NFL Nation: Larry Allen

Cowboys done with OL rebuild

May, 14, 2014
May 14
9:30
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IRVING, Texas -- Pam Martin asked her son to do some research on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line, so the team’s first-round pick dutifully did what his mother told him.

Zack Martin quickly realized he was older than Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, the other two first-round picks Martin will join on the line in 2014. Smith, the 2011 first rounder, was born Dec. 12, 1990. Frederick, the 2013 first rounder, was born march 18, 1991.

Martin was born Nov. 20, 1990.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame's Zack Martin is the latest first-round pick Dallas has added to its young offensive line.
“That’s a little weird,” Martin said.

Weird and potentially terrific for the Cowboys. Before Smith, Jerry Jones never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt also kept their distance from the offensive line. Before Smith, Howard Richards was the most recent first-round offensive lineman, coming in 1981 with the 26th overall pick.

Now the Cowboys are like the San Francisco 49ers with three first-round starters on the offensive line. In 2007, the Niners took Joe Staley. In 2010, they added Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.

“We believe games in the National Football League are won up front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team.”

San Francisco went 6-10 in 2010, but has gone 36-11-1 in the past three seasons. They have played in three straight NFC Championship Games, making it to the Super Bowl in 2012.

“We’ve been pretty lucky getting (Andre) Gurode, getting the Flozell Adamses and Larry Allens (in the second round), but those days are over apparently,” Jones said. “So we want to get some of that quality in the future offensive line. These guys are long-term players that are good, and all of that is about franchise.”

The Cowboys have an offensive line that can grow together.

Smith made his first Pro Bowl last season and is the best young tackle in the NFL. Frederick started every game as a rookie and cemented the interior of the Cowboys’ line. Martin will be a Day 1 starter and was considered the safest pick in the draft.

Right tackle Doug Free is the oldest up front and is just 30. Ronald Leary recently turned 25. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who could still compete for a starting job, is just 28.

Having Smith, Frederick and Martin grow together should make everyone associated with the Cowboys’ offense happier, from Garrett to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to assistant head coach Bill Callahan to quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.

The selection of Martin ends the rebuilding of an offensive line that started in 2011 when the Cowboys parted ways with Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. A year later they said goodbye to Kyle Kosier.

It took time.

In 2011, the Cowboys started a seventh-round pick, Bill Nagy, at left guard and a second-year undrafted center in Phil Costa. When Nagy got hurt, they looked to journeymen Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Smith played as a rookie at right tackle and needed 2012 to be seasoned as a left tackle. Nate Livings was signed as a free agent in 2012, but injuries led the team away from him last season. Bernadeau’s play improved last year after he re-took the right guard spot following Brian Waters' season-ending triceps’ injury.

“We are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more.”

Cowboys practice report: Day 16

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
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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.
Cris CarterAndrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsCris Carter is fourth on the all-time reception list with 1,101 catches.
CANTON, Ohio -- Cris Carter’s emotional football journey started in Ohio about four decades ago and ended in Ohio on Saturday night.

Carter, 47, grew up in Troy, which is three hours away from Canton, home of the Hall of Fame, where Carter was honored this weekend. He also starred at Ohio State in Columbus before his stellar 16-year NFL career.

On Saturday, Carter -- emotional and reflective -- came full circle, returning to the Buckeye State as a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. He didn’t prepare notes for his speech. Carter spoke strictly from the heart in front of many of his fellow Ohioans and football peers.

“We have the greatest Hall of all the Halls,” Carter said emphatically. “And to be able to join these men, on this stage, in football heaven is the greatest day of my life.”

Carter’s journey wasn’t easy. He signed with an agent and lost his eligibility his senior year at Ohio State. Carter said his only football-related regret was leaving school early and being forced to enter the supplemental draft.

“To all the Buckeye fans, from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize,” Carter said.

Carter also battled drug and alcohol problems that nearly derailed his career. Carter described Sept. 19, 1990, as a landmark date in his life. That’s when he was asked in rehab to change his life. He’s been clean ever since.

