Dallas Cowboys: Arizona Cardinals

Ronald Leary hopes to return for Week 1

August, 19, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The good news for left guard Ronald Leary is that the minor surgery he had last week was on his right knee, not the chronic left knee that had many NFL teams concerned to the point that he went undrafted.

The bad news is that the Cowboys' second-year offensive lineman most likely will miss the rest of the preseason, and his status for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the New York Giants is in doubt. However, Leary said his recovery time is expected to be two weeks and he hopes to be ready in time for the game.

"You want to get out there and get these reps, but I'll be alright, I'll be back," Leary said. "Every time you have an MRI, it sees everything, you worry about that."

The Cowboys have lost their first-team (Nate Livings) and second-team (Leary) left guards to knee surgeries this summer. David Arkin started in their place in Dallas' third preseason game at Arizona on Saturday, and he is expected to start the fourth preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Livings is still recovering from his injury and might not return until just before the regular season starts.

Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett live in studio for 30 minutes of Cowboys reaction, analysis and real talk.

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With Livings out, Leary was getting valuable snaps with the first-team offense and was earning praise from the offensive coaches. But now his development is slowed because of the knee injury.

"I'm not where I want to be, and I just want to build on it," Leary said of his progress. "It's not a setback (being hurt). I'll be back."

Rookie Holloman shows nose for the ball

August, 18, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It certainly appears that the Dallas Cowboys drafted a playmaker in sixth-round pick DeVonte Holloman.

Holloman, an outside linebacker who spent his first three seasons at South Carolina as a safety, has two interceptions in three preseason games. Both of the picks were remarkably athletic plays, too.

Holloman’s diving grab of a Drew Stanton pass across the middle at the goal line was one of the Cowboys’ few highlights in Saturday’s 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Holloman made a juggling catch on a pass behind him and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown in the Hall of Fame Game.

“We saw that in college coming out,” head coach Jason Garrett said of Holloman, who had seven career interceptions at South Carolina. “We saw that really throughout [offseason training activities] and training camp. He’s got a nose for it. He’s an athletic guy, and those are difference-making plays in the game.”

Holloman almost forced another turnover when he came free on a blitz and blasted Stanton, appearing to cause a fumble that defensive end Kyle Wilber recovered. However, the play was ruled an incomplete pass after a replay review.

“It just seems like he comes up at the right time,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said of Holloman’s knack for forcing turnovers. “He looks like he’s thinking about and expecting to make a play like that. I’m really impressed with him.”

Lance Dunbar making explosive plays

August, 17, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Running back Lance Dunbar said he never gets comfortable with his status on the Cowboys' roster.

But after two preseason games, Dunbar's place with the Cowboys appears very secure.

Through two games, Dunbar has 45 yards on eight carries and 83 yards receiving on six catches.

His best catch came Saturday in the 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. A nifty catch and run went for 45-yards to the Arizona 7, but Dunbar fumbled as he was twisting away from a defender. Dunbar said he should have tucked the ball closer to his body, but he lost it on the way down.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones wasn't happy with the fumble but was very pleased overall with the work of his No. 2 running back.

"Tonight, Dunbar impressed me so much," Jones said, "and I think any Cowboys fan should be excited by No. 25."

The objective with Dunbar is to get work on third downs and become a change-of-pace runner. Dunbar has blazing speed and is able to zip through defenses in the open field. His size (5-foot-8) allows him to shoot through small spaces between the tackles, but he's mainly an off-tackle runner who beats defenders with his speed.

"He's got some juice. He's got some burst," quarterback Tony Romo said. "He does a good job. He's a good running back and runs good routes. Having him and [DeMarco] Murray and other guys does a lot. He definitely adds to our football team."

Veteran Orton makes 'two bad decisions'

August, 17, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. – There’s no pleasant way to describe this preseason stinker for Kyle Orton. He was awful in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cowboys gave Orton a three-year, $10.5 million deal last year because they wanted an experienced, savvy veteran backup for Tony Romo. He looked like a rookie while being intercepted twice on eight attempts Saturday.

“He’s typically pretty clean with the ball,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He has a good understanding of our offense. Those are two bad decisions, though.”

