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Cowboys’ Streak Is Sweet To Some, Bitter To Others

Two days after the great win in Philly, Cowboys fans are still on a victorious high, rightfully so. Looking around the web, most everyone’s opinions seem to have changed with a few exceptions, as to be expected.

NFL.com had some nice things to say…

Dallas — They have found a peaceful functioning locker room, which is exactly what they were looking for when they dumped T.O. in the offseason. The Cowboys must continue to control the game with their defensive line, and before the end of the season, everyone will know nose tackle Jay Ratliff is one of the game’s best.

ESPN’s Matt Mosley’s “Rapid Reaction” right after the game…

Don’t look now, but the Cowboys are in the driver’s seat in the race for the NFC East crown. They returned to the scene of last season’s embarrassing 44-6 loss and came up with a clutch performance.

Sports Illustrated is a bit hesitant to jump on the Cowboys bandwagon, but they still think its possible the Cowboys make it to the playoffs and cause an upset…

There’s a lot of football to play, and it’s too early to say anything about Dallas except that it’s in first place, alone, in the NFC East, and nobody but Bum Phillips thought that’d happen this late in the season. The Cowboys don’t have a killer schedule. They might be good enough to spoil the Favre-Brees NFC Championship Game.

There are plenty of other articles out there giving the Cowboys credit for taking charge of the NFC East. And along with the good, of course their is always bad. Some sour critics are claiming the Cowboys win over the Eagles just proves how awful the NFC East has become. Come again?

Check out this excerpt from CBS Sports analyst Mike Freeman

Someone had to win this monstrosity, so it might as well have been the Dallas Cowboys.

Oh, was this game magical, and by magical, I mean ugly as Whitney Houston emerging from a crack den.

Considering the beautiful painting by these two teams (Van Gogh or Van Gag?) the fans here were patiently behaved. For once, Eagles fans would’ve been well within their rights to smash something.

It gets a lot worse, but I won’t give him the pleasure of posting it on this site. Come on dude, gimme a break.

The Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers are angry as well, this from Philly columnist Bob Ford…

Yesterday was not a good day for the division. The Giants coughed up a dreadful loss at home against the Chargers, their fourth straight defeat; the Redskins continued their systematic withdrawal from the NFL; and then the Eagles and Cowboys played a sloppy, uninspiring game that wouldn’t have been worthy of also-rans, let alone contenders. In fact, it was a stinker.

So to wrap up, if the Eagles can’t beat the Cowboys then the entire division is in shambles?

Sorry Mr. Ford, there are thousands of Cowboys fans all over the nation that will beg to differ. It’s too bad you are so bitter that you can’t give credit where credit is due.

All we can do is laugh at the nonsense these last few ridiculous articles are attempting to portray. We can do that now, you know. Loyal fans of a team first in their division more than half way through the season have earned that right.

Jay Ratliff Questionable For Sunday’s Game

Jay RatliffThe Cowboys are reporting that nose tackle Jay Ratliff has injured his right knee and did not practice on Friday.

He has been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ratliff sustained the injury during practice on Thursday, according to Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. The Cowboys are calling it a sprain.

“It’s something we think will get well, but how quickly it will get well we don’t know for sure,” Phillips said.

Junior Siavii is expected to replace Ratliff in the starting lineup. Siavii played 16 plays last week against Atlanta and made seven tackles. Marcus Spears, who has played some nose tackle in the past, will backup Siavii if Ratliff can’t play.

“Junior played well last game, and I think he’s improved as we’ve played each game,” Phillips said. “So he’s ready to play.”

Obviously it would be a big blow for the Cowboys if they were to lose their Pro Bowl nose tackle for an extended period, but for now all we can do is hope for the best.

Get well soon Jay!

Weekly Game Balls: Week 5

What a game. Should have not been as close as it was but a win is a win. We have seen some first and a record breaking day.

What a game! It should have not been as close as it was, but a win is a win. We witnessed some firsts and a record breaking day.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Miles Austin.

