NFC East: Keith Davis

The Big Question: Boys in safety squeeze?

May, 4, 2010
5/04/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Have the Cowboys created a problem for themselves by trying to be thrifty?

[+] EnlargeAlan Ball
Jimn Luzzi/Getty ImagesAlan Ball is projected to start at safety in place of the recently released Ken Hamlin.
After the way starting safety Ken Hamlin performed in 2009, I don't think a lot of Cowboys fans were broken up about his release. But some of those fans are about to get a reality check when the inexperienced Alan Ball and his projected backup Michael Hamlin take the field in 2010.

Ken (no relation to Michael) wasn't living up to the lucrative contract that he earned after a Pro Bowl season in 2007. He took poor angles and he wasn't a sure tackler. Ball, who converted from cornerback, filled in nicely in '09 but no one knows if he's ready to start for a full season. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has hinted the team might sign a free-agent safety, but the pickings are pretty slim at this point. Saints Pro Bowler Darren Sharper was on the open market for a long time, and now we know why.

The Cowboys should know more than anyone that rolling the dice at safety isn't a good approach. When Darren Woodson was injured before the '04 season, the Cowboys were held hostage by that position. Over the years, they've tried everyone from Keith Davis to Pat Watkins, but things didn't settle down until Ken Hamlin showed up in '07.

Gerald Sensabaugh had a nice season for the Cowboys in '09, but they need another player who's strong in coverage and can call out adjustments. Sensabaugh's at his best when he can simply focus on playing. If the Cowboys are leaning on Ball to get them in the right coverages, there could be some issues. I think he's a talented player, but he's someone better suited for a backup role.

Everyone keeps talking about left tackle, but I think Cowboys fans should be more concerned about safety.

Wednesday Beastlines: Is training camp needed?

July, 15, 2009
7/15/09
10:18
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com staff

Dallas Cowboys

  • During an appearance on "Jim Rome Is Burning" Tuesday, safety and team co-captain Ken Hamlin said Tony Romo has been a more "vocal" leader of the team this offseason.
  • Could former Cowboys safety Keith Davis rejoin the team?
  • San Antonio Express-News scribe Tom Orsborn explores the pros and cons of a three-week training camp in "this age of seemingly endless offseason workouts."
New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

What's in Mosley's Mailbag?

June, 6, 2009
6/06/09
5:35
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Thanks once again for planning your weekend around the Mailbag. It's a labor of love -- especially for those of you who read the whole thing. I've been asked to limit the Bag to 3,000 words this weekend. We have lots of ground to cover, so let's cut the monologue short and go right to your questions.

RodeoJones000 left this question in the "comments" section Friday afternoon: Matt, thanks for the blog. It's the first thing (and usually the second through 12th thing) I check online each day. In regards to Westbrook, assuming it's not as serious as some are implying, do you think this could actually be a blessing in disguise for Philly? Westbrook gets another thing done to help ensure his heath, and he gets to rest up for the season. And [LeSean] McCoy then gets to spend training camp running with the first team and learning the offense. Again, this is assuming Westbrook's procedure was just a simple "cleaning" and not a sign of something serious.

And also regarding Westbrook, do you think the Eagles go out and sign someone as insurance just in case he's hurt more than he's saying? If so, any idea who?

Mosley: RodeoJones, we really appreciate your efforts. You doubled our numbers last week with all those clicks. And, no, I don't think it's necessarily a good thing for Westbrook to go through yet another surgery. No matter what spin the Eagles on it, Westbrook's been cut on twice this offseason. And he's nearing that stage of his career when running backs often seen their numbers start to fall off. McCoy would've received plenty of reps whether or not Westbrook was out. And none of the guys out there really do much for me. The Giants have an embarrassment of riches at tailback, but they probably don't want Danny Ware turning into the next Ryan Grant. Lorenzo Booker's still on the roster, but he hasn't been able to get on the field. And that was the case for him in Miami, too. As NFC Beast senior correspondent Sal Paolantonio wrote Thursday, Edgerrin James and Rudi Johnson are names to consider. I don't think James really fits what the Eagles are trying to do. Johnson might be a little better fit. And Warrick Dunn might be a better fit than either one of those guys.


