Dallas Cowboys: Mike Jenkins

Dallas Cowboys Preseason Live

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp! ESPN.com Cowboys reporters Todd Archer and Tim MacMahon have live updates and the latest news from Oxnard, California.
IRVING, Texas -- It's a week before the Dallas Cowboys arrive in Oxnard, California, for training camp and we already know just how big of a year it is for Bruce Carter.

It's been written and talked about countless times in the offseason.

[+] EnlargeDallas' Bruce Carter
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesCowboys linebacker Bruce Carter, a second-round pick by Dallas in 2011, is set to become a free agent after this season.
Carter is entering the final year of his rookie contract, set to become a free agent after the season. At one point he was viewed as a core player, vital to the future growth of the Cowboys' defense. After a frustrating 2013 season, he is not viewed that way anymore.

But it doesn't mean he can't be viewed that way again.

In 2011, Anthony Spencer was in a contract year and tied his career high with six sacks. He also had 31 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. His overall game made him a valuable player in the Cowboys' 3-4.

The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Spencer for the 2012 season.

In another contract year, Spencer had his best season, putting up a career-high 11 sacks and earning his first Pro Bowl bid.

The Cowboys put the franchise tag on him again for 2013, guaranteeing him nearly $20 million over the two seasons in which he was tagged.

Last season, he played in only one game because of a knee injury that required microfracture surgery and might keep him out of the beginning of this season. Once again he is in a contract year, having signed a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $3.5 million.

Jason Hatcher was in a contract year last year and responded with his best season. He had 11 sacks -- after putting up just 16 in his previous seven -- and was named to the Pro Bowl. His age -- he turned 32 on Sunday -- kept the Cowboys from making a play at re-signing him, but the Washington Redskins signed him to a four-year, $27.5 million deal as a free agent.

Way back in 2007, Ken Hamlin joined the Cowboys on a one-year deal. He put up a career-high five picks and was named to the Pro Bowl. Prior to the 2008 season, he signed a six-year, $39 million deal with the Cowboys that included $15 million guaranteed. He was cut after the 2009 season.

Some contract years have not been as productive. Cornerback Mike Jenkins saw the Cowboys add Brandon Carr in free agency with a $50 million deal and draft Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. Jenkins was coming off shoulder surgery, did his rehab elsewhere and started only two of 13 games in 2012. He signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Gerald Sensabaugh played on three straight one-year deals with the Cowboys from 2009-11 before cashing in at the end of the 2011 season with a five-year, $22.5 million deal that included $8 million guaranteed. He was cut after the 2012 season.

Which brings us back to Carter, the club's second-round pick in 2011.

"That's certainly a cliché thing in all of sports, that people talk about, 'He's in a contract year and he's going to take a different approach than he had up till this point,'" coach Jason Garrett said. "I don't know if I buy that with guys that I have been around. I think Bruce Carter wants to be a really good football player. I think that's independent of anything that is going on in the business side. I think getting comfortable in this scheme for the second year -- I think Sean Lee's absence will help him. It will force him to step up a little bit more. It will force Justin Durant to step up a little bit more. Sometimes you can have a player as strong as Sean Lee is -- such a great leader like Sean is -- sometimes you defer to that guy. I think it's really important for those guys to understand he's not here right now. They have to step up. They've done a better job of that throughout the OTAs and minicamp."

Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said Carter has "ramped up," the meetings with the position coach in the offseason.

"I think he's taking steps in the right direction," Eberflus said. "And he's putting the work in. He's meeting with me as much as he can. Studying the tape, giving him clear and concise goals daily for practice and he's doing a good job of attaining those goals each and every day so when he does that he takes steps in the right direction to improve his fundamentals and his game."
IRVING, Texas -- Hey, want in on a little secret? Come a little closer, OK? And be quiet.

You ready? Jerry Jones might not be as bad at drafting NFL players as many believe.

If we use Pro Bowl selections as a barometer, which can be dicey, then Jones ranks near the top of the league. Sometimes the Pro Bowl picks are injury replacements and were second-, third- or possibly fourth-alternates depending on whether the first-team picks were injured or playing in the Super Bowl.

