You are here
Blog: With Free Agency Open, Cowboys Have Ways To Create Cap Space
Welcome to the 2018 DallasCowboys.com Writers' Blog, your daily resource for up-to-date news and notes.
For Cap Space, Restructuring Frederick's Contract Is An Option
As we’ve discussed in this space before, Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick is an ideal candidate to restructure his deal when necessary. In essence, it's a simple accounting move -- the Cowboys convert a portion of a player’s scheduled base salary into signing bonus money, building short-term space for upcoming free agent decisions and signing the eventual 2018 draft class.
There’s little concern about a restructure raising Frederick’s cap hit down the line because he’s 26 and durable, having played every game over his first five seasons in the league.
How else could the Cowboys add cap room? Well, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has reportedly requested to be released. The Cowboys have the option to sit tight there if they so choose, however. Scandrick is under contract for two more years and releasing him would only save about $1.4 million in room. His experience is valuable, too, though the team did go young in the secondary down the stretch while he was sidelined with a back injury.
Dak Prescott, Anthony Brown Among NFL Leaders In Performance-Based Pay
Brown, a 2016 sixth-round pick, made an extra $437,690.49 – the fourth-highest combined total between performance-based pay and veteran performance-based compensation, also known as the veteran pool for players with more than one accrued season.
Brown’s 2017 base salary was $540,000, according to OvertheCap.com.
Prescott, a 2016 fourth-round pick, made $401,006.25 in performance-based bonuses – the ninth-highest total – in addition to his $540,000 base salary.
Looking At The Cowboys’ Potential Options With Orlando Scandrick
Multiple reports Monday say the veteran cornerback has requested his release before Wednesday’s official start of free agency. The Cowboys have made no official comment regarding the reports.
Speaking at the NFL Combine last month, team executive vice president Stephen Jones said they haven’t made a decision to part ways with Scandrick, a former fifth-round pick who has been a dependable cornerback outside and in the slot for 10 seasons. There has been speculation for months that the team could explore the trade market for Scandrick if indeed they continue with a youth movement in the secondary.
Regardless, the Cowboys have the option to sit tight if they so choose because Scandrick is under contract through 2019. He’s scheduled to count a little more than $5 million on this year’s salary cap, and releasing him would only save about $1.4 million.
Scandrick missed the 2015 season with a torn ACL and has battled injuries the last two seasons, including a transverse process fracture in his back that sidelined him for the final three games last season. In December, he indicated he might not be back in 2018.
“The young players here, Jourdan (Lewis), Chido (Awuzie), A.B. (Anthony Brown), Xavier (Woods), Byron (Jones), Jeff (Heath), they’re playing well together right now,” he said. “They’re going to continue to grow and continue to get better, and I’m not at the point in my career where I’m willing to just be an inactive guy or a guy that’s not a part of what’s going on and can’t help the team win.”
Elliott Tweets Appreciation For Jerry Jones’ Support During Long Season
Jones and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were scheduled to take part in a hearing on the legal fees matter Monday. On Tuesday, the NFL released this statement: “After a hearing with the Commissioner and the Finance Committee, the matter of the reimbursement of legal fees has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.” Although there was no official announcement, reports indicated that Jones would reimburse the league more than $2 million.
Jones and the Cowboys were not directly involved in the NFL Players Association’s legal fight on behalf of Elliott regarding his six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. But Jones and the organization supported Elliott throughout a long 2017 season. He ultimately served the six-game suspension but has adamantly denied a former girlfriend’s accusation of domestic violence. He was never arrested or charged.
Elliott and the Cowboys will look to rebound in 2018 after missing the playoffs by a game. The voluntary offseason program is scheduled to begin in mid-April.
Jerry Jones Resolves Dispute Over Legal Fees With NFL Finance Committee
(March 7, 2:43 p.m.) – It appears as though Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has resolved his dispute with the NFL.
Stemming back to last week, there were reports that Jones was in dispute with league commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL’s Finance Committee, as the league was seeking $2 million in reimbursement for legal fees from last season.
On Tuesday afternoon, the NFL put out this statement: “After a hearing with the Commissioner and the Finance Committee, the matter of the reimbursement of legal fees has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”
Jones met with Goodell on Monday in Palm Beach, Fla., as NFL officials are gathered for competition committee meetings. Reports indicate that he will reimburse the league the $2 million for those legal fees, which stem back to the court case that surrounded Ezekiel Elliott’s league suspension, as well as Goodell’s own contract negotiations.
Round-By-Round Look At Cowboys' 2018 Draft Order
(March 6; 10:45 a.m.) – The NFL has announced the complete 2018 draft order for all 32 teams.
Here’s exactly where the Cowboys will pick in each round (1-7):
Round 1: 19th overall
Round 2: 50th overall
Round 3: 81st overall
Round 4: 116th overall; 137th overall (compensatory)
Round 5: 171st overall (compensatory); 173rd overall (compensatory)
Round 6: 193rd overall; 208th overall (compensatory)
Round 7: 236th overall
Stephen Jones Addresses Status Of Suspended DE Randy Gregory
(Feb. 27; 1:30 p.m.) – Speaking Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked about the status of suspended defensive end Randy Gregory, the team’s 2015 second-round pick who has not been with the team since the end of the 2016 season.
“Obviously he’s suspended and we’re not able to have contact with him, so that’s difficult,” Jones said. “At the same time, we obviously invested in Randy and wish and hope for nothing but the best for Randy.
“He’s on a journey and I know he’s trying to get his off-the-field situations worked out and he’s obviously got a lot of skill as a football player. But first and foremost he has to get himself personally and his physical well-being off the field in a good place.”
In January 2017, the NFL suspended Gregory at least one year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gregory had just returned from a 14-game suspension to start the 2016 season.
Asked if the Cowboys have any part in Gregory’s process for potential reinstatement, Jones said, “No. That’s done through him and his agent.”
NFL Draft Getting Record Number of Registrations
Since being announced earlier this week, the mobile ticket signups for the NFL Draft have been a big hit. Here are some quick facts regarding the registration, which continues until mid-March. Read
- As of Friday morning, more than 100,000 fans have signed up for the Draft in Dallas – 11% more than Philadelphia during the same time period – making it the highest number of registrations over a three day period in Draft history.
- Day 1 registrations for the Draft were also record breaking.
- Registration at http://www.nfl.com/fanmobilepass continues until Wednesday, March 14 at 10:59 PM CT. Fans may register to be eligible for free seated tickets inside the NFL Draft Theater.
- After March 14, registration remains open for NFL Draft Experience presented by Oikos Triple Zero, also giving fans a chance to win standby theater tickets.
- Fans have registered from all 50 states. The top 5 states with the most registered fans are:
- New Jersey
Marinelli’s Message For Taco In Year 2: “Put Your Socks Back On”
As Charlton looks to his second season, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has advice for his young pass rusher: “Put your socks back on.”
“I think you always have to go back to the very start,” Marinelli said on the 5 Points Blue “Back to the Basics” podcast. “Get back to the basics every day. Never assume that you have this down. We go back and we restart. And that’s the mental toughness it takes. That’s where the strength comes in.”
Marinelli has a perfect example on his defensive line: DeMarcus Lawrence. The 2014 second-round pick missed much of his rookie season with injury, then faced adversity in a tight playoff victory over Detroit when he lost a fumble recovery.
What followed was one of the most mentally tough moments Marinelli has ever seen in coaching.
“He’s right next to me. ‘Give me another chance,’” Marinelli recalled. “He goes out and has that sack/fumble and he recovers it. That was the strength I saw. That’s what I see in him.
“He’s had injuries up and down. To put it all together, this has been a progressive thing. He’s put it together step by step all the way up.”
With time, the Cowboys believe Charlton can continue to develop the same way.
Cowboys Sign Safety Jason Thompson
(Feb. 8; 3:45 p.m.) -- The Cowboys signed safety Jason Thompson on Thursday.
Thompson went to training camp with the New England Patriots as an undrafted rookie last year and was cut before the regular season began. He also spent time on the Chicago Bears' and Seattle Seahawks' practice squads last season.
Tony Romo To Compete In March PGA Tour Event
(Feb. 7; 4:30 p.m.) – Tony Romo was a hit in his first year as CBS Sports’ lead NFL analyst in 2017.
Next month, the quarterback-turned-broadcaster will continue his passion for golf. As a sponsor exemption, Romo will play in the PGA Tour’s Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (March 19-25 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), the PGA Tour announced Wednesday.
“As a professional athlete, the love and thrill of competition never entirely leaves you,” Romo told PGATour.com. “Outside of my family and football, golf is one of my greatest passions. So, playing and competing in a PGA TOUR event is a dream come true. I am grateful to the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship for giving me an incredible opportunity to test my skills against some of the best on TOUR.”
During his career with the Cowboys, Romo attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open but has never competed in a PGA Tour event as an individual.
Full List Of 2018 Combine Invites Announced
(Feb. 6; 4 p.m.) – The Senior Bowl is complete, and in three weeks, the largest single NFL Draft evaluation event will take place: The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The league on Tuesday announced the 336 draft prospects who have received invitations to participate at the Combine. Prospects meet with teams and are tested by position group on strength, agility, speed and more.
Click here for the list of Combine invites.
DallasCowboys.com will have full Combine coverage from Indianapolis the week of Feb. 27.
After donning No. 33 as a rookie, Awuzie is switching to No. 24, which was given to free-agent veteran Nolan Carroll to begin last season.
Awuzie, who battled through hamstring injuries in training camp and early in the regular season, ended up with a solid rookie year, which included 27 tackles and seven pass deflections, which ranked tied for third on the team.
For more information on Awuzie’s reasoning for the switch, check out this post from 5 Points Blue.
Eagles’ Title-Clinching TD Restarts Conversation Over ‘The Dez Catch’
At least until there’s a clear, consistent interpretation of the catch rule in the National Football League.
Late in Super Bowl LII, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scored the deciding touchdown on a play eerily similar to Bryant’s infamous catch-that-wasn’t in the Cowboys’ 2014 divisional-round loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Once again, social media came alive with spirited debate about Bryant’s controversial play three years earlier.
The two plays did have parallel components: possession, control, and multiple steps with the ball before it popped out upon contact with the ground.
One key difference: Ertz was established as a runner before he broke the plane of the goal line.
Still, Bryant took three steps with the ball before going to the ground, showing that he indeed had clear possession first. Yet, the catch was overturned. So was Jesse James’ touchdown reception in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ controversial loss to the New England Patriots – a goal-line play even more similar to Ertz’s.
Ertz’s catch stood. The Eagles are now Super Bowl champions.
Speaking to reporters during Super Bowl week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said clarifying the catch rule once and for all is a major priority for the league this offseason.
“Clearly catch, no-catch has been a lot of discussion and a lot of disagreement ... and I think we can clarify this rule and I think we can do it with a lot of hard work (and) focus and get to a place where -- I'm not going to tell you there won't be controversy, but I believe we can get to a much better place," Goodell said, according to NFL.com.
The biggest game of the year just became a platform for more discussion on ‘catch, no-catch.’
Dak Discusses Kellen Moore Joining Coaching Staff, Rapport With Dez
Speaking Friday on the Newy Scruggs Show (NBC Sports Radio), starting quarterback Dak Prescott said he’s excited about the 28-year-old Moore, his teammate and sounding board for two seasons, transitioning to an assistant coaching role.
