Bryan Broaddus takes a closer look at Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones and how he fits into the team’s 2013 plans.
Name: Chris Jones
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 208
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Carson Newman
Key stat: Chris Jones had just 12 punts last season, averaging 45.2 yards per punt with a 40.0 yard net average.
Contract status: Signed through 2013.
How he played in 2012: Chris Jones was one of those question marks in training camp that no one really wanted to talk about. Jones burst onto the scene replacing the injured Mat McBriar in 2011 and punted well enough to allow the front office to not extend McBriar in 2012 thus making him a free agent. To be honest there were days in Oxnard where it looked like that decision was a poor one because of what a weapon that McBriar had become over his years in Dallas and Jones just wasn’t punting consistent enough but he managed to make it to the start of the 2012 and really did a nice job opening night against the Giants. The next week against the Seahawks, Jones had a punt blocked when Dan Connor missed an assignment and the following week against the Buccaneers somehow managed to get a punt off that should have been blocked but it resulted in an injury to his left knee. In his final game of the 2012 season Jones was able to gut out the game against the Ravens after not practicing all week. Fortunately for Jones, he was only called on one time that day but the knee was too damaged to continue the rest of the season and Brian Moorman took over the punting and holding duties for the club. In four games Jones averaged 45 yards on 12 punts and was on his way to the type of season that the front office and coaches believed he was capable of having.
Where he fits in 2013: Gone is special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and Rich Bisaccia now takes over in that role. Jones had a big supporter in DeCamillis but there is no reason to believe that Bisaccia will feel different about Jones and what talent he has. What will also help Jones is that Chris Boniol is still on the staff and will be able to paint a pretty accurate picture of what Jones is to Bisaccia. I fully expect Jones to be the punter for this club in 2013 but the scouts might have seen someone in their travels this Fall that could compete for the job so we will see after the 2013 NFL Draft when we get into mini camps.
Nick Eatman: He’s one of the injured players people forget about but he was missed. Sure, Brian Moorman has more experience but Jones was better at angling his punts with height and direction. He’s also a good holder for kicks so I would expect Jones should be the punter for this team next year.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
The Dallas Cowboys will see Mat McBriar punt in 2012, but only twice in the regular season as the two-time Pro Bowler agreed to a deal with conference rival Philadelphia.
McBriar worked out for the Eagles on Monday and the Cowboys on Tuesday but was unable to come to terms with Dallas, where he had spent his first eight seasons. The Cowboys had the cap room necessary to keep McBriar, but the Eagles offered a better deal.
McBriar joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2003 and was the team’s full-time punter from 2004-11. He is the franchise’s leader in gross (45.3) and net averages (38.1) as well as most punts inside the opponents’ 20 (175).
He averaged 43.8 yards per punt in 14 games in 2011 but was hampered for most of the year with a nerve issue that affected his left foot. He had surgery in February to remove a cyst below his left knee and has been punting for the last six weeks in San Diego. McBriar started punting six weeks ago in San Diego and believed he would be at his best when the season began.
Chris Jones, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt as McBriar’s replacement last season, will go into training camp as the team’s top punter. The Cowboys also have Delbert Alvarado on the roster.
IRVING, Texas – Veteran punter Mat McBriar remains a free agent, and it’s uncertain whether the Dallas Cowboys will re-sign him after an injury-plagued 2011 season.
McBriar had successful surgery in early February to remove a cyst below his left knee – the apparent cause of the nerve condition in his plant foot that dramatically affected his punting in 2011 and ultimately landed him on injured reserve before the Cowboys’ season finale against the Giants.
“It’s a decision where health factors into it,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “McBriar has been a very good punter for us, been one of the best punters in the league. He did a really good job last year dealing with an injury, a little bit of a unique injury. He handled it really well and really fought his way through it for most of the year.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and as a person, even more so after last year. We’ll have to see how he recovers. It seems like the steps that he’s taken have been positive ones getting his health back to where it needs to be. We have to continue to evaluate that.”
