Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne

Reviewing the Cowboys’ drafts: 2012

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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IRVING, Texas -- Day 4 of reviewing the Dallas Cowboys' past five drafts continues today with the Class of 2012.

If you want our thoughts on the 2009-11 drafts, click here for 2009, here for 2010 and here for 2011.

First-round pick: Morris Claiborne (No. 6 overall)

Claiborne
Number of picks: 7

How they did: The Cowboys made a bold move by trading up from No. 14 to No. 6 to take Claiborne, whom they had given the highest grade for a cornerback since Deion Sanders. Two years later, the Cowboys are still waiting for Claiborne to pay off.

In fact, most of the draft class has yet to pay off. Third-round pick Tyrone Crawford (No. 81 overall) did not play last season because of a torn Achiiles. One fourth-round pick, Matt Johnson (No. 135 overall) has yet to play in a game in his two seasons because of injuries. It took the other fourth rounder, Kyle Wilber (No. 113 overall), almost two seasons to find his role. Danny Coale (knee, foot) and Caleb McSurdy (Achilles) never made the team. Sixth-round pick James Hanna was the No. 2 tight end a year ago.

Pivotal pick: It’s hard to say anybody other than Claiborne because of the price the Cowboys paid to get him, giving up their second-round pick. He came in with a surgically-repaired wrist that kept him out of offseason work as a rookie. He suffered through a hamstring injury that kept him out of six games last season. He has two interceptions in two seasons and has not displayed the confidence he played with at LSU. He must turn it around in 2014 or the Cowboys’ decision to move up to get him will haunt the team for a long time.

Hanna
Best pick: There isn’t one yet really. Crawford did not record a sack as a rookie but was solid. The Cowboys are banking on him in a big way to return from the Achilles’ injury. Based on expectations and playing time, Hanna (No. 186 overall) might be the best, but he has just 20 catches for 159 yards. He could see his playing time decrease in a big way if Gavin Escobar gets more work as the club intends.

Worst pick: The Cowboys have kept Johnson around because of his potential, but the patience has to be running thin. He did not play as a rookie because of recurring hamstring injuries, as well as an aching back. He did not play in 2013 because of ankle surgery. He is out of time to make something happen, which he knows. Considering the Cowboys’ need at safety, however, there is still a chance for Johnson to make an impact.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
12:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we talk about the Cowboys' drafting injured players, Anthony Spencer's possible return, a position switch for Morris Claiborne and a Matt Johnson update.

If you want to see the Part 1 of the mailbag, click here.

Away we go:

 
IRVING, Texas -- Once again we had a ton of questions in Wednesday’s chat and I couldn’t get to them all, so let’s pull out some leftovers to answer right now.

First a leftover question: What’s better warmed up – spaghetti or chicken lo mein? I’m going spaghetti. I think I’d go with the lo mein cold.

Away we go:

Blake Tyler (Nashville): I think we all agree that Tony is best when the play breaks down and he can move and find his guy down the field. Big plays. I know this sounds crazy but is there any way with a better line in front of him that it takes away some of our big play ability? The offense just didn’t look that explosive last year.

Todd Archer: You sort of sound like Jerry Jones when he said if there is a quarterback that doesn’t need protection as much it’s Romo, but I don’t want to pin that on you. I hear what you’re saying, but I think the big plays were down because the offense changed. They were not as aggressive as in the past down the field. Was that Romo protecting the ball or himself? Perhaps. Was it the new playcaller in Bill Callahan? Perhaps. I’d much rather have my quarterback be able to go through his reads and make plays that way than rely on him to create when things breaking down. Romo has done that sort of thing so many times that it seems second nature, but you don’t want to live off that. I wonder if he had a hard time trusting the protection because things broke down in the past that he was getting rid of the ball too early sometimes. Just a though.

Marco (Houston): If Donald is gone at 16 and Ealy is available do you think the Boys would settle or trade down?

Todd Archer: I’m not sure how high the Cowboys are on Kony Ealy. They might see him more as a left defensive end so that takes him down a peg. As good as he looks and as good as the numbers suggest, you want more plays. He made a lot but something just seemed missing. I think there might be better players available at No. 16 at other positions that make the Cowboys go elsewhere and trading down is always an option. I’ve said this before, but in order to trade down the Cowboys have to hope there is someone there that another team wants to trade up to get. They must be prepared to make a pick at No. 16.

