Dallas Cowboys: Vince Agnew

Cowboys take chance on Brian Price

December, 31, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have signed 10 players to futures contracts, including former second-round pick Brian Price, who was out of football this year.

Price, a defensive tackle, was the 35th overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2010 but his career has been stalled by injury and misfortune. He needed radical pelvis surgeries after his rookie year to keep his hamstrings attached to his pelvis. His sister died last spring in a car accident, and he also reportedly had an incident with Mark Barron in a meeting room.

He started 14 games in 2011 and had three sacks. He was traded to Chicago last summer but was among the Bears’ final cuts and did not sign with another team during the year.

Price is an intriguing signing because he is still young and the Cowboys have defensive line issues going forward with Jay Ratliff’s health and Josh Brent’s intoxication manslaughter charge.

The Cowboys also signed practice squad players cornerback Vince Agnew, wide receiver Tim Benford, defensive end Ike Igbinosun, cornerback Micah Pellerin, linebacker Brashton Satele, tight end Andre Smith and linebacker Monte Taylor to future deals. Wide receiver Danny Coale, a fifth-round pick this year, was also re-signed. He is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The Cowboys also signed quarterback Nick Stephens, a Flower Mound native. He started his career at Tennessee before transferring to Tarleton State.

The only practice squad player not to re-sign yet is wide receiver Andre Holmes

Cowboys claim CB Michael Coe

December, 11, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys claimed cornerback Michael Coe off waivers from Miami to get a more veteran backup and waived Vince Agnew.

Coe played in one game with Miami before his release and in seven games with the New York Giants. Coe has played in 35 games with 19 tackles, four pass deflections and two fumble recoveries with the Giants, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Miami.

Agnew played in four games after he was called up from the practice squad.

The Cowboys have also re-tooled their practice squad, adding tight end Andre Smith, defensive lineman Robert Rose, linebacker Brashton Satele and cornerback Micah Pellerin. The Cowboys released cornerback Reggie Jones and tight end Chase Ford from the practice squad.

Satele spent part of the offseason with the Cowboys before his release in May.

Pondering the 46: All six WRs active?

December, 7, 2012
IRVING, Texas – In configuring Sunday’s 46-man roster at Cincinnati, coach Jason Garrett will have to take into account injury and scheme.

Can the Cowboys have all six wide receivers active? Can they have all five running backs active? How about all of the healthy defensive backs?

From the looks of it in practice this week Jay Ratliff will not play, and Orlando Scandrick and Charlie Peprah are out. New tackle Darrion Weems will also be inactive because he doesn’t know what’s going on yet. Nate Livings has a knee injury that could keep him out, which could mean the Cowboys go with eight offensive linemen again with Kevin Kowalski and David Arkin manning the final spot.

Cornerback Vince Agnew hasn’t earned the trust to play that much yet, but Sterling Moore, who joined the team a week ago, has. Can the Cowboys only carry four cornerbacks? Linebacker Brady Poppinga wasn’t active last week but he could be called up this week, especially for a special teams’ role.

Can you take up 13 percent of the roster with six receivers? It’s difficult, but Anthony Armstrong can help in the return game and cover some kicks. You don’t get coverage help from Kevin Ogletree or Cole Beasley, so maybe one of them could be down this week.

Here’s the guess on the inactives: Scandrick, Ratliff, Weems, Agnew, Arkin, Peprah and Livings or Kowalski depending on Livings’ health.

Vince Agnew ready to play in the slot

November, 28, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- With Orlando Scandrick most likely out for the rest of the regular season after surgery to his hand, Vince Agnew will take over for the Cowboys as the slot cornerback.

Brandon Carr and Mike Jenkins could also see time at the position, but Agnew has some experience too. He played the slot for two seasons at Central Michigan, where in 47 games he made 161 tackles and had 14 pass breakups.

When Agnew was on the Miami Dolphins practice squad last year, he saw time in the nickel defense.

"Your lateral quickness is definitely key, and your recognition has to be a lot different than playing (outside) corner," Agnew said on playing slot corner. "Your route recognition, you have to understand what the weaknesses of the defense are and then understand what the offense is going to try and do to you based on that. The thought process has to be real quick and you have to understand a little bit playing more. Playing corner you have to be more of an athlete and play more."