The Cowboys like the potential of Chris Jones, who had a 42.6-yard net average on 10 punts in McBriar’s place next year. Signing McBriar would create a nice competition in training camp if he makes a full recovery, as expected. But the money would have to be right for both sides.
Laurent Robinson got big money from Jacksonville. Martellus Bennett will be relocating his clothing line to the East Coast for at least a year. Everybody else?
Well, they’ve probably gotten into the habit of checking the phone a lot over the last week.
The free agency period is far from over – it never ends, really – but most of the Cowboys players on the open market are drawing very little interest, it seems.
Between the guys they’ve cut, their unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and exclusive right players, the Cowboys allowed 19 players to hit the market who had finished 2011 on the roster. Only Robinson and Bennett have found new teams thus far, while receiver Kevin Ogletree returned to Dallas on a one-year deal.
A lot of under-the-radar signings will happen in the coming weeks, but so far only a couple of the Cowboys’ free agents have been reported to have gotten so much as a sniff from other clubs. On Tuesday running back and special teams ace Chauncey Washington was part of a massive tryout for the San Francisco 49ers, per a report. Late last week, the Minnesota Vikings checked in on defensive back Alan Ball, per another report.
As for the bigger names, like Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier, Tony Fiammetta, Derrick Dockery, Montrae Holland and Mat McBriar, no substantive interest has come to light.
When the Dallas Cowboys re-signed punter Mat McBriar to a contract extension in 2007, it was something rather new to this organization, especially since Jerry Jones took over nearly 20 years before.
The word “re-sign” just didn’t go in the same sentence with kicker and punter. The Cowboys’ philosophy had been to find young, cheap kickers – let guys like Steve Hoffman and Joe Avezzano groom them and when it was time for a new deal, they would let them walk and start over.
Happened with dozens of guys before. With Mat McBriar, it didn’t happen that way. The Cowboys didn’t want to find a new punter so they locked him up for five more years in a move that was clearly unheard of around here.
Well, now his contract is up once again. Do the Cowboys revert back to their old ways or do they keep using McBriar as an exception to their own rule?
It’s kind of like the situation we saw last year in the draft. Jerry Jones never took an offensive linemen in the first round, but that changed when he picked Tyron Smith. Now heading into this year, do we think that was an aberration or could he possibly do it again and take a much-needed guard or center?
Smart money says it won’t happen again for a while.
And that’s my thinking on re-signing a punter – the same punter – to a new deal. Especially now that McBriar will be 33 next season and he’s coming off a foot injury that plagued him all season long.
Mat McBriar was making $1.7 million last season and counting over $2.1 million on the cap. You can sign a healthy rookie with a lot more athleticism for less than $400,000.
That alone doesn’t bode well for McBriar.
Honestly, I’m not suggesting the Cowboys SHOULD get rid of their two-time Pro Bowl punter who has proven to be a valuable weapon when healthy and by the way one of the best human beings you’ll ever meet.
But since Jerry Jones always wears his businessman hat, it’s hard to see many scenarios where he returns.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman
The NFC East division title will be on the line when the Cowboys and New York Giants face off Sunday. In their first meeting, the Giants prevailed 37-34 after staging a memorable comeback in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys will try to exact revenge Sunday in this winner-take-all showdown. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
Less than a month ago, when the Cowboys played the Giants, the complexion of Dallas’ ground attack changed in an instant when DeMarco Murray fractured his right ankle. Ever since then, veterans Felix Jones and Sammy Morris have carried the load. Jones, in particular, is expected to play a pivotal role Sunday after he rushed for 106 yards against New York in December. The Giants’ run defense has proven to be vulnerable, allowing 126.1 yards per game – the 11th-highest average in the league
When the Cowboys pass
The last time Tony Romo face the Giants he authored one of his best performances of the season. That night, he threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns while posting a 141.3 quarterback rating. But Romo bruised his right hand Christmas Eve and his effectiveness could be affected by the injury. The Cowboys hope that isn’t the case because the Giants secondary has been exposed repeatedly while contributing to a pass defense that is allowing 255.4 yards per game — the sixth-highest average in the NFL.
