NFC East: Larry Allen

Cowboys done with OL rebuild

May, 14, 2014
May 14
IRVING, Texas -- Pam Martin asked her son to do some research on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line, so the team’s first-round pick dutifully did what his mother told him.

Zack Martin quickly realized he was older than Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, the other two first-round picks Martin will join on the line in 2014. Smith, the 2011 first rounder, was born Dec. 12, 1990. Frederick, the 2013 first rounder, was born march 18, 1991.

Martin was born Nov. 20, 1990.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame's Zack Martin is the latest first-round pick Dallas has added to its young offensive line.
“That’s a little weird,” Martin said.

Weird and potentially terrific for the Cowboys. Before Smith, Jerry Jones never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt also kept their distance from the offensive line. Before Smith, Howard Richards was the most recent first-round offensive lineman, coming in 1981 with the 26th overall pick.

Now the Cowboys are like the San Francisco 49ers with three first-round starters on the offensive line. In 2007, the Niners took Joe Staley. In 2010, they added Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.

“We believe games in the National Football League are won up front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team.”


Who will lead the Cowboys in sacks this season?


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San Francisco went 6-10 in 2010, but has gone 36-11-1 in the past three seasons. They have played in three straight NFC Championship Games, making it to the Super Bowl in 2012.

“We’ve been pretty lucky getting (Andre) Gurode, getting the Flozell Adamses and Larry Allens (in the second round), but those days are over apparently,” Jones said. “So we want to get some of that quality in the future offensive line. These guys are long-term players that are good, and all of that is about franchise.”

The Cowboys have an offensive line that can grow together.

Smith made his first Pro Bowl last season and is the best young tackle in the NFL. Frederick started every game as a rookie and cemented the interior of the Cowboys’ line. Martin will be a Day 1 starter and was considered the safest pick in the draft.

Right tackle Doug Free is the oldest up front and is just 30. Ronald Leary recently turned 25. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who could still compete for a starting job, is just 28.

Having Smith, Frederick and Martin grow together should make everyone associated with the Cowboys’ offense happier, from Garrett to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to assistant head coach Bill Callahan to quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.

The selection of Martin ends the rebuilding of an offensive line that started in 2011 when the Cowboys parted ways with Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. A year later they said goodbye to Kyle Kosier.

It took time.

In 2011, the Cowboys started a seventh-round pick, Bill Nagy, at left guard and a second-year undrafted center in Phil Costa. When Nagy got hurt, they looked to journeymen Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Smith played as a rookie at right tackle and needed 2012 to be seasoned as a left tackle. Nate Livings was signed as a free agent in 2012, but injuries led the team away from him last season. Bernadeau’s play improved last year after he re-took the right guard spot following Brian Waters' season-ending triceps’ injury.

“We are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more.”

Jason Witten added to Pro Bowl

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
IRVING, Texas -- With the Denver Broncos earning their way to Super Bowl XLVIII, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Witten will replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas and become the fourth Cowboy to head to Hawaii, joining left tackle Tyron Smith, wide receiver Dez Bryant and defensive end Jason Hatcher, who was added as a replacement for Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

While it will be the first Pro Bowl trips for Smith, Bryant and Hatcher, it will be Witten’s ninth in 11 seasons. The only years he did not make it to the Pro Bowl came as a rookie in 2003 and in 2011.

Witten ties Randy White for the fourth most Pro Bowl appearances in team history. Only Bob Lilly (11), Larry Allen and Mel Renfro, who appeared in 10 each, have been selected to more than Witten.

Witten caught 73 passes for 851 yards and had eight touchdown passes in 2013.

