Cowboys Extra Points: Tackles and Trash Talk

Gerald Sensabaugh has been fined by the NFL for a horse collar tackle during last Sunday’s game.

Josh Ellis reports,

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh received notice Wednesday of a $5,000 fine for a horse collar tackle in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay.

Though no flag was thrown, the league’s official review concluded the first-year Cowboy had illegally pulled down Bucs running back Cadillac Williams from behind. Sensabaugh said he thought it was a legal tackle because he had grabbed Williams’ jersey, not the inside of his pads.

I clearly remember the play, and I even questioned if it was a horse collar during our live game chat. Seems a little harsh to fine someone $5,000 when no penalty was called, and no one was hurt.

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Tony Romo has been nominated for the NFL’s FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Week Award. You can vote up until Friday at 11 a.m. CST. Place your votes – Romo is up against Drew Brees and Joe Flacco.

Oddly enough former Cowboy Julius Jones is up for the ‘Ground’ award, along with Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson.

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Linebacker Stephen Hodge had microfracture surgery on his left knee while linebacker Brandon Williams is expected to have his reconstructive knee surgery within the next couple of weeks.

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Felix oh Felix! Please stay healthy!

Felix Jones was limited in play during last Sunday’s game due to a bruised thigh, and will possibly be limited this week as well. Here is what has been posted on the Cowboys official website.

RB Felix Jones – quad (9/13) – Although he continued to play, Jones was limited after suffering a quad injury during a big tackle in the first quarter. The Cowboys held him out of some third-down plays and replaced him in the second half with Miles Austin on one kickoff return.

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Have you heard what Brandon Jacobs said yet?

“No question,” he replied. “I hate the Cowboys with a bloody passion.”

I asked him what the difference between a “regular passion” and a “bloody passion” was.

“You want to go into the game as being assassins,” he said, referring to the feelings of bloody passion, “instead of tough football players in a game like that.”

He most likely heard what DeMarcus Ware said, “I hate those New York Giants!”

Nothing like some good old fashioned division rivalry trash talk! Bring on those Giants!

StarStruck Graphics

Cowboys Add DBs to Roster; More Rookies Out

As reported at 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


FORWARD PROGRESS: Street Fights and Sensabaugh

Forward Progress

One more week… 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

Here Are Your Key Position Battles

Former Dallas Cowboys beat writer, Tom Orsborn, takes a look at some of the key position battles heading into training camp.

The battle for the cornerback spot opposite Terence Newman took a strange twist late last month when Jenkins declared via his blog that he’s the starter heading into training camp. The truth is the spot is up for grabs and that the two second-year players likely will slug it out well into the preseason. Jenkins is the better athlete and was the higher draft pick last year, but Scandrick’s confidence and football smarts make everyone wonder why he lasted until the fifth round.

Wide receiver
After getting most of the reps in the offseason, Crayton is the frontrunner for the No. 2 receiver job behind lead dog Roy Williams. But Jerry Jones loves Austin’s speed and potential and has even mentioned he believes Austin could approach Terrell Owens-like production. One problem, though: Austin has yet to prove he can stay healthy. His latest injury was a strained hamstring that sidelined him during minicamp.

Offensive guard
One of the biggest question marks entering camp is whether left guard Kosier can return to form after foot surgery. His injury problems were a big reason why the offensive line struggled at times last season. The Cowboys acquired Holland in a trade with Denver last preseason and he was slow to learn the offense. But the native of Jefferson, Texas, filled in for Kosier late in the season and could make a strong bid to unseat him.

Widely viewed as a first-round bust, Carpenter has a chance to shine as the replacement for nickel linebacker Kevin Burnett, who signed with San Diego in free agency. Carpenter’s finesse style makes him a natural to defend on passing downs, but Williams is a superb athlete with blazing speed. Still, it will take time for the third-round pick to learn the pro game, the main reason why Carpenter is favored to win this fight.

Here are a few other situations that bear watching.

We drafted kicker David Buehler in the fifth round and I’m sure he’ll be cutting into somebody’s time. I don’t see the wisdom in carrying three kickers on the team between Buehler, McBriar and Folk.  One of them could be traded.

