Dallas Cowboys: Ryan Cook

Checking in on Cowboys' free agents

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
3:45
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have lost two players in free agency – Jason Hatcher and Danny McCray – with eight players still available on the market.

DeMarcus Ware does not count as an unrestricted free-agent signing because he was released, and the Cowboys will not receive a compensatory pick in 2015.

Here is a look at the status of their remaining free agents:

RB Phillip Tanner – The Cowboys did not tender him a deal as a restricted free agent, thus allowing him to sign elsewhere. It is possible he'll return on a one-year deal at the minimum, but it is unlikely.

DE Edgar Jones – Has some value because he can play special teams. Another one-year deal at the veteran minimum or possibly a minimum-salary benefit player.

OL Ryan Cook – Did not play last year because of a back injury. His ability to play center and guard helps, but the Cowboys want to get better and younger with their reserve interior linemen.

QB Jon Kitna – He will go back to coaching high school football and teaching math.

LB Ernie Sims – Has some fans on the coaching staff, but he becomes something of a progress-stopper given the development of Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman.

DE Anthony Spencer – He is the Cowboys' most attractive remaining free agent, but where is he in his rehab from microfracture surgery? He has visited the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, but it seems that the longer he is available, the better chance he returns to the Cowboys on a short-term deal.

OL Brian Waters – The same question asked after the season remains now: Does he want to play? In order to play, he needs surgery on his triceps. He could be an emergency option later in the summer.

DE Jarius Wynn – With the signing of Jeremy Mincey, Wynn's return does not seem likely, but he has some position flexibility that the Cowboys like.

Putting value on Cowboys' free agents

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- On Thursday, Bill Polian offered up his do's and don'ts when it came to free agency.

Spencer
Hatcher
Hatcher
Today we bring you the free-agent tracker designed by Polian and fellow ESPN Insiders Gary Horton, Matt Williamson and Field Yates, and the grades assigned to the Dallas Cowboys' unrestricted free agents.

The grades also have a monetary value. An "A" player should get $6 million on average per year with guaranteed money in the first three or more years. A "B" player should get $2-$6 million on average per year with guaranteed money in the first two years or less. A "C" player should get $2 million or less on average per year with guaranteed money in the first two years or less. A "D" player should get a one-year deal at the veteran minimum.

Not surprisingly Jason Hatcher gets the highest grade with an A-minus. In the scouting report, Hatcher is "a good fit for the Tampa 2 defense. He's quick off the ball, explosive and disruptive. Hatcher shows good strength versus the run and solid power as a pass-rusher."

The A-minus grade would put Hatcher in the $4-$6 million annually range. Do the Cowboys have that kind of money to spend?

Anthony Spencer came in with a B grade, which I thought was a little surprising. The scouting reported cited his ability to play in the 3-4 as well and acknowledged his knee injury. I would doubt the Cowboys do more than a one-year deal with Spencer, but that is a big window in the $2-$6 million range.

The only other free agents with grades better than D are defensive end Edgar Jones and linebacker Ernie Sims. Jones could be back at the right price, but there will not be a rush to sign him. Sims would appear to have played in his final game as a Cowboy with the club wanting younger, cheaper depth players.

Ryan Cook, Brian Waters, Danny McCray and Jarius Wynn all carried D grades among the remaining free agents.

Cowboys free agents: Ryan Cook

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
1:00
PM ET
Ryan Cook
Position: Center/guard
Free-agent type: Unrestricted
2013 salary: $1.1 million

Summary: Cook spent the season on injured reserve with a back injury after practicing just a handful of times in training camp. In 2012, he started 11 games at center after he was acquired in a trade from Miami the week before the season opener.

Why keep him: He has position flexibility, which is always a good thing for backup offensive lineman. He has experience, which is another benefit. With Phil Costa set to count $1.75 million against the cap in 2014, Cook would be a cheaper option.

Why let him go: Preferably teams would rather go younger and cheaper on a backup offensive lineman. Costa is younger, if not cheaper. He is also coming off a back surgery. Cook is something of a progress stopper. He might be solid for a handful of games, but he will not be a long-term answer on the offensive line.

