Dallas Cowboys: L.P. Ladouceur

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:


The Kyle Orton watch is over now that the Cowboys released the veteran backup. The timing of it is a surprise, and Jason Garrett spoke optimistically all offseason about Orton’s return. Now the Cowboys turn their attention to Weeden as Romo’s backup. Weeden had a productive spring, running the first-team offense as Romo recovered from back surgery. The Cowboys haven’t kept a third quarterback since 2011, and Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan will have work to do to crack the 53-man roster


The last two spots could be up in the air. Randle, a fifth-round choice, will be pushed by free-agent pickup Ryan Williams in the preseason. Williams, a former second-round pick, was not able to stay healthy in Arizona. The Cowboys have given him a chance to win a backup job. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup in 2013. He is more versatile than undrafted rookie J.C. Copeland, but I don’t think having a fullback on the 53-man roster is set in stone.


I debated whether to go with a sixth, but later on you will see why I stuck with five. It is possible the Cowboys will look for a veteran in the final cuts if they feel limited by their depth because of injury, but I think they like the overall group. They will work their No. 3 receiver role on a rotation basis, but Beasley could emerge as a bigger threat on third down. There will be a lot of eyes on Williams, who takes over the No. 2 role on a full-time basis. Bryant is set for another Pro Bowl-type season.


Witten remains near the top of the game at his position. His total catches were down last year, but his touchdowns were up. Escobar’s role figures to expand, especially as a No. 3-type receiver. Hanna has the inside track on the third spot, but I have a feeling the Cowboys will be looking for more of a traditional blocker, especially if they want to get away from the fullback spot to open up a role elsewhere.


The top six are set, with Bernadeau or Leary fighting it out for the left guard position and the loser becoming the top backup on the interior. Parnell is in the final year of his deal, and if Weems develops, I wonder if the Cowboys would look for a trading partner. They have invested a lot in Parnell in time and money for him to be a backup, so it would be a risk, but perhaps one worth taking. Weems had a decent offseason. Clarke gets the nod as the No. 9 guy right now, but veteran Uche Nwaneri could work his way into the mix.


I think the Cowboys will go heavy here, especially considering what happened last year and the numbers they have thrown at the position this year. Four of them are rookies -- Lawrence, Gardner, Bishop and Coleman. I believe Anthony Spencer and possibly Amobi Okoye will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, so they don’t make this 53-man roster with the idea that they join the team after the sixth game of the season. Wilson garnered the last spot over a 2013 starter, Nick Hayden, but there will be a few players in the mix for the final few spots, including Ben Bass.


Carrying seven linebackers might be a little heavy, but I have special teams in mind when it comes to Will Smith. He benefits from having only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Cowboys spent the offseason telling us games are won and lost up front, so carrying an extra offensive or defensive linemen could get in this mix as well. McClain gets a spot only because of his experience. Backups of Holloman, Hitchens and Smith would be tough considering their youth, and I can see the Cowboys looking for veteran backup help around the final cut dates.


Carr and Claiborne have to play exceptionally well for this defense to have a chance, and they might have to do it without much help from a consistent pass rush. Scandrick is coming off his best season, and Claiborne will have to beat him out to reclaim the starting spot. Moore can play inside and out. Mitchell showed in his limited offseason work that he can make plays. Last year’s fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb, will have to fight for a spot. Based on his offseason work, he did not make the cut for this roster.


Church is the only player without questions. The Cowboys are projecting the other four with their biggest bet on Wilcox. He enters camp as the starter, but he could be pushed by Heath and Hamilton. Dixon will be more of a special-teams threat if he is to make the roster. Hamilton showed some playmaking in the offseason. No Matt Johnson? Not right now, especially after he couldn’t practice -- again -- for most of the offseason.


Perhaps Cody Mandell can push Jones, but Jones is the more consistent punter and has a good rapport as a holder for Bailey. Ladouceur remains one of the best long-snappers in the game. This group won’t change during the summer unless there is an injury.
Constructing a 53-man roster is a difficult process, piecing together 10 positions groups and matching up present needs with future production of older and younger players. This week we take a look at constructing the Dallas Cowboys' roster.


On the roster: Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur, Cody Mandell, Casey Kreiter

Locks: Bailey, Jones, Ladouceur

Needs help: Mandell

How many fit? There was a time the Cowboys kept two kickers, one for field goals and the other for kickoffs. Bailey, however, does not need kickoff help. He is more than fine in that department. Three is the magic number for this group.

