Dallas Cowboys: Bill Nagy

With OL retooled, Cowboys look to fix DL

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
IRVING, Texas -- The look of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line has changed dramatically over the last three seasons.

In 2011, the Cowboys started the process of tearing down the line, moving on from Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode. In 2012, they replaced Kyle Kosier.

But in stripping down the line, the Cowboys didn’t have ready-made replacements, with the exception of Tyron Smith, who was their first-round pick in 2011. Bill Nagy was an undersized guard and seventh-round pick. He started four games before getting hurt. The Cowboys recalled Montrae Holland to the roster and started him for 10 games. They relied on Derrick Dockery as well. At center, they went with undersized Phil Costa, who was undrafted in 2010. Kevin Kowalski, another undrafted player in 2011, was a key reserve.

This spring the Cowboys have a line with three first-round picks in Smith, now at left tackle, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. Doug Free is the only holdover, moving from left tackle to right tackle.

This offseason the Cowboys have stripped down the defensive line. A year ago at this time, Jerry Jones called it the strength of the team. DeMarcus Ware is now with the Denver Broncos. Jason Hatcher is with the Washington Redskins. Jay Ratliff is with the Chicago Bears. Anthony Spencer is coming back from microfracture knee surgery.

“There is an analogy there,” coach Jason Garrett said. “A lot of veteran players, who were really good, of the same generation, and you have to transition. You have to get younger.”

Like the offensive line, the Cowboys didn’t have any ready-made replacements on the defensive line. Instead of going with late-round or undrafted players, the Cowboys are going with low-cost veterans with questions about health, consistency or both.

They added Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain and Amobi Okoye in free agency. They kept Spencer on a one-year deal for short money. They drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round and Ben Gardner and Ken Bishop in the seventh round.

“Defensive line is one of those positions you can’t have enough of those guys,” Garrett said. “Some of the best teams I’ve been around, some of the best teams we’ve completed against seem to have a boatload of these defensive linemen constantly coming at you … We’ve just got to keep them coming.”

Rebuilding is not one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words, but it sure can be viewed that way at Valley Ranch. The preferred word is retooling. The Cowboys have retooled the offensive line. They are in the process of retooling the defensive line.

There might be a question of quality, but there is no question of quantity.

“The best defensive lines I’ve been around are the ones that have ‘wave’ players,” Garrett said. “If you think back to the 90s when this team was winning Super Bowls there were eight legit defensive linemen rotating through games. Jim Jeffcoat playing 12 plays in a game. It’s ridiculous.”

Garrett went on to mention Leon Lett, Chad Hennings, Jimmie Jones, Charles Haley, Tony Tolbert, Tony Casillas and Russell Maryland.

“If you can have some of those guys play 30 snaps instead of 60 snaps or 15 snaps instead of 30 snaps, you’re going to be so much better,” Garrett said.

Nick Hayden played a defensive-line high 821 snaps in 2013 after being unemployed in 2012. Hatcher played 747 in 15 games. George Selvie, who was signed during training camp, played 744. Six of his seven sacks came in the first nine games.

“We played a lot of snaps last year,” Selvie said. “Where the rotation helps is everybody can stay fresh. The new guys coming in, it will help a lot. It was rough by the end of the year. We were hurting. A lot of snaps like that takes a toll on your body.”

To carry out the offensive line analogy, Lawrence can be viewed like Smith, a premium pick at a premium spot. And the job is hardly close to being over. Melton, Okoye, Spencer, Selvie and Hayden all could be on one-year deals. Mincey signed a two-year deal. McClain is on a three-year deal.

“The games are won and lost up front and always will be lost up front,” Garrett said. “If you don’t have good offensive and defensive linemen your skill guys can’t do what they need to do. So we’ve tried to do that. We’ve kind of tried to restructure our fronts over the last few years and build the team the right way.”

The retooling is in its infant stages, like the offensive line in 2011. The Cowboys have to replenish the defensive line in 2015 and beyond with more premium picks the way they have the offensive line.

5 Wonders: More on Tony Romo sitting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are hoping Travis Frederick will continue a tradition set forth by Wisconsin offensive linemen in recent years.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who coached Travis Frederick at Wisconsin, joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys got with their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

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Joe Thomas, Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz have been high picks in recent years and have had different degrees of success.

