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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…

Cowboys Apparently Not Interested In Safety O.J. Atogwe

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones is one of the best, if not the best, owners in the National Football League.

As a general manager, he’s one of the biggest riverboat gamblers on either side of the Mississippi River.

A lot of times he’s been right, and a lot of times he’s been wrong.

Having enough faith in our backup receivers to cut Terrell Owens and subsequently, Miles Austin emerged. Good.

Trading two first round draft picks for Joey Galloway. Bad

Well, Jerry Jones is on the craps table and is rolling the dice again. This time with the safety position of the Cowboys.

Gerald Sensabaugh, our strong safety, signed his one-year tender with the Cowboys, and Jerry Jones may extend him, but the free safety position is still a concern because Alan Ball, the replacement for Ken Hamlin, who we cut, is… the best word would be unproven.

I’ve seen Ball in preseason games, and he’s good, but when Jerry Jones passes up a shot to get Darren Sharper, a beast of a safety, in free agency, you wonder if Jerry is taking too large a risk with the team.

Well, now the Cowboys aren’t going to make an effort to sign free agent, O.J. Atogwe, a safety who last played for the St. Louis Rams.

Atogwe is a pretty good safety. I know he’s an upgrade from Ken Hamlin, but not on the Ed Reed/Darren Sharper level. I was hoping to possibly see him with the Cowboys and give me more assurance than Alan Ball has.

However, Jerry Jones disagrees. He replied to the question, “I’m ready to go to our season with the safeties we have. That might answer your question.” According to the Cowboys official website.

Jerry Jones feels comfortable with new draft picks like Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a fourth rounder from IUP, or Jamar Wall, a cornerback who might convert to safety from Texas Tech.

Add in Michael Hamlin (no relation to Ken Hamlin), who missed most of last year due to a wrist injury, and the incumbent, Alan Ball, to the mix and Dallas has a strong depth at the position.

There is even some undrafted players that can work out as safeties.

Jerry Jones apparently has faith in these players, so Dallas fans are going to have to trust them. Who knows? Maybe a Miles Austin will emerge.

We can only hope, but for right now, it is for-sure that Jerry Jones isn’t rummaging for his checkbook to give Atogwe a contract.

This article was originally published here.

Flozell and Hamlin to Be Released

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that veterans Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin will be released by the Cowboys today.

Flozell Adams has been with the Cowboys since he was taken in the second round of the draft in 1998. The 6 ft. 7 in. offensive tackle is a five-time Pro Bowler. At the age of 34 it’s hard to say what’s in store for Big Flo now.

Ken Hamlin was signed by the Cowboys in 2007 to a one-year contract. He made a great run in 2007 and was elected to his first and only Pro Bowl. In 2008 the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Hamlin and later that summer signed him to a six-year deal. Since signing the deal Hamlin has had only one interception.

This morning Hamlin announced his release via Twitter stating:

“I would like to say to all of my fans that I appreciate all the love that you have showed me in Dallas. It was a good run….. Thanks”

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I think the draft may just get interesting now…

Injury Update: Ware, Hamlin News

After a huge scare last weekend, we could likely see DeMarcus Ware back on the field this Saturday night in New Orleans.

Coach Phillips reported that if the game had been Wednesday, Ware would not have played but it would have been close. He hasn’t lost any strength or motion, it seems to be more of a soreness issue. If by chance Ware does not play, Victor Butler will be his replacement.

Safety Ken Hamlin has missed the last four games with an ankle injury but is now fully recovered and ready to roll. Hamlin is pumped up about the Saints game this weekend and cannot wait to get back into the action.

“I’m a competitor. I want to be out on the field.

“It’s going to be an exciting game. I’m ready to get back and start playing.”

Tight end Martellus Bennett will be out again this week after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. He hasn’t practiced since the injury occurred. Rookie John Phillips will replace Bennett in the lineup.

Safety Pat Watkins is also out with a sprained left PCL. Alan Ball will fill Watkins shoes as backup safety and on special teams. Ball has started the four games that Ken Hamlin has missed.

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Personally I’m praying for Ware’s recovery, you definitely need your best defensive player in the game when you are going up against one of the best, if not the best, offenses in the league. The Cowboys need this win desperately after losing their division lead and any hopes of a playoff run could be determined this weekend.

Latest Cowboys Injury Updates

As the Cowboys brace themselves for the storm raging in New Orleans, they will have to make do without several of their key players.

Head coach Wade Phillips said DeMarcus Ware’s sprained neck is “a lot better” today after injuring it in the fourth quarter against the Chargers, and he is now listed as day-to-day. That said, despite being closely monitored, it’s still unlikely that he will play on Sunday. Rookie Victor Butler will get plenty of playing time in his absence.

Starting safety Ken Hamlin (high ankle sprain) will try to work himself back to practice this week, but it’s still uncertain if he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game at the Big Easy.

Cowboys beat writer Josh Ellis tells us that the Cowboys will be without tight end Martellus Bennett again this week, as he has yet to pass the necessary tests to be cleared of concussion-like symptoms. Under the NFL’s new concussion guidelines, a player must wait one week to return after passing a brain injury test. Since he hadn’t been given the green light by Saturday, the Cowboys can already rule him out for the Saints game.

Pat Watkins suffered a sprained PCL while diving for a tackle on the Cowboys’ first kickoff of the game on Sunday. It’s a similar injury to the one running back Felix Jones had earlier this year. He will miss 2-3 weeks and could miss the rest of the season.

Injuries Will Make Things Interesting

Tomorrow the Cowboys face Redskins in Dallas for their first matchup of the season. The Skins will be missing some big names in their lineup including Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis. While the Cowboys will be without starters Ken Hamlin and Marc Colombo.