Prescott said he and Moore have a great relationship and he believes Moore will challenge him to become a better player.
“I’m a big fan of Kellen Moore. I pushed for that,” Prescott said. “I know he helped me so much throughout the season – both seasons, actually. He’s just so smart. … I’m excited I get to play under him now and excited for him to see this role that he takes as a coach and I know he’ll be really good at it.”
Prescott’s on-field rapport with Dez Bryant is one of the most-discussed storylines this offseason after the offense struggled to maintain consistency down the stretch in 2017. Prescott said he and Bryant are “continuously growing” to build a better connection in the passing game.
“Me and Dez, we have great chemistry. We’re great friends,” Prescott said. “We’re good on the field and off the field. So we’re just continuing to work. We’re two guys that want to be great and that’s in our blood. It aggravates and annoys us more than anybody when we’re not connecting.”
(Jan. 31; 3:58 p.m.) – While it remains uncertain where Kirk Cousins ends up, it certainly seems as if he’s not going back to the Redskins, who covered themselves by trading for Alex Smith of the Chiefs.
How does this affect the Cowboys? Obviously, you’re talking about the quarterback who will face them twice a season.
Combined, the Cowboys are 8-2 (3-0 in 2017) against these two guys, with the bulk of their success coming against Cousins, who has just a 1-6 starting record vs. Dallas. Smith hasn’t faced them as much, but holds just a 1-2 mark against the Cowboys, who knocked off his Chiefs this past season.
Smith led the NFL last season with a 104.7 QB rating, posting his first career 4,000-yard passing season with 4,034 yards. Cousins just had his third straight 4,000-yard season with the Redskins, who had a hard time protecting him during their injury-riddled season on the O-line. Cousins was sacked 41 times and lost 341 yards.
What matters most is Wins & Losses, and Cousins has a 26-30-1 record as a starter. Meanwhile, Smith is 88-62-1 overall, and 50-26 in the last five years as the Chiefs starter.
In some ways it seems like an upgrade for the Redskins, but stat-wise, Cousins has the edge.
Only time will tell, but it seems rather even on paper.
Dak, Zeke Lead NFLPA’s Top 50 In Player Merchandise Sales
The rankings reflect sales for March 1, 2017 through Nov. 30, 2017. Prescott is ranked No. 1, followed by Elliott, New England’s Tom Brady, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
Last year, Elliott became the first rookie to lead the NFLPA’s year-end sales rankings (March 1, 2016 through Feb. 28, 2017).
Click here for more on the rankings.
Witten Enjoying Franchise-Record Tying 11th Pro Bowl Week
He’s the Cowboys’ all-time leader in catches and receiving yards. He’s fourth in NFL history in career catches. He’s the record holder for most consecutive starts by a Cowboys player. He’s one of five active NFL players who wear a special patch on their jerseys signifying their status as past Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winners.
And this week he’s in Orlando enjoying his 11th Pro Bowl selection, which ties Bob Lilly for the most in franchise history.
Jerry Jones Excited About Hiring Of New WRs Coach Sanjay Lal
From the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Jones said on Tuesday he is excited to add Sanjay Lal to coach the receivers.
“I’m really pleased with our coach, he’s a real find for us,” Jones said. “He was one of the most-sought-after coaches in the offseason that I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t know when I’ve seen when a position coach has been more sought-after than he was in the offseason.”
Lal, who has 11 years of NFL coaching experience, has been with four teams, including last year with the Colts. He replaces Derek Dooley, who left to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Missouri.
Jones said he expects the offense to have an expanded playbook this year and Lal should be able to help the receivers and the entire passing game improve to another level.
“What he is is an outstanding at coaching receivers and designing routes,” Jones said of Lal. “Just a great receiver coach.”
Stephen Jones Assesses On-Field Rapport Between Dez & Dak, More
Asked about Bryant’s role and production, team executive vice president Stephen Jones weighed in Monday as a guest on DallasCowboys.com’s “Hangin’ With The Boys” podcast.
“First of all, the chemistry – not necessarily the friendship or that type of relationship – but the football relationship between Dak and Dez is different than Tony and Dez,” Jones said. “Tony, certainly his game, they kind of tailored it to one another. And then when Dak came in, he’s certainly not going to play the game exactly like Tony played the game. I think it hasn’t ever just quite hit on all cylinders yet in terms of how Dak and Dez, the connection works. I think it’s a work in progress. I think it could improve if given the opportunity.
“And then the other thing that we all see – it’s certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline – is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion, both on and off the field. Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. And we just have to really get our hands around where, when you put all the full body of work together, where that’s headed.”
In late December, Bryant opened up about an admittedly frustrating season. In line with Jones’ comments, Bryant acknowledged that he allowed outside factors to affect his play at times, in addition to practicing and playing through knee tendinitis late in the season.
Bryant did lead the team with 69 catches for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns in the third year of a five-year, $70 million deal he signed in 2015.
“We pay Dez a lot of money, and he knows that. He’s aware of it as anybody when he talks to Jerry (Jones) and myself,” Jones said Monday. “He knows when you get paid that kind of money, there’s high expectations in terms of the productivity. Those are all things that we have to look at as a team, as an organization, when we start to put our team together for next year.”
Only 1 Pro Bowl From 19th Pick Since 2009
(Jan. 18; 3:10 p.m.)Knowing that every year is different and there are exceptions to every draft rule possible, it’s quite interesting to see the recent history of the 19th overall pick and the lack of success that has come from that spot.
Of course, that’s where the Cowboys are scheduled to pick in April, but let’s not overlook the word “scheduled” because we’ve all season Jerry Jones’ ability to deal – up and down – for the right price.
But assuming the Cowboys stay at 19, they’ll certainly hope to reverse a recent trend of less-than-stellar picks from that spot.
In fact, there has been just one Pro Bowl selection from the 19th overall pick in the last nine years and that was Jeremy Maclin, who got the honor in 2012, his final year in Philly.
Since that pick, here’s a look at the last eight picks at No. 19:
2017 – O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay
2016 – Shaq Lawson, DE, Buffalo
2015 – Cameron Erving, C, Cleveland
2014 – Ja’Wuan James, OT, Miami
2013 – Justin Pugh, OT, NYG
2012 – Shea McClellin, DE, Chicago
2011 – Prince Amukamara, CB, NYG
2010 – Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta
No Pro Bowls or any significant honors stemming from that group. But that’s just the recent crop of players. Spanning more time, there have been some quality to great pickups at No. 19, including Pro Bowlers such as Antonio Cromartie, Casey Hampton, Shaun Alexander and arguably the most productive player ever drafted at No. 19, Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison.
So getting a superstar at No. 19 certainly isn’t impossible, but recent history around the league definitely suggests otherwise.
Several Former Cowboys Moving on to Sunday’s Championship Games
(Jan. 14; 8:35 p.m.) While it’s been more than two decades since the Cowboys participated in the NFC Championship Game, there will definitely be some familiar faces on the field next Sunday when the NFC and AFC title games take place for a spot in Super Bowl LII.
With Minnesota's dramatic last-second win over the Saints, it meant eight former Cowboys coaches and players are moving on, including head coach Mike Zimmer, a longtime Dallas assistant.
The Vikings have four players and four coaches, while the Jaguars have four former players on the roster and a pair of coaches.
Here’s a list of former Cowboys players or coaches with some affiliation on teams still alive in the NFL playoffs:
Mike Zimmer, head coach
George Edwards, defensive coordinator
Andre Patterson, defensive line coach
Tony Sparano, offensive line coach
Terence Newman, cornerback
Joe Berger, guard
Andrew Sendejo, safety
Kai Forbath, kicker
Barry Church, safety
Jermey Parnell, offensive tackle
Tyler Patmon, cornerback
Sammy Seamster, cornerback (practice squad)
Joe DeCamillis, special teams coordinator
Tom Myslinksi, strength & conditioning coach
Danny Amendola, wide receiver
Martellus Bennett, tight end (Injured Reserve)
And if 16 players and coaches isn’t enough, don’t forget the two lead analysts calling the games next weekend are former Cowboys quarterback greats as Troy Aikman will be in the booth for Fox again, while Tony Romo will call his first AFC Championship game for CBS.
Running Backs Coach Gary Brown Expected To Return; More Updates
(Jan. 12; 6:30 p.m.) – Though not finalized yet, indications are running backs coach Gary Brown is expected to return to Jason Garrett’s staff.
Brown reportedly has had an expiring contract and recently has drawn interest from the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans about a similar role.
Under Brown’s guidance, Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for 2,614 yards, the second most by an NFL rusher in his first 25 games played. Rod Smith has also developed into a solid contributor, and Keith Smith has made a successful transition from linebacker to fullback.
If Brown does indeed return, his presence would offset some of the turnover on Garrett’s staff. Offensive line coach Frank Pollack accepted the same role with the Bengals; wide receivers coach Derek Dooley took the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach job at Missouri; tight ends coach Steve Loney is expected to retire; and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia accepted the special teams coordinator job in Oakland.
Earlier this week, team executive vice president Stephen Jones has told 105.3 The Fan that Kellen Moore is a candidate to become quarterbacks coach, amid reports that Wade Wilson is not expected to return.
In his season-ending press conference on Jan. 2, Garrett said he expected to finalize his staff in the coming weeks.
Miles Austin Interviews For Vacant WRs Coach Position
Miles Austin, who currently works in the team’s scouting department as a personnel assistant, has interviewed for the position vacated by Derek Dooley.
Dooley recently accepted an offer to become Missouri’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach after five seasons with the Cowboys.
Austin, of course, rose to stardom in 2009 after joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He set a franchise record with 250 receiving yards in a win over the Chiefs during that 2009 season, and he went on to make two Pro Bowls. After eight seasons with the Cowboys, he played for the Browns in 2014 and the Eagles in 2015.
It’s uncertain when the Cowboys will decide on a replacement for Dooley.
Cowboys Sign Safety To Their Reserve/Future List
Huff, a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2014, appeared in 41 games with the Titans and Ravens from 2014-16 and recorded 36 tackles, an interception and a sack. He went to training camp with the Bucs last summer.
Last week, the Cowboys also signed these players to the Reserve/Future list:
Will McClay Clarifies Rumors On Houston Texans' General Manager Opening
(Jan. 7, 3:38 p.m.) – Given the Cowboys’ recent success during the NFL draft, it’s no surprise to hear Will McClay’s name come up at this time of year.
The Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel has been named in numerous reports for NFL general manager openings over the years – the most recent coming from the Houston Texans.
Houston is currently searching for a new GM in light of the departure of Rick Smith, who is taking a personal leave of absence while his wife battles breast cancer. McClay has been mentioned as a candidate over the last few days, with some reports going as far as to say he had turned down the opportunity to interview.
To that end, McClay put out a statement Sunday, clarifying some of the conflicting information from previous days.
“I haven’t officially accepted or declined interview with Houston because I haven’t talked to anyone from there,” he said. “My intentions to interview or stay in Dallas won’t be divulged until I speak with someone officially from Houston if they are interested, out of respect for both organizations and the process.”
McClay has seen his profile rise in recent years, as he has been a key member of a front office that has identified and drafted Cowboys talents like Zack Martin, Anthony Hitchens, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.
