NFC East: Michael Hamlin
You knew Hamlin's roster spot was in jeopardy when coach Wade Phillips started activating undrafted rookie safeties, which was the case against the Tennessee Titans.
Cowboys safeties coach Brett Maxie had been high on Hamlin based on his ball skills, but the player never took the next step. This leaves the Cowboys at 52 players on the roster. They hosted former Eagles safety Quintin Demps for a workout recently, so we'll see if he's in the mix.
Dallas Cowboys: Emergency QB Stephen McGee, S Michael Hamlin, FB Chris Gronkowski, LB Brandon Williams, C Phil Costa, T Sam Young, T Robert Brewster, DE Sean Lissemore
Tennessee Titans: QB Rusty Smith, WR Justin Gage, CB Jason McCourty, S Robert Johnson, LB Rennie Curran, G/C Leroy Harris, T Mike Otto, DT Sen'Derrick Marks
Kenny Britt will take over for Gage in the Titans' starting lineup. Britt had more targets last week, so it shouldn't be a huge adjustment for him. In fact, I think Britt might be the Titans' most dangerous receiver today. We'll keep you posted.
Lot of folks at Cowboys Stadium keeping one eye on the Texas Rangers, who are playing the Rays down the street. The Rangers are trailing 5-1 as we speak. Still have no clue why Ron Washington removed Darren O'Day after facing one hitter last night.
But I'll save that anger for the radio.
- About the best thing you can say about the first half is that fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah opened the game with a 41-yard return. He showed a nice burst and Joe DeCamillis's unit did a good job creating a lane along the right side of the field.
- It looked like the Cowboys' offensive line hadn't seen a stunt all preseason. On the first sack of Tony Romo, Texans defensive end Mario Williams came racing up the middle and Andre Gurode appeared to be shocked by his arrival.
- Both Bradie James and Mike Jenkins did a nice job diagnosing plays early in the game, but Jenkins has to do a better job wrapping up. That's what Darren Woodson was really worried about with this group. Would they be able to tackle? Jenkins looked bad early in the game. Then Alan Ball started missing tackles.
- The Cowboys are praying Dez Bryant will someday be like Andre Johnson. Matt Schaub has the luxury of being able to deliver the ball even when Johnson is closely covered. Johnson caught one ball on the first drive with Terence Newman all over him and then dragged him another 5 yards.
- Jason Witten had no chance against defensive end Antonio Smith. Witten was overwhelmed by Smith when the Cowboys tried to run the ball to the left side. The Cowboys' running game has been bad throughout the preseason. I did like the draw play to Felix Jones on the second drive of the game. Right tackle Alex Barron did a really nice job sealing his man on that play. On the next play, Miles Austin had a bad drop in the left flat.
- Gurode may have jump-started Amobi Okoye's dormant career in the first quarter. The Texans' former first-round pick raced around Gurode to sack Tony Romo. It looked like Gurode was in decent position and then he just watched Okoye run past him. Romo doesn't have any time to survey the field.
- Missed the memo on former Tennessee Volunteer Arian Foster being such a wonderful running back. In the first quarter, DeMarcus Ware got pancaked by a tight end when Foster took off on an 18-yard run. Cowboys free safety Alan Ball whiffed on Foster in the open field. On the same drive, the Cowboys were completely fooled in coverage when Matt Schaub rolled right and then threw back across the field to Jacoby Jones. It looked like Ball was the player who was fooled on the touchdown.
- Hey, at least Roy Williams came to play Saturday night. He made a nice catch off his shoetops late in the first quarter and then he overpowered Kareem Jackson on a 29-yard catch. Later in the drive, Williams drew a holding penalty on cornerback Glover Quin. The Cowboys then botched a toss to Felix Jones, who raced back and failed to recover the fumble. CBS' Gus Johnson was in midseason form on that call.
- The Cowboys have to do a better job of knowing down and distance on defense. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick was giving Jacoby Jones way too much cushion on a third-and-6 play. There was no mystery where Jones was going with that route. On the next route, the Cowboys did the same thing on third-and-7. You think it might be a good idea to cover Andre Johnson on a crossing route? Johnson was the best player on the field Saturday.
- Did anyone else see defensive end Igor Olshansky getting blown off the ball in the first half? That's supposed to be the strength of Olshansky's game, but he was on his heels every time I watched.
