NFC East: ryan cook

IRVING, Texas -- When quarterback Tony Romo underwent season-ending back surgery Friday morning, he became the ninth Cowboys player lost for the season due to injury.

You could say it's 10 players lost if you want to throw in defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who said he hadn't recovered from a groin injury which prompted the Cowboys to release him. He subsequently signed with the Bears.

Of the other nine, Romo's departure is the biggest. A review of the injured:

Ben Bass: The defensive end was a projected backup to a unit beset by injuries. His shoulder is nearly healed and he should be ready in time for the 2014 season.

Ryan Cook: He was a longshot to make the roster, and when his back didn't heal enough for him to make the roster it was time to move on. It's doubtful that the veteran offensive lineman returns.

Tyrone Crawford: A torn Achilles in the first week of training camp ended the defensive end's season quickly and put the Cowboys in a bind at defensive line. Crawford is now doing on-the-field rehab work, so he should be good for offseason workouts.

Lance Dunbar: Injuries hampered his season. He was just starting to make an impact when he injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the Thanksgiving Day win over Oakland. The Cowboys like the running back's change-of-pace ability, and he should be given a chance to regain that role in 2014.

Justin Durant: The veteran just couldn't recover in enough time from a hamstring injury to help the linebacker corps. Durant was signed to play the strong side and he had good moments, but his health got in the way of making more of an impact.

Matt Johnson: Johnson hasn't played a down in his first two seasons. A hamstring issue his rookie season and an ankle injury late in training camp put him on the shelf. The Cowboys have to make a decision on whether it's worth keeping the safety around.

Tony Romo: The starting quarterback was knocked around at times this season but he showed an amazing level of toughness to finish the game at Washington last week while his back was throbbing. Romo is projected to return in time for the OTAs.

Anthony Spencer: Spencer's knee bothered him during training camp and the projected starter at defensive end underwent microfracture surgery after playing in just one game. He becomes a free agent after the season, so it will be interesting if the Cowboys offer him a deal.

Brian Waters: The veteran guard was a solid contributor in the five games he started before a torn triceps ended his season. Waters is unsure about whether he wants to play again. He turns 37 on Feb. 18, and the Cowboys might pass on giving him another contract.
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys released nine players, placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, making him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season, and moved defensive end Tyrone Crawford and guard/center Ryan Cook to injured reserve Tuesday afternoon to trim their roster to 75.

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Quarterback Nick Stephens, wide receivers Anthony Amos, Eric Rogers and Jared Green, guard Dennis Godfrey, tight end Colin Cochart, linebacker Deon Lacey, kicker Brett Maher and cornerback Brandon Underwood were cut.

Releasing three wide receivers and Stephens were the biggest surprises prior to the final preseason game on Thursday against the Houston Texans. The Cowboys will go into Thursday's preseason finale with Alex Tanney as the only quarterback who will play against the Texans.

Traditionally, the starters don't play in the final preseason game, but with three quarterbacks on the roster, expect backup Kyle Orton to be available to play in case Tanney gets hurt during the game.

At the start of training camp, the Cowboys had 11 receivers on the roster. With the expectations that starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant won't play on Thursday, the Cowboys will have at least six receivers active for the game and it's undetermined how much Cole Beasley will play. He just returned to the practice field this week after missing last week with a sore knee.

The next cut-down date for the Cowboys is Saturday where they have to trim the roster to 53.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys had a hard time getting much of an advantage at Cowboys Stadium with a 17-15 regular-season record in the $1.2 billion home.

Playing under the AT&T Stadium name for the first time, the Cowboys were able to overcome a tepid start to beat Cincinnati 24-18.

What it means: The Cowboys got what they wanted in their final showing of the preseason from their regulars on offense and defense.

The Cowboys have not played their starters in the last preseason game since 2006, and Jason Garrett will not want to risk the likes of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr on Thursday against Houston.

To avoid their first losing preseason since 2001, however, the Cowboys will have to beat the Texans.

