Beat Writers Report: Signing John Abraham

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
12:00
PM ET
After three weeks we have some thoughts on the Cowboys in our weekly Beat Writers Report.

*During training camp, a fan asked me if the Cowboys should sign pass-rusher John Abraham. I told the fan no, and at that time, Abraham was a free agent. The fan reasoned that with Tyrone Crawford out for the season with a torn Achilles and Anthony Spencer recovering from knee surgery there was a need. I disagreed at the time, saying Spencer and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff would return in time for the season opener. I was wrong. Spencer most likely is done for the season after it was revealed Tuesday he might need knee surgery again and Ratliff won't return until mid-season. In fact, while coach Jason Garrett said Ratliff is rehabbing from his groin injury, it's still unclear when he'll actually play in a game. The Cowboys probably should have signed Abraham. It's easy to second guess the decision now, but given Abraham's pass-rush skills, he can play defensive end in a 4-3 and outside linebacker in a 3-4, he adds versatility to the defense. DeMarcus Ware is standing up in some formations in the Monte Kiffin 4-3 defense, and Abraham could have done the same thing. Abraham is now Arizona and has three tackles in three games playing outside linebacker.

Murray
*DeMarco Murray was called many things last week, but when a few people outside of the organization said he couldn't make defenders miss, it raised some eyebrows. If you take the first quarter of the St. Louis game, Murray made seven defenders miss tackles, including using a stiff arm and running through some arm tackles. Murray, who finished with 175 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown, isn't the fastest player in the world, but he's quick and isn't afraid of contact. Murray does have good vision, but like most running backs, sometimes he misses holes. Those things get magnified when the run game struggles, which it did in Week 2 at Kansas City. The offensive line building chemistry also helped the Cowboys in the run attack last week.

*Rookie tight end Gavin Escobar is listed at 249 pounds, but he looks like he's 230, but I'm no expert at this. To be honest, Escobar, if he's currently at 249 pounds, is a slim 249, his 6-foot-6 frame, is more suited for basketball instead of being a NFL tight end. His thin frame makes it hard for him to hold blocks, which was the case on a Murray run in the first half where Escobar failed to hold the block allowing the defender to force the running back out of bounds. Escobar is a pass-catching tight end, and his lack of arm strength prevents him from being a consistent blocker in the run game. It will take time for Escobar to bulk up and gain strength. "We believe he'll get bigger and stronger as he's in our program as a professional athlete," coach Jason Garrett said, "instead of going to class and some of the other things you have in college. It's not going to happen overnight, it's going to happen over a period of time. He needs to get himself ready to play the way he's capable of playing, right now. We don't want to make his emphasis, 'Escobar put 15 pounds on before the end of the week.' That's not what we're trying to do. He's gotta play and he's gotta play football. We got to give him a chance to be successful by asking him to do things he's capable of doing."

Rivers
*When the Cowboys scrimmaged the San Diego Chargers last year, there was some funny trash talk between quarterback Philip Rivers and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. During a two-minute drill, Rivers scrambled for a touchdown and spiked the ball. Scandrick yelled at Rivers, who walked back to the sideline smiling. Scandrick meets up with Rivers Sunday in San Diego and it will be interesting to see if the trash talk will continue between the two. Garrett said Scandrick, who has played well this season, plays with a chip on his shoulder that's more like a boulder. An example of this was in practice last week when during one-on-one drills, designed for the offense to win the battle, Garrett wanted to change the scoring system. Scandrick shouted at Garrett to keep things the same. It's that competitive nature the Cowboys like in Scandrick, who has improved every season he's been with the team. He plays with a physical nature and is good at timing his corner blitzes, which he did against the Rams on Sunday, leading to a sack.

*A big reason why rookie J.J. Wilcox is starting over veteran Will Allen at safety is speed. Wilcox is faster to the ball than Allen. While Allen does have good speed and he can anticipate things because of 10 NFL seasons, Wilcox can make up for it in speed. Wilcox can play deep safety and come up field in run support and he can also play evenly with fellow safety Barry Church and move up quickly to ball carriers.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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