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Are You Ready for the “Kam-Akwasi” Cowboy?

We find ourselves meandering through the practice notes and news each day as we lead up to the Hall of Fame game today between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals. Lots of questions from the past season are on every fans mind as we get to have a look see at some of the young players the Cowboys are prepping to make the final roster to head into our 50th season and hopefully our 6th Lombardi Trophy and NFL Championship. Since I already focused on the main position that most people are focusing on this year, left tackle, I thought I would delve into the other main question that has been dogging us since Woody left with us a big hole in the secondary when he walked off into his final sunset as a player.

Free Safety is the one main position that we over look every year. Mainly because we have a couple of guys who tend to just kind of get by and barely get the job done. We were spoiled for a long time because we had Darren Woodson back there to hold down the fort and once he left we got to see just how special he really was. This year though going into the off season Jerry decided he has had enough and gave Ken Hamlin his walking papers and went out and drafted someone that everyone thought we were looking at as a cornerback but some scouts believe that he could turn into a very good free safety. I bring you Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from a small little division II school out of western Pennsylvania.  He has a lot of the same attributes that Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie had when he came out of a Division II school, DRC has a bit more speed then him but Akwasi may be a more versatile player and be able to impact the game in a couple other ways then playing in the secondary.

Akwasi was a running back n high school and was switched to cornerback when he got to college. You can see this high school background when he is returning the ball, whether it is on an interception return, a kickoff or punt return. He has those knees just pumping away and doesn’t stop those legs churning until he is brought down.  Usually not on the first attempt at tackling him either. I have watched a couple of the highlight reels of him returning kicks and seen a couple where it took five to six attempts to finally knock him on his keester..    and some he didn’t find his knee on the ground until he was striking paydirt. With his 6 foot, 200 lb frame he is that tweener between a corner and safety when it comes to size but his 4.4 range 40 yd dash time will make you forget about that quickly especially because that speed translates on the field as well.

Now I know everyone will be questioning his ability to transition from division II to the NFL in the secondary but, that is not a worry because of his talents in the return game. Returning a football on kicks in college no matter the level the same talents are needed in the NFL. Awareness and the ability to turn on a dime and also make people miss. That is something he excelled at in college. He will have time to work on his secondary skills while returning punts and he has already gotten some praise form Brett Maxie because of his ability to learn the defensive sets while recovering from shoulder surgery in the off season. He will obviously have to learn run support to play safety as he was a cornerback in college but he has long arms and great closing speed to stop plays dead, whether its wrapping the ball carrier to tackle him or using those arms to deflect balls. His closing speed though allows him to jump routes on receivers.

All in all I think that his ability to help create turnovers, which the Cowboys need a huge shot in the arm in and also his return ability coudl help us have one of the best return games in the NFL. How would you luck to be the coach or kicker trying to decide which person to kickoff to…  Akwasi or Felix. Talk about trying to pick the lesser of two evils!

Back In The Saddle Again – Training Camp Notes

Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips are all smiles at the start of Cowboys Training Camp

I skimmed through all the different beat writer reports from today’s Cowboys Training Camp, and summarized all of the information for you.

Training Camp Player Valuations – In terms of talking about players after practice, Phillips doesn’t like to do it. He feels he needs to see some practice tape before talking about how well a player did or how bad a player did. Phillips said it gives him a chance to give better answers to questions.

“You may see a player do something real good in practice and the rest of the plays didn’t play well,” Phillips said. “Like a guy in a game, you think he played well, and he didn’t play well at all.”

Ain’t That A Kick In The Pants – The coach made a note that David Buehler isn’t the only placekicker on the roster. Delbert Alvarado is also a kicker but hardly gets mentioned because after the team released Connor Hughes, it was assumed Buehler had no competition. Even Buehler said he’s competing against himself.

“Alvarado did well, and that’s why we kept him in the spring,” Phillips said.

Safety First – Does Pat Watkins have a shot to become the starting free safety over Alan Ball? Phillips said he does and that there is competition at almost every position. However, Phillips would like to see Watkins, who is a strong special teams player, be more consistent on defense. Watkins did have a nice breakup of a long pass Saturday.

He Ain’t All That – *Dez Bryant, the rookie wide receiver, was impressive in his first practice. Phillips said it’s not the best debut he ever saw.

“I don’t know if he looked any better than Steve Largent when he came in,” Phillips said. “Cris Carter when he came in, I’ve seen some pretty good ones.”