First-team offense gets in end zone: In their first five drives of the preseason, the Romo-led offense failed to get in the end zone. They started 0-for-2 on Saturday before Bryant took matters into his own hands with five catches on a 12-play drive that ended with Romo hitting Bryant on a bullet fade over cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

The Cowboys closed the first half with an eight-play drive that covered 52 yards with Miles Austin being the featured target. Austin had a 23-yard gain on a third-and-6 and closed the drive with a 12-yard score going across the back of the end zone for a Romo throw.

Offensive line moves: For the fourth time in four preseason games, the Cowboys rolled out a different combination on the offensive line with Doug Free playing right guard, Jermey Parnell at right tackle and Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard. Only left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick played in their original positions.

Romo was sacked on the first play of the game for an 8-yard loss and the running game averaged only 2.5 yards per carry in the first half. The first-team line played a series into the third quarter before calling it a night.

Will this be the combination the Cowboys roll out for the Sept. 8 opener against the New York Giants? Possibly, if Ronald Leary is unable to return from surgery to his right knee. The Cowboys are confident Leary, who has never played in a game, can return in time, but they might choose to go with this grouping.

Defense continues to take it away: The offseason emphasis continued with two first-half takeaways from a defense that might bend but has yet to break.

For the third time in four preseason games, the Cowboys came up with a takeaway on their first drive of the game. Safety Barry Church poked the ball free from wide receiver Marvin Jones and cornerback Brandon Carr came up with the loose ball at the Dallas 4.

In the second quarter, rookie cornerback B.W. Webb came up with a pick of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on a seam throw to receiver Mohamed Sanu. Undrafted safety Jeff Heath forced a fumble in the third quarter.

The first-team defense did not allow a touchdown in three preseason appearances totaling roughly three quarters.

Digital board gets plunked: In the first football game at AT&T Stadium, on Aug. 21 2009, Tennessee’s A.J. Trapasso hit the center-hung digital board with a punt. It was not hit again by a punt until Saturday, when Cowboys punter Chris Jones hit it in the first quarter.

There have been 274 regular-season punts at AT&T Stadium since its opening that have not hit the board.

It might bear watching this year.

On Jones’ re-kick, Cincinnati’s Brandon Tate scored a 75-yard touchdown for the Bengals’ only first-half points.

Who didn’t play: Cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) missed his fourth straight preseason game -- and third because of injury -- but the hope is that he can practice some next week and possibly play in Thursday’s finale against Houston. WR Cole Beasley (foot), RB Lance Dunbar (foot), S Matt Johnson (foot), S Eric Frampton (calf), LB Brandon Magee (concussion), LB Ernie Sims (groin), OL Ryan Cook (back), OG Ronald Leary (knee), OG Nate Livings (knee) and DE Anthony Spencer (knee) did not dress for the game.

What’s next?: The Cowboys will have to pare down their roster from 88 to 75 by Tuesday’s deadline, two days before they play their fifth and final preseason game of the summer. Former head coach Wade Phillips (2007-10) makes his return to AT&T Stadium on Thursday as Houston’s defensive coordinator. The final cut to 53 players is Aug. 31.

Brandon Magee suffers concussion

August, 20, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – Cowboys rookie linebacker Brandon Magee will not play Saturday against Cincinnati after suffering a concussion in Monday’s practice.

It is possible Magee will not be able to play in the preseason final against Houston on Aug. 29. Wide receiver Terrance Williams suffered a concussion on Aug. 2 and missed the first two preseason games. Magee led the Cowboys with six tackles last week against Arizona.

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore returned to the practice field Tuesday after a 10-day absence because of a groin injury suffered during training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Lissemore played in the first two preseason games.

Lance Dunbar (foot), Cole Beasley (foot), Ryan Cook (back), Ronald Leary (knee), Nate Livings (knee), Morris Claiborne (knee), J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson (foot), Eric Frampton (calf), Ernie Sims (groin), Jay Ratliff (hamstring, hernia) and Anthony Spencer (knee) are not practicing.
IRVING, Texas – Running back Lance Dunbar suffered a sprained left foot that could keep him out of the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

Dunbar, who is expected to be a big part of the offense as a third-down back, is in a protective boot and could need 3-4 weeks to return, according to a source. Dunbar had a 43-yard catch against Arizona on Saturday but fumbled at the end of the play. He returned to the game and did not mention being hurt in the locker room after the 12-7 loss to the Cardinals.