The Cowboys could look to bring a kicker into camp just so they don't overwork Bailey, who signed a seven-year extension this offseason.

Jones had a solid first full season as the Cowboys' punter. Mandell has a good leg, but he will have to clearly be better than Jones to win the job this summer. Jones has a strong leg but has done a better job on his directional kicking. Mandell showed he has a strong leg in the spring, but he was not consistent.

Do not overlook the fact Jones is a good holder too. That goes a long way to a kicker's confidence even if Bailey does not seem to be bothered by anything.

Ladouceur is a mainstay. It seemed in a few years ago the Cowboys were searching for Ladouceur's replacement, but nobody has been able to handle the duties. Plus, Ladouceur is just too good to go with an unknown snapper. Kreiter will get a chance to show what he can do in the preseason but it might be for another team or a return with the Cowboys in the future.

Missing workouts costs Kyle Orton $75,000

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
IRVING, Texas -- Having missed the first four days of the Dallas Cowboys' offseason program, quarterback Kyle Orton's base salary will decrease if he ends up playing in 2014, according to his contract.

Orton has a $75,000 de-escalator for failing to complete a percentage of offseason workouts, which will take his base salary from $3.25 million to $3.175 million for 2014.

It might be a sign of how serious Orton is considering not playing in 2014.

He participated in the offseason programs in each of his first two years with the Cowboys. Orton, 31, is in the final year of his contract. At the NFL owners meetings, agent David Dunn said Orton would play in 2014, and the Cowboys have long believed he would play because of his high base salary and the fact that he would have to pay back $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus he received in 2011 if he retired.

The offseason program is voluntary. The only mandatory part of it is a minicamp from June 17-19. If Orton skips that, he would face a fine of up to roughly $70,000.

The Cowboys signed veteran Caleb Hanie this week as insurance in case Orton's absence continues.

Orton is one of a number of players with a de-escalator clause in his contract for missing offseason workouts. The de-escalators range from $500,000 for players such as Jason Witten and Brandon Carr to $25,000 for long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

Cowboys are getting younger

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
IRVING, Texas -- These are not your father's Dallas Cowboys, so to speak.

Once a team stocked with enough players to field a softball team in an over-30 league, the Cowboys are getting young.

With the releases of DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin, the Cowboys have three starters over 30 years old in Tony Romo, who turns 34 next month, Jason Witten, who turns 32 in May and Doug Free, who turned 30 in January.

The only other thirty-somethings on the roster are backup quarterback Kyle Orton, who is 31, and long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who turns 33 on Thursday.

Not included on the list are free agents Anthony Spencer (30) and Jason Hatcher (31).

Ware turns 32 in July and Austin turns 30 in June.

The Cowboys have refused to use the word "rebuild" over the last three seasons but they have re-tooled their roster moving away from Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode and Marc Colombo on the offensive line and Ware, Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman on the defensive line.

They have made the decision to not restructure the contracts of Witten and Brandon Carr, who turns 28 in May, unless absolutely necessary so they do not push more money into the salary cap in future years.

For years people have called the NFL a young man's game. The Cowboys are moving to a younger man's team.

Dallas roster not stripped, but retooled

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
IRVING, Texas -- On Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said stripping down the team and going through a complete overhaul is impossible in large part because of the salary cap.

If you look at the roster, however, the Cowboys have undergone a slow-rebuild -- if not a one-year overhaul -- the past few years with the idea that they can still make the playoffs, which would fall into Jones’ “compete for a Super Bowl,” credo by definition.

The 8-8 finishes the past three seasons have prevented the Cowboys from making the playoffs, but the roster overhaul has happened and the cleaning up of the cap, as Stephen Jones likes to call it, is in midstream.

The offensive line has been remade since 2011 with only Doug Free remaining. They have invested in three younger cornerbacks, although they have yet to see the payoff in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. They have two younger receivers to build around in Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.

The rebuilding of the defensive line has to start this offseason, especially if DeMarcus Ware does not return.

The Cowboys have gotten younger. They have seven players under contract for 2014 that will be 30 or older by the time the season starts. Only Tony Romo, Free, Jason Witten and L.P. Ladouceur are guaranteed to be around this season. There are cap questions around Ware and receiver Miles Austin, and quarterback Kyle Orton has to decide whether he wants to continue to play.