Not To Be Nosy, But – *Marcus Spears is still the starting defensive end, but he will get some snaps at nose tackle during training camp. The Cowboys did some of this last year with him. Phillips doesn’t believe it’s the start of something long term for Spears.

“I would be comfortable with him playing there,” Phillips said of Spears at the nose. “He’s a smart player and he’s a good run player already, and normally nose guard is a run-player position. [Jay] Ratliff has taken it to a different level; you don’t see nose guards getting six and eight and ten sacks. But I think Spears can fill that role as a run player and I think he’ll do a good job there.”

We Kneed You Man – *Linebacker Keith Brooking might miss the second practice Sunday. He’s fine, but Cowboys want to bring him along slowly because he had minor knee surgery in the offseason. Brooking looked pretty good Saturday knocking down a pass and moving around pretty good.

MartyB TV Off The Air – Wade Phillips said he does not expect Martellus Bennett to miss much practice time in training camp with the sprained left ankle he suffered last week while working out. The Cowboys placed Bennett on the non-football injury list because he did not suffer the injury while under the Cowboys’ care.

Injuries Will Make Things Interesting

Tomorrow the Cowboys face Redskins in Dallas for their first matchup of the season. The Skins will be missing some big names in their lineup including Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis. While the Cowboys will be without starters Ken Hamlin and Marc Colombo.

Washington may be banged up and they may only have a record of 3-6 but you can’t count this as a win just yet, as we’ve learned already this season.

The Cowboys have to hope that Doug Free is ready to fill in for Marc Colombo, otherwise the Cowboys offense could suffer severely. Alan Ball will be starting in Ken Hamlin’s place at free safety.

As always expect a great game between one of the biggest rivalries in football at “The House That Jerry Built” tomorrow at noon (central time).

Cowboys Injuries for Week 11
Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
Marc Colombo T Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Ken Hamlin S Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Allen Rossum CB Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Marion Barber RB Thumb Full Participation in Practice Probable
David Buehler K right Toe Full Participation in Practice Probable
Mike Jenkins CB Elbow Full Participation in Practice Probable
Gerald Sensabaugh S Thumb Full Participation in Practice Probable
DeMarcus Ware LB Foot Full Participation in Practice Probable
Redskins Injuries for Week 11
Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
Chris Cooley TE Ankle Out (Definitely Will Not Play) Out
Clinton Portis RB Concussion Out (Definitely Will Not Play) Out
Eddie Williams RB Ankle Out (Definitely Will Not Play) Out
Albert Haynesworth DT Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
Mike Williams T Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
Stephon Heyer T Knee Limited Participation in Practice Questionable
Ladell Betts RB Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable

Injury Report from NFL.com

Former Cowboys Strong Safety Williams Goes To Bengals

Nfl.com has reported that the Bengals and Roy Williams have agreed on a contract. I bid you good luck Superman.

The Bengals have agreed to terms with former Cowboys free safety Roy Williams.

The Cowboys released Williams, once regarded as one of the fiercest safeties in the NFL, after last season.

In Cincinnati, Williams will be reunited with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who coached the Cowboys’ defense when the safety had some of his best production.

Scandrick Playing Free Safety?

Dallascowboys.com true blue fan club is reporting that the Cowboys are talking to Darren Woodson about working Scandrick on playing Free Safety in the base defense but Scandrick would keep his role as slot corner in the nickle defense.

Personally I like this idea because Scandrick wants to hit. Comment and let me know your feelings on this and be sure to read the article on the link above.

Cowboys Cannot Afford to Release T.O.

Ok we have been talking about T.O. being released since the day the season was over; well here are my thoughts on the subject

T.O. is a solid number one superstar at wide receiver, and there are not many guys in the league that have his skills and that command so much attention from defenses. Just his presence on the field makes everyone he plays with better. It takes that one guy, that FREE safety away from say, Witten running down the seam or keeps him from coming up to help contain Barber from breaking a big run. It basically puts everyone man on man which I would take everytime. His attitude is what it is, we all know what happened in San Francisco and Philadelphia. But I have seen a more mature Terrell Owens the last couple of years, he wants the ball and wants to win! We see him barking on the sideline frustrated with the way things are going, let me ask you this, if that was Tony barking would he be called a cancer? Or would we all be happy that he is finally trying to lead his team? It is not a coincidence that the Cowboys scoring offense was ranked 25th and 15th the two years prior to T.O., then it jumped up to 5th and 2nd his first two years, it is real simple he makes the team better ! 