That being said, since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted 12 players that earned Pro Bowl berths. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers have more with 13.

Since 2006, the Cowboys have had seven Pro Bowl selections come from their draft room. Only the 49ers (nine), Chiefs (nine), Denver Broncos (eight) and Minnesota Vikings (eight) have more.

Of the 2006-13 group all seven were one-time picks: Anthony Spencer (2012), Nick Folk (2007), Jason Hatcher (2013), DeMarco Murray (2013), Tyron Smith (2013), Dez Bryant (2013) and Mike Jenkins (2009).

Smith and Bryant have the best chance to be perennial Pro Bowlers.

The 2003-13 group consisted of five players and four made multiple Pro Bowl appearances: Terence Newman (two), Jason Witten (nine), DeMarcus Ware (seven), Marion Barber (one) and Jeremiah Ratliff (four).

Assessing a successful draft on Pro Bowls is not the best process, and the high number of Cowboys might show how top-heavy this team has been. Successful drafts are about finding starters in every round, or at least contributors over a four-year period, whether they sign second contracts with the team or not.

The Cowboys have been able to find Pro Bowlers, but Jones has not been good enough in being able to supplement those players with the bulk of their picks.

That’s a big reason why this team has missed the playoffs the past four seasons.

A player/coach on the Cowboys?

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
IRVING, Texas -- In terms of most valuable sports franchises in the world, the Dallas Cowboys and Manchester United are in the top five.

Manchester United was valued by Forbes at $3.17 billion, which was No. 2 behind Real Madrid. The Cowboys checked in at No. 5 at $2.1 billion.

The Red Devils' season could not have gone more poorly. David Moyes replaced the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson and the team will have its worst finish since 1992-93. Moyes was replaced in the interim by one of the club's best players in history, Ryan Giggs, who remains an active player.

Giggs will serve as a player/manager for the final four games and conceivably could get the post on a full-time basis in 2015 but this job is the premier job in soccer and the Glazer family can't just call on any of 500 coaches to win a championship. Wink, wink.

The last time the Cowboys had a player/coach was Dan Reeves from 1970-72, when he was still carrying the ball for Tom Landry and also coaching the running backs. Landry was a player/coach for the New York Giants, serving as a defensive back and defensive coordinator.

The notion of a player/coach in the NFL seems ludicrous, but just play along for a moment.

Who would be the Cowboys' player/coaches?

Quarterback Tony Romo: He has to know just about everything about the game playing his position. Ex-cornerback Mike Jenkins said Romo would give him detailed scouting reports on opposing quarterbacks before games. Some might argue he was a coach last year with his increased involvement in the game planning.

Tight end Jason Witten: There is not a more detailed oriented player on the roster. He doesn't just know how to do something, but he knows why to do something. His resume is impeccable (nine Pro Bowls). He is the hardest worker in the room. He can motivate and pull on some old Bill Parcells' ties.

Linebacker Sean Lee: Like Witten, he is detailed and works hard. He knows the linebacker positions, but he knows what the secondary and defensive line is supposed to do as well. Ex-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called him the brain of the defense two years ago. The in-game adjustments would be made quickly.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick: He is not afraid to state his opinion on all matters and he is a student of the game. He carries that chip on his shoulder from the day he arrived as a fifth-round pick in 2008 and will hold players accountable.

Left tackle Tyron Smith: He is quiet, but he would command the attention of players. He's young (just 23) but there is no questioning his talent. Knowing pass protections are a must for any head coach.

Cowboys' 1991 draft earns high marks

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
IRVING, Texas -- There was a time when the way the Dallas Cowboys ran their draft room was the envy of the league.

One of those years was back in 1991 and Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth ranked the Cowboys selecting Russell Maryland and Alvin Harper that year as ninth best on the all-time list of teams with two first-round picks.

The Cowboys actually had three first-round picks that year thanks to a deal with the Washington Redskins, but traded Kelvin Pritchett to the Detroit Lions for picks in the second, third and fourth rounds.

In Maryland, the top overall pick, the Cowboys got a vital piece to their vastly underrated defensive line. In Harper, the No. 12 pick, they got a complement to Michael Irvin who Norv Turner knew how to maximize.

