Dallas Cowboys: Andrew Sendejo

Andrew Sendejo move to Jets a coincidence?

September, 5, 2011
9/05/11
5:17
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- NFL teams will do just about anything for an edge in a game, so could that be the reason why the New York Jets claimed safety Andrew Sendejo off waivers from the Cowboys?

Sendejo at least has a working knowledge of Rob Ryan’s defense and the offensive personnel that could help Rex Ryan and his coaching staff this week.

Tony Romo noticed a difference in Rob Ryan’s defense during Monday’s practice.

“We have a packaged called 21 that’s just the personnel we use for the scout team and Rob had everything changed,” Romo said. “They had some stuff up before and so we get out there today and then all of a sudden he’s changed all the stuff they were doing before. It’s interesting. I think Rob probably thought maybe that was some of it because he changed all his stuff. That was pretty funny.”

Head coach Jason Garrett did not believe it was a coincidence either.

“Because I think he’s a really good player,” Garrett said. “And I think he’s a guy that did a lot of good things for us, and it didn’t surprise us at all that somebody would claim him. He’s a smart football player, and he’s very good in practice, took advantage of his opportunities in games, and I think he’s just a guy that they liked. Because we liked him to, and I think a lot of teams around the league liked him.”

Vol. 4: Archer's roster projection

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
11:59
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The preseason is over and the Cowboys have to make 17 roster moves by Saturday to make the 53-man limit. Here’s what the final cuts– though not necessarily the final roster that faces the New York Jets on Sept. 11 - could look like:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No changes from the previous three projections. Tom Brandstater could be a practice squad guy.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner did everything he could to make the final roster, so could Choice be on the bubble? It’s difficult to think they could go with two rookies as the backups to Jones, but stranger things have happened.

FULLBACK (1)

Jason Pociask

I’m not sure Pociask won the job or if he got it because he can play tight end in a pinch, which is a bonus because of Martellus Bennett’s ankle injury. Chapas got better later and should find his way to the practice squad if Pociask is the pick. Gronkowski did a nice job on special teams in the preseason but he gets caught in a numbers’ game.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

No changes here and there is hope Bennett could be ready for the opener vs. the Jets.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley’s special teams experience gives him the edge but he also showed he can possibly help as a receiver. Harris went quiet after a huge debut vs. Denver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Kevin Kowalski
TBD

Look for a waiver-wire pickup to claim that last spot. I went back and forth on Kowalski, who helped himself with his work in the final two games. With Kosier as the game-day backup at center and Nagy having taken snaps at center in camp there is more of a need at tackle to fill out the back end of this group.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

If you go on position flexibility then Lissemore wins that final spot because he can play end and nose. If you’re looking for the prototype 3-4 end to grow as the year progresses then Clifton Geathers is that guy.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee

Kenwin Cummings loses out on the final spot on the roster and is hurt the most by having two kickers. You have to go light somewhere but I think I’m taking a risk at such a physical spot. With Bruce Carter expected to return after six weeks, I feel OK about this move.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

The toughest call was between Albright and Cummings. Albright got the edge because of his upside even if he is practice squad eligible.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann
Mario Butler

Josh Thomas picked the wrong time to get a hamstring injury, which gives Butler the final cornerback spot. Thomas, if he clears waivers, would go to the practice squad. McCann looks like he’ll be the kick returner on opening day.

SAFETY (4)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Church is more ready to play every down on defense than McCray, who is the better special teamer. Last year’s fourth round pick, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah comes up short in his bid to make the club.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
David Buehler
L.P. Ladouceur

Graham was helped the most by not kicking Thursday. Dave Rayner missed two kicks in his audition. Buehler missed one. How could the organization have confidence going into the Jets’ game? Buehler at least can handle kickoffs. Keeping two kickers did not seem like an option, especially with kickoffs coming from the 35, but if Buehler can produce touchbacks at a high clip then offenses will have to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

Vol. 3: Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 28, 2011
8/28/11
11:45
AM ET


IRVING, Texas -- Three preseason games are in the books so here is the third look at what the Cowboys’ 53-man roster could look like after the final cuts:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

Once again, no surprises here. Tom Brandstater will probably start the preseason finale against Miami if the Cowboys follow the same pattern as the recent past. He could be a practice squad candidate if he performs well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner gets the call this week over Lonyae Miller because he’s done a better job running the football, but can he cover punts and kicks if needed? Choice and Murray did a nice job in their first games of the preseason. Jerry Jones said during the broadcast Choice remains on the bubble, so don’t rule out Miller.

