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Bracing For A New Season: Three Up And Three Down

It has been an agonizingly slow news day for the Cowboys… more like a  week… or better yet, a month…

So I took a quick look at the projected roster for the upcoming season and tried to detect some potential concerns or problem areas. I didn’t see any glaring holes or huge problem areas, but there are a few mild concerns as I see it.

Some Concerns

Alan Ball – Ball will be the first choice to fill the shoes of the departing Ken Hamlin at safety. Nobody expects him to duplicate the former Pro Bowler’s presence on the field and in the locker room, but expectations still will be high for a team that need all aspects of it’s game to be firing on all cylinders. Especially, in the secondary. Ball has shown some flashes in his limited playing time so I remain hopeful, but I’m also realistic and realize that until he actually goes out there and impresses, he is still a question mark.

Marion Barber – The “Barbarian” will most likely see a reduced role this season similar to one he enjoyed when Julius Jones was last here. For a big dude, he seems to wear down easily as an every down back, and with Felix Jones making a strong case for increased playing time, Barber may only get touches in short yardage situations and possibly at the goal line. He may not like his reduced status so keep an eye on the situation. By the way, with a nickname like “The Barbarian”, he sure has been very brittle and it don’t take much for him to get removed from a game. He better toughen up before they change his moniker to “Maid Marion”.

Roy Williams – Yeah I know it sounds like I’ve been picking on RW ever since the Cowboys traded for him, but my concerns were justified and time did prove me right. I’m still bugged by the fact he is still here. Yes, I know he has a boatload of cash coming to him, but winning trumps everything including greenbacks. Whereas before my concern was giving RW a superstar mega-deal for what was just a garden variety receiver, now my concern is how do we get Kevin Ogletree and Dez Bryant the playing time they deserve while at the same time keeping RW from back-biting and inciting turmoil in the locker room?

No Worries

Doug Free – I’m not as concerned as others about Doug Free taking over for Flozell Adams. Adams has been on a downward slope for the last two seasons, and our O-Line was getting a little long in the tooth. Free looked fantastic while filling in for Mark Colombo last season, and I believe he will be an upgrade over Flozell this season. His youth will help recharge an aging O-Line.

Tony Romo – I believe Tony Romo is still going to get better even though right now he’s a Top 10 QB. He has a thirst for knowledge and always shows up better prepared for the season than anyone else on the roster. He has great skills, but is also a thinking man’s quarterback and I believe that will ultimately add up to a couple of Super Bowl rings before he is through.

David Buehler – I’m not at all concerned about David Buehler getting the job done as a placekicker. When he was with the Trojans, he was unexpectedly called into service to kick a filed goal due to an injury. He nailed a 49-yard field goal and the Trojans won the game. For USC, it was the longest successful field goal since 1988, a two decade span. Am I worried about Buehler? Nah… The kid’s a grinder…

Balancing It Out

Yes there was only 1 football on the field at a time, but from the way Dallas looked this week and the way Tony Romo spread the ball around it sure didn’t look like it. Dallas had Seattle confused from the very beginning on what their game plan was and that was to dominate.

Tony Romo went 21/36 for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns with NO interceptions. Miles Austin had 5 receptions for 61 yards rushed for 11 yards and had a touchdown. Sam Hurd had just one reception but it went for 35 yards and a touchdown. Roy Williams finally had his first touchdown as a Dallas Cowboy with 2 receptions for 19 yards. Patrick Crayton had 39 yards receiving and returned a punt for a touchdown for the second week in a row. Jason Witten, Felix Jones, Kevin Ogletree and Martellus Bennett all had receptions for over 100 total yards.

Marion “The Beast” Barber had only 14 rushing attempts but went for 53 yards and a touchdown. Felix Jones had 8 attempts and pounded out 39 yards. Tashard Choice got in on the action with 4 rushes for 11 yards. The offense went for a total of 26 first downs in the game, with 17 of those coming in the first half alone. 15 of those first downs by passing and 7 of them by rushing. Our third down efficiency was at 53% with a total of 362 net yards. Time of possession was an astounding 34:45

th_newman-1Keith Brooking continued to make his statement towards defensive player of the year with 8 tackles and forcing 1 sack. Demarcus Ware once again had a strong game with 2 tackles and a sack and Bobby Carpenter refused to be overlooked and got in with 3 tackles and a sack. Terence Newman and Bradie James both had good games each forcing a fumble that was recovered by Dallas. With a total of 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and only allowing 79 rushing yards by previous Dallas Cowboys RB Julius Jones, holding the Seattle offensive possession time to 25:15 and only 17 points, the defense made a statement once again.

