NFC West: Dallas Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Henry Melton's visit with the Dallas Cowboys has ended and the free-agent defensive tackle is off to visit the St. Louis Rams, according to a source.

From all accounts, Melton's visit went well. According to sources, the medical checkup on his surgically-repaired knee came back fine, and he was able to re-connect with the coach that developed him into a Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

Melton has visited with the Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings since free agency started. Talks with the teams will continue as Melton looks for his next home.

The Cowboys will continue meeting with free-agent defensive end Jared Allen, who arrived in Dallas Monday night and met with coach Jason Garrett and several assistants.

The Cowboys are looking for defensive line help, but so far in free agency have maintained a disciplined approach despite the release of DeMarcus Ware and the loss of Jason Hatcher. Ware has since signed with the Denver Broncos and Hatcher signed with the Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys have roughly $7.6 million in salary cap space. Depending on the structure and lengths of deals, they may need to come up with more cap room by either restructuring or releasing players.

Live blog: Rams at Cowboys

September, 22, 2013
Join our NFL experts as they break down the St. Louis Rams' visit to the Dallas Cowboys. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The collapse of the Cowboys' indoor practice facility cannot surprise anyone who has stood inside a similar "bubble" during a windstorm.

Photos of the twisted facility show a metal infrastructure. The practice bubble I frequented while covering the Seahawks from 1998 through the 2006 season had a similar look from the outside -- imagine a giant white Michelen Man lying on his back, minus appendages -- without as much metal on the inside.

Watching indoor practices in a windstorm was always a bit concerning. The Seahawks' video staff would sometimes have to lower the towers from which they taped practices after winds blew the facility's pliable walls into the towers, creating a danger. The windblown walls would also disrupt the portable light stands used to illuminate practices.

The Seahawks no longer use such a practice bubble because their new headquarters features a walled indoor facility. I'm sure players didn't miss the musty old white bubble when strong winds blew hail across their outdoor fields Sunday. The team continued practicing outside despite the conditions.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals arrived in Tampa early with the wind at their backs. Emotions ran high. Defensive end Bertrand Berry fought tears.

More from Somers, with Bob McManaman: Larry Fitzgerald is 15 pounds lighter this season.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals don't mind the underdog role.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic examines the chilly relationship between Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Darren Urban of says the Cardinals didn't seem to be relishing the spotlight during their first media session at Super Bowl XLIII. Anquan Boldin said he wished this were a regular week.

Also from Urban: A look behind the scenes as Whisenhunt and Adrian Wilson made an appearance on NFL Network.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune provides an overview of the Cardinals' first day in Tampa. Wilson says the Cardinals are here to win the game, not to enjoy the week.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says Super Bowls are won on Sunday and sometimes lost earlier in the week.

Mike Branom of the East Valley Tribune says about 1,800 people attended a rally sending off the Cardinals from Phoenix.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind looks at the Cardinals' improved running game.

More Cardinals news here: A Google news feed with the latest headlines.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the Seahawks' issues in the secondary. Farnsworth: "The most glaring shortcoming was the lack of a playmaker -- and size -- at the cornerback spot opposite Marcus Trufant. Kelly Jennings, a 180-pounder who is called 'Slim' by his teammates, started the season, but was not the answer. The coaches then turned to Josh Wilson, a more aggressive player, but one who is 5-feet-9."

Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wants to know what Leroy Hill was doing in a 1975 Buick Electra when authorities found him passed out behind the wheel. Moore speaks with the motorist who reported Hill to police, and with car dealers versed in all things Buick.

Pro Football Weekly corroborates the Seahawks' potential interest in receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, noting that Koren Robinson's knee issues are a concern.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at what the Seahawks must do to become a Super Bowl team again.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up Jovan Haye as a potential free agent of interest for the Seahawks.

Also from Morgan: He really likes Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, for good reason.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams fans should show patience with the team's new leadership. Burwell on the Rams' draft plans: "Of course, if you want guesswork, I can play along. Michael Crabtree. Yes, it has to be the game-changing wide receiver from Texas Tech. That's a popular pick, and it might even make sense if the Rams are able to sign a beast of an offensive tackle or two in free agency. But knowing what I have learned about the particular habits of the Rams' general manager, it's foolhardy to speculate what's on [Billy] Devaney's mind."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides an update on the Rams' search for new assistant coaches. Paul Ferraro, Dick Curl and Frank Leonard have joined the staff.

Rick Herrin of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram says he spotted 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky going out to dinner with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Wade Phillips. Herrin: "Could San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky be a possibility? He is good buddies with Wade Phillips and the two worked together in San Diego when Manusky was linebackers coach."

