NFC East: Everette Brown

IRVING, Texas -- Once the Dallas Cowboys said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware on Tuesday, their plan was to replace their all-time leader in sacks with a number of guys.

New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants to bring defensive linemen at quarterbacks in waves the way the Seattle Seahawks did it in 2013. It is a plan that makes sense and it’s how the Cowboys operated in their Super Bowl days of the 1990s.

So far the Cowboys' answer to losing Ware has been Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain, who have agreed to deals, according to sources. They aren’t done shopping by any stretch, but how much better are these guys compared to the likes of Jarius Wynn, Everette Brown, Drake Nevis, Corvey Irvin and the rest of the linemen the Cowboys trotted out there in 2013?

Mincey has 20 sacks in his career. McClain has one.

The Cowboys are hoping these guys turn into George Selvie, whose seven sacks last year were more than Ware. Selvie was a training-camp gift. He developed into a solid player, but can the Cowboys bank on another seven-sack season (or more) from Selvie in 2014?

For all of you asking about Jared Allen or Julius Peppers, look at who the Cowboys have targeted so far. If the price tags on Allen and Peppers come way down, then maybe the Cowboys will have a chance to make a deal. If they don’t, then forget it.

For years people have criticized Jerry Jones’ spending. Now when he shows some restraint, people wonder what the heck he is doing.

Mincey and McClain won’t make anybody forget Ware, or maybe even Anthony Spencer, but they won’t be the end of the Cowboys’ work to rebuild the defensive line either.

Would Michael Sam fit Cowboys' D?

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
2:45
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- From a football perspective, the Dallas Cowboys have to figure out if Michael Sam is a fit for their defense.

If the Cowboys still ran a 3-4 defense, the answer might be more definitive. At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, Sam, who revealed on Sunday that he is gay, is built more like an outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Now that the Cowboys run a 4-3, Sam might not fit as well as he might be too small to play defensive end.

Of the six defensive ends on the Cowboys’ roster at the end of the 2013 season, only DeMarcus Ware (258) and Martez Wilson (252) were lighter than Sam. At 6-1, Everette Brown was the shortest defensive end on the roster and he was a role player after signing with the Cowboys during the season.

Sam was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year out of Missouri after leading the conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18).

When he played outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl, teams were not blown away by his athleticism. Just as a comparison, Ware was able to answer the question during the 2005 Senior Bowl that he could make the move from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.

The Cowboys generated only 34 sacks in 2013, so finding pressure players is a must if they are to improve in 2014. Sam showed he can get after the quarterback at Missouri and he will get the chance to show if he can do it at the NFL level.

For the Cowboys, he might be more of a situational pass-rusher than an every-down player. If he’s not an every-down player, then he would figure to be a middle- to late-round pick.
IRVING, Texas -- In this copycat league that is the NFL, all of a sudden everybody needs tall and long conerbacks like Seattle’s Richard Sherman. One problem, there aren’t that many of those kinds of guys around.

Plus from a Dallas Cowboys’ perspective, they have already allocated their cornerback resources in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. So scratch that possible remodel.

Where the Cowboys can attempt to emulate the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks is with their defensive line.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware has reached double-digit sacks for seven consecutive seasons, but he'll need four sacks in the final three games to keep the streak alive.
AP Photo/James D. SmithFor years, Dallas has relied on DeMarcus Ware to provide a pass rush. Adding depth to the defensive line could be a priority this offseason.
The Seahawks do what Rod Marinelli wants to do with the Cowboys. He just did not have enough quality players, rolling through 20 defensive linemen in 2013 because of injuries and poor play.

Seattle’s defensive line accounted for 33.5 sacks from eight players. The Cowboys defensive line had 28 sacks from six players.

Michael Bennett led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks. Fellow free-agent pickup, Cliff Avril, was second with eight. Clinton McDonald had 5.5, and Chris Clemons had 4.5

Jason Hatcher led the Cowboys with 11, followed by George Selvie with seven and DeMarcus Ware with six. Kyle Wilber had two sacks from his defensive end spot before he was switched to outside linebacker later in the season. Everette Brown and and Jarius Wynn each had one sack.

