IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have brought back a player that seemingly had a good training camp but has been on the street for the entire season.
Cornerback Sterling Moore rejoins the Dallas Cowboys this week and will likely play against the Raiders Thursday. Once again, Morris Claiborne has a hamstring injury and is expected to miss the Thanksgiving Day game.
To make room for Moore, the Cowboys have released tight end Andre Smith, who has been inactive eight of 11 games this year.
Claiborne had missed two straight games with a hamstring injury he sustained against the Lions on Oct. 27. He returned against the Giants and technically started the game as the Cowboys opened up in nickel. He played the first half but the injury occurred in the third quarter and he did not return.
The Dallas Cowboys continued with Orlando Scandrick shadowing Victor Cruz all over the field, and B.W. Webb played on the outside, opposite of Brandon Carr.
Moore, who joined the Dallas Cowboys last season off the New England Patriots practice squad, was cut just before the start of the regular season when the team trimmed the roster down to 53 players.
Since Moore was not practice-squad eligible, the Cowboys kept Micah Pellerin on the squad and eventually called him up to the roster two weeks ago. Pellerin was waived Thursday to make room for linebacker Orie Lemon.
Moore was among the Cowboys’ final cuts on Aug. 31 when they made the somewhat surprising decision to go with only four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Moore is not a stranger to having to play on a quick turnaround for the Cowboys. Last year he officially had one day of practice before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 2 after he was signed off the New England Patriots’ practice squad.
He finished with six tackles and two pass breakups in six games.
Tight end Andre Smith could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
The Dallas Cowboys had hoped cornerback Micah Pellerin would clear waivers last week, but he was claimed by the Tennessee Titans. If Pellerin had returned to the practice squad, the Cowboys would have called him up to the active roster for the second time this season.
Without Claiborne, the Cowboys could use rookie B.W. Webb outside and keep Orlando Scandrick in the slot when they play their nickel defense.
The Cowboys have picked 20th overall four different times in club history, getting Marcus Spears in 2005, Ebenezer Ekuban in 1999, Billy Joe DuPree in 1973 and Dennis Homan in 1968.
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.
Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.
With 19 days (July 20th) until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., one question centers on the versatility of defensive backs.
The versatility of DBs should be effective in new 4-3 scheme
Last year, we saw the Cowboys use a variety of defensive back rotations – some of which because of injury and other times to simply put players in effective spots.
Brandon Carr manned the cornerback spot most of the year, but he spent some time at safety early in the year after the Cowboys lost both Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh to injury.
Orlando Scandrick has played primarily slot corner, but has been used as a safety in certain packages. The Cowboys also signed Sterling Moore in midseason from the Patriots’ depth chart and he immediately helped at both safety and cornerback.
In this new 4-3 scheme from Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys might have to rely on their versatile players more than ever.
Looking back in Cowboys’ history, no player excelled at both cornerback and safety better than Mel Renfro. The 10-time Pro Bowler made it five times as a safety and five times as a corner – often going back and forth later in his career. If anyone came close to excelling like that, it would be Renfro’s teammates Cornell Green, who often swapped roles with Renfro on those early Doomsday Defenses.
Obviously it’s a stretch to assume the Cowboys will have any player on this roster, or any in the future, that can be as dominant as Mel Renfro, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
However, having versatility at any position is clutch, especially in the secondary. With the NFL becoming a more passing league by each year, having players with the ability to cover ground like a safety, coupled with the skills to cover in the slot is almost a lost art.
That trait alone might keep a player like Moore on the roster and actually get him activated on game day as well.
This team suffered many injuries last year so guys like Carr and Scandrick might be asked to play some safety in a pinch as well.
They don’t have to be all-world like Renfro or even Green, but just serviceable at another position can be beneficial.
A closer look at the number 20:
No player has ever worn No. 20 as long as Mel Renfro, who had it from 1964-77. Other notable players to wear No. 20 include Ron Springs, Ray Horton and Richie Anderson.
Currently, rookie B.W. Webb wears No. 20.
Roger Staubach’s 20 rushing touchdowns are the most by any Cowboys’ quarterback and ranks 11th all-time in Cowboys history.
Preston Pearson ranks 20th in Cowboys history with 1,207 rushing yards.
No more whistles, no more playbooks, no more coach’s dirty looks. Sure, not quite as catchy as the iconic “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks,” but we’re talking football grades here, not math, science and social studies.
