2014 COWBOYS CAMP COVERAGE: The Boys Are Back in pads | Claiborne and Williams tempers flair | Cross-Training in the trenches
Training Camp 1-on-1 Drills: Tempers flare between Claiborne & Williams | 12:33 | Day 1 of Dallas Cowboys in full pads, which brought out some heated battles between receivers vs. defensive backs. (Watch Video)
First padded practice leads to first camp scuffle | 1:30 | Dallas Cowboys teammates Terrance Williams and Morris Claiborne separated. Both players, Jason Witten, and Jerry Jones react after practice. (Watch | Listen)
BEFORE THE FACT: Dallas Cowboys prepare for first padded practice of camp | 1:00 | Listen to what some of the Dallas Cowboys players had to say about preparing to put the pads on for the first time on Saturday afternoon. (Watch | Listen)
MONMOUTH MAN MILES APART: Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin designated as post-June 1 cut | Release creates cap cash earmarked for 2014 NFL Draft picks
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with Miles Austin today, ending several months’ worth of speculation about the veteran wide receiver.
Austin was designated as a post-June 1 cut, which will allow the team to spread his considerable cap hit over the next two years. The move will save the team $5.5 million against the salary cap this season, though that money will be unavailable until after June 1 — the Cowboys would likely use the savings to sign their 2014 draft picks.
However, the 29-year-old veteran will also cost the Cowboys $5.1 million in 2015, thanks to the June 1 designation.
The decision confirms what many had long suspected about Austin since he missed five games and grabbed just 24 catches for 244 yards last season. The undrafted free agent had four seasons remaining on a seven-year, $54 million deal that would been a massive blow to the Cowboys’ future salary cap figures.
Austin earned that big contract with a breakout season for the ages in 2009. Signed out of Division III Monmouth after the 2006 NFL Draft, he earned a place on the Cowboys’ roster for three seasons — mainly as a special teamer.
Following the release of Terrell Owens in 2009, Austin moved into position for more playing time at receiver. After tallying just four catches for 81 yards in the first month of the season, an injury to Roy Williams pushed Austin into the starting lineup in an October 11 matchup against Kansas City, where he exploded for a franchise-record 250 yards, including two touchdowns, on 10 receptions.
Austin tallied a whopping 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns on 81 catches in 2009, and he followed that up with a 69-catch, 1,041-yard, seven-touchdown effort in 2010. He earned Pro Bowl nods in both seasons.
Injuries have either hampered or derailed him in every season since. Austin missed six games and finished with just 579 yards, largely thanks to hamstring injuries — the same injuries that would wreck his 2013 campaign.
Austin did manage 66 catches for 943 yards and six scores in 2012, though injuries again limited his productivity.
All told, the veteran wideout missed 11 games and averaged just 588 yards per season in his last three years as a Cowboy.
The move will likely push second-year receiver Terrance Williams into the starting lineup for good. Williams worked his way into the lineup last fall partly thanks to Austin’s injuries, and he made the most of the opportunity. The rookie started eight games opposite Dez Bryant, and he nabbed 44 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Several key players not practicing today | Terrance Williams pulls hamstring | Special Teams veteran added to roster | Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 2013-2014 NFL Game 15 of 16
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys returned to practice at Valley Ranch with several players not in attendance, as expected.
In fact, there were a handful out on the field working with strength coaches and the athletic trainers.
Among those players included DeMarcus Ware, who has been slowed by a quad strain this year, although he has played the last five games.
Terrance Williams (see below), the latest player to suffer a hamstring injury, was on the field going through stretches, along with Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and Ernie Sims (groin/hip). Wide receiver Dwayne Harris was also in that group as he is recovering from a hamstring injury as well.
Defensive end George Selvie was in uniform but standing to the side. He might get limited work when the team turns in the official report.
For some good news, the Dallas Cowboys did have Bruce Carter out there practicing. The team was in full pads and Carter was participating. The defense could certainly use his experience and leadership for a linebacker corps that has been derailed by injuries. Sean Lee was not practicing or on the field because of a neck injury he sustained against the Bears.
