Tag Archives: Travis Frederick

GOING DEEP–BEYOND THE HUDDLE: Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick answers your questions | True-Blue special feature

BEYOND THE HUDDLE: Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick answers your questions

Dallas Cowboys rising star Travis Frederick answers fan submitted questions. A part of being a True-Blue is getting to know your players, beyond their jersey numbers and stats. Check out his answers:  Continue reading →

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DALLAS COWBOYS TRAINING CAMP: ‘Boys unite for player-organized conditioning test | Players building team identity | Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015

DALLAS COWBOYS TRAINING CAMP - ‘Boys unite for player-organized conditioning test - Players building team identity - Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015

OXNARD, CA – The camaraderie among many of the Dallas Cowboys players got a jumpstart this week (Monday) before the team ever traveled out to training camp.

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BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: Rookie center Travis Frederick has stabilized the offensive line by playing beyond his years

BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN - Rookie center Travis Frederick has stabilized the offensive line by playing beyond his years - Dallas Cowboys news - Dallas Cowboys 2013 schedule

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Breakdown

This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!

Top Performer: Rookie center Travis Frederick

From what we experienced last season with this Dallas Cowboys offensive line, there has been improvement with Ronald Leary at left guard, the contributions of Brian Waters on the right side along with Doug Free and the continued growth of Tyron Smith at left tackle.

But if you really want to focus where this line improved the most, it would be at center with Travis Frederick in the lineup. Drafted to be a starter since day one, Frederick has played with the skill and knowledge far above what many scouts around the league had projected him to be able to accomplish. Frederick has been steady in his approach and reliable in his execution. As a player, he is truly playing beyond his years in one of the most demanding positions along the offensive line.

For Frederick it has been a learning experience throughout this season from the time where he had to face Dontari Poe in Kansas City to Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins in New Orleans, Frederick has improved every week that he has had the opportunity to line up in a game.

What Travis Frederick has given this offensive line is something they have not had in recent seasons and that is stability in the middle. One of the reasons that this line can survive a loss like they suffered with Waters is because Frederick has been able to adjust to whomever he has lined up next to and for a rookie to be able to handle that says a great deal about his game. 

Need More From: Doug Free in the running game

It would be real easy to say this offensive line needs more from Mackenzy Bernadeau, and they do. But, they need even more from Doug Free. No disrespect to how Free is playing, because he has been the least of their problems on offense.

Where we need more from Free is on that right side playing next to Bernadeau. There are going to be matchups down the stretch where opponents are going to feel that going over him is a better option than trying to get by Tyron Smith. If you look at the upcoming games, there will be no break for this line in the types of pass rushers that they are going to face.

If this offense is going to get back on track, they are going to need Free to be at his absolute best. Though they were able to get away from the sacks in the Vikings game, where Free struggled against Brian Robinson, they might not be so fortunate against Justin Tuck or Clay Matthews. Free has done a much better job of playing with his technique and really that has allowed him to return to the type of player that we observed three seasons ago.

Where this offense also needs more from Free is in the running game. When he is really on his game and the ball is going to the outside, he can secure the edge and he has done a much better job with this, but like Jason Garrett says, there is always room for improvement.

Six-Game Forecast: It always comes down to what you do in the trenches

There is going to be a great deal of pressure put on this offensive line as they work through these final six games.

When this group gives Tony Romo time, we have seen that plays can be made. At times, they have been able to create opportunities when DeMarco Murray has the ball in his hands, so that has been a positive as well. As much as you want to say that the skill players on this team need to pick up their game, this offensive line is going to have to be the difference makers.

They have been getting consistent play from their tackles, the left guard and center are basically rookies, and they have been able to hold their own. They have to find a way to replace the veteran leadership of Brian Waters, but Mackenzy Bernadeau is not a terrible option. The starting five against the Giants this week are the same starting five that opened the season together in a victory that night.

This group has been more of a solution this season than a problem, and if this club is going to win the division, it’s going to be on their shoulders.

SOUVENIR ROCK SIGNED: Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle asks Travis Frederick to sign touchdown ball

SOUVENIR ROCK SIGNED - Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle asks Travis Frederick to sign first touchdown ball

ARLINGTON — At Joseph Randle’s locker, where he was surrounded by reporters, a football was tucked in his stall. It was a little memento from the first touchdown he scored in the same game he got his first NFL carry.

“That’s the rock, right there,” he said. “I’ve got to keep that one.”

Of course, Randle’s 1-yard dive into the end zone during the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 31-16 victory didn’t come without assistance. Randle, while in a crowd of Redskins defenders, was pushed across the goal line by rookie center Travis Frederick (photo below). As a way of acknowledging Frederick’s contribution, Randle asked Frederick to autograph the football that is now his souvenir.

SOUVENIR ROCK SIGNED - Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle asks Travis Frederick to sign touchdown ball - Frederick pushing Randle into endzone to score

“I told Travis to sign it for me,” said Randle, who finished with 17 yards and the touchdown. “But he was like, ‘Nah, I can’t do that. I can’t sign your ball.’”

Randle laughed along with the reporters near him. He seemed surprised by the attention he received.

“We wanted to see him play in a real game, get him a couple of snaps,” Dallas Cowboys running back coach Gary Brown said. “And he responded well…I’m looking forward to seeing him practice some more.”

Randle, meanwhile, will savor his first touchdown, and that rock, as long as he can.

GAME FILM BREAKDOWN: THE TWIT FACTOR – Taking What Is There

GAME FILM BREAKDOWN - THE TWIT FACTOR - Taking What Is There - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers - Church on coverage

IRVING, Texas –  After a closer look at Sunday’s loss, here are some thoughts from the film room at Valley Ranch:

Take What Is There — TWIT

The execution of the offensive game plan by the San Diego Chargers was outstanding. From the press box, it appeared very simple and after studying the game, it was. It was tailored to not put Philip Rivers in any poor situations because of the condition of his offensive line. Going into this game, it was clear that if Monte Kiffin did not put pressure on Rivers, his defense could struggle no matter who was blocking for him or catching the ball.

