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Kevin Ogletree: Trying Hard Or Hardly Trying?

I don’t know where this is coming from and how much of it just overblown, but I came across an article on ESPN.com that took a swipe at Kevin Ogletree’s character.

Tim MacMahon believes that the Kevin Ogletree, who kept making plays a year ago in the Alamodome when he was fighting for a roster spot, no longer has that same sense of urgency in this training camp.

The Cowboys still like Ogletree’s potential and believe he was a steal as an undrafted free agent. He showed his promise by making plays in a limited role as a rookie. Other than Dez Bryant, there might not be a more explosive receiver on the roster. He will be on the 53-man roster.

However, if Ogletree wants a significant role this season, he better flip the switch soon.

Ogletree has dropped too many balls this camp. He has failed to fight for the ball too many times. An example came on a crossing route during Thursday morning’s practice, when he allowed undrafted rookie cornerback Bryan McCann to knock the ball out of his hands.

MacMahon also says that he has Cowboys sources that are saying Ogletree has a sense of entitlement. That may or may not be true, but sometimes confidence in one’s abilities can be mistaken for a sense of urgency.

I don’t mind seeing a little swagger on the team, and would especially love to see that among some of the veterans.

The article concludes by saying that Ogletree doesn’t appear to have the right attitude. Really? One week into training camp and we’re already making judgment calls?

Needless to say, I disagree with MacMahon on this one, and I’d advise him to let the rest of training camp play out before calling someone out.

Who Will Be the Cowboys Mystery Youngster?

Each year all thirty two NFL teams begin on the same footing. No wins, no losses and no ties. Usually they all have their minor bumps and bruises as they progress through mini and training camps. Every owner, general manager, coach and player have the same goal in mind. Super Bowl Champion. That’s right all three words have a capital letter because it is that important. Each one of those four positions have some of their own duties that are different from each of the other four or at least not the same as the other four. One duty that they all share is how to make all the pieces come together so they can achieve that one goal that they start every year with.

Each off season all players move on to another season whether it be with another team, another step in their life as they retire or maybe even stay with the same team and try to build on the blocks that have already been assembled. For those special few though that are drafted out of college to start their childhood dream of playing for an NFL team they become those mystery players that every fan wonders if they will be able to make it in the NFL. Granted some of them were so well known in college and they were drafted in the first round of the draft but there are those that fly under the radar and no one sees it coming. They end up playing a significant part on their new team. Some take a year to gather all the information before it starts to click but occasionally a team will get that difference maker. Where everything clicks the moment they put that NFL helmet on. Each team has these players but more importantly every Super Bowl Champion has these players. So I venture into the NFL statistics vault to find out who some of these players were over the last five years and who might possibly be candidates for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010 as they drive towards the six-pack of Lombardi Trophy’s.

Over the last five years each NFL champion has had one or two players that were either in their rookie season or in their second year that made a difference on their run to a Super Bowl title. They may not have even started but they may have filled a hole in the lineup due to injury or maybe they were the situational player that wasn’t on the field every down. Either way they made a difference for their team. Last year there was a player on the Saints that many may not have heard of because his name isn’t announced very often and the only time you hear his name spoken is if he makes a mistake. The Saints second year player out of Nebraska, Car Nicks, came into last season and ended up starting all sixteen games of the regular season for them. In fact he had started 29 out of thirty games for them he has given up only two sacks over his first two years and only had his name called six times over two years for penalties while he held down that left guard position and help establish a rushing game and keep Drew Brees upright. The year prior Lamarr Woodley in his second year played fifteen games for the Steelers and racked up 11.5 sacks on their way to their title. Barry Cofield was fourth round pick for the Giants and playe din 16 games for them in their drive for the trophy. The year before that the Colts had two second year corners that played in almost every game during the regular season. Marlin Jackson sealed their victory of the Patriots on their way to the Super Bowl. Kelvin Hayden took a pick back for the Colts against the Bears for a touchdown to seal the win in that game. The Steelers fifth title was highlighted by two players, Ben Roethlisberger and Max Starks, that started 14 and 10 games respectively. Roethlisberger even won the Rookie of the Year trophy the year before.

Now you may start thinking to yourself(at least I did) … Who could be that player for the Cowboys this year? Well lets just say there isnt a lack of players that has the opportunity to do it. Between last years draft and this years draft there are definitely some players with the talent and ability to step up and make the difference during this season. Kevin Ogletree is one of the fastest players on the team and he was really starting to come on at the end of last year. Dez Bryant is fresh out of college and if his production matches his hype the NFC East will be in a world of trouble for years to come. Receivers and those skill position players are easy to pick out by just the average fan. I am looking for that player that comes from no where and as the season starts to progress they start to question… Where did he come from? This is complicated by the fact that the player will need to also have an honest chance at possibly making it on to the field. So below I have listed my top five players based on those two categories mainly but with other factors added in as well.