Pondering the 46: Not enough healthy players

November, 21, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Finding 46 healthy players for Thursday’s game against Washington will be difficult for the Cowboys, which makes the final few roster spots that much more precious.

Left tackle Tyron Smith is slowed by a high left ankle sprain. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff has a groin injury. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones are hurt. Safety Charlie Peprah and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree suffered concussions on Sunday and are iffy. Ryan Cook has a sore knee. Danny McCray is battling a hip injury.

But when pondering the 46-man roster this week it’s all about position numbers. The Cowboys would ideally take seven offensive linemen to the game, but Smith’s injury might force them to take an eighth even if Smith dresses for the game.

If they take an eighth, then they would have to go lighter somewhere else, like receiver, which puts Andre Holmes’ gameday spot in jeopardy. If they take seven linemen, then Holmes would figure to be active.

Jones’ knee injury leaves the Cowboys dangerously thin at running back too. Murray is likely to miss his sixth straight game. Maybe Jones can play and be on a pitch count, but Lance Dunbar could get more carries.

On the defensive line the hope is that Ratliff can play, especially with Sean Lissemore gimpy. The Cowboys don’t want to have to enter the game with only five defensive linemen. If they do, then you could see more of that hybrid 4-3 look with Alex Albright, Dan Connor and Bruce Carter handling the linebacker spots and Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware playing defensive end.

The secondary could be jumbled with McCray’s injury. They do not have many options at safety if he can’t play, but the return of Mike Jenkins from a two-game absence due to a back injury would help move Brandon Carr to safety in passing situations.

So who’s inactive? The guesses are: Murray, Ogletree, David Arkin, Phil Costa, Vince Agnew, Cook and Lissemore

Pondering the 46: Center depth a question

November, 16, 2012
IRVING, Texas – When pondering the 46-man this week, you might have to factor in a move on the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys do not have to make a move on Kevin Kowalski yet, but they could consider adding him to the 53-man roster this week to serve as the backup center with Ryan Cook slowed by a sore knee and Mackenzy Bernadeau possibly making his first start at center.

It’s a lot to ask of Kowalski if they make the move, considering he has had six practices this season as he was slowed by a severe case of ankle tendinitis for the offseason and training camp.

As we ponder the 46-man roster this week, let’s go with the premise that Kowalski will not be called up.

In all likelihood DeMarco Murray will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained foot, but coach Jason Garrett opened the door for a return just a crack. Phil Costa, Matt Johnson and Sean Lissemore will not play.

That leaves three spots. If Cook dresses, then David Arkin will be out. The final defensive back spot comes down to Mike Jenkins and Vince Agnew. If Jenkins is healthy, Agnew is out. Wide receiver Andre Holmes would appear to be the odd man out after he was active last week.

Practice report: Knee forces Ryan Cook to sit

November, 14, 2012

IRVING, Texas – Center Ryan Cook is not practicing Wednesday because of a sore knee, which has caused the Cowboys to reconfigure the offensive line yet again.

Mackenzy Bernadeau is taking the first-team snaps at center and veteran Derrick Dockery is at right guard. Phil Costa has missed the last three games with a dislocated ankle and will need a few more weeks before he can return. Kevin Kowalski is in his second week of practice this season after spending the first nine weeks on the physically unable to perform list.

Running back DeMarco Murray (foot) was on the field in a helmet and cleats, but he will continue his rehab. Cornerback Mike Jenkins will miss his third straight day of practice because of a back injury. He did not play last week at Philadelphia.

As the portion of practice open to the media was closing, linebacker DeMarcus Ware went with a group of players rehabbing. His hands were taped and he was in shells, which is a sign he will practice in some fashion. He was not on the injury report last week.

Defensive end Sean Lissemore (ankle) and safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) also are not practicing.

The Cowboys added two practice squad players in linebacker Jerry Franklin and defensive end Tevita Finau with the recent call-ups of Vince Agnew and Ben Bass.

