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Random Observations

-Miles Austin is a GREAT receiver. He is elite. Period. Dez Bryant will make this offense unstoppable when he finally starts opposite Austin.

-2009 Ball State 3rd round pick Robert Brewster is still a year away from being an NFL caliber OT or G. Missing his rookie year due to injury, he just doesn’t have “it” yet. I would release him on the final cuts and try to get him back on the practice squad. If not, oh well. We need solid backups to survive this Super Bowl run.

-The tight end situation is terrible. It went from a strength on the team to a worry with John Phillips tearing his ACL. Although, if Sicko progresses this year, it gives us an out with Martellus Bennett should he continue his mundane play.

-Alex Barron needs coaching. Hudson Houck must change this guy’s bad habits or he will be a one and done as a Cowboy. You don’t pay good money for Pat McQuistan production.

-No way do you cut Deon Anderson. If you want Chris Gronkowski on the final 53, you must deplete another position’s depth and keep two fullbacks. Deon has been a fantastic blocker and a surprise threat out of the backfield as a receiver.

-David Buehler is doing a good job. Kickoffs, as usual, have been stellar. Touchback after touchback. Field goals have been good enough to keep believing in him. I love that he is working with Chris Boniol.

-Jon Kitna will be a solid backup should we, God forbid, need him to hold the fort for a few games.

-The linebackers on this team are off the hook. Our starters dominate. Bradie James and Keith Brooking will be the vocal leaders on this very strong defense. There are surprises such as Leon Williams that will make the final cuts a very hard job.

-Too much is being made of win/loss, Redzone failures and other trivial statistics in the preseason.

-5 preseason games could make you a tired team in January.

-Wade Phillips is awesome. His defense rocks and he has survived the headhunters of Dallas (media) through hell and back.

Dez Bryant Out 4-6 Weeks, May Miss All Pre-Season

Update 7:45 PM

The team announced Friday evening that Dez Bryant will miss four to six weeks. Bryant was injured on the second-to-last play of Friday’s practice in the Alamodome.

An MRI confirmed the team’s fear of a high ankle sprain. Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones had expressed hope that Bryant, who had a spectacular start to training camp, would be out for only a few days or a week, but now they are faced with an injury that could have ripple effects to start the season.

With this injury, the Cowboys’ top three picks are all injured. Second-round linebacker Sean Lee has been sidelined since Tuesday with a strained quadriceps, and fourth-round safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who had shoulder surgery in March, has not been cleared to practice yet.

Geez…

Original Post 3:00 PM

ESPN Dallas reports:

SAN ANTONIO — Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, the team’s first-round selection, was helped off the field by two athletic trainers after suffering a right ankle injury near the end of the training practice Friday.

Bryant stayed on the Alamodome turf after cornerback Orlando Scandrick broke up a pass on a crossing route. Jon Kitna’s pass was thrown slightly behind Bryant, and Scandrick appeared to land on the prized rookie’s lower right leg. He was helped off the field, with Bryant keeping weight off it.

Bryant will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.

Let’s hope its not as bad as it sounds. All we can do at this point is wait for the MRI results.

Link: Cowboys Have A Solid QB Situation

In a post to Fox Sports Southwest, they look at which teams have the best and worst quarterback situations. Basically, they are looking at which teams not only have a solid starter, but also look at who would step in if that starter got injured.

They rank the Dallas Cowboys as the second best quarterback situation behind Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. It’s a different way of looking at things.

It all begins with Tony Romo, who finally won a playoff game in his fourth year as the starter.  He’s quickly becoming one of the NFL’s truly elite passers with 107 touchdowns over the last four seasons, and his yards per attempt average has dipped below eight only once in a season.  His 63.4 career completion percentage is better than Tom Brady’s, Brett Favre’s, Ben Roethlisberger’s, and Philip Rivers’s.  He could be even better in 2010 with Dallas’s most impressive array of weapons since the Troy Aikman days.  