You hear all this talk about what division is the toughest in the league. If you look at the numbers it is an easy decision to make. the NFC east is the only division in the league to have 3 teams with at least 5 wins on the season. With 5 out of the next 4 games being on the road you could make the argument that Dallas has the toughest schedule to finish out the season but with the way they are coming together on both offense and defense, bring on the competition.

Sunday night is going to be a true test for Dallas when we play Philly for first place in our division. After we win that game and silence all the critics we make our way north to Lambeau field for a battle against the Green Bay Packers before we come back home against our long time rivals (I cringe every time I even say their name) the STRUGGLING Washington Redskins.

Although we are looking very strong at home, we need to prove to not only ourselves but all the critics out there that we can win on the road. Once we win Sunday night and take over first place, then come home after winning in Green Bay with a 3 game winning streak, maybe, JUST MAYBE, everyone will see that this year DALLAS IS ON A MISSION!!!!!

LET’S GO BOYS!!!!!!!

Cowboys Extra Points: Rockstars and Superstars

The Cowboys announced that Daughtry will be performing during the halftime show at the Thanksgiving Day game. The game will be Thursday, Nov. 26 against the Oakland Raiders. Daughtry is a rock band from North Carolina lead by frontman Chris Daughtry.

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Felix Jones will return to kickoff returns this weekend as Allen Rossum has been sidelined for two to four weeks with a hamstring injury. Rossum injured his leg last week in his Cowboys debut.

Patrick Crayton will take on punt return duties once again.

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Former Cowboy Julius Jones is excited to return to Dallas to face his old teammates.

“It’s always good for me to see some of the guys that I played with down there. Bradie James, (Terence) Newman, Jason Witten, it’ll be good to see them before the game. And then beat them up during the game and then talk to them afterwards.”

Yeah, good luck with that Julius!

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DeMarcus Ware is being compared to hall of famer Lawrenece Taylor by none other than Bill Belichick.

I can’t imagine DeMarcus Ware hindering any team’s defense,” Belichick said during his daily press conference with New England reporters. “The guy’s one of the best players in the league. It’s like when we had Lawrence Taylor with the Giants. That guy was a force on every play. The offense had to account for him on every play. I think he helped our team defense probably as much as any player I ever coached.”

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Patrick Crayton has commented about his demotion as starting wide receiver. He had this to say yesterday (Thursday):

“I’ve still got (the chip),” Crayton said Thursday, glancing at his left shoulder. “It just got a little bigger last week. It’s going to stay there. It’s a permanent fixture there.”

Crayton referring to his punt return for a touchdown last Sunday:

“However they come my way, I’ve got to maximize them. I’ve got to squeeze 100 percent of the juice out of it.”

Before last week’s game, after learning of his demotion:

“I had a dropped pass and a muffed punt,” he said. “And the other guy had 250 yards.”

About the notion that he should start ahead of Roy Williams:

“When you give up a first, a third and a sixth and pay a guy that much, he has to play.”

Well, what do you expect him to say? He got demoted, the younger, faster guy got the job. As long as he gives 100% on the field, I don’t really care what he says to the media.


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 – http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=players-air-and-ground. 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 Free Agents Update

Of 15 Free Agents, only 4 are left to question their future. Three players left the team, four were signed, three were tendered and one was franchised.  

Unrestricted Free Agents (6)

  • LT Flozell Adams  – SIGNED
  • S Ken Hamlin – FRANCHISED
  • RB Julius Jones – WENT TO SEATTLE
  • S Keith Davis – WENT TO MIAMI
  • CB Jacques Reeves – WENT TO HOUSTON
  • CB Nate Jones *UPDATE* – WENT TO MIAMI

Restricted Free Agents (5)

  • RB Marion Barber – ISSUED HIGHEST TENDER
  • DE Chris Canty – ISSUED FIRST-ROUND TENDER
  • LS L.P. Ladouceur – SIGNED
  • RB Tyson Thompson
  • OL Joe Berger – ISSUED TENDER

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (4)

  • DE Stephen Bowen – SIGNED
  • OL Cory Procter
  • CB Evan Oglesby
  • TE Tony Curtis – SIGNED

 

Goodbye JuJo, Julius Jones To Seattle

According to several reports Julius Jones has agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks. This will end Jones’ 4-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.

We all knew that Julius wanted out of Dallas and wanted to be a lone starter after Marion Barber took the running back spotlight in 2007. Jones had a 1,000 in 2006, but after splitting time again with Barber in 2007, he finished with only 164 carries for 588 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Jones’ will probably end Shaun Alexander’s reign in Seattle but may end up sharing carries with T.J. Duckett and Maurice Morris.

