- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- Too many times players are remembered for how things end in a particular spot.
It’s a shame because Newman and James had solid tenures with the Cowboys even if the team success eluded them.
A day after Terence Newman decided to reunite with former Cowboys coordinator Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati, James decided to reunite with former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, according to a source, in hopes of returning to a form that made him one of the NFC’s better inside linebackers.
While James started 13 games in 2011, he was not the focal point of the inside linebacker group. That went to Sean Lee. James’ playing time suffered and he was credited with 53 tackles after posting at least 109 in each of the previous six seasons.
Tackle numbers can be a funny thing. Individual coaches have different ways of grading film, which is why the NFL does not consider it an official stat. From 2005-10, James had 109, 132, 130, 202, 181 and 163 tackles. Were some of those tackles padded? Perhaps. But James was a fixture on that defense.
James was hoping 2011 would be a similar success and he could parlay that into another multi-year deal from the Cowboys or another team, but it quickly became apparent defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wanted Lee to be the guy taking over as signal caller.
The proud James never complained. He volunteered to play special teams. He remained a good teammate and captain even as the team moved on. Too often those who chirp about a lack of playing time get more attention rather than those who act as professionally as James did.
With nine years and credited with more than 1,000 tackles, the Cowboys got more than they could have expected from James when they took him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.