Dallas Cowboys: Michael Spurlock

Pondering the 46: Room for Spurlock?

December, 21, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Sometimes when Pondering the 46, you have to figure out how to get a player to the game and not how to come up with seven inactive players.

That’s the case with receiver/returner Michael Spurlock this week against the Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys would not have signed him this week if they were pleased with their return game in Dwayne Harris' absence. Even if Terrance Williams didn’t have a strained hamstring, Spurlock would be here.

But how does he make it to the 46?

We know Dwayne Harris, Sean Lee and Morris Claiborne are out with injuries, even though Claiborne is officially listed as doubtful. Ernie Sims is likely to be out, too, but he is doubtful with a groin injury. We know Darrion Weems and Jakar Hamilton will be inactive.

Williams is listed as questionable. If he can’t play, then Spurlock gets that spot. If he can play, then the Cowboys will have to figure out where they go light.

It can’t be at linebacker. They have only five healthy linebackers. It can’t be on the offensive line. They have to take seven to the game. It can’t be quarterback, tight end, secondary or the specialists either.

We’re down to running back and defensive line. Phillip Tanner has special teams value, and if they need to run out the clock late I would think they would go with him if something happened to DeMarco Murray.

So now we’re down to the defensive line. Two weeks ago Everette Brown did not dress. Last week it was Martez Wilson. Jarius Wynn is questionable with a chest injury. They need to get after Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, so pass rush will be at a premium. I think they will carry all of their ends. That leaves newcomer Frank Kearse. Signed on Wednesday off the Tennessee Titans practice squad, he brings some size to the line, but that might not be enough to get him on the 46.

The inactives: Lee, Harris, Claiborne, Hamilton, Weems, Sims, Kearse.

Cowboys look for jump from Spurlock

December, 20, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Not long after Micheal Spurlock was released by the Detroit Lions he had a workout with the Washington Redskins, whose general manager Bruce Allen was in Tampa Bay when Spurlock played for the Buccaneers.

The Redskins passed, and on Wednesday he ended up joining the Dallas Cowboys, in part because of another tie to his Tampa Bay past: special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.

Spurlock admits it is kind of funny that his first game will be against the Redskins.

“It was just one of those situations where it wasn’t a fit there,” Spurlock said. “It became a fit here. You move on. There’s no hard feelings at all. Just go play, and we’re trying to get a win.”

The Cowboys hope Spurlock can spark the return game that has dried up with Dwayne Harris slowed by a hamstring injury. Terrance Williams has handled the kickoff duties in Harris’ absence, but he might not play Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Cole Beasley has handled the punt returns.

In nine games for the Lions, Spurlock averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. For his career he has three kickoff returns for touchdowns, and two punt returns for touchdowns.

The Cowboys have made a late-season play for a returner before. In 2003, they signed Michael Bates in time for the regular-season finale. In the playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers he had seven kick returns for 172 yards, with a long of 41 yards.

In 2009, the Cowboys signed Allen Rossum to return kicks and punts, but he was hurt on his first return against Atlanta. The man he was supposed to replace, Patrick Crayton, had a clinching 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against the Falcons.

The Cowboys are the third team Spurlock and Bisaccia have worked with together. They were together in San Diego as well.

“I’ve been around him a long time,” Spurlock said. “Shoot, out of eight years maybe six years I’ve been around him. Some stuff has changed, but after looking at the pictures and stuff, it’s pretty much the same stuff with different names. But I’m familiar with it.”

Could Gavin Escobar's time be coming?

December, 19, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys might be forced to become the two-tight end offensive team they thought they were going to be at the beginning of the season when they play the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Hamstring injuries could keep Dwayne Harris and Terrance Williams from the field. Neither practiced on Wednesday but Williams is the more likely of the two to play.

The Cowboys signed Michael Spurlock, but he is more of a return specialist than receiver. The Cowboys have three receivers on the practice squad -- Tim Benford, Jamar Newsome, Lanear Sampson -- but it does not sound as if one could be called up for Sunday's game.

"We have [Gavin] Escobar and we have the tight ends that allow us to absorb some of that," coach Jason Garrett said.

If Harris and Williams can't play, then the Cowboys have only three healthy receivers in Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Cole Beasley.

"Obviously that puts me in the game plan a little bit more, which is exciting for me," Escobar said. "I'm just ready to jump in there whatever the team asks for."

Escobar has only eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on the season. After having only one catch in seven weeks, Escobar has three catches for 47 yards in the last two games. He started against the Green Bay Packers.

"Every week I'm just trying to show the coaches I can make plays whether that's the scout team or on offense and I think the past few weeks I've been doing that," Escobar said. "I think their confidence is growing in me, so I'm just trying to translate that to game time."

Cowboys add return specialist

December, 17, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- With Dwayne Harris not likely to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys have signed returned specialist Michael Spurlock.

Spurlock played in nine games with the Detroit Lions before he was released Dec. 9. He averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. He has played for special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers.

Harris has been slowed with a hamstring injury. He is averaging 30.5 yards per kick return and 14 yards per punt return on the season. The Cowboys turned to wide receivers Terrance Williams (kickoffs) and Cole Beasley (punts) to replace Harris, but neither has been able to break long returns.

The Cowboys have one spot open on their 53-man roster, which could be filled by the time they practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Jonathan Stewart has been added to the practice squad, replacing running back George Winn. The Cowboys also added Orie Lemon to the active roster to help with the injuries to linebackers Bruce Carter, Ernie Sims, Sean Lee and Justin Durant, who was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

The Cowboys hope Carter, who did not play last week against the Green Bay Packers because of a hamstring injury, can play against the Redskins. Lee is likely to miss his second straight game with a sprained neck.