Given the time that Rivers had to work with, he made this Cowboys defense pay. When Kiffin played his normal zone coverage, Rivers found answers underneath with quick, simple throws to Antonio Gates, who was 10-for-10 on targets and receptions. When Kiffin tried to adjust to handle plays underneath and in the middle of the field, Rivers worked the ball in the flat to Ryan Mathews or Danny Woodhead, who found themselves in space with no defender to contest the play. For every adjustment that Kiffin tried to make Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers were just better.  

On the second touchdown to Woodhead, Rivers in the shot-gun is reading the defensive alignment and noticed where the safety is playing and understands that Bruce Carter is going to be in one-on-one coverage to his left. Rivers moves Woodhead from his right to his left, to take advantage of the matchup. On the outside to the left, the Chargers receivers come off the line running routes like they have not one clue what Rivers is trying to do but Woodhead does. As the play develops, Woodhead starts up the field on the wheel route. Carter as of the majority of the day was late to adjust and Woodhead gets separation instantly, then it became a simple game of pitch-and-catch for the touchdown.

The Chargers despite being short-handed at several positions, did a much better job of playing to the strengths of what they had to work with. There protection along the offensive line at times was not perfect and at times was boarder line, criminal in the way they held on plays but where they were perfect was in the way that their star players did play and that was the biggest difference in this loss for the Cowboys. 

Need MO confidence

GAME FILM BREAKDOWN - THE TWIT FACTOR - Taking What Is There - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers - MO burned

All the great cornerbacks speak about how you have to play with confidence each and every play. Skill and ability are important but if you do not believe you can succeed, you will fail. We have seen Morris Claiborne play with that skill and ability but right now, he is a lost football player. Even when he is in position to make a play, something bad happens to him. Not matter how hard he tries, it’s just not good enough and that is hurting this defense. 

Mentally the breakdowns that he has struggled with in coverage and the penalties are taking their toll on him. Each snap that he takes, has made him a shell of the player he once was when he lined up at LSU. Keenan Allen is a nice player but there is no way on a 3rd – 8, that he should catch a jump ball for 31 yards to keep a drive alive. Those high point balls are what made Claiborne the player he was at LSU. I cannot tell you how many times, I have seen him defend that pass either knocking it away or grabbing an interception. Instead, he is off balance with no clue where the ball is.

It has not mattered, off or press you name it, he has struggled to play it. Cornerbacks live on the edge each play, you are out there for all to see and that’s Claiborne’s problem. Opponents are not seeing him make any plays and he does nothing to dictate, that quarterbacks needs to go the other way. There were times in that Chargers game where Claiborne, was not even in the same area code as the receiver. Is that the sign of a confident player?

To his credit, Claiborne has not used injury or physical pain as an excuse for his play. I believe the coaching that he receives from this staff is putting him in positions to attempt to make plays as we all know, the problem is finishing those opportunities. Opponents have figured out real fast to put three receivers on the field and attack this defense that way and until Claiborne plays better, that is the hand they will be dealt. Regardless, you don’t throw your hands up and say we quit. Morris Claiborne still has the confidence of the front office and the coaching staff despite the fact that he is playing like he is struggling with his own. Making consistent plays should help both parties in that regard but it needs to start now. 

Carter lost in space

GAME FILM BREAKDOWN - THE TWIT FACTOR - Taking What Is There - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers - Carter and Lee

There have not been many days in his young career where you can say that Bruce Carter did not play his absolute best. Against the Chargers, he had one of those rough days. Sean Lee is the best linebacker in coverage on this team but Carter was right there with him. Whether the ball was going to the flat or like Sunday where the ball was going up the field. Carter had always played with the correct technique. He was often quick to read and put himself in position in the route to make the play.

There is nothing more difficult for a linebacker to have to deal with than man-coverage in space. It is where offensive coordinators and quarterbacks live to create those matchups. On both of the touchdown passes to Danny Woodhead, the Chargers were able to create these types of situations. Carter was left on Woodhead, when Rivers sent Antonio Gates to the outside which caused Carter and Orlando Scandrick to have to trade the coverage. I understand how they were trying to defend this because of the threat of Gates down the field so putting Scandrick on him was the best option. The second touchdown, was just an adjustment made by Rivers when he saw how the safeties were aligned and was able to get Woodhead up the sideline and on Carter.

There was also a post route run by Gates where he started from the right and went across the field left. Both Carter and Lee were on deep drops but Lee was more to the inside which left Carter to handle Gates who was behind him and just in front of the safety. Rivers was able to correctly read the depth of the linebackers’ drops and float to the ball right over the top of Carter, who was unable to make the play. After the play on tape, you see Carter clap his hands upset he didn’t make the play but you also see Lee turns to look at him in a way like they missed one there.

Carter was later replaced in the lineup by Ernie Sims, who responded with six tackles which was good to see but this is Carter’s job. Where these Cowboys linebackers have had their issues this season playing this scheme, is with their drops in pass coverage. Sean Lee has stood before us in the media and said that he has to even get better if this defense is going to improve. Bruce Carter had a terrible day coverage wise but we have also seen him play at a very high level in this league.

Improved rookie on his own

2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm

This was the second time in three weeks that Travis Frederick had the opportunity to line up and play against a 3-4 defense and his level of play was night and day from what we had seen in Kansas City. Frederick will not face another odd front until the trip to New Orleans in November. Where Frederick made his biggest improvements was how he was able to handle blocks one-on-one without help from Ronald Leary and Brian Waters.