Best guess: Cook will have a chance to see what the market will bear for him. The Cowboys could bring him back at a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum salary benefit. Costa might not have the same position flexibility but he is a better fit in this zone blocking scheme than Cook if something were to happen to Travis Frederick.

A look at the Cowboys' free agents

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
12:51
PM ET
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

A look at Cowboys' season-ending injuries

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
11:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- When quarterback Tony Romo underwent season-ending back surgery Friday morning, he became the ninth Cowboys player lost for the season due to injury.

You could say it's 10 players lost if you want to throw in defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who said he hadn't recovered from a groin injury which prompted the Cowboys to release him. He subsequently signed with the Bears.

Of the other nine, Romo's departure is the biggest. A review of the injured:

Ben Bass: The defensive end was a projected backup to a unit beset by injuries. His shoulder is nearly healed and he should be ready in time for the 2014 season.

Ryan Cook: He was a longshot to make the roster, and when his back didn't heal enough for him to make the roster it was time to move on. It's doubtful that the veteran offensive lineman returns.

Tyrone Crawford: A torn Achilles in the first week of training camp ended the defensive end's season quickly and put the Cowboys in a bind at defensive line. Crawford is now doing on-the-field rehab work, so he should be good for offseason workouts.

Lance Dunbar: Injuries hampered his season. He was just starting to make an impact when he injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the Thanksgiving Day win over Oakland. The Cowboys like the running back's change-of-pace ability, and he should be given a chance to regain that role in 2014.

Justin Durant: The veteran just couldn't recover in enough time from a hamstring injury to help the linebacker corps. Durant was signed to play the strong side and he had good moments, but his health got in the way of making more of an impact.

Matt Johnson: Johnson hasn't played a down in his first two seasons. A hamstring issue his rookie season and an ankle injury late in training camp put him on the shelf. The Cowboys have to make a decision on whether it's worth keeping the safety around.

Tony Romo: The starting quarterback was knocked around at times this season but he showed an amazing level of toughness to finish the game at Washington last week while his back was throbbing. Romo is projected to return in time for the OTAs.

Anthony Spencer: Spencer's knee bothered him during training camp and the projected starter at defensive end underwent microfracture surgery after playing in just one game. He becomes a free agent after the season, so it will be interesting if the Cowboys offer him a deal.

Brian Waters: The veteran guard was a solid contributor in the five games he started before a torn triceps ended his season. Waters is unsure about whether he wants to play again. He turns 37 on Feb. 18, and the Cowboys might pass on giving him another contract.

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
12:30
PM ET
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.

PODCAST
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.

Dallas Cowboys release nine players

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
3:20
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys released nine players, placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, making him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season, and moved defensive end Tyrone Crawford and guard/center Ryan Cook to injured reserve Tuesday afternoon to trim their roster to 75.

PODCAST
Darren Woodson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss accountability at Valley Ranch and what he expects to see from the 2013 Dallas Cowboys.

Listen Listen
Quarterback Nick Stephens, wide receivers Anthony Amos, Eric Rogers and Jared Green, guard Dennis Godfrey, tight end Colin Cochart, linebacker Deon Lacey, kicker Brett Maher and cornerback Brandon Underwood were cut.

Releasing three wide receivers and Stephens were the biggest surprises prior to the final preseason game on Thursday against the Houston Texans. The Cowboys will go into Thursday's preseason finale with Alex Tanney as the only quarterback who will play against the Texans.

Traditionally, the starters don't play in the final preseason game, but with three quarterbacks on the roster, expect backup Kyle Orton to be available to play in case Tanney gets hurt during the game.

At the start of training camp, the Cowboys had 11 receivers on the roster. With the expectations that starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant won't play on Thursday, the Cowboys will have at least six receivers active for the game and it's undetermined how much Cole Beasley will play. He just returned to the practice field this week after missing last week with a sore knee.

The next cut-down date for the Cowboys is Saturday where they have to trim the roster to 53.

5 Wonders: Look at a possible trade

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys have one more preseason game to go, Thursday against Houston, but since they’re not playing their starters, we’re not wondering much about what will happen.