- Scandrick simply has no chance against Andre Johnson. The Texans receiver is too physical for Scandrick. Former Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has promised Santana Moss that he'll be able to do a lot of the same things as Johnson in the Skins' offense.
- It's impressive to watch Tashard Choice on one of those slip screens. And it's remarkable to see Leonard Davis racing downfield in front of Choice. Doug Free told me recently that Davis might be the fastest player on the offensive line.
- Wade Phillips finally lost his temper after a Foster run early in the second half. Looked like he was especially upset with Jason Williams and safety Michael Hamlin on the play. Both players took poor angles to Foster and ended up chasing him from behind.
- With 11:47 left in the third quarter, Phil Simms says the Cowboys don't appear to be motivated for this game. You think? What a weak little attempt at a tackle by safety Pat Watkins on Jeremiah Johnson's long run.
- On Foster's touchdown run early in the second half, Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler was driven into the end zone and never came close to making a play. Dallas had no interest in playing this game. How much should that concern Cowboys fans?
- The Texans were double-teaming Jay Ratliff and Bradie James was overpursuing against the run. Foster just burned them all night. Simms makes a statement with 5 minutes left in the third quarter that the Cowboys are playing a lot of reserves. I looked up and saw DeMarcus Ware, Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and James all in the game. Second consecutive disgraceful performance for the Cowboys. We'll see if they can flip the switch against the Redskins.
As part of a series on non-starters with a lot to prove this summer, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com takes a look at Michael Hamlin.
MacMahon also blogs that quarterback Tony Romo has become the team's unquestioned leader.
The Dallas Morning News' David Moore takes a look at the Cowboys' tight ends.
Former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith didn't make it very far in this year's World Series of Poker.
New York Giants
Former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce is retiring and will join ESPN as an analyst.
Giants receiver Steve Smith wants a new deal, but won't stage a hold out, says Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
Quarterback Michael Vick was scheduled to appear at former teammate Keion Carpenter's football camp, but will not attend.
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy said Vick "didn't use very good judgment."
Sixth round draft choice Charles Scott is still unsure of what his role will be with the Eagles.
Rocky McIntosh is the latest to bash the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth.
Donovan McNabb's jersey is the second highest seller in the NFL.
- Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com thinks Dez Bryant could have a tough time surpassing Roy Williams.
- Drew Pearson has some Super thoughts about the Cowboys.
- Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware and Michael Hamlin all played in a celebrity baseball game Saturday.
- People Magazine pulls back the curtain on Miles Austin.
- Roger Goodell wants to know why one of Michael Vick's co-defendants in the dogfighting case was hanging out near the quarterback.
- Mike Bell's hoping to open up his game with the Eagles.
- Will the Eagles return to the playoffs in 2010? Sheil Kapadia's looking into this question today.
- Mike Garafolo does a really nice job discussing rookie Chad Jones' contract situation with the Giants.
- Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese spoke to Jones via phone and the Giants sent a representative to the hospital.
- Paul Schwartz of the Post has more on the Giants' response.
Have the Cowboys created a problem for themselves by trying to be thrifty?
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.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Draft approach.
Now that Jerry Jones has released left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin, there's more of a sense of urgency at those spots in the draft. The Cowboys will replace Adams with Doug Free, but they could still take an offensive tackle or guard at No. 27 overall. Safety Nate Allen and cornerback Devin McCourty are two players the Cowboys really like late in the first round.
There's a belief that safeties Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin could get the job done in a pinch, but the Cowboys will focus on that position in the draft. Last year's approach involved saving money -- if you can believe that. The Cowboys' first picks were Nos. 69 and 74. The only true impact player from the '09 draft was kickoff specialist David Buehler. In this year's draft, the Cowboys need to select players who can have a more immediate impact. If an offensive tackle starts to slip in the first round, don't be surprised if the Cowboys are there to catch him.
In the past, the Cowboys have emphasized need over value out of necessity. In this year's draft, I think staying at No. 27 and going with the best value is what the Cowboys are trying to accomplish. Releasing Hamlin and Adams certainly changed the dynamic heading into the draft, but it also provided some clarity.
New York Giants
General manager Jerry Reese almost never gets caught reaching in a draft. He doesn't normally go for project players in the first three rounds, although Ramses Barden is certainly the exception. This year's approach has to be a little different, though. The Giants were exposed on defense in several areas last season.