When the Giants run
Although the Giants’ offense is driven by Eli Manning, New York’s ground attack remains a key component. Last week, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and D.J. Ware – a fearsome threesome – worked over the Jets as they gained 116 yards. Behind an offensive line that has re-congealed after a series of injuries left it in tatters, the Giants have collected more than 100 rushing yards in three of their last four games, including the 37-34 victory over the Cowboys last December. Dallas, which has allowed only 98.6 rushing yards per game, could cede a higher total Sunday if it focuses on stopping Manning.
When the Giants pass
The Cowboys never stopped Eli Manning last month. For four quarters, Manning carved up the Cowboys with surgical precision. He threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns and repeatedly connected with receivers running in open space. By the time Manning finished off the Cowboys, Dallas’ secondary was dazed and confused while the defensive line was frustrated after it squandered 47 opportunities to sack the Giants quarterback. Manning, who has thrown for 4,587 yards this season, will be targeted by the Cowboys on Sunday. But that doesn’t mean they will stop him. They didn’t the first time.
The biggest play of the Cowboys’ 37-34 defeat to the Giants came in the final seconds when Jason Pierre-Paul blocked Dan Bailey’s 47-yard field-goal attempt that would have tied the score. For Bailey, it was a devastating outcome. But this season he has made 88.9 percent of his 36 tries. His counterpart on Sunday, Lawrence Tynes, hasn’t been nearly as successful. Tynes has converted just 81.8 percent of his 22 attempts. But while Tynes has been outperformed by Bailey, the Giants’ Steve Weatherford has posted a better net punting average than Dallas’ McBriar.
Neither team will be deprived of motivation in this game. After all, the team that prevails Sunday wins the NFC East berth while the loser goes home for a long winter. The Giants, however, will be buoyed by the support of their home crowd and the confidence they gained from beating the Cowboys in their first meeting. The Cowboys, meanwhile, approach this showdown with bruised egos after losing three of their last four games.
Courtesy: Rainer Sabin | The Dallas Morning News
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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.
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
A group of Santa’s get ready for a halftime performance.
Here are notes compiled by the Dallas Cowboys’ staff:
The Dallas Cowboys did not throw an interception today, and it marked Dallas’ fourth straight game without throwing an interception. It is the longest streak for the Cowboys since 2009 (four straight, 11/26-12/19).
The Dallas Cowboys avoided a shutout today with a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The last time Dallas was held scoreless was at New England (11/16/03). It also extended their streak of home games without a shutout to 166. The last time Dallas was shutout at home was against Philadelphia (9/15/91).
Read more …
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.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) directs offensive tackle Doug Free (68) before snap in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Arizona Cardinals 19-13 in overtime.
IRVING, Texas – Tired of hearing about all this yet? I understand. Let’s move on … after this post!
It’s as if the final 25 seconds of regulation on Sunday were all that happened in the entire game. The reality is, the Cowboys shouldn’t have been in position to need a two-minute drill at the end of the fourth quarter.
Against a Cardinals defense ranked 25th in yards per game and tied for 19th in points allowed, the Cowboys should’ve not have had to rest their hopes on any kind of Dan Bailey kick at the end. There may be some gray area in Jason Garrett’s decision-making process at the end of the game, but there is no reason the Cowboys should’ve been limited to only 13 points. No way to justify it.
Garrett and Tony Romo and Jerry Jones can credit the Cardinals all they want, but the Cowboys should’ve had an answer for their blitzes more often than they did. Romo was sacked five times, and a stacked box limited DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards.
It only makes sense that the failure of the offense throughout the game influenced Garrett’s thinking at the end. Either he lacked confidence in himself to call one or two positive plays, or didn’t trust the offensive players to execute anything.