(1) David Buehlergranted almost every Cowboys fan knows who he is but he is taking on the actually kicker position for field goals as well. They brought in Chris Boniol to help coach him up as he has never really had any formal training by a kicking coach. Boniol, who holds the record for field goals by a Cowboy, has already been with him and working through the off season. With the type of offense many are expecting the Cowboys to have he could have an outstanding year when it comes to points. They really haven’t brought in any competition for him but if he starts to stumble I am sure Jerry will have no problem finding a replacement. That is the main reason he is at the top of this list. The job is his. All he has to do know is … Aim, Plant..   and Swing!!

(2) Michael Hamlin – a fifth round pick out of Clemson a year ago. He was making some strides until he broke his arm. He didn’t do much the rest of the season as he found himself just struggling to get on the field. He makes number two because he the starter from last year is gone. This basically brings the fight for the position to come down to the winner between Alan Ball and him. He is a little bigger than Ball and if he can somehow get his hands on the starting position. He couldreally make a name for himself. Thought they did sign Barry Church out of Toledo after the draft and he could be dangerous as he is talented has nothing to lose.

(3) Sean Lee – Drafted this year in the second round there were a lot of teams that thought prior to the college season that this could have been a sure fire first round pick. He comes form Linebacker U after all. Thinking of all the linebackers that have come out of Penn State just makes me smile when I think of this kid. His only downfall is his injury history. He played like a first rounder through college but had a torn ACL his junior year. Has enough speed to play all three positions in 4-3 defense but in the 3-4 he will be able to roam as an inside backer and with Brooking getting a little long in the tooth it might not be long before we start hearing his name announced in the starting lineup.

(4) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah- though I was initially a big fan of Scandrick when we drafted him this kid has more than just the ability to step in on passing downs and display his coverage ability. He also is a pretty electrifying return man in college. Granted his dancing feet wont work well in the pros he will how ever be able to make people miss no matter how close they are to him. He could make his impact felt not only in the secondary as a nickel corner but also in the return game. If he can beat out Scandrick or even just make it as one of the defensive backs on the team they could also use him as a possible candidate at safety thought he is only 6 feet tall. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do on returns more than anything and I believe he will be an upgrade over what we have now.

(5) Victor Butler- Many already know who he is the limited spot duty he was able to play last year. He came in as a pass rushing specialist to give Spencer and Ware a breather. He ended up tying for fifth in the league for in sacks by rookies and if he is able to improve on his coverage abilities which he has been working on during the off season with Reggie Herring(linebackers coach) and Anthony Spencer he could give Spencer a run for his money and maybe give the Cowboys a depth of riches at the position. Especially with fellow 2009 draftee Brandon Williams earning lots of praise already this year at the same position during off season workouts.

Can Kevin Ogletree Claim The #4 WR Spot?

As I made my daily trek for Cowboys news on the internet this morning, I cam across this interesting post by Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Tim takes a look at wide receiver Kevin Ogletree and ponders his role for the upcoming season. He writes,

Undrafted receiver Kevin Ogletree proved as a rookie that he can contribute to the Cowboys. Now, he’s trying to prove that the Cowboys can rely on him.

After a full offseason, Ogletree feels confident that he has a firm grasp of the playbook. He practiced at all three receiver positions, trying to maximize his chances to get on the field.

The Cowboys don’t have any questions about Ogletree’s ability. They like his speed, quickness, elusiveness and hands. They don’t know yet about his dependability.

I was very impressed with what I saw of Ogletree in limited playing time last season. He seems to have a nose for the ball, a flair for the dramatic, and though it was mentioned in Tim’s post I thought Ogletree showed some explosiveness and burst.

As it stands now, Ogletree is probably ranked fifth on the depth chart behind Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant and Patrick Crayton at wide receiver, but with a solid training camp that could change.

I think that Ogletree’s immediate future is somewhat tied to Crayton’s. It is still uncertain what role Crayton will have on this team if any, especially if he holds to his current demands for a trade or release.

Even so, Ogletree has shown some flashes that would indicate he could pass Crayton up on performance alone when training camp begins. It’s one of the things to keep on eye this pre season as the Cowboys decide who makes the wide receiver corps and who will be on the sidelines when they take on the Washington Redskins for the season opener.

Who do you think will claim the #4 WR spot on the roster?

[polldaddy poll=3463589]

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…

LSS Extra Points: Injury Prone or Extra Precaution

Rookie Dez Bryant was sidelined once again at OTAs, this time due to tightness in his left hamstring.

