Dallas Cowboys: demetress bell

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

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

Are recent moves Jerry Jones' handiwork?

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
10:30
AM ET


IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have made some interesting lineup changes in the last few days.

On Wednesday, the team worked starting right tackle Doug Free at right guard and moved right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau to left guard. Jermey Parnell moved from second-team right tackle to the first team.

In the third preseason game, fifth-round running back Joseph Randle played the entire second half over Phillip Tanner, and quarterback Alex Tanney played the second half over Nick Stephens. Demetress Bell played at right tackle in the second half of the Arizona game over Parnell.

Are the following changes coming from the general manager, Jerry Jones, or from the head coach, Jason Garrett?

Garrett was asked whether the front office decided to play Randle ahead of Tanner for the third preseason game.

"Collective decision," Garrett responded Monday. "We wanted to see Joseph Randle and we wanted to hand Joseph Randle the ball and see what he’s been doing. Phillip has done a really nice job for us both on offense and on (special) teams. We've seen him the last couple of years and we wanted to give the young guy a chance to play. Phillip always responds the right way to the stuff he’s been in."

Tanner said he's a "company guy" and isn't concerned about Randle getting more snaps than him in preseason games. In the big picture, the Cowboys will probably keep four running backs, but Tanner will become mainly a special-teams guy.

As for the quarterbacks, Garrett said that because Tanney was signed after the offseason workouts, the Cowboys wanted to see him get an entire half of action.

Jones said the Cowboys needed to play Bell after he missed three weeks of training camp practices. Garrett said Bell missed practices because he was overweight.

The moves Wednesday could be, as Garrett said, "collective," because the team is concerned that injured left guards Nate Livings and Ronald Leary might miss the regular-season opener. If the Cowboys release Livings, the team takes a $2.4 million salary-cap hit.

After getting rebuffed by Brandon Moore and reaching a dead end with Brian Waters, the Cowboys' quest for veteran interior O-line help has been halted. It seems the Cowboys are going to stick with this current group and will shuffle some personnel. Is Jones or Garrett making this decision ?

The GM has the right to decide who plays on the field during the preseason and in some cases the regular season. Garrett and Jones are believed to be on the same page regarding this; it's just interesting to note the moves and who could be directing them.

OT Bell lost 22 pounds since camp started

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
12:44
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – The five-word description of offensive tackle Demetress Bell when he reported to training camp, courtesy of head coach Jason Garrett: “Overweight and out of shape.”

Just how out of shape was Bell? He said he arrived in Oxnard, Calif., weighing 350 pounds, which is 39 pounds heavier than the 6-foot-3 Bell’s listed weight, after spending the offseason “sitting at home on the couch” and “waiting on a team to call.” He said he has since slimmed down to 328 pounds.

The Cowboys finally called in July, inviting Bell to training camp. Dallas stuck with Bell, a former starter in Buffalo who infamously flamed out in Philadelphia after signing a five-year, $35 million deal last summer, despite him flunking the pre-camp conditioning test and needing three weeks to get in good enough shape to practice.

“I mean, they done stuck with me,” Bell said. “I can’t say nothing bad about the Cowboys. They brought me in. They brought me out to training camp, held me out three weeks and worked me out. You can’t say much more than that. It sounds like they love me. I’ve just got to do my job, do my part to stick.”

Bell, who declined to comment about his short stint with the Eagles, would like to play between 315 and 318 pounds.

“I’ve still got a long way to go,” said Bell, who followed the dietary plan provided by the team nutritionist, worked out under the supervision of the strength and conditioning staff twice a day and frequently filled free time by riding an exercise bike during camp.

Bell, 29, who is getting used to right tackle after playing on the left side his entire career, believes he can get back to being the quality player he was in Buffalo. He described his performance in Saturday’s preseason loss as “all over the place,” but he’s confident that he’ll play better as he gets more comfortable and his conditioning continues to improve.

“If I do what I have to do, it won’t be a problem,” Bell said. “I just have to work at it and don’t be sitting at home on the couch.”

It remains to be seen whether Bell will be on the Cowboys’ roster. The fact that they kept him around this long indicates they see a future for Bell, and he has two more preseason games to prove he was worth the Cowboys’ time and effort.

