Dallas Cowboys: Will Allen

Jerry Jones: Defense can't be worse

June, 18, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones is the eternal optimist, as we all know.

The Dallas Cowboys defense will be without DeMarcus Ware (offseason release), Jason Hatcher (free-agent defection) and Sean Lee (torn anterior cruciate ligament), but the owner and general manager sees a defense that will be better in 2014 than it was in 2013 when it finished last in the league in yards allowed.

Jones
Jones
Why?

"Because we were so bad last year, there's no place but up," Jones said.

So there is that. The Cowboys made modest moves in free agency with the signings of Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain and Amobi Okoye. They re-signed Anthony Spencer, who is not likely to be ready to start training camp as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery. They drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round.

Mostly they are hoping for serious improvement from within.

The Cowboys finished 19th overall in defense in 2012. Injuries ravaged the defense by the end of the season, but that did not save Rob Ryan's job.

Last year the Cowboys made a scheme change, switching from the 3-4 under Ryan to the 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin. They did not make serious personnel additions (Will Allen, Justin Durant) and were hoping not only for improvement from within but scheme flexibility from players drafted to play in Bill Parcells' or Wade Phillips' 3-4.

It seemed as if the Cowboys thought 2013 would be better because it could not be worse than it was at the end of 2012, but Jones disagreed with the assessment.

"I can say it this year, we are better right now," Jones said. "And I think better on the field. We're certainly better on paper than we were at the end of the season last year. Not on paper at the beginning of the season last year, but on paper right now relative to how we ended up last year."

Five Wonders: Durant a starter or gone?

June, 10, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys holding their final open-to-the-media organized team activity today at Valley Ranch, what better time than now to bring back Five Wonders?

[+] EnlargeJustin Durant
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezThe Cowboys could use Justin Durant to fill in for Sean Lee or look to go younger at the position.
I believe Justin Durant will be the opening day starter at middle linebacker with Sean Lee out for the year. He has the most experience. He was OK in his spot work there last year before getting hurt himself. But let's say things don't go well for him in training camp and the preseason and he outplayed by DeVonte Holloman or Anthony Hitchens. I wonder if it would be worth it to keep him around. If he is cut (or traded) then the move would save $1.25 million against the cap. Every little bit of room helps. I know what you're saying. The Cowboys can't entrust the position to two players with little to no experience. Well, why not? They did it last year when they cut safety Will Allen and named J.J. Wilcox the starter. Wilcox almost immediately got hurt and that put undrafted rookie Jeff Heath in the starting lineup. Was cutting Allen a mistake last year? Perhaps it was, but he did not play that well and he was not a big special teams help. It would be a risky move, but Durant will not be around in 2015. Is it better to get Holloman or Hitchens the work with the future in mind? The coaches who are fighting for their jobs might think otherwise, but it's something to ponder.

• One of the biggest benefits of practicing against a team in training camp is to break up the monotony. You hear players all the time say they just enjoy seeing another color jersey on the practice field. So that's what the Cowboys will get when they work against the Oakland Raiders, as expected, in Oxnard, Caliornia. But I wonder if there is more of a benefit in the player evaluation side of things. In addition to the monotony of camp, players can figure out offensive and defensive tendencies. Players have been known to see the practice scripts over the years, which give them a heads up as to what to expect. When that happens, they'll obviously look better than perhaps they are. With the Raiders bringing in fresh schemes on offense and defense, a corner won't be as familiar with the routes, splits and speed and a receiver and offensive tackle won't know every move he'll see from a defensive end. It will only be two practices, but those sessions figure to be the most hotly contested of the summer and the personnel department will have some fresh tape to see.

