Dallas Cowboys: Lonyae Miller

Halftime: Cowboys 0, Raiders 0

August, 13, 2012
8/13/12
8:42
PM ET
OAKLAND -- The Cowboys and Raiders are scoreless at the break in the preseason opener.

Here are some thoughts on what has transpired in the first half:

* David Arkin remained at center when the Cowboys brought in their second-team offensive line. The Cowboys want to give Arkin has many snaps as possible at center until starter Phil Costa returns from his lower back injury. While his snaps were fine, he did get called for holding.

* Tony Romo and the first-team offense got zero scores out of three possessions. Romo finished his night 3-for-6 for 30 yards. The Cowboys' first-team couldn't run the ball well and other than a reception by Dez Bryant for 24 yards and a six-yarder from Jason Witten, there wasn't much to be impressed with.

* The Raiders rushed for 57 yards in the first half. Their offensive line got a strong push and running backs Darren McFadden and Lonyae Miller reached the second level way too often.

* Outside linebacker Kyle Wilber came off the edge and forced Matt Leinart to throw a pass away, leading to a field goal attempt.

* The Cowboys' special teams unit had been called for four penalties with 12:40 to play in the first half. Three were accepted.

* The Raiders had three dropped passes in the first half, and the Cowboys had two -- by tight end Andrew Szczerba and fullback Jamize Olawale.

* Coach Jason Garrett could have taken a knee to end the first half, but made a good decision to run his two-minute offense. We saw a 20-yard grab by Andre Holmes during the drive, but Kyle Orton was picked off by safety Mike Mitchell to end the drive with five seconds left. We're not sure if Orton made a bad read here, but his pass sailed over Dwayne Harris.

Stock Report: DeMarco Murray rises

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
12:34
PM ET
After a late night in Miami Gardens, the Cowboys ended their preseason 2-2 after a 17-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. We look at who played well and who didn't in our weekly, but late, Stock Report.

Streaking
STOCK UP

DeMarco Murray. First offensive snap, a screen pass, goes for 48 yards. Murray showed the speed and power game the Cowboys were looking for when they drafted him out of Oklahoma. His totals were 10 carries for 32 yards and four receptions for 64 yards. Will he replace Tashard Choice? No. But he brings another element to the Cowboys offense this season.

Sean Lissemore. At the end of the night, veteran linemen Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff were praising Lissemore and Clifford Geathers. Lissemore led the Cowboys with six tackles and solidified his roster spot as one of the backup defensive ends. He's played well this summer and should get more snaps when the regular season starts.

Phillip Tanner. Jerry Jones said Tanner has made the squad and good for him. He earned it the hard way by battling past Lonyae Miller and taking advantage of the injuries to Murray and Choice. Tanner finished with 28 yards on six carries, but his 4.7 average is what sticks out and his 11 yard gain.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Raymond Radway. He was on his way to making this roster until he suffered a broken fibula and tibia with three seconds remaining in the game. Radway didn't play in the first half, but finsihed with three catches for 62 yards before getting hurt. The good news is that Radway can recover from his injuries and play next year.

Backup tackles. Sam Young and Jermey Parnell each gave up a sack in the second half of the loss. While fans and the media were begging the Cowboys to play Young over Marc Colombo last year, now we see why the Cowboys didn't. He's inconsistent and doesn't do well vs. athletic pass rushers. Parnell had one of his worst games of the preseason, but he might have more upside.

Kickers. Where do we begin? David Buehler is wide right on a 48 yarder and Dave Rayner is wide right on a 51 yarder and wide left on a 36-yard attempt. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys know what they're doing with the kickers. Really?

Vol. 4: Archer's roster projection

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
11:59
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The preseason is over and the Cowboys have to make 17 roster moves by Saturday to make the 53-man limit. Here’s what the final cuts– though not necessarily the final roster that faces the New York Jets on Sept. 11 - could look like:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No changes from the previous three projections. Tom Brandstater could be a practice squad guy.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner did everything he could to make the final roster, so could Choice be on the bubble? It’s difficult to think they could go with two rookies as the backups to Jones, but stranger things have happened.