Orton, who was 4-of-8 for 36 yards in three scoreless series, did not address the media before leaving the locker room. However, Garrett explained in detail Orton’s mistakes on picks by cornerback Jerraud Powers and rookie safety Tony Jefferson.

“The first interception, I think he thought it was two-deep coverage where they plan man underneath, and what happened was the corner to their boundary made a man turn and then he came back and intercepted from outside in,” Garrett said. “That’s a play that sometimes happens in this league. Those corners are good at making those plays, and when you have out-breaking routes to inside receivers against rolled corners, it’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s what happened on that one.

“I think the look was right (on the second interception). It was a single-high defense and we tried to throw a seam to Dwayne Harris, and I just think he laid the ball a little too much and the single-high safety came over and made a play.”

Garrett’s point that Orton, a former starter with the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, is typically a solid decision-maker is backed by statistical evidence. Orton has a career interception rate of 2.6 percent. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub are the only active starting quarterbacks with lower career interception rates.

Alex Tanney tosses first touchdown pass

August, 17, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz., -- Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones put the performance of No. 3 quarterback Alex Tanney into perspective Saturday afternoon by jokingly describing Tanney's effort as Heisman Trophy-caliber.

"I would like to think that we are better and will play better than to make Tanney's performance something to get giddy about," Jones said after the Cowboys' 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that included six turnovers. "But since we did play like that, let's call it a Heisman Trophy day for him and be smiling a little bit."

Tanney led the Cowboys offense to its only score of the day, a 5-yard pass to fellow rookie, tight end Gavin Escobar, and ended the afternoon with the team's sixth turnover, an interception with 1:40 to play in the fourth quarter that sealed the Cardinals' victory.

Tanney, who played the entire second half, completed 14-of-19 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He completed his first 11 passes.

"The turnover at the end, obviously I'm not comfortable (with that)," Tanney said. "Defense did a great job holding them to a field goal and we had an opportunity to win the game, and you can't turn the ball over in that situation."

The Cowboys trailed 9-0 when Tanney took over with the first-team line still on the field. Tanney's first drive ended in a punt, but his second drive, stretching from the end of the third quarter to the early stages of the fourth, saw him connect on eight consecutive passes, scramble for two first-down runs on third down and throw his first touchdown pass of his career.

"It was fun," Tanney said. "That's the first thing that comes to mind. First one in the NFL, Escobar's first one too, just celebrating."

It was a productive drive for the Cowboys that went 16 plays, stretching to 89 yards in 9:53. Tanney, however, would get a last second chance to mount a comeback in the final three minutes, but he was intercepted by Tony Jefferson to end any further opportunities.

"He's done great," quarterback Tony Romo said of Tanney. "I think (Saturday) is going to be a great teaching moment for him. Sometimes the best lessons you can learn are when you make a mistake. It depends whether you take the approach to do that or not, but he will."

The Cowboys don't appear in a rush to keep three quarterbacks, leading to Jones downplaying Tanney's performance. But No. 2 quarterback Kyle Orton threw two interceptions in the loss.

"I'm not going to worry too much about that right now," Tanney said. "I just understand how important these preseason games are and just getting film out there."

Fumble ruins otherwise big day for Dez

August, 17, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dez Bryant didn’t want to talk about any of the good plays he made Saturday.

The final moment of his four-yard, 74-yard performance, when cornerback Jerraud Powers ripped the ball out of Bryant’s hands at the end of a 27-yard gain across the middle, was all that was on the Cowboys’ big-play receiver’s mind.

“Pissed about the fumble,” Bryant hoarsely grumbled after the 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. “It’s just not me, you know what I’m saying? I don’t fumble. I’m not going to hold it over my head, because I know what type of player I am. It’s something I have to correct.”

Bryant has lost fumbles on only three of his 200 career receptions, but that doesn’t excuse what he called a “big, huge mistake” against the Cardinals. He pled guilty to trying to do too much on the play, attempting to switch hands with the ball while stiff-arming the defender.

“That outweighs what you’re doing in the ballgame, regardless of any circumstances,” Bryant said.