• I'll admit I don't know much about Terrell McClain. He did not play very much for the Houston Texans last year. The Cowboys signed him to a modest deal that included a $300,000 signing bonus. But I wonder if McClain will be this year's version of George Selvie. Last summer Selvie had the look of a training camp body with the injuries the Cowboys suffered along the defensive line. He ended up not only making the team but he started every game and had a career-high seven sacks. McClain has been one of the more impressive players in team drills during the OTAs. The line has had a hard time blocking him. He has had to play the three-technique mostly because of Henry Melton's recovery from knee surgery, and has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback and make a tackle or two for a loss. I think he ends up as the starting nose tackle on this defense when Melton is back on the field.

• The Cowboys finally found a home for Kyle Wilber late last season when they were forced to move him to outside linebacker. He started the final six games on the strong side and had 31 of his 42 tackles. He also had two tackles for loss and two quarterback pressures. He has been working with the first team in defense so far this offseason and looks the part. But last week's OTA offered up another opportunity for Wilber that I had not previously expected. Perhaps it was due to a shortage of defensive ends because a number of them were sitting out the team drills, but Wilber moved to defensive end in two-minute drills. I wonder if he can play a split role the way the New York Giants use Mathias Kiwanuka. He played linebacker in his career and would put his hand on the ground in pass-rushing situations. I'm not saying Wilber will be Kiwanuka, whom I believe has been a little underrated, but Wilber can add to his versatility by showing the ability to play both spots.

• What would a Wonders be without checking in on a contract situation? I wonder if the Cowboys should look at extending the offers to receivers Dwayne Harris and/or Cole Beasley this summer. What? Hear me out. Both players are expected to be restricted free agents after this season. The bottom tender offer for a restricted free agent this year was about $1.4 million. The Cowboys thought that was too high of a price for Phillip Tanner and chose not to tender an offer to the running back this year. That number will go about in 2015 when the team will have to make decisions on Harris and Beasley. I do believe it will be easier to justify putting the tender on Harris because he is a valuable special teamer in the return and coverage games. Beasley is a punt returner, but not nearly as effective as Harris. But Beasley will have a role in this offense because of his work in the slot. It should be noted that he is only running routes in the slot during the offseason, so with that comes some limitation on what he would be paid in the future. Can the Cowboys figure out a way to give Beasley a little bump in pay this year, a good base salary in 2015, but less than the projected RFA tender and buy out his unrestricted free agency year? It sure would seem possible and it would guarantee Beasley a job in the future with a quarterback that really believes in him in Tony Romo.

Reviewing Cowboys' free agency: 2013

April, 18, 2014
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With free agency entering the final stages, we'll review the Dallas Cowboys' past five free-agency classes.

We end the series with a look at 2013.

Players signed: Will Allen and Justin Durant

Starts earned: Eight

Analysis: Allen was signed as a veteran to improve the free safety position. The Cowboys had some younger players at those spots and Allen was supposed to bridge the gap. Yet, Allen started just two games and the team went with rookie J.J. Wilcox as the new starter. Allen was released in October and found a home with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Allen, the Cowboys still couldn't find consistency in the free safety spot with Jeff Heath or Wilcox and they enter the 2014 season with uncertainty. Durant was also signed as a veteran linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. Durant started the season off strong with 13 tackles in the first three weeks of the season, but a groin injury suffered at San Diego cost him a game. Later, he injured a hamstring and was placed on injured reserve with two weeks to play in the regular season. Durant's replacement, much like the free safety position, involved a number of players.

Grade: C

Free-agency primer: Cowboys

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer, Brian Waters, Danny McCray, Ernie Sims, Jarius Wynn

Where they stand: After finishing with the worst-ranked defense in the NFL in 2013, the Cowboys need help everywhere, but mostly on the defensive line. The need could be even greater if the Cowboys are unable to come up with a new deal for DeMarcus Ware, who is set to make $12.25 million in 2014 and count $16.003 million against the cap. Coming off an 11-sack season, Hatcher is likely to command more money from another team that will make it unlikely for the Cowboys to match, but they will not close the door on keeping him. Spencer is rehabbing from knee surgery and could be had on a short-term deal that will not involve a lot of money. The rest of their free agents are more fill-in types who will be allowed to test the market if not allowed to leave altogether.