Wide receiver Cole Beasley suffered a sprained foot on Aug. 9 at Oakland and has yet to return to practice. Running back DeMarco Murray missed six games last year with a sprained foot.

The Cowboys welcomed back guards Kevin Kowalski (knee) and Ray Dominguez (shoulder) to the practice field, increasing their interior line depth.

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Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox remains away from the team following the death of his mother last week in Cairo, Ga.

Also sitting out: Morris Claiborne (knee), Matt Johnson (foot), Eric Frampton (calf), Ernie Sims (groin), Alex Albright (impending back surgery), Toby Jackson (groin), Anthony Spencer, Travis Chappelear, Jay Ratliff, Beasley, Ryan Cook (back), Ronald Leary (knee) and Nate Livings (knee).
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray might have played only three series Saturday at Arizona, but that wasn’t the case for the first-team offensive line.

Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free played a series into the third quarter. Arkin played even longer.

“We’ve just been limited,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We anticipated them playing certainly the whole first half when Tony and Kyle [Orton] were in there. We were going to give them one more series because we don’t have that many guys. It was good to give them a chance to play next to each other.”

Jermey Parnell went through pregame warmups but did not dress for the game after practicing for just a few days last week in Oxnard, Calif. Ronald Leary (knee), Nate Livings (knee), Ryan Cook (back), Ray Dominguez (shoulder) and Kevin Kowalski (knee) did not dress for the game.

The entire starting offense should play into the third quarter Thursday against Cincinnati at AT&T Stadium.

Cowboys practice report: Day 13

August, 7, 2013
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OXNARD, Calif. -- No fights in Wednesday's practice, but Lance Dunbar got some revenge on Ernie Sims and DeMarcus Ware put a hurting on Miles Austin.
  • At the start of practice, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray were sent back to the locker room to put knee pads in their uniform pants. Murray had to do it during stretching and Bryant did it afterward. So who is the uniform police? Coach Jason Garrett. It seemed as if Jason Witten didn't have knee pads in his uniform pants, but he did; they seemed to be half an inch thick.
  • So how did Dunbar get revenge on Sims? After Dunbar caught a pass in the flat, he juked past the linebacker and darted downfield. Tuesday afternoon, Sims smashed into Dunbar on one play and then on the next play the two got into a scrap.
  • With Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne missing practice, Orlando Scandrick and Sterling Moore were the first-team cornerbacks. In a three-receiver set, Scandrick continued to play slot and Moore and Brandon Underwood moved up as the third corner. On a deep pass play, Bryant did a shoulder fake and ran past Underwood to catch a deep pass for a score.
  • Nick Hayden might start in Oakland on Friday night. He was matched with Jason Hatcher as the first-team defensive tackles.
  • Tony Romo made a beautiful pass to Witten down the seam as he beat Justin Durant for a touchdown.
  • This could be nothing, but it also could be something -- Dennis Godfrey received some second-team snaps at right guard over David Arkin. Mackenzey Bernadeau remained on the first team.
  • After a nice catch from Gavin Escobar, cornerback Xavier Brewer gave the tight end a love tap as they ran down the field.
  • One of the hardest hits of camp occurred on an end-around with Austin. As Austin was about to hit the edge, Ware smashed him to the ground. With Austin flat on his back, the defensive players yelled.
  • Austin did have a good practice. He made a great catch and run out of the slant on a throw from Romo. This is where Austin is at his best. He's able to use his quickness off the line of scrimmage and get in perfect position to make the catch and run.
  • With Ryan Cook out again with a back injury, it raises concerns about his future with the team.
  • "Sons of Anarchy" actor Taylor Sheridan and former Dallas Cowboy Billy Davis attended practice.
  • There were 2,614 fans at practice, bringing the training camp total to 43,955.

Cowboys need Bernadeau more now

August, 7, 2013
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OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys wanted Brandon Moore to be a starter when they reached an agreement with him Tuesday night on a one-year deal.