Look back: Rob Ryan's pressure

November, 14, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Sorry for the delay on this week’s "A Look Back." Maybe we should call it "Better Late than Never" this week as we give a quick review of the Cowboys’ win last week at Philadelphia.

Once again, Rob Ryan relied on a four-man rush most of the time, even as people want to view him as a blitz-happy defensive coordinator. The Cowboys used a four-man rush 29 times against the Eagles, three-man pressure five times and brought five or more eight times.

Did things change drastically after Michael Vick suffered a concussion and was replaced by rookie Nick Foles?

Vick was in on 18 snaps and 10 pass calls. The Cowboys rushed three guys four times against Vick. They brought four-man pressure three times and three times they brought five or more guys. When they brought at least five guys Vick was 0-for-3. His final snap came on a screen in which Dallas brought pressure with Ernie Sims up the middle.

The Cowboys brought five men against Foles five times. DeMarcus Ware hit him on the first blitz, but the second time the Cowboys brought heat it was blocked enough for Foles to slide to his right and find Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard touchdown after a coverage bust by Charlie Peprah.

How did the offense hold up against Philadelphia’s pressure?

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles brought six-man pressure five times and twice the Eagles were able to sack Tony Romo. The Cowboys’ only completion against six-man pressure came on a deep sideline throw to Dez Bryant.

In the second half Bowles used that six-man pressure just once, and it led to a Romo throwaway.

Romo’s two touchdown passes came against four-man pressure. Overall, Romo completed 15-of-20 passes against four-man pressure, but the Cowboys were unable to get the ball down the field often. Romo’s deepest throw against four-man pressure was the 25-yarder to Miles Austin where Austin eluded three defenders and made something out of nothing.

The last time the Cowboys returned a punt for a TD before Sunday was Nov. 21, 2010 against Detroit when Bryan McCann alertly picked up a loose ball and ran 97 yards for the score. Dwayne Harris’ 78-yard return for a score was not a sign of great point-of-attack blocking but a sign of how the return is set up.

Vince Agnew and Orlando Scandrick did a nice job on the gunners to free Harris, though Agnew’s block was close to a penalty. Lance Dunbar and Eric Frampton double-teamed Riley Cooper out of the way as Harris reached the sideline, and Danny McCray took care of Mat McBriar.

That was really it as the other blockers did a nice job of setting up the return before Harris was able to get up to speed.

Can the Cowboys get another return for a touchdown? The last time they had multiple punt returns for a touchdown in a season also came in 2010.

Cowboys call up Ben Bass

November, 13, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- By the time the Cowboys hit the practice field Wednesday, defensive end Ben Bass should be called up from the practice squad to the active roster.
UPDATE (Wed, 10:50 a.m.): Bass has been called up; and Coleman has been put on IR.
Coop and Nate discuss the Cowboys' upcoming schedule and why you cannot assume Dallas will win certain games.

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The Cowboys will place defensive end Kenyon Coleman, who had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn left triceps suffered in Sunday’s win at Philadelphia, on injured reserve.

Bass, a Plano, Texas, native, earned his way to training camp after a solid tryout at the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp following the draft. He started only one game in his senior year at Texas A&M when he finished with 26 tackles, two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

He is the third player the Cowboys have called up from the practice squad this season, joining linebacker Orie Lemon, whose season ended last week because of a hamstring injury, and cornerback Vince Agnew.

5 Wonders: More rest to help DeMarco Murray

November, 13, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- At 4-5, the Cowboys are not out of the hole they dug for themselves earlier in the season, but they at least have a chance to peak their head above ground with a win Sunday against Cleveland.

Randy says you don't have to cheer the Cowboys' Week 10 win, just don't jeer it.

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I wonder if that will spark a second-half run.