What to expect: Not much. Last year the Cowboys added safety Will Allen and linebacker Justin Durant in free agency on short-term, low-money deals. The approach will be more that way than setting the market on a player as they did in 2012 for cornerback Brandon Carr (five years, $50 million). Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys can be "efficient" spenders in free agency. The Cowboys will have to create space under the cap to sign players to modest deals. The best bet is for them to look for low-cost help on players on the line looking to rebound from down years or injuries. They also could look at safety, though Jerry Jones said at the NFL scouting combine that they liked their young safeties such as J.J. Wilcox. Whatever money the Cowboys do have is more likely to be set aside for Tyron Smith and/or Dez Bryant.

Cap space won't create enough room

March, 4, 2014
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The Dallas Cowboys will get under the $133 million salary cap by March 11 -- which isn't a big deal because every NFL team gets under the cap.

The restructured contracts of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick and releasing a few other players allows that to happen.

But don't get too excited.

The Cowboys won't have enough money to snag a major free agent or retain one of their own with the space that's left. The Cowboys will have $11.8 million in dead money to deal with in 2014 in addition to trying to upgrade the talent base through the draft, potential new contracts for Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith and the ability to maintain space to sign free agents during the season are the major reasons.

Last season, the Cowboys didn't have a lot of money to sign a high-priced free agent. The team signed mid-level players such as Justin Durant and Will Allen in free agency only to release Allen two months into the season, and Durant dealt with injuries for a bulk of the season until being placed on injured reserve.

This year the Cowboys' biggest free agent need is the defensive line, but it appears the draft will solve those needs. However, Jason Hatcher, the defensive tackle, becomes a free agent and the team won't franchise him at $9.6 million. Hatcher will test the market and he said at the end of the season he wanted to sign with the highest bidder.

That won't be the Cowboys.

Yet, the Cowboys can get an additional $5.5 million in savings if they release wide receiver Miles Austin and designate him a post-June 1 cut. But the Cowboys won't receive that savings until after June 1.

So while it's good the Cowboys will get under the cap and get space, becoming a player in free agency, major free agency, isn't happening.

Age not a factor for Cowboys

February, 4, 2014
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Dallas CowboysAP Photo/Tim SharpThe Cowboys have a good core of veterans such as Jason Witten, Tony Romo and Doug Free, but they lack quality backups.


After a third consecutive 8-8 season, you have to say age isn't a factor with the Dallas Cowboys.

The average age for the Cowboys in 2013 was 26.1, and that two veterans who didn't finish the season in Will Allen (31) and Brian Waters (36). In 2012, the Cowboys' average age was 25.9.

Coaching and a lack of quality depth hurt the Cowboys in most cases the last two seasons. You can blame Tony Romo's late interception against Washington in the 2012 regular-season finale or Kyle Orton's pick in the 2013 finale against Philadelphia as other issues.

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Whose health is most key to the Cowboys' success?

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    59%
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    6%
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    27%
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    7%
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    1%

Discuss (Total votes: 8,610)

But don't say the Cowboys were an old team.

If anything, the Cowboys should rebuild around some young pieces which include Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Dan Bailey and Barry Church.

Core veterans in their 30s such as Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, and other quality vets in their late 20s like Brandon Carr and Doug Free, are worth keeping around.

Finding quality backups is the key for 2014. When you have guys such as Corvey Irvin, Frank Kearse, Jarius Wynn and Everette Brown as backups along the defensive line, it doesn't bode well for success.

The Cowboys have to fix their issues with finding undrafted players who can't play consistently, which was the case with safety Jeff Heath, at key backup positions.

Drafting quality players in the middle rounds should also help the Cowboys. It was something Todd Archer pointed out but the reality is age isn't and shouldn't be a factor for this team.