This week’s Five Wonders touches on a potential trade decision, Jason Witten's blocking as well as Tony Romo’s accuracy.

On to the Wonders:

PODCAST
Stretch Smith joins Galloway and Company to discuss five positive and five negative things he took away from the Cowboys' fourth preseason game.

Listen Listen
** Let’s talk trade. Not a big trade, but just something I’m wondering about with the Cowboys as they start the process of trimming the roster and possibly looking at players from other teams. I wonder if the Cowboys could look to move defensive end Sean Lissemore. This isn’t to say they should trade him or that he has had a poor camp and won’t get a spot on the 53-man roster. Lissemore signed a four-year extension with the Cowboys that included $3.17 million in guaranteed money last season. I think he’s a good, solid role player. He just might not be the best fit for a 4-3 defense. The Cowboys need help on the offensive line, but to expect major moves at this time of the year is just not realistic. You’re talking about acquiring a player like Ryan Cook, who was picked up last year from Miami a week before the season for a seventh-round pick. Lissemore’s age, friendly contract and ability to play a couple of spots might be able to bring some value in return to the Cowboys where they need it most.

** Jason Witten set a record for catches by tight ends in a season with 110 last year. Even more remarkable is the fact that he had only eight catches after the first three games. But I wonder if the Cincinnati game is a sign that things might change in 2013. Of Tony Romo’s 18 passes against the Bengals, Witten stayed in pass protection eight times. That’s a high percentage. With his backups, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar and Dante Rosario, not known for their blocking perhaps Witten will find himself helping the line more than he has in the past. Over the last five seasons Witten has averaged 92 catches a year. In 2011 he caught 79 passes for 942 yards and five touchdowns. While still a very good season, those are not typical Witten numbers, but I wonder if that is the neighborhood he will be in this year.

** Tony Romo is something of a tech-junkie. The quarterback kind, anyway. He likes to tinker with his mechanics the way a golfer tinkers with his swing in an attempt to find a better release point, better footwork, better whatever. Romo has hinted at arm angle changes this summer that have been able to hold up in his work in the preseason. He completed 72 percent of his preseason passes (26 of 36 in three games). And it wasn’t like he was throwing a ton of short throws to Jason Witten or his running backs. So I’m wondering if Romo will set a career high in completion percentage this season. His previous best for a full season is 66.3% in 2011. He completed 69.5% in five-plus games in 2010 before a broken collarbone ended his season. Troy Aikman holds the Cowboys’ team record at 69.1% in 1993.

** I wonder if the Cowboys are putting too much faith in Ronald Leary. This has nothing to do with Leary’s ability to return rather quickly from a knee scope or not. This has to do with Leary having not played in a game yet and the fact that he was an undrafted free agent a year ago who spent most of the season on the practice squad. Leary was decent in his preseason work before needing the surgery but the Cowboys’ flirtations with Brandon Moore and Brian Waters were about Leary, at least to a degree. Leary might be the Cowboys’ best option but the bar should be higher than comparing him to Nate Livings.

** Through four preseason games the Cowboys have nine takeaways: five interceptions and four fumbles. Last year the Cowboys forced only 16 turnovers on the season. They had nine in their first nine games. I wonder how many games it will take the Cowboys this season to force nine turnovers. The ability to turn the emphasis of taking the ball away into actually taking the ball away is impressive. The Cowboys did similar drills with Rob Ryan, Paul Pasqualoni, Wade Phillips, Brian Stewart and Mike Zimmer at defensive coordinator but they were hardly ever able to see the fruits of that work during games. The quarterbacks the Cowboys face in the first four games of the season – Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers - threw 48 interceptions last season. Smith has thrown just 10 picks in his last 25 starts and is playing for a new coach in Kansas City.

A look at Cowboys possible cuts

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
1:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- By Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys will have to make 13 roster moves to get to the 75-player limit.

While some teams will make the moves before the deadline, the sense is the Cowboys will not be announcing their cuts on Sunday, so we’ll take some educated (stop laughing) guesses.

The only lock is that defensive end Tyrone Crawford will be moved to injured reserve as he recovers from a torn Achilles. He was hurt in the first training camp practice but if the Cowboys had put him on IR before the cut to 75, they would have had to expose him to waivers, and he would have been claimed. This move keeps Crawford with the team.

