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Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Yes ESPN, we fans realize the Cowboys just won against the struggling (now 0-3) Panthers. Carolina played a lot better than anyone expected, mostly in the first half.

Several guys stepped up in this game, so I’d like to give credit where credit is due.

I’m talking specifically about Patrick Crayton and Tashard Choice on offense. Crayton made several very crucial plays, and kept his head in the game, playing smart football all night long.

Choice, who I believe should have started the game, came away with 82 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown plus a 2-point conversion. If not for a bone-headed move by the rookie 3rd tight end, John Phillips, Choice probably would have had another TD. In addition, after the game he had a very impressive interview on the field with the ESPN analysts.

Defensively, Keith Brooking, Jay Ratliff and Terence Newman really excelled tonight. In the beginning Newman didn’t look so hot, missing tackles and looking foolish and aged. However, his interception for a 27-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter reminded us why we love him.

I must admit I am falling head over heels for Mr. Ratliff. Who would expect our nose tackle to get the first sack of the year? Why not when its the beast who is known as JRAT.

As for Brooking, what a wonderful acquisition for the Cowboys. Brooking, a strong, solid veteran linebacker, led the team in tackles tonight with five. It seemed like every time the defense came in, I found myself cheering his name.

Special teams also deserves some props. It’s been way too long since we could say that. Well done Coach Joe DeCamillis, well done sir.

I just wanted to rant about ESPN for a minute, and say that despite the opponent – I am proud of this team and what they did tonight. I believe it was a well-deserved win and they worked hard to earn that “W”.

Then again, I am just an optimistic, biased Cowboys fan. ;)

Barber Decision: All or Nothing

Despite the recent build-up that Marion Barber may sit out this week after injuring his quad, the team still has not made a decision if he will play or not. However, Wade Phillips announced if Barber is active he will take his full workload. The decision will come 90 minutes before kickoff tomorrow. He is listed officially as questionable.

“His game is power,” Phillips said. “If he’s not as powerful, that could be a factor. It’s so subjective.”

The Cowboys starting running back pulled up lame while speeding toward the goal line in last week’s loss to the Giants. Barber returned to practice Wednesday and told reporters,

“If I’m good today, I’m going to be good tomorrow and then I’m going to be good up until Monday.”

The Cowboys would not want Barber to injure himself further, therefore they are prepared to give the load to Tashard Choice and Felix Jones if they decide to rest MB3.

Adams Fined, Barber Fine

For the second week in a row a Cowboy has been fined by the league for a penalty. Turns out that Cowboy is Flozell Adams. Surely you remember the tripping penalty, well Adams was fined $12,500 for sticking his foot out and tripping Justin Tuck in the second quarter, and also Osi Umenyiora in the fourth quarter. Tuck criticized Adams for the move that placed him on the sidelines.

Last week Adams was fined $5,000 for a hands to the face penalty. He plans to appeal the fine.

Hey, we wanted him to stop the false start penalties but not if it means he is going to get even bigger infractions.

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Marion BarberMarion Barber practiced on Wednesday after an apparent injury to his quad during last Sunday’s game. Several media outlets believed Barber could miss the game Monday night but according to Barber,

“I’m good . . . I’m good today. If I’m good today, I’ll be good tomorrow and I’ll be good for Monday.”

“Just like a bad cramp. I’ve felt it before. It’s happened to me before. It’s sore. It felt real similar. But I’m treating it like I should. I’m feeling good.”

The Cowboys have an extra day since they are playing Monday and are not required to put out an injury update today. Luckily the Cowboys are deep at the running back position and Barber can share the load with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

The Cowboys posted this on their website,

RB Marion Barber – quad (9/20) – After his 35-yard run in the fourth quarter, Barber came up holding his left quad. He never returned to action Sunday night, and MRI results on Monday revealed a strained quad. Barber was dressed out Wednesday and took part in light individual drills during the brief media portion of practice. But because they don’t play until Monday, the Cowboys aren’t required to release an official injury report until Thursday, and head coach Wade Phillips was tight-lipped about Barber’s status. The starting back said he plans to play against Carolina, however. If not, or if he’s limited, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will fill in.

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Weekly Game Balls: Week 2

With the nickname of Earth, Wind, and Fire comes 2 players on this week’s game balls.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Marion Barber.