The Cowboys want to rotate defensive linemen as much as possible to keep them fresh. That is a great approach when you have players worthy of being in the rotation. In the Super Bowl win against the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks had four linemen take at least 41 of 69 snaps, led by Bennett, who played 47. In the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four linemen take at least 31 of 55 snaps. In the divisional-round win against the New Orleans Saints, they had five linemen take at least 43 snaps.

That rotation kept opposing quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick and Drew Brees under pressure. The pressure could come from the inside or the outside. And it would come with mostly just four rushers, which allowed that back seven to be even more aggressive.

For far too long the Cowboys’ pass rush has been Ware and nobody else. This past season it was Hatcher, and sometimes Selvie and Ware. The Cowboys hope Tyrone Crawford can develop after missing last season with an Achilles injury, but the defensive line needs a ton of help.

For the Cowboys to make a jump in the defensive rankings -- forget being a top-five or 10 unit -- they need a better pass rush. For a better pass rush, they need better players. To get better players in free agency they need to hope the defensive line market is as slow as it was in 2013 when Bennett received a one-year, $5 million deal, and Avril received two years and $15 million from the Seahawks. That could allow Dallas to either keep Hatcher (unlikely), or get lucky with some other prove-it type deals. The easier way to get better players is the draft, but will the right players be available at the right time?

If the Cowboys get a better pass rush, their secondary will look a lot better.

Five Wonders: Quick decision on staff?

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- For the next six or seven months the Dallas Cowboys will be wondering about the plays that could have made the difference in finishing 8-8 for the third straight year or making the playoffs.

We're just wondering about five things in the end-of-season installment of Five Wonders:

Away we go:
  • I wonder if the Cowboys make quick decisions in regards to their coaching staff. The decision to fire Rob Ryan last year came 11 days after the season ended. With six teams looking for head coaches, the Cowboys would be wise to make any moves sooner rather than later. A lot of times the search for assistant coaches becomes a game of musical chairs. They often just switch golf shirts and gym shorts. You don't want to be the last team looking for assistant coaches with the top choices already scooped up. And as a mini-wonder inside a wonder, I wonder if Jason Garrett's future could make it hard for the most sought after assistants to say yes. Would they be willing to come to Dallas with a head coach that will be on the hot seat and possibly in the final year of his deal or go to a more stable job -- and one with less stature -- than the Cowboys?
  • I wonder if Jason Witten will end up with the same cruel fate as Tony Gonzalez. Witten will enter his 12th season with the Cowboys in 2014 and he is already the franchise leader in catches. He is second to Michael Irvin in receiving yards. Gonzalez is the only tight end in NFL history with more catches than Witten. By next season only Gonzalez will have more receiving yards as a tight end than Witten. Shannon Sharpe had 10,060 in his Hall of Fame career. Witten will enter 2014 with 9,799 yards. For all that Gonzalez accomplished he won only one playoff game in his career. That came last year with the Atlanta Falcons. He returned to the Falcons this year thinking he could go out on a Super Bowl run and they finished 4-12. For all that Witten has done, the Cowboys have won one playoff game. It has to be maddening for the eight-time Pro Bowler.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys wanted Tony Romo to have his back surgery sooner rather than later to make sure he is involved in the offseason program. Romo could not take part in the conditioning last year because of a procedure to remove a cyst from his back. If you remember, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Romo was “uniquely running mountains” in California the weeks before training camp to help his conditioning. It was among my favorite quotes of the season. He checked in at 236 pounds, the most he has ever weighed since joining the Cowboys. In 2012, Romo was listed at 230 pounds. In 2011, he was 227. The generally feeling is that Romo will need three months to recover from the back surgery. By having him ready for the conditioning program the Cowboys will be able to monitor Romo much better this spring and make sure he is in better shape when camp starts.
  • I wonder how much of an effect the new contract Robbie Gould signed with the Chicago Bears will impact any discussions the Cowboys have with their kicker, Dan Bailey. Gould signed a four-year deal with the Bears worth up to $15 million and included $9 million guaranteed. Bailey is set to be a restricted free agent. The Cowboys would likely place the second-round tender on him, which will be a little more than $2.1 million. The first-round tender would be close to $3 million. Gould is 31 and has a Pro Bowl to his credit. He has made 86 percent of his kicks in his career. Bailey turns 26 next month and had a Pro Bowl-type season though was not picked. He has made 90.8 percent of his kicks in his first three seasons and has missed two kicks in each of the past two seasons. He has been clutch. He has improved on kickoffs. Jason Garrett said Bailey might be the best at his job than any player the Cowboys have. The Cowboys bought out the free agent year of safety Barry Church last year with an extension and should do that with Bailey.
  • At the midway point of the season the Cowboys really had no idea what to do with Kyle Wilber. Injury forced them to play him at strong-side linebacker and I wonder if they found what could be a long-term answer at the position. In training camp and early in the season he had a number of chances to lay claim to extra playing time with all of the injuries on the defensive line but he was passed by George Selvie, Jarius Wynn and Everette Brown. Once he moved to linebacker, he performed well. He took the job with six games to go and could force Justin Durant out. If the Cowboys make a move on Durant it would save them $1.25 million in salary cap space in 2014. Wilber is set to make $570,000 next season. In a 4-3 scheme, the strong-side backer might be the least important position because of how much nickel defense is used. The nickel corner will play more snaps in a season than a strong-side linebacker with the way the game is played. Wilber performed well, was a good tackler, appeared to fit in well at the spot and was tough. Sometimes in personnel it's better to be lucky than good.