Free agent defensive linemen Jason Hatcher (32) and Anthony Spencer (30), and guard Brian Waters (37) will be allowed to test the market and sign elsewhere.

The Cowboys have 27 players signed past 2014 who finished the year on the 53-man roster in 2013. Only 10 have significant financial commitments, including Austin and Ware, who could be gone before this coming season. Players such as Carr and Mackenzy Bernadeau could be part of a recycle in 2015.

Bryant and Tyron Smith stand to see steep pay increases over the next 12-18 months, with their contracts expiring over the next two seasons. Perhaps the same could happen with running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the final year of his deal.

Rebuilding is not a word Jones will use. Reloading does not apply to a team that has one playoff win since 1996.

Maybe retooling is the more apt description.

But will that guarantee anything more than 8-8?

A look at the Cowboys bargains

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
IRVING, Texas – Earlier in the week Calvin Watkins brought you a post featuring the top-10 salary-cap figures for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

For some, it was a little depressing to see the cash and cap figures being sunk into some players that have not lived up to the billing.

In an effort to make you feel a little better, here are 10 bargains on the Cowboys roster.


Who's the biggest bargain on the Cowboys' roster?


Discuss (Total votes: 9,797)

Safety Barry Church ($1 million base salary, $1.5 million cap figure): He led the Cowboys in tackles in 2013 and was able come back after tearing an Achilles in 2012. The Cowboys were mocked by some when they gave Church an extension when he was hurt, but they have a starting player -- and good player at that -- at an excellent price.

Defensive end George Selvie ($730,000 base salary, $730,000 cap figure): Why are the numbers the same? The Cowboys did not give him a bonus when he joined the team in training camp last summer. They also locked him up for two years. Selvie had a career-high seven sacks last year and started every game. There’s a chance he could be the most decorated defensive linemen returning from 2013, which is also somewhat scary.

Running back DeMarco Murray ($755,469 base salary, $946,094 cap figure): He is coming off his first 1,000-yard season and his first Pro Bowl appearance. He is also entering the last year of his contract, which means he would be due for a pay raise depending on how 2014 plays out for him. This is great value for a player who means as much to the Cowboys as Murray.

Left tackle Tyron Smith (2.079 million base salary, $3.976 million cap figure): Factoring in age and ability, he is the Cowboys’ best player. He is technically entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be rewarded handsomely. The question is when? The Cowboys hold a fifth-year option on Smith that they must exercise this spring. They could also try to work out a long-term deal with him, but the cost will be high. Don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere.

[+] EnlargeDeMarco Murray
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty ImagesDeMarco Murray has offered the Cowboys excellent value -- but will soon need a pay raise if he plays at Pro Bowl levels again in his contract year.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant ($1.78 million base salary, $3.898 million cap figure): He is entering the final year of his deal and the Cowboys can always use the franchise tag on him. He has had back-to-back 90-catch, 1,000-yard seasons to go with 25 touchdown catches. He is dynamic and also made his first Pro Bowl appearance. Like Smith, don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere.

Center Travis Frederick ($717,274 base salary, $1.561 million cap figure): He is entering his second year so he figures to be on this list for a few more years. He stabilized the line and proved the Cowboys right in their decision to trade down last April.

Kicker Dan Bailey ($900,000 base salary, $1.7 million cap figure): Many people were caught by surprise by the length of Bailey’s new deal, but they missed the real factor: his cap number this year is lower than what it would have been had he been tendered as a restricted free agent. He has won a third of the Cowboys’ games the last three seasons.

Left guard Ronald Leary ($495,000 base salary, $495,000 cap figure): He started every game in 2013 after the team put a big-time investment in him in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. Is he perfect? No. Is there a concern with his knee? Yes. But he gives the Cowboys a good anchor on the interior and will be at a good price for a few more years.

Longsnapper L.P. LaDouceur ($885,000 base salary, $1.005 million cap figure): Another specialist on the list? Yeah. Maybe it speaks to the lack of depth on the roster or maybe I’m reaching. But if you’re looking for a big reason for Bailey’s success, look at Ladouceur. He has been perfect since coming to town in 2005.

Wide receiver Dwayne Harris ($645,000 base salary, $655,000 cap figure): He has proven to be a top-flight return man. He could get the chance to be more of a factor in the offense in 2014 as well. He won a game with a TD catch and a punt return last year.

