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FORWARD PROGRESS: Street Fights and Sensabaugh

Forward Progress

One more week…..one more week until we get a small taste of Cowboys football. A week from tonight I will be retreating to a quiet, fortified place, setting the phone to silent and cranking the volume up to 11 and watching the Cowboys and the Raiders. I am not expecting to see too much or many plays from any of the regulars, but I don’t care. It’s still the blue stars on the silver helmet and I want a win! More on that next week……

I was listening to some training camp coverage on the radio this morning as I was driving into work and they were discussing the small training camp fight that broke out between Marc Columbo and Jay Ratliff. It’s not a big deal at all, these things happen all the time, but what had my interest is the question that was posed: Who would be the one Cowboy you would want with you if you got jumped by 5 guys in a dark alley? I mean, many of them could do plenty of damage, but here is my top 5:

1. Marc Columbo – Just big and mean and has the fighter’s mentality.
2. Leonard Davis – Just BIG and BIG.
3. Jay Ratliff – He has the quickness and the toughness.
4. Marion Barber – He will fight to the death.
5. Gerald Sensabaugh – He will probably be packing an AK-47, so that helps!

Okay, sorry Gerald. That was a low-blow. Speaking of Mr. Sensabaugh, I wanted to do a little research on the new projected starter at safety and I was surprised to find many good to above average stats, combine performances and on-field accomplishments, even dating back to his college days at East Tennessee St and North Carolina. He transferred to UNC his senior year only because East Tennessee disbanded it’s football program.

In his only season playing Division 1-A football, he had 4 interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns and also tied an NCAA single-game record by blocking 3 punts in a game. After his senior year, he was invited to the NFL combine where he recorded a 46 inch vertical jump, the highest for any NFL player on record. He was a 5th round pick and then started every game his rookie year and over the last 2 seasons he started around 70 percent of the Jaguars’ games, recording 4 interceptions just last year and also played a large role on special teams.

However, he was allowed to walk and become a free agent and was also signed to a one year deal for very little money. With his performance and youth, It really makes me wonder what the behind the scenes chatter on this guy is and why he wasn’t more sought after. He is not a celebrity bad boy NFL player like Vick or Plaxico, but he has had his share of run-in’s with the law. I read in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram that he has been participating in the one-on-one secondary drills normally reserved for the corners and nickelbacks and has been holding his own against the receivers. It was also noted that former safety Roy Williams would never participate in these drills. I know that Roy played strong safety his last few years, but still. I really think Sensabaugh can improve this defense and I hope that he can keep his head straight and earn a nice, long term deal that a dominant season will earn him.

We are starting to see big contract extensions around the league for established players, as this is the time when teams can sit down and negotiate and arrange all of the salary cap issues and the pro-rating of money as it is a new contract year. Eli Manning just became the highest paid quarterback in the NFL yesterday. I don’t understand that move, but that is another story all together. The main thing I am concerned about is DeMarcus Ware sitting back and watching these extensions to Manning and James Harrison and wondering when his is coming. Ware is too much of a stand up person to go to the media and whine, but isn’t that just one more reason to give him his deal? I can’t make this clear enough: Jerry, show D-WARE the money!

Anyways, things are still sort of slow as we creep towards the season, and that is a good thing really. Big news out of training camp is usually only bad news, so we should just sit back and relax and look forward to our first pre-season game, a week from tonight. Oh, and just a reminder, don’t call me during the game, I won’t answer.

Cowboys Fan For Life – TD

Forward Progress: An Opinion is Worth A Thousand Words

Hello to all. It’s me TD, and I would just like to take a brief moment to say hello again and welcome to my weekly column: Forward Progress. I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions with all of you, every Thursday, over the course of the roller coaster that is the NFL season. I will never claim to be all-knowing as this is just a place to speak my humble opinions and I hope that you all will correct me when you believe I am wrong and share your opinions on my opinions. Of course, I would like to thank Lone Star Struck for this amazing forum that all of us Cowboys fans should be thankful for. It continues to be an honor to be a part of the great team here at LSS!

