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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders–Thanksgiving Day 2013
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t have much time to savor their victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. The Thanksgiving showdown with the 4-7 Raiders awaits them. Dallas has a chance to win two consecutive games for only the second time this season. And with a challenging December schedule to navigate the Cowboys know they have to finish November on a positive note. The new-look Raiders, with Matt McGloin starting at quarterback, don’t figure the Cowboys too many problems. But Dallas (6-5) has struggled to rise above .500 in recent seasons. Here is a look at how the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders match up:
When the Cowboys run
The Cowboys produced a better rushing effort against the Giants, gaining more than 100 yards in a game for only the second time this season. But Dallas’ ground attack is far from reliable and Oakland has one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Raiders are conceding only 3.76 yards per carry and Andre Brown of the New York Giants is the only player to gain more than 100 rushing yards against them this season.
When the Cowboys pass
Oakland spent the off-season revamping its secondary, drafting DJ Hayden and acquiring Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter as well as ex-Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. But the Raiders are giving up 258.1 passing yards – the eighth-highest average in the NFL. Tony Romo, who rediscovered his connection with Dez Bryant in the victory over the New York Giants, should have no problem dissecting the Raiders’ defense.
When the Raiders run
The Raiders’ rushing attack changed when Oakland made a switch at quarterback. The decision to replace zone-read specialist Terrelle Pryor with dropback passer Matt McGloin earlier this month gave the offense a new look. Pryor was the second-leading rusher on a team averaging 140.6 yards on the ground – the fourth-highest average in the NFL. Still, Oakland should be able to attack a Cowboys run defense yielding 133.6 yards per game. Only two teams are giving up a higher average.
When the Raiders pass
In his first two NFL starts, Matt McGloin has been solid but unspectacular. While he’s only completed 58 percent of his attempts, he’s avoided mistakes, throwing one interception versus four touchdown passes. McGloin doesn’t have many weapons. Oakland’s top wideout, Rod Streater, is ranked 35th in the NFL in receiving yards. The Cowboys, who have the second-worst pass defense, could author another strong performance after shutting down Eli Manning and Co. on Sunday.
The absence of Dwayne Harris, who has a hamstring injury, will hurt the Cowboys’ return game. Harris, after all, was a threat any time he handled a kickoff or fielded a punt. But Dallas still has Dan Bailey, who established a club record when he made his eighth game-winning field goal in his career last Sunday against the Giants. Bailey, who has converted 90 percent of his tries this season, has the edge over Oakland counterpart Sebastian Janikowski. The veteran Janikowski has the second-lowest field-goal accuracy rate among NFL kickers.
A big victory over the New York Giants has given the Cowboys a much-needed boost of confidence. Dallas knows it can’t afford to lose the momentum it gained last Sunday, especially with a Monday night showdown with Chicago looming on the schedule. The Cowboys, who haven’t lost two consecutive Thanksgiving Day games since 2000 and 2001, should have the mental edge against the Raiders. Oakland, after all, is recovering from a last-minute loss to Tennessee on Sunday.
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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
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When: Sunday, November 10th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: Local CBS affiliate | DirecTV
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WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #12 | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders
Regular readers know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” predicted a big NFC East win … and was correct!
This week, The GREAT Robbini expects our weary 53 to outpace the traveling Raiders from Oakland. Personally, I think that mental state will show it’s ugly head until it becomes clear who will walk away with this win. It should come down to the team that was best prepared in the short week and the team that had something positive to build on from the previous game. Dallas won, thereby solidifying the bye week changes. Oakland hosted and lost to a gritty Tennessee Titans team. The Raiders are coming into AT&T Stadium mentally demoralized.
The GREAT ONE was able to sit down and put a seriously powerful rub on his magic ball. I’m told it was so vigorous, that his ball actually emitted images of a very disappointed Al Davis. He got the distinct message that “It’s bad to bleed silver and black … when this is the year that the boys are back!” Obviously, he’s psyched about the Dallas Cowboys – Oakland Raiders vibe … and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #12 predictions:
Well, here’s something to be thankful for. Its only been 4 days since watching the ‘Boys take out the trash, and take back the division. Here we are again, so soon.
Well, its not going to be quite as impressive looking on either side of the ball with such a quick turnaround. At times I think the players will appear as dizzy and sluggish as most of you sat on the couch, pants unbuttoned … moaning, groaning … picking food out of your mustache. It ain’t gonna be pretty. Thankful as we are for more football, and another heavy dose of Dallas Cowboys, these teams are just waiting to get this one done and into the history books. Expect plenty of missed tackles, dropped balls, and a false start or two. These men are tired. Ready to head home, hug those loved ones and maybe get some of those cold turkey leftovers.
That being said, expect a much more raucous home crowd than last year, and an ultimately more jubilant Cowboys team here, thanks to a confidence boosting performance in New Jersey. That and the knowledge of a ten day break headed their way. Yes, The Cowboys are giving us yet another thing to be thankful for. A turkey day win in AT&T Stadium.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- Carter lead tackles
- 3 takeaways
- 4 sacks on Mclovin’
- 2 sacks Hatcher
- 1 sack Ware
- Carr Interception
Predictions for the offense …
- Romo 300 yds.
- Bryant Touchdown
- Williams Touchdown
- Austin Touchdown
- Murray/Dunbar 135 all purpose yards
- Austin 60 yards
- Dez 80 yards
- Williams 60 yards
- Witten 55 yards
- Cowboys receive second half kick
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #12. Feel free to leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
Stats and predictions to be confirmed by:
CALLAHAN’S CARDIAC COWBOYS: Imbalanced offense puts Dallas in come from behind situations
The Dallas Cowboys finished with single-digit rushing attempts for the first time in team history.
They ran just nine rushing plays Sunday against the Vikings, despite never trailing by more than a touchdown. It marked the least amount of rushing attempts by the Dallas Cowboys since running 10 times in a playing from behind 34-7 loss to the Eagles on Oct. 30, 2011.
“Oftentimes when you look at the stat sheet, when you throw it the last 18 times in a game because of what the game situation is, that can skew those numbers,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “But having said all that, we need to run it more.”
The Dallas Cowboys actually ran the ball well in the first quarter, rushing four times for 25 yards, including two carries for 25 yards by DeMarco Murray in the running back’s return from a knee injury. But they only ran five more rushing plays the rest of the game, as Tony Romo threw the ball 51 times. The Cowboys finished with 36 yards on the ground.
“You’d certainly like to have more balance than that, obviously,” Garrett said. “We’ll keep striving for that. We did run the ball a little bit fairly well early on. DeMarco looked like he was going to have a good day, but as it wore on there were some minus runs that happened that got us behind the sticks a little bit.”
CALLAHANDOFF QUESTION: Why does the Dallas Cowboys stop trying to run before you can even establish a run game?