According to Nick Eatman’s blog at dallascowboys.com:

Since being drafted in late April, Bryant has experienced minor ankle and hip injuries, missed an entire day of OTA practice and meetings with a stomach virus and now the hamstring has kept him out for two practices.

Bryant says its not frustrating, and I’m not sure its time to worry about minor injuries, but it certainly makes one wonder.

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It was uncovered by running back coach Skip Peete that Marion Barber played last season with a torn left quad. The injury occurred in Week 2 last season and Barber only missed one game.

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Keith Brooking could return to practice as soon as Thursday after being held out because of offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

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Patrick Crayton returned to OTAs yesterday. He agent says Crayton is looking to compete and doesn’t want to be a distraction, its rather hard to do that if you aren’t with the team on the field.

His teammates were happy to see him back with the team.

Kevin Ogletree: “There is a lot more wisdom out there. He has been around a long time. He is just more help for the young guys and more leadership. He is a good player, so obviously we missed him and it’s just good to see him back out there.”

Roy Williams: “He’s not the flashy guy. He is just a guy that comes in and gets the job done. I call him Mr. Consistency. He just plays the same way every time.”

Dez Bryant: “He is a vet. It is nice to have a guy like that. Not only him, but Roy (Williams) and Miles (Austin), who have been through everything. Younger guys (like me) want that. They need someone to follow and it’s great that they are all here.”

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Training Camp will be split this year between Texas and California. This is great news for our friends on the West Coast who will get a chance to see America’s Team live in action getting ready for the upcoming season.

San Antonio, Texas: July 23rd – August 6th

Oxnard, California: August 14th – August 27th

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Three Players Most Likely To Become Ex-Cowboys

Looking ahead to next season, I wondered which of our players had a high probability of not being back with the team next season. It’s not a hate list by any means, just an objective look at who could be on their way out and why I feel that way about them.

1. Marion Barber RB – Many of you might be surprised to see Barber on this list, but the fact of the matter is that with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice on board, it would make sense to explore our options with Barber who still has some great trade value. The fact is that Barber’s 4.3 yards per carry, pales in comparison to Choice 5.5 YPC and Jones 5.9. We could easily get back a 1st and 3rd round pick for Barber and use them to beef up an aging O-Line.

2. Martellus Bennett TE – I don’t believe Bennett can live with the fact that he’s a back up to Jason Witten. He’s frequently crying about playing time on his website and bemoaning the fact that he isn’t a starter. He has the talent to be a starter, but unless disaster strikes and Witten was to miss significant time, will continue to be used in the same reserve role and frown about it. Bennett is just a spare part that can easily be replaced by up and coming John Phillips who is a team first guy and a real gamer. The Cowboys might be able to get a third or fourth round pick for Bennett or maybe even net themselves a number three or four type wide receiver with some upside.

3. Roy Williams WR – My inclusion of Williams on this list is probably more a case of wishful as opposed to a real chance Williams could or would get traded. Obviously, his trade value has taken a huge hit and he is overpaid as well. But at this point, and after waiting almost two seasons for him show profit, wouldn’t you say it’s time to cut our losses and move on? Kevin Ogletree has show the speed, the hands, and the ability to perfectly run his routes, and must be strongly considered for a move up the depth chart. If anyone is crazy enough to take Williams’ off our hands in exchange for a second round pick, I’d do it and never look back.

Q & A With Babe Laufenberg

This morning I had the pleasure of participating in Dallas Morning News Live Chat with hosts Babe Laufenberg and Barry Horn.

I was fortunate enough to get three of my dozen or so questions answered. Here goes…

Joe D: Will the Cowboys go into tomorrows game with basically the same game plan as last week? Or considering the Eagles have made adjustments, will they toss them a few curves?

Babe Laufenberg: You have to be prepared for the Eagles’ adjustments. But the worst thing you can do is anticipate how they will adjust. So you go in with effectively what worked in the last game but ready to adjust on the fly. If I’m Jason Garrett, I would anticipate Philly run blitzing on early downs. I don’t think Philly can sit in their base 4-3 and stop the Cowboys running game. Cowboys ran for 179 yards last week and they will do it again if Philly plays the same D.

Joe D: Any updates on Marion Barber and DeMarcus Ware injuries?

Babe Laufenberg: DeMarcus told me he is playing. Barber hasn’t said anything to anyone since 2004.

Joe D: Will we be seeing Kevin Ogletree get a larger share of playing time at the expense of Roy Williams for the rest of the playoffs?  

Babe Laufenberg: I’d be surprised and disappointed if Ogletree’s playing time didn’t increase.