FULLBACK (1)

Jason Pociask

I’m not sure Pociask won the job or if he got it because he can play tight end in a pinch, which is a bonus because of Martellus Bennett’s ankle injury. Chapas got better later and should find his way to the practice squad if Pociask is the pick. Gronkowski did a nice job on special teams in the preseason but he gets caught in a numbers’ game.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

No changes here and there is hope Bennett could be ready for the opener vs. the Jets.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley’s special teams experience gives him the edge but he also showed he can possibly help as a receiver. Harris went quiet after a huge debut vs. Denver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Kevin Kowalski
TBD

Look for a waiver-wire pickup to claim that last spot. I went back and forth on Kowalski, who helped himself with his work in the final two games. With Kosier as the game-day backup at center and Nagy having taken snaps at center in camp there is more of a need at tackle to fill out the back end of this group.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

If you go on position flexibility then Lissemore wins that final spot because he can play end and nose. If you’re looking for the prototype 3-4 end to grow as the year progresses then Clifton Geathers is that guy.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee

Kenwin Cummings loses out on the final spot on the roster and is hurt the most by having two kickers. You have to go light somewhere but I think I’m taking a risk at such a physical spot. With Bruce Carter expected to return after six weeks, I feel OK about this move.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

The toughest call was between Albright and Cummings. Albright got the edge because of his upside even if he is practice squad eligible.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann
Mario Butler

Josh Thomas picked the wrong time to get a hamstring injury, which gives Butler the final cornerback spot. Thomas, if he clears waivers, would go to the practice squad. McCann looks like he’ll be the kick returner on opening day.

SAFETY (4)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Church is more ready to play every down on defense than McCray, who is the better special teamer. Last year’s fourth round pick, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah comes up short in his bid to make the club.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
David Buehler
L.P. Ladouceur

Graham was helped the most by not kicking Thursday. Dave Rayner missed two kicks in his audition. Buehler missed one. How could the organization have confidence going into the Jets’ game? Buehler at least can handle kickoffs. Keeping two kickers did not seem like an option, especially with kickoffs coming from the 35, but if Buehler can produce touchbacks at a high clip then offenses will have to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

Cowboys' running game looks good

August, 28, 2011
8/28/11
3:17
PM ET


MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Cowboys run defense gave up 81 yards to the Vikings' Adrian Peterson on Saturday night, Dallas' run offense performed well.

As a unit, the Cowboys rushed for 117 yards on 29 carries, but Felix Jones had a strong effort in averaging four yards on five carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run.

Tashard Choice made his preseason debut. He missed the first two games while recovering from a calf injury, and he rushed for only 14 yards on three carries but had two long runs called back because of penalties.

DeMarco Murray, the third-round pick from Oklahoma, led the team in rushing yards with 32 on seven carries. It was Murray's first appearance in a preseason game. He missed nearly three weeks of training camp as he recovered from a hamstring injury suffered during the lockout.

"I had some heavy legs when I first started," said Murray, who didn't get his first carries until the third quarter. "After that, it felt really good to get back out there again."

Jones and Choice looked like a good 1-2 punch Saturday. It hasn't been determined how the carries will be split up, but if the offensive line is able to get a strong push, Jones and Choice should be able to do some damage.

"Those guys out there on the front line they made it happen for us," Jones said. "This is football, this is what we do. Just getting back into it, trying to make it fun and we're going out there doing what we do everyday in practice."

When you look at the big picture of things, the Cowboys' offense performed well this summer, at least the first-team did. Last year, in the preseason, there were concerns about the offense's ability to score points, especially in the run game.

Jones has done an excellent job of hitting holes quickly and making defenders miss either by eluding them or knocking them away.

Choice and Murray also made defenders miss and displayed good speed.

Phillip Tanner, who is fighting for a spot on the roster on special teams, had another strong game. The rookie carried five times for 25 yards. It was the first time Tanner got offensive snaps over Lonyae Miller (three carries for 7 yards) in the summer.

