Dallas Cowboys: Alex Barron

5 Wonders: More on Tony Romo sitting

August, 6, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – One preseason game is in the books and four remain, but there are plenty of things to wonder about.

So on it is to our third training camp installment of Five Wonders:

** On the grand schemes of things Tony Romo not playing a series against Miami is not that big of a deal. With issues on the offensive line and Romo’s lack of offseason work because of the back surgery, the team thought it was wiser to sit the quarterback against the Dolphins. Well, I wonder what they were thinking about in 2010 and ’11 when they didn’t sit Romo with offensive line issues when he had to play more. In 2010 at San Diego, Robert Brewster had to play right tackle with Marc Colombo and Alex Barron hurt, but Romo played four series. In 2011, the Cowboys made the decision to part ways with center Andre Gurode before they played at Minnesota and had undrafted rookie Kevin Kowalski start with Phil Costa out. It was the first time Romo took a snap from Kowalski all summer. And Kowalski was the third rookie to start that night with Bill Nagy and Tyron Smith. There was no worry that night either. Again, it’s not a huge deal that Romo didn’t play against Miami, but it’s just notable given what happened in recent history.

** Now that Larry Allen has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Charles Haley figures to be the next Cowboy to make it. Haley has been a finalist the last few years and the feeling among voters is that the question is “when” not “if” Haley will make it. But I wonder who will be the next Cowboy to take up a lifetime residence in Canton, Ohio. Perhaps Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson get a look from the Veterans Committee. But what of the more-recent era Cowboys? Darren Woodson should gain consideration but the safety position has never been a popular pick among the voters. Woodson was covering slot receivers before it was fashionable for safeties to do so. He was truly ahead of his time in some ways. I’m not sure there is another 90s Era player that will get a look, but Jerry Jones will be in there one day. Maybe soon too.

** Forever, it seems, the Cowboys have found success stories in undrafted free agents: Romo, Miles Austin, Stephen Bowen and Dan Bailey are among the more recent vintage. But I wonder if there will be one undrafted free agent to make the team this year. Really. The leader would appear to be linebacker Brandon Magee, who could become a big part of the special teams’ units. Even those who haven’t seen Eric Rogers play a snap seem to think he can be Keyshawn Johnson, but the Cal Lutheran product has a lot of work to do in earning a spot. Safety Jeff Heath has been an under-the-radar guy and Jakar Hamilton, who received $10,000 to sign, has yet to make a mark in camp. There is a lot of time to make a push but right now there isn’t a lock yet.

** It’s hard to gauge just how interested the Cowboys are in Brian Waters. They know he is available, but they haven’t really put the full-court press on him just yet. Maybe they wanted to see Ronald Leary in a game before going ahead with it. But if they are going to sign Waters, I wonder if it’s too late. He did not take part in an offseason program last year and did not sign with a team. He was not with a team this offseason either. What kind of shape is he in? If the Cowboys bring Waters in, it’s not for a workout. It’s to sign him. He signed with New England in 2011 a week before the season started and ended up in the Pro Bowl. But in players’ years, that could be a lifetime ago.

** Let’s close with a game involving a 53-man roster projection. I wonder if the final spot or two comes down to a seventh linebacker, fourth running back, a 10th offensive linemen, a sixth wide receiver or a ninth defensive lineman? If that’s the case, then Magee, Phillip Tanner, Darrion Weems, Anthony Armstrong, Tim Benford, Eric Rogers or a George Selvie are fighting for one or two spots right now. Right now, I’m not sure the ninth or 10th offensive lineman is on the roster. Armstrong has had a really good camp and his speed separates him from some others. Selvie could be insurance for Anthony Spencer being banged up and helped himself with Sunday’s two-sack effort. Tanner also helped his cause. Based on what Tanner, Selvie and Armstrong did against Miami, it looks like the Cowboys will have a decision to make as opposed to trying to find players to keep.

Unlucky 13: Crazy losses for Cowboys

December, 12, 2011

IRVING, Texas -- If you regularly come back to the thought that, 'Man, the Cowboys sure come up with some inventive ways to lose games,' you're right.

Since 2005, I have come up with 13 head-scratching losses that seem to define this franchise. And that does not include the humiliating 44-6 defeat at Philadelphia to close the 2008 season, which knocked the Cowboys out of a playoff spot.

Three of those losses have come this year. Three came last year. Two each in ’09, ’08 and ’06, and the one that kicked it off came on Sept. 19, 2005 (against Washington), when the Triplets – Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith - were inducted into the Ring of Honor.

It has been quite a roller-coaster ride, but without the fun part.

Sept. 19, 2005 – Washington, 14-13.

