Dallas Cowboys: 2014 NFL Training Camp

Dallas Cowboys cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
3:58
PM ET
Most significant move: It’s not so much who the Dallas Cowboys cut, but who they kept. For the first time since 2011, the Cowboys will keep three quarterbacks. In 2011 they had Tony Romo, Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee. Undrafted rookie Dustin Vaughan will join Romo and Brandon Weeden. For now. Vaughan has made great strides since May and finished the preseason with 212 yards on 22-of-43 passing with a touchdown. With Romo’s return from back surgery at least a minor issue, the Cowboys figured it was worth keeping Vaughan as a developmental player. It’s possible the Cowboys could cut Vaughan if they need help elsewhere in the next few days, which potentially would give them a chance to sneak the West Texas A&M product through waivers. Tailback Ryan Williams led the Cowboys in the preseason with 112 rushing yards and caught a team-high nine passes but was among the final cuts. With needs elsewhere, the Cowboys did not deem it necessary to keep four tailbacks. If Williams clears waivers, he could be brought back to the practice squad.

See you in a month: Cornerback Orlando Scandrick and safety Jakar Hamilton cannot have contact with the Cowboys for the next month now that they are on the suspended list. Both players will miss four games with Scandrick violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy and Hamilton violating the substance abuse policy. They will be allowed back on Sept. 29 and eligible to play Oct. 5 against the Houston Texans. Despite losing Scandrick, the Cowboys opted only to keep four corners on the roster: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore and Tyler Patmon.

Changes coming: The Cowboys kept 11 defensive linemen, but by Tuesday that number is expected to be 10 when rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is moved to short-term injured reserve as he returns from foot surgery. Lawrence will have to miss the first eight games, but can start practicing after six weeks. The Cowboys hope Lawrence will be able to be a designated pass rusher over the final eight weeks of the season. When he broke his foot in training camp, he was close to becoming the starting right defensive end. By putting Lawrence on short-term injured reserve, the Cowboys would not be able to use the designation on another player this season.

What’s next: A word to the wise for those on the bottom of the Cowboys’ roster: don’t celebrate. The Cowboys will be active in adding players either through trades, waivers or free agency. It’s not just about upgrading the bottom of the roster. The Cowboys need to upgrade starters and key backup roles at every level of their defense. Last year the Cowboys added four players after the final cuts before the season opener. They could potentially add more players this year, so dire is the state of the defense.

Cowboys moves: RB Ryan Williams, RB Phillip Tanner, RB D.J. Adams, WR LaRon Byrd, WR Jamar Newsome, WR Dezmon Briscoe, TE Asa Watson, T Josh Aladenoye, G Uche Nwaneri, G Stephen Goodin, C Ronald Patrick, DT Zach Minter, DE Kenneth Boatright, DE Caesar Rayford, DE Dartwan Bush, LB Will Smith, LB Orie Lemon, LB Keith Smith, LB Dontavis Sapp, CB Terrance Mitchell, S Keith Smith, Orlando Scandrick (suspended), Jakar Hamilton (suspended)

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
I'm holding firm with two quarterbacks and believe the Cowboys will be able to slide Dustin Vaughan to the practice squad. He has some skills that might be worth developing, but not even Romo's worrisome back has me keeping a third quarterback. They have too many other needs.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Ryan Williams is among the Cowboys' best 53 players but they just can't find a way to get him to the game on Sundays to make it worthwhile to keep him on the roster. There is this possibility: If he clears waivers he has practice squad eligibilty. I kept Clutts because I believe Jason Garrett will fight to keep a fullback.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

This has been the same group all year. LaRon Byrd has practice squad eligibility, so he could be back if he clears waivers.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group hasn't changed either, but they could look for more of a blocking tight end if they don't believe it is worth it to keep Clutts.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)



Stephen Jones said the other day that going with eight offensive linemen was too light, so I added a ninth. I just don't think that guy is on the roster. John Wetzel didn't solidify a spot on Thursday. Darrion Weems missed the whole preseaon. Nwaneri also struggled against the Broncos, which could put his spot in jeopardy. The Cowboys only dress seven linemen for games, so they can take some waiver-wire pickups to work with early on.

