Cowboys New Home Looking Good, Can’t Wait To Move In

This past weekend I took a trip to Dallas and made my way down to the new stadium construction site. It was a Sunday so the workers weren’t on duty. I could see it from miles away, but as we approached the scene my jaw dropped and I just said, “WOW!”

I could not believe the progress since Thanksgiving, the last time I visited Dallas. Look at this picture I took just six months ago.

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I’m telling you, it’s a monster! What an addition to the area. Combining this new attraction with its neighbors, Texas Rangers ballpark and Six Flags over Texas, Arlington will now become the pride of Texas.

Although I have had mixed feelings regarding the demise of Texas Stadium, those feelings became tempered once I got a first hand look at our soon-to-be new home. Texas Stadium will always be in my heart, but I gotta tell ya, I’m getting very excited about all of the memories we will make in the new stadium.


Statistics from dallascowboys.com

Total Square Footage: 2.3 million square feet. The entire Statue of Liberty and its base could fit into the stadium with the roof closed. The stadium is also the world’s largest column-free room. The American Airlines Center in Dallas could fit entirely into the new stadium at field level.

Interior Cubic Volume: 104 million cubic feet. (By comparison, Reliant Stadium in Houston measures 90 million cubic feet.) The Dallas Cowboys stadium will be the largest enclosed stadium (in cubic feet) in the NFL.

Seating Capacity: A capacity of 80,000 plus standing room or additional seating in the end zones, along with ticketed areas in the end zone plazas can increase total capacity to 100,000.

Suites: There will be 200 suites in eight different locations on five separate levels of the stadium. Field-level suites will be available on the sidelines as well as in the end zone for up-close and personal viewing of the games. The Hall of Fame level suites will be 20 rows from the field, making them the closest in the NFL.

Domed Roof: At 660,800 square feet, the stadium will be the largest domed structure in the world.

Retractable Roof: The open roof design that was a unique feature of Texas Stadium will be carried over into the design of the new stadium, with the improvement of a new retractable feature, revealing an opening that measures 256 feet wide and 410 feet long. Two bi-parting mechanized roof panels – each measuring 63,000 square feet – will be driven by a rack-and-pinion drive system consisting of 64 7.5 HP electric motors, making it the first of its kind in the world. The open/close time is 12 minutes.

Arches: The roof is supported by two 35-feet deep and 15-feet wide boxed arch trusses. Each truss spans 1,290 feet – nearly a quarter mile – making the roof the longest clear-span structure in the world. The arches are more than twice the length of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Glass Retractable Door: Each end zone features a five-leaf clear glass retractable door measuring 120 feet high and 180 feet wide, making it the tallest moveable glass wall in the world.

Parking: It is estimated that between parking owned or under control of the Dallas Cowboys as well as the entrepreneurial lots in and around the stadium area, that there will be 30,000 parking spaces

Today’s Dallas Cowboys Roundup

Great job by Jason Witten who decided to go back to college this off-season, complete his remaining credits, and earn his degree. The Star-Telegram writes…

The Dallas Cowboys tight end was about 25 hours shy of graduating when he opted to leave Tennessee early to enter the 2003 NFL Draft. Five years later, he’s about to earn a bachelor’s degree in sports management. Witten never struggled academically: he was an academic All-SEC selection in 2002 as well. He said the final 25 hours were tough, though, as he completed correspondence courses in the spring semesters after the NFL season was over.

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The Dallas Cowboys beefed up the offensive line by signing OT Ryan Gibbons, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Dallas Cowboys website reports…

Last week, after completion of the team’s only mandatory mini-camp, the Cowboys released five players, including rookie offensive lineman Brandon Hale. The Cowboys basically have replaced him with Gibbons, released once again by Jacksonville last week after spending parts of the last two years with the Jaguars. The 6-6, 330-pound tackle signed with Jacksonville as a rookie free agent from Northeastern in 2006. He spent his entire rookie season on the Jags’ practice squad before playing last summer overseas in NFL Europa.

*** At this point I think it’s a nice move and will add some depth at the position and create a good competition once training camp begins.