The Cowboys lead, 13-0, with 6:01 to play, and the 65,207 in attendance, the largest crowd at Texas Stadium at the time following the 1985 renovations, was enjoying the moment. The Triplets were inducted into the Ring of Honor. The defense was dominating.

Then Santana Moss happened.

Moss caught touchdown passes of 39 and 70 yards in the final 3:46, bringing to light Roy Williams’ deficiencies in coverage. The second touchdown came with 2:35 to play. Oh, by the way, the Cowboys missed the playoffs by a game that year.

Nov. 5, 2006 – Washington, 22-19

Tony Romo’s second start was about to end with a fourth-quarter drive for a game-winning field goal, but Troy Vincent blocked Mike Vanderjagt’s 35-yard try. Sean Taylor scooped up the loose ball and returned it 30 yards. Another 15 yards was added because of a Kyle Kosier facemask penalty.

With no time on the clock, Nick Novak kicked a 47-yarder to beat the Cowboys.

Jan. 6, 2007 – Seattle, 21-20

Tony Romo
AP Photo/John FroschauerTony Romo bobbled the snap for the game-winning field goal versus the Seahawks, preventing Martin Gramatica from making the 19-yard attempt.
This one was the most heartbreaking because it was in the wild-card round of the playoffs. It was also Bill Parcells’ final game as a head coach. The Cowboys maintain to this day that had they won that game, they could have gone to the Super Bowl.

Instead L.P. LaDouceur’s snap for a 19-yard field goal try slipped through Romo’s hands. Conspiracy theorists point to the slippery "K-ball" that was put in play before the snap. Others point to a Jason Witten first down that was overturned by the replay official, which negated the possibility to run the clock out or score a touchdown.

Oct. 12, 2008 – Arizona, 30-24 (OT)

The Cowboys somehow tied this game at the end of regulation on a 52-yard field goal by Nick Folk, but on the opening series of overtime, they lost Tony Romo to a broken pinky finger and punter Mat McBriar to a broken foot. On the play in which McBriar broke his foot, Sean Morey blocked his punt and Monty Beisel fell on the ball for a touchdown. The game started with a special teams touchdown (a 93-yard kick return) for the Cardinals, and ended with one.

Dec. 20, 2008 – Baltimore, 33-24

In what was a struggle for the offense for most of the game, twice the Cowboys pulled to within two points of the Ravens. Terrell Owens made the score 19-17 by scoring with 3:50 to play. Baltimore answered with a 77-yard touchdown run by Willis McGahee. Jason Witten cut the gap again with a TD grab with 1:36 to play. Le'Ron McClain answered with an 80-yard touchdown run.

It was not the way Jerry Jones wanted to see Texas Stadium close.

Sept. 20, 2009 – NY Giants, 33-31

Steve Smith, Mario Manningham
Tim Heitman/US PresswireMario Manningham, left, and Steve Smith, right, combined for 20 catches and 284 yards in the Cowboys Stadium opener.
If Jones didn’t want to see Texas Stadium close that way, he didn’t want to see Cowboys Stadium open this way. Felix Jones gave the Cowboys a 31-30 lead with a touchdown run with 3:40 to play.

Then Eli Manning happened.

Manning completed 7-of-9 passes for 64 yards, helping the Giants overcome a 1st-and-20 situation from their 15 and leading to a 37-yard game-winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes with no time left.

Oct. 4, 2009 – Denver, 17-10

The Cowboys blew a 10-0 lead when Broncos wide receiver caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton with 1:46 to play. However, Romo had the Cowboys in position to tie the game after a 53-yard completion to Sam Hurd.

At the Denver 2-yard line with nine seconds to play, Romo went to Hurd (unsuccessfully) on back-to-back plays while the wideout was defended by Pro Bowler Champ Bailey.

Cowboys Pro Bowler Jason Witten did not even run a route.

Sept. 12, 2010 – Washington, 13-7

The Cowboys dominated defensively, but were done in by Jason Garrett’s decision to call a play with four seconds left in the first half and a mile away from the Redskins’ end zone. Romo flipped the ball to Tashard Choice, who fumbled while fighting for extra yards. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall scooped up the loose ball and ran it back for a 32-yard touchdown. It was the Redskins' only touchdown of the game.

In position to win the game, Alex Barron happened.

With three seconds left, Romo hit Roy Williams for an apparent game-tying touchdown with the point-after attempt being the difference in a win. Not so fast. Barron, starting in place of an injured Marc Colombo, was called for holding Brian Orakpo on the touchdown pass, wiping out the comeback.