DEFENSIVE LINE (11)



Lawrence is back on the roster because he has to be on the team through Tuesday before he can be placed on short-term injured reserve. Of all the guys on the bubble Boatright helped himself the most, so gets the final spot away from Dartwan Bush. The Cowboys will look for help outside of the building with this group. Just because these guys are on the roster Saturday doesn't mean they will be on the team Sunday.

LINEBACKERS (6)

I've had seven linebackers but I had to move to six in part because Lawrence needs to be on the active roster for the first couple of days. Will Smith would be the seventh but the Cowboys look for help on the street for a special teams type like they did a year ago in Kyle Bosworth.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The decision to cut B.W. Webb was only surprising because of how inexeprienced they will be with their backups. Webb didn't do enough to make the team and was a disappointment as a fourth-round pick. Patmon is one of those feel-good stories, making the team after earning a rookie camp tryout. I don't think Mitchell should sleep well these next few days. He just has taken too many penalties and might need some practice squad seasoning.

SAFETIES (5)



The Cowboys claimed Thomas off waivers from New England on Wednesday and he played Thursday. He is a player they liked coming in the draft, so he gets the final spot with Jakar Hamilton suspended the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Like at every other spot on defense, however, the Cowboys will look for help outside the building.

SPECIALISTS (3)

There has not been a change here all summer.

Dallas Cowboys waive B.W. Webb

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
2:10
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- In order to make room for Phillip Tanner on the roster for tonight’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys waived cornerback B.W. Webb.

Webb
A fourth-round pick last year, Webb suffered a hip flexor injury that would prevent him from playing in the final two preseason games. Webb was active for 15 games as a rookie and had 13 tackles and one pass breakup but never got comfortable on the field. He had a so-so training camp and was outplayed by undrafted rookie Tyler Patmon.

With Webb gone and Orlando Scandrick suspended the first four games of the regular season, the Cowboys will likely go with rookies Patmon and Terrance Mitchell, a seventh-round pick, as their fourth and fifth cornerbacks behind Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Sterling Moore.

The Cowboys claimed cornerback Jemea Thomas off waivers from the New England Patriots on Wednesday.

With injuries to Joseph Randle (oblique) and Ryan Williams (cramping) the Cowboys were left with one tailback they would play tonight against the Denver Broncos -- DJ Adams. The Cowboys will not use starter DeMarco Murray or Lance Dunbar, necessitating the addition of Tanner, who played three years for the team and was recently cut by the Indianapolis Colts.

Dallas Cowboys cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
3:23
PM ET
Most significant move: The Matt Johnson era has not officially ended, but the safety was waived by the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday as part of the roster moves to reach the NFL-mandated 75-player limited.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2012, Johnson never played in a game. He missed his rookie season with recurring hamstring injuries as well as a back injury. He suffered an ankle injury in the 2013 preseason and was placed on injured reserve after having surgery.

Despite his limited practices, the Cowboys liked Johnson’s potential and kept waiting for him to get healthy. He suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp this summer in Oxnard, California, and was unable to return to practice. He returned to Dallas early to see if back problems were causing the hamstring issues but no relation was found.

If Johnson clears waivers, he would revert to injured reserve and the Cowboys could eventually receive an injury settlement.

Cowboys remain patient: By placing Amobi Okoye on the reserve/non-football illness list, the Cowboys are buying more time on the veteran defensive tackle. He will be unable to play in the first six games of the regular season but he will be able to continue his conditioning work as he attempts to return from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain disease that left him in a coma for three months last year. Okoye was cleared for full football activities by his doctor on Aug. 14, but the team is choosing to be cautious in his return after such a long layoff with the hope he could return by midseason.