The biggest difference in grading pupils and players is expectations. All students are created equal; not so much for a professional football team. Just doesn’t make sense to hold Miles Austin, one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the game and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and Cole Beasley, an undrafted free agent rookie, to the same standard. Ditto for DeMarcus Ware, headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and some dude signed off his couch midseason. Not even Batman.
Without further ado, here are our final grades for the 2012 Dallas Cowboys:
Tony Romo – B
This one is difficult, because for 80-plus percent of the season, 13-of-16 games, Romo played as well as any quarterback in franchise history. Yes, including Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. His numbers for those contests include 303.1 yards per game, 24 touchdown passes, seven picks and a 100.2 rating. Even with the other three games – vs. the Bears and Giants and at the Redskins – Romo had the league’s sixth-highest rating by Football Outsiders, behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.
He threw for nearly 5,000 yards, and on many occasions was his own best pass protector in terms of finding an extra second or two. There were times when he was brilliant, and never before has he shown the leadership he did this season. Still, in the end, Romo flunked his final. Again. That’s not easy to write. Romo has been sort of the teacher’s pet these last five years, but there is no excuse for those final two picks at Washington.
Kyle Orton – I
He broke Clint Longley’s 38-year-old mark for highest passer rating (minimum 10 attempts) with a ridiculous 137.1. Played just the one game, though, giving him an incomplete.
DeMarco Murray – C
A disappointing season for the second-year back who was expected to anchor the offensive load. Didn’t rush for 100 yards after Week 1 at the Giants and rarely showed the explosiveness from his rookie season with just five 20-plus carries. Finished tied for 21st in the league with 2.5 yards per attempt after contact. He also picked the worst of times for his first two NFL fumbles. His durability has also become a concern as he has missed nine of the team’s last 19 games with injuries.
Felix Jones – C
Finished with more offensive touches than expected, was much improved in picking up the blitz, caught the ball well, and for the most part, maximized his rushing yards with the gaps provided. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry after entering the year at 5.1 for his career.
Lance Dunbar – B
Was impressed with the free agent rookie from North Texas from the first preseason game through Week 17. Finished with eight special teams tackles, was solid if unspectacular on kick returns and showed a little burst on offense. Should play a bigger role in 2013.
Phillip Tanner – C
Solid on special teams with 10 tackles, although he didn’t show much in limited action carrying the ball.
Lawrence Vickers – C
Showed promise catching passes, that little dump-off was seemingly always available. But his blocking was average and his four penalties in 305 snaps was the highest percentage of any fullback playing 25 percent of his team’s snaps.
CALMING THE WAVES: Gerald Sensabaugh has emerged as a steadying influence in the Dallas Cowboys secondary
During a season marked by personnel turnover on defense, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett cited free safety Gerald Sensabaugh as someone who has emerged as a calming influence in a patchwork secondary.
“He certainly has. I think he’s grasped that leadership role more and more as he’s been here,” Garrett said of Sensabaugh, who is the longest-tenured Cowboys’ defensive back (four seasons with the team) slated to start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. “When you’re playing with different combinations of guys, he’s the guy who’s been here. He’s the steadying influence. He communicates well before the snap. He plays well after the snap. The guys respond to him really well.”
Sensabaugh, who posted five tackles and a pass breakup in last week’s 27-24 victory over Pittsburgh, has been flanked by lots of fresh faces in recent weeks because of injuries to others. The list includes Sterling Moore, Michael Coe, Eric Frampton and Charlie Peprah _ all signed Sept. 25 or later as free agents, and all expected to contribute against the Saints.
Garrett said Sensabaugh’s most endearing trait is his durability. He has played the past 10 weeks despite a series of nagging injuries and has started 58 of his 60 games in Dallas.
“Sensabaugh is so impressive because he’s just there every week,” Garrett said. “He’s had a lot of different injuries over the past couple of years … but he gives you that look on Wednesday (that says), ‘I’ll be ready.’ He responds well to injuries. He’s a tough guy. He cares about his team and he loves to play football. Somehow, some way, you expect to see him out there on Sunday regardless of what’s going on with his body.”
Sensabaugh said he adjusts his on-field responsibilities based on whoever is lined up next to him in the Cowboys’ coverage package.
“I just try to get into position to put those other guys to where they’re more comfortable,” Sensabaugh said. “Everybody has their different style of play. Some guys like to play deep, middle more. Some guys like to play down in the box more. I just try to base my game off tying to be as versatile as possible to where I can just play wherever needed. We’re just trying to make it as easy as possible for the guys who are coming in new, so they can play fast. If that takes me doing more of the odder jobs, the more complicated roles, I’ll take pride in doing that.”
