Dallas Cowboys: Harland Gunn

Cowboys make roster moves, still two to go

August, 31, 2012
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will make their final cuts today to reach the 53-man limit, but they have already notified 21 players that they have not made the cut.

According to sources, the Cowboys have informed Shaun Chapas, Adrian Hamilton, Danny Coale, Eddie Whitley, Orie Lemon, Ronald Leary, Pat McQuistan, Jeff Adams, Teddy Williams, Harland Gunn, Daniel Loper, Clifton Geathers, Rudy Carpenter, Lionel Smith, Baraka Atkins, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Andrew Szczerba, Ben Bass, Saalim Hakim, Tim Benford and Robert Callaway of their release.

They have two more roster moves to make by 7 p.m. after the trade for offensive lineman Ryan Cook from Miami.

The Cowboys would like to bring some -- like Hamilton, Coale and Leary -- back on the practice squad if they clear waivers.

Leary was the apple of Jerry Jones’ eye as an undrafted free agent and early in training camp, but he will not be on the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys considered drafting Leary despite a knee condition, but ended up guaranteeing him $214,000 in base salary and signing bonus to sign as an undrafted free agent. When the interior line was hit by injuries early in camp Leary took some first-team snaps but he hit a wall midway through camp.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys' final preseason game against the Miami Dolphins was a chance for younger players to make an impact.

Of the 31 players who didn't participate Wednesday, eight were because of injury.

So it was a chance for tight end James Hanna, wide receiver Tim Benford, defensive end Adrian Hamilton, outside linebacker Orie Lemon, guard/center Harland Gunn and tight end Andrew Szczerba to make one final impression on the coaches and the front office staff before the roster is cut to the final 53.

"It's a great night for those guys. They work really hard through training camp and played a little bit in the first three preseason games, but this was going to be their most extensive action," coach Jason Garrett said. "A lot of guys got a chance to play in the early part of the ballgame and, for the most part, did a really good job.

"Orie Lemon made a huge play in the game with the interception return for a touchdown. I thought (Lance) Dunbar ran the ball really well. He showed his lateral quickness his ability to burst through a hole and obviously make big runs. He's a tough guy, not afraid to stick it up in there."

Among some of the highlights for the younger players: Lemon finished with five tackles and an interception return for a touchdown; Dunbar finished with 105 yards on 15 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run; LB Alex Albright finished with 11 tackles, one sack and a tackle for loss.

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys cut short their final practice in Oxnard Thursday when Dan Bailey made a 27-yard field goal, sending the players sprinting to the locker room and confusing fans.

Where did the players go? They boarded buses and went to the beach for a quick jump in the Pacific.

ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon shares the latest from training camp in Oxnard as the Cowboys gear up for their second preseason game.

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It was already a strange practice when Jason Garrett chose not to have the players in full pads for the first time in camp. Players were in shells and helmets for the roughly 80-minute workout.

The players have an 8:45 a.m. walkthrough Friday before boarding a train to San Diego.

On to the observations (albeit a smaller number):

** WR Dwayne Harris had the catch of the day, working down the seam on CB Mario Butler. QB Kyle Orton threw to Harris’ back shoulder and he was able to make a nice adjustment on the ball for the catch but lost his helmet as he went to the ground. It made up for a fumble after a bubble-screen catch earlier in the session.

** The first exchange between Tony Romo and David Arkin ended up on the ground. There were no other issues for them, but Stephen McGee and Harland Gunn combined for a poor snap.

**CB Morris Claiborne did a nice job on back-to-back plays on WR Dez Bryant. He was able to stick with Bryant on a crossing route that led to a high throw and was physical with Bryant on a deep ball from Romo that led to an incomplete pass.

** Haven’t seen too many bursts from RB Felix Jones in camp but he had one on a check-down from Romo, coming back to the line of scrimmage and getting away from S Danny McCray.

** With Jermey Parnell sitting out with neck stiffness, Jeff Adams worked as the second-team left tackle. Parnell should be good to go for the San Diego game.

** LG Nate Livings was in shells and pads for the first time since straining a hamstring early in camp. He did not take part in team drills but went through some individual work and could be back for practice next week vs. San Diego.

** WR Andre Holmes sometimes just gets out of sorts with his route running and looks awkward. After dropping a pass in on-air drills, Harris was made to run the same route for a second time.