FULLBACK (1)

Shaun Chapas

Chapas, Chris Gronkowski and Jason Pociask got turns at fullback against Minnesota with the regulars. Chapas was part of this 53-man roster last week and seemed to do a decent job against the Vikings. The high-ankle injury suffered by Martellus Bennett helps this position because I believe they were leaning toward keeping four tight ends.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Bennett’s injury throws some questions into the fullback and tight end spots. Depending on the severity maybe the Cowboys go with a fourth tight end for the early part of the season. Phillips will be Witten’s backup now, but I’m not sure Martin Rucker sticks as the No. 3 guy if Bennett is out. I wouldn’t rule out Pociask either.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley helped himself with his play against the Vikings but this is more of a special teams’ pick. The gamble is trying to get undrafted rookie wide receiver Raymond Radway on the practice squad. Harris gets the edge over Radway because of his return ability but I wouldn’t consider Harris a lock.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
TBD

The biggest departure is Andre Gurode. The Cowboys will meet with the five-time Pro Bowler today and if there is no agreement on a lowered salary then he will be let go. It’s something of a stunner because of Costa’s knee injury and inexperience that will be on the line. I listed eight plus an undetermined spot, but I can see Kevin Kowalski on the final roster or the team adding a player after the final cuts.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

No change here from the first two weeks, but could the Cowboys go with only five defensive linemen? It’s a gamble but I wouldn’t rule it out as the Cowboys look more at the 46-man game-day roster than just the 53.


INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

The final spot here comes down to Cummings over Orie Lemon, who did not play vs. Minnesota because of a hamstring injury. Cummings played despite a thumb procedure in the middle of the week. Rookie Bruce Carter will start the year on PUP, so he does not count against the 53-man roster.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

No changes here as well. Albright gets the nod over Brandon Williams. After a little bit of a lull, Butler was much more active against the Vikings.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

Injuries to Ball (elbow) and Thomas (hamstring) create some worry with the cornerbacks, especially with Newman (groin) and Jenkins (stinger) not yet 100 percent. Undrafted rookie Mario Butler is still in the mix, especially if Thomas is unable to recover in time to play vs. Miami on Thursday.

SAFETY (5)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Andrew Sendejo

With nine offensive linemen I added Sendejo to the mix only because of special teams. That would be 11 defensive backs on the final roster but all of them be active on gameday?


SPECIALISTS (3)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
L.P. Ladouceur

Shayne Graham gets the call over Dan Bailey. David Buehler has to come back from the hip strain this week or he has no chance. Bailey made two kicks against Minnesota, including an under-pressure 40 yarder in the fourth quarter. But Graham’s resume gives him the nod. I just don’t believe they can go with an unproven kicker.

Vol. 2: Archer's roster projection

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
11:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With two preseason games down and two to go, here is the second look at how the Cowboys' 53-man roster could look for the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No surprises here, but it was a little curious that Kitna saw only one drive of work vs. the Chargers. Maybe he will play more vs. Minnesota on Saturday.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Lonyae Miller

I’m sticking with Miller because of his work on special teams, although Phillip Tanner has helped himself a lot with his work in practice and the games. He also was in on a special teams tackle. If he can show the coaches he can be a factor as a cover guy, then he could bump Miller. Until he does it, I’m sticking with Miller.