Nov. 25, 2010 – New Orleans, 30-27

The Cowboys were not in the playoff chase, but they were fighting under Garrett, who took over for Wade Phillips as the interim coach. They led 27-23 and were in position to salt the game away as Roy Williams raced down the field toward the Saints end zone. As he switched the ball to his left hand away from a New Orleans defender, he allowed Michael Jenkins to strip it away for the turnover.

Five plays and 89 yards later, Drew Brees hit Lance Moore with the game-winning touchdown pass.

Dec. 25, 2010 – Arizona, 27-26

Stephen McGee was shaping up as the hero, filling in for an injured Jon Kitna. He hit Miles Austin with a 37-yard touchdown pass with 1:41 to play to give the Cowboys the lead. Unfortunately David Buehler missed the PAT, giving Arizona hope.

John Skelton converted a 4th-and-15 with a 26-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald, and Jay Feely won the game with a 48-yard field goal.

Sept. 11, 2011 – NY Jets, 27-24

Mark Brunell, Nick Folk
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireNick Folk kicked the go-ahead 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the 2011 opener.
The Cowboys led, 24-10, two plays into the fourth quarter following a Felix Jones touchdown. They were in position to answer a Jets touchdown with at least a field goal when Romo fumbled while diving to the New York goal line for his first of two fourth-quarter turnovers.

On the Cowboys’ next series, Joe McKnight blocked McBriar’s punt and Isaiah Trufant returned it 18 yards for the tying touchdown.

Late in regulation, Romo was intercepted by Darrelle Revis on a poor throw to Dez Bryant. That was turned into a game-winning field goal by former Cowboy Nick Folk.

Dec. 4, 2011 – Arizona, 19-13 (OT)

Sensing a trend with Arizona here?

Tied at 13-13, Romo put the Cowboys in position to win the game with another Dan Bailey field goal. His 15-yard completion to Bryant had the Cowboys at the Cardinals' 31-yard line. Yet with two timeouts and roughly 25 seconds to go, the Cowboys did not stop the clock until Romo spiked the ball with seven seconds to play.

As Bailey lined up for the game-winner, Garrett called a timeout because the play clock was running out. Bailey’s second attempt fell short, and in overtime the Cowboys would never get the ball.

LaRod Stephens-Howling raced 52 yards on a short flip from Kevin Kolb for the game-winner.

Dec. 11, 2011 – NY Giants, 37-34

Bryant’s 50-yard touchdown pass gave the Cowboys a 34-22 lead with 5:41 to play. All seemed well with the world.

Then Eli Manning happened. Again.

He shredded the Dallas defense on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a Jake Ballard touchdown catch and then directed New York on a six-play, 56-yard drive that ended in a Brandon Jacobs touchdown. The subsequent two-point conversion gave the Giants a three-point cushion.

During the second drive, Garrett let crucial seconds go off the clock again by failing to call a timeout until 1:00 remained.

Despite all that, two Romo-to-Miles Austin completions had the Cowboys at the New York 29-yard line with six seconds to play.

Before Bailey went in for the game-tying 47-yard try, Giants coach Tom Coughlin called a timeout, negating what turned out to be a good kick. Bailey’s second attempt wasn't close to going through the uprights.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul pushed between LaDouceur and Montrae Holland and deflected Bailey’s kick.

5 Wonders: crazy games, WR numbers, Ware sacks

November, 15, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- We’re back for another installment of Five Wonders as the Cowboys head to Washington on Sunday.

**Strange things tend to happen when the Cowboys head to FedEx Field, at least since I’ve been covering this team. I wonder what will happen Sunday that can be head-scratching. Last year there was the Alex Barron holding penalty to wipe out the winning touchdown and the end-of-half fumble by Tashard Choice. In 2008, the Cowboys won 14-10 in Tony Romo’s return from a broken pinky and I remember the quarterback carrying his iPod while listening to a song from Rocky IV. In 2006 there was the blocked Mike Vanderjagt field goal try that turned into Washington’s game-winning field goal after a facemask penalty aided a Sean Taylor return. In 2003 and ’09 the Cowboys had shutouts at Washington. And in that ’03 game Troy Hambrick ran for 189 yards. Let me say that again: Troy Hambrick.

** I wonder if the Redskins will have a return yard on Sunday. Seriously. The Cowboys have not allowed a punt return yard in their last two games. Two weeks ago Chris Jones had a 43-yard gross and net-yard average against Seattle. On Sunday against Buffalo Mat McBriar’s only punt traveled 52 yards and went out of bounds. Brandon Banks is averaging 9 yards per return on the season and averaged 8 yards on two returns when these teams met at Cowboys Stadium in September.