“I think that having that tradition helps continue that tradition,” Frederick said. “That tradition is one of the reasons why I chose to go to Wisconsin, just knowing that such great offensive linemen have come out of there and would probably or hopefully give me the opportunity if I worked as hard as I could to be in the situation that I’m in today. I’m excited to join that long line.”

The Cowboys’ recent history with Badgers offensive linemen isn’t so good.

In 2003, the Cowboys drafted Al Johnson in the second round, and they took Bill Nagy in the seventh round in 2011. Johnson missed his rookie year because of a knee injury that subsequently cut his career short. Nagy won a starting job in part by default, but he suffered an ankle injury and was cut during training camp last summer.

“You certainly go case by case and evaluate the player,” coach Jason Garrett said, “but there is no question there is a tradition of offensive linemen coming out of Wisconsin. There is a long-standing tradition, but there is also a recent tradition. What that does is allow you to talk to people that know these guys well and compare them to people, ‘Hey, compare him to this guy, compare him to that guy. You had him two years ago, how does he stack up?’ Those conversations are real because guys who’ve been around these guys day after day after day can make great evaluations.”

Cowboys free agents: Phil Costa

January, 28, 2013
[+] EnlargePhil Costa
AP Photo/Nick WassPhil Costa isn't the most talented player in the world, but his versatility is a plus.

Phil Costa

Position: Center

Type: Restricted

Summary: Costa won the job by default in training camp because of injuries to Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski, then suffered a back injury that kept him out for most of the preseason games. He played in the first series of the season opener at the New York Giants before his back flared up and ended his night. He missed the next three games before returning against Baltimore -- which happned to be the Cowboys' best running game of the season -- only to suffer a partially dislocated ankle the next week that ultimately led to him landing on injured reserve. In total, Costa played about six quarters of football in 2012.

Why keep him: The coaches like his smarts and his ability to fight and the offense went pretty well in his limited action. He can also play guard, and you can't overlook that versatility with gameday roster spots so precious.

Why let him go: In order to keep him, the Cowboys would have to tender him a deal worth $1.323 million or agree to a lower deal. He will never be a dominating player and will get pushed back more than you would like.

Best guess: The Cowboys will keep Costa and let him battle it out in camp with Ryan Cook and possibly Mackenzy Bernadeau or a high rookie draft pick. Again, the coaches like him and know they can count on him to do the right things, even if he is not the most gifted player.

Follow the rest of the series here.

5 Wonders: More rest to help DeMarco Murray

November, 13, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- At 4-5, the Cowboys are not out of the hole they dug for themselves earlier in the season, but they at least have a chance to peak their head above ground with a win Sunday against Cleveland.

Randy says you don't have to cheer the Cowboys' Week 10 win, just don't jeer it.

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I wonder if that will spark a second-half run.

I’m also wondering these five things:

** As many wonder if this is the week DeMarco Murray returns from a sprained foot, I wonder if it makes sense to keep the running back out another week. Hear me out before you faint. The Cowboys have two games in five days coming up with Cleveland on Sunday and Washington on Thanksgiving. Murray has missed the last four games (really four and a half since he had only one third-quarter carry Oct. 14 at Baltimore) with a sprained foot. Asking him to play two games in such a short span might not be wise. Why not hold Murray out until the Thanksgiving game against the Redskins and give him 10 days of rest before he plays again? This is a serious injury he had and one that was close to a season-ender. There are no guarantees that he comes back as good as new, but the Cowboys can give him the best opportunity to play in the final six games. I understand you can look at that 10-day break in another way with that allowing him to rest significantly after the Browns and Redskins games. Cleveland has a poor run defense, so I just think the wisest thing to do would be to give Murray another week to get stronger.

** As some of the long-time readers here know, I’ve not been in the camp of moving Jay Ratliff from nose tackle to defensive end in the base defense. I just don’t believe that what makes Ratliff special at nose tackle would translate as well at end. And since Rob Ryan has called Ratliff the best nose tackle in football, I don’t think he wants to move him either. But this injury to Kenyon Coleman presents an intriguing opportunity. Would moving Ratliff to end help him and his sprained left ankle contend better than having to hold up at nose tackle? I wonder if the Cowboys thinking about using Josh Brent at nose tackle full time with Ratliff, whose left foot/ankle has been bothered by high and low sprains and a case of plantar fasciitis, moving outside. If the Cowboys want to get their best players on the field more, which is how they described the move of Brandon Carr to safety in sub packages earlier in the season, then is Brent a better option at nose than a Tyrone Craford, Sean Lissemore or Marcus Spears at defensive end with Coleman out? It might be.

