Dallas Cowboys: Chris Jones

Cowboys re-sign Chris Jones

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones has signed his exclusive rights tender of $645,000.

The move chews up $150,000 of the roughly $2 million worth of salary-cap space.

Jones averaged 45 yards per punt in his first full season with the Cowboys. He appeared in two games in 2011 as an injury replacement for Mat McBriar and four games in 2012 before a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season.

Jones had a 39.1-yard net average and had 30 of his 77 punts end up inside the opponents’ 20. Teams averaged only 9.2 yards per punt return against the Cowboys in 2013.

Earlier in the offseason the Cowboys signed kicker Dan Bailey to a seven-year extension worth $22.5 million.

Important dates for the Cowboys

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
The offseason is here and the Dallas Cowboys, like most NFL teams, have certain roster issues to take care of.

We examine what the Cowboys do with their offseason schedule.

Feb. 17 -- Teams can begin applying the franchise tag to players.

What it means for the Cowboys: The team won't place the franchise tag on any of its free agents. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher is seeking a big-money deal and with the Cowboys cap-tight it's doubtful the team will place the franchise tag on him. Defensive end Anthony Spencer was franchised the last two seasons and he’s not eligible to get tagged again. Spencer is coming off microfracture surgery and the Cowboys are open to bringing him back.

Feb. 19-25 -- Scouting combine in Indianapolis.

What it means for the Cowboys: As is the case with every team, the Cowboys will head to the combine looking to upgrade the roster. One of the keys to this is the man in charge of putting the draft board together: Will McClay. He takes over from Tom Ciskowski, who still has a major role in who the Cowboys draft. Yet, the Cowboys are in need of massive upgrades to a roster that’s failed to get them to the postseason the last four seasons.

March 3 -- The final day to use the franchise tag.

What it means for the Cowboys: Nothing really, considering they won’t franchise anyone.

March 8-11 -- Teams can begin negotiations with players who will be unrestricted free agents. Qualifying offers to restricted free agents are made in this window.

What it means for the Cowboys: The Cowboys had a chance to tender restricted free agent kicker Dan Bailey, but he signed a seven-year contract extension worth $22.5 million last month. Punter Chris Jones (exclusive rights) and running back Phillip Tanner (restricted) will return.

March 11 -- Free agency begins at 4 p.m. ET. Teams may begin signing players and trading players. Teams also must be under the salary cap.

What it means for the Cowboys: The Cowboys are nearly $25 million over the salary cap and the restructuring of several contracts, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr among others, will help the Cowboys get under. The team could release Ware and most likely Miles Austin. If the team cuts Austin, he’ll be a post-June 1 cut creating roughly $5.5 million in cap space. A Ware restructure opens about $7 million in space. The Cowboys don’t expect to be major players in free agency again. The last time the Cowboys spent big money in free agency, was 2012 when it signed Carr to a five-year $50.1 million deal. The Cowboys could make some moves in terms of signing a veteran wideout or veteran safety on the cheap. Veterans Brian Waters, Ernie Sims and Danny McCray could return to the team with one- or two-year deals.

March 23-26 -- Annual league meetings in Orlando, Fla.

What it means for the Cowboys: Jerry and Stephen Jones are powerful in league circles and their influence on the competition committee is important here. Given how successful the Super Bowl went in New York/New Jersey and how some East Coast and Midwest cities are now making noise about hosting the big game, Jones might remind everyone about his stadium, and how Arlington, Texas needs another shot.

April 21 -- Teams with returning coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

What it means for the Cowboys: This is a big day for Romo. He’s recovering from back surgery and team officials say he should be ready for offseason work. If he’s not, does it mean the team should be worried about their franchise quarterback? Romo missed some offseason work last year while recovering from cyst surgery. Linebacker Sean Lee has torn ligaments in his neck, costing him the final three games of the 2013 season. Lee is expected to be ready for offseason workouts.

May 8-10 -- NFL draft.

What it means for the Cowboys: Among the needs for this franchise coming off another 8-8 finish: Defensive line, safety, quarterback, guard, cornerback.

