NFL Nation: Tyler Clutts

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Cowboys' Sean Lee back at practice

December, 5, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a hamstring strain on Nov. 10 against the New Orleans Saints.

Lee has missed the past two games but he will play Monday against the Chicago Bears, as should linebacker Justin Durant, who also was hurt versus the Saints and returned to practice on Thursday. How much they practiced will be revealed later in the day, but the expectation is that both will be limited.

The only players missing from Thursday’s workout were cornerback Morris Claiborne and wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who have hamstring injuries. Both players could miss their second straight game with the injury.

Fullback Tyler Clutts, who will wear No. 44, is taking part in his first practice since signing with the Cowboys on Tuesday.

With temperatures in the mid-30s and rain starting to fall, the Cowboys could get a feel for the elements when they play at Soldier Field. The high temperature for Chicago on Monday is 27 degrees with a low of 5.

“We want to practice here, outside,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The weather has been good to us. Going up to play in some of these northern cities where the weather is bad, a couple of weeks ago against the Giants we got some bad weather down here in the days leading up to that and we thought that was a positive to go out there and practice in it. It sounds like the weather’s not going to be great here the next couple of days, so we’re going to embrace that opportunity as well.”

If the weather is too bad to practice outside, the Cowboys could move Friday’s practice to Highland Park’s indoor facility. AT&T Stadium is not available this week because it is set up for the Kentucky-Baylor college basketball game.
DAVIE, Fla. -- When it comes to the New Orleans Saints, the first thought that comes to mind usually is their high-powered offense led by quarterback Drew Brees.

So why is there so much chatter about New Orleans' defense from the Miami Dolphins' players and coaches?

The Dolphins are very mindful and wary of New Orleans’ revamped defense led by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Through three games, the Saints -- yes, the Saints -- are ranked fourth in total defense and fifth in points allowed. Opponents are averaging just 12.7 points per game against New Orleans, which is a huge reason why the Saints (3-0) are undefeated.

“They’re playing very well,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday. “They’re very multiple from a front standpoint, a personnel standpoint and a coverage standpoint. [Ryan] probably has a great reputation as a pressure coach, and that’s certainly true. But they are fundamentally sound.”

The Dolphins will have their hands full with the Saints on “Monday Night Football.” New Orleans could be a Super Bowl contender now that its defense is playing just as well as its offense. They are plus-32 in point differential, which is tied for third in the NFL.

The Saints’ defense is blitzing well, forcing turnovers and keeping teams out of the end zone. The blitz, in particular, could be an issue for the Dolphins. Miami has allowed 14 sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in three games, and there’s plenty of blame to pass around. At various times, the issues have been with the offensive line, running backs picking up the blitz and the quarterback holding the ball too long.

“It’s an offensive stat -- it takes 11 guys to protect the quarterback,” Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo explained. “There’s no one reason for any number of sacks. When you put them all together, it’s always a multiple thing. We just have to get better. There’s no doubt.”

Miami’s sluggish running game will play a big role against the Saints. If New Orleans has shown a weakness on defense through three games, it’s stopping the run. The Saints are 20th in stopping the run and allowing 5.3 yards per carry.

On the other end, Miami is getting little production running the ball and is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

“It’s not to our standard in our locker room and with our coaches,” Dolphins fullback Tyler Clutts said. “So we have to improve that. But we’re winning games.”

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 24, Colts 20

September, 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 24-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

What it means for Dolphins: The Dolphins picked up two important road wins in the AFC in back-to-back weeks. That is quite an accomplishment, considering Miami went 2-6 on the road last year. The Dolphins already matched their road win total from last season. This was also an important showcase for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill (319 yards, one touchdown), who beat draft-mate Andrew Luck (321 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to get the win. Luck beat Tannehill and the Dolphins last season.

Stock Watch: Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace was much more involved in the offense. He had a big game, catching nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown. Seven of his receptions came in the first half. Last week, Wallace had just one catch for 15 yards. In terms of stock down, Miami’s pass rush wasn’t as dominant as expected against Indianapolis’ patchwork offensive line. But the Dolphins' defense sacked Luck three times, including a crucial sack on the final defensive play of the game in the fourth quarter.

Running game improved: The Dolphins had an ugly stat line in Week 1. Miami rushed for 20 yards on 23 carries, which put the Dolphins dead last in the NFL. The Dolphins worked on their running game all week and showed improvement Sunday against the Colts. Miami rushed for 102 yards on 26 carries. Dolphins starting tailback Lamar Miller also contributed a 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Miami tweaked its zone-blocking scheme to more of a grinding, plowing attack, which better fits its offensive line. Fullback Tyler Clutts also got more playing time and made some decent blocks. Tight end/fullback Charles Clay also ran in a touchdown.