Jason Garrett might talk about not having enough linemen to get through games and practice because of injuries that have knocked out Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings and Ryan Cook at different times in camp, but none of those guys had or have injuries that are season-ending or overly concerning.

The Cowboys simply feel like they could not pass up on an opportunity to sign a player with a résumé like Moore’s.

So why not try to do it earlier in the offseason when he could have made an easier transition?

Most likely price. Moore was looking for more than the $2.5 million he could have made with the Cowboys, and in March the Cowboys did not have salary-cap space to do any big or even moderate signings.

The Cowboys were getting Moore at a good price before he decided to retire.

But this has to signal some unhappiness and impatience with Bernadeau and Livings.

It’s been clear that the Cowboys want to have Ronald Leary start at left guard with the way they have talked him up. And Leary has played well. Livings will count $2.4 million against the salary cap this year whether he is on the team or not on the team in 2013. His $1.7 million base salary is guaranteed.

Bernadeau missed the offseason after having shoulder surgery. He missed his first offseason with the Cowboys because of knee and hip surgeries. He hurt his hamstring in the conditioning run and today’s practice will only be his third of camp.

Garrett acknowledged Bernadeau is rusty.

“When you miss a lot of that time, that’s really when you can grow and develop,” Garrett said. “He’s still a young player; has not started that many games. But injuries have bothered him since he’s been here, so he’s just getting back into the mix again.”

After Moore’s retirement, the Cowboys need Bernadeau to shake off the rust quickly. Their dalliance with Moore is proof they won’t wait very long.
PHOENIX -- You know, if you've read anything I've written on this topic in the past couple of weeks, that I believe it's imperative for the Dallas Cowboys to draft an offensive lineman in the first round next month. In truth, their offensive line problems are so severe that they could legitimately draft linemen in the first two rounds. And to that end, I direct you to this ESPNDallas.com draft preview, which today looks at potential second-round center Travis Frederick from Wisconsin.

There are four positions on the Cowboys' line that could stand to be upgraded, and center is one of them. So even if they take one of the top guards or a tackle in the first round, it's not as though a center they picked in the second would have to languish behind Phil Costa and Ryan Cook. It could be a developmental player who could serve as a swing lineman, but it whoever it is would certain have a chance to compete for the job in training camp.

The problem with this particular prospect, according to the scout ESPNDallas is using to do this series, is that he seems to be somewhat flawed. Here's the report from Glenn "Stretch" Smith:
Lacks good balance and feet and is top-heavy. He gets yanked out of his chair when trying to pass protect (sit and anchor). ... While playing guard as a junior, lacked feet to get to the second-level block. That concerns me as a center. ... Doesn't show power in his lower body. ... Not real strong with his punch in pass protection.

So, in other words, maybe not the answer to all of their prayers, huh? This is kind of my point about the first-round lineman. If you want top quality, that's where you find it. Left tackle Tyron Smith looks like a very good player, but Dallas needs more of them on the line. Can't keep patching it together with project guys.
As you know by now, the Dallas Cowboys restructured quite a number of player contracts Thursday in a successful effort to get themselves under the salary cap. The reworking of deals for DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Brandon Carr, Jason Witten and Ryan Cook, combined with the news that this year's cap will rise to $123 million, has the Cowboys about $5 million under. So at the very least, if nothing else happens between now and March 12, they will not be in violation of the salary cap rules. This is good. The Cowboys know first-hand what can happen when you're in violation of made-up salary cap rules. They have no interest in finding out what happens if you violate the real ones.

Questions remain, though, as well as work to be done. According to Todd Archer, the Cowboys sit about $5 million under the cap right now, but that doesn't count the likely $2.646 million (and possible $3.969 million) in tenders to their restricted free agents. Getting under the cap is one thing, but it's not the extent of Dallas' ambition. They'd like to get under it far enough so that they can move around in free agency, address needs and improve the 2013 roster. So here are two of the big questions to which people seem to want answers this morning:

1. How will this impact the Tony Romo contract negotiations?

Romo
The Cowboys still want to sign Romo to an extension beyond 2013, both because they like having him as their quarterback and because it's the best way to reduce his massive 2013 cap number and give them room to maneuver this offseason. The fact that they managed to get under the cap without reworking Romo's deal helps swing the leverage back in the team's favor ever so slightly, but Romo's side can still operate under the belief that the Cowboys need the deal done soon to put themselves in the best possible position to win this year. Of course, Romo himself also would like to see the team in the best possible position to win this year, so he has some incentive to get this done as well. I continue to believe Romo will get a long-term contract signed that will cover the remainder of his career. I don't think Thursday's news has much impact on the chances of that happening, one way or the other.