You can worry about Romo and his age -- 34 when 2014 regular season starts -- and health, recovering from back surgery, but the quarterback has young players to help him move the offense.

Coaching is a problem at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys currently have three -- head coach Jason Garrett, offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and new play caller Scott Linehan -- who have been head coaches and play callers.

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Team officials will say no.

But can these coaches, offense and defense, get the young core of this team to the next level?

If they can't, the numbers of not reaching the postseason will move to five years and counting.

Cowboys snap counts: defense

January, 6, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- No team in the NFL needed more players on defense than the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

They had 41 defenders with cornerback Brandon Carr playing the most (1,116 snaps) and Dez Bryant playing the least (three). The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints had the second most with 32 players on defense.

In training camp, the Cowboys’ projected defensive line was Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Jeremiah Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware. Hatcher played the most snaps (747) but that was only 66 percent of the snaps. Ware missed three games and played 628 snaps (55 percent). Spencer played 34 snaps in one game before his season ended. Ratliff, of course, played none before his release.

Nick Hayden played the most snaps on the defensive line (821). George Selvie did not join the team until training camp began and played 744 snaps.

With Hatcher and Spencer set to be free agents and Ware coming off a career-low six sacks, the Cowboys need to refurbish their defensive line in a way where Hayden and Selvie are not playing as much.

The Cowboys used 20 defensive linemen during the season, although Kyle Wilber moved to linebacker late in the season and played 501 snaps.

It might not have seemed this way, but Jeff Heath played only 79 more snaps than J.J. Wilcox.

Defensive snaps:

1,116 – Brandon Carr
1,088 – Orlando Scandrick
1,015 – Barry Church
874 – Bruce Carter
821 - Nick Hayden
747 – Jason Hatcher
744 – George Selvie
702 – Sean Lee
628 - DeMarcus Ware
594 - Jeff Heath
515 - J.J. Wilcox
506 – Morris Claiborne
501 – Kyle Wilber
380 – Ernie Sims
275 – Jarius Wynn
254 - Drake Nevis
207 – DeVonte Holloman
197 – Justin Durant
178 – B.W. Webb
163 – Will Allen
153 – Everette Brown
144 – Caesar Rayford
117 – Corvey Irvin
81 – Sterling Moore
72 - Edgar Jones
63 – Cameron Lawrence
49 – David Carter
46 – Jason Vega
45 – Jerome Long
38 – Landon Cohen
34 – Anthony Spencer
34 – Frank Kearse
24 – Kyle Bosworth
22 – Micah Pellerin
20 – Everett Dawkins
20 – Martez Wilson
16 – Jakar Hamilton
15 – Marvin Austin
8 – Danny McCray
6 – Orie Lemon
3 – Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys penalty breakdown

January, 1, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys had 102 accepted penalties in 2013, which were the fewest they have had in the Jason Garrett Era, but the 867 yards were the most.

In 2011 the Cowboys were flagged 112 times for 802 yards. In 2012, they had 118 penalties for 853 yards.

In Sunday’s NFC East title game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, they were penalized once for 5 yards and it never should have been a penalty. The officials did not restart the playclock and the Cowboys were called for a delay of game.

Here’s the breakdown (includes declined, offsetting penalties):

Offensive holding - 24
False start – 17
Defensive holding – 12
Offside – 9
Defensive pass interference – 8
Neutral zone infraction – 7
Unnecessary roughness – 6
Offensive pass interference – 6
Illegal use of hands – 5
Face mask – 4
Illegal block above the waist – 4
Delay of game – 4
Roughing the passer – 3
Unsportsmanlike conduct – 3
Intentional grounding – 1
12-men on the field – 1
Encroachment – 1
Horse-collar tackle – 1
Illegal contact – 1
Offside, free kick – 1
Illegal formation – 1
Illegal shift – 1
Personal foul – 1