Jennifer Floyd-Engel of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram previously suggested the 49ers had fired Manusky. Floyd-Engel then provides an update reading, "Just heard from the 49ers, who say Manusky is under contract and, as far as they know, not going to be fired." Hmmm.

Rams show anything is possible

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

 Scott Rovak/US Presswire
 Steven Jackson breaks through a hole in the second half of the Rams' stunning 34-14 win over the Cowboys.

ST. LOUIS -- Quarterback Marc Bulger overthrew a potential 92-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery in Week 7.

Oh, well. There was plenty more where that came from.

These are the new St. Louis Rams, after all. The resilient Rams. The Jim Haslett Rams.

You wouldn't recognize them.

Tough-minded, physical, passionate and explosive, these new Rams staked their record to 2-0 against the NFC East since Haslett replaced Scott Linehan following an 0-4 start.

The Rams' 34-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the Edward Jones Dome did more than validate St. Louis' road upset over the Washington Redskins in Week 6. It did more than expose the Cowboys as a fragile team made even more vulnerable without quarterback Tony Romo. This Rams victory reintroduced St. Louis as a potential player in the NFC West, trailing only idle Arizona (4-2) in the division.

"What do you have to lose?" Haslett had asked the Rams' players after their 0-4 start.

"I think a lot of guys just embraced that," running back Steven Jackson said after trampling the Cowboys for 160 yards on the ground.

Haslett is the right man in the right place at the right time. A fiery linebacker during his playing days, the Rams' former defensive coordinator under Linehan has won over the players.

"He knows how our emotions go and he knows what we're feeling and I think he knows how to get to us and how to motivate us," guard Richie Incognito said, "and we run with it. "Football is an attitude and we got the right one going for us right now."

Ten more things the Rams taught us in Week 7:

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Rams 34, Cowboys 14

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams are a new team with new life under new coach Jim Haslett.

The transformation has been more dramatic than anyone could have anticipated. The Rams are suddenly a spirited and physical team with a chance to win every game.

Quarterback Marc Bulger again showed more toughness and leadership than in the past by taking hits and bouncing back to make plays. Steven Jackson ran relentlessly and found a lot more room against the Cowboys than he did during a victory over the Redskins in Week 6. His 25-carry, 160-yard performance allowed the Rams to control the clock, a huge help for the Rams' defense.

Injuries to defensive lineman Adam Carriker and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa could prove costly depending on the severity. But the Rams are showing how attitude can compensate for personnel issues. Haslett deserves much of the credit. He's looking like the right man at the right time for a franchise seeking to establish itself again.

A little class would be welcome

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- Cowboys fans in attendance began chanting for quarterback Tony Romo while the Rams' medical personnel were tending to injured receiver Derek Stanley on the field.

The Rams brought a cart onto the field for Stanley, but the receiver was able to get up and walk off the field with help after several minutes. Stanley was injured while covering a punt return with 12:42 left in the third quarter.

Rams fans strongly booed when Cowboys fans chanted for Romo. The chants then stopped.

Rams lose defensive lineman Carriker

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams have taken starting defensive tackle Adam Carriker off the field for X-rays on an injured ankle.

No details at this time. The Rams' defense has continued playing well without him, helping the Rams build a 24-7 lead in the second quarter.

Update: X-ray results were negative, the Rams announced.

Told you so: Phillips loses challenge

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- Referee John Parry upped his record to 6-0 in replay challenges this season, shooting down Cowboys coach Wade Phillips in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome.

Phillips had a 4-0 record in challenges his season coming into this game. Not any more. The lost challenge allows the Rams to take possession in Dallas territory while holding a 21-7 lead late in the first quarter. Phillips had challenged a Cowboys fumble.

The Rams continue to play with the emotion they showed against the Redskins in Week 6. The Cowboys appear lost on both sides of the ball. The Rams have been able to take their pick between the ground game and throwing deep to Donnie Avery.

Late-arriving Rams crowd wakes up

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- Rams fans have apparently filled in many of the seats that had been empty during the Cowboys' opening drive touchdown.

Rams fans reacting to Marc Bulger's long scoring pass to Donnie Avery matched and probably exceeded the noise Dallas fans made after the Cowboys' opening drive.

Dallas fans are very well represented here. Rams fans just needed some time to wake up, and an opportunity to make some noise.

Feels like a home crowd for Cowboys

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- Cowboys fans seem to be louder than Rams fans at the Edward Jones Dome through the first few plays of the game.

Quite a few seats remain empty. Below me, I can count 10 unoccupied seats in a row in one section.

From a noise standpoint, it feels like 70-30 in favor of Cowboys fans.

Quick note on replay challenges

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- Replay reversals helped the Cowboys against the Cardinals last week, but Dallas coach Wade Phillips might have met his match this week.

John Parry, the referee assigned to the Cowboys-Rams game at the Edward Jones Dome, has upheld each of the three coach-initiated challenges made against him this season. Counting two booth-initiated challenges, Parry has a 5-0 record when challenged this season. He and Jerome Boger are the only referees without a reversal this season.

Phillips has a 4-0 record in replay challenges this season. I have Rams coach Jim Haslett with a 4-15 record on replay challenges since 2003. Those figures match league totals.

Big ovation for Cowboys during warmups

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The early crowd heavily favors the Cowboys here at the Edward Jones Dome, but the feel will change when Rams fans arrive closer to kickoff.

Hundreds of fans wearing Cowboys jerseys are lining the first row of the stands while the teams warm up. They'll blend into the crowd a little more once it's time to take their seats.

The Cowboys had a strong fan presence at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 6. The presence here doesn't feel that strong.

Audibles: NFC West Week 7 preview

October, 17, 2008
Posted by's Mike Sando

San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at New York Giants (4-1), 1 p.m. ET

Trusting the Giants' Eli Manning is a lot easier than trusting the 49ers' J.T. O'Sullivan, even after Manning tossed three picks against the Browns in Week 6. That's where this game hinges.

Defenses are forcing O'Sullivan into interceptions at a furious rate. O'Sullivan has thrown seven picks in his last three games. The 49ers are 0-3 largely as a result.

The solution -- handing the ball to Frank Gore more frequently when the 49ers are leading -- appears almost too obvious. Look for that story line to get a rest this week. The Giants have the offensive line and playmaking ability to take the lead and force the 49ers into obvious passing situations. The combination should fuel a lopsided Giants victory.

Turnovers can be the great equalizer, something the Rams proved against the Redskins in Week 6. I just don't see the 49ers winning the turnover battle. The 49ers lead the NFL with 15 giveaways. The Giants rank third with only four.

Dallas Cowboys (4-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4), 1 p.m. ET

The Rams are playing with an edge that helped them upset the Redskins while also nearly costing them the game. While they don't need any more 15-yard penalties from guard Richie Incognito, the new attitude players are showing under Jim Haslett does give them a chance to compete and possibly pull an upset.

It's probably wise to discount what the Rams had become under Scott Linehan. Their talent was better than that. The Rams thought their defensive line would provide a strong pass rush this season. I just question whether the Rams can score enough points to put the Cowboys in obvious passing situations.

This is a game Dallas should win even without Tony Romo. But the Cowboys can't take the outcome for granted. The Rams will beat teams that underestimate them.

Seattle Seahawks (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2), 8:15 p.m. ET

Seneca Wallace probably gets the start at quarterback for Seattle. A calf injury figures to limit his mobility, which was one of his strengths. I also question whether Wallace will be sharp enough after missing so much practice time in recent weeks.

The Seattle passing game simply isn't functioning at a high enough level for the Seahawks to beat good teams, particularly on the road. It's a stretch to think that will change dramatically with Wallace replacing Charlie Frye.

The Bucs think big-play receiver Joey Galloway has a chance to return from injury this week. That's fitting from a Seattle perspective. The Seahawks' defense is giving up big pass plays and Galloway -- traded by Seattle in 2000 -- figures to find openings deep downfield.

Keep an eye on Rams' Tinoisamoa

October, 16, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Playing on a struggling defense for a losing team in a smaller media market is one way to go unnoticed by NFL standards. The Rams thinks linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa is having a very good season. Here's what coach Jim Haslett told reporters Thursday:

"I think that's the number one thing, he's healthy. He's playing with great pad level, the guy is playing with power for a guy that's not big in stature, I mean, he's extremely fast, obviously. But the guy is doing everything right and that's the reason he's not getting knicked up and hit because his mechanics and techniques are just, you know, he's doing everything right for the first time since I've been here."

I'll keep an eye on Tinoisamoa when I travel to St. Louis for the Cowboys-Rams game. There wasn't much momentum for that game when we talked about where to go in Week 7, but subsequent events sealed the deal. The Cardinals are off, the 49ers have lost three in a row and the Seahawks haven't won in almost a month. The Rams are the hottest NFC West team in the division among teams with a game on the schedule this week.