Cowboys Add DBs to Roster; More Rookies Out

As reported at DallasCowboys.com the Cowboys added two defensive backs today. DeAngelo Willingham was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Bucs and Jeremy Haynes was also picked up.

Willingham was cut by Tampa Bay following its last preseason game. He played cornerback and safety in college at Tennessee.

Haynes played at wide receiver his first two years at McNeese State before moving to cornerback. He was cut by the Titans during training camp.

It’s clear both positions were in need of depth.

 Cornerback Depth Chart

Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Alan Ball, Mike Mickens

Safety Depth Chart

FS – Ken Hamlin, Courtney Brown, DeAngelo Smith

SS – Gerald Sensabaugh, Pat Watkins, Michael Hamlin

 

Class of 2009

 No. 69 (third round) – OLB Jason Williams – Western Illinois – Out 4-6 weeks
 No. 75 (third round) – OT Robert Brewster – Ball State – Out for the Season
 No. 101 (fourth round) – QB Stephen McGee – Texas A&M – Out 3-6+ weeks
 No. 110 (fourth round) – OLB Victor Butler – Oregon St.
 No. 120 (fourth round) – DE Brandon Williams – Texas Tech – Out For the Season
 No. 143 (fifth round) – CB DeAngelo Smith – Cincinnati
 No. 166 (fifth round) – S Michael Hamlin – Clemson – Out 6+ weeks
 No. 172 (fifth round) – K David Buehler – USC
 No. 197 (sixth round) – S Stephen Hodge – TCU – KNEE (due back this week)
 No. 208 (sixth round) – TE John Phillips – Virginia
 No. 227 (seventh round) – CB Mike Mickens – Cincinnati
 No. 229 (seventh round) – WR Manuel Johnson – Oklahoma

Ouch!

Three Down, One To Go

With preseason coming to an end this weekend, I found myself asking what have we learned from these exhibition games? After all isn’t that what preseason is all about? Of course, Cowboys fans what a win every game no matter what, but when it comes to preseason its more about seeing how the backups handle their roles, and learning who should stay and who should go.

Most would agree, the starters have looked amazing. Training camp served its purpose and served it well this year. Tony Romo looks rock solid. The power of Marion Barber and Felix Jones looks unstoppable. The defense looks tough (with a few minor adjustments).

Kevin OgletreePROS

Kevin Ogletree– who knew this undrafted rookie would prove to have so much talent. I agree with the fact it is only preseason but I certainly see Ogletree making the team before Stanback.

David Buehler – many questioned drafting a kicker, more questioned him making the team, but this special teams ‘specialist’ not only has an accurate kickoff but can tackle as well.

Keith Brooking – his experience and leadership reminds me of Zach Thomas last season. Its always nice to have a veteran role model on the squad.

CONS

Corey Procter – his performance has been underwhelming and rumors persist that he will be cut.

Courtney Brown – after getting an earful from Coach Phillips in front of the cameras, Brown’s most recent pass interference penalty was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Isaiah Stanback – he has been given a few too many chances to prove he can be a reliable receiver. Keeping him on the roster any longer is just absurd, when he’s actually healthy enough to play he hasn’t shown he has what it takes to make the team.

Bobby Carpenter – another first round draft pick letdown. He most likely won’t be cut because of injuries to rookies and the lack of depth at LB. However, that doesn’t mean I have to like him.

Penalties– they have got to get better disciplined. After 3 match-ups the Cowboys have racked up 32 penalties for 300 yards.

Special Teams– too many of the penalties just listed came from special teams. Field position means too much to continuously give up yardage for holding and other pathetic penalties.

UNDECIDED

Jon Kitna– hopefully it won’t matter how Kitna played in preseason because we won’t see him take the field. Some are saying he’s not the guy, but he is only a backup after all. His age is definitely catching up with him, but in time of need he may still be able to get the job done.

Wade Phillips

I’m sure there are a few I missed. Who would you add to pros or cons? Is there anyone you are still undecided about? The Cowboys have to cut three players for tomorrow’s deadline, who will it be?