"It was good getting a chance to get back in there to play [and] getting comfortable," Choice said. "We had about 10 or 12 plays where we were able to run it felt good."

Vol. 3: Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 28, 2011
8/28/11
11:45
AM ET


IRVING, Texas -- Three preseason games are in the books so here is the third look at what the Cowboys’ 53-man roster could look like after the final cuts:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

Once again, no surprises here. Tom Brandstater will probably start the preseason finale against Miami if the Cowboys follow the same pattern as the recent past. He could be a practice squad candidate if he performs well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner gets the call this week over Lonyae Miller because he’s done a better job running the football, but can he cover punts and kicks if needed? Choice and Murray did a nice job in their first games of the preseason. Jerry Jones said during the broadcast Choice remains on the bubble, so don’t rule out Miller.

FULLBACK (1)

Shaun Chapas

Chapas, Chris Gronkowski and Jason Pociask got turns at fullback against Minnesota with the regulars. Chapas was part of this 53-man roster last week and seemed to do a decent job against the Vikings. The high-ankle injury suffered by Martellus Bennett helps this position because I believe they were leaning toward keeping four tight ends.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Bennett’s injury throws some questions into the fullback and tight end spots. Depending on the severity maybe the Cowboys go with a fourth tight end for the early part of the season. Phillips will be Witten’s backup now, but I’m not sure Martin Rucker sticks as the No. 3 guy if Bennett is out. I wouldn’t rule out Pociask either.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley helped himself with his play against the Vikings but this is more of a special teams’ pick. The gamble is trying to get undrafted rookie wide receiver Raymond Radway on the practice squad. Harris gets the edge over Radway because of his return ability but I wouldn’t consider Harris a lock.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
TBD

The biggest departure is Andre Gurode. The Cowboys will meet with the five-time Pro Bowler today and if there is no agreement on a lowered salary then he will be let go. It’s something of a stunner because of Costa’s knee injury and inexperience that will be on the line. I listed eight plus an undetermined spot, but I can see Kevin Kowalski on the final roster or the team adding a player after the final cuts.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

No change here from the first two weeks, but could the Cowboys go with only five defensive linemen? It’s a gamble but I wouldn’t rule it out as the Cowboys look more at the 46-man game-day roster than just the 53.


INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

The final spot here comes down to Cummings over Orie Lemon, who did not play vs. Minnesota because of a hamstring injury. Cummings played despite a thumb procedure in the middle of the week. Rookie Bruce Carter will start the year on PUP, so he does not count against the 53-man roster.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

No changes here as well. Albright gets the nod over Brandon Williams. After a little bit of a lull, Butler was much more active against the Vikings.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

Injuries to Ball (elbow) and Thomas (hamstring) create some worry with the cornerbacks, especially with Newman (groin) and Jenkins (stinger) not yet 100 percent. Undrafted rookie Mario Butler is still in the mix, especially if Thomas is unable to recover in time to play vs. Miami on Thursday.

SAFETY (5)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Andrew Sendejo

With nine offensive linemen I added Sendejo to the mix only because of special teams. That would be 11 defensive backs on the final roster but all of them be active on gameday?


SPECIALISTS (3)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
L.P. Ladouceur

Shayne Graham gets the call over Dan Bailey. David Buehler has to come back from the hip strain this week or he has no chance. Bailey made two kicks against Minnesota, including an under-pressure 40 yarder in the fourth quarter. But Graham’s resume gives him the nod. I just don’t believe they can go with an unproven kicker.

Todd Archer's practice observations

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
6:38
PM ET
* Dez Bryant took part in punt return drills with the full team for the first time since the early part of training camp. He dropped one kick after attempting to catch it like an outfielder instead of cradling it into his arms.

PODCAST
SI.com's Peter King shares his thoughts with Galloway & Company after a visit to Cowboys camp.

Listen Listen
* OG Montrae Holland took part in a conditioning workout before practice that included doing some football drills. Holland, who has been slowed by a back strain, is expected to return to practice next week.

* RB Felix Jones sat for a few snaps during inside running drills shaking his left hand. It was almost as if his hand had fallen asleep with the way he was moving it. He returned and seemed fine.

