Dallas Cowboys: San Diego Chargers

OXNARD, Calif. -- NBC announced the Cowboys-Dolphins Hall of Fame game drew 10.1 million viewers.

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It was the highest audience for a preseason game since the Cowboys-Chargers game in 2011 that had 10.7 million.

"People love football," coach Jason Garrett said. "I think our country loves football, certainly the state of Texas loves football and there's a great following. I think people were antsy to see football again and that's fun and it's fun to be a part of something like that."

The Dallas TV market produced the top rating for the game with a 17 share followed by the New Orleans market (15.1) and Austin (12.2).

The Cowboys face the Oakland Raiders Friday at 9 p.m. CT.

Garrett should let Romo play HOF game

July, 27, 2013
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OXNARD, Calif. -- A brief interview Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had with a reporter from the flagship radio station turned into a national story Saturday.

It appears Garrett told the website of KRLD-FM that Tony Romo might not play in the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins next week in Canton, Ohio.

"It's one of those deals where I suppose he could play five plays or whatever, but we might lean to no plays," Garrett told KRLD-FM. "But the clock starts on our 'ones' [first-teamers] in Week 2 of the preseason. So that's not going to be Tony's game."

Garrett was asked about it Saturday morning after the walk-through practice and acted surprised about the question.

"We really haven't had any discussions about our playing rotation in that first game, the Hall of Fame game, up there next week," Garrett told reporters in the news conference. "We'll have those discussions next week. It is a bonus preseason game, so that's when we'll have those discussions. I don't anticipate our players playing that much, and that's typically been the progression that we've had in the preseason. We haven't had those talks, though."

But sources close to the quarterback told ESPNDallas' Todd Archer that Romo wants to play in the preseason opener.

Romo should play in the preseason opener, but it comes with a risk.

In the preseason opener last season at Oakland, tight end Jason Witten suffered a lacerated spleen after taking a hard hit. Witten missed the rest of the preseason but was eventually ready for the regular season.

All this drama with Witten's health was a result of what happened in the preseason.

The Cowboys don't want Romo in the same situation, but it reminds me of one thing: Football players play football. Every time a player hits the field, it comes with a risk. In 2010, injuries forced inexperienced tackle Robert Brewster to become a starter for a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

Some fans and media members wanted the Cowboys not to play Romo in that game for fear he would get hurt.

Romo played and didn't get hurt.

Of course, with this being the preseason, you don't want Romo and other starters getting long stretches that put them at risk. The Cowboys have too much riding on their season to have DeMarcus Ware, DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, Brandon Carr, Dez Bryant, Bruce Carter, Miles Austin, Romo or Witten get hurt in a preseason game.

You do want this quarterback, who has missed the entire offseason because of his recovery from minor back surgery, playing a little bit.

But not playing at all wouldn't be right.

"I don't want to get into the hypotheticals," Garrett said. "We'll talk about how each of our 90 players will play in that game next week."

When the talk happens, Romo should play.
When the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran tight end Dante Rosario, it surprised some outside the organization because the club already had three players at the position projected to make the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys picked up Rosario mainly because of his special teams work.

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Last season, Rosario had five tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt for the San Diego Chargers.

"If you're not a starter, you expect to play special teams with the limited number of spots they can dress (on game days)," Rosario said. "That's something that’s part of my game and it's been part of my entire career, and I plan on continuing it."

That doesn't mean Rosario won't see time on offense. He caught 10 passes for 95 yards and three touchdowns with the Chargers last year and has 99 career receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns in six NFL seasons.

"(Bisaccia) had a lot to do with me coming here," Rosario said of special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who was hired by Dallas in the offseason after two seasons in San Diego. "I enjoyed playing under him on special teams in San Diego and I'm looking forward to doing that here and being able to learn from Jason Witten, who I consider one of the best all-around tight ends in the league."
Former Denver Broncos center Tom Nalen said Friday that in a 2006 game he tried to injure former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Igor Olshansky, who is also a former Dallas Cowboy.

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"I wouldn’t consider myself a dirty player," Nalen said according to Pro Football Talk. "I know people will bring up the Igor Olshansky play in 2006, but if people would look at the play before that and realize why I did what I did -- and even on that play I missed the cut -- so you know definitely, I wanted to blow his knee out on that play because of what happened the play before. But that, you know, is that dirty? I don’t know. It’s revenge, kind of, so."

Olshansky said he remembers the play and has forgiven Nalen.