W2W4: The last practices in Oxnard

August, 16, 2012

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys will have their 13th and final practice in Oxnard today. The team will have a walkthrough Friday before breaking camp and leaving for San Diego.

What to expect: The Cowboys are hoping to get more practice snaps for some players returning from injury, including safety Matt Johnson, who made his practice debut, albeit limited, Wednesday. Defensive end Jason Hatcher (hamstring) will also get more practice snaps after looking good in Wednesday's practice. David Arkin will continue at center and get more snaps against the first- and second-team defenses. Harland Gunn will get second-team snaps, but don't be surprised to see Pat McQuistan receive second-team snaps at center.

The weather: Let's be honest: The hottest it's been here was about 80 degrees last week. The weather is fantastic, averaging around 75 degrees for the full practices and a little cooler for the morning walkthroughs. No biggie. Oxnard is a perfect place to have practice -- grass fields, fans on top of you along the sidelines and sunshine. Coach Jason Garrett is right: You're not putting players in boiling water; you're practicing under the sunshine of California.

James Hanna and John Phillips: The Big Two will see plenty of snaps at tight end the next few days with Jason Witten (spleen) out for the remainder of preseason. Phillips is the starter, and Hanna will be the backup. The interesting deal about these two is Hanna is a better receiver than Phillips, but they each can improve on their blocking.

What to read: Our columnist, Jean-Jacques Taylor says nobody is to blame for Witten's injury. Doug Free did miss a block.

Morris Claiborne is expected to play in the second preseason game at San Diego. Here's a news story on it.

Todd Archer wraps up Wednesday's practice in his daily camp observations.

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."

Phil Costa won't play at Oakland

August, 11, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- Starting center Phil Costa will miss the preseason opener at Oakland with a lower back strain.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the team received a good report on Costa's MRI exam.

"Probably (not playing Monday), although we had a good MRI back on him," Jones said after Saturday's practice. "And we'll just have to see how he works through it, but it's not disk."

Jones expected Costa to return to practice Wednesday after the Cowboys return from Oakland.

David Arkin is expected to start at center against the Raiders followed by Harland Gunn and quite possibly Pat McQuistan. Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, who is questionable for Monday's game, has played center in the preseason before. But coach Jason Garrett said he would only use Bernadeau in an emergency situation.

Stephen Jones said the team wants to sign a center this weekend for insurance.

Tony Romo to play behind uncertain OL

August, 11, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. – In all likelihood, Tony Romo will see one series of work when the Cowboys open the preseason at Oakland on Monday.

“I’d like to play the whole game but obviously that’s not going to happen,” Romo said. “I just like playing ball.”

Given the uncertain status on the interior line, the Cowboys would be wise to limit Romo’s work. A couple of years ago it was discussed whether to play Romo at all in the preseason opener because of injuries on the offensive line, but he still played.

The Cowboys will likely be without center Phil Costa because of a low back strain against the Raiders, which will give David Arkin his first game action at the position. Until a few days ago Arkin had never snapped a football. His backup will be Harland Gunn, an undrafted center from the University of Miami.

With Arkin at center, veteran Derrick Dockery, who was not with the team to start training camp, will start at left guard. Mackenzy Bernadeau could start at right guard, but he has practiced in pads only three times after missing the offseason and early camp coming back from hip and knee surgeries.

“I think obviously we’d like things to be a little different, but we’ve got to roll. Guys are working hard and they’re going to get an opportunity,” Romo said. “We gotta get some reps with a lot of guys, the snaps things like that will be good for guys to get that time, so we’ll see what happens.”

After 11 practices, Romo is just glad to be playing again.

“We’ll have some new guys in there so we’ll see how it goes, but I do think our team is ready to go out here and hit a new team and get back to playing some football,” Romo said.

Romo had his right index finger bandaged during the Saturday walkthrough, but coach Jason Garrett and the quarterback said nothing was wrong. He did not miss a snap in the afternoon and had plenty of zip on the ball.

W2W4: Who starts at center?

August, 11, 2012

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys have center issues. With Phil Costa having health issues, it raises a few more questions about the offensive line.

Who plays center?: We don't know the extent of Costa's back injury, but the Cowboys have been cautious this summer when it comes to players returning from injuries. Costa has two days to get better in time for the preseason opener, but you have to wonder if David Arkin will get the start at Oakland. Arkin received some first-team snaps with Costa out Friday. If Costa misses practice again, it's a given Arkin will get first-team reps. Harland Gunn also received some snaps and it wouldn't surprise anyone if Mackenzy Bernadeau got some snaps at center against Oakland if Costa misses the game.

