Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cowboys roster cuts

Here's a full list of players waived by the Cowboys to make the 53-man roster limit:

Danny Amendola
Drew Atchison
Remi Ayodele
Richard Bartel
Mark Bradford
Alonzo Coleman
Julius Crosslin
Dowayne Davis
Marcus Dixon
Tearrius George
Ryan Gibbons
Rodney Hannah
Mike Jefferson
Keon Lattimore
Cory Lekkerkerker (injury settlement)
Todd Lowber
Darrell Robertson
Junior Siavii
Marcus Smith
Tyson Smith
Erik Walden

Surprised the Cowboys kept only 5 WRs, especially when 3 of them are probably going to miss the Browns game.

What's wrong with ESPN?

ESPN just released a list of the "best fans" of NFL teams. It's an article where the teams are divided 1-10 on page 1, 11-22 on page 2 and 23-32 on page 3. I didn't expect the Cowboys to be listed as #1 or #2 (despite my biased opinion that we Cowboys fans are the best), but I scrolled down the 1-10 page to see where we ranked.

I went past the Eagles (#4), the Redskins (#6) and even the Giants (#10) without seeing the Cowboys. Surely, I just scrolled too fast and missed it. Nope. The ESPNers ranked the Cowboys fans as the 12th best in the NFL and the "worst" of the NFC East team fans.

In the article, there was a link to the most NFL team selections in fan profiles. Who came in 1st? The Steelers, right? After all, they have the "best fans" according to ESPN. If it's not the Steelers, it must be the Packers. They have the 2nd-best fans. Nope. How about the Eagles? After all, they have the "best" fans in the NFC East. Not even close. With 20,860, it was the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots were second with 16,000+ and then no other team had 13,000 or more.

I guess Bears fans could have as much of a gripe as Cowboys fans. Da Bears were ranked 13th. That surprises me. Bears fans are a passionate bunch. But, as usual, the rest of the world has us all wrong. I guess I'll settle with the Vince Lombardi trophy making its way back to Big D and the Steelers can be the "best fans."

Fox Sports - Top 10 Ticking Time Bombs

Fox Sports ranked their Top 10 Ticking Time Bombs and guess who ranked #1 on their list? Surprise, surprise - it's the Dallas Cowboys.
The only thing that scares me about the Cowboys this year: the Cowboys themselves. There is drama, a soap opera atmosphere, at every turn. My guy Tony Romo appears in US Weekly more than Sports Illustrated. While it is idiotic that his focus is ever questioned (he is one of the most diligent workers in the league), Romo has to deal with ridiculous questions about Jessica Simpson when he plays poorly.

Terrell Owens is a great player. He can also bring negative attention to the Cowboys with one wrong answer or press conference.

Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are both an off-the-field issue away from never playing again.

Is this a back-handed compliment? In other words, the Cowboys are too talented that there only real problem is they might get in their own way?

In today's NFL, what team isn't dealing with issues? T.O. has been a leader in the post-Parcells era and he has a great relationship (tears and all) with "his QB." The Patriots have Randy Moss, who has had his own share of problems (worse than T.O.'s), the Broncos have Brandon Marshall (but the real T.O. isn't getting suspended by the NFL) and the Bengals have Chad Johnson (or now legally Chad Javon Ocho Cinco).

Adam Jones and Tank Johnson may be off-the-field risks, but everyday if you go to the NFL section of ESPN, SI, etc., you'll see things like today's ESPN headlines: Ricardo Colclough of Carolina arrested for DWI and Bryant McKinnie suspended for 4 games for his involvement in a fight. I think the support system is well-established in Big D to keep Jones and Johnson out of trouble. The NFL has league-wide "personal conduct" issues, but the perception that the Cowboys (with the possible exception of the Bengals) have the biggest share of them is absurd.

Another injury at WR for Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have had no success in keeping their WRs healthy in pre-season. First, Miles Austin got hurt and will miss 4-6 weeks. Then, Isaiah Stanback hurt his shoulder. Stanback hasn't ruled out playing in the opener at Cleveland. Now, the latest is the high ankle sprain to the Cowboys #3, Sam Hurd.