Cowboys position breakdown: Specialists

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer break down the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. LaDouceur and Dwayne Harris.

A look back: Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia took over a unit in need of a new voice and provided solid results. You can start with kicker Dan Bailey, who converted 93.3 percent of his field goal tries and was perfect from 40-49 yards (10-10) and made 6-of-7 field goal attempts from 50 plus yards. Bailey was so good, the Cowboys avoided any contract issues by giving him a contract extension worth $22.5 million with $7.5 million guaranteed. Well deserved. Chris Jones also had a solid season as the punter, finishing eighth with 30 punts inside the 20 and he had a 39.1 net average. Dwayne Harris emerged as a return threat during the season. He finished eighth in kickoff return yards with 857 and despite just 256 punt return yards, he did score a touchdown and when he missed a game due to injury, replacement Michael Spurlock returned a punt 62 yards. If there were any negatives it was centered on rookie Terrance Williams, who fumbled an opening kickoff and probably should have stayed in the end zone for a few returns.

A look ahead: This group has no issues. L.P. LaDouceur is one of the best deep snappers in the league, Bailey morphed into a reliable if not one of the Top 5 kickers in the league and Harris is a legit threat on returns. Injuries are always a concern, Harris missed three games with a hamstring injury, but Cole Beasley (6.8 average on 10 punt returns) was a capable backup and you could always punt Dez Bryant back there.

A look out: Williams is someone who can improve in this area and might get a few looks during training camp again. Bryant and Beasley are solid backups for Harris, who has become a solid returner.

Dallas Cowboys penalty breakdown

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys had 102 accepted penalties in 2013, which were the fewest they have had in the Jason Garrett Era, but the 867 yards were the most.

In 2011 the Cowboys were flagged 112 times for 802 yards. In 2012, they had 118 penalties for 853 yards.

In Sunday’s NFC East title game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, they were penalized once for 5 yards and it never should have been a penalty. The officials did not restart the playclock and the Cowboys were called for a delay of game.

Here’s the breakdown (includes declined, offsetting penalties):

Offensive holding - 24
False start – 17
Defensive holding – 12
Offside – 9
Defensive pass interference – 8
Neutral zone infraction – 7
Unnecessary roughness – 6
Offensive pass interference – 6
Illegal use of hands – 5
Face mask – 4
Illegal block above the waist – 4
Delay of game – 4
Roughing the passer – 3
Unsportsmanlike conduct – 3
Intentional grounding – 1
12-men on the field – 1
Encroachment – 1
Horse-collar tackle – 1
Illegal contact – 1
Offside, free kick – 1
Illegal formation – 1
Illegal shift – 1
Personal foul – 1

Player by player:

8 – Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Ronald Leary, Doug Free

7 – Tyron Smith

6 – Morris Claiborne, George Selvie

5 – Dez Bryant, Barry Church

4 – Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Kyle Wilber

3 – Cameron Lawrence, Travis Frederick, Jarius Wynn, Bruce Carter, DeMarcus Ware

2 – Ernie Sims, Jason Hatcher, J.J. Wilcox, James Hanna, Dwayne Harris, Jason Vega, DeMarco Murray, Nick Hayden

1 – Sean Lee, Miles Austin, Will Allen, Mackenzy Bernadeau, L.P. Ladouceur, Jermey Parnell, Brian Waters, Terrance Williams, Kyle Bosworth, B.W. Webb, Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Kyle Orton, Caesar Rayford

For some, no choice but to keep swinging

December, 31, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett said on Monday the Dallas Cowboys have to keep “banging away,” when attempting to break out of this 8-8 rut.

It falls under the, “What else could he say?" category the day after the Cowboys’ season ended, but what if you’re just tired of swinging and swinging and swinging and nothing changes?

Tony Romo and Jason Witten are the longest tenured Cowboys, showing up in 2003; DeMarcus Ware and L.P. LaDouceur, showing up in 2005. Romo and Witten have been on four playoff teams. Ware and LaDouceur have been on three.

They have one playoff victory.

That closing window that was mentioned a few years ago is closer to being shut.

Watching Witten limp out of AT&T Stadium on as Sunday night turned into Monday morning, he looked older than 31. He was beat up from the game but more beat up from another season that ended in Week 17.

