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Dallas Cowboys News and Notes: Cowboys To Face "Uphill Battle" In 2014?

All the Cowboys-centric news for a Thursday gameday. Today's news: Jerry dials down expectations; Cowboys adjust roster to field a team against Denver; Dez nears contract resolution.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We kick off today's news with an uncharacteristically sober Jerry Jones, and some season predictions:

Surprisingly, Jerry Jones concedes Cowboys face uphill battle in 2014 - Brandon George, DMN

At the Cowboys' annual greet-n-eat, Jerry Jones told the players, frankly, that they had "an uphill battle" and then shared with the assembled crowd that "This bunch and everybody in this organization knows that we’ve got our backs against the wall."

As George notes, "Jones has never dialed down expectations like he did Wednesday." Yikes.

To my mind, this coheres with the decision to keep Anthony Spencer on the 53-man roster: the organization's desperation is beginning to leak out in statements like Jerry's and in behavior like keeping a potential pass rusher on the active roster regardless of whether they have seen anything form him for almost a year.

Danny White predicts "mystery year." - Mark Lane, CowboysHQ

Also at the annual luncheon, the Cowboys former signal caller, who was there with former teammates Drew Pearson and Roger Staubach to accept the Tom Landry Legends Award.Asked about the team's prospects in 2014, he offered bluntly: "I think we'll take 8-8 and be happy to have it." Yikes

Well, at least Jason Garrett promises there will be plenty of fight in the Cowboys...

Plenty riding on Romo's arm, health - Todd Archer, ESPN

In the Cowboys season preview for ESPN, Archer, gives us an in-depth peek at the Cowboys season, including this fascinating scouting report on Romo by an active NFL player:

"He's athletic, so you have to be ready for him to spin out and juke you one way or another. He makes guys miss. If you rush and he pumps the ball, you can't jump. I've seen that happen a couple times where he's had a guy open on the blitz and he'll pump fake, the guy leaves his feet and he buys time. Then, you're one-on-one in the back end and it's a tough deal for the defense. When you rush him, you have to make sure you attack the up-field shoulder. If your angle is too much inside, then it's too easy to spin out and then get out of the pocket. You can't allow him out of the pocket to his right. He's a lot more effective throwing the ball when rolling out to his right."

Spoiler: Archer predicts another 8-8 season.

The annual playoff reminders - Bob Sturm, Live from Lewisville

The Sturminator offers a historical analysis of NFC playoff teams in the last ten years. His findings are a bit sobering:

Dallas is at 3 [playoff appearances], which is out paced by 7 NFC organizations, and has a drought since 2009. Teams with a longer drought than 2009 in the NFC without a playoff appearance are only Tampa Bay and St Louis - (Arizona also has not been in since 2009)

But there is hope: Sturm reminds us that 5.7 new teams make the playoffs each season.


While the owners were at the annual hootenanny, Will McClay and Co. were reshaping the roster in order to field a team to play against Denver. A look at the cuts 'n' keeps:

Cowboys to sign RB Tanner - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas

Phillip Tanner, recently the team's third RB, will rejoin the Cowboys for the final preseason game after being released by the Colts. He'll jump right, in getting a goodly share of caries, with DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle unlikely to play.

An interesting whisper: I hear they might look at him as a fullback/ special teams ace. He's already got the latter part of that equation locked up.

Cowboys claim CB off waivers, WR Benson released - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

In comes Patriots sixth-rounder Jemea Thomas; out goes Tim Benford, who has been with the team for a while now. No longer.

Garrett empathizes with released players - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

As a career-long third quarterback, Jason Garrett spend the bulk of his career as a fringe player, living on the bottom of 53-man rosters. As such, he has extra sympathy for bottom-of-the-roster types; he takes extra care to be clear about why they are being released:

Typically, what we do is thank them for their effort and putting it all out there. We try to be instructive; ‘This is what we saw. This is how we think you can get better. It’s one person’s opinion or one organization’s opinion.’ And then encourage them.

Scouting report: Jemea Thomas - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership

Who is this new addition to the defensive backfield? The Broad One steps into the darkened film room and offers a synopsis of the Cowboys new CB's game - and his review appears to be very positive:

Played as a safety for the Yellow Jackets, but for the Patriots his primary position was as a corner. I did see him line up against the Eagles as a safety in certain packages. He also played the slot and appeared to be very comfortable in that role. He showed foot quickness along with an extended burst. His backpedal and movement appeared to have a hint of tightness, but when the receiver crossed on him he did manage to plant and redirect with him. Thought his positioning in routes was very good. Did not see many routes where the receiver was able to separate on him.


Cowboys announce award winners at kickoff luncheon - David Helman, The Mothership

During their yearly kickoff, the team doles out awards. Here's the summary, thanks to Tiny Jim:

Some of the awards presented at the luncheon included the Tom Landry Legend Award, which went to Danny White and the Ed Block Courage Award, which went to Barry Church for bouncing back from a ruptured Achilles tendon. The 2013 special teams, defensive and co-offensive MVP awards went to Dwayne Harris, Church, DeMarco Murray and Tyron Smith, respectively.

Selvie expects to be ready for week 1 - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas

Although George Selvie's shoulder is sore enough to cause him to sit out practice this week, he insists that it isn't sore enough to sideline him for next week's regular season opener. Which is a good thing, considering the Cowboys will need all the help they can get.

And, finally, a bit of good news going forward:

Dez, Jones meet privately to discuss deal - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

According to sources, Dez Bryant and Jerry Jones met Tuesday at Valley Ranch to discuss the receiver’s contract situation. Which leads to this interesting nugget from Timmy Mac:

After the Cowboys signed left tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year, $98 million contract extension during training camp, the NFLPA reportedly looked into the negotiations because the Cowboys circumvented Smith’s agent and persuaded Smith to agree to a deal that would keep him tied to the Cowboys until the 2023 season.

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