Jerry Jones has ruled out adding someone like Joe Horn and Wade Phillips has mentioned possibly using only 2 WRs versus Cleveland (T.O./Crayton) with Jason Witten getting action as the 3rd.
"We'll see where we are medically, and we still have two pretty good receivers, you know, that I think can give anybody problems," Phillips said. "[Jason] Witten can be a third receiver. Obviously, he's a force as a pass receiver."
What about other WRs like Danny Amendola and Mike Jefferson? Phillips was neutral about how they increased their chances after Thursday's game against the Vikings.

"I don't think either one of them made a jump," he said. "But I don't think either one of them went backwards."
Hopefully, Stanback will be ready to go week 1, but T.O. and Crayton should be walking around in armored suits right now...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last night vs Texans

Early in the game, there was a scare with Harry Williams. Although he fractured a vertebra and will have spinal surgery, the good news is it looks like he's going to make a full recovery.
"He's got movement throughout his body," Kubiak said. "All the feedback I'm getting is that Harry will be fine."
The Cowboys looked good in their third pre-season game, which is the most important week of the pre-season. There were a few exceptions like Tony Romo's interception, but the Cowboys offense had 266 yards at halftime. Romo finished 15-19 with 166 yards and The Barbarian had 75 yards on 13 carries.
"I feel good about where we are," Phillips said. "It was one of those games that you needed to turn it on. I think everybody felt that, even the novices that don't know as much as coaches do. ... And I think we did."

"I thought we were efficient. It was nice to play more than a series or two," Romo said. "It's exciting to come out in the first half and move the ball like we did."
Only 15 days to go until Dallas vs Cleveland...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jenkins impressing, Newman leading

When Terrence Newman is healthy and Pacman Jones less rusty, the Cowboys arguably have the best secondary in football. Even though Newman is injured, he's being a leader.
"He's been a lot of help to me, ever since he went down," Jenkins said. "He's definitely on my back all the time. ... It's starting to get annoying. He's in my ear more than (secondary coach Dave) Campo, more than the coach."

Jenkins was smiling when he said that, appreciative of the help he is getting from the Pro Bowler -- the regular starting left cornerback whose spot he has been filling since Newman got hurt three weeks ago.

"That shows a lot of class, a lot of guys wouldn't do that," Jenkins said. "The day he went down, he came back to practice from doing treatment and he has stayed on me ever since then."
It's great to see that Newman is helping out Jenkins. Everyone can say all they want about the "collection of Pro Bowlers", but they don't give the Cowboys enough credit for being a "team".

Anthony Spencer out 2-4 weeks

It's been an injury-plagued pre-season for the Cowboys - Terrence Newman, Miles Austin and now Anthony Spencer.

Spencer had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday and he will be out 2-4 weeks.

Spencer was hurt in the preseason opener at San Diego with what initially was diagnosed as a bone bruise. He missed last week's game at Denver because of swelling in the knee. Spencer said he wanted to practice but the swelling in his knee would subside one day then come back.

The Cowboys took another look at the knee, and they decided surgery was necessary.

I still expect 2008 to be a breakout year for Spencer. Hopefully, he'll miss closer to 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks.

Owens questions Cowboys strategy vs New York

Terrell Owens has questioned the Cowboys strategy in the game vs New York.
Many have wondered how the Dallas Cowboys would have fared against the New York Giants in the playoffs last year if Cowboys Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens had been healthy. Owens admits having similar thoughts.

Owens missed the final game of the season with a high ankle sprain but returned to the field in the Cowboys’ 21-17 divisional loss to the Giants two weeks later.

He second-guesses the Cowboys' strategy more so than his health. He caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown in the game, all in the first half. But he said he could have done more, especially in the second half when he was held without a catch.

"I feel I made the most of the opportunities," Owens said. "It was just like when I played in the Super Bowl with the [Philadelphia] Eagles, I told the coach if I am on the football field to treat me as if I am 100 percent. I don’t think they [were] considering what I did in the game. ... I felt like I could have done more."
I don't think this is a concern, T.O. has been a "model citizen" in Big D. But there is going to be a lot of pressure on the Cowboys this post-season. And plenty of chaos if there is another first-round playoff loss (which I don't expect).

T.O. is right though. Looking at how he performed in the Super Bowl while hurt, when it's do-or-die time, the Cowboys should put the ball in T.O.'s hands as often as possible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Can Marion Barber carry the load?