If Carter can play, he will likely join rookie DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber as the starters, although Orie Lemon has been re-signed and practiced today. Rookie Cameron Lawrence is an option as well.
On offense, Michael Spurlock (see below) was practicing at receiver, wearing No. 15. He will also help in the return game, especially if Williams is out this week.
RELATED: Rookie WR Terrance Williams suffers latest hamstring injury
IRVING, Texas – Terrance Williams may not be available for the Dallas Cowboys Week 16 game against Washington, coach Jason Garrett said today.
Garrett said at his daily press conference that injured his hamstring during the team’s loss to Green Bay last weekend. He said Williams “may or may not be available” to play.
“Terrance has a little bit of a tweak to his hamstring,” he said.
That news adds another name to the list of hamstring injuries the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys have suffered since the season started. For those keeping track, Sean Lee, Justin Durant, Morris Claiborne, Dwayne Harris, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Miles Austin, Danny McCray, Lance Dunbar, Dez Bryant, Gavin Escobar and now Terrence Williams have all dealt with hamstring problems for varying amounts of time.
Garrett also said that Harris’ injury status is also undetermined for the Redskins game. The loss of both players would be a blow to the Cowboys’ depth at receiver, but it would also leave the team without its preferred punt and kick returners.
The Dallas Cowboys are looking into “contingency plans” in the event neither receiver is able to go, including signing of veteran return man Michael Spurlock (see below).
“We have to make sure we have some options. Joseph Randle is certainly in the mix there – someone who has done that before,” Garrett said. “We signed Michael Spurlock to come in. He’s been a returner in this league – both a punt returner and a kickoff returner. He also helps with our depth at receiver. Those are all the factors involved.”
The continued theme of hamstring injuries is something that has drawn more attention as the season has gone on. With such an inordinate amount of players sidelined with hamstrings, Garrett said it’s something the team is actively trying to address.
“It’s an ongoing thing. It’s not like we’re saying ‘Hey, we’ll figure that out.’ We’re talking about it now – what we can do a better job of,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll evaluate what we’re doing, what other teams are doing, who’s doing it best, who’s not doing it well – see if there’s some common ground there.”
Spurlock should be able to help with wide receiver depth, should Harris and Williams sit out. Garrett said the availability of Escobar and James Hanna at tight end may offset the need to add other receivers to the roster.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys sign special teams veteran receiver Michael Spurlock
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys need all the confidence they can get this week as they head to Washington in a game they need to win to likely keep their season alive.
And while they’ve already defeated the Washington Redskins 31-16 back in mid-October, the Dallas Cowboys probably won’t have the star of that game this week.
Dwayne Harris has been ailing with a nagging hamstring injury that has forced him out of two of the last three games. He’ll likely miss this week’s game in Washington as well and with that, he might not be back for the rest of the regular season.
So in an attempt to add a veteran presence who can at least try to fill in for the do-it-all Harris, the Cowboys have signed veteran Michael Spurlock, who reunites once again with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia.
Spurlock has played for Bisaccia in both Tampa Bay and San Diego, although he played nine games in Detroit this year.
Like Harris, Spurlock has experience as a punt returner, kick returner and also covers kicks. For his career, he has 80 punt returns for a 9.0 yard average and 104 kickoff returns, averaging 24.5 yards a return. He has five career touchdowns returns on punts (two) and kickoffs (three).
Losing Harris will be a big blow for the Dallas Cowboys. Harris ranks sixth in the NFL with a 30.5 kick return average. And his 14.0 yard punt return average would rank second in the league if he had enough returns to qualify.
Against the Redskins back in October, Harris was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week when he returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and later had a 90-yard kickoff return that led to another touchdown.
Spurlock is one of three players to be signed to the roster, along with linebacker Orie Lemon, who was with the team but cut last week to make room for Edgar Jones. The Cowboys are also expected to add defensive tackle Frank Kearse, who was on Tennessee’s practice squad but has played six games in his career with the Panthers.
