Dallas Cowboys: Allen Rossum
Spurlock admits it is kind of funny that his first game will be against the Redskins.
“It was just one of those situations where it wasn’t a fit there,” Spurlock said. “It became a fit here. You move on. There’s no hard feelings at all. Just go play, and we’re trying to get a win.”
The Cowboys hope Spurlock can spark the return game that has dried up with Dwayne Harris slowed by a hamstring injury. Terrance Williams has handled the kickoff duties in Harris’ absence, but he might not play Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Cole Beasley has handled the punt returns.
In nine games for the Lions, Spurlock averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. For his career he has three kickoff returns for touchdowns, and two punt returns for touchdowns.
The Cowboys have made a late-season play for a returner before. In 2003, they signed Michael Bates in time for the regular-season finale. In the playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers he had seven kick returns for 172 yards, with a long of 41 yards.
In 2009, the Cowboys signed Allen Rossum to return kicks and punts, but he was hurt on his first return against Atlanta. The man he was supposed to replace, Patrick Crayton, had a clinching 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against the Falcons.
The Cowboys are the third team Spurlock and Bisaccia have worked with together. They were together in San Diego as well.
“I’ve been around him a long time,” Spurlock said. “Shoot, out of eight years maybe six years I’ve been around him. Some stuff has changed, but after looking at the pictures and stuff, it’s pretty much the same stuff with different names. But I’m familiar with it.”
** I’ve resisted this one for quite a long time, but now I wonder if the Cowboys will switch Tyron Smith and Doug Free next year. Free has not played as well as he did in 2010, but let me point out that while people will want to credit two sacks to Free in the last two games, I’d put them more on Montrae Holland (he stuck too long inside with Free setting wide to take away the outside threat) and Tony Romo (the QB has to get rid of the ball after Free pushes a rusher past the pocket). But Smith has not played like a rookie, has a terrific demeanor and the athleticism to handle the left tackle spot. Maybe they should make the move in the offseason. That being said look at the left defensive ends/outside linebackers in the NFC East. Guys like Justin Tuck aren’t so easy to block either.
** I wonder if people realize how hard it is to spread the ball around the way the Cowboys and Tony Romo have this season. The top wide receivers, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson and Miles Austin, have eight, eight and six touchdown catches. There is a chance the Cowboys will have four guys with at least 50 catches. Jason Witten has 68, Bryant has 51. Robinson has 49 and Miles Austin has 37. With two games against teams in which Austin has put up numbers in the past, he could reach the 50-catch mark, despite missing six games. The Cowboys have never had four guys with at least 50 catches. They’ve had four guys catch at least 40 passes in the same season just six times in the Jones’ Era.
** Something right is happening in the personnel department. Tony Fiammetta, Laurent Robinson and Montrae Holland were all signed “off the street,” and have become valuable members of the Cowboys’ offense. After one game, I’d put Sammy Morris in that category, too. With just three practices, Morris was a big part of last week’s game plan. I wonder if that will remain for the rest of the season. It should. Morris’ experience made him a better signing than, say, Lonyae Miller, who had experience in the Cowboys’ system. His history with Jason Garrett helped too. The Cowboys have tried these sorts of moves and they haven’t always worked: Michael Bates in 2003, Allen Rossum two years ago. It’s difficult to find players at this time of year to help. The pro scouting staff deserves some praise.
** Last week I asked Stephen Jones if he could see Stephen McGee as the Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2012. I didn’t expect Jones to say no, but I wonder if McGee will be the No. 2 guy next year. Here’s why: Since Jason Garrett has been with the Cowboys he has had Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna as Tony Romo’s backup quarterbacks. Combined, they had 456 years of NFL experience. I might be off by a century or three. But clearly Garrett values experience in the backup. I think it gives him another voice to bounce things off in the meeting room and it gives Romo another set of eyes. Unless something drastically happens in the final two weeks, McGee will enter next year having played in two games in his first three seasons. Next year will also be a contract year for him. I’ve also wondered if the Cowboys would select a quarterback early in the 2012 draft.
