Let's stroll around the web for the latest in Cowboys news.
Cowboys slot corner Orlando Scandrick has had to fill in as number one on the depth chart for almost an entire preseason, as Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins have been sidelined with injuries. Apparently, he has been doing a good enough job with the responsibility that Jerry Jones felt he needed to be locked up for the next five years without seeing him in actual 2011 fire. Various reports have the deal scheduled to give Scandrick $10 million guaranteed over the life of the deal, so one would think it eats up a large majority of the approximately $6 million of cap space the Cowboys had remaining. Scandrick was originally counting $1.2 million against the 2011 cap. If the team has any plans to bring in a player or players not currently on the roster, it still has a bullet left to shoot. The team renegotiated both Miles Austin and DeMarcus Ware earlier this offseason, but left QB Tony Romo's deal as is.
h/t to BTB members VicTor W for the Fan Shot and J-Witt Dawg for the FanPost. Included in the above link is a video clip from ESPN's Sports Nation, as they debated the use of the label America's Team, in reaction to Bradie James' contention that the Cowboys' teams of recent years have suffered from the sense of entitlement (more on that after the jump). The argument claims that only Cowboys fans still consider them as America's Team. Sure ESPN bobbleheads, let's ignore the fact that in 2009, when the NFL had it's highest viewership in over 20 years and dominated the Neilsen rating with 14 of the top 15 watched programs, the Cowboys were in an astronomical seven of them. Did we mention that a Cowboys preseason game just won the ratings top spot this past Sunday, and for the entire week?
Look folks, we don't make this stuff up. The Cowboys have more fans than every other team and we prove it in a myriad of ways. Editorializing, the Cowboys probably have the largest amount of haters worldwide too, and that's ok.
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Back to the signing for a second. Scandrick graded out as the best Cowboys corner last season, according to Pro Football Focus, which might have been the lesser of three evils. In fact, OS has only been one of the Cowboys Top 10 defenders once in the last three years, when he was 10th in 2008. PFF says that he had the second worst success rate in the league last season. He does excel at playing up, and is a physical presence which coach Rob Ryan loves. He has, by far, been the most praised player by the new defensive coordinator.
For his part, he came out and continued his string of great practices. According to practice reports, he logged a sack, interception and blocked field goal. The new contract doesn't pay him #1 money, but it would rank him as the highest paid slot corner in the league. His original deal was set to expire at the end of this season. Newman is signed through 2013, and Jenkins deal ends after next year.
"I fully expect to be a starter and I think this team expects me to be a starter,'' Scandrick said. "I'm getting No. 2 money, I guess you can say. But here in the next few years the market is going to rise.
"I think it works for both me and the team. I didn't want to be greedy. I knew I wasn't going to get $8 or $9 million a year. But I knew I would make out pretty good.''
Well, that sucks. Austin tried to return to practice yesterday and tweaked his hamstring again. Spears strained his groin against the Chargers on Sunday. Both players are expected to be fine in time for the regular season opener against the Jets. Inside linebacker Kenwin Cummings is day-to-day after having minor surgery on his bruised thumb. [ESPN] Cornerback Mike Jenkins returned to practice today and suited up with the first team. [DMN] He's been out for more than two weeks with a neck stinger. Montrae Holland is still out with a bad back, and may miss the season opener. [DMN] Line coach Hudson Houck reiterated how much cohesion plays a part in offensive line success.
"I think we have to see him. We have to see health-wise and we have to see how he fits in with the guys who are playing next to him," Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. "Not being able to practice is obviously an issue."
Someone queue that writer who does those play by play breakdowns to cover Bill Nagy, stat. Oh, that's me. I'm on it.
In other injury updates, Jason Garrett says Terrence Newman is on schedule to return for the opener against the Jets [DMN]. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice have both returned to the fold after their setbacks.
Ft. Worth Star Telegram's Jennifer Floyd Engel wrote up a piece that quoted Bradie James and DeMarcus Ware's take on why Dallas has underachieved.
"I think the entitlement kills us," James said. "Our alumni, our former greats have made us America’s Team and we reap benefits that we haven’t earned — all the way around, as individuals, as a team. Those guys earned it. We just think we deserve it."
"It’s about putting down a foundation," Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said when I asked why a team blessed with so much has done so little. "We have everything at the top but what is holding it at the bottom? You have to have something holding it together and that is what we are working at."
Now Engel is one of the best button-pushing journalists out there, and she needles the team's shortcomings throughout the article, with the only positive connotation being a short blurb.
Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey and Dave Campo and Coach Cupcake as I called Wade Phillips (and good luck with all of that Houston; I had sorority sisters with stronger backbones) were not those guys.
Jason Garrett is, or he has shown himself to be so far.
A small shout out to JG in the middle of one of her 'balls of hate'. My theory is that players even having the gumption to speak these quotes was made possible because of one Jason Garrett. For the players to come out and publicly question the team building methods of 'player's best friend' owner Jerry Jones comes from somewhere. I'm imagining that this is coming from some internal practice conversations that go something like this.
Garrett: "Look, I don't [expletive laced phrase] who signs the paychecks. This is my [more fun words] team, and I run the show. You want directions to the land of redemption, then jump on the my way highway and let's get this [=^O] thing done."
Or something like that.
Now that he has been anointed a life long Cowboys great, Charles Haley is getting a lot of media attention. In a recent interview with Norm Hitzges, Haley laid into the current players on the roster about their practice habits and performance Sunday night, according to this DMN report. Speaking about the alumni luncheon last week, the five-year Cowboy didn't hold anything back, so I'll give the full quoted portion for digestion.
"Jason Garrett gave a heart-felt speech. He brought all these guys in the room who played, the alumni, for the young guys and the veteran guys on the Cowboys to talk to," Haley said. "And he pleaded with them to ask them what did they do to be great. What did they do to help the Cowboys to win Super Bowls, to make the Cowboys one of the best franchises ever in the history of the NFL. You know how many guys went up to them to ask questions? I sat there and looked, they are so damn self-absorbed. They don't even see greatness surrounding them. All they're doing it sitting there counting numbers. There's going to be 55 guys, five or six practice squad guys. They count the positions to see if they are in."
"Jerry Jones got up and gave this heart-filled speech about if you are committed to the Dallas Cowboys, if you would just go out and empty your bucket. He got teary-eyed and had to stop. And what do the players do? The next day, they go out and play a game half-assed. They do not have a sense of urgency. They don't even understand that the owner is pleading with them to go out and make the first step."
Tell us how you really feel, Chuck. Haley seems to have an overall impression that the Cowboys don't have the hunger necessary to get this thing done. I'd love to bash him and say he doesn't know what he's talking about, but the man has five Super Bowl rings. If he seemed like he was overreacting to a preseason loss, then I'd probably dismiss it as 'Crazy Charles', but he's referencing a lot more that indicates a deep seeded impression. Then again, he could just be trying to get headlines in his now infamous Jerry assisted Hall Of Fame bid.
Thoughts on all this?