* Practice went at a frenetic pace with the offense working without a huddle. The defense had the advantage and it could have been more pronounced. Unofficially, the defense dropped four interceptions. CB Bryan McCann intercepted Tony Romo on a Hail Mary to end practice.

* At one point in 7-on-7 drills the offense had six straight incomplete passes, split evenly between Romo and Jon Kitna. Romo completed 11 of 17 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills and Kitna completed 5 of 11.

* RB Tashard Choice’s first play of team work was on a screen pass from Romo and he used a good block by Bill Nagy on Sean Lee to break free for a long gain. On the next play, DeMarco Murray caught a swing pass from Kitna for a good pick-up.

* TE Jason Witten grabbed for his left hamstring after catching a pass near the sideline. He fell after colliding with CB Alan Ball but returned after missing four snaps.

* Kitna had a no-no-no, yes-yes-yes moment when he was rolling right and threw across the field to TE Martellus Bennett for a completion. Bennett tipped the ball in the air before securing it as several defenders closed in on him.

* LB Brandon Williams forced a fumble on Lonyae Miller. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yelled, “Get on the ball,” as it spilled to the field before Williams was able to pull it in.

* Third-string QB Stephen McGee took only six snaps on Tuesday, which is a sign the regulars will play more Saturday vs. the Vikings.

Tashard Choice says he's in a fight

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
6:35
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cowboys running back Tashard Choice returned to the practice field Tuesday after suffering a calf injury in the first week of training camp.

Choice was his typical loud self, screaming while running down the sidelines after catching a screen pass in the afternoon session.

As he enters his fourth season, Choice is in a battle with three players for playing time: third-round pick DeMarco Murray, who made his practice debut Tuesday, and backup running backs Lonyae Miller and Phillip Tanner.

"I fight," Choice said. "I take everybody against me. That’s cool. I got God on my side, so I'm alright. So, I'll fight. So whatever I'm going to do I'm going to make it alright."

Choice is always seeking more playing time. But there have been concerns about his ability to play special teams, something the Cowboys want their No. 3 running back to do.

When he was drafted in the fourth round out of Georgia Tech four years ago, Choice was a complete back not used to a backup role. He transferred from Oklahoma because he was going to back up Adrian Peterson.

Choice has only three starts in a 48-game NFL career. Those came in his rookie season in 2008 and he excelled in two of those, rushing for 88 yards on 23 carries at Pittsburgh and 90 yards on 17 carries in the last game at Texas Stadium.

Last season, Choice rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown in a backup role in the victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

With Marion Barber now playing for the Chicago Bears, Choice was thought to be the No. 2 back, but he's still fighting for his roster spot. Murray was drafted to create competition at the No. 2 spot, and the younger backs Miller and Tanner are getting better.

"Now it’s a time for me to actually get over the hump," Choice said. "People [are] tired of seeing little spurts. 'He's good enough, but why he ain't playing?' What else? I've heard, 'He can't block, he can't play special teams.' I heard a lot. That's fine. I'm just going to go out on the field and work and prove my worth and that’s all I can do and be the best Tashard I can be. That's what I'm going to do."

Coach Jason Garrett was asked if Choice was in a fight for his spot in the rotation and he answered it in general terms.

"I think everybody is fighting for their job on a daily basis," Garrett said. "Everyone's competing to make this football team, competing to start on the team and then competiting for what their role is. So we try to create those environments throughout our team."

Stock Report: Tanner up and Miller is down

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
10:00
AM ET

After two preseason games, some Cowboys players are starting to develop into potential 53-man roster guys. Here's a look at who performed well and who didn't from the San Diego Chargers game in our weekly Stock Report.

Streaking
Stock Up

Phillip Tanner: He's making a strong case to make the 53-man roster, or at least the practice squad, with another strong performance. He rushed for 31 yards on just four carries and had a touchdown taken away because he lost his helmet while breaking a tackle. One thing Tanner does well is move laterally to another spot along the line of scrimmage when there's no hole available.

PODCAST
Ben and Skin break down the positives and negatives taken away from the Cowboys' loss against the Chargers.