Ray (From Southside): Any updates on to who the 30 players will be for pre-draft visits and for Dallas day??

Todd Archer: The names that I know of so far are Anthony Barr, Demarcus Lawrence, Jimmie Ward, Ryan Shazier and Aaron Donald. They usually don’t use all of their 30 visits at the outset with the chance they can add two or three guys later in the process. For the Cowboys it matters who comes to Valley Ranch. In the last nine drafts the only two top picks not to visit were DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne. Last year they ended up drafting four players who visited and signing a couple of undrafted free agents as well. Dallas Day is another important tool and with so many seventh-round picks, the Cowboys will be able to lock in on their priority free agents. I’m working on a list of Dallas Day guys, so stay tuned for that, but Jackson Jeffcoat is not one of them despite growing up in Plano. Since the family moved to Colorado, I guess he can’t be in the mix.

Cullen Calabria (Paris, TX): Linehan's RB's combined for over a 100 receptions last year Bush had 50+ and so did Bell? Can we expect similar things this year? Because Murray only has 1 rec TD in his career which I blame on play calling more than him.

Todd Archer: I wouldn’t expect 100 catches from the running backs here but that’s not a slight on DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle. It’s more about the construction of the Cowboys’ offense. The Lions don’t have Jason Witten, so there were more balls for Bush and Bell to catch. They don’t have a Terrance Williams as a No. 2 receiver either. Murray caught 53 passes last year, so I think he’ll be in that range again. As a group Cowboys runners caught 72 passes in 2013. I can see that going to 85 or so if Dunbar can stay healthy. I wouldn’t get carried away with Murray’s lack of TD catches. I think that’s more of a product of having guys like Dez Bryant, Witten, Miles Austin and Williams around here lately.

Barr, Donald, Ward among draft visitors

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have signed three defensive players in free agency, but that does not mean they have fixed the woes on that side of the ball in the offseason.

Among the national visitors to the Cowboys next week for pre-draft visits are UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, according to sources.

Teams are allowed 30 national visitors leading up to the draft. They do not work out, but they meet with coaches and scouts and are put to the test mentally. The Cowboys can have an unlimited number of players work out at their Dallas day session on April 17 that includes players from local colleges or who played high school football in the area.

Donald has been linked to the Cowboys since an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl in January. He met with coaches at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February and will come to Valley Ranch as well. Donald might be the perfect fit as a 3-technique in Rod Marinelli’s defense.

The Cowboys signed Henry Melton as a free agent, but it does not take them out of the bidding for Donald, who had 11 sacks and 28.5 tackles last season. Melton’s contract is essentially a one-year deal. If he does not perform at a high level, the Cowboys can walk away from the final three years of the contract by not exercising the option.

Barr had 23.5 sacks in his last two years at UCLA and was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick. He played mostly linebacker, but his ability to rush the passer has some teams wondering if he can be a full-time defensive end. It is possible he could play strongside linebacker and move to defensive end in passing situations.

Shazier has phenomenal athleticism and can cover tight ends and running backs. With Bruce Carter in the final year of his deal, Shazier could provide excellent insurance or perhaps force Carter to move to the strongside linebacker spot. Shazier had 143 tackles last year for Ohio State and 44.5 tackles for loss in his career.

Lawrence led the Mountain West with 10.5 sacks in 2013 and had 20.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, he is more of a defensive end than outside linebacker with long arms and deceptive strength.

Ward is one of the top safeties in the draft and could be a first-round pick. He had 95 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 pass deflections last season, but he is also coming off foot surgery. The Cowboys have not looked at the veteran safety market in free agency for somebody to play alongside Barry Church. They have said they like what they have in last year’s third-rounder, J.J. Wilcox, as well as Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson, who has yet to play in his first two years because of injuries.

In recent history, the Cowboys have shown a preference for selecting players who visited Valley Ranch before the draft. Last year, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, Wilcox, B.W. Webb and Joseph Randle were among the pre-draft visitors they selected. Since 2005, the only top picks not to visit the Cowboys before the draft were DeMarcus Ware (2005) and Morris Claiborne (2012).