With the nickname of Earth, Wind, and Fire comes 2 players on this weeks game balls. The weeks offensive game ball goes out to Marion Barber. He is the “Earth” in the three headed monster of running backs by committee. MB3 ran for 124 yards on 18 carries with 1 touchdown. He definitely earned his name as Barbarian. Marion showed quickness and toughness in him we haven’t seen in a while. He would of had another score if it wasn’t for his quad tightening up. He looked just as good as any running back that played on Sunday. Barber also had 31 yards on 2 catches when Tony was not at his best
This weeks defensive/special teams game ball goes to Felix Jones.The wind of the group. Even though Felix had a fumble that the Giants capitalized on. He had 134 yards on 6 run backs. His longest run was of 38 yards. Felix showed the speed the cowboys need out of the backfield, and also had 96 yards on 7 carries. If it wasn’t for 4 yards, the Cowboys could have 2 running backs with 100 yards each.Despite the fumble Felix helped the Cowboys almost pull off the win. He scored the go ahead touchdown to put the Cowboys up 31 to30.

He is the “Earth” in the three-headed monster of running backs by committee. MB3 ran for 124 yards on 18 carries with 1 touchdown. He definitely earned his nickname as Barbarian.

Marion showed quickness and toughness in him we haven’t seen in a while. He would of had another score if it wasn’t for his quad tightening up.

He looked just as good as any running back that played on Sunday. Barber also had 31 yards on 2 catches.

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This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Felix Jones.

Felix is the “Wind” of the group. Even though Felix had a fumble that the Giants capitalized on, he also had 134 yards on 6 kick returns for a 22 yard average. His longest return being 38 yards.

Felix showed the speed the Cowboys need out of the backfield.

In addition, on offense Jones had and impressive 96 yards on just 7 carries. Wow!

The Cowboys nearly had 2 running backs with 100 yards each. Despite the fumble, Felix helped the Cowboys almost pull off the win. He scored the go ahead touchdown to put the Cowboys up 31 to 30.

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Congratulations to Marion and Felix for their outstanding play.

Runners-up: Jay Ratliff, Jason Witten

Defense Adjusts In Second Half

On Sunday the Cowboys played the Buccaneers and in the first half, the Cowboys defense looked a little lost to me. They were giving up gains of 7-yards,14-yards to Tampa’s running back “Cadillac” Williams. I was not sure what the defense was doing.

C. Williams gained almost 80 yards in the first half and frankly, I was a little bit worried. I do not know what the problem was, but Tampa Bay was ripping off big gains in the running game and almost the same in the passing game.

The secondary had quite a few blown coverages. Even though Mike Jenkins was solid, he did give up some big gains. On most of them it seemed as though he thought he had help. He was not playing the right technique which allowed the receiver to get inside for easy catches.

In the second half the defense clamped down on the running game, however the secondary still gave up some big catches.

The coaches really have to look at this game and see what was going on. The Giants are next and we really need to be able to shut down the run and pass.

All in all the defense did enough to help us win, however we need some big improvements.

Weekly Game Balls: Week 1

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Tony Romo.

With the weight of world on his shoulders, Tony Romo lead his team to a seasoner opener victory Sunday afternoon as the Cowboys dominated the Buccaneers 34-21. Completing 16 of 27 passes, Romo threw a career high 353 yards and ended the day with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Using his various weapons, Tony Romo looked absolutely stunning hitting Patrick Crayton on an 80 yard completion for a TD, another career high. His other two touchdowns were also long, airing out to Miles Austin for 42 yards and Roy Williams for 66 yards.

“You’re not judged off of yards or anything like that,” Tony Romo said. “You’re judged off of winning and losing at this position. I think our team understands that it’s about winning and losing. And that’s what we’re out here to try and do.”

After last year’s dismal season, it was apparent that Tony Romo needed to step up and step up big. The Cowboys still have a long season ahead, but Romo’s performance this week surely removed any doubt that he was ready to lead this team all the way.

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This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to David Buehler.

In his NFL debut, rookie specialist David Buehler shined and helped Special Teams look fantastic something we haven’t seen since… hmm can’t remember the last time actually.

