Dallas Cowboys: Alex Tanney

Dallas Cowboys Preseason Live

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp! ESPN.com Cowboys reporters Todd Archer and Tim MacMahon have live updates and the latest news from Oxnard, California.

Sources: Weeden visiting Cowboys Monday

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys coaches return from a week off on Monday, they will welcome two free-agent visitors.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton and quarterback Brandon Weeden will visit Valley Ranch on Monday, according to sources.

Melton would fill an obvious need with the departure of Jason Hatcher to the Washington Redskins. Weeden could offer the Cowboys protection in case Kyle Orton retires. Weeden could be looking for a place to rebuild his career after a two-year stint with the Cleveland Browns.

With the Cowboys back in the office, it will allow Melton to meet with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who helped develop him into a Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys also liked Weeden coming into the 2012 draft.

Weeden had a 5-15 record after the Browns took him in the first round of the 2012 draft. He completed 438 of 784 passes for 5,116 yards with 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.

The Cowboys believe Orton will continue to play in part because he is set to make $3.25 million. If he chose to retire he would have to pay back $3 million of a $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012.

The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.

Sources: Dallas shows interest in Weeden

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have expressed an interest in quarterback Brandon Weeden, according to sources.

The Cleveland Browns released their 2012 first-round pick on Wednesday after he threw 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions with a 5-15 record as a starter in two seasons. Weeden, who turns 31 in October, threw for 5,116 yards, completing 438-of-784 passes.

The Cowboys have Kyle Orton as their backup to Tony Romo, and the Cowboys believe he will continue to play rather than retire with a $3.25 million base salary in 2014. If he retires, he would owe the Cowboys $3 million of the $5 million base salary he received in 2012. If he is cut, the Cowboys would save roughly $900,000 in cap space.

Orton turns 32 in November and is in the final year of his contract. After Romo went down in Week 16 with a back injury, Orton came off the bench for the 2013 season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles to throw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

Weeden signed a four-year deal worth $8.1 million as the No. 22 pick in the first round two years ago. He is still owed more than $2 million in guaranteed money, but the Browns would only have to make up the difference if Weeden makes less from his new team.

It is possible the Cowboys could carry Romo, Orton and Weeden on the 53-man roster if they were to sign him.

The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.

The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State. He set school records in yards and touchdowns in 2011 for the Cowboys after a short-lived career in professional baseball.

Cowboys fill out practice squad

December, 4, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys filled two practice squad spots by signing running back George Winn and tight end Jameson Konz.

Winn, who ran for 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns for the University of Cincinnati last year, has been with four teams since signing with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent. He was most recently on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad before he was cut Nov. 19.

Konz, who has experience playing defensive end as well, was cut by the Seattle Seahawks in camp. He was a seventh round pick of the Seahawks in 2011 after playing linebacker and tight end at Kent State. With Andre Smith claimed by the Cleveland Browns, the Cowboys wanted to add a fourth tight end for practice purposes.

The Cowboys had the vacancies with the departure of Alex Tanney to the Browns’ active roster and the release of linebacker Taylor Reed.

Five Wonders: Tagging Jason Hatcher?

December, 3, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have had some time to wonder some things after their win on Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders.