ESPN Fantasy has a feature (32 questions) where they are asking - and answering - a question per team. Their Cowboys question: Can Marion Barber carry the load?

For those of you who like Cliff Notes, here's my Cliff Notes version of James Quintong's answer: "Yes."

As Quintong argues the Barbarian's "...approach to the game might be his biggest hurdle." I agree but who doesn't appreciate an offensive skill player that dishes more punishment than he receives.

Imagine if Tyson Smith weren't his teammate...
Barber has the toughness and versatility to do whatever the Cowboys want from him out of the backfield, and he's ready to carry a bigger load this year, which explains his high draft position so far. The Cowboys can keep him fresh with Felix Jones picking up some of the slack, but you might expect to see more of that later in the season, as Felix Jones figures out his role in the offense. Early in the season, though, look for a lot more Barber, who can produce big numbers seemingly no matter how many touches he gets. He's a safer bet than you might think.
I couldn't have said it any better James...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miles Austin out for 4-6 weeks?

Miles Austin's stellar training camp and preseason has come to an end because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee suffered Saturday, and it's unlikely he will be able to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at Cleveland.

Generally speaking, MCL tears (anytime you hear a sprain that means something is torn, by the way) take 4-6 weeks to heal depending on the severity.

As for the final 53-man roster, it almost has to mean the Cowboys keep six wide receivers if Austin is out. I was thinking the Cowboys would go with five receivers - Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Hurd, Austin and probably Stanback - before the injury. Now it's six, which takes away a spot from somewhere else - maybe tailback, maybe a No. 3 quarterback, maybe an O-lineman.

If Austin is out for 4 weeks, I don't think the Cowboys should keep 6 receivers. The week 2 game is Monday Night Football so there is one extra day to recover for 4 weeks. If Austin can play in week 2, it wouldn't make much sense to tinker with the roster the way Todd Archer thinks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

T.O. vs "Baby T.O." as how Adam Jones sees it

The Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos had a joint practice today and Adam Jones was asked how Brandon Marshall compares to Terrell Owens. This was his response:
"He's nowhere near T.O.," Jones said of Marshall. "He's a good athlete, but he ain't on T.O.'s level. T.O. is 10 times faster and 10 times bigger. I wouldn't say he's nowhere near T.O."

Marshall's nickname coming out of college was "Baby T.O." because both receivers are similar in size and both have huge playmaking ability on the field. Marshall is easily the biggest offensive threat the Broncos have on the roster, but Jones didn't shy away from taking a shot at the young receiver.
I agree that T.O. is better than Marshall and I like that Jones sticking by his teammate. However, Jones' math is a little off. In other words, if T.O. runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, Marshall doesn't run a 45-second (10 x's as slow) 40.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adam Jones - A little rusty

Although Adam Jones looked rusty in the Cowboys pre-season opener in San Diego, I am not worried.

Jones made his Cowboys debut in the dime package on the second defensive series, then replaced Anthony Henry at right corner with the second unit. Early in the second quarter, he gave up a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Chambers and missed a tackle on Darren Sproles' ensuing 21-yard screen catch. Both plays led to a touchdown.

"I need to work on my angles," Jones said. "With that Sproles play, that's kind of a hard play because there's so much in the open with that screen I was trying to make him cut back in."

His competitiveness and eagerness to take on T.O. every day in practice will get him back to the Adam Jones he once was. On the field, that is.
Jones has challenged Owens one-on-one throughout the first two weeks of camp, and while the veteran Pro Bowler has gotten the best of him at times, the coaching staff says Jones' competitiveness has spread to the rest of the defense.
Provided he stays out of trouble (big if) and Roger Goodell reinstates Jones for the regular season (smaller if), Adam Jones will likely be the Cowboys 2nd best CB by the end of the year. Not bad for a 4th-round draft pick.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prominent role for Felix Jones in passing game

The Cowboys expect Felix Jones to be a big part of the passing game in 2008. With arguably one of the top 2 WRs in Terrell Owens and top 2 TEs in Jason Witten, maybe the Cowboys don't need another big-time receiver opposite TO. Maybe a pass-catching RB is the answer.
A big part of the Cowboys' plans for Jones involve him catching the ball out of the backfield or even as a receiver. With the team lacking another top-flight wideout to take the pressure off Terrell Owens, the Cowboys want to compensate by making their backs regular participants in the passing game.