** I wonder what kind of market there will be for Mike Jenkins in the offseason. He did not play against Philadelphia because of back spasms after sitting out of practice last Thursday and Friday. He played one snap at Carolina on Oct. 21. He missed the first game of the season as he continued to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. When Jenkins has played, he has done a good job in the team’s sub packages. His absence against the Eagles was felt even more because of Morris Claiborne’s struggles. Had Jenkins been around, the Cowboys could have used Jenkins to allow the rookie to clear his head in a five-penalty afternoon. They were forced to use Vince Agnew for a handful of plays when Orlando Scandrick went down with what looked like a calf injury. Jenkins’ marketability took a hit when the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr and drafted Claiborne, but he could have been in position to cash in with a solid season as a backup. It’s not that he hasn’t played well. It’s that he hasn’t played enough. He turns 28 in March and I wonder if he is looking at a one-year, make-good offer from a team rather than a larger deal he could have received.

** In the last two games Dwayne Harris has produced punt returns of 37 and 78 yards, with that 78-yarder going for a touchdown against the Eagles. He’s proof that you don’t need to be the fastest guy in the world to be a punt returner. Speed might be more important at kick returner, but I wonder if the Cowboys should give Harris a look there as well. He is not a perfect practice player, according to those around at Valley Ranch, but the game is not too big for him either. He has a feel for when things get real, which is a good trait, but also a frustrating one for coaches who want to see a player perform in practice too. Harris is strong enough to make the first tackler miss and he seems to fall forward all of the time. The kick return game has not been good whether Felix Jones or Lance Dunbar have been the returners. Maybe it’s time to give Harris a shot there, too. And I think he could get in the mix at wide receiver as well. From Jason Garrett’s post-game comments against the Eagles about Harris, you get the sense he wants to see more of the second-year wide receiver.

** I’m still wondering about this for some reason, but is it time to put David Arkin in the bin with other failed offensive line picks of recent years with Robert Brewster, James Marten and Jacob Rogers? Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, has been active for four games this season but yet to see a snap. He was inactive for every game last year. For the first time this season on Sunday, the Cowboys chose to go with guard Mackenzy Bernadeau as the backup center even though he has yet to play a snap there in his career. Arkin was viewed as a project when picked but he struggled this year in camp with his confidence, especially having to play center when Phil Costa and Bill Nagy were lost to injuries. The ability to anchor is the key question. He’s just not strong enough yet. If last year was viewed as a redshirt season, then this season has to be viewed as a lost season because of how little faith the team has shown in him. With Kevin Kowalski practicing now but still on the physically unable to perform list, the Cowboys could use a roster spot. If there is a shred of good news it’s that Arkin is practice squad eligible if the team wants to continue to see his progress.

5 Wonders: Tony Romo's yards per attempt

October, 23, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- It’s Giants week, so let’s start Five Wonders with a quick one: Will the Cowboys ever beat New York at Cowboys Stadium?

They are a Josh Hamilton 0-for-3 so far.

OK, consider that a bonus, but now on to the rest of the Wonders:

** I wonder if the unsettling play on the offensive line is affecting Tony Romo’s ability to get the ball down the field. Romo is averaging 7.5 yards per attempt, which would be a career-low if he lasts a full season. He was at 7.5 yards per attempt in 2010 but played in only six games because of a broken collarbone. In the last two games, Romo’s average per attempt has been even lower. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt vs. Chicago, 7.3 yards vs. Baltimore and 6.7 yards vs. Carolina. When you don’t trust the blocking in front of you, then you look for the shorter, safer throws. On Sunday, Romo appeared to miss Jason Witten down the field for an easy touchdown on the drive that ended with a go-ahead Dan Bailey field goal. Romo looked to a wide receiver on an out route before holding the ball and then scrambling 10 yards. He was under a little pressure, but it’s a throw we’ve seen Romo make a lot.