Cowboys need more from Ware, Hatcher

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
1:10
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Of the nine defensive linemen on the Dallas Cowboys roster, only three were with the team when training camp began and Nick Hayden was far from a lock to make the cut.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsThe Cowboys defense stands a better chance with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher on the field at the same time.
DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher are the two mainstays left and both have been banged up. Ware missed three games with a quadriceps injury. Hatcher missed one with a stinger that has been problematic for two months.

If the defense is to have a chance to succeed, the Cowboys need Ware and Hatcher. But here's a question: Why are they not in the game more?

Jason Garrett said the Cowboys, "believe in the rotational system that Rod [Marinelli] uses."

It's fine to rotate players. You want players to remain fresh through the course of a game. But do they need to come off the field together?

Of the 69 defensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers, Ware and Hatcher were on the field together for 44 of them. There were 13 snaps where one or the other was on the field. There were 12 snaps in which neither was on the field, including goal-line snaps in the fourth quarter before Andrew Quarless' touchdown. Hatcher was not on the field for James Jones' 3-yard touchdown catch and Eddie Lacy's game-winning score.

At different times the Cowboys' defensive line featured Everette Brown, Drake Nevis, Corey Irvin and George Selvie. At one point they had Ware and Edgar Jones at defensive end with Jarius Wynn and Irvin at tackle.

"It's real important to keep that group fresh up front," Garrett said. "If you're looking for guys to put pressure on the quarterback, being fresh is a big part of that. The best defenses line I've been around rotated guys. So we'll continue to do that. It's not exclusive. They don't always come out together. They don't always play together. But occasionally they do, sometimes they're on the sideline together and you have to battle through that. The other guys have an opportunity to step up and make an impact on the game. George Selvie did a fantastic job in yesterday's game. He made a lot of plays, tackle for losses, sacks and impacted the game in a positive way. Everett Brown did as well. We have to get that across the board."

But there is a time and place for everything. In the most crucial snaps -- like on the goal line -- Ware and Hatcher must be on the field.

