Tag Archives: Shaun Chapas

OFFICIAL ROSTER CUTS: Dallas Cowboys down to 53 players.

The Dallas Cowboys just officially announced their cuts today. There aren’t any surprises, but here’s the complete list from the team:

  • Jeff Adams OT
  • Baraka Atkins LB
  • Ben Bass DT
  • Tim Benford WR
  • Robert Callaway DT
  • Rudy Carpenter QB
  • Shaun Chapas FB
  • Danny Coale WR
  • Lance Dunbar RB
  • Clifton Geathers DT
  • Harland Gunn OG
  • Saalim Hakim WR
  • Adrian Hamilton LB
  • Ronald Leary OG
  • Orie Lemon LB
  • Jamize Olawale RB
  • Pat McQuistan OT
  • Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB
  • Lionel Smith CB
  • Andrew Szczerba TE
  • Eddie Whitley S
  • Teddy Williams CB

Among those players cut, the Cowboys would probably want to bring back these players for their practice squad, which can’t be set until 11 a.m. Saturday:

  • QB Rudy Carpenter,
  • WR Danny Coale,
  • RB Lance Dunbar,
  • LB Orie Lemon,
  • RB Jamize Olawale,
  • LB Andrian Hamilton
  • OG Ronald Leary

The Cowboys waived/injured guard Daniel Loper on Friday night.

The Cowboys traded their 2013 seventh-round draft pick to Miami for center/guard Ryan Cook on Friday morning. Cook, a seven-year veteran out of New Mexico, was originally a second round pick (51st overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played his first five years with the Vikings before signing with Miami as a free agent on September 5, 2011. Cook has started 40-of-77 career games, making starts at right tackle, right guard and at center.

LAST DAY IN THE LIMELIGHT: Twenty-Two Dallas Cowboys playbooks will be turned in tomorrow

A large Dallas Cowboys star is moved off the field - Symbolic of the 22 players that will be cut Friday - The Boys Are Back blog

Every year is the same it seems. We go into this final preseason game with a handful of players right there on the verge of making the team.

It’s always around the same number of players, with only the names changing, this year’s group including the likes of Hamilton, Coale, Lemon, Bass, Dunbar and Olawale. Oh, there were a few more, but those were the main guys.

But this year, the differences include more than just a few name changes.

Because as soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Wednesday’s 30-13 win over the Dolphins, the regular season was upon us. Just like that, it’s on.

No longer do the Cowboys have about 10 days to get ready. With the Wednesday night game on Sept. 5, the team only has a full seven days before they face the defending champs.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to key players such as Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin. Throw in Dez Bryant, Mike Jenkins and Danny McCray, and that puts quite a strain on the Cowboys trying to trim the roster down to 53 by Friday, at the same time they’re getting ready for a real game week.

Because of that, those injuries might have popped a few bubbles in the process.

We’ll see on Friday, but with the Giants game right around the corner, it might be too soon for some of these guys, particularly Witten and Ratliff. The Cowboys certainly won’t rule out either player. In fact, doctors checked out Witten’s lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday and it appears it will be a game-time decision on next Wednesday.

As for Ratliff, who has a high ankle sprain and was still on crutches as of Tuesday, it’ll also likely go up until kickoff before the Cowboys figure out his status.

In the meantime, the team has to prepare for the worst. In doing so, you must go long at those positions.

We could see Josh Brent and Robert Calloway make this team, at least for Week 1.

At tight end, either the Cowboys go and claim a player who gets cut, sign a veteran tight end or maybe keep Andrew Sczcerba around. Perhaps fullback Shaun Chapas makes it, mainly for his special teams ability.

Either way, moves like that knock off luxury keeps. By that, I mean keeping players who aren’t really ready to play just yet, but possess a certain quality. Guys like Ben Bass who plays with a high-motor on the defensive line, or Adrian Hamilton, who hasn’t figured out the 3-4 defense and/or special teams just yet, but he can rush the passer. Those guys are hurt by these injuries.

At running back, a guy like Lance Dunbar might have made the team in the past – solely because of that dazzling 58-yard run. Who knows, maybe he still does. A play like that will get noticed around the league and getting a player like that through waivers will be tough. Still, that’s one of those “luxury keeps” that might not happen because you’ll have a hard time getting him active each week. Personally, after that run, I think I’d make an exception. He’s got some wiggle to him and might be a decent kickoff returner, too.

The Cowboys like Andre Holmes and Danny Coale, who would be the sixth and seventh receivers. They’ll probably like a receiver or two that gets cut over the next few days. But they won’t keep eight and probably not even seven. They’d like to go long at receiver, especially if it means hanging onto Coale, a fifth-round pick who has been injured most of the offseason.

Now if Austin and Bryant were bigger question marks to play, it’d be a different story. However, it seems like both players have been held out of action just to be ready for the Giants. Bryant and Austin will start, and it looks like Harris and Ogletree will be next, with possibly Cole Beasley or maybe Holmes going to the game as a special teamer.

Then you go to the secondary. Mike Jenkins is not going to Florida after all to get an update on his shoulder. He passed his physical on Wednesday and will come off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) to practice as early as Saturday.

Still, you wonder how quickly he can get back into the mix. Yes, he’s a veteran and yes he knows the Giants and yes he plays a cornerback position that doesn’t always need the strongest continuity with his teammates. But football shape is a different thing. I still have hard time thinking Jenkins can get back to Dallas and start practicing Saturday and Sunday and be ready to play. It’s certainly a possibility, but if you remember last year’s game in New York against the Jets, Jenkins also battled a stinger/shoulder injury all preseason but played in the game. He went in and out about four times, battling all sorts of injuries.

The Cowboys likely have to go long at cornerback, not only on the roster, but the 46-man game-day roster as well. Expect Mario Butler to be active either way.

At safety, Matt Johnson (hamstring) will likely make the team although he’s barely played. McCray will obviously make it because he’s the special teams ace, but he’s battling a shoulder/stinger injury. So Mana Silva probably makes this team to start the season – and who knows, maybe he’ll stick around. He’s played pretty well this preseason. He’s a solid tackler and good on special teams. But still, that’s five safeties to keep.

This probably happens every year – injuries that cloud roster decisions. But it’s different when the guys injured are Pro Bowlers like Witten, Ratliff, Jenkins and Austin, who says he will play, but you probably have to make sure there is plenty of backup because of the nature of the injury and his history with hamstrings.

We’ll find it all out on Friday. But with so many guys playing for roster spots Wednesday night, it’s unfortunate for them that their fate was probably already sealed with a few of these preexisting injuries.

ON THE BUBBLE: Phillip Tanner showed what helped him make team last year

Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner (34) runs against Miami Dolphins - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner said he wasn’t out to prove anything in the fourth and final preseason game Wednesday night. But he did show the ability that helped him stick last year.

He carried nine times for 48 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins in the first half before giving way to Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale in the second half. The other backs were brought in to give him competition for the third running back spot, and Olawale gained an edge on the others when Tanner was out with a broken hand and Dunbar missed time with a hamstring injury.

“It wasn’t like me going out here and proving anything,” Tanner said. “Like we’ve talked before, it was just going out, having fun, playing football – something I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old. Just going out, gelling with the team.”

Tanner gave credit to center Phil Costa and fullback Shaun Chapas for creating running room for him. His first seven carries gained 45 yards. And he said he felt sharp.

“I made sure I stayed in mentally when I was out with the hand,” he said. “I stayed in my playbook, stayed watching film, just going out and gelling with the guys. That’s the biggest thing.”

Dallas Cowboys Phillip Tanner - The Boys Are Back blog

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys vs Miami Dolphins helmets

Preseason.

It’s finally coming to an end.

The Miami Dolphins visit the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium tonight to close it out.

Here’s a preview.

Stephen McGee vs. Rudy Carpenter: The Cowboys are thinking about going with two quarterbacks. Tony Romo and Kyle Orton have guaranteed roster spots. After that, McGee, the third quarterback since 2009, and Carpenter, who is trying to make the active roster, will get a shot Wednesday night. McGee has been inconsistent this summer in camp practices and in three preseason games. Carpenter has led the third unit on a touchdown drive. McGee is the better talent, but roster issues could force the Cowboys to go with just two quarterbacks, unless someone emerges.

Claiborne and Spears should play: First-round pick Morris Claiborne and veteran defensive end Marcus Spears should play a little on Wednesday. Here’s why. Claiborne, who missed the first preseason game with a knee sprain, needs to get more snaps before getting ready for the New York Giants on opening night. Spears is getting snaps with the second team and will most likely get a few snaps just to either keep him sharp or see if the Cowboys still want him on the team.

What’s uncertain?: The third quarterback for one thing. And in reality, it doesn’t matter who the No. 3 receiver is. Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley will make the team, but who gets the sixth receiver spot is the question. Andre Holmes? Danny Coale? Tim Benford? The swing tackle is Jermey Parnell, but who out of Pat McQuistan, Daniel Loper, Derrick Dockery and Ronald Leary make the team? Orie Lemon, Shaun Chapas, Jamize Olawale, Adrian Hamilton, Lance Dunbar and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are competing for a some of the final three or four roster spots.

The series with the Dolphins: The Cowboys lead the preseason series 4-2 and lost the last meeting 17-3 in South Florida. In that game, Sept. 1, 2011, receiver Raymond Radway fractured his leg on a pass in the end zone at the end of the game. Radway missed the regular season. He was cut this week by the Cowboys.

Connections: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was a former executive with the Cowboys, and Brian Gaine, the Dolphins’ assistant general manager, worked in the personnel department with the Cowboys. At one point the Dolphins had many former Cowboys. Now, there are only a few. Linebacker Kevin Burnett, for one, plays for the Fins.

Parking, parking, parking: For the second consecutive time, the Cowboys and Texas Rangers are playing at nearly the same time. Rangers first pitch is around 6:05 p.m. CT. Kickoff is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. CT. Cowboys Stadium parking lots open at 2:30 p.m. East Plaza is open at 3:30 p.m. and stadium gates to all plazas open at 5:30 p.m. Fans who have pre-purchased parking in the Ranger Lots A-B and M will have their passes honored. Stadium officials ask fans to get their early due to the Rangers game.

By the way: Regular season starters like Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Brandon Carr and Sean Lee won’t play. Just telling you.

Local TV and radio: The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m., on KTVT/Ch. 11 (CBS).

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

In many markets, you can listen to ‘The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, Brad Sham on The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network for pregame, play-by-play action, and post game interviews and analysis.

In the Dallas area, tune to 105.3 FM.  In all other cities, click HERE for more information.

PROJECTION: Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster

The Boys - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas — Go ahead and put most of these names in ink.

There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs entering Wednesday’s preseason finale, but the vast majority of the decisions will have already been made. The toughest calls come at the last spots for receiver, offensive line, defensive end and how to handle Matt Johnson’s situation (great potential, but can’t count on him this season).

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tony Romo  Kyle Orton

If Stephen McGee wants to stick around for a fourth season, he needs to give the front office and coaches good reason to keep him with a strong performance in the preseason finale. At this point, it makes more sense to try to put Rudy Carpenter on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

DeMarco Murray  Felix Jones  Phillip Tanner

Tanner didn’t help his cause with a blown assignment in pass protection that almost got Orton killed against the Rams, but he’s a solid No. 3 back and core special teams player. North Texas alums Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale are good practice squad candidates.

FULLBACKS (2)

Lawrence Vickers  Shaun Chapas

Chapas, a fixture on first-team special teams units Saturday, is likely to last only one week on the roster. An extra fullback can help mask the lack of depth at tight end in case Jason Witten misses the season opener.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten  John Phillips  James Hanna

The Cowboys could opt to go with rookie Andrew Szczerba as temporary insurance instead of Chapas.

Danny Coale

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Miles Austin  Dez Bryant

Kevin Ogletree  Dwayne Harris  Cole Beasley  Danny Coale

It comes down to Coale vs. Andre Holmes, the Jerry Jones pet cat who reported to camp in poor shape and has shown no consistency. Holmes has more upside. Coale, who has hardly been on the field due to injuries, is more likely to contribute this season. The Cowboys envisioned Coale as a Sam Hurd-type No. 4 receiver/special teams stud (without the felonious side business, of course) when they invested a fifth-round pick in him.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Tyron Smith  Doug Free  Nate Livings  Mackenzy Bernadeau  Phil Costa

David Arkin  Jermey Parnell  Ronald Leary  Pat McQuistan

Is being a third guard good enough reason to keep Derrick Dockery? He probably wouldn’t be active on game days due to his lack of position versatility. McQuistan has experience at tackle, guard, blocking tight end and has even worked some at center. Addressing the lack of depth at center would be a wise move after Week 1.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)

Jay Ratliff  Jason Hatcher  Kenyon Coleman  Sean Lissemore  Marcus Spears

Tyrone Crawford  Josh Brent

Clifton Geathers (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) looks the part, but he hasn’t done enough to push Coleman or Spears off the roster. The Cowboys can save a little money by cutting (or perhaps trading) one of the veterans, but keeping both gives them quality depth in the defensive end rotation.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Sean Lee  Bruce Carter  Dan Connor  Orie Lemon

Lemon is a guy you notice a lot in practices and preseason games. He has developmental potential and can contribute now on special teams.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)

DeMarcus Ware  Anthony Spencer

Victor Butler  Kyle Wilber  Alex Albright

Can the Cowboys get pass rusher Adrian Hamilton through waivers onto the practice squad? It appears that they will try. He’s not getting reps with the first-team special teams units, a strong sign that they don’t see him as a fit for the 53-man roster this season.

CORNERBACKS (5)

Brandon Carr  Morris Claiborne

Orlando Scandrick  Mike Jenkins  Mario Butler

Jerry Jones has said there is a roster spot for Jenkins, meaning the Cowboys don’t plan for him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the season opener.

SAFETIES (4)

Gerald Sensabaugh  Barry Church  Danny McCray  Mana Silva

What to do with fourth-round pick Matt Johnson? He has hardly practiced because of a hamstring injury and he strained the other hamstring in his preseason debut Saturday night. The Cowboys could try to get him through waivers to the practice squad or put him on injured reserve, essentially making this a redshirt season. With such limited practice time, putting him on the 53 would be a waste of a roster spot.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Dan Bailey  Chris Jones  L.P. Ladouceur

No drama here after rookie deep snapper Charley Hughlett’s release Monday. The Cowboys were willing to pay more for the proven commodity.

PONDER THIS: Do the Dallas Cowboys have room for two fullbacks?

Simply put, the fullback position was a key for the Cowboys in 2011. In the six games without Tony Fiammetta in the lineup, the offense averaged only 3.3 yards per carry on 152 rushes. The other 10 games, when Fiammetta was suited up, the Cowboys rushed for 1,304 yards on 256 carries, an average of over 5.0 per run.

When Fiammetta was knocked out of action by an inner ear infection, the Cowboys mostly tried to get by at the position by lining up tight end John Phillips in the backfield, and seventh-round pick Shaun Chapas even got a chance, but it wasn’t the same.

Now the team’s No. 2 tight end, Phillips may not be available for such utility work going forward, and he was hardly a natural as a lead blocker to begin with. Rookie James Hanna isn’t exactly a dominant blocker, either. Now, there’s new fullback Lawrence Vickers.

Dallas Cowboys FB fullback Lawrence Vickers - The Boys Are Back blog

One of the nice things about Vickers is his durability, as he’s played all but six games in his six seasons, but the position is one of the most demanding in the sport. On almost every play he will be asked to square up for contact with a lineman or linebacker.

Given the questions of depth at receiver and tight end, the fullback position may be featured more this year than it has for the Cowboys in some time. So it makes sense that the team would consider keeping two players at the position, which has not been the norm in Dallas.

Other teams have done it, though. It may mean the Cowboys have to go short elsewhere, but keep in mind they’re not going to have two kickers for the first time since 2008. A third quarterback may not even be a necessity.

It would seem a real possibility that the club could keep a second fullback, either Chapas, who is still around, or another player on the roster.

Isaiah Greenhouse, who converted from linebacker to fullback during last year’s camp, is back with the team now, but has been working exclusively on defense this summer.