Then there’s backup Jon Kitna and his 115 career starts.  Kitna has topped 3000 passing yards six times in his NFL days, and 4000 twice.  You won’t find many teams with a second-teamer who owns more TD passes than the four-year starter, but Romo has a couple of seasons to go before besting Kitna’s mark of 152.  That’s 259 TD passes on this team if you’re counting.

I think it’s important to have a solid backup like Kitna on the team, and though you hope you never have to use him, it’s nice to know he’s there.

Three Down, One To Go

With preseason coming to an end this weekend, I found myself asking what have we learned from these exhibition games? After all isn’t that what preseason is all about? Of course, Cowboys fans what a win every game no matter what, but when it comes to preseason its more about seeing how the backups handle their roles, and learning who should stay and who should go.

Most would agree, the starters have looked amazing. Training camp served its purpose and served it well this year. Tony Romo looks rock solid. The power of Marion Barber and Felix Jones looks unstoppable. The defense looks tough (with a few minor adjustments).

Kevin OgletreePROS

Kevin Ogletree- who knew this undrafted rookie would prove to have so much talent. I agree with the fact it is only preseason but I certainly see Ogletree making the team before Stanback.

David Buehler – many questioned drafting a kicker, more questioned him making the team, but this special teams ‘specialist’ not only has an accurate kickoff but can tackle as well.

Keith Brooking – his experience and leadership reminds me of Zach Thomas last season. Its always nice to have a veteran role model on the squad.

CONS

Corey Procter – his performance has been underwhelming and rumors persist that he will be cut.

Courtney Brown – after getting an earful from Coach Phillips in front of the cameras, Brown’s most recent pass interference penalty was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Isaiah Stanback – he has been given a few too many chances to prove he can be a reliable receiver. Keeping him on the roster any longer is just absurd, when he’s actually healthy enough to play he hasn’t shown he has what it takes to make the team.

Bobby Carpenter – another first round draft pick letdown. He most likely won’t be cut because of injuries to rookies and the lack of depth at LB. However, that doesn’t mean I have to like him.

Penalties- they have got to get better disciplined. After 3 match-ups the Cowboys have racked up 32 penalties for 300 yards.

Special Teams- too many of the penalties just listed came from special teams. Field position means too much to continuously give up yardage for holding and other pathetic penalties.

UNDECIDED

Jon Kitna- hopefully it won’t matter how Kitna played in preseason because we won’t see him take the field. Some are saying he’s not the guy, but he is only a backup after all. His age is definitely catching up with him, but in time of need he may still be able to get the job done.

Wade Phillips

I’m sure there are a few I missed. Who would you add to pros or cons? Is there anyone you are still undecided about? The Cowboys have to cut three players for tomorrow’s deadline, who will it be?

Storylines Aplenty As 2009 Season Approaches

There is certainly no absence of story lines as 2009 training camp comes to an end in the Alamo City.  Position battles, new faces, and players past are but a few of the most popular headliners going into this year.  The house-cleaning done by Jerry and Stephen Jones in the off-season has left several important positions vacated and free for the taking.  And with that, here are a few positions to keep a watchful eye on as pre-season play progresses. 

 

Wide Receiver

Wide receiver is, without a doubt, the unprecedented position of interest heading into this year.  The most popular topic is obviously the departure of Terrell Owens, who spent the last three seasons as the most productive receiver the Cowboys have had since Michael Irvin.  Owens’roy-williams-hookem departure means that Roy Williams will take the reigns as the number one receiver in the Dallas offense.  Many are quick to scrutinize the unproductive season Williams had last year, but nary a soul remembers that Williams did not arrive in Dallas until the week six bye, and had very little time to learn the playbook.  Many also forget that nagging injuries hampered Williams for most of the season and affected his speed, quickness off the line, timing with Romo, etc.  With Williams at full health this year, look for him to give the Cowboys good production as the number one receiver.  Also look for Patrick Crayton to regain the number two receiver spot that he held two years ago.  Many also forget that Crayton posted stellar numbers as the number two receiver in 2007.  The Cowboys also went without Sam Hurd for a good portion of last year, and were without Miles Austin’s services for several weeks, as well.  Look for the Cowboys to use Mile Austin’s size and speed to stretch the field, and look for Hurd to be used in multiple receiver formations.  The fifth wide receiver position will likely be up for grabs between Isaiah Stanback, Manny Johnson, and Jesse Holley, who won the final roster spot on 4th and Long.  Youngsters on the outside looking in include Mike Jefferson, Travis Wilson, Kevin Ogletree, Julian Hawkins, and Willie Reid.  For what it’s worth, I asked Isaiah Stanback via Twitter if he thought Jesse Holley was any good, to which he replied simply, “I’m better.” 