That’s especially true when it was one of six turnovers the Cowboys committed, five of which came during a scoreless first half for Dallas in the sloppy loss.

But Bryant’s breathtaking training camp -- and second half of the 2012 season, for that matter -- has carried over into the preseason. He’s caught seven passes for 129 yards in about a half’s worth of work.

Bryant’s phenomenal physical tools and the trust quarterback Tony Romo has in him was especially evident on Bryant’s first catch Saturday, a 25-yard gain on which he snatched the ball on a back-shoulder fade despite tight coverage by Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.

“He knows the turnover matters more than anything else,” Romo said. “But he’s playing great.

“Today’s going to be a great teaching moment for him. Sometimes, some of the best lessons you learn are when you make a mistake. It depends on whether you take the approach or not to do that. He will.”

It’s an even safer bet that Bryant will keep making big plays.

Injuries: Will Allen OK after shot to ribs

August, 17, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz., -- The Cowboys came out of Saturday's preseason game with the Arizona Cardinals relatively clean from a health standpoint.

Safety Will Allen took a shot to the ribs but said after the game that he is fine and he would have continued playing if this had been a regular-season game.

"Just a little rib shot," Allen told ESPNDallas' Todd Archer. "Nothing too major."

The Cowboys had a healthy scratch in tackle Jermey Parnell, who missed some time early in training camp with a strained hamstring. Parnell returned to practice late last week, but the Cowboys inserted Demetress Bell at right tackle and Darrion Weems as the left tackle.

Also, cornerback Morris Claiborne missed the game with a sore knee. Claiborne, however, expects to start running this week when the Cowboys return to Irving, Texas, on Monday.

"I feel a lot better," he said. "I haven't run on it yet, but I'm banking on returning."

Outside linebacker Ernie Sims missed Saturday's game with a groin injury. But, like Claiborne, he expects to return to the practice fields this week.

"I'm going next week when we get back to Dallas," Sims said. "If this were a regular-season game, I would play."

The following players also didn't play because of injuries: Jay Ratliff, Sean Lissemore, Alex Albright, Matt Johnson, Toby Jackson, Eric Frampton, Nate Livings, Ronald Leary, Ryan Cook, Ray Dominguez and Cole Beasley.

J.J. Wilcox wasn't with the team because of the passing of his mother.

Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 12, Cowboys 7

August, 17, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dreadful. Just dreadful. The Cowboys (1-2) completed the West Coast portion of training camp with a 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) on Saturday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Cowboys' first-team offense was able to move the ball but failed to score any points, in large part because of turnovers that gave the Cardinals prime field position.

Here are some thoughts on the Cowboys' loss:

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The Cowboys committed six turnovers against Arizona. Kyle Orton threw two interceptions, both on bad throws. Lance Dunbar and Dez Bryant fumbled after long receptions, and for the second consecutive week, the Cowboys' special-teams unit muffed a punt. This time, it was Dwayne Harris losing a fumble. Alex Tanney also threw a late pick. But Arizona managed only 12 points (four field goals on five tries).

First-team offense shut out: Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions during three drives. Romo looked in tune once again with Bryant, who caught four passes for 74 yards. But the Cowboys' two best plays led to turnovers. Romo connected with Dunbar on a catch-and-run, but the running back fumbled while being tackled after a 43-yard gain. The play would have given the Cowboys the ball at the Arizona 7. Bryant fumbled on the next possession after making a catch in the middle of the field. He was stripped by cornerback Jerraud Powers while being pulled down, giving the Cardinals the ball at their own 27.

Arkin starts at left guard: With Ronald Leary out while recovering from right knee surgery, a David Arkin got the start and played a little more than three quarters. Arkin did a nice job as a run- and pass-blocker. There did, however, seem to be confusion on a pass play when Arizona's defensive linemen used a stunt against Arkin that resulted in a sack.

