NFC East: Rudy Carpenter



ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up the preseason with a 30-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. Unlike last season, when wide receiver Raymond Radway was injured in the closing seconds of the preseason at Miami, there were no such major health issues coming from this game. This was the last chance for several players to make an impact on the coaches and scouts, and join the 53-man roster.

What it means: The Cowboys finish the preseason 3-1 and have to make some hard decisions regarding the No. 3 quarterback spot, whether to keep a fourth running back or which running back to keep, whether Orie Lemon and Mario Butler make the team, and whether Danny Coale and Matt Johnson should earn paychecks in September.

McGee vs. Carpenter: There is this battle for the No. 3 quarterback position. Stephen McGee played the first half, led one touchdown drive and converted 13 first downs. He completed nine of 18 passes for 124 yards. The Cowboys led 20-6 at the break. Rudy Carpenter also led the Cowboys on a touchdown drive -- capped by a 58-yard run by Lance Dunbar -- and finished 4-of-10 for 48 yards. In addition, Carpenter had a 21-yard scramble. But it would appear neither quarterback did enough to secure a spot on the roster.

Only one starter plays: Between both units, only center Phil Costa played. Costa missed the first three preseason games with a strained lower back, and the Cowboys wanted to give him some snaps before putting him in a regular-season game. Costa didn't have any bad snaps, and it's unknown whether he had any blown assignments. David Arkin replaced Costa.

The running game is strong: There are no questions regarding the status of DeMarco Murray as the starter. Felix Jones has been guaranteed a roster spot by owner/general manager Jerry Jones. We thought the No. 3 running back gig was going to Phillip Tanner, but Dunbar came on strong Wednesday night. Dunbar ran with a burst, scoring on a 58-yard run. Let's not forget about Tanner, who burst up the middle for a 1-yard score. Dunbar rushed 15 times for 105 yards, and Tanner rushed for 48 yards on nine carries.

Lemon made his case: If linebacker Lemon was a bubble player, he should make the roster. He returned an interception 26 yards to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead in the second quarter. Lemon was active on defense and, given what he does on special teams, should make the 53-man roster. Adrian Hamilton also was fighting for a roster spot, but he hasn't shown his pass-rush abilities on a consistent basis with the Cowboys.

Cowboys lose three players: Guard Derrick Dockery left the game for personal reasons, and fellow guard Daniel Loper suffered a hamstring injury. Cornerback Lionel Smith departed the game with a concussion. None of the three returned.

Who played well: Tyrone Crawford, Orie Lemon, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Dan Bailey.

Who didn't: Teddy Williams, David Arkin, Stephen McGee.

Bailey is perfect: Kicker Dan Bailey finished the preseason 8-for-8 on field goal attempts. Bailey made kicks of 25, 30 and 26 yards Wednesday night. The Cowboys didn't have any concerns about him heading into the preseason, but unlike last season when the team had a kicking competition, nothing was going on here. It was all Bailey. The longest kick of the preseason by Bailey was 49 yards.

Ryan Tannehill makes the start: The eighth pick of the NFL draft, quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the start for the Dolphins. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 35 yards. The former Aggie played with a presence and threw some strong passes, but he still has a ways to go to help the Dolphins.

What's next? The Cowboys must cut their roster to 53 players by Friday night and then finalize their practice squad roster with as many as eight players. The team will practice over the weekend at Valley Ranch and prepare for the regular season opener at the New York Giants.
Dallas Cowboys

Like many members of the Cowboys family, Darren Woodson says he was hit hard by the news of the death of former special-teams coach Joe Avezzano.

The Cowboys have claimed quarterback Rudy Carpenter off waivers from the Buccaneers. This says a lot, I would think, about Stephen McGee and his tenuous hold on the team's No. 3 quarterback spot behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton.