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Dez Bryant
The ultimate compliment to a player is when opponents focus their entire game plan in an attempt to take you out of the game for that day. There is no question when you study these games that defensive coordinators are determined to not allow Dez Bryant to take over a game.
Kansas City has been the only club this season that tried to play Bryant with single coverage and that almost got them beaten. The numbers say that despite all this attention, Bryant is still finding ways to continue to make plays, but I will also say that it has come at a price. Bryant has had to fight his rear off every snap to try and find space.
It hasn’t been easy for him and at times it has been frustrating, but these are the situations that the top receivers around the league have to deal with every day. There has never been a question of Bryant’s ability to go get the ball, but where he needs to improve his game is his ability as a route runner to work those routes against the various schemes designed to take him out of the game.
There was a time early in his career where he had no shot — now at least he has an understanding of what he needs to do to give himself a chance to succeed. Bryant is also going to need the help of the coaching staff to put himself in a better position to make plays, as well.
Need More From: Miles Austin
The medical staff made the determination to shut Miles Austin down after the Philadelphia game and attempt to get him ready for these final six games. If ever a player needed to step up on this offense and make a difference, it is Austin.
With no disrespect to Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, the reason that Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are seeing the type of coverage that they are is because there is no threat on the outside. In regards to Williams, teams are making the rookie to have to fight playing through press coverage all day, and he just doesn’t have the knowledge of how to beat that with any consistency.
At least with Austin in the lineup, Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan can pair Austin with Bryant on the same side of the field and that will draw coverage away from Bryant. They can also use him in those bunch formations along with Witten and make teams have to play man against it or take their chances in zone.
Understandably, there is not a great deal of confidence in how well Austin’s health may hold up these last six weeks and beyond, but right now, it is the best option this offense has in trying to help them move the ball with more consistency, convert third downs and finish drives.
Austin is back on the practice field at his normal spot at the “Z,” and from all reports he’s made it through without any issues.
Six-Game Forecast: More weapons mean more pressure on defenses
We have seen some games this season where these receivers have been clutch, but also some times where they have been completely shut down.
As this offense goes, so do the receivers. Getting Austin back for this group is a huge step in the right direction in terms how it will help take coverage away from Bryant and Witten.
The more potential weapons they have on the field, the more opportunity to see them put pressure on these defenses to have to defend the entire offense. Dez Bryant is still the best option here and should continue to be, but he needs help.
That means Austin, Williams, Beasley and Harris need to step up their games as well. When this group is on, it can be hard to deal with — like it was in the final drive of the Minnesota game. For these next six games, these receivers need to find a way to be a nasty, play making group, because their postseason lives are on the line.
PHILADELPHIA – It doesn’t really matter who lines up alongside Dez Bryant at receiver, as long as they keep having games like this.
It’s safe to call it a trend now. For the third straight week since the Dallas Cowboys lost to San Diego, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley – considered the third and fifth options, respectively, at wideout in the preseason – made the opposition pay for focusing on Bryant.
Sure, Bryant had a great game of his own with eight catches for 110 yards in the 17-3 win against the Eagles. But while Philadelphia focused on No. 88, the two youngsters combined for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“Man, I love it. We talk about it each and every day at practice, about taking advantage of our opportunities,” Bryant said. “We believe in one another, and we believe any one of the receivers can make a big play.”
The Cowboys’ first possession of the fourth quarter demonstrated exactly that. Bryant, ever the bell cow of the Cowboys’ passing attack, delivered on his end with two catches for 26 yards, but it was Beasley and Williams who shined in the clutch.
Beasley gained 13 yards on two big red zone catches, including one on third and two, to move Dallas inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line.
“I think Beasley today showed everyone that he’s got great hands, great vision, and he’s just got instinct about getting open,” Jones said. “That’s a major plus for a wide receiver. It can make a big impact.”
Once there, Tony Romo found Williams for their fifth connection of the day – a nine-yard touchdown to seal the win.