Cowboys' moves: QB Caleb Hanie, WR Chris Boyd, TE Jordan Najvar (waived/injured), G Wayne Tribue, DL Adewale Ojomo, DE Ben Gardner (injured reserve), DT Amobi Okoye (reserve/NFI), LB DeVonte Holloman (waived/injured), CB Justin Green (waived injured), S Johnny Thomas (waived injured), S Matt Johnson (waived injured), P Tom Hornsey, LS Casey Kreiter

Cowboys' run D needs to tighten up

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
1:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Let’s have some fun with numbers, even if there is no true comparison: Having allowed 503 rushing yards in the first three preseason games, that would translate to 2,683 yards in a 16-game regular season for the Dallas Cowboys' defense.

[+] EnlargeRod Marinelli and Henry Melton
Ron T. Ennis/Getty ImagesRod Marinelli's Dallas defense has struggled to stop the run since training camp opened. A healthy Henry Melton, foreground, would be a big boost.
I realize it’s only the preseason and the units are being mixed and matched in part because of injury, but the run defense has not been an issue solely in games. It was an issue almost every day in Oxnard, California, when it was Cowboys against Cowboys, as coach Jason Garrett likes to say.

There was one practice in which running backs DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar had roughly five runs in which they were not touched until they were 10 yards down the field.

You could look at that two ways: the Cowboys have a dominant offensive line or they have a poor front seven. Both might be true.

The Miami Dolphins ran for 200 yards on 35 carries against the Cowboys.

"I think it’s a probably a combination of things based on who is in the game," Garrett said of the run defense. "I think gap discipline and making sure your run fits are right, that's been an issue at different times throughout the preseason. Getting off blocks, tackling. Those things we have to get better at.

"Hopefully our defense grows in those areas. I think we have shown improvement from the start of training camp until now. Individual guys have gotten better. We have to get better as a team. Obviously you can’t allow a team to run the football and control the game like that."

Defensive linemen Henry Melton and Terrell McClain have yet to play a preseason snap. The linebacker trio is unsettled as well. The Cowboys have not done much work by bringing a safety down in the box to help the run defense.

The Cowboys open the season against the San Francisco 49ers, who feature running back Frank Gore and a running threat at quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. They will have four division games against Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris. Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints and Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears ran for 100 yards against the Cowboys last season and are on the schedule this season. Running back Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks is also on the schedule.

"Coach tells us to see a little, see a lot, meaning we just do our job, play our gap and everything else will just come," defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. "We’ve got one gap to play. It’s one game football. We’ve got one job to do, if we do that job and trust in our defense and trust in the call, everything will work out."

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
I've had two quarterbacks on the roster from the beginning and this won't change. Dustin Vaughan will make the practice squad if/when he clears waivers. There's just too many needs elsewhere on the roster to carry a No. 3 quarterback, but Vaughan has some potential to see if he can develop.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

I know most of you are asking, 'Where is Ryan Williams?' There is no doubt he is among the top 53 players on the current roster, but that doesn't mean he earn a spot on the 53-man roster. A backup running back has to do more than just run it well. He has to play special teams and pass protect well. I've kept Clutts on the roster because I believe Jason Garrett will want the fullback on the roster, and the front office will listen to him.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

This five has remained the same all summer and won't change. The expanded practice squads might help Jamar Newsome stick around. LaRon Byrd also has practice squad eligibility.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group hasn't changed either. I do wonder if they would look at more of a blocker after the final cuts, but Hanna has improved and will continue to have a role. He was on the roster bubble, in my view, at the start of camp, but I think he's earned a spot.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

I'm only going with eight linemen, which is kind of risky, but they will dress only seven on gameday and can stack the practice squad to help out. Nwaneri could help his cause if he could play some center, and he's taken some snaps in pre-practice there. Look for them to scout the market for tackle help too. Parnell has only been OK.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Wilson re-appears on the list, but I've got to be honest I don't know if he makes it. It's just that this group needs all the help it can get. Where's DeMarcus Lawrence? I'm going to put him on injured reserve with a designation to return. Kenneth Boatright has not been as productive, but can still sneak in if Selvie's shoulder injury limits him early, especially with Spencer unlikely to be ready Week 1. Again, they'll look for help here once the cuts are final, or they could look to trade a player they would cut to another team.