Cowboys practice report: Day 16

August, 13, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. -- A feisty practice from start to finish.
  • DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee love barking at each other. During a run play, the two got tangled up, and Lee and Murray yelled at each other. Jason Hatcher went over to play peacemaker. Later, Lee was upset at Terrance Williams for a low block and yelled a few bad words at the rookie. Murray and Will Allen also needed to be separated after a run up the middle.
  • Allen knocked down a high pass to Jason Witten down the field. Allen put a nice shot on Witten, who lost the ball as he crashed to the ground. He was fine despite being slow to get up.
  • Orlando Scandrick should have picked off a Tony Romo pass, but it bounced out of his hands for a pass breakup. Scandrick is good at reading quarterbacks but just doesn't always finish the play in terms of creating a turnover.
  • Jermey Parnell participated in team drills and worked with the second team at right tackle for the first time in nearly two weeks. Parnell was very aggressive, something the coaches like because after he gets out of his stance, he attacks the defender. He also displayed some athletic ability on sweeps. Parnell did a nice job of getting to the second level for a block on a nice run by Joseph Randle.
  • Rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman had an interception in team drills and two more in the one-on-one drills.
  • B.W. Webb got some work in the nickel package and is getting better in pass coverage. He's also fielding punts well. After a muff in Oakland last week, Webb caught several punts without any issues on the scout team.
  • Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was upset at the third-team defensive line. Several times he went onto the fields and had some choice words.
  • As Romo avoided pressure, he connected with Dez Bryant, who made a nifty one-handed catch. During the two-minute drill, Miles Austin made a nice open-field grab on a Romo pass.
  • Former Cowboy and 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Larry Allen and former Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck attended practice. Allen said Houck should be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Actress Kate Bosworth and actor Chace Crawford attended practice.

Video: Larry Allen's Hall of Fame speech

August, 4, 2013

Longtime Dallas offensive lineman Larry Allen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame after 10 career Pro Bowl selections in 14 NFL seasons. Click here for the full transcript of Allen's speech.

Story behind the Larry Allen pump

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -- It was easy to tell when Larry Allen was excited during a game.

He would raise his right arm and pump it up and down after a long gain.

The crowd noticed, but Allen said he never really caught the reaction.

“I don’t think the crowd knew what that meant,” Allen said. “Whenever I did that, that was to Sean Payton because I wanted him to run the same play over again. So if I did something good on that play, I’d do that and he’d run the same play.”

John Madden has said Allen is one of the three best guards to ever play, along with John Hannah and Gene Upshaw. Bill Parcells had Allen with Hannah and Mike Munchak as one of the three best.

The reason? His strength.

“I’d punch them, two-handed punch, pass protection,” Allen said.

He learned it from Hudson Houck, his line coach when the Cowboys drafted him in 1994.

“I think he has four Hall of Famers he’s coached,” Allen said. “Players he coached played in over 100 Pro Bowls, so he’s a great coach.”

Larry Allen and Bill Parcells found themselves at the wrong point in their careers, when Parcells took over the Dallas Cowboys in 2003.

Allen, a great player, was a 10-year veteran trying to squeeze a few more years out of his body. Parcells, a great coach, was trying to make the Cowboys a winner after the worst three-year stretch of the Jerry Jones era.

We shouldn't be surprised they clashed.

The surprise is that it was rooted in Allen's offseason approach. Allen wanted his offseason conditioning program built around the bench press, which is what he'd always done. Parcells wanted him doing clean and jerks as the base of his offseason program because it's an exercise that builds strength and power.

"I was paid to play football," Allen said. "I just wanted to do what I had always done. It's what made me the player I was and I wanted to do it my way."

Parcells said Allen's personality made it difficult for them to develop a rapport or find a common ground. If Allen hadn't signed a six-year, $37 million contract extension in 2002, he probably wouldn't have lasted three seasons with Parcells.

"I think he’s a good person. I always thought that. He was a little overweight at the time," Parcells said of the 2004 training camp. "He wasn't in great condition. I’m trying to get my program started and I got him -- one of my best players supposed to be running wind sprints up and down the field not practicing. That was hard for him and that was hard for me.

"I never really conversed with Larry on an intimate basis. I see him and he’s cordial and nice. He had a great career."

Despite their differences, Parcells said Allen is one of the top three guards he's ever seen.

"He’s right there at the top with John Hannah and Mike Munchak," Parcells said. "Larry was very powerful, probably the most powerful player I’d ever seen."
OXNARD, Calif. – As he sat with opposing players before they had to play against Larry Allen, John Madden could notice the dread.

“You didn’t sleep easy the night before, hoping you get to play against Larry Allen,” Madden said. “They knew it. There’s no pro football player that has a fear of another guy that plays on that level, but he was so doggone strong and there wasn’t much you could do against him.”

Allen will be the 14th Cowboy inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Madden, a Hall of Famer himself, can’t wait to see him in Canton, Ohio. He shares northern California ties with Allen and got to know him over the years.

Madden remembers Joe Greene praising Allen, even if Greene never played against him. He recalls the respect Reggie White had for Allen. And he remembers the words coaches like Mike Holmgren and George Seifert had for Allen.