"He's a Hall of Famer and I've pretty much forgotten about it," said Olshansky, who still lives in Dallas. "It was a big deal at the time, but thank God it worked out for everybody. I wouldn't do something like that. For him to do it, it's something he's got to live with."

Nalen was holding a news conference after he was being named to the Broncos' Ring of Fame and brought up the Olshansky play. Nalen said he went after Olshansky because of the previous play where he claims the defensive lineman grabbed his face mask.

Based on Pro Football Talk's account of the play, the Broncos and Chargers were playing when the Broncos were trying to spike the ball. Nalen dove into Olshansky’s legs, prompting several punches to be thrown. Olshansky, who threw the punches was ejected from the game. Both players were fined for the incident. Olshansky said he was on a bullrush where a defensive player puts his hands up into a lineman's chest, but denied grabbing a face mask.

"I don't grab people's face mask," Olshansky said. "It's the offensive linemen that are the grabbers instead of the defensive linemen. What I want to grab is the quarterback or the running back. That was a play that I thought was common knowledge."
We're going to play the "What If" game for a moment.

The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer, costing them $10.6 million. If the Cowboys had let Spencer test the free agent market, that's at least 10.6 million that could have gone to another free agent.

There's no telling how much Spencer would have gotten on the market, he would have been the best pass rusher out there coming off a career-high 11 sack season.

If the Cowboys had let Spencer walk there are two players who might have signed with the Cowboys. Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora. Freeney left the Indianapolis Colts and signed a a two-year $8.7 million deal with the San Diego Chargers. Umenyiora left the New York Giants and inked a deal with the Atlanta Falcons for two years and $8.5 million.

Now Freeney and Umenyiora will be one-hit wonders for these teams, because veteran players, unless its a elite quarterback, will not receive big money deals in free agency.

It's easy to second-guess the decision to franchise Spencer. The Cowboys weren't confident enough in Sean Lissemore's abilities to take over at defensive end or move Tyrone Crawford there. The new defensive staff, led by defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin wants Crawford to play tackle and end in 2013. Kyle Wilber has also been moved to end.

The Cowboys bypassed three quality defensive linemen in the draft to keep the current defensive line intact.

But allowing Spencer to test the market it might have saved the Cowboys some money, and quite possibly, allowed them to get one of the top defensive ends in the NFL draft last month.

Of course, we're just speculating here on a Saturday afternoon, as Freeney and Umenyiora begin playing for new teams and Spencer continues to participate for the one who drafted him in 2007,

The biggest thing against Spencer is sacks. He finally came through on that last season, and now, barring a new contract getting completed, he enters the final year of his contract with the hope of putting up big numbers again.

If Spencer doesn't then you have to play the "What If" game again.
If the Cowboys can open with a win over the New York Giants again, September should be sweet.

The softest stretch of the Cowboys’ schedule is the three weeks after the opener. The Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers combined to go 16-31-1 last season.

It’s the only stretch of the season that features three foes that had losing records last year. Granted, the Cowboys have to travel to Kansas City and San Diego, but the Chiefs and Chargers were a combined 4-12 at their home stadiums last season.

The Chiefs (Andy Reid) and Chargers (Mike McCoy) have new coaches, so it could also be to the Cowboys’ benefit to face those teams so early in the season.

Different views on play calling in KC, SD

February, 21, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS – As Jason Garrett continues to weigh who will call plays for the Cowboys in 2013, two head coaches offered different views as to how they will get the job done.

Andy Reid will call plays in Kansas City after allowing Marty Mornhinweg to run the offense in Philadelphia the last six-plus seasons. The Eagles won their final six games in 2006 with Mornhinweg calling plays.

“It was hard (to give up),” Reid said. “I enjoyed doing that, but I was lucky enough to have Marty, who’s a phenomenal playcaller, but I wanted to get back in and do that … I’m getting older and it gives me an opportunity to do it before time passes.”

Mike McCoy, San Diego’s rookie head coach, will have Ken Whisenhunt call plays. Whisenhunt called plays at different times in his head coaching career in Arizona. McCoy was Denver’s playcaller in 2011-12 with Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning taking the Broncos to the playoffs.

“I’ll still be heavily involved in what we’re doing," McCoy said, "but in my position as head coach I wanted to overlook the entire team on gameday.”

Last week Garrett danced around the play-calling subject but intimated that the team was working toward having Bill Callahan call plays. Garrett said the final decision will be his, but that there is no rush to get it done.

The Cowboys have added Frank Pollack as their assistant offensive line coach, which is seen as a way to allow Callahan, who carried the offensive coordinator title in 2012, to coach the whole offense.