"We had five sacks in the game, we had three negative runs, we had a couple of pre-snap penalties that negatively impacted it," Garrett said. "A lot of people say those are eight plays in the game, but the way we try to present it to our team – and I think it’s a valid way to look at it – is if you have 11 possessions in a game and you spread those negative plays out . . . you’re invariably try to overcome a second-and-13, second-and-15, third-and-16, third-and-11.
"Those are the kind of things that bog you down."
The biggest crime of the day was when Felix Jones returned a first-quarter kickoff to the Arizona 35-yard line, and the offense had to punt. Romo was sacked on first down when linebacker Paris Lenon blitzed between the guard and center and DeMarco Murray failed to pick him up. In the two plays afterward, the offense could only get back to the original line of scrimmage.
On the day, Mat McBriar had to punt from inside Arizona territory four times.
"Their style of defense is to try to disrupt you," Garrett said. They try to pressure you in different ways. They try to run blitz you a lot of different ways. At times, we did a very good job of handling that. At other times we didn’t, and it created some minus plays for us, got us out of rhythm and prevented us from having a chance to score some more points."
As Garrett said yesterday, the Cardinals defensive approach is very similar to that of Washington and Miami. In those two wins, the Cowboys didn’t shoot themselves in the foot so often, they stuck to the run, and Romo was able to save plays in the pocket with some miracle footwork.
It didn’t happen this time, which was a 60-minute problem, not just a 25-second problem.
Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) and inside linebacker Sean Lee (50) sack Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) on his own two yard line
Here are the notes compiled by the Dallas Cowboys’ staff:
The Dallas Cowboys had four first-half sacks today. It was the 11th time in team history the team had four-or-more first half sacks and the first since racking up five against Baltimore (12/20/08).
Dan Bailey missed his first field goal attempt today from 53 yards out. It ended his streak of consecutive field goals made at 26 to tie Chris Boniol (1995) for the second-longest in club history:
Player FGM Season
Chris Boniol 27 1996
Chris Boniol 26 1995
Dan Bailey* 26 2011
Richie Cunningham* 18 1997
Nick Folk 16 2008-09
Through 12 games of his rookie season, Bailey has been true on 29 field goals. His 29 field goals made in 12 games is second in team history over that span:
Player (Year) FGM FGA Pct
Richie Cunningham (1997) 31 33 93.9
Dan Bailey (2011) 29 32 90.6
Chris Boniol (1996) 26 30 86.7
Richie Cunningham (1998) 22 26 84.6
Dez Bryant caught his seventh touchdown pass of the season today to pass his total (six) from his rookie season last year.
Shaun Chapas made his NFL debut today on special teams and offense. He finished the game with his first career reception for nine yards.
Felix Jones had a 69-yard kickoff return in the first quarter of today’s game. It was the longest kickoff return of the season for the team.
Sean Lissemore logged his first career full sack with a second quarter takedown of Kevin Kolb. He registered a half sack as a rookie in 2010.
Mat McBriar came into today’s game tied with Mike Saxon for the club record with 166 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. He finished today’s game with four to establish the club record at 170.
