Dallas Cowboys: Dallas

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' Dwayne Harris didn't figure it would take this long to find a rhythm on punt returns, but he's glad it has finally happened.

Harris has had two returns of more than 20 yards in the last four games, and he had an apparent punt return for a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty against the Chicago Bears.

"They're doing their job," Harris said of his blockers, "and that makes my job easier. It's going pretty good right now."

Jason Garrett said Harris, averaging 9.8 on 24 returns, has been returning more aggressively the past few weeks. Garrett wants him heading upfield quickly instead of running sideways looking for a big return.

"I feel like we've made better returns lately and that has a lot to do with that unit playing together more over the course of the season," Garrett said, "and Dwayne is just really doing a good job with the returns."


IRVING, Texas — On paper, Chicago has a formidable offense with Jay Cutler at quarterback, big, physical receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte.

But they’re middle-of-the-pack statistically.

Chicago ranks 15th in third-down efficiency (41.9 percent), 20th in total yardage (340.1 per game), 21st in points (21.1) and 26th in rushing (93.2 yards per game).

But every time they play the Cowboys recently, the Bears’ offense has been prolific. They’re 3-0 against Dallas since 2010 and their quarterbacks have passed for 900 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

Last season, Josh McCown threw for 348 yards, Forte rushed for 102 yards and Marshall had 100 yards receiving in a 45-28 blowout victory for Chicago.

In 2012, Cutler threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 140.1, third-highest of his career. Marshall caught seven passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

In 2010, Cutler threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns and a passer rating of 136.7, the seventh-highest of his career

With the way the Cowboys are playing defense right now, which isn’t very good, you wonder how they’re going to stop the Bears.

Cutler gets a lot of criticism, but he has 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season. If he gets time, as the Cowboys have seen, then he’s more than capable of shredding this defense.

“These guys are big, strong, tough guys. They go up really well and catch the ball,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “But I go back to the tight end [Jimmy Graham] at New Orleans, another big, tall guy, and we went out and did a really good, solid job.

“We can do it, we just have to go in and have our coverages correct and the rush has got to help.”

Good luck relying on the Cowboys’ pass rush. Dallas has 19 sacks this season. Only four teams have fewer.


Romo, Murray return to practice

October, 16, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- Quarterback Tony Romo returned to practice as did running back DeMarco Murray, left tackle Tyron Smith and defensive end Anthony Spencer.

 Each is expected to play Sunday against the New York Giants.

Romo usually misses Wednesday practices to do additional back exercises so he can be at his best on Sunday. Romo also suffered bruised ribs and an ankle injury against Seattle.

Murray, who leads the NFL in rushing (785) and carries (159) had a stomach virus that kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Garrett said the Cowboys, as you would expect, will continue to feature Murray and look for ways to get Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar more involved.

Tyron Smith tweaked his ankle against Seattle, but Garrett said a MRI “was a positive for us.” He is expected to play against the Giants.

Spencer, who usually doesn’t practice on Fridays to manage his knee, returned to practice, and there’s a chance he practices Friday just to make sure he gets in two days of on-field work this week.

Bruce Carter (quadriceps) and Doug Free (foot) were the only players to miss practice and neither is expected to play Sunday against the Giants.

Cowboys sign tight end Dante Rosario

June, 3, 2013
The Cowboys continued to show the importance they are placing on the tight end position by signing veteran Dante Rosario on Monday.

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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Rosario has played for four teams since Carolina took him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He caught 10 passes for 95 yards last season in San Diego. He has 99 catches for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns for his career.

He visited the Cowboys last week.

To make room for Rosario the Cowboys waived tight end Paul Freedman, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in April.

The Cowboys have Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Colin Cochart, Andre Smith and Rosario at tight end on the roster.

Cowboys' Britt Brown honored

February, 24, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Cowboys associate athletic trainer Britt Brown was named the winner of the NFC’s assistant trainer of the year award, given out by the league’s athletic trainers.

Head athletic trainer Jim Maurer presented Brown, who has been with the team for 17 years, the award at the NFL scouting combine. The award takes into account the athletic trainer’s work and his contributions to the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. Since 1995, Brown has coordinated the PFATS Ethnic Minority Scholarship.

“We have a great staff and so for me to win that, there’s so many guys that deserve the award that it easily could’ve done to (assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither) too,” Brown said. “It’s a staff thing I feel like.”

