Rock on, Dallas Cowboys.
Without a doubt the Cowboys performance from Saturday night calmed a few frayed nerves of some of their fans. The first team offense, despite some questionable penalties that thwarted drives, were able to move the ball with some success. Unfortunately, they were unable to crack the end zone and regardless of how much one blames officiating, it would be nice to see them break the plane.
The psuedo first-team defense continued to shut down the AFC West's offenses and generated their third turnover in three quarters. Missing Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and now DeMarcus Ware and still stifling a potent attack? Yeah, there's some cause for optimism there.
Meanwhile, injury concerns continue to be the prevailing conversation of camp. As some players finally return to the mix, others are on their way out. I normally tote the line that injuries are a part of camp and that the only reason Dallas seems heavier hit is because we follow this team more closely. While we haven't lost starters for extended time to the level a team such as Cincinnati has, I will admit the Cowboys are having one tough run.
Of course, all of the shuffling in and out means plenty of players with plenty of opportunities, and that leads to plenty of conversation pieces. We haven't scoured the interwebs for Cowboys stories in a while. Follow the jump and see what those outside of BTB are talking about.
Of course, eternal optimist Jerry Jones was pleased with the effort of the defense on Saturday night.
There isn't much room to argue with Jones; especially with a front seven missing four starters. If you believe that the Cowboys have their best players topping the depth chart; there is plenty reason to think the defense is catching onto Rob Ryan's system. At least in the testing grounds of the preseason.
But that ground, doesn't seem firm for all Cowboys in question. Another game, another questionable performance from backup runner Felix Jones. Felix has always been one of my favorite Cowboys but even I admit to sharing a bit of concern over his camp reports and game performances. It's a tough job to continuously fight off the numerous negative quick overreactions when they seem to keep coming and coming. Sooner or later a player needs to just do it, instead of "being capable of doing it".
Well, JJ and head coach Jason Garrett are doing their best to quell the concern. As OCC covered, Garrett defended Felix right after the game, preaching patience with a player that missed the offseason program after shoulder surgery.
Garrett would go on to say he's not worried about the drops and based on his drop rate of only 4.8% over the last three years; you'd think it's just a blip. Owner Jerry Jones followed up today by stating there is absolutely no chance Felix isn't on this team come cut day. Jones actually said that it would be "ridiculous". So if you're looking for WR turned FB turned RB (and my pet cat since before Oakland) Jamize Olawale to be one of the three or four backs Dallas keeps; look somewhere else for the roster room.
Yesterday's biggest news was that Dez Bryant suffered a knee injury and had to leave the first of two joint practice days with the Chargers. Fortunately, it's only tendinitis and Dez should be fine for the regular season opener against the Giants.
"I’m gonna be out there in New York," Bryant said Tuesday. "You already know."
In completely unrelated news (ok, not exactly unrelated), it appears that super agent Drew Rosenhaus could be in some hot water. Dez Bryant adviser David Wells has provided text-message evidence that Rosenhaus offered cash payments to Wells to bring Dez Bryant into the fold. It's detailed here in a Yahoo! Sports article. The report shows things getting interesting, especially after Dez dropped his previous agent Eugene Parker to finally sign with Rosenhaus in December 2011. Wells claims that Rosenhaus sent a gloating message to him. Earlier this month, Bryant left Rosenhaus management and returned to Parker. Plenty of nuggets in the article; I suggest you read the whole thing.
Back on the injury front, it appears that center Phil Costa won't suit up until next week; meaning the projected starting lineup will only have 9 days of prep work together in anticipation of the Giants game. That's for the entire offseason/preseason schedule. Yikes.
Garrett downgrades Costa for Thursday practice, Saturday game. Monday practice looks more like it now.— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) August 21, 2012
Pro Football Focus took a look at the preseason performances of the Top 10 rookies from April's draft. Of course that includes Pick Six: Morris Claiborne in his first action as a Cowboy. Here's what their analysis saw from the rook:
6. Morris Claiborne
Saturday night was Claiborne’s big night, the NFL debut of the next great cover corner. Well, if that was the case then the Cowboys’ other big acquisition at corner, Brandon Carr, stole the show. However, if this is what is to come from Claiborne, Cowboy fans won’t be overly disappointed as Claiborne had a quiet night: no mistakes, a good thing for a cornerback.
