Good, Bad, and Ugly All Evident In First Preseason Game

Coaches and fans got their first look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night against a highly touted Cincinnati Bengals club that many are predicting to be a Super Bowl contender this season. The Boys had an impressive showing for a preseason game, not allowing Cincinnati to score until the late 4th quarter. However, there were also some loose ends the Cowboys need to tie up before they take the field against Washington in the season opener. Let’s play a game of “Who’s hot, who’s not” to summarize the first preseason game.

Who’s Hot

*Tight end John Phillips. He took advantage of the absence of Martellus Bennett and showed great all-around ability throughout the night. He had a couple of superb catches, and also showed his blocking ability on several occasions. With Bennett’s problems of late, I would not be at all surprised to see Phillips get more playing time than Bennett when the season starts.

*Defensive end Stephen Bowen. He also took advantage of the absence of a fellow teammate (Marcus Spears), and was a force along the defensive line all night. He was constantly in the backfield and recorded a sack before his night came to an end. With Bowen, Spears, and Jason Hatcher all playing on one-year tenders, I expect the competition to continue between the three.

*Offensive tackle Doug Free. Though he only played one series, Free looked very comfortable at left tackle, and had his way with Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom in both passing and running situations. Free definitely looks to have a leg up on Alex Barron in securing the starting left tackle spot. It will be interesting to see how he performs the rest of the preseason against pass rushers like Shawne Merriman and Mario Williams.

*Backup linebackers. A solid night on defense was topped off by the impressive play of players like Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, Jason Williams, Steve Octavien, and Brandon Sharpe. Jason Williams, Butler, and Octavien all showed their ability to get to the quarterback with a sack each. Brandon Williams and Sharpe showed their abilities in coverage with an interception each, Sharpe’s going for the only touchdown of the evening for the Cowboys. The Williams boys and Butler are showing flashes of the abilities the Cowboys saw in each of them when they drafted all three last year. Keep an eye on the ‘backers again in the next preseason game, as Sean Lee should step on the field for the first time and show his skills, too.

Who’s Not

*Offensive lineman Robert Brewster. He looked simply horrendous playing both tackle spots, and gave Stephen McGee no time to throw the ball all night. It is safe to say the intent of the Cowboys to develop Brewster as a tackle has run horribly amok. His footwork is below average and his ability to get out of his stance is poor. If the Cowboys want to avoid missing on yet another offensive line draft pick, they should consider moving Brewster to guard, where his slow feet will be less noticeable.

*Backup running backs. In a virtually impossible battle for a roster spot at running back, Herb Donaldson and Lonyae Miller did nothing to prove they are even worthy of a spot on the practice squad. Donaldson fumbled the ball early, and Miller had less than one yard per carry. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice all locks to make the team, Donaldson and Miller will be nothing more than camp bodies for the duration of training camp.

*Return specialists. The return game for the Cowboys was non-existent the entire night, with Titus Ryan, Jamar Wall, Bryan McCann, and Cletis Gordon sharing the duties. Ryan had a decent return to start the game, but left early with a broken thumb. Wall, McCann, and Gordon shared the punt return duties, but none of the three did more than fair catch and flirt with potential disaster when a return was possible. Gordon and McCann were also creamed on one of their returns, McCann’s coming on a terrible non-call in which he clearly called a fair catch.

Dallas Cowboys Offseason Workout Report #1

Dallas hasn’t officially starting the training camp, but voluntary OTAs (Organized Team Activities) are going on, and mini-camp will be coming along.

For starters, we have a serious injury to second-string cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, who “shattered” his finger on the 26th of May. The injury is indefinite for now. Scandrick believes he isn’t going to be catching balls until training camp starts in late July.

He was breaking up a pass intended for wide receiver Manuel Johnson, a seventh round pick from last year, and his hand immediately went numb, but it was a while later before he truly realized how serious the injury was. He had surgery soon after and the pin that was inserted into finger isn’t going to be taken out for a while.

There has been no news about Keith Brooking’s knee surgery, which probably means that his rehab is going according to schedule. He’ll be needed this past season with his amazing leadership and hard tackles.