“Yeah, I try to take the emotion out of it of just where you’re at in your career,” Witten said Monday afternoon. “I felt like I was playing at a high level and [with] that opportunity, you live in the moment, just try to grab it and make a run. You really don’t have time to look back and think about how hard it is to get to the position where you’re playing for NFC East division titles. You don’t worry about that at this point.”

Bill Parcells walked away after the 2006 playoff loss to Seattle because he did not believe he had the energy for another grind of an offseason, training camp and 16 regular-season games without knowing the Cowboys would be better in 2007.

The players are much younger than Parcells, but the lengths of their playing careers are certainly winding down.

“It is a disappointing season, ending 8-8,” Ware said. “I mean, you get tired of it. After a while, each year, you feel like you lose something. It’s something that you lose from each one of the years, so it’s like, how do you come back from that? It’s been three times there has been an NFC East [title] game, and not being able to follow through with it. So, it’s like now what do you do in the offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen? I know that we are going to do everything we can to do that. But are you for sure that you are doing the right things?”

The ending of the season is cruel and sudden. Most of them had been going at this since March. They played hard. They played hurt. And then it’s over.

They showed up on Monday for exit interviews with the coaches and medical staff. They said goodbye to teammates they might not see again. They poured their belongings into a trash bag and headed to the players’ parking lot. The sign on the door read: Champions Finish.

“I think you have to gain more fight,” Witten said. “Obviously you can tell, today takes a toll on you. I tell myself, ‘Nobody feels sorry for you. You have to find a way to get through it.' But it doesn’t make it easier today. We’ll gain fight. We’ll be better because of it. Leaders on this team have to rise up and ultimately just play better, put the team on your back and find ways to get through ‘em. I think that’s the thing that hurt the most, is knowing that you can play at a high level, but you if ultimately don’t achieve those goals, you blame yourself.”

Penalty breakdown: Three in lead with six

November, 13, 2013
IRVING, Texas – When compared to recent years, the Dallas Cowboys have done a fairly good job of staying away from penalties. Still, they remain on pace for 107 on the season. While that is high, it would be their fewest in a season since 2007.

Through 10 games the Cowboys have been penalized 81 times, with 67 penalties accepted. Orlando Scandrick, Ronald Leary and Tyron Smith lead the Cowboys with six penalties apiece.

Scandrick has had three defensive-holding penalties, two pass-interference penalties and a face-mask penalty. Leary has had three holding penalties, two false starts and one flag for illegal use of hands. Smith has had three holding penalties, two false starts and an illegal-formation penalty.

Here’s the breakdown for the rest of the team:

5: Morris Claiborne, Doug Free
4: Dez Bryant, Barry Church, Brandon Carr
3: Kyle Wilber, Jason Witten
2: Ernie Sims, Tony Romo, Travis Frederick, James Hanna, Dwayne Harris, George Selvie, Bruce Carter, Jason Vega, Nick Hayden, team/bench
1: Sean Lee, Jason Hatcher, Cameron Lawrence, Will Allen, Mackenzy Bernadeau, L.P. LaDouceur, Jermey Parnell, Brian Waters, Terrance Williams, Kyle Bosworth, DeMarco Murray, Cole Beasley, DeMarcus Ware, J.J. Wilcox, Caesar Rayford

Five Wonders: The running game woes

September, 17, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- For the first time this season, Five Wonders comes after a Dallas Cowboys defeat and these are always a little more troubling because of a how-will-they-ever-win-another-game mindset that follows.

On to the wonders:

[+] EnlargeDeMarco Murray
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsWill DeMarco Murray reach the 1000-yard benchmark this season?
1. I wonder if I need to re-visit my claim that DeMarco Murray will rush for more than 1,000 yards this season. I cited Bill Callahan’s involvement as the playcaller and the last time the Cowboys had an offensive line coach as playcaller came in 2006 when Tony Sparano directed the offense and Julius Jones went for more than 1,000 yards. Jones is the last Cowboys back to have a 1,000-yard season. After two games Murray is on pace for 888 yards. For a mini-wonder inside a wonder: I wonder about Murray’s vision sometimes. The easy thing to do is kick the offensive line for a poor running game. I’m not saying the blocking was great against the Kansas City Chiefs, but I believe Murray left a lot of yards on the field.