Buehler, a kickoff specialist, had three touchbacks out of seven kickoffs Sunday. Now, its extremely important to note that the Cowboys had zero touchbacks in 2008, and only four total in 2007. The last time the Cowboys had multiple touchbacks in one game was more than a decade ago, in 1998.

Field position can mean everything in a game. Buehler held the Tampa Bay Bucs to an average drive start of 23 yards.

“Everybody got their minds right and came out ready to play. It was good to have a couple of touchbacks in the first game of my NFL career. I felt like I had a pretty good game and did my job,” David Buehler said.

Owner Jerry Jones also bragged about Buehler after the game.

“The guy I feel as good about as anybody on this team is Buehler,” Jones said. “You can see what Buehler can mean with the field position he gave us on kickoffs. It’s great for him because that was our focus. For the first kick he ever makes and drives in the back of the end zone for a touchback, that’s big.”

Now does everyone understand why the Cowboys have three kickers on their roster?

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Congratulations to Tony and David for their outstanding play.

Runners-up: Patrick Crayton who racked up 135 yards and a TD on 4 passes, Crayton was also wide open on several plays and could have easily had more yards and/or touchdowns. Nick Folk was perfect accounting for 10 points, including a 51-yard field goal to jump start the Cowboys win in the first half.

On Pins and Needles

The NFL is a magical thing. The hype of each season is more intense every year. For our boys it’s all or nothing. I’m not saying we need to go to the Super Bowl and win. I’m saying it’s time for us to do what we do best and stomp a mudhole into the chest of the NFC East.

I don’t have to tell you all the preseason predictions, who thinks who is better. At this point I don’t think anyone on the Dallas team could give a crap.

Ever since last season ended; whether it’s ESPN, NFL Network or anyone else, the team has been under a microscope. Tony and Jessica; Roy taking TO’s place; Ware and the contract; even the dog-gone scoreboard has been analyzed and even mocked. Amazingly nothing (or at least in high volume) has been said about the team.

The preseason showed us we have an unstoppable offense and defense. The team has gelled well and for the most part our backups…ok their an C- but its ok.

Being off the radar has done wonders for the team with Vick and Favre coming back we’re not the number one news anymore. This team may be ready to take over being the sleeper in the NFC.

The only thing stopping the Cowboys is the Cowboys themselves. Nothing can stop this team once it’s motor is running on full speed. I would love to see what happens, if and when Romo gets over that hump; Roy silents the critics about his ability; I can go on and on. The one thing I can say, its football season and the Cowboys are playing. Are you ready?

Let’s Go Cowboys!

And one more thing, Ogletree has a fan club. That’s awesome.

Falling Miles Behind?

Miles AustinConflicting reports across the Cowboys media outlets have me concerned about Miles Austin. The wide receiver who was expected to step up this season hasn’t really given anyone reason to believe he can do his share for this team.

During the offseason Austin visited the New York Jets and fans were concerned about him possibly leaving the team. Turns out in hindsight that might not have been such a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Miles Austin ‘hater’, I really like the guy and we’ve seen his potential and his smile lights up the stadium when he’s hauling in touchdowns. However, can he stay healthy?

Well, now they say Austin should be back to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined and missing numerous practices due to a sore hamstring. He was out last season, and this isn’t what you would call a nice start to a fresh new season.

The same thing can be said of Sam Hurd. Even our new number one Roy Williams has already been injured. These guys are way too young to be hurt so much, so early.

I should mention that Hurd and Williams did practice fully on Monday. I’m pretty sure Roy will be A-OK. Oh, and as for our youngest and newest receiver – Kevin Ogletree’s eye contusion seems to be all better as well.

Thank God we have a killer running back squad and arguably the best tight ends in the league, or I might be a little bit worried about our offense. Crazy thing is, there are people that have been arguing this point since the release of ‘you know who’ and I’ve ignored it and stood up for the WRs.

But you know what, maybe finally letting go of Isaiah Stanback is a sign that the ‘Boys have no more patience for lingering injuries…

Honestly, I hope they all recover and have a great year. That may be too optimistic but hey that’s what fans do!

P.S. Stay safe and healthy Patrick Crayton!