Every Tuesday as always wonder about some things. Five Wonders is back and off we go:
  • Jason Hatcher is having a career year and it could not have come at a better time. Hatcher will be a free agent after the season and already has more sacks this year than he has had in any season. And he could make the Pro Bowl, which is something he mentions frequently. But Hatcher will turn 32 next July. I'm on record saying the Cowboys can't pay age. But I wonder if the Cowboys would consider using the franchise tag on him. It would chew up $9-10 million in salary-cap room, but they would buy some time in finding defensive line help for beyond 2014. The Cowboys will have to make a number of moves to get under the cap, but they would be able to fit Hatcher in at the franchise number. Is it worth it? The Cowboys put the tag on Anthony Spencer last year, paying him $10.6 million. I thought it was the right move at the time and did not second guess it after Spencer's knee injury cost him all but one game this season. I'm not as sure about tagging Hatcher. They might have to restructure more deals than they would want and that would also affect the cap in 2015 and beyond. And last year the defensive line market was thin, even for the top players.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys will have a decision to make on backup quarterback Kyle Orton in the offseason. He will make $3.25 million in 2014 and count $4.377 against the salary cap. The Cowboys will have to do a lot of maneuvering to get under the cap in the offseason and could just restructure Orton's contract in the same way they did last March. The Cowboys have yet to start the clock on finding Tony Romo's replacement, which is another reason to keep Orton around. But the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers also offer up valid reasons to keep Orton even if he does not throw a pass this year. The Packers season has gone to shreds without Aaron Rodgers. They have not won since losing Rodgers, turning first to Seneca Wallace, who got hurt, then to Scott Tolzien and now they're on Matt Flynn. The Bears are 2-3 without Jay Cutler, though it is difficult to put much of the blame on Josh McCown. He's done a nice job and been a stabilizing force, but the Bears appeared to learn their lesson when they lost Cutler in previous seasons. Romo turns 34 in April. He's battled injuries in the past and had back surgery last April. Keeping Orton makes sense and something I think the Cowboys do. It's an insurance policy worth keeping.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys had Laurent Robinson in the back of their mind when they have signed some of these defensive linemen this season. Confused? Hear me out. In 2011, Robinson had a career year with 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, but because the Cowboys signed him to a minimum salary-benefit contract they were unable to re-sign him before he hit free agency. Jacksonville swooped in with a five-year, $32.5 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. It was way too rich for the Cowboys -- and ultimately the Jaguars -- but without the restriction Robinson would have re-signed with the Cowboys at a much cheaper rate. That brings me to the defensive linemen. When the Cowboys signed George Selvie, Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn, Drake Nevis and Martez Wilson, they made sure they got a second year on the contracts. They are all signed through 2014, so if they hit -- and Selvie is a hit -- the Cowboys hold their rights for a second year. That's a shrewd move, in my opinion.
  • I wonder if DeMarco Murray can reach 1,000 yards. Yep, I do. Murray missed two games with a knee injury and essentially missed a third when he got just four carries for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings when the game plan called for Tony Romo to pass the ball early and often. But with four games to go Murray needs 303 yards to reach 1,000. In his last three games Murray has rushed for 89, 86 and 63 yards. If he keeps up that pace, he would get there. Reaching 1,000 yards should not be that difficult, but the Cowboys sure seem to make it difficult after years of Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith almost annually reaching the mark. The last Dallas runner to go for more than 1,000 yards was Julius Jones (1,084) in 2006 and that's the Cowboys only 1,000-yard rusher since 2001.
  • I don't wonder if the Cowboys will rue the day they lost Alex Tanney, just as I don't think the Cowboys have rued the day since losing Matt Moore oh so many years ago. (Long-time readers will know how I feel about Moore). The Cleveland Browns signed Tanney off the Cowboys' practice squad last week. I liked what Tanney did in a short time with the Cowboys over the summer. He showed some things in his preseason work, but there will be a new Tanney next summer. Or even next week. I wonder if the Cowboys add a quarterback to the practice squad over the final month of the season. They could use the last four weeks to bring a guy in for a free look and essentially give him a “signing bonus” for four weeks of being on the practice squad and sign him to a futures deal when the season ends.

Cowboys back in developing a QB stage

September, 1, 2013
One of the positives regarding the Cowboys roster moves of the past 24 hours regards quarterback Alex Tanney.

The Cowboys signed Tanney to the practice squad on Sunday afternoon after he cleared waivers. Tanney completed 40 of 73 passes for 423 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

After the Cowboys released Stephen McGee in 2011, finding a young quarterback to groom for the future didn't appear to be a concern. This summer, Nick Stephens and Tanney were the Nos. 3 and 4 quarterbacks in camp and eventually Tanney moved past Stephens because of his strong arm and his ability to finally command the offense after missing the offseason program. It seems as if Tanney's skill set gives the Cowboys confidence they want to develop him.

One of Tanney's best attributes is his arm strength in terms of throwing deep passes. Several times in the preseason, Tanney wasn't afraid to let it fly with pressure in his face. Coach Jason Garrett said he was pleased with Tanney's progress over the summer.

Will Tanney become a starting quarterback? Who knows? But the Cowboys' current starter is an undrafted player from Eastern Illinois in Tony Romo.

