Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Beast takes field trip to Valley Ranch
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- With the Cowboys preparing for their preseason finale in Minneapolis on Friday, I made the trip to Valley Ranch today to catch up with several players. For starters, it looks like second-year tight end Martellus Bennett and second-year cornerback Orlando Scandrick will be the two best quotes on the roster in '09. Bennett held court on one end of the locker room and Scandrick imparted college football wisdom on the other. Now, please enjoy this week's edition of Things I Learned While Standing Around The Cowboys Locker Room On A Wednesday:
- When a reporter (not this one) asked Bennett about a recent Wall Street Journal report that ranked the top-10 "best-looking" quarterbacks, here's what he had to say: "I'm the sexiest man in the NFL," said Bennett before explaining that more than 20,000 voters had agreed with him on a Web site (his own) poll. Bennett then talked for several minutes about his nickname for the Cowboys' much-praised two-tight end formation. One local columnist has named it the "double dynamite" formation, but Bennett said he thought that nickname was "wack!" Despite protests from Jason Witten, Bennett wants fans to refer to the Cowboys' top two tight ends as "Beans and Rice." Told that Witten had vetoed the idea, Bennett responded, "This is an anarchy." That's when I left the conversation in search of wide receiver Miles Austin.
- I talked to Austin for a column I'm writing for Thursday regarding how the Cowboys suddenly have the most boring/stable locker room in the NFC East. But we also talked about the fact that Austin has emerged as perhaps the best blocking wide receiver on the roster. He said he watches players such as Hines Ward, but for the most part, he says blocking is all about effort. "I was more of a hitter than a blocker in college," Austin said, referring to his time at Monmouth (N.J) University. "But it's become part of our job at this level. If I block for our running backs, then they'll be more likely to block for me when I'm going deep. But it's 100 percent about effort. You don't necessarily need a lot of skill to be able to block." He then pointed to public relations specialist Jancey Briles and said that he could teach her how to be a successful blocker in the NFL. In regard to my upcoming column, Austin said it was a great feeling to not see his team on "SportsCenter" every time he flipped it on. You can read more about that tomorrow.
- I had a long visit with fourth-round pick Stephen McGee about his frustration with having a right knee injury. If he'd been healthy, McGee could've had an opportunity to play the majority of the game against the Vikings on Friday. But he's not worried about making the final roster. He believes that he's impressed his coaches (and other teams) to the point where the Cowboys won't try to sneak him onto the practice squad. So what's the best thing he's learned from Romo? "It's his movement in the pocket," McGee said of Romo. "It's his ability to extend a play and still find guys open down the field. You can go through seven-0n-seven drills and stuff like that, but that's not how football is played. It's hard to find any rhythm when you get two plays every 15 minutes, but I've done the best with the opportunities I have."
- Scandrick is convinced that he's going to become an All-Pro cornerback in this league, and I'm starting to believe him. He already believes he's the best cornerback on the roster and he brings that type of swagger and confidence to the field. It's amazing that Wade Phillips is choosing to start Mike Jenkins over Scandrick. Something tells me that's an order coming from the general manager/owner's office. Jerry Jones has a lot more invested in Jenkins than in Scandrick. But at this rate, Scandrick will one day be a very wealthy man.
- Here's a full report on what quarterback Tony Romo had to say at Valley Ranch on Wednesday. He talked about his goal to reduce his turnovers this season: "I think every quarterback in the league should be looking at themselves from that same perspective and trying to figure out a way to minimize mistakes and turnovers," Romo said. "Believe me, there's not one quarterback in the league who hasn't done something, turnover-wise, that they can get away with saying oh, 'I'll never do that again.' Everyone has things that they're going to work on to try to improve upon. There's no set numbers. Sometimes things happen for different reasons in a certain play. You just have to understand what went through your mind and why you're doing certain things and what can you make and turn into something that can be second nature to you instead of having to think. That's where practice comes into play."
Translation: Romo's not going to stop taking shots, but he'll try to be a little more careful. I'll be back with some Eagles thoughts in a moment.