In trading Pritchett, who had a solid career, the Cowboys got linebacker Dixon Edwards, guard James Richards and defensive end Tony Hill. Edwards was a starter, but Hill lasted two seasons and Richards didn’t make the team.

The Cowboys had two first-round picks in 1992, 2005 and 2008 as well.

In 1992, they took cornerback Kevin Smith (No. 17) and linebacker Robert Jones (No. 24), who became starters on Super Bowl teams. In 2005, they took outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (No. 11) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (No. 20). Ware became the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks. In 2008, the Cowboys selected running back Felix Jones (No. 22) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (No. 25). Neither signed a second contract, although Jenkins had a Pro Bowl season.

Compensatory picks could mean a lot

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
IRVING, Texas -- As easy as it has been to rail on the Dallas Cowboys' drafting over the years, the one area where the Cowboys have consistently excelled is in finding undrafted free agents.

That is why this week’s news that the Cowboys received three seventh-round compensatory picks should not be overlooked.

With the free-agent losses of Mike Jenkins, Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman and John Phillips, the Cowboys gained picks Nos. 248, 251 and 254 in the seventh round. Those picks cannot be traded, so in effect the Cowboys can guarantee landing their top targets in college free agency.

Last year, the Cowboys targeted Brandon Magee and Jakar Hamilton as undrafted free agents. Magee was guaranteed $70,000. Hamilton received a $10,000 signing bonus. Magee didn’t make the final roster, but Hamilton spent time on the active roster after opening on the practice squad.

The Cowboys also had Jeff Heath and Cameron Lawrence contribute as undrafted free agents. In 2012, they signed Ronald Leary and Cole Beasley. Leary started at left guard, and Beasley has developed into a valuable slot player. In 2011, they signed Dan Bailey and they signed him to a seven-year, $22.5 million extension this offseason. In 2010 they signed safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray. Church led the Cowboys in tackles last season.

Oh, by the way, Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent in 2003.

IRVING, Texas -- Wade Phillips has the second-best winning percentage of any coach in Dallas Cowboys' history. Better than Tom Landry's. I think Phillips might know that.

On Thursday, Phillips tweeted this:

And later followed up with this addendum:

Like most things with Phillips, he lacked context.

When Phillips took over in 2007 as head coach, he inherited a team from Bill Parcells that was ready to win. QB Tony Romo was going into his first year as a full-time starter. The defense had DE DeMarcus Ware at his best. WR Terrell Owens was putting up big numbers.

The Cowboys went 13-3 and had the best record in the NFC. Phillips was the perfect antidote to Parcells and the players responded. Well, they did to a point. The Cowboys were not the same after beating the Green Bay Packers to move to 11-1 and effectively clinch home-field advantage.

They got lucky to beat the Detroit Lions the following week. They lost two of their last three games, but they were in shutdown mode against the Washington Redskins with nothing to gain from a win.

Other than momentum they had lost.

The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants in the divisional round at Texas Stadium, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

That's basically when the Romo narrative started. Maybe you heard that Romo went to Cabo during the wild-card weekend. Did it affect the outcome of the Giants' game? Of course not, but the perception machine was rolling, and has been rolling ever since.


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You can track most of the Cowboys' woes to that lost opportunity. If they simply beat the Giants and make the NFC Championship Game, things would be different. Could they have beaten the Packers for a second time at Texas Stadium? It's the best what-if of the Romo era.

In 2008, the Cowboys acted as if they were predestined to not only make the playoffs but win the Super Bowl. Go back and watch the "Hard Knocks" episodes, and you see a team full of itself. They finished 9-7, missed the playoffs and were a mess late in the season.

Phillips could not pull it all together and looked inept as he attempted to deal with the fallout from the Adam "Pacman" Jones' incident. Phillips earned a reprieve in 2009 when Dallas posted an 11-5 record, won the NFC East title, and recorded a playoff win -- but that was the high point.

The Cowboys went 1-7 to start the 2010 season, including an embarrassing home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and a gutless loss to the Packers (45-7) the following week. After that game, Jerry Jones made the switch to Garrett, and the Cowboys are 29-27 since and have not made the playoffs.