FULLBACK (1)
Shaun Chapas

Last week it was Chris Gronkowski. I thought Chapas was better vs. the Chargers but I think there is a high possibility the Cowboys will go with four tight ends on the 53-man roster and hope to get Chapas on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Bennett led the Cowboys with three catches for 33 yards, but he had a big drop of what would have been a touchdown grab. Phillips is a mainstay here because he can play fullback. If they keep a fourth tight end, I don’t think that player is in the building yet.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Raymond Radway

Ogletree handled himself fine in the start because of Austin’s absence with a mild hamstring strain. He is a smooth player but needs to find some consistency. After a big night vs. Denver, Harris did not have a catch and didn’t play much. Manny Johnson made two catches and is not out of the mix for the last spot either. In reading between the lines on comments made by Jason Garrett, I don’t think it looks good for Jesse Holley.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
Doug Free
David Arkin
Andre Gurode
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
Phil Costa
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

No changes in this group, but at first glance offensive line/running game coordinator Hudson Houck liked Nagy’s work with the first team at left guard. I think this could be the week Phil Costa gets some guard work or Andre Gurode slides over. I think the Cowboys still could look for more veteran interior help once cuts start coming down.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

Brent was shaky vs. San Diego, but I don’t think it jeopardizes his spot. Spears’ groin strain and Hatcher’s toe injury are not considered serious, so I don’t think it changes Igor Olshansky’s future. Coleman is now working with the first team and Olshansky’s $3.3 million salary puts him on the bubble.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

I’m tempted to add Orie Lemon to this mix but I don’t know what other spot to cut from. Maybe offensive line? I still believe Bruce Carter will be a physically-unable-to-perform guy and miss the first six weeks.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

Same group as last week. Albright was on the first-team kick coverage, which tells you the coaches want to see how he can perform there. He was extremely active and made three tackles at outside linebacker. Brandon Williams was better in practice late last week but needs to turn it on.

CORNERBACK (6)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

I’ve added McCann to the mix over undrafted rookie Mario Butler. McCann is working the first team nickel with injuries to Newman and Jenkins. He has better speed than Butler but by no means is the rookie out of the battle.

SAFETY (4)
Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Andrew Sendejo is the only change. It’s down to a sixth corner vs. a fifth safety, and I went with the corner because of the injuries to Newman and Jenkins. Church has cemented his spot.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Mat McBriar
Dan Bailey
L.P. Ladouceur

Same as last week in part because David Buehler has a hip strain and did not play vs. San Diego. He’s hoping to be back to practice this week. Bailey did not get a field goal attempt but seemed to overcome a poor start to practice last week with good work vs. the Chargers.

Andrew Sendejo learning on fly

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
1:46
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Signed last November after playing for Sacramento of the UFL, safety Andrew Sendejo never had much of a chance to make an impression on the Cowboys.

He saw special teams’ duty in two of the five games he was on the 53-man roster and had one tackle.

Because of the lockout, Sendejo is once again learning on the fly.

“It hasn’t really settled down too much,” Sendejo said. “Training camp doesn’t really settle down. You’re always on the go and for us defensively it’s about trying to get the foundation of the defense established and nailing things down.”

With Danny McCray bothered by a shoulder injury, Sendejo, who had four tackles against Denver, is working with the first-team dime defense and coach Jason Garrett has seen a little change in the Rice grad.

“He’s a smart football player,” Garrett said. “It’s really important to him. He’s trying to get better in all that he’s given an opportunity to do both on defense and in the kicking game. He’s getting better. He’s playing with more confidence and playing with more decisiveness.”

Holland, no FB, Forbath, Costa, Sendejo

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
10:09
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As training camp rolls on, here are five things that have me wondering:

** While everybody waits for Montrae Holland to return from a sore lower back and wonders about the veteran’s future on the offensive line, it must be pointed out that Holland received a $500,000 roster bonus on the second day of the league year. That’s a lot of money to pay a guy if you are seriously considering cutting him. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it is just something to consider.

** The fullback competition between Chris Gronkowski, Shaun Chapas and even Jason Pociask will take some time to settle in camp, but is it possible the Cowboys go without a true fullback when composing the 53-man roster? John Phillips’ return to the field makes that more of a possibility and Jason Garrett spoke glowingly about Martin Rucker’s progress the other day.

** When it comes to the offensive line coaches always say you play the best five players and figure out the best positions when you can. If that’s the case, then Phil Costa has been among the best five and should play. The question is where. He is a center by trade but the Cowboys have Andre Gurode. Do you move Costa to guard or do you wonder about putting Gurode at guard? Gurode struggled at guard earlier in his career and has been to the Pro Bowl five times as a center but it’s something to think about.

