NFL Nation: andre holmes

If Sammy Watkins is a target of the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 pick in May's NFL draft, that might be news to the former Clemson receiver.

Watkins, the top wideout in the draft who could go as high as No. 2 overall, told ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game on Tuesday that he did not recall meeting with the Raiders at last month's combine in Indianapolis.

Watkins
That's not to say, though, that Watkins is feeling shunned. As he put it, he has love for all 32 teams.

“I have some freakish talents and ability to make plays,” he said. “I can jump, run catch, make somebody miss. That's my game.”

It's a game and playmaking skill set badly needed by the rebuilding Raiders, who added veteran possession pass-catcher James Jones in free agency and return Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, Brice Butler and Juron Criner.

Watkins, though, plays bigger and faster than his listed 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, and many see him as Denarius Moore 2.0.

“I'm able to transition myself and work through tough conditions,” Watkins said. “I understand football and the preparation, so for me, it's getting in with the team I'm with and learn that playbook. That's all I need to do is really learn that playbook, and after that, just adjusting to the speed of the game and how cornerbacks play in the NFL.

“That would be the next step. I think after the first few games I'll be definitely fine.”

Watkins said he patterned his game after many different NFL receivers, listing Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery and Larry Fitzgerald. He was also asked where his skill set would best be put to use on an NFL field.

“If you want to make a lot of plays and help your team, I think ‘Z' would definitely be the position, because if they flip the coverage to your side, you definitely got one-on-one back side,” he said of what is commonly known as the flanker. “I think for me to spread the field and getting down the field and have space, the ‘Z' would be a nice position for me.”

And his favorite route to run?

“I would probably say a dig, probably a speed dig or a regular dig,” Watkins said. “You can't really stop those.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Receiver Denarius Moore went through his second consecutive practice after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury and would seem to be on track to playing Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Moore
"He had another good day today," coach Dennis Allen said. "Obviously, I'm not ready to make the decision yet, but it's moving in a positive direction."

If Moore, who has 37 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns, is active against the Chiefs, it presents a challenge for the Raiders. Andre Holmes has excelled in Moore's absence, and Rod Streater, with 50 receptions, is just 213 yards away from becoming the first Raiders receiver with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Randy Moss in 2005.

A likely scenario would have Moore and Holmes on the outside with Streater sliding into the slot.

"It's another element that we have, another weapon that we have that we feel like we can utilize," Allen said. "The more guys you have like that, the better you're going to be. It gives us a boost.

"There's only so many guys that can be on the field at the same time so, obviously, if you add another guy into the mix somebody's going to lose a few reps here or there. All those guys are guys that we can still plan on using and plan on having in the game plan a significant amount."

There were no changes to the Raiders' injury report Thursday as defensive tackle Vance Walker was still exhibiting concussion symptoms, so he is unlikely to play Sunday.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RB Darren McFadden (ankle), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), TE Nick Kasa (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), LB Sio Moore (neck)

Full practice: LG Khalif Barnes (knee/ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (knee), DE Jason Hunter (foot/finger), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), RT Tony Pashos (foot)
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Perhaps no other Oakland Raiders player epitomized the state of the rebuilding franchise during the nationally broadcast Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys more than receiver Andre Holmes.

He entered the day with five career catches for 76 yards and the product of Hillsdale College (also alma mater to left tackle Jared Veldheer) responded with a breakout game -- seven receptions for 136 yards -- albeit in a 31-24 defeat.

[+] EnlargeAndre Holmes
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesAndre Holmes is making the most of his opportunity with the Raiders.
More to the point, Holmes was one of 16 undrafted players who suited up for the Raiders against the Cowboys, seven of whom were initially signed by Oakland's second-year regime of general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen: rookie quarterback Matt McGloin, receivers Rod Streater and rookie Greg Jenkins, punter Marquette King, offensive lineman Lucas Nix, rookie defensive end Ryan Robinson and linebacker Kaelin Burnett.