Even Allen’s teammates were amazed at what he could do.

“When Nate Newton played he came in at 300 pounds, and that was a number that you didn’t want to exceed,” Madden said. “I remember those days because I coached and those 300-pound guys would be 299, and Nate always fought his weight. He said he always had to be under 300 pounds and he said, ‘Then this Larry Allen comes in and he weighs 330 pounds and they’re all bragging about it. They never let me weigh 330 pounds, and then we got this guy and I saw him and he was a different 330 pounds than I (had) ever seen.’”

What made Allen so great?

“He had everything,” Madden said. “That was the thing he had. He had strength and knew how to use it. There are a lot of guys that have strength and power and don’t use it. There are other guys that don’t have it and go and get beat. He was the type of guy that could use it at the line of scrimmage and use that in space. He could pull and get at defensive back downfield and he could block at the point of attack and pass protect. That’s what makes a great player. You don’t say he had one thing. He had everything.”

Allen made offensive line play cool, and few were cooler or better than Allen, according to Madden.

“He has to rank right up there at the top,” Madden said. “I think you have to go by the ones you’ve seen, and I’ve always put John Hanna up there as that guy. I had Gene Upshaw and he’s a Hall of Fame guard, and I put Larry Allen right there with that group. There was never a question with me whether or not he was a Hall of Famer. He’s one of the all-time great NFL players at his position, and you could make an argument that he’s the best, but you’d have to wrestle some other guys for it.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- We’ve all heard stories about Larry Allen's strength, power and the raw athleticism that made him one of the best offensive linemen ever.

We can all recite the stories about him bench-pressing 700 pounds and chasing New Orleans linebacker Darion Connor 50 yards to prevent a touchdown as a rookie.

And we’ve all seen video of him destroying linebackers and defensive backs when he pulled, creating running lanes for Emmitt Smith.

“Across the board, he was the best football player I ever played with -- and I played with them all,” former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson said. “Troy [Aikman], Emmitt, Michael [Irvin], Deion [Sanders] ... Larry Allen was the best.

“He was also the smartest.”

Say what?

That’s right. Talk to any player or coach who played with Allen during his 12 seasons in Dallas and they’ll tell you he was among the game’s most intelligent players.

Former offensive line coach Hudson Houck used to joke that Allen was the best offensive linemen on the field and in the classroom.

“He wanted to know everyone’s assignment,” six-time Pro Bowl guard Nate Newton said. “If the quarterback was rolling out, he wanted to know exactly where he was supposed to end up so he could adjust his block properly.

“He always asked a lot of questions, but he asked a lot of smart questions. He always wanted to know what we were supposed to do if the defensive player didn’t do what we thought he would do.”

Allen was a second-round pick from tiny Division II Sonoma State in the 1994 draft. Six games into the season, he was starting. The six-time All-Pro played every position except center on the offensive line.

“Do you know how smart you have to be to go from playing at Sonoma State to starting for a two-time Super Bowl champion?” Woodson said. “Think about how big that jump is. Think about the kind of offense we had in Dallas and what he ran at Sonoma State.

“I don’t know how Larry did in math or what kind of grades he made, but he understood everything about football and concepts and that’s what helped make him a great player. He anticipated things because he knew where everyone was on the field and he could adjust.”
NEW ORLEANS -- Larry Allen said he started crying when he got the news Saturday night that he had been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Makes sense. What Allen did for a living -- play guard in the NFL for 14 years, the first 12 with the Dallas Cowboys -- was crushing work. While Allen might have been one of the most decorated guards in NFL history, being selected to 11 Pro Bowls, winning a Super Bowl and being elected to two all-decade teams, the amount of attention offensive linemen get isn't commensurate with the difficulty of the work they do. Quarterbacks get the glory, as do star wideouts, running backs, pass-rushers and even the occasional cornerback.

After doing what he did as well as he did it for as long as he did it, to be elected to the Hall of Fame as a no-brainer on the first try has to be supremely gratifying.

It's not a surprise, though. Allen must have been one of the easiest calls the voters made this year in their eight-hour (!) selection meeting. He was an absolutely dominating player -- an All-Pro selection every year from 1995-2001. He had strength, instincts and incredible speed and quickness for a man of his mountainous size.

