NFC East: Derrick Dockery

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys have a gaggle of candidates for the interior of the offensive line to choose from.

The team was spurned by guard Brandon Moore on Wednesday morning after he agreed to a deal but then decided to retire.

Thursday morning before leaving for Oakland, the site of Friday's second preseason game, the Cowboys created a roster spot by releasing guard Jeff Olson, who recovered from a concussion.

Among some notable names available on the free-agent market are Deuce Lutui, Bobbie Williams, Cooper Carlisle, Leonard Davis, Reggie Wells, Derrick Dockery, Antoine Caldwell, Jamey Richard, Rex Hadnot and Montrae Holland.

Dockery, Holland and Davis are former Cowboys, but there are also players with ties to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan available for a potential deal. Moore played for Callahan with the New York Jets.

"The way Jason (Garrett) looks at this thing, we sign guys and they come in here and they compete," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "I don’t think anything is necessarily a given at those spots."

What also helps is finding an offensive linemen who is familiar to the zone blocking scheme Callahan uses.

"I don't think this scheme is anymore difficult than any other," Jones said. "The guys that are out there they will adjust and we'll play the guys accordingly."

When the Cowboys play the Raiders on Friday night the starting guards will be Ronald Leary on the left side and Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard with Travis Frederick at center.

Money isn't an issue for the Cowboys because the team has nearly $10 million in salary-cap space. Jones, however, likes to have space available in case the Cowboys need to sign a free agent during the season.

"It's a work in progress. If we see opportunities, we'll look at them," Jones said. "We'll also be patient. We're not going to just push a panic button and say this has to be fixed tomorrow."

Cowboys take a big hit on the O-line

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
8:47
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I will have some more extensive thoughts Monday on the Dallas Cowboys, the toughness they showed in coming back to win a tougher-than-expected game Sunday against the Browns and the fact that they're only one game out of first place with six games to go. But tonight, I wanted to post on the injury to left tackle Tyron Smith, who has a high ankle sprain and could miss a few weeks with it.

This is a significant injury for the Cowboys, who as you know have struggled on the offensive line all year and allowed seven (!) sacks of Tony Romo on Sunday. Never mind that Romo only has three days to rest his battered body before the Thanksgiving Day home game against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys have to prepare to play that game without their best offensive lineman. Smith, the Cowboys' first-round pick from the 2011 draft, struggled early with the transition from right tackle to left tackle, but he has played better in recent weeks. His position is the one offensive line spot about which the Cowboys don't feel they have to worry from week to week. When he left the game Sunday, he was replaced by Jermey Parnell, who's an enthusiastic backup but likely to hurt the offense if he has to see extended playing time.

The Cowboys were already using regular right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau at center and Derrick Dockery at right guard in Sunday's game because they're so banged up at center. And while I haven't yet had the chance to watch the game, my Twitter feed seems convinced that Doug Free had yet another terrible game at right tackle. The Redskins' pass rush hasn't been the most fearsome in the league, but the Cowboys will have to devise some way of keeping the Washington defense off of Romo on Thursday, and Smith's absence would make that a lot more difficult.

At 5-5, the Cowboys are back in the division race. And if they win Thursday and the Giants lose to the Packers next Sunday night, Dallas would be tied for first place in the division. This is not a time at which they can afford to be getting thinner on the offensive line.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does these regular appearances throughout the week on Dallas-area radio stations, and of course everything he says on them is parsed for news value. But sometimes I think it's just as though it's a regular fan calling in to vent, only that fan happens to own the team. Jones' latest stunning revelation is apparently that the offensive line needs to do a better job of blocking:
Jones was direct in saying he wants the line to improve and noted he's adding pressure to the interior of the line, Ryan Cook, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, to produce. Jones mentioned backup guard Derrick Dockery and his size, 6-6, 325 pounds, as someone who can also help.

Jones wasn't calling for Dockery to enter the starting lineup, and he won't when the Cowboys take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but it was clear the owner wants production.

"Our offensive, I'd like to see us more consistent in there," Jones said on KRLD. "We're going to need to be pretty physical, and we can be physical and one thing we got is more size in there and Dockery, we got a player you haven't seen play much. But he's got some big size in there too."