Dominik calls CB a 'hidden' Cowboys need

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
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IRVING, Texas -- ESPN Insider Mark Dominik was the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13.

He spent 19 years with the Buccaneers and his time coincided with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin. He knows what they want in draft prospects, so it was interesting to note that Dominik has cornerback among the Cowboys’ hidden draft needs in this Insider piece. Insider

Here’s what he said:
Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback
The Cowboys have acquired three cornerbacks of note over the past two years in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and B.W. Webb, so this might not look like a need area if you just skim through Dallas' depth chart (especially given their issues at other positions). But there is a real concern about the play of Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, and if they don't think they can get him straightened out, the Cowboys will need to add another corner in order to hold up in pass defense against their NFC East rivals.


He did not mention Orlando Scandrick, who was the Cowboys’ best cornerback in 2013. Earlier Tuesday, Calvin Watkins said the Cowboys need more from Carr, who received a five-year, $50 million deal from the club two years ago. Webb was mostly lost as a rookie and lost his job late in the season to Sterling Moore. Dominik correctly points out the thoughts on Claiborne, who is entering his biggest seasons.

But I wonder just how high the Cowboys would select a cornerback considering how much they have invested in Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne with picks and money. Would they go after the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby or Justin Gilbert?

TCU’s Jason Verrett is scheduled to visit with the team during the Dallas Day, but he is coming off shoulder surgery. Does he fit what Marinelli wants from corners?

The draft is not just about 2014. It is about the future as well. Scandrick’s re-worked deal late last season all but guarantees he will be around in 2015. The Cowboys have not restructured Carr’s contract, in part, because it would make it more possible to release him after this season if he does not find his 2012 form. Claiborne is signed through 2015 with a team option for 2016, but if he does not improve significantly this season then it would seem unlikely the Cowboys would exercise it.

So maybe drafting a cornerback, even early, makes sense after all.

Chat recap: All about opportunity

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
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IRVING, Texas -- We had another spirited chat on Wednesday in which we touched on a number of subjects.

One that I will delve further into here in a bit is why the Dallas Cowboys didn’t sign Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks, and why I don’t believe Chris Johnson will be coming here.

But we also discussed:
  • The Cowboys approach to free agency.
  • The possibility of signing DeMarco Murray to an extension.
  • If Anthony Barr is in play at No. 16 for the Cowboys.
  • The future of Morris Claiborne.

If you want to look at the whole chat, you can click here.

But let’s get back to the Britt, Nicks, Johnson talk.

Here was one question:

Eric (Long beach): Why didn't the cowboys have interest in guys like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt that signed cheap one year deals? they could have been nice to go along with dez and injury insurance

Todd Archer: Let me turn the question around -- why would Nicks or Britt want to come here when the Cowboys are committed to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams? They are looking for opportunity too. They felt other teams were better opportunities for them.

To build off that subject:

I think far too often we forget the other side of interest in signing with a team. A player’s agent is never going to shrink the market for his client, so they would never say never when asked if their guy would be interested in playing for the Cowboys.

Since I’ve been covering this team, you always hear agents say, ‘Player X would love to be a Cowboy.’ Some of that is true. Some of that is to drive up the price. And how many times have we heard players say they grew up Cowboys’ fans? Jeremy Mincey, the new defensive end, said the 1994 NFC Championship Game loss was to the San Francisco 49ers was a painful day for him.

Players want opportunities to play. Maybe Nicks and Britt could have beaten out Williams for a starting spot opposite Bryant, but there was no guarantee that was happening here. Nicks signed with the Indianapolis Colts and should start at least at the start of the season with Reggie Wayne coming back from a knee injury. Britt chose the St. Louis Rams in part to reunite with coach Jeff Fisher, who coaxed him into his best years.

Johnson has been a starter since he got into the league. The Cowboys have their running back in Murray. When they are at their best, they ride Murray. They don’t split carries. But why would Johnson want to split carries anyway? He will get a better chance to do that somewhere else.