5 Wonders: Cowboys' final few roster spots

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
9:00
AM ET
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.
  • Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 12, Cowboys 7

    August, 17, 2013
    8/17/13
    6:39
    PM ET


    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dreadful. Just dreadful. The Cowboys (1-2) completed the West Coast portion of training camp with a 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) on Saturday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.

    The Cowboys' first-team offense was able to move the ball but failed to score any points, in large part because of turnovers that gave the Cardinals prime field position.

    Here are some thoughts on the Cowboys' loss:

    Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The Cowboys committed six turnovers against Arizona. Kyle Orton threw two interceptions, both on bad throws. Lance Dunbar and Dez Bryant fumbled after long receptions, and for the second consecutive week, the Cowboys' special-teams unit muffed a punt. This time, it was Dwayne Harris losing a fumble. Alex Tanney also threw a late pick. But Arizona managed only 12 points (four field goals on five tries).

    First-team offense shut out: Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions during three drives. Romo looked in tune once again with Bryant, who caught four passes for 74 yards. But the Cowboys' two best plays led to turnovers. Romo connected with Dunbar on a catch-and-run, but the running back fumbled while being tackled after a 43-yard gain. The play would have given the Cowboys the ball at the Arizona 7. Bryant fumbled on the next possession after making a catch in the middle of the field. He was stripped by cornerback Jerraud Powers while being pulled down, giving the Cardinals the ball at their own 27.

    Arkin starts at left guard: With Ronald Leary out while recovering from right knee surgery, a David Arkin got the start and played a little more than three quarters. Arkin did a nice job as a run- and pass-blocker. There did, however, seem to be confusion on a pass play when Arizona's defensive linemen used a stunt against Arkin that resulted in a sack.

    Tanney leads scoring drive: After not scoring for three quarters, Tanney connected with Gavin Escobar on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 10:52 to play in the fourth quarter to bring the Cowboys to within 9-7. The score ended a 16-play, 89-yard drive that lasted just under 10 minutes. Tanney had two chances to give his team the lead in the final five minutes, but one drive ended with a punt and the other on an interception. Tanney finished 14-of-19 for 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

    Surprise decisions: Jermey Parnell, who returned to practice late last week from a strained hamstring, was a healthy scratch. Demetress Bell was the right tackle with the second team in the second half. Darrion Weems was the left tackle. The Cowboys might have played Bell just to get a good look at him against another opponent. He was signed after camp started but failed the conditioning test. Coach Jason Garrett said Bell needed to get in shape. Phillip Tanner, who was getting snaps behind starter DeMarco Murray and Dunbar at running back, didn't get any snaps Saturday. Instead, rookie Joseph Randle was the running back with the third team. Tanney took all the snaps after Romo and Orton were done for the day. The Cowboys didn't give Nick Stephens any snaps in the second half. It's doubtful if the Cowboys go with three quarterbacks, but Tanney played better than Orton.

    What's next? The Cowboys finally come home after a month on the West Coast. They will be off Sunday and resume practices at 8 a.m. Monday in Irving.

    Cowboys hope Leary can make quick return

    August, 15, 2013
    8/15/13
    3:05
    PM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- The typical recovery from arthroscopic surgery is two to four weeks, but the Dallas Cowboys believe left guard Ronald Leary will need closer to two weeks than four once he has the operation on his right knee Friday.

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    “We don’t think it’s too serious,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We think it can get cleaned up and he can get back on the practice field in a couple of weeks. We take those things day by day, and hopefully it is what we think it is and we’ll get it resolved.”

    If it takes two weeks, then Leary would miss the final two preseason games against Cincinnati (Aug. 24) and Houston (Aug. 29), but it would allow him at least seven days of practice leading into the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

    It is a setback for a line that has not been able to build continuity throughout the summer because of injuries. Last year’s starting left guard, Nate Livings, is recovering from knee surgery. Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau missed the early part of training camp with a hamstring injury suffered in the conditioning test.

    Jermey Parnell, Demetress Bell, Ryan Cook, Kevin Kowalski and Ray Dominguez have also missed time because of injuries.

    “We just keep moving on,” offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. “I’m used to this. Don’t blink. Don’t flinch. Keep moving.”

