Dallas Cowboys: Charlie Peprah

The Dallas Cowboys were almost $20 million over the salary cap when the offseason began, but the restructuring of contracts and releasing of some players put the team in a better situation after the NFL draft.

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Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.

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The Cowboys are a little more than $5 million under the salary cap. They will pick up an additional $2 million when the release of defensive end Marcus Spears takes effect June 1.

That means the Cowboys will have $7 million available to sign draft picks and free agents. That figure could increase if right tackle Doug Free is released (saving $7 million) or takes a pay cut (an undetermined amount of savings).

Defensive end Anthony Spencer is under contract for $10.6 million, but his cap number could be decreased if he is signed to a long-term deal.

The Cowboys want to have salary-cap space during the season in the event obtaining a veteran free agent is necessary due to injury. Last season, the Cowboys signed Charlie Peprah, Brady Poppinga, Brian Schaefering, Ernie Sims and Anthony Armstrong because of injuries.

Right now, the Cowboys are on target to have enough space to take care of draft picks and free agents before and during the season.

Free-agency series: Defensive backs

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
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We continue our 10-part series breaking down the Cowboys' free-agency needs, position-by-position:

Defensive backs


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Who's on the roster: CB-Brandon Carr, S-Barry Church, CB-Morris Claiborne, S-Matt Johnson, CB-Sterling Moore, S-Micah Pellerin, CB-Orlando Scandrick, CB-Brandon Underwood.

Analysis: The cornerback spot is secure with Carr, Claiborne and Scandrick manning the top spots. The safety position got thin with the release of Gerald Sensabaugh. However, the Cowboys return Church, but he's coming off a torn Achilles injury. Johnson missed the entire 2012 season with a hamstring injury and there are high hopes for his ability to play in 2013.

Cowboys free agents: RFA: S-Danny McCray; UFA: CB-Michael Coe, S-Eric Frampton, CB-Mike Jenkins and S-Charlie Peprah.

NFL free agents of interest: CB-Stanford Routt, S-Ronde Barber, S-William Moore and S-O.J. Atogwe.

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ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys cutting Gerald Sensabaugh in a salary cap move.

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Need meter: 3. The Cowboys don't have much money to play with in free agency. And with the money and draft picks invested at corner in the last two seasons, they won't go after a highly-regarded corner such as Quentin Jammer. However, safety could be a different story. Barber has played in the Tampa 2 system before and might be an interesting pickup. There was interest in Atogwe a few years ago; might the Cowboys offer him a two-year deal to play strong safety? The Cowboys will bring McCray back as a backup safety/special teams ace. Peprah and Frampton, both in-season pickups in 2012, are two valued players whom the Cowboys should discuss keeping. If that happens, it's doubtful the Cowboys go outside to sign a safety.

Cowboys taking risk at safety spot

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
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IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys’ decision to cut safety Gerald Sensabaugh on Monday pushes safety to the top of the team’s offseason needs. (Click here for the story.)

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ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys cutting Gerald Sensabaugh in a salary cap move.

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Without Sensabaugh, the Cowboys are banking on the return of health Barry Church, who tore his Achilles in the third game of the season and ...

As the Cowboys move to the 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, they don’t have a John Lynch-type that worked so well in Tampa for years. They don’t have much of anything at the spot really.

“We upgraded safety when we brought in Kiffin relative to what we’re going to need the safety to do,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said at the NFL scouting combine.

Danny McCray is a restricted free agent and showed last year he is a backup as the more he played the more he got exposed. The Cowboys like Eric Frampton, who started the final two games, is an unrestricted free agent. As is Charlie Peprah, who started one game.

Matt Johnson did not play a game as a rookie because of hamstring injuries.

As the names of free agents like Charles Woodson, Ed Reed and other veterans pop into your minds as possible signings, one of the strengths of the draft is the safety position. At the NFL scouting, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said he will visit with the Cowboys before the draft. Chicago general manager Phil Emery said there could be five or six starting safeties in the draft.

It’s a risky move for the Cowboys, especially with so little in reserve.

What's left of the Cowboys free agents

March, 3, 2013
3/03/13
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The Cowboys have knocked off two of their 18 free agents, with the signing of center Phil Costa to a two-year deal on Saturday and deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur signing a five-year contract on Friday.