** I have no idea if Kai Forbath actually exists or not because he has yet to kick in training camp because of a quadriceps injury. With the way the kicking battle is going between David Buehler and Dan Bailey, I wonder if Forbath has a chance to win the gig with one good week of practice. Buehler was credited with a 42-yard field goal against Denver but did it look good to you on replay? Bailey missed three kicks Sunday and has a low trajectory on his kicks.

** Safety Andrew Sendejo has moved up to the first-team dime package, which could be a sign he is earning some trust from the coaches. With Danny McCray out with a shoulder injury for a little bit Sendejo will get a chance to win a roster spot. Several players said he opened eyes during the player-run practices in May.

Todd Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
11:39
AM ET
ARLINGTON -- After the first preseason game, here is a guess as to how the Cowboys' 53-man roster could shake out for the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

McGee delivered with a game-winning fourth-quarter drive vs. Denver. He is not pushing Kitna for the No. 2 job just yet but he has shown the ability to make plays when it matters most. Coaches still want him to get rid of the ball faster.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Lonyae Miller

Miller did not show in the game how well he did in camp practices but it’s too early to say he can’t do it. Plus, he can play on all the special teams units. The bigger question with this group is whether all four could be active for games. I don’t see it.

FULLBACK (1)
Chris Gronkowski

I’m not married to this decision but rookie Shaun Chapas has yet to knock out the champ, if you know what I mean. This decision will go down to the final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Phillips took a shot to his knee early on in the game and did not miss a snap, so that is a positive sign for a guy coming back from major surgery. With Bennett out with a hamstring injury it also meant he got a ton of playing time.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Raymond Radway

Harris (two) and Radway (one) were able to produce on the big stage with touchdown catches but in order for them to make an impact in the regular season they will have to show they can handle special teams. Radway’s speed could help as kick returner. Harris can’t dance so much on punts. Jesse Holley is still in the mix because of his coverage skills.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
Doug Free
David Arkin
Andre Gurode
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
Phil Costa
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

When teams begin their cuts the Cowboys will look for some upgrades over the current group, so those last two spots are far from settled. Holland was just paid a $500,000 roster bonus so that makes it difficult to cut him. If the Cowboys want to go for a veteran, like a Brian Waters, they have to think about that sooner rather than later.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

There has been a lot of media speculation about Igor Olshansky’s future but he continues to run with the first team. Economics will play a part in this decision but I don’t think it’s a given. Lissemore has helped himself in camp and can play two spots. Hatcher has also excelled.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

Where’s Bruce Carter? Don’t worry. He will not be ready to start the season because of the knee injury and thus will not count against the 53. Cummings has done a nice job in camp and is a thumper. Orie Lemon has been a surprise, too, and is in the mix.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

Butler has made a huge leap in his third camp and will be part of Rob Ryan’s sub package defenses. He just has a knack for getting to the quarterback. Brandon Williams has been pretty quiet, which gives Albright a chance to make the final cut. I can see a scenario in which they go with four outside backers.

CORNERBACK (5)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball

The top three are set. The bottom two aren’t, but Thomas has picked it up as of late and has been a first-team gunner on the punt team. That’s an indication he will be in the mix. Ball’s position flexibility helps him here, but he is making $1.2 million and that’s a lot for a No. 5 corner.

SAFETY (5)
Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Andrew Sendejo
Danny McCray

Sendejo gets the final spot among the safeties over Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. I just don’t see the awareness in him to be ready, but he will get the chance to impress as a returner in the preseason. McCray’s shoulder injury is something to keep an eye on too.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Mat McBriar
Dan Bailey
L.P. Ladouceur

Any chance of Corey Adams supplanting Ladouceur as the snapper took a hit when he rolled one back Thursday. David Buehler made a 42-yarder but it was close. Bailey sent every kickoff into the end zone, so, to me, it comes down to consistency in making field goals. Bailey has been more consistent in camp.

Todd Archer's practice observations

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
10:27
PM ET
** Allowed to practice for the first time during camp with the CBA settled, CB Bryan McCann returned punts and kickoffs. Still no sign of Dez Bryant on the punt return team. He could be just a situational guy on punt returns.

** Before the workout, TE Martellus Bennett practiced catching passes with one hand. The other day he mentioned how Tampa Bay’s Kellen Winslow does the same.

** The defense worked on defending Hail Mary plays during its teaching period. Interesting to see LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer double-team a receiver at the line to delay the takeoff before they went to rush the passer.

