Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris were on the field Monday. The two receivers ran routes and worked to get open. But they didn’t have anything left to prove. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said so Tuesday on KRLD-FM (105.3).
“I’d say as I look at them right now, they both have a place on the field for us against the Giants,” Jones said, referring to the team’s opponent for the regular-season opener next Wednesday.
But what about the other five wideouts who were competing for jobs? Where did Danny Coale, Saalim Hakim, Cole Beasley, Tim Benford and Andre Holmes stand? And could they make a great enough impact in the final preseason game against Miami to claim a spot on the team?
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs. Miami Dolphins – STAR-TELEGRAM/RON JENKINS
On Wednesday, in the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over Miami in their final preseason game, few answers were provided. Beasley, identified as the most promising of the bunch during training camp, didn’t make a catch. Then again, he didn’t play that much, which seemed to be a good sign he could be sticking around.
“Hopefully,” Beasley said. “But if some of the other guys might have stepped up, they might forget about me.”
That’s now not a concern for Beasley because while Hakim, Coale, Benford and Holmes recorded at least one reception, they didn’t do anything especially noteworthy Wednesday. Together they made just six catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns.
“I put everything out there,” said Holmes, who had one reception for 32 yards and felt tightness in his right knee. “I just went as hard as I could.”
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries with a 7.0 yard average in preseason finale victory over the Miami Dolphins. Vernon Bryant |Staff Photographer
ARLINGTON — Orie Lemon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, No. 3 running back Phillip Tanner had a 1-yard score and the Dallas Cowboys finished their preseason with a 30-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday night.
A week before playing in the NFL’s kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Cowboys (3-1) kept quarterback Tony Romo and most of their front-line starters standing on the sideline.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the first-round draft pick from Texas A&M already tabbed Miami’s starter, was 5-of-7 passing for 35 yards playing the first two series. The Dolphins led 3-0 when he was done.
Miami (0-4) finished its preseason winless under new coach Joe Philbin. The season opener is Sept. 9 at Houston.
Undrafted rookie running back Lance Dunbar had 15 carries for 105 yards, including a 58-yard TD run, for Dallas in the third quarter. Tanner started with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones sitting, and finished with nine carries for 48 yards.
Another former Texas A&M quarterback, Stephen McGee, possibly took his last snaps for the Dallas Cowboys after playing the entire first half and going 9 of 18 for 124 yards.
Two years ago in another preseason finale against the Dolphins, McGee passed for 304 yards while going all the way in the victory that probably assured him the spot as the team’s third quarterback that season.
McGee, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, has played in only three regular-season games and started one.
With Kyle Orton signed during the offseason to be Romo’s backup, Dallas likely will carry only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster. Plus, McGee is no longer eligible for the practice squad like Rudy Carpenter would be.
Carpenter was 4 of 10 for 48 yards in the second half.
Even though they were playing at home again only four days after a win over the St. Louis Rams, the Cowboys have already turned their attention to the Giants.
When they get to their Valley Ranch practice facility Thursday, it will be essentially a Monday of game week.
Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin didn’t play in the preseason because of hamstring issues, and receiver Dez Bryant was held out for the second straight game because of right knee tendinitis. Both are expected to be ready for the Giants, though Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten (lacerated spleen) is less certain for the unprecedented Wednesday night opener.
Lamar Miller had 17 carries for 60 yards and a TD for the Dolphins.
Miller’s 1-yard run capped a 14-play, 89-yard drive that took exactly half of the third quarter to complete.
Dan Bailey kicked three field goals for the Cowboys while Dan Carpenter had field goals of 21 and 53 yards for Miami less than 2 minutes apart late in the first quarter.
After Carpenter’s shorter kick, Teddy Williams fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Cowboys 33. That’s when Matt Moore took over for Tannehill, failing to get a first down and leading to the long field goal by Carpenter.
On Dallas’ first snap after that, cornerback Quinten Lawrence was called for pass interference against Kevin Ogletree that was good for 43 yards. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Bailey.
Moore was only 4 of 12, including the pass over the middle early in the second quarter that Lemon picked off and took into the end zone for a 10-6 lead.
The Cowboys had two big passing plays to set up Tanner’s 1-yard score.
Andre Holmes caught a deep pass from McGee for a 32-yard gain. Later in that drive, McGee scrambled and kept avoiding defenders as he rolled to the left. He was near the sideline and threw off one foot, hitting Tim Benford for 36 yards.
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).
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.
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.