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 It’s funny that I mentioned opinions in my small introduction above, because that is exactly one of the things that I want to discuss. With training camp looming like a beacon of light to illuminate the darkness that is the off-season, I am reminded of all things good….and bad about football season. The good, well that’s easy, it’s optimism, it’s excitement, it’s the sharing of Sundays with family and friends, and the thrill of victory when our Dallas Cowboys pull it out in the end. The bad, well, it’s pretty simple…..the fair weather fans, the unwarranted ripping and criticizing of the players and coaches after a poor performance, and yes, the actual sadness of defeat when the good guys do lose.

There is no other sport as popular as football, at least here in the United States, and with all of that comes the wide range of things that come along with that kind of passion, you just learn to accept it I guess. I try my very hardest to not be a fair weather fan, but I do get really upset when we lose just like everyone else. I will rip someone for poor effort or quitting, but not for making mistakes. I just want to be clear that I am not saying anyone is a better fan than anyone else, because that is usually what people say as a defense if you criticize them for criticizing the Cowboys, if that makes sense.

I am just humbly sitting here in my living room, wondering how long will the honeymoon last, and how long until MySpace and Facebook and the chat rooms are calling for Romo to be cut and Wade to be fired? It’s just an amazing dynamic to witness over the course of the season. It’s going to be interesting, as the NFL did us no favors, and we will have to be ready to go as a team from the time we break camp, or we could be looking at a tough start to the season and we could see many seats available on the bandwagon, as people jump off as fast as they can. I am confident we will weather the early quarter of the season, and hopefully the worst case scenario will be a 2-2 start. Either way, I will be right here, riding shotgun on the Dallas Cowboys bandwagon. I hope the majority of Cowboys fans will do the same, and not let the small percentage of the negative fans ruin our spirit and/or take away our hope.

Another thing I was thinking about was playmakers. Who in your opinion is the Cowboys top playmaker? The one guy that is going to be there week in and week out, making big time plays when the team needs them the most? A dynamic, dominating player that makes the other teams gameplan around him?

To me, it is simple, there is no other player on our team like that other than DeMarcus Ware. He is a superstar that requires constant double and even triple teams at times to stop him, or should I say try and stop him, as he still led the NFL in sacks last year, and was robbed of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award by the anti-Cowboys media.

Yes, Romo is the QB and he touches the ball on every snap, and is an incredible playmaker, but let’s face it: Tony has to prove some things this year, he has to hold on to the football better, cut down on turnovers, and be consistent over the entire 16 game schedule to take his place among the “elite” quarterbacks. I believe he will do those things, and Felix Jones will get some chatter as a top playmaker with his big play ability and speed, but as of today….RIGHT NOW, DeMarcus is the team’s top playmaker.

Taking a quick glance around the NFC East and you see it is not a division filled with big play ability, you have a few speed guys like DeSean Jackson of the Eagles, and Santana Moss of the Redskins seems to always have his best games against the Cowboys, but mostly it is a division built around defense, grinding running games and above average quarterback play. That is why I don’t understand why people think that we are going to be so ineffective without “the player who will go unnamed” at the WR position. I have nothing against the guy, but you can win this division without the original 81, and you can also NOT win it with him.

Quick Hits:

  • Micheal Vick is reportedly hoping to speak with Commisioner Roger Goodell about a partial re-instatment allowing him to participate in a teams training camp while awaiting a final decision from the league, similar to what Pac Man had last year for the Cowboys. I just can’t see an NFL team giving him a shot. I may be completely wrong but I just don’t see any team wanting to go through the media scrutiny and the criticism from the public, just to have him in their camp. I Guess we’ll see.
  • Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is undergoing training to become a massage therapist, according to the New York Times. Basically more well known for his off-the-field pot smoking antics than his football prowess on the field, Williams is looking towards his post-football career in holistic healing and medicine. He said he plans to play football for two more years and then retire. I was always a huge Ricky fan, and I give him credit for getting his life back in order. I hope he finds happiness in his career choice and stays healthy to finish out his career.
  • Former Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman has signed a one year deal with the upstart UFL’s Las Vegas franchise. He becomes the league’s marquee player, which is not saying much. The UFL’s inaugural season will last six games and end on Thanksgiving weekend. I am predicting that the UFL’s second season will be…..never.