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Looking Ahead: 2nd Annual LSS Rookie Of The Year Award

At the end of the 2011 season, Lonestarstruck started a new tradition with our first annual Rookie Of The Year Award.

We nominated the top five rookies we felt where deserving of the honor:

  1. Bruce Carter – linebacker
  2. Kevin Kowalski – center
  3. DeMarco Murray – running back
  4. Tyron Smith – tackle
  5. Dan Bailey – kicker

When writing the article, I thought to myself this would be an easy contest and that DeMarco Murray would win by a landslide. However, as many fans would agree after reflecting on the season, rookie free agent Dan Bailey won by a slim margin.  Bailey made the most of his opportunities ending the season with an impressive 86.5%  of his kicks.

With all the talent on our roster last season, you wouldn’t think of a kicker winning the award but when the game is tied with seconds left on the clock the kicker has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Bailey proved be can handle the pressure and that he has the talent.

With pre-season almost coming to an end, we want you to keep an eye on the rookies and then chime in on who you think could possibly be nominated for our 2nd Annual Rookie of the Year award.

 

Dez Bryant says no to Roy Williams

With training camp finally under way I was happy to finally get some news from the Cowboys this past weekend. All the practicing and the competition at so many positions is under way. I also loved the Kickoff show Friday night. For those who have not seen it you can watch it here.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/multimedia/multimedia_archives.cfm?id=0349574E-DC9B-2E5A-07C2F9A15D499F94

The one thing that stood out to me this weekend was Dez Bryant refusing to carry Roy Williams shoulder pads after Sunday mornings practice. Bryant does not believe in any rookie initiations.

“I’m not doing it,” Bryant said. “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

“If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing. I just feel like I’m here to play football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone].”

“I don’t believe in that at all,” Bryant said. “We have a goal here. It’s not about playing games. It’s all about just trying to do the right thing and achieve our goal.”

http://www.dallascowboys.com/multimedia/multimedia_archives.cfm?id=0C9F2A74-E00D-E1FA-A3E6F28693417F2C

Roy Williams does believe rookies should be doing some things for the veterans just like he had to do as a rookie.

“Everybody has to go through it,” Williams said. “I had to go through it. No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie.

“I carried pads. I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn’t want to be that guy.”

I love that Dez Bryant refuses to carry Williams shoulder pads and is saying all the right things about the team being first and working towards a goal. With that kind of thinking from Bryant it won’t be long before Williams is carrying Bryant’s shoulder pads. Maybe Williams should concentrate more on catching the football then bothering the player that is most likely going to replace him.

Other news from camp is that supplemental pick Josh Brent suffered a broken hand in practice Sunday morning. Coach Wade Philips is hoping Brent can return to practice Monday. Any kind of time missed will only hurt Brent for his chances of making the team.

Keith Brooking is only practicing once a day as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. Although Brooking says he feels good, he understands that at his age it will do his body good to be held out a little during training camp.

Who is this man? Nate “The Kitchen” Newton has taken care of himself due to some serious health issues as he approached almost 400 pounds. On April 19th Newton had weight loss surgery and has since lost 132 pounds. He is now down to 263 pounds and is feeling good.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/multimedia/multimedia_archives.cfm?id=0C11E73B-B8F8-D4C3-7C8709FD1FF644C3

Orlando Scandrick is working through the pain of his broken finger and knows that training camp is even more important because of the work he missed during the teams OTAs.

“I’ve still got some pain but I’m working through it,” Scandrick said. “Just have to be tough. I just need time. I need the practice. I could feel my timing was off. I felt a little rusty out there.”

Cowboys Extra Points: Tying Up Loose Ends

The NFL released dates today for all clubs. Here are the dates for the Cowboys Organized Team Activities and well as Rookie and Veteran Mini Camps

OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-26, June 1-3, June 8-10

Mini Camps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 11-13

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With the recent signings of Montrae Holland and Alan Ball, the Cowboys have only Miles Austin and Gerald Sensabaugh left to sign their tenders by June 15 or have a long-term deal in place. Last week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters that “both are in line for a long-term contract”.

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Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, has apologized to Cowboys first round pick Dez Bryant for asking whether his mother a prostitute. The apology came after it was learned that Ireland posed the question during a pre-draft interview with Bryant.