With the starters not playing, with perhaps some exceptions, you have to keep numbers at certain spots over others. Running back Kendial Lawrence might not make the team, but if he is cut, then Dallas has two backs ready for Thursday in Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle because of Lance Dunbar’s foot injury.

Another question is at quarterback. Do the Cowboys keep Nick Stephens and play him versus Houston on Thursday and sit Alex Tanney? As we look at the 12 remaining moves, we’ll go with the idea that Stephens will be around.

Possible cuts:

Wide receiver: Anthony Amos, Eric Rogers, Jared Green. If Cole Beasley is healthy, then the Cowboys would have six receivers to play against the Texans. That’s enough to get through the game. If Beasley isn’t healthy, then Rogers could be kept. Rogers and Green could be brought back to the practice squad after the final cuts on Aug. 31.

(Read full post)

Rapid reaction: Cowboys 24, Bengals 18

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
10:00
PM ET


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys had a hard time getting much of an advantage at Cowboys Stadium with a 17-15 regular-season record in the $1.2 billion home.

Playing under the AT&T Stadium name for the first time, the Cowboys were able to overcome a tepid start to beat Cincinnati 24-18.

What it means: The Cowboys got what they wanted in their final showing of the preseason from their regulars on offense and defense.

The Cowboys have not played their starters in the last preseason game since 2006, and Jason Garrett will not want to risk the likes of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr on Thursday against Houston.

To avoid their first losing preseason since 2001, however, the Cowboys will have to beat the Texans.

First-team offense gets in end zone: In their first five drives of the preseason, the Romo-led offense failed to get in the end zone. They started 0-for-2 on Saturday before Bryant took matters into his own hands with five catches on a 12-play drive that ended with Romo hitting Bryant on a bullet fade over cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

The Cowboys closed the first half with an eight-play drive that covered 52 yards with Miles Austin being the featured target. Austin had a 23-yard gain on a third-and-6 and closed the drive with a 12-yard score going across the back of the end zone for a Romo throw.

Offensive line moves: For the fourth time in four preseason games, the Cowboys rolled out a different combination on the offensive line with Doug Free playing right guard, Jermey Parnell at right tackle and Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard. Only left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick played in their original positions.

Romo was sacked on the first play of the game for an 8-yard loss and the running game averaged only 2.5 yards per carry in the first half. The first-team line played a series into the third quarter before calling it a night.

Will this be the combination the Cowboys roll out for the Sept. 8 opener against the New York Giants? Possibly, if Ronald Leary is unable to return from surgery to his right knee. The Cowboys are confident Leary, who has never played in a game, can return in time, but they might choose to go with this grouping.

Defense continues to take it away: The offseason emphasis continued with two first-half takeaways from a defense that might bend but has yet to break.

For the third time in four preseason games, the Cowboys came up with a takeaway on their first drive of the game. Safety Barry Church poked the ball free from wide receiver Marvin Jones and cornerback Brandon Carr came up with the loose ball at the Dallas 4.

In the second quarter, rookie cornerback B.W. Webb came up with a pick of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on a seam throw to receiver Mohamed Sanu. Undrafted safety Jeff Heath forced a fumble in the third quarter.

The first-team defense did not allow a touchdown in three preseason appearances totaling roughly three quarters.

Digital board gets plunked: In the first football game at AT&T Stadium, on Aug. 21 2009, Tennessee’s A.J. Trapasso hit the center-hung digital board with a punt. It was not hit again by a punt until Saturday, when Cowboys punter Chris Jones hit it in the first quarter.

There have been 274 regular-season punts at AT&T Stadium since its opening that have not hit the board.

It might bear watching this year.

On Jones’ re-kick, Cincinnati’s Brandon Tate scored a 75-yard touchdown for the Bengals’ only first-half points.

