Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 8, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

Tim MacMahon
  (1:31 PM)

Thanks for joining me a few days before the Cowboys open the season. Fire away.

Kristin (Anchorage)

Tim: Will Miles be at full strength Sunday night?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:33 PM)

Miles Austin's hamstring isn't a concern. He's been limited in practice this week, but that's due to precaution. They aren't worried about it affecting him against the Jets.

tj blanchard (columbia sc)

Everybody keep saying its the same defense from last year and it is, but its basicly the same team from 2009 as well who had a NFC's best scoring Defense at 15.2. So my question is can they return to the 2009 form??

Tim MacMahon
  (1:34 PM)

I think that comes down primarily to two players: Mike Jenkins and Anthony Spencer. They were both great in 2009. Jenkins was awful in 2010 and Spencer was just a guy. Don't have much reason to believe in either player right now. Spencer had a blah camp and preseason. Jenkins sat on the sideline with a stinger.

Devin (Lubbock, TX)

If Tyron Smith doesn't go Sunday night, who's the backup tackle, David Arkin?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:35 PM)

Jermey Parnell would start. He's a converted basketball player the Cowboys signed off the Saints practice squad last year. He played one year of college football, and that was as a defensive end. He's an intriguing project, but there's no way he's ready to be a starting tackle against an elite defense.

ASM (DFW)

Are Newman and Tyron Smith definitely out?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:36 PM)

Smith has not been ruled out yet, but he didn't practice today. Newman is out at least this week. He still hasn't practiced since injuring his groin Aug. 4.

Jeremy (Fort Worth)

Why do you think Romo still takes so much of the blame for the Cowboys failures? He puts up great stats and has won nearly 65% of his starts in his career despite not having a great running game to work with.

Tim MacMahon
  (1:37 PM)

Quarterbacks get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they don't. That's part of the position, and it's amplified on a team that spends so much time in the spotlight.

Nate (KY)

Do you think we will have major issues at the kicker position again this year like we had last year. This position seems to be cursed in big D!!!!

Tim MacMahon
  (1:39 PM)

I think Dan Bailey will be more dependable than David Buehler was last year. Faint praise, but progress. Jerry Jones is adamant that Buehler has value as a kickoff specialist, so they'll be the only team in the NFL to have two kickers active on game day.

J (CO)

Tim,What are you thoughts on Felix's and Dez's performances this week? Will they struggle against the Jets?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:40 PM)

They'll both be affected by the inexperience of the offensive line, so I wouldn't expect huge numbers this week. Over the long haul, I think the line will be better than last season and both those guys will put up big numbers if they stay healthy.

JG (NYC)

Why did Jerry and not Jason speak first about injuries yesterday?? I dont hear any other GM's or owners doing that

Tim MacMahon
  (1:40 PM)

To borrow from Ron Washington, that's the way Jerry go.

Dennis (Tucson AZ)

Do you think the cowboys would let Tyron play sunday if he didnt practice friday either? Perhaps by sunday night the swelling subsides and he feels relatively good.

Tim MacMahon
  (1:41 PM)

I don't think so, but that's a guess. I haven't been told that by anybody. We will ask Garrett at his press conference in 40 minutes.

David (Fort Worth)

Any chance Bryant will return punts this Sunday? He' s a huge weapon there. Cowboys should maximize the use of their talent they have on the field.

Tim MacMahon
  (1:42 PM)

Don't expect him to be the primary punt returner, but he could be used in certain situations. He is getting punt return reps during practice. He wants to do it.

Mark (Windsor, ON.)

I realize J-Rat is a bargain at his current contract but aren't the Cowboys setting themselves up for further cap problems by extending him before his contract expires?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:43 PM)

That's something the franchise has to keep in mind, but they can limit the damage with the way they would structure an extension. It appears likely that Ratliff will get an extension at some point this season. It makes sense that Witten would, too.

Frank (NY)

How does Demarco Murray look right now?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:45 PM)

Practice is only open the first 25 minutes. We see some special teams, stretching and warm-up drills. Thought he looked good during the preseason finale. It will be very interesting to see how the backup role is split between Tashard Choice and Murray. Jerry hinted yesterday that Choice's sore knee could make the call for the coaches this week.

Robert (AZ)

I have high hopes for Alan Ball this year, back at his more natural CB position. From what you've seen, how much of a drop of is he from a Jenkins or Newman, and if he covers Plaxico, how do you think he fairs, given Burress' time away. Thnx.