Cowboys Fall To Niners 20-13; Mike Hamlin Breaks Wrist

0830tromoThanks to a second half surge by San Francisco and some bad decisions and penalties by the Cowboys, the Niners walked away from Cowboys Stadium with a convincing 20-13 win last night.

The Cowboys had this game in their hands, but the defense couldn’t hold back the hard charging second stringers who pushed through the Dallas defensive line as if they weren’t there. The Cowboys were up 10-3 at halftime, but were outscored 17-3 in the second half.

Tony Romo and the rest of the first team offense had no trouble moving the ball, but seemed to stall inside the red zone. They did manage to score one touchdown, thanks to some nifty 3-yard run by running back Felix Jones that highlighted a 94 yard drive that featured strong runs by Marion Barber and some clutch passes to receivers Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin, and tight end Jason Witten.  By the way, I thought it was interesting that they went with Felix on that three-yarder instead of their closer Marion Barber. That could mean more touchdowns for Felix and less for Barber down the road.

There were some missed opportunities by the first team…

Tony Romo threw an interception at the 4-yard line that ended one scoring opportunity, and a penalty erased a Nick Folk 49 yard field goal that ended another scoring opportunity. Still, there were others. Incidentally, Folk did make two other field goals of 24 and 25 yards.

One key play for the Cowboys was a 4th and 1 in which Wade Phillips opted to go for the field goal. As the home team, I thought they should have went for it and continue the drive to the end zone. It was a conservative play and I expected more from a Cowboys team who boasts so many offensive weapons.

Miles Austin did a fine job filling in for the injured Roy Williams, and Kevin Ogletree had another impressive game and could be locking down a spot on the final roster as the Cowboys’ fifth receiver. He caught two passes for 36 yards in the first half.

The first string defense was superb and showed some toughness when they stuffed the Niners after a 57-yard interception return from Romo. They held the Niners to just 3 points in the first half, and it was the second string that allowed San Francisco to come back and win the game. Bradie James and Jay Ratliff, who recorded a sack, looked impressive and ready for prime time.

50195_49ers_cowboys_football

This weeks quote of the game comes from the ultra conservative Wade Phillips who went ballistic after witnessing one of his players maul a 49ers receiver.

“The first part of the game, I thought we did some good things. Our second group didn’t play as well. We had penalties and turnovers that really hurt us at the end of the game. The kind of things that get you beat.”

On a sad note, safety Mike Hamlin, a fifth-round pick, suffered a broken right wrist covering a kickoff in the third quarter and he is expected to be out about six to eight weeks. Also, safety Alan Ball sprained his neck and rookie Jason Williams suffered an ankle sprain. 

During the game, the Cowboys paid homage to former Cowboy safety Roy Williams. Number 31 for the Cowboys got flagged for a horse collar penalty… it was DeAngelo Smith.

Anyway, lets get one thing straight… The bottom line is that their reserves beat our reserves. Unfortunately, that has been the case for most of the pre season thus far. Guys like Bobby Carpenter, Cory Proctor, Isaiah Stanback, Courtney Brown, and others have had their chances to impress, but have not. In the end, the only thing this loss shows is how poor our depth is behind our talented first teamers who have been solid, especially on defense.

My advice to the Cowboys is simply this… Stay Healthy!

Tomorrow is yet another cut day as the Cowboys do some more roster trimming. I’m willing to bet that at least two of the players that will be cut, have been named in this recap. Can you guess who?

Roy Williams Listed As Day-To-Day

Several sources are reporting that Roy Williams is listed as day-to-day and should return soon. The reports say Williams has a contusion (bruise) on his left shoulder.

Dallas News has this quote from Jerry Jones during his radio appearance this morning:

“I’m not implying that we have a long-winded thing here,” said Jerry, who stated that the Cowboys will not consider signing a veteran receiver. “Based on our review here, we’re talking about a very short timespan. I don’t know that he’ll go Saturday … but he’ll be out there real quick.”

Star-Telegram reports,

The Cowboys confirmed Roy Williams’ negative x-ray in an email this morning. There was no fracture to his shoulder. They will continue to evaluate him on a day to day basis with a shoulder contusion, which is a fancy word for a bruise.