Cowboys position breakdown: Specialists

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer break down the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. LaDouceur and Dwayne Harris.

A look back: Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia took over a unit in need of a new voice and provided solid results. You can start with kicker Dan Bailey, who converted 93.3 percent of his field goal tries and was perfect from 40-49 yards (10-10) and made 6-of-7 field goal attempts from 50 plus yards. Bailey was so good, the Cowboys avoided any contract issues by giving him a contract extension worth $22.5 million with $7.5 million guaranteed. Well deserved. Chris Jones also had a solid season as the punter, finishing eighth with 30 punts inside the 20 and he had a 39.1 net average. Dwayne Harris emerged as a return threat during the season. He finished eighth in kickoff return yards with 857 and despite just 256 punt return yards, he did score a touchdown and when he missed a game due to injury, replacement Michael Spurlock returned a punt 62 yards. If there were any negatives it was centered on rookie Terrance Williams, who fumbled an opening kickoff and probably should have stayed in the end zone for a few returns.

A look ahead: This group has no issues. L.P. LaDouceur is one of the best deep snappers in the league, Bailey morphed into a reliable if not one of the Top 5 kickers in the league and Harris is a legit threat on returns. Injuries are always a concern, Harris missed three games with a hamstring injury, but Cole Beasley (6.8 average on 10 punt returns) was a capable backup and you could always punt Dez Bryant back there.

A look out: Williams is someone who can improve in this area and might get a few looks during training camp again. Bryant and Beasley are solid backups for Harris, who has become a solid returner.

From the start, Dan Bailey has had it

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys did not know what they had when they signed Dan Bailey as an undrafted free agent.

They did not know what they had in him with a week to go in the preseason, either. By that time the Cowboys had five kickers on the roster: David Buehler, who held the kicking job in 2010, Bailey, Shayne Graham, Kai Forbath, an undrafted free agent like Bailey but injured, and veteran Dave Rayner.

[+] EnlargeDan Bailey
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesDan Bailey has made 88 of 98 field goal attempts in his three seasons.
The Cowboys missed three out of four field goal attempts in the final preseason game against the Miami Dolphins; one from Buehler and two from Rayner.

By not kicking that night, Bailey elevated himself.

About to enter his fourth season, the Cowboys rewarded Bailey last week with a seven-year, $22.5 million deal that makes him among the top 10 highest-paid kickers in the NFL. And for those believing the Cowboys made more of a mess of their salary cap with the signing, Bailey’s cap number in 2014 is less than what it would have been if they had given him the second-round tender as a restricted free agent.

“That was a huge advantage looking back at it now, to go up against guys like Shayne and they brought in Dave Rayner, guys that have been kicking in the league a while and been real successful,” Bailey said. “At the time, I was just trying to keep my head down and do my own things. I think it was invaluable to get that competition early on to nail down the job.”

It taught Bailey that every kick is a new chance. A previous make does not guarantee success. A previous miss does not guarantee failure.

Bailey has made 89 of 98 field goal attempts in his career. He has missed just two kicks in each of the last two seasons. The pressure of winning the job out of a lockout as an undrafted rookie helped prepare Bailey for end-of-game moments. His eight game-winning kicks in three seasons are a franchise record.

“I don’t think it changes too much,” Bailey said of any added pressure because of the contract. “You’re only as good as your last kick. That’s the nature of the league. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every day to practice, to the game, even off the field. You’ve got to do the right things. I don’t think it’ll have too much of an impact. I think I take pride on being mentally strong enough to put that on the back burner and focus on the task at hand.”

Bailey’s leg strength was a question when he arrived, but he had a career-high 52 touchbacks in 2013 after just 54 in his first two seasons. He also made 6 of 7 attempts from 50 yards or more after making only 5 of 9 tries in his first two years from 50 yards or more.

“A lot of it had to do with just improving my leg strength and explosiveness, that stuff I did in the offseason, but just as much as that it was just a mentality,” Bailey said. “We practice a lot of those in camp and in practice and even in the offseason. Just getting back there and kicking long field goals, it was creating more of a comfort level for myself to know those kicks do come up in games.”