Player by player:

8 – Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Ronald Leary, Doug Free

7 – Tyron Smith

6 – Morris Claiborne, George Selvie

5 – Dez Bryant, Barry Church

4 – Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Kyle Wilber

3 – Cameron Lawrence, Travis Frederick, Jarius Wynn, Bruce Carter, DeMarcus Ware

2 – Ernie Sims, Jason Hatcher, J.J. Wilcox, James Hanna, Dwayne Harris, Jason Vega, DeMarco Murray, Nick Hayden

1 – Sean Lee, Miles Austin, Will Allen, Mackenzy Bernadeau, L.P. Ladouceur, Jermey Parnell, Brian Waters, Terrance Williams, Kyle Bosworth, B.W. Webb, Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Kyle Orton, Caesar Rayford

Ex-teammates respond to Allen's take

November, 20, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- Will Allen said the Dallas Cowboys have a "very micromanaged atmosphere." Ex-coach Jimmy Johnson has said the Cowboys have a "country club atmosphere," in the past.

Witten
"Yeah, we can't do much right around here, I guess," tight end Jason Witten deadpanned. "You'd rather have it that way than country club."

Witten and cornerback Orlando Scandrick said they liked Allen as a teammate and respected his work ethic, but neither knew what the micromanage comment really meant.

"I think it's a pretty good group, coaches and players. I mean, guys work together and believe in each other, believe in the staff," Witten said. "There is a respect there. We want to win for them. They want to win for us. It's coaches and players, and players and players. It's a great group of guys that go out and work their tail off every day. It's the kind of locker room I've been around. I don't think there are micromanagers. There is always the pressure to go perform and that's in 31 other locker rooms as well. It's part of playing in pro football."

Scandrick said Allen is entitled to the opinion. What is Scandrick's opinion?

"I'm not going to get into it, man," he said. "We need to win football games, it is what it is. If it's micromanaging, we're 5-5. It's not good enough, so whatever we're doing whether we are micromanaging or not micromanaging it's not good enough and we need to figure out a way to win football games around here."

Cowboys hope for another takeaway feast

November, 20, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- Only three teams have more takeaways than the Dallas Cowboys this season. The Seattle Seahawks have 26, the Kansas City Chiefs have 24 and the Carolina Panthers have 23.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Carr, Eli Manning
AP Photo/James D. SmithBrandon Carr was responsible for the game-clinching interception in the Cowboys' opener against the Giants, who turned the ball over six times.
In the midst of a horrible statistical season defensively, the Cowboys have forced 22 turnovers in their first 10 games.

The Cowboys got it all started the right way in their season opener against the New York Giants with six.

The Cowboys had three takeaways on the Giants’ first 10 snaps. DeMarcus Ware had an interception of Eli Manning on the first play. Barry Church forced a fumble on the sixth play and Will Allen intercepted Manning on the 10th.

On the second play of the second half, Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. Later the Cowboys scooped up a muffed punt, and in the fourth quarter Brandon Carr iced the win with a 49-yard interception return for a score.

It was the 24th time the Cowboys forced six or more turnovers in a game in team history and the first time they had as many as six since Dec. 14, 2003, against the Washington Redskins.

Manning threw 15 interceptions in New York’s first six games -- all losses -- and he has been intercepted just twice since. He has only three touchdown passes in the Giants’ four-game winning streak.

The Cowboys get to see Manning again Sunday at MetLife Stadium for the rematch. Is it fair to expect a similar turnover game? Probably not.

"You always feel confident," coach Jason Garrett said. "That’s always a point of emphasis for us, to take the ball away. Just because we did it before that doesn’t give us an advantage of doing it now. You have to go out there and do the things necessary to get the takeaways. Typically it has a lot to do with executing and beating your guy and making plays on the football."