“You look across the league and there's a lot of undrafteds starting and a lot of undrafteds playing,” Holmes said Monday. “It's what you do on the field on Sunday.”

Or, in Holmes' case, what he did last Thursday to the team with which he spent 2011 and 2012.

“We liked Andre,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game. “You know, we had him here for a couple of years on our roster and on our practice [squad].

“He is a big, strong guy and can make those kinds of plays. He has good length and he has good ball skills, so we certainly have a healthy respect for him because we know him pretty well.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Holmes had to sit out the season's first four games due to a league-mandated suspension for failing a performance-enhancing substance test and did not get his first catch with Oakland until Nov. 17 at the Houston Texans. He became more of a factor with Denarius Moore missing the past two games with an injured shoulder.

And yes, Holmes circled his calendar when the Cowboys game came up, and his teammates noticed.

“When you don't get drafted, that kind of [sets] you back, but it also gets you that edge,” said fellow non-draftee Streater. “You want to work hard and you always feel like you've got something to prove. That's kind of the thing with Andre.

“It was like the perfect situation going against the Cowboys. They let him go, and he was undrafted.”

Proverbial chip on the shoulder, much? Even if Holmes was initially signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings in 2011?

If so, you could make the same claim for the eight other undrafted Raiders who played against the Cowboys and were first signed elsewhere before finding a home in Oakland -- tight end Jeron Mastrud (Tampa Bay), fullback Marcel Reece (Miami), middle linebacker Nick Roach (San Diego), safety Brandian Ross (Green Bay), running back Jeremy Stewart (Philadelphia), fullback Jamize Olawale (Dallas), long-snapper Jon Condo (Dallas) and defensive tackle Daniel Muir (Green Bay).

“It's taken me three years to be able to do it and I think it's just the development and me figuring out the skills that I need when I'm out on the field,” Holmes said. “Part of it could be opportunity and things like that, but I mean, I wouldn't say that I wasn't doing it before or anything like that. It was just the right time. The ball was coming to me and I was able to make plays on it.

“I've been able to use my strengths a lot more and playing bigger and making sure I come down with the 50-50 balls. I know when I was a rookie that was one thing I wasn't really doing. It was more of like a 20-80 ball, know what I mean?”

Upon Further Review: Raiders Week 13

November, 29, 2013
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An review of four hot issues from the Oakland Raiders' 31-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

A silver lining: The injury to receiver Denarius Moore more than opened the door for former Cowboys wideout Andre Holmes, who put on a show against his one-time team in catching seven passes for a game-high 136 yards. Especially when you consider he entered the game with five career catches for 76 yards. Bittersweet? “It felt good,” he said. “If I had a calendar, I checked this game because I wanted to come here and play well in front of a team I had played for. It just sucks we didn't get the win.” Said Raiders QB Matt McGloin: “He's a guy I definitely trust. … He's a guy that will go and get the ball for you.”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Andre Holmes
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsAndre Holmes had seven catches 136 yards against his former team.
McGloin takes a step back? After being a profile in efficiency in the first half -- he was 11-for-15 passing for 146 yards -- McGloin was 7-15 for 109 yards after halftime and had a costly end-zone interception when the Raiders were attempting to tie the game at 28-28 with 8:39 to play. He attempted a fade or jump-ball pass to the 5-foot-9 Jacoby Ford, who was covered by the 6-foot Brandon Carr. “If it was a touchdown,” McGloin said, “nobody would have thought a thing about it.” Actually, had Ford caught it, there would have been a lot of talk as it would have been his first TD catch since Nov. 6, 2011.

Injuries: Right guard Mike Brisiel was lost for the game after the first play with a knee injury. He was replaced by Andre Gurode, who was replaced after four false start penalties by Lucas Nix. Also injured: running back Rashad Jennings (concussion), safety Usama Young (stinger), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (calf) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (stinger).

