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New To The Silver & Blue: Bryan McCann

Bryan McCann caught a lot of fans attention during training camp and pre-season this spring only to be claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Ravens on September 5, 2010.  Fortunately for us he was cut by the Ravens after one game.  It didn’t take long for the Cowboys to re-sign him on September 16th. He was signed to the practice squad for a few months and was added to the active roster on November 4th.

It didn’t take long for this undrafted free agent to obtain his first NFL interception, picking off Eli Manning, returning it 101 yards for a touchdown.  That play also added him to the Dallas Cowboys record books for longest interception return once held by Mike Gaechter. McCann was also named Defensive Player of the Week.

The next week against the Detroit Lions he made a play on special teams that proved he is also a smart player that listens and learns from his coaches. McCann knew what he was doing when he picked up the ball from the three yard line and returned it 97 yards for his second NFL touchdown. Coach DeCamillis had preached since spring drills, if a member of the punt team has touched the ball the receiving team can attempt to advance it with no consequence. So even if McCann had fumbled it, the Cowboys still would of had it on the three yard line. This is a rookie we are talking about!  He is talented, smart and studies film over and over. Wow!

So where did this kid come from?

Here is a little background on undrafted free agent Bryan McCann.  He was born on September 29, 1987 in Lawton, Oklahoma. He attended Putman City High School in Oklahoma City, he was rated 20th best player in Oklahoma by Rivals.com and the 25th best player by the Daily Oklahoman. McCann lettered in football, basketball and track.

McCann turned down offers to play for Stanford, Northwestern, Tulsa, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, UAB and Rice. He choose to play for SMU where he played safety, cornerback and returned punts.

I can’t wait to see this young man’s future unfold.  With his work ethic and talent, the sky is the limit. I hope to see him in a Cowboy uniform for along time to come.

Are You Ready for the “Kam-Akwasi” Cowboy?

We find ourselves meandering through the practice notes and news each day as we lead up to the Hall of Fame game today between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals. Lots of questions from the past season are on every fans mind as we get to have a look see at some of the young players the Cowboys are prepping to make the final roster to head into our 50th season and hopefully our 6th Lombardi Trophy and NFL Championship. Since I already focused on the main position that most people are focusing on this year, left tackle, I thought I would delve into the other main question that has been dogging us since Woody left with us a big hole in the secondary when he walked off into his final sunset as a player.

Free Safety is the one main position that we over look every year. Mainly because we have a couple of guys who tend to just kind of get by and barely get the job done. We were spoiled for a long time because we had Darren Woodson back there to hold down the fort and once he left we got to see just how special he really was. This year though going into the off season Jerry decided he has had enough and gave Ken Hamlin his walking papers and went out and drafted someone that everyone thought we were looking at as a cornerback but some scouts believe that he could turn into a very good free safety. I bring you Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from a small little division II school out of western Pennsylvania.  He has a lot of the same attributes that Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie had when he came out of a Division II school, DRC has a bit more speed then him but Akwasi may be a more versatile player and be able to impact the game in a couple other ways then playing in the secondary.

Akwasi was a running back n high school and was switched to cornerback when he got to college. You can see this high school background when he is returning the ball, whether it is on an interception return, a kickoff or punt return. He has those knees just pumping away and doesn’t stop those legs churning until he is brought down.  Usually not on the first attempt at tackling him either. I have watched a couple of the highlight reels of him returning kicks and seen a couple where it took five to six attempts to finally knock him on his keester..    and some he didn’t find his knee on the ground until he was striking paydirt. With his 6 foot, 200 lb frame he is that tweener between a corner and safety when it comes to size but his 4.4 range 40 yd dash time will make you forget about that quickly especially because that speed translates on the field as well.

Now I know everyone will be questioning his ability to transition from division II to the NFL in the secondary but, that is not a worry because of his talents in the return game. Returning a football on kicks in college no matter the level the same talents are needed in the NFL. Awareness and the ability to turn on a dime and also make people miss. That is something he excelled at in college. He will have time to work on his secondary skills while returning punts and he has already gotten some praise form Brett Maxie because of his ability to learn the defensive sets while recovering from shoulder surgery in the off season. He will obviously have to learn run support to play safety as he was a cornerback in college but he has long arms and great closing speed to stop plays dead, whether its wrapping the ball carrier to tackle him or using those arms to deflect balls. His closing speed though allows him to jump routes on receivers.