When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chatted with reporters this week about the Blue-White scrimmage, he talked about the players that stood out to him.
He mentioned Jermy Parnell, Bruce Carter, one or two others.
And Tim Benford.
Tim Benford, a 6-foot undrafted rookie receiver out of Tennessee Tech. He was the conference player of the year there as a senior after catching 65 passes for 923 yards.
He smiled when he was told Jones said his name.
“I guess it’s coming from the big man upstairs, so I just got to keep being consistent – come out here and work every day,” he said. “Everybody wants to make the team. Everybody wants to play for the Cowboys, especially me.”
Benford caught two touchdown passes in the scrimmage on Sunday, and he is gaining attention for being the steadiest of the young receivers in camp, a cast that includes veterans Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris and rookies Cole Beasley, Donavan Kemp, Salim Hakim and Danny Coale.
“It was OK, but I can get better,” Benford said of his scrimmage performance. “Try to come out here and work on some things. Being a little more consistent so I don’t have to press and everything. I felt like it was OK, but there’s still more improvement to come.”
Of the touchdown catches, Benford said, “I don’t think I was the first option, but I just tried to get open, make a look for the quarterback going through his progression. If he found me, I just made it happen.”
Benford said Tennessee Tech’s diverse offense helped him learn NFL-type routes.
“We were a multiple offense. We went to the pro, we stayed in the spread,” he said. “It depended on what the other team gave us. I’m used to it a little bit. I’m adjusting to the NFL level, how fast it works. Everybody’s good, so I’m just ingesting. I’m just coming to compete, fighting for a job.”
Courtesy: Carlos Mendez | FWST
How much does Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones like Ronald Leary? Enough to guarantee the undrafted free agent guard $214,000 in signing bonus and base salary in 2012, according to NFL Players Association figures.
It’s a staggering amount of money for a player with a knee condition that worried the Cowboys – and other teams – so much that he wasn’t selected. The Cowboys liked what Leary was able to do in the organized team activities and minicamp and gave him some snaps with the first-team offense at times.
The Cowboys paid Leary a $9,000 signing bonus and guaranteed $205,000 of his $390,000 rookie base salary. If Leary does not make the team, then he would still get his money. The Cowboys had to fend off at least one other team from signing Leary, who was projected as a mid- to late-round pick if not for the injury.
The guaranteed money falls in line with what Indianapolis’ Josh Chapman received as the top pick of the fifth round with a signing bonus of $215,512. Danny Coale, the Cowboys’ fifth rounder and No. 152 overall, received a signing bonus of $190,052.
Leary wasn’t the only undrafted free agent to receive a guaranteed portion of his base salary. The Cowboys will pay wide receiver Tim Benford $20,000 and long snapper Charley Hughlett $10,000. Wide receiver Saleem Hakim received the highest signing bonus among the college free agents at $10,000 and will also receive $7,500 in base salary.
Teams were limited in how much signing bonus they could give their undrafted free agents, which meant a number of teams also offered portions of guaranteed salary to entice players to sign.
WIDE RECEIVER ROSTER RACE: Dwayne Harris, better versed in playbook, expects tough competition in training camp
Dwayne "Hairy” Harris said he expects a tough competition for the receiver spots in training camp.
The second-year receiver, a sixth-round pick out of East Carolina a year ago, is in the running with Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Danny Coale, at a minimum, for the third, fourth and fifth receiver spots, if the Cowboys keep that many.
But the Cowboys will also have three undrafted rookies in camp, Donavon Kemp, Tim Benford and Saalim Hakim.
That’s a lot of competition for three spots behind Miles Austin and Diamond Dez Bryant.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said Thursday at Cowboys Stadium after the final minicamp practice of the offseason. “Everybody wants a roster spot. Everybody wants to show the coaches what they can do. I wouldn’t expect anybody to come out here and not give their all. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be fun.”
Harris allowed himself a bit of a smile at that thought. He’s already been through a training camp and won a job. He did it last year, making the team after averaging 23 yards on six catches in the preseason, including a 76-yard touchdown.
This year, he’ll have more of a head start, thanks to the OTAs and minicamp he didn’t have last year.
“Every day I got a little better, progressed every day,” he said. “My knowledge of the playbook got better every day. I think just the whole offseason helped out a lot. Last year, we didn’t have this much time to learn the playbook. It was harder for the rookies coming in. I think this year made it easier for everybody.”
Harris did not catch a pass in the regular season last year. He returned 15 punts and eight kickoffs. His 28.9 average on kickoff returns led the team.