Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Armstrong

Anthony Armstrong is released

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
4:45
PM ET
The Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Anthony Armstrong.

The move will become official Saturday, the day NFL teams must cut their rosters from 75 to 53 players.

When Armstrong becomes official he doesn't have to go through waivers to sign with another team. He's an immediate free agent.

Armstrong's release leads to speculation that the Cowboys could go with five wide receivers. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Dwayne Harris are projected as the receivers who will make the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys have some health issues along the offensive and defensive lines and the team could go deep at those positions for the first week of the season until certain players become healthy enough to play in Week 1.

Armstrong could return to the Cowboys after the first week of the regular season.

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
12:30
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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.

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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.

Snap count reveals a lot about the Cowboys

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
4:30
PM ET
The playing time of several Dallas Cowboys players during Saturday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals told you plenty about what the team thinks of certain players and of certain position groups.

We review.

Wide receiver: You think the Cowboys are trying to get Anthony Armstrong on the 53-man roster? He played 22 offensive snaps, including 10 on special teams. If the Cowboys go with six receivers, he will be No. 6. Tim Benford played 17 plays Saturday night and if he's cut, maybe the team brings him back to the practice squad if he clears waivers. Another player who might not make the 53 but get moved to the practice squad is Danny Coale, who played just three offensive snaps. He had a swollen knee during training camp, which slowed his development, and is coming off a torn ACL. Jared Green and Eric Rogers were healthy scratches for the dress rehearsal. Green and Rogers, if both survive the Tuesday cuts from 90 to 75, will see plenty of action Thursday night against Houston. The question is who do you want for the practice squad -- Coale, Benford, Rogers or Green?

(Read full post)

5 Wonders: Cowboys' final few roster spots

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
9:00
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IRVING, Texas – Week 4 of Five Wonders will focus on the makeup of the Cowboys’ 53-man roster, and I’m holding off on Alex Tanney for a post later, so he will not be in the following paragraphs.

The first set of cuts comes Aug. 27 when they have to pare down from 87 to 75 players. The final cut to 53 comes Aug. 31.

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  • As Jason Garrett has said two or 200 times, injury provides opportunity. The season-ending back surgery for Alex Albright, who will go under the knife on Wednesday, opens up a roster spot for a linebacker. I wonder the Cowboys can still go with seven linebackers for the opening week. Undrafted rookie Brandon Magee finally showed up and made some plays last week at Arizona. He can also play some weakside linebacker. Caleb McSurdy played some at strongside linebacker and has inside linebacker experience. Taylor Reed also has position flexibility. But here’s one name that hasn’t been talked about much: Cameron Lawrence. He got some work on the early special teams units against the Cardinals. When you’re down to the final spots at linebacker, special teams can be the great separator.

  • Garrett won’t offer up opinions on players unless he is asked specifically about a guy, so I took notice when he brought up “92,” Landon Cohen, when asked about some surprises on the defensive line. I wonder if Cohen, a training-camp pickup like George Selvie, can play his way onto the roster. The first thing Rod Marinelli wants for his defensive linemen is to get off the ball. Cohen can do that, and in fact he did it too fast with a couple of offside penalties in the first two preseason games. He has the look of the traditional one-technique in this scheme: short and squat, but he also has some quickness. Garrett went on to say Cohen has “some snap” to his game.” It's another name to keep an eye on.

  • I wonder if the foot injury suffered by Lance Dunbar took the sixth wide receiver off the table. Dunbar is looking at a 3-4 week rehab, which puts him in doubt for the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Giants. It was not a good injury for Anthony Armstrong, who I’ve had as the No. 6 guy on my roster projections. He has done nothing to get cut. He has showed up on offense. He has done a nice job on special teams. He has speed to burn. I just wonder if he is caught in a numbers game because now the Cowboys almost assuredly have to keep four running backs for at least the opening week. Could Armstrong jump Cole Beasley, who has been slowed by a foot injury of his own? I don’t see it right now, but Armstrong will be a tough call.