For the first time in his career, Bailey will not have Chris Boniol as a kicking coach. Boniol and the Cowboys agreed to part ways in the offseason, leaving Bailey and punter Chris Jones to improve without the watchful eye of an NFL veteran.

“He was a great asset to have,” Bailey said. “He was a guy I looked up to because he’d been literally in the same shoes I’ve been in.”

Cowboys, Chris Boniol part ways

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
IRVING, Texas – The first change in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff for 2014 has happened with assistant special-teams coach Chris Boniol and the club agreeing to part ways.

Boniol’s contract was set to expire after he signed a one-year deal. He will attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and hopes to remain in the NFL.

“It’s been a great time, blessed to have been around some great people and good players,” Boniol said. “And I’m grateful for the opportunity Jason [Garrett], Stephen [Jones] and Jerry [Jones] have given me.”

Boniol joined the Cowboys in 2010 and worked with then special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis for three years. Rich Bisaccia took over as special-teams coordinator in 2013 after DeCamillis left for the Chicago Bears.

Carlos Polk, who was with the Cowboys through the season as an intern, could be made Bisaccia’s assistant. Bisaccia interviewed for the Washington Redskins head coaching vacancy and has been mentioned as a candidate for the Tennessee Titans opening.

Boniol had a three-year run as the Cowboys' kicker, winning a Super Bowl in 1995 while making 81 of 93 field goal attempts. He has coached Dan Bailey to three of the best seasons in team history for a kicker. Bailey has made 89 of 98 attempts in his career and has missed just two in each of the past two seasons.

Punter Chris Jones averaged 45 yards per punt with a 39.1-yard net average in 2013.
“They’re great guys, work their butts off, love those guys like my own,” Boniol said. “Real proud of them and what they’ve accomplished as players and people. It’s been a joy to watch them grow and mature as athletes and young men. It’s people like them that I’ll miss.”

Cowboys coaches are off this week. Last year the Cowboys made two coaching staff changes in running backs coach Skip Peete and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan two weeks after the 2012 regular season ended.

Dallas Cowboys season wrap-up

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final power ranking: 17
Preseason power ranking: 20

Biggest surprise: The Dallas Cowboys did not believe they could have a worse defense than the one they fielded in 2012. They were wrong.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan lost his job after the Cowboys finished the year ranked 19th in defense and allowed 400 points. The Cowboys not only switched defensive coordinators, they switched philosophies, bringing in Monte Kiffin to run a 4-3 scheme.

It never worked.

The Cowboys allowed 6,645 yards, 432 points and failed to deliver most of the time. They were hit by injuries, just as Ryan’s defense was, and poor play from big-name players such as DeMarcus Ware, Bruce Carter, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Sean Lee was having a Pro Bowl-type season but hamstring and neck injuries forced him to miss most of the final seven games. Only Jason Hatcher, Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church had representative seasons.

Biggest disappointment: It’s hard not to go with Ware, who had a career-low six sacks. For the first time he did not play in every game in a season, missing three games with a quadriceps strain. He also played with injuries to both elbows, a back strain and stinger. But the pick will be Miles Austin. Like Ware, he suffered through injury. He missed five games with a hamstring injury and was held without a catch in two games as he attempted to play through the strain. He finished the season with 24 catches for 244 yards and no touchdowns. It was the fewest catches he had since 2008 when he was a bit player and first time since 2007 he did not score a touchdown. The Cowboys hoped for a late-season boost when he returned but it never came.

Biggest need: The easy answer is to say upgrade the entire defense. They need help at linebacker and safety. The defensive line needs an overhaul. We talked about Ware’s status, but Hatcher, who had a career-high 11 sacks, and Anthony Spencer, who is coming back from microfracture surgery, are set to be unrestricted free agents. The Cowboys used 19 defensive linemen during the year and found solid contributions from players such as George Selvie and Nick Hayden, but optimally they play in reserve roles. The hits on the line started in April when the Cowboys passed on Sharrif Floyd, their fifth-ranked player, at No. 18 and traded down and continued when Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles on the first day of camp. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in the offseason the defensive line was a strength. There is no way he can say that now.