Brown said the award did not have to do with the season. The Cowboys had a number of injuries in 2012 that led to 11 guys being placed on injured reserve, including five defensive starters. Jay Ratliff had late-season sports hernia surgery and was not placed on injured reserve. Nose tackle Josh Brent finished the year on the non-football injury list.

Brown serves as the Cowboys’ director of rehabilitation and the players often joke that a session with Brown is worse than practicing.

“A love-hate relationship? It is,” Brown joked. “But I think ultimately they feel like I’m taking care of them because I’ve got their best interests. Like it or not they have to go through me to get back to practice. If I’m not looking out for them and requiring them to prove to me they’re OK, they’ll just get thrown back out there. Guys know in order to get back to practice they have to show they can do it. I think they feel like there’s checks and balance there.”

The hate for Tony Romo

February, 9, 2013
Forbes released America's Most Disliked Athletes this past week, and I was surprised to see Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on the list.

Romo is 10th.

ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer joins Coop and Nate to discuss the Cowboys' salary cap situation and Tony Romo.

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The interesting thing about Romo is his off-the-field antics have been nothing to worry about. He plays soccer and basketball in the offseason, has had a few celebrity girlfriends, visited Cabo during the bye week of the playoffs in 2007, and last year donated $1 million to Dr. Tony Evans' Urban Alternative to help raise money for a national Church Adopt-A-School initiative.

He's never been in trouble with the law. Never been popped for PEDs. He's played in pain and challenges his teammates in private and in public settings.

So why the hate?

Romo plays for America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, and with that comes expectations. Since becoming the starter in 2006, Romo has won one playoff game and is 1-6 in win-or-go-home games.

Some of Romo's biggest disappointments have been on national television -- most recently, his three-interception game in the regular season finale at the Washington Redskins with a playoff berth on the line.

It's a hard life, but until Romo pushes his team to a deep playoff berth, some fans might hate him.

If you judge Romo on a small sample, 2010-12, he is one of 14 NFL quarterbacks with over 10,000 passing yards. He's thrown for 10,692 yards -- 11th most in the NFL -- and his 70 touchdown passes ties him for eighth among QBs from 2010-12. Romo has also thrown 81 passes of 25 or more yards -- eighth most in the league. That's more than Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

The problem, of course, whether it's Romo's fault or not, is he plays for the Cowboys, and the expectations are high for this team. Until Romo gets a Super Bowl, they will continue to be. And at 33 when the 2013 season starts in September, time is starting to run out on him.

One of the most hated? That's unfair to Romo. He is a good quarterback and just hasn't won the big enough game to get his team to the Super Bowl.

Mike Jenkins to have shoulder checked out

July, 27, 2012
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are not sure when Mike Jenkins will be able to practice in training camp because of offseason shoulder surgery, but they could have a better idea after the cornerback gets a checkup next week.

Jenkins is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews next week to have his surgically-repaired shoulder examined, according to multiple sources.

The Cowboys placed Jenkins on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday. He will need to pass a physical before he is cleared to practice. If he is goes on the reserve/PUP list when the Cowboys have to cut down to 53 players, then he would miss the first six games of the season.

Jenkins played most of last season with a shoulder injury but wore a harness for extra protection. He had an extensive surgery in January and chose to do his rehab in Florida, skipping the team’s voluntary offseason program. The team urged him to remain at Valley Ranch following the June mini-camp but he returned to Florida.

Jenkins went through conditioning and rehab work in the three days of work this week and will fly with the team to Oxnard, Calif., on Saturday. He has not spoken with the media about his status.

Jenkins requested a trade earlier this offseason, but the Cowboys declined. In free agency the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million deal and took cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 6 overall pick in the April draft.

Jenkins, who is entering the final year of his contract, has started 43 of the last 44 games he has played and made the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season. He has eight career interceptions.
When the Cowboys pick at No. 14 in the first round, there will be a host of players the team will choose from.

Dallas could pick a cornerback, guard, safety or pass rusher.

What type of player will the Cowboys get at No. 14?

Last year, Tyron Smith was the ninth overall selection. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones wanted a player who could make an impact. Smith started 16 games at right tackle and when the season was over it was announced he would move to left tackle for the 2012 season.

This year?

ESPN's Todd McShay breaks down prospective prospects into tiers, and he's got the Cowboys at No. 14 selecting from the third tier of players.