It remains to be seen if that will result in an interview with the Texans.
Cowboys WR coach Derek Dooley Named Offensive Coordinator At Missouri
Derek Dooley has been hired to be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Missouri football, the school announced Friday.
Dooley had spent the past five years coaching wide receivers for the Cowboys, but prior to that the majority of his coaching experience came in college football. He was the head coach at Tennessee for three years following a successful stint at Louisiana Tech.
Prior to that, he held a variety of positions at LSU under Nick Saban, before following Saban to the NFL to coach tight ends for the Miami Dolphins.
The announcement leaves the Cowboys in need of a wide receivers coach. The Cowboys hired Dooley to coach receivers in 2013, and he had been in that position for the past five years.
How The Cowboys Got The 19th Draft Pick In A Jumble Of 9-7 Teams
(Jan. 5; 11 a.m.) – The NFL has announced the 2018 first-round draft order for the 20 non-playoff teams, and the Cowboys will pick at No. 19 as one of five teams to miss the postseason with a 9-7 record.
Here’s the order for picks 15-20:
15. Cardinals (8-8); .488 strength of schedule
16. Ravens (9-7); .441 strength of schedule
17. Chargers (9-7); .457 strength of schedule
18. Seahawks (9-7); .492 strength of schedule
19. Cowboys (9-7); .496 strength of schedule
20. Lions (9-7); .496 strength of schedule
The Ravens, Chargers and Seahawks jumped the Cowboys in the order because each had a lower strength of schedule.
Because the Cowboys and Lions had the same strength of schedule, the tiebreaker moved to conference record. Detroit’s 8-4 conference record was better than the Cowboys’ 7-5 record, so Dallas got the higher pick.
A loss to the Eagles last Sunday would have meant an 8-8 record for the Cowboys and the 16th pick, because their strength of schedule was greater than Arizona’s.
Everson Walls, T.O. Among 15 Modern-Era Finalists For Hall of Fame
(Jan. 2; 8:30 p.m.) – Two of the 15 modern-era finalists for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class have Cowboys ties: Terrell Owens and first-time finalist Everson Walls, now in his 20th year of eligibility.
Walls, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive back with the Cowboys from 1981-89, is only the second player in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions during three different seasons. He’s one of five first-time finalists, joining first-year eligible nominees Steve Hutchinson, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher.
Owens, a finalist last year, played for Dallas from 2006-08 during a 15-year career that also included stops in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Cincinnati. He produced three straight 1,000-yard seasons and 38 touchdowns with the Cowboys.
Selected from 27 semifinalists, the 15 modern-era finalists join Senior Finalists Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and Contributor Finalist Bobby Beathard.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee will determine the Class of 2018 on Feb. 3, the day before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
Cowboys Sign 7 To Reserve/Future List
(Jan. 1; 2 p.m.) -- The Cowboys on Monday signed seven players to the Reserve/Future list. All were members of the practice squad during the 2017 season:
Witten Leaves No Doubt About Future: “I’m Coming Back”
A week later, after the Cowboys’ season-finale victory over the Eagles, Witten left no doubt about his intentions.
“I’m coming back,” the veteran tight end said. “I love playing this game too much and I know I can play it at a high level.”
Witten finished the 2017 season ranked second behind Dez Bryant in catches (63) and touchdowns (5). He has accepted a complementary role in recent seasons as the Cowboys have evolved into a run-first offense. His receiving numbers drive a Hall-of-Fame worthy resume, but his blocking skills make him arguably the most complete tight end in NFL history.
But Witten has team goals left to accomplish. He says he’s as motivated as ever to help the Cowboys get back to the playoffs next year.
“You don’t get a lot of chances at it and I realize that,” he said. “But rest assured that I’m going to do everything in my power to help us be better as we move forward.”
Cooper Leaves Game, But Says He Dodged Serious Injury
Although he didn’t return to the game, the Cowboys’ starting left guard said afterward that he didn’t suffer any significant damage.
“Initially you’re so concerned – it feels terrible, you’re going off emotion,” Cooper said “But I feel all right. It definitely could have been worse.”
Re-signed by the Cowboys in March, Cooper is now set to become a free agent after permanently winning the left guard job early in the season.
Smith battled an illness as well as a sore back throughout this past week, and the Cowboys ultimately decided to sit him – leaving them with just two active running backs for this season finale against Philadelphia.
The unfamiliar names are a testament to the roster shuffling the Cowboys did leading up to Week 17. The team placed Tyron Smith and Orlando Scandrick on injured reserve earlier this week, calling up Edwards and wide receiver Lance Lenoir in the process.
Edwards will sit against the Eagles, but Lenoir is active in light of Beasley’s illness preventing him from making the trip to Philadelphia. Mayowa and Irving also did not travel with the team, as they were ruled out earlier in the week.
Beasley’s absence should serve not only as an opportunity for Lenoir, but Ryan Switzer, as well. The rookie figures to be the Cowboys’ primary slot receiver this week, after featuring mainly on special teams this season.
The Eagles sat several prominent names, as their inactives include safety Rodney McLeod, cornerback Jalen Mills, running back Jay Ajayi, linebacker Nigel Bradham, defensive end Brandon Graham, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and defensive end Derek Barnett.
Why Jerry Jones Believes Dez Bryant “Has A Lot Left In The Tank”
Bryant has faced outside criticism this season despite leading the team in every major receiving category (66 catches for 815 yards and 6 touchdowns).
Speaking Friday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he wasn’t concerned about Bryant’s recent comments and offered support to his veteran receiver.
“I think Dez as far as his career is concerned, I think he’s in the best place from the standpoint of maturity, from the standpoint of how he approaches the game, how he approaches people, which is a big part of this,” Jones said. “I think he’s really at the tops I’ve seen him since he’s been a Dallas Cowboy. He’s really evolved. I’m so proud of him.
“And I saw nothing this week in his comments. I know that he doesn’t want to drop footballs, but I’ll tell you this: I’ve never heard of or seen or been around a receiver that didn’t drop some footballs. Those drops in the game were glaring this past weekend, but as far as his ability, as far his talent, I disagree. I think he has a lot left in the tank.”
Cowboys Sign LB To 53-Man Roster, Add Former Baylor WR To Practice Squad
Johnson fills the open spot created by veteran linebacker Justin Durant’s release on Tuesday.
Cannon, an undrafted rookie, was a standout receiver at Baylor from 2014-2016. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors with 87 catches for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior.
Cannon spent time with the 49ers and Jets in the offseason and went to training camp with the Rams.
Knee Injury Limits Tyron Smith To One Series vs. Seattle
With postseason contention at stake, the injured Pro Bowl left tackle was determined to play in Sunday’s 21-12 loss to Seattle.
Smith did start the game, but he remained on the sideline when the Cowboys’ offense returned for its second offensive series. Byron Bell played left tackle for the rest of the game.
Smith sprained his knee last Sunday at Oakland and has also battled back, groin and hip injuries this season.
“I think as much as anything else, he wanted to give it a go today,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He went out and worked out before the game. He felt well enough to give it a shot. But once he got into the game and the rigors of trying to block a guy in the run game and pass protection, he knew that it couldn’t hold up.”
Tyron Smith Declared Active For Week 16 Against Seattle
(Dec. 24, 2:02 p.m.) – Tyron Smith is active for the Cowboys’ Christmas Eve game against Seattle.
That’s easily the most noteworthy development coming out of Sunday’s pregame activities. Smith sprained his LCL last weekend against Oakland and was questionable to play this weekend.
The Cowboys released their seven inactives for Week 16 on Sunday, though, and Smith was not among them. The five-time Pro Bowler will give it a go against the Seahawks. The Cowboys’ inactives are Brice Butler, Orlando Scandrick, Justin Durant, Justin March-Lillard, Richard Ash, Blake Jarwin and David Irving.
Most of those names aren’t unexpected. Scandrick has been missing since Nov. 30, after he suffered fractures in two transverse processes in his back. Irving suffered a concussion in the same game and has been absent from practice for the last three weeks. Butler practiced this week after missing the last two games with a foot injury, but he was once again ruled out on game day.
Ash suffered a shoulder injury this week during practice, and he’ll be inactive for this first time since being called up from the practice squad at midseason. March-Lillard is a healthy scratch for Benson Mayowa, who was limited by a back injury this week but has been declared active for the game.
The Seahawks’ inactives are running back Eddie Lacy, cornerback Mike Tyson, center Joey Hunt, linebacker D.J. Alexander, wide receiver David Moore, defensive tackle Nazair Jones and defensive end Quinton Jefferson.
Cowboys’ Defense Focused On Maximizing Takeaway Opportunities
“If I get a pick, we don’t even get that close to them getting down there,” said Brown, who explained he tried to catch the ball with his chest instead of his hands.
Safety Jeff Heath, of course, sealed Dallas’ victory by forcing Carr to fumble into the end zone for a touchback. But with two games left and the playoffs still possible, the Cowboys’ defense is focused on maximizing their takeaway opportunities.
The defense missed chances for two interceptions and a fumble recovery against Oakland.
“You know me. That’s something we preach and preach and preach,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “You get them in your hands, you’ve got to catch them. We thought we had four or five missed opportunities last week. We’ve got to get them. We have to. It makes everything easier for us. It could have been a big game for us last week if we catch them.”
Awuzie Reflects On His “Welcome To The NFL” Moment Against Marshawn
“You know it’s Marshawn,” Awuzie said with a smile. “But real ballplayers from the play snaps, you just do your job. I’m not going to make a business decision or do anything like that. I’m going to do my job, and that was to stop him where I hit him and make sure he didn’t get any more yards.
“It was a ‘welcome to the league’ moment. It was a great play and it was fun.”
Awuzie, the Cowboys’ 2017 second-round pick, dealt with a hamstring injury for much of his rookie season. He has made plays since entering the starting lineup during the team’s three-game winning streak, including a willingness to step up and make tackles.
The next challenge comes this Sunday defending a versatile Seahawks offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson.
Awuzie has embraced the opportunities he’s gotten since returning healthy.
“Maybe line one with him is the demeanor with which he plays, and we saw that in college,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “So that’s one of the things we really liked about him. We didn’t get a chance to see him for a lot of the year because of his injury, but he always went about it the right way. He was preparing to play. Since he’s gotten a chance here the last few weeks, I think we’ve seen a lot of things that we liked about him coming out of school. A lot of that is the demeanor, the physicality, the competitive spirit.”
Ezekiel Elliott Returns To Cowboys With 6-Game Suspension Complete
Elliott met with head coach Jason Garrett, running backs coach Gary Brown and other staff members during the players’ day off.
Garrett said Elliott looked in shape and was in good spirits, ready to get back to work. The players return to The Star on Tuesday for a team run and meetings, then get back to practice on Wednesday in preparation for the Seahawks (Sunday, 3:25 p.m., AT&T Stadium).
What will Garrett be looking for during Elliott’s first practice in six weeks? The same things he’d evaluate from any player returning from an extended absence.
“What kind of condition are they in, how’s their movement, can they sustain it, do they look functional, do they look smooth, do they look natural out there,” Garrett said. “And again, we anticipate him being able to do all the things we ask him to do and hopefully get him re-acclimated quickly.”