Tanney was beaten up pretty good in his last series of the preseason on Thursday night against the Houston Texans. He was sacked three times -- four times, really, but a penalty negated the play -- and still he got the Cowboys within field goal range.

"It looked like he kept his composure, moved around, kept his eyes up the field," Garrett said of Tanney's efforts. "But just didn't get into much of a rhythm throughout the football game."

Tanney's progress is tied to Kyle Orton, the No. 2 quarterback. Orton is signed through 2014 and he's scheduled to make $3.2 million in base salary next season. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys let Orton and Tanney battle for the No. 2 job next year.

Orton played pretty well during the preseason and while fans were upset at his two-interception performance at Arizona, he did make a nice touchdown pass the previous week at Oakland and looked good in the Hall of Fame game.

Tanney will be the scout-team quarterback for this team in 2013 and if he continues to progress he could challenge Orton in 2014.

Cowboys' practice squad is set

September, 1, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- For those upset the Dallas Cowboys cut quarterback Alex Tanney because they feared he would be claimed by another team, breathe a sigh of relief.

Tanney cleared waivers and was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad, according to a source.

In five preseason games, Tanney completed 40 of 73 passes for 423 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions.

Wide receivers Danny Coale and Tim Benford will be on the practice squad for the second straight season. The Cowboys also added guard Ray Dominguez, defensive end Jason Vega, cornerback Micah Pellerin, safety Jakar Hamilton and linebacker Cameron Lawrence to the practice squad.

The Cowboys had hoped to re-sign Brandon Magee to the practice squad, but the linebacker was claimed by Cleveland. The Cowboys are no longer on the hook for the $70,000 guarantee they had on his contract.

Cowboys to waive QB Alex Tanney

August, 30, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will go with two quarterbacks -- Tony Romo and Kyle Orton -- on the 53-man roster.

Alex Tanney was informed of his release on Friday, according to a source. The Cowboys could bring him back to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Tanney played most of Thursday’s 24-6 loss to Houston, completing 17 of 31 passes for 177 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked seven times. He finished the preseason with 423 yards on 40-of-73 passing with a touchdown and two picks.

The Cowboys also released offensive lineman Edawn Coughman.

Cowboys' Tanney takes a pounding

August, 30, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dallas Cowboys quarterback Alex Tanney was bruised and battered Thursday night by Houston, playing all but one series in the 24-6 loss.

Tanney was sacked seven times and hit at least that many times more, completing 17 of 31 passes for 177 yards and throwing one interception.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Tanney said. “Just too many mistakes on my part. We didn’t put hardly put any points on the board, so that’s on me.”

Tanney was besieged by Houston’s pass rush with a patchwork offensive line that had a difficult time handling four rushers, if not many blitzes. Late in the fourth quarter he hit Cole Beasley (14 yards) and Tim Benford (32 yards) on back-to-back plays and got the Cowboys to the Texans' 7-yard line at the two-minute warning. He was sacked three times, saw his face mask grabbed once, scrambled once and at one point faced second-and-29 from the Houston 30.

The Cowboys settled for a Dan Bailey field goal with 29 seconds to play.

“I treat every drive the same, but it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t get in the end zone at the end,” Tanney said.

Now he waits to see if the Cowboys clear a spot on the 53-man roster, which does not appear likely given needs elsewhere. He could be added to the practice squad.

“You never know what to expect,” Tanney said. “I just know I worked as hard as I possibly could over the last month and a half, so whatever happens from here just happens.”

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

August, 29, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys meet the Houston Texans in the preseason for the first time since 2010 at AT&T Stadium. Intrastate pride might be on the line for the fans of both teams, but little else.

With 75 players on the roster, some jobs remain but most are filled. Here’s what we’ll be looking at tonight:

Job fair: With 18 roster moves to make by Saturday’s cut-down date, most of the decisions have likely been made. There are perhaps two open spots with as many as eight guys looking to fit the square peg. Would the Cowboys carry five tight ends? How about six receivers? Nine defensive linemen?