**For the sixth time this season Tony Romo completed passes to at least seven different players with Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Laurent Robinson, Jesse Holley, Kevin Ogletree and Martellus Bennett comprising Romo’s 23 completions on the day. I wonder how that makes a defensive coordinator feel. Jason Garrett often talks about being able to attack teams in multiple ways with the pass and the run. This is an example of that and it came without Miles Austin. In the New England loss Romo completed passes to 10 different pass catchers. As much as Witten is his security blanket, Romo will spread the ball around to the open guy.

**I wonder if Rex Grossman wants to start against the Cowboys. Washington will go with Grossman Sunday against the Cowboys, which puts him in the cross-hairs of DeMarcus Ware. This will be Grossman’s fourth start against the Cowboys in his career and he has been sacked 11 times. Only the Giants have sacked him more. But back to Ware, who is on pace for an NFL record 23 sacks, for a second He has sacked Grossman five times. The only quarterbacks to face Ware’s wrath more are Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb.

** I wonder if the Cowboys would be interested in signing Laurent Robinson to a contract extension. The deadline to sign players and have all of the bonus money go against this year’s cap has expired, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do a deal. He has 27 catches for 441 yards and four touchdowns. He has shown to be a quick study and would give the Cowboys a nice top-three with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for the foreseeable future. I also wonder if Robinson would want to do a deal now. This would be his first time to truly cash in. Would it be better for him to be patient and see if a team comes with a big offer in the offseason? He’s been cut a few times, so it might be more prudent for him to sign now. In 2007 the Cowboys signed Patrick Crayton to a four-year, $14 million deal with $6 million guaranteed. Does something like that sound right?

Sam Young getting ready to play

December, 28, 2010
IRVING -- An interesting development occurred prior to Saturday's Cowboys-Cardinals game on Christmas night.

When the inactives were announced swing tackle Alex Barron was among them. It marked the first time Barron was inactive all season. It was the first time Barron hadn't played in an NFL game since his rookie year, 2005, with the St. Louis Rams.

In his place was seventh-round pick Sam Young, who didn't play on offense, but took Barron's spot on special teams.

Interim coach Jason Garrett wasn't saying if Young would take over this weekend for starting right tackle Marc Colombo, who struggled on Saturday night vs. the Cardinals.

It is interesting to see the Cowboys moving toward some younger players whether it's because of injuries or poor performance by veterans at this stage of the year.

The Cowboys have been out of the playoff race for almost two months and to just now getting Young ready to play in a regular season game seems a little late.

But the team needs to get a look at him at some point, so why not the regular season finale at Philadelphia. The team could have done this sooner, against an opponent that might have been easier to handle.

Alex Barron could play on Sunday

September, 16, 2010
IRVING -- If you thought Alex Barron was done playing for the Cowboys, think again.

Barron, who committed three penalties, two holding calls in the fourth quarter, in Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins might get some snaps in the Week 2 game vs. the Chicago Bears.

Starting right tackle Marc Colombo is expected to start the game, but he's coming off minor knee surgery and the Cowboys want to be cautious with his return.

The same could be said of left guard Kyle Kosier, who also recovered from a knee injury. Montrae Holland, who played well in the Week 1 opener, could also play.

How the Cowboys switch the players hasn't been determined.

"I think you have to have a feel for that during the game," coach Wade Phillips said. "Just like I said last week, we had some guys that were fresh we wanted to substitute for but they we're doing well."

Colombo came back from ankle surgery and a broken left fibula to play in last season's NFC wild card game where he was involved in all the offensive snaps (82) in the victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. In the NFC divisional round game, a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Colombo participated in 67 snaps.

Colombo didn't have his best game vs. the Vikings, as he allowed two sacks and two quarterback hits.

There was a thought he came back too soon.

But with Barron's mistakes in the game it raises concerns about whether or not the Cowboys trust him. Barron said he wants another chance and owner/general manager Jerry Jones expressed confidence in him.

"I'm glad that we have Barron," Jones said.

Tommie Harris OK with Marc Colombo

September, 14, 2010
We're not sure if Marc Colombo is going to play on Sunday vs. the Chicago Bears, but if the Cowboys starting right tackle does it gives defensive tackle Tommie Harris a chance at revenge.

In the last meeting between the teams, 2007, Colombo, a former Bear, leg-whipped Harris in the knee area knocking him out of the game. The leg whip forced the NFL to fine Colombo $12,500

Harris suffered a torn MCL and needed two surgeries on the knee just for him to return to the field healthy.

Now Harris and Colombo meet for the first time since that injury.

"Honestly, I don't think about that at all," Harris told the Chicago Tribune. "He apologized to me after the game. He beat me to my car in the parking lot. There's no bad blood."