All in all I think that his ability to help create turnovers, which the Cowboys need a huge shot in the arm in and also his return ability coudl help us have one of the best return games in the NFL. How would you luck to be the coach or kicker trying to decide which person to kickoff to…  Akwasi or Felix. Talk about trying to pick the lesser of two evils!

Cowboys Add Return Specialist

The Cowboys and Allen Rossum have agreed on a 1-year deal to bring the return specialist to Dallas.

From the Cowboys website:

Rossum is expected to sign a one-year, veteran-minimum contract with the Cowboys on Wednesday morning. A Dallas native who played at Skyline High School, Rossum left for Notre Dame before joining the Philadelphia Eagles as a third-round cornerback in 1998.

Philadelphia quickly learned that Rossum’s greatest talents were as a kickoff and punt returner, a role he’s filled for five franchises over the last 11 seasons. After two years with the Eagles he was traded to Green Bay, where he spent two seasons. He signed an unrestricted free-agent contract with Atlanta in 2002 and went on to play five years there before being traded to Pittsburgh for the 2007 season.

After a year in the Steel City he joined the 49ers, playing in San Francisco for all of last season and the first four games of 2009 before he was waived Monday to make room for first-round pick Michael Crabtree, who ended his holdout last week.

In 156 career games Rossum has 307 punt returns, averaging 10 yards per return with three touchdowns. He has returned 513 kickoffs at an average of 23.3 yards, with five scores.

Rossum would replace Patrick Crayton as the Cowboys’ primary punt returner. Felix Jones, Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree have served as kickoff returners so far this season. Crayton has averaged 8.0 yards on 10 punt returns this season, but mishandled one kick Sunday, leading to a Kansas City touchdown, and then appeared hesitant to field a couple of more punts later in the game.

Rossum, who has 10 career starts at cornerback as well, will replace Cletis Gordon, who was released Tuesday after signing on in an emergency cornerback role last week.

Sounds like a good deal. Lord knows we didn’t want Patrick Crayton resuming duties after the bye week.

Thanks to Nate for giving me the heads up.

Da Boys and Da Broncs……Preseason Week 2.

Week 2 of the preseason has arrived! GAMEDAY! Cowboys at Broncos. 8 pm/Central.

Tonights game should be a fun one to watch. The Fort Worth Star Telegram is reporting that all of the starters will play the entire 1st quarter. Tony Romo, MB3, Witten and TO will come out around that time with the remaining starters playing the entire 1st half. That means Brad Johnson will be in with the 1st team offensive line and he needs to prove tonight that he still has something left in the tank. If he struggles, look for the Cowboys to make a move early next week. We hopefully will see an improved Pac Man tonight too. He should get plenty of time tonight to continue to knock the rust off his game. I would like to see him get a few punt returns too. Miles Austin and Sam Hurd will continue to battle it out for that 3rd WR spot.

No major developments other than that. We all need to remember that this is preseason, the coaching staff wants to evaluate players in certain situations. They also don’t want to put alot of the offensive plays and schemes on film for other teams to study. Look for a simple game plan and plenty of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice tonight.

Terrence Newman, Anthony Spencer and Kevin Burnett are all out on the defensive side due to injuries.

ENJOY THE GAME!!

Cowboys fan for life – TD

Three Phrases of the Game

To be a champion caliber team you must be consistent in all phrases of the game. We all know about Dallas’s offense, Tony Romo with all his weapons, Barber and Jones’s running attack behind our fantastic offensive line. The defense is getting more respect and recognition as they improve every week (not counting the Lions game.) Phrase three is Special teams. I don’t feel like our kick return team gets the credit they deserve.

Miles Austin in his second year makes you sit on the edge of your seat every time he gets the ball. His long return is sixty yards. I just know he is going to break one all the way. Austin is averaging twenty-six yards on eighteen returns.

Tyson Thompson shows he is a talent with his return ability also. Tyson’s average is a little lower than Austin’s at twenty-three.six, but his long return is seventy-two yards.

I look forward to seeing rookie Isaiah Stanback come back from his injury. I have to agree with the Cowboy staff that Stanback is exciting to watch. His long kick return is thirty-five yards but he has only had three returns with a average of twenty-six yards.