On the field, Carter’s first NFL catch was a touchdown reception in 1987 against the St. Louis Rams. He had just five catches his rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles, which included two touchdowns. Former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan later coined the famous phrase that “All he does is catch touchdown passes.” That stuck with Carter the rest of his career. He finished with 131 career touchdowns, which ranks eighth all time.

In Minnesota, Carter’s career flourished. That’s where he made eight straight Pro Bowls, had two seasons of 122 receptions, and five straight seasons of double-digit touchdowns. It’s also where Carter got his life together.

Carter also can make a strong case for having the best hands in NFL history. His highlight tape displays some of the most difficult and spectacular catches ever seen. Those strong hands made Carter fourth on the all-time reception list with 1,101.

“When he came in from Philadelphia, we knew he was a great ballplayer and we knew he could play,” former Vikings teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Chris Doleman said. “We wanted to just give him a clean slate to work from and let him do what he do. He’s never done anything but honored the Vikings and the Vikings colors.”

Consider Carter’s enshrinement speech, which was about 16 minutes long, one final touchdown reception. He was the final speaker in the 2013 Hall of Fame class, and Carter had several tough acts to follow. Jonathan Ogden and Curley Culp were classy. Dave Robinson and Larry Allen were funny. Bill Parcells and Warren Sapp, as expected, were straight shooters.

But Carter was able to put a bow on this entire Hall of Fame. He began by playing to the hometown crowd with a chant of “O-H-I-O.” Then he got more personal.

Carter’s son, Duron, introduced him. Carter also made sure to thank his mother, Joyce, and asked her to stand up in front of a national audience.

“Mama, I got to tell you, I didn’t have to wait to get a call from the Hall for them to tell me I was a Hall of Famer -- you’ve been telling me that since I was little,” Carter said. “You told me everything that’s ever happened in my life that’s happened. But Mom, I got to tell you. I have to apologize. I’m so sorry for the bumpy flight and the bumpy ride.

“But I got to tell you, Mama, it’s a smooth landing.”

Carter’s résumé is still growing. He is the author of a new book and an insightful NFL analyst at ESPN.

After five years as a finalist who came up just short, Carter can add one more deserving label on a historic night in Canton: Hall of Famer.

“Buckeye born and bred,” Carter said in conclusion. “Now an H-O-F-er -- even after I’m dead.”

Video: Larry Allen's Hall of Fame speech

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
9:37
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Longtime Dallas offensive lineman Larry Allen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame after 10 career Pro Bowl selections in 14 NFL seasons. Click here for the full transcript of Allen's speech.

CANTON, Ohio -- Bill Parcells' day at the Hall of Fame got off to an unexpected start.

Former pupil Bill Belichick made the trip to Canton to support his mentor, despite their frosty relationship in recent years. The two even shared a somewhat awkward embrace. It was that kind of historic day in Canton to mend fences.

Parcells wasn’t the easiest coach to play for or -- as Belichick would attest -- coach under. But Parcells was one of the all-time great coaches and talent evaluators. That rare combination led Parcells to become the only coach inducted in the 2013 Hall of Fame class.

“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups,” Parcells said, echoing a quote from Hall of Fame safety Emlen Tunnell. “But winners assemble as a team, and tonight I get to do just that."

Parcells was known for turning franchises around. He led the New York Giants and New England Patriots to Super Bowl appearances. Parcells also led the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins (as president) to winning seasons. He spent much of his time explaining his dynamics of building a team with accountability, and also thanked many of the people who helped him become successful.

But an underrated part of Parcells’ legacy is his talented coaching tree. Three Super Bowl-winning coaches (Belichick, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin) learned how to coach under Parcells. Coughlin and Belichick, in particular, were both in attendance and will someday join Parcells in the Hall of Fame.

Parcells did things his way, and most of the time he was right. The results speak for themselves.
CANTON, Ohio -- It has been a banner 2013 for the Baltimore Ravens.

First, the Ravens won their second Super Bowl in franchise history in February. Then, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis retired as a champion at the top of the NFL ladder.