    But Callahan feels bad for Leary, who took most of the first-team reps in the offseason because of Livings’ absence due to a sore knee.

    “He was really making tremendous progress,” Callahan said. “We just want to pick up where he left off when he comes back. He showed a lot of promise. He’s a guy who can fill that position well. We’re two guards down at that spot, we’ll have to see what we do going forward. We really haven’t finalized anything.”

    The Cowboys have been linked to Brian Waters once the deal for veteran Brandon Moore fell apart, but the waiting game continues.

    Parnell, Bell to practice with rest of team

    August, 13, 2013
    8/13/13
    3:06
    PM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- A couple of injured offensive tackles will get some team work in Tuesday.

    Tackles Jermey Parnell and Demetress Bell returned to practice for individual drills Sunday, but coach Jason Garrett said the pair will slowly move into team drills for Tuesday's afternoon practice.

    Parnell has recovered from a strained hamstring suffered early in training camp. Bell was overweight and failed to pass the conditioning test. Once Bell passed the conditioning test, he was cleared to practice.

    Injuries along the offensive line forced the Cowboys to mix and match players at different spots and Garrett said he shortened practice Monday because of a shortage at the tackle spot.

    "They've been in their pads, and that's been good for them," Garrett said of Parnell and Bell. "We anticipate them taking the next step and being in a limited role, maybe stay out of some of the one-on-one competitive stuff, but get involved in some of the team situations."

    Garrett has said Parnell is still in the running to make the team as the swing tackle. He was sharing some first-team snaps at right tackle with Doug Free, but once Parnell went down, Free took command of the position.

    Bell, who started five games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, was signed to add competition to the tackle spot, but his weight was an issue.

    "He's been a good player," Garrett said. "Again, he's a guy we talked a lot about before the (2008) draft. He went elsewhere and he's had a relatively productive career so far.

    "Those positions are really of great value, if you're a tackle in the National Football League and your big and long and you can pass protect, you can be of value to a football team. He was on the street, he was somebody we knew about and we brought him in. To be honest with you, he was overweight and out of shape, we still thought it was worth bringing him in here and getting himself in shape and he's been working hard the last couple of weeks."

    5 Wonders: Sean Lee's sack total

    August, 13, 2013
    8/13/13
    9:00
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys are closing in on their return to Texas after their California summer vacation (aka training camp), but there are plenty of things to wonder about -- and not just the heat back home.

    For the third time in training camp, we bring you Five Wonders:

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    ** LB Sean Lee was credited with a sack and a forced fumble by the stats crew Friday in Oakland, but after looking at the replay, it looked like Jason Hatcher poked the ball free from Matt Flynn before the big hit from Lee. In his first three years, Lee has filled every defensive category but sacks. In 35 games, Lee has yet to record a sack. But I don’t wonder whether Lee will get a sack this year, I wonder how many he will get. Brian Urlacher had eight as a rookie in this scheme, but in five of his last seven years in Chicago, he did not have a sack. He had four in 2010. Monte Kiffin was aggressive in preseason game No. 2 against the Raiders, and Lee has a knack for timing. Seattle’s Bobby Wagner had two sacks last year in this scheme playing the Mike spot. I can see Lee getting about three this year if Kiffin keeps up with his aggressiveness.

    ** Before camp, when we wondered about position battles, I don’t think we had strongside linebacker on the list. We had free-agent pickup Justin Durant as the guy. Heck, I wasn’t sure Ernie Sims would make the team. But I wonder if the coaches have opened this starting spot without any of us noticing until recently. And with Sims suffering a groin injury Sunday, I wonder how long the competition will last. The Cowboys hope Sims can play in the fourth preseason game against Cincinnati, but who knows whether he will be back. Before Sunday, Durant had worked all camp -- save for one vet day -- as the starting Sam linebacker with Sims as his backup. In the Hall of Fame Game against Miami, Durant was the only regular to play. In the second preseason game against Oakland, Durant started but Sims was on the field in the second series with the starters. Durant really has not done anything to lose a job that we all thought was his entering camp, but Sims has had an impactful camp. He has been around the football and has created turnovers in practice. The groin injury, however, might change all of this.