Some of the Giants look at the season-opening loss to the Cowboys as one they let slip away, despite the six turnovers. The Cowboys felt the same in the first regular-season game at AT&T Stadium in 2009. Tony Romo was intercepted three times and Felix Jones had a fumble, but with 3:46 to play they had a 31-30 lead and the defense could not make a stop.

Lawrence Tynes kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play to beat the Cowboys, 33-31.

'Not fun for anybody' or country club?

November, 20, 2013
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If Will Allen is right, that means Jimmy Johnson was wrong.

Allen’s description of the problems that plague the Dallas Cowboys completely contradict Johnson’s criticism of a country club atmosphere at Valley Ranch. Heck, Johnson might consider Allen’s issues with the Cowboys to be a sign of progress.

During a Tuesday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Allen used phrases such as “very micromanaged atmosphere” and “very tight” and cited a lack of “the relationship and the bonding between players and coaches” for creating a vibe at Valley Ranch that’s “not fun for anybody.” He was talking about the 2013 Cowboys, the team that employed him for the first four weeks of the season, but all those phrases would have fit Jimmy’s 1991 team, too.

Johnson, who ripped the Cowboys in recent years for coddling players, would probably be proud to hear Jason Garrett described as tough and combative. Maybe the former third-string quarterback wasn't just taking notes for no reason while picking Jimmy’s brain, when all the two-time Super Bowl championship coach really wanted to do was drink beer and catch a few fish during those recent visits in Florida.

Garrett needs results to justify keeping his job, but he at least deserves credit for creating a culture of accountability at Valley Ranch, which requires a head coach who is willing to make difficult decisions. Allen was a victim of that, getting cut because he was viewed as a progress stopper for young safeties J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath.

It’s fair to question whether the Cowboys would have been better off keeping Allen after watching Heath, an undrafted rookie, end up on the highlight reels of Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees when filling in for an injured Wilcox the past few games. Maybe the 10-year veteran’s calming presence in the locker room could have had some value as the defense faced adversity, which is a polite way of saying “stunk up the joint.”

But it’s misguided to point to the lack of warm fuzzies from the coaching staff as the reason for the Cowboys’ extended run of mediocrity. What about Wade Phillips’ back-patting tenure?

Johnson’s comparison to a country club aimed higher than the coaching staff. That was an indirect shot at Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner/general manager/enabler. Garrett would never put it this way, but he’s gone to great lengths to change a dysfunctional culture, created in large part by Jones.

Really, though, the Cowboys’ biggest problems aren't about the coaches’ micromanaging or coddling players. This team simply isn't as talented as the stars at the top of the roster -- and those on the iconic helmets -- tend to make people believe.

That’s an issue that falls at the feet of the general manager with the most job security in the NFL, the man who couldn't coexist with a coach coming off back-to-back Super Bowl championships. You can't credibly discuss why there hasn't been a lot of fun at Valley Ranch for quite some time without blaming the boss.

Rookie report: J.J. Wilcox

November, 13, 2013
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With the Dallas Cowboys off this week at the bye week, we take a look at how the Cowboys' draft picks have fared.

J.J. Wilcox

Pick: Third round (No. 80 overall)

What he’s done: He was promoted to the starting strong safety role in Week 3 against the St. Louis Rams and held it until a knee injury against the Philadelphia Eagles. The hope is that he can return Nov. 24 against the New York Giants. He has 28 tackles and a pass breakup in his seven games of action to go with three special teams tackles.

Season outlook: From the first day of rookie mini-camp to the early stages of training camp and preseason, Wilcox showed the ability to make plays. The smaller the field the better, but the coaches learned to trust him even after an absence over the summer due to the death of his mother. The Cowboys were willing to part ways with veteran Will Allen because they believed Wilcox was ready.

Missing three games with a knee injury will not help, but the Cowboys need Wilcox to be something of a difference maker considering what has happened in the secondary so far. He had an interception vs. Philadelphia wiped out because of a penalty. He has been mostly playing in coverage with Barry Church handling the in-the-box duties. He has been safe in his decisions but seems more comfortable when the quarters are tight in the red zone to where he can read and react better.