The chances of Colombo playing is in question since he's trying to recover from having surgery a few weeks ago to clean out loose cartliage in the knee.

Colombo said two weeks ago he's feeling pretty good but said it's up to the doctors and trainers to decice.

Beat writers recap: Cowboys-Redskins

September, 14, 2010
After getting some sleep and watching the game again, we've got some final thoughts on the Cowboys' 13-7 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night.

This weekly feature will be called Beat Writers Recap.


*The Cowboys ran an unbalanced line three times on Sunday. They did it on the first play of the game and twice in the fourth quarter. It resulted in a 15-yard pass play to Miles Austin and an 8-yard run by Tashard Choice. The last time they did it, Tony Romo threw an incomplete pass to a double-covered Roy Williams. It was interesting to note that inside linebacker London Fletcher ran down the field with Williams.

*DeMarcus Ware was outstanding in this game. This shouldn't be a shock. On the stat sheet he's credited with six tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. For most of the night, Ware took on single blocks from rookie left tackle Trent Williams. The Redskins didn't bother chipping him with a tight end or running back. If a running back stayed to block, normally Clinton Portis, it was to pick up the blitz up the middle from Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Ware does the little things like sheding a block from Mike Sellers to make a tackle on Portis. Ware was also trailing a play and made a tackle on the backside for a one-yard loss. Ware also hit Donovan McNabb on a third down play that led to an incompletion.

*Without Ware, the Cowboys' pass rush is lacking. Victor Butler replaced Ware in the fourth quarter when he went down with a neck injury. Butler is no Ware. On the six defensive snaps Butler got in, he was credited with two tackles. But it was misleading. He couldn't catchup to Portis on a run for 18 yards. Butler made the tackle, but it was down the field and after Marcus Spears missed Portis near the line of scrimmage. Butler also got a tackle but that was pushing the aging Larry Johnson out of bounds.

*Jay Ratliff was double-teammed most of the night. The outstanding nose tackle would beat the double-team to make a tackle or force a play another way. His quickness sometimes hurts him. He was so fast off a block that when he dove at McNabb's knee's it drew a penalty. Ratliff has to stay on his feet but it appeared he was pushed on the play.

*Austin couldn't be stopped. He finished with 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown. Austin has the ability to break tackles, especially when lined up one-on-one. Other times he takes advantage of defensive backs mistakes. On a 30-yard reception in the fourth qurater, the defensive back moved toward Williams, who was already covered, leaving Austin alone. He's very quick and gets out of his breaks well. Austin made two mental mistakes. In the red zone, he ran a little slow on a crossing route forcing Romo to throw a pass away toward Jason Witten in the back of the end zone. Then he was called for a false start in the fourth quarter.

*It's easy to rip Alex Barron at right tackle. He committed three holding calls, two in the fourth quarter and all three were against Brian Orakpo. Barron didn't get a lot of help with Orakpo or with Andre Carter on pass rushes. Doug Free, the left tackle, also was paired up one-on-one. Free did a much better job than Barron, but on the last play of the game, Free lost containment of his man, Carter, and Romo moved up in the pocket when Barron also failed to control Orakpo. There were times when Martellus Bennett and Witten stayed in to help block on the sides of Barron and Free. Felix Jones also stayed in to block, mainly on the last drive of the fourth quarter, but that was to pick up any pressure up the middle.

*Dez Bryant is a smooth wide receiver, but has a hard time at making in game adjustments. There were too many times where he didn't know where to go and Romo had to tell him after the play was called in the huddle or after the play was over when Bryant ran the wrong route. When Bryant does run the right route, he shows the proper technique in catching the ball and is able to withstand contact.

*Notes: Josh Brent made his debut in backing up Ratliff and said he got about 8-10 snaps. "Just felt good, got adjusted as the game went on," he said. Brent, who suffered a broken hand early in training camp, didn't play with a cast on. "Still a little bit sore," he said. ... John Phillips, the tight end who is out for the season with a torn ACL, said he's going to be out for six-to-eight months. "I know its possible to comeback," he said. "I'm in a situation where I don't have to comeback quick." In high school, Phillips tore his left ACL and came back in four months. But he came back to play baseball not football. ... The Cowboys pass rush on Sunday night was pretty good, they mostly sent five defenders, but rushed six only twice in the fourth quarter. ... You hope this isn't a sign of things to come, however rookie safety Danny McCray failed to down a punt at the 1 in the first half. Cowboys let go of a veteran special teams ace in Pat Watkins, to make plays like that. ... One thing that should be noted on the touchdown to Williams, that was called back due to the penalty is that Williams does a nice job with his route. He runs a crossing route, sees Romo step up in the pocket and Williams holds his arms up and heads toward the end zone unguarded.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Redskins review

September, 14, 2010
Scout's Eye
My thoughts on the Cowboys' 13-7 loss to the Redskins:

*Going into this contest, the talk all week centered on how the Cowboys’ offense was going to function without offensive tackle Marc Colombo and guard Kyle Kosier in the starting lineup.