“Terrance Williams has improved as much as maybe anyone I’ve seen in the six months that he’s been here,” Romo said. “It usually takes wide receivers a while to get to that point, but he continually takes coaching and does the things you need to do to improve and it’s just a testament to his work ethic and his commitment to the football team. You love having guys like that.”
It’s been quite a ride for both receivers since the first few weeks of the season. Beasley could have made a bigger impact on the Cowboy’s first two games if he had bought a ticket. The diminutive receiver was made inactive for the season opener against New York and the Week 2 trip to Kansas City.
His involvement in the gameplan has improved every week since the Week 3 win against. St. Louis.
Williams’ bounce back from his goal line fumble in the loss to the Chargers has been a sight to behold. In the buildup to that Week 4 game, Williams caught a combined five passes for 60 yards in three games.
In the three games since that fumble, his collective tally is a fantastic 12 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns – a score in every game.
“Each of those guys in their role has stepped up over the last few weeks and I think Tony has a real comfort level with them and he is not afraid to go to them at all,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “In fact, when there is a match up that is favorable for us involving those guys he throws the ball there with confidence.”
It’s obvious from looking at the stats, but the boost in big plays has come at someone else’s expense. Since returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the San Diego and Denver games, Miles Austin has been targeted a total of seven times for no yards.
Jones said Austin’s hamstring injury has left him behind the offense as he re-enters the lineup. But Jones said he isn’t worried, as Austin’s health will continue to improve.
“I think you have to recognize that he’s working through his situation with his recovery, and it’s, if anything, being conservative there – if that,” Jones said. “But what’s really great is the way our other guys are stepping up, and you know you’ve got Miles coming.”
The Cowboys would undoubtedly love for that to prove true. But even if it doesn’t, they appear to be in good hands.
COWBOYS IN THE CLUTCH: Dallas’ Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams rank 1-2 among NFL receivers when targeted
IRVING, Texas – There’s an old adage that gets tossed around a lot when talking about wide receivers. The ones with good hands get described as players who “catch everything that is thrown their way.”
For Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams, they’re taking that to another level.
In fact, through six games of the season, Beasley and Williams are the two best wide receivers in the NFL in terms of catching passes when targeted.
Among players with at least 10 targets this year, Beasley has the highest reception percentage among NFL wide receivers at 92.3 percent. He’s caught 12 of the 13 passes thrown in his direction. His only miss occurred in last week’s win over Washington when Tony Romo led him too far on a sideline route, although Beasley nearly hauled it in with one hand. He also caught a pass thrown behind him where he trapped it against his leg to make the catch.
Overall, Beasley ranks third in the NFL in receptions, and he’s the only wide receiver among the list’s Top-10. The next receiver is Williams, who actually might be even more impressive than Beasley because of his 17.2-yard average per catch.
Of all receivers with at least 10 targets, Williams’ average per catch is the highest of the top 15 players.
Williams has come on strong the last three weeks with Miles Austin injured and slowed by a hamstring injury. Williams has caught a touchdown in each of his last two games. In the first three games of the year, he had five receptions for 60 yards. In the last three, he has 13 catches for 249 yards and two scores.
More importantly, and just like Beasley, he’s catching the passes that are thrown his way.
IRVING, Texas – Make that three straight days without Miles Austin at Cowboys practice and that’s not a good sign for his availability for Sunday’s game in San Diego.
Austin was held out again for todays (Friday’s) practice, likely meaning he could miss this week with a hamstring injury.
The wide receiver left last week’s game with the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter with the hamstring injury after awkwardly going to the ground on a pass he caught out of bounds. Coach Jason Garrett said after the game Austin did not re-enter the game because of the lopsided score. However, it seems clear Austin remains slowed by the injury enough to miss a full week of practice.
While the Dallas Cowboys don’t have a definite rule on players missing practice and playing in the games Sunday, it seems unlikely Austin would be ready to go at this point.
Even so, the club is getting Terrance Williams ready to make his first start. Ironically enough, his last collegiate game was also played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the site of the Holiday Bowl. Williams had two catches for 68 yards for Baylor.