Interesting historical reference:
During Bill Callahan’s tenure as head coach/offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders, his Raider offense led the NFL in rushing (in 2000) and led the league in passing (in 2002). In 2002, the Raiders became the first team to win games in the same season while rushing at least 60 times (against Kansas City in a 24–0 win) and passing at least 60 times (against Pittsburgh in a 30–17 win). His 11-5 Raiders faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of their 2002 season. The Bucs were coached by his former boss, Jon Gruden. Bill Callahan kept Gruden’s old playbook more or less intact. The Bucs had so much information about the Raiders’ offensive scheme that they knew exactly what plays were coming. Oakland suffered a lopsided defeat in Super Bowl XXXVII, losing 48–21, to Gruden’s new team. In 2003, the Oakland Raiders finished 4-12. Callahan was fired by Al Davis, replaced with Norv Turner
Three points immediately come to mind regarding Dallas Cowboys playcaller Bill Callahan. One, he does not necessarily believe balance is necessary to win. As you can see (above), he’s won games with both extremes. The question remains, how many games did he lose with that imbalance. The answer is 7 times in his 2003 season, when he went 4-12.
Second, the Dallas Cowboys offense is wildly inconsistent. Callahan shows a tendency to completely dismiss successful plays executed one week, when oftentimes, they would be appropriate the following week. Players that show a spark and hot-hand during a game are frequently overlooked during the remaining portion of the game. As a fan, how many times have you honestly believed the Cowboys would be participating in a blowout or shootout, because of mismatch opportunities provided by opponents? More often than not, what we see is a low scoring, mostly defensive or special teams standout plays that keep the Cowboys in games.
Third, opponents know what’s coming. These are still largely Jason Garrett’s plays … without Romo’s ‘out of the box’ sparks. No designed rollouts for Romo to speak of. Predictable plays called during pivotal moments in games. Four running backs, four tight ends on the roster … each with unique skills and characteristics. Yet, no multi-back sets to base run and pass plays off of. No multi-back sets to provide forward momentum against an advancing pass rush or blitz. No multi-back sets to provide the vision advantage a blocker can use to bang open a running hole, or slip out to become an eligible receiver. There are reasons why the I-formation, split-back, and multi-back sets are predominate in all levels of football. With a total of eight players (nine including FB/LB Kyle Bosworth) built for blocking, the Dallas offense can’t establish a run? Why aren’t formations being designed with this in mind? You blame the offensive line for any of this? If so, Callahan has nine players (running backs, tight ends, and Bosworth) to bolster them until they mesh on their own. Use them. Put a wide receiver, tight end, or running back in motion … to help create a lane or stop a penetrating defender.
Romo standing alone the new 5-wide spread formation does little if he doesn’t have blockers behind him to allow for that obvious pass play. Not to mention, your telegraphing pass because there is no running back in the box. This is a great idea if you stay with it on a scripted drive and/or use it in a hurry-up situation. You can rotate players (edge) to keep fresh legs on sustained drives. For example, after the play is run, swap out Harris for Dunbar before you snap the ball again. Any number of combination hot swaps could make this formation scary for defensive coordinators.
My contention is this. If you’re imbalanced on offense, you put yourself in come from behind situations. If you’re balanced, you’re scoring. Their defense is guessing. If you show an imbalanced look (scheme), you’re telegraphing. Their defense is not guessing. Run multiple plays off of a base scheme (formation) that can be used for run or pass … or screen or end around … or reverse or draw … or play-action or rollouts. From that base formation, move Romo behind center … use him some in the pistol … or back in the shotgun occasionally.
The 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys has more star-power (a subsequent salary cap dollars) on offense than on the defense or special teams. With very few exceptions, through nine games, it’s not the offensive stars producing the excitement and scoring … especially lately. The defense and special teams are providing ample sparks and opportunities.
With strong arm Tony Romo, freak Dez Bryant, dasher DeMarco Murray, future famer Jason Witten, hands James Hanna, developing Gavin Escobar, elusive (when healthy) Miles Austin, emerging Terrance Williams, clutch Cole Beasley, sprinter Dwayne Harris, speedy Lance Dunbar, pounder Phillip Tanner, and workhorse Joseph Randle … this offense is underperforming. They should be scoring in the forties … consistently. Can you imagine what other offensive minded coaches could do, and would do, with these weapons? If Bill Callahan doesn’t figure out a way, someone else will. The Denver game showed the potential. Nearly every other game exposed the flaws.
SHOWTIME IN OAKLAND: Preseason for Dallas Cowboys starters begins against the Raiders
The unofficial preseason opener for the Dallas Cowboys will be Friday against the Oakland Raiders, per coach Jason Garrett.
Only three starters on offense and just one on defense played in Sunday’s official preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game.
Garrett said the decision to sit stars like quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, defensive end DeMarcus Ware and linebacker Sean Lee was by decision as the Cowboys took advantage of the extra preseason game to look at young players.
“You always appreciate the extra week,” Garrett said. “We made an effort as a staff to use the extra game to our benefit not to our detriment. Now we can get into the normal rhythm of the preseason starting next week. But any time you get young guys an extra chance to play in a game I think its a positive.”
Garrett said the starters will begin their normal preseason work of getting about a couple of series, maybe a quarter of work against the Raiders, then progress to playing into the second quarterback against the Cardinals in week three before the unofficial dress rehearsal of the season against the Bengals in the fourth preseason game.
COWBOY HEADED WEST: CB Mike Jenkins officially ends 5-year run in Dallas
When Mike Jenkins decided not to spend the majority of the offseason with the Dallas Cowboys to rehab his shoulder last summer, the writing was on the wall that 2012 would likely be his last season with the team.
No surprise ending here.
The Cowboys let him go into free agency and although it took nearly a month to find a home, Jenkins is heading out West after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders.
Jenkins, one of two first-round picks (along with Felix Jones) by the Cowboys in 2008, went from a three-year starter from 2009-11 to a backup last year. The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr in free agency and then moved up in the first round to pick Morris Claiborne, creating an instant 1-2 punch at the cornerback position.
It left Jenkins on the outside looking in and while he never publicly complained about his situation, his absence from the Cowboys’ facility other than mandatory events such as minicamps and team functions suggested he wasn’t happy with his role, especially heading into a contract year.
Still bothered by the shoulder injury, which required rotator cuff surgery, Jenkins missed all of training camp and the first game of the season before returning to action in Week 2 against Seattle. However, Jenkins never had a major role last year, playing mostly in nickel and dime packages.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 as an alternate but never got back to that form. Jenkins showed some toughness in 2011 when he played through multiple nagging injuries, including a knee, neck and shoulder setbacks.
In Oakland, Jenkins is the second free-agent corner to sign in free agency along with Tracy Porter.