Tanney leads scoring drive: After not scoring for three quarters, Tanney connected with Gavin Escobar on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 10:52 to play in the fourth quarter to bring the Cowboys to within 9-7. The score ended a 16-play, 89-yard drive that lasted just under 10 minutes. Tanney had two chances to give his team the lead in the final five minutes, but one drive ended with a punt and the other on an interception. Tanney finished 14-of-19 for 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Surprise decisions: Jermey Parnell, who returned to practice late last week from a strained hamstring, was a healthy scratch. Demetress Bell was the right tackle with the second team in the second half. Darrion Weems was the left tackle. The Cowboys might have played Bell just to get a good look at him against another opponent. He was signed after camp started but failed the conditioning test. Coach Jason Garrett said Bell needed to get in shape. Phillip Tanner, who was getting snaps behind starter DeMarco Murray and Dunbar at running back, didn't get any snaps Saturday. Instead, rookie Joseph Randle was the running back with the third team. Tanney took all the snaps after Romo and Orton were done for the day. The Cowboys didn't give Nick Stephens any snaps in the second half. It's doubtful if the Cowboys go with three quarterbacks, but Tanney played better than Orton.

What's next? The Cowboys finally come home after a month on the West Coast. They will be off Sunday and resume practices at 8 a.m. Monday in Irving.

Cowboys missing 10 defensive players

August, 17, 2013
GLENDALE, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys will be without 10 defensive players for Saturday afternoon's preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Three of the missing defensive players, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Morris Claiborne, are starters.

Sean Lissemore, Ernie Sims, Alex Albright, Matt Johnson, J.J. Wilcox, Eric Frampton and Toby Jackson are also out on the defensive side. Wilcox is missing the game for a personal reason. His mother died Tuesday.

On offense, Nate Livings, Ronald Leary, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook, Ray Dominguez and Cole Beasley are out because of injury.

The Cardinals are missing Jarett Dillard, Jonathon Amaya, Ryan Williams, Javier Arenas, Dan Giordano, Rashard Johnson, Karlos Dansby, Kory Sperry, Jeff King, Dan Williams, Ricky Lumpkin and Frostee Rucker.

In terms of significant lineup changes, David Arkin starts at left guard for the Cowboys with Leary and Livings out. Tyrann Mathieu will start for the Cardinals at safety over Johnson, who is absent because of of an injury.

Cowboys vs. Cardinals: Five to watch

August, 17, 2013
PHOENIX -- The Cowboys play their third preseason game Saturday at Arizona against the Cardinals.

Here are five players to keep an eye on:

David Arkin: He's going to start at left guard with Ronald Leary possibly out for the rest of the preseason as he recoversfrom knee surgery. Arkin battled Kevin Kowalski for playing time at the right guard spot when Mackenzy Bernadeau went down with an injury. Arkin is going to get a chance to show the coaches he can be a productive player, which is important because the Cowboys like to run off the left side where Tyron Smith resides.

George Selvie: After a productive first preseason game (where he picked up two sacks and six tackles), Selvie was inserted into a starting role at defensive end in the second game but slowed down with just two tackles. Selvie will start again against the Cardinals, and a solid game should help his chances of remaining with the club.

B.W. Webb: Webb wants to forget about what happened in the second preseason game at Oakland, where he muffed a punt, missed a tackle and had a few mental errors. In practices after the Raiders game, Webb handled punts with no issues and is doing a better job in pass coverage with the second and third teams. Webb should make the roster, but it's unclear if the Cowboys would try to release him so they could try to get him through waivers and place him on the practice squad.

Terrance Williams: The third-round pick from Baylor missed the first two preseason games while recovering from a concussion. He makes his debut here as the No. 3 receiver. He's looked good in practices and is developing a strong command of the playbook. He is turning into a pretty good threat in the deep passing game.

Gavin Escobar: It has been a tough two weeks for the rookie tight end. Escobar is still behind James Hanna on the depth chart and continues to struggle as a blocker. He's a good receiver, but the Cowboys need their tight ends to block if they're going to increase the number of attempts in the run game.

W2W4: Cowboys training camp Day 18

August, 15, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys took the afternoon off Wednesday, but while they were at the beach they discovered left guard Ronald Leary will need to have minor surgery on his knee.

Welcome back to work.