Garrett did not inherit a team ready to win the way Phillips did in 2007. By the time Garrett took over, the Cowboys were growing old on the offensive line, and there were too many people (especially those in offices at Valley Ranch) who believed they had the best talent in the league.

The head coach of the Cowboys has tremendous sway with Jones. The Cowboys did not take Randy Moss in 1998 at least in part because then-coach Chan Gailey didn't want Moss.

On that premise, the 2008 draft -- with Dallas' two first-round picks -- was a mess because the Cowboys didn't even attempt to re-sign those first-rounders (Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins) when their contracts expired. The 2009 draft was a colossal failure in part because Jones was convinced that it could be a "special-teams draft," which is as ludicrous as the "draft for backups" the team had when Barry Switzer was the coach in 1995.

This is not in defense of Garrett. He has made plenty of mistakes on the field and in the draft.

Phillips has had a tremendous career in the NFL that has spanned decades. He is a terrific coordinator, but is he in the same conversation as guys like Dick LeBeau, or even Monte Kiffin? I'm not sure a Phillips defense scared offenses the way LeBeau's defenses in Pittsburgh and Kiffin's defenses in Tampa Bay did. Phillips was a good head coach but could not get his teams in Denver, Buffalo or Dallas past a certain point.

Phillips knows his resume inside and out. He can cite team stats and all the Hall of Famers he has coached.

He can claim his tweet was more about the number of games he and Garrett have coached, but it looked more like a passive-aggressive shot at the guy who replaced him, and a way for him to remind everybody of his record.

By the way, his winning percentage is .607. Landry had a .605 winning percentage.

Cowboys chat recap: Why the DB disconnect?

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
IRVING, Texas -- On Wednesday I had my first chat of the offseason, and it’s something we hope to feature weekly. In case you missed it, click here to take a look at what was asked and what was answered.

HappyGilmour (yes, I know that’s not his real name, but he’s asking good questions in our chats) said the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a good secondary since they had Deion Sanders, and wonders if it is that hard to evaluate cornerbacks and safeties.

Here’s what I said:

You can't say they haven't tried. They drafted Roy Williams in the first round and paid him a big contract. They gave Ken Hamlin a big deal after he made the Pro Bowl. Neither one of those contracts worked out. They drafted Terence Newman in the first round as well as Mike Jenkins and traded up to get Mo Claiborne. They signed Anthony Henry and Brandon Carr to big-time contracts. They've tried but the results have not always worked out ... or still are in the process of working out. It should not be that hard to evaluate corners and safeties, but switching schemes and having corners with certain attributes playing a different style might not have been the smartest decision.

Some of the other topics:
IRVING, Texas -- Since the Seattle Seahawks have won the Super Bowl, every team now has to copy what they did to win a title.

I’m guilty of making those comparisons the past few days. ESPN Dallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor made one today, repeating the “defense wins championships” phrase.

In order for the Dallas Cowboys to get back to Super Bowl respectability, Jerry Jones has to make defense a priority, according to my guy JJT.

I’d make the argument the Cowboys owner and general manager has made defense a priority. The investments just haven’t paid off.

In 2012, the Cowboys traded up to the sixth overall pick in the draft to take cornerback Morris Claiborne. That came a month after they gave cornerback Brandon Carr a five-year, $50 million contract. The Cowboys’ top three picks that year were defensive players.

In 2011, they drafted Bruce Carter in the second round and their only free-agent pickup that year was starting defensive end Kenyon Coleman. In 2010 they drafted Sean Lee in the second round. Last August they committed a $42 million contract to Lee.

In 2009, an ill-fated draft for sure, the Cowboys’ top pick was a linebacker. In 2008, they drafted cornerback Mike Jenkins in the first round and that came after they gave Terence Newman a $50 million contract.

In 2007, they drafted outside linebacker/defensive end Anthony Spencer in the first round. In 2012 and ’13, they used the franchise tag on Spencer, spending nearly $19 million on him. In 2006, four of their first six selections were on defensive players. In 2005, they used both first-round selections on defensive players (DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears) and four of their first five picks were used on defenders. Jay Ratliff was a seventh-round pick that year and the Cowboys signed him to two big-time contracts. The second was a colossal flop and he was released last October.

