The Dallas Cowboys continue to adjust the roster, plus there is this thing called a regular season coming up. Here is the latest information for your perusal.
Ahmad Dixon started the preseason off with a bang, leading the team in tackles in the first game. Things went somewhat downhill, to the point that several reporters tweeted that Jason Garrett was shedding doubt on him even being signed to the practice squad after he was waived.
C.J. Spillman comes in as a special teams and short yardage specialist, who by purest coincidence happened to play for the Cowboys' first opponent prior to becoming available.
The coverage team is where Spillman thrived. He's been in the top three in special teams tackles for the 49ers every year he's been on the team. His best year in that respect came when he finished first for the 49ers with 14 special teams tackles in 2011. He finished second in San Francisco with 12 special teams tackles last season.
The Bengals chose not to keep a true fullback on the roster this year, and that meant there was no place for Nikita Whitlock. The former Wake Forest defensive tackle was converted to fullback this offseason during the pre-draft process, and he made the transition very nicely.
He may be an insurance plan or even an outright alternative to Tyler Clutts. He does bring some physicality to the position.
Whoa. New Cowboys practice squad FB Nikita Whitlock benched 225 pounds 43 times @ pro day. FORTY THREE. He's 5'10, 251. Would've led combine— Or Moyal (@OrMoyal) September 1, 2014
The headline sums up all the pertinent content from this article. It does illustrate just how tenuous life is for the marginal NFL player, since Thomas was just signed to the Cowboys' 53 man roster yesterday. But he is not going far.
P squad it is— Jemea Thomas (@Heartbreak_mea) September 1, 2014
Looks like he takes the PS spot everyone thought Dixon would get.
The defense may finally be coming together.
After missing all four preseason games,
Henry Melton, Morris Claiborneand Terrell McClainall participated in the morning session. Being a Monday, it was only a light practice - helmet and shorts - but the trio of players went through team stretch and the full allotment of individual drills during the open session.
How game ready they will be for the season opener is still questionable, but at least they are back in practice. George Selvie was the only player the team had been hoping would make it back for the first game who did not get in a full practice.
However much he is actually used the first game, Melton is just glad to be back on the field.
"I am just going to go with the flow," he said. "If they want to hold me to a certain amount of plays, I am just going to listen to them."
That determination hasn't been made, according to head coach Jason Garrett.
"We'll see as the week goes on," Garrett said. "The biggest thing for him is to get out there and practice, go against a live opponent and he was able to do some of that today."
When asked where he was playing Sunday, this is the answer Bruce Carter gave.
"I think SAM," Carter said. "JD is at WILL and Rolando is at MIKE. And then I play WILL in nickel."
This looks like good news, with the team thinking Rolando McClain is ready to go.
There were multiple, semi-panicked Tweets about Rolando McClain supposedly hurting his knee in a blocking drill, but he and the coaching staff insist it was nothing. McClain says he is ready to play both mentally and physically.
"I still love the game like I'm an 8-, 9-year old kid. It's just about getting back into it, building chemistry with some of these guys, some trust and just playing and having fun really."
I have a feeling the questions about Tony Romo and his back will not end until the season does. He is supposed to be ready to put in a full week of practice, but Garrett quickly added some caveats to that.
That doesn't mean Romo will take every snap in every practice like he did five years ago or like he did last year during the week. In all likelihood Romo will be listed as limited in practices because he will not do everything.
"I think the whole thing is semantics," Garrett said. "We're going to get him into a routine and get himself ready to play. If the standard is based on what he did six years ago, I don't know if that should be the standard. We're going to get him ready to play. At different times last year, he was able to more things than at other times. But that's really every guy on our team."
He wound up on the practice squad, but he is not taking a negative view of that.
"I can wake up every day and be happy coming to work and not somewhere I feel I'm not wanted," Williams said. "I feel all the players in this organization, from top to bottom, whether you're a Tony Romo or a Ryan Williams, you're going to get respected, you're going to get coached, and you're going to get an opportunity to show your stuff.
"I signed in the spring and all I started with was a shot. They gave me a shot and I ran with it and landed me a spot on practice squad and hopefully I can move up to the 53."
He has a point. Looking at numbers and past history, I'd say he and Jemea Thomas have the best shots at making the 53 man roster sometime during the season. Also, as I mentioned above, I think Nikita Whitlock is going to be given every chance to take Tyler Clutts' slot.
There are a lot of new faces in Valley Ranch, and it is useful to find out a little bit about them. One concern with players who were released by other teams, particularly bad teams, is that they may not be any good to begin with. According to a reporter who covers the Tennessee Titans, this may not be the case with Lavar Edwards.
I think he's a decent prospect who might develop into something. The Titans aren't very deep, but they are deep on the defensive line. And with the shift to a 3-4 he's not a system fit in Nashville.
Our go-to scout from the mothership, Bryan Broaddus, takes a look at Donald Hawkins, who is believed to be in the mix to be the swing tackle for Dallas. As such, his ability to protect Tony Romo and his back are paramount.
Good initial set on his pass block. Athletic in the way that he handles counter moves. Did not see him in many poor blocking positions. Able to work against stunts and twists. Did a nice job of showing awareness in how he handled stunts.
Best suited to play on the strong side of the formation. His best trait is his ability to extend his arms and control the blocker. He can strike with his hands and quickly get off the block while on the move. It was rare to see him get stuck on a block.
Maybe he is just dreaming. But Anthony Spencer is a believer in the wave concept for the rushmen.
"It's going to be huge for us just to have a good rotation on that defensive line and just get people out there fresh and just rotating guys," Spencer said. "I think it's going to be frustrating for a lot of offenses seeing fresh guys run onto the field."
Which only makes sense. One thing that may be important is the number of defensive starters that the Niners may not have on the field.
The 49ers have not lost a season opener under coach Jim Harbaugh, but they will be without three of their better defenders in linebacker Aldon Smith (suspension), linebacker NaVorro Bowman (injury) and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (injury). They could also be without defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who was arrested over the weekend on domestic violence charges.
One of the strangest things to come up on Sunday was a report from Ian Rapoport, normally a very reliable NFL source, that Dallas had been interested in Ryan Mallet, which influenced his trade from the New England Patriots to the Houston Texans. Mike Fisher dug into the question of whether Dallas contacted the Patriots about Mallet.
They did not.
There are reports to the contrary, so think what you wish here. But Bryan Broaddus and I teamed up on the chasing of this story, speaking to multiple sources in the front offices of both Dallas and New England.
There were no such trade talks.
As someone observed, this was a totally meme free observation about Tony Romo.
Romo has led 13 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime over the past three seasons, two more than any other quarterback. Romo also ranks fifth in Total QBR in the fourth quarter and overtime since 2011.
Now, before I get to the final link of the day, I want to warn all those who are convinced that the Cowboys are going to absolutely suck and that Jason Garrett may as well put his house up for sale: There are those who may not support your view of things.
1. THE DALLAS COWBOYS WILL WIN 10 GAMES AND MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.
FOX Sports' Peter Schrager is calling for Dallas to be the surprise team of the NFL.