The Cowboys are also monitoring the health of wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who is also the punt returner. Harris was slowed some this week with a hip pointer injury but returned to practice Friday. Harris’ injury has opened the door for Cole Beasley, who not only will play more in three-wide packages, but could be the primary punt returner as well.
For now, the Cowboys don’t appear ready to sign a practice squad receiver to the roster. The team has Tim Benford and Jamar Newsome on the practice squad.
IRVING, Texas – Through two games of the season, the lack of a consistent running game is once again a hot topic for the Dallas Cowboys.
But team owner/general manager Jerry Jones is optimistic things can turn around.
“I see improvement in the future in our running game,” Jones told 105.3 FM “The Fan” on his regular radio show. “I look at how much we’re improved in our offensive line. (Brian) Waters played good for the number of snaps he played. So Waters will be in there. That’ll improve us. I think we have flexibility with our tight ends. We’ve got some answers there … we’ll get it worked out.”
When asked about running back DeMarco Murray, who had just 25 yards rushing on only 12 attempts Sunday, Jones said he graded out well from the coaches film after the Chiefs game. He praises his professional approach and his physical size as a runner, and then added, “I’d like to see him have more opportunities.”
The Cowboys’ average starting position on Sunday was their own 21-yard line and had four possessions starting at the 10 or closer to the goal line.
“You’re going to be more conservative when you’re backed up like we were,” Jones said. “I want to credit (Kansas City’s) defense. They have a good front. (Dontari) Poe was the talk of the combine. There was a question about his motor but there’s not a question anymore. He did give us fits. Hopefully, there won’t be any more Poes.”
When asked about the differences between a Bill Callahan-called game and what the Cowboys had the last few years with Garrett, Jones joked it would take “five hours” to get into full detail of all the changes. But he did give some hints of what he expects to see more of in the future.
“I think we’ll see more play-action, more zone blocking,” Jones said. “You’ll see us emphasize the tight ends more. I think this Terrance Williams is really improving practice by practice. I think he can put some pressure on those (defensive) backs.”
Rookie receiver Terrance Williams had a rough couple of days in his first training camp, unable to get open, being pushed around by Morris Claiborne and generally looking a step behind. But Tuesday, he turned it around with a better performance.
He got his nose in the playbook, sat in the film room, and paid attention.
“I put that to use,” he said about Tuesday’s practice, when he was stronger and caught more passes. “That’s something I’ve just got to continue to build on, keep going over the playbook. I just paid attention to what the coaches were telling me and the other players were telling me. And today, I ran well and caught the ball well.”
Coach Jason Garrett said he tells all the players, but especially the rookies, to “know, and know they know.” That means playing with confidence in your assignment, and Williams, one of the Cowboys’ third-round picks in April, is starting to see what that means.
“The coaches and Dez and Miles told me to relax and just do me, just have fun,” Williams said. “I get to thinking, and I get to second-guessing myself and then I don’t run the right speed. But when I’m playing relaxed and freely, I can just take the top off defenses.”
Williams smiles when he thinks about how he got chewed up by the coaches on Monday.
“It was just to help me out,” he said. “If they didn’t like me, they wouldn’t have said anything. So I just took it to heart. I came to the film session, paid attention to the stuff they told me and put it to good use.”
If you break down the last five seasons of league leaders when it comes to special teams tackles, the Cowboys had only one player that finished in the top five and that was Sam Hurd in 2010 with 19 tackles. The other seasons, the club has not had a player finish better than 28th.
New special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia brings an aggressive, attacking style that should translate well for a player like Danny McCray. What will be different for McCray this season as opposed to last is that his responsibility as a safety will not be as demanding. His special teams play may have suffered because he was called upon to fill that role as a starter. McCray made this team because of his role on special teams and to his credit he was even named it’s captain.
With the safeties that this club has added to the roster in the off season plus Matt Johnson also coming back from injury, McCray can focus solely on being one of the top special teams players in the league. It was just too much to ask for him to handle both the safety responsibilities and be the main contributor of the special teams.