Listen Listen
Felix Jones: There shouldn't be any more questions about Mr. Jones' abilities now that he's No. 1 on the depth chart. He averaged 8 yards a carry Sunday night, including a 22-yard run. Jones has always been a guy with speed and elusiveness, but he ran with some power vs. the Chargers to show you he's turning into a complete back.

Gerald Sensabaugh: He forced a fumble, knocked a wide receiver out of the game and had an interception taken away from him. Busy night for the safety who is still learning the Rob Ryan version of the 3-4 defense. Sensabaugh seems to be playing with more confidence, and that's due to him finding a comfort level in the defense.

Slumping
Stock Down

Lonyae Miller: You can do a lot of things in practice against your teammates, but when somebody different comes along, you better produce. Miller hasn't done that this preseason. In Week 2, Miller gained just 9 yards on six carries, and it might be time to give Phillip Tanner more snaps. Miller isn't finding holes or, for that matter, trying to make something happen.

Backup offensive line: Backup left guard Pepa Letuli was benched in mid-series, there were penalties called on tackles Sam Young and Jermey Parnell, and Stephen McGee was rushed out of the pocket. It's never good when the head coach says the quarterback did a good job of escaping from trouble. The Cowboys might have to make a move here.

Martellus Bennett: He finished with three catches for 33 yards, but he dropped a touchdown pass, which he later apologized for on Twitter. Bennett is doing some good things on the field, but it's the inconsistency that drives his coaches crazy.

Rapid Reaction: Chargers 20, Cowboys 7

August, 21, 2011
8/21/11
10:09
PM ET

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The second preseason game is over and the Cowboys' second and third units had their issues Sunday night in a 20-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

There was no late fourth-quarter magic from quarterback Stephen McGee, who played the entire second half. But starter Tony Romo led the first-team offense on an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the second quarter for the first touchdown of the preseason for the first team.

What it means: The Cowboys' first-team offense did score a touchdown, but the second and third team offensive lines struggled Sunday night. Pass protection was the biggest concern. It's something that will need to be addressed quickly. The first-team defense got some extra playing time, much like the offense, and gave up 10 points. There were some notable performances from Gerald Sensabaugh (forced fumble), DeMarcus Ware (sack) and Abram Elam (tackle for loss).

First-team offense gets touchdown: One of the issues with the first-team offense has been scoring touchdowns. They were only able to manage a field goal in the preseason opener vs. Denver. Sunday night vs. San Diego, Romo connected with Jason Witten on a 6-yard touchdown pass for the first touchdown for the first-team offense. Overall, Romo completed 8-of-12 passes for just 58 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Romo underthrew a pass to Kevin Ogletree. Running back Felix Jones had another strong effort. He rushed for 56 yards on just seven carries. He had a 22-yard run among his highlights.

Backup line struggles: There was an ugly sequence of the third quarter when left guard Pepa Letuli was benched during the middle of a drive. David Arkin, who was praised all week for his work with the first-team offensive line, allowed McGee to get sacked, causing a fumble, which resulted in a turnover. Right tackle Sam Young and left tackle Jermey Parnell struggled at times. Even Kevin Kowalski, who replaced Letuli, had some issues.

Replay challenges favor the Chargers: Norv Turner challenged two plays and won, earning a touchdown for running back Ryan Mathews and turning a Sensabaugh interception into an incompletion. With Turner winning the two challenges, he picked up an extra one. In the fourth quarter, Jason Garrett challenged a fumble by Stephen McGee, but the play was upheld.

Tanner moves past Miller: Lonyae Miller was the star of training camp, then the preseason started and he's struggled. He can't find holes and when there are none, he doesn't show good vision trying to find room. Phillip Tanner, meanwhile, is hitting holes and moving well. He had gains of 10 and 14 yards in the second half. Miller, while struggling to run the ball, also fumbled after catching a pass. Tanner had his best play called back after he ran for an apparent touchdown but lost his helmet breaking a tackle. A new rule says if a player's helmet pops off, the play is dead. A penalty nullified the play anyway.