DeMarcus Ware’s sack today was his 95th career sack to pass Jim Jeffcoat (94.5) for the official club record
Career sacks since 1982
Player (Years) Sacks
DeMarcus Ware (2005-11)…. 95.0
Jim Jeffcoat (1983-94)………. 94.5
Greg Ellis (1998-2008)………. 77.0
Tony Tolbert (1989-97)……… 59.0
Ed Too Tall Jones (1982-89). 57.5
Ware now has 15.0 sacks in 2011 which are the third-most in his career (20.0 in 2008 and 15.5 in 2010) and third in a season in club history:
Player (Year) Sacks
DeMarcus Ware (2008)……. 20.0
DeMarcus Ware (2010)……. 15.5
DeMarcus Ware (2011)…… 15.0
Jim Jeffcoat (1986)………… 14.0
DeMarcus Ware (2007)……. 14.0
Ware’s has now reached 15.0 sacks in a season for the third time in his career. His three 15.0-plus sack seasons tie for second in league history:
Career 15-plus sack seasons
Reggie White……………….. 5
Lawrence Taylor…………… 3
Kevin Greene………………. 3
Simeon Rice……………….. 3
Michael Strahan…………… 3
DeMarcus Ware…………… 3
Jason Witten’s five catches today gave him 61 for the season – his eighth straight 60-plus catch season. His eight consecutive are the second-most in league history among tight ends while his eight overall are third:
60-plus catch seasons (Tight End)
Player Total Consecutive
Tony Gonzalez………. 12 12
Shannon Sharpe……. 10 6
Jason Witten…………… 8 8
Antonio Gates………….. 6 6
The Dallas Cowboys have ruled receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), nose tackle Josh Brent (knee), fullback Tony Fiammetta (illness), quarterback Jon Kitna (back) and running back Phillip Tanner (hamstring) out of Sunday’s game against Arizona. None of the five practiced this week.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring), right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (foot) were limited in practice Friday. Although they are listed as questionable on the injury report, all three are expected to play.
Linebacker Bruce Carter (knee), linebacker Sean Lee (wrist) and punter Mat McBriar (left foot) were full participants in practice and are probable.
DALLAS COWBOYS FAMILY FOCUS: Girlfriend’s recovery leaves Dallas Cowboys kicker David Buehler thankful
RIchard W. Rodriguez/ Star-Telegram
IRVING — Their eyes were locked. Blues fixated on blues, as David Buehler recalled the day his girlfriend was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.
Buehler’s life, once solely consumed by football, had to make room for a possibility that young couples rarely prepare for or ever consider. Brittany Pigrenet, 25, went in for life-saving surgery on the morning of Oct. 22, holding the couple’s 6-week-old son, Bryson, for as long as the hospital staff let her.
“It puts life and everything in perspective,” David said, instinctively turning his gaze and focus on Brittany. “Before I was playing for myself, my family name, my teammates, the organization but now that I’m supporting Brittany and our son, Bryson, it puts everything in perspective.
“You work just that much harder. You put your heart and soul into knowing that I get to come home to the two people I love most.”
Buehler’s professional life with the Dallas Cowboys hasn’t always gone as planned. Drafted as a kickoff specialist in 2009, Buehler became the full-time place-kicker last season and made 24 of 32 field goals. Rookie Dan Bailey took over field-goal duties this season, with Buehler going back to kickoffs.
Dallas Cowboys punter Mat McBriar (1) and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur (91) watch a punt during warmups
Punter Mat McBriar had a rough day. He had a 23-yard punt that set up a 32-yard Redskins touchdown drive, and he finished with a 24.1 net.
But McBriar also arguably — he argues otherwise — had the biggest play of the game. He tackled punt returner Brandon Banks to save a touchdown.
“Big play, wasn’t it?” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “It really was. And if you think about where he’s been the last few weeks with his injury. Talk about a gut check. To get yourself right to make that play, those are significant plays. You talk about the plays that show up on SportsCenter. Sometimes the tackle by a punter doesn’t really show up there, but it was a significant play in the ball game.”
Banks’ 55-yard return could have given Washington a 14-point lead early in the third quarter. They missed a field goal, getting no points out of the drive despite starting on the Dallas 34-yard line.
The word “tackle” surprised McBriar a little, however.
“It was just sort of a lunge: ‘Please go out of bounds, little fella,’ ” he said in Australia-speak.
McBriar’s effort, as he tries to play with nerve damage in his left (plant) foot that also limits movement to his left, got the attention of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“For him to move around, for him to go over there and make that tackle, that’s pretty impressive,” Jones said.
McBriar shrugged when somebody called it the biggest play of the game.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I didn’t think about it that way. I think I gave the defense a 30-yard field and a 34-yard field. I kind of look at it the other way, not like it was a positive.”