Ogden
Ogden
On Saturday, Baltimore’s landmark calendar year continued as former left tackle Jonathan Ogden became the first homegrown Raven to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only was Ogden a first-round pick, but he was the Ravens’ first pick in franchise history in 1996.

Ogden helped lift the Ravens to where they are today. He put a bow on his 12-year football career Saturday by also becoming the first player enshrined of the 2013 class.

“I just really want to thank the fans and the city of Baltimore,” Ogden said Saturday. “When I came to the Ravens in 1996, we had no team, we had no history. We didn’t even have team colors. We just had a name. … The Ravens were new to everybody.”

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome introduced Ogden. According to Newsome, who is one of the NFL's top talent evaluators, Ogden played left tackle as good or better than player in history. Newsome said the keys were Ogden’s immense size and the feet of a defensive back.

Ogden reached 11 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons and won a Super Bowl. He was drafted in the first round in 1996 along with Lewis, who was in attendance and will surely follow Ogden to Canton in five years.

Odgen began his speech Saturday with a joke. He mentioned how former running back and draft bust Lawrence Phillips was also being considered by the Ravens with their first ever pick.

As Ogden mentioned, Baltimore made the right choice and the rest was NFL history.
CANTON, Ohio -- The NFL's 2013 Hall of Fame enshrinement is about one hour away. It appears the weather will cooperate for this year’s speeches, which is set for 7 p.m. ET.

The temperature in Canton is in the mid-70s with clear skies. That will cool off some during the night, but there doesn’t appear to be much chance for rain. Occasionally, Hall of Fame weather can be unpredictable with this outdoor venue.

The crowd is filling in at Fawcett Stadium to hear the speeches of Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Larry Allen, Bill Parcells, Curley Culp, Warren Sapp and Cris Carter. Don't forget to join me at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.com for a live chat from Canton.
CANTON, Ohio -- The 2013 Hall of Fame is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET Saturday. It should be a nostalgic and emotional night as the NFL celebrates another deep and talented Hall of Fame class.

Here is the order of tonight’s enshrinement speeches:
  • Jonathan Ogden
  • Dave Robinson
  • Larry Allen
  • Bill Parcells
  • Curley Culp
  • Warren Sapp
  • Cris Carter

Enjoy the speeches, and remember to join ESPN.com at 7 p.m. ET for our live Hall of Fame chat during the enshrinement.
OXNARD, Calif. – As he sat with opposing players before they had to play against Larry Allen, John Madden could notice the dread.

“You didn’t sleep easy the night before, hoping you get to play against Larry Allen,” Madden said. “They knew it. There’s no pro football player that has a fear of another guy that plays on that level, but he was so doggone strong and there wasn’t much you could do against him.”

Allen will be the 14th Cowboy inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Madden, a Hall of Famer himself, can’t wait to see him in Canton, Ohio. He shares northern California ties with Allen and got to know him over the years.

Madden remembers Joe Greene praising Allen, even if Greene never played against him. He recalls the respect Reggie White had for Allen. And he remembers the words coaches like Mike Holmgren and George Seifert had for Allen.

Even Allen’s teammates were amazed at what he could do.

“When Nate Newton played he came in at 300 pounds, and that was a number that you didn’t want to exceed,” Madden said. “I remember those days because I coached and those 300-pound guys would be 299, and Nate always fought his weight. He said he always had to be under 300 pounds and he said, ‘Then this Larry Allen comes in and he weighs 330 pounds and they’re all bragging about it. They never let me weigh 330 pounds, and then we got this guy and I saw him and he was a different 330 pounds than I (had) ever seen.’”

What made Allen so great?

“He had everything,” Madden said. “That was the thing he had. He had strength and knew how to use it. There are a lot of guys that have strength and power and don’t use it. There are other guys that don’t have it and go and get beat. He was the type of guy that could use it at the line of scrimmage and use that in space. He could pull and get at defensive back downfield and he could block at the point of attack and pass protect. That’s what makes a great player. You don’t say he had one thing. He had everything.”

Allen made offensive line play cool, and few were cooler or better than Allen, according to Madden.