What's next?: The Cowboys will begin a four-week road swing when the team visits the Minnesota Vikings Saturday night. After that, the Cowboys play the Miami Dolphins, then it's off to start the regular season with two road games.

Todd Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
11:39
AM ET
ARLINGTON -- After the first preseason game, here is a guess as to how the Cowboys' 53-man roster could shake out for the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

McGee delivered with a game-winning fourth-quarter drive vs. Denver. He is not pushing Kitna for the No. 2 job just yet but he has shown the ability to make plays when it matters most. Coaches still want him to get rid of the ball faster.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Lonyae Miller

Miller did not show in the game how well he did in camp practices but it’s too early to say he can’t do it. Plus, he can play on all the special teams units. The bigger question with this group is whether all four could be active for games. I don’t see it.

FULLBACK (1)
Chris Gronkowski

I’m not married to this decision but rookie Shaun Chapas has yet to knock out the champ, if you know what I mean. This decision will go down to the final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Phillips took a shot to his knee early on in the game and did not miss a snap, so that is a positive sign for a guy coming back from major surgery. With Bennett out with a hamstring injury it also meant he got a ton of playing time.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Raymond Radway

Harris (two) and Radway (one) were able to produce on the big stage with touchdown catches but in order for them to make an impact in the regular season they will have to show they can handle special teams. Radway’s speed could help as kick returner. Harris can’t dance so much on punts. Jesse Holley is still in the mix because of his coverage skills.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
Doug Free
David Arkin
Andre Gurode
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
Phil Costa
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

When teams begin their cuts the Cowboys will look for some upgrades over the current group, so those last two spots are far from settled. Holland was just paid a $500,000 roster bonus so that makes it difficult to cut him. If the Cowboys want to go for a veteran, like a Brian Waters, they have to think about that sooner rather than later.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

There has been a lot of media speculation about Igor Olshansky’s future but he continues to run with the first team. Economics will play a part in this decision but I don’t think it’s a given. Lissemore has helped himself in camp and can play two spots. Hatcher has also excelled.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

Where’s Bruce Carter? Don’t worry. He will not be ready to start the season because of the knee injury and thus will not count against the 53. Cummings has done a nice job in camp and is a thumper. Orie Lemon has been a surprise, too, and is in the mix.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

Butler has made a huge leap in his third camp and will be part of Rob Ryan’s sub package defenses. He just has a knack for getting to the quarterback. Brandon Williams has been pretty quiet, which gives Albright a chance to make the final cut. I can see a scenario in which they go with four outside backers.

CORNERBACK (5)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball

The top three are set. The bottom two aren’t, but Thomas has picked it up as of late and has been a first-team gunner on the punt team. That’s an indication he will be in the mix. Ball’s position flexibility helps him here, but he is making $1.2 million and that’s a lot for a No. 5 corner.

SAFETY (5)
Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Andrew Sendejo
Danny McCray

Sendejo gets the final spot among the safeties over Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. I just don’t see the awareness in him to be ready, but he will get the chance to impress as a returner in the preseason. McCray’s shoulder injury is something to keep an eye on too.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Mat McBriar
Dan Bailey
L.P. Ladouceur

Any chance of Corey Adams supplanting Ladouceur as the snapper took a hit when he rolled one back Thursday. David Buehler made a 42-yarder but it was close. Bailey sent every kickoff into the end zone, so, to me, it comes down to consistency in making field goals. Bailey has been more consistent in camp.

Tackle was Lonyae Miller's lone highlight

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
12:20
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas – Running back Lonyae Miller made a significant positive impact in the Cowboys’ victorious preseason opener.

Just not exactly the way he wanted.

His tackle on Perrish Cox’s interception return in the first half ended up being a four-point play. Miller stopped Cox at the 7-yard line, giving the Dallas defense the opportunity to hold the Broncos to a field goal.

“Had that interception went for six, we would have been down at the end of the game and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to win,” Miller said after the Cowboys’ 24-23 win. “I feel like me making that play definitely helped us out a lot.”

Things didn’t go so well when Miller was the man getting tackled.

