Dallas Cowboys: 2012 preseason

Rapid Reaction: Chargers 28, Cowboys 20

August, 18, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- The second preseason game of 2012 finished with a bang as the San Diego Chargers scored 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points on the way to a 28-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.

Turnovers were a big part of the game on both sides of the ball for the Cowboys.

Stephen McGee had two -- a fumble and an interception -- but the defense converted three, including two interceptions from cornerback Brandon Carr. Linebacker Orie Lemon recovered a fumble.

What it means: Well, the Cowboys (1-1) should be happy their first-team offense produced a score, and the first-team defense is looking like a playmaking unit, something defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is seeking. But the depth at certain spots -- offensive line, for example -- remains an issue. However, Kevin Ogletree might have emerged as the No. 3 wideout with a strong performance. He finished with four catches for 60 yards. Cole Beasley came on late against the Chargers' backups and had seven catches for 104 yards.

First-team offense produces: After getting just one first down against Oakland in the first preseason game, the Cowboys' first-team offense produced a field goal and six first downs. The run game, which struggled against Oakland, looked good Saturday. Running back DeMarco Murray had two five-yard runs and Felix Jones picked up runs of six and eight yards. Tony Romo did face some pressure in the passing game but completed 9 of 13 passes for 75 yards and wasn't sacked. Dez Bryant made an outstanding one-handed grab in the back of the end zone, but a penalty wiped it out and the back judge said Bryant didn't get both feet inbounds.

This is why you pay him: Cornerback Brandon Carr is earning his money, and while it's just the preseason, the $50.1 million corner did come up with two interceptions. Carr picked off a deep pass and tipped another pass three times before securing it for a second pick. Carr has been outstanding in practices, and when challenged by the Chargers he responded with a strong performance.

Claiborne debuts: First-round pick Morris Claiborne made his NFL debut Saturday night. He started and made two tackles. Claiborne had missed the offseason practices as he recovered from wrist surgery and was absent for training camp time because of a sprained knee. But Claiborne was on the field Saturday for his first games since he was at LSU.

Tough night for McGee: This week, coach Jason Garrett said he wanted to keep three quarterbacks, if he could. That probably sealed a roster spot for Stephen McGee. But McGee struggled Saturday night. He didn't have the protection he needed on some throws, but he made a poor throw on a deep ball that was intercepted, and he haired another ball that was broken up. McGee was hampered by a sideline drop and when under pressure he skipped a pass to Raymond Radway. In the middle of the fourth quarter, McGee avoided a corner blitz and completed a 13-yard pass to Andrew Szczerba. McGee lost a ball when he was hit from the blind side with 5:42 remaining in the game. He finished 9-for-16 for 86 yards and one interception.

First glance at who played well: Carr, Kyle Orton, Murray, Felix Jones, Victor Butler, Ogletree and Beasley.

First glance at who struggled: Teddy Williams, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Dan Connor, McGee and Tim Benford.

Notes and other tidbits: Jay Ratliff (foot) and Jason Hatcher (hamstring) did pregame warmups in full uniform but didn't play. It wouldn't be a surprise if either player returns for the St. Louis game next week. ... L.P. LaDouceur and Charley Hughlett shared the deep snapping duties. ... P Chris Jones fumbled a snap but ran for a first down. ... Mario Butler played safety and corner, but missed a tackle on a deep pass while playing safety. ... The game was blacked out on television in Southern California because the game wasn't sold out.

Who's next?: Cowboys will spend a few days here and scrimmage the Chargers Monday and Tuesday before returning home Wednesday. Cowboys have their preseason home opener against St. Louis next Saturday.

Halftime: Cowboys 0, Raiders 0

August, 13, 2012
OAKLAND -- The Cowboys and Raiders are scoreless at the break in the preseason opener.

Here are some thoughts on what has transpired in the first half:

* David Arkin remained at center when the Cowboys brought in their second-team offensive line. The Cowboys want to give Arkin has many snaps as possible at center until starter Phil Costa returns from his lower back injury. While his snaps were fine, he did get called for holding.