LINEBACKERS (7)

The career of DeVonte Holloman will come to a close because of a neck injury, so he's been replaced by Smith. The seventh-round pick has some pop to him and can run well enough to earn some special teams time. I thought the starting linebackers would be set by now, but it's not. Do they go with McClain, Durant or Hitchens in the middle? Is Carter now a strong-side linebacker? Is Wilber more of a defensive end now?

CORNERBACKS (6)

Six corners might be a little heavy, but Patmon has done enough to make the team at a position of need with Orlando Scandrick out the first four games. Moore will work the slot, but the Cowboys need to cover themselves there, and Webb makes it due to experience. Patmon is still learning inside. I've had Mitchell on the roster the whole time, but he's peaked a little bit and could be in trouble.

SAFETIES (5)

It's the same five, but Heath (elbow) and Hamilton (hamstring) have injuries. Dixon is a thumper and not afraid. He can be a good special teamer, but he needs play smarter defensively. Could Ryan Smith work his way into this mix?

SPECIALISTS (3)

Same as it ever was.

Jerry: Carter will never meet expectations

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
2:00
PM ET
A year ago, Bruce Carter was being compared to Derrick Brooks, the Hall of Famer who set the standard for weakside linebacker in the Tampa 2 scheme.

Now, Carter is competing for the right to start for a Dallas Cowboys defense that ranked dead last in the league last season.

Carter
Carter
Matter of fact, owner and general manager Jerry Jones routinely doesn’t mention Carter when discussing the Cowboys’ potential starting linebacker trio. He stresses the optimism about twice-retired newcomer Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Kyle Wilber.

What about Carter?

"I think the fact that you’re not hearing as much about Bruce really means more the level that those three other linebackers are playing and the potential that we have in Rolando," Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. "With all of that in mind, I think that’s as much as anything. Bruce, I would say, is playing at a higher level than he played at last year for sure."

That is pretty faint praise, considering Carter was one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments last season. Instead of blossoming into a star as anticipated, he was twice benched for journeyman Ernie Sims.

"He will never play at the level of his expectation or the fans’ expectation or the coaches’ expectation, because he’s absolutely one of the best athletes in the NFL," Jones said. "He’s fast and he’s got the size, so all of that ought to make him ideally suited for certainly our weak linebacker position.

"Having said that, I think you’ll see a lot of him. Whether or not it’s as a quote starter, I couldn’t tell you at this time, but I’m glad we’ve got him."

The question is no longer whether Carter can be a long-term foundation piece for the Cowboys, much less a perennial Pro Bowler. At this point, it’s whether Carter can contribute to a Dallas defense that desperately needs playmakers.

Gavin Escobar battling shoulder injury

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- When the standard is Jason Witten, it can be difficult to measure up.

Escobar
Witten has played through a number of maladies in his 11 seasons, missing just one game as a rookie because of a broken jaw. He returned earlier than many suspected from a ruptured spleen two years ago.

In last week’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, Witten’s fellow tight end, Gavin Escobar, suffered a shoulder injury after making a 37-yard catch. He practiced some during the week and wants to play Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.

"You can only contribute if you’re on the field, so that’s what I’ve got to do," said Escobar, who is wearing extra padding to protect the shoulder.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett does not question Escobar’s toughness.

"He wants to be a good player," Garrett said. "That’s really never been an issue for him. The biggest thing he’s got to do is find himself in those situations where he has to be physically tough where he has to move guys out with run blocks and protect and some of those things. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. I do believe he’s getting stronger."

After catching just nine passes for 134 yards and two scores as a rookie in 2013, Escobar figures to have a much larger role on offense in 2014. He has caught four passes for 84 yards in two preseason games.

"I think the more touches I get the more it shows what I can do," Escobar said.