Whatever. If Dockery hasn't been able to beat out Bernadeau for playing time to this point, I don't see what he's doing taking up a roster spot. What Bernadeau has given them this year at right guard has been slightly better than what they might be able to expect if they replaced him with one of those giant inflatable jack-o-lantern balloons you see on everybody's front lawn this time of year. And I also don't understand what kind of pictures Doug Free must have of everybody that he keeps getting exempted from blame. He's been a papier-mache turnstile.

Fact is, if personnel is the problem on the Cowboys' line, then either the players will improve as the year goes along under Bill Callahan or they'll be replaced next year. My guess is that some will improve and some will be replaced, and you know I believe the Cowboys' roster to be a work in progress. I just don't understand how Jones going on the radio and saying the line needs to play better is any different from whoever was on right before him or right after him saying it. What's next week's topic? "It'd be nice if it didn't get so hot in Texas in the summertime?"

Observation deck: Cowboys-Raiders

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
12:01
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Of all the football games I've ever watched, the Dallas Cowboys' 3-0 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night was definitely ... well, it was one of them. It was a sluggish, poorly played game by two teams that obviously weren't at full strength or interested in showing a national TV audience very much of their playbooks. At the time it ended, nine Major League Baseball teams had outscored the two NFL teams' combined total.

But it was a game a defensive coordinator could love, and surely Dallas' Rob Ryan will use it as a rallying point for his defense in the days and weeks to come. As we say all the time here, there is little or no predictive value in any of these games. Some teams game-plan for them, many don't, and there's no way to really know what you're watching in terms of who's trying and who's not. But if you're a defensive coordinator, you'd better believe you can hold up a 3-0 victory and shout at your guys about what they're capable of if they play hard. Can't hurt, could help, you know.

The Cowboys' offense ... won't have as much fun watching film of this one. Let's get to what we saw from the Cowboys in Oakland on Monday night.

1. The interior of the offensive line is not good right now, and it affects everything the offense tries to do. Tony Romo had no time to throw, DeMarco Murray had no room to run and the No. 3 wide receiver candidates who were running with the first team had no opportunity to show what they could do. David Arkin started at center in place of the injured Phil Costa, and in the first half he got abused by Tommy Kelly for one sack and was also called for holding. The good news for Arkin is that he didn't botch any snaps, and he did look better as he continued to play into the third quarter (and the Raiders kept taking out first-team and second-team defensive players). Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started at right guard, is likely to get snaps at center in upcoming preseason games, but since he's coming off an injury the Cowboys are trying to work him in at guard to get him acclimated. Derrick Dockery started at left guard, and Ronald Leary struggled with the second and third teams. Now, the key things to remember are (a) this isn't news and (b) preseason games are about figuring out what you need to improve. There's no reason to think the Cowboys' offensive line will look worse at any point this year than it does right now, and they've known for a while that they have issues there. If they can get Costa and Nate Livings and Bernadeau healthy, they'll at least have the crew with which they planned to go into the season. I'm just not sure that's good enough -- or that they have anything behind the starters that can help in case of injury. And it's worth mentioning that right tackle Doug Free didn't look good either.

2. Andre Holmes had a good night. Of those No. 3 wide receiver candidates, Holmes stood out the most, with 40 yards on three catches. Holmes' asset is his size, and he looks like he's doing a good job of using his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make catches in traffic. Long way to go and a lot to see, but Holmes helped his case. Kevin Ogletree likely remains the favorite and got the first crack at it, starting in place of the injured Miles Austin. Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, for 12 yards, and had a goofy moment when he fell on his face trying to make a block and slipping on the infield dirt at the Oakland Coliseum. Expect to see more from Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale in upcoming games. Beasley was the slot receiver with the first-team offense but didn't see any action. Interesting that Dez Bryant did start in spite of his hamstring injury and made one excellent 24-yard catch before taking a seat.

3. The defense did look fired-up and kind of deep in spots. Defensive end Marcus Spears played like a man who knows he needs to win a roster spot. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh came up with an early interception on a play on which cornerback Orlando Scandrick had his man well covered. Kyle Wilber showed some ability to generate pressure on Matt Leinart on a third-down play, though he did leave the game with a broken thumb. Tyrone Crawford pushed the pocket a little bit during his time in there. And I think that inside linebacker spot is going to be a real strength, as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both looked good. Yes, the Raiders ran the ball effectively against the first-team defense, but that first-team defense was without starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So I imagine they'll be better once those guys are on the field.