Ware received a $91 million extension in 2009. That same year they signed three defensive starters in free agency: Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh.

Defense has been a priority. They just haven’t got the return on their investments.

Who the Cowboys pick in 2008 re-draft

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
IRVING, Texas -- ESPN’s Mel Kiper recently conducted a re-draft of the first round in 2008, and Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins were not among the top 32 picks, nor were they among the 14 players he considered in the first round.

The Cowboys have had serious drafting issues over the years, but 2008 represents two misses in the first 25 picks.

The Cowboys could have had Chris Johnson, Ray Rice or Matt Forte with the 22nd overall pick but took Jones in part because he came from a two-back system in Arkansas and showed he could do more with less. Johnson has had a 2,000-yard season and has had more than 1,000 yards in every season. Rice and Forte have four 1,000-yard seasons apiece.

Jones topped out at 800 in 2010 and the Cowboys chose not to re-sign him after the 2012 season.

The Cowboys moved up to get Jenkins with the 25th pick in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.

Jenkins is remembered more for tackles he chose not to make rather than gutting out a 2011 season in which he played with a badly damaged shoulder. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 after he had five interceptions.

The Cowboys signed Orlando Scandrick to an extension in 2011 and moved up to take Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in 2012 as Jenkins rehabbed from the shoulder surgery mostly away from Valley Ranch. The Cowboys made no effort to re-sign Jenkins, and he ended up with a one-year deal from the Oakland Raiders in 2013.

Teams can’t miss on first-round picks. They have to get two contracts out of them, but the last first-round pick they have extended with a multiyear deal before the rookie deal expired was DeMarcus Ware (2005). Anthony Spencer, their first-rounder in 2007, was given the franchise tag in back-to-back years but is a free agent this March. Dez Bryant (2010) figures to break that trend soon.

Kiper had the Cowboys choosing wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who went No. 205 overall to the Indianapolis Colts, and defensive tackle Kendall Langford.

The Garcon pick is interesting because it likely would have meant the Cowboys would not have dealt for Roy Williams in the middle of the 2008 season and thus saved themselves from a disastrous deal. Langford has been solid for the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.

Fear not, however, because the Cowboys do have Kiper’s No. 24 pick on their roster. He had Brandon Carr, who was a fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, going to the Tennessee Titans. Of course, Kiper also mentioned Carr’s play the past two seasons has been “middle of the road.” Among the players Kiper also considered for the first round was wide receiver Danny Amendola, who was an undrafted free agent by the Cowboys that year.

So there’s that.

Double Coverage: Raiders at Cowboys

November, 27, 2013
Romo-RoachAP PhotoTony Romo's Cowboys host Nick Roach and the Raiders in a Thanksgiving Day duel.
IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in five years, the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders meet on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys won the 2009 matchup 24-7 with Tony Romo throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns and Miles Austin catching seven passes for 145 yards. Since that game Austin has had more yards in a game just twice.

ESPN.com's Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer bring you this week's holiday version of Double Coverage.

Todd Archer: The Cowboys are bad in most areas defensively, but they have given up 200 yards rushing in three games this season. The Raiders' strength, from afar, seems to be their running game. What makes it so good and how has it differed with Terrelle Pryor out?

Paul Gutierrez: Hey, Todd, it's not just Pryor being out, but also Darren McFadden, who has missed three straight games and four overall with a strained right hamstring. He said Monday night he hopes to play after practicing (limited) for the first time since Nov. 1. The run game, though, has not missed a beat with underrated Rashad Jennings picking up the slack. In the past four games, he has run for 413 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In fact, the running game has been so surprisingly solid without McFadden and Pryor that the play-action pass game has picked up with undrafted rookie Matt McGloin under center.

Speaking of passing games ... no doubt Tony Romo can rack up stats, but has he decided to assume more of a leadership role yet as the QB of America's Team, or is that just not in his makeup?