Cowboys could look for practice partner

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
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INDIANAPOLIS – If the Cowboys want to continue to practice against another team in training camp while in California, they might need to find a different opponent.

Last year the Cowboys practiced against San Diego after playing against the Chargers in the preseason, but Norv Turner was fired at season’s end and replaced by Mike McCoy. Jason Garrett’s relationship with Turner played a big part in the teams working together.

McCoy and Garrett have not talked about possibly practicing against each other.

“We’ll see,” McCoy said. “Right now we don’t have plans to do that. We’ve got our training camp schedule set up, but if something comes up down the road we’ll look at it and see if it might be best for our football team. We’re not going to close any doors right now.”

The Cowboys will hold training camp in Oxnard, Calif., for the second straight summer. In the past they have tailored their preseason schedule to open with two road games in order to maximize their time in good weather.

The preseason schedule normally gets set during the owners’ meetings in March.

Cowboys sign two linemen

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
3:39
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The Dallas Cowboys signed guard Charlie Bryant and defensive tackle Nick Hayden to their reserve/future list on Monday.

Bryant (6-8, 320 pounds) was waived by the San Diego Chargers before the start of the 2012 season.

Hayden is a 2008 sixth-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. Last year, Hayden (6-4, 292) was on the Cincinnati Bengals roster and reached an injury settlement with the team on Aug. 31.

So what's next for the Cowboys' coaches

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
6:38
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The Cowboys finalized the hiring of Rod Marinelli as defensive line coach Friday, beginning a trickle-down effect for the rest of the defensive coaching staff.

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With Marinelli on board to coach the defensive line, Brian Baker's time with the Cowboys appears to be over.

The defensive coaching staff will have some familiar faces in 2013, with Jerome Henderson (secondary) and Matt Eberflus (linebackers) returning to the coaching staff. If Rob Ryan becomes the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, it will be interesting to see if he tries to hire Eberflus. But the Cowboys might block any potential move by Eberflus.

The offensive coaching staff still needs some work. Skip Peete, the Cowboys' former running backs coach, has been hired in Chicago, and the Cowboys have yet to hire a replacement.

Former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt interviewed with the Cowboys this week for an offensive position, maybe the running backs job or possibly the tight ends gig. Tim Spencer, who was released of his duties in Chicago this week, is a possibility. Anthony Lynn, a former Cowboys coach now with the New York Jets, has one year remaining on his contract. The Cowboys have tried to hire Lynn in the past, but the Jets have not allowed them to interview him.

John Garrett is still employed at Valley Ranch as the tight ends coach, but he applied for a head coaching job at Delaware and didn't get an interview. Dave Brock, an assistant coach at Rutgers, took the job Friday.

There are rumors Garrett might not return in 2013. If Garrett leaves, there's a chance Mike Tice, the former offensive coordinator in Chicago, could take the position.

The Cowboys also need to hire a special teams coach to replace Joe DeCamillis, who took that position in Chicago and was also named assistant head coach.

Steve Hoffman, a former Cowboys kicking coach, is free after his time in Kansas City ended in 2012. Rich Bisaccia, the San Diego Chargers' special teams coach the last two seasons, who also worked in Tampa Bay when Monte Kiffin was there, could be considered.

Jason Garrett talks about Norv Turner

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Toward the end of a discussion with the team's beat writers, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked about Monday's coaching firings around the NFL.

Norv Turner, whom Garrett played for with the Cowboys back in the 1990s, was fired as the coach of the San Diego Chargers. Turner was a finalist for the Cowboys' job in 2007 before Jerry Jones decided on Wade Phillips. Garrett interviewed with Jones to become an offensive coach before Phillips was hired.

Turner and Garrett spoke daily before the interview.

With Turner out of the coaching profession for the moment, could he be someone Garrett might want to hire?

"Norv Turner is someone I respect a great deal," Garrett said. "He’s a great football coach, he’s a great friend of mine. But we’re just trying to focus on today here in Dallas."

The NFL is a tough business for a coach. Lovie Smith was fired by the Chicago Bears after a 10-win season. Andy Reid, the longest tenured coach in the NFL, was let go after his Philadelphia Eagles finished last in the NFC East. In total, seven NFL head coaches were fired on the day after the 2012 regular season ended.

"It’s a part of our job unfortunately and it’s a part of this profession," Garrett said. "A lot of those guys are really good football coaches and have done a good job with their programs over the years. It’s part of it. Nobody likes to see it. It affects human beings' lives and their families' lives and their staff’s families’ lives and all of that. We are very empathetic to all of those situations."