4. Not-so-special teams. The Cowboys were called for penalties on two punts and one field goal attempt, each time allowing the Raiders to keep the ball. That needs to be tightened up, clearly, and it's the kind of thing that just infuriates coaches in these preseason games.

5. Miscellany: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted linebacker who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View last year, looked active and quick. Remains to be seen whether he has the size and speed to play against NFL offenses. ... Rookie tight end James Hanna showed good hands as a receiver and looked good on kick coverage. ... Dwayne Harris was called for holding and, yeah, that can work against a guy who's trying to get a job as a No. 3 wide receiver. ... Yes, you like what you see from Victor Butler, as you always do in August. Still need to see whether and how the coaches find more ways to get him on the field once the real games begin. ... Seemed like punter Chris Jones was fine.
OXNARD, Calif. -- For you East Coast night owls, or for you Dallas Cowboys fans out here on the West Coast, I hereby offer one man's take on what he saw at Cowboys practice Monday afternoon here. As always, you can follow the hard-working fellas at ESPNDallas.com for more. I can see them all right now as I type, sitting in the row in front of me in the press tent. They're busting their tails for you guys. But you know, I'm here, and you seem to want to know what I think too, so here you go:

  • If you didn't know anything about his off-field issues and you just showed up to watch a Cowboys practice, you'd think Dez Bryant was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Yeah, there was a play on which Brandon Carr carried him on a route and took the ball away from him for a nifty interception. And there was another on which he didn't turn and look when Tony Romo threw it to him on a hot route. But Romo throws the ball to him a lot, and you can see why. Bryant creates a physical mismatch against any defensive back that tries to cover him. (Carr beat him with guile and timing.) Romo can throw it high if he needs to and knows Bryant will out-jump his man. He can be confident in Bryant's ability to use his body to shield the ball from the defender. He can throw deep to him. He can hit him on an underneath route and feel good about his chances to shake a tackle and turn it upfield for a big gain. He can hit him, as he did, on a fade route in the end zone from the 1-yard line. If he can stay out of further trouble and on the field, there's little reason to believe Bryant can't have a huge season.
  • The first team offensive line, left to right, was Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Phil Costa, Ronald Leary and Doug Free. Arkin also got snaps at center with the second-team line, which featured Derrick Dockery and Daniel Loper at guard with Jermey Parnell and Pat McQuistan at tackle. The offensive line looks like a major area of concern, and there's little depth with so many potential starters out.
  • Smith is the one player on the line to feel great about. Coach Jason Garrett said he was "still learning how to get out of his stance on the left side," which makes sense since Smith played right tackle throughout college and during his excellent rookie season last year. And it's not 100 percent fair to judge a guy against DeMarcus Ware. But once he gets his hands on the defender, there's no getting by Smith. Once the footwork and everything on which he needs to re-train himself becomes second nature on his new side, he should be just fine.
  • Everyone on Twitter is asking me who has the edge in the No. 3 receiver battle. I didn't think anyone looked that great. Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris dropped passes. Raymond Radway got yanked off the field for bad body language. Kevin Ogletree didn't really stand out. The best down-roster receiver Monday was Cole Beasley, who made three catches including the touchdown in the two-minute drill with the second-team offense led by Kyle Orton. Safe to say No. 3 wide receiver remains wide open. Here's Tim MacMahon on why DeMarco Murray could help make that less important.
  • Murray, by the way, looks fantastic as a runner and natural as a pass-catcher. Also, it really hurts when you shake his hand. He's got that Adrian Peterson/Oklahoma vise-grip thing going. My hand is still throbbing.
  • Inside linebackers Sean Lee and Dan Connor looked tough and aggressive blowing through blocks. Connor made one impressive stop on Felix Jones behind the line of scrimmage. I thought Bruce Carter looked good in coverage a few times. Lee's the superstar in that group, but the Connor/Carter fight for the other starting spot could be interesting.
  • I'm back out here for one more day tomorrow, watching practice and doing more interviews. I'll have more posts from here tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week, with the Cowboys "Camp Confidential" scheduled right now for Friday. But this ought to hold you for now.
Three days until the NFC East title game. Three days of anticipation and fretting. Four, really, if you count all day Sunday until the 8:30 pm kickoff time. But we'll be all right. We have our links.

