The VRR: Dallas Cowboys Turn in a Productive Bye-Week of Practice

Apparently, the Cowboys have had an impressive practice week.

Coach Wade Phillips said Thursday's practice, the last of the bye week, was very brisk. The team didn't practice in pads, but Phillips said the players acted like they were getting ready for a playoff game. He said it was one of their best practices.

"I thought the players were really into it," Phillips said.

For the last two days, the Cowboys worked on the game plan for the Atlanta Falcons, who they play Oct. 25.

Paying attention to detail has been the focus this week for the defense.

Phillips didn't want to bore fans with details of the long Tuesday workout, but they sounded like offseason chatter. How much weight is that pass rusher putting on his front foot? Is he taking the right path to the quarterback?

"Those kind of details that make you get to the quarterback half a step quicker," Phillips said. "It makes a difference."

More VRR after the jump.

(cont.)

The tiniest details matter to a defense puzzled by an inability to stop teams late in games. The Cowboys are among the statistical leaders on defense and have been downright dominant at times in all five games. But they let the Giants drive to a winning field goal on the final drive, gave up a huge play late for the decisive score against Denver and let the woeful Chiefs go the length of the field for a tying score.

At the same time, Dallas stopped Kansas City twice in overtime, including a possession that started at midfield and went nowhere before the Cowboys answered with the winning touchdown.

Felix Jones hopes for a strong return in preparation for the Atlanta game.

"You have to be careful with the intensity level," Jones said before practice.

Jones has missed two games since the knee injury on Sept. 28 vs. Carolina and is working toward running at some point this week. He wants to practice fully next Wednesday, but understands its a delicate process. The Cowboys have a bye this Sunday.

"It can be frustrating, but you've got to take it as it comes and roll with the punches," Jones said, "And try to come back and make a difference and come back stronger. That's how I deal with it and stay on the field next time."

The "ginormous" game Miles Austin produced against the Chiefs is in the past. The humble WR is now ready to move on to continue to improve as a player.

"It felt good at the time," Austin told reporters in Irving. "It felt good the day after. I might have let it linger for two days. I'm not going to lie to you. But I put things past me easily. I don't get overwhelmed easily. I'm really over it. I'm ready to practice this week. And I'm ready to play again."

[snip]

"I always need to get better, every day, always, regardless," Austin said. "But I always knew I could play.

So did Bill Parcells. Impressed by Austin's size and speed, Parcells put the Monmouth (N.J.) alum on the Cowboys' roster in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. Injuries played a role in Austin having only 18 catches for 354 yards and three TDs through his first three seasons. Still, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones liked Austin's potential as a playmaker enough to release Terrell Owens after last season.

Randy Galloway ponders whether Dallas will take a more aggressive approach on Draft Day 2010, in regards to the wide receiver position. In the past, the team has shied away from such names as Randy Moss to avoid taking on the personal issues associated with the player.

Even without the "issues," the Cowboys have remained adamant in refusing to hone in on receivers on draft day. Some of that involves money, but sometimes, it’s bad luck or bad info.

Steve Smith in Carolina, they loved. But he was passed over because of physical concerns. Wrong, of course. Nine years later, Smith had one season of major injury problems — 2004.

The one somewhat recent miss the Cowboys probably regret the most was Greg Jennings, great player, great citizen. Green Bay, picking one spot ahead of them in the 2006 second round, grabbed Jennings. The Cowboys ended up with tight end Anthony Fasano, who is a marginal player, but in Miami. Many other missed names are playing elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys hope they didn’t screw up on Roy Williams, and hope that Miles Austin becomes a Drew Pearson non-drafted miracle.

Jerry Jones says no to switching up the coaching staff this season.

"Under no circumstances would I make a change," Jones said on his radio show Thursday. "We've got a chance to get a lot of things done and we've got a lot of football left to play and we've got some good people that not only can play it, but coach it."

Hat tip to mdlusk for the FanShot.

Eastern Illinois to honor Tony Romo this weekend.

Tony Romo is going back to Charleston, Ill. as he will be included in EIU’s Hall of Fame Class of 2009. Romo is scheduled to attend the ceremony at halftime of Eastern Illinois’ Homecoming game against Tennessee Tech at O’Brien Field.

We know about Romo and Jason Witten's friendship. Could Tiger Woods be the third b.f.f.?

On Monday night, Tiger joined Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and right end Jason Witten to watch the U2 concert from a suite at Cowboys Stadium. Lead singer Bono even shouted out the trio during the show.

DeMarcus Ware has his own new friendship/mentor in former Cowboys' great Charles Haley.

A few feet outside the locker room, close to a water fountain, Ware and Haley talked pass rushing. They simulated moves, inside and outside. They talked about hand placement and using power at times, instead of speed all of the time, to get to the quarterback.

"We talked about some of the things I should be doing that I wasn't doing," Ware said. "You look at the tape and it was true. Sometimes, I needed to be a little more aggressive."

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement could work in the Cowboys' favor in retaining the rights to DeMarcus Ware.

Per the guidelines of the current CBA, which expires at the end of the 2010 season, a significant change takes place if the agreement enters its final season: Players who would be unrestricted free agents entering the final year of a CBA must have at least six accrued seasons. If they have less than six, they can only qualify for restricted free agency – a far more stifling designation. (An accrued season is when a player gets paid for a minimum of six games while being on the active, inactive or injured reserve portions of the roster.)

That means players like Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and San Diego wideout Vincent Jackson won’t be able to sign elsewhere unless another team is willing to give up some form of compensation for them. Dallas could tender Ware a one-year deal that would require a team to surrender a first- and third-round NFL draft pick if it wanted to sign him.

Scout.com did a Q&A with kicker Nick Folk. I found this little tidbit of information interesting.

Thompson: I know you were also a punter in college. Are you unofficially or officially the backup punter for the Cowboys?

Folk: Officially, I am the backup punter. I am on the depth chart. In camp, they gave me one punt during the team period just so I could get a feel for it--and that was it. That’s all I’ve really done in a while. I don’t practice it too much. If I need to, I can fill in for a game. I just have to make sure I stay true to my form and I think I would be a decent punter for half of the game if that’s what’s needed--but I’m hoping we don’t need that.

Official Dallas Cowboys "this", official Dallas Cowboys "that". Mmmm, guacamole. Because of the new stadium, Cowboys' sponsored products are all the rage.

Finally, I'm sure many of you have heard about or seen the Burger King commercial on FOX that pokes fun at our Cowboys, and comes stupidly close to slandering Jessica Simpson. Well, our own Mike Fisher authored his criticism of the commercial on his website, dallasbasketball.com, and even drew up his own Cowboys' caricatures to rival those so simplistically portrayed by BK's artist(s). Check 'em out.

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