The Cowboys made a mistake in passing on Johnson in 2008 when they took Felix Jones. Some thought Johnson was too slight to excel at the position. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago, but he has something left. It’s just not enough for the Cowboys.
IRVING, Texas – For a variety of reasons the Dallas Cowboys need their cornerback trio of Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne to play better in 2014.

One reason is the addition of DeSean Jackson to the Washington Redskins.

We documented Jackson’s efforts against the Cowboys while with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s scored just one touchdown against the Cowboys and averaged 3.5 catches a game in the regular season.

Maybe things become a little different now that he is with the Redskins. He will have a first-time head coach in Jay Gruden, who loved to throw it when he was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. He has Robert Griffin III trying to recapture the magic of his rookie season. He has Pierre Garcon, who lit up the Cowboys, and free-agent pickup Andre Roberts.

Carr struggled badly with Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) in the second meeting of the season last year at FedEx Field so much that Scandrick moved in late in the game when the defense made a stop. Roberts has played twice against the Cowboys with the Arizona Cardinals and has two 100-yard games.

He caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 27-26 win in 2010 and six passes for 111 yards in the Cardinals’ 19-13 overtime win.

New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will have to blend what Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne do well into the scheme better than last year’s coordinator, Monte Kiffin. Carr and Claiborne have to play better to give Marinelli options.

Trade Mo Claiborne? No thanks

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
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IRVING, Texas -- The DeSean Jackson trade talks that never went anywhere got ESPN Insider Field Yates to think about some trades that should happen. Insider

Claiborne
Yates has one for the Dallas Cowboys, sending cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams.

He writes:
Dallas Cowboys trade cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams

Why it works for Arizona: Claiborne's NFL struggles are hard to figure after he starred at LSU, but his natural abilities are still enticing. The team added depth in the secondary with Antonio Cromartie this offseason, but Claiborne would bring higher upside playing alongside former LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Peterson also happens to be a free agent next offseason, and while the Cardinals are angling to keep him around long term, a rejuvenated Claiborne would give them insurance in case Peterson ends up elsewhere.

Why it works for Dallas: Claiborne is the Cowboys' third cornerback right now and has disappointed. The team has had better luck adding cornerbacks in free agency than through the draft and is desperate for big bodies along the defensive line. Williams has just one year left on his deal, but he presents an intriguing size and strength combination next to Henry Melton, a penetrating interior force. It may not be the most natural fit in what Dallas does defensively due to Williams' lack of quickness, but his ability to clog space would provide an upgrade against the run.




Maybe this could happen but it definitely won’t happen, and we’re not talking about any salary-cap issues that could hinder a deal. The Cowboys are not about to give up on Claiborne, whom they moved up to the sixth pick in the 2012 draft to select. And Williams does not bring enough value in return. He’s in the last year of his contract. The Cowboys control Claiborne’s rights for another two years.

This is a huge year for Claiborne, who has yet to flash the potential most people thought he had coming into the draft. Maybe it has been health. Maybe it has been scheme. Maybe it has been a lack of confidence. Maybe it’s all of the above.

But for the Cowboys to get the benefit of the trade up to get him, Claiborne has to come through in a big way in 2014. For them, not for the Cardinals -- or anybody else.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22
12:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we touch on the draft ramifications of signing Henry Melton, Sean Lee’s position and Rod Marinelli’s future.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Away we go:

 

With Tony Romo, Cowboys not rebuilding

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
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IRVING, Texas -- Earlier today my guy, Calvin Watkins, brought you a post that says the Dallas Cowboys are rebuilding.

I don’t want to say Calvin is wrong, but, well, um, well, I don’t agree with that premise.

Romo
It’s not a rebuild the Cowboys are going through. And if you want to call it a rebuilding job, what exactly are they rebuilding from? They have won one playoff game since 1996. Teams that rebuild at least go to conference title games or Super Bowls -- and win Super Bowls.

I just don’t think you rebuild when you have a franchise quarterback that will turn 34 in April and is only in the second year of a six-year extension.

What the Cowboys have done the last few years -- and I wrote about it -- is re-tool. The departures of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher are more evidence that the Cowboys are re-tooling. With Tony Romo, the Cowboys still need to win now. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said as much at the NFL scouting combine.

SportsNation

Should the Cowboys be in rebuilding mode?