 

Secondary

It seems like the secondary tops these lists every year for one reason or another, and this season is no different.  Watchful eyes will be locked on the secondary this year to see if the departures of several key veterans will pay dividends.  Gone is safety Roy Williams, 547186who since 2002 had been a staple in the Dallas secondary.  Though he had several outstanding years with the Cowboys, Williams seemed to fall off the map the past several years.  He became a severe liability in pass coverage, and his run support also became less effective.  To replace Williams, the Cowboys signed Gerald Sensabaugh from Jacksonville.  Sensabaugh is better known for his coverage skills, having also played stints at cornerback for the Jaguars.  Also gone is cornerback Anthony Henry, who was traded to Detroit in exchange for Jon Kitna.  Looking to fill Henry’s shoes are second year players Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.  Jenkins would seem to have the edge because of his first round draft status.  But Scandrick, who looks to be the steal of the 2008 draft, showed last year that he is also worthy of the starting job.  It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys will split time between these two young talents, if that is the approach they decide to pursue.  I personally believe the Cowboys have three very talented rookies in Michael Hamlin, DeAngelo Smith, and Mike Mickens.  Both Mickens and Hamlin were both projected to go as high as the second round in this year’s draft, and it will be exciting to see if they live up to their pre-draft stock.  Eyes will also be upon Pat Watkins to see if he can be a key contributor in the secondary after a nagging neck injury last season landed him on injured reserve. 

 

Linebacker

With Greg Ellis little more than an afterthought in Dallas, outside linebacker will also be an area of interest heading into the season.  The Cowboys drafted Anthony Spencer (A fellow Boilermaker) several years ago with the intent of grooming him to replace Greg Ellis.  To answer the qFALCONS SAINTSuestion that my favorite Smiths song asks, the time is certainly now for Spencer.  He has undoubtedly shown signs of being DeMarcus Ware’s counterpart the last two seasons, but has been somewhat inconsistent due to a few injuries and playing behind Ellis.  At full health this year, Spencer will benefit from the constant attention that DeMarcus Ware demands from offenses, and will compliment him well on the opposite side.  The Cowboys linebacking corps will also have a new face in the middle, with Keith Brooking arriving from Atlanta.  He should be a much better fit next to Bradie James than Zach Thomas was last year.  The Cowboys also have four talented rookies joining the linebacker corps this year in Jason Williams, Victor Butler, Brandon Williams, and Stephen Hodge.  With Greg Ellis gone, look for Butler and Brandon Williams to shoulder the backup outside linebacker duties.  Jason Williams will be battling for playing time at nickel linebacker with Bobby Carpenter, and Hodge will provide depth at middle linebacker.  Look for all of these rookies to contribute heavily on special teams, as well.  One linebacker everyone should have on their radar is Bobby Carpenter.  He has not exactly lived up to expectations since arriving in 2006, but it is much too early to toss him onto the scrap pile with a bust tag.  Carpenter has gotten less than a fair shake since arriving in Dallas, having been moved around to different linebacker spots multiple times.  It would appear, for now at least, that Carpenter has found a home at nickel linebacker, a title previously held by Kevin Burnett.  If Carpenter excels at the nickel linebacker spot early on, expect him to get more playing time in other packages, as well. 

As the start of another football season grows closer with each passing day, the chills of autumn grow more intense as they go up and down my spine.  Hold onto your hats fellow Cowboys brothers and sisters, for this season promises to bring much excitement.  I can feel it in these silver and blue bones of mine. 