Upon Further Review: Cowboys Week 15

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
8:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A review of four hot issues from the Dallas Cowboys' 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

[+] EnlargeBoyd_Murray
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesDeMarco Murray and the Cowboys are focusing on winning out and attempting to make the playoffs.
Recuperative powers: If the Cowboys win their final two games, they will make the playoffs. If there is a message Jason Garrett is looking to sell as the team looks to rebound, that's it. The Cowboys' final two games are against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, teams they outscored 48-19 in meetings earlier this season. It's not the message a lot of fans want to hear, but it is what matters most as the Cowboys look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"I feel good that we have a chance to beat the Redskins, and if we do that, we'll get a chance to play Philadelphia with an opportunity to get in the playoffs," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "I know when I see us lose a game after having a lead like we had at halftime, anything can happen one way or the other."

Pathetic work: On a day in which the offense gained 466 yards and 27 first downs, you would think everything worked well. It didn't. The third-down offense continued its season-long struggles as the Cowboys converting on just 2 of 9 chances. It was the third time this season the Cowboys converted on less than 30 percent of their third-down tries in a game. They are 56-of-159 on the season. Tony Romo said he has to be better on third downs, the receivers have to win in man-to-man situations and the blocking has to be better.

"We haven't done that well," Romo said of the third-down woes. "We have to do a better job."

No chance on D: At one point, the Cowboys fielded a defense that had three players who were not with the team when training camp started (George Selvie, Everette Brown, Corvey Irvin), two undrafted free agents (Jeff Heath, Cameron Lawrence), a sixth-round pick (DeVonte Holloman) and a cornerback (Sterling Moore) who was out of football until Nov. 25. Matt Flynn became the fifth quarterback to throw four touchdown passes against Monte Kiffin's defense, joining Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Josh McCown. Flynn and McCown are backup quarterbacks, and the Cowboys will see another backup next week at Washington with Kirk Cousins quarterbacking the Redskins.

Still producing: Jason Witten caught 110 passes last year, an NFL record for tight ends in a season, but he had only three touchdowns. He has 59 catches this year and eight touchdowns. Witten needs one TD in the final two games to equal his career high. His eight from Romo this season are the most the duo has combined for in a season together. With 59 catches for 703 yards, Witten is averaging 11.9 yards per reception, which equals his career best so far. He might not have the starry numbers of the past, but at 31, Witten is not slowing down yet, either.
CHICAGO -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris is active, which could be a big boost to the special teams, but linebacker Justin Durant is inactive.

Harris
Harris missed the Thanksgiving Day game against the Oakland Raiders because of a hamstring strain and was only a limited participant in Saturday's practice. Durant will miss his third straight game. He was probable entering the game. He has been working his way back from a hamstring injury.

With Durant out, Kyle Wilber will start for the third straight game at strong-side linebacker.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety Jakar Hamilton, linebacker DeVonte Holloman, defensive end Everette Brown, tackle Darrion Weems and linebacker Orie Lemon are inactive.

Harris is averaging 14 yards per punt return and 31.3 yards per kickoff return. Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff against the Raiders and saw it returned for a touchdown. Cole Beasley served as the punt returner.

Five Wonders: Tagging Jason Hatcher?

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have had some time to wonder some things after their win on Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders.

