Cowboys: Dwayne Harris
Here's what we're looking to talk about with Romo:
|Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs. |
More power with the front office. After Romo signed the contract, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said his quarterback will spend more time at Valley Ranch and have more of a say with the play calling and the game planning. Does this matter to Romo? Has he always been that involved in the game planning? The Cowboys even provided Romo with some game film of prospective draft picks. Is that fair to the rest of the team? Does Romo feel he should be put in this position?
Health. Romo isn't participating in the OTA after he underwent surgery last month to have a cyst removed from his back. The cyst has limited Romo's ability to participate in the offseason programs and develop chemistry with the young receivers and continue to work with veterans such as Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Dwayne Harris. When did the cyst develop? The media has been told it's not serious. But it's serious enough that after having surgery last month he can't participate for three weeks.
What about you? What do you think reporters should be asking Romo today? If you have any questions, let us know. Maybe we'll ask him.
Here's a primer:
|Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his comments on how Jason Garrett should handle being on the hot seat and not let Jerry Jones get in the way. |
What are the rules? Players can wear helmets and other equipment, but no shoulder pads. Teams can have 11-on-11 drills, special teams and 7-on-7 drills. Players can practice for up to two hours. If a player gets hurt and is released, the team will reach an injury settlement. In some cases, depending on the player, the team will guarantee his base salary.
What we're watching? We know the defensive starters except at safety. The main candidates are Barry Church, Will Allen, Danny McCray, J.J. Wilcox and Johnson. Who plays with the first team? Church, last year's starter, and maybe Allen could get reps with the first-team defense. Johnson, who missed his entire rookie season with hamstring injuries, also could get some first-team looks.
Tyrone Crawford said he's getting looks at defensive end and tackle. Kyle Wilber, drafted in 2012 as a outside linebacker, has been moved to end. Does Wilber get first-team reps on Ware's side?
|Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs. |
Dwayne Harris is the No. 3 receiver, but rookie Terrance Williams wasn't drafted in the third round to sit the bench. Tight end Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick, should get some snaps with the first-team offense, but don't forget about James Hanna.
Media access: The OTAs last three days, but the media is allowed to watch practice and talk with the players and coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday only.
|With the Cowboys opening rookie minicamp, Galloway and Mosley discuss the incoming rookie class and who will make the biggest impact. |
Coale suffered the injury in a late-season practice, capping a rookie season that did not go well. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot and missed most of the offseason and early part of training camp. Once in camp he was slowed by a quadriceps strain. He was among the final cuts and was re-signed to the practice squad.
Coale, a fifth-round pick last year, is eligible to take part in this weekend’s mini-camp but is focusing more on his rehab.
“You look at the year and yeah I had some injuries and setbacks but I remember being in their shoes, coming in, digesting the playbook and going out there and trying to compete,” he said.
When he gets on the field, he will face significant competition with the Cowboys drafting Terrance Williams in the third round this year and the end-of-season performance from Dwayne Harris in 2012. Cole Beasley earned a backup role last year as an undrafted free agent. Tim Benford, Jared Green and Carlton Mitchell are also in the mix for a backup spot.
|Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss the latest Cowboys news, including DeMarco Murray's running style, Miles Austin's new exercise routine and Jason Hatcher's confidence in the defensive line. |
"It's a whole different mindset going in," Bryant said. "No more games. No more wondering. I know what I'm doing. I got to come in and do what I did at the end of last year, and I hope to build on that."
Bryant was a dominant force in the passing game for the Cowboys in 2012. He compiled career-highs in catches (92), yards (1,382) and touchdowns (12). Bryant had five games with more than 100 receiving yards, including a 224-yard performance against New Orleans in December. He caught a touchdown pass seven consecutive games, only to have the streak snapped in the regular-season finale at Washington.
Bryant's maturity away from the field has also been noticeable. Those around Valley Ranch hope it will lead to bigger things on the field.
The Cowboys receivers are led by Bryant and Miles Austin and also include Dwayne Harris, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale. The Cowboys will fill out the receiving corps with an array of younger players.
"I feel like we have a great receiving corps," Bryant said. "We're good if someone goes down. We have great enough receivers who can go in and contribute and make plays for this team."