New York Giants

Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka says that, if the Giants play the kind of complete defensive game they believe they can play, they will shut out the Cowboys on Sunday night. I don't get the Giants this week. If the Jets or another team that was getting set to play them was saying this same stuff, they'd hate it. And yet here they are, saying all of it. They must be feeling pretty good, is all I can think.

Victor Cruz says he was surprised he wasn't named to the Pro Bowl, probably because he ranks second in the NFC in receiving yards. I can see his point. Maybe if his team puts him on the fan ballot next year, he can make it next year.

Dallas Cowboys

With starting left guard Montrae Holland out with a biceps tear, Derrick Dockery is getting first-team reps at that position in practice. That doesn't mean for sure he's going to start at left guard Sunday ahead of Kevin Kowalski, but it's a pretty strong sign that he might.

Quarterback Tony Romo practiced Wednesday in spite of his bruised throwing hand, but the Cowboys are going to hold defensive stars Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware out of practice for much of this week so they can rest their nagging injuries. They did the same last week, and those guys were able to play. I imagine they'll see more action Sunday, which could mean they see a little bit less action in practice in the days leading up to it.

Philadelphia Eagles

Paul Domowitch runs down all of the ins and outs of the Eagles' looming decision on DeSean Jackson and concludes that it's time for the Eagles to let Jackson go. The idea is that the risk and headache outweigh the talent at the likely cost, and truthfully the sense I get is that Jackson will be playing his final game as an Eagle on Sunday.

And in what may be the biggest turnaround of the NFL season, with one week to go we have a Philadelphia columnist arguing that Andy Reid deserves one more chance. Rich Hofmann writes that the Eagles had a plan, that it didn't necessarily require a Super Bowl appearance this year and that Reid should be allowed to come back and continue to try and make the plan work in 2012. I believe this is what should and will happen.

Washington Redskins

Dan Daly thinks the reason London Fletcher can't get to the Pro Bowl is because the Redskins don't win enough games to be relevant in the minds of the people who cast the votes. It's a legitimate theory, because I don't know how much more one could ask from a player than that which Fletcher gives week in and week out.

Rex Grossman says his confidence is at an all-time high. Couple of things on this: First, can you imagine how high that confidence would be if he'd only thrown 18 interceptions in his 12 games this year instead of 19? Or if he'd only thrown 17? Second, this is a guy who predicted during the preseason that the Redskins would win the division. What's happened since to send his confidence higher than it was that day?

Holland injury could cost Cowboys

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
11:43
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Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com is reporting that Dallas Cowboys guard Montrae Holland has a torn biceps and could be done for the season. If that's the case, the chances of the Cowboys' season lasting beyond Sunday night get a bit slimmer.

Holland isn't anything close to a big name or a superstar. He was actually one of the Cowboys' final roster cuts at the end of training camp and wasn't picked up by anyone else. But the Cowboys re-signed him in October after rookie Bill Nagy suffered a season-ending injury, and Holland's insertion into the lineup coincided with a revival of the Dallas running game. In the five games they played without him, the Cowboys averaged 84.8 rush yards per game. In the 10 games they've played with him as their starting left guard, the Cowboys are averaging 133.4 rush yards per game.

Of course there are a number of other factors there. Holland's first game was also rookie DeMarco Murray's first as the Cowboys' feature running game, and Dallas ran for 294 yards against the Rams in that game alone, skewing the numbers. That game also saw the emergence of Tony Fiammetta as a blocking force at fullback, and Dallas' rushing numbers did dip back down to 83 yards per game during the three-game stretch Fiammetta missed in Weeks 11-13.

But Holland was helpful in stabilizing the run game, and more importantly, he was clearly better than their other options. Derrick Dockery or Kevin Kowalski are likely to fill in Sunday in the game against the Giants that will decide the NFC East title. So while this is an injury the Cowboys likely can survive better than they could one to Tony Romo or DeMarcus Ware, it's one that has the potential to hurt them, because it strikes at something they've been able to do much better over the second half of this season -- run the ball and control the game.