* Tony Romo and the first-team offense got zero scores out of three possessions. Romo finished his night 3-for-6 for 30 yards. The Cowboys' first-team couldn't run the ball well and other than a reception by Dez Bryant for 24 yards and a six-yarder from Jason Witten, there wasn't much to be impressed with.

* The Raiders rushed for 57 yards in the first half. Their offensive line got a strong push and running backs Darren McFadden and Lonyae Miller reached the second level way too often.

* Outside linebacker Kyle Wilber came off the edge and forced Matt Leinart to throw a pass away, leading to a field goal attempt.

* The Cowboys' special teams unit had been called for four penalties with 12:40 to play in the first half. Three were accepted.

* The Raiders had three dropped passes in the first half, and the Cowboys had two -- by tight end Andrew Szczerba and fullback Jamize Olawale.

* Coach Jason Garrett could have taken a knee to end the first half, but made a good decision to run his two-minute offense. We saw a 20-yard grab by Andre Holmes during the drive, but Kyle Orton was picked off by safety Mike Mitchell to end the drive with five seconds left. We're not sure if Orton made a bad read here, but his pass sailed over Dwayne Harris.

All eyes will be on Cowboys defense Monday

August, 12, 2012
Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico preview Monday Night Football's matchup between the Cowboys and Raiders.

Cowboys, Chargers to practice together

May, 9, 2012
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The Cowboys will close their California portion of training camp on Aug. 21 in San Diego following two days of practice against the Chargers.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said a few logistics, like lodging, need to be ironed out.

“I don’t see anything there that would keep that from being a done deal,” Jones said.

The Cowboys and Chargers meet in Week 2 of the preseason on Aug. 18 and after a day off the teams will practice Aug. 20-21 at San Diego’s facility. The Cowboys will return home Aug. 22 and are expected to hold a night practice at Cowboys Stadium on Aug. 23, leading up to the preseason home opener against St. Louis on Aug. 25.

The Cowboys and Chargers practiced against each other at Valley Ranch and Cowboys Stadium leading up to a preseason game in 2011.

Preseason no favor to Cowboys

April, 9, 2012
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are a huge television draw, which is one of the reasons why they will open the preseason schedule on ESPN at Oakland on Aug. 13.

But by doing so the NFL has not done the Cowboys a favor, considering they will play the New York Giants in the regular-season opener on Sept. 5 at MetLife Stadium.

League rules state a team can open training camp 15 days prior to their first preseason game, so the Cowboys and Raiders will be the last two teams to report.

That puts the Cowboys’ arrival in Oxnard, Calif., at July 29, although quarterbacks, injured players from 2011 and rookies can report five days earlier, per the collective bargaining agreement. The CBA also prevents a team from working in pads the first three days of camp.

The Giants will play at Jacksonville in their first preseason game scheduled Aug. 9-12. If the defending Super Bowl champs play the Jaguars on Aug. 9, then they could gain a competitive edge on the Cowboys with four more days of practice/meeting time.

The Giants’ final three preseason games will be at MetLife Stadium. The Cowboys play at Oakland and San Diego and are expected to return to Oxnard for a week of work before their home preseason opener against St. Louis at Cowboys Stadium that will be played Aug. 23-26.

The Cowboys would likely play their final preseason game on Aug. 29 against Miami.

The NFL’s $10 million salary-cap judgment against the Cowboys (and the $36 million against Redskins) was based on the teams creating a competitive advantage in an uncapped season.

With this preseason schedule the Cowboys could be at a competitive disadvantage entering the regular season against the Giants.

Cowboys open preseason at Oakland

April, 4, 2012
The Dallas Cowboys will open the 2012 preseason at the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 13 in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

It's the Cowboys' first trip to Oakland since the 2009 preseason opener, when they lost to the Raiders 31-10.

With the Cowboys spending nearly three weeks in Oxnard, Calif., for training camp, it allows them to have their first two preseason games on the road on the West Coast.

The second preseason game will be the week of Aug. 16-20 at San Diego.

Cowboys Stadium will host the final two preseason games, versus St. Louis (Aug. 23-26) and versus Miami (Aug. 29-30).

The Cowboys will then open the 2012 regular season Sept. 5 at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Game times and dates will be announced when they're finalized.

Read more about the NFL preseason schedule here.