In 2011, McCray finished 26th in the league with 13 special teams tackles. Last season, Eric Frampton managed 12 to lead the team. McCray should flourish in this new scheme and will finish with 20 or more special teams tackles which will place him in the top five for the league and put him back in his natural role on this team.
Nothing against McCray getting an opportunity to play in the defensive scheme this season but there are some players in this league that provide more than just being ok at what they do. Danny McCray is an ok safety but he is much more valuable as a special teams ace and difference maker for a team that needs him just to focus on that task alone.
With training camp right around the corner, let’s take a look at special teams.
Top of the chart: Dan Bailey
It’s been a while since the Cowboys have had a reliable kicker for three straight years. Chris Boniol, who is ironically enough the kicking coach for Dan Bailey these days, was really the last guy to be this steady. But if Bailey has another year like his first two, he’ll likely be considered one of the best kickers in the NFL, if he’s not there already. Bailey hasn’t just made his share of game-winners – seven in the last two years to be exact with two more clutch kicks to force overtime – but he’s been money inside of 50 yards. Last year, Bailey made all 26 attempts of 49 yards or less. He was 3 of 5 from 50 and beyond. If there is one area of his game that needs more work, Bailey admits it has to be on kickoffs. But he did improve with that last year and said he’s spending more hours this offseason working on his kickoffs.
Need to see more: Chris Jones
When he punts – in games – he’s pretty good. He had a 45.2-yard average early last year before he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. At one point, former special teams coach Joe DeCamillis called him the early-season MVP because he was placing the ball at perfect locations and doing so with the necessary hang time. Now, in practice, Jones doesn’t always strike the ball with perfection and will have a shank or two that often raises a few eyebrows. But let’s not forget that he’s still a 23-year-old punter who is learning his way in the NFL. He probably won’t have much competition in training camp but when the games start, the Cowboys need him to rise to the occasion like he’s done before. Jones will likely get another yard and a half away from the line this year, moving back to a full 15 yards from the line of scrimmage in Rich Bisaccia’s scheme.
Still need to know … who takes over on kickoff returns
Three different players had at least 11 kickoff returns last year, including Lance Dunbar, who led the team with 12. Dwayne Harris and Felix Jones each had 11 and, of course, we know Jones has since signed with the Eagles. Dunbar could be the guy with the first crack at this. He is developing a role in the offense, but if he can solidify kickoff returns, it would only help his cause as a mainstay on the roster. Rookies B.W. Webb and Terrance Williams might get a shot in there as well.
Don’t forget about … Dwayne Harris
Had it not been for Bailey’s excellence the last two years, Harris likely could’ve gone in the “Top of the Chart” category. Harris’ ability to return punts won’t be forgotten. He came on strong at the end of 2012, ranking second in the NFL with his 16.1-yard average. His 78-yard punt return against the Eagles turned the tide in that game and he also had a field-position-altering return against the Steelers in an overtime win. Even if he doesn’t win the No. 3 receiver spot from Williams, Harris has a defined role as a shifty, crafty return specialist who seemed to elevate his play on offense with every stellar return he had on special teams.
Nine year veteran long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will be the lone long-snapper on the Dallas Cowboys camp roster
Dwayne Harris tallied 354 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 attempts with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012
IRVING, Texas – Not much has changed for Cole Beasley as he enters his second season in the NFL, apart from his appearance.
The former SMU receiver shaved off the long locks and added 10 pounds to his frame, but on the football field it’s a lot of the same, as he attempts to once again make the team and make a difference out of the slot.
“After a year, you start to know what to expect,” Beasley said. “It kind of helps your thought process on how you’ve got to get your mind ready and focused to go into practice every day and getting better each day. That’s what you have to do to make it in this league.”
Terrance Williams is now added to the fold, while Kevin Ogletree is subtracted. Alterations happen within an offense and the personnel every season, and Beasley knows everyone who comes in to compete at receiver possesses talent every year.
