Dallas Cowboys: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 5 DEN at DAL

For one night at least, Tanner a Cowboy again

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Phillip Tanner was officially a member of the Dallas Cowboys for only a couple of hours before playing in Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Signed in the afternoon, Tanner led the Cowboys with 26 rushing yards on eight carries in the 27-3 loss.

“It was fun,” said Tanner, who was cut by the Indianapolis Colts recently after playing the last three seasons in Dallas. “I just took it with the mindset this is the game I’ve played since I was 8 years old and to have the opportunity to come back out here and fight for a roster spot. I was excited about that.”

The Cowboys needed Tanner because they were not going use DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar in the final preseason game and Joseph Randle (oblique) and Ryan Williams (cramping) were battling injuries. The only other back the Cowboys had was D.J. Adams.

Tanner actually started the game.

“He’s an impressive kid,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He really is. It’s easy to see why he was a big part of the team the last few years. He’s a real pro. He has some skill as a runner. He’s a reliable football player. He shows up on special teams.”

He’s not likely to make the final 53-man roster, but for a night Tanner, a Kimball High School grad, was playing for his hometown team again.

“My mindset is whenever I lace it up, this is the shot to make this team, if not somebody else’s team, Tanner said. “My mindset was to give these guys a good impression to bring me back on the 53.”

Observation deck: Dallas Cowboys

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mercifully, the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason came to an end on Thursday with their 27-3 loss to the Denver Broncos.

For the first time since 2000 -- and fifth time overall -- the Cowboys did not win a preseason game. Of the four previous winless preseasons, the Cowboys finished above .500 just once, making the playoffs in 1998 with a 10-6 record.

The Cowboys enter the Sept. 7 regular-season opener with low outside expectations in part because of their three straight 8-8 finishes and due to a defense that lacks playmakers and will be counting on role players to play in big-time positions.

The Cowboys were outscored 116-60 in the preseason.

Here are some other thoughts on the Cowboys' fourth preseason game:
  • The Cowboys will go into the San Francisco game with starting defensive tackle Henry Melton and cornerback Morris Claiborne not taking a preseason snap. Melton went through pregame warmups Thursday and was expected to at least see a handful of plays after missing the last two preseason games with a groin injury. Claiborne, who will start with Orlando Scandrick missing the first four games because of a suspension, has not played in a preseason game the last two seasons. A shoulder injury limited his work the last two-plus weeks of the preseason. Cornerback Brandon Carr saw less than 30 snaps in the preseason, including only 12 Thursday, after missing the first two exhibition games following the death of his mother.
  • Justin Durant did not start, so the Cowboys used Rolando McClain at middle linebacker for the first two series. McClain was active in his short time on the field, making three tackles. The Cowboys have attempted to speed up McClain’s learning curve with this defense and his conditioning but both times they gave him first-team work he was unable to finish practice. Has he done enough in the preseason to be a starter? The Cowboys might have to make a projection here with a linebacker who has not played since Nov. 2012 and retired twice since then.
  • The Cowboys will go into the season with their most inexperienced backup quarterback since Tony Romo in 2006 in Brandon Weeden. Starting his second preseason game, Weeden completed seven of 13 passes for 83 yards and an interception. His turnover was the result of a forced throw to Devin Street on a roll out that cornerback Tony Carter was able to pick off, and the Broncos scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Weeden was able to respond with a field goal drive the next time he had the ball, completing two third-down throws and hitting LaRon Byrd with a 26-yard completion while taking a big hit. On third-and-goal he wisely chose to run the ball instead of forcing a pass, making sure the Cowboys got points.
  • Ronald Leary started every game at left guard in 2013 and appears to be the frontrunner to hold the job again this season, but he played the first half Thursday. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who was splitting time with Leary in camp, did not play, getting the same treatment as starting linemen Doug Free, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. Leary missed the early part of training camp with a hamstring injury suffered in a conditioning test.