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    76%
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    24%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,665)

He doesn’t have time to wait three or four years to rebuild with Romo as his quarterback.

What the Cowboys are doing is changing their core. While Romo and Jason Witten are still the focal points of the team because of their play, status and production, the core of the team has moved on from guys like Ware, Jeremiah Ratliff, Austin, Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo, Bradie James and Terence Newman in recent years to newer players.

The core now is Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams and Barry Church. They would love guys like Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford and Gavin Escobar to join this list but they have not proven they can play yet.

The Cowboys have to maximize what they have left with Romo and Witten but not to the point where they are left in salary-cap shambles for when the “new guard” is in their prime.

Rebuilding, to me, is starting over. The Cowboys aren’t going to start over with Romo and Witten and they’re not exactly moving back to ground zero either.

What they are doing does not guarantee success or even something better than 8-8, but they are in the process of passing the torch, so to speak.
IRVING, Texas -- Bill Polian was a successful personnel man with the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. He is now an ESPN Insider and has offered up a dos and don'ts list Insider when it comes to free agency.

Basically, Polian, who is among Jerry Jones' circle of trust outside Valley Ranch, subscribes to the theory that a free agent can be a useful tool if you spend wisely, but the economic risk almost always outweighs the on-field production.

Let's highlight a couple of Polian's positions from the Insider story.
2. Don't sign a player and change his techniques.
It is hard enough for players to adapt to a new team. For example, don't take a Tampa 2, 3-technique and expect him to become a Parcells/Belichick 3-4 DE. Those are totally different techniques, and players who have to make that type of adjustment don't make the transition well. Adapting and then trying to learn a new role on top of that adds complications that can ruin your investment. You could have a relatively brief window of return, so retraining shouldn't be a big part of it.
Cowboys' take: Dallas invested heavily in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency and the draft in 2012 and moved away from their supposed strengths -- man coverage -- to play mostly zone when they switched to Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys need to find a way to blend their coverages more to play to the strengths of Carr and Claiborne.
7. Don't pay a player above his grade.
Don't give A-money (or years) to a B-player, and so on down the line. As discussed at the start of this article, the free-agent market as a whole is almost always a losing investment. Just because another team is willing to give a player a certain contract doesn't mean he's worth that price to your team. There is no universal price for a player because every player has a different value to each team. You need to trust your internal valuations and proceed off those figures, not the market.
Cowboys' take: Let's stick with Carr again. The Cowboys overpaid for him (five years, $50 million) but that was the market for free-agent corners. The St. Louis Rams paid Cortland Finnegan the same amount and will cut him once the league year starts. At the time of the signing, the Cowboys were not criticized for signing Carr, who has not missed a game in his career and was young. But they have yet to see the on-field production for their off-field pay out.
11. Do beware of players whose production dramatically increases in their contract year.
If a player is lousy for three years and then spikes in Year 4 and becomes a world-beater, be careful. You're more likely to get the production from those first three seasons, but you'll be paying for the results of the fourth. It's not a knock on the effort of the first three years, it's a trust in the bigger sample size.
Cowboys' take: It's not that Jason Hatcher was lousy, but he never produced more than 4.5 sacks in a season before 2013. Polian also has a 'don't pay age' axiom, which could affect Hatcher, who turns 32 in July, but could teams be worried about his 11-sack spike in a contract year?
DeMarcus WareMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsIt might be time for the Cowboys to let aging defensive end DeMarcus Ware go.

The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to start over.

It’s not an ideal situation, but in the big picture, this is the perfect time.

The Cowboys are talking with Pat Dye, the agent for defensive end DeMarcus Ware, about a reduction in salary.

SportsNation

Should DeMarcus Ware take a pay cut?

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    87%
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    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 16,027)

Ware has been the Cowboys’ best defensive player for roughly seven consecutive seasons. But last year was different. Ware battled elbow, back, quad and a stinger in 2013.

His health betrayed him and he finished with just six sacks in the 2013 season. You could say health was the reason for his declining play or that he’s just getting old.

The reality is Ware is still a good player, not a player worth taking $16 million of your salary cap, but maybe half that.

The Cowboys have basically told him to take a pay cut or find another team.