“He has to rank right up there at the top,” Madden said. “I think you have to go by the ones you’ve seen, and I’ve always put John Hanna up there as that guy. I had Gene Upshaw and he’s a Hall of Fame guard, and I put Larry Allen right there with that group. There was never a question with me whether or not he was a Hall of Famer. He’s one of the all-time great NFL players at his position, and you could make an argument that he’s the best, but you’d have to wrestle some other guys for it.”
The Arizona Cardinals had their offensive line in mind when they used the seventh overall choice in the 2013 draft on North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.

They were also thinking about the NFC West.

"Our division is so physical," coach Bruce Arians told reporters Thursday night, "and the thing that sets San Francisco, Seattle, and now St. Louis also, apart is their offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage are extremely good."

It's not yet clear whether Cooper will play left guard or right guard for the long term. The Cardinals can use him against NFC West interior defensive lines featuring Brandon Mebane, Michael Brockers and Justin Smith in base and/or sub packages.

"We have to match that physicality on both sides of the ball," Arians said.

Daryn Colledge, Rex Hadnot, Deuce Lutui, Alan Faneca, Adam Snyder, Rich Ohrnberger and Pat McQuistan have started at guard for the Cardinals over the past three seasons.

The Cardinals see Cooper becoming a perennial Pro Bowl player. They embraced comparisons to Larry Allen, who was recently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"He has a unique skill set, maybe one of the more athletic offensive linemen I've [scouted] in the 15 years I've been in the business," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "He has tremendous feet, bend, athleticism, space skills, and the ability to pull and play on the perimeter."

Keim is in his first season as the Cardinals' GM. He played on the offensive line at North Carolina State, potentially giving him special insight into the position.

Drafting a guard will never captivate the broader public, but evaluators with experience in line play can border on giddiness when they see a prospect as talented as Cooper. That was the sense in Tennessee when Titans coach Mike Munchak and line coach Bruce Matthews drafted Chance Warmack, the other highly rated guard in the 2013 draft. Munchak and Matthews were Hall of Fame linemen.

"I've known Munchak and Matthews since 1996," Paul Kuharsky wrote on the AFC South blog. "I can't recall ever seeing the two low-key, business-like football men beam quite so brightly. The glow they gave off at the news conference at the Titans' headquarters after making the 10th pick made me believe it when they said there was no question Warmack was their man early on -- something virtually every coach stated Thursday night."

The feeling had to be similar for Keim in Arizona.

"I think the question was first posed to me at the combine in Indianapolis of whether I thought No. 7 was too high to take an offensive guard," Keim said. "I think that we have our answer."
The new-look Miami Dolphins, who made major upgrades in free agency, will be among the first teams to take the field in 2013. The Dolphins will kick off the NFL preseason against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game on August 4, the NFL announced.

The Dolphins created a buzz last week by signing big-name free agents such as receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and tight end Dustin Keller. Miami has played in the Hall of Fame Game three previous times and has an 0-3 record.

This game celebrates the 2013 Hall of Fame class, which includes Larry Allen, Bill Parcells, Cris Carter, Warren Sapp, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson and Curley Culp.
NEW ORLEANS -- Larry Allen said he started crying when he got the news Saturday night that he'd been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Makes sense. What Allen did for a living -- play guard in the NFL for 14 years, the first 12 with the Dallas Cowboys -- was crushing hard work. And while Allen might have been one of the most decorated guards in NFL history, having played in 11 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and been elected to two separate all-decade teams, the amount of attention offensive linemen get isn't commensurate with the difficulty of the work they do. Quarterbacks get the glory, as do star wideouts and running backs and pass-rushers and even the occasional cornerback. After doing what he did as well as he did it for as long as he did it, to be elected to the Hall of Fame as a no-brainer on the first try has to be supremely gratifying.

It's not a surprise, though. Allen must have been one of the easiest calls the voters made this year in their eight-hour (!) selection meeting. He was an absolutely dominating player -- an All-Pro selection every year from 1995-2001. He had strength and instincts, and incredible speed and quickness for a man of his mountainous size. During his time, he was the very best in the entire league at what he did, and the length of time for which he did it makes him one of the best offensive linemen of all time. If you didn't know that a couple of hours ago, Allen now has proof. He is, officially, a Hall of Famer.