Here's the best of the best:
Q: Trading a player. If Terrance Williams shows he's a starter and the Cowboys are comfortable with Dwayne Harris in the slot, then use Miles Austin as the example. If the Boys traded him to another team for a draft pick, what are the rules? Does his entire contract go to the other team? How much are the Boys accountable for? How does a trade like that work? What would be the salary-cap hit for this year and next? David (Florida)
A: The Cowboys are not trading Austin for a couple of reasons: 1. Financial. They just restructured his deal, and NFL teams rarely trade players after that procedure is done. 2. The Cowboys still need him. While yes, Dez Bryant is an emerging talent, the Cowboys have some unproven players in the receiving corps. Austin is getting a $5.8 million signing bonus this season in addition to an $840,000 base salary. He's signed through 2017. I would think 2014 ($5.5 million base salary) or 2015 ($6.68 million base salary) might be the years when he gets cut.
Q: Will Doug Free be with Dallas after June 1? Allen Hudson (Hideaway, Texas)
A: Not sure if Hideaway, Texas is East Texas, or maybe South Texas, but I'm sure you're having a good time there. Free's status is up to him, really. If he takes a pay cut, he stays. If he doesn't, the team will release him. But the longer he waits, the more leverage he obtains because possible replacements get taken off the market. As was the case on Sunday when the Miami Dolphins signed Tyson Clabo. Eric Winston remains on the market, and the Cowboys do have interest. I think if Free wants to remain with the Cowboys he's going to take a pay cut.
Q: What are your thoughts on the lack of depth on the defensive line? Why didn't the Cowboys draft anyone, considering the age of the starters and their injury history (and Jay Ratliff's DUI arrest)? Jerry G. (Israel)
A: I was surprised the Cowboys didn't address the defensive line in the draft. There was a moment at which the Cowboys could have moved up and grabbed Sheldon Richardson or picked Sylvester Williams, who was available at No. 18. The Cowboys went with an offensive lineman, getting center/guard Travis Frederick from Wisconsin at No. 31. There is some depth along the line with Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Wilber and Rob Callaway, but, outside of Lissemore, this group is unproven. Of the four starters, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher don't have contracts for 2014, and Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware, who are now in their 30s, are coming off an injury-riddled 2012 season. The good news is the Cowboys' front is talented and in its early 30s. The bad news is the backups are basically unproven.
Q: Hey there, Mr. Watkins: just curious how much better you think our defense will be in 2013 from the standpoint that we have a lot of injured players returning (Church, Lee, Carter, Ratliff etc.)? Blake Nelsen (Havre, Mont.)
A: The defense is talented, especially in the front seven. When you get Sean Lee and Bruce Carter back full time, that's such a big step in the right direction. Lee and Carter are the 1-2 punch in the defense. The Cowboys believe a healthy Ratliff bolsters that front from a pass rush standpoint. Church was an emerging talent before tearing his Achilles tendon last season. It's fair to say the Cowboys lost some games because their defense wasn't totally healthy. If the defense had gone through the season totally healthy, maybe Rob Ryan is still the defensive coordinator.
Q: Calvin, longtime Cowboys fan here. You're around Jerry Jones: Do you think that he has an awareness that the Cowboys have become the laughingstock of the league due to his poor decision-making and inability to make solid football decisions as a GM? Gary (Dallas)
A: I can think of some other franchises, like the New York Jets, who have made some poor decisions themselves. Jerry Jones is a respected GM, and you can second-guess every GM in the league. The better ones are in New York with the Giants, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco and Green Bay, and now I'm starting to like what's happening in St. Louis. Jones has made some good moves. Got to give him credit for drafting Lee, Carter and Bryant. You can question his draft decisions, like with everybody else across the league, and he's struggled in this area the past few years. The problems with the Cowboys stem from his inconsistency as a GM. He's not going to fire himself, so the moves he makes are something die-hard Cowboys fans have to live with.
|Cowboys second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his strengths as a tight end, the stress of the draft process and the thrill of working with Jason Witten and Tony Romo. |
*The interesting thing about getting Baylor wide receiver Terrence Williams in the third round is how it impacts Dwayne Harris. Currently Harris is the No. 3 receiver and if Williams can emerge during the preseason maybe he gets more playing time. Harris became a reliable player late in the season and took over the No. 3 receiving duties from Kevin Ogletree. The Cowboys want competition at various spots and the receiver position will have that this summer. Cole Beasley, Danny Coale and Williams will put pressure on Harris to maintain his spot.