The Cowboys on Monday officially moved Elliott from Reserve/Suspended list to the Reserve/Exempt list, giving them a roster exemption for Elliott before he is eventually moved back to the active roster. The club also released running back Trey Williams from the active roster and released running back Aaron Green from the practice squad.
Tyron Smith Injures Knee In Win Over Raiders
Smith walked off the field with an apparent limp and was examined by the team’s medical staff. He remained on the sideline for the rest of the game.
“He’s as tough a guy as we’ve got, so it’s significant enough that he wasn't able to finish the ball game,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow when he comes in.”
Byron Bell replaced Smith at left tackle.
Smith, a perennial All-Pro, has dealt with back and groin injuries already this season.
Elsewhere on the roster, defensive end Benson Mayowa left with a back injury in the first half. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens limped off the field with the assistance of the athletic training staff on the defense’s final drive.
David Irving, Orlando Scandrick Inactive For Second-Straight Week
All four of the team’s biggest game day decisions were made earlier this weekend, as Orlando Scandrick, David Irving and Justin Durant were all ruled out on Friday. They followed that up on Saturday by announcing Brice Butler would not travel to Oakland with the team while he continues to deal with a foot injury.
Injuries have made the inactives list fairly straightforward for several weeks in a row. Irving suffered a concussion on Dec. 1 against Washington and hasn’t played since. The same can be said for Scandrick, who fractured two bones in his back in the same game.
Durant suffered a concussion in the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and hasn’t played since, while Butler has now been inactive for two-straight games with his foot injury.
There was some concern that Sean Lee might not be available after appearing on Friday’s injury report with a back injury. But both Lee and Anthony Hitchens are active and expected to start against Oakland. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are both also available after working through injuries during the week. Read
Scandrick Still Sidelined, But Injured Back Feeling “Better And Better”
Scandrick hasn’t practiced the last two weeks but said he’s doing more lifting and moving better in his rehab work with the athletic training staff.
“It was kind of a little bit of a scare to me,” Scandrick said of the injury, “but I’m going to make a full recovery and I’m getting better and better and I haven’t had any setbacks.”
“Those guys are playing well right now, so it’s no need for me to try and play at anything less than 100 percent,” Scandrick said. “I want to give myself the best chance to be successful.”
Lawrence Apologizes To Refs; Marinell’s Advice For His Star Rusher
“I had a wise talk with a man, and he told me it ain’t holding unless they call it,” Lawrence said. “I just want to say sorry, refs, I apologize. I’ll get it right.”
Asked if he was the wise man who spoke with Lawrence, Marinelli smiled and said, “I’m not that wise.”
But he did have advice for his standout defensive end: “Just keep rushing, playing as hard as he can play.”
Marinelli has admired Lawrence’s approach despite the extra blocking he’s gotten from offenses since jumping to the top of the league rankings in sacks. He’s currently second with 13.5.
“His deal since he’s been here is, ‘I am going to play hard,’” Marinelli said. “He plays hard and he doesn’t worry about all the other stuff. He has always done that.
“I remember two years ago, when he had the eight sacks, he started the season off slow – I think the first four games or whatever it was. It never fazed him. He said, ‘Coach, I’m just going to keep playing hard.’ And he just kept doing that. And that’s what I just love about him. There’s nothing that slows this guy down. He just goes. He leads by his tape. All the sacks, all that is great. I love how he plays the game of football. He’s playing football the right way.”
David Irving Absent From Wednesday's Practice; Scandrick Returns
Irving suffered a concussion in the Dec. 1 win against Washington, and he did not make the trip to New York last weekend. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Irving wouldn’t practice on Wednesday, but he did say the defensive tackle will hopefully get some work in.
“We anticipate him doing some work on the side with our trainers,” he said.
In total, the Cowboys had four absentees from their Wednesday practice. Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and James Hanna sat out along with Irving. Smith and Collins are continuing to rehab the injuries that have bothered him in recent weeks. The reason for Hanna’s absence isn’t currently known, though it will likely be revealed when the Cowboys release their practice report on Wednesday afternoon.
Orlando Scandrick returned to the practice field after missing last week with a broken transverse process in his back. Garrett said the veteran cornerback will likely be limited while he eases back into the routine.
“Orlando should do something in individual today,” Garrett said. “He’ll be limited for practice, but we should have him out there for the early part.”
Time will tell if Irving and Scandrick can make enough improvement to be ready for the trip to Oakland. But given the late stage of the year, the Cowboys’ overall health seems about as good as could be expected.
Blog: Vote For Dak Prescott For FedEx Player of the Week
Prescott joins Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (501 passing yards, 2 TDs) and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (381 passing yards, TD) as the finalists.
On the FedEx Ground Player of the Week, the finalists were LeSean McCoy, Jordan Howard and Kenyan Drake.
Every week, following the Monday Night Football game, through Thursday at 2 p.m. CT, fans can visit NFL.com/FedEx or tweet using #AirandGround and the nominees’ last name to cast their vote. FedEx and the NFL will announce the winners every Thursday afternoon and then FedEx will award a $2,000 donation in the winning players’ names to The USO.
Jerry Jones: This Stretch Without Zeke Has Made Prescott A Better Player
Prescott and the entire offense struggled to sustain drives and score points in the first three games of Elliott’s six-game suspension.
In the last two wins over the Redskins and Giants, Prescott and the offense have regained some efficiency -- and team owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes the second-year quarterback has become “a better player” as he’s adjusted to playing without his All-Pro running back.
“Every day that he walks out there he's got a chance to improve,” Jones said of Prescott on 105.3 The Fan. “And when someone works as hard as he does, and I emphasize that. He is a tremendous worker. And you used to hear those things about Peyton Manning, just how much he invested in everything he does, every practice. When you've got that kind of discipline, you're going to improve.
“We know that he's got inordinary talent. So, we're just better frankly. It hurt us to miss Zeke, but as far as Dak is concerned, we've got a better player for having gone through this. I don't recommend it for the Cowboys, of course, but we've got a better player. We've got a better future because he's gone through this period of time without Zeke.”
Elliott is eligible to return to game action Dec. 24 against Seattle.
Jason Garrett Addresses DeMarcus Lawrence's Comments On Officiating
The Cowboys’ head coach met with reporters on Monday afternoon to wrap up his team’s 30-10 win against the New York Giants. One of the prevalent topics of conversation was DeMarcus Lawrence’s postgame comments about game officials.
It’s been a storyline throughout the season that the Cowboys’ pass rush is drawing a drastically low number of holding calls, which Lawrence spelled out in no uncertain terms.
“I ain’t seen a holding call in the last five games, and it’s ridiculous that the refs are out here just looking at me getting tackled by offensive linemen,” Lawrence told reporters. Like, come on. If you’re going to be out there, do your job. That’s the main thing.”
He added: “I feel like it’s unfair. I feel like – I’ve got a family to come home to. So if you’re trying to protect quarterbacks, you’ve got to protect me, too. If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it on both sides. If you’re going to sit here and call some BS on my O-Line, you’ve got to call it on their O-Line, too. Point, blank, period.”
Lawrence also threw in an expletive at the end of his comments, for good measure. Garrett said he wasn’t aware of Lawrence’s comments, but he wasn’t eager to weigh in on the topic.
“It’s not something that I really want to talk about, other than to say we always have good dialogue with the league on things that we have issues about,” Garrett said.
Coaches and players are subject to fines for criticizing league officiating, so it’s not a surprise that Garrett wouldn’t want to add to the discourse. It’s also a reasonable expectation that Lawrence will be hearing from the league.
It is worth pointing out, though: while the Cowboys actually did draw an offensive holding penalthy on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it was one of just seven on the season.
Bryant’s Big TD Catch Ties Michael Irvin In Team History
Bryant also joined elite company on that play. He’s now the fourth Cowboys player in team history to record at least 10 receiving touchdowns over 50 yards.
Here’s the complete list:
Bob Hayes – 19
Frank Clarke – 13
Michael Irvin – 10
Dez Bryant – 10
Brice Butler Headlines Cowboys’ Week 14 Inactives; Sterling Shepard Active
The veteran receiver, who was limited by a foot injury this week in practice, was downgraded for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. The Cowboys’ other six inactives are Orlando Scandrick, Trey Williams, Justin Durant, Daniel Ross, Blake Jarwin and David Irving.
The trio of Scandrick, Durant and Irving was ruled out on Saturday afternoon, as none of them made the trip to New Jersey for this game. Scandrick broke a bone in his back last week against Washington, while Durant and Irving are still recovering from concussions.
Butler’s absence may create more opportunities for rookie receiver Noah Brown. The seventh-round draft pick has had an active rookie season, as he’s been active for 10 of the Cowboys’ 13 games – although he has just three catches for 25 yards on the season.
The Giants got some good news with the revelation that Sterling Shepard is active for this game. The slot receiver has been battling an injury all week, but he worked out on the field prior to kick off an is good to go.
New York’s seven inactives are quarterback Davis Webb, wide receiver Tavarres King, wide receiver Travis Rudolph, cornerback Eli Apple, offensive tackle Justin Pugh, linebacker B.J. Goodson and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton.
Jerry Jones Expects Cowboys Will Face An “Inspired” Giants Team Sunday
(Dec. 8; 2 p.m.) – Jerry Jones is aware of the playoff scenarios for the Cowboys (6-6) with four games left. As he said a few weeks ago, there’s “arithmetic” involved when a team sits outside the current wild-card bubble.
Jones watched the Saints-Falcons game with keen interest Thursday night, knowing Atlanta – now 8-5 with a 20-17 victory – holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas. And it’s quite possible the Cowboys must run the table in December to have a chance at the postseason.
But Jones says isn’t concerned with anything other than Sunday’s game against the Giants (2-10) – a rivalry game in which team records mean little.”
“I think we're going to run into an inspired team in the Giants,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “I think that Eli (Manning) is going to be playing inspired, not that he needed to. If you're the Dallas Cowboys and don't respect Eli, then you’ve got to have blinders on. I think we've got a tough game Sunday. I really don't want to go beyond that.”
Witten Honored To Wear Walter Payton Man of The Year Award Patch Sunday
Witten is one of five active NFL players who will begin wearing a special patch on his jersey signifying their status as past Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winners.
The award recognizes an NFL player who represents “the best of the NFL's commitment to philanthropy and community impact,” according to the league.
“When I found out about it a few weeks back, I was really excited about it,” Witten said. “It’s something I’m honored to represent. I think when you look at the list of names on that list, not only currently but even past guys, it’s such a special group of men. I take great pride and honor to represent Walter Payton and that award.”
Thursday night, the NFL announced Cowboys center Travis Frederick is one of 32 nominees for the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. As a nominee, Frederick will wear a special Man of the Year Award decal on the back of his helmet Sunday against the Giants.
With Outdoor Practice, Cowboys Try To Simulate Sunday’s Cold Forecast
(Dec. 7; 2:50 p.m.) – The Cowboys typically head indoors to Ford Center at The Star for a Thursday practice. This week, with cold temperatures and wind expected for Sunday’s road game against the New York Giants, they practiced outside for the second straight day in an attempt to simulate those conditions.
The weather has finally turned cold in North Texas this week, and Thursday’s temperatures – a high of about 40 degrees – were similar to the Sunday forecast at MetLife Stadium.
