As it often does, the NFL got caught with its hands in the cookie jar, claiming one thing and doing another. This time it was the league taking credit for funding brain injury research while at the same time trying to force the withdrawal of funding for studies that did not conform to a position that was favorable to the league. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones continues to push the party line in the media.
"Certainly our players are important to us," Jones said. "There’s over 70-something rule changes, something we didn’t start on yesterday. We’ve been doing this for 10 years trying to make the game safer for our players in terms of when they go out on the field, there’s certainly at the end of the day they’re at the center of the game, which is what makes our league is the game. And we have to protect our players. We have to continue to work to make the game better so that it’s a safer game. And we’ll continue to do that."
With the Cowboys dearth of pass rushing talent, the team can ill afford another incident with another failed drug test from the second year player. His failure to learn from the failed test that caused him to fall out of the first round of last year's draft failed to get Gregory's attention. Perhaps a four game suspension to start his second year in the league will do the trick. Jason Garrett is praising the defensive end for his growth and maturity, but it remains on Randy Gregory to prove himself.
"Certainly, [the suspension] is very disappointing," Garrett said. "There's no question about that. We made that abundantly clear with him, and he understands that more than anybody. But at some point, you have to say, 'OK, this is what happened; this is what the consequences are for that action; and now we're going to get to work. I've got to make sure it doesn't happen again, and I've got to get to work as a football player to become a better player with the opportunities I do have.' That's what our emphasis is with him and really with the rest of the guys."
While we are on the subject of the pass rush, Stephen Jones tells us that there are no immediate plans to bolster the rushmen with a veteran free agent. The most likely target, if Dallas does choose to go that route, will be veteran Dwight Freeney.
The Cowboys executive vice president did mention that the team is more interested in seeing what it already has while still leaving the door open for Freeney, a la the Brian Waters signing a few seasons back.
"I think it's a little early for us. We kind of like our young guys right now. Obviously Dwight has had an amazing career - nothing but great things to say about Dwight and what he has accomplished in this league."
Both Doug Free and Tyron Smith are firmly entrenched as the starters at tackle, but should either of the durable bookends miss significant time the Cowboys swing tackle would be pressed into action. Currently the team has a pair of players with decent draft pedigrees vying for the third slot. There will be an interesting battle shaping up for the back up role as the summer wears on.
Last September the Cowboys signed Charles Brown, a former 2010 second-round pick with 22 career starts, as the primary swing tackle during the 2015 season. Back on a one-year contract, Brown will likely compete with last year’s third-round pick Chaz Green, who spent most of his rookie season recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Ron Leary wants to play, and he has requested a trade that will allow him to do so. The Cowboys will not be so quick to grant his desire. Having him around would allow the team another option if one of the tackles were to go down. Both current starting guards have college experience at tackle, and either could be moved to a bookend position if the need arose. That would elevate Leary back into the lineup. That makes him a very valuable commodity for Jason Garrett, and one that will not be traded easily.
"We did tell him if the right situation presented itself or if it’s a good situation for us, we certainly understand that he’s a competitor and wants to start and go to a place where he has a better chance to start. But we expect him to come in here at some point, and we’re going to welcome him with open arms and hopefully he’s getting in shape wherever he is right now. And hopefully he gets in here sooner than later, because we want him in here. He’ll do a great job for us this year. Then, he’s an unrestricted free agent next year, and we’ll make those types of decisions. But right now, he’s signed with us and we plan on keeping him unless something that’s really attractive to us shows up."
Since 2013, the Cowboys are 23-11 with Romo as their starter. They are 1-13 without Romo, including a 1-11 mark last season.
Funny how that comes out to .500 football isn't it? That number sounds awful familiar around these parts.