PODCAST
Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys' fascination with their players, what it's like to be released late in your career, why Tony Romo isn't worth elite quarterback money and Doug Free's possible move to guard.

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Here's what's left of the Cowboys' free agents and the possibility of the team signing them:

Linebacker Victor Bulter. The team could bring him back as a possible candidate to play outside linebacker. He does make plays, but isn't consistent.

Cornerback Michael Coe. A late-season pickup who most likely won't return.

Defensive end Kenyon Coleman. An injury ended his season, but age, and the Cowboys' goals of using younger players at his position are more important than bringing him back.

Guard Derrick Dockery. He was a nice pickup in training camp, but the team will treat him like Coleman: find a younger player for his position.

Safety Eric Frampton. The unrestricted free agent did a nice job last season in spots and could return to add depth to the position.

Cornerback Mike Jenkins. It's doubtful he'll return. He felt disrespected by how the team treated him last season while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

Running back Felix Jones. Cowboys want durable players at this position and Jones hasn't been that.

Punter Brian Moorman. He was on the roster because of the knee injury to Chris Jones. Jones has recovered and Moorman will be elsewhere.

Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. As the season progressed he lost playing time and might be with another team in 2013.

Safety Charlie Peprah. Cowboys should bring him back to add depth to the position. A physical presence.

Tight end John Phillips. It seems Phillips never took the next step in his development. Time to find another squad.

Linebacker Brady Poppinga. Batman won't be in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2013. He didn't make enough plays.

Linebacker Ernie Sims. Was a nice pickup in 2012, but Cowboys will go younger with the depth chart at linebacker.

Linebacker/Defensive end Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys have until Monday to franchise him and it appears doubtful they'll do it. Odds of him playing for somebody else, look better by the day.

Safety Danny McCray. He's a restricted free agent, so his return to get significant special teams snaps will continue.

Defensive end Brian Schaefering. Might be worth inviting back to training camp and seeing if he can push for a roster spot.

Simpler scheme played role in move to 4-3

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
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IRVING, Texas – With all the injuries the Cowboys had in 2012 on the defensive side of the ball, it seemed like Rob Ryan had to re-teach his scheme to a new player every week.

The Cowboys lost Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Kenyon Coleman, Jay Ratliff and Orlando Scandrick, as well as Josh Brent to injured reserve or the non-football injury list, forcing the team to find street free agents like Ernie Sims, Brady Poppinga, Brian Schaefering and Charlie Peprah and poach Sterling Moore off New England’s practice squad.

It was taxing and difficult, considering the supposed complexities of Ryan’s schemes.

Part of the desire to add Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator and move to the 4-3 was the supposed simplistic nature of the scheme.

“In this day and age in the NFL, with shortened offseasons, shortened training camps, injuries, all those kinds of things, it’s important to try and put offensive and defensive systems in place that allow you to deal with the schedule and absorb the injuries that very well could happen,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “That was one of the philosophical advantages of playing this 4-3 defense. We think it can be a simpler defense for us, for guys to come in here and learn in this day and age, and also if you have the injuries to absorb it allows you to maybe do that a little bit better.”

Cowboys free agents: Charlie Peprah

February, 5, 2013
2/05/13
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[+] EnlargeCharlie Peprah
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesCharlie Peprah can play both safety positions and proved to be a good tackler who is dependable in coverage.

Charlie Peprah


Position: Safety

Type: Unrestricted

Summary: Peprah, who was signed Oct. 24, was still recovering from a knee injury and was inactive for the first two games after joining the club. But he started Nov. 11 at Philadelphia and had two tackles and broke up one pass. He played well at times, including getting an interception against Washington on Nov. 22, but he missed three more games after that with a foot injury.

Why keep him: Peprah can play both safety positions, but he's better suited at strong safety. He's a good tackler and is dependable in pass coverage.

Why let him go: Eric Frampton and Matt Johnson might be valued more than Peprah in the eyes of the coaching staff. While Peprah is a physical presence, his health raises some concerns about his short-term future.

Best guess: Peprah might thrive under the new 4-3 scheme as a physical safety against the run. Bring him back.

Follow the rest of the series here.

Depth one of biggest problems

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
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When you hear what Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has said since the season ended there seems to be a missing link here: Depth.