“I always think it’s good to practice in the elements that you’re going to be in that week,” tight end Jason Witten said. “It allows you to prepare for it and go through it. But hey, it’s football. This is when it gets fun. If you can’t handle that, you’re not going to win many games and be playing in the games you expect to. I thought it was a good call by Coach (Jason Garrett) to put us out there in it.”
After Practice, Prescott Says “No Limitations” With Bruised Throwing Hand
“No limitations,” he said. ““It’s fine. Good to go.”
Prescott’s hand slammed against a Redskins defender’s helmet during an option play. He had significant swelling but did not miss a snap.
Wednesday, he began practice with a pad on his hand but said he removed it by the end of practice.
Alfred Morris Among Nominess For FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Week
FedEx revealed its nominees for its Air & Ground Player of the Week awards on Tuesday morning. Quarterbacks Alex Smith, Philip Rivers and Josh McCown were all nominated, and Morris led the running backs, joined by Kenyan Drake and Jamaal Williams.
Morris shined in the Cowboys’ Thursday night win against Washington last week, as he carried the ball 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown while helping secure a 38-14 win. It was his first 100-yard effort since he played the Cowboys on Jan. 3, 2016 as a member of the Redskins.
Voting for this week’s winners is open until Thursday at 3:00 p.m. ET at http://NFL.com/FedEx. Fans can also vote on Twitter using #AirandGround and the nominee’s last name.
As part of a continued commitment by FedEx to serve local communities, a weekly $2,000 donation will be made in the name of both of the FedEx Air & Ground® winners to the USO through FedEx Cares. The donation will be used to support USO programs that keep service members connected to family, home and country as they depart the military and find a new path in civilian life. Read
Jason Garrett Updates Orlando Scandrick’s Injury Status
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick suffered two transverse process fractures in his back early during last Thursday’s win over Washington, played through it, and left the game in the fourth quarter.
Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate Scandrick practicing in the early part of the week.
“Hopefully he heals up as the week goes on,” Garrett said.
Still Swollen, Dak’s Right Hand Not Expected To Be Problematic
The Cowboys quarterback still has noticeable swelling on his hand after taking a helmet-shot in the last game with Washington. But the X-rays were negative on any broken bones and Prescott said there’s nothing he can do about the swelling, but just be patient.
In the meantime, it didn’t slow him down Monday morning and he lit up plenty of faces at the Cowboys’ annual hospital visits.
“It’s great,” Dak said referring to his hand. “Signing autographs and shaking hands here … it’s fine.”
Prescott suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Cowboys’ 38-14 win over the Redskins. While he didn’t miss any snaps on the field, Prescott was clearly bothered by the injury. Aside from the 2016 seaosn finale in Philly where played only two series, Prescott had his worst passing total of his career with 102 yards against the Redskins, completing just 11 of 22 passes. But he did pass for two touchdowns and no picks to finish with a 93.4 QB rating.
Orlando Scandrick Injures Back In Win Over Redskins
Scandrick left in the fourth quarter after apparently sustaining the injury earlier in the game. The 10th-year veteran is a defensive captain who has started 11 of 12 games this season.
"You can play with that, as he showed last night. He's tough," Jones said. "I don't know that that will limit his play time."
Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo missed one game in 2014 due to two transverse process fractures.
The Cowboys (6-6) have a 10-day break before their Dec. 10 road game against the New York Giants
D-Law Regains NFL Sack Lead In Win Over Washington
With two sacks in Thursday’s win over Washington, Lawrence (13.5) moved past Minnesota’s Everson Griffen and Arizona’s Chandler Jones (12.0) for the league lead. The Vikings and Cardinals both play Sunday.
The Cowboys sacked Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins four times, and Thursday marked Lawrence’s third multiple-sack game of the season.
Lawrence credited the Cowboys’ coverage in the secondary for giving him extra time to get to Cousins.
“The DBs did a hell of a job tonight,” he said.
La'el Collins Active For Thursday Night Football Against Washington
(Nov. 30, 5:11 p.m.) – La’el Collins will be active Thursday night as the Cowboys host the Redskins at AT&T Stadium.
For a team that’s been beset by losses in recent weeks, that at least is a bit of good news. Collins didn’t practice at all this week leading up to the game with a back injury, but he has been given the all-clear to start at right tackle.
This will mark a third-straight week the Cowboys are short-handed at linebacker. Lee and Durant were ruled out on Wednesday afternoon, as Lee is still recovering from a hamstring injury and Durant suffered a concussion last week.
This is Lee’s third-straight absence after he injured the hamstring in Atlanta on Nov. 12, and it’s his fifth absence on the season.
Other than that, most of the inactives are fairly straightforward. Williams was signed to replace Darren McFadden after his release on Sunday, but he’ll be inactive in his first game on the 53-man roster. Ross has yet to suit up for a game since joining the team on Nov. 11.
Jones just joined the team on Sunday afternoon, but he won’t suit up in his first game with the team. Read
Cowboys' Dec. 10 Game At Giants Moved To Noon (Central)
(Nov. 28; 10:20 a.m.) – The Cowboys’ kickoff time for their Dec. 10 road game against the Giants on FOX has been moved from 3:25 p.m. (Central) to noon, the NFL announced.
The Seahawks-Chargers game has been moved to the 3:25 p.m. spot.
Before facing New York on Dec. 10, the Cowboys are set to host the Redskins on Thursday Night Football this week at AT&T Stadium.
Jerry Jones Believes Rough Stretch Will Only Make Dak Prescott Stronger
The offense has scored only two touchdowns during this three-game losing streak, and Prescott has thrown five interceptions to zero passing TDs.
But Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones continues to be impressed with Prescott’s approach to his job, through the wins and the losses.
"I watch him stand in there, watch how he competes, watch how he prepares,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “You've heard that about him when it's going good, but what you need to know is it's really excelling when it's going bad. He's really focused and he'll do nothing but get better. He's what we want."
The Cowboys will hold their final practice of the week Tuesday leading into Thursday night’s home game against the Washington Redskins.
Garrett Anticipates Zack Martin Getting Back Into Practice Monday; More Updates
The Cowboys’ starting offensive tackles, Tyron Smith (back/groin) and La’el Collins (back), have also been dealing with injuries. Garrett anticipated Smith practicing some Monday but wasn’t sure about Collins.
Martin and linebacker Justin Durant entered concussion protocol after the game. Garrett wasn’t sure how much Durant, the replacement for Sean Lee (hamstring) in the lineup, would practice Monday.
Fellow starting linebacker Anthony Hitchens (groin) isn’t expected to do much in practice, Garrett said.
This is the Cowboys' second practice of Week 13. They host the Redskins at AT&T Stadium on Thursday night.
Datone Jones Welcomes Chance To Compete On Cowboys’ D-Line
The Cowboys’ newly-signed defensive lineman said he arrived at The Star early in the morning, took a physical and then participated Sunday’s practice – the equivalent of a normal Wednesday schedule with the team’s next game set for Thursday night against the Redskins.
Jones has gotten used to change.
The former 2013 first-round pick played his first four NFL seasons with the Packers, recording nine sacks, but the Cowboys are his fourth team this year. He began the 2017 season with the Vikings and has since spent time with the Lions and 49ers, who released him last week.
Jones (6-5, 288) said he primarily has played defensive end on first and second down and moved inside to tackle on third down.
“I’m pretty sure they’re not bringing me here to do anything else but to be that, and to hopefully utilize my abilities,” he said. “Keep coming in here and competing. This is a great group of guys.”
The Cowboys released kicker Mike Nugent to make room for Jones on the roster. Clearly, they’re looking for additional depth on the defensive line to help them end a three-game losing streak.
“We liked him a lot coming out in the draft and really just want to get him in the mix,” head coach Jason Garrett said Sunday morning. “Want to get him out at practice today and just see how he fits and we feel like he has some versatility in our evaluation of him when he came out of school. And so we’ll just see how he’ll practices and where he can fit in our defensive front.”
Garrett Updates Injury Status Of Martin, Durant, Lee
Durant has started at linebacker in place of Sean Lee (hamstring) the last two games. Lee injured his hamstring Nov. 12 at Atlanta and hasn’t practiced or played since.
The Cowboys will return to practice Sunday to begin preparations for Thursday’s home game against the Redskins.
“No real declaration about his playing status right now, but he is making progress,” Garrett said of Lee.
Jerry Jones Believes Season Can Be Salvaged Despite Struggles
(Nov. 24; 11 a.m.) – A day after the Cowboys’ third consecutive blowout loss, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones acknowledged the team’s comprehensive struggles but expressed optimism that the season isn’t lost.
“We’re not a good team right now,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “I really will tell you – and this is some hopeful but it’s also some factual -- we can really salvage this thing.
“I look at our schedule, I look at where we are with our talent. I’ve seen it before – I’ve seen these guys play at levels, each one of them individually, that allows me to think this way. If I’ve never seen it, then that would be different on an individual basis or as a team.
“All of that’s what it is. We know that you have to go out and do it and you don’t have a lot of time to do it. Not only is the season coming fast, but so is next week.”
The Cowboys (4-6) don’t have their typical 10-day break after Thanksgiving. They’ll return to practice Sunday to begin prep for next Thursday’s opponent, the Redskins (5-6), who beat the Giants on Thanksgiving.
Jones again supported head coach Jason Garrett and his staff but emphasized improvement is needed in many different areas.
“We’ve got to have better offense. We’ve got to play better defense,” Jones said. “We’ve got to really do a better job of coaching it up. We’ve got to do a better job of general managing it up. We’ve just got to do a better job.”
Tyron Smith Returns For O-Line, But Martin Leaves Game With Injury
Joe Looney replaced Martin in the lineup.
Martin has not missed a start in his four-year career. The Cowboys play next Thursday at AT&T Stadium against the Redskins.
Linebacker Justin Durant, who replaced inactive starter Sean Lee (hamstring) on Thursday, also was shaken up late in the fourth quarter and walked off the field with team athletic trainers.
Tyron Smith, Dan Bailey & Anthony Hitchens All Active Against Chargers
There had been concerns about all three veterans as the Cowboys prepared for their annual Thanksgiving game. All three of them have been battling groin injuries – Bailey since Oct. 22, Smith since Nov. 5 and Hitchens since Sunday.
There had been concerns over three players this week, but all three are healthy enough to suit up and play.
It isn’t all good news, though. The Cowboys ruled Sean Lee out with his hamstring injury on Wednesday, and he leads the inactives list, along with Mike Nugent, Darren McFadden, Bené Benwikere, Justin March-Lillard, Daniel Ross and Blake Jarwin.
There was some thought that March-Lillard would be active this week, to help compensate for the loss of Lee. Instead, it appears that the coaching staff has chosen to activate Chaz Green as a result of injuries. Aside from Smith’s groin injury, La’el Collins showed up on the injury report with a back problem this week.
Benwikere is inactive this week as a result of Jeff Heath’s return from injury. Heath suffered a concussion in the loss to Atlanta and missed Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. With Heath returning, and Chidobe Awuzie also healthy, the Cowboys had sufficient numbers in the secondary.
With Lee once again sitting out, look for Hitchens to man his spot at weak side linebacker. Justin Durant will likely start at middle linebacker, with Jaylon Smith helping him handle that workload.
