Dallas Cowboys: Nick Cole

IRVING -- Tuesday was a busy day at Valley Ranch as the Dallas Cowboys worked out several free agents.

The team didn't sign anyone but the most accomplished of the players is guard/center Nick Cole.

He's started 29 games for the Philadelphia Eagles but was left on the free-agent market after allowing four sacks in 2010. Cole has also worked out for the Detroit Lions.

Tackle Langston Walker, cornerback C.J. Wilson, safeties Chris Horton, Darcel McBath and C.C. Brown, running backs Aaron Brown and Jalen Parmele worked out as well.

The Cowboys have some issues to deal with regarding their roster, especially along the offensive line.

Guards from starter Kyle Kosier (left foot) to backup Derrick Dockery (leg) are recovering from injuries. Kosier is playing through his injury, while Dockery hopes to return to the active roster this week.

Cowboys working out players

October, 25, 2011
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have workouts scheduled with four players today at Valley Ranch.

Guard/Center Nick Cole, tackle Langston Walker and safeties Chris Horton and C.C. Brown will visit the complex this morning.

Cole is the most interesting name of the crew. He's started 29 games for the Philadelphia Eagles but was left on the free-agent market after allowing four sacks in 2010. Cole has also worked out for the Detroit Lions.

Walker, who spent the last two seasons in Oakland, played for Buffalo (2007 and 2008) after breaking into the NFL with the Oakland Raiders in 2002. Horton played for Washington from 2008 to 2010 and Brown has played for three NFL teams.

This doesn't mean the Cowboys will sign any of these players. It's one of those things where the team wants to see what type of shape these players are in in case a roster move is necessary.

If anything, with the health issues along the Cowboys offensive line, Cole and Walker are interesting players to watch going forward.

Nick Cole to work out Tuesday

October, 24, 2011
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will work out free agent offensive lineman Nick Cole on Tuesday.

Cole started 29 of 77 games for the Philadelphia Eagles from a variety of interior spots. He allowed four sacks in 2010.

The Cowboys signed offensive linemen Montrae Holland and Daniel Loper last week after workouts. Holland was projected to be a starter coming into the 2011 season, but a hamstring injury and his weight forced the team to let him go prior to the start of the season.

But in the six weeks he was away, Holland lost 10 pounds. He's now 340 pounds and was praised in the Cowboys' victory Sunday over the St. Louis Rams.

Coach Jason Garrett said Holland will become the full-time starter at left guard.

The Cowboys will check to see if Cole is in shape because some of their offensive linemen are nicked up. Veteran Derrick Dockery, who started in the San Francisco game, is hopeful he will practice this week. He suffered a small fracture of his leg just below the knee.

Also, starting right guard Kyle Kosier is playing with a partial tear of his plantar fascia in his left foot. Kosier is playing with a metal plate in his left shoe.

Cowboys with offensive line issues

October, 17, 2011
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The biggest worry for coach Jason Garrett and the front office is the offensive line.

Left guard Bill Nagy has a fractured ankle and most likely is lost for the season. Derrick Dockery, the man the Cowboys signed to add veteran depth to the line, is still recovering from a sprained knee and a slight fracture of his leg. Dockery is still under evaluation and its unknown if he'll be ready for the St. Louis Rams game on Sunday.

Cowboys officials plan on meeting today to discuss the offensive line and whether or not to bring in another player. As it stands now Kevin Kowalski will take over for Nagy, but there are some other players on the market for the Cowboys to bring in.

Montrae Holland, whom the Cowboys cut in early September, could return, but the Cowboys haven't reached out to his agent. There are some other players such as Nick Cole, who played with Philadelphia Eagles last season, that could interest Dallas.

Cowboys officials have not contacted Cole's agent.

The team likes position flexibility with its guards, which is why Kowalski can play both center and guard and Holland is able to play both guard spots. Cole can do the same thing and of course the team could obtain the services of veteran Leonard Davis again.

All of this is speculation and the Cowboys could just wait for Dockery to return and not sign any free agent guard.

NFC East free-agency breakdown

July, 26, 2011
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NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

A look at the free-agent priorities for each NFC East team:

New York Giants

1. Figure out which of their own guys to keep. With Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss all set to potentially go free, the Giants have to prioritize and figure out which guys they're keeping. The top priority is probably going to be Bradshaw, an emerging star at running back, and it appears they'll let Cofield walk while trying to bring back Boss. They think the injury situations with Kiwanuka and Smith will help keep those guys' prices reasonable. But before the Giants hit the market, they'll need to get their own free-agent house in order.

2. Get at least one linebacker. The Giants have ignored this position over the past couple of years, and they seem to believe Jonathan Goff can handle the middle linebacker spot. They'd probably be better off moving him back outside and exploring the middle linebacker market, which includes Stephen Tulloch, Barrett Ruud and Paul Posluszny. But if they're set on keeping Goff in the middle, perhaps someone such as Manny Lawson or Nick Barnett could be a fit. It's one thing not to prioritize a position, but it's another to ignore it completely, and the Giants have been doing that with linebacker, to their detriment.