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If you didn’t catch it, here is a video of Wade Phillips who discusses the recent mini camp with Brad Sham. You can check it out here at DallasCowboys.com. Among other things, Wade discusses how he plans to attack the upcoming season and some of the players that impressed him in camp.

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According to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, Adam Jones took exception to racial comments made about him by radio personality Don Imus on Monday. During a morning segment on his WABC radio show in New York, Imus was listening to a report from anchor Warner Wolf about Jones dropping his nickname, "Pacman."

Wolf mentioned that Jones was arrested six times since he was drafted in 2005.

Imus then asked, "What color is he?"

"He’s African-American," Wolf said.

"Well, there you go," Imus said. "Now we know."

Jones was unaware of the comments until a reporter played him a tape Monday night.

"I’m truly upset about the comments," Jones said. "Obviously Mr. Imus has problems with African-Americans. I’m upset, and I hope the station he works for handles it accordingly. I will pray for him."

Imus said through a spokesperson that he was misunderstood.

*** What an idiot…

WHO’S STAR IS SHINING THE BRIGHTEST?

I wanted to share this interesting article I found at the Star-Telegram this morning. In it, the Dallas Cowboys Beat Writers have sort of a round-table and fielded a few questions ranging from Roy Williams, Mini-Camp, and Ken Hamlin negotiations.

Who was the biggest surprise during mini-camp and why?

Mac Engel: I know he’s a first round pick so he should not be a surprise, but there is a thought that Felix Jones is already better than Julius Jones.

Rick Herrin: Wide receiver Miles Austin. He looked confident and he played confident. Austin has had shaky hands during his time in Dallas but he was grabbing everything out of the air during the mini-camp. The highlight was when he blew past Pacman Jones and made a leaping grab in the end zone for a TD. The Cowboys corners are having trouble keeping up with Austin.

Clarence Hill: Wide receiver Miles Austin always had speed. But his hands were a question mark. During mini-camp he showed great speed and good hands. He made one of the biggest plays in offseason when he blew by cornerback Adam Pacman Jones for a deep ball. If he continues to show consistency with his hands he could be the deep threat the Cowboys are looking for, sans Terry Glenn.

Wow, after doing a nice job on Special Teams, I would love to see Miles Austin step up and give Patrick Crayton a challenge for the number two wide receiver spot. We always knew that Austin has break-away speed, but to hear glowing reports about his pass catching abilities is great news.

Last week I wrote about the position battles that are shaping up for the Cowboys this pre-season, and as I mentioned back then, I like Patrick Crayton a lot, but I believe he is better suited to be a number three receiver rather than the guy who lines up opposite Terrell Owens.

If Miles Austin can continue to prove that he can catch passes and run with the best of them, he might just be the guy we need to pair up with T.O. A burner with great hands and reach will minimize the double coverage on Owens and translate into a big season for everyone involved. Having Patrick Crayton give them a blow now and then to keep them fresh, and also play during three wide receiver sets would be an added bonus.

We’ll keep an eye on this as the off-season progresses.

By the way… I think Kelly did a fantastic job sprucing up the site and absolutely love the new banner and the new look. Hang in there Lone Star Struck readers, off-season is almost over!
 

2008 Dallas Cowboys Preview

Dallas Cowboys (12-4)

By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com

The Super Bowl run by the Giants after they defeated the Cowboys may not have sweetened the taste in the Cowboys’ mouths, but this is still a very good, balanced team that had a great 2007 and should match that in 2008. The Cowboys average 29.9 points per game (#2 in the NFL) and allow 19.7 points (#6) against a schedule featuring eight games against 2007 playoff teams.

Most Significant Newcomer: Zach Thomas, LB – He probably should not be playing another season, but he signed with the Cowboys and could, yet again, be a tackling machine (when healthy). It’s Thomas’ chance to win a Super Bowl, and he will do everything he can to get his team there. We have Thomas with 100 tackles in 12 games. If those four missed games are the final four of the season and the injury has anything to do with his head, Thomas may be forced to retire before Dallas could vie for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Biggest Strength: Balance – This team does not have any obvious weaknesses (I just killed my next topic). The Cowboys have talent at every position and do just about everything well.