*Drafting linebacker J.J. Wilcox, cornerback B.W. Webb and outside linebacker DeVonte Holloman gives the Cowboys some prospective special teams candidates. It seems Wilcox is being groomed to become a special teams ace, held by safety Danny McCray, because of his tackling ability in college. Webb is a feisty player who isn't afraid to mix it up on man coverage and Holloman is a physical player as well.
*The Cowboys watched quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib and Tyler Wilson go in the fourth round before selecting Webb. The Cowboys bypassed Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. After the Cowboys selected Webb with the 114th pick of the fourth round, Pittsburgh selected Jones at No. 115. Several teams drafted quarterbacks in the middle rounds, starting with Philadelphia, which moved from No. 101 to No. 98 to get Barkley. Some in the Cowboys organization thought several quarterbacks, including Barkley would go higher in the draft, but there wasn't a belief the Cowboys needed one.
*After rushing for a team-high 897 yards in 2011, then averaging 4.1 yards per carry leading to 663 yards last season, there are concerns about starting running back DeMarco Murray. With good reason. He suffered a fractured ankle in 2011 costing him to miss the final few weeks of the season then he missed six games in 2012 with a sprained foot. The Cowboys were in the market for a running back and drafted Joseph Randle from Oklahoma State in the fifth round. It was noted by Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones that Randle isn't a special teams candidate but a legit No. 2 behind Murray and someone who can take over if he gets hurt again. The Cowboys view Lance Dunbar more of a change of pace back/special teams player than somebody who will can start. Drafting Randle has put Murray on notice he needs to stay healthy if not, his replacement is on the roster.
*Notes: The more you talk to people at Valley Ranch, the more you hear the expectations are high for DT Jay Ratliff now that he's healthy. ... Cowboys still don't have a blocking tight end or cleared up who will call the plays. ... I don't know about you but the Cowboys sure sounded defensive about their trade charts on Saturday. It was funny listening to Jerry Jones say trade charts are fluid. I can accept drafting Frederick, but you just want them to get a second-rounder over a third rounder.
When the Cowboys let Ogletree go in free agency -- he signed with Tampa Bay -- it moved Harris into the coveted role as No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
"Dwayne did a really good job really growing throughout last season," coach Jason Garrett said recently. "(He's) a guy that we really liked coming out of the draft. We drafted him I think in the fifth or sixth round a couple years ago, and we saw him as a role player, a guy that we wanted to grow in that fifth receiver spot. Started to develop a role on special teams as a returner, was a guy who was always very steady with the ball in his hands as a returner, but then he showed us as the season wore on that he could make some game-changing plays as a returner. He got some more opportunities on offense and took advantage of those, and like a lot of guys he really has grown up over the course of his couple years in the league."
When the season ended, Harris had 17 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown. Harris' ability as a returner was more valuable. He averaged 16.1 yards a return on punts and became a stabilizing force after Bryant's issues in the return game.
The Cowboys have a young receiving corps for the second consecutive seasons. Not one receiver is over 30 -- Austin will be 29 in June -- and that bodes well for the future of this position. The Cowboys don't have to worry about upgrading it because of what Bryant and Austin have done in the past and because of Harris' potential.
"Sometimes guys come in and they want to be good but they don’t kind of know what they need to do on a daily basis to get better," Garrett said. "I think he’s understood that over the last couple years. He was on and off our roster for a little bit, if you remember, and I think a couple of those experiences helped in his response to say, 'Hey, I’ve got to bear down, I’ve got to start practicing better on a more consistent basis.' I think when he started doing that, he started getting better and really being able to tap into his potential."
Armstrong was singed last Nov. 26 then released Dec. 22 to allow the Cowboys to place guard Ronald Leary on the active roster.
The Cowboys have nine wide receivers on the roster: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley, Carlton Mitchell, Tim Benford, Danny Coale and Jared Green.
How do the Cowboys look at wide receiver and what still needs to be done?
Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant broke out in a huge way in the second half of his third NFL season and finished the year with 92 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he can keep himself in one piece, he's one of the top wideouts in the league. Miles Austin is the perfect complement on the other side -- good enough that defenses have to pay attention to him but not the kind of guy who's going to complain if Bryant gets more catches. Austin has to keep his hamstrings healthy, and if he does the Cowboys have a top one-two wide receiver combo. Dwayne Harris came on strong last year as a No. 3 wide receiver, and guys such as Cole Beasley and Danny Coale could provide intriguing depth. Dallas could look to add a veteran wide receiver to its mix heading into training camp in case the young guys don't produce, but it's not a high-priority issue.
To see what the other NFC East teams look like at WR, click here.
Wes Welker left the New England Patriots and signed a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos.
The Patriots found his replacement before Welker got his new deal when they signed Danny Amendola from St. Louis.
The Cowboys haven't really had a typical No. 3 slot receiver with the body type of Welker and Amendola.
Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree, Laurent Robinson and Dwayne Harris were No. 3 receivers who played in the slot, but didn't have that small frame.
Last year, the Cowboys found one in Cole Beasley, a player who fits Welker's and Amendola's body type. Beasley is 5-foot-8, 177 pounds. In his rookie season, Beasley finished with 15 catches for 128 yards with no touchdowns. He made a bulk of his catches out of the slot and going forward the Cowboys should use him more often from this area.
New England utilized Welker for several years from the slot to beat teams in the middle of the field. His speed allowed him to get past defenders for yards after catch.
Maybe Beasley can be used in the same fashion in 2013.
Dez Bryant and Miles Austin can stretch defenses deep with their speed and Jason Witten can also command the middle of the field. What about Beasley? If defenses take Bryant and Austin out of the game with their coverages, which has happened, Beasley is a player who should get some run.
There have been teams who have used short receivers from the slot to make plays in different areas of the field and the Cowboys have Beasley who might fit that role.
Ogletree had 32 catches for 436 yards and four touchdowns last season but was inconsistent toward the end of the season and shared playing time as the No. 3 receiver with Dwayne Harris.
Ogletree's departure means Harris will most likely become the full-time No. 3 receiver going into training camp.
|Randy Galloway and Matt Mosley discuss the latest free-agency moves going on around the NFL. |
Robinson surprised with Dallas in 2011 and was fantastic as the No. 3 receiver. He set career highs in catches (54), yards (858) and touchdowns (11), which helped him get a big money deal with Jacksonville. The Cowboys valued Robinson but weren't willing to put the investment in him that the Jags were, because they had their eyes on other big ticket players, such as Brandon Carr, who was signed to a five-year, $50.1 million deal.
But should the Cowboys bring Robinson back now?
There are three factors in play for the Cowboys:
1. Health. Robinson suffered four concussions and will have to undergo major tests with the Cowboys in order be cleared by their doctors. How concerned were the Jags about Robinson's health? They cut him and will have at least $9 million of dead money to absorb on their salary cap.
2. What to pay? Robinson was already guaranteed nearly $14 million from the Jags. Do you sign him to the veteran minimum? The Cowboys will have to make roster moves just to be able to sign a free agent. Is it worth cutting a player to make room for Robinson?
3. Dwayne Harris. He is poised to become the Cowboys' No. 3 wide receiver in 2013. Why slow down his development for Robinson, who is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro?
What do you think?
|Ben and Skin discuss the hypothetical idea of trading Tony Romo, as outrageous as it sounds, and what impact it would have. |
The two most important parts of the combine are the interviews and the medical information, with all of the players taking physicals.
The most talked about part of the combine -- and often the most overrated -- will be the workouts. Drills don’t really mean the guy can play (or can’t play) on Sundays.
The Cowboys' needs are pretty clear: Offensive and defensive line, safety, linebacker, cornerback, tight end and wide receiver.
With a sticky salary cap situation, the Cowboys must draft well. The drafts the last three years have been better (Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Sean Lissemore, Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, DeMarco Murray, Dwayne Harris, Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford, James Hanna), but they don’t make up for the poor ones from 2007-09.
The Cowboys have six picks in the April draft, having dealt their seventh-round pick to Miami for center Ryan Cook. They are not expecting a compensatory pick for losing Laurent Robinson, Martellus Bennett, Bradie James and Abram Elam in free agency.
For the Cowboys to get over the 8-8 hump, they must win the draft. That’s why the combine matters so much.