The Cowboys and Raiders will square off twice in 2013, including a preseason contest in Oakland in mid-August, followed by a regular-season game at Cowboys Stadium.
Editors note: Keep up with the 2013 Dallas Cowboys free agents by clicking below:
SUPER BOWL SABATAGE DRAMA: Bill Callahan denies Tim Brown’s allegations
MOBILE, Ala. – As Bill Callahan’s name gets brought up as a possibility for the new Cowboys’ play-caller, his calling of plays for a previous team 10 years ago has been brought to the forefront.
Callahan said he was “shocked, saddened and outraged” in a statement released Tuesday night regarding the allegations made by former Oakland receiver Tim Brown that the former Raiders head coach tried to sabotage the team by changing the game-plan on the Friday prior to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Former Oakland receiver Jerry Rice later came forward on ESPN and sided with Brown, stating that Callahan disliked players on the team and wanted the Buccaneers to win the game. Tampa Bay beat Oakland, 48-21, in one of the more lopsided Super Bowls.
Here is Callahan’s full response:
“There are many people who are disappointed by the outcome of Super Bowl XXVII, but none more than me. While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last twenty four hours. To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations. Like every game I ever coached on the professional or collegiate level, I endeavor to the best of my professional ability to position my team to win. To suggest otherwise, especially at this time when it involved the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory. I have always honored the spirit of competition that drives us to sport as children and, for the luck few, sustains us in adulthood. Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicate my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans, is flat out wrong. I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately. I want to extend my personal and my family’s deep appreciation to the coaches, players and fans who have come forward and thoughtfully spoken out against these ill-conceived allegations.”
Brown said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Callahan changed the game-plan from a run-heavy attack to a pass-heavy attack late in the week, taking away from the Raiders’ advantage on the offensive line. He said Callahan did it because of his disdain for the organization and his friendship with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden.
The comments that Oakland lost simply because of Callahan’s late switches and not because of Tampa Bay’s defense essentially ripped both current coordinators for the Cowboys, as Monte Kiffin led the Bucs’ defense in that game. The Tampa Bay defense led the league in total defense and interceptions that season, picking off Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon five times in the Super Bowl.
The Raiders entered the game with the top total offense in the league, averaging 67.5 more passing yards per game than the rest of the NFL. They didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher that season and averaged six fewer rushing yards per game than the rest of the league.
Oakland rushed 10 times and passed 17 times in the first half of the Super Bowl game, entering the second half trailing, 20-3, while averaging just 1.8 yards per rush. The Raiders ran just one more time the rest of the game, as they played catch up the rest of the way.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay
The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.
The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.
The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.
When the NFL announces the dates, they will posted HERE (or click on the page titled NFL Schedules).
BLUEPRINT FOR AN UPSET: Falcons’ weaknesses shown in three narrow wins
IRVING, Texas – The Atlanta Falcons are the only undefeated team left in the NFL. But don’t think that makes them unbeatable. In fact, of their seven wins, only one has come against a team (Broncos 4-3) that currently has a winning record.
There was also a three-week stretch in which the Falcons narrowly won games against less than stellar teams.
In week four, the Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 30-28 on a last second field goal.
In week five, the Falcons beat the Washington Redskins (who played the end of the game without Robert Griffin III) 24-17.
In week six, the Falcons beat the Oakland Raiders 23-20 at home.
A win is a win in the National Football League, so the point is not to fault the Falcons, but to look to these three games for a formula to beat Atlanta. And after taking a second look at all three games the verdict might not bode well for the Cowboys.
These three teams had success against the Falcons by effectively running the ball.
The Cowboys’ offense looked great against the Giants in the second half as they all but abandoned the run game. Don’t expect that to be the most effective strategy against the Atlanta Flacons.
It’s no secret that the Falcons are a big-play, quick-strike offense. With Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Julio Jones, they have three players that average over 10 yards per carry and they have 13 touchdowns between them. Not to mention that Matt Ryan is playing at an elite level.
Teams’ only sustained success this year against the Falcons has been by running the ball and keeping Ryan and the offense off of the field. The Falcons have the 26th ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
In their loss to the Falcons, the Panthers rushed for 199 yards. Perhaps more importantly, they ran the ball 35 times versus just 25 passing plays. Ryan still played quite efficiently, but Carolina controlled the tempo for most of the game meaning the Falcons’ offense had more pressure to rely on the big plays of their offense (which they happened to get just enough of to win).
Ironically, it was a Panthers fumble in the last moments of the game that forced them to punt it to the Falcons who drove from their own 1-yard line to hit a game-winning field goal.
The Redskins managed to hang with the Falcons despite losing Robert Griffin III in the third quarter to a concussion.
They did so with a game plan that relied heavily on running back Alfred Morris who got 115 yards off of 18 carries. The predictability of Atlanta’s offense was apparent as Matt Ryan threw the ball 52 times in order for the Falcons to reach 24 points. Perhaps with Griffin playing the fourth quarter the Redskins could have continued the success of their ground attack and limited the opportunities for Ryan’s passing plays.
The next week the Oakland Raiders nearly beat the Falcons by dominating the time of possession. The Raiders ran for 149 yards compared to just 45 from the Falcons. The Falcons once again relied on big plays from their wide receivers, but this time it cost them as Ryan threw three interceptions almost costing the Falcons a win.
Like the Panthers and Redskins before them the Raiders played kept a very balanced blend of running and passing the ball. They threw the ball 33 times to go along with 32 running plays. Atlanta made just enough big plays to sneak out a 3-point victory.
What we can take from all of this is relatively obvious; the Falcons rely heavily on the expectation that their receiving threats (mainly Gonzalez, Jones and White) will make enough game-changing plays for them to win. Those players are talented enough for that to be a logical strategy. But no matter how talented your players are, such plays are rarely a given. You can’t just expect to convert every time you throw it deep to your Pro-Bowl receiver. But the Falcons take so many shots that they typically convert enough to win games.
These three teams had success against the Falcons by limiting the amount of shots they could take at big plays. In a sense they gambled that when it came down to crunch time they would be able to prevent the big passing plays. Even though they were wrong, they kept themselves in the game until the final moments.
I think that the Falcons have a clear weakness at running back and it has yet to be fully exposed. The Cowboys’ reluctance to run the ball has been well documented as they have only rushed the ball 24.1 times per game. But the Falcons are actually right behind them at 25.1 times per game.
The Cowboys and Falcons have shared many of the same weaknesses and their strengths lie in some of the same places. But considering how effective the Falcons have been this season compared to the Cowboys it might not be wise to go head to head with them on their strengths.
In other words, the Cowboys don’t want to try to get into a shoot out with the Falcons. Both teams have great weapons on offense, but the Falcons have been much more successful taking advantage of their weapons and winning games off of passing situations.