They can't afford to simply take the "best-player-on-the-board" philosophy. The Giants need help at linebacker and defensive tackle. And another pass-rusher would be nice. I'd be very surprised if the Giants took an offensive player at No. 15 overall. If Rolando McClain out of Alabama is there, look for Reese to take him. He's exactly the type of player Reese and Coughlin love -- remarkably intelligent and a natural leader. After losing Antonio Pierce, the Giants need more players like that.
With the Sheldon Brown/Chris Gocong trade, the Eagles are now thin at cornerback and linebacker. And it's not as if they had an embarrassment of riches at those positions before the trade. In the past, the Eagles have been very open to moving down in the first round. And with the depth of talent in this year's draft, that's certainly a possibility. But at No. 24, something tells me the Eagles will stay right there and draft the best cornerback or safety available. They've taken a long look at Texas' Earl Thomas, but he won't be available at that point.
The Eagles need more firepower at linebacker, so that's also an option in the first round. They've spent the past couple of drafts bolstering their offense with speed at the skill positions. Now it's time to start retooling that defense. I'd be very surprised if the Eagles don't take a defensive player at No. 24.
Mike Shanahan continues to meet with quarterbacks despite the blockbuster trade for Donovan McNabb. I recall McNabb not enjoying a certain draft pick in '07, so it will be interesting to see whether Shanahan addresses the quarterback position in the draft.
Of course, the draft focus now turns to left tackle. The Redskins don't have a viable candidate there unless they sign the aging Flozell Adams. And general manager Bruce Allen said on a local radio show that he's talked to Adams' agent. But I still think left tackle Russell Okung of Oklahoma State is the way to go for the Redskins at No. 4 overall. The Redskins will have to wait until Saturday to pick again unless they somehow land a second-round pick in a trade.
So in reality, the Redskins will only find one immediate starter in this draft. And by the way, Shanahan needs to start drafting some larger inside linebackers. As I've said many times, London Fletcher is not going to hold up in this defense for very long. Part of that is age, but most of it is size.
The Cowboys have a replacement for Adams in Doug Free, but it's not a sure thing Alan Ball or Michael Hamlin can become starters. The Cowboys brought in safeties Nate Allen, Morgan Burnett and Chad Jones for visits Friday.
Of that group, I think South Florida's Allen is the most likely to be chosen at No. 27 by the Cowboys. And as I've suggested several times, Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty is also a player they really like. Some mock drafters have the Cowboys selecting left tackle Anthony Davis at No. 27, but I don't see that one at all.
We'll keep you posted. Go Butler!
AP Photo/Matt SlocumThe decisions Jerry Jones, seen above with coach Wade Phillips at Valley Ranch during the 2008 draft, makes in the draft later this month will say a lot about the futures of Cowboys Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin.
Jones refused to guarantee either player a roster spot in 2010, which leads me to believe he'd at least consider moving on without one or both of them. The Cowboys liked what they saw from Doug Free when he filled in for injured right tackle Marc Colombo last season. As only he can, Jones explained that Free's a little more "left tacklish than right tacklish," which is to say he has excellent feet and operates well in space.
Jones believes that Free's capable of being the full-time starter at left tackle, and he confirmed that during the recent owners meetings. But does that mean he's ready to release a perennial Pro Bowl player in Adams to launch the Free Era? It's one of the biggest decisions Jones will make this offseason, and the upcoming draft should offer us some clues on how he'll proceed.
The Cowboys need to add more quality depth to the offensive line. Offensive tackle Robert Brewster, a third-round pick in '09, is returning from a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered while lifting weights. There's a decent chance the Cowboys will draft an offensive lineman in the first or second round because this line's starting to show some age. Left guard Kyle Kosier's entering the final year of his contract and right guard Leonard Davis turns 32 in September.
If the Cowboys can create enough depth along the offensive line, they may part ways with Adams, who collects false starts and fines at an alarming rate. Jones also mentioned the fact that Davis is capable of sliding over to left tackle, although I think that's a stretch at this point in his career.
Adams, who turns 35 next month, is due a $2.5 million roster bonus in June and his base salary for 2010 is $5 million. That's why Jones has a little breathing room before he has to make a decision.
"We just have not addressed decisions of that nature," Jones said at the owners meetings. "Mulled them over, but just haven’t addressed it. Haven’t had to. It’s not been compelling. As we get closer to OTAs, as we get a read on how we do in drafting. When all of that comes to bear, then we’ll make some decisions if we’ve got to basically make room, so to speak."