2. Sticking with the running game in the second wonder. I wonder when the Cowboys will give Joseph Randle some work. The two backup runners, Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner, have fumbled in consecutive weeks. Dunbar after a catch versus the Chiefs for the Cowboys’ first takeaway; Tanner on a run versus the New York Giants that tight end Gavin Escobar recovered. Randle was inactive against the Chiefs and didn’t get a snap against the Giants. The Cowboys wonder about his ability to pick up the pass-protection schemes, like they do for all rookies, but his speed and vision might be the best fit for this cut-back scheme. Randle showed the ability in the preseason to gain yards when only creases were there. Maybe his time is coming. I mean if the running game continues this way, don’t they just have to try something new?

3. Jason Garrett always talks about Morris Claiborne's ability to make plays on the ball. I wonder when that manifests itself because we haven’t seen much of it so far in games. He has one interception as a rookie and eight pass deflections. Maybe it happens in practice but even over the summer the number of plays Claiborne made on the ball was not more than a handful. He showed toughness by playing with the shoulder injury against the Chiefs and it will be something he has to deal with for the foreseeable future. It’s one thing to talk about what Claiborne did at LSU when he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner and had six interceptions in his last season but he has to demonstrate that ability with the Cowboys. And soon.

4. I wonder if the sports hernia injury keeping Jay Ratliff on the physically unable to perform list for at least the first six games of the season is the best thing that happened to Jason Hatcher. Hatcher, who has never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season in his career, has two in two games this season, playing the vaunted three-technique in the Cowboys’ new 4-3 scheme. If Ratliff had been healthy, Hatcher would have played the one-technique, which is more of a plugger role in this scheme than a play-making role. Hatcher was excellent throughout training camp, did well in the limited preseason work the starters received and is off to a strong start to the regular season. It’s not a bad start to a contract year for the 31-year-old. If he keeps playing this way, the Cowboys’ price to keep him will only go up and would they pay large dollars to a player of his age?

5. You can rarely go through the Wonders without a special teams’ thought. I wonder what happens if something happens to longs napper L.P. Ladouceur. In recent years the Cowboys had backup tight end John Phillips as Ladouceur’s emergency fill-in. Phillips now plays for the San Diego Chargers and I haven’t seen anybody else work as a snapper in practices. Ladouceur took a shot to the back in the opener against the Giants and was able to continue to play but he was in a fair amount of pain and stayed in constant motion between series. He wasn’t bothered at all against the Chiefs, but it’s something that needs to be watched in the future.

Frisco facility will see lots of new faces

August, 13, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – In NFL years, 2016 is forever, so when the Cowboys move into their new headquarters in Frisco, Texas, not many players on the team now will be around for the switch.

As Jason Garrett has pointed out, only 17 of the players in training camp were on the Cowboys’ roster when he took over midway through the 2010 season.

Only 18 players are under contract through 2016 - Miles Austin, Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Caliborne, L.P. Ladouceur, Sean Lissemore, Nate Livings, Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick, Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, Terrance Williams, J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb, DeVonte Holloman and Joseph Randle. Others like DeMarcus Ware, Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Bailey and maybe DeMarco Murray have their contracts expire before 2016 but should figure into the long-term plans.

The Cowboys moved into their current Valley Ranch offices in 1985, but time has caught up with the facility, even if there is a history.

“I think Valley Ranch is a pretty unique place,” Garrett said. “There is obviously great history and tradition there. I think you feel that. It’s something we try to embrace. It’s a pretty unique facility in that it’s all on one level. Most of the new facilities you go to are on different levels … I certainly have a lot of great memories of the place. It certainly has a lot of good use left in it for the next couple or three years. I think it holds up well, but it’s new and exciting to be able to go to Frisco in a state of the art facility.”

A state-of-the-art facility could help sway the minds of free agents, but cash often rules in NFL free agency.

“Certainly at the college level, they seem to be in some kind of competitive situation with sizes of weight rooms and all that kind of stuff,” Garrett said. “I think that’s probably less the case in the NFL. I do think having good facilities are important. We talk about being your best, demanding everybody to be your best, and you want to create an environment where they can be their best. You want to have up to date, state of the art type facilities where everybody can function at the highest level. But there’s also a little something to having a little patina in your life, too. You know what I’m saying, where it’s a little bit worn in, the old shoes. Sometimes those are good. They feel comfortable and sometimes you can be at your best in those environments as well.”

The contract with Frisco dictates the Cowboys must spend at least one week of training camp at the new facility every summer. It is possible the Cowboys could open up minicamp practices as well, which teams like Miami have done in the past.