Penalty breakdown: Three in lead with six

November, 13, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – When compared to recent years, the Dallas Cowboys have done a fairly good job of staying away from penalties. Still, they remain on pace for 107 on the season. While that is high, it would be their fewest in a season since 2007.

Through 10 games the Cowboys have been penalized 81 times, with 67 penalties accepted. Orlando Scandrick, Ronald Leary and Tyron Smith lead the Cowboys with six penalties apiece.

Scandrick has had three defensive-holding penalties, two pass-interference penalties and a face-mask penalty. Leary has had three holding penalties, two false starts and one flag for illegal use of hands. Smith has had three holding penalties, two false starts and an illegal-formation penalty.

Here’s the breakdown for the rest of the team:

5: Morris Claiborne, Doug Free
4: Dez Bryant, Barry Church, Brandon Carr
3: Kyle Wilber, Jason Witten
2: Ernie Sims, Tony Romo, Travis Frederick, James Hanna, Dwayne Harris, George Selvie, Bruce Carter, Jason Vega, Nick Hayden, team/bench
1: Sean Lee, Jason Hatcher, Cameron Lawrence, Will Allen, Mackenzy Bernadeau, L.P. LaDouceur, Jermey Parnell, Brian Waters, Terrance Williams, Kyle Bosworth, DeMarco Murray, Cole Beasley, DeMarcus Ware, J.J. Wilcox, Caesar Rayford

Cowboys call up LB Cameron Lawrence

October, 11, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys cut safety Will Allen on Tuesday they challenged members of the practice squad to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with their work in practice.

Linebacker Cameron Lawrence won the challenge.

Lawrence was signed to the active roster after Friday’s practice and will be active for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“Hopefully I’ll be on kickoff return or kickoff, so I’ll actually be starting the game,” Lawrence said. "That’s when the intensity is high and that’s always when the stadium is loudest, too. I’ve been out there not even in pads on practice squad and chill bumps just run down my spine just itching, wishing to get out on the field. Finally got that opportunity.”

Lawrence was among the Cowboys’ final cuts in training camp and has spent the first five weeks on the practice squad. He was second on the team with 16 preseason tackles and also had a tackle for loss, quarterback pressure and pass deflection.

With injuries to Edgar Jones (groin), Lawrence will fill an immediate special-teams role. Linebacker Justin Durant has been slowed by a groin injury but practiced on Friday.

“We may be a little thin at linebacker but definitely special teams, that’s where they want me to contribute,” Lawrence said, “and I’m going to do that.”

Jakar Hamilton ready for a call up

October, 11, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a roster spot open with the Tuesday release of veteran safety Will Allen.

If they want to go position for position with the swap, then rookie Jakar Hamilton would be the obvious choice to be called up from the practice squad. Hamilton has not been told he will get the call up to the 53-man roster, but there has been a hint it will come.

“I’ve been getting reps in with the regular team on special teams, so I’m guessing it looks that way,” Hamilton said.

With injuries on the defensive line -- Edgar Jones (groin) and Jason Hatcher (stinger) -- and at linebacker -- Justin Durant (groin) -- the Cowboys could go elsewhere to fill the vacancy.

The move has to be made by 3 p.m. Saturday in order for the player to be eligible for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“I’m super ready, more than ever ready,” Hamilton said. “I think me coming to practice every day on the practice squad has made me work harder each and every day to get better with the reps I get.”

Following the Cowboys’ Sept. 22 win against the St. Louis Rams Hamilton was named the scout team player of the week.

“When they call my name, ‘Jakar, we need you to play this on kickoff, play this on punt return, kickoff return, on offense, on defense,’ I’m pretty much doing it all,” Hamilton said. “I’m working to show the coaches I can do this on the field as well.”

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