Pete R. is worried about Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett: I'm wondering if Garrett did the right thing staying in Dallas. If they do well, Phillips gets the credit. If they do poorly, most likely they'll both get the axe. I can't see Jerry Jones deciding that after a bad season, he needs to get rid of Wade, but keep his OC. Should Jason have pursued the opportunities that were out there last year?

Mosley: Garrett did pursue the opportunities that were out there after the '08 season. But he did turn down the opportunity to coach the Ravens or Falcons following the '07 campaign. I wouldn't worry about Garrett too much. He's the highest paid assistant coach in football at $3 million last time I checked. And if the Cowboys' offense succeeds without T.O., Garrett's star will be on the rise again. In fact, he'd probably receive more credit than Phillips. If the Cowboys have another poor season, neither guy will be back.


Gilldog41 says it's foolish to be concerned about the Cowboys' secondary: Matt, you ranked the Cowboys' secondary third in the NFC East? They were fifth in pass defense in the NFL and [Terence] Newman wasn't healthy until midseason and he's the best corner in the NFC. [Orlando] Scandrick and [Mike] Jenkins are going to be better than [Anthony] Henry. [Gerald] Sensabaugh will be better than Roy Williams/Pat Watkins/Keith Davis. And Ken Hamlin couldn't play any worse than he did last year. I'm loving their secondary right now. Its comical when fans are concerned about Dallas' secondary.

Mosley: When healthy, Newman is an elite corner. But he's struggled with injuries for two years running and he's in his early 30s. The Cowboys have asked Newman to back off some of his workouts this offseason in an effort to keep him fresh for the season. He's a finely tuned machine, but if one little thing goes wrong, he tends to break down all over. And I think you can make the argument that Corey Webster and Asante Samuel are both better corners than Newman right now. I agree that Sensabaugh's an upgrade, but it has to concern you a little bit that he was allowed to hit the free-agent market. He's an amazing athlete, but I'm not convinced he's the long-term solution. I expect Hamlin to improve this season, in part, because he'll trust Sensabaugh.


Bcohn17 has asked to make a statement: Matt, I just want to thank you for not having my account shut down for all the [grief] I give you. It can't be easy satisfying such voracious fans that are all in competition.That's it...no questions from me.

Mosley: Bcohn, I finally figured out how to pull the plug on your account. Consider this your final comment -- in this mailbag.


Skflogan has a question about the position battle going on at right tackle for the Redskins: With Jon Jansen gone, do you think that anyone that we have will be a good fit? To tell the truth, I'm not sold on [Stephon] Heyer. All signs point to him being the starter since that's what they had planned for last year.

Mosley: It's Heyer's job to lose, Skflogan. I think the Mike Williams comeback story is pretty compelling, but there's no way (in my mind) that he'll be in game shape early in the season. I think his best-case scenario is to make the team as a backup. And don't forget about Jeremy Bridges. He's a guy who's had some off-field issues, but he still has some ability. If Heyer falters, Bridges might be the guy waiting in the wings. Too many of you have bitten hook, line and sinker on this Williams story line. There's almost no way he sees the field in '09.


MJC121 wants to discuss a certain Cowboys wide receiver: Mr. Mosley, I want to know the role of WR Miles Austin this season. He showed signs of greatness last year. Is he going to be a major target for [Tony] Romo this year? And if he is, what kind of impact does he bring to an already diverse offense?

Mosley: At this point, Austin's actually Romo's favo
rite receiver. I'm serious. The two bonded big time in last year's training camp, and Romo has a lot of confidence in him. Romo and Roy Williams still don't appear to be on the same page in the OTAs I've observed. And Williams' insistence on talking about how Romo and him have "broken down boundaries" is sort of embarrassing. There's a chance that Austin is one of the Beast's breakout stars in '09. I had a chance to talk to him for a little while Friday. Everyone keeps asking him if he's going to be the No. 2 receiver. And you can tell it sort of frustrates him. In his mind, he has a chance to be the No. 1 receiver.