Slightly disappointing was that Claiborne wasn’t particularly active at coming up to meet plays. On his first target, a wide screen to Michael Spurlock, he wasn’t especially quick to close and make the tackle, then on a sweep in his direction later in the second quarter he was easily run off of the line and kept out of the play. On his other target, he closed well enough (after being beaten on the route) to prevent any yardage after the catch. There was no big play, no break on the football, but he wasn’t found wanting either; a solid starting point. An interesting note was that the Cowboys’ coaching staff kept Claiborne against their sideline throughout the first half. Claiborne lined up at left corner during the first quarter then flipped over to right corner for the second quarter, keeping him on the Dallas sideline close to the Cowboys’ coaching staff.
Plenty more to go for those that thirst Cowboys goodness. Check out the following links as well.
Mario Butler makes impression on Jerry Jones | ESPN - "He’s going to be hard to keep off this team," Jones said. "That’s been my goal since Day 1, make it easy for everyone to see me on the field, to show up every night," Butler said when told of Jones’ comments.
Miles Austin likely out until season opener | Sporting News - "The risks of him getting out there and really competing at this time would I think be overruled (by) the game we have for him being completely healthy in New York. Now, I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you he could go if we were playing New York tonight, and we will have him as ready as he can be for that. So that's the plan." - Jerry Jones
Broaddus: Second Thoughts Afrer Film Study of DAL-SD | The Mothership - Here are the lead-ins that were expanded on in Broaddus' great read:
-- While sitting in the broadcast booth Saturday night with Brad Sham, my radio partner offered a thought of the aggressive nature in which Jason Garrett was calling this game against the Chargers with his first offense on the field.
-- For those of you that listen to me on Talkin’ Cowboys or read my work on DallasCowboys.com, you know how critical I have been of the play of receiver Kevin Ogletree but on Saturday night, I have to give him credit where credit is due. Ogletree played like a receiver that those in the front office and coaching staff believed that he could always be.
Cowboys not looking to fill open roster spots | ESPN - Far be it for the writer to actually include the quote from the coach. But hey, who needs evidence.
Cowboys LG Nate Livings on return: "All good, baby." | DMN - "It’s just getting back, getting my feet back under me, getting to hit different guys,’’ said Livings, who has been out since early in camp with a hamstring injury. "It felt good... All good, baby.’’
Jason Garrett on DeMarcus Ware's hamstring tighness | DMN - The kings of the one quote article's strike again... "We’re certainly going to be cautious with him," Garrett said. "We don’t want to rush him back. I wouldn’t anticipate a lot of work for him if he is out here (Tuesday)."
Chris Jones learning the art of flip-flop punt | ESPN - "You can go out here and crank a regular ball 60 yards or whatever, but with that ball you have a limited distance so you have to know where the line of scrimmage is and what kind of kick you need. I’m feeling more comfortable with it overall. It’s still something I work on with the ball striking and the locations to get a feel for whether the ball has to go 40 yards or 48 yards."
Rob Ryan: Mo Claiborne "Did Alright" In Debut | NBCDFW - "It wasn't too big for him. He challenged the receivers the way we wanted him to. He tackled well."
NFL's Most Irreplaceable Players | ESPN Insider - This is for skill positions only. Worth noting that Dallas did not get listed under the first three categories because of their depth (Romo-Orton, Murray-Jones, Austin-Bryant). Who was listed then? Tight End Jason Witten, of course.
1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten backup John Phillips has primarily been a blocker in his short NFL career. He was targeted on just 18 passes last season, and lined up at fullback 123 times, more than any other tight end in the NFL. The third-stringer is a sixth-round rookie, James Hanna, who dropped in the draft due to concerns about his hands and blocking skills. A Witten injury, or any missed time due to his spleen, would really hurt the Cowboys' ability to run two-tight end sets, which would in turn compound their problem with unproven slot receivers.