I don't think that statement is good news for either Adams or Hamlin, who is scheduled to make $5.59 million in 2010. That's a huge salary for a player who's turned in back-to-back average seasons. In recent weeks, sources with the team have expressed to me their excitement over second-year safety Michael Hamlin (no relation). There's a belief that Hamlin has the instincts to turn into a playmaker at safety. That said, it would not surprise me at all if the Cowboys selected South Florida safety Nate Allen at No. 27 overall.
The Cowboys like Allen and Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty at that spot. Now if an offensive tackle such as Bruce Campbell starts to slip, which could totally happen, the Cowboys will have an interesting decision to make. I think they'd lean toward taking one of the defensive backs. And regarding all this speculation about the Cowboys moving up to take wide receiver Dez Bryant, the folks I've spoken to at Valley Ranch don't see it happening.
But pay close attention to what the Cowboys do in the first few rounds. It should be a pretty good indicator of what's going to happen with Adams and Hamlin.
"They’re on the roster and [we] have not made a decision as to them not being on the roster," said Jones. "And have not given any more consideration there at this time than you have just your overall roster. So you could get some bad information at this juncture if you said somebody said they’re not going to be with you. It’s just speculation, using the logic of what’s caused them to be at issue anyway."
So does that quote pretty much clear things up for you guys? No?
The bottom line is that Jones' refusal to give either player his endorsement is pretty revealing.
Now let's look at today's inactives list. No surprises here. For the Cowboys, special teams ace Pat Watkins has returned from a sprained knee and he replaces rookie safety Michael Hamlin on the active list.
Cowboys: Emergency QB Stephen McGee, CB Cletis Gordon, S Michael Hamlin, LB Jason Williams, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Pat McQuistan, LB Curtis Johnson
Vikings: Emergency QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Jaymar Johnson, CB Karl Paymah, TE Garrett Mills, LB J Leman, C Jon Cooper, DE Jayme Mitchell, DT Letroy Guion
» Draft class lists: Dallas | N.Y. Giants | Philadelphia | Washington
Examining the draft classes of each division team:
Jury is still out: This can be said about pretty much the entire class. It looks like outside linebacker Victor Butler has made the most immediate impact, but he certainly didn't hold up well against the Saints. I think everyone's anxious to see how Michael Hamlin progresses at safety. He definitely has some skill, but no one's been able to see it in a game. When he's healthy next season, I think former Texas Tech star Brandon Williams could be an effective pass-rushing specialist.
Bust alert: We haven't seen enough of him to call him a bust, but there are certainly questions about third-round LB Jason Williams. We're told he's coming along in practice but he's a guy who should've broken through as a special-teams player by now. An injury held him up.
Jury is still out: We expected WR Jeremy Maclin and RB LeSean McCoy to make immediate impacts and they have not disappointed. Macho Harris cracked the starting lineup early in the season and he recorded 10 tackles against the Raiders. He's also helped out in the return game. I think the Eagles are still trying to determine whether he helps them more as a safety or as a cornerback.
Bust alert: I hate to call him a bust, but let's watch tight end Cornelius Ingram's knee injury. He's a very talented player out of Florida, but folks are worried that the injuries could always follow him around. But the Eagles knew what the risks were when they took Ingram.
Jury is still out: I think we're still learning about Clint Sintim. He has long arms and he's shown flashes of being a pretty good pass-rusher. But he has to be more consistent on the field.
Bust alert: I would by no means call Ramses Barden a bust at this point, but it's a concern that he can't play well enough on special teams to grab a weekly roster spot. I think Barden could help the Giants as a red zone receiver, but apparently he's not trustworthy on special teams.
Jury is still out: I like cornerback Kevin Barnes' range and size, but we haven't seen enough to know if he'll be a longtime starter in this league. He needs to keep improving in terms of awareness.
Bust alert: After his infamous Twitter debut, linebacker Robert Henson hasn't been heard from much. I thought he was an excellent player at TCU, but he hasn't brought a lot to the table in Washington.
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (concussion) is officially inactive for tonight's game against the Cowboys. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Westbrook would not play earlier today.
Here are the rest of the Eagles inactives: CB Dimitri Patterson, RB P.J. Hill, RB Brian Westbrook, LB Chris Gocong, G Max Jean-Gilles, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, DE Victor Abiamiri.