This speedy wide receiver had a record breaking day with 250 yards on 10 catches with 2 game saving touchdowns.

His first score almost won the game for the Cowboys, but the one in overtime counted for the “W”.

Austin just might have earned his starting spot. Miles is the game breaking threat the Cowboys need.

He also could have had a few more touchdowns on the day. But he couldn’t secure a couple of throws from Tony.

Great job Miles Austin.

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Keith Brooking.

Brooking is the solid linebacker that was needed to compliment the defense.

Brooking finished the game with 8 solo tackles and helped on 3 more. He also recorded a sack on Matt Cassel. He came flying from up the middle to take him down.

With all the pressure the Cowboys gave the Chiefs on Sunday, Keith also had 4 QB hits.

His leadership speaks for itself. You can find the veteran linebacker running up and down the sidelines when he’s not on the field. He gets this team pumped up! It feels like Brooking has been a Cowboy all of his life.

Keep up the great work Keith Brooking!

Star50

Congratulations to Austin and Brooking for their great contribution to the overtime win.

Honorable Mention: DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Jay Ratliff

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. ;)

Weekly Game Balls: Preseason Week 3

Introducing a new feature at Lone Star Struck – Weekly Games Balls. Every week we will choose an offensive and defensive star of the game.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Felix Jones.

Felix JonesOne of the most exciting things to come out of Dallas in recent years is the young and talented Mr. Felix Jones. Every time Jones takes the field it’s like a whole new ball game and what’s intriguing is he’s not even the starting running back. Some have dubbed Felix “The Cat” because of his speed. Once he breaks into the open field he revs it up, leaving the competition in the dust. While he’s still new and fresh, he gives the Cowboys faithful something to believe in and hopes that it will last for years to come.

In last week’s preseason game against the 49ers Felix Jones was the only Cowboy to reach the endzone. Jones appeared in only two quarters of the game had five carries for a total of 23 yards averaging 4.6 yards per carry. While those are low numbers keep in mind it’s preseason. Jones’ longest gain was a 13 yard run that in turn lead to the lone touchdown of the night eight minutes later.

We expect great things from Felix Jones this season after being cheated out of his ‘rookie of the year’ title last season due to injury.

Star50

This week’s defensive game ball goes to Jay Ratliff.

Jay RatliffJay Ratliff has to be one of the most underrated defensive players in the game. The Cowboys’ nose tackle had a career high 7.5 sacks last season earning himself his first Pro Bowl appearance. Ratliff became the starter in 2007 when Jason Ferguson went down with injury. Ferguson was later traded, Ratliff permanently took over and the Cowboys never looked back.

Jay “The Rat” Ratliff is coming off his best season to date and there is no doubt that he is looking to return with the same aggresive attitude. At only 28 years old and a contract through 2012, expect to celebrate many more tackles and incredible sacks by The Rat, as he slams his fist to the ground and howls at the moon.

In his appearance in last week’s game Ratliff completed two tackles, both solo, and a sack, only a taste of what is to come this season.

Star50

Congratulations to The Cat and The Rat for their great play. There is no doubt we will have these two superstars featured again this season.

Cowboys Fall To Niners 20-13; Mike Hamlin Breaks Wrist

0830tromoThanks to a second half surge by San Francisco and some bad decisions and penalties by the Cowboys, the Niners walked away from Cowboys Stadium with a convincing 20-13 win last night.

The Cowboys had this game in their hands, but the defense couldn’t hold back the hard charging second stringers who pushed through the Dallas defensive line as if they weren’t there. The Cowboys were up 10-3 at halftime, but were outscored 17-3 in the second half.

Tony Romo and the rest of the first team offense had no trouble moving the ball, but seemed to stall inside the red zone. They did manage to score one touchdown, thanks to some nifty 3-yard run by running back Felix Jones that highlighted a 94 yard drive that featured strong runs by Marion Barber and some clutch passes to receivers Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin, and tight end Jason Witten.  By the way, I thought it was interesting that they went with Felix on that three-yarder instead of their closer Marion Barber. That could mean more touchdowns for Felix and less for Barber down the road.