3. Some offensive line insurance. There were lots of injuries along the line in New York last season, and although it didn't kill them, it was a potential sign of things to come. The Giants hope Will Beatty will soon be ready to take over at left tackle for a declining David Diehl, but they must watch out for the health of Shaun O'Hara at center. And if they have to cut Shawn Andrews to sign some other guys, they'll need to replace him with a tackle who can provide depth.

Top five free agents: RB Bradshaw, DE/LB Kiwanuka, TE Boss, DT Cofield, WR Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Settle the Kevin Kolb situation. If they can get the great deal for him that most believe they can (i.e., a first-round pick plus), the Eagles will deal Kolb and look for a reliable backup quarterback who can play if and when Michael Vick gets hurt. If they can't get good value for Kolb, they'll probably keep him to serve as said reliable backup. A trade is most likely, but whatever happens, the Eagles will probably settle this soon after the league year begins.

2. Sign a cornerback. The starting spot opposite Asante Samuel is open, and no one on the current roster appears able to fill it. That's why you've heard, and will continue to hear, the Eagles connected with Asomugha. Philadelphia must rank among his most likely destinations at this point. If they don't get him, they'll look down the list at guys such as Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor and Antonio Cromartie. And there's a chance they could get a cornerback for Kolb. But they'll get one somewhere.

3. Re-sign Stewart Bradley. Sure, they could let Bradley go and play Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Chaney looked, at least, capable in that spot last season and may be the Eagles' future at the position. But if Bradley leaves, the Eagles' problems will be about more than just the alignment of the linebackers. They'll actually be short on bodies and will need to play the free-agent field to find a replacement. Bradley's had injury problems, but when healthy, he's the Eagles' best linebacker and could be a key cog in whatever new defensive alignment Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn are cooking up.

Top five free agents: LB Bradley, S Mikell, G Nick Cole, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Ellis Hobbs

Washington Redskins

1. Fill out the defensive line. Whether they add a free-agent nose tackle such as Aubrayo Franklin or look at defensive end options like Jenkins, the Redskins must figure who their starting defensive linemen are. They like their linebacking corps, and although they also need a cornerback, they love their safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe in the fold next to LaRon Landry. But their good, young outside linebackers will need big, space-eating ends in front of them to open up lanes to the passer. And they'll also need to get some sort of pass rush from the line, whether it's from the nose or the ends.

2. Re-sign Santana Moss. The Redskins are making noise about pursuing a big-time wideout such as Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice. But the reality is that it's going to be tough to convince receivers to sign in Washington while they're not viewed as a contender and the quarterback situation remains so cloudy. Moss likes it in Washington. The Redskins like him. And he's a nice guy to have around to help out young receivers Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson -- not to mention inexperienced quarterback John Beck.

3. Resolve the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations. They don't want either player on the team anymore, but the question is how to get rid of them. They might be able to dump McNabb for a late-round draft pick, but if they can't, they'll probably just cut him and let him find his next job on his own. Haynesworth has trade value in a league where many 4-3 teams are looking for interior defensive line help. Don't expect the Redskins to cut Haynesworth, because they don't want to do him any favors and they don't want him free to sign with former Tennessee D-line coach Washburn in Philadelphia. If they can't get value for him, don't be surprised if Haynesworth remains on the team all season and has a hard time getting into games.

Top five free agents: WR Moss, OT Jammal Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, LB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman

Cowboys-Eagles key matchups

January, 3, 2010
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- We'll take a look at one key matchup from both sides of the ball in the NFC East championship game.

Dallas Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff vs. Philadelphia Eagles C Nick Cole: Eagles center Jamaal Jackson tore a knee ligament last week, so Cole had to slide over from right guard. He'll have his hands full with Ratliff, a Pro Bowler for the second consecutive season.

Ratliff is simply too quick for Cole (6-0, 350) to handle without help. Even with the guards doubling Ratliff, he ought to be able to shoot the gaps and wreak havoc in the Eagles' backfield.

In the nickel and dime packages, Wade Phillips will try to get Ratliff matched up with backup right guard Max Jean-Gilles (6-3, 358), who will also be overmatched by Ratliff's explosiveness.

Of course, Ratliff gave the Eagles problems with their offensive line was healthy. He had eight tackles, two sacks and two quarterback pressures during the Cowboys' Nov. 8 win in Philadelphia. Expect a similar performance in the regular-season finale.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten vs. Eagles SS Quintin Mikell: Witten has feasted against one-on-one coverage the last five games, taking advantage of the attention defenses are forced to pay WR Miles Austin.

Witten has three 100-yard outings in the last five games after not having any in the 10 weeks. He can consistently get open against man coverage in the middle of the field and has been able to make plays in the seam, something that didn't happen for him as he was the focal point for opposing defenses the first two-thirds of the season.

But Mikell is better than the strong safeties for the Raiders, Giants and Redskins, the teams Witten torched for 100 yards. Opponents have completed only 50 percent of their passes against Mikell, according to Stats, Inc.

Witten has to have more success than that to force Philadelphia to reconsider rolling coverage toward Austin.

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