He’s not worried about the competition around him, because it’s not changing any time soon. Instead of concentrating on his potential for playing time, he focused on a personal goal for the offseason.
“Mine was mostly to put weight on,” he said. “I had a little setback with my shoulder injury the last game last year. That threw me off a little bit. But I came back pretty quick, and I probably gained 10 more pounds than what I was last year.”
Beasley injured his AC joint going out for a pass in the final game of the season against the Redskins. He couldn’t lift weights for two months after the season and could barely do a pushup seven weeks in. Once he could start lifting, it didn’t take long for him to recover. But the entire healing process took longer than he would have expected.
“I kind of slowly came back into it,” he said. “I probably started doing stuff a little before I was supposed to, but it was just light bands stuff. I was just trying to get it strong. That’s probably why it was sore for a little bit longer. It was sore enough to where I could feel it but it wasn’t too bad. Then I just started lifting weights, and now it’s just completely gone.”
Now, he enters the season healthy and ready to find a role in the offense with a new receivers coach in Derek Dooley. He can already tell this year’s Organized Team Activities are more focused on the basics and keeping things simple to let the players use their talents and make plays without overthinking.
Other than that, not much is different for Beasley, apart from his knowledge of the offense and, of course, his new appearance. As for the newly shaved head, those who liked his old curls are still in luck.
“It’s really simple, it just got hot,” Beasley said. “I practiced one day with it, it was too long though. I’ll let it grow back.”
MIND OVER MATTER: Maturing Dez Bryant sees himself as a veteran mentor, says ‘No more games, no more wondering’
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant talks with media after hitting in the Reliant Home Run Derby benefiting the Salvation Army at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (Brad Loper/The Dallas Morning News)
ARLINGTON – Dez Bryant says he has a different mindset entering his fourth NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver now looks at himself as a veteran.
“There’s no more games, no more wondering,” Bryant said Wednesday while participating with Cowboys teammates and head coach Jason Garrett in the Reliant Home Run Derby at Rangers Ballpark. “I know what I’m doing. I got to come in and do what I did at the end of last year. And I hope to build on that.”
Bryant was referring to the final eight games of the season when he caught 72 passes for 879 yards and 10 touchdowns. That strong finish allowed the 24-year-old to continue to steadily improve statistically over each of his three years in the league.
The former first-round pick appeared in all 16 games despite battling multiple injuries in 2012. Bryant fractured his left index finger in a Dec. 9 victory over Cincinnati. The injury required surgery but Bryant played through it, choosing to wear a specialized splint and glove.
“It’s never going to be normal, but I promise it’s never going to be an issue,” Bryant said Wednesday. “I’m ready to go. I’ve been catching footballs and I actually feel like I’ve been catching better, so I’m ready to go.”
In the final game of the season, Bryant suffered a lower back injury during the fourth quarter. Bryant was in so much pain that he couldn’t stand on his own. Asked about the back injury Wednesday, Bryant admitted that it took him a little longer than expected to fully recover.
“But the back is not an issue now,” he said. “It’s all about getting into OTAs and trying to help out all of the younger guys, make sure everybody is on the same page, and ready to go for this 2013 season.”
Two of the younger guys Bryant was likely referring to are 2013 draft picks Terrance Williams and Joseph Randle. Bryant spoke highly of both, mentioning that he expects Williams, a wide receiver out of Baylor, and Randle, a running back out of Oklahoma State, to do “big things” while wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform.
2013 ROOKIE’S TO WATCH: Dallas Cowboys new draft picks RB Joseph Randle and WR Terrance Williams college highlights
Sure, reading and hearing about your newly drafted players is interesting. But, nothing beats seeing! Watch these young studs in action in the short videos below.