Who didn’t play: Cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) missed his fourth straight preseason game -- and third because of injury -- but the hope is that he can practice some next week and possibly play in Thursday’s finale against Houston. WR Cole Beasley (foot), RB Lance Dunbar (foot), S Matt Johnson (foot), S Eric Frampton (calf), LB Brandon Magee (concussion), LB Ernie Sims (groin), OL Ryan Cook (back), OG Ronald Leary (knee), OG Nate Livings (knee) and DE Anthony Spencer (knee) did not dress for the game.

What’s next?: The Cowboys will have to pare down their roster from 88 to 75 by Tuesday’s deadline, two days before they play their fifth and final preseason game of the summer. Former head coach Wade Phillips (2007-10) makes his return to AT&T Stadium on Thursday as Houston’s defensive coordinator. The final cut to 53 players is Aug. 31.

Brandon Magee suffers concussion

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
9:19
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – Cowboys rookie linebacker Brandon Magee will not play Saturday against Cincinnati after suffering a concussion in Monday’s practice.

It is possible Magee will not be able to play in the preseason final against Houston on Aug. 29. Wide receiver Terrance Williams suffered a concussion on Aug. 2 and missed the first two preseason games. Magee led the Cowboys with six tackles last week against Arizona.

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore returned to the practice field Tuesday after a 10-day absence because of a groin injury suffered during training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Lissemore played in the first two preseason games.

Lance Dunbar (foot), Cole Beasley (foot), Ryan Cook (back), Ronald Leary (knee), Nate Livings (knee), Morris Claiborne (knee), J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson (foot), Eric Frampton (calf), Ernie Sims (groin), Jay Ratliff (hamstring, hernia) and Anthony Spencer (knee) are not practicing.

Dunbar (foot) may miss Cowboys' opener

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
9:24
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – Running back Lance Dunbar suffered a sprained left foot that could keep him out of the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

Dunbar, who is expected to be a big part of the offense as a third-down back, is in a protective boot and could need 3-4 weeks to return, according to a source. Dunbar had a 43-yard catch against Arizona on Saturday but fumbled at the end of the play. He returned to the game and did not mention being hurt in the locker room after the 12-7 loss to the Cardinals.

Wide receiver Cole Beasley suffered a sprained foot on Aug. 9 at Oakland and has yet to return to practice. Running back DeMarco Murray missed six games last year with a sprained foot.

The Cowboys welcomed back guards Kevin Kowalski (knee) and Ray Dominguez (shoulder) to the practice field, increasing their interior line depth.

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

Listen Listen
Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox remains away from the team following the death of his mother last week in Cairo, Ga.

Also sitting out: Morris Claiborne (knee), Matt Johnson (foot), Eric Frampton (calf), Ernie Sims (groin), Alex Albright (impending back surgery), Toby Jackson (groin), Anthony Spencer, Travis Chappelear, Jay Ratliff, Beasley, Ryan Cook (back), Ronald Leary (knee) and Nate Livings (knee).

First-team O-line sees extended action

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
8:59
PM ET
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray might have played only three series Saturday at Arizona, but that wasn’t the case for the first-team offensive line.

Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free played a series into the third quarter. Arkin played even longer.

“We’ve just been limited,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We anticipated them playing certainly the whole first half when Tony and Kyle [Orton] were in there. We were going to give them one more series because we don’t have that many guys. It was good to give them a chance to play next to each other.”

Jermey Parnell went through pregame warmups but did not dress for the game after practicing for just a few days last week in Oxnard, Calif. Ronald Leary (knee), Nate Livings (knee), Ryan Cook (back), Ray Dominguez (shoulder) and Kevin Kowalski (knee) did not dress for the game.

The entire starting offense should play into the third quarter Thursday against Cincinnati at AT&T Stadium.

Stock Report: Armstrong up; O-line down

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
12:00
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- This is our final Stock Report of training camp from Oxnard. Who's moving up and who's moving down?

Streaking
STOCK UP

Anthony Armstrong: The Cowboys are expected to keep five wide receivers but Armstrong is making a case for six. The sixth receiver has to play special teams -- something he's capable of doing -- and, if needed, catch some passes, which Armstrong has done consistently. He's on the bubble right now and the next three preseason games will determine his fate.