Most Exploitable Weakness: Uncertainty on Offense – Dallas can do just about everything well, but players like Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Patrick Crayton and even Tony Romo have never had to sustain a level of excellence for an entire season in the roles that they will be asked to fulfill in 2008. All the numbers point to success by the entire offense, but it is cause for concern.

Possible Fantasy Sleeper: Martellus Bennett, TE – Jason Witten is the top rated fantasy TE in the league and that is exactly why. Tony Romo loves a safety blanket over the middle. Witten is not injury-prone, but if he does slip up, Bennett is the player who will step up. And even if Witten is healthy all year, Bennett is too athletic and too skilled for Jason Garrett to ignore. The simulation gives him 23 catches for 275 yards and two touchdowns, while Witten plays all 16 games.

Closest Game: @ New York Giants (Week 9) – It is the only projected loss on the schedule. These teams may have to face each other three times again in 2008. If that’s the case, the outcomes of the first two games may decide who has home-field in the third game.

Fantasy Notables (fantasy rank at position in parentheses): Tony Romo (3) 4,103 yards, 31 TDs, 17 INTs; Marion Barber (6) 1,548 total yards, 15 TDs; Felix Jones (39) 698 total yards, 9 touchdowns; Terrell Owens (3) 87 receptions, 1,335 yards, 9 TDs; Patrick Crayton (40) 52 receptions, 709 yards,6 TDs; Jason Witten (1) 88 receptions, 1,040 yards, 8 TDs; Nick Folk (1) 51/51 XPs, 32/39 FGs

Projected 2008 Results:

Week

Opponent

Win% Avg Score
1 @Cleveland Browns 59 24-22
2 Philadelphia Eagles 72 30-18
3 @Green Bay Packers 79 29-21
4 Washington Redskins 71 30-19
5 Cincinnati Bengals 92 39-17
6 @Arizona Cardinals 75 30-22
7 @St. Louis Rams 80 32-20
8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 81 31-16
9 @New York Giants 46 21-27
11 @Washington Redskins 62 23-19
12 San Francisco 49ers 73 33-21
13 Seattle Seahawks 63 26-16
14 @Pittsburgh Steelers 63 28-24
15 New York Giants 77 34-18
16 Baltimore Ravens 92 40-16
17 @Philadelphia Eagles 71 26-21

First Day Of Mandatory Mini-Camp

Where’s T.O.? – Tuesday was pretty uneventful as far as mini-camps go, and the biggest news was not even regarding any of the players in camp. Instead it was the absence of Terrell Owens that made the top news of the day. He has permission to miss camp due to a family emergency. I hope that everything turns out okay for him and his family.

Pacman Fever – In other mini-camp news, Wade Phillips was very impressed with Pacman’s workouts so far and said the following, "I thought he was a competitor, but he’s really an extraordinary competitor who really likes to mix it up out there." The NFL Network’s Adam Schefter recently reported that sometime this week Adam "Pacman" Jones is releasing a statement of making an announcement that he wants to be referred to as Adam Jones from now on, and not as "Pacman". He is hoping that the name-change will allow him to put some yardage between himself and his troubled past.

Terry Glenn: Over and Out – Terry Glenn had a message for Jerry Jones who wanted him to sign a $500,000 injury waiver for the new season. "HELL NO!" You cant fault Jerry Jones on this one. He wants Glenn to agree he only gets $500,000 if he sustains a season-ending knee injury because he got burned last season. Jones said, "I paid him $5 million dollars last year and all we got was four plays." I think it’s safe to assume that Terry Glenn will not be wearing the silver and blue in 2008.

Draft Picks Should Be Immediate Contributors

All Dallas Cowboys and LoneStarStruck fans, stop skimming the obituaries.  Stop endlessly surfing the web for answers.  Derek Sanders has not died.  He has not been stranded in the wilderness.  He has not been washed onto the shores of a desert island.  Contrary to popular belief, I am alive and kicking and anxiously awaiting to start of another season of Dallas Cowboys football. 