** I feel badly for safety Matt Johnson. He has suffered three hamstring injuries since June that have kept him out of the season so far. Just as he was about to make his season debut at Carolina, he suffered his second strain to his left hamstring. With the way the Cowboys have kept him around despite the injury, they clearly believe he could have helped. Jason Garrett does not gush much, but when asked about Johnson he continually mentioned the safety’s ability to show up in practice. Now I more than wonder if the Cowboys will put Johnson on injured reserve with the ability to be recalled later in the season once he gets healthy. To me, that would be pushing it and the Cowboys would be more wise to end Johnson’s year now and consider this a redshirt season. Making the jump from Eastern Washington to the NFL is big already. Now to do it without the benefit of an offseason, most of training camp and a handful of snaps in one preseason game it would seem near impossible make an effective jump.

** The Cowboys hoped they could have a center competition between Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy in the offseason, but it never materialized. Kowalski had a bad case of tendinitis that required surgery eventually and has kept him on the physically unable to perform list. Nagy was hurt in training camp and released. Costa suffered a back injury but was never really pushed for the job. Now that Costa has suffered a partially dislocated ankle and will miss a good chunk of the season, I wonder if the Cowboys attempt to speed up Kowalski’s timetable. He could have been activated off PUP last week but the plan was to use the full three-week window before making a decision on calling him, which would begin a second three-week window before he could play. It’s clear the Cowboys do not want to use David Arkin at center, so looking to get Kowalski back sooner might be to their advantage. Either that or go look for another center currently on the street.

** I wonder what happened to Mike Jenkins’ playing time. He had just one snap against Carolina. He hurt his shoulder at Baltimore, but after the game Jenkins said he was healthy and good to go. His only snap came in the dime package in the first quarter. When the Cowboys did use that personnel group later, they went with safety Eric Frampton. I know Morris Claiborne had his first career pick Sunday and had a key fourth-down breakup (or interference depending on your perspective) but the rookie is going through growing pains. If Jenkins says he is healthy, then he should be playing more than one snap. With the Giants visiting Sunday and the multiple receiver looks they give, Jenkins should be a key player.

** I wonder if the Cowboys look at tying up backup nose tackle Josh Brent to an extension. Nothing huge, mind you, but something in the Sean Lissemore range of three years, $6 million. That seems to be the going rate the Cowboys want to pay their defensive linemen. In 2011, Jason Hatcher got that deal with $2.5 million guaranteed. Lissemore got $3.1 million guaranteed earlier this season. A seventh-round compensatory pick in 2010, Brent has developed nicely. What’s funny is that he was not a lock to make the roster after just a so-so offseason and early part of training camp. He wasn’t in good enough shape, but as Garrett pointed out, he worked hard on his body and the results have been obvious. He might have been the Cowboys’ best defensive linemen Sunday and he did a credible job filling in for Jay Ratliff, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason after missing the offseason and most of training camp with plantar fasciitis. Brent is signed through 2013, but so was Lissemore.

What to do with the final roster spot

August, 18, 2012
SAN DIEGO -- Friday's release of running back Ed Wesley leaves the Dallas Cowboys with 89 players on their 90-man roster.

At some point this weekend, they will make a decision on bringing in another player. At least 20 players on the roster are currently injured and some, such as Caleb McSurdy (torn Achilles) and Kevin Kowalski (ankle tendinitis), aren't expected to return anytime soon.

Let's look at three positions the Cowboys should explore expanding:

Center: Phil Costa should return before the start of the regular season and David Arkin has been getting plenty of snaps -- Jason Garrett said close to 600 during one stretch of camp -- but adding a veteran at this spot couldn't hurt. The Cowboys worked out Jamaal Jackson, but he wasn't in shape and the team decided not to sign him. Former Cowboys center Andre Gurode is also available, but the team hasn't made any moves to bring him in. He might be a good pickup to back Costa up.

Wide receiver: The Cowboys front office is pleased with their young receivers, yet no one is emerging as the No. 3 wideout. If we had to make a decision today, Kevin Ogletree, again, would take over the No. 3 spot. He's earned it. But Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris have played well, too. Raymond Radway, who earned a roster spot last season until suffering a fractured leg in the final preseason game of 2011, is struggling. Tim Benford has shown flashes but he's inconsistent. The Cowboys could sign a veteran receiver, but it would delay the development of younger players. The team held preliminary talks with Plaxico Burress' agent and former Longhorn Jordan Shipley is on waivers, but they won't go for a veteran before determining the dependability of the young kids.