There were several plays where Frederick was able to snatch his man on a front side reach or cut off block. He played with solid power and did not get compressed or worked back into the play. He was able to work his body and feet in a way that allowed the ball to be taken to either side. He played on his feet and he did not struggle to sustain his blocks. His second level blocks improved to the point where you did not see his man in on the tackle like we did in Kansas City. In pass protection, when uncovered in nickel front, he was solid in the front of the pocket. He showed the ability to sit down on rushers and not give up ground inside. There appeared no mental busts or problems with his assignments.

Coming in this season, there were questions about his ability to play against power and have that guy on his nose the entire game. Against Kansas City, there were some issues but he was able to put that behind him and have a solid, productive game against the Chargers, where he can take some confidence from it.

IN THE TRENCHES: Key matchups for Sunday’s Showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs

Tony Romo behind center Travis Frederick

Cowboys center Travis Frederick versus Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe:

This will be rookie center Travis Frederick’s first experience playing with a man on his nose the entire game. He has had to deal with shades, but in training camp and during the preseason games, he was largely uncovered.

Dontari Poe is an interesting player because when he came out in the draft two seasons ago, he had the tag of boom-or-bust. My observation of him then was that he had more boom because of his natural ability. I did not see him play all that well with his technique, but I felt like once he got into the league that would all change.

Poe has always been a powerful, point-of-attack player, who if you attempted to run the ball at him, blockers were going to have a difficult time moving him. That is still the case today.

Where Poe has made his biggest improvement is in how he is playing with his hands. He is doing a much better job of quickly working them inside to control the blocker. He is shedding blockers with more consistency, and then working to his left or right to find the ball.

Frederick will also need to be on guard for Poe’s swim move, run or pass. For a big man, Poe is surprisingly very nimble with his footwork. If he does have a weakness, and this is where Frederick can take advantage of him, it’s that he tends to be a tick late off the snap.

Frederick is smart enough and savvy enough to find ways to work the edges on Poe but also put himself into position when getting help. This should be a good battle inside between two young players.

Dallas Cowboys Defensive End George Selvie sacks Eli Manning

Cowboys defensive ends George Selvie and Anthony Spencer versus Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher:

Eric Fisher is making his second career start, and after a week against Jacksonville where he had some questionable moments at right tackle, these Cowboys defensive ends should be anxious to attack him. There is no doubt that one day Fisher will be a factor for the Chiefs, but right now he has struggled when he has had to face a rusher that plays with power.

Technique-wise, Fisher can put himself into position to secure the block. Finishing it, though, is where he gets in the most trouble.

From what I have seen in George Selvie, I do not believe that he can play with the same power as Anthony Spencer, so that might be a wash for the Cowboys defense.

Look for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to find plenty of ways to get Spencer off the edge in this game, which will allow him to take advantage of Fisher. Spencer will also be able to attack Fisher with more pass-rush moves, which is always difficult for a rookie to deal with.

I fully expect to see DeMarcus Ware move to the opposite side and take some cracks at Fisher as well. Selvie will then move to the right side and face Brandon Albert, who I feel like is the best of the Kansas City offensive line. Ware, like Spencer, can present a whole set of different challenges as well. We have talked about this before in that Ware has that ability to turn speed into power and get blockers off balance. 

As long as Selvie can hold up at the point of attack against the Chiefs, then Kiffin can continue to move these rushers around to create the best possible matchups and get pressure on Alex Smith.

TALKIN’ TEXAS TRENCHES: Veteran Brian Waters gives Dallas’ young linemen a solid mentor

TALKIN’ TEXAS TRENCHES - Veteran Brian Waters gives Dallas’ young linemen a solid mentor

IRVING, Texas – If the phrase “perception is reality” holds true to form, the Dallas Cowboys are certainly hoping for that in regards to their new-look offensive line.

Recently, the perception of the offensive line hasn’t been that good. In reality, they weren’t, especially in the running game.

Now, with the addition of veteran Brian Waters, who practiced for the first time today, teamed with a first-round pick at center and an emerging young guard in Ron Leary, the perception of the entire offensive line is one that is vastly improved.

The Cowboys can only hope that becomes a reality.

Vice president Stephen Jones, who is the Cowboys’ director of player personnel, said he is hopeful the offensive line will go from one of the team’s weaknesses, to possibly a strength with the added experience and depth.

“Getting Waters obviously takes it from being a big, big question mark, but from not only being a question mark on the front end, but now we’ve got good depth,” Jones said. “You take a starter in Mackenzy Bernadeau and he may ultimately be a backup here. I’m sure he’s not going to give the job away. He’s been competing well. You know what we think about Phil Costa and Jermey Parnell gives you a solid eight there. We’re pleased.” 

And that’s not something the Cowboys have been able to say about the line in the last few years – even the last few weeks. There have been several questions, ones that still haven’t been fully answered.

While Travis Frederick looks the part and has played well in the preseason, Sunday night will be his NFL debut. The same goes for Ronald Leary, who has been battling to get back from a knee scope he had in mid-August. Leary practiced in full Wednesday and said he’s “definitely” playing Sunday against the Giants. However, it’ll also be his NFL debut.

Tyron Smith has been solid at left tackle and Doug Free has played well on the right side this preseason. But he certainly benefitted from Anthony Spencer’s camp-long knee injury that often had him battling the likes of Kyle Wilber and George Selvie, instead of a 2012 Pro Bowler who had 11 sacks.

So the question marks remain along the line. And they likely won’t go away with one game – regardless if Waters plays or not. From the sound of things, the 11-year veteran is not expected to suit up against the Giants. While he practiced some early with the second-team offense, the bulk of his afternoon was spent with trainers working on his conditioning.