“You can get some real explosion in that area,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Felix Jones caught only 39 passes in three seasons at Arkansas, but he says he's eager to get the ball in his hands any way he can, even if it means being split wide as a receiver.

“When I was younger, I thought I was a receiver,” Jones said. “I'm very comfortable with it. I lined up in the slot position at Arkansas.”

“He gives us a dimension we haven't had,” Phillips said of Jones. “He catches the ball better than I thought he would.”

“What you're looking for is the guy to get the extra yards,” Romo said. “When you throw it 3 or 4 yards, he's going to give you 10, 12 yards. If you get guys like that, that makes life a lot easier on the quarterback.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Detroit's WR Williams to come home to Texas?

In the off-season, there were rumors about the Cowboys acquiring Roy Williams, WR in Detroit. In an interview with the Detroit News, he was asked about his future since he's in the last year of his five-year contract.
"It's not a distraction but it kind of gets to me, like, what's gonna happen?" Williams said. "It's just a business, man. I heard there were offers for me so it must mean I'm pretty good. I don't know the future. I don't know if I'm gonna be here or not. They can franchise me (keep him for a lucrative one-year contract) and I'd be here for another year and then it'd start all over again."

When I asked if he wants to stay, Williams repeated what he said before, semi-convincingly.

"Oh, yeah, anybody wants to stay where they got drafted," he said. "And then when they get to the end of their career, they want to go home. I talk strongly about Texas because I'm from there but I don't talk strongly about the Cowboys or the Texans. I would love to stay here, get to the playoffs here, be part of history here."
Stay in Detroit and "get to the playoffs"? C'mon Roy. The Lions? The playoffs? Good one.

If Williams were to return to Texas, Houston would probably make more sense for Williams, because Andre Johnson is their only true weapon and the Texans should be willing to pursue him more aggressively. And although the Cowboys don't need him, can you imagine Williams lining up on the opposite side of TO? And Crayton in the slot with Witten, Barber, Felix Jones, etc.?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Got HBO?

Starting this Wednesday, HBO will begin airing the five-episode series of Hard Knocks featuring the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Here's a look at part of the process:
There are four cameras rolling at every practice, and after practice, they follow players everywhere around the River Ridge facility, from meeting rooms to training rooms. There are even four rooms - owner and general manager Jerry Jones' office, his son and right hand man, Stephen Jones' office and two meeting rooms for players and coaches - equipped with robotic cameras to capture every activity going on inside.

Capturing everything is impossible, so the producers and directors at NFL Films map out potential storylines to pursue. At every practice, and even before and after, every camera crew has an assignment for what or who to shoot. These assignments usually coincide with the six Cowboys - players and coaches - who are mic-ed up at every practice with wireless microphones.

Even once that "extraordinary material" is identified, Rodgers must make more tough decisions about what makes the show. As of this past Wednesday, he said he has 40 solid storylines in the works, but at most only half will actually make the final cut. Those storylines are allowed to develop until a few days before each episode airs, although if something important happens a day before each episode premieres, Rodgers will bend over backwards to adjust.

"The process, technically, to get this out the door and to HBO is absolutely frightening," Rodgers said. "We actually drive our final tape, when it's done, to HBO, and it gets to HBO in New York about an hour before it airs."
Interesting look at how Hard Knocks is created. Wouldn't it be nice if America's Team were the team featured every year?

Friday, August 1, 2008

You Tube Video from 7/31 Practice

Practice? We talkin' 'bout practice? Can't wait for the games to begin...

Michael Strahan in camp...Cowboys camp?

Michael Strahan was at camp with the Cowboys. He was watching the 'Boys in his new role with Fox's NFL pregame show.
"It makes me sick looking at him. At least he didn't wear his Super Bowl ring out here," tight end Jason Witten said, half-jokingly. "I told him I didn't know if I'd let him in here. He's still got buddies over there."
Whether joking or serious, I agree with what Witten says. You can never be too careful. Perhaps he'll leave with stuff to tell Osi and Tuck. How many times do people say, "I promised not to tell anyone so you can't tell anyone else?"

I guess to keep it fair, Fox should send Troy Aikman or Jimmy Johnson to Giants camp.