    ** In two preseason games, the Cowboys have had 58 pass plays. So far, tight ends Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Dante Rosario, Colin Cochart and Andre Smith have been targeted nine times. Given how much we have talked about “12 personnel” and how much the Cowboys have used “12 personnel” in practice, I wonder if the team is just keeping most of it under wraps in the preseason. Against Miami in the Hall of Fame Game, the Cowboys used the two-tight end package a bunch and ran the ball more than they threw it. Against Oakland, the starters were in 11 personnel (three wide receivers) more. There is no need to tip teams to what will be your base formation when the regular season begins.

    ** Last year, the Cowboys kept safety Matt Johnson around essentially for the season even though he hardly practiced because of hamstring and back injuries. Johnson earned a scholarship year in part because he was a fourth-round draft pick and teams don’t want to give up on draft picks. Offensive tackle Demetress Bell is not a draft pick and the team does not have a financial commitment to him, but I wonder if the Cowboys will keep him around even though he hasn't done much of anything in camp. After signing, he needed extensive conditioning work when the team got to Oxnard, Calif., and the Cowboys did not want to put him at risk. He’s in better condition now and the Cowboys’ backup tackle situation is not good. Jermey Parnell is the third guy but a hamstring injury has slowed him through the first three weeks. The other backups, Darrion Weems and Edawn Coughman, have not impressed, either. Even if the Cowboys sign Brian Waters, they could keep nine or 10 linemen on the 53-man roster. Bell might not have to do much to be one of those guys.

    ** I wonder if people realize how out of date the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch complex is. There is no doubt it is serviceable, but most of the BCS college programs have better facilities than the Cowboys. You think of Valley Ranch as this magical place because of the history of the franchise, but it is just not as functional as it needs to be, which is a big reason why we will see the team move its practice facility to Frisco, Texas. It’s not just the lack of an indoor facility, though that is a big part of it. They don’t have a place to cook their own food, they need more space for rehab programs, and the player lounge is hardly even a room. We make too much of these things when it comes to free agency because money speaks the most, but there’s a reason why the Cowboys have taken their high-prized free agents to Cowboys Stadium first on their visits. When the team moves to Frisco in the future, the facility will match the stadium.

    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.

    Cole Beasley out, Terrance Williams to return

    August, 11, 2013
    8/11/13
    11:54
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- When the Dallas Cowboys return to the practice field today, one wide receiver will be missing, but another will return.

    Cole Beasley suffered sprained ligaments in his left foot in Dallas' preseason loss at Oakland and will likely miss Saturday’s game at Phoenix, but rookie receiver Terrance Williams will practice for the first time since suffering a concussion on Aug. 2.

    Williams has missed the first two preseason games because of the concussion but was able to get some conditioning work late last week as a precursor to returning to the field. He is slated to be the No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, so getting as much preseason work as possible with Tony Romo is a must.

    X-rays on Beasley’s foot after the game were negative, but an MRI disclosed the ligament injury. While not considered serious, he will miss enough practice time that would put his availability against the Arizona Cardinals in jeopardy.

    Offensive tackles Jermey Parnell (hamstring) and Demetress Bell (conditioning) are also expected to work back into practice. Parnell has not practiced since the first week of training camp and missed a lot of the offseason with a hamstring injury. He was expected to compete with Doug Free for the right tackle spot. Bell signed with the Cowboys on the opening day of camp but failed the conditioning test and has not practiced at all.

    W2W4: Cowboys practice Day 6

    July, 26, 2013
    7/26/13
    11:30
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. - After an day off, the Cowboys return to work Friday.

    Here's a preview:

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    Dez Bryant has been the star of Cowboys training camp and Michael Irvin weighed in on the new No. 88 with Tim MacMahon.

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    Back in pads: The Cowboys will conduct practice in full pads Friday afternoon. It's the third padded practice for the team since training camp started last Sunday. Several players are still adjusting to wearing thigh, knee and hip pads. Players were seen on the practice fields messing with their uniform pants trying to make sure everything was comfortable.