  • I wondered last week about the possibility of an undrafted rookie not making the roster this summer, and I threw a dark horse in there with Jeff Heath. He has taken some first-team special teams snaps and was a second-teamer on defense last week because of injuries. He did not look out of place, but I wonder if he can beat out Matt Johnson. And, yes, I wonder if Johnson can not only get healthy but stay healthy as he battles a foot injury suffered in the Hall of Fame Game. He’s not going to play this week, so all of his eggs will be in the Houston game, provided he can get on the field. I wonder if the Cowboys would give up on a fourth-round pick from last year despite what the apparent chronic injuries. After putting in all the time with Johnson last year, I’d be a little surprised if they would cut him loose now.

  • What to make if Demetress Bell? The Cowboys signed him even though he was in extremely poor condition at the start of camp. They were patient with him, and he finally got on the field last week in Oxnard, Calif., and played against Arizona. When he signed, I viewed it as a move to just help the backup quarterbacks get through some preseason games. But when the Cowboys stuck with him, I wondered if they look at him as future development guy. It’s hard to find big guys who can move and have some experience. He was bad last year at Philadelphia, but he wasn’t bad in Buffalo.
  • Stock Report: Armstrong up; O-line down

    August, 16, 2013
    8/16/13
    12:00
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    OXNARD, Calif. -- This is our final Stock Report of training camp from Oxnard. Who's moving up and who's moving down?

    Streaking
    STOCK UP

    Anthony Armstrong: The Cowboys are expected to keep five wide receivers but Armstrong is making a case for six. The sixth receiver has to play special teams -- something he's capable of doing -- and, if needed, catch some passes, which Armstrong has done consistently. He's on the bubble right now and the next three preseason games will determine his fate.

    James Hanna: It's easy to watch Jason Witten everyday in practice and marvel at his greatness. The backup tight end, however, is also putting in the work. Hanna didn't miss a step when he returned from a hamstring injury and has kept Gavin Escobar (more on him later) with the second-team offense in the 12 personnel groupings.

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    Who should be the next player inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor?

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      30%
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      9%
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      28%
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      11%
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      22%

    Discuss (Total votes: 18,119)

    Jermey Parnell: After he returned from his hamstring injury, the right tackle was inserted with the second-team offense and continued his aggressive play. The Cowboys' coaches like how he pass blocks with an aggressive nature, and his athletic ability to reach the second level quickly is an added bonus. He's on track to become the swing tackle.

    Jeff Heath: The undrafted rookie safety from Saginaw Valley State could make this team because of his special teams play. While the Cowboys want more starters on the unit, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is open to playing the best players. Heath still needs work in the passing game, but he's got a toughness on special teams that could get him on the 53-man roster.

    Bruce Carter: It's very easy to talk about Sean Lee's work at middle linebacker, but Carter has done a solid job as the weakside linebacker. His quickness to the ball helps in pass coverage and he's a physical presence in the run game. If Lee goes down, the Cowboys are confident in Carter's abilities to take over the defense.

    Slumping
    STOCK DOWN

    Gavin Escobar: The rookie tight end is struggling to block and missed an opportunity to pass Hanna, who was out a week with a hamstring injury, on the depth chart. The 249-pound Escobar needs to put on more weight as his thin frame hurts him as a blocker. He can improve, but it's going to take some time.

    Offensive line: This isn't because of the play, but the injuries. Ronald Leary went down with a right knee injury and needs surgery. Nate Livings, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook and Ray Dominguez are all out with injuries. The Cowboys are trying to upgrade the talent by signing Brian Waters, who hasn't played in a year.

    Matt Johnson: Injuries have derailed Johnson's career as he enters his second year having yet to play in an NFL regular-season game. This time, Johnson has a stress reaction in his foot. His status for the season opener is in doubt, but you have to wonder how long the Cowboys are willing to wait.