While the majority of teams use their facilities as a full-time training camp home in the summer, Jerry Jones has seemed resistant to the idea in part because of the Cowboys’ history in southern California.

“I’ve done both as a player and as a coach,” Garrett said. “You certainly can function in either environment and be successful. I do think regardless of how you do training camp and where you do it, it’s an important time to help your team bond. In certain situations, if the environment’s right when you go away, your team can bond that way and you’re kind of focused on football. They’re together. They eat meals with each other. They get tape. Everything they do is kind of next to each other and we think that’s a positive thing. You can create that same environment at home. I’ve been part of that as both a player and as a coach, so you just kind of figure it out. But that’s a really important piece of training camp. You better make sure that happens.”

Offbeat: Nerf football helps special teams

August, 8, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys are marketing geniuses.

They can market everything from a football team that has won one playoff game in 17 years to a bag of charcoal. It’s a wonder why they had not gotten around to including a Nerf football for the special team walkthroughs until now.

[+] EnlargeL.P. Ladouceur
AP Photo/James D SmithCowboys longsnappers work with a yellow Nerf football during walkthroughs.
At the special teams walkthroughs, the Cowboys’ longsnappers work with a yellow Nerf football.

“Well, we’re not supposed to have a football during the walkthroughs,” L.P. Ladouceur said.

The Nerf football allows the longsnappers to simulate their work without a real Wilson leather football. Before the summer, Ladouceur would fake a snap but not be able to work on his blocks.

“I just held the ball,” Ladouceur said. “Now I can get my block because it’s squishy.”

Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia was the brainchild behind the Nerf ball, according to Ladouceur.

“I think it’s all they had at Toys R Us,” Ladouceur joked.

Parcells' players remember former coach

August, 1, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. -- Bill Parcells has not coached the Dallas Cowboys since the 2006 season, but his impact on the team remains through the seven players still on the roster.

Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, L.P. Ladouceur and Miles Austin all played under Parcells in Dallas.

“There’s a few left there,” said Parcells, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. “They still have my long snapper (LaDouceur), right? There’s a few, I don’t think too many, but still a few. I look forward to seeing them.”

ESPN Dallas asked the remaining players for their favorite Parcells story.

Undrafted free agent, 2003

"Going against the Giants the day they put me in at halftime. I remember we were leaving the hotel and he goes, ‘Hey, are you ready to go today?’ He’d done that before and he’s sitting down and I said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he’s just like, ‘No, are you ready to go today?' I said yeah. ‘Make sure you are.’ It was just something different about it in the way he approached it. He was letting me know that if the opportunity came up he had come to the conclusion, I feel like, that if the game wasn’t going the right way he was going to go to me. He ended up doing that. I just remember he made me feel very comfortable in the sense of knowing. I had gone three and a half years and played maybe two snaps in the NFL, so it was going to be a big moment for me no matter what, so he allowed me to get a little bit ready. He made it easy on me so I only threw three interceptions in that half."

[+] EnlargeJason Witten
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJason Witten remembers receiving baby food from coach Bill Parcells during his rookie season.
Third round, 2003

"I broke my jaw my rookie year. I get out of the hospital on a Tuesday and I come in Wednesday morning to the meeting and we had treatment at 6:30 a.m. I come in there and my mouth is swollen. I’m obviously off that week’s game and he walks in at 6:45. It’s 15 minutes into treatment and there’s really nothing they can do other than give me an ice pack to help with the swelling. I’m just kind of there because I have to be there. Bill walks in and looks at Jim Maurer and Britt Brown, ‘Where’s Witten?’ and he made a beeline to me in the corner. I’m still on pain meds, the whole deal. I haven’t been out of surgery 24 hours and he’s like, ‘Listen to me. I’ve got the key to what’s going to get you back out there quickly. Now, I’ve been here with guys and I’ve seen guys go through this and the big thing is keeping weight on and your stamina up. You’ll be OK. I went to the store and I got you this … ' He pulled out two jars of baby food, sweet potatoes. And he was dead serious. He goes, ‘Go get this. There’s good calories, good fat. It’ll keep your weight on.’ And was completely serious about eating baby food. No, I didn’t eat it. But it was pretty cool to think he really believed that I could come back and play. And I did play, obviously, the next day. I still think he probably thinks I ate that baby food."