ProbablyJason is making things personal: Personal questions on the life of a blogger: Ever gotten to sit down with any of the owners? If so, who's the chillest to be around? Does the new Cowboys Stadium blow everything away or is it pretty standard, just really big? Did you go to school for journalism? Ever think you'd get such a cool job at ESPN?

Mosley: PJ, I've had the opportunity to sit down with several owners over the past seven or eight years. My first NFL gig was covering the Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News/Dallasnews.com, so I've had a chance to spend a lot of time with Jerry Jones over the years. I don't know if I'd call him the "chillest" owner I've been around, but he's had a pretty remarkable career. In my mind, his best trait is his thick skin. He never takes anything personal. and that's why we've continued to have a solid rapport over the years. I've had good visits with Dan Snyder, the late Lamar Hunt and Dan Rooney over the years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way Mr. Rooney approaches things. Cowboys Stadium is the biggest venue I've ever been in. Until you see it close, it's impossible to describe the size. I certainly wouldn't call it "pretty standard." It's about what you'd expect from Jones...I only took one journalism class at Baylor (Gould's travels), but I did a lot of writing in my English and History courses. I majored in speech communications with a minor in history. I actually attended law school, but decided pretty quickly that I didn't want to be a lawyer. Most of my professors supported that decision. I never really thought about working for ESPN.com. I grew up in the Dallas area, so the Dallas Morning News was my dream job. But my editor at the DMN took a job with ESPN.com -- and he took me with him. OK, that's enough personal stuff for one mailbag.


Jwuer has a Giants question -- thank goodness: Matt, I hope I can get a question in. I've never been able to. The Giants have something new in their WR corps that they have not had in the past, and it seems to be overlooked by the "No Plax/No Toomer" crowd. They have a ton more speed in their WR group this year. Hixon, Smith, Manningham are all quick guys and Nicks seems to have quick game speed. Do you think [Kevin] Gilbride will be able to effectively deploy this new explosive combination, and will Eli [Manning]be able to be accurate enough to deal with it? Also, do you see [Sinorice] Moss being a Giant at the end of training camp?

Mosley: Jwuer, congrats on your first mailbag appearance. Something you'll be able to tell the grandkids about. Regarding your question, I'm not sure it's breaking news that the Giants have some speed. Manningham, Moss and Hixon were all on the roster last year. I wouldn't put Steve Smith in the "speed" category. He's able to get open because of his route-running and he certainly has good hands. But no matter what he says, he doesn't have the speed to play wideout at this level. Nicks will remind you of Anquan Boldin. Big, thick guy who will do a nice job of running after the catch. He'll also work the middle of the field. So I don't think the departure of Burress means a whole new emphasis on speed. I think what will happen, though, is Manning will have an entire offseason to work exclusively with these guys. Manningham might be the biggest wild card of all the guys. I think the Giants love his potential, but they don't trust him yet. And you're right to ask about Moss. This is sink or swim season for him. He's obviously limited because of his lack of size. If he doesn't shine in preseason, it wouldn't surprise me to see him get cut. I think Smith and Hixon will start. And Nicks might crack the starting lineup midway through the season. Sorry we waited so long to talk Giants. That's my fault.


Jiggybree wants to go back to Westbrook: Are the Eagles hiding the fact that Westbrook's injury is more serious then originally thought? If so, will they look to the free agent market for a replacement, with so many veterans available? (IE- E.James, R.Johnson, W.Dunn)

Mosley: When you isolate the surgery that Westbrook had to remove bone spurs in his right ankle, it's not that serious. And no, I don't think the Eagles have a huge secret with Westbrook that they're "hiding." But the problem is that Westbrook's had a history of knee and ankle injuries. Those things add up. If he didn't have an history of ankle issues, we wouldn't give the bone spurs surgery a lot of attention. But this is a guy who makes his living on being able to cut on a dime and make people miss. We've seen what Westbrook looks like when he's not quite right (see '08), and it's sort of naive to believe that separate knee and ankle surgeries in the same offseason aren't cause for concern. And, yes, I think the Eagles need insurance at tailback. They need an instinctive runner who will perform well in the team's zone-blocking scheme. As I said earlier, I don't think James is the right fit at all. If you determine that Dunn still has a little something left, that's the direction I'd go. Rudi Johnson needs a fresh start, but I'm not sure Philly's a great fit for him either, Truthfully, there's no one out there who excites me. I'd give it some time and see what happens in the other training camps.