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ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ian Fitzsimmons talks about the firing of Rob Ryan in Dallas, says Ryan didn't deserve to take the fall, discusses the possibility that Jason Garrett might not be the Cowboys' coach next season and talks about who would replace Garrett if he were to leave.

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Jones talked about how injuries shouldn't be used as an excuse for why the Cowboys defense struggled at times in the 2012 season. While that's an accurate statement, it's also misleading.

You're only as good as your depth.

In the 2012 season, the Cowboys signed 17 players as free agents either as injury replacements such as Charlie Peprah, Eric Frmapton and Brian Moorman, or re-signed players who had been in training camp like Ben Bass.

But the draft is a pivotal way to build depth in case starters get hurt.

The Cowboys had 11 drafted players as backups in the 2012 season including two former first round picks in Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins.

As the season progressed, Josh Brent (a 2010 seventh round supplemental pick) and Sean Lissemore (2010 seventh rounder) earned starting gigs. Eventually Brent was lost for the season after his arrest and Lissemore missed six games with an ankle injury. With those players out, the Cowboys turned to players like Bass (undrafted free agent), Tyrone Crawford (2012 third round pick) and Brian Schaefering (undrafted free agent) to fill-in along the defensive line.

Inconsistency among many of the backups hurt the Cowboys more than anything else.

The Cowboys needed more plays out of Victor Butler, a fourth-round pick in 2009 and John Phillips, a sixth rounder in the same year. Jones, the franchise's first pick in 2008, battled injuries and was below average as a running back.

There were some good things from some backups.

Dwayne Harris, a sixth-round pick in 2011, emerged as a solid returner and made some plays in the passing game to earn a look as the No. 3 receiver in 2013. The Cowboys extended Lissemore's contract to 2016, Crawford and rookie draft picks Kyle Wilber and James Hanna have a future.

And while Jones talks about not using injuries as an excuse, we agree with him there, he needs to make sure he has better players to choose from when it's time to use his reserves.

Rob Ryan not totally at fault

January, 9, 2013
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This is not being written to defend Rob Ryan, who was released as Cowboys defensive coordinator Tuesday evening. But Ryan tried to manage a defense that was missing five starters, including nose tackle Jay Ratliff, a man expected to slow down opponents' running games.

Ryan also lost two backups, Orlando Scandrick to injury and Josh Brent because of his arrest. The players signed to replace the injured might have hurt Ryan more than anything else.

It's hard to get excited when you have Ernie Sims, Charlie Peprah, Michael Coe and Eric Frampton on the field trying to make plays for you with the season on the line.

However, the personnel department did a nice job finding players to fill the defensive side of the roster.

Peprah and Sims were the better of the signings because they were able to pick up a small portion of the defensive scheme and Ryan placed them in position to make plays.

Where Ryan failed in some ways is with what he did or didn't do with his scheme. He didn't blitz enough, and his players didn't create enough turnovers.

You can't blame the personnel department for that. You blame Ryan and the players.

When a team finishes 8-8 and misses the playoffs for the third consecutive season, change needs to happen. Jerry Jones, and maybe even Jason Garrett, wanted to give their defensive players a different voice than Ryan's. In the coming days we'll find out who that will be.

Indications are Rob Ryan will return

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys appear to be a franchise with stability, given the firing of seven head coaches on Black Monday in the NFL.

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During Cowboys training camp last summer, Ben of Ben & Skin made a list of eight reasons why the Cowboys would be better. Now that the season is over, how did he do?

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Coach Jason Garrett didn't want to talk about potential staff changes, but when pressed about defensive coordinator Rob Ryan he didn't sound like a man willing to hand out pink slips.

"We’re not going to get into staff conversations right now," Garrett said Monday. "I have a lot of confidence in Rob Ryan. There’s no question about that."

Ryan's defense missed five starters and two backups. His best defensive player, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, played basically with one arm in the last two games. His starting safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, played with a bad hip.

Few players are healthy late in the season, but not having at least seven main players will hurt a defense.

The Cowboys defense finished the 2012 season 19th overall, 22nd against the run and 19th against the pass.

Turnovers, an area of discussion this season at Valley Ranch, were rare. The Cowboys snagged seven interceptions, tied for the lowest in the league with Kansas City. The Cowboys also recovered nine fumbles.