Jerry Jones loves exposure, so don’t underestimate the presence of Jesse Holley in training camp. Not only will his success usher in a new breed of Cowboys fans courtesy of the reality show 4th and Long, but sales and marketing would get a huge boost in revenue if Holley were to make the team. Sam Hurd better be looking over his shoulder.

Lastly, who will replace the departed safety Roy Williams? Who will pair up with Ken Hamlin in the secondary? Some might think that Gerald Sensabaugh is a lock, but the Cowboys have not given up on Pat Watkins yet, and they did select DeAngelo Smith out of Cincinnati in the NFL Draft. I’m thinking that the ending to the story at safety hasn’t been written just yet.

Any way you look at it, there will be no shortage of battles and story-lines at this year’s training camp. So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

SS Sensabaugh A Favorite Of Campo

Since this off-season began I was predicting my home town player Gerald Sensabaugh to join my other home town player Jason Witten in Dallas my friends were saying theres no way Gerald would be a Dallas Cowboy. I debated and argued all the way until that faithful day when the Cowboys signed him. I though my arguments were over but no everywhere I looked it seemed like every Cowboys fan I talked to was doubting what Gerald could do, so I just said wait and see.

Now according to writer Mickey Spagnola Sensabaugh is one of Secondary Coach Dave Campo’s favorites. Here is what Mickey’s article said.

You might say for the majority of his years with the Cowboys, Dave Campo, first secondary coach, then defensive coordinator and then head coach before returning as secondary coach in 2008, was spoiled at the safety position. During his previous 14 seasons, he mostly had the likes of Ray Horton, James Washington, Thomas Everett, Darren Woodson, Brock Marion and George Teague back there. He even enjoyed a rather nice rookie season out of Roy Williams.

So last season probably was a little bit of a shellshock for Camps, who returned for a 15th season. Heck, even over his three years as head coach, when Woodson remained healthy, he had Woodson and Teague back there. Injuries and performance made last year somewhat of a crap shoot.

That’s why I said to him, with the addition of Gerald Sensabaugh and all the young guys brought in, this might be the best the safety position has looked since, well, Woodson was playing.

He laughed, saying it was funny I’d bring up Woodson, “because when I got to Jacksonville (2005) I remember saying Sensabaugh (a rookie then) had the kind of burst Woodson had. Now I’m not saying he’s Woodson.”

Of course not, and he’s probably 10 to 15 pounds lighter. But Campo was trying to make a point about Sensabaugh’s ability to cover, not only from the deep safety spot, but also going inside to the weak linebacker spot on the nickel, where Woodson spoiled the Cowboys his entire career with an ability to cover even receivers in the slot.

Gerald Sensabaugh: The Jolly Jumper

Gerald Sensabaugh was born on June 13, 1983 in Oakland,California but was raised in Kingsport, Tennessee. Where he attended Dobyns-Bennett High School where he was a standout in football and track. In football, he helped lead his team to two consecutive Class 5A Semifinals, and during his senior year he also played offense recording 42 receptions for 420 yards and 7 touchdowns and was an All-Big Nine Selection. In track he won a state championship in the long jump.

Gerald started his college career at East Tennessee State University but transferred to the University of North Carolina as a senior when ETSU disbanned their football program. He finished his one-year UNC career with four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three touchdowns. He also tied an NCAA single-game record after blocking three punts in one game.

Gerald recorded a 46″ vertical at the NFL Combine, the highest for an NFL player on record(this is also why I here-by give him the nickname The Jolly Jumper). He was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round(157th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Gerald started every game of his rookie season, one of few to do so. After perfoming well on special teams he got a chance to start the remainder of the season at Strong Safety when Pro-Bowler Donovin Darius got injured. In 2006 he continued to play well on special teams and, then halfway through the season, he yet again became a starter when Darius suffered a season ending knee injury. On March 10,2009 the Dallas Cowboys and Gerald Sensabaugh agreed to terms on a one-year contract after he had the best season of his career in 2008 recording 70 tackles 8 pass deflections and 4 interceptions.

Gerald has been invited to be a teacher almost every year at Jason Wittens football camp, which is held in Jasons home town of Elizabethon, Tennessee just a mere 30 minutes from Geralds hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee.