Every Tuesday as always wonder about some things. Five Wonders is back and off we go:
  • Jason Hatcher is having a career year and it could not have come at a better time. Hatcher will be a free agent after the season and already has more sacks this year than he has had in any season. And he could make the Pro Bowl, which is something he mentions frequently. But Hatcher will turn 32 next July. I'm on record saying the Cowboys can't pay age. But I wonder if the Cowboys would consider using the franchise tag on him. It would chew up $9-10 million in salary-cap room, but they would buy some time in finding defensive line help for beyond 2014. The Cowboys will have to make a number of moves to get under the cap, but they would be able to fit Hatcher in at the franchise number. Is it worth it? The Cowboys put the tag on Anthony Spencer last year, paying him $10.6 million. I thought it was the right move at the time and did not second guess it after Spencer's knee injury cost him all but one game this season. I'm not as sure about tagging Hatcher. They might have to restructure more deals than they would want and that would also affect the cap in 2015 and beyond. And last year the defensive line market was thin, even for the top players.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys will have a decision to make on backup quarterback Kyle Orton in the offseason. He will make $3.25 million in 2014 and count $4.377 against the salary cap. The Cowboys will have to do a lot of maneuvering to get under the cap in the offseason and could just restructure Orton's contract in the same way they did last March. The Cowboys have yet to start the clock on finding Tony Romo's replacement, which is another reason to keep Orton around. But the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers also offer up valid reasons to keep Orton even if he does not throw a pass this year. The Packers season has gone to shreds without Aaron Rodgers. They have not won since losing Rodgers, turning first to Seneca Wallace, who got hurt, then to Scott Tolzien and now they're on Matt Flynn. The Bears are 2-3 without Jay Cutler, though it is difficult to put much of the blame on Josh McCown. He's done a nice job and been a stabilizing force, but the Bears appeared to learn their lesson when they lost Cutler in previous seasons. Romo turns 34 in April. He's battled injuries in the past and had back surgery last April. Keeping Orton makes sense and something I think the Cowboys do. It's an insurance policy worth keeping.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys had Laurent Robinson in the back of their mind when they have signed some of these defensive linemen this season. Confused? Hear me out. In 2011, Robinson had a career year with 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, but because the Cowboys signed him to a minimum salary-benefit contract they were unable to re-sign him before he hit free agency. Jacksonville swooped in with a five-year, $32.5 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. It was way too rich for the Cowboys -- and ultimately the Jaguars -- but without the restriction Robinson would have re-signed with the Cowboys at a much cheaper rate. That brings me to the defensive linemen. When the Cowboys signed George Selvie, Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn, Drake Nevis and Martez Wilson, they made sure they got a second year on the contracts. They are all signed through 2014, so if they hit -- and Selvie is a hit -- the Cowboys hold their rights for a second year. That's a shrewd move, in my opinion.
  • I wonder if DeMarco Murray can reach 1,000 yards. Yep, I do. Murray missed two games with a knee injury and essentially missed a third when he got just four carries for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings when the game plan called for Tony Romo to pass the ball early and often. But with four games to go Murray needs 303 yards to reach 1,000. In his last three games Murray has rushed for 89, 86 and 63 yards. If he keeps up that pace, he would get there. Reaching 1,000 yards should not be that difficult, but the Cowboys sure seem to make it difficult after years of Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith almost annually reaching the mark. The last Dallas runner to go for more than 1,000 yards was Julius Jones (1,084) in 2006 and that's the Cowboys only 1,000-yard rusher since 2001.
  • I don't wonder if the Cowboys will rue the day they lost Alex Tanney, just as I don't think the Cowboys have rued the day since losing Matt Moore oh so many years ago. (Long-time readers will know how I feel about Moore). The Cleveland Browns signed Tanney off the Cowboys' practice squad last week. I liked what Tanney did in a short time with the Cowboys over the summer. He showed some things in his preseason work, but there will be a new Tanney next summer. Or even next week. I wonder if the Cowboys add a quarterback to the practice squad over the final month of the season. They could use the last four weeks to bring a guy in for a free look and essentially give him a “signing bonus” for four weeks of being on the practice squad and sign him to a futures deal when the season ends.

Need a semi to stop Rod Marinelli

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- So far it has been a trying season for the Dallas Cowboys' defense. They have allowed more 400-yard passers than any defense in history. They have allowed more first downs in a game than any in NFL history. They have allowed more yards in a game than any defense in Cowboys history.

Confidence might be an issue for some, but not defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.