Cowboys inactives: Stephen McGee -- emergency QB, CB Allen Rossum, S Michael Hamlin, LB Steve Octavien, LB Jason Williams, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Pat McQuistan
One thing to note is that the Eagles are keeping all three quarterbacks active for tonight's game. For the past couple weeks, Kevin Kolb had been serving as the emergency quarterback. Might be a sign that the Eagles intend on using the Wildcat formation with Michael Vick more than usual. I'll keep you posted.
Update: Here’s a statement from Eagles athletic trainer Rick Burkholder regarding Westbrook’s injury: “On Friday afternoon, Brian began experiencing symptoms of a mild headache. From that point forward, we had Brian reevaluated by [team internist] Dr. Gary Dorshimer and we put him through extensive testing. Even though those tests were determined to be negative, we all thought it would be in the best interests of Brian and the team that he should be deactivated for tonight’s game. We will continue to evaluate Brian this week.”
On Friday, coach Andy Reid indicated that he simply wanted to get running back LeSean McCoy some extra reps. It’s not often we receive a statement from an athletic trainer only minutes before a game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Trimming the Cowboys' roster to 53 in late May seems like a silly exercise -- but that didn't stop DallasNews.com's senior blogger Tim MacMahon. Take a look at what MacMahon came up with, and see how it matches up with your final 53. Oh wait, you haven't done yours yet?
MacMahon's list looks pretty solid to me. He has 11 of the club's 12 draft picks being on the final roster. I'm not sure what that says about the Cowboys. In my mind, it means that Wade Phillips has finally admitted that it's hard to win with poor play on special teams. That was his undoing in Buffalo (firing Bruce DeHaven), and we'll see if he's waited too late in Dallas.
I think fifth-round safeties Michael Hamlin and DeAngelo Smith have made excellent first impressions with the coaching staff. Safeties coach Brett Maxie told me Tuesday that Hamlin is soaking up information quicker than most rookies he's coached. And both players have good ball skills, something this team has been missing in recent years.
MacMahon has Isaiah Stanback making the team, but I don't think that will happen. He might be intriguing as a Wildcat quarterback, but he can't stay on the field because of injuries. Former Sooner Travis Wilson will have a shot at being the fifth receiver. I think Manuel Johnson and Kevin Ogletree could be good practice squad candidates.
And the depth along the offensive line is so uninspiring. Cory Procter or Montrae Holland can get you through some games at guard, but after that it's a crapshoot. Doug Free should give thanks each day that the club hasn't been able to develop another young lineman to force him off the roster. The Cowboys have done a lot of things right in the draft. Drafting talented offensive linemen isn't one of them. Maybe Robert Brewster out of Ball State will change that, but I have my doubts.
Do you guys see any major/minor surprises happening during the trimming process? Have fun churning the bottom of the roster. No one loves that phrase more than Bill Parcells. Never thought I'd miss him, but ...
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
CARROLLTON, Texas -- Had good visits with Wade Phillips, Jason Witten and Terence Newman during Tuesday's organized team activities (OTAs) session. But I'm saving that for a rainy day. Here's what I saw on the field Tuesday:
|James D. Smith/Icon SMI|
|Roy Williams and quarterback Tony Romo weren't on the same page Tuesday.|
- Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett appears to be taking a different approach this offseason. In the past, he's stood behind the offense during team drills and quietly offered feedback to players. On Tuesday, he was much more demonstrative. When tight end Jason Witten had a false start, Garrett loudly said, "get me another tight end!" When the same thing happened with Leonard Davis three plays later, he said, "Get me a new right guard!" Davis walked toward Garrett and appeared to say something, but the coach ignored him. I don't want to read too much into one OTA session, but something definitely seems different about the Ivy Leaguer.
- Tony Romo and Roy Williams are not ready for prime time. In seven-on-seven drills, they failed to connect twice. Then they had another ball fall harmlessly to the ground in team drills. They're not on the same page at all. I just wanted to throw that out there because I keep seeing all these stories about the wonderful "offseason chemistry" that's forming between the players. I haven't seen any evidence of that.
- Jon Kitna fumbled the snap from center at least three times. And he seemed to take the blame each time. I know it's only an OTA session, but that's not good. Wade Phillips was so disgusted at one point that he almost walked off the practice field.
- Maybe I jinxed Sam Hurd after that last OTA session open to the media. He looked all-world to me last Tuesday. Today, he was working with trainers on the side. Nothing serious, but he's a player with injuries in his past. I also had a conversation with Miles Austin. He's laughing at all this No. 2 receiver talk. The guy's so confident that he's aiming for No. 1 -- and I see no problem at all with that.