New York Giants

Former Giant Carl Banks tells the New York Daily News that the Gregg Williams speech that got all of the attention Thursday was more or less standard Saturday-night pregame stuff, though "some of the stuff was over the line." I think that's the point. In the current NFL culture, where player safety is a paramount issue, the revelation that coaches are encouraging players to target specific existing injuries just doesn't fit. This thing that came to light Thursday wasn't about bounties. It was about intent to injure, and the warning that went out league-wide (if people were listening) was that such specifics need to stop being part of pregame speeches. No matter how common a practice it has been up until now.

The staff of Giants.com debates some questions regarding the team's safety position and its outlook for the 2012 season.

Philadelphia Eagles

In this story about Demetress Bell's introductory news conference in Philadelphia, we learn that Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd was the one who encouraged the tackle who used to call himself Demetrius Bell to come forward with what turns out to be the correct spelling of his first name.

The Eagles' website takes a big-picture look at the offensive line as a whole with Bell in place as its new left tackle.

Washington Redskins

Former Redskins and current 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers came to the defense of Williams, the embattled former Redskins and Saints defensive coordinator.

The release a few weeks ago of veteran fullback Mike Sellers didn't get a lot of attention, but it had an effect on current fullback Darrel Young, who credits Sellers for help with his development.

Now introducing the Cowboys' practice squad

September, 6, 2009
9/06/09
4:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Here's the Cowboys' practice squad as of this afternoon. And remember that some of these guys will be coming and going. I remember a tight end named Landon Trusty who was released and added to the practice squad four separate times for the Cowboys. OK, here's the list: G Travis Bright, Brigham Young; QB Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State; TE Scott Chandler, Iowa, FB Julius Crosslin, Oklahoma State; DE Marcus Dixon, Hampton; WR Jesse Holley, North Carolina; WR Manuel Johnson, Oklahoma; Mike Mickens, Cincinnati.

Cowboys: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
7:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Biggest surprise: I'm a little surprised to see the Cowboys cut two of their Day 2 draft picks, Cincinnati defensive backs Deangelo Smith and Mike Mickens. Both players struggled in training camp, but I'd heard enough good about Smith to make me think the Cowboys would give him an opportunity. And it's not like the Cowboys are that deep in the secondary. Mike Mickens was believed to be somewhat of a steal in the seventh round. But he's still showing signs of a knee injury and he gets beat in coverage way too much. He did sort of rally in the final preseason game, so the Cowboys may try to get him through to the practice squad. And Smith is definitely a practice squad candidate. The Cowboys also announced that linebacker Stephen Hodge out of TCU was going on injured reserve. At this point, the 2009 draft class is looking pretty ragged -- what's left of it at least. You have kickoff specialst David Buehler and linebacker Victor Butler. And that's about it.

No-brainers: Most of these receivers were no-brainers. Manuel Johnson finally did a couple things in the final preseason game, but it was too late. And Jesse Holley had his moment in the sun with the punt return for a touchdown. I don't think there's a place in this league for the "Fourth and Long" reality TV show winner. I guess the Cowboys didn't think they could get Stephen McGee through to the practice squad. He's a fourth-round pick that didn't really show them much in training camp. Reserve quarterback Rudy Carpenter was released this afternoon, but he could end up on the practice squad. I also think tight end Scott Chandler is likely to make the practice squad. Tearrious George was a former Kansas State player who was signed late in the preseason to spark the pass rush. Guess it didn't work out.

What's next? The Cowboys need to scour the waiver wires for help at cornerback. They tried to bring in a couple of young guys toward the end of the preseason, but they didn't get the job done. I know the Cowboys love to see who the Ravens release. That's been a pipeline for them in the past (Lance Frazier, anyone?). Right now, Alan Ball is the fourth corner. And there's really nothing behind him. Pretty amazing that they may have whiffed on both Cincinnati defensive backs. I know they were late-round guys, but you'd like to see at least one of them stick. The Cowboys might look to sign a veteran corner after that first game. They don't want to have to guarantee a salary to a vested veteran.

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