Spencer
Spencer
2. Will all of this allow them to retain Anthony Spencer? As Todd points out, clearing about $6 million more in cap room by Monday would allow them to designate Spencer as their franchise player if they wanted to do that. But as nice as Spencer would look at defensive end in their new 4-3 alignment, I don't think that's what the Cowboys want to do. They'd like to have Spencer back, and would be happy to talk about a long-term deal with a 2013 base salary lower than the $10.6 million it would cost them to franchise him for the second year in a row, but franchising him would leave them too cap-strapped to address offensive line and other needs. And frankly, the size of the deal Spencer is looking to get after a career year playing on the franchise tag is likely more than the Cowboys want to spend to keep him. So while it remains possible, and Thursday's restructures likely made it moreso, I'd still expect Spencer to move on, and the Cowboys to go to whatever Plan B is for their four-man defensive line without him.

Is Phil Costa a Cowboys keeper?

January, 29, 2013
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Yes, yes, I am aware and profoundly sorry that I have not updated the blog in more than seven hours. My excuse is that I was working Media Day as part of ESPN.com's Super Bowl coverage team. I hope you got to enjoy some of that coverage. But I owe you NFC East posts, so here we go. ESPNDallas.com is running a series on Dallas Cowboys free agents, and one of their recent entries addressed the case of restricted free agent Phil Costa, who has shown flashes but not consistent strength or health:
Why keep him: The coaches like his smarts and his ability to fight and the offense went pretty well in his limited action. He can also play guard, and you can't overlook that versatility with gameday roster spots so precious.

Why let him go: In order to keep him, the Cowboys would have to tender him a deal worth $1.323 million or agree to a lower deal. He will never be a dominating player and will get pushed back more than you would like.

The Cowboys need to improve on the line, but their issues at tackle and guard are likely to play out as more important than center, where they have options. Costa is one of those options, and while I haven't liked much of what I've seen from him in his limited action, I also don't think he's delivered enough of a sample size on which to base an opinion that he can't be the answer for them at center. Todd Archer's conclusion that Costa will get a chance to fight off Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau for the starter's job is probably correct and, I think, fair. Costa's ability to also play guard should keep him on the Dallas roster in 2013.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Dallas Cowboys ended their two-game losing streak, hanging on Sunday afternoon for an ugly 19-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

As Carolina tried to salvage the game with a last-second drive, quarterback Cam Newton fired a fourth-down pass to Louis Murphy. Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne hit Murphy before the ball arrived, but the referees didn't penalize him for pass interference. The crowd of 70,000 voiced its displeasure, but the Cowboys left with a much-needed victory.

What it means: The Cowboys ended a two-game losing streak and saved their season by moving to 3-3. But the win comes at a cost. Inside linebacker Sean Lee and center Phil Costa left the game with injuries. Costa might miss significant time with a right leg injury, and Lee didn't return because of a right big toe injury.

Does Jason Garrett trust the team? It's a call Garrett will be questioned about after the game. Faced with a third-and-9 at the Carolina 15 in the fourth quarter, Garrett came out of a timeout and called for a running play to Phillip Tanner, resulting in a 5-yard gain. Garrett settled for a field goal, made good from 28 yards by Dan Bailey that gave Dallas a 16-14 lead. It was interesting that Garrett didn't try to push the ball toward the end zone. On the second-down play, quarterback Tony Romo fired a pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant that was dropped in the end zone. Bryant complained to referees about holding, and there was some, but it was his fifth dropped pass of the season.

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How will the Cowboys fare in their upcoming stretch against the Giants, Falcons and Eagles?

