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Dallas Cowboys News: NFL Expands Practice Squad, Players Returning To Practice

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL expands practice squads to 10 players -

In a move that was a bit of a surprise (at least before reports started trickling out on Monday), the NFL Competition Committee has approved a two-year expansion of the practice squad from 8 to 10 players.

There is almost no downside to this rule. Without a true developmental league, teams struggle to work with young talent that isn't ready to truly compete at the pro level. A bigger practice squad could help teams teach diamonds in the rough.

Here is an expanded version of the new rules, courtesy of SBN.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to expand NFL Practice Squads for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Absent an extension of the agreement, the current rules will be reinstated beginning with the 2016 season.

Under the agreement, 2014 and 2015 Practice Squads will increase from the current maximum of eight players to 10 players.

In addition, the criteria for Practice Squad eligibility has been expanded in two respects.

First, a player must have a minimum of six games - up from the current three games - on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player's three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.

Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club's 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.

All other practice squad rules under Article 33 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.


Practice Update: Several Returnees; Moore Still Missing

Notable players back in practice (at some level of participation) after being out with injury: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Gavin Escobar, and Anthony Hitchens. Plus one guy who missed for "other" reasons.

Ahmad Dixon, who was benched for the game after being late to team walkthrough, was also practicing Tuesday.

Dallas Cowboys still in camp mode - ESPN

Speaking of practice, it is worth remembering that the team is still technically in training camp, even if they have left the pleasant Oxnard climate.

"We'll be in pads all week long," coach Jason Garrett said. "It's training camp."

Dallas Cowboys' Bruce Carter not concerned about demotion - ESPN Dallas

The situation at linebacker has been one of flux, and has gotten more confused with the neck injury suffered by DeVonte Holloman. It is looking more and more that Bruce Carter may not be one of the starting linebackers. Carter himself does not think the team is trying to demote him to a nickel or backup linebacker, despite the Cowboys lining up Rolando McClain at MLB, Justin Durant at WLB and Kyle Wilber at SLB during the Baltimore Ravens game. But that does seem to be the message coming from the guys who run things.

The rotation featuring McClain in the middle and Durant on the weak side certainly came as no surprise. 

Head coach Jason Garrett strongly hinted about it during training camp, when he said that Durant's most natural position was playing the weak side. The Cowboys clearly traded for the twice-retired McClain with the hope that the 25-year-old former eighth-overall pick would win the starting job at middle linebacker. 

It's also telling that owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn't mention Carter's name when discussing the linebacker corps during his Tuesday morning radio appearance.

Jerry On Reported Manziel Card Snatching: ‘Figuratively, It Got Close To That’ " CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

The oddest story so far this week has been the flap over a writer's description of how Stephen Jones has to take direct physical action to stop his father Jerry from drafting Johnny Manziel instead of Zack Martin. The story is being discredited as a literal description of events, including here at BTB, and now Jerry has joined in stating that it did not happen that way - but admits he was still tempted.

"Figuratively speaking, it got close to that," said Jones, who has openly admitted to being a fan of Manziel's game. "It certainly was a big debate going on, if no place else other than my mind."

With cameras in the war room, Jones did say that had Stephen snatched a card from him, it would have been seen by everyone. But Jones wouldn't dismiss the report that Stephen had a major impact on bypassing Manziel in the draft.

"If anybody could talk me out of it, Stephen could. Let's leave it at that."

Jason Garrett explains the Dallas Cowboys rotation at their premium pass-rushing position | Dallas Morning News

Frankly, when the media reports on what Garrett says, they seem to confuse the term "explains" with "obfuscates".

In a perfect world with no injuries, Lawrence, Mincey and Spencer would rotate on the right side while Selvie and Crawford held down the left end. But since it's not a perfect world, Garrett says, "All hands on deck."

"We're going to be in a rotation and a lot of guys are going to play," Garrett said. "That's when you get good, when you play this style of defense and have a lot of guys playing and everybody playing is fresh and ready to go. So we'll sort out all those spots across the board."

Don’t expect Cowboys QB Tony Romo to play much more than two series against Miami | Dallas Morning News

Although Jason Garrett claims no decisions have been made, this seems like one where you can trust what the owner had to say, given the way the team had protected their franchise quarterback so far this pre-season.

"Well, I think you'll probably see him here against Miami about like you did the other night,'' owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. "I don't know that we ought to do any more than that, then really see not only (Brandon) Weeden but our young quarterback (Dustin Vaughn) can get some snaps out there.''

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones won’t dismiss that team keeps RBs Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams | Dallas Morning News

With the way the team has been running the ball in pre-season, it certainly looks like the team may go heavy. It also is looking like they really want to keep a fullback, with Tyler Clutts the leading candidate so far. So is there a chance both Randle and Williams could stick with the team?

So here's the question: do the Cowboys chose between Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams and keep four backs, or do they keep both and expand to five.

"I don't want to dismiss it,'' owner Jerry Jones said. "We got these two preseason games to look at and the balance of these practices.

Amobi Okoye closer to return to action - ESPN

The incredible story of Amobi Okoye's attempt to return to football after being in a months-long coma from a form of encephalitis continues. Although he is not in pads yet, he got his first work in a one on one drill.

"The plan now is to get him in football condition," coach Jason Garrett said. "We can't work with him as coaches. He needs to get himself in shape as best he can. He has been cleared, but you don't want to just simply take him out there. He hasn't played in a long, long time. You just want to make sure his wind is right, his feet are underneath him."

Dallas Cowboys want to see more of 'Flounder' - ESPN Dallas

Jason Garrett is not the man so many think he is. His particular sense of humor was on display when he hung the nickname "Flounder" on DT Zach Minter while he was talking about his play against the Ravens. For the callow youth out there, the nickname is taken from the movie "Animal House".

Regardless of your opinion about movies that raise immature collegiate humor to an art form, Minter definitely got the attention of a lot of people with his work late in the game, It may have been against the bottom roster players of the Ravens - but it has earned him a chance to move up and see what he can do against better competition.

"That's what we're all about," Garrett said. "Here's the opportunity. Here are your plays in practice. Here are your plays in the game. Show us what you can do." 

The 6-foot-1, 307-pound Minter made a name for himself, sort of. 

"Players were coming up to me and literally hit me, ‘Don't take 79 out,'" Garrett said. "They didn't even know who the hell he was."

Ronald Leary leads battle at left guard - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas

Although Mackenzy Bernadeau had a chance to get a leg up while Ronald Leary was recovering from his pre-pre-season hamstring boo-boo, it looks like Leary has retaken the lead to become the starter at left guard.

Leary started Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens and played every snap with the starting offensive line. He also took the vast majority of the first-team reps during the pair of joint practices against the Oakland Raiders last week.

Cowboys DT Henry Melton hopes to play in preseason to "knock some of the rust off" before the season opener | Dallas Morning News

Melton continues to assure everyone he will be ready to play in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. But he would prefer to get some pre-season game work in at some point before then.

"If I played a whole season it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I just played in the regular season (opener),'' Melton said. "But since I haven't played in pretty much almost a year, going back out there would be beneficial to me if I'm ready.''

Scout's Notebook: This Is Will Smith’s Chance To Impress

Broaddus also points out the one thing that Rolando McClain has got to get in order if he is to take over as the starting MLB, which seems to be the plan the team has for him.

Rolando McClain practiced with the first defense on Tuesday, but later had to make his way to the locker room to deal with cramping issues. It was a struggle for McClain in the Ravens game as he continues to try and get his conditioning in order. That appears to be the major hurdle he has yet to clear.


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