 

Extras

In the past couple of weeks, I have done quite a bit of networking with several Cowboys players on Twitter, routinely chatting with names like Martellus Bennett, Isaiah Stanback, Gerald Sensabaugh, and Jason Williams.  Having the opportunity to network with men that I call my heroes is truly amazing.  As a boy knowing I wanted to “do John Madden’s job,” I never would have fathomed that I would be able to chat with players from my favorite team with the mere click of a button.  I want to thank these gentlemen for taking time out of their hectic schedule to network with fans such as myself.  Keep it real Cowboys fans.

Another Day In Cowboy Land

For the Dallas Cowboys and their fans the crack of pads, the ear splitting screech of whistles followed by the hollering of instructions usually signifies the approaching end to summer and the beginning of a new season. We are well into training camp with one pre-season game under our belts (shhh lets pretend that didn’t happen).

Roy WilliamsAs is expected and normal across most camps, the Cowboys have had their share of bumps and bruises but (knock on wood) nothing serious. We all held our breaths with the news of Roy Williams’s wrist injury, but the sprain only kept him out of practice for a day. His status for Friday night’s second pre-season game is unknown right now, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t get in for a drive or two.

The secondary got stronger as well with Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins back in practice. Jenkins missed about a week with a sprained right ankle.

Sporting News Today is reporting that backup quarterback Jon Kitna and center Cory Procter have been having trouble with the snap through out camp and it actually carried over to the game against the Raiders which resulted in a 16 yard loss on one play, and a missed field goal on the drive. Obviously it is still early and is something they will continue to work on. Let’s cross our fingers and hope Kitna wont be needed this season anyway.

Bradie James is looking to become a nice compliment to DeMarcus Ware and help take some pressure of him when they attack the quarterback. The Dallas Morning News reports that James had two sacks against the number two offensive line and showed some speed in doing so.

With the dismissal of Terrell Owens the offense is looking to use a two tight end set as another weapon this season. We all know what Jason Witten can do, and now with second year man Martellus Bennett as the second tight end these two make it very hard for opposing defenses to cover. Bennett is a big strong target with good hands and knows how to block as well. This duo is going to be hard to stop, watch out!!

Let’s see how things fare for the Boys on Friday night in their new stadium against the Titans. It will bring us one step closer to the regular season and the hopes and dreams of the Super Bowl.

New to the Silver & Blue: Jon Kitna

I am sure that every reader knows the name QB Jon Kitna.  Kitna has been around or 12 seasons.  Jon is 36 years old, weights 220 and is 6-2.

Jon started his career with the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 and played for them 4 years.  He moved on to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001 for 5 years. The last team he played for is the Detroit Lions until the end of last season, and now he is a Dallas Cowboy. 

Was it a good move for us to pick up another back-up QB? Definitely.

Is Jon Kitna worth trading CB Anthony Henry?  Some might say no, but I say why not? It’s time to see what we got with Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.

Jon Kitna in my opinion is great back-up material.  He is a veteran that knows the game.  He has recently said he hopes he never has to take a snap during a game.  I like that about him. He knows his role and seems to be satisfied with it.

Jon Kitna’s stats are nowhere close to Tony Romo’s, but he’s a backup and he is an upgrade over Brad Johnson.

He has a total of 27,293 yards passing.  Kitna’s 2008 stats, during 4 games that he played were not bad at all. Sure they lost all the games, but come on we are talking about the Lions. 

He had a QB rating of 72.2 which is not bad.  He threw 5 touchdowns and had threw for 758 yards.  The only negative I see is that he did throw 5 interceptions. We all know that a receiver may have run a bad route or their was a miscue in the huddle. So the interceptions aren’t bothering me yet.

Let’s all hope that  Jon’s wish comes true and he never has to take a snap during a game and Romo stays healthy all season. But if he does have to step in, I’m confident he can hold down the fort.

The (Identical) Triplets

Is it just me or could Nick Folk, Jon Kitna and the newly drafted David Buehler be passed off as identical triplets?

Okay, so maybe not Kitna as much but wow Folk and the new kicker Buehler are strikingly similar.

Hey, what’s wrong with a little Monday morning humor? LOL