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Claiborne makes a pick: The Cowboys' secondary got its first interception of the season when Claiborne intercepted a Newton pass in the end zone. The interception was Claiborne's first of his career. The Cowboys have two interceptions this season, with Lee having the other. It was the first pick by a secondary player in the last 333 passing attempts. Orlando Scandrick was the last cornerback to pick off a pass, occurring last year at Washington.

The loss of Costa: As the Panthers were returning a Miles Austin fumble, Costa suffered a nasty right ankle injury. Costa was on the ground for several moments and needed a cart to be taken off the field. Several players, including Jay Ratliff, Felix Jones and Orlando Scandrick offered support. Garrett came out and slapped Costa in the chest and shook his hand. Costa's season has been up and down due to injury. He lasted just three plays before reinjuring his back in the season opener, but he returned after missing three games. With this latest injury, it seems Costa will be out for a significant period of time. Ryan Cook took over for Costa. If Costa is out for the season, the Cowboys might sign another center/guard.

Injuries: The Cowboys lost Costa, and Lee left the game with a right big toe injury. Bryant also missed a few snaps after getting shaken up.

What's next? The Cowboys will host the New York Giants next week. The Giants are 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Breakfast links: Flacco or Romo?

October, 12, 2012
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Philadelphia Eagles

LeSean McCoy would like to be more involved in the passing game, since that was always fun back when he used to be. Of course, I think a lot of people would like to be more involved in the Eagles' passing game right about now. Couple of things, though, on McCoy. First, I think he's being asked to stay in and block a lot more this year, and second, the Eagles aren't running very many screen passes this year. I think this is where the Jason Peters absence really shows up.

Oh, and Michael Vick does have a dog now after all, so you can all stop wondering. Seriously, Vick released a statement saying he knows why this is going to bother some people but that it was important for him and for his kids to have a pet. As you know if you read me on this topic the other day, I think this is a man who's done his time, understands the significance of his crimes and should be allowed to live his life the way he wants to live it. But like Vick, I understand there are people who will never agree no matter what.

New York Giants

Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride says he thinks the 49ers' Justin Smith is a great player who "gets away with murder" by holding offensive linemen and not getting called for it. So, there's something you can now watch for Sunday.

Ahmad Bradshaw and the Giants' running game are confident after Bradshaw ran for 200 yards Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. But Bradshaw knows the sledding is going to be tougher against the 49ers on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys

They say continuity is the most important thing for an offensive line -- all five players playing together for an extended period of time, getting to know each other's movements and tendencies. Well, the Cowboys' offensive line, which has been horrible all year, is changing centers again. Ryan Cook is injured and Phil Costa is back. Giddyap.

You know the scene in Airplane when the passengers are all lined up to beat up the hysterical passenger? And the camera keeps panning back and there's all kinds of people with various weapons, just waiting to get up there and deliver their own special brand of punishment? Sometimes it seems as though the same thing is happening to Tony Romo. Former Ravens coach Brian Billick is the latest in line, saying Joe Flacco's better than Romo. Hey, at least Tony's got Amani Toomer on his side, right?

Washington Redskins

Your daily Robert Griffin III update says everything looked fine Thursday in practice. You know the drill, though. Griffin has more concussion tests to pass before he's cleared to play again Sunday after getting knocked out of last week's game. We could know something for sure today, and if not, tomorrow.

One interesting sidelight to Sunday's Redskins-Vikings game is the return to FedEx Field of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who tore an ACL in the game there last December but has made a remarkable recovery and is running something very much like his old self as the Vikings have started the season 4-1.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does these regular appearances throughout the week on Dallas-area radio stations, and of course everything he says on them is parsed for news value. But sometimes I think it's just as though it's a regular fan calling in to vent, only that fan happens to own the team. Jones' latest stunning revelation is apparently that the offensive line needs to do a better job of blocking:
Jones was direct in saying he wants the line to improve and noted he's adding pressure to the interior of the line, Ryan Cook, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, to produce. Jones mentioned backup guard Derrick Dockery and his size, 6-6, 325 pounds, as someone who can also help.