Photo: Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten holds the ball (to fans of his he spotted in the stands) after 59 yd TD run.
LANDOVER, Md. — There’s still some steam left in the Dallas-Washington rivalry, enough to create an overtime nail-biter even when one team is on a roll and the other is struggling.
Dan Bailey’s 39-yard field goal 9:21 into the extra period Sunday decided the Cowboys’ 27-24 victory, their third straight win and the Redskins’ sixth consecutive defeat.
Bailey’s winning kick was set up by Tony Romo’s 26-yard completion to Dez Bryant on third-and-15 after Washington’s Graham Gano was barely wide right on a 52-yard field-goal attempt on the opening possession of overtime.
After rolling to double-digit wins that put the Cowboys on the heels of the NFC East-leading New York Giants, Romo and the Cowboys (6-4) had to rally in the second half against a team that has spent more than a month in the doldrums. His two fourth-quarter touchdown passes were vintage Romo, scrambling to buy time to toss a 7-yard game-tying score to Laurent Robinson before rolling left to spot a wide-open Jason Witten for a 59-yard go-ahead TD with 8:48 to play.
But Washington came back, with Rex Grossman leading an 89-yard drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donte’ Stallworth with 14 seconds left in regulation.
Romo was due for a sack or two, and the Cowboys quarterback went down four times. DeMarco Murray couldn’t continue at such a torrid pace forever, and he was held to 73 yards. The Redskins’ offensive ineptitude couldn’t go on forever, so it was inevitable they actually reach the end zone while the game was somewhat competitive.
Nevertheless, the Redskins (3-7) are mired in their longest skid since their 0-7 start in 1998. As a consolation, they scored more points than they had in their previous three games combined (20).
Romo finished 23 for 37 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games, but his streak of two games without being sacked came to an end. Rookie sensation Murray, who had run for 139 and 135 yards the previous two weeks, finished with 73 yards on a workhorse 25 carries and also caught six passes for 32 yards.
Grossman completed 25 of 38 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Washington’s Jabar Gaffney caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
|Getting to 6-4 is big and having to rally in the fourth quarter makes it sweeter. Tony Romo wasn’t his best either, but he improvised on his last two TDs and the defense stepped up late to hold on. They overcame a dismal game on special teams, allowing their two longest punt returns of the season.|
|By Nick Eatman
|The Redskins did an excellent job offensively. Rex Grossman had enough time to find open targets downfield. Defensively, the Redskins were stung by big pass plays, but the defense’s early effort allowed the offense time to get into a rhythm. Special teams finally provided big plays, but two missed field goals — one in overtime — hurt them. Still, a blowout was anticipated.|
|By John Keim
Photos Courtesy: The Washington Post
After five straight dismal performances, the Washington Redskins broke out of their funk Sunday to put on one of their best offensive showings of the season and nearly end the worst losing streak of Coach Mike Shanahan’s career.
But in the end the result was the same, as the Dallas Cowboys escaped FedEx Field with a 27-24 overtime victory in a fierce rivalry game that marked the first time since 1998 the Redskins have been defeated six straight times.
The Redskins (3-7), who forced overtime on a four-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossmanto Donte Stallworth with 14 seconds left to play, had their chances. They won the overtime toss and received the kickoff, and Grossman moved his unit into Cowboys territory, but the drive stalled at the Dallas 34-yard line.
DALLAS — No Cowboy has had a quicker rise to prominence this year than DeMarco Murray.
The rookie running back received the loudest ovation after Pro Bowlers Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware as the players handed out early Thanksgiving Day meals at The Salvation Army’s Carr P. Collins Social Services Center in Dallas on Tuesday.
That’s what rushing for 601 yards in the last four games will do for a runner.
“I’m just happy to be here and see all the people are happy,” Murray said. “There’s nothing like giving back.”