Gerald has had three arrest since 2007. The first being for doing a wheelie on his bike. The second for having a gun with an expired permit in his possesion. The third for driving on a suspended license.

A Look At Our CB/Safety Depth After Draft

Well after a very interesting draft weekend I figured I would list our CB/Safety Depth Chart for everyone to our depth at the positions now.


 Please note that the only the starters listed are guaranteed depth chart positions as of right now numbers 2+ are my predicted spots.

So with this depth at secondary we are set for some interesting training camp battles to stay on the roster. I personally see Jerome Carter, Michael Hawkins, Pat Watkins, and Stephen Hodge to be cut before the 53 man roster is due in.

Cowboys Secondary is a Primary Concern

We are three weeks into free agency and I have to admit am very concerned about our secondary situation.

First, we release Adam Jones, which even though he has skills was a must move. Then we trade Anthony Henry for our new backup quarterback. I still don’t understand the move with free agents like Garcia and Leftwich still out there looking for jobs.

Another questionable move was the Roy Williams release. As bad as he was in pass coverage, he is better than what we have right now.

The only addition to  the secondary is Gerald Sensabaugh, who is mediocre at best. Although Sensabaugh did have his best year in Jacksonville in 2008, he has had some trouble with the law. After being arrested three times, the latest in February, he may start the season on suspension by the NFL. This signing baffles me. He is the exact type of player the Cowboys are trying to avoid, but thats another story for a different time.

Safeties… So as of right now Ken Hamlin and Patrick Watkins are our starting safeties, with Tra Battle and Courtney Brown as backups. Sensabaugh will jump into the starting lineup whenever he is available to play. This absolutely scares me that we have no one better than him to start. Keith Davis is still on the roster but expected to sign somewhere else shortly. There is very little left out in free agency. A Darren Sharper or Mike Brown maybe, but signing Sensabaugh tells me Jerry is not looking for another safety in free agency. I have seen Patrick Chung in a lot of mock drafts being there for the Cowboys at pick 51. He is a Roy Williams type that has better speed to play the pass. He would be a nice addition to the secondary and I could even see him jumping into the starting lineup at some point in ’09. After Chung the pool of safeties is not very deep so lets hope he stays out there for the ‘Boys.

Cornerbacks… Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins are the starters right now, with Scandrick and Ball as their backups. This is the scariest position for the Cowboys in my mind. With three of the four corners having 2 years or less experience in the NFL and Newman constantly being injured, it seems like a recipe for disaster. I hear people say we need to let the younger guys develop. That’s the smart thing to do, but you don’t develop them by throwing them out into the starting lineup on a team that should be contending for the Super Bowl. Jerry needs to sign a veteran so the younger guys can learn by being out there on 3 or 4 receiver sets.

Scandrick and Jenkins have skills but I’d much rather see them learning against a 3rd or 4th receiver rather than getting torched by a one or two. Ken Lucas was released last week, I would love to see Jerry go after him. Other than that Dre Bly and Chris Mccallister are the only semi-decent corners left. Taking a corner in the draft just isn’t going to happen. The ‘Boys have three young talented guys they just need some guidance from experienced veterans. I don’t even want to think about how devastating it would be if Newman got injured, but recent history has shown us there is a good chance.

I know a lot of you are saying as long as we get pressure on the quarterback the young guys will be fine, right? Yes, we led the league in sacks last year, but (and I am not going to throw a big stat at you) the Cowboys had no consistent pressure at all! (Igor Olshansky should help.) Games like the Tampa, Seattle, and San Francisco  are a great examples. Yes we won the games and yes we stopped them in the red zone, but these three pathetic offenses moved the ball on us at will between the twenties. If those were decent teams we could just as easily lost.

Honestly, I hope I am wrong and that the young guys thrive. I just don’t see how we can contend for our sixth ring with the secondary in the shape it’s in.

 I am going to leave you with my stat of the offseason. The Cowboys only had 8 interceptions last year. Yes, that’s right, only 8! One pick was by a pass rush specialist, Greg Ellis, and four by Newman, that leaves only 3 picks by the rest of the secondary. That is pathetic! Only Detroit and Denver had less interceptions than the ‘Boys did last year. The Cowboys need to improve the secondary or we have no chance of contending for the Super Bowl in ’09.