Hanna gets his shot: With John Phillips out with an ankle sprain, rookie tight end John Hanna has received more snaps with the first-team offense. Hanna is a better pass catcher than Phillips, but Phillips is the better blocker. The Cowboys want to see Hanna improve his blocking, especially out of two-tight end sets.

Defensive line battles: Most of the talk has been about the No. 3 receiver job, but the Cowboys have some battles going along the defensive line. Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher appear locks to make the roster. Defensive line coach Brian Baker said Sean Lissemore has starter talent, and Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears have started plenty of games in this league. Josh Brent is getting snaps at nose tackle and defensive end, and Tyrone Crawford has moved up the depth chart to the second team with the injury to Hatcher and has caught the coaches' eyes. Baker said he's impressed with how strong Crawford is against the run, something the Cowboys thought he might need work on. Robert Callaway and Ben Bass are long shots to make the roster. The game at Oakland will tell a lot about this group.

Deep snapper: L.P. Ladouceur and Charley Hughlett will handle the long snapper duties Monday night. Watch out for Hughlett because with Ladouceur in the final year of his deal, the Cowboys might find their future deep snapper.

If you're here: Jason Garrett talks at 2 p.m. CT and the practice starts at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Calvin Watkins' practice report

August, 10, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- The center position can only get better. It certainly can't get any worse.

David Arkin is a guard trying to play center and has had mixed results. Harland Gunn is still learning and, by the way, starter Phil Costa (who strained his lower back Friday) is inconsistent. The Cowboys don't like anybody on the free agent market and are open to giving guard Mackenzy Bernadeau some center snaps next week. Just madness.

Here are some more thoughts from Friday's practice:

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley talks about leaving the team and coming back, his impressive performance throughout training camp, developing a rapport with QB Tony Romo and more.

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*It was good to see nose tackle Jay Ratliff getting snaps with the first team in full pads. The Cowboys value Ratliff's ability to beat double-teams and overpower centers in single coverage. Ratliff is an excellent defender and the Cowboys medical staff is being cautious as he deals with his plantar fasciitis. If he feels better he'll gets more snaps in practice. If not, he'll wait it out. Coach Jason Garrett wants to get Ratliff into a few preseason games.

*Derrick Dockery was getting some first-team snaps at left guard Friday afternoon and looked good. Dockery moved well inside and displayed the power the Cowboys are looking for at that position. With Costa having back issues, it wouldn't be surprising if Dockery started Monday at Oakland.

*There were two bad dropped passes. Donovan Kemp, a long shot to make the team, dropped a would-be touchdown pass after beating Teddy Williams, and Raymond Radway lost another one. After Radway dropped his pass along the sidelines he yanked his helmet off and angrily walked away.

*C.J. Wilson is having a pretty good camp. Rob Ryan said it's hard to decide how many corners the team will keep, but Wilson did nice job breaking up passes. One of his best plays was forcing Kevin Ogletree to drop a pass.

*The backup wide receivers had an uneven day of practice. There were the dropped passes from Kemp and Radway, but ther was also a nice touchdown reception from Dwayne Harris in the back of the end zone. Cole Beasley continues to improve by making tough and easy catches. Whoever is the No. 3 receiver, it will be someone who earned it the hard way.

*It seems the Cowboys will keep three running backs: DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner. Yet, keeping a running back for the practice squad is an issue. Ed Wesley didn't do himself any favors when he fumbled a handoff during a run drill. But Jamize Olawale continued to impress with some hard running. He does run too high, and it's something he said he needs to fix.

*DeMarcus Ware is a dangerous player. Always. He beat Tyron Smith on 11-on-11 drills in consecutive plays. He beat Smith with a swim move, forcing Romo to dump a pass to Jones in the flat.

*Dan Bailey has been very good in training camp. But after making a 38-yarder, he had a 47-yard attempt blocked by Orlando Scandrick and then missed from 55 yards.

*Scandrick was pretty feisty. He tipped a ball off the facemask of Harris, almost creamed John Hanna -- later on he flung him to the ground after a catch -- and broke up a pass intended for Ogletree.