    Jay Ratliff: The defensive tackle won't practice in California as he recovers from hamstring and groin injuries. Ratliff is a talented player but his health seems to be betraying him. The Cowboys are confident he'll play at least one preseason game.

    Ryan Cook: The Cowboys need the veteran center/guard more than ever with the injuries to the interior line. Cook hasn't recovered from a back injury and he's got two preseason games left -- he won't play Saturday at Arizona -- to prove he can make the roster.

    Camp observations: DeVonte Holloman's pick

    August, 14, 2013
    8/14/13
    8:00
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    OXNARD, Calif. – Let's just get straight to the observations from Tuesday’s workout after a spirited session that you can read about here.
    • DeVonte Holloman showed his athleticism in the Hall of Fame Game with an interception return for a touchdown. In team work, Holloman ended the second-team offense's drive with a pick of Kyle Orton, dropping back into coverage and exploding to the ball. It capped off a good day in coverage for him with two pass breakups in one-on-one work.
    • WR Anthony Armstrong hurt a finger on his left hand in individual drills after getting whacked by a pad by an assistant coach. He got the finger taped up but then dropped his first pass thrown his way when he returned. That led to WR coach Derek Dooley throwing some quick passes to him to get accustomed to catching with his fingers taped together.
    • CB Orlando Scandrick is hunting for a pick after dropping a sure takeaway in situation work. The good news was that it came on fourth down. The bad news was he could have had a touchdown.
    • S Will Allen was active. He stunted TE James Hanna on a route in one-on-one drills, nearly picked of Romo in seven-on-seven and broke up a deeper throw to Jason Witten in situational work.
    • OT Darrion Weems was back to practice after missing two days because of a bruised chest and gave up a sack to DE Kyle Wilber when he was beaten off the snap.
    • In one-on-one work, LB Justin Durant clamped down on TE Gavin Escobar at the line and essentially prevented the rookie from getting out into his route.
    • Dan Bailey made all six kicks in the special teams' period between 40 and 51 yards. In situation work, Bailey nailed what looked like a 50-yarder to give the offense a 24-23 win.
    • For the second straight day QB Alex Tanney was the third-team quarterback, taking most of the reps over Nick Stephens.
    • Before practice, special teams coach Rich Bisaccia put WR Dwayne Harris through an interesting drill in which he had Harris spin around and then find the ball in the air while squaring himself up to the field as a punt returner.

    W2W4: Cowboys training camp: Day 16

    August, 13, 2013
    8/13/13
    11:43
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys are nearing the end of training camp and are in preparations for their third preseason game of the summer at Arizona.

    Here's a preview:

    Injuries piling up: Cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) is the latest Cowboys player out, and it appears he won't practice this week. There are a few other players, including Eric Frampton (hamstring), Alex Albright (back), Ernie Sims (groin), Sean Lissemore (knee) and J.J. Wilcox (personal), who most likely won't play against the Arizona Cardinals. With the bulk of the injuries on defense, it leaves the unit short-handed.

    More zone read: The Cowboys worked on defending the zone read offense in Monday's practice. The Cowboys will face two teams -- Philadelphia and Washington -- who use a form of it, and the Oakland Raiders ran a few plays in the second preseason game against them. Dwayne Harris was the quarterback for the zone read and coach Jason Garrett said his team has to prepare for it for when they see it during the season.

    Waters update: There's nothing really to report Tuesday morning regarding Brian Waters. The Cowboys have made an offer to Waters, but he's still thinking about it. The Cowboys are trying to bolster the interior of the offensive line because of injuries to Ryan Cook, Kevin Kowalski and Nate Livings and the unknown with Ronald Leary, who hasn't played in a NFL regular season game. The Cowboys want a veteran presence as a swing guard in case of more injuries.

    Armstrong moving up: If the Cowboys keep six receivers, Anthony Armstrong has the lead for a spot. His special teams play will help in the discussion as to whether to keep him, but he's doing a nice job with his route running and catching tough passes. Jared Green is still in the mix, but his two drops against the Raiders in the fourth quarter didn't help his cause.