The Chargers’ inactives are quarterback Cardale Jones, wide receiver Geremy Davis, running back Branden Oliver, linebacker James Onwualu, offensive tackle Michael Ola, tight end Sean Culkin and defensive end Jerry Attaochu.
Chargers' Bosa Thought He'd Be A Cowboy "For Sure" Prior To 2016 Draft
“I thought I was going to be Cowboy for sure. I was pretty convinced,” Bosa said. “That’s where I wanted to be originally. I thought it was a great fit for me.”
The Chargers took Bosa one pick early at No. 3 overall. At No. 4, the Cowboys selected Bosa’s college teammate Ezekiel Elliott.
The 2016 draft has worked out well for both teams.
Bosa has 21 sacks in 26 career games with the Chargers, and he ranks second in the NFL this season with 10.5 entering Thursday’s game at AT&T Stadium.
Elliott, who is currently suspended, led the league in rushing last year. He's the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense when on the field.
The Cowboys could get left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) back Thursday to face Bosa and fellow Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram, who has 8.5 sacks this season.
“He’s obviously one of the elite left tackles in the NFL,” Bosa said of Smith.
Sean Lee Absent From Tuesday's Practice; Tyron Smith Participating
(Nov. 21, 11:16 a.m.) – Sean Lee was the only absentee from the Cowboys’ Tuesday morning practice, as they continued their shortened week to get ready for the Chargers.
Given the shortened week, Tuesday’s practice looked more like a walkthrough. The Cowboys didn’t wear pads or helmets, as they’re still just two days removed from Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia.
That said, it was worth noting that Tyron Smith was on hand at practice and took reps during the offense’s early walkthrough. The All-Pro left tackle has missed the last two games with a groin strain, but the Cowboys are optimistic he might be able to play on Thanksgiving.
Anthony Hitchens and Dan Bailey were also present at practice, leaving Lee as the only major injury concern who didn’t participate Tuesday. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones ruled Lee out of Thursday’s game on Tuesday morning, as the All-Pro linebacker is just 10 days removed from a hamstring strain.
Cowboys Looking To Solve Second-Half Woes In Last Two Losses
(Nov. 20; 6:50 p.m.) – The difference is distinct, and it’s alarming.
In their last two losses to the Falcons and Eagles, the Cowboys have been outscored 17-16 in the first half. In the second half, they’ve been shut out 47-0.
In their previous eight games, the Cowboys endured a scoreless third quarter four times, including three losses to the Broncos, Rams and Packers. But never a scoreless fourth quarter, and never a full second half without points.
What else has changed?
“We simply haven’t been able to sustain the execution,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “Trust me, we look our ourselves first as coaches, the position we’re putting our players in, and you have to look at the actual execution by the players. In each of the phases, we haven’t done what we needed to do the last couple of weeks.”
Garrett cited the Cowboys’ last victory, Nov. 5 against the Chiefs, as the template for getting back on track. On two straight drives before and after halftime, Kansas City scored 14 unanswered points to take a 17-14 lead.
“But then at that point, we did what we needed to do,” Garrett said. “We made stops on defense and scored on offense to win 28-17. In each of the last three weeks there are good examples of doing it the right way. Kansas City was probably the most challenging situation that we had and then the last couple weeks simply not doing it the right way – not playing 60 minutes. We have to understand the importance of executing throughout the ballgame.”
Dan Bailey (Groin) Kicking Again, Hopes To Be Back “Soon”
Bailey was inactive for the fourth straight game Sunday. Afterward he said he “felt good” kicking and hopes to be back “soon,” but he didn’t speculate on a return date. The Cowboys play again Thursday at home against the L.A. Chargers.
“Not to sound cliché, but it’s still kind of a day-by-day thing,” Bailey said. “I’m just following the program that (associate athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation) Britt (Brown) and (head athletic trainer) Jim (Maurer) and those guys got for me as far as rehab goes.”
Kicking in Bailey’s place, Mike Nugent was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and accounted for all of the Cowboys’ points in a 37-9 loss.
Anthony Hitchens Injures Groin, Will Be Reevaluated Monday
Hitchens started at Lee’s weak-side linebacker spot against the Eagles but left due to injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 37-9 loss. He will be re-evaluated Monday.
The Cowboys are scheduled to hold a walkthrough Monday and begin prep for Thursday’s game against the L.A. Chargers at AT&T Stadium.
Last week, Garrett said Lee could miss “some time” with his hamstring injury. Hitchens has been their second-most productive linebacker since returning in October from a knee injury.
The prospect of playing without both on Thanksgiving would be a significant blow to their linebacker depth.
With Hitchens playing the weak side, Justin Durant started at middle linebacker and Jaylon Smith rotated in throughout the game.
Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Darren McFadden All Ruled Inactive For Philadelphia Game
(Nov. 19; 6:10 p.m.) – As expected, Tyron Smith has been ruled inactive for Sunday night’s division game against Philadelphia.
All eyes have been on Smith throughout this week, as the All-Pro tackle has tried to get himself ready to play against the 8-1 Eagles after suffering a groin strain on Nov. 5. Smith missed last week’s loss to Atlanta, and the Cowboys promptly surrendered six sacks from the left tackle position.
The Cowboys will have to hope for better results without Smith, as Byron Bell will instead get the start on the left side. The team announced its other six inactive players as Dan Bailey, Darren McFadden, Jeff Heath, Sean Lee, Daniel Ross and Blake Jarwin.
Bailey and Lee were ruled out on Friday, as the duo is still coping with lower body injuries. Bailey strained his groin in the Oct. 22 win against San Francisco and has been missing for the past month, while Lee exited last week’s game against Atlanta with a hamstring injury.
The loss of Smith, Bailey and Lee, coupled with the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, will leave the Cowboys without four Pro Bowl players as they seek to earn an upset of their divisional rivals.
The decision to sit McFadden comes as a bit of a surprise, given that Ezekiel Elliott is still in the midst of his six-game NFL suspension. McFadden was active for the first time this season last week against Atlanta, but the coaching staff ultimately decided he wasn’t needed for this game.
Jeff Heath didn’t practice this week after he suffered a concussion during the loss to Atlanta. Rookie safety Xavier Woods will start in Heath’s place, and rookie defensive back Chidobe Awuzie will be active for the first time since Oct. 8 to help fill out the depth chart in the secondary.
Ross was signed off the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad last week to help fill Elliott’s hole on the 53-man roster, so it’s not surprising to see him inactive during his first game with the team. Jarwin is also inactive, as Geoff Swaim returned from a knee injury this week.
Jerry Says Ezekiel Elliott “Will Come Back Better” After Suspension
(Nov. 17; 1:30 p.m.) – When Ezekiel Elliott decided this week to drop the appeal of his six-game NFL suspension, the Cowboys learned for certain that their All-Pro running back won’t return to the field until Dec. 24 at Seattle.
Speaking Friday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Elliott will “be fresh when he gets back, both physically and mentally,” after a long legal process.
“We all need a freshening up, and this will be a good time for him to do it,” Jones said. “He hates that he's not with his teammates. We hate he's not with everybody. It's unfortunate. It wasn’t fair, but it's what it is. He will come back better."
Tight end Jason Witten praised Elliott for remaining focused on football while working to clear his name against allegations of domestic violence by a former girlfriend. The league suspended Elliott six games back in August despite Elliott never being criminally charged.
Elliott can't have contact with the organization or be at the team facility during his suspension.
“I was really impressed with how Zeke went about it, that process,” Witten said. “I know that he and his team were trying to fight for what they felt was right, and I think he went about it the right way. I respect his decision and his team’s decision and I know that he’s going to do everything in his power to get back when his number gets called here in four weeks to be in the best shape and mindset he can be to help us down the stretch. And hopefully we’re holding up our end to be in position that we can be in the hunt when he gets back.
“I know what it wasn’t easy for him. He’s a young player, he’s a young guy. To be thrown in that, out in the public eye. But I really do respect how he went about it.”
Tyron Smith Returns To Practice For First Time In Two Weeks
There’s been no shortage of scrutiny about the Cowboys’ All-Pro left tackle since he strained his groin in their Nov. 5 win against Kansas City. Smith sat out of last week’s loss to Atlanta, in which his replacements surrendered seven sacks.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday that Smith would participate in the early going of practice, but he wasn’t yet sure how much he would do.
“We anticipate Tyron doing something in the early part of practice today, working through some individuals,” Garrett said. “We’ll just see how he is and see what his availability is for the ball game.”
It’s too soon to say if Smith will be available, but getting him onto the practice field for the first time in two weeks has to be seen as a positive development.
Supportive Words From Dak Help Chaz Green Move Past LT Struggles
He’s doing his best to focus on what he can control now: cleaning up the technique breakdowns that led to multiple sacks on quarterback Dak Prescott.
He’s gotten plenty of support from his teammates this week, including Prescott.
“It was good hearing from him,” Green said. “He was like, just keep working and just continue to get better.”
Green remains confident he will be productive whenever he’s asked to fill in again.
“I’m a guy that kind of stays within myself,” he said. “Whether it’s good or bad, you’re not going to see much change out of me. Just been focusing on getting better, ignoring all the noise and just trying to master my craft.”
Even When Injured, Teammates See Lee Approach Week “Same Way”
But Lee always helps the defense where he can, even if he’s not currently on the field.
“Same way. Nothing really changes,” fellow linebacker Justin Durant said. “He’s just not out there physically. He’s still in the morning meetings when we’re game-planning, giving suggestions on what to do on certain types of plays, helping out whoever’s in to try to make sure they’re in the best position.
“That’s just how he is. It doesn’t really change. From the meeting room to the field, he’s the same all the time and you’ve got to respect it.”
Lee’s diligent study habits are well-documented; it’s a major factor in his rise to All-Pro status. For however long he’s out, the Cowboys will have to replace his communication and production at the linebacker spot.
Four Starters Sit Out Of Wednesday's Practice
(Nov. 15; 11:58 p.m.) – The Cowboys were without four starters as they held their first practice of Week 11 on Wednesday morning.
Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant and Jeff Heath were all absent from the practice field with various injuries. Smith hasn’t been a Wednesday participant for most of this season, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he wouldn’t practice as he continues to rehab a groin injury.
Heath was in the concussion protocol this week after taking a hit in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. He didn’t suit up for Wednesday’s practice, but he did come out to the practice field to watch the proceedings from the sideline.
Bryant was hampered by a knee injury all last week, and he appears to be continuing to rehab that problem.
Sean Lee was technically present at Wednesday’s practice, after suffering a hamstring injury that forced him out of Sunday’s game, but he did not pad up and was instead working on rehabbing the injury with the Cowboys’ training staff.
There were some positive developments for the Cowboys’ younger players. Geoff Swaim returned to practice on Wednesday after suffering a knee injury last week that sidelined him for the game against the Falcons. Chidobe Awuzie was also present and participating in practice. Awuzie participated in practice last week but was ultimately a healthy scratch for last week’s game.
Tyron Smith Not Expected To Practice Wed.; Rico Gathers Making Strides
Starting safety Jeff Heath remains in concussion protocol and isn’t expected to practice Wednesday either, Garrett said.
All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee is also dealing with a hamstring injury, and Garrett said Monday that Lee could miss “some time.”