I’m also wondering these five things:

** As many wonder if this is the week DeMarco Murray returns from a sprained foot, I wonder if it makes sense to keep the running back out another week. Hear me out before you faint. The Cowboys have two games in five days coming up with Cleveland on Sunday and Washington on Thanksgiving. Murray has missed the last four games (really four and a half since he had only one third-quarter carry Oct. 14 at Baltimore) with a sprained foot. Asking him to play two games in such a short span might not be wise. Why not hold Murray out until the Thanksgiving game against the Redskins and give him 10 days of rest before he plays again? This is a serious injury he had and one that was close to a season-ender. There are no guarantees that he comes back as good as new, but the Cowboys can give him the best opportunity to play in the final six games. I understand you can look at that 10-day break in another way with that allowing him to rest significantly after the Browns and Redskins games. Cleveland has a poor run defense, so I just think the wisest thing to do would be to give Murray another week to get stronger.

** As some of the long-time readers here know, I’ve not been in the camp of moving Jay Ratliff from nose tackle to defensive end in the base defense. I just don’t believe that what makes Ratliff special at nose tackle would translate as well at end. And since Rob Ryan has called Ratliff the best nose tackle in football, I don’t think he wants to move him either. But this injury to Kenyon Coleman presents an intriguing opportunity. Would moving Ratliff to end help him and his sprained left ankle contend better than having to hold up at nose tackle? I wonder if the Cowboys thinking about using Josh Brent at nose tackle full time with Ratliff, whose left foot/ankle has been bothered by high and low sprains and a case of plantar fasciitis, moving outside. If the Cowboys want to get their best players on the field more, which is how they described the move of Brandon Carr to safety in sub packages earlier in the season, then is Brent a better option at nose than a Tyrone Craford, Sean Lissemore or Marcus Spears at defensive end with Coleman out? It might be.

** I wonder what kind of market there will be for Mike Jenkins in the offseason. He did not play against Philadelphia because of back spasms after sitting out of practice last Thursday and Friday. He played one snap at Carolina on Oct. 21. He missed the first game of the season as he continued to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. When Jenkins has played, he has done a good job in the team’s sub packages. His absence against the Eagles was felt even more because of Morris Claiborne’s struggles. Had Jenkins been around, the Cowboys could have used Jenkins to allow the rookie to clear his head in a five-penalty afternoon. They were forced to use Vince Agnew for a handful of plays when Orlando Scandrick went down with what looked like a calf injury. Jenkins’ marketability took a hit when the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr and drafted Claiborne, but he could have been in position to cash in with a solid season as a backup. It’s not that he hasn’t played well. It’s that he hasn’t played enough. He turns 28 in March and I wonder if he is looking at a one-year, make-good offer from a team rather than a larger deal he could have received.

** In the last two games Dwayne Harris has produced punt returns of 37 and 78 yards, with that 78-yarder going for a touchdown against the Eagles. He’s proof that you don’t need to be the fastest guy in the world to be a punt returner. Speed might be more important at kick returner, but I wonder if the Cowboys should give Harris a look there as well. He is not a perfect practice player, according to those around at Valley Ranch, but the game is not too big for him either. He has a feel for when things get real, which is a good trait, but also a frustrating one for coaches who want to see a player perform in practice too. Harris is strong enough to make the first tackler miss and he seems to fall forward all of the time. The kick return game has not been good whether Felix Jones or Lance Dunbar have been the returners. Maybe it’s time to give Harris a shot there, too. And I think he could get in the mix at wide receiver as well. From Jason Garrett’s post-game comments against the Eagles about Harris, you get the sense he wants to see more of the second-year wide receiver.

** I’m still wondering about this for some reason, but is it time to put David Arkin in the bin with other failed offensive line picks of recent years with Robert Brewster, James Marten and Jacob Rogers? Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, has been active for four games this season but yet to see a snap. He was inactive for every game last year. For the first time this season on Sunday, the Cowboys chose to go with guard Mackenzy Bernadeau as the backup center even though he has yet to play a snap there in his career. Arkin was viewed as a project when picked but he struggled this year in camp with his confidence, especially having to play center when Phil Costa and Bill Nagy were lost to injuries. The ability to anchor is the key question. He’s just not strong enough yet. If last year was viewed as a redshirt season, then this season has to be viewed as a lost season because of how little faith the team has shown in him. With Kevin Kowalski practicing now but still on the physically unable to perform list, the Cowboys could use a roster spot. If there is a shred of good news it’s that Arkin is practice squad eligible if the team wants to continue to see his progress.