It appears the goal with Waters is to have him ready for Week 2, which just so happens to be in Kansas City, a place he spent the first 10 seasons of his career, earning five Pro Bowls. Waters picked up a sixth Pro Bowl trip in 2011 when he signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. Similar to this situation, Waters joined New England on Sept. 3, 2011, eight days before the opener in Miami, where he played 85 percent of the offensive snaps. Waters was able to get five practices in before that first game, compared to just three this week. So getting him ready for the Chiefs makes more sense, although the savvy veteran in Waters wouldn’t let him look that far ahead.

“I’m just going to think about the Giants right now, take it one game at a time,” Waters said (video | audio). “Obviously, I have a great amount of affection for the Kansas City program and organization, but right now our focus is on the Giants.”

Despite his experience, Waters said he can learn a lot from Frederick, who was eight years old when Waters completed his first training camp.

“I have a lot of experience, a lot of game-time experience,” Waters said. “If those guys need me, in any way, form or fashion, I think I can offer some insight on different ways to do things and different players that I’ve played against. But this center is young and smart. He’s not going to need much help from me. I’m probably going to need more help from him than he’s going to need from me.”

While Frederick seemed to appreciate the compliment, it sounded like (video | audio) he’s prepared to do the bulk of the learning in this new-formed relationship.

“I don’t think I’m teaching him anything. Really all I’m doing is helping facilitate the switching of terminology and things like that, and even at that, it’s not a whole lot,” Frederick said. “He obviously knows what he’s doing. He’s got the playbook and will have probably by (Thursday), have it all done. The things you learn from playing in the NFL for 10 years, I have no idea. But those are the things that I can learn from him, and I think those are harder to learn and they take more time and they take somebody that’s been through it all to help you if you want to get it faster than they got it or faster than it takes you 10 years down the road. I think the things that he’s teaching me are more important.”

Whether Frederick is helping Waters learn the system, or Waters is helping Frederick learn the ropes of being an NFL lineman, they’re going to lean on each other.

More importantly, they’re likely going to give this offensive line a possible edge that we haven’t seen around here in a while.

Now that would be quite a reality check.

POSTGAME SCOUTING REPORT: Mackenzy Bernadeau, Tyron Smith, and rookie Travis Frederick were outstanding

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE - Starters continue to excite in 24-18 preseason win at AT&T Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Some thoughts from the radio booth at AT&T Stadium:

I am looking forward to getting back to Valley Ranch on Sunday and taking a look at this game film from Saturday night for a couple of different reasons. I am interested to see if Doug Free was better at guard in the game or did he struggle to the point that this experiment proved that he just needs to stay at right tackle.

I do know from my seat that Mackenzy Bernadeau and Tyron Smith were outstanding on the left side. There were plenty of plays where Smith, Bernadeau and rookie Travis Frederick did a great job of getting the down linemen for the Bengals turned at the point, which created lanes or cut them off so that the ball could work backside. Where this offensive line had success was in its ability to get hats on hats controlling the front. It was an impressive showing for the left side of the line, despite having just started working together on Monday. With this kind of play, it might be something these coaches would like to consider going forward, moving Ronald Leary to the right side.

DRESS REHEARSAL REVIEW - Tony Romo believes the starters on the right track

As a whole, the offense was able to out-tough a defense that prides itself on being a physical one. Whether it was point-of-attack blocking by the line or the wide receivers on the edge, I really thought that they took the fight to the Bengals. These backs drove the ball hard front-side but when they saw the opportunity to cut it back, they made decisive cuts and finished the runs.

As the game wore on, in the broadcast booth, Brad Sham, Marc Colombo and I were wondering why DeMarco Murray was in the game in the second half after seeing action in the first. But what we learned from head coach Jason Garrett after the game was that Murray put the ball on the ground in the first quarter and he wanted to remind Murray how important it was for him to protect their ball. When Murray returned to the lineup, it was clear that Garrett’s message did not fall on deaf ears.

Garrett and this staff have run a tough camp. They have had physical practices and tonight their work paid off against a Bengals club that is not use to being knocked around the way they were.

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

NO VANILLA EXTRACTION: Now is not the time to show all of the Dallas Cowboys offensive cards

Dallas Cowboys - Opening ceremony - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

OXNARD, Calif. – There’s vanilla.

         And then there is Dallas Cowboys double-secret ultra-vanilla.

         That’s exactly what we saw Friday night from that Cowboys offense in a 19-17 preseason game No. 2 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

         Not surprising to say the least.

         Generally, teams do not like to show much of anything they are planning new for the upcoming season in a mere preseason game, especially just the second of what will be five for the Cowboys this summer. And that’s doubly true when playing an opponent they will be facing at some time during the regular season.

         So no way was head coach Jason Garrett going to give the Oakland Raiders any hint of what might be coming down the pipe during the 2013 season from this Cowboys offense, even if the two teams won’t meet until Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium, Game 12 of the regular season. Not an entirely new offense, granted, but one with two tight ends becoming the base set and now Bill Callahan calling the plays.

         And, of course, with quarterback Tony Romo having a little more say in game-planning and the implementation of some new plays he’s partial, too. Instead of the 11th-year veteran having to “draw those plays up in the dirt,” which he could have Friday night quite easily (since a good portion of the O’s field is consumed by the A’s infield).

         There likely was some great anticipation on everyone’s part to see just how all this would work with the first-team offense making its 2013 preseason debut. The first-team offensive line was allowed to work during last Sunday’s Hall of Fame game. You know, Romo and Jason Witten and Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray and them finally out there playing together.