There were some missed opportunities by the first team…

Tony Romo threw an interception at the 4-yard line that ended one scoring opportunity, and a penalty erased a Nick Folk 49 yard field goal that ended another scoring opportunity. Still, there were others. Incidentally, Folk did make two other field goals of 24 and 25 yards.

One key play for the Cowboys was a 4th and 1 in which Wade Phillips opted to go for the field goal. As the home team, I thought they should have went for it and continue the drive to the end zone. It was a conservative play and I expected more from a Cowboys team who boasts so many offensive weapons.

Miles Austin did a fine job filling in for the injured Roy Williams, and Kevin Ogletree had another impressive game and could be locking down a spot on the final roster as the Cowboys’ fifth receiver. He caught two passes for 36 yards in the first half.

The first string defense was superb and showed some toughness when they stuffed the Niners after a 57-yard interception return from Romo. They held the Niners to just 3 points in the first half, and it was the second string that allowed San Francisco to come back and win the game. Bradie James and Jay Ratliff, who recorded a sack, looked impressive and ready for prime time.

50195_49ers_cowboys_football

This weeks quote of the game comes from the ultra conservative Wade Phillips who went ballistic after witnessing one of his players maul a 49ers receiver.

“The first part of the game, I thought we did some good things. Our second group didn’t play as well. We had penalties and turnovers that really hurt us at the end of the game. The kind of things that get you beat.”

On a sad note, safety Mike Hamlin, a fifth-round pick, suffered a broken right wrist covering a kickoff in the third quarter and he is expected to be out about six to eight weeks. Also, safety Alan Ball sprained his neck and rookie Jason Williams suffered an ankle sprain. 

During the game, the Cowboys paid homage to former Cowboy safety Roy Williams. Number 31 for the Cowboys got flagged for a horse collar penalty… it was DeAngelo Smith.

Anyway, lets get one thing straight… The bottom line is that their reserves beat our reserves. Unfortunately, that has been the case for most of the pre season thus far. Guys like Bobby Carpenter, Cory Proctor, Isaiah Stanback, Courtney Brown, and others have had their chances to impress, but have not. In the end, the only thing this loss shows is how poor our depth is behind our talented first teamers who have been solid, especially on defense.

My advice to the Cowboys is simply this… Stay Healthy!

Tomorrow is yet another cut day as the Cowboys do some more roster trimming. I’m willing to bet that at least two of the players that will be cut, have been named in this recap. Can you guess who?

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

There’s Something Different About This Cowboys Team

Now that the Cowboys have lost most of their inflated egos and high maintenance players, some new leaders are beginning to emerge. I’m not talking about leaders like we had before who dominated the clubhouse by pointing fingers, playing the blame game, and causing division in the locker room. When I say leaders, I’m talking about players like Jay Ratliff who’s voice was drowned out for two seasons because of the presence of more vocal yet less deserving so-called leaders.

Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten may not have had much to say in the last 12 months as the last season unfolded and imploded before our very eyes, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Ever since the Cowboys cleaned house this off season, a new theme is resonating throughout the collective minds of all the players. It’s a brand new “team first” mentality, and it’s that kind of thinking that can bring a team together. It’s the kind of stuff that championships are made of.

I read a great article yesterday by Steve Wyche of NFL.com who profiled Jay Ratliff.

Here are some quotes from Jay Ratliff, taken from that article:

“The first thing I did was forget about last season,” Ratliff said. “The Pro Bowl was a reward for last season. After that game was over, I put it behind me. I’m back to being a regular guy.”

The goal, Ratliff said, is for everyone else to realize that they are regular guys. The fifth-year pro admitted that the abundance of egos and occasional petty behavior were disruptive traits that kept Dallas (9-7) out of the playoffs.

If the Cowboys are to live up to their potential, he said individual agendas have to be swept aside.