Dez Bryant craves hard coaching

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
4:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The contested, leaping, juggling catch on the sideline didn’t count, but it served as yet another example of Dez Bryant's rare physical gifts.

It also served as an example of the 25-year-old Pro Bowl receiver’s room for growth.

Want to guess which the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff emphasized during film sessions following Saturday night’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
AP Photo/LM OteroDez Bryant continues to work on his routes as he strives to improve. "I feel like I have a lot of room to grow," he said.
Bryant was spectacular in his two series, catching three passes for 59 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown on a jump ball that he made look easy. But head coach Jason Garrett and receivers coach Derek Dooley gave Bryant an earful about the one opportunity he didn’t seize, a play negated by a holding penalty anyway.

They pointed out to Bryant -- and the rest of the receivers in the room -- that he had to try to make a miraculous catch because he ran a bad route. They showed the film of Bryant releasing too wide on the fade route and allowing the cornerback to push him near the sideline, giving quarterback Tony Romo a tiny window in which to fit the ball.

Bryant soaked up the criticism, truly appreciating the coaches' commitment to pushing him to reach his immense potential.

"If it’s not right, tell me it’s not right because I want to do my best to fix it," Bryant said. "I’ve always been that way. I want to know. I want to know if I’m doing it right or if I’m not. They're doing a great job of telling the guys, just being complete, straight-out honest."

Bryant believes he’s one of the five best receivers in the game and has statistics to back up his claim. He ranks tied for first in touchdown catches (25) and sixth in receiving yards (2,615) over the past two seasons.

But it isn’t hard for Bryant to put his ego in check when he arrives at Valley Ranch each morning. He is determined to find out how much better he can be -- and understands that requires the ability to receive constructive criticism and consistently apply it to his craft.

Bryant craves the kind of hard coaching he needs to help him maximize his unique talent.

"You should never be satisfied. Nobody," Bryant said. "Never get comfortable. That’s when you start falling downhill. Like I said, you’ve got to always have room to grow. I have a lot. I feel like I have a lot of room to grow."

The coaches have identified the finer details of route running as a facet of the game that Bryant can improve significantly. He thinks he’s progressed from average to good as a route runner.

He's willing to work to be great, inviting Dooley’s harsh critiques of his releases, breaks and every other imaginable route-running intricacy.

"He wants to be great," Garrett said. "He’s always been someone who accepts coaching, and he understands it. The film is a great tool. It doesn’t lie, and there’s rarely an instance when you as a coach put something up on the screen and say, 'What do you think? You coach yourself.' These guys know when it’s right and when it’s wrong. It’s our job to point it out to them and highlight the stuff that’s good, and make sure we recognize the stuff that’s not quite so good, either, and how we can make it better.”

"He’s a pro. He wants to be great. He listens to coaching, and he really gets better each and every day."

Rolando McClain, Tony Romo not practicing

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
10:37
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- For the second straight time the Dallas Cowboys have given Rolando McClain first-team snaps in practice, health has caught up to the linebacker.

McClain
Romo
McClain is not practicing on Wednesday after he was unable to finish Tuesday’s practice because of cramps. He had a case of knee tendinitis flare up in Oxnard, California, two weeks ago when he received his first work with the No. 1 defense.

The Cowboys tinkered with McClain at middle linebacker with Justin Durant at the weakside spot and Kyle Wilber on the strong side. With DeVonte Holloman missing practice because of a neck injury, rookie Anthony Hitchens is once again seeing time at middle linebacker.

Also not practicing is quarterback Tony Romo. He practiced on Tuesday, but the Cowboys are continuing to monitor his work as he returns from back surgery. The Cowboys will have one more full practice before traveling to take on the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Romo has yet to practice three straight days in camp.

Sterling Moore (groin) is also missing his second straight day of practice. Henry Melton (groin) and Amobi Okoye are working on their conditioning off to the side.

Rolando McClain will get first-team reps

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
2:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys believe linebacker Rolando McClain, the twice-retired 25-year-old former eighth overall pick, is ready to get some reps with the starters.