Murray, Ware and Witten were part of a dozen players to attend Tuesday’s function. They were joined by Jesse Holley, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Robert Callaway, Orlando Scandrick, Derrick Dockery, Phillip Tanner, Mat McBriar, Felix Jones and Jason Hatcher. Gene Jones and Charlotte Anderson, as well as a number of players’ wives and girlfriends, including Jason Garrett’s wife, Brill, were also in attendance.
Players and wives dished out meals to roughly 200 men and women for more than an hour as part of the team’s early holiday tradition.
“This is a special thing to come out to, putting smiles on these peoples’ faces,” Hatcher said. “I’m just a small fish in a big pond when it comes to DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten but the effect I have on these lives puts joy in my heart. I’m glad I’m out here. I should’ve been doing it five years ago … I won’t miss another year. As long as I’m part of the Cowboys I will be here. This is a special day.”
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For more information, or to support the Salvation Army’s efforts … click HERE
Running back Felix Jones will miss his fourth consecutive game. He said Friday his high left ankle sprain is not ready yet, and the Cowboys have ruled him out of Sunday’s game. Jones has missed the past three games with the injury. In Jones’ absence, rookie DeMarco Murray has run for 466 yards. It is the best three-game stretch in team history. Emmitt Smith’s best three-game run was 446 yards in 1993.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) also will not play this week.
Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot), linebacker Sean Lee (wrist) and punter Mat McBriar (foot) are questionable.
Did you know? You can check the official Dallas Cowboys injury status (and their weekly opponent) right here on The Boys Are Back blog. Just click on the “INJURIES” tab at the top of every page.
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys could sign a receiver for depth this week with Miles Austin (right hamstring injury) possibly out through Thanksgiving, but team owner/GM Jerry Jones doesn’t expect to pursue a veteran. That means any move would come in-house.
“We’ve got (Dwayne) Harris on the practice squad,” Jones said on KRLD-FM. “That’ll be where we limit it to. It won’t be away from the roster.”
Harris, the team’s sixth-round pick, was active for the first five games as the primary punt returner, returning 11 for 73 yards (6.6 avg) along with three kickoff returns for 74 yards (24.7 avg). The Cowboys waived him Oct. 18 and placed him on the practice squad.
Elevating Harris would make sense if Austin’s injury forced the Cowboys to re-think using Diamond Dez Bryant on punt returns. With Austin likely out at least a couple of weeks, they can’t afford to lose another starting receiver.
Laurent Robinson is expected to start opposite Bryant. Behind them are Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley.
The Cowboys have four receivers on the practice squad: Harris, Andre Holmes, Teddy Williams and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.
No move has to be made immediately. If a receiver is elevated, the logical swap would be rookie punter Chris Jones, who replaced injured Pro Bowler Mat McBriar (foot) against the Seahawks. But the Cowboys likely must see how McBriar’s injury responds this week before making a decision on his status for Buffalo this Sunday.
The Cowboys waited as long as they could, but as Sunday’s game with the Seahawks approached, it appears Mat McBriar’s left foot injury hasn’t healed enough to take the chance.
Therefore, the Cowboys signed punter Chris Jones from the practice squad Saturday afternoon. Jones, an undrafted rookie from Carson Newman, is expected to handle the punting duties Sunday against Seattle and could serve as the holder for field goals and extra points as well.
To make room for Jones, the Cowboys waived veteran guard Daniel Loper, who was signed two weeks ago but hasn’t been active in each of his two games on the roster.
McBriar initially started having problems with his left plant foot during the week before the Philadelphia game. McBriar had three punts in the first half but eventually left the field with recurring pain. The Cowboys have now diagnosed the injury as “drop foot.”
Jones was with the team during training camp and the preseason and averaged 37 yards per punt on a team-high eight attempts. He was waived on Sept. 3 when the roster was trimmed to 53.
The signing gives the Cowboys four place-kickers on the 53-man roster and five specialists, including long snapper L.P. Ladoucuer.