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore, tight end Andre Smith, wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, cornerback Micah Pellerin, tackle DeMetress Bell, guard David Arkin and guard Kevin Kowalski can make their cases tonight. Linebacker Brandon Magee (concussion), safeties Eric Frampton (calf), Danny McCray (hamstring) and Matt Johnson (foot) will have to watch and sweat out the final decisions.

Dez Bryant joins Tim MacMahon and Landry Locker to discuss his hobby of studying the game's great receivers, if his next contract ever crosses his mind, what it was like to be investigated by the NCAA and much, much more.

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Tanney time: Maybe Kyle Orton opens the game, but the Cowboys will give Alex Tanney most of the work.

With needs at other positions and injury questions going into the opener, Tanney is looking more like a practice-squad fit than a 53-man roster fit. If he plays lights out, he could change the equation or at the very least get another team to keep him on the 53-man roster the way Matt Moore did a few years ago.

Check out the Texans: Last year the Cowboys closed the preseason against Miami and traded for veteran offensive lineman Ryan Cook a few days later based on what they saw in that game.

With the Cowboys moving to a pure zone blocking scheme this year, check out the Texans’ offensive linemen. Assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack spent five years with the Texans (2007-11) and will have a good idea of what would be a good fit with the Cowboys.

As unsettled as the Cowboys are with their starting offensive line they’re more unsettled with the backups. A case could be made they don’t have a ninth or 10th guy (if they choose to reach double digits) on their current roster to fill out the line.

Earning practice squad jobs: Tanney has been talked about, but there will be seven other spots to fill. The Cowboys like to keep receivers and defensive backs on the practice squad because of the amount of running in practice, so guys like Danny Coale, Tim Benford and Pellerin bear watching.

And the line play will have candidates to, like defensive end Jerome Long and offensive tackle Darrion Weems. Linebacker could be another spot of interest with Cameron Lawrence and Taylor Reed.

The digital board: Chris Jones hit it last week with a punt against Cincinnati and the Bengals returned the re-kick 75 yards for a touchdown, continuing a preseason-long issue of special teams’ miscues. Jones is unlikely to hit it again, but watching it to see the clock tick down will be more important because it brings us closer to the start of the regular season.

Tanney has another QB idol: Jay Fiedler

August, 29, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo is one of the patron saints of undrafted quarterbacks everywhere.

For Alex Tanney, hoping to be the Dallas Cowboys' third quarterback, or at least make another team’s active roster with a solid effort tonight against Houston in the preseason finale, there is another name: Jay Fiedler.

Fiedler played for five teams, most notably with Miami from 2000-04, after coming out of Dartmouth as an undrafted free agent in 1994. He posted a 37-23 record for his career, winning a playoff game for the Dolphins in 2000.

Tanney’s agent, Brian Levy, also represented Fiedler, and the two quarterbacks have become friends.

“I have nothing but respect for someone like that who’s also come from a small school and had success at this level,” said Tanney, who played at Monmouth (Ill.) College, a Division III school. “It’s a positive thing.”

The Cowboys signed Tanney on the first day of training camp. He was with Kansas City in the offseason after spending last season on injured reserve, but was cut in May. The son of a retired high school football coach, he spent two months working out in the Quad Cities, and ran a passing camp for kids before the Cowboys called.

“It was good for me because I’m teaching, I’m working, I’m demonstrating, and then you’ve got some receivers out there running around a little bit,” Tanney said.

Throwing to high school receivers is different than throwing to NFL receivers, even the ones at the bottom of a roster. But Tanney quickly impressed the Cowboys with how fast he picked up the offense and how fast he made decisions on the field. Head coach Jason Garrett has often mentioned Tanney’s instincts.

In four preseason games, he has completed 23 of 43 passes for 246 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Tanney will likely play most, if not all, of tonight’s game against the Texans with the regulars sitting out, but he has purposely not thought about what might or might not happen when final roster cuts come Saturday.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Tanney said. “It’s such a competitive business, but there’s always 31 other team out there looking. I’ve just got to put the best product out there.”

Will Cowboys go with three quarterbacks?

August, 28, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- With the Cowboys releasing quarterback Nick Stephens Tuesday, Alex Tanney most likely will start the final preseason game against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

Darren Woodson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss accountability at Valley Ranch and what he expects to see from the 2013 Dallas Cowboys.