Justin Durant performed well while working with the starters at middle linebacker throughout training camp, but head coach Jason Garrett has said that his most natural position is weakside linebacker. The Cowboys plan to look at the combination of McClain in the middle and Durant on the weak side.

“We started to do that a couple of weeks ago and then Rolando was out of practice a couple of days, so we will do that in practice this week,” Garrett said. “At the end of the day, we need to find our three best linebackers and our best combination of those guys to start for us in base, and then there are some roles in nickel as well. If guys demonstrate that they’re a better cover guy than base linebacker, maybe they’ll get their opportunities there. So we’ll continue to work the different looks and the different combinations and see what looks best.”

If the Cowboys like what they see with the McClain-Durant combination, Bruce Carter would likely be on the bench in the base defense, although he could have a role in the nickel and dime packages.

Carter could move to the strongside spot, but the Cowboys have been pleased with Kyle Wilber’s performance at the position. Garrett has been tepid with his praise of Carter this summer.

“I thought Bruce did fine,” Garrett said, evaluating Carter’s performance against the Ravens. “Didn’t like the holding call that he had. Thought that was a legit call. But he showed up a little bit in the game both in the run game and defending the pass. Good cover guy.”

Brandon Weeden still a work in progress

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
1:45
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Since 2007, the Dallas Cowboys could take some things for granted with their backup quarterbacks.

Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton were established starters before coming to the Cowboys to play behind Tony Romo.

Weeden
Brandon Weeden has only 20 career starts and 23 games overall in two seasons.

Some of that inexperience showed up in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to coach Jason Garrett. Weeden completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards and an interception. He also could have had a second pass intercepted. He was sacked once and hit countless times.

It was a little different than Weeden’s start in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.

“As much as anything else, it’s the mechanics of the game: handle himself at the line of scrimmage, making sure we’re in the right play,” Garrett said. “His decision-making at different times was only OK in this game, but he did some good things. Obviously we’ll highlight those and try to correct the other things. Like we talked about with him all along, he needs to play. He needs to play a lot of snaps, and I think he’ll get better and better the more chances we give him in game situations.”

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
Dustin Vaughan is making things interesting, but with so many needs at other spots, the No. 3 QB is just too much of a luxury. People were excited about Alex Tanney at this time last year, too. Right now, he's on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

I believe Ryan Williams and Randle serve the same roles, so it's hard to justify giving them both roster spots. Williams showed some explosion and burst late in Saturday's game. Perhaps he or Randle can drum up some trade interest when it's time for cuts. If you keep both tailbacks, then I can't see Clutts making it. With the desire to run more, Clutts makes more sense.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

These five have remained the same all camp and will continue to remain the same. It's too difficult for Jamar Newsome, LaRon Byrd or Chris Boyd to crack the 53 right now, and the needs on defense will trump the need for a sixth receiver.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group remains unchanged as well. Escobar hurt his shoulder against Baltimore, but the Cowboys don't believe it's too serious. Hanna had a drop but also caught a touchdown pass in his second straight game.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

I'm sticking with the same group, but Stephen Goodin could make his way into the mix over Nwaneri considering Nwaneri's base salary would be guaranteed for the season if he's on the roster in Week 1. I also kept Wetzel as the third tackle, but look for the Cowboys to have an eye on the waiver wire for that spot if Darrion Weems can't return soon. Like last week, I wonder if going with eight linemen for Week 1 might be appropriate.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

I took DeMarcus Lawrence off the roster because I'm going to place him on short-term injured reserve, which would cost him the first six games. That allows Boatright to get a spot. I chose Boatright over Martez Wilson. Where's Zach Minter? He was good against Baltimore, but I want to see more of him before he gets a spot. Remember, Josh Brent could be in this mix, too.

LINEBACKERS (7)

I'm sticking with the same seven, but Lawrence's spot is "fungible" as Jerry Jones likes to say. Maybe Will Smith gets in the mix. Maybe it allows for an 11th defensive lineman, like Minter, Wilson or a waiver pickup or trade. Holloman's neck injury could open up a spot if it's serious.