During his time, he was the very best in the entire league at what he did, and the length of time for which he did it makes him one of the best offensive linemen of all time. If you didn't know that a couple of hours ago, Allen now has proof. He is, officially, a Hall of Famer.
NEW ORLEANS -- Two of the NFC East candidates up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year were selected for induction.

Former New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells became a Hall of Famer on his fourth try, after being eligible in 2001 and 2002 and again last year. Former Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen was elected in his first.

The announcement was made at 6 p.m. ET Saturday.

Former Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan, eligible for the first time, was among the 10 finalists but did not receive enough votes to be elected this year. I'm a bit surprised that Warren Sapp made it and Strahan did not, and I'll have more on that later, as well as analysis on the elections of Parcells and Allen.

Wide receiver Cris Carter also was elected, and while he will be remembered as a Viking, he did play the first three seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. So I guess we can count him as an NFC East Hall of Famer as well.

Breakfast links: Cooley closure

October, 6, 2011
So Chris Cooley explained himself Wednesday on the whole I-liked-seeing-Romo-choke thing, and part of the explanation was that he was joking. Which is fine, even if it's also the excuse my five-year-old uses when he says something he's not supposed to say and gets called on it. I've spent a lot of time discussing this whole issue on Twitter since I wrote that what Cooley said was unprofessional. And while I stand by it, there are a couple of things I need to say before I stop discussing it altogether.

First, some people have suggested that what I wrote was meant in defense of Tony Romo, and that's simply preposterous. While the whole thing may not have come to my attention (or anyone else's) had the perpetually-in-the-news Romo not been involved, I nonetheless would have felt the same way if Cooley had made the comments about any other player, or if Romo had made them about Cooley. If professionals act unprofessional, I'm going to call them on it, and the only bias at work there is my bias against adults who insist on acting like children.

Second, the more civil Twitter interactions I've had over this have been very instructive and informative to me about Cooley and his unique place in the hearts of Redskins fans. So while I still don't think he should have said what he said, I have come to a better understanding of why he said it and what it means to his fans that he said it. I still think this kind of dialogue is best kept between and among fans and that the players themselves should stay out of it, but that's just my opinion. I am not a Redskins fan, or a fan of any other team, and because of that it is always valuable for me to learn as much as possible about the way fans of these four teams think. It can only help me continue to work to make this blog a better place for those of you who come here to read it.

So that's it from me on Cooley, who's welcome to keep clowning around on the radio if that's part of his deal. I feel like he crossed a line on this one. Many of you disagree, and that's fine. Not the first time, won't be the last.

Now, let's hit the links.

Washington Redskins

Redskins receiver Niles Paul got fined $20,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Rams punt returner Austin Pettis in Sunday's game. Big bill for a rookie to get, and it doesn't sound as though Paul was too thrilled about it.

Mike Shanahan says Sunday's was the best defensive game the Redskins have played so far in his two seasons as their head coach. He specifically praised the pass rush. Washington's defense is obviously vastly improved and looks legit.

New York Giants

You likely remember Chad Jones, the former LSU safety the Giants picked in the third round of the 2010 draft. Before he ever got a chance to play for the Giants, Jones wrecked his leg and nearly died in a terrible car accident. Well, he turned 23 on Wednesday and celebrated by breaking five seconds in the 40-yard dash. Cool story.

A couple of fresh injury issues for the Giants, as linebacker Michael Boley and running back Brandon Jacobs missed Wednesday's practice with knee injuries. As of now, it sounds as if both plan to practice today and/or tomorrow and play Sunday, and that the injuries to center David Baas and defensive end Justin Tuck are the more worrisome with regard to this week's game.

Dallas Cowboys

A lot of people did a lot of things wrong for the Cowboys toward the end of Sunday's collapse, and Felix Jones was one of them, stepping out of bounds on a fourth-down play when he was 13 yards short of the first-down marker. Jones said he "got caught up in the moment." As Calvin Watkins writes, the question about the Cowboys is whether or not they can handle the big moments.

Rookie right tackle Tyron Smith has offensive line coach Hudson Houck comparing him to Larry Allen. That's some seriously high praise in Cowboys Country.

Philadelphia Eagles

With the Eagles finally ready to start first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard this weekend, Sheil Kapadia looks at the number of snaps taken so far this year by each of the other first-rounders. He found five others who have yet to play a single down, but of those five, four are out with injuries, meaning that Watkins and Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder are the only healthy 2011 first-rounders who have yet to play. The Eagles' hope, of course, is that the extra month of practice is what Watkins needed to be ready. We shall see.