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In previous years, the Cowboys have used the third quarterback to play in the final preseason game, which was the case with Stephen McGee and Richard Bartel. The No. 2 quarterback was made available in case of injury.

This summer, Tanney has completed 54.8 percent of his passes with one touchdown and one interception for 246 yards.

The opportunity to keep three quarterbacks on the roster is remote given how the Cowboys are trying to keep four running backs, four tight ends, make room for an extra safety and defensive lineman.

But Stephen Jones, the Cowboys executive vice president, left the door open about keeping a third quarterback.

"Those are things you always look at on merit and a full body of work and you look at what it means to other players in terms of who we could keep and how they could contribute," Jones said. "As I said, that decision still is yet to be made. The bottom part of the roster, how they play and what they do and how they perform against the Texans is going to have some influence. It’s a full body of work still."

Dallas Cowboys release nine players

August, 27, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys released nine players, placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, making him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season, and moved defensive end Tyrone Crawford and guard/center Ryan Cook to injured reserve Tuesday afternoon to trim their roster to 75.

Darren Woodson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss accountability at Valley Ranch and what he expects to see from the 2013 Dallas Cowboys.

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Quarterback Nick Stephens, wide receivers Anthony Amos, Eric Rogers and Jared Green, guard Dennis Godfrey, tight end Colin Cochart, linebacker Deon Lacey, kicker Brett Maher and cornerback Brandon Underwood were cut.

Releasing three wide receivers and Stephens were the biggest surprises prior to the final preseason game on Thursday against the Houston Texans. The Cowboys will go into Thursday's preseason finale with Alex Tanney as the only quarterback who will play against the Texans.

Traditionally, the starters don't play in the final preseason game, but with three quarterbacks on the roster, expect backup Kyle Orton to be available to play in case Tanney gets hurt during the game.

At the start of training camp, the Cowboys had 11 receivers on the roster. With the expectations that starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant won't play on Thursday, the Cowboys will have at least six receivers active for the game and it's undetermined how much Cole Beasley will play. He just returned to the practice field this week after missing last week with a sore knee.

The next cut-down date for the Cowboys is Saturday where they have to trim the roster to 53.

A look at Cowboys possible cuts

August, 25, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- By Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys will have to make 13 roster moves to get to the 75-player limit.

While some teams will make the moves before the deadline, the sense is the Cowboys will not be announcing their cuts on Sunday, so we’ll take some educated (stop laughing) guesses.

The only lock is that defensive end Tyrone Crawford will be moved to injured reserve as he recovers from a torn Achilles. He was hurt in the first training camp practice but if the Cowboys had put him on IR before the cut to 75, they would have had to expose him to waivers, and he would have been claimed. This move keeps Crawford with the team.

With the starters not playing, with perhaps some exceptions, you have to keep numbers at certain spots over others. Running back Kendial Lawrence might not make the team, but if he is cut, then Dallas has two backs ready for Thursday in Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle because of Lance Dunbar’s foot injury.

Another question is at quarterback. Do the Cowboys keep Nick Stephens and play him versus Houston on Thursday and sit Alex Tanney? As we look at the 12 remaining moves, we’ll go with the idea that Stephens will be around.

Possible cuts:

Wide receiver: Anthony Amos, Eric Rogers, Jared Green. If Cole Beasley is healthy, then the Cowboys would have six receivers to play against the Texans. That’s enough to get through the game. If Beasley isn’t healthy, then Rogers could be kept. Rogers and Green could be brought back to the practice squad after the final cuts on Aug. 31.

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Cowboys with no interest in Graham Harrell

August, 24, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Former Ennis high school and Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was released by the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

The move will push former Texas star quarterback Vince Young into a backup role behind Aaron Rodgers.

The possibility of Harrell coming to the Cowboys has been ruled out by a source. Currently, the Cowboys have four quarterbacks on their training camp roster, Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney.

At this stage, the Cowboys seem content to keep just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster but retaining one for the practice squad is a possibility.

Harrell, who was inducted into the Texas High School Hall of Fame earlier this year, won a Class 4A state title at Ennis in 2001. At Texas Tech, he threw for 15,793 yards with 134 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. In 2008, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.