The Cowboys are set to begin their voluntary workouts on Monday, so we can expect more news to roll in as the team reunites. It's great to see, though, that many key team members have already reported to Valley Ranch.
Wade Phillips said as many as 27 to 30 players showed up last week to work out. This week, he was getting reports that players such as Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Bradie James were lifting and running.
Extra! Extra! Backup center/guard Cory Procter is the first RFA to sign his tender with the team. With the workouts commencing and the April 15 RFA tender deadline looming, more of these signings are sure to follow.
Procter will earn $1.759 million in 2010 after the team placed the second-round tender on him. He was active for every game in 2009 but saw only limited action as a backup at center and guard. In 2008, he started 11 of 16 games after Kyle Kosier was lost for the year with a foot injury.
The Cowboys have 10 remaining restricted free agents: Miles Austin, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, Sam Hurd, Pat McQuistan, Duke Preston, Gerald Sensabaugh, Junior Siavii, Marcus Spears and Pat Watkins.
More VRR after the jump.
Exactly, what does the team expect from the players during "voluntary" workouts?
While the training is voluntary, near perfect attendance is expected. Players are to complete four workouts a week, on a schedule of their own choosing. Most settle into a Monday-Thursday routine. The Cowboys tailor workout programs to each player individually, though the three-and-a-half month schedule also includes on-field training in groups, and four weeks of OTAs (organized team activities).
In this interview, Coach Phillips praises his starting quarterback's work ethic.
"Tony Romo, you can count on," Phillips said during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL Annual Meeting.
"You can count on him any time. You can count on him during the season, you can count on him as a player, you can count on him during the offseason. I don't think he's missed a workout since I've been the coach here."
Randy Galloway contrasts Tony Romo's past off-field "issues" with Ben Roethlisberger's current ones.
Meanwhile, in the land of Mordor, it's looking more and more likely that Donovan McNabb will be traded.
A person familiar with trade discussions involving McNabb told The Associated Press the Philadelphia Eagles will only consider a deal for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback if it includes a pick among the top 42 in next month's NFL draft.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Thursday because the team doesn't comment on potential trades.
After months of saying McNabb would return for another year, Eagles coach Andy Reid acknowledged Wednesday he was listening to offers for McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., that the club has thought about starting Felix Jones rather than Marion Barber.
"That has been a consideration, and it certainly is a consideration," DallasCowboys.com quoted Jerry Jones as saying late Tuesday. "Based on a preliminary input from our coaches, you could certainly see Felix in there earlier."
Calvin Watkins sums up some interesting notes on the Cowboys from the league owners meetings.
The Cowboys gave first-round grades on safeties Taylor Mays, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas.
The Cowboys are concerned about the age of left tackle Flozell Adams, who turns 35 in May, and could release him in June, though the team hasn't discussed it in full. Also, the ages of inside linebackers Bradie James (29, entering his eighth year) and Keith Brooking (turns 35 in October, entering his 13th year) concern the front office. The team is looking at some inside linebackers to draft for the future.
Opening up the starting running back job is a possiblity, according to Jerry Jones. However, all three running backs -- Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice -- will remain with the club.
Stephen Hodge, a sixth-round draft pick from TCU who missed last season to surgery, will not be ready in time for the OTAs or minicamps. Ware, Jay Ratliff and several other players who underwent surgeries should be fine for team workouts.
Coach Phillips sounds as if he has plans on getting Jason Williams involved in the defensive rotation this season.
"I think he's just going to get better and better," Phillips said. "He's a lot like [cornerback] Mike Jenkins was in that he tries to do whatever you ask him to do and he has talent, so he’s going to get better and better. We ask him to work on something, he works on, and he gets better at that. That’s kind of how Mike has evolved. It wasn’t all of sudden just put him out there and he play. Some young guys can do that and other guys come in and take a little while to get acclimated and get the feel for pro football.
"The speed of the game doesn’t bother him, though, I can tell you that. He is really fast. That’s a real plus. Not many linebackers that we have or anybody has can run like him. We’ve got high hopes for him this year."
Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis' health is improving.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said DeCamillis will be ready for the organized team activities.
"He’s doing all right," Phillips said. "Pain management is really the theme. He’s been in pain. I’ve never had a player get shot up 22 games in a row for pain. I’ve never asked a player to do anything like that, but he did that. Hopefully, that’ll start going away, subside some and he’s doing some therapy to try to help that. It’s been a tough year for him."
JJT suggests that Jerry Jones hire soon-to-retire NFL VP of officiating, Mike Pereira, as a "penalty coach".
Pereira wants to coach. At least that's what he recently told Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
"I believe penalties have a bigger impact on the game than anyone realizes," Pereira said. "I'm fascinated by the coaching aspect of it, of trying to cut down the penalties."
"Obviously it's never been done before, and I realize not every team would be interested in something like this. I think it's a matter of who's progressive enough to think about it. Who would take the chance?"
That's easy. Jerry.
In this statistically-driven analysis, DallasCowboysTimes grades the team's safeties. Here are their final results:
Final Safety Rankings
1. Ken Hamlin: 82.3 (B-)
2. Alan Ball: 78.3 (C+)
3. Gerald Sensabaugh: 75.7 (C)
Pro Day workouts will be wrapping up soon. Here are the remaining host schools:
Friday, March 26 -- Arizona State, Boise State, Delta State, Miami (Fla.), Northern Illinois, Tennessee-Martin, Wake Forest, Wilfrid Laurier
Monday, March 29 -- Newberry, Texas-Kingville
Tuesday, March 30 -- Coastal Carolina, Houston, Texas Southern (at Houston), Texas State, UCLA
Wednesday, March 31 -- Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Carolina State, Southern California, Texas
Thursday, April 1 -- Hawaii
Daryl "Moose" Johnston is a lead representative for the SLANT 45 Committee, which aims to involve school children in the community as Super Bowl XLV approaches.
Visit jayrat.com: The Official Website of Jay Ratliff. Diggin' his T-shirts!
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