Now I have two Christmases a year marked on my calender.  My second Christmas comes in late April, when two days of draft mayhem occur and ultimately make or break a team’s success in the coming years.  Here is my breakdown of Dallas’ 2008 draft picks. 

 

Felix Jones – Running Back, Arkansas 

Many fans and analysts had Jones penciled in as one of Dallas’ first round picks, and how right they were.  Forget all the criticism Mel Kiper and the clowns over at ESPN dished out to the Cowboys for not drafting Rashard Mendenhall.  Mendenhall is a big downhill runner and the Cowboys already have that in Marion Barber.  Dallas was looking for lightning to match Barber’s thunder heading into this year’s draft and they certainly got that in Jones.  They needed a scat back who they can line up in multiple formations to spread the defense out.  Jones has all the speed and open field moves as well as All-American kick returning abilities and will provide Tony Romo with yet another weapon to torch defenses with.

 

Mike Jenkins – Cornerback, South Florida

If you were glued to your television on draft day as I was, you sort of got the feeling Dallas was looking to nab Jenkins when they traded up three spots in the first round to get him.  Even though there were three cornerbacks drafted before him, many had him ranked as the best corner in the draft.  Although Dallas lost both Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones in free agency, Jenkins is a definite upgrade and will join a now impressive and crowded secondary.  He might not get alot of playing time this year if Pacman Jones is reinstated, but he has all the skills and speed to become a starter for years to come. 

 

Martellus BennettTight End, Texas A&M

A couple hours before the draft day chaos ensued, I wrote down a list of players who I thought Dallas would take a look at.  As I jotted down Martellus Bennett’s name, I turned to my brother and said "They’re gonna draft this guy now that Fasano is gone."  The Cowboys got quite an athlete in Bennett, who has a basketball-like frame and exceptional hands and ball skills.  He is also an outstanding blocker and should provide the Cowboys with extra blocking beef when they line up in multiple tight end formations.  Like Felix Jones, Bennett will add one more weapon to Tony Romo’s arsenal of firepower.

 

Tashard Choice – Running Back, Georgia Tech

The second day of the draft was filled with classic draft day wheeling and dealing which the Cowboys have become famous for.  As I watched Jerry geniusly trade down farther and farther, I received a call from a buddy who was also enjoying Jerry’s draft day brilliance.  "What the hell is Jerry Jones doing?!" he yelled.  We soon saw Jerry’s masterful trickery pay off when Tashard Choice’s name was called.  This could be my favorite pick of the whole draft.  With the running back depth dwindling, Dallas drafted Choice, a "between the tackles" runner to back up Marion Barber.  A guy who idolized Emmitt Smith, Choice is a team player and a natural born leader.  Choice does not have blazing speed, but runs with passion and heart, much like Emmitt and should spell Barber well in the upcoming years. 

 

Orlando Scandrick – Cornerback, Boise State

One word came to mind after Orlando Scandrick’s name was called.  Steal.  Scandrick ran the fastest 40-time for cornerbacks at the 2008 combine, but his stock took a nose-dive due to off the field issues.  Never being known to shy away from speed and talent, the Cowboys rolled the dice on Scandrick in the fifth round with the intent of adding more depth to their secondary.  Scandrick has all the tools to be a fine corner in the NFL.  I believe the roll of the dice will pay big dividends for the Cowboys in the near future. 

 

Erik Walden – Defensive End, Middle Tennessee State

Every year, Dallas seems to draft a guy in the lower rounds with the intent to develop him and polish his football skills.  Erik Walden is this year’s "project".  Walden certainly looks the part of a 3-4 linebacker, and has the size and speed to play in the NFL.  It will probably take a few years for him to develop into a contributor on defense, but he should help on special teams right away. 

 

Mandatory Mini Camp Starts Tuesday – Battles At WR and CB Begin

Can you believe we are already nearing the end of June and that football season is slowly , but surely inching it’s way back into our lives. On Tuesday all Cowboys players will be on hand for the start of mandatory three-day mini camp. 