OK, we've surpassed 2,100 words. Alarms going off in Bristol. Thanks for your time.

Happy birthday, Keith Davis!

December, 30, 2008
12/30/08
7:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

My former colleague Jean-Jacques Taylor made it back from Philadelphia in time to attend Cowboys safety Keith Davis' holiday birthday bash Monday night at the Ghostbar in downtown Dallas. Much like this former ESPN anchor, Taylor worked the "red carpet" at Davis' party, landing exclusives with Patrick Crayton, Deon Anderson, Bradie "Sandwich Board" James and Nick Folk.

It's nice to see that the Cowboys aren't taking Sunday's 44-6 loss too hard. You'd hate to see something like that affect their offseason. We'll keep you updated if any more parties for special teamers break out in the area.

Also make sure you observe the smile on Anderson's face when Taylor informs him of Wade Phillips' announcement that he's no longer Mr. Nice Guy. Patrick Crayton, not normally known for his tact during interviews, hops in to say that he's glad Phillips is changing his approach and hopes it leads to fewer penalties.

Cowboys injury update

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
4:35
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

PHILADELPHIA -- Cowboys starting safety Keith Davis will have X-rays taken on his left ankle and his status for the rest of the game is uncertain. He injured the ankle while attempting to tackle Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter.

Cowboys injury update

December, 18, 2008
12/18/08
5:01
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said that quarterback Tony Romo "felt better" in practice Thursday and should be ready to go Saturday night against the Ravens. He said running back Marion Barber didn't practice and will be a "gameday" decision. Now that rookie Tashard Choice is playing so well, the prospect of Barber not playing isn't as ominous.

Safeties Ken Hamlin and Keith Davis didn't practice, but both of them should be ready to play Saturday. Bobby Carpenter is "iffy" and left guard Montrae Holland is struggling a little bit in his rehab. Looks like Corey Procter will get the start again at left guard.

One more interesting Cowboys note: Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson told Dan Patrick this morning that he doesn't think Jerry Jones will fire Wade Phillips -- even if the Cowboys miss the playoffs. He thinks Jones has too much confidence in the way the defense is playing right now to fire Phillips.

Keith Davis has left the building

December, 14, 2008
12/14/08
9:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys special teams captain Keith Davis just jogged off the field with two athletic trainers. Davis, who was injured last week against the Steelers, had been excellent on special teams so far this evening. Seems like the Giants can't get far enough into a possession to bring in Ahmad Bradshaw. We may see more of him in the second half.

Update: Keith Davis is getting X-rays on his shoulder.

Romo gutting it out

December, 14, 2008
12/14/08
9:22
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- It looked like Tony Romo could've run for the first down, but when he saw that his pump fake froze safety James Butler, he knew he had Patrick Crayton running alone.

Crayton, who'd been a non-factor the last few weeks, has been a huge part of the game plan. Maybe that "secret meeting" wasn't such a bad idea after all. I'm watching the Cowboys' defense pretty closely right now. They're playing a lot of games at the line of scrimmage and there's a lot of pre-snap movement in the secondary. Keith Davis just whiffed on a tackle, allowing Giants tight end Kevin Boss to make a big play.

Redskins focused on Hawaii?

November, 20, 2008
11/20/08
12:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

If you've attended a Redskins home game over the past couple of months, you're familiar with the club's aggressive "Vote the Redskins Ticket" Pro Bowl campaign. There are yard signs, bumper stickers, pins (worn by Redskins blogger Matt Terl) and life-sized pictures of Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff. In fact, the campaign has worked so well that the Redskins would have 17 starters if voting ended today -- and coaches and players weren't allowed to vote.