It’s All Good – Stanback Out, Ogletree In

STanback

I have been saying all pre-season long, that Isaiah Stanback should not be on this team. With all of his injuries throughout his career with the Cowboys, I couldn’t understand why he was still here. Well, on Saturday the Cowboys finally realized what we were all thinking, and finally cut Stanback to trim the roster to 52 players. You have to remember the NFL is a business and cuts are a part of it, if you don’t play well or play at all, you should be cut.

And by the way, Stanback, who was a converted quarterback trying to transition into a wide receiver, was picked up by the New England Patriots as a backup quarterback on Saturday.

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Replacing his spot on the roster is the up and coming Kevin Ogletree, who had himself an outstanding pre-season and impressed many coaches, players and fans alike in the process. Ogletree even scored a touchdown in the final pre-season game to put the icing on the cake and secure a spot on the roster. With oft injured reeivers Sam Hurd and Miles Austin already on the team, having Ogletree on board will give the Cowboys some solid depth at the position.

All’s well that ends well…

This post was edited by Joe D.

Cutting The Fat

With just mere hours until teams need to cut rosters to 53 for the season, Dallas and Wade Phillips will have some tough choices to make. I dont envy Phillips or any head coach this time of year for what they must do in cutting the fat and forming a team that will start the season. But like it or not, it is part of the job and part of the business.

Rookie Linebacker Stephen Hodge is one of those players fighting for a roster spot. However for Hodge his chances are slim and the options that the coaching staff have for him will result in another tough decision no matter what they choose. During the offseason Hodge had his knee scoped and has not been able to practice much because of it. That makes it tough for someone to make a team if he cant be evaluated properly. His persistent swelling in his knee is really complicating matters. Dallas can protect his rights by placing him on injured reserve and shutting him down for the season in hopes that he can be ready for next season. They can take a chance and release him hoping no other team picks him up, and then resign him to the practice squad. But because there are a few other injured players Dallas is waiting on, the chances of Hodge making the roster is slim. This is the tough side of the business.

Now on the other hand Dallas claimed Linebacker Curtis Johnson off waivers after the Colts cut him because of an injured hamstring and there is a good chance he will make the 53 man roster without ever getting on the field for the Cowboys because of the injury. He will not play in Fridays last preseason game. They really like the former Colt who played as a 4-3 defensive end but will be converted to an outside linebacker in the 3-4. “We knew about him coming out of college” Phillips said of Johnson who played 7 games with the colts last season. There is no way Dallas would pickup an injured player a few days before cuts if they didnt know what they where getting. They are high on his special teams abilities and after putting LB Brandon Williams on injured reserve, and LB Jason Williams nursing a high ankle sprain that will keep him out 4-6 weeks, Johnson should be back soon and should make the roster.

Wide Receiver Travis Wilson who has been on injured reserve was released and given an injury settlement… Backup offensive lineman Cory Proctor’s roster spot may be in jeopardy after Dallas signed 5 year veteran Duke Preston who plays the same positions. And it was Preston during practice snapping to Quarterback John Kitna not Proctor who didnt even get any work in during the drill… Fourth round pick Quarterback Stephen McGee is also sitting on that bubble. He is nursing a strained MCL and has been considered OK at best when he is able to participate and healthy. One thing going for him is the fourth round choice the Cowboys used on him, that may get him a spot for a little while anyway.

Lets see what happens in the next few days when the fat is cut, because a lot of the guys we have been watching in preseason wont be there for long, and you know there will be some surprises.

Six Receivers?

Ogletree Touchdown

Well it looks as if there is a slim possibility that the Cowboys could keep six, yes six, wide receivers on the roster. Right now with injuries to the Roy Williams, Sam Hurd, and Isaiah Stanback, it looks as though Kevin Ogletree will make the roster.

With Patrick Crayton as the number two receiver that would make six on the roster.

However, it will be tough to keep six, so that means Stanback may be cut soon. Stanback has been injured for most of the time that he has been with the Cowboys, so it would make sense to go ahead and cut bait.

I said this in my first blog this year and I stand by it, he should have been released two years ago. Why the Cowboys have tried to hang on I do not know.

Anyway, if Ogletree makes the team, that would be great since he has shown a lot of great things in the pre-season.

We shall see what happens, but it looks like Ogletree has beat out all others trying to get a spot.

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