Archer: He has developed over the years as a leader, but there's no question that this has been "his" team the past three seasons. He is the veteran. He is the guy the Cowboys look to. The guys on this team now don't know of the Romo who burst on the scene in 2006 or had to deal with the Terrell Owens stuff. He's the guy who led the lockout practices and has been the big voice in the room. This year he has been given the added responsibility of being more involved in the game plan. The Cowboys' past two wins have come on last-minute drives led by Romo to beat Minnesota and the New York Giants. I don't think there's anybody questioning his leadership anymore. And if they did, well, the $106 million extension Jerry Jones gave him in the offseason should be more than enough proof to those guys that this is Romo's team.

Let's stick with the quarterback theme. Before the Cowboys lucked into Romo, they ran through a ton of guys after Troy Aikman's departure. Is there any reason to believe McGloin or Pryor can be a solution or do the Raiders need to go after one of these guys in next April's draft?

Gutierrez: Well, the way I put it earlier in the season, before Pryor hit his purported ceiling and sprained his right knee, robbing him of his greatest strength (running) while accentuating his biggest weakness (passing), if Pryor was not the Raiders' Mr. Right, he was their Mr. Right Now. McGloin is a pure quarterback, a pocket passer whom Dennis Allen prefers for what he wants to accomplish offensively. It's hard to give Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie much credit for their evaluation of QBs, though, what with their misses on Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson, not caring much for Pryor early on and then, similar to the Cowboys with Romo, stumbling upon McGloin. But it's hard to see them going all in with the undrafted rookie from Penn State, too. At least hard at the moment. Unless McGloin continues to improve and wins a few games, it would behoove the Raiders to draft another QB if they see one as a can't-miss prospect. I know, I know, they really wanted USC's Matt Barkley but Philadelphia traded in front of them so they traded back and selected Wilson. Oops. There is no doubt, though, that this Raiders regime prefers McGloin as a prototypical QB over the more electric Pryor.

No matter who is under center for Oakland, though, the Raiders' QB is going to have to keep an eye on DeMarcus Ware. Is he rounding back into shape as a dominant pass-rusher, or is he more decoy as he rehabs from his quad strain?

Archer: I think he's still feeling his way through it. The fact that he made it through the Giants game healthy was a plus. He has been dinged up in just about every game with stinger and back strains earlier in the season before the quadriceps injury. We'll see how he fares on a short week, but the defense is a lot better with even the threat of Ware on the field. Jason Hatcher had two sacks against the Giants at least in part because of the attention Ware received. Ware has talked about wanting to make up for lost time. He has five sacks so far, his fewest this late in a season since his rookie year in 2005. Thursday would be a good time to look like the DeMarcus Ware of old.

This game is a homecoming of sorts for guys like Mike Jenkins, Andre Gurode, Kevin Burnett and Tony Sparano, but it's a real homecoming for Dennis Allen. How is he perceived in Oakland and will McKenzie be more patient with him than, say, Al Davis would have been?

Gutierrez: The jury, so to speak, is still out on Allen in the streets of Silver and Blackdom. Of course, when the Raiders win a game, he's the man. When he loses, the fans turn on him and start pining for Jon Gruden ... again. But isn't that the nature of the beast? Even Allen himself said this was a results-oriented business. Of course, he was referring to the quarterback position at the time, but it still applies. Make no mistake about it, Allen is McKenzie's "guy" and he's going to roll with him and have patience with him. The plan coming in was to give Allen at least three years to right this ship and really, the only thing that could damage Allen's chances of lasting another year would be if the team quit on him, like it did last November before playing hard again at the end. Then again, it might not be McKenzie's choice. Owner Mark Davis is a more patient owner than his father and wants McKenzie to handle all football-related decisions. But a year after stating he was fine with just about anything but regression, Davis wants progress. Stagnancy won't cut it, either. So, stay tuned.

Sticking with the coaching theme, is Jason Garrett in Jerry World for the long haul, or was Jerry Jones' support merely the dreaded vote of confidence?

Archer: Jerry has publicly backed Garrett, but he's also been a guy who's said, "Just because I say something, doesn't mean it's true." I do know this: He wants Garrett to be the guy. He desperately wants it to work. I really believe that. He believes in Garrett's approach and how he builds a team. Garrett will provide some blow-back to Jerry but not as much as, say, a Bill Parcells. Garrett knows what makes Jerry work and knows how to work around it to a degree or push Jerry in a certain direction. Honestly, Cowboys fans should want the Garrett deal to work out because it might be the best combination to mitigate the bad parts of Jerry and keep the good parts of Jerry.