Roy Williams has stated that he and Tony Romo are now connecting very well, are on the same page, and even made a comparison that I felt wasn’t the most strategic move to Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

That aside, the Cowboys are doing well at workouts. Marion Barber has actually lost ten pounds, bringing his weight down to the 212-215 range in order to gain some speed on the ground. He’s still strong as an ox, but Barber knows that speed is difference in the open field between a 15 yard gain and a 25 yard gain.

Barber is not going to be the starting running back, that privilege has been awarded to Felix Jones now, but Barber is a team player and will try his hardest whenever he gets his carries, so this news is very encouraging.

Dez Bryant has been on fire lately according to most viewer reports. Bryant, the controversial Oklahoma State receiver, was drafted by Dallas because in 1998, the Cowboys passed on another similar receiver named Randy Moss.

Those who don’t know who Randy Moss is just need to watch the highlight films of the 2007 Patriots. Moss accounted for 23 of Tom Brady’s touchdown passes that year.

In fact, Moss had the greatest rookie season a wide receiver has ever had. He had 17 touchdowns, 69 receptions, and 1313 yards; just an unstoppable player.

Dez Bryant is probably hoping to do the same for us. While that is asking a lot of the young man, I’d be thrilled if he did do it. That could be the finishing move for Dallas to win in the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl.

The team is taking a “best player” approach to every position, including quarterback. It doesn’t matter how long you have been the starter, if you are outplayed then you don’t start. It makes the players play better knowing that they have challenges for their jobs.

Linebacker Jason Williams, a third round pick from last year, is very psyched about the opportunity to be the nickel linebacker. The nickel linebacker is the guy who usually comes in on third down when it is an obvious passing down, and the linebacker from first and second down come out to stay fresh.

Since the Cowboys have traded Bobby Carpenter to the St. Louis Rams, they now have an opening at the nickel linebacker, and challenging Williams will be first and foremost, Sean Lee, the rookie linebacker drafted by Dallas in the second round this past draft.

I can’t say for sure who will win in these competitions. I wish I was in Dallas instead of my tiny town in Texas, but I’m sure that the Cowboys are going to take the right steps, and we can only hope that there isn’t a sudden outbreak of injuries on the team. That would be a real problem.

This post was originally posted at:

Week 1 Preview: Cowboys at Buccaneers

The time has come my fellow football fanatics! Football season is officially here and the Cowboys first game of the year begins in less than an hour.

The anticipation has built up to the max and all we can do now is watch and cheer! I’ve been watching ESPN this morning, NFL Countdown. Don’t worry they still hate us. Funny how some things never change.

As for our team, everyone looks ready to go. Sam Hurd and Miles Austin are both ready to play and needed on special teams especially. That means that rookie Kevin Ogletree has been declared inactive for today’s game, after an amazing preseason I find that very odd.

The inactive list is as follows:

WR Kevin Ogletree
S Mike Hamlin
LB Jason Williams
G Montrae Holland
C Duke Preston
T Pat McQuistan
3rd QB Stephen McGee
OLB Curtis Johnson

There is a chance for rain today in Tampa Bay but the temperature will remain in the mid-80s. Unless thunderstorms strike heavy it should be decent weather.

We will be hosting a Live Game Chat starting at kickoff throughout the entire game. We invite you to join fellow Cowboys fanatics, LSS Staff and friends to discuss the game, cheer the Boys, and anything else that comes up over the course of 4 quarters.

My prediction: Cowboys 34 – Bucs 17

Poll Results: Key Position Battles

At the beginning of Training Camp we asked this question:

Which of these key position battles do you think will be the most interesting?

Poll ResultsThe results were a dead heat between Jenkins/Scandrick (38%) and Crayton/Austin (38%).  In third place was the battle at offensive guard position with Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland who received 15% of the votes. Finally, linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Jason Williams received a measly 8%.

This poll is full of so much irony. In the end Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have been told they are both starters who will alternate starts and playing time. Miles Austin didn’t really show us that he deserves to start over vet Patrick Crayton. Kosier and Holland?… boring. Bobby Carpenter and Jason Williams, well that was easily answered when Williams got injured.

Maybe we should have had a 5th choice between Isaiah Stanback and Kevin Ogletree, but who knew?

New poll: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

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


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!