Tackle Alex Barron was brought in from the Rams to handle that swing duty in case of an injury to Colombo or Doug Free. Barron has made 75 starts in the NFL, playing both the left and right side. I even had a chance to watch him myself while with the Rams against the Saints and Vikings. Both were productive games. You did see the lack of power in his upper and lower body, but you also observed good footwork. In training camp, the same areas of concern that you had studying the Rams games presented itself in the way he played.

In the Washington game, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo had been doing his homework on Barron. Barron really struggles when you take him hard down inside. He is just not strong enough to deal with a player that has the speed-to-power ratio of Orakpo. Barron is a long-armed player, but when he can’t extend those arms to stop a rusher, his feet have no chance to save him. Where Barron has success is if he can hook on and run his man up the field.

On the last play of the game, Orakpo had a plan to rush him as hard as he could to the outside and see if he could get home. It was a three-man rush with Leonard Davis, Marion Barber and Barron handling the right side. Both Davis and Barber where checking for rushers inside; you can see their heads turned that way.

When Barber sees that he is clear from assignment, he releases between Davis and Barron to the flat. If Orakpo takes an inside charge, he runs right into Barber. Davis sees what is happening to Barron but it’s too late. Orakpo is on Barron’s right shoulder so fast, he doesn’t have time to do anything but grab him.

If Barron had been able to get a hand on Orakpo, he might have been able to ride him up the field, which is the strength of his game.

Tony Romo does a nice job of avoiding the rush and working to his right. Roy Williams is lined up slot left and runs across the field to find the perfect spot in the end zone where the Redskins linebackers and defensive backs failed to secure.

If it’s anyone but Brian Orakpo on the rush, the Cowboys probably walk away with a victory. Barron is here because Robert Brewster and Sam Young are not ready to play.

[+] EnlargeKeith Brooking
AP Photo/James D SmithKeith Brooking's motor was running full throttle during Sunday's game, helping lead a solid effort by the Cowboys linebackers.
*Keith Brooking is as hard-nosed linebacker as you will ever find in the NFL. This Cowboys defense is truly better when he is on the field.

Brooking was a relentless player Sunday night, but you expect nothing less. I was very impressed overall with the way that the Cowboys linebackers played as a group. Brooking, along with Bradie James, did a solid job of attacking the pocket and bringing pressure from the inside. Anthony Spencer’s exceptional quickness shined in the running game and DeMarcus Ware was able to apply pressure off the edge but also drop and help in coverage.

The Redskins like to use misdirection in their offense to fool an opponent, but give the Cowboys linebackers some credit. They were assignment sound.

*If there were any question about why the Cowboys went ahead and extended the contract of wide receiver Miles Austin, those had to be answered Sunday night.

As the game wore on and each offensive snap became more important, you knew that Tony Romo would find a way to get the ball into Austin’s hands. Redskins cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers really didn’t have an answer for Austin and his ability to run routes and snatch the ball out of the air.

If there were two throws that Romo would loved to have back in that game, it would be the fourth-and-10 pass on the final drive when he had a chance to hit Austin between the two safeties down the middle in Cover 2 and the pass that should have gone to Austin on first-and-10 from the 12 that went to Roy Williams.

On the fourth down play, if Romo could have just led Austin down the middle instead of Austin having to adjust to the ball, he splits the safeties and it’s six points.

On the first-and-10 from the 12, Williams is looking to Romo as if to ask what the play is. Williams has his palms up and comes off the line on a vertical route. From the slot on the left side, Austin is going vertical as well into the middle of the field. Romo is locked into Williams and just throws the ball away. Would have been interesting to getting the ball to Austin on the move near the goal line with a good chance for a run after catch.

*The minute you want to understand why kicker David Buehler got the kicking job, he does something to once again put that doubt in your mind.

There is no one that has been more critical of Buehler than me. Buehler had a very nice training camp for the Cowboys and the way he finished the Dolphins game out in the preseason had to be a confidence boost of the staff and his teammates. But that was preseason and this is now.

Buehler cannot afford to miss 34-yard field goals in tight games or really any games for that matter. In the locker room on Monday, Buehler was sorry that he didn’t get another chance to redeem himself for the miss. He spoke of putting the misses behind him and moving on. It might be easy for him to move on but misses like that affect the staff and his teammates.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has always had a plan that if Buehler were to go south, but it’s something that he really doesn’t want to do.