    Will any injured players return?: Jason Garrett said defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring) won't be around for a while -- at least practicing -- but there are several other players that have missed practice time. The return of the following players are in question: Ike Igbinosun, Ronald Leary, Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Demetress Bell, Jermey Parnell, Danny Coale, James Hanna and L.P. Ladouceur. Livings, Leary and Bernadeau are doing sprints during practices, signaling a return could be near. However, Coale's swollen knee hasn't subsided enough for him to practice. Bell isn't in shape and Parnell and Hanna have mild hamstring strains that need healing. Ladouceur (calf) is working on the resistance bands.

    Will we see offensive line changes?: The backup interior offensive linemen, Kevin Kowalski and David Arkin, have struggled in camp. Will the Cowboys make some changes in the interior? One possibility could be moving center Ryan Cook, who is getting looks at guard on the second team, to the first team. The Cowboys want their best linemen on the practice fields right now, and Cook, who just returned to practice after failing the conditioning test, might perform better than Kowalski and Arkin.

    Backup wide receivers looking better: Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams had their best practices of camp on Wednesday. Eric Rogers and Jared Green are off to fast starts, and if the Cowboys keep five receivers it will be interesting to see where Rogers and Green end up.

    What to watch for today: Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox has been hitting everybody. Newly-signed defensive linemen Landon Cohen and George Selvie impressed the scouts and coaches during Wednesday's practice in their first workout of the summer. Let's see if they can do it again. Ben Bass is the new first-team defensive end, but instead of watching him, check out Kyle Wilber and see how he responds to his demotion. B.W. Webb picked up the first interception of camp from the cornerback position on Wednesday. Will the rest of the corners follow his lead?

    Ryan Cook cleared to practice

    July, 23, 2013
    7/23/13
    3:12
    PM ET
    Center/guard Ryan Cook is ready to practice after passing his conditioning test.

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    Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic preview the 2013 season for the Cowboys in "Two-A-Days." Can Tony Romo and Dallas take the next step?

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    Cook, who failed the initial conditioning test Saturday, was taken off the non-football injury list Tuesday and will participate in a limited fashion in the afternoon practice.

    Offensive tackle Demetress Bell, long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur, guards Ronald Leary and Nate Livings and receiver Lavasier Tuinei remain on the non-football injury list. Ladouceur (calf), Leary (calf) and Livings (foot) did not take the conditioning test due to injuries. Bell and Tuinei, who were signed last week, failed the conditioning test.

    Nose tackle Jay Ratliff and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau remain on the physically unable to perform list after straining their hamstrings while taking the conditioning test.

    5 Wonders: Can Jason Hatcher play DE?

    July, 23, 2013
    7/23/13
    8:45
    AM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. – With the Cowboys beginning their third day of training camp practice today, there’s no better time than now to break out Five Wonders, the award-winning blog post -- and by award-winning, I mean in the eyes of my two daughters.

    On to the Wonders:

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    Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss whether Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat and what it will take for Garrett to keep his job after this season.

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  • The Cowboys say they will keep their search for defensive end help largely inside the building with Tyrone Crawford out for the year with a torn Achilles. While some of you want to go out and sign a John Abraham or even a Richard Seymour, I wonder if the Cowboys might give Jason Hatcher a look at defensive end. It’s a two-for-one move to a degree and that’s never good. You might be taking away a strength at tackle. But Hatcher might have the ability to spell Anthony Spencer from time to time the way Crawford would and Sean Lissemore could play more tackle in pass rushing situations. Hatcher said he would be open to a move if needed.

  • Is it too early to wonder about playing time in the preseason? Maybe, but I wonder if the Cowboys play their regulars a little bit more than they have in the past because of the change to the 4-3 and the change in offensive playcaller in Bill Callahan. As much as Jason Garrett likes to do situational work in practice for the players, he might want to do it for Callahan too. The coach has to knock some of the rust off his play-calling skills since he hasn’t done it in so long. And there’s this wonder within a wonder: does Tony Romo need more playing time because he did not have an offseason due to the back surgery?

  • It’s way too early to speculate on this subject since Demetress Bell is not in good enough shape to practice yet, but I wonder if the Cowboys could use their veteran depth as a potential trade bait. Now, this is all provided Bell plays well and a lot better than he did a year ago in Philadelphia. He or Jermey Parnell could be attractive to other teams as a potential need fit because of injuries and both come at decent prices. Parnell counts $1.35 million against the cap. Bell counts $555,000. I think the Bell signing was more to help the Cowboys get through training camp with quality enough backup play to make things a little easier for Kyle Orton, but in the back of my mind there’s a possibility here.