Oh, and Michael Vick says we can't use "Dream Team" anymore, which... well, we'll see about that too. But Vick's message is the right one for quarterback to be sending to team at this dismal point in the Eagles' season: All that preseason hype is irrelevant, and we need to scrape and fight for our playoff spot like everybody else, so let's get to work and stop goofing around. He's right, but it's going to be tough. You could easily see the Eagles and their permissive defense losing each of these next two games.

Most athletic Cowboys

June, 13, 2011
It is, to be sure, The Season of the List. The absence of actual NFL news during the lockout has led many of us to turn to rankings and list-making as a source of conversation-stirring content. We've done more than our share of it here, but we're not alone. today offers a ranking of the Top 10 all-around athletes ever to suit up for the Cowboys.

This is not, they make it clear, a list of the best players ever to play for the Cowboys. You won't find Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith or Michael Irvin here. But you will find Walt Garrison, who was an actual rodeo cowboy in addition to being a football one. You'll find Terrell Owens, as pure an athletic specimen as we've seen in spite of his...well, drawbacks. The list reminds us of Ed "Too Tall" Jones' boxing career, Herschel Walker's turn as an Olympic bobsledder and Deion Sanders multi-sport exploits as an NFL star and Major League Baseball player.

T0ny Romo makes the list because of his skills on the golf course. And DeMarcus Ware, Mel Renfro and Larry Allen didn't even have to go the two-sport route to crack the top 10, so impressive were they as pure athletes on the football field. The man in the No. 1 spot? Well, as the writer, Nick Eatman, points out, Bob Hayes was not only know as "The Fastest Man in the World," but he's also the only guy with a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal. Pretty good credentials for a list like this. Pretty fun list.

Allen's the next HOF'er for Cowboys

August, 6, 2010
ASHBURN, Va. -- I'll be returning to Redskins practice in a bit, but I couldn't help but notice that's Calvin Watkins blogged about who would be the next Cowboys player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He mentions Charles Haley and Darren Woodson right out of the box, but I think there's a player who will beat both of them into the Hall.

In my mind, guard Larry Allen will be a first-ballot guy. He played the '07 season for the 49ers, so he's a few years away. But Allen's status as one of the greatest offensive lineman to ever play the game will make him a no-brainer. The painfully shy Allen is probably already nervous about his speech. I'll visit with Calvin here in a few minutes via phone to determine why he failed to mention such a remarkable player.

After Allen, I'd like to see Cliff Harris go in the Hall. He was an All-Decade player from the '70s and his contemporaries thought he was perhaps the best safety of his generation. The late defensive end Harvey Martin isn't mentioned enough, either. Either Deion Sanders or Allen will be the next Cowboy to go in. Sanders was somewhat of a mercenary, but he certainly made his time with the Cowboys count.

And I can't have this argument without at least mentioning how shameful it is that wide receiver Drew Pearson's not in the Ring of Honor. Jerry Jones' hesitancy to put him in is among the most curious things he's done as owner.

Who do you guys think will be the next Cowboys player in the Hall of Fame? Is there a former Redskins player who belongs in the Hall?

Allen: We didn't pursue Peppers

March, 5, 2010
In the hours leading up to the official start of free agency, much of the speculation centered on the Washington Redskins' supposed pursuit of Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers. But now that Peppers is joining the Chicago Bears, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen wants to set the record straight via the club's Web site.

"Julius Peppers is a very good football player," Allen told Larry Weisman. "I’ve been in the NFC South the last five years and he’s tortured my team [Tampa Bay] a few times. He’s a good player but I think he’s going somewhere else."

And when Weisman, formerly with USA Today, asked Allen directly whether the Redskins had reached out to Peppers, the GM responded, "No, we didn't."

Of course, this represents an entirely new approach for the organization. The Redskins are actually taking a patient approach to free agency and they're allowing other teams to set the market. Perhaps Dan Snyder is doing some consulting work for the Bears because they've picked up where the Skins left off last offseason. I think the relatively slow start to free agency is a refreshing thing for the former Monsters of March.

Allen and coach Mike Shanahan said there would not be any magic answers to rebuilding this franchise. And so far, they've been true to their word.

Wednesday Beastlines: Peppers to Giants?

February, 10, 2010
Let's take a quick look at the headlines from around the division. Things are fairly quiet this week, but that could change in a hurry.