Dallas Cowboys report card vs. Redskins

September, 13, 2010

Tim MacMahon's grades are in from last night's Dallas Cowboys loss to the Redskins, and they are not pretty.

Check out Tim's grades and our new Cowboys Center page each week.

Dallas Cowboys chat with Calvin Watkins

September, 13, 2010
Calvin Watkins, short on sleep but long on thoughts about last night's game, will answer your questions at 1 p.m. today.

Leave an early question or be there at 1 to see what Calvin has to say about what we saw from the team last night.

Alex Barron: Got to work on some things

September, 13, 2010
LANDOVER, Md. -- One of the biggest plays in Sunday night's 13-7 Redskins victory over the Cowboys was right tackle Alex Barron's holding call that wiped out a game-winning touchdown pass.

Barron, who was called for two holding penalties in the second half and three overall, had a choke hold on Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo as quarterback Tony Romo completed a touchdown pass to Roy Williams to end the game.

The penalty on Barron with time expired ended the game.

Barron said he didn't want to talk about the penalty and whispered, "Got to work on some things, man."

Barron was starting because Marc Colombo was out after undergoing knee surgery during training camp. Colombo didn't practice leading into the Redskins game, but coach Wade Phillips said Colombo should practice this week.

The penalty set off a range of emotions by the Cowboys.

Jerry Jones was sitting in a luxury suite thinking Williams had scored a touchdown.

"I thought we had pulled it out," Jones said. "I was sitting over there just giving a fist pound and feeling real good about it and was just stunned when I saw the flag."

Phillips was stunned.

"I've never seen that happen," Phillips said. "You score a touchdown and get a penalty and the game is over."

Said Bradie James: "We scored. But I guess we had a penalty so we didn't win. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game and that's what it was."

Said Romo: I thought we won and then 10 or 15 yards after running away, I noticed people weren't coming out on the field. It's hard to swallow. It's a tough one to take."

The Cowboys have two players that have problems with holding calls.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Barron has been called for 10 holding calls, the most in the NFL since 2009.

Center Andre Gurode has been called for the third most with six.

Barron was asked about his issues overall and he said, "We've got to work on some things."

So how do you prepare for Haynesworth?

September, 11, 2010

Coach Wade Phillips received a question about Albert Haynesworth on Friday.

The Redskins defensive tackle played at end of the preseason and received reps on the scout team Friday, though Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said first-and-second teamers get scout team reps at times.

Shanahan said Haynesworth, the subject of trade rumors, will be in Landover, Md. for Sunday's game. Sources tell ESPN.com's Ed Werder that he is expected to play and could start.

Starting guard Leonard Davis and Montrae Holland also expect him to play.

Tackle Alex Barron said Haynesworth can beat you with power and finesse.

Is he playing nose tackle in the Redskins new 3-4 scheme, or is he playing at end on passing downs?

"It's like any other player," Phillips said. "You know where the strong safety is, he may move around. You know where different players are. You know where London Fletcher is. You have to make adjustments. They have a lot of good players."

One would believe Haynesworth is will see significant snaps Sunday.

The Redskins depth chart released to the media had Haynesworth backing up Ma'ake Kemoeatu at nose tackle.

Marc Colombo, Kyle Kosier don't practice

September, 8, 2010
Offensive linemen Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier are not participating in today’s practice at TCU’s indoor facility.

The Cowboys are preparing to play the Redskins without their starting right tackle and left guard. Guard Montrae Holland and tackle Alex Barron will start if Colombo and Kosier can’t play Sunday night.

The Cowboys hoped Colombo would be ready to practice this week. He’s recovering from an Aug. 16 arthroscopic surgery to remove five loose particles from his right knee. On the day of the operation, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he expected Colombo to be sidelined for 10-14 days.

Kosier sprained the MCL in his right knee later that week, an injury expected to sideline him for four to six weeks. Coach Wade Phillips said the Cowboys are optimistic that Kosier will return closer to the short end of that timetable, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready to play Sunday night.

Phillips said Monday that he wouldn’t be comfortable with Colombo starting if the tackle isn’t able to practice this week.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Texans review

August, 30, 2010
Wade Phillips reminded the media Monday that his squad was one of the better rushing offenses in the NFL in 2009 and we should expect the same type of success in 2010. Phillips spoke of vanilla schemes, “short sticks” and not being able to control what the opponents were doing that day on defense.

What Phillips really failed to mention was the true inability of his offense to secure down linemen, to get push at the point of attack and not whiff on blocks in space.

Areas that they might have been successful last season but yet to fully grasp in this preseason leave me with cause for concern.