Yet Ryan mixed and matched his personnel because of injuries. He moved cornerback Brandon Carr to safety in some packages. He had Mike Jenkins playing more slot corner, a spot he never worked at before. At one point in Sunday's regular-season finale against Washington, Ryan moved Brady Poppinga to outside linebacker.

Defensive end Sean Lissemore moved to nose tackle with starter Jay Ratliff (sports hernia surgery) and backup Josh Brent (suspended list) out for the season.

The secondary had numerous new faces, ranging from Eric Frampton, Michael Coe, Charlie Peprah and Sterling Moore. These players weren't with the team in training camp.

In the last two months of the season, the Cowboys signed eight defensive players to the active roster.

"I thought Rob did a really good job," Garrett said. "I stood up here a number of times and said you don’t want to talk about injuries and we’re not talking about them now but in answering your question I’m going to say that it was a real challenge for (Ryan). If you think about the number of guys we lost on defense, starting, marquee players who are just simply out, and the other guys who are battling through injuries and the challenges he had bringing guys from the practice squad up, from off the street and on our team and literally playing them two days later.

"That happened a number of different times and I thought he did a really good job managing that situation. I thought our defensive staff did a good job managing that situation, getting these guys ready to play in a shorter period of time against some competitive opponents. I thought they handled that situation well. We became more decimated as the year went on. We had to make adjustments in our schemes to try to fit to what these guys are capable of doing and it was challenging. There’s no question about it, but he never blinked. He understood what we had and tried his best to put the best guys out there that he could."

A look at the Cowboys' free agents

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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LANDOVER, Md. -- The Cowboys will have 18 free agents, but the biggest decision will be with outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.

The Cowboys could place the franchise tag on him for a second straight year, but that will cost them $10.6 million. Spencer has played so well in 2012 that another team could be willing to overpay him to pry him away from Dallas.

The Cowboys are not in the best of salary-cap positions and will likely have to restructure a number of contracts and cut players just to reach the expected $121 million cap.

Here’s a look at the free agents to be:

Starting safety spot could be open

December, 27, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have started four different free safeties this season. When Barry Church went down with a torn Achilles in Week three, Danny McCray took over for five consecutive weeks until Charlie Peprah replaced him.

Peprah's foot injury cost him a few games and McCray regained the starting spot. But Eric Frampton started at safety against New Orleans last week.

Coach Jason Garrett praised Frampton's efforts in the Saints game, but left the door open for a possible change at safety, yet again.

"He has done a good job for us," Garrett said. "As we go over the course of the week, we'll figure out the roles for the different players on the back end. It's good that we have a few different options. Now I think those guys are healthier than they've been so were excited about playing a different kind of combination of guys this week than we've been able to the last couple of weeks."

Peprah, who missed four games with a foot injury, could return to the starting lineup in the regular season finale at Washington.

One note about the safeties: In some defensive packages, Gerald Sensabaugh is the only safety on the field. He plays both strong and free safety.
We have some random thoughts following the Cowboys' 34-31 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and heading into the regular-season finale:

1. Last weekend, the Cowboys prevented another NFL team from signing guard Ronald Leary off their practice squad roster. Leary was elevated to the active roster and while he was inactive for the Saints game Sunday this moves tells you plenty about his future. The Cowboys value Leary because of his progression at guard. He came in with concerns about his knee, which doesn't seem to be an issue right now. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said Leary has gotten better from when he first arrived at Valley Ranch as an undrafted free agent from Memphis. If the Cowboys want to go in another direction at center -- Phil Costa endured health problems in 2012 -- maybe Mackenzy Bernadeau moves from right guard in 2013. Leary could compete for that spot along with Kevin Kowalski. Of course this all changes should the Cowboys draft a center. Given the money spent in free agency on Nate Livings and Bernadeau this past offseason, at least $30 million combined, it's doubtful if the Cowboys want another free-agent guard. Maybe Leary is the answer.

2. DeMarcus Ware most likely will make his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl when the NFC team is announced this week. The 2012 season hasn't been one of Ware's better ones. Hamstring, neck, elbow and shoulder problems have hurt his ability to rush the passer at times. He's still a dangerous man on the field, and he will get doubled from time to time, but opponents are noticing Ware's struggles. He was asked how he felt following Sunday's loss to the Saints and said, "like (expletive)." Ware is tied for seventh in the NFL with 11.5 sacks and combines with Anthony Spencer's 10 to form a solid duo for the Cowboys. But if Ware's health hadn't bothered him this season, the sack and most likely the pressure totals would be higher.