I think releasing Terrell would be one of the biggest mistakes in Dallas Cowboy history.  If you thought Galloway for two first round picks was dumb, that was absolute peanuts compared to this if they were to let him go, unless it was a trade for suitable replacement its just crazy talk.  Some of the wide receivers that are on the trading block are Plaxico, Ocho Cinco, and Anquan Boldin , the only one that would make any sense is obviously Boldin, but that is highly unlikely. You think T.O. gets bad press playing for Americas team, can you imagine what it would be like for Plaxico and Ocho Cinco.  

Roy Williams in my opinion is at best right now a 1a wideout.  He has the skills he just doesn’t command the same attention that Terrell does, now if Jerry made the mistake of letting him go and moved Roy to the one spot who’s our two?? Crayton? I think he has proved the last two years he is nothing more than a 3rd slot receiver at best. Are Austin or Hurd ready to jump up to two?? Don’t think they are just yet… The deep playmaking threat would be gone and we would have just a good offense, not a deadly one.

So where do we get his replacement, probably not a trade or within the team how about free agency? Well after T.J. Houshmanzadah the cupboard is bare, he is the only guy that could come close to filling T.O.’s shoes. The Bengals just franchised Scott Graham so this pretty much assures he will hit the market. I won’t even mention the draft because with our first pick being in the middle of the second round it is more likely that I will root for Tom Brady (which will never ever happen) than us finding Michael Crabtree or Percy Harvin in the mid second round.

So there we are. We let T.O. go and it would be one of the biggest mistakes in Cowboy history!

P.S Did I mention if Terrell was released it would cost the Cowboys over 9 million dollars against next years salary cap YIKES!!!!!!

Eleven Plus Roy Equals Record-Breaking Twelve Pros

The NFL named Roy Williams to his 5th Pro Bowl Thursday, making him the 12th Cowboy attending this year’s Pro Bowl. Williams was chosen to replace the late Sean Taylor’s roster spot at safety.

This also breaks the record of Cowboys elected to a Pro Bowl. In ’93 and ’94 the Cowboys sent 11 players to Hawaii. Those years also happened to be when Dallas became Super Bowl Champions, 2 years in a row.

Roy Williams joins defensive teammates Demarcus Ware, Terence Newman and Ken Hamlin; as well as offensive players Flozell Adams, Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode, Jason Witten, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber and Tony Romo. The rookie kicker Nick Folk has also been elected, becoming the first Dallas rookie since 1990 to attend the Pro Bowl.

Ken Hamlin will move up to the starting free safety in place of Sean Taylor and Roy Williams will be the alternate safety. Williams described this honor as a blessing and plans to do something special for the Taylor family before the Pro Bowl.

In other news regarding Roy Williams, he has decided to change his number to 38 next season. This was his number in college when he played for University of Oklahoma. He also says this is reference to the bible. "Eight in the bible is regarded as a new beginning, and I feel that after this season it’s time to switch over," Williams said. "Switch to No. 38."

 

Legends of the Star – Cliff Harris

This week’s “Legend of the Star” is one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history, none other than Cliff Harris. Although Cliff was not drafted in 1970, he was invited by the Cowboys to training camp where he shocked his coaches with his intense style of play. Although the organization had just drafted the highly touted Charlie Waters, the Cowboys surprised everyone in the league when they announced that Cliff Harris would be the starter at free safety for the season opener.

 Cliff Harris single handedly led the secondary with his “all-out” style of play and due to his relentless pursuit of the ball carrier he was soon nicknamed “Captain Crash” by his teammates. His devastating hits struck fear in the hearts of any ball carrier that got in his way. The new nickname became synonymous with his hard-nosed, bone-crushing style of play and many football experts credit Cliff Harris for changing the way the free safety position is played today.

His rookie year was interrupted due to military service, but he returned just in time to help the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins. He continued playing at free safety for the next 9 seasons, and began to compile some incredible achievements while playing one great season after another. He was considered by many to being the most dominating defensive player in the NFL during his tenure. In a stunning decision, he announced his retirement following the 1979 season to pursue his business ventures.

Harris finished his 10 NFL seasons with 29 interceptions, which he returned for 281 yards and 1 touchdown, and 18 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 91 yards. He also gained 418 yards on punt returns and 1,622 yards returning kickoffs.

During his short yet remarkable career, he made 5 Super Bowl appearances and was chosen for the Pro Bowl six consecutive times. He is in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame and Sports Illustrated Writers named him their Dream Team free safety. In 2004 he was selected to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor for his contributions to the franchise. He truly was a “Legend of the Star” in every sense and I enjoyed telling you a little about this great Cowboy.

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.