When trying to run the football, it’s about the coordination of offensive linemen and tight ends. It’s about a fullback hitting a linebacker square and not on the edge. It’s about the backs running hard and not dancing around looking for a spot.

In the Houston game, there were too many plays in the running game where there was poor execution. We saw Jason Witten getting beat inside and Martellus Bennett catching blocks and playing way too soft. We saw Alex Barron getting driven into the backfield and making Leonard Davis have to run the hump to get to the outside. We saw Montrae Holland not being quick enough to get outside to block on the support.

Going into the game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke of his concern of the squad’s inability to get off the field on third down but also to control the Saints' running game. The Texans had given up over 200 yards rushing to the defending Super Bowl champions.

Kubiak challenged his team to watch the film and try to do something about it against the Cowboys. The Texans came out and sure enough did something about it.

The Cowboys struggled to match the intensity and the physical play and were left with 12 carries for 13 yards. Just let that sink in for a moment. I don’t care if its vanilla schemes or short sticks; it is what it is.

There comes a point and time that you come off the football, get a hat on the defender and make something happen. This was not done Saturday night, but there is still two weeks left before opening night against the Redskins. It’s two more weeks to possibly get Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo back in the starting lineup to help the situation.

*With the cutdown to 53 right around the corner, my “bubble players” are running out of opportunities to prove to the front office and the coaches that they deserve to be on this squad. Guys like Junior Siavii, Josh Brent, Steve Octavien, Leon Williams and Chris Gronkowski are fighting for the final roster spots.

Siavii was among the players that helped himself the most in the game against the Texans. Siavii, along with Terence Newman and Jay Ratliff, played very well in a group on defense that really struggled to do much right.

Siavii has always shown strength, but he did a better job of firing his hands inside, controlling the blocker and working down the line to make the play. Siavii is something that the Cowboys really don’t have many of -- a big-bodied guy.

If the Cowboys carry five wide receivers instead of six, there is a good chance that both Siavii and Josh Brent make this football team.

*Rookie linebacker Sean Lee had a much better night in San Diego than he did against the Texans.

Lee struggled to consistently get off blocks and at times was nowhere as physical as he needed to be at the point of attack. Lee struggled as well as a blitzer.

One of the first opportunities he blitzed, he got knocked to the ground with ease. This can’t happen. He will need to study how to time his rush and also how to use his technique to disengage and attack the pocket.

If Lee is going to be used on the blitz, he needs to find a way to make sure that he is getting home on the rush.

*Alan Ball was not as good as he needed to be at free safety.

Throughout camp, Ball had shown range, ball skills and the ability to be in position to make plays. That wasn’t the case Saturday night.

As a free safety, you can’t get fooled on the route. Texans receiver Jacoby Jones was able to beat Orlando Scandrick off the line and down the field. Ball saw the route develop from Jones but bit on the head and shoulder fake to the outside which caused Ball to overcommit and allowed Jones to take his route inside on the post for a touchdown.

At free safety, you can’t make mistakes because your mistakes mean touchdowns for the opponents.

Mike Hamlin will start on Saturday

August, 25, 2010
OXNARD, Calif. -- Barring a sudden change, the Cowboys will start Mike Hamlin at strong safety on Saturday night at Houston.

With Gerald Sensabaugh out with a shoulder injury, at least until the season opener, the Cowboys will pair Hamlin up with Alan Ball.

"We like Hamlin but he hasn’t played so we got to get him playing this week and see how he does," Phillips said. "We got other candidates. Pat Watkins has started for us. I wouldn’t discount him either, and he’s back and ready to play."

The Cowboys have a heavy load of safties that could make the 53-man roster. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Barry Church, Danny McCray, Watkins, Ball, Hamlin and Sensabaugh are the safties. All of them can't stay.

"We got a lot of safeties right now that are doing pretty well or have played or I think can play. We’ll see," Phillips said. "We think [Hamlin is] the best one right now coming in for Sensabaugh."

*The Cowboys' bubble is a little larger thanks to the nose tackle position. Junior Siavii and Josh Brent are battling for the backup spot to Jay Ratliff. It would be interesting to see if Siavii or Brent make the team. Phillips was asked during a press briefing with reporters could he move Siavii or Brent to defensive end.

"Not right now," Phillips said. "Both of them could. Junior more so than Brent because he’s been there some. Junior is tall, big and got good speed. That will come later on."

*Saturday's game will have the first-teamers possibly go an entire first half. Phillips said he will not game plan and said it's a difficult situation to be in because the Cowboys will face Houston in Week 3.

*Phillips said the return of Alex Barron, full time, to right tackle, was positive.

"He was ready," Phillips said. "Looked like he did fine. He told me [Tuesday] he was ready."