So one major bummer did come out of Friday's game against the Titans. Rookie OLB Brandon Williams tore an ACL and is lost for the season. How much time Williams was going to get this year was debateable, but it would have been nice to see him play special teams and possibly become a factor by later in the season on defense. We'll just have to wait until next year, or the year after that, to see what the kid's got. Consider it a redshirt year.
William's injury does limit the options at an already thin position in terms of backups. Behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, the Cowboys have Victor Butler, Steve Octavien and Justin Rogers. Dallas is doing everything they can to get Bobby Carpenter comfortable and productive as the nickel backer on the inside, so I don't see them swinging him outside in emergencies. The primary backups outside will come from the Butler/Octavien/Rogers trio, or the Cowboys can try to pick someone up from another team. Steve Octavien is intriguing. I barely thought about him before this training camp, but after the first week he'd become my pet cat - every time I checked the days notes on practice, #53 kept turning up, making plays. He also had a very good game on Friday.
After last night it looks like first-year player Steve Octavien could be in the team's plans as well. When the Cowboys opened the second half Friday night with some subs and some starters in the game, Octavien had replaced Ware, while Spencer stayed in on the other side of the 3-4 front. He played deep into the game, and tipped Vince Young's pass that was intercepted by Matt Stewart.
More VRR below...
Flying under the radar is the fact that our starting fullback, Deon Anderson, will not play until at least the first game of the season. The Cowboys are likely to keep only one fullback on the 53-man roster. So while Anderson is sitting out after his knee surgery, Julius Crosslin is trying to make his move and supplant Anderson is the coach's minds. Not sure that Crosslin can do it, but it's an interesting situation to watch. Anderson has served Dallas well on special teams and is an adequate FB. Crosslin is trying to show he can do more than block, that he can help in the passing game.
Crosslin admitted to being a little nervous, though, and he bobbled both catches a bit before eventually securing them. Pass catching was something he did not do much as a fullback at Oklahoma State. "I wasn't looking them in," Crosslin said. "I was trying to get upfield and go. I know what I need to do, and what I need to work on in practice for the next game."
Another story that is starting to get a little more serious is Nick Folk's recovery from surgery. It wasn't talked about much coming into preseason, but it is now, since the ultra-reliable Folk has missed two FG's in two games. Even Wade Phillips admits to a little apprehension.
"There is a little bit of a concern," Phillips said. "I don’t think he is completely well, but he is well enough to be kicking those things. I just think he’ll get better and better as he goes along.
"It wasn’t a minor deal as far as kickers are concerned. I think (John) Carney had the same surgery and had a little problem for a little while and then got back into the groove. We are hoping he does the same thing."
"It was awesome," Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said at halftime. "It was a lot of fun opening up this place. This is a great stadium. Not only should the fans be excited, but so should the NFL and all the players as well. "It was a great atmosphere here tonight."
Still, there's only one part of the stadium that everyone is talking about. Jerry's $40 million HD video board hanging over the field was a spotlight magnet even before the stadium opened. The biggest of it's kind, it would allow fans to watch the game, and the replays (as Raf pointed out), in stunning clarity and on a scale unimaginable before the stadium's creation. Now, it's become a point of interest for blocking a Titans' punt (maybe the Cowboys best special teams player - I kid!). After the Titans' punters used the board for target practice in warmups, one of them pegged it in a game. Now, we got Jerry, the NFL, the officials, Jeff Fisher, the P.R. department and a Cowboys stadium tour guide all weighing in.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail that the league office is aware of the issue and will continue to monitor it. Aiello said the NFL's competition committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated it was a possibility after Tennessee rookie A.J. Trapasso's punt hit the board in the third quarter Friday night.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones helped set the height at 90 feet above the field— 5 feet above the league minimum—even though tests using the team’s punter, Mat McBriar(notes), showed he could clear 100 feet. The reasoning behind cutting it close was that during the tests, McBriar was trying to boot it that high, but a regular punt has a lower arc and is usually kicked toward a sideline, not right down the middle.
Turns out, they might have to raise the video board, which is in the line of fire for punts. Or the league could be forced to examine its rules. "It's something we're going to have to look at in the next week," Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, told The Times on Saturday. "We need to see if there's anything further we can do to make sure there's equity involved if it happens again."
Pereira said it's entirely possible that a team trying to protect a lead could run time off the clock by intentionally punting the ball into the video board and getting a do-over. He said there is no rule for putting time back on the clock in that situation. "We haven't talked at all about time being put on the clock," he said. "The only thing we've talked about really is the do-over of the play. We've never talked about resetting the clock back to where it was. That's obviously something we're going to have to talk about. And that may be what we arrive at. I would say that it's a big enough issue that we're going to have to address it with the competition committee here probably sometime this week to figure out what direction we want to go."
But let's go to a reliable source, a Cowboys stadium tour guide?
Crews were working on the giant HD screen at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday, and tour guides told paying customers the crane in the middle of the field had to do with raising the video board.
Cowboys PR flaks deny it:
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels denied that the work Saturday had anything to do with raising the video board, saying it was part of "ongoing construction" at the stadium. A tour guide said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was paying additional money to allow the board to be raised and lowered as warranted inside the $1.2 billion stadium. It was already known that the Cowboys would have to raise the video board for the U2 concert on Oct. 12.