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In a complet about-face, undrafted tight end Scott Sicko reversed his position and has agreed to terms on a free-agent contract with the Cowboys, and will attend the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend. Sicko initially decided not to pursue any NFL offers when he failed to get selected in the NFL Draft, and was going to return to school. Jerry Jones can be very convincing when he wants something, huh?

***

After the season DeMarcus Ware had surgery to remove a bone spur. When asked if he was 100% yet, he replied:

“I would never say 100 percent. I would say 94 percent. The surgery went well. I had a bone spur, and they just shaved it down. Now, everything is good.”

Gotta love Ware’s attitude and personality! We love you #94!

UPDATED: Tender Me This

With the deadline coming up in eight days, the Cowboys still have several players yet to sign their tenders. Several are unhappy and the rest have been very quiet.

Gerald Sensabaugh for example decided not to participate in the first offseason conditioning program this week. According to his agent he is not under contract but has been training six days a week on his own.

Marcus Spears and Steve Octavien signed their tenders yesterday. Cory Procter was the first to sign the tender back in March, which actually makes perfect sense.

I expect the remaining unsigned players will jump on board soon. I believe Miles Austin knows he will get his money eventually and hopefully it will all work out smoothly.

Interestingly enough, Alan Ball hasn’t signed his exclusive rights tender and with the release of Ken Hamlin he could be more essential than ever before.

Its been a slow and silent offseason regarding free agency and the Dallas Cowboys. With our rivals signing big names we have remained very conservative to say the least. Maybe that’s because we already have the players we need for a championship team. After the draft, hopefully we will have a few eager rookies who will complete this team that not only were the division champs, but also won their first playoff game in 12 years.

NOTE: We will update this post as the players continue to sign in the days to come.

UPDATE (4-7-10): Pat McQuistan has signed his tender.

UPDATE (4-8-10): Jason Hatcher and Junior Siavii have signed their tender.

UPDATE (4-9-10): Stephen Bowen has signed his tender.

Deadline: April 15th

Restricted Free Agents

Miles Austin, First Round Tender

Sam Hurd, Second Round Tender

Pat Watkins, Original Draft Pick

Duke Preston, Original Draft Pick

Gerald Sensabaugh, Second Round Tender

Stephen Bowen, Second Round Tender – SIGNED

Jason Hatcher, Second Round Tender – SIGNED

Junior Siavii, Original Draft Pick – SIGNED

Pat McQuistan, Original Draft Pick – SIGNED

Corey Procter, Second Round Tender – SIGNED

Marcus Spears, Original Draft Pick – SIGNED

Cletis Gordon – SIGNED 1 Year Deal

Shaun Suisham – NOT TENDERED

Unrestricted Free Agents

Montrae Holland, Unrestricted Free Agent

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

Steve Octavien, Exclusive Rights Tender – SIGNED

Alan Ball, Exclusive Rights Tender

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!

Three Down, One To Go

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

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

Kevin OgletreePROS

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

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

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

CONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNDECIDED

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

Wade Phillips

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

Follow Up On Jason Williams; And Romo’s Hot Seat?

-Last week I did a piece “Know Your Cowboy” on Jason Williams, the rookie Linebacker from Western Illinois. It was something just to help the casual fan learn a bit on one of our up and coming players. Like most rookies the transition from college to pro takes time so Jason struggled in training camp and in the first preseason game against the Raiders.

Coach Wade Phillips attributes the slow start to “because he was thinking instead of playing”. However in his second preseason game against the Titans he started playing more instinctively, which forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone and resulted in a safety.

The Cowboys are not trying to overload the young player by putting too much on his plate. They like his physical style and his ability to run, so for the time being they want him to concentrate on special teams and become a “Good special teams player”, and take the time to learn the defensive side of the game a bit slower. Once they see his confidence building then they will incorporate him a bit more into the regular defense.

-Tony Romo on the hot seat? According to Dan Fouts of CBS Sports Tony is one of a few Quarterbacks this year on the hot seat.

“The pressure is really going to fall on Romo now, but that’s the way it should be. When you’re the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, with that tradition and history, it adds pressure. Deal with it.”

As Cowboy fans know, Tony Will be able to handle this pressure Fouts speaks of. He will just have to play and make everyone else shut their mouths. Seems like Romo and Roy Williams have got a lot of people to put in their places this season, and I cant wait to see them do it!

First Preseason Game

Hey folks, well the first preseason game is coming up on Thursday and it I cannot wait. No, it will not be a game in which the starters will play much, if at all. What it means is that the season is right around the corner and we will finally get to see what the Cowboys have learned from last year’s performance.