Good luck Julius… well, except when we are playing your new team!

Player News: Marion’s Got Protection, Flozell Signs

Restricted free agent Marion Barber has been tendered for $2.562 million. Any team looking to propose an offer to Barber would also have to give up a first and third round draft pick if the Cowboys failed to match the offer. I think that pretty much ensures Barber will be a Cowboy next season. The Cowboys will probably offer the Pro Bowl running back a long-term contract after free agency.

Chris Canty was also tendered for $2.017 million, any team going after Canty would have to give up a first round draft pick in the deal. Canty is a 3-year veteran who had an impressive year in ’07. I would like to see him remain in Dallas.

Guard Joe Berger received the $927,000 tender.

Irving native Tyson Thompson was not offered a tender and therefore will probably no longer be in Dallas.

Fullback Oliver Hoyte was waived today. He spent alot of time injured and never really brought anything to the table. His football career may come to an end.

Unrestricted free agents include Julius Jones, Keith Davis, Flozell Adams, Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves. The Cowboys may go up until the 11pm deadline negotiating with Flozell Adams. I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith Davis ends up in Miami. As for Julius, Nate and Jacques, good luck out there guys!

***UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Flozell Adams has agreed to a multi-year contract, terms to be announced tomorrow.***

Barber and Cowboys to Talk This Week

According to reports at the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys are expect to start talks with Marion Barber and his agent this week at the NFL Combine. Barber is a restricted free agent that had a very impressive season this past year and looks to make a long term deal with the Cowboys.

For those of you who remain interested in Darren McFadden, I don’t think this is going to happen. The Cowboys have $13 million left in their salary cap and have to take care of their free agents and draft picks. McFadden would cost the Cowboys a lot of money that they just don’t have to spend. Stranger things have happened but I don’t see it.

Personally, I think the Cowboys should hold on to Marion Barber and draft another running back. They are going to need a backup. Julius Jones is definitely not sticking around and Tyson Thompson did horrible last year, even thought he didn’t get much of a chance. I’m not sure how many running backs are available in free agency, I doubt very many good ones. They are definitely hard to come by.

Lock up Barber! Do it NOW!

 

Barber? Jones? McFadden? Who’s Going? Who’s Staying? Who’s Coming?

Originally, I had planned to write this blog on why I think we should go ahead and trade Julius Jones and keep Marion Barber. I have thought for the most of the season that Barber is the future in the Cowboys backfield. While Jones is a good back and can certainly be the lead man in another offense, I think he has seen the writing on the wall in Dallas, and realizes that he is going to be relegated to a supporting role for Barber. Because of this, I think Jones slacked off this season. When he gets the chance to carry the ball, he spends his time dancing around the backfield, waiting for a hole to open up. Barber, on the other hand, tends to make a hole if one isn’t readily available.

My reasoning here is, that Julius Jones, while a talented and hard worker, has lost heart, due to his realization that Barber is now perceived as the premier back. Julius knows that he can be the top back in many other offensive schemes, just not here with the Cowboys. Therefore, I was going to argue that we should get a contract on Barber and lock him in long term and let Jones go with our best wishes since I don’t think we can keep both.

Then – from stage left, enters Darren McFadden of Arkansas. The rumors are flying that Jerry Jones wants McFadden and wants him badly. Miami, of course, would have the first shot at McFadden (or anyone) due to having the first round draft pick this coming year. As we all know, we have already had a mass exodus of coaches from Dallas to Miami to join the Big Tuna. In thinking about this, it seems that Jerry Jones has been very cooperative in this process, and has allowed these guys to leave without much effort to keep them. In addition, it is also rumored that Miami wants Barber.  Could there be a deal in the works to let assistant coaches go without a whimper, while also tossing Barber into the mix at some point in order for the Cowboys to get their hands on that first round draft pick?

To be honest, I have no idea. All I know are the rumors I hear on the sports shows and the other blogs and fan sites I read. I love Barber and don’t want to see him go. However, I loved Herschel Walker and thought his trade was one of the most stupid things I had ever seen – at the time it happened. Of course, I realized later, that “The Trade” as it would come to be known, was a brilliant coup on the part of Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson to lay the foundation for a dynasty, while Minnesota ended up feeling like they had bought a huge “lemon” from the shadiest used car dealer in town. Ultimately, the final results of “The Trade” brought some now familiar names to the Boys – Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, Darren Woodson, and Clayton Holmes.  For Minnesota, the results brought – relative obscurity.