Could Norv Turner be OC for Cowboys in '13?

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
9:54
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Ed Werder discusses Norv Turner's future as San Diego's coach and where he might end up (Cowboys?) if he is fired.

Matchup: Vincent Jackson vs. Cowboys secondary

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
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This is why the Cowboys upgraded the secondary in the offseason: For players such as Vincent Jackson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' receiver visits Cowboys Stadium for the home opener with just nine catches for 175 yards and one touchdown through two games. But in his only appearance against the Cowboys, Dec. 13, 2009, Jackson put on a show as a member of the San Diego Chargers.

He had seven catches for 120 yards. He didn't have any touchdowns, but five of his seven catches were for first downs, and he had two catches of at least 25 yards.

To say Jackson is a big-play threat is an understatement.

Who covers the 6-5, 230 pound receiver? That brings us to why the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr in free agency. Carr is expected to take on the opponent's best receivers, such as Jackson. Carr will press Jackson at the line of scrimmage and try to redirect him from running his routes. Carr has been excellent in man coverage this season but he should expect some safety help, and this is where things could get tricky.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh is nursing a calf injury and is doubtful for Sunday's game. Danny McCray and Barry Church have three starts combined between them in their careers and most likely will be the starters at safety.

The inexperience at the safety spot could hurt the Cowboys on Sunday when it comes to covering Jackson.

In the first two weeks, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan based his blitzes on how the offenses were running their game plans. If the Bucs try to go deep by targeting Jackson -- he was targeted 11 times with the Chargers back in 2009 -- maybe Ryan dials it up with the blitzes again.

The big problem with covering Jackson is it could open the door for another receiver to go off against Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins. So even if the Cowboys take Jackson out, someone else might hurt them.

Stat you probably need to know: Since 2008, Jackson has averaged 18.1 yards per catch, third best in the NFL.

Tony Romo ends camp with TD pass

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
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SAN DIEGO – Tony Romo's frustration level spiked some, literally, during Tuesday’s practice against San Diego when he was sacked on a fourth-down play in the two-minute drill.

Romo slammed the ball to the turf in disgust, upset with a route run by Dwayne Harris.

After practice, Romo and coach Jason Garrett shared a quick word.

“Some of the hiccups that happened today, we had a number of different guys playing, young players in roles they’ve not been in because of the injuries,” Garrett said, “but you’ve just got to fight through. You can’t get bogged down by it. You’ve got to deal with it, address it and move forward. As the leader of this football team, he (Romo) does that very well and he has to continue to do that.”

According to unofficial stats, Romo ended training camp by completing 245 of 371 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills. He was just 17 of 31 on Tuesday but closed out the final two-minute drill with a touchdown pass to Danny Coale in the back of the end zone after the rookie wide receiver snuck by Antoine Cason.

In a game, the play would have been reviewed, but the Chargers' defense was upset at the official with the call. Coale thought he got his foot down as he was being pushed by Cason.

Romo went the final 151 passes of training camp without an interception in team or seven-on-seven drills.

Romo’s backup, Kyle Orton, concluded camp by completing 148 of 221 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills.

Tony Romo: Camp was 'really, really, good'

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
4:37
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SAN DIEGO -- The Cowboys head home Wednesday after spending almost a month in training camp.

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For quarterback Tony Romo, things went well. Check that: really, really good.

"I think in a lot of ways camp is over, (but) we’re going back and we’re going to work," Romo said after Tuesday's practice. "We still got some stuff to get better at but it was a great start to the season with the effort and commitment the guys made. I know we got some guys banged up so we got to get a lot of guys healthy, but we laid the foundation. It was a really, really good camp for the Dallas Cowboys."

The Cowboys (1-1) make their 2012 home debut Saturday against St. Louis at Cowboys Stadium.

Romo will not have his starting wide receivers, center and tight end for that game. Yet, Romo said he was pleased with the intensity level of training camp, especially the last two days as the Cowboys practiced with the San Diego Chargers.

Sometimes with the end of training camp in sight, players tend to relax.

Romo said that wasn't the case.

"Our team doesn't take that approach. We don’t look past the day," he said. "That's one of the best things about this team, they've done a great job of handling adversity and handling just the ability to focus in on the task at hand. If you can do that, it's mental toughness. We say it all the time. I think mental toughness is being your best regardless of the circumstance, and that’s what our approach is out here."

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