We will get to see some young rookies show what they have and maybe show us that they deserve a starting position. We never really learn a lot from the preseason games, but it is football and the real games will be here soon enough.

Hopefully we will get to see a series or two of Romo and the other starters, I am curious to see the changes in the offense or lack of changes.

Anyway, it will be great to see some Cowboys playing football and to see some hitting by the defense. Even though we have experienced some injuries already, hopefully we will not have more. We will see what happens.

Go COWBOYS beat the RAIDERS!

Injury Bug Starting Already, Update On Draft Picks

It’s been reported by ESPN that rookie offensive lineman Robert Brewster will miss the entire 2009 season. Brewster apparently suffered at torn pectoral muscle following the June mini-camps. Big loss for an offensive line that really needed to develop some depth.

“I can’t even tell you how disappointed he is,” Brewster’s agent, Cliff Brady said. “I’m trying to keep him positive, [saying] ‘Look, let’s just take this year to work on you and your body and learn the system. You can miss a lot or as little as possible depending on how smart you are.’ He’s a smart kid. He just wants to play so bad.”

“It’s a real disappointing man . . . you don’t even know,” Brewster said late Monday afternoon. “I was supposed to come in and help the team and I was supposed to get in there and start learning. It’s real disappointing especially because I’ve never been injured before. I started all the games in college, and I never missed one. So now that I’m going to miss my whole rookie year, I can’t believe it.”

“I really didn’t know what my role would be this year,” Brewster said. “But I was just trying to learn as much as I could. I will tell you this . . . you won’t see anyone come back stronger than I will. I am going to use this as motivation as much as I can. If this is going to be my ‘redshirt’ year, that’s fine. But I will try to make this a positive for me.

“It’s just tough right now because the off-season was going so great for me. I was working really hard with (strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek). Working with Joe, I never missed a day. I was even getting extra work in. I was changing my entire body. I was at the point where I was the strongest I’ve ever been.”

“I was in the weight room and it wasn’t any different this time. We were in there, going hard like we have all summer,” Brewster said. “I was busting my tail and as I got to my last rep, I just felt like someone pinched me in the arm. And then I heard a big pop in my arm. I found out it was my pec. I couldn’t believe it.”


Three more draft picks signed four year deal on Monday. Brandon Williams (LB), Michael Hamlin (S) and David Buehler (K) will be reporting to camp on time. That leaves three draft picks that need to be signed in the next 24 hours. Jason Williams (LB), Stephen McGee (QB) and Robert Brewster (OL) are now on the clock to be signed. Once Brewster is signed he will most likely be placed on the physically unable to perform list. All three are expected to be signed in time.

When Are Legends Born?

 When Emmitt Smith was drafted in 1990, the first thing I said was “Who is this guy and what the hell is he wearing??”.  All reports said he was too small and too slow to be a feature back in the NFL. Then we all watched him evolve from this kid in the ugly jumpsuit into a Pro Bowler, then an All Pro, a Super Bowl MVP, NFL’s All Time Leading Rusher and in 2010, a Hall Of Famer.

Ever stop to think when is that pivotal moment when a player becomes a legend? Is it after they retire? Is it a particular game that elevates them to the next level?

It seems to happen without us knowing it. Sorta like how your kids grow up right in front of you. They seem to go from playing tee-ball one day to graduating high school the next. Of course you watched it happen, yet it’s all a flash to you now. Or is it just me?

Troy Aikman looked like a fish out of water his rookie year. I personally saw him as a draft bust after that miserable 1-15 season.  I knew this guy couldn’t take Dallas to the Promised Land. He seemed to have all the tools but I wasn’t confident at all in his ability to run a team. Then we all watched him evolve into a Pro Bowler, an All Pro, a true leader, a field general, a Super Bowl MVP,  the winningest QB in a single decade (90 wins in the 90s) and a Hall Of Famer.

Obviously Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith are once in a generation players.  But so were Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett. All is not lost when the legends retire from the game. Shoes have to be filled. History in Dallas has proven it is not a matter of if they will be filled but when they will be filled.

Today’s Cowboys are no different than the ones of Cowboys’ past. We will watch in disgust and dismay as they make their own mistakes and pay their own dues. We will watch these young men and not even realize that they’re evolving right before our eyes. When the rookies become stars and the stars become legends.

Watching these kids become men and these men become legends is a gift one will learn to appreciate more as the years go by. I know I have.