[+] EnlargeDallas' Rod Marinelli
Casey Sapio/USA TODAY Sports"I think if you have a belief and it's tested and you crack with that, then it's not a belief. You better get a big old semi to run over me and it better be three times because it ain't changing," Rod Marinelli said on how he coaches.
“I believe in what I do so hard and so well. I’ll tell you when I was in Detroit that was a great experience for me because it’s what I believed in and it didn’t work and I never lost confidence,” said Marinelli, whose Lions were 0-16 in 2008. “I never lost faith. I went to Chicago and I kept working. I think if you have a belief and it’s tested and you crack with that, then it’s not a belief. You better get a big old semi to run over me and it better be three times because it ain’t changing.”

The Cowboys have run through a ton of defensive linemen. Corvey Irvin is the latest this week. Marinelli takes them off the assembly line, coaches them and has them ready in a matter of days.

“I’m the source of energy for them, OK?” Marinelli said. “And I’m the source of all the energy in that room and I’ve got to set the tempo and the tone and the standards in that room. I don’t care where you came from you now have to rise to my level. And they’re trying.”

George Selvie has responded with six sacks. Nick Hayden has been mostly decent. Drake Nevis has filled in nicely. Jarius Wynn and Everette Brown have been able to provide some pressure. Jason Hatcher should return Nov. 24 against the New York Giants after missing the loss to the New Orleans Saints with a stinger. DeMarcus Ware should be healthier after missing three of the past four games with a quadriceps strain.

“You look at yourself first,” Marinelli said. “Coaching better and the details. I don’t care who’s out there, if you’re asking him to do something you’re coaching him and he’s not doing it, you always look at yourself. I guess I always look at the positive. I am, that’s just me. I believe we keep this kind of group coming together right now we’ll have a chance to keep improving. All we have to do is just make steps, keep making steps each week and then if we do that we’ll get better and better. We get Hatch, who’s got a chance, DeMarcus, you’ve got two impact guys and you can fill around those guys pretty good.”

Midseason Report: Dallas Cowboys

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
9:00
AM ET

IRVING, Texas -- After nine games, the Dallas Cowboys have issues.

The defense can't stop a topflight quarterback. The offense can't -- or won't -- run the ball. Injuries have affected the offensive line, defensive line and secondary.

Yet with seven games to play, the Cowboys lead the NFC East with a 5-4 record. Can they join the conference elite?

Before that question can be answered, here's a look at how the Cowboys have graded out so far:

'Next man up' makes plays for Cowboys

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
10:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A week ago Everette Brown was at the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility preparing for a workout. On Sunday, Brown played a big role on the defensive line in the 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Brown
Brown had a strip sack of quarterback Christian Ponder on the final drive of the game and was credited with two tackles and a quarterback hurry.

“We’ve had a little sequence here where we bring them in on Wednesday and they play on Sunday,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve been doing that for about eight weeks. I think one of those guys we brought in Wednesday (for practice) had a sack for us, so the ‘next man up,’ philosophy is alive and well with our football team and certainly our defensive line.”

Brown wasn’t the only new face. Jarius Wynn, who signed with the Cowboys on Oct. 15, started in place of Kyle Wilber, who had replaced DeMarcus Ware for two games. Wynn had one tackle and a hellacious hit on Ponder on Nick Hayden's fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Drake Nevis played a ton with Marvin Austin knocked out in pre-game warmups because of a back strain and Jason Hatcher and Hayden knocked out in the game because of a stinger and back injuries. Nevis signed on Sept. 24. Austin signed on Oct. 21.

“Just going out there, working hard, listening to the coaches and really just diving in and knowing what to do when that time comes,” Wynn said.

DeMarcus Ware out again

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
11:57
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware will miss his third straight game with a quadriceps strain.

Ware has not practiced since leaving the Oct. 13 game against the Washington Redskins. He did some drills in practice off to the side last week but he did not do anything on the field in pregame warm-ups.

Kyle Wilber will replace Ware in the starting lineup and Everette Brown, who signed with the Cowboys last Monday, is active.

With the Cowboys playing against the pass-oriented New Orleans Saints next week, it makes more sense to keep Ware out an extra week in order for him to be healthier.