No AFC West Hall of Fame shockers

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
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There weren’t any AFC West surprises Saturday when the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced.

Curley Culp and Warne Sapp were the favorites of the four finalists with AFC West ties, and they ended up in the Hall of Fame class. Former Oakland receiver Tim Brown and former Kansas City guard Will Shields -- the two high-profile players with AFC West ties of this year’s finalists -- did not get into the final 10. They were both considered longshots this year.

Culp, a senior committee nominee, played his first seven of a 16-year career in Kansas City. Sapp played his final four seasons in Oakland. Sapp did little with the Raiders, and he will always be remembered as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Culp does have legitimate AFC West ties. He was a key part of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV winning team. He was a nose tackle and considered the first real 3-4 nose tackle. Culp is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and he participates in alumni programs. His election Saturday will be embraced and celebrated in Kansas City.

“On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, we’d like to congratulate Curley Culp on his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Curley was a dominating force on the defensive line for the Super Bowl IV championship team and one of many great players that helped build the tradition and foundation of the Kansas City Chiefs … “We look forward to seeing him take his rightful place in Canton.”

Saturday’s developments are disappointing for Brown and Shields. But there are silver linings for both. Cris Carter finally gained election, so the receiver logjam lessened. I still think Andre Reed might get in before Brown.

I know there has been some chatter that Brown’s recent comments that former Oakland coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers 10 years ago might have hurt his chances. Brown was considered a longshot prior to causing that firestorm.

Shields was likely blocked by first-year nominee Larry Allen, who gained election. With Allen in, I can see Shields getting elected in the next couple of years.

Strong HOF field makes DeBartolo wait

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
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NEW ORLEANS -- A strong contingent of newly eligible Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists complicated efforts to settle on five modern-era enshrinees for 2013.

I was among the 46 selectors for a fourth year and can tell you it's extremely difficult reducing the field, particularly on the final cut from 10 to five.

Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells and Warren Sapp were the last modern-era candidates standing this year. The Hall of Fame will enshrine them in Canton, Ohio, this summer.

Allen, Ogden and Sapp were eligible for the first time. Michael Strahan, also a first-timer, made the initial cut to 10 before missing the cut to five.

The strong push by newly eligible candidates contributed to former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. missing the cut from 15 to 10. This is the second year in a row DeBartolo has made the final 15 without advancing to the final 10. Art Modell, Kevin Greene, Will Shields and Tim Brown also missed the first cut.

While this isn't the end for DeBartolo as a candidate, some voters in the end seem to struggle supporting contributors over players on the final reduction.

Rules allow no more than five modern-era candidates to be enshrined in a single year.

Former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals great Aeneas Williams made the cut to 10 for the second consecutive year. That's a strong indication voters consider him worthy -- eventually. For example, Cortez Kennedy earned enshrinement last year after twice making the final 10.

Voters discussed Parcells' candidacy for more than one hour, the longest discussion for any candidate. Rules prevent voters from disclosing more specific details about the proceedings.

Curley Culp and Dave Robinson earned enshrinement as seniors candidates.

Andre Reed, Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley, Williams and Strahan missed the cut from 10 to five.
NEW ORLEANS -- Two of the NFC East candidates up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year were selected for induction.

Former New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells became a Hall of Famer on his fourth try, after being eligible in 2001 and 2002 and again last year. Former Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen was elected in his first.

The announcement was made at 6 p.m. ET Saturday.

Former Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan, eligible for the first time, was among the 10 finalists but did not receive enough votes to be elected this year. I'm a bit surprised that Warren Sapp made it and Strahan did not, and I'll have more on that later, as well as analysis on the elections of Parcells and Allen.

Wide receiver Cris Carter also was elected, and while he will be remembered as a Viking, he did play the first three seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. So I guess we can count him as an NFC East Hall of Famer as well.

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