    Camp observations: Orlando Scandrick rebounds

    August, 13, 2013
    8/13/13
    8:00
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. – Getting kicked out of a practice for shoving an official is never a good thing, but how Orlando Scandrick reacted a day later was a positive.

    Scandrick was as active as he has been in all of training camp. In team drills, he took on DeMarco Murray for a tackle and in the final situation of practice he knocked down a pass to rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams.

    On to the observations:

    ** Williams had a productive day as well. In one-on-one he beast CB Brandon Underwood on a fade, leaping for the pass and getting his feet on the ground. He had a touchdown in the slot in team drills and beat the defense’s blitz with a quick throw on a skinny post.

    ** DE Jason Hatcher had two sacks in the first six plays of practice. The defense had four sacks (DeMarcus Ware, Toby Jackson) but was unable to come up with a takeaway during the practice.

    ** Rookie S Jeff Heath has quietly had a good camp but there are still rookie moments. He made a nice breakup on a Kyle Orton throw to TE Gavin Escobar, closing fast on the ball, but then on a Nick Stephens’ deep ball to Anthony Armstrong, he jumped too early and Armstrong was able to come down with an acrobatic reception.

    ** How competitive does it get during practice? In the blitz period the defense in unison hollered “short” after they stopped TE Jason Witten on a third-down pass. Was it short? The measurement would’ve been close, but the defense, led by Sean Lee, wasn’t relenting.

    ** LB Caleb McSurdy was throwing his weight around. He knocked TE James Hanna to the ground after a catch to the flat and did the same to RB Phillip Tanner.

    ** With James Nelson leaving practice early and Jermey Parnell and Demetress Bell not ready for team work, first-teamers Doug Free and Tyron Smith took turns with the second and third teams.

    ** Quarterbacks often tell their pass catchers where trouble is coming from where they throw the ball. Orton did a nice job of throwing a pass slightly behind TE Dante Rosario so he could turn to avoid an oncoming defender and not take a kill shot.

    ** LB Bruce Carter has been kind of quiet lately, but he was able to alter a Tony Romo throw to Witten on a corner route with a last-second jump in seven-on-seven drills.

    ** Romo went 13 of 21 in team and seven on seven drills. He missed on his last two passes, but that came after Jason Garrett ruled Williams was down at the 2 when he actually scored in situational work.

    W2W4: Cowboys training camp: Day 15

    August, 12, 2013
    8/12/13
    11:30
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys enter the homestretch of training camp on Monday.

    Defensive injuries: The Cowboys lost three defensive players to injuries and one more to a personal matter. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is minus four players: Sean Lissemore, Eric Frampton, Ernie Sims and J.J. Wilcox. The injuries have left the Cowboys thin at the safety position because Frampton (hamstring) and Wilcox (personal matter) missed the team portions of Sunday's practice and second-year safety Matt Johnson (foot) won't practice this week. The defensive line was already missing two players, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, to injuries and add Lissemore to the mix and the Cowboys are down to 12 linemen on the 90-man roster.

    Offensive line getting better: The more snaps Ronald Leary, the left guard, and Mackenzy Bernadeau, right guard, are getting the better the offensive line is becoming. Leary and Bernadeau missed practice time due to injuries early in camp, but each has looked good in the last four training camp practices. The team is still waiting for Brian Waters to make a decision regarding signing with the team. If he doesn't the Cowboys will stick with Leary and Bernadeau as the first-team guards for now.

    Armstrong building a case: The Cowboys might keep five wide receivers, but Anthony Armstrong is putting in work to maybe force the team to add a sixth one. Tim Benford and Jared Green are also in the mix for a possible sixth spot, but Armstrong is the leader in the clubhouse because he's running good routes, catching tough passes and doesn't have mental mistakes. He's also doing a good job on special teams, something that the sixth receiver is going to do regardless.