Cornerback: Yes, cornerback. There's nothing wrong with Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne or Brandon Carr, but if Mike Jenkins (shoulder) doesn't come off the PUP list by the start of the season, he's lost for six weeks. Behind Scandrick, Claiborne and Carr are unproven players such as Mario Butler and C.J. Wilson. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has showed some signs, but not enough. The team placed Teddy Williams on the second-team defense at the start of camp, and he's since been moved down the depth chart. Getting a veteran corner couldn't hurt, especially at the late stages of camp with the younger players not performing on a consistent level.

Bill Nagy has ankle surgery

August, 16, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. – Bill Nagy had surgery performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., on his left ankle on Wednesday, the same day the Cowboys waived/injured the second-year guard.

Nagy, who suffered a high left ankle sprain in the first practice of training camp, will revert to injured reserve when he clears waiver today. It’s possible the Cowboys could reach an injury settlement with Nagy in the future.

It is the second surgery he has had on his left ankle in the last year. He fractured his ankle at New England last October that ended his season after four starts.

Nagy was expected to compete for the starting center spot with Phil Costa, but the ankle injury ended that chance. The Cowboys were also going to get Kevin Kowalski into the center mix but he has not been able to practice because of severe ankle tendinitis that has him in a cast. Costa has missed the last three days of practice with a lower back strain and is unlikely to play Saturday at San Diego.

C Phil Costa likely to miss San Diego game

August, 15, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- With all the discussions about tight end Jason Witten missing the rest of the preseason with a slightly lacerated spleen, starting center Phil Costa most likely will miss the second preseason game at San Diego with a strained lower back.

Costa missed the preseason opener at Oakland after injuring his back late last week. David Arkin took the majority of the snaps in the Raiders game until being replaced by Harland Gunn in the fourth quarter.

"Costa is getting better," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. "He probably won't practice today or tomorrow. He has a little bit of a back injury that he's dealing with. He is one of those tough guys that will lay in front of the train (before taking himself out of practice). We got to make sure we do what's right for him as well. He's progressing and feeling better and we're hopefully to get him back sooner rather than later."

The center position has been a mess for the Cowboys this training camp. Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy were supposed to compete for the starting gig with Costa. Injuries to Kowalski and Nagy allowed Costa to remain the starter.

But finding a backup has been a problem.

Arkin struggled with his snaps during training camp but had no such problems against Oakland. However, he was called for holding and allowed a first-quarter sack.

"Arkin did a fairly good job in the game and as you guys know, he's never played center before and you see some of the result of that in practice," Garrett said. "Some of the issues we have with the football. That was line one for him in the game is to take care of the ball. I thought he did a good job with that and he did a good job with the exchanges with the quarterback under center and also with the shotgun snaps. There's a lot for him to learn off of that tape."

Cowboys add TE after Jason Witten's injury

August, 15, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. – To help with the tight end numbers because of Jason Witten's absence, the Cowboys will add Harry Flaherty to the roster and have waived/injured guard Bill Nagy.

Flaherty is the nephew of coach Jason Garrett and tight ends coach John Garrett. He worked out for the Cowboys last December. He went to camp last year with New Orleans and can also long snap.

With Witten out and John Phillips recovering from a sprained ankle, the Cowboys had only two healthy tight ends on the roster in James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba.

League rules prohibit Flaherty from practicing in pads until Friday, but the Cowboys will just have a walkthrough that day. That means his first time in pads would be Saturday’s game at San Diego.

Nagy, a seventh-round pick last year, suffered a high left ankle sprain in the first padded practice of training camp and is scheduled to visit foot and ankle specialist in Charlotte, N.C., this week. If he clears waivers, he would revert to injured reserve. Nagy started four games as a rookie before a fractured left ankle ended his season. The Cowboys had hoped he could compete for the starting center spot with Phil Costa.

Fourteen Cowboys don't make trip to Oakland

August, 13, 2012
ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon previews the Cowboys' preseason game against the Raiders and is asked if he can see the Cowboys as Super Bowl champions in the next five years.

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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Cowboys kept 14 players back in Oxnard, Calif., to work on conditioning as they opened the preseason against Oakland.

Wide receiver Saalim Hakim, wide receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Mike Jenkins, running back Lance Dunbar, running back Phillip Tanner, guard/center Kevin Kowalski, guard Bill Nagy, center Phil Costa, guard Nate Livings, wide receiver Danny Coale, tight end John Phillips, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, linebacker Anthony Spencer and defensive end Jason Hatcher did not make the trip.