Team MVP: By process of elimination it cannot be a defensive player because the unit was the worst in the NFL. DeMarco Murray would get votes for a second-half MVP. The contest comes down to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Romo missed the final game because of back surgery, but threw 31 touchdown passes and was intercepted only 10 times while throwing for 3,828 yards. Bryant earned his first Pro Bowl berth and finished with 93 catches for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns. They made big plays at big moments. They had mistakes at big moments, too. As a result, they split the award.

A look at the Cowboys' free agents

December, 30, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys' season over, here is a list of their exclusive rights, restricted and unrestricted free agents heading into 2014.

Exclusive rights (1)
Chris Jones

Restricted free agents (2)
Dan Bailey
Phillip Tanner

Unrestricted free agents (9)
Ryan Cook
Jason Hatcher
Edgar Jones
Jon Kitna
Danny McCray
Ernie Sims
Anthony Spencer
Brian Waters
Jarius Wynn

Midseason Report: Dallas Cowboys

November, 6, 2013

IRVING, Texas -- After nine games, the Dallas Cowboys have issues.

The defense can't stop a topflight quarterback. The offense can't -- or won't -- run the ball. Injuries have affected the offensive line, defensive line and secondary.

Yet with seven games to play, the Cowboys lead the NFC East with a 5-4 record. Can they join the conference elite?

Before that question can be answered, here's a look at how the Cowboys have graded out so far:

Cowboys get little from takeaways

November, 4, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Turnovers are a great thing when you’re a defensive player. The Dallas Cowboys have 20 takeaways in the first nine games of the season.

Considering they had 16 all of last season, that is a monumental improvement but does not negate the defensive woes as a whole.

Turnovers are even better when the offense can score points on the ensuing drive, and that’s where the Cowboys have failed lately.

In the past four games, the Cowboys have 10 takeaways. The Cowboys have scored two touchdowns following those turnovers and both drives started inside the opponents’ 5. Joseph Randle pushed his way into the end zone against the Washington Redskins with a little help from his friends. Dez Bryant pinned a Tony Romo pass against his helmet for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.

The only other drive following a turnover to result in a score came on a 53-yard field goal by Dan Bailey against the Lions.

Quibble with the fact that three of those turnovers came against the Philadelphia Eagles with the game already in hand if you want, but the Cowboys have to do more when they get the ball back. Yes, the defense is getting the ball away from teams, but they are also allowing a high number of yards and points.

In the first five games, the Cowboys scored three touchdowns and a field goal following seven turnovers.

They have not had a drive go longer than 17 yards following their last 10 takeaways. Six times Chris Jones had to punt. One time they took a knee.

For the Cowboys to be better offensively, they need to be better after takeaways. A lot better.

Dwayne Harris's returns change game

October, 14, 2013
Dwayne HarrisRon Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty ImagesDwayne Harris pushes off of Redskins cornerback E.J. Biggers on a big return in the third quarter.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dwayne Harris could not help but think of the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason when Sav Rocca was forced to punt for a second time because of a penalty.

Against Cincinnati, the Cowboys had to re-kick after Chris Jones’ punt hit the digital board and Brandon Tate returned the subsequent punt for a touchdown.

“They definitely tired,” Harris said. “I’ve seen that happen too many times … It’s hard for those guys to run down there full speed and then you’ve got to come back and do it over again. That gives us an advantage.”

Harris took advantage of it with an 86-yard return for the Cowboys’ second touchdown of the game in their 31-16 win against the Washington Redskins Sunday. It was the fifth-longest punt return in team history and the second return for a score in his career. He had a 78-yarder against the Philadelphia Eagles for a touchdown last season.

“I didn’t do anything but run the ball,” Harris said. “They opened the lanes for me.”

He wasn’t through, adding a 90-yard kick return in the third quarter that set up Terrance Williams’ touchdown. That tied for the 10th-longest kickoff in team history and was the third 90-yard or more return that did not result in a touchdown.