Compared to their 26th ranked rush defense, the Falcons have the 10th ranked passing defense. Their secondary is a big step up from the Giants’ secondary that the Cowboys passed all over in the second half of last Sunday.
There may be little reason to have faith in the performance of Felix Jones (who is not 100 percent), or Phillip Tanner or Lance Dunbar for that matter. But beating the Falcons will likely require a commitment to the running game.
Both teams will likely make big plays in the passing game. But Sunday’s game might come down to who can control the game in between those big plays. If the Cowboys fall behind by a touchdown early in the game, handing the ball off to Felix Jones and controlling the clock might not be the most popular decision, but that type of discipline and faith in the running game could be what it takes to take down a team like Atlanta.
FAMILIAR FACE: CB Bryan McCann works out; hoping to fill open roster spot – UPDATED
The Dallas Cowboys brought back a familiar face to the Valley Ranch complex today, hoping to find some help on special teams and possibly cornerback depth.
Bryan McCann, who played for the team in 2010 and actually spent two training camps with the Cowboys, worked out for coaches, scouts and front-office personnel.
The Cowboys have an open spot on the 53-man roster after cutting cornerback LeQuan Lewis this week. Lewis played the last two games, mostly on special teams but was called into duty on defense.
Coach Jason Garrett said this week the Cowboys needed that spot to provide more on special teams than Lewis was able to. McCann has experience not only to cover kicks, but also in the return game.
McCann has played 11 games with the Cowboys, including nine as a rookie in 2010. He’s remembered most for his two long touchdown returns in consecutive weeks, starting with a 101-yard interception runback against the Giants in Jason Garrett’s first game as interim head coach.
The next week against the Lions, McCann alertly knew the NFL rulebook well enough to know he could scoop up a deflected punt without jeopardy of fumbling, and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown in the Cowboys’ win over Detroit.
McCann was cut two games into the 2011 season, picked up by the Ravens for three games before finishing year in Oakland. McCann spent training camp with the Raiders this season and played against the Cowboys in the preseason opener.
He has a 24.2 yard kick return average and 15.9 on punt returns in his career.
UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys opt not to sign CB Bryan McCann
The Cowboys worked out cornerback Bryan McCann on Thursday but they have determined they won’t sign him. Management has no immediate plans to bring anyone else in but it is discussing its options.
McCann, 25, is a former member of the team who last played for Oakland before being cut by the Raiders in early September.
After taking another look at McCann more than a year later, the Cowboys decided against bringing him back.
SPECIAL TEAMS BOOST: Newly signed CB LeQuan Lewis happy for regular season opportunity
IRVING, Texas – LeQuan Lewis was not brought into the organization with defensive reps in mind. Lewis is expected to prove his worth as a special teams contributor, head coach Jason Garrett confirmed Wednesday morning.
“He was actually released by the Jets, but he was a guy that we targeted as a special teams guy,” Garrett said. “So we brought him in here, see how he fits on our 53-man roster and then our 46-man roster.”
Lewis, who has never play in a regular season NFL game, after being cut by the Titans in 2011 and by the Raiders and Jets this summer, talked about how excited he is to be given an opportunity with the Cowboys. He said he plans to take full advantage of every moment of practice and any snaps he might get against Seattle.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lewis said. “I really appreciate what this organization is doing with me. Everyone’s being welcoming and it feels great.”
The Cowboys are coming into Sunday’s game with an increased emphasis on special teams due to Seattle’s success in that area under coach, Pete Carroll. Specifically the Cowboys have to worry about the danger of kick returner Leon Washington, who holds three separate franchise records for kick returns.
Garrett talked about the danger that Leon Washington can pose.
“He’s a great returner,” Garrett said. “Has been a great returner since day one in this league. He’s a difference-making player for them.”
If Lewis’ name is indeed called on come Sunday, he will be expected to help contain Washington’s return game. Lewis talked about the potential of coming in and making an immediate impact in a game.
“I definitely want to set a footprint in and just go out there and make plays right away,” Lewis said. “I’m going out there to prove them right for bringing me here.”
As someone who has always played the position of cornerback, Lewis discussed the mindset of making special teams his focus.
“Go out there and make plays,” Lewis said. “They brought me over to play special teams right away, and so I have to learn that system and make plays. Corner will come when it comes … special teams will be the emphasis.”
With one mistake by the coverage team, Washington can change a game, so it may pay off for the Cowboys to bring in a special teams player with the right attitude.
“I have no fears whatsoever,” Lewis said. “I have nothing to lose. I’m going to go down there and play my heart out.”
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FORBES MAGAZINE: Dallas Cowboys tops NFL list, first to be valued at over $2 billion
The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s first and only $2 billion franchise, Forbes Magazine announced today as it released its annual team value list.
Michael Ozanian, Forbes’ executive editor, said the Cowboys’ value, which the magazine tabs at $2.1 billion, is "a conservative estimate."
Ozanian said the magazine took into account the Cowboys’ $80 million in sponsorship income, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they are the only team in the NFL that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.
Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That’s roughly a 715 percent increase to today’s value, factoring in inflation.
While the Cowboys stood atop the list for the sixth consecutive year, the New England Patriots (worth $1.63 billion) passed the Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion) for the second spot.
The New York Giants, valued at $1.46 billion, landed in fourth while the Houston Texas rounded out the top five at $1.3 billion.
Despite playing in the same stadium, the magazine estimated the net worth of the New York Jets at about $200 million less than the Giants.
"We have the Giants bringing in $27 million more in revenue, plus they’re getting the Super Bowl bump on ticket prices," Ozanian said.
Despite the threat of concussion litigation that could eventually cost the NFL billions of dollars, the magazine doesn’t have a single franchise losing value from last season.
"There wasn’t any loss of value reflected in the recent Cleveland Browns sale," Ozanian said. "The investment bankers we spoke to told us that prices haven’t dropped in terms of what people are offering for small or large shares of teams."
Forbes stated that 20 NFL teams are worth more than $1 billion, the most of any league. That number is up from 15 teams last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals, worth $871 million compared to $875 million last season, are the only team that lost value.
Forbes projects only two teams had operating losses last year — the Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion), due to a higher payroll, and the Oakland Raiders ($785 million), thanks to having the lowest revenues in the league.
The magazine concluded that the two teams that had the biggest jump in value were the Minnesota Vikings ($975 million) and the San Francisco 49ers ($1.17 billion), whose values jumped 22 and 19 percent, respectively, as a result of their new stadiums being built.
The Cowboys’ $2.1 billion value matches that of the Los Angeles Dodgers purchase by Guggenheim Partners. Forbes says only Manchester United is worth more. The magazine said the soccer team was worth $2.23 billion, but the team’s recent offering on the New York Stock Exchanged valued it at $2.9 billion.