“We have seen the bad and the ugly,” Ratliff said. “It’s time for some good now. The way I look at it, we have too much talent to just be an average team or not making the playoffs. More than anything, we work too hard. We have to apply it on the field. We have to put egos aside and all the small stuff and whatever you did the year before, whether you have a small name or a big name, and put it aside.

Ratliff is just one of many players on our team that are beginning to emerge as leaders. It is players like Ratliff who can make a real difference “on the field”, by what he says and does “off the field”.

If you want to succeed in the NFL you have to embrace the concept of team spirit and unity, and Ratliff has certainly done that.

“Let’s just be a team more than anything. That’s my goal. I’m going to go out and work hard to produce, but I’m not going to make it about me. We want everybody to be comfortable and approachable and to have a good relationship with each other. Once we get that, we’ll be one of the best teams in the league.”

When I think about what lies ahead for the Cowboys this season, I literally get goosebumps all over. There is a sense of something special going into this season that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

I am so encouraged by the class of individuals we brought in from the NFL Draft. Solid players, with great skills and a burning desire to make it in the NFL.

I am excited about some of the new players who joined us as free agents this season. No prima donnas, just blue-collar guys with grit who know how to play the game the right way.

I am looking forward to seeing last years part time players step forward in their new roles as starters and meet the challenges that lie ahead. Guys who are ready to step up and become the new faces of the franchise.

We have a wonderful mix of hard working, enthusiastic, young players and a great blend of savvy veterans who are the best at their positions.

The talent has always been there for the Cowboys, but now for the first time since Bill Parcells left, I see a team that is finally ready to blow away all those lofty expectations.

I see a team that is not just playoff caliber on paper, but playoff caliber in dedication, intensity, and team chemistry. This team is driven. I could never really say that about the Cowboys in the last two seasons. However, now I have no problem saying it and meaning it!

This season, the Cowboys are playing to win. So hang on to your seats, get ready to be blown away, and take in all the exhilarating thrills of a new Cowboys season.

Ferguson Traded to Miami

Today from dallascowboys.com:

The Cowboys are trading Ferguson to the Dolphins for a 2009 sixth-round pick, and the teams will swap sixth-rounders this year. Dealing Ferguson clears about $2.4 million on this year’s salary cap.

Ferguson, an 11-year veteran, signed a five-year deal with Dallas that included a $9 million signing bonus in 2005. He missed nearly the entire 2008 season with a torn biceps tendon suffered in the regular-season opener against the Giants, however, and became expendable when Jay Ratliff filled in capably for the final 15 games and signed a five-year, $20.5 million extension in December.

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Nice move! When Ferguson got injured we were worried but Jay Ratliff did more than fill his shoes, and in the process earned himself a nice contract. Now we opened up a roster spot and have more money to deal.

The Sunday Spot by Fredooch

Hey Cowboy fans, it’s me Fredooch bringing you your update for the week and my personal feelings when it comes to all things Dallas Cowboys. First of all let me say I couldn’t of be prouder to be on this staff than if I were a staff member on DallasCowboys.com. We have a great bunch of writers and staffers here and all I can say, and I can’t say it enough, thanks Kelly for making me part of this thing here on LoneStarStruck.com. Its both and honor and a pleasure.

 

Ok now onto the Dallas Cowboys Rumor mill:

*Rumors out of Miami and Detroit have all three franchises talking trade come draft day. Rumor out of Miami has it that Bill Parcells still thinks the world of OLB Bobby Carpenter (believe it or not) and that Carpenter will be shipped out to Miami come draft day for a 3rd rounder. Rumor out of Detroit has WR Roy Williams coming to Dallas for DT Marcus Spears and the 28th pick of the NFL Draft.