Washington may have the worst punt-coverage unit in the NFL, but that hasn't stopped Ryan Plackemeier from vaulting to No. 1 in the polls. And with all the great defensive ends in the NFC, Andre Carter has made his way to No. 2. As of Nov. 18, here's a look at how NFC East players were doing in the fan voting:

Quarterbacks: 2. Eli Manning, Giants 3. Jason Campbell, Redskins 5. Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Running backs: 1. Clinton Portis, Redskins 3. Marion Barber, Cowboys. 5. Brandon Jacobs, Giants

Wide receivers: 1. Santana Moss, Redskins 4. Plaxico Burress, Giants

Fullbacks: 1. Mike Sellers, Redskins 2. Madison Hedgecock, Giants 3. Deon Anderson, Cowboys

Tight ends: 1. Chris Cooley, Redskins 2. Jason Witten, Cowboys 3. Kevin Boss, Giants

Centers: 1. Casey Rabach, Redskins 2. Shaun O'Hara, Giants 5. Andre Gurode, Cowboys

Guards: 1. Pete Kendall, Redskins 2. Randy Thomas, Redskins 3. Chris Snee, Giants 5. Leonard Davis, Cowboys

Tackles: 1. Chris Samuels, Redskins 2. Flozell Adams, Cowboys 3. David Diehl, Giants 4. Kareem McKenzie 5. Stephon Heyer, Redskins

Defensive ends: 1. Justin Tuck, Giants 2. Andre Carter, Redskins

Defensive tackles: 1. Cornelius Griffin, Redskins 2. Kedric Golston, Redskins 5. Fred Robbins, Giants

Outside linebackers: 1. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys 2. Jason Taylor, Redskins 3. Marcus Washington, Redskins 4. Rocky McIntosh, Redskins

Inside linebackers: 1. London Fletcher, Redskins 3. Antonio Pierce, Giants 5. Zach Thomas, Cowboys

Cornerbacks: 1. Shawn Springs, Redskins 2. Carlos Rogers, Redskins 4. Asante Samuel, Eagles

Strong safety: 1. Chris Horton, Redskins 5. James Butler, Giants

Free safety: 1. LaRon Landry, Redskins 2. Brian Dawkins, Eagles 4. Michael Johnson, Giants 5. Ken Hamlin, Cowboys

Kickers: 1. Shaun Suisham, Redskins 2. John Carney, Giants 4. Nick Folk, Cowboys

Punters: 1. Ryan Plackemeier, Redskins 2. Jeff Feagles, Giants 5. Sav Rocca, Eagles

Kick returners: 1. Rock Cartwright, Redskins 4. Felix Jones, Cowboys 5. DeSean Jackson, Eagles

Special teamers: 1. Khary Campbell, Redskins 2. Chase Blackburn, Giants 4. Keith Davis, Cowboys

Special thanks to Mike Sando for his Pro Bowl spreadsheet.

Audibles: NFC East Week 11 preview

November, 14, 2008
11/14/08
3:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at Washington Redskins (6-3), 8:15 p.m. ET

  

The Cowboys aren't officially calling this a must-win game, but they might as well. Quarterback Tony Romo returns after missing three games with a broken right pinkie. I've had an up-close look at the splint, and it gives him a lot more flexibility than the previous one. Romo's still experiencing some pain when he throws longer routes, but he says it's not affecting his passes.

The Cowboys have hinted at tweaks they've made to the offense throughout the week. From what I've been told by sources at Valley Ranch, those tweaks include a lot more no-huddle and more pre-snap motion for Terrell Owens. You might recall that it was Washington that provided the blueprint for how to defend T.O. in press coverage. The good news for the Redskins is that cornerback Shawn Springs should finally be able to play again. Springs, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot should give the Redskins a lot of options. And it looks like cornerback DeAngelo Hall will be ready to go.

The Redskins will probably be without running back Clinton Portis, who is nursing a knee sprain. Portis shredded the Cowboys defensive line at Texas Stadium earlier this season, so it would be a huge loss. Ladell Betts is a capable backup, but he's also been sidelined with a knee injury. Coach Jim Zorn has talked about teaching Shaun Alexander some different things, but he's not a good option.

