Can the Dallas Cowboys sting together wins for the first time this season? They have a good opportunity against the Cleveland Browns in Cowboys Stadium. As you get ready for the game, here is a look at some of the latest news.
The weather should be beautiful for tailgating in Arlington, and maybe it is even nice enough to open the roof. It is expected to be in the mid to upper sixties under partly sunny skies.
This makes a few things clearer. First, it looks unlikely that Ryan Cook is able to go, and Mackenzy Bernadeau will probably get the start at center, with Derrick Dockery starting at RG. Second, the team apparently has little faith in David Arkin. And third, they have given up on Johnson making it to the field this year.
He's paying tribute to the late coach of Tennesee State, who passed away this week at age 89.
The connection with Ryan goes back to 1989 when he was breaking into coaching and Gilliam gave him a job at Tennesse State. Ryan coached there five years, his first two on offense as running backs coach before coaching linebackers and the defensive line his last three years.
They will be relying on Marcus Spears, Tyrone Crawford and newly promoted practice squad player Ben Bass to fill in. How will it likely go?
(There) should no problem doing just that. There are ample reserves at the left end spot, which Garrett said is a rotational position.
After the team racked up four offsides penalties in the victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Jason Garrett told Kyle Orton to use hard counts a lot in practice to try to cut down on these.
"We've used it a lot this week," Orton said. "They know when another quarterback comes into the meeting room, let's hard count these guys in practice this week. Not only cause of couple of penalties we've had, but the pass rush is so good you got to use the hard count to keep them off balance."
OK, I'm not sure I understand that exactly. But that's what Orton said.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport spoke with Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who made it sound as if Cleveland will be without its best defensive player against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Bad news for the Browns, good news for Tony Romo and the receivers. Maybe a little goatmouth at work.
I love this one.
4. Browns players have heard their share of stories about the bigger-than-life video board and female pole dancers at new Cowboys Stadium. But it's a totally different thing to actually experience the Dallas sideshow - all while trying to play a professional football game. Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor blew off the idea that he and his teammates could be distracted by one of the largest video boards in the world - 180 feet wide and 50 feet high - by suggesting, "You see one, you've seen them all." But perhaps the Browns will quickly realize that in Big D, size does matter.
Yes. It does.
I like it when others give Tony a little respect.
With 13 interceptions in his first eight games, including five in a loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 1 and four in another loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 28, Romo had America's Team headed for another disappointing season despite being surrounded by so many offensive weapons.
In the past two games, the picks have come to a halt and Romo, a 10-year veteran, appears to have righted the ship.
Even Brandon Weeden has some good things to say.
"So, when you're an aggressive thrower and you throw the ball downfield and you have confidence in the guys around you -- I know that's the way Tony (Romo) is. He's aggressive, he likes to fit balls into tight windows, that's just part of playing in this league."
Trent Richardson pays a little tribute to Cowboys great Emmitt Smith.
"I wore an Emmitt Smith jersey as a kid," Richardson said. "That's one person I said I wanted to be like when I was growing up and for him to be a Hall of Famer and I'm trying to follow in his footsteps, if not do better than what he did, that's big footsteps to follow into."
Weeden also had some compliments to pay to Dez Bryant, his former teammate at Oklahoma State.
"I saw some things I've never seen anybody do running routes, catching the football," Weeden said of Bryant. "He's unbelievable. I like to say he's grown up a lot. When we came in, he was an immature kid that had a long way to go. He's a great kid. You'll never find a better guy, ‘Yes sir, no sir.' As a person, he's one of my favorite guys I've ever played with."
Another sign things may be looking up for Dallas.
Romo has gone 5-of-7 on throws more than 20 yards downfield in his last two games after going just 7-of-30 in his first seven games. Last season, Romo had the second-best completion percentage (53.2) on such throws. The Browns have only allowed 13-of-44 passes (29.5 percent) throw 20 or more yards downfield to be completed against them.
Maybe the talented receiver is putting his issues behind him.
"I'm playing free," he said. "I feel like I've put a little bit extra time (in) to feel free and be more comfortable in the offense and asking questions instead of keeping my mouth closed. I felt like that's helped me out a lot."
I am starting to get a little uncomfortable with all this praise for our Cowboys.
The Browns are catching Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the wrong month, when he's at his gunslinging, slippery best.
Caleb McSurdy went on IR in preseason, Matt Johnson has joined him after the team decided he can't make it this year, and, well, we all know about Danny Coale's unfortunate history with me and the goatmouth. That's three of the seven picks this year.
McSurdy, Coale and Johnson didn't play a down this season. McSurdy was hurt in training camp, Coale was on the practice squad and Johnson was kept on the active roster despite his health issues.
At last. Josh Gordon has some negative things to say about Dallas. I was getting worried about all the positive stuff.
For Gordon, the biggest benefit of playing in Texas for the first time as a pro is it affords him an opportunity to help defeat a team he grew up rooting against.
"Honestly, being from Houston, we never really liked the Cowboys too much," Gordon said in a teleconference last week.
Starters are good, for now, but the depth is, well, shallow.
While no one's quitting on 2012, the auditions at key positions for 2013 and beyond are under way. In fact, I can't recall a time when the Cowboys were heading into an off-season and, specifically, a draft with so many needs at skill positions.
I'm talking about all the skill positions. It's the sort of thing that makes for interesting draft talk but not the kind of problem an organization easily embraces.
Here's something to keep your eye on.
Two of the best at their positions will square off when Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware lines up over Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.
"Keep a close eye on this battle as the day wears on because the one that is winning it will make a big difference for his team," wrote former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus in a piece for DallasCowboys.com.