James Hanna: It's easy to watch Jason Witten everyday in practice and marvel at his greatness. The backup tight end, however, is also putting in the work. Hanna didn't miss a step when he returned from a hamstring injury and has kept Gavin Escobar (more on him later) with the second-team offense in the 12 personnel groupings.

SportsNation

Who should be the next player inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor?

  •  
    30%
  •  
    9%
  •  
    28%
  •  
    11%
  •  
    22%

Discuss (Total votes: 18,119)

Jermey Parnell: After he returned from his hamstring injury, the right tackle was inserted with the second-team offense and continued his aggressive play. The Cowboys' coaches like how he pass blocks with an aggressive nature, and his athletic ability to reach the second level quickly is an added bonus. He's on track to become the swing tackle.

Jeff Heath: The undrafted rookie safety from Saginaw Valley State could make this team because of his special teams play. While the Cowboys want more starters on the unit, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is open to playing the best players. Heath still needs work in the passing game, but he's got a toughness on special teams that could get him on the 53-man roster.

Bruce Carter: It's very easy to talk about Sean Lee's work at middle linebacker, but Carter has done a solid job as the weakside linebacker. His quickness to the ball helps in pass coverage and he's a physical presence in the run game. If Lee goes down, the Cowboys are confident in Carter's abilities to take over the defense.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Gavin Escobar: The rookie tight end is struggling to block and missed an opportunity to pass Hanna, who was out a week with a hamstring injury, on the depth chart. The 249-pound Escobar needs to put on more weight as his thin frame hurts him as a blocker. He can improve, but it's going to take some time.

Offensive line: This isn't because of the play, but the injuries. Ronald Leary went down with a right knee injury and needs surgery. Nate Livings, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook and Ray Dominguez are all out with injuries. The Cowboys are trying to upgrade the talent by signing Brian Waters, who hasn't played in a year.

Matt Johnson: Injuries have derailed Johnson's career as he enters his second year having yet to play in an NFL regular-season game. This time, Johnson has a stress reaction in his foot. His status for the season opener is in doubt, but you have to wonder how long the Cowboys are willing to wait.

Jay Ratliff: The defensive tackle won't practice in California as he recovers from hamstring and groin injuries. Ratliff is a talented player but his health seems to be betraying him. The Cowboys are confident he'll play at least one preseason game.

Ryan Cook: The Cowboys need the veteran center/guard more than ever with the injuries to the interior line. Cook hasn't recovered from a back injury and he's got two preseason games left -- he won't play Saturday at Arizona -- to prove he can make the roster.

Cowboys hope Leary can make quick return

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
3:05
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- The typical recovery from arthroscopic surgery is two to four weeks, but the Dallas Cowboys believe left guard Ronald Leary will need closer to two weeks than four once he has the operation on his right knee Friday.

PODCAST
ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly segment to discuss the latest on Tom Brady's injury and Cowboys training camp in Oxnard.

Listen Listen
“We don’t think it’s too serious,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We think it can get cleaned up and he can get back on the practice field in a couple of weeks. We take those things day by day, and hopefully it is what we think it is and we’ll get it resolved.”

If it takes two weeks, then Leary would miss the final two preseason games against Cincinnati (Aug. 24) and Houston (Aug. 29), but it would allow him at least seven days of practice leading into the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

It is a setback for a line that has not been able to build continuity throughout the summer because of injuries. Last year’s starting left guard, Nate Livings, is recovering from knee surgery. Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau missed the early part of training camp with a hamstring injury suffered in the conditioning test.

Jermey Parnell, Demetress Bell, Ryan Cook, Kevin Kowalski and Ray Dominguez have also missed time because of injuries.

“We just keep moving on,” offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. “I’m used to this. Don’t blink. Don’t flinch. Keep moving.”

But Callahan feels bad for Leary, who took most of the first-team reps in the offseason because of Livings’ absence due to a sore knee.

“He was really making tremendous progress,” Callahan said. “We just want to pick up where he left off when he comes back. He showed a lot of promise. He’s a guy who can fill that position well. We’re two guards down at that spot, we’ll have to see what we do going forward. We really haven’t finalized anything.”

The Cowboys have been linked to Brian Waters once the deal for veteran Brandon Moore fell apart, but the waiting game continues.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider