Dallas Cowboys: Greg Spires

5 Wonders: Can Jason Hatcher play DE?

July, 23, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – With the Cowboys beginning their third day of training camp practice today, there’s no better time than now to break out Five Wonders, the award-winning blog post -- and by award-winning, I mean in the eyes of my two daughters.

On to the Wonders:

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss whether Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat and what it will take for Garrett to keep his job after this season.

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  • The Cowboys say they will keep their search for defensive end help largely inside the building with Tyrone Crawford out for the year with a torn Achilles. While some of you want to go out and sign a John Abraham or even a Richard Seymour, I wonder if the Cowboys might give Jason Hatcher a look at defensive end. It’s a two-for-one move to a degree and that’s never good. You might be taking away a strength at tackle. But Hatcher might have the ability to spell Anthony Spencer from time to time the way Crawford would and Sean Lissemore could play more tackle in pass rushing situations. Hatcher said he would be open to a move if needed.

  • Is it too early to wonder about playing time in the preseason? Maybe, but I wonder if the Cowboys play their regulars a little bit more than they have in the past because of the change to the 4-3 and the change in offensive playcaller in Bill Callahan. As much as Jason Garrett likes to do situational work in practice for the players, he might want to do it for Callahan too. The coach has to knock some of the rust off his play-calling skills since he hasn’t done it in so long. And there’s this wonder within a wonder: does Tony Romo need more playing time because he did not have an offseason due to the back surgery?

  • It’s way too early to speculate on this subject since Demetress Bell is not in good enough shape to practice yet, but I wonder if the Cowboys could use their veteran depth as a potential trade bait. Now, this is all provided Bell plays well and a lot better than he did a year ago in Philadelphia. He or Jermey Parnell could be attractive to other teams as a potential need fit because of injuries and both come at decent prices. Parnell counts $1.35 million against the cap. Bell counts $555,000. I think the Bell signing was more to help the Cowboys get through training camp with quality enough backup play to make things a little easier for Kyle Orton, but in the back of my mind there’s a possibility here.

  • Let’s get back on the subject of Spencer here for a moment. The Cowboys did not really come close to a long-term deal for him before a July 15 deadline, which means he will play this year on the franchise tag ($10.6 million). Teams can’t pay everybody, and Spencer would represent a decent financial commitment with guys like Sean Lee and Bruce Carter coming up into free-agent years. With that in mind, I wonder if we need to look back at Tampa Bay’s defense under Monte Kiffin for how money gets structured. At defensive end, Simeon Rice got paid the big bucks. The other guys – Chidi Ahanotu, Marcus Jones and Greg Spires – were paid OK but not great. With the Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware gets the big bucks. I wonder if there’s just not enough for Spencer.

  • I wonder when the Cowboys move to their new practice facility in the next few years – and Frisco is believed to be the leader in the clubhouse over Irving and Arlington – if they will hold at least a portion of training camp there. The weather is an obstacle, but Miami manages to deal with the hot and sticky stuff with the option of going indoors if they want every now and again. But there’s a reason why teams are opting to practice at home more. Their facilities have places for fans to watch the show, and don’t think that doesn’t matter. It does. Teams can make some cash on their own through parking and concessions instead of running out to colleges or other spots for practice. That is not an option presently at Valley Ranch. There is no place to put fans. A new facility would undoubtedly have either permanent or portable seating for fans and plenty of parking.
  • Anthony Spencer bulks up for move

    May, 29, 2013
    AM ET
    IRVING, Texas – Like DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer has used the offseason to gain more weight as he moves to defensive end in the Cowboys’ switch to the 4-3 scheme.

    “A strong 10,” Spencer said of how much weight he gained.

    Spencer was listed at 250 pounds last season but said he played at about 253. He said he weighs about 263 pounds now.

    “I changed my diet for the first couple of months,” Spencer said. “I usually don’t eat a lot of red meat, burgers. I just ate whatever I wanted to and then after that I got back to the weight room and leaned up.”

    Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has acknowledged that Ware (262 pounds) and Spencer are slightly undersized from what he had in Tampa Bay when Simeon Rice (6-foot-5, 268 pounds) and Greg Spires (6-foot-1, 265). Indianapolis excelled in the same defense with Robert Mathis (235 pounds) playing Spencer’s left defensive end spot and Dwight Freeney (268) playing Ware’s spot on the right side.

    “They pretty much preach speed,” Spencer said. “The thing is getting off and using speed and athleticism to beat blocks. But at the same time we went down in weight to be outside linebackers, so this pretty much gets us back to our ideal weight.”

    Rookie review: Tyrone Crawford

    January, 25, 2013
    AM ET

    [+] EnlargeTyrone Crawford
    Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsTyrone Crawford could end up as the Cowboys' starting strong side defensive end if Anthony Spencer does not return.
    Tyrone Crawford

    Position: Defensive end

    How acquired: Third round (No. 81 overall), Boise State

    What he did: Crawford developed nicely as the season wore on. He was active for every game but did not record a start. He finished with 33 tackles (18 solo) and five quarterback pressures. He was not able to get to the quarterback as much, but the Cowboys liked his build for the 3-4 and position flexibility at 6-4, 285 pounds. He also saw work on special teams on the kick return unit. The coaches lauded his work ethic and saw a player become more technically sound as the year went on,

    Where he fits in the future: It's possible he could be a starting strong side defensive end, especially if Anthony Spencer is not re-signed as a free agent. He has the ability to hold up against the run and also get up the field to provide some pass rush push. Monte Kiffin's strong-side ends during his time in Tampa Bay, like a Greg Spires, were often underrated and benefited from the attention given to other players up front. Crawford will have to learn the craft as he goes, but he will have a tremendous teacher in new line coach Rod Marinelli. In order to make this scheme switch, the Cowboys are banking on players such as Crawford being able to learn on the fly as they alter their preferences in defensive linemen.