The Cowboys will get a good sense of where the new guys like Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Mike Jenkins will fit in exactly.

It should also be the beginning of an interesting position battle at wide receiver as Wade Phillips and his coaching staff try to decide who will line up opposite Terrell Owens this season. Patrick Crayton may seem like the logical choice, but some question his toughness. Personally I believe that barring a trade, Crayton will still be the number two guy. That being said, on a team that throws as much as the Cowboys do, there will be plenty of opportunities for guys like Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback to make some noise. As for Terry Glenn, who knows??

In an interesting article by Nick Eatman on DallasCowboys.com, he takes a good look at what might be shaping up as the biggest competition in Cowboys camp this pre-season… the abundance of quality cornerbacks. However, it was what he wrote about Pacman Jones that really caught my attention.

A lot of people seem ready to just throw Pacman in the starting lineup. Not sure why. The guy hasn’t played football in a year. He’s down to his very last strike in terms of even having a job in this league. Why can’t he just come in, learn the scheme, learn the defensive calls and try to contribute?

No, he’s Pacman Jones. So let’s kick out Anthony Henry and his team-leading six interceptions last year and ship him over to safety. Let’s make Jones a starter at cornerback, let him return all the punts and play him on offense, too. Hey, I’ve been all for acquiring this guy. I’ve said "why not" on more than one occasion about bringing him here. But let the guy get acclimated to football once again. Once he does that, and if he needs to be on the field for every play, then you adjust accordingly. Somehow, I see him as the third cornerback this year, barring any injuries.

I gotta tell ya, I can’t argue with that logic.  Have a great week Cowboys fans!

No Country For Old Men…With Bad Knees

I think everyone would agree that getting old sucks. I turned 40 on Monday so I know first-hand the magnitude in which it can suck! But on the bright side, the older you get the more memories you have. I have tons.

For instance, watching The Doomsday Defense dismantle the Denver Broncos and former Cowboy Craig Morton in Super Bowl XII. Then after the game I watched as Harvey Martin crushed an "Orange Crush" pop can during the locker room celebration.

Then there are not so fond memories like Super Bowl XIII against The Steelers. The horrible pass interference call against Benny Barnes when his feet got tangled with Lynn Swann’s which led to a Steelers score. And of course Jackie Smith. The drop. Dallas should have been the first team to win 3 Super Bowls. WE WERE ROBBED!!

Of course there was "The Catch". Montana to Clark in the NFC Championship. Should be called "The Lucky Catch". I also remember "The Fumble" by Danny White, deep in 49er territory on the ensuing drive.

And I could write a 10,000 word essay with one hand tied behind my back about the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Who might that be you ask? The 90’s Cowboys of course. This team could have and SHOULD have won at LEAST 4 in a row.

But this blog isn’t as much about my memories as it is about what it must be like to be an NFL player in the twilight of your career. Specifically Terry Glenn. Glenn’s career has had its ups and downs. He’s only played a full 16 weeks in 3 of the 12 seasons he’s been in the league so far. With 2 of those being for The Cowboys.

I think Glenn is a great player. Very professional. Super hands. Bad wheels. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career and now time is not on his side. This will be his 13th season if he even plays at all. I personally think he should sign the $500,000 injury settlement. This way everyone is covered. Seriously, Jerry Jones could just cut the guy and he’d get nothing. He can’t pass a freakin physical and Jones is offering him 500 G’s! Not quite as sweet as the deal Glenn got last year. $5 million for 4 plays.

I feel for Terry Glenn. To a point. But he’s almost 34 with a huge bank account and he’s had the honor of playing for the greatest sports franchise on the planet. But he has bad knees. I’m 40 living paycheck to paycheck and I drive a truck for a living. And I also have bad knees.

Terry, you have my sympathies…

Cowboys News: Canty for Another Year

Free agent Chris Canty signed a one-year tender worth $2.017 million yesterday. Fans were wondering when Canty would get signed with training camp approaching. The defensive end had a decent year last season with 43 tackles and 4 sacks. Canty has played in every Cowboys game since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 draft.