Of explosive plays XII: And now for our weekly tracking of “explosive” plays. As deemed by coach Dennis Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air, 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had seven such plays against the Cowboys, all passes. Dallas had five explosive plays, one run and four passes. In 12 games, the Raiders have 86 explosive plays (24 runs, 62 passes), with three TD runs and seven passing scores. Oakland's opponents, meanwhile, now have 84 explosive plays combined, 18 runs (one TD) and 66 passes (seven TDs).

Brandon Carr rebounds with late pick

November, 28, 2013
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Brandon Carr admittedly struggled in the first half against the Oakland Raiders.

Carr
That most of it came against former Cowboys practice squad wide receiver Andre Holmes made it worse to fans who expect more out of the $50 million cornerback.

But when it mattered most Thursday, Carr came up with the biggest play of the game for the Dallas defense in a 31-24 victory.

Leading 28-21 the defense buckled when Holmes caught a 35-yard pass from quarterback Matt McGloin to the Dallas 21. Two plays later from the 20 McGloin chose to go at Carr with Jacoby Ford running a go route down the sideline.

“He just threw it up and they’d got enough big balls on us throughout the game,” Carr said. “I figured it was time to go ahead and make a play and shift the momentum.”

Carr was able to out-jump Ford for the ball to come down with his third interception of the season. The Cowboys’ offense then drove 79 yards on 14 plays, eating up 6 minutes and 43 seconds before settling for a 19-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 1:56 to play.

In the first half Holmes was able to beat Carr down the sideline on a similar play to the Cowboys' 1 after a replay review overturned what had been a touchdown.

“I was playing off this time,” Carr said. “Just good ball placement by the quarterback. He read it and threw it to his big guys to go up and leap for the ball.”

Tested a second time, Carr would not get fooled again.

“Just keep playing,” coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s the nature of the league, cornerbacks isolated out on islands. The quarterbacks and receivers in this league are good. The other guys, they’re going to win sometimes ... B-Carr just kind of hung in there and kept battling and eventually he made the play in the end zone. It was a big play for us.”

Five Raiders need MRIs

November, 18, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While five Oakland Raiders players had to take MRI exams Monday, only one result was known by the time of coach Dennis Allen’s weekly news conference.

Right guard Mike Brisiel left the Raiders’ 28-23 victory at the Houston Texans on Sunday with a knee injury, but Allen said the MRI came back clean.

“He should be fine,” Allen said.

Receivers Andre Holmes, who caught one pass for 33 yards but had another long diving grab ruled out of bounds, and Denarius Moore, who was the recipient of quarterback Matt McGloin's first NFL touchdown pass, a five-yarder, both had injured shoulders and were awaiting their results. Same with defensive end Jason Hunter, who injured a foot, and defensive tackle Daniel Muir, who had a knee injury.

“We’ll have an update on all those guys basically on Wednesday,” Allen said.

Allen gave the players the day off Monday.

Midseason Report: Oakland Raiders

November, 6, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders and, before Sunday's embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland was playing above expectations. Indeed, after a 4-12 season last year, the Raiders had a chance to win their fourth game at this year's midway points.

Alas, the Eagles and Nick Foles, who threw a record-tying seven touchdowns, had different plans and it makes you wonder if these are indeed the same old Raiders who have not been to the playoffs since 2002, let alone had a winning season since that Super Bowl campaign. The difference, at least on the surface, is this team has been in every game save two -- at Denver and against the Eagles.

But the NFL is a results-oriented business and at the midway point, the Raiders sit at 3-5.

 

WR Holmes added to injury report

October, 31, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders receiver Andre Holmes was added to the team's injury report with a hamstring issue Thursday, seemingly opening the door for second-year wideout Juron Criner to be active Sunday for the first time this season.

Holmes
Criner, the second of two fifth-round picks in general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen's first draft class, was slowed coming out of training camp this summer with a hamstring strain. Might Criner's first action of 2012 come against the Philadelphia Eagles?

"He's worked his way back and there's a chance that Juron could be up this week, based on the way that he's been practicing and the health of that player,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday.

The 6-feet-3, 221-pound Criner played in 12 games as a rookie and caught 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"It's frustrating but you can't let it frustrate you,” Criner said after the Raiders' bye week. "I'm a young guy, I'm a young receiver, I got time. They have other options that they're going with right now. I can't do anything but respect that. But if I let it get me down, it will only put me further under. It won't help me any.”

Besides Holmes' hamstring, rookie Brice Butler had a drop that turned into an interception last weekend and veteran Jacoby Ford had the worst game of his professional career, losing a fumble on a catch and having an adventure on punt return. Allen, though, said Ford would again return punts, with Taiwan returning kickoffs.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip).

Limited practice: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Flynn deal an April Fool's Joke?

October, 2, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- He was acquired to be the Oakland Raiders starting quarterback, but after being beaten out in training camp and one disastrous regular-season start, Matt Flynn, and his $6.5-million salary, has been demoted to third string.

This obviously was not what Oakland had in mind when general manager Reggie McKenzie shipped a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft and a 2015 conditional pick to Seattle for Flynn on April 1, the day before Carson Palmer was traded to Arizona.

Talk about your bad April Fool’s jokes.

“Listen, it is what it is,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Monday. “It hasn’t worked out like we anticipated and we’ve got to make decisions and we’ve got to move forward and continue to go. And Matt’s going to continue to battle and scratch and claw, and I still believe that he’s a capable quarterback. But we’re going to give McGloin a chance.”

As in undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, who came out of Penn State and has risen from fourth on the Raiders’ depth chart to overtake fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson, who was waived in camp before being signed to the practice squad, and Flynn to become Terrelle Pryor’s backup.

“I rep the same plays that Terrelle reps, and Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] does a good job of making sure I understand what we’re doing with Terrelle and, at the same time, understanding what we would do if I was in there,” McGloin said. “So the different plays like that, I’ll be prepared for; and just in case they want to run some of the similar stuff we run with Terrelle, I’ll be able to run as well.”

Flynn, meanwhile, had little to no success running the offense Sunday in a 24-14 loss to Washington. He was sacked seven times, fumbled twice, threw a pick-six interception and showed a shocking lack of pocket awareness, even as he had an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead.

Granted, Flynn played most of the game without running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece, who were lost to injury.

After a Washington field goal, Flynn was intercepted by David Amerson on a slant pass that was thrown late and behind Denarius Moore. Forty-five yards later, Washington was within 14-10.

“I thought we had a good play, they were in man-to-man coverage,” Flynn said after the game. “We have to clean up the execution of that. All 11 of us have to clean it up.”

Now, it appears the Raiders have to clean up this mess of a deal. Especially if Flynn is the odd man out if/when they decide to activate receiver Andre Holmes off the exemption list.

Chiefs get Dwayne Bowe back

July, 28, 2013
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The Dwayne Bowe Show is up and running in Kansas City.

The newly minted No. 1 receiver is practicing for the first time this training camp on Sunday. He passed his physical after being shelved at the start of camp with a virus.

Bowe is going to be a focal point of new coach Andy Reid’s offense this season. The new Kansas City regime made a huge commitment to Bowe this offseason by giving him a lucrative contract.

In other AFC West notes:

Denver center Dan Koppen was carted of the field Sunday with an injury. It will hurt Denver if it's serious. He is replacing starter J.D. Walton, who will be out until, at least November with an ankle injury suffered last September. If Koppen is going to be out for an extended period, Manny Ramirez will likely take over. He worked with the first team in the offseason.

San Diego rookie linebacker Manti Te’o is having no problem fitting in with his new teammates. In fact, he is helping them. The second-round pick and Hawaii native has taught first-round pick, massive tackle D.J. Fluker, to swim. Read it, it's a cool story.

Oakland linebacker Kaluka Maiava is not practicing. He suffered a lower leg injury and was on crutches after Saturday’s practice.

The NFL announced Oakland receiver Andre Holmes will be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy regarding performance enhancing drugs. He has virtually no chance of making the team.

The Broncos signed tight end Jake O’Connell. Tight end Lucas Reed was cut. O’Connell is a long, long shot to make the 53-man roster.

On a personal note, I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of support over the past couple of days. Thank you. I will be working on the blog until Wednesday before taking off for the rest of the week.

Dallas Cowboys cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
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Click here for the complete list of Dallas Cowboys roster moves.

Most significant move: When the Cowboys drafted wide receiver Danny Coale in the fifth round, some thought he might get himself into the No. 3 wide receiver mix. The fact that he could not says a lot about the wide receivers the Cowboys already had and that they kept at the cut deadline. Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley all performed admirably in training camp and in preseason games while competing for reps and jobs, and because of that, not only was Coale expendable, but the Cowboys feel a lot better about their wide receiver depth going into the season than they might have felt a few months ago.

Onward and upward: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted pass-rusher who had the big numbers last year at Prairie View A&M, looked like a potentially helpful guy, and his ability to get to the quarterback is likely to make him interesting to some other team. The main reason he didn't make the Cowboys' roster was probably his inability to help on special teams. But he looked like a playmaker when on the field, and I wouldn't be surprised if he drew some interest. ... It's a surprise to some that third quarterback Stephen McGee was kept, but he could be the first one to go if the Cowboys add an offensive lineman off someone else's cut list.

What's next: Other than potentially adding to their offensive line depth or looking for upgrades there, there's not much for the Cowboys to do at this point. And the acquisition of Ryan Cook from Miami in exchange for a seventh-round pick early Friday addressed the offensive line depth by adding a versatile backup who can play center, which David Arkin can't yet do. I think they might take a look at a veteran center such as Dan Koppen, who was cut by the Patriots and probably would be an upgrade over starter Phil Costa. But they like Costa and believe he can improve, and they don't appear to be ready to give up on him at this point. Which is fine. I think the Cowboys are focused more on the long term anyway.

What I'll be watching: Rams-Cowboys

August, 25, 2012
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The Dallas Cowboys play their third preseason game of 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday against the St. Louis Rams in Arlington, Texas. Here's what I'll be watching...

Most closely: The backup wide receivers. With Miles Austin and Dez Bryant (not to mention tight end Jason Witten) out with injuries, I'm very interested to see who catches Tony Romo's passes in this game. Kevin Ogletree has been the standout among the No. 3 wide receiver candidates so far this preseason, but Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Cole Beasley and others are still in the mix and should get opportunities with the first-team offense tonight. It's still audition time for those guys, and with this likely to be Romo's final preseason game of the year, it's probably their best chance to show their stuff.

On the other side of the ball: The defense looks to be getting healthy, as nose tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive end Jason Hatcher and linebacker Anthony Spencer all have a chance to see their first preseason action. The Cowboys have struggled a bit against the run in the preseason so far, but Hatcher and Spencer are two of their best run defenders, and Ratliff's presence in the middle of the defensive line should shore things up there. Seeing the starting defense on the field together all at the same time will be encouraging to Cowboys fans, and it should be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the playing time at that defensive end spot opposite Hatcher. Some roster decisions looming over there.

If I think of it: DeMarco Murray's touches have been very limited this preseason, and Dallas doesn't want to risk injury to the running back on whom it plans to rely on a great deal this year. Murray will probably get more carries in this game, but don't expect to see very much of him. I'll be looking at Morris Claiborne again at cornerback, as he's going to have to hit the ground running if the defense is to function the way they want it to. And of course, the offensive line, whose struggles have been the story of the preseason. Are they getting healthier and/or better there?
The Dallas Cowboys play their second preseason game of the year tonight in San Diego against the Chargers. The game is at 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT and 6 pm PT. Here's a look at what I'll be watching...

Most closely: Offensive productivity. Yes, the offensive line is the big issue with the Cowboys these days. But even if it improves, it's never going to be a strength. The Cowboys will need to be able to produce in back of a substandard line in 2012. Tony Romo will have to complete passes anyway. DeMarco Murray will have to find holes anyway. So I'm interested to see what the Cowboys come up with as a way to move the ball while the line is struggling as badly as it is this preseason. It's not going to be easy with Miles Austin and Jason Witten injured and out, but the Cowboys will be looking for signs of offensive life that didn't show up in the preseason opener Monday in Oakland.

On the other side of the ball: Well, Morris Claiborne, of course. The rookie cornerback on whom the Cowboys spent their first two draft picks in April looks set to make his preseason debut. And considering that the key part of Dallas' plan to fix its defense is to rely on Claiborne and free-agent pickup Brandon Carr to lock down receivers in man coverage, San Diego offers a nifty first test. Top pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware is out with a hamstring injury, because those were apparently contagious in Oxnard this year, so if the secondary really can help the pass rush look better, this would be a good time to show it. My guess is that the Chargers will go right after Claiborne to test him out, so we should get a chance to see what he's got.

If I think of it: Safety play, with Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh both looking good so far. Could be a surprise strength... Third wide receiver candidates, of course. Andre Holmes showed something in the first game... More of Tyrone Crawford as a situational pass-rusher.

No, Cowboys don't want Chad Johnson

August, 15, 2012
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Sometimes I just have to shake my head.

Every time a player of whom anyone has ever heard of gets cut, fans want to know if their team will go and sign him. So I guess it's no real shock that Dallas Cowboys fans, unnecessarily panicked about the No. 3 wide receiver situation, would ask whether the team would be interested in former Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson. The Dolphins, who need receivers about 500 times worse than the Cowboys do, just released Johnson after he was arrested last weekend on domestic violence charges. And while he would make no sense whatsoever for the Cowboys to even consider, somehow Jason Garrett found himself answering a question about his team's interest in Wednesday's news conference. Per Tim MacMahon:
"We haven't had any discussions about Chad Johnson," Garrett said.

Rough translation: There is a zero percent chance of Ochocinco joining the Cowboys.

Seriously, folks. Enough. Nothing's changed since the last time Johnson was on the market except his last name and his police record. Only one of those changed for the better, and it wasn't the right one. There's no chance whatsoever that the Cowboys, who already have Dez Bryant, would want to have to stand there and explain why they seem to be collecting receivers who've been arrested on domestic violence charges in the past couple of months.

Johnson also has not become any younger since the last time he was available, nor has he been a good NFL player since 2009. There's nothing whatsoever to suggest that he's a better option than Kevin Ogletree or Andre Holmes or Cole Beasley or any of the other guys currently competing for the Cowboys' No. 3 receiver spot. He's not good, he's a huge potential headache, and there would be no reason for the Cowboys to even consider it. I doubt they did, and I have no problem believing Garrett spoke for the entire organization when he shot it down without hesitation.

No word on whether he was also asked if they had any interest in Isaac Bruce or Rod Smith.

Here's some actual, real, relevant news about the Cowboys' receiving corps.

Observation deck: Cowboys-Raiders

August, 14, 2012
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Of all the football games I've ever watched, the Dallas Cowboys' 3-0 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night was definitely ... well, it was one of them. It was a sluggish, poorly played game by two teams that obviously weren't at full strength or interested in showing a national TV audience very much of their playbooks. At the time that it ended, nine Major League Baseball teams had outscored the two NFL teams' combined total.

But it was a game a defensive coordinator could love, and surely Dallas' Rob Ryan will use it as a rallying point for his defense in the days and weeks to come. As we say all the time here, there is little or no predictive value in any of these games. Some teams game-plan for them, many don't, and there's no way to really know what you're watching in terms of who's trying and who's not. But if you're a defensive coordinator, you'd better believe you can hold up a 3-0 victory and shout at your guys about what they're capable of if they play hard. Can't hurt, could help, you know.

The Cowboys' offense ... won't have as much fun watching film of this one. Let's get to what we saw from the Cowboys in Oakland on Monday night.

1. The interior of the offensive line is not good right now, and it affects everything the offense tries to do. Tony Romo had no time to throw, DeMarco Murray had no room to run, and the No. 3 wide receiver candidates who were running with the first team had no opportunity to show what they could do. David Arkin started at center in place of the injured Phil Costa, and in the first half he got abused by Tommy Kelly for one sack and was also called for holding. The good news for Arkin is that he didn't botch any snaps, and he did look better as he continued to play into the third quarter (and the Raiders kept taking out first-team and second-team defensive players). Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started at right guard, is likely to get snaps at center in upcoming preseason games, but since he's coming off an injury the Cowboys are trying to work him in at guard to get him acclimated. Derrick Dockery started at left guard, and Ronald Leary struggled with the second and third teams. Now, the key things to remember are (a) this isn't news and (b) preseason games are about figuring out what you need to improve. There's no reason to think the Cowboys' offensive line will look worse at any point this year than it does right now, and they've known for a while that they have issues there. If they can get Costa and Nate Livings and Bernadeau healthy, they'll at least have the crew with which they planned to go into the season. I'm just not sure that's good enough -- or that they have anything behind the starters that can help in case of injury. And it's worth mentioning that right tackle Doug Free didn't look good either.

2. Andre Holmes had a good night. Of those No. 3 wide receiver candidates, Holmes stood out the most, with 40 yards on three catches. Holmes' asset is his size, and he looks like he's doing a good job of using his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make catches in traffic. Long way to go and a lot to see, but Holmes helped his case. Kevin Ogletree likely remains the favorite and got the first crack at it, starting in place of the injured Miles Austin. Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, for 12 yards, and had a goofy moment when he fell on his face trying to make a block and slipping on the infield dirt at the Oakland Coliseum. Expect to see more from Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale in upcoming games. Beasley was the slot receiver with the first-team offense but didn't see any action. Interesting that Dez Bryant did start in spite of his hamstring injury and made one excellent 24-yard catch before taking a seat.

3. The defense did look fired-up and kind of deep in spots. Defensive end Marcus Spears played like a man who knows he needs to win a roster spot. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh came up with an early interception on a play on which cornerback Orlando Scandrick had his man well covered. Kyle Wilber showed some ability to generate pressure on Matt Leinart on a third-down play, though he did leave the game with a broken thumb. Tyrone Crawford pushed the pocket a little bit during his time in there. And I think that inside linebacker spot is going to be a real strength, as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both looked good. Yes, the Raiders ran the ball effectively against the first-team defense, but that first-team defense was without starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So I imagine they'll be better once those guys are on the field.

4. Not-so-special teams. The Cowboys were called for penalties on two punts and one field-goal attempt, each time allowing the Raiders to keep the ball. That needs to be tightened up, clearly, and it's the kind of thing that just infuriates coaches in these preseason games.

5. Miscellany: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted linebacker who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View last year, looked active and quick. Remains to be seen whether he has the size and speed to play against NFL offenses... Rookie tight end James Hanna showed good hands as a receiver and looked good on kick coverage... Dwayne Harris was called for holding, and yeah, that can work against a guy who's trying to get a job as a No. 3 wide receiver... Yes, you like what you see from Victor Butler, as you always do in August. Still need to see whether and how the coaches find more ways to get him on the field once the real games begin... Seemed like punter Chris Jones was fine.

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