Jones wasn't calling for Dockery to enter the starting lineup, and he won't when the Cowboys take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but it was clear the owner wants production.

"Our offensive, I'd like to see us more consistent in there," Jones said on KRLD. "We're going to need to be pretty physical, and we can be physical and one thing we got is more size in there and Dockery, we got a player you haven't seen play much. But he's got some big size in there too."

Whatever. If Dockery hasn't been able to beat out Bernadeau for playing time to this point, I don't see what he's doing taking up a roster spot. What Bernadeau has given them this year at right guard has been slightly better than what they might be able to expect if they replaced him with one of those giant inflatable jack-o-lantern balloons you see on everybody's front lawn this time of year. And I also don't understand what kind of pictures Doug Free must have of everybody that he keeps getting exempted from blame. He's been a papier-mache turnstile.

Fact is, if personnel is the problem on the Cowboys' line, then either the players will improve as the year goes along under Bill Callahan or they'll be replaced next year. My guess is that some will improve and some will be replaced, and you know I believe the Cowboys' roster to be a work in progress. I just don't understand how Jones going on the radio and saying the line needs to play better is any different from whoever was on right before him or right after him saying it. What's next week's topic? "It'd be nice if it didn't get so hot in Texas in the summertime?"

Breakfast links: New brand of salsa?

October, 9, 2012
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Good morning and welcome to another Tuesday of chats, Power Rankings, knee-jerk reactions and all of those other assorted Tuesday goodies. We have so many set pieces on Tuesdays, I don't even feel like I have to think creatively. Heck, throw in an RG3 update and I should be good to go. It all starts, of course, with the links.

Philadelphia Eagles

Andy Reid has a good second-half record as Eagles coach. This time last year, his team was 1-4. So the fact that the Eagles haven't played their best football yet and are somehow 3-2 does not have Reid rattled. The day after the loss in Pittsburgh, Reid was authentically preaching calm.

Since no one can seem to figure out why Michael Vick is fumbling so much, Tim McManus tried to break down whether it's a technique problem. He seems to conclude that it's probably not, which means everyone's still looking for the answer.

New York Giants

The Giants' next game is against one of the toughest teams in the entire league, and they know this. But they played the 49ers tough in San Francisco twice last year, including a victory there in the NFC Championship Game, so if there's any team that isn't scared to go into Candlestick and face the 49ers, it's probably them.

Victor Cruz is scoring so many touchdowns these days that he's thinking about changing up some of his end zone dance moves just to keep things fresh. Filing this under "You know things are going well when _____."

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys expect to have nose tackle Jay Ratliff back for Sunday's game in Baltimore, which would help everything about their defense but I think especially the pass rush. The Cowboys don't have top-level players all over the field. They have them in several places, but they don't have so many that they don't miss one when he's out. And Ratliff should help them shore things up on defense.

Starting center Phil Costa is also back at practice, but the Cowboys are saying he's not assured of reclaiming his starting spot. They've had some problems with Ryan Cook and cadences, but they've been fairly happy with the way Cook has blocked. In his short time as a starter Costa has struggled in that area, so there's no reason he should get any assurances. What works in Costa's favor is that Cook has a hamstring injury.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins signed Brandon Meriweather to replace LaRon Landry at strong safety. They gave up on Landry because he couldn't stay healthy enough that they could rely on him to play week to week. To this point, as a result of variety of injuries that began in training camp and crescendoed with a pregame collision with teammate Aldrick Robinson in Week 4, Meriweather has not played a snap for Washington. He will be sidelined at least four more weeks. As you know, I do not think it was a mistake to let Landry go. However, this situation here is something we call "irony."

If the Redskins do indeed have to try out kickers today and think about replacing Billy Cundiff for missing too many field goals the past two weeks, Dan Daly writes that it's just a continuation of recent tradition. I don't know how to handicap this. If the Redskins think this is a real problem with Cundiff, he could be gone. If they can convince themselves it was just a couple of bad weeks, they could give him another attempt to prove himself. His proficiency on kickoffs matters to them and is the reason they got him in the first place, but they also assumed he'd make his 31-yard field goals.

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