Chris Canty was the last key player who had yet to be signed. Now that all of our core players are signed, sealed and delivered the Cowboys can move forward and begin the quest for another Super Bowl title. 

Marion Barber: The Barbarian

In Plymouth, Minnesota, on June 10, 1983, Marion Barber III was born. I am sure when his parents named him, they had no idea his nick name would become “The Barbarian”.

Barber was a Trojan at Wayzata High School, where he stood out in football, baseball and track. On the football team, he played both sides of the ball, including running back and defensive back. Barber’s high school stats were pretty amazing. He rushed for 1,778 yards with 18 touchdowns as a running back, while pulling down 10 interceptions as a defensive back. He played center field in baseball, and in his one year in track, he ran a 10.9 in the 100m.  To say that he is a great all-around athlete would be an understatement.

If you know anyone that attended the University of Minnesota, just mentioning the name of Marion Barber would put a smile on their face. Both Marion Barber III as well as his father Marion Barber Jr., were star running backs for the Golden Gophers. Even Marion’s little brother, Dominique, played for the Gopher’s. Marion split backfield duties with current New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney. They are both starters now, and they both averaged 4.5 yards a carry in 2007.

Marion decided to forgo his senior year at Minnesota, and the Cowboys selected him in the 4th round in the 2005 draft.  Barber’s rookie year didn’t get off to a good start.  His pre-season fumbles and also a toe injury, kept him at the bottom of the team’s depth chart. Eventually, Marion’s special team abilities and pass-blocking helped him to climb his way up the depth chart. 

In 2006, Barber established himself as the team’s third down back and became a top notch red zone weapon, leading the NFC with 14 rushing touchdowns. Marion Barber was now a force to be reckoned with.

In the 2007 season, many Cowboy fans wanted Marion to start at tailback, but Coach Phillips named Julius Jones the starter instead. When he did play, Marion become a fan favorite by breaking tackles and he recorded the most broken tackles of any player in the 2007/2008 season. Finally, Barber played in his first game as a starter against the Giants. There was no looking back as he finished the season with 975 yards and 10 touchdowns despite splitting most of the season with Julius Jones. 

As all Cowboy fans know by now, Marion recently signed a seven year deal which should keep him a Dallas Cowboy for life, and that is just how his fans want it. I can’t wait for the Barbarian to break it loose this season and for many season’s to come.

Is Terry Glenn Near His End?

You may have heard, a few days ago the Cowboys offered wide receiver Terry Glenn a $500,000 injury waiver. In essence this means, if Glenn’s knee keeps him from playing the Cowboys will only be out $500K as opposed to his $1.74 million salary.

Reportedly, Glenn is unhappy with this offer and has yet to agree to the terms. What is he holding out for? Does he truly think another team is going to give him a better offer? What team would give him a contract with his age and injury?

Terry Glenn was a great player, but his better days are behind him now. It must be really hard to realize your career is near its end.

I hope Glenn gives in and agrees to the deal, and even more so, I hope he has a tremendous turnaround and surprises the hell out of everyone. If he doesn’t commit to the team’s offer soon he could see himself watching football from his living room, rather than the sidelines.

Terrell Owens Gets His Wish, Contract Extended Through 2011

According to The Ticket (1310 AM out of Dallas) Terrell Owens’ contract has been extended for three more years, until 2011. This upcoming season would have been Owens’ last year on his current contract. T.O. recently announced he would love to finish his career in Dallas and I’m pretty sure Jerry was listening.

The actual figures have not been released but he deserves every cent they agreed upon. On March 18, 2006 Terrell Owens signed a 3-year $25 million dollar contract when he first came to Dallas. After what he’s brought to team in the last two years, there is no doubt he got a substantial raise.

Earlier this month Terrell Owens spoke out about his contract. He said, "I’m going to let it play out and not try to be a distraction. I’m a firm believer that things will work out for the best."

His patience definitely paid out!

 

**UPDATE**

Cowboys agreed to terms with Terrell Owens on a four-year, $34 million contract. The deal contains $13 million guaranteed, including a $12.9 million signing bonus.