I was glad to see that Babe is as enthusiastic about more playing time for Ogletree as I am.

Sadly, the one question I really wanted answered never made it.

Who has the better defense, the Cowboys or the Jets?

I’m sick and tired of hearing how the Jets have the best defense in the NFL. The Cowboys handed the Saints their first loss, held the Chargers to a season low 20 points, and pitched consecutive shutouts against the Redskins and the Eagles, who were being heralded as the hottest team in the NFL going into last weekends matchup. 

The Jets won consecutive games against opponents that didn’t even play their starters for more than half the game.  In my opinion, it’s a joke for them to even compare their defense to the Cowboys, let alone proclaiming they are the NFL’s best.

Wide Receivers Get To Work

Miles AustinThe Dallas Cowboys once again played a game where all phases came together, this time against against the Seahawks. It was really nice to see all of the wide receivers get into the action.

Miles Austin scored another touchdown, Roy Williams scored a touchdown on a nice slant route, Patrick Crayton scored on another punt return, Sam Hurd scored a touchdown on nice pass, and although Kevin Ogletree did not score, he did make a nice catch and run for a first down.

I will admit it I have had my doubts about our wide receiver corps, but it seems that they might be coming along and they are doing some good things. It has been nice to see Miles Austin doing so well, he has catches totaling 482 yards. That is the best that a wide receiver has ever done in their first three games.

Romo and Williams have some work to do and even they admit that they have not been on the same page a lot this year.

I am sure Jason Witten is happy we are winning, but not so happy that he is not getting his normal amount of catches.

Its nice to see that the receivers have finally found a way to get open and make some nice catches and runs.

Patrick Crayton has stepped it up in the return game, scoring a touchdown in each of the last two games.

We have the Eagles this weekend and we are tied with them for first place in the division, we need to step it up again and beat them.

GO COWBOYS!

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: Injuries Are Contagious

Gerald Sensabaugh is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair his broken thumb. Sensabaugh will likely miss 2-4 weeks. Pat Watkins will be called upon to fill in at safety.

Center Andre Gurode underwent an MRI Monday after spraining his right knee during the game last Sunday. According several sources the sprain isn’t anything to be concerned about, however the Cowboys could rest Gurode this Sunday with a bye to follow.

Roy Williams could miss Sunday’s game after a rib injury that sidelined him for the final drive of the game.

“Never in my life have I been hit like that, from Pop Warner through my six years in the league. I’m 5,200 feet above sea level with asthma so I was obviously hurting.”

Coach Phillips said during a press conference that Williams suffered three bruised ribs and cartilage damage. If Williams sits out, the Cowboys could activate rookie Kevin Ogletree, who turned heads in his very impressive preseason performance.

The Cowboys cut running back Chauncey Washington on Monday. While it hasn’t been formally announced most sources believe Felix Jones will not play in Week 5. Marion Barber should be okay to play after experiencing tightness in his previously injured quad.

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I don’t think I have to remind you how deadly injuries are to a team, especially one that needs to toughen up and fix mistakes all over the board. Let’s hope these key players can heal fast, and get back in action ASAP. Luckily the Cowboys have a bye week following this next game against the Kansas City Chiefs to rest, heal and get their minds straight and get focused.

Why Can’t They Get Open?

Patrick CraytonIt is hard to believe that we have four wide receivers on most plays, on some we have three, plus two good tight ends, yet none of them can get open. We have seen this in every game so far with the exception of Week 1 at Tampa Bay.

This game was one of the worst that we’ve seen for the Dallas offense. Every time Romo dropped back to pass, it seemed like there were no receivers going down field. When Romo did throw the ball it was either overthrown, underthrown or picked off.

What exactly is the problem this year? Even the Detroit Lions can throw to an open wide receiver, and they have only won one game out of their last 21.

I’m not sure if it is the play calling or the play execution. Whatever it is, the Cowboys need to get it corrected. We will not even make it to a .500 record if we cannot throw the ball.

We cannot depend solely on the run, as we seen against the Broncos. Sure, Denver has the number one defense in the league, but could we at least complete something when we need to? Romo completed 25 passes, but they were passes that only netted a couple of yards (with the exception of one to Sam Hurd in the final minutes).

Oh yeah, then there was the slant pattern two times in a row to Hurd in the last 30 seconds. I know we have better plays than that.

This week we may be without Roy Williams. Kevin Ogletree needs to come in and do something, along with the other receivers. Some how they need to get open.

Like most other Cowboys fans I love them and always will, but this is getting so frustrating. It does not seem to be getting any better.

Week 1 Preview: Cowboys at Buccaneers

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

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

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

The inactive list is as follows:

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

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

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

My prediction: Cowboys 34 – Bucs 17