The Redskins will try to take a couple of shots early at Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman, who is returning from a sports hernia. Santana Moss burned Newman on a deep ball in the Redskins' win, and Jason Campbell will look to find him on several hitches and screens. Moss' hamstring wasn't right against the Steelers, and it affected how Campbell played. That said, look for a big game from Chris Cooley. At some point, he'll be matched up with Ken Hamlin or Keith Davis. And that's not a good situation for the Cowboys. Cooley's learned his trade by studying Cowboys tight end Jason Witten -- and he's learned well.

The Redskins can lose this game and still be in the hunt for a playoff game. If the Cowboys lose, they can pretty much rule themselves out.

Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at New York Giants (8-1), 1 p.m. ET

  

Cowboys-Redskins is a great rivalry, but this might be the game of the week. The Giants have been unbelievable on the ground with the combination of Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. The Ravens do a superb job of stopping the run. In fact, they hold teams to under 70 yards per game. Everyone is anxious to see that first collision between Jacobs and Ray Lewis, who's never backed down from a challenge.

The thing that impresses me most about Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco is that he's at his best when the stakes are highest. He's been excellent on third downs, which is also true for Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He was 7-of-10 on third down against the Eagles, and six of those passes went for first downs. The absence of Plaxico Burress in training camp allowed Manning to bond with young receivers such as Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon. In fact, Smith's become one of the better third-down receivers in the league this season. He does a great job of getting separation from cornerbacks in tight spots.

On defense, the Giants will try to rattle Flacco early. I think you'll see Justin Tuck use a lot of his inside moves to apply pressure. It drove the Giants nuts that they didn't have any sacks against Donovan McNabb. If they have less than four sacks against the Ravens, I'll be surprised. The Ravens' defense will be a great test for Manning and the offense, but New York will find a way to win.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-8), 1 p.m. ET 

  

The Eagles can't afford to sleepwalk through this game. Honestly, they're not good enough to do that. The Bengals pushed the Cowboys and Giants to the brink earlier in the season and then beat the Jaguars.

I think Andy Reid will actually try to establish the
run against the Bengals. All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook sat out a portion of practice Friday, but Reid was just being cautious. Westbrook has been asking for an opportunity to find some rhythm in the running game, and he may get that chance.

The Eagles were gashed by the Giants in the running game. That's not going to happen against the Bengals. But this team still has enough offensive firepower to worry the Eagles' secondary. With the addition of Asante Samuel, the Eagles were supposed to be an elite secondary. That hasn't quite been the case, though.

The Eagles will have an opportunity to work on their performance in the red zone and in short-yardage situations. For some reason, Reid seems to be at his worst in those important situations. Against the Giants, he used a lot of misdirection with the speedy DeSean Jackson. This isn't the type of game the Eagles need to win 21-17. They need to win impressively in order to get some confidence back. And stop trying to convince me that they played well enough to win the Giants game. The final score wasn't an indication of what took place on the field.

Strong special-teams work by the Bucs

October, 26, 2008
10/26/08
1:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- Tampa Bay just signed Clifton Smith to return punts today, but now he's showing up all over the field. He did a great job of getting open when Jeff Garcia got into trouble on a Cowboys blitz. Smith's also looked good on two returns.

And Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli delivered a crushing blow to Cowboys special-teams ace Keith Davis on the last punt return. So far, Tampa Bay is doing a great job of giving Garcia time in the pocket. He's connecting on a lot of sideline routes, but he just took a shot deep to former Cowboys wide receiver Joey Galloway.

It's striking how different these two passing attacks look. In 2006, Tony Romo threw five touchdowns against the Bucs. At this rate, Brad Johnson will be fortunate to complete 10 passes. It's that bad, folks.

Keep a close eye on Jeff Garcia. Safety Kenny Hamlin just drilled him, and it looked like Garcia was rubbing his chest. Former Jacksonville (Texas) High standout Luke McCown is waiting in the wings.

Phillips takes on larger role in Dallas

October, 22, 2008
10/22/08
2:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has taken over the play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, according to a team source. On Monday, Phillips had alluded to possible changes, but he wasn't specific.