CORNERBACKS (5)

No Orlando Scandrick? Well, he's suspended the first four games, so he's out of the mix for Sept. 7 against San Francisco. Webb gets the edge because he can play the slot and the Cowboys really don't have another slot corner after Moore and Webb. The coaches continue to rave about Mitchell, but he gets beat too much for my liking. I think he's done enough to make the 53, but Tyler Patmon or Justin Green could work their way into the mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Dixon might have put himself back on the bubble by showing up late to the final walk-through in Oxnard, California, which landed him a spot on the bench for the Baltimore game. He gets the spot for now, but he is out of wiggle room. I don't see another safety making the roster, but that could open a spot for a corner if needed.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Same as it ever was.

Dez Bryant determined to be better blocker

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
2:00
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Dez Bryant can do just about anything on a football field.

In his first four seasons he has shown he can make the incredible leaping catch over a defensive back. He can make the tough grab in traffic. He can make the short catch and run through and by defenders. The Pro Bowl appearance on his résumé is verification.

[+] EnlargeDerek Dooley
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsDallas receivers coach Derek Dooley has worked extensively with star WR Dez Bryant, left, on his downfield blocking.
But where Bryant wants to improve is as a blocker, proof that this running game is serious business for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

“That’s one of my focus points coming into this training camp, getting there, blocking, finding that guy on the back side,” Bryant said. “Playing with DeMarco [Murray], the ball is supposed to be going left and he’ll end up coming back right. So you got to be aware. I think I’ve took a step forward, not only me, but the rest of the guys have took a step forward by taking a different approach with our blocking.”

In the offseason Bryant and receivers coach Derek Dooley met to discuss what he needed to improve upon. Most of the improvement was in the passing game, but downfield blocking was on the list, too.

“It starts with a willingness that you need to want to help and then from there there’s technique involved,” Dooley said. “So to his credit he’s actually worked at it a lot more and it’s showed up a lot more when DeMarco has popped out in the perimeter.”

Dooley twice put his receivers on the blocking sled normally reserved for offensive and defensive linemen in camp. But he said the receivers did the same amount of work on the sled last year.

“I think Dez has probably put a greater emphasis on one of his areas of improvement in the run game and that’s kind of created a story, but our guys blocked fairly well last year,” Dooley said. “I felt good about it but there were times when he could’ve given a lot more effort on it.”

Dooley said receivers have to have a “clock in their feet,” because they need to know when a running back is coming their way with their back to the action most times. He said there were times Bryant and Miles Austin were rolled up from behind and reverted to getting out of the way more than blocking.

“You don’t want to look at [the defensive backs’] eyes because they can fake you out,” Dooley said. “It’s no different than tackling. The beauty of it is blocking and tackling really involve the same fundamentals as it relates to body position and eyes. So when you tackle a ball carrier you certainly don’t want to look at his eyes because they’re going to head-fake you and you’ll fall over. You’ve got to keep your eyes low. But the biggest thing is the clock in your head. The DB will stop and relax on you and then take off. You can’t do that.”

Bryant said he appreciates what Dooley has done for him.

“Coach Dooley is one of the best that’s ever been around me,” Bryant said. “He’s made the game so simple and easy. He’s great.”

Ahmad Dixon misses walk-through

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
12:56
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Rookie safety Ahmad Dixon missed the final walk-through of Dallas Cowboys' training camp.

Dixon was late to the 8 a.m. PT walk-through and as he attempted to walk on the field, he was waved off by coach Jason Garrett. The hour-long session featured mostly prep work for the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday's opponent at AT&T Stadium.

Garrett did not address reporters after the walk-through.

Dixon returned to practice on Thursday after missing four days because of a concussion suffered in the Aug. 7 preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. He was credited with a team-high 12 tackles and was the lone defensive player singled out in the 27-7 loss for his play.

SPONSORED HEADLINES