First round, 2005

"For me as a rookie coming in, it’s your responsibility of getting his Gatorade. You think about getting a guy a Gatorade, and, 'Ah, I can do that every practice,’ but he would play mental games with it. He made it challenging to the point where right before the defense and offense guys would get done, he’ll go to the other end of the field and I’d have to run all the way down the field to him. He liked orange Gatorade and on the first one I brought to him somebody gave me blue and I ran down and it was wrong, so that was my first mess-up. Secondly, he’d just talk to me the whole time either about Lawrence Taylor or some other pass-rushers that sort of played like I did to him. So he’d be on the side of the field and the horn would ring and I had to run full speed all the way back to the huddle, so that was like an extra thing he did. I could tell he had a smirk on his face and he was laughing. He always played those games with me. I figured it out one day. I put the trainer right beside him and told the trainer, ‘Hey, just make sure you get him this orange Gatorade. You see me running down, just make sure it’s right no matter what.’ He’d start talking to me and I was like, ‘Coach, I’ll be right back. I’ve got something to do.’ He figured it out though pretty quick."

[+] EnlargeHatcher
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJason Hatcher calls Bill Parcells one of the best coaches that he's ever had.
Third round, 2006

"My favorite Parcells story kind of stunk for a minute, but it was my rookie year and I had a baby. My wife went into labor at like 1 o’clock, so we were at the hospital at like 5:30 in the morning. I called Bill and I said, ‘Coach, my wife just had a baby. No one is in town to kind of support her, what should I do? He said, ‘I tell you what, you do what you think is best.’ I did what I thought was best and stayed with my wife. About three hours later my D-line coach called and said, ‘You got to get up here at 5:30 (in the morning) and watch all the film.’ And Bill fined me $5,000. But I ended up not having to pay thanks to Jason Ferguson and Terrell Owens. They went and got it changed for me. But just a great guy; I don’t hold that against him. That’s just who he is. He’s a straight shooter, and if not for that guy, I wouldn’t be here. That’s one of the best coaches I ever had."

Undrafted free agent, 2006

"He was always hard on me. Todd Haley was our receivers coach and he made sure Todd was always hard on me. I remember we played a game in Atlanta and I broke my hand. I never broken anything during a game, especially up to that point because I didn’t play much football, but I remember thinking, ‘Damn, my fingers are messed up.’ I don’t know if I should talk to a trainer or what. I’m like working my way over to trainers, about to say something and he’s like, ‘Miles, get back in there. Tape it up.’ They literally gave me like an Advil essentially and taped me back up and played the game. But it’s one of the things you’re glad you did it later. At the time, I’m like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve still got to kick return. I’ve got to cover kicks and run and tackle somebody and my hand is banged up.’ It’s one of those things where you’re happy you did it afterward. Those are the coaches you look at that you remember and feel a great way toward because they’re the ones that helped you through adversity."

Free agent, 2005

"We were at camp my first (full) year in 2006 and I go to weigh in, and right as I weigh in he’s sitting there with Joe Juraszek and he tells me, ‘There’s the only guy who doesn’t have any competition at camp,’ and I’m like, whatever. He says, ‘Don’t you forget that I got four guys lined up just for you.’ Hahahahahaha. He was just playing with me head, but he was good at it. He knew what he was doing. He’s in the Hall of Fame, so he did something right a few times."

Seventh round, 2005

"My draft call on draft day, I don’t remember what Jerry (Jones) said, but I remember Bill getting on the phone and he says, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to draft you,’ and in my mind I’m like, ‘You guess?’ I was like, ‘Well, Coach, I appreciate the opportunity,’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll get a fair shot,’ and he hung up the phone. That’s been my motivation ever since."
OXNARD, Calif. – Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and guard Ronald Leary will return to practice today after missing the first seven practices because of calf injuries.

Tim MacMahon joins Richard Durrett and Landry Locker from Oxnard, Calif., to discuss the latest news from Cowboys training camp.

Listen Listen
They had been on the non-football injury list.

Leary, an undrafted free agent last year, will have a chance to compete for a starting spot. He took most of his snaps in the offseason with Nate Livings out with a knee injury with the first team. Livings was unable to practice early in camp because of a foot injury but has taken part in the last three sessions.

Ladouceur, who is entering his ninth season, signed an extension with the team in the offseason.

Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hamstring), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring) and tackle Demetress Bell (conditioning) are the only players not to have taken a snap since camp started.