IRVING, Texas -- Mike Jenkins was one of the Dallas Cowboys' two first-round picks in 2008. He was the last Cowboys cornerback to make a Pro Bowl, earning trip in 2009.

Jenkins returns to AT&T Stadium Thursday as a member of the Oakland Raiders.

He started off a conference call on Tuesday by saying the game was a business trip but then alluded to some hard feelings.

"Once I left Dallas, everything moved on with me," Jenkins said. "It was a pleasure being out there with those guys. I had a great five years. I had a great run, no love lost. I treat them like every other team. I prepare for them, going into this game, just like it will be any other regular week."

But as the question kept coming at Jenkins the more fired up he got.

"My swagger and my confidence never left," Jenkins said. "My last few years in Dallas had nothing to do with swagger. It was more of a personal vendetta that was going on around there and I don't care too much to talk about it."

Was it the team signing Brandon Carr to a free-agent deal in 2012 worth $50 million when the team had cursory talks with his agent? Was it the team trading up to select Morris Claiborne in the first round? Did it have something to do with playing through a shoulder injury in 2011 or his recovery from it that he chose to do mostly away from Valley Ranch? The coaches?

"It had nothing to do with what was going on on the field or with swagger or anything like that," Jenkins said. "Like I said, I'm past that. I'm a year out of that franchise. Me talking about them, bringing up old stuff, I don't see the point of bringing up old fire. There's nothing like that for me to even be talking about. If you want to talk about anything, you talk about the team I'm on right now. I'm not a Dallas Cowboy, so it's kind of pointless for me to talk about those guys."

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said a "new scenery" is sometimes what a player needs.

"Rather than pay Mike we went with Brandon and felt like that was the best direction for us to go," Jones said. "Obviously quite a bit of turnover there. We liked what Orlando (Scandrick) was doing in the nickel and obviously we thought we were getting a heckuva chance to get a good player in Mo Claiborne. So it was just one of those things we made some decisions to move away from Terence (Newman) and Mike and hopefully when we get all three out there at the same time and firing on all cylinders it will pay off for us."

Orlando Scandrick ready to compete

June, 4, 2013
Nothing seems to bother slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Darren Woodson joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss why the Tampa 2 defense is easier to run than a 3-4 scheme, why he thinks the Cowboys' leaked draft board is a big deal and if RG III is doing too much talking this offseason.

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Last year, he was battling for playing time with Mike Jenkins, but Scandrick maintained his spot as the slot corner. Jenkins played more outside corner and some safety in 2012. This year, the Cowboys drafted B.W. Webb in the fourth round to possibly challenge Scandrick for playing time.

"Last year, I was supposed to be competing with Mike for the same position and this year it's something new," Scandrick said. "It doesn't affect me."

Scandrick finished the season with zero interceptions, only the second time in his career he didn't register one. Scandrick did finish with four pass breakups and two tackles for loss. However, Scandrick's season ended in November after he fractured his left hand in a loss to Washington.

"It was very frustrating, given the circumstances that happened with our team," Scandrick said. "I wasn't able to come back off injured reserve. I got a chance to sit back and reflect and see the game from a different perspective. I think it was good."

With the Cowboys moving to a 403 defense, it doesn't change Scandrick's role much. He will learn some new techniques and terminology, but this new scheme is supposed to create more turnovers.

"You don't really have it all in yet," said Scandrick, who has three career interceptions in five NFL seasons. "You learn it on the fly. It will give us a chance to make a lot of plays. I wouldn't say my role changes because the scheme is different. It's a little different for me, similar things that I did, different terminology. It will be a learning experience for me. I have to come (in) every day and take notes and re-learn a lot of things."

Random thoughts: No Mike Jenkins drama

May, 27, 2013
We have some random thoughts regarding the Cowboys.


ESPN Dallas Cowboys Insider Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett from Valley Ranch with the latest news from Cowboys OTAs.