What’s next: After opening the season with a pair of road games, the Dolphins (2-0) will return home to face the Atlanta Falcons (1-1). Atlanta won its Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams, and some feel the Falcons are a Super Bowl contender.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins had an important Wednesday practice in preparation for the Cleveland Browns.

Here are some notes and observations from Miami’s session:
  • Third-string quarterback Pat Devlin remained out of practice with an undisclosed injury. The last we saw of Devlin was in the preseason finale against New Orleans. Devlin made the 53-man roster but hasn't practiced since. The Dolphins must release their first injury report of the season later this evening to clarify Devlin's situation.
  • Also on the injury front, rookie cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis did not practice, instead continuing to work with trainers. Both rookies have missed every practice this week, and it seems unlikely either will play Sunday against the Browns. Long-snapper John Denney also returned to practice.
  • No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan fully participated in practice and appears all set to play Sunday. Jordan also is getting work on special teams this week. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a conference call that Cleveland is preparing this week for the rookie to play.
  • Finally, I've been monitoring the progress this week of Miami’s two newcomers: fullback Tyler Clutts and guard Danny Watkins. Both are trying to pick up a new offensive system. One early impression is that Clutts has caught the ball well. Watkins has quick feet and appears to be moving well; he will be the backup behind starting guards John Jerry and Richie Incognito.

The Dolphins have an off day Thursday. The team will return to the practice field on Friday for a walk-through.

Chicago Bears cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Most significant move: The most significant move of the final cut-down, and the entire offseason, is how aggressive the Bears were in trying to upgrade special teams. In free agency, they signed Eric Weems to help Devin Hester with returns. They kept undrafted safety Jeremy Jones to help on special teams, then traded fullback Tyler Clutts to Houston to acquire cornerback Sherrick McManis. They also kept linebacker Patrick Trahan to help out on special teams. Figuring the team will have a better offense, the Bears wanted to shore up special teams to keep their offense in good field position.

Onward and upward: With only three draft choices making the 53-man roster -- third-round pick Brandon Hardin ended up on injured reserve -- the Bears need to see if they can slide released draft choices Isaiah Frey (sixth round) or Greg McCoy (seventh round) to the practice squad. The Bears may only keep one on the practice squad because both are cornerbacks. They also hope to get undrafted tackle James Brown through waivers to get him on the practice squad. The Bears kept the predicted eight offensive linemen on the active roster, so they need a tackle (Brown, A.J. Greene or Cory Brandon) and an inside prospect to fill out the practice squad.

What’s next: The Bears aren’t standing pat. They ended up adding 16 new players to the roster and are in the process of signing defensive tackle Amobi Okoye as a backup. It wouldn’t be surprising if they look at Antonio Dixon, a defensive tackle released by the Philadelphia Eagles. A decision still has to be made on a punter. Adam Podlesh suffered a hip flexor injury, so the Bears kept undrafted punter Ryan Quigley on the active roster. It’s not out of the question for them to look for another punter who was released.

Houston Texans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for the complete list of Houston Texans' roster moves.

Most significant move: Backup free safety Troy Nolan was a surprising cut, and won’t be on the market for very long. Shiloh Keo stuck. While he’s a willing special-teamer and can hit, he strikes me as too slow and I certainly wouldn’t want him on the field on defense. The Texans traded cornerback Sherrick McManis to the Chicago Bears for fullback Tyler Clutts, who’s expected to back up James Casey. The Texans are a tricky team at fullback, as the lead blocker is important in the zone-run scheme, but they use Casey, who’s more of an H-back with excellent hands. Clutts looks to be an upgrade from Moran Norris, who was cut. Clutts has pro experience, playing in the UFL, AFL and CFL.

Onward and upward: Nose tackle Hebron Fangupo was released, but he is surely a guy the Texans would like to sign to the practice squad, where they could nurture and develop him. Houston doesn't have great depth at the spot, which is generally shared by Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell. Antonio Smith shifts inside in the nickel package, when the outside linebackers creep forward and it’s basically a four- or five-man line. Undrafted out of BYU, Hebron is listed as 6-feet and 324 pounds -- more than 20 pounds more than the Texans’ heaviest lineman. While Wade Phillips is fine with smaller nose tackles, having a big one who can develop is a welcome change.

What’s next: John Beck is on the roster as a third quarterback a year after the Texans got a real feel for the importance of depth when they lost Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart inside two games. They like undrafted rookie Case Keenum, who was cut, as well; he could head for the practice squad. But how many snaps can the Texans get him during the week if he’s fourth in line? Generally, the backup and/or a veteran runs the scout team, so that work will be done by T.J. Yates or Beck. Whatever snaps Schaub doesn’t take in a practice week will go to Yates. Perhaps they feel OK about Andrew Gardner as their swing tackle now that Rashad Butler is lost for the season with a torn triceps, but they could be looking for a guy to provide tackle depth.