The DeMarco Murray effect in Dallas

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
12:48
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Our good friends over at ESPNDallas.com have a nice little package put together on rookie running back DeMarco Murray and the team-wide effect his emergence has had on the Dallas Cowboys. Todd Archer, for instance, writes that Murray's made Tony Romo's life easier, since the threat of a legitimate and dangerous rushing attack has opened some things up in the passing game. Todd also says Murray has made Jason Garrett a better coach and the Cowboys' defense a better defense, but that his main impact has been on the performance of the offensive line:
He has shown he does not need a lot of space to make a positive play. A lineman does not need to have perfect hand placement, perfect footwork or perfect timing for Murray to break free. Murray is a living, breathing John Wooden-ism as he runs. He is quick, but he doesn't hurry.

"I think he makes our jobs a little easier," said reserve guard Derrick Dockery, who helped pave the way for 1,000-yard rushers Clinton Portis and LaDell Betts in Washington and Marshawn Lynch in Buffalo. "Sometimes as an offensive lineman you might get that hole for a split second and he's the type of back that sees it, hits it and he's gone. He turns three yards into 15, 20, 50, touchdown. He's very explosive. That's the type of back you want to have. Not only that, he's a physical runner. He's not trying to fall down. He's trying to get those extra yards. As an offensive lineman, you appreciate that."

The Dallas offensive line has been a patchwork unit this season, but the return of Montrae Holland at left guard has seemed to solidify some things, and the emergence of Tony Fiammetta at fullback has helped with the run blocking as well. It's a bit of a perfect storm that has coincided with Felix Jones' ankle injury and the insertion of Murray as the starting running back, and Jean-Jacques Taylor even thinks it'll help Jones once he comes back:
Jones is poised to have the same role with the Cowboys that he had at Arkansas. You know, when he used to carry the ball nine or 10 times a game after Darren McFadden had softened the defense.

Most times, defenses couldn't handle his combination of speed, acceleration and quickness, leading to big play after big play.

There's little doubt that the Cowboys' offense works better with Murray in this feature role than it did when he was on the bench. He's got 601 rushing yards in the four games since Jones got hurt, and he's muscling his way into an Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion that at one time began and ended with Carolina's Cam Newton. If you want to debate his place in that discussion, well, ESPNDallas has you covered there, too. Their Hot Button topic this week is on which player is the NFL's top offensive rookie -- Murray, Newton or Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. Have at it.

Breakfast links: Speedy Redskin

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
8:00
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The Friday links are up. Enjoy 'em.

Dallas Cowboys

Fresh injury on the offensive line, as Derrick Dockery, the Week 2 starter at left guard, has a knee injury and will miss Monday night's game. Rookie and Week 1 starter Bill Nagy looks like he's in line to start in his place. Are the Cowboys as banged-up on offense as the Giants are on defense? As of now, their starting quarterback, center, top two wide receivers and starting running back have a chance to miss Monday's game in addition to Dockery, and tight end Jason Witten plans to play with rib injuries. London Fletcher and the rejuvenated Redskins defense must be salivating.

Tony Romo's not close to being ready to play, Clarence Hill writes, but that doesn't mean he won't be ready by Monday night. Long way to go yet on this story.

New York Giants

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would neither confirm nor deny the assertion by former Giants linebacker Bryan Kehl that he (Fewell) coaches guys to fake injuries to slow down an opposing offense. Which of course means he does. But enough of this story, right?

Osi Umenyiora finally talked about his contract dispute with the team, which was resolved over a month ago, though not to Umenyiora's satisfaction because the Giants resolved it by just not doing anything and expecting him to play for his contract. I think people are sick of this story too and just want to know now when Umenyiora might play. He still doesn't seem to know.

Philadelphia Eagles

It seems clear by now that Michael Vick will start for the Eagles on Sunday in spite of the concussion he suffered in Week 2. The key, of course, as Bob Ford writes, is finding a better way to make sure Vick doesn't get another one.

Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said the shift of linebackers could just be a temporary fix designed specifically to help the Eagles stop the Giants' running game this week. Pshaw. If it works, they're really going to go back to the alignment that the Rams and Falcons gashed? I call shenanigans. And I already called pshaw. So that's pshaw and shenanigans on the same story. Your move, Juan Castillo.

Washington Redskins

Brandon Banks is really fast, and he likes talking about how fast he is. Banks is one of those guys who makes you stop and watch the kickoffs and punts, because you hold your breath knowing he's going to break one and you don't want to miss it when he does. Fast and fearless. Good combination for someone in his job.