After two impressive weeks at the Alamodome, Miller never got in a rhythm against the Denver defense, primarily running behind the second-team offensive line. He gained only 11 yards on nine carries.

“They were doing some things on defense that we hadn’t seen, and things were opening up slow,” said Miller, a second-year player competing to be the third running back on the roster. “You’ve got to be patient as a runner. Sometimes you’re going to hit the home run and sometimes you’re not.”

Miller didn’t come close to a home run in the preseason opener. His highlight Thursday night was a catch on the warning track.

Second quarter: Broncos 9, Cowboys 3

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
9:06
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Broncos have a 9-3 heading into halftime in the preseason opener at Cowboys Stadium.

Highlights:

Second unit comes in: The Cowboys opened the second quarter with their second offensive unit, led by quarterback Jon Kitna. The offensive line was as follows: RT Tyron Smith, RG Pepa Letuli, C Phil Costa, LG David Arkin, LT Jermey Parnell. Kitna completed his first pass to tight end John Phillips, but the possession ended in a punt. Kitna was on the field for two possessions and didn't register any points and didn't convert any third downs.

McGee gets in, too: No. 3 quarterback Stephen McGee entered with 6:59 to play in the first half. On his first play, he rolled to his right and instead of passing to an open Martin Rucker, he took off and ran for seven yards. McGee got hit out of bounds to draw a penalty. Lonyae Miller got his chance to take over the running game with Felix Jones on the bench. He couldn't find much room to run behind a second unit that had no veterans on the offensive line. Smith struggled to pick up the blitz as safety Kyle McCarthy came flying off the edge. John Phillips released to go for a pass and Smith didn't move over to pick him up. It led to McGee getting sacked. The only turnover of the half came when McGee fired a pass toward Jesse Holley that was intercepted. It looked like Holley was running a slant, but either the throw was to far or Holley didn't get off quick enough.

Injuries: Safety Danny McCray injured his left arm when Denver's Tim Tebow was scrambling deep in Cowboys' territory. McCray was hit on the blind side as he tried to get Tebow. While Tebow was running around, cornerback Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was smashed by a clean hit from Matthew Willis.

Notes: With 13:23 to play in the second quarter, the Cowboys Stadium super big screen and it's digital screens went down for about 30 seconds. ... Before the game, as part of the NFL's plan to give thanks to the fans due to the lockout, 90 fans received autographed jersey from the Cowboys. Each player stood at midfield and either hugged or shook the fans' hands.

Offensive thoughts from the Alamodome

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
2:51
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- We gave you the defensive thoughts, so let's move to the offensive side of the ball after 14 days in San Antonio:

** Tony Romo said earlier in camp that he was throwing the ball as well as he ever had in his career, but the results were mixed. Over the last five days, however, he was on fire. He had a great scrimmage and was great the next day.

** Dez Bryant’s best play of camp was not any catch or run, even if he had a few of them. Bryant’s best play was his reaction after DeMarcus Ware picked off Romo near the goal line and sprinted to catch up to the All-Pro linebacker and punch the ball free for a fumble.

** While Bryant draws oohs and aahs from onlookers, Miles Austin went somewhat unnoticed. I’m not sure he had a drop inside the Alamodome, and he looked Terry Glenn-like with some of his grabs down the middle of the field. Tremendous body control.

** Lonyae Miller could force the Cowboys to keep four tailbacks. The best part of his camp? According to Jason Witten, Miller has not yet missed a blitz pickup -- and against this defense, that is saying something. With the Jets looming in the opener, that means a lot.

** Tyron Smith will benefit greatly from having Kyle Kosier next to him. Several defensive players said once Smith gets his hands on them, they can’t break free. But he has to figure out whom to block in a hurry. This was a good move by the coaches to flip Kosier to right guard.

** Not sure there is a leader in the fullback race between Chris Gronkowski, Shaun Chapas and Jason Pociask. I’d like to see all of them keep their feet moving as they block. Chapas is probably the best athlete but this could drag on until the final cuts.