         There would be Witten and James Hanna, maybe some Gavin Escobar and Dante Rosario, too, showcasing these two-tight sets we’ve been witnessing here during training camp practices. Then, too, some of these new pass plays that have become a staple of camp workouts. Oh boy.

         And what?

         Nothing. As vanilla as you can get.

         Oh, the Cowboys ran some two-tight sets, but for the majority of the first-team offense’s two series (and even when Kyle Orton was in there running things behind the first offensive line with backups galore at running back and wide receiver). The Cowboys, of all things for everyone anticipating a hard-charging running attack, seemed to be in three-receiver sets more than anything.

         They weren’t about to expose much of anything, and from my understanding only did so with a couple of plays just to help keep a couple of drives alive to create more reps for some of the younger guys. Secrets are secrets, and no sense putting too much on tape for the Giants to start going to school on at this early date.

         In fact, for all those readily jumping to conclusions about this perceived “new” Cowboys offensive philosophy following that first preseason game in which they ran the ball 34 times and threw it only 21 – you know, see there that Bill Callahan, he’ll emphasize the run more – well, surprise, surprise, in this game against the Raiders the Cowboys ran the ball only 20 times and threw it around 32 times – the very reason no one should draw undeniable conclusions from these practice games.

         Talk about holding the play-call sheet over your mouth to prevent lip reading.

         But having said all this, the Cowboys still piled up 171 yards of total offense in the first half with Romo and Orton totaling three series, scoring on two of them and likely would have scored on all three if not for a blocked 26-yard field-goal attempt Mr. Automatic, Dan Bailey, surely would have made.

         OK, can hear the grumbling in the background already. While that all might be true, you’re screaming, same ol’, same ol’ with the Cowboys offense, three penalties inside the Oakland 30 turned potential touchdown drives into field-goal attempts. The nerve of that Witten to get caught holding, or for potentially first-time starter Ronald Leary to false start and Hanna to do so also.

         And as Garrett said afterward, bemoaning the penalties, the blocked field goal and the game-turning fumbled punt by rookie B.W. Webb, “We’ll continue to harp on that.”

         But did you see, or you should have seen, the ease in which Romo hooked up with Bryant three times for 55 yards; with Austin on slants twice for 22 yards; Orton with Cole Beasley twice, the second for a 15-yard touchdown.

         And guess what? Of the 32 attempts, only three times were tight ends targeted, and only one of those Witten. That ain’t going to happen, Witten targeted just once in a game. Please.

           Just look at the first-half stats alone, a half the Cowboys had a 10-6 lead, for what that matters. Romo and Orton were a combined 12 of 14 for 140 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, one sack, finishing with a QB rating of 132.1. Bryant, Austin and Beasley finished the game combining for eight catches on eight targets, totaling 126 yards and the Beasley touchdown.

         And for the most part Romo and Orton had the time of day in the pocket behind what most perceive as a worrisome offensive line. Hmmm, while the Cowboys are keeping their eyes open for fortuitous opportunities to enhance that crew, particularly at guard, maybe what you saw Friday night isn’t all that bad, from left to right Tyron Smith, Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free. Especially since, unlike the other four, Bernadeau was playing for the first time after returning from injury.

         Maybe their main problem up front is really who is playing behind these guys, especially at tackle since with Jermey Parnell injured (hamstring) and veteran Demetress Bell still trying to get in shape, there isn’t much to write home about. As Jones said after the game, making a move up front “would be determined by the opportunity” available, meaning he’s not necessarily desperate to sign just anybody at this moment.

         Romo did get sacked once, but did you see how long he had in the pocket before everything collapsed? And he did have Austin wide open in the end zone, but explained later, on that particular play that Austin was his third read and by time he got there, Austin was covered and pocket time had expired.

         “I don’t want to get away from here without talking about the offensive line,” Romo said. “There were a couple of times I had all day and we had a sack, an incompletion on those two plays, so that’s going to help us a lot if we’re able to do that.

         “That’s different. I know what it’s like to play behind that, and having that ability like they did tonight would be a huge bonus for us.”

         So with three more preseason games to play, another five training camp practices this week, resuming Sunday evening, there is time to clean things up while still playing peek-a-boo with play-calls and offensive intentions.

          And oh, by the way, if now your concern is the ability to run the ball more efficiently, at the conclusion of the first half, when the first-team offensive line retired for the evening, the Cowboys had run the ball six times for 36 yards with Murray, Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner, a 6-yard average following last Sunday night’s 5-yard mark.

          “It was good,” Romo said of what took place in the team’s first three offensive series. “We did what we’ve been doing in training camp and moved the ball real well. We were holding back on a lot of our stuff, red zone stuff and some other things. We would have liked to have scored a touchdown, but we got hurt by penalties more than anything, and that aspect of it is just going to hurt you no matter what.

          “So we have to avoid that [and] stress that this week, and we’re going to make sure that stops.”

           But probably not the double-scoops of vanilla approach.

Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola | Columnist

Editors comments: I don’t have a problem with being vanilla with the starters on their first few series this preseason. You come out and keep it simple … basic. The same philosophy deployed with this new 4-3 scheme, also applies to the offense this early in the year. The veterans might not need that as much, sure. But these new roster additions and young rookies do! The beauty of this offensive roster is that they can afford to come out and execute basic runs and passes. See if the opposing defenses can stop that first. With so many Cowboy players wielding star power, it’s a challenge for most defenses to handle them man-for-man. You sprinkle in wrinkles, after you get the basics down … ditch the butterflies, and execute these base plays with precision.

I believe the week-one emphasis (and success) of Dallas’ running attack (in the Hall of Fame game) showed coaches what they needed to see. However, if you think back, there was very little to see (or grade) in the passing game in week 1. The coaching staff needs to grade and develop these young offensive linemen in run and passing situations. I think that’s why we saw more pass (and consequently more pass blocking) in the second preseason game. Expect more balance going forward.