INJURY UPDATE: Jason Witten will get on-field work soon, not cleared for contact
Jason Witten’s lacerated spleen is healing, but apparently, he still does not know when he will be cleared to play a game. Witten had a scan of his injured spleen Tuesday and learned that he can get some on-field work, with no contact, in the next few days, according to Stephen Jones.
Jones told 105.3 The Fan that Witten still hasn’t been ruled out of the Giants’ game. It seems more likely, though, that the Pro Bowl tight end will return for the Sept. 16 game at Seattle given that he has another doctor’s appointment next week.
"He had a good [doctor’s] appointment [Tuesday]," Jones, the team’s executive vice president, told the radio station. "Things are progressing. …It’s certainly starting to look [like surgery will not be needed]. He’ll go back for another appointment next week and see where it sits."
Witten, who has missed only one regular-season game in his career, lacerated his spleen in the exhibition opener against the Raiders on a hit by Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain. He worked on resistance cords during Monday’s practice as part of his rehab.
John Phillips, who has 22 career catches, or 674 fewer than Witten, for 163 yards and a touchdown in three seasons, has taken first-team reps in Witten’s absence. Rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba both could make the roster initially, with Witten’s status for the opener in doubt.
"You’ve got to be ready to go," Phillips said. "Step in. Next-man-up mentality. Ready to get out there and go."
JASON WITTEN INJURY UPDATE: Doctor visit on Tuesday, possible timetable on return
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will visit the doctor on Tuesday to get an update on his recovery from a lacerated spleen and possibly get a firmer grasp on his availability for the Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants.
"The most recent update on Witten is everything is going fairly well with him," coach Jason Garrett said. "Obviously it’s a very serious injury that he has. The doctors have seen all of his tests, his blood work all throughout the process and he’s scheduled to see another doctor on Tuesday, and hopefully we can get an OK from that, but this is all normal within the process of what we thought right from the outset. But everything has come back positive for him and we’re hopeful that he can return sooner rather than later."
Witten was injured in the preseason opener against the Raiders Aug. 13. He has not practiced or done much of anything since. He was told to rest and be as still as possible to let the spleen heal.
Garrett said everything has been positive about his recovery, as doctors have reviewed his blood work on an almost daily basis.
Witten, who has been ruled out of the last two preseason games, is hopeful of returning for the opener. Garrett said the doctors will make the final decision.
"I don’t want to get into the specifics of that, but everything he’s done up to this point has been positive," Garrett said. " He’s feeling better, the blood work has come back positive for us, meaning it’s good, and he’s going to see this doctor on Tuesday, so we’ll get a further update at that point about how do we go forward."
HIGH POINTS: Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey likes the grass in California
Dan Bailey has had a perfect preseason – 3-for-3 on field goals, 2-for-2 on extra points – and he drilled a 49-yard field goal Saturday night against the Chargers.
So he’s ready for the regular season, right? Surely he doesn’t need to kick any more in preseason.
“I just enjoy playing,” he said. “So any opportunity I can get out there, it’s fun for me. It’s also good to get the game experience. I like it. … You can always get better, so I don’t know if there’s really a benchmark that I’m hoping to achieve, necessarily, to get myself ready for the season. My idea is to just improve each game throughout the whole year. It’s good to get some attempts now, early on, especially a long one like the kind I had tonight.”
Bailey said the long kick was into the part of the stadium where the wind was pushing the ball, and the kick drew back left on him. But he said he struck it well, and it felt good off his foot.
Bailey also credited the work of long snappers Charley Hughlett and L.P. Ladouceur and holder Chris Jones. Hughlett, a rookie, was the snapper for the field goals, and he and the veteran Ladouceur each had one of the PAT snaps.
“The operation’s been great,” Bailey said. “Everybody worked really hard in the offseason. I think it’s just really been a smooth process. Everybody’s locked in and focused. It’s been a pretty easy transition coming back into this year.”
Now it’s time to go back to turf. The next two games are at Cowboys Stadium, then the Cowboys go to MetLife Stadium (Giants) and CenturyLink Field (Seahawks) before coming home for two more home games.
“I don’t think about it too much,” Bailey said. “Especially Cowboys Stadium. That’s like a kicker’s paradise there. We’ve been fortunate enough. We’ve had pretty good grass in Oxnard, and the grass was good here tonight.”
JOB SECURITY: Marcus Spears perspective hasn’t changed during tenure with Dallas Cowboys
As a player and a person, defensive end Marcus Spears says he has matured. But his perspective on his job security hasn’t changed during his tenure with the Cowboys.
“I come in every year with the mentality I can lose my spot and be beat out,” Spears said.
In past seasons, that never seemed to be a legitimate possibility for the 2005 first-round draft pick. But now it is. The Cowboys’ defensive line is stacked with quality players — many of whom are younger and cheaper than Spears.
“Everybody is playing for a roster spot right now,” said end Jason Hatcher.
As a result, the five-year, $19.2 million contract Spears signed in 2011 could be the deciding factor in whether he stays with the Cowboys. At the very least, it will be a consideration.
“You understand that’s where the game is and you understand sometimes decisions have to be made based off that,” Spears, 29, said. “So, if that’s my situation, so be it. I’ve seen a lot of guys before me go and a lot of guys after me go because of that situation. But at the end of the day, I think these coaches want to keep the best players. I think that’s what it really boils down to. I am trying to be one of those guys.”
That was evident against Oakland last Monday, when Spears made an impact. In the 3-0 victory, he collected four tackles, including one that resulted in lost yardage.
“I am one of those people who feels like you’ll go insane if you try to control things you can’t control,” Spears said. “All you can do is play football and try to put yourself in the best situation you can put yourself in. I want to be here until I retire. But if that’s not the case, you move on and thank them for the opportunity.”
COWBOY HISTORY: Dallas Cowboys pitch third preseason shutout
The Cowboys pitched their third preseason shutout in franchise history with Monday’s 3-0 win against Oakland.
The last preseason shutout was Aug. 26, 1995, at the Alamodome when the Cowboys beat Houston, 10-0. The first preseason shutout came Sept. 8, 1977, when the Cowboys beat Pittsburgh, 30-0.
The 3-0 game was also the Cowboys’ lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The previous low was their 5-0 victory in the divisional round of the 1970 playoffs against Detroit.
“Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment,” inside linebacker Sean Lee said. “If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”
It also can do nothing but help the confidence of a unit that was beaten down over the final month of last season when a playoff spot slipped out of its hands.
The defenders talk about how coordinator Rob Ryan simplified the scheme and how an offseason of work helped familiarize them more with Ryan’s scheme.
“It’s big for morale,” linebacker Alex Albright said, “That’s what we strive to do. Even if it’s the preseason, it’s still something that’s tough. It’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of the defense.”