“I do a lot of running on special teams so I got a little winded at the end and my legs were giving out on me a little bit,” Harris said. “I had to make that cut and make the kicker miss and that slowed me down a little bit.”

It slowed him just enough for E.J. Biggers to push him out at the Washington 15.

He finished with 222 combined return yards, which is the fourth-most in a game in team history.

“Whenever you have plays like that, returns and changes of field like that, it gives you such an advantage," tight end Jason Witten said. “It really changes the game.”

Chris Jones expecting more action this week

October, 11, 2013
If there was one position that was barely needed in Sunday's Cowboys-Broncos scorefest, it was the punters. In fact, Cowboys punter Chris Jones was the only one who trotted onto the field in punt formation. And he did that just once.

"I don't ever remember punting just once at any time in my career," Jones said. "It was strange."

Jones, who punted for Carson-Newman and was an all-area punter at Coosa High School in Rome, Ga., said he stayed ready, but "every time there was a third down, it seemed like we got a big play."

Jones, who punted in just four games in 2012 after suffering a knee injury, has a 46.2-yard average in punts this season and a 39.3 net.

"I'm not saying that our offense won't move the ball, but I bet I get to punt three times or more," Jones said. "Punting once is rare."

The last time the Cowboys punted just once in a game was last October against the Baltimore Ravens. (For those curious, the last time the Cowboys didn't punt was 2000.)

Returner to test Cowboys' coverage teams

October, 5, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- As if Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas weren't enough to handle, the Dallas Cowboys also have to deal with Denver Broncos returner Trindon Holliday.

Holliday has an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 105-yard kickoff return for a score this season. He is averaging 14.7 yards per punt return and 46.3 yards on three kickoff returns.

"I know he's fast and small, quick," Cowboys safety Danny McCray said. "I played with him in college (at LSU). Just because he's small, he's a lot harder to take down than it looks, and I mean, he's got Olympic speed. I'm sure y'all have seen that on tape, so that's just something we've got to stop."

The Cowboys are allowing 8.1 yards per punt return and 19.2 yards on kickoff returns.

The Cowboys are less of a directional kicking team this year than they have been in the past. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia wants more hang time with a side emphasis on directional kicking, punter Chris Jones said.

"It's more on me, I guess," Jones said. "I've just got to hit my best ball and when I do that I know we can cover him and hem him up."

Holliday has played in 21 games in his career and has six returns for a touchdown (three on punts, three on kickoffs).

"I think they've tried it all." McCray said of how teams have attempted to slow Holliday. "I just think there are a lot of missed tackles, and it's not just him. Their return team makes some good blocks. They go to the end of the whistle and a lot of times he makes one or two cuts and then nobody touches him. They're blocking good for him. Teams have tried to kick it to the side, he brings it back to the field. Teams have tried to kick it to the middle, and he's quick enough to pick a side and make a cut and go. I think we've all just got to be on our A game."

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

August, 29, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys meet the Houston Texans in the preseason for the first time since 2010 at AT&T Stadium. Intrastate pride might be on the line for the fans of both teams, but little else.

With 75 players on the roster, some jobs remain but most are filled. Here’s what we’ll be looking at tonight:

Job fair: With 18 roster moves to make by Saturday’s cut-down date, most of the decisions have likely been made. There are perhaps two open spots with as many as eight guys looking to fit the square peg. Would the Cowboys carry five tight ends? How about six receivers? Nine defensive linemen?

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore, tight end Andre Smith, wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, cornerback Micah Pellerin, tackle DeMetress Bell, guard David Arkin and guard Kevin Kowalski can make their cases tonight. Linebacker Brandon Magee (concussion), safeties Eric Frampton (calf), Danny McCray (hamstring) and Matt Johnson (foot) will have to watch and sweat out the final decisions.

Dez Bryant joins Tim MacMahon and Landry Locker to discuss his hobby of studying the game's great receivers, if his next contract ever crosses his mind, what it was like to be investigated by the NCAA and much, much more.

Listen Listen
Tanney time: Maybe Kyle Orton opens the game, but the Cowboys will give Alex Tanney most of the work.