Joseph Randle Highlights
The Dallas Cowboys desperately needed some depth at running back with Felix Jones heading for free agency, so they picked up Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. But anybody that watched Randle in college might’ve been shocked that he lasted as long as he did. The former OSU Cowboy racked up more than 2,600 yards and 38 touchdowns during his last two seasons in Stillwater, making him one of the most prolific backs in college football since 2011. Check out some impressive highlights of Randle at work below:
Terrance Williams Highlights
The Dallas Cowboys drafted prolific Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams in the third round of last week’s NFL Draft. While Big 12 fans are plenty familiar with Williams’, those of you who don’t follow college football probably haven’t seen much of him in action. Here’s a video that shows off some of Williams’ more impressive displays of athleticism during his time at Baylor.
MUST SEE VIDEO: Dallas Cowboys top three draft picks meet Dallas media | Jason Garrett on NFL Network
Meet three of the newest Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams as they are introduced at Valley Ranch.
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MEET THE STUDS: Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference (Special Feature)
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett joins NFL Network to discuss the team’s picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.
MEET THE STUDS: Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference (Special Feature)
Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference
Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks inside Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference
Dallas Cowboys’ 2013 Draft pick WR Terrance Williams is greeted by Jerry Jones at the Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch NFL Draft war room
MANY more photographs below …
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys still haven’t come to a final decision with right tackle Doug Free.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the two parties need to get something resolved, but they haven’t heard an answer back yet about whether or not Free will accept a pay cut.
“We want him,” Jones said. “We’d love to have him here. I think he’d love to be here. Now the question is, it’s got to work for him and it’s got to work for us.”
Free agent veteran tackles Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston are still available for the taking if the Cowboys choose to make a move after a down year for Doug Free, who ended up splitting time with Jermey Parnell.
“He wants to play better than he played,” Jones said. “I think he’d be the first to tell you that. I think he played better toward the end.”
The Cowboys have thrown around the idea about moving him to guard, but as of this point that doesn’t appear likely.
Editors comment: I’d like to see Doug Free’s agent and the Dallas Cowboys work out a new contract that has incentives that allows Free to keep his money with productivity incentives while allow the Cowboys to reduce his salary cap numbers with lower productivity. The current contract can have a lowered cap number, while providing substantial incentive dollars if Doug Free returns to form.
Tony Romo offers pre-draft opinions
Apparently, Romo visited with both Jerry and Stephen Jones for about an hour during the tight end meeting room late Friday afternoon.
But Jones was quick to point out that Romo hasn’t been hard to find this offseason.
“Make no mistake about it, Romo has been all over this place,” Jones said. “He hasn’t been in here every day in this draft room, but he has been all over this place back here with the coaches. He’s in the building; it’s not much effort to bring him in.”
Editors comment: I believe we’re going to see a major transformation within Tony Romo and the organization beginning this offseason. Expect him to be much more involved in “all things” offensive. He’s reached a point in maturity and experience were his input can really help with aspects seen on the field and those decision made behind closed doors.
The Wilcox factor – The More You Can Do …
For three seasons at Georgia Southern, J.J. Wilcox played running back and receiver. Not until late August did he get the chance to move over to defense.
Less than a year later, he’s a third-round pick of the Cowboys (80th overall) with a shot to compete for a starting job.
Wilcox said he believes switching positions didn’t hurt his chances of becoming a higher pick, but probably enhanced them. And more importantly, will allow him to compete for a spot.
“It doesn’t make you limited. You come in and the team can use you anywhere,” Wilcox said. “ I think it helps out a lot with ball skills, foot work, hips and dictation that you need to be a good safety such as good route running and understanding how the receivers run their routes and how they come out and what their stems are, and stuff like that. Playing offense for three years helped me out back at safety this year and hopefully this will transfer over to the NFL and I’ll become one of the best safeties in the NFL.”
Despite not playing the position until his senior season, Wilcox said he always eyed the safety spot.
“I always wanted to be a safety. I had love for the game from day one,” Wilcox said. “Some of my favorite players are from the safety position and I grew up watching the Cowboys. It’s just a blessing to just put a star on the side of my helmet.”
Editors comment: The local media has had their eyes on J.J. Wilcox for quite some time now. He is very highly regarded in local football circles. I think we can expect big things from Wilcox on the field and locker room. He is a smart diversified player with great leadership qualities.