This wasn't a move Phillips wanted to make because he and Stewart are close friends. Owner Jerry Jones, though, instructed Phillips to make a significant change -- and this is what he went with.

Phillips and Stewart had a lot of success together in San Diego, where they served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach, respectively. Phillips didn't have any say in hiring an offensive coordinator, but Stewart was his first choice on the defensive side of the ball.

In Stewart's defense, he's been without the team's best defensive back in Terence Newman and his replacement, Pacman Jones, was suspended indefinitely for his infamous bathroom brawl. The defense didn't have any depth at outside linebacker because Anthony Spencer has been banged up most of the season, and a Miami Dolphin castoff, Keith Davis, is starting in place of the injured Roy Williams.

Still, Jones needed a scapegoat for the team's miserable play lately, and Stewart seemed like the best choice. Now we'll see if the vaunted Phillips 3-4 looks any different against Tampa Bay.

The Pacman contingency plan

October, 9, 2008
10/09/08
12:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

As of late last night, Cowboys coaches were preparing as if Adam "Pacman" Jones would play against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. In case you've been hiding under a rock for the past 24 hours, Jones was involved in a little dust-up at a trendy hotel in downtown Dallas early Wednesday morning.

From what I'm told, the coaches are assuming that owner Jerry Jones was able to smooth things over with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who just happened to be in town for a visit. But at this point, I'm not sure that's a safe assumption.

Here's the contingency plan if Jones misses Sunday's game: Anthony Henry will start at one corner and rookie Mike Jenkins will start at the other. Rookie Orlando Scandrick will replace the injured Terence Newman in the nickel.

The Cowboys know that Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley will spread them out with three- and four-receiver sets. Oh, and don't forget that Courtney Brown and Keith Davis will see a lot of time at safety because of injuries to Roy Williams and Pat Watkins.

This is a recipe for disaster against a dangerous offensive team. Kurt Warner is great at releasing the ball after a three-step drop. I think the Cowboys will play some man coverage in an attempt to force Warner to hold the ball a little longer. That would give DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis an extra second to get to Warner.

OK, I have to meet Ed Werder and his TV truck at Valley Ranch in 20 minutes. For those of you waiting on the Chris Samuels interview, I've moved it back to later this afternoon. Thanks for your patience.

Ed Werder checks in to try and answer some questions about the latest incident involving Adam Jones.

Cowboys sign safety Davis

September, 3, 2008
9/03/08
3:14
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Davis
Davis

Keith Davis is a Dallas Cowboy again after spending six months with the Dolphins. Bill Parcells signed the special teams ace as a free agent in March and then unceremoniously dumped him late last week.

From the Dallas PR office:

The Dallas Cowboys signed free agent safety Keith Davis today. Davis signed with the Miami Dolphins following the 2007 season and went to training camp with them prior to his release on August 27. He re-joins the Dallas Cowboys for his sixth season with the team and in the NFL. For his career he has recorded 111 tackles in 68 total games with 22 starts on defense and added another 77 tackles on special teams. Davis originally joined the team as an undrafted free agent on April 26, 2002.

Davis will wear No. 29 and Tashard Choice No. 23.

Dolphins players and most of the coaches found out when Davis wasn't on the team plane before the final exhibition game.

Sources in Miami have said that Davis asked for his release because he wanted to start, but it's not like that will happen in Dallas. There's something missing here, and I'll try to run it down for you at some point.

OK, my plane's about to take off from Charlotte to New York. If you need me the rest of the afternoon, leave a note in the mailbag. I check it on a semi-monthly basis.

Cowboys release reserve CB Oglesby

September, 2, 2008
9/02/08
4:34
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The Dallas Cowboys just released cornerback Evan Oglesby. Second-year cornerback Alan Ball and Oglesby had battled throughout training camp for the final spot at cornerback. This clears a spot for safety Keith Davis, who was released by the Dolphins last week.

The Cowboys will also need to clear a spot for quarterback Brooks Bollinger after the Browns game.

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