Tim MacMahon
  (1:46 PM)

Rob Ryan talks Ball up a lot, but I'll believe it when I see it. He moved to safety because he couldn't crack the rotation at cornerback. I think he's a solid special teams player who isn't a guy you want to see getting defensive snaps.

Evan (Plano)

Thanks for chatting. With the CB situation being dicey, who do you now suspect matches up with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason, respectively, for the game?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:47 PM)

The Jets will dictate those matchups by alignment. Scandrick and Jenkins should be the starters, and I doubt they'll flip sides. Scandrick moves to the slot in the nickel with Ball playing outside. I don't think the Jets will shy away from attacking any of them, but I'd imagine they'll especially go after Jenkins and Ball.

Devin (Lubbock, TX)

I know Parnell is the backup to Smith but what I was asking is who would be the backup if Parnell / Free were to get hurt with no other tackles on the roster?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:49 PM)

Ah, good question. I think Derrick Dockery will be the next guy in if an OL gets hurt. If it's Costa, Kosier or Nagy would move to center with Dockery playing guard. Dockery hasn't played tackle since his UT days, but they don't have a better option.

EGTuna (Sterling, VA)

A colleague of yours from a newspaper suggested the Cowboys should sit Romo for this game. Might be the worst thing I've ever heard of. Thoughts?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:49 PM)

That'd send the worst possible message from Jason Garrett's perspective. You don't forfeit a season opener.

Frank (NY)

Do you think Revis will be on Miles or Dez on Sunday? Or do you think he will just play the same side and whoever is there he covers?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:50 PM)

Cover whichever one comes to his side.

Scott (Unionville)

have you seen anything out of J. Parnell that would lead you to believe Tony is not running for his life?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:51 PM)

He has good feet for a tackle, but he's a long, long way from being mentally prepared. Expect Rex Ryan to attack him with a lot of different blitz looks, causing assignment busts.

George (Flanders, NJ)

Experiences aside, who have bigger long term potential? D. Harris or K. Ogletree?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:53 PM)

I'd go with Ogletree. He has better speed, quickness and the ability to separate from DBs on his routes. But it's time for him to translate potential into production. He's way too inconsistent in practice, which means coaches can't trust him. Harris will be a far better special teams player.

Rick (Montana)

Have the Cowboys lost their toughness, or do you see the Jet D celebrating on the STAR?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:54 PM)

Considering the game will be played in the Meadowlands, I think the STAR will be safe Sunday night.

Trey (Missouri City, TX)

What should we expect from Victor Butler this year? Do you think he can seriously challenge Spencer for playing time on "passing downs?"

Tim MacMahon
  (1:55 PM)

If Butler keeps producing as a pass rusher, Rob Ryan will find a way to get him on the field. It won't always be at Spencer's expense. There are packages that have Ware, Spencer and Butler on the field together.

T. Webb (Oak Harbor)

How has our offense played against Rex's D in the past?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:56 PM)

Not well. Remember the Texas Stadium finale?

Robert (AZ)

Looks to me like Witten and Phillips (Marty B is out, right?) are going to be pulling a lot of extra blocking protection duties covering for RT. Maybe added RB blocking help also. What plan would you go with to cover Tyron Smith or whoever covers if he's out?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:56 PM)

You've got it right. Jason Witten was prepared to help Smith fairly often early in the season even before the rookie hurt his knee.

Jason (Bmore)

Do you see Garrett making Felix Jones an integral part of the offense?

Tim MacMahon
  (1:58 PM)

Felix Jones will get the ball as many times as the coaches think he can handle without wearing down. They want him to be a focal point, but they're concerned that more touches will mean less production. He got 14.6 touches per game last season, and RB coach Skip Peete thought he wore down. I think they'll try to increase it a little bit this season, but they'll keep a close eye on him.

Randy (NYC)

Any response from the Cowboys players to the guys like Keller saying they will win?

Tim MacMahon
  (2:00 PM)

It would be news if the Jets don't expect to win. The coach guarantees a Super Bowl title. The season opener is pretty much assumed. Don't see that as major bulletin board material.

Tim MacMahon
  (2:00 PM)

Gotta go, folks. We've got Jason Garrett's press conference coming up in 20 minutes. We'll have updates on ESPNDallas.com soon thereafter.