However it is still unlikely that Williams will play against the 49ers on Saturday for precautionary reasons. If he does sit then look for him miss the preseason final against the Vikings on Thursday and return for the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hopefully we lucked out and Roy will return for the season opener and be fine. Isn’t this just our luck?

Commish Addresses Rules Regarding Video Board

The new rules regarding the video board have been issued and posted on dallascowboys.com.

They are as follows:

  • If a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot.
  • If there is not an on-field ruling that the ball struck an object, the Replay Assistant is empowered to initiate a booth review, including if the event occurs prior to the two-minute warning. If, prior to the two-minute warning, no booth review is initiated by the Replay Assistant, a coach’s challenge is permitted under the customary procedures for such a challenge.
  • In the event the down is replayed:(a) The game clock will be reset to the time remaining when the snap occurred.
    (b) All penalties will be disregarded, except for personal fouls, which will be administered prior to replaying the down.
  • Rule 3, Section 1 of the Official NFL Playing Rules provides for an official ruling to be implemented “in the interim between the annual rules meeting” that is “official only during the current season.” This Official Ruling expires at the conclusion of the 2009 postseason.

Commissioner Roger Goodell added,

“We will continue to address the particular circumstances in Dallas, giving full consideration to the competitive, safety and fan experience issues involved. The Cowboys have been fully cooperative as we have addressed this subject, and we will continue to work closely with the club on a longer term resolution.”

So basically, the board will not be raised and punts that hit the board will be replayed. However, if it becomes a continuous problem they will address the matter further.

UPDATE – Conflicting Reports on Roy Williams Shoulder Injury

It is being reported by ProFootballTalk.com that Roy Williams broke his collarbone during practice tonight. The injury occurred when Williams and Orlando Scandrick collided with each other without shoulder pads.

Usually a broken collarbone requires six to eight weeks to heal.

This is only speculation as other reports are saying that x-rays were negative on Roy Williams’ shoulder.

Will keep watching for updates. Let’s hope it’s not true.

UPDATE – ProFootballTalk.com is now saying that the x-rays were unexpectedly negative. Not sure what that means exactly. But for now they are calling it a sprained shoulder. Williams has been sent home for the night to ice down the shoulder. Tomorrow he will go for an MRI.

More fun from Tashard Choice featuring Marcus Spears

Here is the latest video from Tashard Choice. Can not decide if it’s the video that is funny or it’s the laughing from the other players that makes me laugh more.

Romo Continues To Learn and Get Better

Tony Romo is about to start his third full season as the Cowboys quarterback. Romo has been praised since day one back in 2006 when he took over for Drew Bledsoe. He was put on top of the world as the QB of America’s team. But those same media people who praised him and ran him up the QB ladder are the same people who knock him every chance they get. Romo’s not a leader, he can’t handle the pressure in December and January, he doesn’t focus on football. I’m not sure how Romo feels about what has been said about him in the last few seasons, but if it was me it would have to effect me to a certain point.

Tony Romo has lead this team as a true professional in my opinion. Sure it’s easy to blame the QB when things go wrong, but Romo does not deserve all the blame. I believe 2009 will be a turning point for Romo. He continues to learn the game and wants to get better. This team belongs to him now especially that a certain receiver is no longer with the team. He does not have to focus on one guy anymore. Now he can focus on what needs to be done during a game and find the open receiver. Reading the quotes below makes me think that Romo is moving in the right direction as a football player and as a team leader.

“Obviously the way I was before wasn’t getting the job done to the extent to the goal you want to accomplish,” Romo said. “So you just keep going and keep going and hopefully you are able to accomplish that one day. I can see improvement.”

“Either you are trying to get better or you are content as a player,” Romo said. “I am not content. I don’t think this team is. We are striving to be a team that we hope can make everybody excited or have an exciting time watching us play this season. We are enjoying it.”

“I feel like each year I play this game I get better just because you work at it, you think about it, you try and correct it,” said Romo, who is coming off his first non-Pro Bowl season since becoming the full-time starter in 2006. “I had a friend tell me once, `You just keep getting better and everything will take care of itself.”’