    Running backs becoming welterweight champs: Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar are not Floyd Mayweather, considered the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in boxing. Yet, in the last couple of practices, Dunbar and Tanner have gotten into scraps. Tanner on Sunday and Dunbar last week. The best position group on the team could be the running back position where Dunbar, No. 2 behind DeMarco Murray and Tanner, No. 3, in front of rookie Joseph Randle, are running to contact and showing great vision. The Cowboys are expected to keep four running backs, but it could drop to three if Tanner struggles on special teams, which he's not. So expect four on the roster.
    OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys began their final week in California with a spirited practice that saw the defense come away with three takeaways.

    On to the observations:

    ** Tony Romo was intercepted three times in team and seven-on-seven drills. His first pick came on a deep throw to WR Dez Bryant that Barry Church was able to play center field on, but DE George Selvie would have had a sack before the pass. The second came on a deflection off Jason Witten’s hands into Sean Lee’s arms in seven-on-seven. The third came on a forced red-zone throw that deflected off CB Brandon Carr to LB Bruce Carter.

    **DT Jason Hatcher had one of his best practices. In the team compete period, he had a sack of Romo. In situational work, he had what appeared to be two tackles for loss on RB Lance Dunbar. Hatcher also had a pressure that led to Carter’s takeaway.

    ** On the day Romo went 14 of 19. He ended the situational work with a touchdown to Witten and had the offense in position for a game-winning field goal, but Dan Bailey’s attempt hit the left upright from 52 yards.

    ** TE James Hanna had a productive day with one nice grab on tight end screen that got him in the open field. He also made a terrific back-shoulder catch of a Romo throw after beating CB Brandon Carr at the line.

    ** Most of the time, practice field fights aren’t real fights since players break things up before punches get thrown. That wasn’t the case Sunday when RB Phillip Tanner and LB Tank Reed exchanged blows after a dustup in one-on-one pass-rush drills. Reed lost his helmet before the scuffle, which left him at a serious disadvantage. The animosity didn’t last long as the players slapped five after the drill ended.

    ** Backup QB Kyle Orton was sharp, completing 12 of 15 passes. He had two touchdown passes to WR Anthony Armstrong, who continues his push to make the roster. On the first, Orton found Armstrong with a back-shoulder throw that allowed the receiver to make an adjustment behind CB Micah Pellerin. The second was a bullet throw in zone coverage that Armstrong ate up.

    ** Offside penalties have been an issue in the two preseason games. They were Sunday, too. Landon Cohen (who has jumped offside in both preseason games), Ben Bass and Kyle Wilber all had offside penalties Sunday. Cohen and Bass were pulled after their infractions.

    ** Practicing for the first time since Aug. 2, WR Terrance Williams had a good day, beating Xavier Brewer on a deep ball in one-on-one work. He also showed he wasn’t afraid to go across the middle, catching a dig route from Romo while taking a pretty good hit from Church.
    OAKLAND -- The aftermath of the Cowboys' 19-17 loss to the Raiders here on Friday night means it's time for another Stock Report.

    Stock Up

    Tony Romo He made his preseason debut and completed six of eight passes for 88 yards. Romo was sacked once, but did a nice job moving out of the pocket. He pumped faked a defender in the air and completed a slant to Dez Bryant in the second quarter. While Romo has a good chemistry with Bryant, he's also finding a nice groove with Miles Austin as well.

    Monte Kiffin The man knows turnovers. In the first two preseason games, the Cowboys defense has forced four turnovers, including two Friday night. Sean Lee forced one with a sack leading to Jason Hatcher's recovery. J.J. Wilcox also has a turnover, getting an interception.

    Offensive line It was only one sack, and that's OK, but the Cowboys offensive line gave Romo time to find receivers down field and displayed the run lanes needed for the running game. There was plenty of concern about this line, but the interior, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick and Mackenzy Bernadeau, did a good job of sealing blocks.