  • According to sources close to Dallas WR Terry Glenn, he will bypass having microfracture surgery on his injured knee to play one final year in the NFL. He hopes it’s with Dallas. If he is cut or released, he will retire.
  • Julius Jones, according to some sources wants to be a feature back in the NFL and has his eyes on either the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers.
  • The Dallas Cowboys are actively trying to lock-up RB Marion Barber III and DE Chris Canty to 5 year deals and both will be signed in the next couple of weeks. Expect Canty to sign a deal similar to the one Jay Ratliff signed during the season, maybe a little more expensive.
  • Jerry Jones is still EXTREMELY DISSAPOINTED about the loss to New York. Sources say that Jerry Jones wasn’t even able to watch the NFC Championship game this past week. EXPECT Jerry to sign a BIG-TIME free-agent this off-season on the defensive side of the ball. I say it’s going to be CB Marcus Trufant or CB Ashante Samuel. If it happens, remember where you heard it first. Everybody said that the Cowboys would never sign Deion Sanders because he was too expensive. Well guess what? Jerry got creative, which I believe he is the best in the business at, and signed Deion.

Now for my Dallas Cowboys ranting. I was a little disturbed last week by something DT Marcus Spears said after the Cowboys loss to the Giants in the post-game interview. I don’t know if any of you caught that interview but Spears basically said in a nut shell that some players on the Cowboys side didn’t give 100 %, including him, which is why they lost. Now, I know what you’re saying. He was just being hard on himself. NO! When Spears said this, he said it so nonchalantly. Like oh well, we lost, get over it!

The Giants wanted it more than we did. I don’t know if this attitude is the reason the Cowboys are actively “shopping” Spears but considering all things, I do hope we get rid of this guy if this is his way of thinking. It’s easy for me to sit here and criticize a guy but when your making more money than Police Officers and Fire Fighters make in 10 years, you bet your two cents you’re going to get criticized, especially by me.

If God had granted me the athletic ability of a Marcus Spears or a Roy Williams, yes our Roy Williams, and I was making millions of dollars a year to play a child’s game, then I would give everything I had on every play and leave everything on the field. If we lost, then I could go to sleep at night knowing fully well that I left everything on that field that Sunday afternoon. And when I retired, the only thing I would want to be remembered for by my peers is that every time they faced me, they feared me and knew they always got 200% from me.

I remembered I once was watching this NFL films program on Hall Of Fame lineman from either the Steelers or 49ers of the 70’s or 80’s I don’t recall and they asked him who the best player they ever faced across from them was. I remember this guy saying, and don’t quote me word for word here, “Oh man, that’s easy. It’s without a doubt Randy White. That guy was a Beast. He had this clock that would never stop ticking and whenever I faced him I was physically and emotionally drained. You always got 100 % from that guy. They called him the Manster. He literally was half man and half monster.” Of course Randy White was an All-Pro and Hall of Famer and a 1st Round Pick.

My point is that if everyone on this team gave everything they had two weeks ago, we would be talking Cowboys vs. Patriots Superbowl. But it wasn’t meant to be. I am not saying that Marcus Spears is a horrible player but he has not lived up to the billing of being a 1st round draft pick. Bobby Carpenter hasn’t either but at least Spears has been given the opportunity. So I will leave it at that Cowboy fans.  Well that’s all for now kiddies and remember, see you next Sunday. Same Cowboys time! Same Cowboys place! Same Cowboys channel!       

Trade Rumors Swirling Around Valley Ranch

From Dallas Morning News: 

Rumor has it that the Cowboys are shopping former first-round picks DE Marcus Spears and LB Bobby Carpenter at the Senior Bowl.

Carpenter simply isn’t a fit in a 3-4 defense, which makes Bill Parcells’ decision to pick him pretty puzzling. Carpenter couldn’t get on the field in any of the Cowboys’ defensive packages this season but was a solid special teams player. He wasn’t considered a reach when the Cowboys drafted him 19th overall two years ago, so some 4-3 teams might be interested.

Spears isn’t a bad player, but he hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing. To use a Tuna term, he’s J.A.G. If the Cowboys get rid of Spears, Jay Ratliff could take his job, with Jason Ferguson and Tank Johnson forming a good NT tandem.

Time to give Jerry some advice: What would you want for Spears or Carpenter? I’m not sure the return for either would be more than a second-day pick, so try to be realistic.