I don’t believe they should keep him though because although Ware is still a productive player, if the team is trying to forge ahead and stop the mediocrity of the franchise, then letting him go is the best thing possible.

Rebuild.

If Ware is off the books, it saves $7.4 million.

On June 1, you get another $5.5 million in savings when your rid yourself of Miles Austin’s contract.

That’s close to $13 million in savings from two veteran players who are battling health issues as they move to the backstage of their careers. Sure some other NFL team will sign them, that’s life in the NFL.

The Cowboys need to get younger, like yesterday. If Jason Garrett wants a contract extension he should tell Jerry Jones, let’s get younger.

It’s time to end the way the franchise has kept players around for too long and move toward the future. It’s time for the Cowboys to draft the best players on their board and clean up the communication mess of the last few years in the war room.

(Read full post)

Sorting through Cowboys' draft needs

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
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IRVING, Texas -- As Jerry Jones spoke on his bus from the NFL scouting combine recently, you could hear the Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager go through a checklist when talking about draft needs.

He said drafting a corner “could be stacking it up,” too much with Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. He said tight end would not be a position of need with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. He said “not necessarily” wide receiver, either. The Cowboys like DeMarco Murray a lot, but “that doesn’t mean we won’t bring in another potentially very competitive running back in at all.” He said a strongside linebacker would not be much of a need because of its lack of importance in the 4-3. He mentioned liking what they have at safety but would not rule out a draft pick.

What does it all mean in early March? Not much.

The question was about drafting solely defensive players considering how much help the Cowboys need on that side of the ball.

“We’ve got to be careful foregoing a really top offensive lineman,” Jones said. “I’d head scratch about that, all things equal, same quality.”

The follow-up question was specifically about defensive line help.

“It’s certainly where we were almost bankrupt last year in terms of what we had personnel wise,” Jones said. “As you’ve noted and I’ve mentioned, I thought that was our strength going into the season. And by the way, I was up here talking to Monte Kiffin earlier and Monte was talking about how [Anthony] Spencer, how we were doing with [Jay] Ratliff not out there, but how well we were playing at Oxnard in that defensive front. That was without Tyrone Crawford, who got hurt the first day. Still we were creating some havoc out there and we, of course, really lost that. But that is certainly an area of need. I’m not being evasive, but don’t discount a good offensive lineman that is high on your board.”

That was twice Jones mentioned an offensive lineman. The Cowboys have hit on their past two first-round picks on the offensive line in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick after not previously drafting one in the first round in the Jones era.

Just something to note.

Cowboys hope to quiet hamstring issues

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
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IRVING, Texas -- One of the Dallas Cowboys’ homework assignments in the offseason has been to figure out a way to avoid hamstring injuries.

Twelve players suffered strains of varying levels and missed either game or practice time in 2013: Miles Austin, Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee, Justin Durant, Dwayne Harris, Bruce Carter, Danny McCray, Barry Church, Dez Bryant, Lance Dunbar, Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams.

The shortened offseason conditioning program could play a factor in the increase in injuries, but it has not affected every team. The Cowboys have studied other teams’ approaches and injury numbers to come up with a solution.

Coach Jason Garrett said one possibility is cutting back on the time spent on the field, especially early in the offseason.

“It is valuable to do the football stuff. We don’t feel like there’s a lot of football stuff right now,” Garrett said. “We want to be careful about how much we take away from that. But there’s a couple weeks prior to all that stuff starting. We’ve talked about tweaking the daily schedule and what we’re doing those first couple weeks as we start to lay the foundation for the offseason.”

While many players train on their own before the official offseason program starts in April, there is only a two-week period of training before players get on the field for teaching sessions.

“[Strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik] I know is certainly not happy with it,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “[Athletic trainers] Jim Maurer and Britt Brown0 are not happy. I know Jason’s not happy with it and I damn sure know Jerry [Jones] and I are not happy with it. So we’re looking at ways to try to work on that.”

One way might be doing less instead of more.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
12:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

Has Aaron Donald done so well in the pre-draft process that the Cowboys won’t be able to get him at No. 16? What about Brandon Carr's future?

We discuss it here.

And if you want to look at Part 1 of the mailbag, click here.

Away we go:
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