Dallas Cowboys: Al Johnson

Do Cowboys have map to Spencer deal?

March, 19, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys agreeing to terms with defensive tackle Henry Melton on a one-year deal with a three-year option, have they found a structure for a deal for defensive end Anthony Spencer?

According to a source, Melton can make up to $5 million this year. He is guaranteed $9 million if he is on the roster on the first day of the 2015 league year, which kicks in the final three years of the deal.

Spencer, who played in only one game last year and is coming back from microfracture surgery, has visited with the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

Both players are represented by Jordan Woy.

A difference in age could play a difference in price and structure. Although he is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Melton is 27. Spencer is coming off a complicated surgery and turned 30 in January.

The Cowboys know Spencer’s medical situation best since he has been rehabbing with the club after undergoing the surgery last fall. In the past, they have had success with guys coming back from surgery (Al Johnson and Kevin Hardy).

Spencer made more than $19 million in 2012 and ’13 after the team used the franchise tag on him in both years.

Al Johnson offers hope on Spencer return

September, 25, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Al Johnson was a second-round pick for the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, but before he could ever play in a game he needed microfracture surgery on his right knee.

If there’s somebody who knows what Anthony Spencer will face if he chooses to have that procedure, it’s Johnson.

“To this day I’ve had no problems with my right knee,” Johnson said. “You couldn’t even tell I had surgery. It doesn’t bother me one bit, even at the end of my career.”

Johnson played in 48 games with Dallas from 2004-06, starting 31, before signing in 2007 with Arizona, where he started 14 games. His career came to an end in 2008 with Miami because of problems with his left knee.

But Johnson offers hope for Spencer for a recovery. He had his surgery in August 2003 and was back on the field full-time by March 2004 -- and did not miss an organized team activity, mini-camp practice or training-camp practice.

“I didn’t do much for a long time,” said Johnson, who is now a high school football coach in Wisconsin. “I was on crutches for a full six weeks, no weight on the area. Then it’s a slow rehab process to get back into it. The good thing was that I had a lot of time, and that’s what Anthony’s going to have, minus two months. I was back doing the full offseason workload by March.”

Johnson had his microfracture surgery performed at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo.

“The more I talked to doctors about it, the biggest thing was the size of the affected area,” Johnson said. “Mine was about 10 centimeters, which was pretty small, and it was a new injury. It’s like this: If you dig a hole straight down, it’s easier to fill back in, but if it’s an older injury, it’s rounded like a beach, and it’s slow in and slow out. What they do is drill holes, it fills up with blood and then it’s supposed to harden. If it’s a jagged edge or a deep edge it fills in. But if it’s like a beach, then sometimes it doesn’t take because you keep wearing it away.”

Johnson lost weight to help with the weight-bearing issues, but was able to regain the pounds when he picked up his rehab. The Cowboys have had other success stories with microfracture surgery, including linebacker Kevin Hardy.

The key, Johnson said, is patience.

“We have awesome trainers with the Cowboys,” Johnson said. “They do a great job. They followed my doctor’s protocol. Even after I came back I never had one issue. I didn’t have any swelling. That’s the big thing.”

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are hoping Travis Frederick will continue a tradition set forth by Wisconsin offensive linemen in recent years.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who coached Travis Frederick at Wisconsin, joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys got with their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

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Joe Thomas, Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz have been high picks in recent years and have had different degrees of success.

“I think that having that tradition helps continue that tradition,” Frederick said. “That tradition is one of the reasons why I chose to go to Wisconsin, just knowing that such great offensive linemen have come out of there and would probably or hopefully give me the opportunity if I worked as hard as I could to be in the situation that I’m in today. I’m excited to join that long line.”

The Cowboys’ recent history with Badgers offensive linemen isn’t so good.

In 2003, the Cowboys drafted Al Johnson in the second round, and they took Bill Nagy in the seventh round in 2011. Johnson missed his rookie year because of a knee injury that subsequently cut his career short. Nagy won a starting job in part by default, but he suffered an ankle injury and was cut during training camp last summer.

“You certainly go case by case and evaluate the player,” coach Jason Garrett said, “but there is no question there is a tradition of offensive linemen coming out of Wisconsin. There is a long-standing tradition, but there is also a recent tradition. What that does is allow you to talk to people that know these guys well and compare them to people, ‘Hey, compare him to this guy, compare him to that guy. You had him two years ago, how does he stack up?’ Those conversations are real because guys who’ve been around these guys day after day after day can make great evaluations.”

Tony Romo can't outrun bobbled snap

September, 14, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The picture is forever etched into the memory of Dallas Cowboys fans everywhere.

Tony Romo clutching his face mask, sitting on the ground, his head dejectedly down. Al Johnson leaning over -- one Wisconsin kid asking another if he was OK.

"I only ever think about that play when I see the picture," Johnson said this week from his Brussels, Wis., home. "But here's the deal. I feel bad for all the crap Tony takes about that. It was one play. That is not going to be the defining moment in an already great career. And I do feel bad. He's taken a lot of crap for that one play. That is not always just."

On Sunday, Romo returns to Seattle for the first time since the wild-card loss to the Seahawks in the 2006 season when the snap on a field goal attempt slipped through his hands with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter.

Despite all Romo has done in his career -- three Pro Bowl appearances, franchise records for touchdown passes and passing yards in a season, a 48-30 record, two NFC East titles, a victory in the 2009 playoffs -- the bobbled snap, to many, remains the defining play of his career.

Read the full story here.