Know Your Cowboy

With training camp coming to an end and the Boys departing San Antonio for the comfy confines of their new palace, I thought this would be a good time to write the first of what could be many brief bios of current Cowboy players. Just a little something to help the fans get to know your Cowboys a little better.

As I sit here and try to pick one of the many Cowboys to start with, I am watching Fridays preseason game versus the Titans. I just watched a beautiful nine minute eleven second, 90 yard drive end in a Marion Barber 1 yard plunge into the end zone for the first score of the game. This was a thing of beauty, a long drive mixing in a bit of Romo to Roy Williams and some pounding by the Barbarian, a sign of things to come for the season no doubt.

So it would seem the obvious player to start with would be Marion Barber after taking his stroll into the end zone. But … yes I did say but, I am also reading up on some of the players on the roster and I realize I do not know much about this years first draft pick, albeit a third round draft pick, but still our first draft pick.

With their first overall selection of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys chose Jason Williams in the third round (69th overall). This 6 foot 1 inch 238 pound Linebacker out of Western Illinois is expected to be a starter (and a good one) on Special Teams and compete for the Nickle and Dime Linebacker positions, as well as be in the mix for substitutions in the regular defense.

In his college career he was a disruptive player tallying 14 forced fumbles, 289 tackles and 15 sacks. In 2008 he set a school record with 6 forced fumbles in one season and was voted an All-America first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, The Sporting News, Associated Press, the Sports Network, College Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association.

In his senior year last year he recorded 67 of his tackles (39 solo) and 4 sacks, showing that as he got older he got better. Hopefully as he transitions into the NFL he will continue to improve his game play and his numbers. This kid has strength and speed and in a few years you probably will see him replace Brookings or someone else as a starter in the defense. The Cowboys may have gotten themselves a steal with this stud.

Oh and by the way, another rushing touchdown, this one by Felix the Great, has the Cowboys up 14-10 at half time.

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.

New to the Silver & Blue: Jason Williams

Learn all about the latest Dallas Cowboy players to don the “Silver and Blue” in this
new Lone Star Struck exclusive series by Raina Middleton.

I am going to kick off this new series with the Cowboys first pick in the 2009 NFL draft, linebacker #58 Jason Williams.

Jason attended Western Illinois College. He stands 6-1 and weights 238. From the research I have done on Jason he seems to be one of the most underrated players in the draft. Jason switched from strong safety to weak side linebacker in his sophomore year. He ranked among the nation’s leaders in forced fumbles and tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the last three years.

Jason attended DeSable High School in Chicago. He was highly regarded for his rushing and passing ability as a linebacker. Jason rushed for 2,988 and threw for 3,015 yards. He had a total of 71 total touchdowns in his high school career, which led to a undefeated season his Senior year and earned him two All-City and All-Section honors.

Williams enrolled at Western Illinois as a 200 pound athlete in 2004, where he red-shirted. In 2005, he appeared in 10 games, not seeing much action early in the year being listed third on the depth chart at strong safety. His special team talent helped him get a starting position for the team’s two final games. When he got the chance to play he took advantage and had 23 tackles with a stop for a loss and one blocked kick.

In 2006 Williams continued to be a terror on special teams. Jason switched to weak side linebacker, he was the only defender to start all 11 games. He received the teams’ Green Beret Award for his talent on the kicking game. He also ranked second on the team with 92 tackles, three sacks, and 10.5 stops for a loss and he also caused three fumbles.

In 2007 Jason was on fire, He made All-American and All-Gateway conference first-team choice,finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the team with 107 tackles and eight sacks. He led the conference with 16.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also recovered two fumbles.

Williams’ senior year in 2008 he was named a consensus All-American and a unanimous All-Gateway Conference first-team selection. He came in 4th in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FSC ranks. He started every game as a weak-side linebacker, leading the nation with a school season-record six forced fumbles, the second best total by a Gateway player. He finished 2nd in the league with team high 17 stops for a loss and had 4 sacks among his 67 tackles 39 being solo’s.

So after researching Jason Williams I can now understand why he was considered underrated in the draft.

He certainly seems to have the talent to be an impact player and I look forard to seeing him wreak havoc on the footbal field in 2009!