OAKLAND TRIBUNE: Oakland Raiders lose 3-0 to Dallas Cowboys in exhibition opener
OAKLAND — With Jon Gruden in the broadcast booth and general manager Reggie McKenzie relighting the Al Davis torch to signify a new era, the Raiders had the scene properly set for a night of drama at O.co Coliseum.
If only exhibition football ever worked out that way.
Instead, a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night in the debut of coach Dennis Allen will recede from memory the same way it did for Gruden and every other Raiders leader in his first game, not to mention an announced crowd of 50,403.
"I thought our first-team defense played exceptionally well," Allen said. "I was pleased with the way Darren McFadden played in the first quarter. We got a lot of young guys a lot of reps, but the execution is not where it needs to be, and we need to get better."
The only points came on a 33-yard field goal by Cowboys place-kicker Dan Bailey in the third quarter. The Raiders failed on a chance to tie with 6 minutes, 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Eddy Carmona pushed a field-goal attempt wide right.
Carmona, who struck the upright four times in five attempts during a recent practice, felt terrible about it. What it did accomplish was preventing overtime — something probably neither team nor a national television audience wanted to see.
McFadden got out of the blocks with a 4-yard run, an 18-yard burst with a Carson Palmer swing pass and then an 18-yard run on the first three plays from scrimmage.
"We got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished, which was let him get a few touches early, let him get bounced around a little bit, and get him out of the game," Allen said. "We’ll evaluate next week as we go into the game and see how much we want him to play next week."
The Raiders first-team defense was quick, aggressive and unafraid to bring pressure — just as advertised. Dallas gained only 16 yards rushing in the first half, and even when the reserves gave up some second-half gains, the Cowboys had just 2.7 yards per carry.
When it was all over, the most visibly upset player was No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who hadn’t played in 20 months and looked that way.
Pryor was 8 for 15 for 50 yards, had his final pass picked off by Manu Silva and saw a handful of other passes nose-dive into the turf. He also rushed for 21 yards on six carries. He looked light years away from backup Matt Leinart (11 for 16, 89 yards) and starter Carson Palmer (3 for 6, 33 yards).
"I’m angry at myself," Pryor said. " I don’t think I played well. I thought Matt played great. I thought Carson played great. I thought everybody else on the team played great."
Pryor might have had a better night than wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Ford.
On a Palmer interception by Gerald Sensabaugh on Oakland’s opening drive, Ford had little chance to make the catch but didn’t appear to go up and fight for the ball. Later, he dropped back-to-back Palmer passes.
Ford also got penned in at the 14 on the Cowboys opening kickoff and later fumbled a punt that bounced out of bounds.
It was surprising given Ford’s generally strong performance during training camp.
Ford wasn’t the only player with a drop. Juron Criner lost a potential big gainer when he mishandled a Leinart pass on a rollout on the first series of the second quarter.
- Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Rod Streater, who had only 19 catches last year at Temple, caught six passes for 66 yards — all from Leinart.
- The Raiders had just five penalties for 37 yards as opposed to 12 for 91 for the Cowboys. There was only one presnap penalty, a false start on left tackle Kevin Haslam, although he wasn’t the only lineman who jumped.
- Dallas had just 202 yards overall as the Raiders blitzed frequently and gave a sneak previous of their new style.
- Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was trailing his man on a few pass plays and also had a pass interference penalty after being an early training camp standout.
- Gruden made his way to the Black Hole and was greeted enthusiastically by early arrivals. The focus of an upcoming HBO "Real Sports" profile, Gruden was followed by cameras.
- Raiders who didn’t suit up included punter Shane Lechler; wide receivers Duke Calhoun, Eddie McGee and Denarius Moore; running backs Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson; linebackers Mario Kurn and Aaron Corry; offensive tackle Zach Hurd; tight end Brandon Myers; and defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
Courtesy: Jerry McDonald | Oakland Tribune
DAN GRAZIANO VIEWPOINT: Dallas Cowboys – Oakland Raiders
Of all the football games I’ve ever watched, the Dallas Cowboys’ 3-0 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night was definitely … well, it was one of them. It was a sluggish, poorly played game by two teams that obviously weren’t at full strength or interested in showing a national TV audience very much of their playbooks. At the time that it ended, nine Major League Baseball teams had outscored the two NFL teams’ combined total.
But it was a game a defensive coordinator could love, and surely Dallas’ Rob Ryan will use it as a rallying point for his defense in the days and weeks to come. As we say all the time here, there is little or no predictive value in any of these games. Some teams game-plan for them, many don’t, and there’s no way to really know what you’re watching in terms of who’s trying and who’s not. But if you’re a defensive coordinator, you’d better believe you can hold up a 3-0 victory and shout at your guys about what they’re capable of if they play hard. Can’t hurt, could help, you know.
The Cowboys’ offense … won’t have as much fun watching film of this one. Let’s get to what we saw from the Cowboys in Oakland on Monday night.
1. The interior of the offensive line is not good right now, and it affects everything the offense tries to do. Tony Romo had no time to throw, DeMarco Murray had no room to run, and the No. 3 wide receiver candidates who were running with the first team had no opportunity to show what they could do. David Arkin started at center in place of the injured Phil Costa, and in the first half he got abused by Tommy Kelly for one sack and was also called for holding. The good news for Arkin is that he didn’t botch any snaps, and he did look better as he continued to play into the third quarter (and the Raiders kept taking out first-team and second-team defensive players). Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started at right guard, is likely to get snaps at center in upcoming preseason games, but since he’s coming off an injury the Cowboys are trying to work him in at guard to get him acclimated. Derrick Dockery started at left guard, and Ronald Leary struggled with the second and third teams. Now, the key things to remember are (a) this isn’t news and (b) preseason games are about figuring out what you need to improve. There’s no reason to think the Cowboys’ offensive line will look worse at any point this year than it does right now, and they’ve known for a while that they have issues there. If they can get Costa and Nate Livings and Bernadeau healthy, they’ll at least have the crew with which they planned to go into the season. I’m just not sure that’s good enough — or that they have anything behind the starters that can help in case of injury. And it’s worth mentioning that right tackle Doug Free didn’t look good either.
2. Andre Holmes had a good night. Of those No. 3 wide receiver candidates, Holmes stood out the most, with 40 yards on three catches. Holmes’ asset is his size, and he looks like he’s doing a good job of using his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make catches in traffic. Long way to go and a lot to see, but Holmes helped his case. Kevin Ogletree likely remains the favorite and got the first crack at it, starting in place of the injured Miles Austin. Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, for 12 yards, and had a goofy moment when he fell on his face trying to make a block and slipping on the infield dirt at the Oakland Coliseum. Expect to see more from Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale in upcoming games. Beasley was the slot receiver with the first-team offense but didn’t see any action. Interesting that Dez Bryant did start in spite of his hamstring injury and made one excellent 24-yard catch before taking a seat.
