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Dallas Cowboys News and Notes: Our Thoughts Turn To Nashville

News for a Friday morning. Grab a cup of joe and check out the latest headlines: final thoughts about the 49ers game; practice reports; awesome Cowboys-Titans Previews!

Christian Petersen

As Thursday passes into Friday, the NFL week finished its lumbering mid-week shift, and the breathless critiques of the previous game give way completely to previews of the upcoming opponent. Today, we'll begin with a couple of last looks backward, touch down on the present, and the spend the rest of our time looking towards Nashville, where the Titans await.

Reps vs. rust? No, Romo needed relief - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas

In a final salvo in the Romo Back Wars, Timmy Mac argues that the Cowboys had to exercise extreme caution with the Cowboys' signal caller during training camp to make sure he was as healthy as possible for the start of the season - even if it meant that he wouldn't be ready to play at anything approximating his established level in week one. Can't say I disagree - which is about as much as T-Mac's gonna get from me.

Xs and Os - Three things from week 1 to examine - Bob Sturm, Live from Lewisville

Ah, the joys of the regular season, when The Sturminator suddenly ramps up his production to a whopping four posts a week. Today, he looks at three plays: the long Vernon Davis touchdown; Bruce Carter's sack; and Justin Smith's third-quarter sack of Romo. Careful, detailed film study - especially of the Davis TD. A must read.


Reports and updates from the practice field:

Practice update: with Durant likely out, Hitchens gets reps - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Different day, same headline - although Eatman also gives us several other tidbits from practice. Such as this rumination on the situation at safety:

The Cowboys appeared to have an issue at the safety spot when J.J. Wilcox walked off the field alongside head athletic trainer Jim Maurer. But moments later, Wilcox jogged back onto the field and continued practice. The Cowboys are already without safety C.J. Spillman, who had a groin injury in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers...The Cowboys have a couple of defensive backs on the practice squad with ability to play both corner and safety in Micah Pellerin and Jemea Thomas.

Dallas is, as they (well, the Pythons) say, wafer-thin at safety. Cross your fingers C.J. Spillman is able to play against the Titans, as he says he will.

Cowboys Huddle-up: the British invasion - Jordan Ross and Mike Fisher, Cowboys HQ

In Cowboys HQ's version of News and Notes, Ross and Fish drop some golden nuggets. Here's one on the "base defense" in practice:

Because of Tennessee's three-WR tendencies, Dallas' almost sole focus in practice has been on Nickel defense, with Bruce Carter and Rolando McClain as the only two linebackers on the field, with Sterling Moore as the 11 defender playing slot corner.

DE Edwards added to injury report - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas

Two words: knee injury

Michael Sam doing a good job in practice; Rod Marinelli: "I like his instincts." - Jon Machota, DMN

The Dallas D-coordinator points out that it's hard for practice squad players, because they don't get the same exposure to coaching as the guys who will be suiting up:

"The only thing he really gets is some of our individual periods and then he gets some one-on-one rushes on Wednesday, and I think he’s gotten a little bit better....So it’s a little tougher, but he’s got movement. I like his quickness and his instincts. He’s got really good work habits, so just keep working to develop him."


And some looks ahead:

Cowboys vs. Titans preview - Paul Kuharsky and Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

AFC South and Titans specialist Kuharsky joins Archer for an extended back and for about Sunday's opponents. Here's Kuharsky on new Titans head coach Ken Wisenhunt:

He’s a strong presence who gives a team confidence with a résumé that includes taking long-hapless Arizona to a Super Bowl. He’s very direct and the players have responded well to his approach....At the core of the Whisenhunt Titans are new systems. He’s the playcaller on offense and he has a strong plan for how to move the ball with a committee of running backs and a stable of quality pass-catchers. He’s unpredictable and he builds things during a game where he sets up something now for later.

And Archer on new Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan:

I think Linehan will be an asset for this offense....Linehan's history with Garrett -- they were on Nick Saban's staff together in Miami -- makes this move more sensible. They think alike. And more importantly, Linehan is learning how Romo thinks....Linehan's work in Detroit with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson leads me to believe that Romo and Dez Bryant will produce. But Linehan will have a better running game and better tight end (Jason Witten) than he ever had in Detroit. So if the Cowboys can stay away from turnovers, they should be explosive.

Good conversation from two guys who always offer excellent, snark-free content.

Scout's eye; young Titans CB could be tough for Williams - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership

A misleading title, as it actually refers to Broaddus weekly "key matchups" post. The two tete-a-tetes he discusses this week are Henry Melton against Titans LG Chance Warmack and Terrance Williams vs. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson. From the first of these:

Melton will need to stay on the edges to fight this guy. Warmack will have trouble with Melton’s quickness. He really has some trouble when he really had to block a quick defender and that is where Melton can put him in a bad spot. The more than Melton can stay active and on the move, the more likely he will get Warmack over-extended and reaching on blocks -- which will play in Melton’s favor.

Stats-eye view of Cowboys-Titans - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

A few statistical items for your delectation. Here's the one that caught my eye:

From 2010 to 2013, Romo had a plus-26 touchdown-to-interception differential (34 TD, 8 INT) when targeting Bryant, best among any QB-WR duo.

Cowboys have to run on the road - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Artcher continues with the statistical derring-do:

The Cowboys ran for 754 yards away from home in 2013 and 750 yards at home. They were much more willing to stick with the running game away from AT&T Stadium as well. In five of the eight road games, the Cowboys had at least 20 carries five times. They had only three such games at home.

The bad news? Only two times in his career has DeMarco Murray passed the century mark on the road. Then again, he never ran on the road with Zack Martin in his huddle...

Is Cowboys RG Zack Martin better than Travis Frederick as a rookie? Frederick thinks so - David Moore, DMN

Straight from the Beard:

"I think he’s in a better spot than I was when I was a rookie after my first game," Frederick said. "I would say he’s probably at least to where I was halfway through the season. You can tell that he’s ahead and he’s going to be a really good player."

DeMarco Murray: Hopefully, I stay with the Cowboys, but it's a business - Jon Machota, DMN

The team offered its star running back to reporters for interviews today, and all the local outlets published the same story. Here's the Dallas Morning News' version. And here's the salient quote from Number Twenty Nine:

"It is a business, so you can’t get [upset] over things like that," Murray said. "You got to have thick skin, I would say. Like I’ve said before, I love being here. I love playing with 9, 82 and 88. I love playing for Coach Garrett and this organization as a whole, so it’s something I’ll continue to strive for, continue to work hard for. Hopefully it happens. We’ll see."

He's certainly got the right attitude...


From the Schadenfreude department:

Eagles address offensive line injuries - Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News

The Eagles didn't place anyone on injured reserve once the season started in 2013. Now, it looks like they are suffering form the dreaded "regression to the mean":

One game into the 2014 slate, the team announced that right tackle Allen Barbre and reserve linebacker Najee Goode are going on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season. Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis is going on IR designated for return, with a torn left MCL, meaning he can practice again in 6 weeks and play in 8, presumably Nov. 10 against Carolina.

Let's see how much of a genius you are when your team suffers even a league-average number of injuries, Chipper!

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