3. What makes the Saints game a difficult one to deal with from a defensive standpoint is the lack of pressures on Drew Brees (two hurries and zero sacks) and the zero turnovers. Out of 13 offensive possessions, the Saints scored six times and missed a 36-yard field goal. So in essence that's seven potential scoring drives the Cowboys defense allowed. Yes, the Cowboys are dealing with injuries on defense but at some point players need to make plays for Rob Ryan. One thing cornerback Mike Jenkins said after the loss was that players, especially the new ones, understand the scheme but are thinking too much and not playing on instinct. It seems the veteran players such as Dan Connor, Ernie Sims, Brady Poppinga and Charlie Peprah know what to do within the scheme, but injuries and Ryan's mixing and matching are messing things up right now. The Cowboys have just one game to solve these problems.

5 Wonders: Jason Witten's quiet record

December, 25, 2012
12/25/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Merry Christmas to everybody. On this day filled with wonder, we bring you the final regular-season installment of Five Wonders.

On Rudolph …

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Coach Jason Garrett talks about the Cowboys' overtime loss to the Saints and Jason Witten's remarkable season.

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** I wonder if anybody has set a record as quietly as Jason Witten set Sunday. With his final catch he set an NFL record for catches by a tight end in a season with 103. Tony Gonzalez had 102 for Kansas City in 2004. Because it came in overtime and given the magnitude of the game, there was a brief mention on the digital board and an announcement. Counter that with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson breaking Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season in which he was able to hand the ball to his dad and the crowd was able to make a big acknowledgment of the feat. Witten simply flipped the ball to the official and went back to business. The mark deserved more acclaim in the days that followed, not that Witten cared for any of the attention. It is, however, interesting to note. For all of the attention the Cowboys get nationally, somehow Witten seems to fall between the big headlines. Just an observation.

** If you’re wondering when Matt Johnson can play again, it won’t be this week. Johnson was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return Nov. 18 because of a hamstring injury. He can return to practice Friday but he would not be eligible to play in a game until the divisional round of the playoffs. Johnson’s rookie year has been a wash because of the hamstring injuries. The offseason should do him some good to get bigger and stronger, but the Cowboys won’t know what they have until next summer. Given Barry Church’s recovery from an Achilles’ tear and Johnson’s inexperience, the Cowboys face something of a dilemma at safety. They clearly believe Johnson has some real potential or they would not have kept him around all year the way they have, but they won’t know what he is. So go get a safety in free agency or draft one of the best safeties in the draft? Not really. To me, they can get by at safety especially with the resources they have at linebacker and cornerback.

** The Cowboys’ pro scouting department has done a nice job in finding players throughout the season that have come in and played a role on a team ravaged by injuries. I wonder if some of the guys they have added are keepers going forward. Start with Eric Frampton, who will be a free agent after the season. He was signed to be a special teams’ guy and has worked his way into a starting role in part because of injury. He would be a guy to bring back in 2013. I wonder if they take one-year looks at guys like Michael Coe, Charlie Peprah and Brian Schaefering too. Now, these guys aren’t top-end starters by any means, but good role players. You would like to be able to develop younger guys in these roles, but they could be doing enough to at least get a deal for 2013.

** I wonder how the Cowboys believe David Arkin will be a player one day. They have done everything possible to not play the 2011 fourth-round pick this season and yet he remains on the roster. Arkin has had chances in his first two training camps that a lot of players do not get afforded and he was unable to show he can play. Yet the Cowboys keep him. If they end up cutting him next August in camp, then they wasted time. Teams loathe to give up on offensive lineman and I’m sure everybody thought Doug Free was a bust after his first two seasons when he played only a couple of times. Like Free, Arkin is from a small school and those guys tend to take time to develop, but the Cowboys cannot afford to draft projects anymore. They need to get guys who are close to being ready to play.