“That is part of the position,” Romo said. “Until we do something that people want to be really proud of, they are going to say that. They deserve that right. That is part of being a fan.

“I’m that way when I watch other sports. ‘Oh, what is he doing? Why did he do that? Why did he make that decision?’ I’m not naive to that. I understand. It’s not going to stop me from working and trying to get better the next time.”

Ware wants to be more destructive

Wow! That’s a scary thought, especially for any offense going against Ware. Watching Ware play reminds me of how I felt when I watched Charles Haley during the 1992 and 1993 seasons. It was a feeling that he was going to do something special on every play. Ware who should have been the defensive player of the year last season with 20 sacks will be even better this season as Wade Phillips moves him around the defense. And now Ware is saying he wants to be more destructive? I for one can not wait to see what happens.

Reported by DallasNews.com Ware wants to create turnovers every time he gets a blindside shot at a QB and wants to rip the ball out when he is involved in gang tackles.

“What can I do to get better for next season?” Ware said. “The main thing for me is takeaways.”

“You can get a sack, but I’m talking about getting a sack and knocking the ball out,” Ware said. “Sack-strip, even when you’re about to make a play from the backside and they don’t know that you’re coming, so instead of just tackling him, knocking the ball out. That’s what I’ve been working on.”

Folk isn’t too concerned about preseason performance

As reported on DallasCowboys.com Nick Folk is trying to work through the hip surgery he had during the off-season. Folk has already equaled the number of FG misses this preseason that he had all of 2008 which was two. He is not overly concerned and believes he will get back to where he once was.

“It’s coming along day by day,” Folk said. “It’s really more a of a mental thing right now. I know it’s there and I’m trying to block it out. I don’t blame (the missed kicks) on the injury. I didn’t kick them as well as I should. But I think I’ll get it going here pretty soon. I’m really not that worried.”

“I’m a perfectionist and so I know that I need to make those kicks,” Folk said. “It doesn’t matter if you kicked one off the dirt (in Oakland) and another one hit the upright from 49. That doesn’t matter. My job is to make kicks.”

Injury News

Martellus Bennett was held out of practice today due to a stomach virus.

Sam Hurd sat out a second day of practice due to a bruised quad, but he should be able to play Saturday night.

Marcus Spears missed practice on Tuesday and returned Wednesday, but was limited due to a thigh contusion. It is unknown whether he will play Saturday night.

Follow Up On Jason Williams; And Romo’s Hot Seat?

-Last week I did a piece “Know Your Cowboy” on Jason Williams, the rookie Linebacker from Western Illinois. It was something just to help the casual fan learn a bit on one of our up and coming players. Like most rookies the transition from college to pro takes time so Jason struggled in training camp and in the first preseason game against the Raiders.

Coach Wade Phillips attributes the slow start to “because he was thinking instead of playing”. However in his second preseason game against the Titans he started playing more instinctively, which forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone and resulted in a safety.

The Cowboys are not trying to overload the young player by putting too much on his plate. They like his physical style and his ability to run, so for the time being they want him to concentrate on special teams and become a “Good special teams player”, and take the time to learn the defensive side of the game a bit slower. Once they see his confidence building then they will incorporate him a bit more into the regular defense.

-Tony Romo on the hot seat? According to Dan Fouts of CBS Sports Tony is one of a few Quarterbacks this year on the hot seat.

“The pressure is really going to fall on Romo now, but that’s the way it should be. When you’re the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, with that tradition and history, it adds pressure. Deal with it.”

As Cowboy fans know, Tony Will be able to handle this pressure Fouts speaks of. He will just have to play and make everyone else shut their mouths. Seems like Romo and Roy Williams have got a lot of people to put in their places this season, and I cant wait to see them do it!

Cowboys Extra Points: Starters, Backups and Poison Ivy?

extrapts2Duke Preston is on his way to Dallas, and pending a physical could be the team’s new backup center behind Andre Gurode as reported by Nick Eatman on the Cowboys’ official site.