Miles Austin is missing his second straight game and fourth in the last six with a hamstring injury. Morris Claiborne (hamstring), J.J. Wilcox (knee), DeVonte Holloman (neck), Darrion Weems and Andre Smith are also inactive.
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' defensive line shuffle continued on Monday when the team agreed to a deal with Everette Brown.

Brown, a former second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2009, worked out for the Cowboys on Monday, as did defensive end Adrian Tracy.

It is the third straight week the Cowboys have signed a free-agent defensive linemen. Jarius Wynn was signed on Oct. 15 and Marvin Austin was signed on Oct. 21.

Brown has not played in a regular-season game since 2011 when he was with the San Diego Chargers. He spent time with the Detroit Lions (2012) and Philadelphia Eagles (2013). He had six sacks for the Panthers in 2009-10.

Before the deal can become official, the Cowboys have to release a player from the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys re-signed guard David Arkin to the practice squad after he was released over the weekend to make room for safety Jakar Hamilton. Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, did not take an offensive snap in parts of three seasons.

“There's probably nobody on our football team who works harder and is more committed than David Arkin,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s the right kind of guy and he's working at it and he's getting better. I think he has improved over the last couple of years and that's why we're happy to get him back and put him back on the practice roster and continue that development.”
It started on the bus ride from the Meadowlands to South Philadelphia. Chip Kelly started watching tape of the just-concluded preseason finale, a 27-20 loss to the New York Jets, in preparation for a full slate of meetings Friday.

Kelly will sit down with his Philadelphia Eagles coaches and with general manager Howie Roseman and the personnel staff. By the end of the day, they should know which 22 players will be released to reach the final 53-man roster limit by Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

This game will be but a small part of the evaluation process. A total of 22 players didn’t even dress; they are the starters held out to avoid injury risk. If anything, this game will serve as a tie-breaker for a few spots at the bottom of the roster.

“It gives us another opportunity to evaluate,” Kelly said. “Some guys are in situations where we haven’t got a ton of snaps for them. Some of those guys played an entire game tonight.”

For those on the outside of the meeting rooms, the game and Kelly’s comments offered a few insights into where some of those competitions stand:

  • Matt Tobin, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa, has a better chance of making the team than former first-round pick Danny Watkins. Kelly played Tobin nearly the entire game at left tackle and praised him for having a strong summer.

Watkins? “Danny’s competing like the rest of those guys,” Kelly said. “There’s always some good out of Danny, but there’s always some mistakes out of Danny.”

  • Emmanuel Acho made a very compelling case to be the first linebacker off the bench. He and Jake Knott thoroughly outplayed veteran Casey Matthews, in this game and throughout the preseason.
  • Chris McCoy is probably the second-most-complete outside linebacker on the team after Connor Barwin. Brandon Graham and Trent Cole continue the transition from defensive end and struggle with the pass-coverage aspect of the job. McCoy looked very good in a starting role.
  • Outside linebacker Everette Brown could sneak onto the roster. He recorded a sack for the second week in a row. Kelly volunteered his name when listing defensive players who stood out.
  • [+] EnlargeChris McCoy
    AP Photo/Bill KostrounLinebacker Chris McCoy (94) turned in a solid performance as a starter in Thursday's finale.
    Nobody really seems interested in claiming the open starting-safety job. Nate Allen, the incumbent, managed exactly one tackle. Rookie Earl Wolff had three. Neither did what McCoy, Acho and Brown did -- make a big play or two in their final opportunities to stake a claim.

So with all that, here’s a somewhat educated guess on how the 53-man roster will look Saturday at 6 p.m. Expect a couple of changes in the next days as Roseman and his staff look for help on the waiver wire.

OFFENSE (26)

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley. No explanation necessary here.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk. It’s a high-attrition position, so it wouldn’t shock me to see Matthew Tucker stick and Kelly go light elsewhere.

Tight ends (3): Brent Celek, James Casey, Zach Ertz. If Casey’s hamstring injury is a problem, Clay Harbor could wind up back in the TE meeting room.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas, Russell Shepard. That might be a little high, but Kelly likes to have a lot of options.

