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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Meetings memo: No to Brian Urlacher; maybe on Laurent Robinson

By Calvin Watkins

PHOENIX -- Some Dallas Cowboys-related news and notes after the first day of the NFL owners meetings.

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith comments on the proposed rule change that would make it illegal for runners to lower their heads and initiate contact with tacklers.

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Brian Urlacher a Cowboy? Executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked about the possibility of signing veteran free agent linebacker Brian Urlacher. Jones expressed a fondness for Urlacher, calling him a Hall of Famer, but said it was doubtful it would happen. Jones' point is it wouldn't make sense to sign Urlacher to backup Sean Lee, only to cut him after a year. "You don't ever dismiss Hall of Famers in my book," Jones said. "It would be difficult. He obviously plays what Sean plays. To move everything around for a year doesn't really make a lot of sense. But at the same time, you don't ever rule it out."
Jones was also asked about wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who was released by Jacksonville last week. Robinson has lingering concussion and ankle issues that give the Cowboys pause. "We got to look at the big picture with Laurent," Jones said. "He had some injuries that we're going to be doing our homework on and be going from there."

Can you spare a dime? The Cowboys are down to $102,050 in salary cap space. To make any moves, the Cowboys would have to restructure some contracts or release more players. Of course, signing quarterback Tony Romo to a long-term deal, which would lower his 2013 cap number, is a priority and would create some space.

A crazy training camp: With Larry Allen and former coach Bill Parcells getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, the Cowboys have been invited to play in the Hall of Fame Game, which gives them five preseason games. It creates a crazy travel plan for the Cowboys. Camp would start in Oxnard, Calif., then the team would travel to Canton, Ohio. After the game, the Cowboys most likely would travel back to the West Coast. The team would play one or two preseason games before coming back to Dallas to finish the preseason.

Running back rule changes: NFL officials showed reporters video of legal and potential illegal hits used by ball carries with the crown of their helmet as the league is promoting player safety. "I don't think Emmitt (Smith) ever violated it," said Jones, a member of the NFL's competition committee. "When people first hear it they say, 'Oh my God, we can't do that.' Then they see what the league is talking about in terms of really being in the open field and really dropping that head and using your head as a weapon." If a ball carrier uses his head and isn't penalized, he's still subject to a fine if the rule change is passed. "As a runner in this league, you don't last long if you run tall," said St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who added that the NFL wants to bring the shoulder back into the game instead of players leading with their heads.

Financial market for pass rushers down: Some big-name pass rushers -- John Abraham, Osi Umenyiora, Elvis Dumervil and Dwight Freeney -- are still on the free agent market. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett signed with Seattle. It would have been interesting to see what Anthony Spencer would have commanded on the market, which seems slow. "Obviously, whatever happens in the markets affects others," Jones said. "You have to look at those things. But to say how it effects him and get into the details, that’s unfair."