Right guard Kyle Kosier (foot) was limited in practice Thursday. He missed practice for the first time this season on Wednesday, resting his plantar fascia.
“He got through most everything,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought he had a good practice. …Today, he came back and had a pretty full practice and seemed like he was moving around OK.”
Nothing else changed on the practice report.
Linebacker Sean Lee (wrist), cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and running back Felix Jones (ankle) did not practice. Jenkins likely will miss the next three games. Jones could miss his third consecutive game as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain. Lee hopes to play with a cast, and the Cowboys are holding out hope that the swelling will subside enough to fit him for a cast. But chances are good he could miss his first game of the season.
Punter Mat McBriar, who has nerve damage in his left (plant) foot, was limited again in practice. Quarterback Tony Romo (ribs) had a full practice.
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys have cut punter Chris Jones from the practice squad and re-signed defensive lineman Robert Calloway, but that should not be viewed as a sign Mat McBriar will be ready for Sunday’s game vs. Seattle.
McBriar is dealing with a nerve issue in his left foot, which first flared up two days before the Cowboys played St. Louis. He punted without trouble against the Rams but could make it through only a half against Philadelphia. He averaged 38.7 yards on three punts before being replaced by kicker Dan Bailey.
McBriar wore a bulky brace that ran up his calf but he was limping noticeably. He has seen specialists this week, but it could be a case of waiting for the nerves to re-fire.
If McBriar is unable to punt, the Cowboys would likely re-sign Jones, who was with the team in training camp. He averaged 37 yards per punt in the preseason and struggled in the Blue-White scrimmage.
McBriar’s absence would also affect Bailey, because the Pro Bowl punter is also the holder.
While there are veterans punters available, Chris Jones worked as Bailey’s holder for most of training camp. Tony Romo served as Bailey’s holder on a point-after attempt against the Eagles. Coach Jason Garrett said last week Jon Kitna would be an option, but Kitna has not served in that role in his career.
If Chris Jones is needed but McBriar’s injury is not one that would end his season, then it could set up the unusual circumstance of the Cowboys having four kickers on the 53-man roster and just three tailbacks with Bailey, Chris Jones, McBriar and David Buehler. The only tailbacks currently on the roster are DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner and Felix Jones.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins said he will probably be out at least three games with a hamstring injury that sidelined him against the Eagles. It’s the continuation of injury-plagued year for Jenkins, who suffered a stinger and hyperextended knee before the season before injuring a shoulder in the season opener against the Jets. He had not been forced to miss any games until now.
Nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick will start in his place opposite Terence Newman. Scandrick started for Newman in the season opener.
Lee dislocated his left wrist against the Eagles but will try to play with it after consulting with Dr. Bo Frederick, a hand and wrist specialist, in Dallas on Monday. A final determination on his status for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks has yet to be determined. But if he plays, he will play with cast on his wrist.
“Yeah,” responded Lee when asked if he will try to play with the cast. “We’ll see. I don’t know for sure what the plan is this week, but I’m definitely going to try to see and work with the doctors and just see how it heals and go from there.”
Lee said the there certain issues they trying to figure out with the injury and will see how it heals over the next week or so. There is a chance it could require surgery, which would end his season.
“Right now that’s a good deal,” Lee said of not having surgery. “Hopefully it will stay that way.”
Lee is an important part of the Cowboys defense, and he would be missed if he was sidelined for any significant amount of team. He leads the team in tackles, interceptions, fumble recoveries and pass deflections.
Jay Ratliff left the game late in the fourth quarter but is Ok. He went to the sidelines and was looked at by the trainers. He played numerous snaps on Sunday night with the Cowboys keeping Josh Brent inactive and with Sean Lissemore being used in his place it meant a heavy load for Ratliff.
Mat McBriar has some nerve issues in his left foot (non-kicking) which prevents him from planting. Dan Bailey replaced him and Chris Jones was signed to the practice roster on Friday as a precaution.