Q: Calvin -- first off, I am not a fan of the Cowboys, I live in New York Giants country, but I am a football fan and have the following question: As of today, is it more important to Cowboys fans/management for the Cowboys (A) to win a Super Bowl, no matter who is playing QB, or (B) to win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo playing QB? If it is the latter, do you think this negatively affects decisions made by Cowboys management (i.e., Jerry Jones)? PJ (Sea Girt, N.J.)
A: Cowboys fans want to win a Super Bowl regardless of who the quarterback is. The Cowboys' front office feels the same way, but if they're going to accomplish this goal in the next three to five years, Tony Romo will be the quarterback. Now you could say the Cowboys need to draft a quarterback in the next two drafts and they should, regardless of how weak the 2013 quarterback class is. Romo is a good quarterback but he just makes too many mistakes late in games with the season on the line. At one point during the 2012 season, Romo led the NFL in turnovers. Elite quarterbacks don't do this and Romo isn't elite. But he's a solid quarterback who has pressure to produce. Until he pushes the Cowboys to a deep playoff run (it's something I've said for a while now), he will always be under the microscope.
Q: What's up Calvin? I was wondering what you think the chances of the Cowboys making a play at Henry Melton and maybe letting Jay Ratliff go? Do you think there is a better chance of them keeping and Ratliff and maybe re-signing Anthony Spencer? Mike Green (Audubon, N.J.)
A: I was told this week the Cowboys are not interested in Melton. Passing on Melton could be for financial reasons, because the amount of money needed to take care of Melton most likely would go toward Spencer. The Cowboys need Spencer to become a starting defensive end, and while I believe the money devoted to him should go elsewhere, like to a guard or center, he's a vital part of the defense. Ratliff's issues are complex. He played only six games last season and his production has declined each year. His run-in with Jerry Jones and his arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated didn't endear him to the front office. His status remains uncertain, and I get the feeling this is a Jerry Jones call more than anything else. I expect Ratliff to remain with the Cowboys.
Q: Miles Austin for Percy Harvin? The Vikings need receivers and are trying to get rid of him. We need a slot guy. I think he would compliment (sic) Dez Bryant and Jason Witten better than Miles has. The only time Miles has shined was when he getting thrown to in high volumes. That's just not going to happen with Dez emerging as a star. Percy can make big plays with few touches plus he can return punts and kicks. Maybe throw in a late round pick too, it's not like the Cowboys have had much success late in the draft recently. John (Southlake, Texas)
A: John, the Vikings are not trading Harvin and the Cowboys are not trading Austin. It's interesting how down people are on Austin. The man almost had 1,000 receiving yards last season with two nagging hamstrings. Bryant's season was outstanding. He became a focal point of defenses each week and still produced and finally became a reliable target for Tony Romo. Austin is a talented player and shouldn't be forgotten. However, the Cowboys do need a good slot receiver and maybe Dwayne Harris can become the man in 2013. Harris also produced some in the return game. While I do believe Harvin is talented, the Cowboys don't need the added money it would take bring him to Valley Ranch and the wide receivers are talented enough to help the offense.
AP Photo/Julio CortezKevin Ogletree had a career game in the opener but didn't do much after that.
Position: Wide receiver
Summary: Ogletree posted career highs in catches (32), yards (436) and touchdowns (four), but he did himself no favors with some untimely misplays and was never able to come close to replicating his Week 1 performance vs. the New York Giants where he had eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. While his final numbers are in line with what a No. 3 receiver in this offense should put up, Ogletree became an easy target for what didn't happen on offense in 2012.
Why keep him: The Cowboys have invested four years in him and finally saw some fruit in their patience. He is talented, if enigmatic, and can play all three wide receiver roles.
Why let him go: The development of Dwayne Harris as the year went on makes Ogletree expendable. He does not contribute to special teams, so his usefulness is limited to a specific role.
|Is there a payoff for investing hope and passion in the Cowboys, Rangers and Mavericks? Ben and Skin discuss. |
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Play Podcast ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Jerry Jones' recent comments, Cowboys OTAs, Dez Bryant and more.
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs.
Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his comments on how Jason Garrett should handle being on the hot seat and not let Jerry Jones get in the way.
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Play Podcast ESPN Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Cowboys news, including Jason Garrett downplaying Tony Romo's involvement in offensive planning and play calling.
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Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.