Preston was released by Green Bay on Tuesday after being with the team since March. The veteran could provide depth to the O-line as he can play center, tackle and guard. Preston spent the last four years with Buffalo.

Possibly one of the biggest battles this preseason has been (as expected) between Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick at cornerback. Wade Phillips said both are doing so well and it’s a tough decision, one that he probably won’t make until the season opener. Scandrick is expected to start this Saturday and Jenkins in the final preseason game.

Now here’s a doozy… Bobby Carpenter did not participate in practice today. According to Tim MacMahon at DMN Carpenter got poison ivy in his eye and it was swelled shut.

Roy Williams continues to receive criticism from the media, including former Cowboy greats, but he isn’t letting it get to him.

“It doesn’t fuel me. Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Darren Woodson — I love it, I appreciate it.

“I appreciate it because if you sit around and have to hear how good you are all the dang time, you have to have that Jerry Rice mind-set of, ‘I’m not good enough.

“When I have guys, especially NFL greats and the greatest that played here in Dallas, saying that I can’t get the job done, and I’m not a No. 1, it makes me feel good.

“It makes me want to go out there and prove to them and everybody else across the world who listens to those guys because, obviously, everybody thinks they know it all, that I can do my job.”

Only In Dallas Does A Video Board Get So Much Attention

Almost every Cowboys fan knew when it happened that it would become the hot topic of the week. As soon as the ball thumped the very bottom of the video board I told my friend, “oh no, here we go! The media is going to go crazy over this.” That’s fine. It’s better than previous topics, I suppose.

The team is now working with the league trying to establish the height of the video board and I’m sure they will get it all worked out before the season officially begins.

Here’s an interesting take on the topic though, the Cowboys’ very own Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar had this to say:

“Our game plan is to kick to the sidelines. So for myself it’s not in my mind. I know it’s there, obviously. But it’s not something that catches my eye as much as guys who are kicking straight down the field.”

McBriar said there is no reason to make any changes or raise the video boards because one punt in one game hit them.

McBriar, a 2006 Pro Bowler, said he could boot punts into the video boards “probably 50 percent of the time” if that was what he was trying to do.

I don’t know guys, I think if anyone would know it would be Mat.

Some reporters and analysts are blaming Jerry Jones’ pride on not raising the boards (that includes my boss who called me Monday morning about the issue). I didn’t think that was the case until I read on the team’s official site that they plan to disconnect and raise the board temporarily for the U2 concert in September.

While Jerry Jones’ and Stephen Jones’ are declining to comment on the situation, I’m sure if the league orders them to raise the video boards they will do it without question. But why should they do it voluntarily? What if that rookie was aiming to hit the board intentionally?

Does it even matter, since the league’s regulation is 85 feet and the board actually hangs 90 feet above the field?

Of course opposing teams are going to complain and disagree. So you make it a rule to redo the kick in the rare occasions that the punt hits the board. It may put a damper on the situation if there’s a nice punt return but a rule is a rule.

I just have one more thing to say….

Tshirt

Cowboy Tidbits

Fullback Deon Anderson could find himself jobless. Currently he is on the injured list after having arthroscopic knee surgery but is expected to be back in uniform by opening day. However his backup Julius Crosslin has been doing a good job filling in for Anderson. The Cowboys are not expected to keep more than one fullback on the roster because they plan on using more two tight end formations. If Crosslin continues to impress, Anderson could be the one looking for a new team, after it was expected Crosslin was the one to be cut.

Sporting News Today is reporting that Crosslin has been solid at the point of attack, playing with good pad level and leverage that opens running lanes. The coaches are also impressed by his hands and say he is doing a good job catching the ball. This was evident on a converted third and 1 play in Friday’s preseason game against Tennessee. Still a bit early to tell how this position battle will end but Crosslin has made the most of his opportunity with Anderson on the sidelines.

We all know and love Jason Witten, one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets. Sporting News is giving fans the opportunity to ask him a question with a chance to have it and Jason’s answer published in an upcoming issue of the magazine. For those interested send your question along with your hometown to yourturn@sportingnews.com.