Washington may be banged up and they may only have a record of 3-6 but you can’t count this as a win just yet, as we’ve learned already this season.

The Cowboys have to hope that Doug Free is ready to fill in for Marc Colombo, otherwise the Cowboys offense could suffer severely. Alan Ball will be starting in Ken Hamlin’s place at free safety.

As always expect a great game between one of the biggest rivalries in football at “The House That Jerry Built” tomorrow at noon (central time).

Cowboys Injuries for Week 11
NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Marc ColomboTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Ken HamlinSAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Allen RossumCBHamstringDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Marion BarberRBThumbFull Participation in PracticeProbable
David BuehlerKright ToeFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Mike JenkinsCBElbowFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Gerald SensabaughSThumbFull Participation in PracticeProbable
DeMarcus WareLBFootFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Redskins Injuries for Week 11
NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Chris CooleyTEAnkleOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Clinton PortisRBConcussionOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Eddie WilliamsRBAnkleOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Albert HaynesworthDTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Mike WilliamsTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Stephon HeyerTKneeLimited Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Ladell BettsRBAnkleFull Participation in PracticeProbable

Injury Report from NFL.com

Back To Reality

Dallas Cowboys Green BayWell Cowboys fans, it looks like we were hit with a dose of reality Sunday in Green Bay. The Cowboys offense did not show up to play and once again we are left wondering why?

It seems that when the Cowboys play teams they are supposed to beat, the other teams ends up looking like world beaters.

We had no running game to speak of (gaining only 61 yards) and Tony Romo went 24 for 39 passing, for only 251. We were left wondering what happened to Miles Austin (4 catches for 20 yards). We seen Roy Williams have his best day statistically as a Cowboy yet we seen him fumble on a 42 yard completion and he dropped another pass that he should have caught down the sideline.

We had an injury on the offensive line as Columbo went down to a broken fibula and high ankle sprain, Mike Jenkins went out with a deep bicep bruise and Ken Hamlin was lost to a high ankle sprain as well.

The day was not a good one, but now we have to regroup and beat the Washington Redskins this weekend.

This would have been a great day to get a win as the Eagles lost to San Diego and the Giants were on a bye week, however we are left with the fact that we are still in first place for now.

Lets just hope that the Redskins do not look like super bowl champs this coming weekend and leave us again wondering why?

Packers Break Cowboys’ Winning Streak, Dallas Loses 17-7

The Cowboys winning streak came to a halt today as the Packers beat the Boys 17-7. It was a strong defensive game on both sides but penalties, injuries and missed opportunities ruined the day.

green bay dallas

The most painful thing to come from this loss will be the hole that Marc Colombo leaves on the offensive line. Colombo went down in the first quarter and later it was learned that he suffered from a broken fibula. Doug Free came in to replace Colombo and immediately failed to protect Romo.

There was an injury scare with Bradie James who returned to play, and Ken Hamlin left the game with an ankle injury.

Another stinger was an arm injury to corner Mike Jenkins. He returned to play but left again for good after a few minutes.

Tony Romo also took a beating from the Green Bay defense taking five sacks, while Aaron Rodgers was sacked 4 times by Dallas. Romo ended the day 24 of 29 completions, 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Roy Williams caught 5 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Sounds good right? No, not really. He also fumbled what would have been a 41-yard completion along with a dropped pass that could have been a game changer.

Luckily the Cowboys were able to score a touchdown in the final seconds to avoid getting shutout for the first time since December 14, 2003.

The running game was basically nonexistent. The three-headed monster combined for a measly 45 yards.

Defensively things were looking pretty good, just not good enough when your offense can’t produce and injuries sideline your starters. DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and Bobby Carpenter and Stephen Bowen recorded one sack each. Jay Ratliff was quiet, however Anthony Spencer stepped up and made several great plays.

Dallas has to pray that their injuries aren’t as bad as they seem. Of course Colombo is likely out for the season, but Jenkins and Hamlin should be able to return.

The Cowboys move on with a 6-3 record, still leading the NFC East and come back home to play the Washington Redskins for the first time this season.

Cowboys Add DBs to Roster; More Rookies Out

As reported at DallasCowboys.com 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

Ouch!

A Look At Our CB/Safety Depth After Draft

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

 

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

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

Cowboys Secondary is a Primary Concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cowboys Fine With What They Got

It appears as if the Dallas Cowboys are content with the current roster. Jerry Jones must know something the rest of the Dallas Cowboys Nation doesn’t. Dallas has not brought in any big name free agents or any free agents for that matter to Valley Ranch for even a visit with the exception of Zach Thomas. With those of you content with the current roster let me say this, this roster hasn’t changed much since the divisional round playoff loss against the Giants in January. All the starters that started on both sides of the ball are still there. There have been no major upgrades so far this off-season. All we have really done is signed our own free agents. Flozell “2 full starts per game” Adams got a 6 yr deal done before the start of free agency and Ken Hamlin got the franchise tag. Marion Barber and Chris Canty both got tendered. So, any of you excited so far? Personally, the loss against the Giants left a real sour taste in my mouth. It proved that we were weak in some areas and needed upgrades in others. So far, nothing has happened and I am worried guys. I can’t believe I am saying this but I am not excited so far about going into next season with basically the same team as last year. I’m not. If Terrell Owens or Terry Glenn are injured in 2008 we become an average team. If Marion Barber goes down we have an average team. Heaven forbid, if Tony Romo goes down we have a descent team. So LoneStarStruckers, are you guys fine with basically going into 2008 with the same team as last year? Let me know?