The Romo and Orton led drives were successful. The running game is still on pace. Kiffin’s starters have grasped his base defense … his rookies are coming along. Callahan’s starters are showing rust, but promise. Both of these games were more about weeding out the roster, than going for the kill. I do want to see Callahan/Garrett go for the throat once the regular season starts. They have the weapons to make a statement, and they should.

Friday night, Oakland played their starters longer, and did less with them. The Cowboys will host the Raiders later on … rest assured, we’ll see the full arsenal. Garrett is baking that vanilla cake first. He’ll add the icing later.

NFL ROOKIE TRADITION: Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick sings ‘I’m a Little Teapot’

NFL ROOKIE TRADITION - Dallas Cowboys rookie center Travis Frederick sings ‘I’m a Little Teapot’

If you were starting a new job and were required to sing a song in front of all of your co-workers, what song would you pick?

Would it be your favorite song? A song you think sounds good in the shower? Maybe something funny?

NFL ROOKIE TRADITION - Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick sings ‘I’m a Little Teapot’

Well, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick went with humor when it was his turn to sing in front of his teammates in Oxnard, Calif.

The 6-3, 311-pounder picked “I’m a Little Teapot.”

“I thought it would be a good song,” Frederick said. “Obviously the point of it is to make yourself look like a fool, so I thought that was a good song to do that, and show your weakness and hopefully the team likes you.

“I gave it my all. I thought I did a decent job.”

When the first-round pick heard that some of his teammates said his song was the worst of the group, he replied: “Well, that really hurts.”

“I heard from several people that the execution was just fine, though,” he said. “It was good execution. I tried. I did what I could. I was enthusiastic about it.”

Second-round pick Gavin Escobar sang “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” The 6-6, 249-pound tight end choose the Temptations song because he had some experience singing it in front of a group.

Escobar said he performed the song with a few of his teammates during his freshman year at San Diego State. The group went around to several sororities, singing songs in an attempt to promote the football team.

Fourth-round pick B.W. Webb said Escobar did “alright.”

Who was the worst?

“J.J. [Wilcox] was by far the worst,” Webb said. “He sang a Big Poppa song. He was terrible.”

Webb had not yet performed in front of the team at the time he was interviewed, but said he was going to sing “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. When a TV reporter asked for a preview, Webb responded: “Not happening. I don’t want to embarrass my mother like that.”

Asked if he was a good singer, Webb replied: “Not at all.”

THE DOTTED LINE: Signing status of the 2013 NFL Draft first-round picks

Kenny Vaccaro of the New Orleans Saints was the first 2013 NFL Draft first-round selection to sign a contract. Less than 24 hours later, the Detroit Lions also signed their first-round pick, Ziggy Ansah, to a contract. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, all NFL first-round draft picks can have four-year contracts with a non-negotiable fifth-year option, although not all will receive it.

Pk

Player

Pos.

Team

Status

Contract

1

Eric Fisher

OT

Kansas City Chiefs

Unsigned

 

2

Luke Joeckel

OT

Jacksonville Jaguars

Signed

Four years, $21.2 million

3

Dion Jordan

DE

Miami Dolphins

Unsigned

 

4

Lane Johnson

OT

Philadelphia Eagles

Unsigned

 

5

Ziggy Ansah

DE

Detroit Lions

Signed

Five years, terms undisclosed

6

Barkevious Mingo

DE

Cleveland Browns

Unsigned

 

7

Jonathan Cooper

G

Arizona Cardinals

Unsigned

 

8

Tavon Austin

WR

St. Louis Rams

Signed

Terms undisclosed

9

Dee Milliner

CB

New York Jets

Unsigned

 

10

Chance Warmack

G

Tennessee Titans

Unsigned

 

11

D.J. Fluker

OT

San Diego Chargers

Signed

Four years, $11.4 million

12

D.J. Hayden

CB

Oakland Raiders

Unsigned

 

13

Sheldon Richardson

DT

New York Jets

Unsigned

 

14

Star Lotulelei

DT

Carolina Panthers

Signed

Terms undisclosed

15

Kenny Vaccaro

SS

New Orleans Saints

Signed

Four years, terms undisclosed

16

EJ Manuel

QB

Buffalo Bills

Signed

Terms undisclosed

17

Jarvis Jones

OLB

Pittsburgh Steelers

Signed

Four years, $8.705 million

18

Eric Reid

FS

San Francisco 49ers

Signed

Four years, terms undisclosed

19

Justin Pugh

OT

New York Giants

Unsigned

 

20

Kyle Long

G

Chicago Bears

Signed

Four years, terms undisclosed

21

Tyler Eifert

TE

Cincinnati Bengals

Unsigned

 

22

Desmond Trufant

CB

Atlanta Falcons

Unsigned

 

23

Sharrif Floyd

DT

Minnesota Vikings

Unsigned

 

24

Bjoern Werner

DE

Indianapolis Colts

Unsigned

 

25

Xavier Rhodes

CB

Minnesota Vikings

Unsigned

 

26

Datone Jones

DE

Green Bay Packers

Unsigned

 

27

DeAndre Hopkins

WR

Houston Texans

Unsigned

 

28

Sylvester Williams

DT

Denver Broncos

Unsigned

 

29

Cordarrelle Patterson

WR

Minnesota Vikings

Unsigned

 

30

Alec Ogletree

ILB

St. Louis Rams

Signed

Terms undisclosed

31

Travis Frederick

C

Dallas Cowboys

Signed

Four years, terms undisclosed

32

Matt Elam

FS

Baltimore Ravens

Unsigned

 

TIME ON HIS SIDE: Tony Romo will get extra time with Dallas Cowboys rookies in June, July

TIME ON HIS SIDE - Tony Romo will get extra time with Dallas Cowboys rookies in June, July - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The second week of organized team activities started for the Dallas Cowboys today (on Tuesday). As expected, Tony Romo remained out of the mix.