** I wonder if enough people are noticing what Dan Bailey has done in his first two years. He is having the second-best two-year run by a Cowboys kicker in team history. His coach, Chris Boniol made 59 of 64 field goal tries in 1995-96, good for a 92.2% percentage. Bailey has made 60 of 67 kicks the last two seasons, including 28 of 30 this season, for a 90% make rate. (Yes, we rounded up from 89.5%). He has made a field goal in every game but one this season (at Seattle), and has delivered winning kicks against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh this year. The guy is automatic and that means a lot with how many games in the NFL come down to big kicks.

W2W4: Cowboys vs. Saints

December, 23, 2012
12/23/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys play their final home game of the 2012 season Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. It's also the biggest home game of the season because a Cowboys victory keeps their playoff hopes alive. A loss doesn't end their season, but they would need help to keep their playoff fight alive.

Here are a few things to look for Sunday:

The series: This is the 25th meeting between the Saints and Cowboys. Of the 24 previous meetings, 11 have been decided by two or more touchdowns. But 10 of the last 14 games were decided by 10 points or less. The last time the the Saints lost in Dallas was 1991. The Cowboys have lost their last three home games to the Saints.

No Sean Payton: Saints coach Sean Payton is under suspension for his role in Bountygate and is banned from attending the game. In his place is Joe Vitt, who served a six-game suspension for his role in the scandal. Payton was a major influence in the development in Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo has downplayed the significance of Payton not attending the game.

DeMarcus Ware dinged up: Most players are nicked up this time of year, and Ware is no different. The Cowboys' talented outside linebacker is dealing with a hyperextended elbow and a shoulder that pops out from time to time. It did last week. Ware, who hasn't missed a game this season, has had two multi-sack games and has had a sack in the same game with Anthony Spencer five times this season.

Defending the Saints: The Saints have the third-best passing offense (397.9) in the NFL, but quarterback Drew Brees -- who leads the NFL with 4,335 passing yards -- is tied with Andrew Luck for the league lead in interceptions with 18. Will the Cowboys add to that total? The return of safety Charlie Peprah should help the secondary slow down the big plays and maybe force some turnovers. But the Saints have plenty of talent on offense. Receiver Lance Moore will be difficult to cover in the slot, and of course Marques Colston is a big-play threat with 13 receptions of 20 or more yards.

Romo's hot streak: Sure, Dez Bryant has been on a tear (he's got a touchdown in the last six games), but Romo has been almost as hot. Romo has thrown 12 touchdowns the last six games with just three interceptions. Romo has also thrown for over 300 yards thee times and over 400 yards once.
IRVING, Texas -- There's been plenty of discussion about tough guys on the Cowboys roster in recent weeks.

From Jason Witten returning from a lacerated spleen, Dez Bryant playing with a broken finger, DeMarcus Ware fighting through nagging shoulder and elbow problems, the Cowboys, like most NFL teams this late in the season, have players who are banged up.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh can be added to that list. The veteran safety has his own issues, including a bothersome hip injury he continues to play through.

"Around this time I think everybody is nicked up," Sensabaugh said Friday. "One of my philosophies is if it’s not structural damage I should be able to get out there and play in a little bit of pain. I'm not taking medications or shots. I feel a lot of the pain side is mental for me. Everybody has a different feel for it, but I just try to play. If I can run and if I feel like I can still be effective and not be a negative part of our team, I feel like I can get out and play. I just feel like our team needs me."

Sensabaugh has also taken on a new role because of injuries. Sensabaugh, along with Anthony Spencer, has had to relay the defensive calls with Bruce Carter and Sean Lee out for the season.

Sensabaugh's value increased in the eyes of the defensive coaches because he's adapted to playing with various partners at his position. Since Barry Church was placed on injured reserve with a torn Achilles on Sept. 25, Danny McCray, Brandon Carr, Eric Frampton and Charlie Peprah have joined Sensabaugh in the back of the secondary.

It has forced Sensabaugh to change his game from deep safety to an in-the-box safety, depending which player is in the back end with him.

"I just try to get in position to put those other guys in whatever their comfortable in," he said. "Every guy has different styles of play. Some guys like to play deep middle more, some guys like to play down in the box more. I just try to base my game on being as versatile as possible to where I can play wherever needed.

"We do have a lot of versatile guys who can play both sides or play different types of techniques. We're just trying to make it as easy for the guys that are coming in new so they can play fast. If that makes me take on a more complicated role, I take pride in doing that. As long as we win and guys are making plays, I'm comfortable with that."

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