Between these three and more recently Miles Austin, the Cowboys have had good field position on most possessions. Of course, it would be a dream come true if we only had punt returns meaning our defense didn’t allow a score! WOW!

With Patrick Crayton and Terence  Newman returning punts, we haven’t had stunning returns but, they average twelve yards per return that equals our opponents. Even though we haven’t returned a punt or kick return for a score with all the talent we have on special teams it will come. They are saving it for the playoffs!

Although special teams need to improve in some areas they show improvement each week just as the offense and defense.

What I respect about the 2007 Cowboys is the way coach Phillips has blended all three phases to work together as a team. The media and fans shine the light on certain players but, they know that it takes every player in the locker room to win and that is why we are the NFC East Champs!

 Contributed by Raina Middleton

 

Crayton For Another Year

Patrick Crayton signed the $1.3 Million Tender to continue to be the Cowboys third receiver behind Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn. He played in all 16 games last season and finished his third season as a Cowboy with career high stats.

Crayton completed 36 catches for 516 yards, along with 4 touchdowns in 2006. He also contributed 85 yards on 11 punt returns. With his numbers increasing every season, the Cowboys may be looking at a long-term deal with him next year.

Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens both have 11 years of experience under their belts. Glenn received his roster bonus in March and Jerry Jones assures us that Owens will receive his this summer. Needless to say, the Cowboys should have their eyes on some young receivers while planning for the future and Patrick Crayton is an excellent contender. 

 

Legends of the Star – Mel Renfro

 

This week’s Legend of the Star is the longtime, outstanding Cowboys safety, Mel Renfro. Mel Renfro was an All-American running back at the University of Oregon, where he not only set many team and college records, but was eventually enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1964, Renfro was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the NFL Draft. However, the Cowboys immediately started him at safety that season rather than at running back and used him extensively on special teams. Although the move baffled many, he ended up leading the Cowboys with seven interceptions, while leading the NFL in kickoff and punt returns in his rookie season.

Although he spent his first few years as a safety, it wasn’t until he was switched to cornerback that his career would skyrocket. Renfro used his speed to intimidate opposing wide receivers and was absolutely dominating in the secondary. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for 10 straight seasons. In his 14-season career, Renfro intercepted 52 passes that he returned for 626 yards. He returned 109 punts for 842 yards and 85 kickoffs for 2,246 yards and a sparkling 26.4-yard average, and led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1969. Renfro always knew how to turn it up in big games too, and one of his most memorable plays was a key interception that led to the Cowboys’ game-winning touchdown over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Title game in 1970. He helped the Cowboys win nine division titles, four NFC Championships, and Super Bowls, VI and XII.

Mel Renfro was added to the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor in 1981, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Cliff Harris

This week’s “Legend of the Star” is one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history, none other than Cliff Harris. Although Cliff was not drafted in 1970, he was invited by the Cowboys to training camp where he shocked his coaches with his intense style of play. Although the organization had just drafted the highly touted Charlie Waters, the Cowboys surprised everyone in the league when they announced that Cliff Harris would be the starter at free safety for the season opener.

 Cliff Harris single handedly led the secondary with his “all-out” style of play and due to his relentless pursuit of the ball carrier he was soon nicknamed “Captain Crash” by his teammates. His devastating hits struck fear in the hearts of any ball carrier that got in his way. The new nickname became synonymous with his hard-nosed, bone-crushing style of play and many football experts credit Cliff Harris for changing the way the free safety position is played today.

His rookie year was interrupted due to military service, but he returned just in time to help the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins. He continued playing at free safety for the next 9 seasons, and began to compile some incredible achievements while playing one great season after another. He was considered by many to being the most dominating defensive player in the NFL during his tenure. In a stunning decision, he announced his retirement following the 1979 season to pursue his business ventures.

Harris finished his 10 NFL seasons with 29 interceptions, which he returned for 281 yards and 1 touchdown, and 18 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 91 yards. He also gained 418 yards on punt returns and 1,622 yards returning kickoffs.

During his short yet remarkable career, he made 5 Super Bowl appearances and was chosen for the Pro Bowl six consecutive times. He is in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame and Sports Illustrated Writers named him their Dream Team free safety. In 2004 he was selected to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor for his contributions to the franchise. He truly was a “Legend of the Star” in every sense and I enjoyed telling you a little about this great Cowboy.

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.