** The first-team offense ended a two-minute drill without a touchdown when a blitz forced QB Tony Romo to throw the ball earlier than he wanted to WR Dez Bryant. Earlier in the drive, Bryant cut inside and failed to get out of bounds, which kept the clock running. As the play unfolded, Romo yelled to get out of bounds.

** DE Igor Olshansky had a tackle for loss on Lonyae Miller during the inside run portion of practice. With the additions of Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher, Olshansky will have to make more plays like that.

** Romo’s prettiest throw of the day was on a comeback to the wide side of the field to Bryant that was just over the fingertips of Ware. He also had a nice check-off to Miles Austin in the slot when the receiver was able to slide away from CB Orlando Scandrick.

** The No. 1 offense had a bad stretch during a portion of team drills when three plays went like this: Victor Butler sack, mix-up with WR Kevin Ogletree and a dropped deep ball by Jesse Holley, who was practicing for the first time in camp, as well.

** Coleman showed some rust with an offside penalty, but he also showed some force when he shoved OT Sam Young to the ground on a pass rush move that forced an early Jon Kitna throw.

** S Collin Zych forced a fumble on Bennett, knocking the ball free just as Bennett started to turn up field. S Andrew Sendejo picked up the recovery.

** Kickers David Buehler and Dan Bailey made their “mayday” field goals from 44 and 51 yards, respectively, as the coaches put the players through end-of-game situations.

**S Danny McCray had a nice breakup of a pass in the end zone to Jason Witten in the two-minute drill. McCray worked on the first-team dime package.

How much safety help can Cowboys afford?

July, 27, 2011
7/27/11
6:44
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO – The Cowboys’ front office accomplished its primary goal by locking up left tackle Doug Free to a long-term deal.

Addressing the safety positions isn’t far down the list.

Jerry Jones acknowledged in the middle of last season that the safety play was one of his primary concerns. That is still the case.

Strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who had three of his career-high five interceptions in the final four games of last season, is an unrestricted free agent with hopes of getting a significant pay raise from his 2010 salary of $1.8 million. Free safety Alan Ball, who struggled all season, will most likely return to a reserve cornerback role.

That leaves the Cowboys with four second-year safeties – fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and undrafted Barry Church, Danny McCray and Andrew Sendejo – and some rookie free agents on the active roster. They like Owusu-Ansah’s athleticism, but he’s a Division II product who spent most of his rookie year on injured reserve. Church is a big hitter with good instincts, but he has below-average speed that might be exposed if he’s a starter.

The Cowboys will certainly attempt to acquire some veteran help.

"Obviously, we'd like to improve that position if we can," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "That's one of our priorities. It's obviously something we're working on. We'll see. Whether, it's one or two, I don't know the answer to that. It could be three. You have to see, at the end of the day, whether things are going to work out and what's available and what fits for us. We're still very confident we can get the help there that we need."

The problem is the price. The Cowboys had interest in Eric Weddle, but he committed to re-sign with the Chargers, getting a historic contract for a safety in NFL history (five years, $40 million). The Rams gave Quintin Mikell a four-year, $28 million deal.

"I think in any market, you have players who in the first part of it, right out of the bag, you see some deals that are big," Jones said. "They all can't make big money at the end of the day. There's salary caps. We knew that would probably happen. I wouldn't say we're surprised. It happens. I think at some point, as it has in the past, those things start to -- after everybody gets their main priorities where they were going to spend money -- then you have your next level and your next level, and those things work themselves out."

The Cowboys have also had conversations with agents for Sensabaugh and Abram Elam, who started for Rob Ryan’s Browns the last two seasons. There are several potentially more affordable options with starting experience on the market, such as the ex-Jet Brodney Pool and former Bear Danieal Manning.

The Cowboys’ interest in ex-Raider Michael Huff, an Irving Nimitz and Texas product, isn’t clear. However, Huff is likely to receive a contract in the Weddle/Mikell range, and it doesn’t sound as if the Cowboys intend to make that type of investment in a safety.

Hoping for a camp look at five guys

June, 24, 2011
6/24/11
1:58
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The best part of training camp is that you actually get to see the players practice. During the regular season we only get to see them go through some individual drills and stretch before we are hauled back to the media room.