    Stock Down

    B.W. Webb A long night for the rookie cornerback. He looked lost on pass coverage, muffed a punt and was called out by his coach Jason Garrett who said he can't afford to have bad nights. We believe the rookie will make the team, but he needs to pick it up.

    Special teams Where do you want to start? Blocked field goal, 51 kick return allowed, a muffed punt and a few mental mistakes. The Cowboys special teams units took a step back Friday night. Garrett said he like the effort from the younger players but not the execution.

    Jared Green It appears the Cowboys will keep five receivers on the 53-man roster. However, if the Cowboys keep more, Green was moving up the depth chart along with Anthony Armstrong. Green suffered two fourth quarter drops as the Cowboys were rallying. Not going to help his cause.

    Play of the day: Cowboys camp's first fight

    August, 6, 2013
    8/06/13
    9:29
    PM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. – It took 12 practices, but the Cowboys finally had a fight in training camp.

    Upset that he was dumped on his back by Ernie Sims, running back Lance Dunbar bulled Sims, setting off a brief scuffle between the offense and defense that lasted less than 20 seconds. Sims was able to yank on Dunbar’s facemask before the crowd joined in.

    Two interesting notes from the tete-a-tete: With chaos all around him, DeMarcus Ware went for the loose ball, keeping up with the defensive mindset to take the football away. But receiver Anthony Armstrong was able to beat Ware to the football. And the other was seeing Tony Romo pull Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray away from the group.

    After the play Sims stood by himself and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had some calming words for him.

    Later in practice, Sims broke up a Kyle Orton pass to Dunbar, but the two had no reaction after that snap.

    5 Wonders: More on Tony Romo sitting

    August, 6, 2013
    8/06/13
    9:00
    AM ET
    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.

    Camp observations: D comes up with stand

    July, 31, 2013
    7/31/13
    8:00
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- Goal-line drills often are the closest thing to real football in training camp because of the intensity that is required.

    There is no tapping of the offensive players by the defense in this drill.

    The Cowboys’ No. 1 defense beat the No. 1 offense in their three plays Tuesday.

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    Jean-Jacques Taylor joins Galloway and Company live from Oxnard, Calif., to discuss the latest news from Cowboys training camp.

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    Phillip Tanner was stopped short by DeMarcus Ware on a run to the strong side, and Ware got a little help from Jason Hatcher. On second down, the defense covered everybody on a Tony Romo pass, forcing the quarterback to scramble into linebacker Sean Lee. On the third, tight end Gavin Escobar was out of bounds on a sprint to the right by Romo.

    •  While it was a good day for the No. 1 defense, the No. 2 defense gave up three straight touchdowns. RB Joseph Randle ran it in for the first two scores, and Kyle Orton hit Dante Rosario on a play-action pass across the back of the end zone.

    •  The No. 1 offense rebounded in its situation work to close the practice. Needing a first down to kill the clock with a three-point lead, Romo connected with Miles Austin on a third-down rocket screen to end the game.

    •  After missing two days with a quadriceps bruise, WR Cole Beasley returned to practice Tuesday and dropped two passes. He was so upset with himself that he spent extra time on the Jugs machine catching passes after practice.

    •  Rosario had a solid practice. He lined up more at fullback and was able to make a handful of catches from Orton.

    •  WR Anthony Armstrong broke off a route for a back-shoulder throw from Orton, reaching for the pass and getting his body between the ground and the ball for extra security. The play resulted in a first down.

    •  At the start of the practice, the defensive coaches said they wanted turnovers. They didn’t get any interceptions, but they did get two fumbles. S Matt Johnson forced the ball loose on TE Andre Smith after a catch by the sideline, and S J.J. Wilcox recovered. Later, S Will Allen forced a fumble on Escobar.

    •  WR Terrance Williams has earned praise for his play on offense, but he got more for his work as a gunner on the punt team. Williams split cornerbacks Devin Smith and Micah Pellerin with an inside jab and was able to help force a fair catch.