You have to be an ESPN Insider to read it but here's a sampling of the players Dallas should be looking at: Ryan Tannehill, QB; Quinton Coples, DE; Michael Brockers, DT; David DeCastro, G; Stephon Gilmore, CB.

There are 12 players McShay has between picks 10-20 (the third tier).

It's a good list of players, which begs another question: Should the Cowboys remain at No. 14 or trade down?
This is the second installment of fixing the Cowboys.

Fixing Cowboys
1. One of the main things the Cowboys front office will do when it looks at draft picks is find players who force turnovers in the secondary. The problem with veteran cornerback Terence Newman is that he doesn't make enough plays on the ball. And while he was tied for the team-lead with four interceptions, he didn't have one the last seven weeks of the season and was credited with only one pass breakup the last five weeks of the year.

Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick, who battled injuries along with Newman, combined for just two picks. Inside linebacker Sean Lee was tied with Newman for the team lead.

That's fine, but in a pass-happy NFL, the corners and safeties need to not only knock passes down, but pick them off to take some pressure off the offense. It's easy to say the Cowboys need a shutdown corner, everybody in the NFL does, but they're not growing on trees. So the Cowboys have to find secondary players who make plays on the ball. Playmakers.

[+] EnlargeThomas Mayo
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesThe Cowboys could use more depth at wide receiver, and California's (Pa.) Thomas Mayo, who is working out at the East-West Shrine game this week, is one to watch.
2. Beef up the offensive line. It doesn't matter if you do it in the draft or free agency, the Cowboys have to get stronger here. The tackles are fine with Doug Free and Tyron Smith, but the interior of the offensive line struggled with health and play.

The Cowboys started three different left guards, Derrick Dockery, Bill Nagy and Montrae Holland, and if they had made the playoffs would have missed Kyle Kosier, who suffered a torn MCL in the last regular-season game.

Center Phil Costa started every game, but Kevin Kowalski earned praise from the coaching staff when he came in for a nicked up Costa. Kosier's age, 33, and health, he also had a foot problem, leads you to believe he might not be with the Cowboys in 2012.

It's time for the Cowboys to get younger at the guard positions and they've done that with Nagy and Kowalski, but drafting another guard in the second or third rounds won't hurt. New offensive line coach Bill Callahan is good with younger players and if that's the case, the Cowboys should improve in this area.

3. If the Cowboys don't re-sign Laurent Robinson, there is trouble at the wide receiver position. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, when healthy, are major threats in the passing game. After that, there is concern.

The Cowboys might not use a first-round pick on a wide receiver, but at some point they need to get another one. Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes and Raymond Radway are the returning receivers and all need more playing time.

Jesse Holley and Kevin Ogletree have reached their ceiling with the Cowboys and most likely won't return.The Cowboys value receivers coach Jimmy Robinson and his work with young players, much like they did with former receivers coach Ray Sherman. Robinson has done a good job with Holmes, who the Cowboys wanted to promote to the active roster in early December, but a hamstring injury prevented it from happening sooner. Holmes has good speed and gave the defense a good look on the scout team.

But the Cowboys need Robinson. What to pay him is a question that must be answered in March. If the Cowboys don't have Robinson, depth at wide receiver is lacking. One receiver to watch out for is California's (Pa.) Thomas Mayo, who is working out at the East-West Shrine game this week.

4. Draft a quarterback. This is nothing against Tony Romo, but he has two-years left on his contract and Stephen McGee is the backup and doesn't appear ready to become a No. 1 quarterback in this league.

The Cowboys window to win a title with Romo is growing short, so drafting a quarterback in the second round not only raises the competition level at the position, it also sends a message to the rest of the team. Everybody is expendable.

The Cowboys won't have a shot at Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden are projected as late first-round to middle second-round selections. The Cowboys do have plenty of holes on the roster, but they've done a poor job in taking care of their depth. Getting a young quarterback with potential adds to the roster.

5. Anthony Spencer might leave the Cowboys this spring with a new contract from a different team. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't get too worried, there are plenty of outside linebackers in the draft and that pool might get bolstered if some underclassmen come out.

But Kyle Wilber (Wake Forest), Brandon Lindsey (Pittsburgh), Andre Branch (Clemson) and Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma) are some names to look out for. If DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff are going to survive the season without getting worn down, adding to the pass rush only helps.

Which team is king of the hill in DFW?

October, 23, 2011
With the success and popularity of the local sports teams, ESPNDallas.com debates which Dallas-Fort Worth area team is the king of the hill. What do you think?