THESE BOYS ARE BACK: Two Players Change This Offense

Dallas Cowboys FB Tony Fiammetta - The Boys Are Back blog

At this point in the season, every team is battling through injuries. Some teams obviously have more than others and the Cowboys are actually in better shape injury-wise than they were early in the year, although it’s hard to tell that by Wednesday’s injury report that included eight players who didn’t practice.

Still, this time of year, there are no excuses anymore.

But just looking at personnel and match-ups, getting Miles Austin and Tony Fiammetta back in the lineup will help this Cowboys offense tremendously.

Understatement? Possibly, had Austin and Fiammetta been healthy and in the lineup last week against Arizona, then undoubtedly the Cowboys would be an 8-4 team with a five-game winning streak looking to clinch the division outright.

Against the Cardinals and THAT defensive scheme, the Cowboys would’ve beaten Arizona by two touchdowns or more.

The Cards attacked the line of scrimmage with eight players and left the corners in man coverage and dared the Cowboys to beat them deep. Well, as good as Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant have been, they’re not really deep threat. Obviously, that is more of Austin’s game. And Austin is better at the slants and crossing routes than both of them. So blitzing the Cowboys like Arizona did, with a healthy Austin in the lineup, is much more dangerous.

San Francisco tried to blitz the Cowboys that way. Fail. Austin caught three touchdowns on them, including one over the middle where the middle was wide open because they tried to blitz.

As for Fiammetta, his presence last week would’ve been a major contribution to a running game that never got off the ground. John Phillips and Shaun Chapas tried to bring some fullback help, but not like Fiammetta can provide.

The Cowboys would’ve been able to get much closer into field goal range, especially in the first half and not waste those opportunities like that.

So getting players back on the field is a must here in December. But adding both Austin and Fiammetta give this offense the most complete attack as it’s had all year.

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MOOSE CALL: Dallas Cowboy stud fullback Tony Fiammetta ready to return

Dallas Cowboys FB Tony Fiammetta

Dallas Cowboys fullback Tony Fiammetta has been cleared and will practice Wednesday and play Sunday, he said. Fiammetta missed three games with an unknown illness.

"It’s going to be awesome," Fiammetta said Monday. "I’ve been waiting for it. I feel great. It’s a good time to come back, big game, and I want to make a difference."

Fiammetta’s symptoms included nausea, dizziness and "an uneasy feeling kind of thing." He said his illness was never diagnosed.

The Cowboys moved rookie Shaun Chapas off the practice squad last week to have a true fullback on their roster for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. But they still struggled to run the ball. In the past three games, without Fiammetta, they have averaged 3.5 yards per carry and 92.3 yards per game.

In the six games Fiammetta has played, the Cowboys averaged 145.8 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry.

"You know he did a nice job for us when he was playing, so we’re certainly hopeful that he’ll come back and play to the level that he was playing at before," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We ran the ball well when he was playing true fullback for us and hopefully we can get that going again."

In regards to Chapas’ future on the 53-player roster, Garrett said the Cowboys are evaluating "a couple of different roster scenarios that we’ve been talking about already."

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MILESTONES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals

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

STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON

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

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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:

Consecutive

Player FGM Season

Chris Boniol 27 1996

Chris Boniol 26 1995

Dan Bailey* 26 2011

Richie Cunningham* 18 1997

Nick Folk 16 2008-09

*indicates rookie

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

Player 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

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Diamond Dez Bryant set to be Cowboys primary punt returner for remainder of the season

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant drags Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (21) on a 2nd quarter pass reception.

Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant drags Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (21) on a 2nd quarter pass reception.

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Diammond Dez Bryant is poised to be the Cowboys primary punt return man for the remainder of the season.

All it took was an undetermined illness to the team’s starting fullback and the impending return of receiver Miles Austin to make it happen. Here’s how the dominos will fall in the next few hours.

The club does not believe fullback Tony Fiammetta will be able to return for Sunday’s game against Arizona and is unsure about his status for the remainder of the season. The plan is to sign rookie Shaun Chapas from the practice squad before Wednesday’s practice. The Cowboys are expected to release Akwasi Owusu-Ansah to make room for Chapas on the active roster.