** I wonder if Sean Lee can finish the season with more solo tackles than whoever finishes second on the team in total tackles. With two games to go, the coaches have credited Lee with 77 solo tackles. Gerald Sensabaugh is second on the team with 70 total tackles, trailing Lee by a staggering 46. For those counting at home, Lee has 39 assisted tackles. Lee needs a sack and a forced fumble to record a check mark in the 10 major defensive categories. He is tied for the team lead with four interceptions. He is second with nine pass deflections. He is tied for the lead in fumble recoveries (two). His six tackles for a loss are tied for second best on the defense. Fan voting for the Pro Bowl ended Monday. Players, coaches and personnel folks vote this week. I wonder if Lee will get a spot. If it doesn’t happen this year, it will happen in the future. Book it.
Rossum was signed on Oct. 14 to improve a slugglish return game, but injured his hamstring on his first kickoff vs. Atlanta on Oct. 25.
With Rossum out, the Cowboys went back to Patrick Crayton on punt returns and he excelled. Crayton returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown in the Falcons game and the next week, vs. Seattle, he scored on an 82 yarder.
Rossum, a Dallas native, who attended Skyline High School, never could recover from that hamstring injury. He started running lightly two weeks ago, but with Crayton's success the team decided to go elsewhere.
Gordon makes a return to the Cowboys after getting cut on Oct. 13 to make room for Rossum. Gordon was orginally signed Oct. 6 and played in the Kansas City game on Oct. 11.
Barber should play.
Also, K David Buehler (right little toe), CB Mike Jenkins (biceps), SS Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb) and OLB DeMarcus Ware (foot) had full particpation in practice and are listed as probable for Sunday's game vs. the Redskins. FS Ken Hamlin (ankle), RT Marc Colombo (leg and ankle), PR/KR Allen Rossum (hamstring) are out.
For the Redskins, RB Ladell Betts is probable with an ankle but RT Stephon Heyer is questionable with a knee injury. He was limited in practice on Friday.
TE Chris Cooley is out with an ankle injury as is RB Clinton Portis (concussion) and FB Eddie Williams.
Questionable are DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle), but assistant coach Jerry Gray said he should play. T Mike Williams (ankle) is also questionable.
One thing we noticed was that Allen Rossum was fielding punts in sweats. Coach Wade Phillips said Rossum still isn't ready to play because of his pulled hamstring.
Kicker David Buehler will attempt kicks again in practice despite his sore pinkie toe.
Running back Felix Jones did individual drills without a knee brace. Jones wore a heavy brace all last week and for the last two days wore a sleeve. Jones said when he begins to trust his knee, he sprained a ligament in Week 3 vs. Carolina, he will shed the brace.
It was a busy day at Cowboys Stadium. Rangers third baseman Michael Young and Arlington native and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells attended practice.
"It's pretty incredible," Young said. "We're going to be here when they play the Chargers, that's my next game, and it should be a lot of fun, I’m a big fan, I love football season, it’s a pretty impressive place."
Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman also attended practice.
Now, to some other injury news from Wednesday:
Kicker David Buehler (toe) missed practice, but coach Wade Phillips expects him to play. Yet, Buehler will not participate on return units. Buehler, who is still limping, was stepped on during a punt return.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins (bruised left arm) did practice on Wednesday and should be fine for the game. Jenkins is just working out the sorenss.
With Ball getting the start, his special teams duties will decrease. Michael Hamlin, a safety, who has recovered from a broken wrist, hasn't played the last four games. Hamlin could get some time on special teams.
Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree got some reps as a kick returner again, but it appears Felix Jones is still the man here.
With Doug Free getting the start at right tackle, Pat McQuistain, who hasn't played all season, becomes the swing tackle.
We forgot to tell you, Allen Rossum, missed practice again with a pulled hamstring. He's getting close, but not close enough to participate.
The team practiced in shoulder pads today. Free safety Ken Hamlin (ankle), kicker David Buehler (toe), returner Allen Rossum (hamstring) and right tackle Marc Colombo (leg and ankle) did not practice.
Hamlin will not play for a few weeks, and Colombo could miss the rest of the regular season.
Buehler and Rossum are uncertain.
IRVING, Texas -- We've got some tidbits to chew on Monday:
"I feel as good as I can feel," Rossum said. "I don't want to go out there and run half speed. They're letting me rehab more and more each day."
Phillips likes his depth at this position, so he wants to see if some of these younger players -- Doug Free, Pat McQuistian -- can actually play.
Still, the Cowboys have to be slightly concerned with Jones' lack of big-play ability in this area since he hurt his knee in Week 3 against Carolina.