Training camp gives you the best feel for a player and if he is or isn’t ready to play or has a chance to make a contribution. After seeing Doug Free work during camp vs. DeMarcus Ware, you felt pretty good about him at left tackle and that proved to be true.

As we continue with the cautious optimism regarding the talks between the league and players on a new collective bargaining agreement, there are a few players I want to see on the practice field this summer.

We’ll talk about Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and a slew of regulars a ton whenever football returns, but this list is more below the radar.

Offensive tackle Sam Young – If you believe what you hear from the conditioning work and player-run practices, he has had a great offseason. A sixth-round pick in 2010, Young was active for only three games and saw action only on special teams. The Cowboys missed a chance to play him at least a little in the final two games just to get a taste of what he could do in 2011 and beyond. He is a smart and tough kid and could be the swing tackle in 2011 depending on what happens with Marc Colombo. In his rookie training camp he needed to add some muscle but he was not as out of place as most rookie linemen seem to be.

Safety Andrew Sendejo – He joined the team in November after excelling for Sacramento in the UFL. He saw only limited special teams’ action in the two games he dressed, but according to some players at the May practices he did a decent job. He was a stat sheet filler in the UFL, so it will be interesting to see if he can do the same with the Cowboys. Will he be a star? I can’t do there but with a new coordinator in Rob Ryan he could get a chance to develop as a player.

Offensive tackle Jermey Parnell – The Cowboys took him off New Orleans’ practice squad with the idea of redshirting him. A converted basketball player, Parnell looks the part for a left tackle. Along with Young and Phil Costa, he would stay late after practices working on his technique. Before games he would work on his pass sets and footwork by himself. A training camp would allow him the chance to show the coaches he has the chance to be a rotation guy in 2011.

Tight end John Phillips – His 2010 season was ruined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the Hall of Fame Game. At that time he was pushing Martellus Bennett for serious playing time behind Jason Witten. Can he regain that form? He has gone through this rehab before and his toughness cannot be questioned. He is not a star, but watching him battle in one-on-one pass rush drills is a sight to see. He also improved as a pass catcher.

Safety Danny McCray – We know he can be a special teams’ stalwart. He led the Cowboys with 28 tackles there as a rookie. But can he contribute on defense? He was swimming in coverage early in that dime package but seemed to play better there later in the year. Can he continue to be a piece of the defensive puzzle and keep his ace role on special teams? He’ll get the chance to prove himself in camp.

Position Series: Safeties

February, 23, 2011
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Players: Alan Ball (free agent), Gerald Sensabaugh (free agent), Barry Church (signed through 2012), Danny McCray (signed through 2012), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (signed through 2013), Andrew Sendejo (signed through 2011)

Top free agents: Michael Huff, Oakland Raiders; O.J. Atogwe, St. Louis Rams; Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts; Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints; Quintin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles; Danieal Manning, Chicago Bears; Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens

[+] EnlargeBall
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireDon't expect safety Alan Ball to be a starter next season, if he's even on the Cowboys' roster in 2011.
Top draft prospects: Rahim Moore, UCLA; Quinton Carter, Oklahoma; DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson; Robert Sands, West Virginia; Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple.

2010 review: To put it simply, this position was a problem. The Cowboys made a major misevaluation with Alan Ball, who doesn’t have the instincts or tackling ability to be a starting free safety for a decent NFL defense. Gerald Sensabaugh was a disappointment for most of the season, although he finished strong by making four of his five interceptions in the last six games. He was not a factor against the run or an intimidating presence in the middle of the field. Barry Church and Danny McCray didn’t perform well enough in limited playing time to make a case to contend for a starting job. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who missed much of camp due to shoulder surgery and was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, essentially had a redshirt season.

Offseason preview: The Cowboys have to find at least one, and preferably two, new starting safeties. If Ball is on the roster next season, it’ll be as a backup and core special teams player. There is a chance that Sensabaugh could return as a starter, but the Cowboys won’t give him the lucrative long-term deal he’s looking for in free agency. It would behoove the Cowboys to be aggressive in free agency, but they haven’t set up a visit with O.J. Atogwe, who is available to sign immediately after being released by the Rams this week. There are no safeties who are projected as top-10 picks, so don’t expect the Cowboys to draft one in the first round. They should be able to find a starter in the second or third round.