Romo is unable to practice after having a cyst removed from his back in April. The quarterback hasn’t started working with the Cowboys’ 2013 NFL Draft picks: center Travis Frederick, tight end Gavin Escobar and wide receiver Terrance Williams.

Romo was asked what he misses by being forced to sit out early practices.

“I think sometimes timing,” Romo said Tuesday. “But at the same time, I’m going to wear that out with them, too. I’m sure they’ll want to get out of here a little bit in June and July, but I’ll probably force the hand a little bit to keep them around and it’ll be a good thing for us. It’ll be just a bonus, time wise.”

Meanwhile, the quarterback said he watched film on Escobar and Williams prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, per the request of general manager Jerry Jones.

Romo would like to take part in the Cowboys’ June 11 to 13 minicamp. He can fret about timing, but time remains on his side.

ROOKIE MINI-CAMP UPDATE: Jerry Jones undergoes eye surgery | Doug Free contract discussion | More

Jerry Jones undergoes eye surgery - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

IRVING – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday he’s recovering nicely from recent surgery to repair his left retina.

Jones, 70, had the surgery Wednesday.

“It’s fine, it went very well,” Jones said while wearing dark glasses as he spoke with reporters at the team’s rookie camp (click HERE or on the photo above to watch video).

“I just had a little surgery and I got that done Wednesday so it’s going to work good. It’s more retina work. Actually don’t know when it was injured, but probably could have been as much as 10 to 15 years ago. It had me where I wasn’t hitting the curveball like I know I can.”

It’s the second time in three years Jones has said publicly he’s undergone surgery. In 2010, he underwent surgery for an undisclosed illness he said wasn’t life threatening.


Jerry Jones: I’d like to keep Doug Free (Duration – 11:45)

Jerry Jones talks about the teams situation with Doug Free, and also Tony Romo’s expanded role in the Dallas Cowboys offense.


RELATED TO ABOVE VIDEO: Jerry Jones would like to keep Doug Free

The Dallas Cowboys want right tackle Doug Free back, but it will have to be at the right price.

“I’d like to keep him,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday. “We think that Doug Free can be an important part of the team. He’s been here. We know him. We think that with what we’re doing in other parts of our offense, certainly in the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us.”

Free would not talk about the Cowboys’ request for a renegotiation at a team charity event Wednesday. But Jones confirmed the Cowboys have asked Free to take a pay cut from the $7 million salary he is scheduled to make. (Free currently is slated to count $10 million against the salary cap.)

“It’s no secret that we’re trying to renegotiate the contract,” Jones said. “But I think it’s a wrong assessment to say that anybody’s saying ‘take it or leave it’ or we’re at our wit’s end or those kinds of things. That’s just not the way I see it going.”

Though Jones said the sides still are talking, the ball is in Free’s court to decide his future.

Free had a team-leading 13 penalties, including five holds, and allowed seven sacks. He played better late in the season when he played in a rotation with Jermey Parnell.

Although the Cowboys likely would go after a veteran tackle — Eric Winston is the biggest name still on the free-agency market — if they move on from Free, Jones said Parnell is ready to take the next step.

“When you say the next step, if that implies is he getting better, yes,” Jones said. “I think he is getting better. I think his arrow so to speak is going up. I feel good about where he is and the ideal place for the Cowboys is on the right basis is have them both.”


RELATED TO ABOVE VIDEO: Jerry Jones clear about Travis Frederick

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not hiding his wishes for first-round pick Travis Frederick.

He wants him to start. He expects him to start.

“We want him to come in here and contribute immediately,” Jones said Friday as the Dallas Cowboys started a three-day rookie minicamp. “Jason says it right when he says there is competition, but certainly, there ought to be a spot for him on that offensive line. We think he has the combination of skill and mental to play immediately.”

It makes sense Jones wants Frederick to play immediately. The Cowboys were criticized for not getting enough in return in a swap of first-round picks with that eventually resulted in the selection of Frederick with the 31st pick.

And, Jones does not often burn first-round picks on linemen. But this is the second time in three years the Cowboys have done it – they selected tackle Tyron Smith in 2011, and he started from the first game.

“One of his No.1 traits and assets was his ability to mentally cover a lot of ground,” Jones said of Frederick. “We should get him ready to give us some position flex between guard and center.”

COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES: Bill Callahan sees Dallas Cowboys center Frederick in same mold as Nick Mangold

Travis Frederick - Center - 2013 Dallas Cowboys 2013 NFL Draft - The Boys Are Back blog

When Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan and Wisconsin center Travis Frederick got together for a pre-draft interview, one particular name came up.

Nick Mangold.

Good thinking. The New York Jets center is a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl player selected in the first round in 2006. Callahan joined the Jets two years later, in 2008, Mangold’s first Pro Bowl year.

“He did talk about Mangold and how he coached him and some of the things that he did with him that made him into a really good player,” Frederick said last week after the Cowboys made him their first-round pick. “I’m really excited to hopefully take that coaching and really move forward.”

Mangold came into the league as the 29th pick in the first round. Frederick was the 31st pick.

Mangold also came into the league with a slow 40 time, and he was undersized at 290 pounds. He plays now at 6-4, 307.

Frederick is listed at 6-3, 312.

Both players come from big-time programs. Mangold made 21 consecutive starts for Ohio State before being drafted. Frederick started 28 consecutive games at Wisconsin before being drafted.

Both were the first centers taken.