** I can say the same about the kicking battle, too. You can hear the difference between how David Buehler hits his kicks and how rookie Dan Bailey hits his. Buehler also hits them higher. But if he can’t be more consistent between 35-40 yards, then I don’t know how the coaches trust him. It’s maddening because he will bang it from 50 yards and hook it from 36. Bailey has been more consistent.

Jason Garrett talks about the scrimmage

August, 8, 2011
8/08/11
1:53
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- After watching a tape of Sunday's scrimmage on Monday morning, coach Jason Garrett said he was pleased with what he saw.

"I think there were a lot of good things in all areas of our team," Garrett said. "Clearly we can improve in all areas. I thought the intensity was good in general, guys came out and played with a physical demeanor individually and collectively."

Garrett limited the amount of work the veteran players received in the early portions of the scrimmage and moved the younger players toward the back end of practice to get more snaps.

There was some solid work by several younger players including linebackers Alex Albright, Sean Lee, Kenwin Cummings and Orie Lemon. Running backs Lonyae Miller and Phillip Tanner ran well, with Miller scoring two touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said some of the mistakes made by his unit were his fault because he made several play calls that he hadn't used since early in training camp.

Miller was stopped on a goal line stand, raising questions, again, about the Cowboys' inability to finish drives inside the five.

Both kickers, David Buehler and Dan Bailey, missed field goal attempts and punter Chris Jones shanked two punts.

"There's so many things we can get better at," Garrett said. "We got to understand to play the defensive schemes better we just need to simply execute better on offense. [We did] some good things in the kicking game. You have a balance here because typically when something bad is happening on offense that might be a result of something good happening on defense and vice versa."
SAN ANTONIO – As the old saying goes, you can’t make the club in the tub. That’s especially true when your replacement runs with the opportunity.

With Lonyae Miller impressing coaches on a daily basis, Tashard Choice could be in trouble or trade bait.

Miller might have made a run at the third running back role even if Choice had stayed healthy. But the 6-foot, 232-pound second-year running back has really taken advantage of the extra reps he’s getting because of injuries to third-round pick DeMarco Murray and Choice, who strained his calf on the opening day of camp and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

“If someone goes down, you’ve got to step up and fill their shoes,” Miller said after a strong performance in Sunday’s Blue-White scrimmage, when he scored a couple of touchdowns. “I feel like I’ve done that.”

Actually, it’s not just about filling Choice’s shoes. Miller has a chance to prove that he’s a better fit on the Cowboys’ roster than Choice.

Choice has been productive in limited opportunities with the ball in his hands, rushing for 1,064 yards and eight touchdowns on 222 carries and catching 53 passes for 426 yards in three seasons. However, he struggles in pass protection and on special teams, with owner/general manager Jerry Jones publicly pointing out the latter flaw.

Miller, who went undrafted after backing up San Diego first-round pick Ryan Mathews at Fresno State, showed after being promoted from the practice squad in December that he could contribute on special teams. He’s opened eyes with his powerful slashing running style in camp, but he’s really impressed coaches as a pass protector.

“The biggest area I think he’s improved is recognizing the defensive fronts when it comes to pass protection,” running backs coach Skip Peete said. “He’s done a lot better in that aspect. He’s done a good job of picking up blitzes. He’s just playing very physical right now.”

Miller’s talent has always intrigued the Cowboys. He’s a big back who ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and put up 26 225-pound bench press repetitions during his pre-draft workouts.

But Miller struggled during his rookie training camp, playing hesitantly and making a lot of mental mistakes. That’s no longer a problem for the lone tailback who attended all of the Cowboys’ player-run offseason workouts.

Miller not only knows his assignments, but he’s displayed an advanced understanding of the offense. He’s been an effective runner in part because he’s done an excellent job of setting up his blocks. As Miller said, he’s playing faster and smarter.

“The light has kind of come on,” Peete said. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence. We knew he was a good runner. Now he’s taking his instincts and doing what he has to do to help the play be successful."

Added head coach Jason Garrett: “As much as anything else, he’s matured. The physical ability was always there.”

If Miller keeps this up, it’s likely that Choice’s run with the Cowboys is coming to an end.

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