Camp observations: QBs arms get a break

August, 7, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- Eight practices into training camp and it’s time to be mindful of the quarterbacks’ arms.

Tony Romo threw only 16 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills, and Kyle Orton had just 12. Unofficially, Romo has completed 138 of 212 passes, and Orton 90 of 134.

With a day off Wednesday, Romo and Orton should be refreshed when they come back to work Thursday.

Now, on to the observations:

** Things got a little feisty during the session. Veteran DE Kenyon Coleman did not like something about a block from rookie TE James Hanna and shoved him in the back. Rookie TE Andrew Szczerba attempted to come to Hanna’s defense with a shove back. Later, Szczerba got into a mini-scrum with DE Tyrone Crawford. Sean Lee gave C Phil Costa a shove. NT Josh Brent expressed extreme displeasure with LB Caleb McSurdy for not making the calls loud enough.

** The goal-line drills were followed by a lot of situational work, including the old lateral play by the offense. The best part of that play came when Dez Bryant flung a lateral across the field to Romo, who threw it back to the right to WR Dwayne Harris over two defenders. Harris was quickly smothered to end the circus play.

** Costa was busy at center with the struggles of David Arkin and Harland Gunn. Arkin had four poor exchanges before he was replaced. Gunn had one shotgun snap that was low. That led Costa to take more reps. He was not immune from mistakes either. He snapped one early to Romo, causing the quarterback to flip the ball away in disgust.

** Crawford has a chance to be a player. In one on one pass rush drills he bulled through LT Tyron Smith. For a rookie, Crawford has some strength to him.

** NT Robert Callaway committed the cardinal sin for interior linemen by jumping on a hard count from Romo on a fourth-and-1 play. All in all, however, Callaway has had a nice camp and is pushing Brent for the backup nose job.

** WR Cole Beasley made two middle-of-the-field catches that led to immediate timeouts by giving himself up. Beasley has done a nice job since coming back from his mini-retirement.

** Orton was late on a crossing route to WR Tim Benford in the final team period, which allowed S Danny McCray to come down to break up the route. Benford was open earlier in his route, but it looked like Orton was waiting for him to clear through another defensive window.

** In the morning walkthrough, back-to-back false starts got RT Doug Free kicked out for a snap. Arkin moved on the second snap and was also replaced. Pat McQuistan replaced Free and Derrick Dockery replaced Arkin. Only for a snap.

** Ps Chris Jones and Delbert Alvarado worked on the flip-flop punt that Mat McBriar had perfected. Jones did not have that kick in his arsenal last year and seemed to do a decent job with it, however, with not as much rotation as McBriar.

** Keep an eye on the undrafted Benford during the preseason games. He is a smooth route runner and uses his hands to catch the ball more than his body. In one-on-one drills against CB Lionel Smith, Benford ran a double-move comeback to the sideline, creating perfect separation for a Romo throw.
OXNARD, Calif. -- Things were so bad at center Tuesday that starter Phil Costa played on the second and third units because of fumbles between the quarterback and center with the backups.

David Arkin, Harland Gunn and Costa all fumbled snaps. At one point, Arkin fumbled consecutive snaps and was pulled for Gunn.

Following Tuesday's practice, Stephen Jones, the Cowboys' executive vice president, said he's not concerned.

"We feel like we’re going to be fine there," he said. "Arkin had a little problem with the snaps. But at some point we’ll put the ball in Bernadeau's hand because he’s done it before."

Guard/center Mackenzy Bernadeau returned to practice for the first time during training camp since his recovery from surgeries on his hip and knee. But he won't go in team drills until Thursday, so the Cowboys had him do some individual drills. Bernadeau will work on playing guard for a few days and get some work at center on the side.

The Cowboys are six days away from their first preseason game at Oakland and there doesn't appear to be any panic about the center spot.

In terms of finding a veteran center, Jones said the team would review it but it's not a pressing need.

"We'll see," he said. "We'll keep looking at it. We always reserve the right to take another look. Right now we’re in good shape."
OXNARD, Calif. -- During the Saturday morning walkthrough, second-team center David Arkin snapped two shotgun balls over the head of 6-foot-4 quarterback Kyle Orton.

Arkin also had a high snap that Orton had to jump for.

Later in the walkthrough, Arkin snapped another ball, out of the shotgun, over the head of Stephen McGee.

Following the second shotgun snap over Orton, coach Jason Garrett said, "Snap it between the one and the eight. You can do it."