Owusu-Ansah has been the team’s primary punt return man the last three games. His departure and Austin’s anticipated return from a pulled hamstring means the Cowboys are more comfortable with installing Bryant as their punt return specialist. Even if Austin is unable to return against the Cardinals, the Cowboys appear committed to Bryant as their punt returner.

Bryant is much more of a threat than Owusu-Ansah. His 20-yard return in the final three minutes of the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day helped set up the team’s game-winning field goal drive.

Bryant returned 15 punts for 215 yards and two touchdowns in 2010.

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ROSTER MOVES: Dallas Cowboys cut WR Akwasi Owusu-Ansah | Will sign FB Shaun Chapas off practice squad

Dallas Cowboys Shaun Chapas

The Cowboys have cut receiver Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and will sign fullback Shaun Chapas off the practice squad, a source said on Tuesday.

The move speaks to the continued uncertainty over the return of fullback Tony Fiammetta who has missed the last games with an unknown illness. The Cowboys trainers and doctors have been puzzled by Fiammetta’s condition and there has been no timetable for his return.

The running game has certainly suffered in his absence. Rookie sensation DeMarco Murray rushed for 601 yards in four games with Fiammetta as the lead blocker. He has rushed in the 160 yards in the two games since.

Third tight end John Phillips has done a good job substituting for Chapas but he is not a true fullback, prompting the move with Chappas and the release Owusu-Ansah, who has served as the primary kick returner.

“We’ve seen how good we are or can be when we have that prototype fullback in there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on his local radio show on KRLD-FM. “We don’t want to in any way put a cookie-cutter approach to what the fullback is. The fullback has unique skills when he’s good, and Tony is good. He knows how to get in the way of the defensive guys. He puts himself in position to help the running back with not necessarily the crushing block, but also the finesse blocks that you have inside there. I think it’s an instinct. He has that. I think we do miss him.”

The Cowboys were able to make the move because they are now using running back Felix Jones on kickoff returns. And with Miles Austin expected to return at receiver, they can use Kevin Ogletree on punt returns as well as Dez Bryant in special situations.

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NEXT MAN UP: Shaun Chapas ready for opportunity to block for running backs DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones

Dallas Cowboys full back Shaun Chapas

Dallas Cowboys fullback Shaun Chapas

Rookie fullback Shaun Chapas may get the opportunity he’s been working hard for all season. The Cowboys could move Chapas to the active roster, coach Jason Garrett said Friday. Starting fullback Tony Fiammetta will miss Sunday’s game against the Redskins with an illness.

“I’ve just been working hard ever since I got here and waiting for the opportunity,” Chapas said. “If it’s this week, I’m looking forward to it, and if it’s not, I’ll just keep working.”

Chapas was a seventh-round draft pick out of Georgia. He did not make the roster out of training camp but was re-signed to the practice squad. He said he is more familiar with the playbook and comfortable in the offense now than he was when he reported to training camp in late August.

“It’s definitely helped being here [at Valley Ranch] for 10 weeks now, nine weeks, something like that,” Chapas said. “I feel a lot more comfortable with everything than I did right out of training camp.”

In the three games Fiammetta was either not on the roster or inactive, the Cowboys used tight end John Phillips in their two-back sets. Fiammetta has drawn praise from the coaching staff, getting credit for the team’s resurgent running game with DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys lost the three games Fiammetta didn’t play, averaging 3.3 yards per carry and 84.7 yards rushing per game.

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NEXT MAN UP: Dallas Cowboys FB Tony Fiammetta has been ruled out vs. the Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys FB Tony Fiammetta

Fullback Tony Fiammetta has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Redskins with an unknown illness.

This is a blow to the Cowboys running game considering how important Fiammetta has been to the success of rookie running back DeMarco Murray.

Many of Murray’s record-setting yards the past four games have come with Fiammetta leading the way from the fullback position.

The Cowboys will likely use backup tight end John Phillips at fullback at times against the Redskins. They are also considering signing fullback Shaun Chapas from the practice squad.

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