tried to move the Southlake Carroll product back to the practice squad in December last year. He’s blossomed with the Bills this season.

The 6-foot-7, 263-pound Chandler is a major reason the Bills rank second in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, having scored on six of his 18 receptions for the Bills this season. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is the only player with more touchdown catches.

“He is very smart about how to play the game,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said of Chandler. “He’s a huge target. He runs the routes the way we ask him to run them and he’s in the right spot. When you’ve got a big target that can catch the ball, you can put it in a lot of places and he’ll come down with it. He’s been able to fool them and get in the right spots and make plays.

“I don’t think I envisioned that to be honest with you, coming into the season. I hoped he might be a weapon down there, but he’s turned out to be even better than I thought.”

Chandler has turned into the type of weapon the Cowboys, who rank second to last in red-zone efficiency, expected Martellus Bennett to become. Bennett, by the way, has four touchdowns in 54 career games and none since 2008.

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RANDY GALLOWAY: Criticize if you want, but Jason Garrett is the right man for the Dallas Cowboys

For those already doubting Jason Garrett, and for those who have already dismissed Garrett as another Jerry-hired head coaching doofus, it’s not too late to repent.

Reach right out there and grab yourself a handful of reality. Go ahead, do it today. Do it before it’s too late.

You people … (I love a good you people.) … need to immediately accept one fact of local football life.

There is no Cowher, Fisher, Saban, Gruden, etc. waiting eagerly to ride in here and rescue the Cowboys, or better yet, rescue Jerry.

That’s not to say Jon Gruden wouldn’t take the job, or that Jeff Fisher would turn it down.

But based on track record, the quirky Gruden (I do love him, but he’s way out there) wouldn’t last five minutes with Jerry, and a solid guy like Fisher would be shocked to learn that his previous owner, Bud Adams, would be considered a rock of stability compared to you-know-who.

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STANDINGS: Dallas Cowboys fall into tie for second place in NFC East

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sacked by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end's Jason Babin and Trent Cole

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sacked by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end's Jason Babin and Trent Cole

Michael Ainsworth/Staff Photographer
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PHILADELPHIA — The “All-Hype” team finally played up to their super expectations.

Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy had a career-best 185 yards rushing and two scores and the Philadelphia Eagles routed the Dallas Cowboys 34-7 Sunday night.

Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fired up the Eagles with some trash-talking during the summer after they added several big-name players.

Ryan, the son of beloved former Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan, called the Eagles the “all-hype” team and predicted the Cowboys would “beat their (butt).”

He was way off.

The Eagles (3-4) dominated right from the start, improved to 13-0 after a bye under coach Andy Reid and snapped a five-game losing streak at Lincoln Financial Field that dated to last season.

The long-haired Ryan paced the sideline and desperately tried to figure out how to stop Vick and Co. It didn’t happen until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

The Eagles racked up 495 total yards and held the ball for 42:09. They thoroughly outplayed a defense that came in ranked seventh in the NFL.

DeMarcus Ware was one of the few players who played well for Dallas (3-4). He had four sacks, and has 12 this season.

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DALLAS HEADLINE: Eagles put a hurt on the Dallas Cowboys

Eagles put a hurt on the Dallas Cowboys
Eagles put a hurt on the Dallas Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA — The “All-Hype” team finally  played up to their super expectations.

Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy had a career-best 185  yards rushing and two scores and the Philadelphia Eagles routed the Dallas  Cowboys 34-7 Sunday night.

Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fired up the Eagles with some  trash-talking during the summer after they added several big-name players.

Ryan, the son of beloved former Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan, called the  Eagles the “all-hype” team and predicted the Cowboys would “beat their (butt).”

He was way off.

The Eagles (3-4) dominated right from the start, improved to 13-0 after a bye  under coach Andy Reid and snapped a five-game losing streak at Lincoln Financial  Field that dated to last season.

The long-haired Ryan paced the sideline and desperately tried to figure out  how to stop Vick and Co. It didn’t happen until the fourth quarter when the game  was out of reach.

The Eagles racked up 495 total yards and held the ball for 42:09. They  thoroughly outplayed a defense that came in ranked seventh in the NFL.

DeMarcus Ware was one of the few players who played well for Dallas (3-4). He  had four sacks, and has 12 this season.

Coming off a 253-yard rushing performance in a win over St. Louis, Cowboys  rookie DeMarco Murray was held to 74 yards on only eight carries.

The defending NFC East champion Eagles entered the season with a Super  Bowl-or-bust mentality after adding six former Pro Bowl players in free agency  and trades.

But a 1-4 start had people wondering if the self-proclaimed “Dream Team” – backup quarterback Vince Young gave the Eagles that label after signing a  one-year deal – was overhyped as Ryan boldly declared in August.

After two straight wins, the Eagles are in a three-way tie with Dallas and  Washington for second place behind the New York Giants (5-2).

Vick completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and led the Eagles to points on  their first six possessions. He also ran for 50 yards.