Wednesday, Garrett said first-year tight end Rico Gathers is “making strides” in his recovery on Injured/Reserve. Gathers suffered a concussion in training camp and has spent the entire season on IR.
“He’s been in meetings here the last couple days,” Garrett said. “We do anticipate him doing something physically. I don’t know how much he’s going to practice today, but he’s certainly making strides and he looks good.”
Why Jason Garrett Didn’t Consider Resting Prescott Late In Lopsided Loss
Monday, reporters asked head coach Jason Garrett if he was ever close to substituting out Prescott late in the game, trailing 27-7, with the idea of avoiding potential injury to his second-year starter.
“We weren’t close at all,” Garrett said.
“Because we play for 60 minutes,” Garrett said.
Indeed, Prescott and the team wanted to finish the game strong despite the lopsided score. On the Falcons’ next-to-last possession, leading 27-7, the Cowboys used all three of their timeouts to stop the clock and get the ball back with 3:48 remaining.
The Cowboys’ next drive ended with a sack/fumble on Prescott, recovered by Falcons rookie Takkarist McKinley. They got the ball back once more with 1:01 left and Prescott handed off twice to end the game.
“With that much time to go in the game, you have to keep playing,” Garrett said. “We had three timeouts, they got it with just over four minutes to go, we needed to get a stop there. We needed to stop them, call a timeout, stop them, call a timeout, stop them, call a timeout, and get the ball back. And see what the heck happens from there.
“The later drive, when there’s a minute to go in the ballgame, we’re out there, we hand the ball off a couple times, and we get out of dodge. We’re going to keep competing. We’re going to keep playing for 60 minutes.”
Scandrick Explains Sideline Talk With Garrett Late In Sunday's Loss
Scandrick, a 10-year veteran, showed no disrespect to Garrett. As a defensive captain and leader, he was simply expressing the need for the Cowboys to finish games strong regardless of the score.
“When I look across (the field) and I see No. 82 (tight end Jason Witten) and we’re down by 20 points, he’s still out there catching balls,” Scandrick said. “When I go back and I think about when No. 94 DeMarcus Ware played here and we’re down by big leads, he was still out there playing. It comes a point if you’re healthy you’ve got to be out there playing and you’ve got to want to get better and use these reps. That’s all the conversation was about.
“I feel like me and Coach Garrett have that type of relationship where I can go speak to him. Whether the camera was on it or not, that is what it is. But he knows I’m not disrespecting him. I’m not disrespectful to him. I’ve got the upmost respect for him.”
Garrett and Scandrick do have that type of healthy player-coach relationship. Garrett has called Scandrick’s competitiveness and leadership vital to the defense and the team.
Falcons Capitalize After Hamstring Injury Sidelines Sean Lee Once Again
In October, they endured their only two-game losing streak of the season when Lee sat out with a hamstring injury. In Sunday’s 27-7 loss to Atlanta, the starting linebacker and defensive captain hurt his hamstring once again in the first half and did not return. First-year linebacker Jaylon Smith replaced him.
The Falcons went on to rush for 132 yards, including 83 yards and a touchdown from Tevin Coleman after starter Devonta Freeman left with a concussion in the first quarter.
“He’s the leader of the defense. So there’s automatically going to be a void when you don’t have the captain of your defense out there,” Smith said. “But there’s no excuses. At the end of the day, the next man up, you’ve got to do your job and you’ve got to execute.”
A timetable for Lee’s return hasn’t been announced. The Cowboys are about to enter their annual Thanksgiving stretch of two games in 11 days, starting next Sunday at AT&T Stadium against the first-place Eagles. Four days later is the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Chargers.
Darren McFadden Active For First Time In 2017; Dez Bryant Active
(Nov. 12, 3:13 p.m.) – As expected, Tyron Smith will be inactive Sunday when the Cowboys take on the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Cowboys officially listed Smith as inactive for Week 10, along with Dan Bailey, Chidobe Awuzie, Justin Durant, Justin March-Lillard, Geoff Swaim and newly-signed defensive tackle Daniel Ross. Not among the inactives for Week 10 was Dez Bryant, who will play after fighting through a knee injury suffered last week against Kansas City.
Smith’s absence means Chaz Green will get the start at left tackle, marking his third career start at that position. Green filled in for Smith twice last season when the All-Pro tackle was dealing with back issues.
Sunday will also serve as the 2017 debut for Darren McFadden, who had been inactive the other nine weeks of the season. Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games by the NFL on Thursday, after a lengthy court battle. That decision prompted the Cowboys to activate McFadden, alongside Alfred Morris and Rod Smith, to help fill Elliott’s place in the lineup.
Awuzie is inactive for the fourth-straight game, as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. The rookie defensive back participated in the team portion of practice this week, but the coaching staff ultimately felt it wasn’t enough to activate him for the game.
Swaim injured his knee in Thursday’s practice and didn’t practice on Friday. The Cowboys ruled him out on Saturday afternoon.
The team signed Ross over the weekend to fill the roster spot vacated by Elliott. Ross is coming to Dallas from Kansas City’s practice squad, and he is not in Atlanta for the game.
Tyron Smith Ruled Out For Sunday; Chaz Green "Confident" At LT
Now that Smith has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Atlanta, Green is in line to start.
“I feel confident going in there,” Green said after Friday’s practice, with Smith’s status for Week 10 still uncertain at that point.
On Saturday the Cowboys downgraded Smith from “questionable” to “out.” The All-Pro left tackle started the first eight games of the season despite some recurring back tightness, but a groin injury sidelined him all this past week.
Green, a third-year pro who started the first three games at left guard, says he’s most comfortable at tackle, his college position. Veteran Byron Bell offers additional depth at tackle.
Green had two solid starts for Smith at left tackle last season and entered the game for Smith in the fourth quarter last Sunday.
“Just the fact that he’s played there,” head coach Jason Garrett said earlier in the week. “He’s been in this situation before and when we put him in he functioned well and he executed well when he had those opportunities. That certainly helps you when you’re a young player.”
Cowboys' Defense Building Momentum, But Facing Another Challenge Sunday
This Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons present a new challenge.
Atlanta isn’t on the same torrid pace as last year, when they won the NFC Championship – their scoring average has dropped from 33.8 to 21.2 – but they still have reigning MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones and the complementary running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee believes consistency against a team like Atlanta is the greatest measure of a defense.
“That was a tough offense we played (last week),” Lee said. “Anytime you play a great offense, the margin for error is smaller. You can’t make mistakes, you can’t give them anything, and you have to be at your best. That’s the same this week with the type of offense they have, the type of weapons they have across the entire offense. It’s going to be a tough test.”
Swaim Undergoes MRI For Knee Injury; Debut for Jarwin?
Jason Garrett said on Friday that tight end Geoff Swaim injured his knee in practice on Thursday and has undergone an MRI. At the time of his press conference, Garrett didn't have more details on the injury. Swaim obviously did not practice on Friday and his status for Sunday’s game in Atlanta is up in the air.
If he doesn’t play, the Cowboys would likely activate rookie Blake Jarwin, who was signed from the practice squad two weeks ago when other teams attempted to sign him to its roster. Jarwin has been inactive the last two weeks but that could change Sunday.
In other tight end news, Garrett said Rico Gathers could start working back into practice but it’s unclear whether or not the Cowboys would activate him from IR to the active roster before the end of the season. Full Injury Report
Dez Bryant Plans To Practice Friday, Hopeful Of Playing Sunday vs. Falcons
Will he play Sunday against the Falcons?
“We’re going to see,” Bryant said. “Me, in my eyes, the way that I feel, yeah, of course I’m going to be on the field Sunday. But it’s not just up to me.”
Bryant said he’s getting treatment and working with the team’s athletic training staff. He got injured against the Chiefs last Sunday after catching 6 passes for 73 yards.
The 28-17 win over Kansas City extended Dallas’ winning streak to three games.
“We’re on a roll to do something good,” Bryant said. “Got to be a part of that. Want to be a part of that. The way that I feel now, I expect to go (Sunday).”
Elliott Excused From Practice To Attend Appeals Hearing
(Nov. 9; 11 a.m.) – Running back Ezekiel Elliott has been excused from Thursday’s practice to attend his suspension appeal hearing with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. (Eastern). It’s uncertain when the Second Circuit will make a ruling.
Last Friday, the Second Circuit granted Elliott a brief administrative stay of his six-game NFL suspension that allows him to practice and play until the court rules on the appeal. On behalf of Elliott, the NFL Players Association is seeking a preliminary injunction that would further block the league’s suspension.
“He had a good day yesterday, and we talked about what his logistics were and what his role was going to be,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We anticipate him coming back tonight. I don’t know when the decision is going to come down, but he’ll come back and participate to the extent that he can until they tell us otherwise.”
The Cowboys will practice Friday before traveling to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday.
Elliott began serving his suspension last week for two days of practice and returned last Friday when the court granted a stay. He rushed for 93 yards against the Chiefs, and Garrett continued to be impressed with his focus and preparation in the midst of his legal matters
Awuzie (Hamstring) Goes Through First Full Practice Since Oct. 6
The Cowboys’ second-round pick has missed the last three games, including four of the last six, with a hamstring injury. Wednesday marked his first full practice since Oct. 6 before the bye week.
“Definitely the longest I’ve sat in my career,” he said. “The only time I’ve ever been hurt was usually the last game of the season in college and even in high school, and then I had the whole offseason to recover. This is kind of new during the season.”
Awuzie has dealt with a hamstring strain off and on since training camp. The rookie cornerback played some safety against the Packers on Oct. 8 before exiting due to hamstring tightness. The Cowboys have been deliberate with his rehab, looking to ensure he won’t have a setback when he returns.
Awuzie has stayed patient. He didn’t speculate on whether he’ll be available Sunday against the Falcons.
“I’m feeling good right now,” he said. “Hopefully my hamstring stays strong and my body stays strong. I’m going to keep trusting the trainers to do that for me.”
(Nov. 8; 11:15 a.m.) – Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said there’s a “strong likelihood” running back Ezekiel Elliott will attend his hearing with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, though a final decision has not been made as of Wednesday morning.
The Cowboys are set to practice Thursday. If Elliott is excused from practice to attend the hearing in New York, he’d likely be back for Friday’s practice if still eligible to participate.
“If he’s not (here Thursday), we’ll just proceed with the other guys,” Garrett said. “If he is, he’ll obviously practice.”
Elliott was suspended for two days of practice last week until the Second Circuit granted him a brief administrative stay of his six-game NFL suspension last Friday. The stay allows him to play and practice until the Second Circuit rules whether to grant him a preliminary injunction further blocking his suspension.
Dak, Zeke Earn Weekly Award Nominations
Ezekiel Elliott was nominated as a finalist for the FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Week. Zeke rushed for 93 yards and two scores in the 28-17 win over the Chiefs. He was nominated along with Arizona’s Adrian Peterson (159 yards) and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (152 all-purpose yards).
Fans can visit NFL.com/FedEx or tweet using #AirandGround and the nominees’ last name to cast their vote. FedEx and the NFL will announce the winners every Thursday afternoon and then FedEx will award a $2,000 donation in the winning players’ names to The USO.