3. The defense did look fired-up and kind of deep in spots. Defensive end Marcus Spears played like a man who knows he needs to win a roster spot. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh came up with an early interception on a play on which cornerback Orlando Scandrick had his man well covered. Kyle Wilber showed some ability to generate pressure on Matt Leinart on a third-down play, though he did leave the game with a broken thumb. Tyrone Crawford pushed the pocket a little bit during his time in there. And I think that inside linebacker spot is going to be a real strength, as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both looked good. Yes, the Raiders ran the ball effectively against the first-team defense, but that first-team defense was without starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So I imagine they’ll be better once those guys are on the field.
4. Not-so-special teams. The Cowboys were called for penalties on two punts and one field-goal attempt, each time allowing the Raiders to keep the ball. That needs to be tightened up, clearly, and it’s the kind of thing that just infuriates coaches in these preseason games.
5. Miscellany: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted linebacker who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View last year, looked active and quick. Remains to be seen whether he has the size and speed to play against NFL offenses… Rookie tight end James Hanna showed good hands as a receiver and looked good on kick coverage… Dwayne Harris was called for holding, and yeah, that can work against a guy who’s trying to get a job as a No. 3 wide receiver… Yes, you like what you see from Victor Butler, as you always do in August. Still need to see whether and how the coaches find more ways to get him on the field once the real games begin… Seemed like punter Chris Jones was fine.
Dan Graziano | ESPN Dallas
BOX SCORE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders–Preseason Opener
|Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0)||Oakland Raiders (0-1-0)|
|D. Van Dyke||1-0||0.0||0||0|
|Total First Downs||11||Total First Downs||18|
|By Rushing||3||By Rushing||5|
|By Passing||7||By Passing||9|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||2/10 – 20%||Third Down Efficiency||5/15 – 33%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||0/1 – 0%||Fourth Down Efficiency||0/1 – 0%|
|Total Net Yards||202||Total Net Yards||253|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||49||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||67|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.1||Average Gain per Offensive Play||3.8|
|Net Yards Rushing||54||Net Yards Rushing||89|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||28|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||2.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.2|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||0-0||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||4–13|
|Net Yards Passing||148||Net Yards Passing||164|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 – 17||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 – 17|
|Gross Yards Passing||165||Gross Yards Passing||181|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||15 – 27 – 1||Pass Comp-Att-Int||22 – 37 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.1||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.2|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||2 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||1 – 1 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||6 – 41.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 40.2|
|Net Punting Average||39.8||Net Punting Average||33.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||1 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||83||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||26|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 16||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 7|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 19||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 12|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 67||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 19|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||12 – 91||Penalties (Number-Yards)||5 – 37|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||1 – 0||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 0|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||0/1 – 0%||Red Zone Efficiency||0/1 – 0%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||0/0 – 0%||Goal To Go Efficiency||0/0 – 0%|
|Final Score||3||Final Score||0|
|Time of Possession||26:25||Time of Possession||33:35|
GAMEDAY: 5 things to watch in tonight’s Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders preseason opener
After two weeks of training camp, the Dallas Cowboys are ready to hit someone else. They will get that chance tonight in their preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders. Don’t expect to see many of the front-line players on the field for more than a series, because this game is more about the backups and young players.
- The Cowboys had planned to take an extended look at the backup receivers battling for the No. 3 job even before Dez Bryant and Miles Austin suffered hamstring injuries. Look for Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris to start with the starters sidelined. But the question is whether Cole Beasley, Andre Holmes and Tim Benford, who have played the best in camp, can continue to perform under the lights and the pressure of a game.
- Who’s at center? With Phil Costa nursing an ailing back and Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski sidelined indefinitely, it will be mystery meat for the Cowboys at the position. David Arkin is expected to start, but he has struggled with snaps all camp. Linemen Harland Gunn and Pat McQuistan also have been cross-trained at center and will play there tonight.
- Bruce Carter, who has had a strong camp, is the favorite to win the inside linebacker job opposite Sean Lee. But the starting spot will not be given to Carter. He will share first-team reps against the Raiders with veteran Dan Connor as they have done in practice the past two weeks. Carter has shown range, coverage ability and a nose for the football, but must show it in a game.
- Rookie defensive end Tyrone Crawford had been one of the raves of camp because of his quickness and pass rush skills. Thought to be a project, Crawford has been a quick study and could vie for immediate playing time. He will get a look at left and right end and tackle on passing downs.
- Quarterback Tony Romo and the first-team offense and defense likely will go one series, or certainly no more than eight or nine plays. The Cowboys don’t want to risk injuries to their front-line players. Several starters are not expected to play due to injury, including Austin, Costa, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and defensive end Jason Hatcher. Bryant’s status is a game-time decision.
Courtesy: Clarence E. Hill Jr.
DALLAS COWBOYS TIDBITS: Former TCU standout a huge Emmitt fan
Dallas Cowboys running back Ed Wesley, a rookie from TCU, seeks to make the team as a free-agent signee. Wesley grew up as a huge Cowboys fan and, at one point in high school, lived in apartments across the street from the team’s Valley Ranch training facility. He shared his five favorite Cowboys memories thus far:
1Emmitt Smith sets NFL career rushing record… "It was awesome. Emmitt was my favorite."
2Smith inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame… "My first time playing football, when I could choose my own number, I chose No. 22 because of him."
3Cowboys beat Pittsburgh 27-17 to win Super Bowl XXX… "I was in the first grade. I was 7 years old and I watched every bit of it."
4Cowboys beat Philadelphia in 2009 playoffs, the team’s first postseason triumph in 13 years… "The guys were giving me crap at TCU… because I was like, ‘We’re going to the Super Bowl.’ And they lost in the next round."
5Getting the call to join the team… "It was a dream come true."
Cowboys cornerback C.J. Wilson, a former Baylor standout, missed most of the morning walkthrough while having a root canal but took part in the padded practice during the afternoon. It made for a memorable day. "The pain medicine wore off as soon as we got out here, so I’ve been spitting out blood. But I’m fine," Wilson said after the afternoon session. "You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, man. If you don’t, somebody else will."
Because of injuries to Lance Dunbar (hamstring) and Phillip Tanner (broken hand), free-agent running backs Ed Wesley and Tavarris Williams figure to log significant snaps Monday at Oakland. Running backs coach Skip Peete said both are "a little behind the 8-ball" in learning the offense because neither went through off-season drills. Asked about Wesley, a TCU product, Peete said: "He’s an exciting young kid. He has some good run skills and has ability to run routes out of the backfield. He’s still behind, but that’s not his fault. If you’re three or four months behind everybody else, you’ve got to catch up quickly."
Actor Ashton Kutcher watched Saturday’s practice. He strolled the sideline like an assistant coach but wore a Boston Red Sox cap.