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett supports DeAngelo Hall's stated plan to hit Romo in the busted ribs, if only because that may be the only place the rules allow you to hit a quarterback.
Good morning in the East. It is the day before the start of the NFL's regular season, and four days before the start of play in our favorite division. It is raining, still, and I think the old man next door just got home with two giraffes and two hippos. But as far as I know, no one in East Rutherford has torn a knee ligament yet today. So we hit the links.

Dallas Cowboys

One of the things ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer is wondering this week is whether size was the main reason the Cowboys brought in reserve offensive lineman Derrick Dockery. Rookie left guard Bill Nagy has played well, but Dockery has at least 25 pounds on him, and Nagy did on occasion get overpowered by big interior defensive linemen in the preseason. Nagy may need time to get stronger before he can be a regular starter in the league, and Dockery could be the fallback if that progress doesn't happen quickly enough.

Clarence Hill says Dez Bryant's rookie contract might not be sufficient to help him overcome his personal financial problems. Sheesh. Not sure what you do about that. Tough to believe an NFL team would re-work a guy's contract just because he can't pay his bills. Dez is going to have to perform if that's to be his solution.

New York Giants

Sure, they could bring in a veteran like Kawika Mitchell to add to their depth. But if the Giants are going to replace injured linebackers Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim, they're most likely going to do it with rookies.

Jake Ballard did the Giants a favor at cutdown time last year, and they did right by him. Now, with Kevin Boss gone off to Oakland and Travis Beckum yet to impress as his replacement, Ballard is listed as the starting tight end on this week's depth chart. He has a chance to win the job because no one else has yet.

Philadelphia Eagles

Former Eagle Terrell Owens says that, if he were DeSean Jackson, he wouldn't play Sunday without a new contract. The Eagles and their fans are surely glad, in this case, that Jackson is not Owens, as they need him to play Sunday. In turn, Jackson hopes the Eagles reward his decision by continuing to work on the new contract he wants.

Meet Eagles left guard Evan Mathis, who thinks he may have helped himself get that starting job through the use of Twitter.

Washington Redskins

Lots of mystery surrounding the health status of Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who doesn't look as if he'll be playing Sunday when the team opens the season against the Giants. Should be interesting to hear Landry address some of these details he's been hinting about on Twitter.

And lots of opportunity for the large group of receivers remaining on the Redskins' roster after cutdown day. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins have another move or two up their sleeves, because at least three of the wide receivers they kept aren't special-teamers, and I'm pretty sure they intend to run the ball a lot.

Have a lovely day.

Eagles, Cowboys still shuffling lines

September, 5, 2011
9/05/11
9:23
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See, the thing about those Saturday roster cuts is that they aren't final and some things you think are settled get changed within the first 24 hours after the cuts. So it was that Sunday was a busy-work day for teams still churning the bottoms of their rosters, claiming guys off waivers, bringing just-released players back for the practice squad.

The moves the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles made Sunday sent clear signals that neither team is yet comfortable with its offensive line situation a week before the start of the regular season.

The Cowboys cut veteran guard Montrae Holland, who you might remember looked like he'd been elevated to starting right guard after the team let go of Leonard Davis on the first day of free agency. Holland showed up out of shape, hurt his back and didn't play until the final preseason game last Thursday. During that game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on the TV broadcast that Holland had impressed the team with surprisingly good conditioning and made them feel better about their line depth. And when the cuts came in Saturday, Holland was not among them.

A day later, though, Holland was out, and the Cowboys are bringing in former Redskins lineman Derrick Dockery as a backup offensive lineman instead. Cutting Holland knocked about $1.5 million off the Cowboys' salary cap figure for 2011 and Dockery will serve as one of the backups on an offensive line that will start two rookies (left guard Bill Nagy and right tackle Tyron Smith) and a second-year center in Phil Costa. This is not, however, the kind of move that makes you think they're done making moves. Since Dockery wasn't technically added until today, the Holland cut was to make room for newly signed fullback Tony Fiammetta. With Dockery being added today, the team released backup tackle Sam Young. And the wheel goes round.

It's a little bit easier to surmise the motivation behind the line move the Eagles made Sunday to bring in former Colts guard Kyle DeVan. Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd coached DeVan in Indianapolis, knows him and knows DeVan knows his system. The Eagles are planning to start first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard, but the rookie has struggled in preseason, and it's got to be comforting for Mudd and Andy Reid to know they have another veteran option to use in case Watkins doesn't show the kind of improvement they expect and need from him over the first few weeks of the season. DeVan also offers another option at left guard in case newcomer Evan Mathis doesn't work out on that side.