Inactives for Cowboys-Packers game
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Here are the Cowboys-Packers inactives for Sunday afternoon:
IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys are strongly considering making another change at kickoff returner.
Undrafted rookie receiver Kevin Ogletree is splitting time with Felix Jones as the primary kick returner during practice this week. Jones has been the primary kick returner most of the season, but he's averaging only 20.9 yards.
Ogletree returned kickoffs in the overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs, when Jones was sidelined by a sprained knee. Ogletree averaged 23.5 yards per return, fumbling the ball out of bounds on one of them.
Veteran Allen Rossum, one of the most productive return men in NFL history, was signed to fill the role. However, Rossum pulled his hamstring on his first return in the Oct. 25 win over the Atlanta Falcons and has not played or practiced since.
Ogletree, who was inactive five of the first six games, has earned a role in the offense. With 4.36 speed, he's one of the fastest players on the roster. He's displayed his explosiveness on three quick screen passes the last two games, gaining 57 yards.
PHILADELPHIA -- It's official, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook has been declared inactive for tonight's game against the Cowboys.
Westbrook, who missed last week's game due to headaches as a result of a concussion, practiced twice this week but didn't on Friday and coach Andy Reid said he was OK.
LeSean McCoy will start in Westbrook's place.
For the first time this season, Octavien was listed as inactive. Curtis Johnson, inactive the last four weeks, is active a linebacker.
IRVING -- The Eagles held starting running back Brian Westbrook out of Friday. Westbrook, who missed last week's game against the Giants dealing with the effects of a concussion, practiced the previous two days.
Westbrook, however, doesn't have any headaches and should play Sunday vs. Dallas.
"Right now, that's what he's doing," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I just held him out so he could rest up. Again, he's taken about every rep the last two days."
As for the Cowboys injury report, RB Marion Barber (thumb), NT Jay Ratliff (knee), S Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (foot) had full participation in practice and are listed as probable on the injury report.
Ratliff's status this week is an upgrade because last week he was questionable with his knee bruise. Ratliff started and didn't have any issues with his knee during last week's game vs. Seattle.
Also, cornerback/return man Allen Rossum (hamstring) is ruled out for Sunday's game.
IRVING -- The Cowboys have practiced at four different facilities this year.
On Friday, the Cowboys practiced at Southlake Carroll High School's indoor facility. It was the seventh time since the regular season started that practice had been moved from Valley Ranch for weather conditions.
The Cowboys haven't commented on whether or not they will build a new indoor facility at Valley Ranch.
One has to be built by the 2011 Super Bowl because the Cowboys will host the NFC team's practices at Valley Ranch.
In the meantime, the Cowboys are stuck with getting on a bus and moving around.
"You feel like a nomad. You don't have a home right now," wide receiver Patrick Crayton said. "It's almost like that friend that sleeps on your couch every night. That's what we're doing: We're borrowing everybody's stadium. ...
"That's the way the weather is. We got to do it like that right now."
IRVING -- Junior Siavii would start Sunday if NT Jay Ratliff is unable to play against the Seattle Seahawks.
"Junior played well last game," coach Wade Phillips said. "I think he's improved as we played each game, so I think he's ready to play. Of course, [defensive end Marcus] Spears can work in there and can do some good things."
Ratliff, who did not practice Friday, underwent treatment for swelling in his right knee after practice. He has two sacks and a team-leading five tackles for loss among his 31 tackles this season. He also is fourth on the team with 10 quarterback pressures.
Ok, Allen Rossum didn't practice, again, and Felix Jones will take over kick return duties. Coach Wade Phillips said he's not concerned with Jones' health, considering he just came back from a sprained ligament. If case you missed it, Rossum is out two to four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Phillips said the team had a good physical practice at Cowboys Stadium.
The team could practice at Cowboys Stadium again on Friday. It depends on how wet the fields are at Valley Ranch and if another indoor facility, close to the practice site, is available.
Phillips said he's impressed with Seattle defensive end Patrick Kerney, who is tied for seventh in the NFC with four sacks and is third among active players in the NFL with 81 1/5 sacks.
The reason is Phillips coached Kerney in Atlanta in 2002 and 2003 where compiled 17 sacks in those two seasons.
"He's an outstanding player," Phillips said. "They've had a good rush for a while, they played great run defense last year, they've had two shutouts on defense this year. Now, having one in a season is unusual, its hard to do, but they've already had two shutouts."