They said it
"I can’t accept … that we will be as disappointing as we were last year. I can’t accept that. Because I know that it was my most disappointing year as a Cowboy. We can’t have, individually, players play at the level they played at last year and not do better." — Jerry Jones
With the preseason opener looming, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett reflected on his first snap as a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Playing for the New Orleans Saints, Garrett handed off on a reverse against Buffalo. Then, he turned to block defensive end Bruce Smith, a future Hall of Famer. "He looked like he was 48 feet tall," Garrett said. "So you dive at his knees, he throws you to the ground and he makes the tackle."
History lesson, reality check
Cowboys tight end James Hanna, a rookie sixth-round pick from Oklahoma, wears No. 84. But his knowledge of predecessors who donned that digit is limited to Jay Novacek, a standout tight end from the 1990s. Asked about Pettis Norman, who made the number notable in the 1960s, Hanna said: "I don’t know about that. Not familiar with him." He is familiar with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Asked to cite the moment he realized the NFL would be significantly different from college, Hanna said: "The first time I blocked DeMarcus Ware. Or tried to. It didn’t go well."
Dallas Cowboys Injury Report
WR Miles Austin, hamstring, 1 week
WR Dez Bryant, hamstring tightness, day-to-day
RB Phillip Tanner, hand, 1-2 weeks
G Kevin Kowalski, ankle, on PUP
G Bill Nagy, high ankle sprain, day-to-day (UPDATE: Waived)
G Nate Livings, hamstring, day-to-day
LB Anthony Spencer, hamstring, day-to-day
DE Jason Hatcher, hamstring, day-to-day
RB Lance Dunbar, hamstring, day-to-day
DB Matt Johnson, hamstring, day-to-day
TE John Phillips, ankle, day-to-day
WR Saalim Hakim, dislocated finger, 1 week
CB Mike Jenkins, shoulder, on PUP
Courtesy: Jimmy Burch
RANDY GALLOWAY: The No. 1 need at the moment is … a game
OXNARD, Calif. — The needs?
What are the Dallas Cowboys’ needs as training camp entered a third week out here right down the road from Ventura County beaches?
The No. 1 need at the moment is…
For all the cussing we do every August about NFL exhibition football, enough is enough at this camp of the same players facing off against the same players on the practice field.
As the last NFL clubs to play an exhibition game, the Cowboys’ Monday night encounter in Oakland with the Raiders can at least provide an early road map in several areas of concern.
Start with wide receiver. Very, very iffy in depth and proven talent. Don’t get me started again on how Jones and Co., or even Jason Garrett, has ignored this position, but "a game" can at least provide the opportunity for an unknown name to emerge.
Include the interior of the offensive line in this preliminary road map, because an injury wipeout in camp has both guard positions and center in a holding pattern.
Cornerback, which on paper is the most improved position for the Cowboys, is also on hold at the moment because of injuries.
Don’t forget safety, also a position of weakness in the past. Will the Barry Church who has surfaced as a positive on the practice field continue that trend Monday night?
OK, you get the point. Even exhibition football will be welcome come Monday night.
Meanwhile, a few observations from eight days of watching practice-field activity, observations that may or may not mean anything:
Tony Romo is a "meaner" quarterback.
"Yeah, I guess I am," answered Romo, who in a show of meanness then cussed at me (joking, I think) but also continued to expand on his noticeable verbal practice-field displeasure when plays are not executed properly.
"It’s about doing what you have to do, and about certain guys responding better to different things."
But why now has his barking at teammates expanded after six years as the starting QB? More leadership?
"It not just a now thing," Romo answered. "It’s not like I just started it. But you let it evolve more and more over the seasons. And now you’ve noticed.
"This has been a progression. Over time, things evolve. Being more vocal has evolved."
From quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson: "Oh, no doubt he’s being a lot more demanding of guys. The good thing is, it’s not been a case of him grandstanding. The positive impact with teammates happens when they know you are sincere instead of grandstanding with it. Tony is good about doing this the right way."
This is as physical a Cow camp as I’ve seen in years, including maybe the Parcells days. The practice-field difference from last August, with the NFL coming off a lockout shutdown, is a one-eighty.
Jason Garrett was a first-time full-time head coach last August.
So, Red J, you’ve really jacked up the intensity this summer, right?
"No," answered Garrett. "There’s not that much difference, not at all."
Huh? Eyes don’t lie. It’s totally different.
But it’s interesting that Garrett dismissed the topic, and for, I guess, psychological reasons, such as he doesn’t want to read or hear that he’s now gone hardball head coach. Or something. I’ve got no answers, really.
But it’s still the most physical and also entertaining training camp I’ve seen in years.
Even if he wants to also deny it, Garrett himself is a one-eighty from a season ago. Instead of the buttoned-up, boring robot when dealing with the media, he’s loose, funny, smiling, engaging, and all this carries over to his practice-field demeanor.
Garrett acts like a head coach totally in charge. Can he be? With Jerry? I guess we’ll see.
I’ll say it again. Sean Lee. Wow. DeMarco (In a Hurry) Murray. Wow. Brandon Carr. Wow
I’ll say it again. It’s a joke, a bad joke, that the Cowboys came to camp with this limited collection of wideouts.
As much as Garrett brings up the name of Kevin Ogletree, as much as we hear publicly about Ogletree being the top candidate as the No. 3 receiver, with an Andre Holmes and a Dwayne Harris the other top contenders…
Late last week, there was one whisper from inside the organizational door that rookie free agent Tim Benford had already become the top candidate as the No. 3 receiver. He’s from Tennessee Tech, and has been impressive.
For seniority reasons, others will get first call on the field Monday night, but Benford, all 5-foot-11 (if that) of him, is definitely a name to remember if you’re watching the Raiders game.
Plaxico Burress? There is limited interest here in plucking this guy off the NFL streets, but he’s signing somewhere soon, and the Cowboys don’t appear ready yet to take a nutcase gamble. It’s a risky gamble I’d take, seeing the state of the receivers in this camp.
On that topic of this being a highly physical camp, I went to new backup quarterback Kyle Orton for an opinion.
Orton has been in camps with the Bears and Broncos. Is this one more physical than those?
"No, not really," he said. "It’s about the same as the others."
So either the eyes did lie, or Garrett has now upgraded the intensity to that of other camps. I believe the latter to be the case.
With so much valid criticism on failed Cowboys drafts in the past, we still don’t know much about the highly acclaimed new cornerback, Mo Claiborne. But future expectations remain high for him.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on defensive end Tyrone Crawford, the third-rounder last April out of Boise State. Maybe his impact won’t happen immediately, but this guy at least has the look of a real find.
All of the above comes under the category of mere observations. They are being offered at no extra charge. Meanwhile, let’s please see "a game."
Randy Galloway can be heard on Galloway & Co. weekdays 3-6 p.m. on ESPN/103.3 FM.
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