    •  CB Sterling Moore had back-to-back solid reps in one-on-one drills. On the first, he broke up a back-shoulder throw from Romo to Austin, jumping as Austin reached back for the ball. On the second, he came down with an Orton throw after snuffing out Beasley on an out route.

    •  K Dan Bailey had his first multiple-miss day of camp. Bailey went 3-of-6 with misses from 44 yards (right), 45 (left) and 47 (right). He closed his team work by drilling a 50-yarder.

    5 Wonders: Rookie class looks good

    July, 30, 2013
    7/30/13
    8:00
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- After eight practices, Five Wonders is back for its second training camp installment.

    Away we go:

    PODCAST
    Cowboys rookie Travis Frederick joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest from training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

    Listen Listen
  • I wonder whether we’re seeing a rookie class that could be a lot more productive than last season's. The 2012 class was hurt by injuries (Kyle Wilber, Matt Johnson, Danny Coale, Caleb McSurdy) with only Morris Claiborne and Tyrone Crawford playing big roles for a full season. Two weeks into camp, Travis Frederick is a starter, Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams have big offensive roles, and J.J. Wilcox could be a starter and a main special-teams guy. B.W. Webb and Joseph Randle could develop into role players as well. The Cowboys needed an infusion of young talent, and so far so good with the draft picks. Before you (or I) get carried away, let’s see them in games, but this is a good start.

  • I wonder whether I underestimated linebacker Ernie Sims. On my final 53-man roster projection leading up to training camp, I did not have Sims on the final list. I thought he would lose out to Brandon Magee. Sims has gotten off to a really good start. He did a nice job filling in last season after Sean Lee got hurt, all the while playing a foreign 3-4 defense. He started six of his 10 games, and finished with 42 tackles and a sack. Now back to his more comfortable 4-3, Sims has been hitting everything that moves. He’s done a nice job in pass coverage and he can play special teams. More important, he will not cost a lot against the cap. Sims is moving better than he did last year, which is probably a product of having a complete offseason of training.

  • I wonder why the Cowboys didn’t go to the wristband play sheet for their quarterbacks sooner. Getting the play called and to the offense seemed like a struggle at times, and led to things being hurried. With Tony Romo wearing a wristband now, the process should be streamlined, even with Bill Callahan in the coaches booth. The coaches are not relaying plays to Romo, but rather numbers for him to read the play call. It will help with the time and it will help Romo getting the plays out. Jason Garrett’s system is quarterback-friendly in that regard. It’s not that verbose. I remember Brad Johnson telling me that one Jon Gruden play was 30-plus words long. How do you memorize something like that and spit it out with a 40-second play clock?

  • Undrafted rookie wide receiver Eric Rogers has been one of the early stories of training camp. He played at Cal-Lutheran and was something of an afterthought when the Cowboys picked him up. But then he caught everything that was thrown his way in the offseason, which piqued the curiosity more. In Oxnard, Rogers has continued to catch everything. But I wonder whether he can win a spot on the 53-man roster. He does not run well. He doesn’t offer up wide receiver flexibility in terms of finding a role, either. Cole Beasley has a role as a slot receiver. Dwayne Harris has a role as a backup at both receiver spots and can return punts. Rogers will have a chance to continue to make his way, but right now I’d say he is more of a practice squad candidate than a player on the final roster.

  • Let’s continue to wonder about the makeup of the 53-man roster. I believe it’s a near certainty that the Cowboys will keep four tight ends, but I wonder whether they could keep a fifth. Seriously. Andre Smith could put himself into the mix. He is a true blocking tight end at 270 pounds, but he has caught the ball surprisingly well. Now it should come down to him playing some special teams, and his lack of speed could catch up to him there. I believe one of the final spots will come down to a running back (Phillip Tanner), a tight end, a wide receiver (Anthony Armstrong) or possibly a 10th offensive lineman.
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