A swarming defense harassed Tony Romo throughout the game. Romo got sacked  four times and threw an interception to Nnamdi Asomugha.

McCoy had 80 of Philadelphia’s 115 yards rushing in the first quarter. That  was more than Dallas allowed in any game this season. The Eagles entered with  the No. 1-ranked rushing offense and the Cowboys had the top-ranked run defense.

The Eagles took the kickoff and drove 79 yards for their first opening-drive  TD this season. Vick was sacked by Ware on the first play, but he connected with  Jeremy Maclin for 24 yards on the next one. McCoy had a 21-yard run and Vick  scrambled 15 yards to the Cowboys 13.

On third-and-9 from the 12, Vick tossed a screen pass to Maclin, who followed  a lead block by Jason Peters into the end zone.

Vick led the Eagles 90 yards with McCoy running in from the 2 for a 14-0  lead. McCoy had runs of 11 and 34 yards before scoring for the seventh straight  game. He’s one short of Steve Van Buren’s team record set in 1947.

Asomugha set up Philadelphia’s third scoring drive by picking off Romo’s pass  at the Eagles 33 after the ball bounced off Martellus Bennett’s hands.

Vick kept the drive going with a 9-yard run on third-and-8, and made a  perfect pass to Jason Avant for a 20-yard gain on another third-and-8. He threw  a strike to Brent Celek in the back of the end zone on the next play for a  9-yard TD and a 21-0 lead.

The Eagles had a first down at the Cowboys 6 on their fourth possession, but  settled for a 23-yard field goal by Alex Henery that made it 24-0.

Henery kicked a 26-yarder to make it 27-0 in the third quarter. McCoy’s  13-yard run put Philadelphia up 34-0 in the fourth.

But the Cowboys spoiled the shutout bid on the ensuing possession when Romo  threw a 70-yard TD pass to Laurent Robinson.

ROB MAADDI | Ft Worth Star Telegram | AP

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WEEK #8 PREVIEW: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles 2-4
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PHI 31 @ STL 13 STL Sam Bradford: 188 Yds PHI LeSean McCoy: 122 Yds PHI DeSean Jackson: 102 Yds
PHI 31 @ ATL 35 PHI Michael Vick: 242 Yds ATL Michael Turner: 114 Yds PHI Jeremy Maclin: 171 Yds
NYG 29 @ PHI 16 NYG Eli Manning: 254 Yds PHI LeSean McCoy: 128 Yds NYG Victor Cruz: 110 Yds
SF 24 @ PHI 23 PHI Michael Vick: 416 Yds SF Frank Gore: 127 Yds PHI DeSean Jackson: 171 Yds
PHI 24 @ BUF 31 PHI Michael Vick: 315 Yds BUF Fred Jackson: 111 Yds PHI Jason Avant: 139 Yds
PHI 20 @ WAS 13 PHI Michael Vick: 237 Yds PHI LeSean McCoy: 126 Yds PHI Jeremy Maclin: 101 Yds
BYE BYE BYE BYE
DAL @ PHI PHI Michael Vick: 237 Yds PHI LeSean McCoy: 126 Yds PHI Jeremy Maclin: 101 Yds

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Dallas Cowboys 3-3
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DAL 24 @ NYJ 27 DAL Tony Romo: 342 Yds DAL Felix Jones: 44 Yds DAL Jason Witten: 110 Yds
DAL 27 @ SF 24 DAL Tony Romo: 345 Yds SF Frank Gore: 47 Yds DAL Miles Austin: 143 Yds
WAS 16 @ DAL 18 DAL Tony Romo: 255 Yds DAL Felix Jones: 115 Yds WAS Santana Moss: 70 Yds
DET 34 @ DAL 30 DAL Tony Romo: 331 Yds DAL Felix Jones: 57 Yds DAL Laurent Robinson: 116 Yds
BYE BYE BYE BYE
DAL 16 @ NE 20 DAL Tony Romo: 317 Yds NE Green-Ellis: 58 Yds DAL Dez Bryant: 78 Yds
STL 7 @ DAL 34 STL A.J. Feeley: 196 Yds DAL DeMarco Murray: 253 Yds DAL Dez Bryant: 90 Yds
DAL  @ PHI STL A.J. Feeley: 196 Yds DAL DeMarco Murray: 253 Yds DAL Dez Bryant: 90 Yds

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Cowboys-Eagles preview

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The Dallas Cowboys, coming off a 34-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams, now travel to Philadelphia for the first of their two NFC East matchups against the Eagles. Since Lincoln Financial Field opened in 2003, the Eagles have enjoyed a 44–28 record on their home turf — but they’re only 4-4 against the Cowboys at “The Linc.”

The Eagles are coming off a bye after holding on for a 20-13 victory against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago. They forced Redskins QB Rex Grossman into four interceptions, which led to 10 huge points. It’s also worthy noting that the Eagles are a perfect 12–0 under Andy Reid in the game after the bye.

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