The Cowboys' starters are expected to play a series or two in the first quarter with the reserves taking the bulk of the action.
OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys will continue their search for a center, opting not to sign Jamaal Jackson after his workout Sunday, a source said.

The source said that Jackson, the former Philadelphia Eagles starter who has not played since suffering an arm injury in 2010, was in poor shape.

The Cowboys are in the market for a veteran center because their top three players at the position are injured.

Starter Phil Costa will miss Monday night's preseason opener because of a back strain, but he is expected to return to practice next week.

Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski are sidelined by serious ankle injuries. Nagy is likely to need surgery and be out for the season.

Cowboys director of player personnel Stephen Jones said the Cowboys are looking for "insurance" at center, indicating that they are comfortable with Costa as the starter despite his struggles last year.

Source: Cowboys to work out C Jamaal Jackson

August, 11, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- To potentially ease their issues at center, the Dallas Cowboys will bring veteran Jamaal Jackson in for a workout, according to a source.

Jackson has 72 starts to his credit with the Philadelphia Eagles but has not seen extensive action since 2009. He suffered an arm injury in 2010 and did not play last season.

A planned tryout for the New York Giants this spring did not happen when coach Tom Coughlin said Jackson, 32, was going to retire.

The Cowboys need a center after starter Phil Costa suffered a low back strain on Friday. Costa will not play Monday at Oakland but the team hopes he will return to practice next week. David Arkin will start at center.

Bill Nagy will visit a foot specialist next week because of a high right ankle sprain that could knock him out for the season. Kevin Kowalski is in a cast because of tendinitis that will keep him out for the preseason of not longer.

If Jackson signs Sunday, the earliest he could practice would be Wednesday because of the three-day acclimation period.

Cowboys look to sign center soon

August, 11, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys are seriously considering signing a center this weekend, director of player personnel Stephen Jones said.

Starting center Phil Costa (back) is doubtful for Monday night’s preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, but he is expected to be able to practice next week. An MRI did not reveal any disk damage, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said.

However, depth at center is still a concern with backups Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski out indefinitely due to ankle injuries. Coach Jason Garrett said Nagy will probably have to undergo surgery.

“There’s a chance that we’ll have (a center) in here tomorrow,” Stephen Jones said after Saturday’s practice. “That’s something we’re looking at doing – getting a little insurance – but we really feel good about Costa.”

Asked about Andre Gurode, Garrett said that the former Cowboys Pro Bowler was on the team’s short list. However, Jerry Jones said that later that Gurode was not among the centers that the team had contacted recently.

Stephen Jones declined to discuss specific centers, such as ex-Bucs starter Jeff Faine or ex-Rams starter Jason Brown. It is clear, however, that the Cowboys aren't searching for a center to replace Costa as the starter.

The Cowboys want to sign a center by Sunday because players are required to wait three days after joining a roster before practicing. The Cowboys’ next practice is Wednesday, so a Sunday signee would not have to miss any practice time.
OXNARD, Calif. -- Cowboys center Phil Costa is getting an MRI today on his lower back. But he's not the only player dealing with an injury. Some updates:

*Guard/center Bill Nagy is headed to Charlotte to visit Dr. Bob Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist, next week to get his left ankle checked. Nagy has been out since the early stages of training camp with a high ankle sprain that's not getting better. Coach Jason Garrett said it's being determined if Nagy needs surgery; if that's the case, he could miss the 2012 season.

*Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau is getting work with the first- and second-team offenses and Garrett is hopeful he can play in Oakland on Monday night. The Cowboys have numerous issues at center given the health of Costa, but Garrett said Bernadeau will play guard and move to center in an emergency situation.

*Cornerback Teddy Williams and defensive end Marcus Spears, who have returned from concussions, will play at Oakland. Each has practiced without incident the last few days.

*Rookie wide receiver Danny Coale is still recovering from broken little toe and won't play at the Raiders. The team is being cautious with Coale, who should be ready to play at San Diego in the second preseason game.

*Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, as expected, won't play at Oakland. He's sprinting and doing some light things in walkthroughs but is not ready to practice in full pads yet.

*Nose tackle Jay Ratliff (foot) is getting limited snaps in full pads -- he picked up two on Friday -- but he's not ready to play yet. Ratliff could play at San Diego.

* LB Isaiah Greenhouse broke his right thumb and is in a cast. He will likely need surgery. The injury happened Thursday, but Greenhouse was unaware of the severity until X-rays were taken Friday.