- Rookie safety Michael Hamlin is making a little move right now. His coach, Brett Maxie, singled him out and called him a "sponge." He's taking everything said to him and immediately taking it to the field. And that doesn't always happen with rookies. He's the kid from Clemson the Cowboys took in the fifth round. Also the safety from Cincinnati, DeAngelo Smith, is doing some really nice things.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I do not recommend attending the Cowboys' rookie minicamp without at least two draft guides on hand. Starting tight end Martellus Bennett showed up to observe the proceedings looking thoroughly confused, although if you watched HBO's "Hard Knocks" last summer, that's to be expected. Bennett watched his former college teammate, Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee, on a few throws but the Cowboys' tight end was mostly focused on driving up his Twitter numbers and requesting that ESPN.com publish his blog.
Now, settle in for this edition of Cowboys Rookie Minicamp Nuggets:It's hard to judge a quarterback based on a one-hour practice but here's goes nothing. I thought McGee showed some of the attributes that helped him overcome an injury-ravaged senior season to be selected at the top of the fourth round. He obviously has a lot of work to do when it comes to footwork, but it's easy to see the athleticism that shines through. Longtime Cowboys pro scout Henry Sroka hates receiving any attention in the media -- or even making eye contact with reporters -- but Henry should take a bow for all the work he did on McGee. There's at least one AFC scout I've talked to who thinks McGee is way too hard on himself and has some "confidence" issues. But you'd never know it by hearing the kid talk. He thinks he would've been taken in the first round had he played in another college offense, but the Burnet, Texas, native says he doesn't have any regrets about going to Texas A&M. He also recognizes the opportunity he has to learn behind Tony Romo and veteran Jon Kitna.
"He's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, so that's about as good a compliment as I can get," McGee said when reminded that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had compared him to Romo. "I don't think I'm close to anything that resembles No. 9 right now. I've got a long way to go, a lot of offense to learn. I'm excited to be learning from a guy like Tony Romo. It doesn't get any better than that, and a guy like Jon Kitna, a guy who's played 14 years, that's pretty awesome."
- McGee was also asked about the catfight that has broken out between his college coach Mike Sherman and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who's upset that his quarterback, Graham Harrell, wasn't taken in the draft. McGee quoted a Bible verse from Proverbs to respond to Leach, but he couldn't remember what chapter it was in. I'll look it up this evening (don't have a Bible in my car) and get back to you.
"There is a verse in Proverbs that says don't respond to a fool by it's folly," McGee said. "I believe that in all my heart."Here's the actual verse from Proverbs 26:4-5: "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."
- I'm going to save most of my stuff on third-round pick Robert Brewster out of Ball State for an upcoming column. He went through an awful family tragedy in October when his girlfriend died three days after giving birth to their son, Jalen Brewster. The former Ball State right tackle told me today that his mother, Delaney, will soon move to Dallas to help him take care of his son. Brewster never missed a game after his girlfriend's death and he was remarkably open about explaining how he's dealt with the tragedy. He proudly said that his son "already knows how to hold a bottle at seven months and makes a mean face like his Daddy." Didn't take me too long to start rooting for Brewster. On the practice field, he looks incredibly quick for a 330-pound man.
- Sixth-round linebacker Stephen Hodge (6-0, 234) out of TCU was noticeably quicker than some of the other linebackers. He seems like the type kid who could play linebacker in some of the subpackages and also play some safety. Wearing No. 55 (Zach Thomas' old number), Hodge covered a lot of ground and really appeared to impress the coaches. I thought Hodge and Clemson safety Michael Hamlin (6-2, 214) had an excellent morning session. Safeties coach Brett Maxie told me that Hamlin "plucked" every ball thrown his way. He played exclusively at receiver his senior season in high school, so maybe that's paying off. He finished his career at Clemson with a school-record 14 interceptions. I think Ken Hamlin and Gerald Sensabaugh will start at safety, but Michael Hamlin has a chance to contribute in subpackages early on.
- I hate to say something negative after only one practice, but Oklahoma receiver Manuel Johnson looked out of shape to me. He was bending over trying to get his breath after every route. Seems like it might be a good idea for a seventh-rounder to show up in peak condition. And if he was ill or something, I'll find out and be the first to tell you. It's not the end of the world, but it was an inauspicious beginning.