My thoughts here are this, I know Jerry Jones is a smart business man. He knows how to cut a deal, and has proven that time and again in the past. I admit that I have thought him crazy at times in the past and then later, I was proven wrong when the impact of these deals have been brought to light. Jones obviously has some neurons and synapses firing in his head that don’t work so well in my noggin. But please, let’s not make the mistake Minnesota did – thinking they were one back away from a championship, they sold their soul (and their supporting cast) to get him.

Again, I love Barber and think he may be the toughest back out there. McFadden is, without a doubt, extremely talented, yet unproven in the NFL. Barber has already proven himself with the Cowboys. Aren’t there other possible ways of getting McFadden without giving up Barber? Is all this just unfounded rumor with no basis in reality? Many have said so. They say there’s no way Jones will let Barber go. It’s a given that Jerry Jones will sign him. I thought so too, but why hasn’t he done so yet? What’s the hold up? As a restricted free agent, my understanding is that you simply have to tender him an offer to lock him in, but this, as of yet, hasn’t happened.

For the most part, in this blog, I am just thinking out loud. I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert – just a devoted fan trying to figure out what’s going on. What do you, the readers think? Please feel free to share your thoughts with me. Is all this a possibility? Am I nuts? Hit me back. Let me know what you think.

Contributed by Rich Isaacs 
 

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!       

Looking at Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents (6)

  • LT Flozell Adams
  • S Ken Hamlin
  • RB Julius Jones
  • S Keith Davis
  • CB Jacques Reeves
  • CB Nate Jones

Restricted Free Agents (5)

  • RB Marion Barber
  • DE Chris Canty
  • LS L.P. Ladouceur
  • RB Tyson Thompson
  • OL Joe Berger

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (4)

  • DE Stephen Bowen
  • OL Cory Procter
  • CB Evan Oglesby
  • TE Tony Curtis

In my opinion the Cowboys must keep Marion Barber, Chris Canty, Ken Hamlin and Tony Curtis. I believe all of those players will help the future of this team. Some might add Flozell in with those names, but he just has too many penalties, and we all know when it comes down to it, penalties can make or break a game. Free agency signing period begins February 29th.

Cowboys fans have fallen in love with Marion Barber. With his rough style that earned him 10 touchdowns and 975 yards as the back-up running back to Julius Jones, its clear why they love him.

 

 

Chris Canty started to shine this year. The 25-year old defensive end had 3.5 sacks and 43 tackles. He is a restricted free agent, but is expected to sign a deal similiar to Jay Ratliff’s 5 year-20 million.

 

 

Ken Hamlin, who signed a one year deal last year, has had a successful year. He had 5 interceptions, 62 tackles (45 solo) and will start in the Pro Bowl next month. That’s more than enough reasons why the Cowboys should give him a contract.

 

 

Tony Curtis, the third string tight end, showed great potential earning 3 touchdowns from only 3 receptions in 2007. He also looked really good in pre-season. Being an exclusive rights free agent, he really has no say in the matter, but I’m sure he will be a Cowboy in 2008.

 

 

We Could See a Little of Everyone in the Season Finale

The Cowboys season finale will take place this Sunday at 3:15 p.m. central time, in Washington. Yes, the time has been changed, hopefully that will allow more regions to tune in to the final game of what has been an exciting record-breaking year for the Dallas Cowboys.

A lot of people believe the Cowboys can take it easy for this game, and some want the Cowboys to go full force. Personally, I’d rest the starters. Especially with the injuries we’ve encountered in the last two games, it’s just not worth the risk. I think Wade and Jerry agree with that theory.

Rumors are that Romo will take limited snaps and is expected to hand the ball over to Brad Johnson early in the game. Terrell Owens is of course out for this game, Sam Hurd will start in his place. The biggest news of the week though – Terry Glenn’s return! Glenn practiced with full pads today. He may come out a little rusty, but to know he is eligible to play makes me feel a little better about Terrell Owens absence this week.

Others are speculating Marion Barber to sit out for most of the game and let the ‘starter’ Julius Jones play almost a full game. Wade Phillips and crew have used both Jones and Barber all season, but differently than Bill Parcells did last year. They have split drives instead of downs for most games. Its been interesting, but despite Jones’ starting status, Barber has been more of a star. This was proven when Barber was recently awarded his first Pro Bowl nod.

I’m actually looking forward to seeing some of our backups play. It’s good to see what you have and I believe we have excellent depth all around this team. Of course, we wouldn’t be where we are – Home Field Advantage, First-Round Bye, No. 1 Seed in the NFC, etc. – without the starters who have been shining all year long. Take a break guys, we need you to rest up for the playoffs. We believe this is the year, we break that 5-time super bowl champs tie, and go all the way for #6!