  • Let’s get back on the subject of Spencer here for a moment. The Cowboys did not really come close to a long-term deal for him before a July 15 deadline, which means he will play this year on the franchise tag ($10.6 million). Teams can’t pay everybody, and Spencer would represent a decent financial commitment with guys like Sean Lee and Bruce Carter coming up into free-agent years. With that in mind, I wonder if we need to look back at Tampa Bay’s defense under Monte Kiffin for how money gets structured. At defensive end, Simeon Rice got paid the big bucks. The other guys – Chidi Ahanotu, Marcus Jones and Greg Spires – were paid OK but not great. With the Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware gets the big bucks. I wonder if there’s just not enough for Spencer.

  • I wonder when the Cowboys move to their new practice facility in the next few years – and Frisco is believed to be the leader in the clubhouse over Irving and Arlington – if they will hold at least a portion of training camp there. The weather is an obstacle, but Miami manages to deal with the hot and sticky stuff with the option of going indoors if they want every now and again. But there’s a reason why teams are opting to practice at home more. Their facilities have places for fans to watch the show, and don’t think that doesn’t matter. It does. Teams can make some cash on their own through parking and concessions instead of running out to colleges or other spots for practice. That is not an option presently at Valley Ranch. There is no place to put fans. A new facility would undoubtedly have either permanent or portable seating for fans and plenty of parking.
  • Injury report: Anthony Spencer might need surgery

    July, 22, 2013
    7/22/13
    9:11
    PM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- After the second day of training camp practices, the Dallas Cowboys have added a new name to the injury report.

    *Anthony Spencer has a bone bruise that's not getting better. He missed Monday's practice session and said afterward he might need surgery. If Spencer has surgery he'll miss two to three weeks. Kyle Wilber took Spencer's place with the first-team defense at end.

    *James Hanna missed Tuesday's practice with a strained hamstring. Hanna said he wants to practice but is being held out as a precaution. Gavin Escobar moved up to the first-team in the two-tight-end sets with Hanna out.

    *Jay Ratliff also missed practice with a hamstring strain and his return is unknown.

    * Nate Livings (foot), Ryan Cook, Ronald Leary (calf), Mackenzy Bernadeau (hamstring) and Demetress Bell didn't practice but each ran sprints during the afternoon practice session.

    * L.P. Ladouceur (calf) also missed practice, but didn't run sprints. Ladouceur worked on the resistance bands.

    Injury report: Spencer gets nicked up

    July, 21, 2013
    7/21/13
    9:52
    PM ET
    OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys suffered a potentially season-ending injury during their first training camp practice.

    Here's our daily injury report:

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    Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss whether Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat and what it will take for Garrett to keep his job after this season.

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    Tyrone Crawford suffered a torn left Achilles tendon during an individual non-contact drill. It's the second consecutive season in which the Cowboys have lost a player to this injury in training camp. Last season, linebacker Caleb McSurdy suffered the same injury during individual drills.

    Anthony Spencer missed the last hour of practice with a balky left knee. Spencer said he tweaked the same knee he hyperextended during offseason workouts. The linebacker said he rested as a precaution. Kyle Wilber replaced him with the first team.

    Nate Livings (foot) is on the physically unable to perform list, but there's hope he can return by midweek.

    Ryan Cook didn't practice because he failed Saturday's conditioning test.

    Ronald Leary (calf) missed practice, and his status is day-to-day.

    Mackenzy Bernadeau (hamstring) hasn't practiced the entire offseason. He missed time recovering from shoulder surgery, and now he's out with a hamstring injury suffered during the conditioning test.

    Demetress Bell, like Cook, didn't pass the conditioning test. Until he passes it, he won't participate.

    • L.P. Ladouceur (calf) is out, but the team isn't concerned about his long-term status.

    Jay Ratliff (hamstring) will practice when his strained hamstring heals. Ratliff is on the PUP list, but he passed the conditioning test. He strained his hamstring while running it.

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