We might get into the season and find the concerns about young offensive linemen in Dallas and Philadelphia were overblown. The Cowboys and Eagles certainly hope so. But watching them work to make sure and cover themselves just in case, you realize the concerns aren't just external ones -- that these two teams have the same questions fans do about their lines.

NFC East links: Vick to sign tender

March, 2, 2011
3/02/11
12:38
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Dallas Cowboys

ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins takes a look at one of the deepest position groups in the upcoming draft: the defensive line.

The team signed linebacker Isaiah Greenhouse to its reserve/future list Tuesday.

The Cowboys offered tenders to four players Tuesday: Defensive ends Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher, safety Alan Ball, and left tackle Doug Free. Watkins weighs in on what it all means.

New York Giants

Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith and Dave Tollefson received second-round tenders from the Giants Tuesday. Mathias Kiwanuka reportedly received a first-round qualifying offer.

Center Shaun O'Hara said he wouldn't want the NFL's owners and the NFLPA to reach an agreement on a new CBA this week because "that would be a bad deal for us."

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick will sign his franchise tender from the Eagles on Wednesday, which will be worth more than $16 million next season.

Brandon Graham said at least two of his Eagles teammates have asked him for substantial loans to get through the lockout.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins have released linebacker Andre Carter and guard Derrick Dockery.

The team appears prepared to bring back Albert Haynesworth for another season.

Cost-cutting options for the Redskins

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
11:53
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Former Washington Redskins salary cap specialist J.I. Halsell has analyzed the club's roster and come up with a list of players who could possibly be released or traded this offseason. Halsell also notes that Washington will be saving some money by demoting Donovan McNabb to third-string for the last two games:

"What is absolutely certain is that if McNabb is listed as the team's third quarterback for the final two games of the season, he will lose $31,250 for each of those games, because his contract contains a per-game roster bonus provision that is contingent upon him being on the 45-man active roster," writes Halsell.

Just think of all the wonderful moves the Skins can make if they're able to squirrel away an extra $62,500. It's the type of fiscally responsible decision that we can all celebrate during this blessed holiday season. Here's a look at the list Halsell provided in his blog item for the Washington Post. (The amounts are what the Redskins could save on a possible salary cap).

RB Clinton Portis: -$5,645,500

LB London Fletcher: -$4,900,000

QB Donovan McNabb: -$4,750,000

CB DeAngelo Hall: -$4,400,000

DT Albert Haynesworth: -$3,400,000

C Casey Rabach: -$3,000,000

NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu: -$2,500,000

OG Derrick Dockery: -$1,565,000

DE Adam Carriker: -$1,420,000

OG Artis Hicks: -$1,400,000

DE Phillip Daniels: -$1,250,000

DE Vonnie Holliday: -$1,250,000

TE Fred Davis: -$555,000

DE Andre Carter: $2,909,998

Eagles-Redskins inactives

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
7:33
PM ET
LANDOVER, Md. -- Obviously, everyone in the press box has been consumed with the news of Donovan McNabb's five-year, $78 million contract extension. But I'm told there's still a game to play.

As we already knew, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis (groin) will sit out tonight's game. Here are the rest of the Skins' inactives: John Beck, Kevin Barnes, Portis, Chad Simpson, Perry Riley, Derrick Dockery, Anthony Bryant and Jeremy Jarmon

No surprises for the Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Kafka, Chad Hall, Nate Allen, Ellis Hobbs, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, King Dunlap, Reggie Wells, Garrett Mills.

OK, it looks like McNabb's agent Fletcher Smith is about to address reporters, so I'm off to visit with him.

Wednesday NFC Beastlines

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
10:50
AM ET
Let's take a quick spin around the division while we await first pitch of Rangers-Rays:

Cowboys
Eagles
Giants
Redskins
  • Matt Terl, the author of Redskins Blog, has an excellent report on the third annual All-Star Survivors Luncheon. Chris Cooley and Derrick Dockery are to be commended for their leadership roles in an event tailored to help women battling breast cancer. I failed to mention it Sunday, but I thought seeing all the pink shoes and gloves across the league was an awesome way to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

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