Need meter: (1-to-5) 5

Cowboys future focus: S Andrew Sendejo

January, 19, 2011
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Future Focus
ANDREW SENDEJO

Position: Safety
Height: 6-1. Weight: 225
College: Rice
How acquired: Free agent

Andrew Sendejo
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanAndrew Sendejo led the UFL with 48 tackles and had seven pass deflections and two interceptions before the Cowboys picked him up.
What he did in 2010: Sendejo was active for only two games after joining the Cowboys following the UFL season with Sacramento. Sendejo led the UFL with 48 tackles he also had seven pass deflections and two interceptions. In the two games with the Cowboys he had one special teams tackle. He did not have any defensive snaps.

What to look for in 2011: It’s hard to know what the Cowboys have in Sendejo, who had tryouts with Tampa Bay and New Orleans after going undrafted last April. They liked what he did in the UFL but he signed so late in the season that it was hard to get him on the field. According to Chris Greisen, whom the Cowboys signed in the final week of the season after he played for Florida in the UFL, Sendejo has good range -- he had a pick vs. Florida -- and is an aware player. He played mostly free safety in practice. He is signed through 2011 and will have a chance in camp to win a roster spot but will likely have to beat out Barry Church and/or Danny McCray with the Cowboys expected to fortify the position in the draft or free agency.

Quotable: I’m very glad I played in the UFL as opposed to not doing anything. If I was just sitting around at home it would have been hard to jump in and compete at this level. I learned a lot, not only on the field but how to be a professional football player and the lifestyle. The UFL helped me transition into this easier as opposed to coming in right from college. … I think the biggest thing for me is getting adjusted to the speed of the game. The UFL is a good level of talent but the speed of the game is a lot faster. I learned that on my first kickoff. I could tell the game was a lot, lot faster. -- Andrew Sendejo.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: This is where your pro department comes into play, adding players like this during the season. Obviously there’s a need at safety. It’s a position that’s been a big struggle through the season. He did get some experience playing special teams in two games. We’ll find out more about him in the off-season but he made some plays it looked like in the UFL and we’ll see if that translates into this level.

Tony Romo's move to IR comes too late

December, 21, 2010
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys’ decision to place Tony Romo on injured reserve was long overdue.

After Romo suffered a broken left collarbone on Oct. 25 against the New York Giants, he was given a six-to-eight-week recovery time. That was six to eight weeks for the bone to sufficiently heal, not for him to be 100 percent ready to play in the NFL again.

The Cowboys decided against surgery because of where the break was located. Doctors could not insert a plate to stabilize the fracture and possibly speed up the recovery time. As recently as Dec. 5, Romo said he could not sleep on his side because pain remained in his shoulder. With the inactivity came a loss of strength. He would not have been able to protect himself if he returned to the field.

Although the Cowboys were not officially eliminated from the playoffs until their loss to Philadelphia, the chances were remote given the tiebreaking hurdles they would have had to clear. But once it became clear that the postseason was not a realistic option, the Cowboys should have placed Romo on IR.

The Cowboys could have brought in a developmental quarterback, poached a team’s practice squad for a different position or looked to the UFL for an unknown guy to see whether they could unearth a gem, as they did with Andrew Sendejo.

The NFL is about talent acquisition, as Bill Parcells used to say, and the Cowboys missed out on a chance to acquire and evaluate by waiting too long to make this move.

Cowboys promote safety, cut DE

November, 29, 2010
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IRVING, Texas -- Safety Andrew Sendejo spent less than a week on the Cowboys’ practice squad before getting promoted to the active roster.

The Cowboys made room for Sendejo, a rookie from Rice, by cutting defensive end Jimmy Saddler-McQueen.

Sendejo spent the fall playing for the UFL’s Sacramento Mountain Lions. He ranked second in the league with 48 tackles and had seven pass deflections and two interceptions. The Cowboys didn’t have to pay the UFL’s $150,000 transfer fee because they originally signed Sendejo to the practice squad.

Fullback/defensive end Alex Daniels, who was cut last week to make room for Sendejo, has returned to the Cowboys’ practice squad.

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