Offensive line (10): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Matt Tobin, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Matt Tennant. Could Watkins edge out Tennant? Sure, but I see Eagles cutting another tie to the Andy Reid era.

DEFENSE (24)

Defensive line (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Damion Square, Clifton Geathers. Went with Geathers over Antonio Dixon, but could go either way.

Linebackers (8): Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy, Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho. It was hard to leave Everette Brown off. It wouldn’t be a shock if Eagles went heavy here: Linebackers make key special-teamers.

Defensive backs (9): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer, Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Kurt Coleman, Brandon Hughes. This group is subject to the most change after deadline.

Specialists (3): K Alex Henery, P Donnie Jones, LS Jon Dorenbos.
If there are five things to watch in a preseason finale, these are probably the things to watch when the Eagles play the New York Jets on Thursday night at the Meadowlands:

1. Matt Barkley’s summer swan song: Nick Foles will start the game, according to Chip Kelly’s plan. The guess here is Foles will be out of there after a series or two. Barkley, the fourth-round pick from USC, will be next up at quarterback.

That’s probably the last time you’ll see Barkley for a while. For all those five-QBs-throwing-at-once drills Kelly has been running throughout camp, the regular season is about preparing the No. 1 quarterback for each week’s opponent. Michael Vick will get most of the work, while Foles gets enough to be ready in case he’s needed.

Barkley will barely practice unless he moves up the depth chart because of an injury or other catastrophe.

Even more interesting (maybe just to me): Will Kelly play Dennis Dixon or G.J. Kinne at all? It seems strange to expose those two to injury when they are almost certain to be released this weekend. Of course, it seems strange to carry five quarterbacks on a 75-man roster.

How strange? Only two other teams, Jacksonville and Buffalo, have five. Both of those teams have injured starters and real question marks as backups. Ten teams had four quarterbacks as of Wednesday afternoon. Most of the league -- 22 teams -- carried just three.

Seems like a minor thing, but with so much competition at other positions, every roster spot counts.

2. The first-round picks whose pedigree means nothing: Kelly’s clean-slate approach to evaluating players means guys like Danny Watkins didn’t have any strikes against them. But it also means Kelly doesn’t care that Watkins was a first-round pick, or that the Eagles traded up to get Brandon Graham instead of Jason Pierre-Paul.

Kelly is just going by what he sees on the field and in the film room.

Neither of those guys is a starter, which says something, so they should get a fair amount of playing time in the last tune-up game.

Graham, who is making the awkward transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, appears safer than Watkins. He has made strides at his new position and, frankly, there isn’t a lot of fierce competition there.

“It could be better,” Graham said of his coverage skills. “I’m not a pro at that, but I’m trying. My heart’s in the right direction. That’s all I can manage. All I can do is compete. Whatever happens, happens.”

At worst, Graham could be used situationally to rush the passer from different spots on the field.

There is much stiffer competition along the offensive line. Allen Barbre can play tackle and guard. He’s likely to start at tackle, leaving Watkins to start in one of the guard spots. A poor game really could result in Watkins being released.

3. Keep an eye on Everette Brown: He hasn’t gotten much attention this summer, but Brown is a former second-round pick (Carolina, 2009). He’s another DE/OLB tweener.

He’s worth watching because Pro Football Focus pointed out that, in 22 snaps, Brown had a sack, a hit and two hurries. He earned a +2.6 grade from PFF. Not bad for a guy who has been under the radar. When and how he is used will indicate whether the Eagles coaches were as impressed.

4. The safety position: Yes, yes, you’ve heard way too much this week about Nate Allen and Earl Wolff. They will both get a chance to win the starting safety job alongside Patrick Chung.

Advice: Make a play, somebody. A big hit, an interception, anything. The first guy who looks like he can make an impact should start.

5. The clock: When it hits zero, the preseason is officially over and the countdown to Sept. 9 begins in earnest. Finally.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider