NFL Nation: B.W. Webb.

Pittsburgh Steelers' projected inactives

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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CHARLOTTE -- The Steelers 46-man roster is a little harder to predict this week with starting left guard Ramon Foster’s status uncertain because of an ankle injury.

My guess is Foster will try to convince the coaches to let him play but Mike Tomlin told the sixth-year veteran late last week that he won’t put him in a position fail.

Playing against a stout Panthers defensive line on a gimpy ankle probably isn’t a recipe for success so I think the Steelers plug in Cody Wallace at left guard and give Foster another week to recover.

Rookie running back Dri Archer won’t play in the 8:30 p.m. game against the Panthers because of an ankle injury and he will join Foster on the Steelers' list of inactive players.

Here are the five other players I expect the Steelers to deactivate tonight.

WR Martavis Bryant: The rookie is healthy but there isn’t a place for him on the game-day roster for the second consecutive game. Darrius Heyward-Bey contributes on special teams, Bryant won’t get the nod over Lance Moore or Justin Brown and the Steelers aren’t dressing six wide receivers.

NT Daniel McCullers: If he was an answer to the Steelers’ struggles on defense the 6-foot-7, 352-pounds man-child would be on the field. McCullers, however, is still learning and probably a long way from playing. That could change, though, if the Steelers continue to give up rushing yards in chunks.

OL Wesley Johnson: If Foster doesn’t play, I think Chris Hubbard gets a helmet over Johnson. The rookie fifth-round pick is more versatile but Hubbard has played almost exclusively at left guard. He could play there if Wallace is needed at center or right guard in the event of an injury.

CB B.W. Webb: There is absolutely no reason the Steelers need to dress 11 defensive backs, something they did in a 26-6 loss to the Ravens. Webb, who played just two special-teams snaps in Baltimore, is the odd man out tonight.

QB Landry Jones: He has yet to dress for an NFL game. There is no reason for that to change tonight.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
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IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

The Kyle Orton watch is over now that the Cowboys released the veteran backup. The timing of it is a surprise, and Jason Garrett spoke optimistically all offseason about Orton’s return. Now the Cowboys turn their attention to Weeden as Romo’s backup. Weeden had a productive spring, running the first-team offense as Romo recovered from back surgery. The Cowboys haven’t kept a third quarterback since 2011, and Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan will have work to do to crack the 53-man roster

RUNNING BACKS (4)


The last two spots could be up in the air. Randle, a fifth-round choice, will be pushed by free-agent pickup Ryan Williams in the preseason. Williams, a former second-round pick, was not able to stay healthy in Arizona. The Cowboys have given him a chance to win a backup job. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup in 2013. He is more versatile than undrafted rookie J.C. Copeland, but I don’t think having a fullback on the 53-man roster is set in stone.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


I debated whether to go with a sixth, but later on you will see why I stuck with five. It is possible the Cowboys will look for a veteran in the final cuts if they feel limited by their depth because of injury, but I think they like the overall group. They will work their No. 3 receiver role on a rotation basis, but Beasley could emerge as a bigger threat on third down. There will be a lot of eyes on Williams, who takes over the No. 2 role on a full-time basis. Bryant is set for another Pro Bowl-type season.

TIGHT ENDS (3)


Witten remains near the top of the game at his position. His total catches were down last year, but his touchdowns were up. Escobar’s role figures to expand, especially as a No. 3-type receiver. Hanna has the inside track on the third spot, but I have a feeling the Cowboys will be looking for more of a traditional blocker, especially if they want to get away from the fullback spot to open up a role elsewhere.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

The top six are set, with Bernadeau or Leary fighting it out for the left guard position and the loser becoming the top backup on the interior. Parnell is in the final year of his deal, and if Weems develops, I wonder if the Cowboys would look for a trading partner. They have invested a lot in Parnell in time and money for him to be a backup, so it would be a risk, but perhaps one worth taking. Weems had a decent offseason. Clarke gets the nod as the No. 9 guy right now, but veteran Uche Nwaneri could work his way into the mix.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

I think the Cowboys will go heavy here, especially considering what happened last year and the numbers they have thrown at the position this year. Four of them are rookies -- Lawrence, Gardner, Bishop and Coleman. I believe Anthony Spencer and possibly Amobi Okoye will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, so they don’t make this 53-man roster with the idea that they join the team after the sixth game of the season. Wilson garnered the last spot over a 2013 starter, Nick Hayden, but there will be a few players in the mix for the final few spots, including Ben Bass.

LINEBACKER (7)

Carrying seven linebackers might be a little heavy, but I have special teams in mind when it comes to Will Smith. He benefits from having only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Cowboys spent the offseason telling us games are won and lost up front, so carrying an extra offensive or defensive linemen could get in this mix as well. McClain gets a spot only because of his experience. Backups of Holloman, Hitchens and Smith would be tough considering their youth, and I can see the Cowboys looking for veteran backup help around the final cut dates.

CORNERBACK (5)


Carr and Claiborne have to play exceptionally well for this defense to have a chance, and they might have to do it without much help from a consistent pass rush. Scandrick is coming off his best season, and Claiborne will have to beat him out to reclaim the starting spot. Moore can play inside and out. Mitchell showed in his limited offseason work that he can make plays. Last year’s fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb, will have to fight for a spot. Based on his offseason work, he did not make the cut for this roster.

SAFETY (5)

Church is the only player without questions. The Cowboys are projecting the other four with their biggest bet on Wilcox. He enters camp as the starter, but he could be pushed by Heath and Hamilton. Dixon will be more of a special-teams threat if he is to make the roster. Hamilton showed some playmaking in the offseason. No Matt Johnson? Not right now, especially after he couldn’t practice -- again -- for most of the offseason.

SPECIALISTS (3)


Perhaps Cody Mandell can push Jones, but Jones is the more consistent punter and has a good rapport as a holder for Bailey. Ladouceur remains one of the best long-snappers in the game. This group won’t change during the summer unless there is an injury.
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have signed three defensive players in free agency, but that does not mean they have fixed the woes on that side of the ball in the offseason.

Among the national visitors to the Cowboys next week for pre-draft visits are UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, according to sources.

Teams are allowed 30 national visitors leading up to the draft. They do not work out, but they meet with coaches and scouts and are put to the test mentally. The Cowboys can have an unlimited number of players work out at their Dallas day session on April 17 that includes players from local colleges or who played high school football in the area.

Donald has been linked to the Cowboys since an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl in January. He met with coaches at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February and will come to Valley Ranch as well. Donald might be the perfect fit as a 3-technique in Rod Marinelli’s defense.

The Cowboys signed Henry Melton as a free agent, but it does not take them out of the bidding for Donald, who had 11 sacks and 28.5 tackles last season. Melton’s contract is essentially a one-year deal. If he does not perform at a high level, the Cowboys can walk away from the final three years of the contract by not exercising the option.

Barr had 23.5 sacks in his last two years at UCLA and was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick. He played mostly linebacker, but his ability to rush the passer has some teams wondering if he can be a full-time defensive end. It is possible he could play strongside linebacker and move to defensive end in passing situations.

Shazier has phenomenal athleticism and can cover tight ends and running backs. With Bruce Carter in the final year of his deal, Shazier could provide excellent insurance or perhaps force Carter to move to the strongside linebacker spot. Shazier had 143 tackles last year for Ohio State and 44.5 tackles for loss in his career.

Lawrence led the Mountain West with 10.5 sacks in 2013 and had 20.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, he is more of a defensive end than outside linebacker with long arms and deceptive strength.

Ward is one of the top safeties in the draft and could be a first-round pick. He had 95 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 pass deflections last season, but he is also coming off foot surgery. The Cowboys have not looked at the veteran safety market in free agency for somebody to play alongside Barry Church. They have said they like what they have in last year’s third-rounder, J.J. Wilcox, as well as Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson, who has yet to play in his first two years because of injuries.

In recent history, the Cowboys have shown a preference for selecting players who visited Valley Ranch before the draft. Last year, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, Wilcox, B.W. Webb and Joseph Randle were among the pre-draft visitors they selected. Since 2005, the only top picks not to visit the Cowboys before the draft were DeMarcus Ware (2005) and Morris Claiborne (2012).
DeMarcus WareMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsIt might be time for the Cowboys to let aging defensive end DeMarcus Ware go.

The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to start over.

It’s not an ideal situation, but in the big picture, this is the perfect time.

The Cowboys are talking with Pat Dye, the agent for defensive end DeMarcus Ware, about a reduction in salary.

SportsNation

Should DeMarcus Ware take a pay cut?

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    87%
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    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 16,027)

Ware has been the Cowboys’ best defensive player for roughly seven consecutive seasons. But last year was different. Ware battled elbow, back, quad and a stinger in 2013.

His health betrayed him and he finished with just six sacks in the 2013 season. You could say health was the reason for his declining play or that he’s just getting old.

The reality is Ware is still a good player, not a player worth taking $16 million of your salary cap, but maybe half that.

The Cowboys have basically told him to take a pay cut or find another team.

I don’t believe they should keep him though because although Ware is still a productive player, if the team is trying to forge ahead and stop the mediocrity of the franchise, then letting him go is the best thing possible.

Rebuild.

If Ware is off the books, it saves $7.4 million.

On June 1, you get another $5.5 million in savings when your rid yourself of Miles Austin’s contract.

That’s close to $13 million in savings from two veteran players who are battling health issues as they move to the backstage of their careers. Sure some other NFL team will sign them, that’s life in the NFL.

The Cowboys need to get younger, like yesterday. If Jason Garrett wants a contract extension he should tell Jerry Jones, let’s get younger.

It’s time to end the way the franchise has kept players around for too long and move toward the future. It’s time for the Cowboys to draft the best players on their board and clean up the communication mess of the last few years in the war room.

(Read full post)

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since he remains on the active roster, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is officially listed as inactive for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Romo had back surgery on Friday but the team did not make the formal move of placing him on injured reserve. If the Cowboys win tonight, then they will place Romo on IR and add a player to the active roster for the playoffs. If they had made the move already and gone with just 52 players on the active roster, they would have lost some practice squad players.

Joining Romo on the inactive list are: B.W. Webb, Jakar Hamilton, Sean Lee, Ernie Sims and Darrion Weems.

This is the first game Webb has been inactive all season, but he lost his playing time to Sterling Moore and the return of Morris Claiborne means the Cowboys do not need to carry five cornerbacks.

Cowboys sign CB Sterling Moore

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
3:07
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IRVING, Texas -- With Morris Claiborne likely out of Thursday’s game against the Oakland Raiders after he aggravated a hamstring strain Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys re-signed cornerback Sterling Moore on Monday.

Moore
Moore was among the Cowboys’ final cuts on Aug. 31 when they made the somewhat surprising decision to go with only four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Moore is not a stranger to having to play on a quick turnaround for the Cowboys. Last year he officially had one day of practice before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 2 after he was signed off the New England Patriots' practice squad.

He finished with six tackles and two pass breakups in six games with the Cowboys.

To make room for Moore, tight end Andre Smith was released. He could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

The Cowboys had hoped cornerback Micah Pellerin would clear waivers last week, but he was claimed by the Tennessee Titans. If Pellerin had returned to the practice squad, the Cowboys would have called him up to the active roster for the second time this season.

Without Claiborne, the Cowboys could use rookie B.W. Webb outside and keep Orlando Scandrick in the slot when they play their nickel defense.

Practice weather prepares Cowboys

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
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IRVING, Texas -- With temperatures in the mid 30s on Friday at practice, the Dallas Cowboys got a taste of what the weather will be like for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

Temperatures at MetLife Stadium are expected to be in the mid 30s with a 20 mph wind.

Coach Jason Garrett and several players thought there was a benefit from practicing in the cold Friday.

"It allows you to get your mind prepared for what to expect on Sunday as opposed to going from one extreme to the next," cornerback Brandon Carr said. "We're just out there in these elements, working on catching balls and focusing throughout the cold and get your hands prepared to catch these balls getting fired out of the quarterback's hand."

The wind in East Rutherford, N.J., has always been noteworthy, especially at old Giants Stadium, and can make things tricky for the quarterback.

"I don't know that you want to overthink it," Garrett said. "Certainly throwing a spiral is important when you're playing in the wind. The ball will cut through the air better. You'll be more accurate. If the ball doesn't come out of your hand cleanly and the ball is wobbly typically the wind has more of an effect on it. I think spinning the ball well, I think Tony naturally spins the ball well. Kyle Orton spins the ball well. You just have to make sure doing that. I think that will help your accuracy."

But back to the cold weather. Rookie cornerback B.W. Webb took it to an extreme Friday, practicing in just a jersey and shorts while most of this teammates were bundled up.

"He's got a lot of energy," Carr said. "As a young guy he doesn't get sick as much as us older guys. He's courageous."

Church alluded to some sort of inducement for Webb to practice like that, but neither side would confirm.

"It was freezing," Webb said. "It was terrible. That's the last time I do that."

Upon Further Review: Cowboys Week 9

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- A review of four hot issues from the Dallas Cowboys' 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

[+] EnlargeBill Callahan
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsBill Callahan's offense hasn't been able to replicate the success it had after exploding for 522 yards against the Broncos in Week 5.
Sputtering on offense: Remember when the Cowboys put up 522 yards on offense against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 6? Seems like forever ago. The talk out of that game was that the Cowboys had found an offensive identity. That has not turned out to be true. Against some of the bottom-of-the-barrel defenses fielded by the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions and Vikings, the Cowboys have topped 350 yards just once -- with 350 against the Vikings. The Cowboys have struggled on third downs (5-of-14 against Minnesota). The running game was nonexistent (nine attempts).

“There’s a word we use and our players understand and it’s execution,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We as coaches have to constantly give our players a chance to execute and put them in plays where they can be successful.”

Bill Callahan’s first year as a playcaller has hit a bump. He and Tony Romo have to find a way to get the rhythm they had against the Broncos. Having it happen against a New Orleans team whose offense will score points this week would be preferable.

Hurry back, Morris Claiborne: The Vikings knew where rookie cornerback B.W. Webb was on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints will know it, too. Webb, who was playing the slot with Orlando Scandrick playing outside due to Claiborne’s hamstring strain, had a difficult matchup in Greg Jennings, who caught six passes for 56 yards, including a 27-yarder. It was the most extensive action of Webb’s career and he will have to grow up fast. In the fourth quarter he was able to knock down a pass on the Vikings’ final drive. With only Micah Pellerin, fresh up from the practice squad, in reserve, the Cowboys need Webb to perform better if they want to contain a passing offense like the Saints’.

Opportunistic defense: The Cowboys’ defense will never win a beauty contest but it has shown to be opportunistic. Nick Hayden’s fumble recovery in the end zone was the fourth defensive score of the season for the Cowboys. The last time the Cowboys had five defensive scores in a season came in 1999 when they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs under Chan Gailey. So far this season the Cowboys have had touchdowns from Brandon Carr (49-yard interception return), Barry Church (27-yard fumble return), Sean Lee (52-yard interception return) and Hayden.

Changing their ways: After seeing Cordarrelle Patterson return kickoffs 8 and 9 yards deep in the end zone, the Cowboys altered their game plan on the Vikings' return specialist. Dan Bailey’s opening kick of the second half was high and barely to the end zone, which Patterson booted out of bounds. They squibbed their next two kicks, including the final kickoff after taking the lead to make sure Patterson did not beat them. Bailey had been a touchback machine in the first eight games, but the Cowboys were wise to make the switch on Patterson if he was going to continue to flip field position.

NFL Sunday Week 7 Studs and Duds

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
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No one told the rest of the NFL that all eyes would be on Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7.

We got our usual complement of drama, including seven games decided by one score. A new rule made a timely debut at the end of the New York Jets' overtime victory over the New England Patriots. Two teams -- the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams -- might have lost their quarterbacks for an extended time. And when the dust settled, the Kansas City Chiefs were the first team to reach seven victories in 2013.

Here are the highs and lows of Sunday's games from my biased and uncompromising viewpoint:

STUDS

1. Bob Sutton, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator: Many casual fans might not recognize Sutton as the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. He is not a hotshot up-and-comer and has been on few, if any, NFL head-coaching lists. (Sutton, in fact, was the head coach at Army for nine years before spending 13 years on the New York Jets' staff.) But it's time that Sutton gets some credit for the Chiefs' 7-0 start. His defense has been elite against the pass all season, and Sunday, he dialed up some creative blitzes that generated four fourth-quarter sacks in a one-point victory over the Houston Texans. Under Sutton, the Chiefs haven't allowed more than 17 points in a game.

Rodgers
Rodgers
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback: There is no doubt Rodgers has been fortunate to play with some talented receivers and tight ends in his six years as the Packers' starter. In general, however, we don't give enough credit to elite quarterbacks who make the players around them better. Rodgers took the field Sunday without two of his top three receivers, James Jones and Randall Cobb. Later, tight end Jermichael Finley departed after a scary neck/head injury. Still, Rodgers led the Packers to a comfortable 31-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns by making little-known Jarrett Boykin -- once released by the Jacksonville Jaguars -- his favored receiver. Boykin caught eight of the 10 passes Rodgers threw him for 103 yards and a touchdown. Nothing against Boykin, but he doesn't have a game like that with a lesser quarterback.

Griffin
3. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins quarterback: Multiple injuries to Bears defensive players require us to consider in context the 45 points that Griffin and the Redskins put up Sunday. Still, Griffin's recent willingness to run bodes well for both him and the Redskins' competitiveness in the wide-open NFC East. He gained 84 yards on 11 carries against the Bears, including 70 yards on eight read-option plays. Over the past two weeks, as he continues to regain form after knee surgery, Griffin has 161 rushing yards. No one thinks Griffin should, or could, repeat the rushing success of his rookie year, which helped lead to the knee injury. But simply putting that possibility on tape is critical to limiting the defensive options of opponents moving forward.

4. Seattle Seahawks: What? Yes, I know the Seahawks played the Thursday night game and ordinarily wouldn't be a candidate for this post. But an unusual streak involving the Seahawks is threatening to become interesting. The Tennessee Titans' loss to the San Francisco 49ers means that all six teams the Seahawks have played this season have subsequently lost the following week. At some point, that streak will shift from coincidence to notable fact. Maybe it already has. Regardless, the Seahawks play hard and hit hard, and evidence is growing that it takes some time to recover from games against them.

Luck
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts quarterback: I'm not going to say that Luck (228 yards, three touchdowns) outdueled Peyton Manning (386 yards, four total touchdowns, one interception) just because the Colts defeated the Broncos. I just think Luck deserves exceptional credit for playing a productive, mistake-free game when the entire storyline for a week centered around Manning's return to Indianapolis. If there was any doubt about Luck's status as an elite NFL quarterback, it should be erased by now. In his own way, Luck has proved as aggressive, competitive and resourceful as the player he replaced.

DUDS

1. 2013 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League: That's the, well, official title for the NFL rulebook. We've previously seen indications that its length, nuance and detail were weighing on those charged with implementing it during games. (Referee Bill Leavy misapplied rules on two occasions in the first month of the season.) Sunday, a new and never-before-called rule essentially decided the Jets-Patriots game. Referee Jerome Boger caught the Patriots' Chris Jones pushing teammate Will Svitek in an attempt to block a potential game-winning field goal. That move was in violation of Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3, which states: "[P]layers cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation." The resulting penalty gave Jets place-kicker Nick Folk an easier field goal, which he converted in overtime for the win. What's worse, Patriots coach Bill Belichick built a postgame rebuttal based on the wording of a draft of the rule, which was amended before NFL owners approved it last spring. (In fact, it doesn't matter whether the player who pushes his teammate comes from the "second level" or the line of scrimmage.) I'm not sure if the league could ever agree on stripping down the rulebook, but at the moment it appears to be getting in the way of the game rather than helping it.

Meriweather
2. Brandon Meriweather, Washington Redskins safety: The focus on head injuries has created an environment where fans expect a penalty on every crushing hit. (Prime example: a legal shoulder-to-chest hit Sunday on Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson by Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson.) But even in that environment, Meriweather is making a mockery of the league's attempts. Does he have any clue how he is expected to play? Already fined $42,000 for a head shot that knocked out Green Bay Packers tailback Eddie Lacy earlier this season, Meriweather earned a pair of 15-yard penalties Sunday. One was for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery and the other was for a hit to receiver Brandon Marshall's face mask on the goal line. Meriweather told reporters that "I feel every hit I took was a legal hit," but I can only assume that response was a simple refusal to incriminate himself. Say what you want about the league's methods for reducing brain injuries, but they are here to stay -- and Meriweather is flat out ignoring them. Anything short of a suspension, upheld by an appeal, won't suffice.

Martin
Martin
3.The most mild mistakes: You absolutely never know what will decide a game. There are any number of legitimate reasons why the Lions should have defeated the Bengals in regulation at Ford Field, but the game appeared headed for overtime when Lions rookie punter Sam Martin jogged on the field with 33 seconds remaining. The ball was on the Lions' 23-yard line, but if Martin had come anywhere close to his average punt length, the Bengals would have been pinned inside their 30-yard line and almost certainly would have kneeled on the ball. Most of us were looking ahead to overtime when Martin shanked a 28-yard punt. The Bengals took over at their 49-yard line. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw a 7-yard pass, followed it with an 8-yard pass and all of a sudden Mike Nugent was in position for a game-winning 54-yard field goal.

4.Hair-pulling: You read me right. If you were watching the snoozer between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, you saw the Eagles' Bradley Fletcher attempt to "block" the Cowboys' B.W. Webb by pulling the hair that flows from under Webb's helmet. Using the hair to make a tackle is legal under NFL rules -- it's considered no different from grabbing an arm or leg. But with so many players now sporting long hair, I'm not sure I see the connection between tackling and blocking. If you grabbed a player's arm as he was covering a kick, as Webb was, wouldn't that be holding? At the risk of adding another complication to the rulebook, I wonder if we should see holding penalties for hair-pulling in a blocking situation. (I can't even believe I just wrote that sentence.)

5. Game-day roster limits: Each NFL team is allowed 46 active players per game, leading NFL coaches to make difficult decisions that generally go unnoticed. Sunday, San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy had seven linemen in uniform, then watched in horror as his left tackle (King Dunlap) and backup left tackle (Mike Remmers) were injured. Ultimately, the Chargers played with right tackle D.J. Fluker on the left side, guard Jeromey Clary at right tackle and a tight end as his emergency backup. The Lions were forced to send injured left tackle Riley Reiff back into the game when right tackle Corey Hilliard was injured. Finally, the Texans lost tailback Arian Foster and then, briefly, backup Ben Tate. If Tate hadn't returned, the Texans would have had to use fullback Greg Jones as their lead back. Sometimes, 46 just isn't enough.
When the final roster moves were made on Saturday afternoon, the Cowboys elected to keep four cornerbacks.

Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are the starters with Orlando Scandrick being the slot corner in the nickle package. B.W. Webb is the fourth corner who comes in on certain passing plays and will contribute on special teams if needed.

[+] EnlargeB.W. Webb
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliThe playmaking ability of cornerback B.W. Webb helped him earn a spot on Dallas' roster.
The Cowboys are staying with basically three veterans and a rookie at a position that coach Jason Garrett calls a "premium" spot for players. The team moved up in the draft to select Claiborne sixth overall in 2012 and in the same year, signed Carr to a five-year $50.1 million deal in free agency.

In 2011, Scandrick signed a six-year $28.2 million contract extension.

So the Cowboys put their money into a position they believe is important in today's pass-happy NFL.

This spring, the Cowboys selected Webb in the fourth round from William & Mary. There is a thought he would have a learning curve to the NFL game and there were some concerns about his ability to make plays on the ball. In his last two seasons in college, Webb had just two interceptions and 11 pass breakups, including eight in 2012.

Webb was behind veteran corners Brandon Underwood and Sterling Moore this summer but as the preseason progressed, the vets didn't make enough plays and were eventually released. There is more upside by using Webb because he's young and has displayed an ability to make some plays in the preseason.

"It's about making adjustments on the fly and staying in it the whole time," Webb said. "[You] come in with that mindset every day that you're going to work."

With Moore and Underwood gone, Webb is No. 4 on the depth chart and will play in the slot and outside in the 4-3 scheme.

Scandrick, who made his chops playing in the slot, has become a mentor to Webb this summer.

"It's wherever, whatever, where they need me," Webb said of playing the slot or outside corner. "Right now, I've been working a lot in the nickel. I feel good in the nickel. If I play outside, I play outside. [Scandrick] a cool dude. He tells me if I messed up on something, he’s there and says you should do this better. So he's definitely been a good role model."

There were times during the preseason where Webb looked lost on the field. In the Oakland game, he allowed a receiver to get behind him because he was caught looking in the backfield. Then in the final preseason game he gave up two touchdown passes. He almost had an interception, but couldn't hold onto the pass.

The ups and downs of Webb's preseason must subside in order for the Cowboys' coaches to trust him more in the regular season.

"My [secondary] coach told me you can't play every route," Webb said of Jerome Henderson. "... It's a lesson learned in this league."
Tags:

B.W. Webb.

Dallas Cowboys cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:24
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Most significant move: After cutting Sterling Moore, the Cowboys have only four cornerbacks on their 53-man roster with Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and rookie B.W. Webb.

Moore was a late-season pickup off New England’s practice squad last year and offered versatility with his ability to play in the slot. Webb struggled in two of the five preseason games, giving up two touchdowns in Thursday’s loss to Houston.

Claiborne did not play in any of the preseason games because of a sore knee, but he must be ready to play in the season opener against the New York Giants.

The roster is hardly settled and the Cowboys will likely have their eye on cornerbacks by other teams.

While there are a few surprise players on the 53-man roster, the biggest might be Nate Livings, last year’s starting left guard. He did not play in the preseason because of a second surgery on his right knee in six months and does not appear to be close to returning anytime soon.

The Cowboys faced a financial question on Livings because his $1.7 million base salary is fully guaranteed. Whether he is on the roster or not, he would count $2.4 million against the cap this year.

Even if he were healthy, Livings would not have been a lock to start again. The Cowboys are ready to go with Ronald Leary, who is also recovering from knee surgery and missed three preseason games.

Wait til next year: Safety Matt Johnson did not play in a game last year because of recurring hamstring injuries and was eventually placed on injured reserve in November. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday, ending his season because of a foot injury suffered in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame Game against Miami.

The hope in the offseason was that Johnson could compete for a starting spot but he was felled again by injury.

While the Cowboys could not hold a roster spot for him for a second straight year, they did not want to give up on eventually getting something out of their 2012 fourth-round pick, so the injured reserve made the most sense.

Why didn’t the Cowboys put him on the returnable injured reserve list? He would have had to have spent one day on the active roster and then made the switch to IR. The roster spot was too valuable.

What’s next: Do not expect this to be the 53-man roster for the season opener against the Giants. The Cowboys will look at the waiver wire for upgrades to the bottom end of the roster.

Possible additions could come at the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker and cornerback. They have few experienced backups at defensive line and linebacker.

There are several players the Cowboys would like to get to the practice squad provided they clear waivers, like Alex Tanney, Jason Vega, Micah Pellerin and Brandon Magee.

Cowboys moves: QB: Alex Tanney; WR: Tim Benford, Danny Coale, Anthony Armstrong; RB: Kendial Lawrence; DB: Micah Pellerin, Xavier Brewer, Jakar Hamilton, Sterling Moore; LB: Brandon Magee, Caleb McSurdy, Cameron Lawwrence, Taylor Reed; DE: Thaddeus Gibson, Jabari Fletcher, Jerome Long, Jason Vega; OL: Ray Dominguez, Demetress Bell, Edawn Coughman, Kevin Kowalski; IR: S Matt Johnson

 
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.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- We've got five things to watch in the Cowboys' fourth preseason game Saturday night, against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium.

1. Doug Free. With the offensive line dealing with health issues in the interior and some ineffective play, the right tackle moves to the right guard spot with the first-team offense. Free has never played guard in the NFL, college or high school. He started working at guard this week at Valley Ranch, and one team official said he looked pretty good. We'll see how he performs against the Bengals' front of Domata Peko and Geno Atkins.

2. First-team offense. With Tony Romo at the helm this preseason, the offense has scored three points. It has turned the ball over twice and had a field goal blocked. Romo will stay on the field for the entire first half, and, if things go badly again, expect him to get a series in the third quarter, as well. The Cowboys have produced some positive plays with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, but Jason Witten doesn't have a catch in the preseason. Expect DeMarco Murray to get at least five or six carries in this game.

3. George Selvie. The free-agent defensive end came on strong in the Hall of Fame game, but has slowed down since. If Anthony Spencer isn't ready for the regular-season opener against the New York Giants, Selvie will start at end. This will be his most significant snaps since the first preseason game, and he needs to show some consistency.

4. B.W. Webb. The rookie cornerback is athletic and smart, but still a rookie. He has made some mistakes in pass coverage, but his status isn't in question because the Cowboys like his upside. However, Webb needs to show some improvement here, and he will get plenty of playing time with Morris Claiborne out with a sore knee.

5. Special teams. We've got two muffed punts, two penalties on punt returners, a blocked field goal and a 51-yard kickoff return allowed by the special-teams unit. It hasn't been a smooth summer for Rich Bisaccia's group. He's mixing and matching personnel and wants to use starters on these units, but he's not afraid to play rookies. Regardless, this group has to play better.
PHOENIX -- The Cowboys play their third preseason game Saturday at Arizona against the Cardinals.

Here are five players to keep an eye on:

David Arkin: He's going to start at left guard with Ronald Leary possibly out for the rest of the preseason recovering from knee surgery. Arkin battled Kevin Kowalski for playing time at the right guard spot when Mackenzy Bernadeau was down with an injury. Arkin is going to get a chance to show the coaches he can be a productive player, which is important because the Cowboys like to run off the left side where Tyron Smith resides.

George Selvie: After a productive first preseason game where he picked up two sacks and six tackles, Selvie was inserted into a starting role at defensive end in the second game but slowed down with just two tackles. Selvie will start again against the Cardinals, and a solid game should help his chances of remaining with the club.

B.W. Webb: He wants to forget about what happened in the second preseason game at Oakland where he muffed a punt, missed a tackle and had a few mental errors. In practices after the Raiders game, Webb handled punts with no issues and is doing a better job in pass coverage with the second and third teams. Webb should make the roster, but it's unclear if the Cowboys would try to release him and maybe get him through waivers and place him on the practice squad.

Terrance Williams: The third-round pick from Baylor missed the first two preseason games while recovering from a concussion. He makes his debut here as the No. 3 receiver. Williams has looked good in practices and is developing a strong command of the playbook. He is turning into a pretty good threat in the deep passing game.

Gavin Escobar: It's been a tough two weeks for the rookie tight end. Escobar is still behind James Hanna on the depth chart and continues to struggle as a blocker. He's a good receiver, but the Cowboys need their tight ends to block if they're going to increase the number of attempts in the run game.

Cowboys practice report: Day 16

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
11:10
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- A feisty practice from start to finish.
  • DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee love barking at each other. During a run play, the two got tangled up and Lee and Murray yelled at each other. Jason Hatcher came over to play peacemaker. Later, Lee was upset at Terrance Williams for a low block. Lee yelled a few bad words at the rookie. Murray and Will Allen needed to be separated after a run up the middle.
  • Allen knocked down a high pass to Jason Witten down the field. Allen put a nice shot on Witten, who lost the ball as he crashed to the ground. He was fine despite being slow to get up.
  • Orlando Scandrick should have picked off a Tony Romo pass, but it bounced out of his hands for a pass breakup. Scandrick is good at reading quarterbacks but just doesn't always finish the play in terms of creating a turnover.
  • Jermey Parnell participated in team drills and worked with the second team at right tackle for the first time in nearly two weeks. Parnell was very aggressive, something the coaches like because after he gets out of his stance he attacks the defender. He also displayed some athletic ability on sweeps. Parnell did a nice job of getting to the second level for a block on a nice run by Joseph Randle.
  • Rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman had a interception in team drills and two more in the one-on-one drills.
  • B.W. Webb got some work in the nickel package and is getting better in pass coverage. He's also fielding punts well. After a muff in Oakland last week, Webb caught several punts without any issues on the scout team.
  • Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was upset at the third-team defensive line. Several times he came onto the field and had some choice words.
  • As Romo avoided pressure, he connected with Dez Bryant, who made a nifty one-handed catch. During the two-minute drill, Miles Austin made a nice open-field grab on a Romo pass.
  • Former Cowboy and 2013 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinee Larry Allen and former Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck attended practice. Allen said Houck should be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Actress Kate Bosworth and actor Chace Crawford attended practice.

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