“I’m very excited to not only be here in Dallas, but be the only center taken and be taken in the first round,” Frederick said. “It’s really a dream come true.”

Callahan and Frederick shouldn’t lack for anything to talk about. Frederick grew up in Sharon, Wis., about 90 miles outside of Chicago. Callahan is a Chicago native who coached at Illinois in the ’80s and Wisconsin in the ’90s.

AUDIO: Understanding the Dallas Cowboys first-round trade with San Francisco

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks to the crowd at the Cowboys Draft Day Party

DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – The first round of the NFL Draft was an emotional night or many Dallas Cowboys fans who didn’t see the logic in the decisions that were made by the team’s management.

On 105.3 The Fan the Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones not only explained his decision to trade down (from the 18th pick to the  31st) to get Wisconsin Center Travis Frederick, but he told Elf & Slater (with guest host Mike Bacsik) the Cowboys had Frederick rated higher than LSU Safety Eric Reid, who was taken at #18 by the San Francisco 49ers.

Jerry also gave his insight to his approach for the upcoming 47th, 74th and 80th selections.


video - watch now - the boys are back blog - press play

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Click to listen | Right Click to download this MP3

MUST SEE VIDEO: Dallas Cowboys top three draft picks meet Dallas media | Jason Garrett on NFL Network

VIDEO - Meet three of the newest Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams as they are introduced at Valley Ranch

Introductory Press Conference (Click HERE to watch/listen)

Meet three of the newest Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams as they are introduced at Valley Ranch.

RELATED POST ON THE BOYS ARE BACK BLOG:

MEET THE STUDS: Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference (Special Feature)


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VIDEO - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett joins NFL Network to discuss the team's picks in the 2013 NFL Draft

Jason Garrett Praises Draft Class (Click HERE to watch/listen)

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)

MEET THE STUDS - Dallas Cowboys' top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks arrive at Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference

MEET THE STUDS - Dallas Cowboys' top three 2013 Draft picks inside Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys’ top three 2013 Draft picks inside Valley Ranch for a tour and press conference

Dallas Cowboys' top three 2013 Draft picks meet Jerry Jones and staff at Valley Ranch NFL Draft war room - The Boys Are Back blog

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 …

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DALLAS COWBOYS 2013 NFL DRAFT: First round pick–Top ranked Center Travis Frederick–Wisconsin

Dallas Cowboys Center Guard Travis Frederick - The Boys Are Back blog - 2013 NFL Draft

Player

Pos.

Pos. Rank

School

Class

Ht.

Wt.

Travis Frederick

C

1

Wisconsin

rJr

6-4

312

The Dallas Cowboys drafted the #1 ranked center in the 2013 NFL Draft. See the full analysis below.

.

2013 NFL DRAFT – FIRST ROUND

 

Team

Team Needs

Drafted

1

Kansas City Chiefs

OL; LB; DL

Fisher, Eric (OT)

2

Jacksonville Jaguars

QB; DL; CB

Joeckel, Luke (OT)

3

Miami Dolphins (from Oakland)

OL; CB; RB

Jordan, Dion (DE)

4

Philadelphia Eagles

CB; QB; OL

Johnson, Lane (OT)

5

Detroit Lions

OL; DL; LB

Ansah, Ziggy (DE)

6

Cleveland Browns

QB; CB; LB

Mingo, Barkevious (DE)

7

Arizona Cardinals

OL; LB; RB

Cooper, Jonathan (OG)

8

St Louis Rams (from Buffalo)

WR; S; RB

Austin, Tavon (WR)

9

New York Jets

WR; LB; S

Milliner, Dee (CB)

10

Tennessee Titans

CB; DL; LB

Warmack, Chance (OG)

11

San Diego Chargers

OL; CB; LB

Fluker, D.J. (OT)

12

Oakland Raiders (from Miami)

DL; S; TE

Hayden, D.J. (CB)

13

New York Jets

WR; LB; S

Richardson, Sheldon (DT)

14

Carolina Panthers

DL; S; OL

Lotulelei, Star (DT)

15

New Orleans Saints

LB; S; CB

Vaccaro, Kenny (SS)

16

Buffalo Bills (from St. Louis)

QB; OL; WR

Manuel, EJ (QB)

17

Pittsburgh Steelers

LB; S; RB

Jones, Jarvis (OLB)

18

San Francisco (from Dallas)

S; DL; CB

Reid, Eric (FS)

19

New York Giants

OL; DL; CB

Pugh, Justin (OT)

20

Chicago Bears

LB; OL; WR

Long, Kyle (OG)

21

Cincinnati Bengals

OL; RB; S

Eifert, Tyler (TE)

22

Atlanta Falcons (from St. Louis via Washington)

CB; DL; LB

Trufant, Desmond (CB)

23

Minnesota Vikings

LB; DL; WR

Floyd, Sharrif (DT)

24

Indianapolis Colts

DL; OL; CB

Werner, Bjoern (DE)

25

Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle)

LB; DL; WR

Rhodes, Xavier (CB)

26

Green Bay Packers

OL; RB; DL

Jones, Datone (DE)

27

Houston Texans

WR; LB; OL

Hopkins, DeAndre (WR)

28

Denver Broncos

DL; CB; RB

Williams, Sylvester (DT)

29

Minnesota Vikings (from New England)

LB; DL; WR

Patterson, Cordarrelle (WR)

30

St. Louis Rams (from Atlanta)

WR; S; RB

Ogletree, Alec (ILB)

31

Dallas Cowboys (from San Francisco)

OL; S; DL

Frederick, Travis (C)

32

Baltimore Ravens

LB; WR; OL

Elam, Matt (FS)


C – TRAVIS FREDERICK – WISCONSIN – BIG TEN (Continued)

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