The off day: Coach Jason Garrett took the entire team to the beach, something he's done in the past, for a well-earned Wednesday afternoon day off. Garrett said the Cowboys practiced well for three consecutive days and he wanted to reward the players. The Cowboys will return to work in pads, probably for the last time in the cool weather of Southern California, before a potential walkthrough practice Friday morning. The team will then break camp and head to Arizona.

What's going on with the offensive line?: Plenty. Leary missed Wednesday's walkthrough and was confident he would return to Thursday's practice. He's not. Instead, Leary will undergo surgery on his knee and could miss anywhere from two-to-four weeks, putting his status for the regular season opener in doubt. With Leary out, David Arkin moves into the starting left guard spot. Watch out for Dennis Godfrey. He was getting second-team snaps in practice the last week and he could see some time with the first team. A forgotten story around here is the solid play of the tackles, Doug Free and Tyron Smith. Healthy and productive are words you can use around them.

Getting ready to play a game: The Cowboys will play their third preseason game Saturday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz., against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys have worked off the cards the last two days of practices in preparation. It will be interesting to see how much the starters, well, the first-team offense and defense, play Saturday. Garrett could let them go a quarter and then insert the second and third units.

Last time to see them: This is the last open practice here before the Cowboys break camp. So if you attend the 5 p.m. CT practice get there early and stay late for autographs and photos. It's the last time fans on the West Coast will get a chance to say hi.

'Honey Badger' to start against Cowboys

August, 14, 2013

Ed Werder breaks down the Arizona Cardinals' decision to start rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu against the Cowboys on Saturday.

Cowboys preseason schedule released

April, 4, 2013
The Dallas Cowboys released their preseason schedule Thursday.

ESPN Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Tony Romo's contract extension and what needs to happen for Romo to lead the Cowboys to a championship.

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The Cowboys will kick off the preseason against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday, Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

The Oakland Raiders will host the Cowboys in the second preseason game the weekend of Aug. 9-11. The Cowboys will then visit the Arizona Cardinals the weekend of Aug. 16-18.

The first preseason game at Cowboys Stadium will be the weekend of Aug. 23-25 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The finale will most likely be Aug. 29 when the Cowboys host the Houston Texans.

Exact dates and game times haven't been determined. The Cowboys will open training camp in mid-July in Oxnard, Calif.
Former Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh has drawn interest from the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans, according to a source.

The Cowboys released Sensabaugh in a salary cap move. Sensabaugh, according to the team's statistics, finished with 62 total tackles and six pass breakups last season.

One of the biggest issues the Cowboys had with Sensabaugh was the lack of plays he made on the ball. But he's still a veteran player who can play both safety positions.

The Titans have a connection to Sensabaugh with secondary coach Brett Maxie, who coached him in Dallas.
The Cowboys' offensive line made a sudden change three plays in against the New York Giants.

Ben and Skin revisit their Cowboys keys after Week 1 and discuss the catch of the season ... Hint: It wasn't made by Kevin Ogletree, Dez Bryant or Miles Austin.

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Out went center Phil Costa and in went newly acquired Ryan Cook in the Week 1 game. Cook had just two full practices with the Cowboys and was asked to play with the first team when Costa re-injured his back after three snaps.

Overall, Cook was given praise for his efforts, but the offensive line struggled against the Giants. Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked twice, left tackle Tyron Smith was called for three false starts and right tackle Doug Free was called for one false start. Some of the penalties were attributed to Cook struggling with the cadence of a new quarterback. The running game struggled despite DeMarco Murray's 131-yard effort. He picked up 48 yards on one scrambling carry where he was almost tackled in the backfield.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones wants the line to protect Romo better. It has to against a Seattle defense that held its Week 1 opponent, Arizona, to 43 yards rushing and was credited with five quarterback hits.

"The protection is very important to us, especially the interior of the offensive line, that we protect (Romo)," Jones said after Monday's practice at Valley Ranch. "As it turned out, we got a lot of pressure outside against the Giants, which doesn't surprise me at all. My point is the protection was not as good as we want but still not a negative thing for me."

Costa most likely won't play Sunday at Seattle, and Cook will get the start. David Arkin, who backed up Costa for most of training camp, wasn't active in Week 1. He will get activated for Week 2 to back up Cook.