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is working with seven players who weren’t on the team to start the season, including five who signed after Thanksgiving. All seven played against the Steelers:
Cornerback Sterling Moore : 37 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 1
Safety Eric Frampton : 29 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Sept. 25 for special teams role
Cornerback Michael Coe : 10 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 11
Defensive end Brian Schaefering : 10 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 12
Nose tackle Robert Callaway : 6 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed to the roster Dec. 8 after Josh Brent charged with intoxication manslaughter
Linebacker Ernie Sims : 5 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, started but left early because of concussion, signed Oct. 24
Linebacker Brady Poppinga : 5 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, started in sub package, signed Nov. 26
IRVING, Texas – A player who hadn’t been with the Dallas Cowboys for more than two days was on the field in the fourth quarter as the Eagles tried to keep the game within striking distance.
Sterling Moore joined the Cowboys on Friday from the Patriots’ practice squad and answered the call on Sunday when the Cowboys needed an extra defensive back to help on passing downs.
“There’s an expression I use around here a lot with guys we picked up during the year,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “I say, ‘This guy’s been here for 15 minutes. You better be able to cover him. You better be able to block him.’ Fifteen minutes might be five or six weeks. Well, the Sterling Moore thing was actually 15 minutes. He was here for 15 minutes. He got here about 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon.”
Moore played in 14 games for the Patriots the last two seasons. The Cowboys had their eye on the SMU product ever since he left school, and they took the opportunity to snag him after he went to New England’s practice squad in early November.
He made one combined tackle in his two snaps Sunday.
“We’ve liked him,” Garrett said. “We’ve known about him for a while. He’s done a good job for the Patriots. We knew about him coming out of school. With the different injuries we’ve had in the secondary, we felt like he was the best answer for us, a guy who could probably play a little safety if we needed to; a guy who could play corner if we needed him to do that.”
Moore picked off two passes in six games last year for the Patriots and recorded 13 combined tackles in eight games this season before being released and signed to the practice squad.
Garrett commended the job secondary coaches Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker did getting Moore ready to contribute in a limited role with such short notice. After watching Moore in pre-game, Garrett knew the cornerback was fired up to play.
“They were doing kind of a ball drill and he literally tackled Gerald Sensabaugh to the ground,” Garrett said. “He wasn’t understanding the tempo of the drill, but we thought that was a good sign and he did play a couple snaps in the ballgame, was around one of the tackles. He really was a guy we had our eye on. We felt like he was a guy who could come in on short notice and play in a real particular role if we needed him to.”
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The Dallas Cowboys announced today that they have placed DL Ben Bass, a rookie from Texas A&M, on injured reserve and signed CB Sterling Moore, a former SMU player, from the New England Patriots’ practice squad.
Moore (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) spent parts of the last two seasons with the Patriots. He had 12 tackles, one pass deflection, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery before he was cut in October. He started three games last year as an undrafted rookie. Perhaps his most notable play came in the AFC Championship game last season, when he denied Baltimore’s Lee Evans a touchdown catch that would have put the Ravens ahead in the late stages of a 23-20 loss to New England. The Cowboys will add a year to Moore’s deal, signing him through 2013. He will likely be available to play against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night.
Moore has playing experience with the Patriots in their nickel defense for most of the games this season. For the Cowboys, he’ll likely be used on special teams, but could have a role in the nickel defense if he’s active.
Dallas needs reinforcements in the secondary. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick fractured his left hand Nov. 22 against Washington and could be out for the rest of the regular season. Safety Charlie Peprah, who is expected to need 2-3 weeks to recover from a foot injury.
Moore, a versatile player, has been deployed at safety and cornerback since joining the Patriots in 2011. In 14 NFL games, the second-year veteran has made 20 tackles, forced a fumble and collected two interceptions.
Ben Bass suffered a sprained ankle in practice this week and was seen in a walking boot afterward. In limited playing time, Bass was credited with two tackles on the season. He spent most of the season on the practice squad until Kenyon Coleman was lost for the season with a torn triceps. Bass was called up to the active roster on Nov. 14.
With Sean Lissemore returning to action this week after missing nearly seven full games with a high-ankle sprain, Bass’ playing time would’ve likely diminished with a chance he could’ve been inactive this week.
The season is over for Bass, who had quite a journey to just stick around with the Cowboys, who invited him to participate in rookie minicamp on a tryout basis only. Bass was impressive enough to get signed to the 90-man roster but stuck around and made it to the practice squad and then the 53-man roster.