With needs at other positions and injury questions going into the opener, Tanney is looking more like a practice-squad fit than a 53-man roster fit. If he plays lights out, he could change the equation or at the very least get another team to keep him on the 53-man roster the way Matt Moore did a few years ago.

Check out the Texans: Last year the Cowboys closed the preseason against Miami and traded for veteran offensive lineman Ryan Cook a few days later based on what they saw in that game.

With the Cowboys moving to a pure zone blocking scheme this year, check out the Texans’ offensive linemen. Assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack spent five years with the Texans (2007-11) and will have a good idea of what would be a good fit with the Cowboys.

As unsettled as the Cowboys are with their starting offensive line they’re more unsettled with the backups. A case could be made they don’t have a ninth or 10th guy (if they choose to reach double digits) on their current roster to fill out the line.

Earning practice squad jobs: Tanney has been talked about, but there will be seven other spots to fill. The Cowboys like to keep receivers and defensive backs on the practice squad because of the amount of running in practice, so guys like Danny Coale, Tim Benford and Pellerin bear watching.

And the line play will have candidates to, like defensive end Jerome Long and offensive tackle Darrion Weems. Linebacker could be another spot of interest with Cameron Lawrence and Taylor Reed.

The digital board: Chris Jones hit it last week with a punt against Cincinnati and the Bengals returned the re-kick 75 yards for a touchdown, continuing a preseason-long issue of special teams’ miscues. Jones is unlikely to hit it again, but watching it to see the clock tick down will be more important because it brings us closer to the start of the regular season.
IRVING, Texas -- Saturday night the Cowboys continued to have special teams problems in their preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Against the Bengals, the Cowboys committed a holding call on the opening kickoff, missed a 50-yard field goal, allowed a 53-yard kickoff return and had punter Chris Jones hit the video board above the field, leading to a re-kick that was returned for a touchdown.

In addition, the Cowboys overall have muffed two punt returns, had a blocked field goal, allowed two kick returns over 50 yards and penalties on players hitting punt returners who signaled for a fair catch.

With one preseason game remaining, Thursday vs. Houston, the Cowboys will continue to mix and match the special teams lineups.

"Sometimes it’s a combination of players," coach Jason Garrett said. "There’s different guys playing. Some of the guys who will be playing in the regular season aren’t playing. Guys are looking for jobs on those teams – I get all that. I get all that. Having said that, you’ve got to make sure you don’t have those bad plays. I think we’ve gotten better and better on teams, each and every week, in terms of our demeanor, how well we’re running, how physical we’re playing. Having said that, if you have 21 plays and four of them are bad plays or are going to hurt your team, that’s not good. Players need to understand that, that there’s a lot of responsibility that goes into being a special teams player in the National Football League, and we’ll get better and better."

Garrett expressed confidence in special teams coordinator, Rich Bisaccia, who is entering his first season with the Cowboys. Bisaccia replaced Joe DeCamillis, who is now in Chicago.

"Oh, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him," Garrett said of Bisaccia. "He’s been a great special teams coach in this league for a long, long time. Just the way he coaches, the way he teaches, the way our guys are getting better, really day in and day out, week in and week out. He’s fantastic. He’s a positive influence on our team."

Stock Report: Tanner up and Ratliff is down

August, 25, 2013
After four preseason games the Dallas Cowboys are 2-2, thanks to a 24-18 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.

With that we give our weekly Stock Report.

Stock up

Phillip Tanner. The No. 3 running back moved up the depth chart with Lance Dunbar (foot) out with his injury. When DeMarco Murray was benched after two possessions, Tanner took over and did a solid job in the running game. Tanner rushed 14 times for 39 yards, and while he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, he proved his worth to the Cowboys' front office with his performance.

B.W. Webb. The rookie cornerback has improved since the Hall of Fame game. Saturday night, he picked up an interception off an Andy Dalton pass in the middle of the field. Each week, Webb is showing he can play in the slot and as an outside cornerback, and he's not afraid to mix it up with receivers.

(Read full post)