When asked about his center problems by reporters, Garrett said, "I think you have a little knowledge after watching that walkthrough. We cued the circus music a couple different times during that walkthrough."

The Cowboys have endured issues at center after releasing Andre Gurode last summer. Phil Costa is the starter but he struggled at times last season. This training camp the Cowboys wanted a competition at the center spot, adding Kevin Kowalski to the mix with Costa.

With Kowalski sidelined due to an ankle injury, the Cowboys gave guard Harland Gunn a shot at the position. When that didn't work out, Arkin, a guard, was moved to center.

Garrett said there was some thoughts about adding a veteran center, but for now the Cowboys are sticking with their current roster. Jason Brown, Scott Mruczkowski and Jeff Faine are some veteran centers on the market.

"When the ball isn't handled the right way it really slows down the whole process, makes everything look really sluggish and really sloppy," Garrett said. "The thing we have to remind ourselves as coaches is what the situation is and it's really having to do with one position and a very important position and a very important process the snap from the center to the quarterback, we're trying to train a lot of different guys as you know we've had a lot of injuries in there."

Calvin Watkins' practice report

August, 2, 2012

OXNARD, Calif. -- The first day in pads revealed a few things about the Cowboys.

Let's examine.

*The Cowboys have some issues at center. Not major issues, but enough to be slightly concerned. Phil Costa struggled to make blocks on the second level Wednesday afternoon and was pushed back in the pocket. It wasn't all bad, but it's clear Costa has trouble with bigger defensive linemen. The Cowboys have tried Harland Gunn at center, but he fumbled a snap and is trying to take the next step, so he might be another year away. David Arkin was getting some work at center but he also needs more work. It's too early to look for a new center but the team was hoping Kevin Kowalski would compete for a starting job with Costa.

*We haven't seen much of Raymond Radway in the first three days of camp. Wednesday, he beat Morris Claiborne for a deep touchdown pass. Radway has good speed and is still working on the little things in his game, like route running and how to get a defender off him with his hands. Last season, Radway was the favorite to make the roster as the No. 4 receiver, but a nasty leg injury in the final preseason game cost him his season. The big question regarding Radway is can he regain what he lost last year? However, Radway ran the wrong route and got a earful from receivers coach Jimmy Robinson.

*There was a tough stretch for the first-team offense where Tony Romo dealt with a false start, a short run by DeMarco Murray as the result of a missed block by Costa, a false start by Jason Witten and then a short run by Murray. Sometimes an offense can struggle and this is where coach Jason Garrett wants to see how his players respond.

*You can talk about cornerbacks getting beaten up on an island, well the same can be said of left tackles. Tyron Smith, who will start on the left side this season, was called for a false start and then gave up a sack to Jason Hatcher on consecutive plays. But Smith rebounded in pass rush drills, holding off a charging DeMarcus Ware twice.

*Teddy Williams is a long shot to make this team, but he did a nice job on a tackle for loss when he stopped receiver Tim Benford for a tackle for loss on a quick screen. Williams has to impress special teams coach Joe DeCamillis to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Cowboys add 21 college free agents

April, 30, 2012
IRVING, Texas – After the draft ended Saturday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys would be aggressive in the college free agent market, particularly on the offensive line since the team did not draft a lineman.

He wasn’t kidding.

The Cowboys signed six, highlighted by Memphis guard Ronald Leary, whom the team almost drafted in the sixth round but backed off because of concerns over a knee injury. The other undrafted lineman signed were: Columbia tackle Jeff Adams, Oklahoma State tackle Levy Adcock, Notre Dame tackle Taylor Dever, Miami guard Harland Gunn and Idaho tackle Tyrone Novikoff

Here are the additional signings:

Cole Beasley WR Southern Methodist
Tim Benford WR Tennessee Tech
George Bryan TE North Carolina State
Lance Dunbar RB North Texas
Saalim Hakim WR Tarleton State
Adrian Hamilton LB Prairie View A&M
Charley Hughlett LS Central Florida
Donavon Kemp WR UTEP
Isaac Madison CB Arkansas
Darrell Scott RB South Florida
Lionel Smith CB Texas A&M
Andrew Szczerba TE Penn State
Aston Whiteside LB Abilene Christian
Eddie Whitley S Virginia Tech
Troy Woolfolk CB Michigan