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1. Mike Jenkins is playing with the Oakland Raiders now. But last season he was the drama the Cowboys didn't need last year. Jenkins, recovering from shoulder surgery, staged a mini-protest by refusing to showup to the organized team activities. Now, the OTAs are voluntary, but we all know what that means. Jenkins didn't show up, irked by the Cowboys signing Brandon Carr in free agency and drafting Morris Claiborne in the first round. Jenkins did show up for the mandatory veteran minicamp and all was good. This spring, there is no such drama with the Cowboys as the OTAs take shape. Josh Brent (legal issues) and Lawrence Vickers (recovering from back surgery) are the only Cowboys not around on a regular basis. You could say the only real drama during the OTAs occurred when DeMarco Murray (hamstring) missed the first day of OTAs.

2. The Cowboys are taking a wait-and-see approach with Brent's status on the roster. Brent is on the 90-man roster but isn't showing up during the OTAs, at least during the portions the media is allowed to watch. Brent has a court case in September after being charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of practice squad player Jerry Brown. The Cowboys are waiting for the NFL to rule on Brent, which won't happen until after his court case concludes. The reality is if Brent goes to jail, the NFL will suspend him during his time away. He won't count anything on the salary cap while in jail. Brent has a base salary of $630,000 something he loses this year and his cap number is $641,889. It's not a lot, but it will come off the books at some point this summer. When Brent is released, the Cowboys will retain his rights.

3. It's easy to rip the Cowboys over their previous drafts. Guess what, stop it for a moment. Take a look at the 2010 draft: Dez Bryant, the 24th overall pick and Sean Lee, the 55th overall selection, are players who will get a second contract from the team, and are projected stars. The team also selected defensive end Sean Lissemore with the 234th pick overall in the draft. Lissemore already has gotten a second contract. Of course, the team selected Brent in the supplemental draft. When you look at that entire class, there are at least four players who became contributors from seven picks. Very good.

4. It's easy to become worried about the future of the defensive line due to the ages of the starters. Only end, Anthony Spencer, is under 30. However, the backups have a future due to their ages. Tyrone Crawford is being groomed as someone who can play end and both tackle spots, Lissemore can play end and Kyle Wilber was moved from outside linebacker to end. Ben Bass and Rob Callaway will also compete for a roster spot. The other good thing about the backups, of the players mentioned, Callaway and Lissemore, are the oldest at 25. The other defensive linemen on the 90-man roster are also under 30, with the youngest being, a veteran, 29-year old Anthony Hargrove.

5. One of the biggest problems with moving the NFL draft into May is taking NFL personnel people away from their families and spending more time with someone else's child. The NFL offseason is long and grueling, everyone needs a break. I'm afraid too much time with college prospects could lead to mistakes because as one Cowboys officials told me last week, sometimes you can have too much information. Another problem with it, in regards to the Cowboys, is Jerry Jones. He values that end of season grade scouts places on prospective prospects. When it comes to draft time, Jones, sometimes leans on his coaches instead of the scouts. You have to wonder if Jones sided with the coaches over the scouts when it came to the first-round of the draft last month. Did the scouts want end Sharrif Floyd or tight end Tyler Eifert because they were highly-regarded on the board? Did the coaches say Floyd didn't fit the scheme? More time also gives the coaches more tape to study of prospective players. It's good to have as many voices as possible when it comes to the draft, but then again, maybe not.

Cost could be factor in B.W. Webb selection

April, 27, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Why pick a cornerback, like B.W. Webb, in the fourth round if you’re the Cowboys?

An old adage is you cannot have enough of them, and it’s true. The Cowboys were playing with Sterling Moore, Michael Coe, Mario Butler and LeQuan Lewis at different times in 2012 as reserves because of injuries to Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins.

And there are salary-cap implications, too.

Scandrick’s cap number is set to double from 2013 to 2014. He will count $2.816 million against the cap this year and is set to count $5.601 million against the cap in 2014 with a $3.5 million base salary next year.

The Cowboys will have salary-cap issues next year and could be in a trimming mode next March as well.

If Scandrick performs at a top level as a third corner, that is a palatable number. If he doesn’t, then the Cowboys have to start the ball rolling on a replacement in the nickel. That’s where Webb and his league minimum base salary could come in.