Fans may vote for one of these five performers on www.nfl.com/castrol-edge through Friday afternoon to determine the CASTROL EDGE CLUTCH PERFORMER OF THE WEEK. The winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and then posted on NFL.com.
Elliott's Second Circuit Hearing On Injunction Set For Thursday
(Nov. 6, 11:10 a.m.) – The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled a Thursday hearing on the NFL Players Association’s petition for an emergency preliminary injunction that would keep Ezekiel Elliott eligible to play, according to NFL.com and reports.
Last Friday, the Second Circuit granted Elliott a brief administrative stay of his six-game NFL suspension that allowed him to play against the Chiefs on Sunday before a hearing on the injunction request was officially scheduled.
Elliott had 27 carries for 93 yards in the Cowboys’ 28-17 win over the Chiefs.
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. (Eastern) in New York. Monday, head coach Jason Garrett said he anticipates Elliott being able to practice and play until a ruling is made. The Cowboys next play at Atlanta this Sunday.
"We anticipate him being here tomorrow and practicing through the week until there's some decision made," Garrett said. "But again, we're going to focus on what we can control in that situation. Zeke's done a really good job of that. And until someone tells us otherwise, we'll proceed accordingly."
Dez Bryant Says Ankle Just “Sore”; Brian Price Leaves With Knee Injury
“Everything is stable; my ankle is stable. It’s just going to be sore,” he said. “As the week goes on and progresses I’ll feel better.”
Bryant had 6 catches for 73 yards in the Cowboys’ 28-17 victory, including a critical 21-yard catch on third-and-15 that kept a drive going in the second quarter. Quarterback Dak Prescott ran for a 10-yard touchdown four plays later for a 14-3 lead just before halftime.
Defensive tackle Brian Price might be looking at an extended absence, however. Price needed crutches after the game due to a left knee injury in the second half that forced him to limp off the field with help of the athletic training staff. He said he suspected a minor dislocation of his kneecap, but he didn't have an official diagnosis from the Cowboys yet.
Dan Bailey, Noah Brown Headline Cowboys' Week 9 Inactives
(Nov. 5, 2:00 p.m.) – Another week, another straightforward group of Cowboys’ inactives.
That’s got to come as a relief for the Cowboys, after seeing several notable names on the injury report this week. DeMarcus Lawrence, Dez Bryant and Maliek Collins were all dealing with minor injuries this week, but all three players are active for this game.
The Chiefs' inactives are quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receiver Albert Wilson, linebacker Ramik Wilson, linebacker Dee Ford, guard Jordan Devey, offensive lineman Parker Ehinger and defensive lineman Jarvis Jones.
Most of the Cowboys' seven inactives aren’t particularly surprising. Bailey is still recovering from a groin strain, which means Mike Nugent will be the Cowboys’ kicker for a second-straight week, after going 4-of-5 last weekend in Washington.
It looked like Darren McFadden might make his 2017 debut back when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. But Elliott’s reinstatement on Friday morning means McFadden will once again be relegated to the bench, with Alfred Morris and Rod Smith serving as Elliott’s backups today.
Awuzie is inactive for the third-straight game after re-aggravating a hamstring injury back on Oct. 8 against Green Bay. The rookie defensive back hasn’t seen much action this season, as the hamstring injury flared up back in Week 2. To this point, he has appeared in just three of eight games.
Noah Brown’s inclusion on the inactive list is somewhat surprising, given that he has been on the 46-man roster for most of the season. But a sixth wide receiver is always a bit of a luxury on a game day roster, and Brown was battling a thigh injury during practice this week.
The Cowboys have finally had some good health at the linebacker position this season, with Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson and Kyle Wilber all available to play in this game. That means Durant will make room for players elsewhere on the roster.
Jerry Jones: Ezekiel Elliott Being Treated Unfairly
(Nov. 3, 6:19 p.m.) – However unlikely it might have been that Ezekiel Elliott would be granted a stay of his suspension, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he never lost hope on the matter.
Asked about that on Friday evening, Jones’ reasoning was straightforward.
“I know that he’s being treated unfairly,” he said. “And so hopefully that’ll manifest itself in this process, as opposed to getting to manifest itself in the legal process.”
It has been two months since Elliott’s legal saga against the NFL began, following the league’s decision to give him a six-game suspension over allegations of domestic violence. It has been more than a year since the issue was first raised, when the NFL announced it would hold its own investigation into the allegations.
Throughout that time, Jones has been steadfast in his assertion that Elliott has done nothing to merit the suspension the league wants him to serve. It was a stance he reiterated Friday, hours after Elliott was granted the stay that will allow him to play Sunday.
“Make no mistake about it: there is zero tolerance, complete zero tolerance by me and by the Cowboys about domestic violence. Complete zero tolerance,” he said. “I know the complete facts, as it’s presented, of anything the NFL knows about it. And he’s not being treated fairly.”
Due to this latest twist in the case, Jones will be able to watch his star running back play against Kansas City on Sunday – but there are no guarantees beyond that. Jones declined to comment on next week’s Second Circuit court hearing, which may determine Elliott’s fate for the rest of the season.
For the time being, though, he’s happy to have him back.
“I do feel like it’s a good thing for our team and a good thing for our year to have him playing against the Chiefs,” he said. “They’re one of the top teams we’ll play.”
With Elliott Currently Suspended, Cowboys Sign RB To Practice Squad
Williams, undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2015, spent a month on the Cowboys’ roster that season. He has two career carries for 12 yards with the Colts in 2015, and he most recently went to training camp with the Steelers.
To make room for Williams, the Cowboys waived DE Stansly Maponga, who was recently signed to the practice squad.
Romo Set To Call Cowboys-Chiefs For CBS; Dak Thankful For His Advice
“He’s great. He’s excellent,” Prescott said Wednesday after the Cowboys completed their first practice of the week in preparation for the Chiefs.
Romo has drawn widespread praise for his analysis alongside Jim Nantz, and Prescott said he’s looking forward to seeing Romo in the CBS production meeting, a weekly occurrence in which the broadcast team visits with players from both teams leading up to the game.
Prescott said he last caught up with Romo during Jerry Jones’ Hall of Fame induction party in Canton, Ohio.
“Hopefully he doesn’t call out and guess too many of our plays,” Prescott joked. “He’ll still be very familiar with them. So hopefully he can stay away from that this week.”
Prescott, of course, replaced Romo due to injury last August and kept the starting job all season with Romo accepting a backup role. After the season, the Cowboys granted Romo his release to pursue broadcasting opportunities.
Prescott said Romo’s advice was helpful in so many ways, “and in a lot of ways it can’t be replaced.”
“Just his experience, that alone,” Prescott said. “We’d be on the field and we’d score two possessions and he’d tell me something simple like, ‘Expect this defensive coordinator to throw this game plan out the window. He’s about to blitz you, he’s about to do something completely different to stop you.’ Things like that. And in the locker room, things off the field that may come up that he dealt with that only he could help me with.”
Three Players Absent From First Practice Of Week 9
(Nov. 1, 12:13 p.m.) – Three players were absent Wednesday as the Cowboys got into their first practice of Week 9, ahead of Sunday’s game against Kansas City.
Tyron Smith, Cole Beasley and Dan Bailey were all absent from the open portion of practice on Wednesday morning. Ezekiel Elliott was also absent, as he is now serving the six-game NFL suspension he has been fighting against since the start of the regular season.
None of these absences are particularly surprising. Smith has been resting on Wednesdays for much of the regular season, as he works against a back injury that has bothered him – but has not prevented him from playing in any games. Bailey is still recovering from the groin strain he suffered 10 days ago in San Francisco.
Beasley left last week’s win against Washington with a concussion. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sounded optimistic about his prospects, even though the veteran receiver is not practicing Wednesday.
“I don’t think he’s had many symptoms or side effects from the hit that he took on Sunday,” Garrett said. “He’s feeling good, he’s been in meetings. But he will not practice.”
Chido Awuzie was present in the early going of practice. The rookie defensive back has participated in the open portion of practice for several weeks, but he has yet to mix into the full-team work as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Garrett said he thought Awuzie would be a limited participant Wednesday. If so, it would be his largest workload since re-aggravating the injury in the Oct. 8 loss to Green Bay.
Trade Deadline Passes With No Deals Made By Cowboys
(Oct. 31; 4:50 p.m.) -- The 3 p.m. (Central) NFL trading deadline passed Tuesday without a deal made by the Cowboys.
Speaking on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he did not anticipate a trade by the deadline, though he said the front office had internal discussions on ways to help the offense in the wake of Monday's court ruling that denied a preliminary injunction for running back Ezekiel Elliott, thus reinstating his six-game suspension.
Cowboys To Work Out Defensive End; Help At The Trade Deadline?
(Oct. 31; 9:30 a.m.) – Speaking on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he’s “not really” anticipating a move by the team at Tuesday’s 3 p.m. NFL trade deadline – but he did acknowledge the front office is discussing ways to help the offense if indeed Ezekiel Elliott begins serving his six-game suspension.
On Monday, Judge Katherine Polk Failla of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Elliott a preliminary injunction that would have blocked the suspension. Judge Failla granted a 24-hour stay of the suspension to allow the NFLPA to consider appeal options on behalf of Elliott.
“With the trade deadline here, we’re trying to look if there’s anything that we can better bolster up our overall roster as to that impact,” Jones said. “And that doesn’t necessarily mean at running back, but it could be a way to add a little dimension to the offense.”
Those types of discussions are not uncommon, particularly so close to the trade deadline, but it doesn’t mean a deal will materialize.
Jones also confirmed reports that the Cowboys are working out free agent defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, who was released by the Giants in August. Odighizuwa appeared in 18 games for New York over the last two seasons, recording six tackles.
Garrett: Elliott "Controlling What He Can Control" Regarding Suspension Case
(Oct. 30; 3:45 p.m.) – Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys have been through this process plenty over the last several weeks, and the approach remains the same: control what they can control.
The All-Pro running back is attending Monday’s appeal hearing for a potential preliminary injunction – a measure that, if granted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, would continue blocking the NFL’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
If the injunction isn’t granted, it would pave the way for Elliott’s suspension to be reinstated. It’s uncertain when the court will make a ruling after Monday’s hearing ends.
“We’ll take it one day at a time and see what his situation is, and regardless, we’ll go forward and try to play our best football,” Garrett said Monday.
“There’s so many things in our lives we can’t control, so we focus on the things we can. I think Zeke is a great example of that. He’s done a really good job all throughout the offseason and up to this point in the season of controlling what he can control, which is his preparation, how he practices each and every day and ultimately how he plays on Sunday.”
The players are off Monday following their 33-19 road victory over the Redskins. Garrett said Elliott was “outstanding” in the game with 33 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including 14 carries in the Cowboys’ final 16 plays as they attempted to run out the clock on their division rivals.
Cole Beasley Exits Game Early Due To Concussion
Beasley, the offense’s primary slot receiver, had two catches for eight yards. He was slammed to the ground after his final catch of just four yards and didn't return to action.
“He looked like he was walking around pretty good afterwards, but he was not able to come back,” head coach Jason Garrett said.
Lawrence’s Sack Streak Now At Seven Games
Lawrence became the seventh player in NFL history and only the second Cowboys player (DeMarcus Ware; 2008) to post a sack in the first seven games of a season since sacks became official in 1982.
Lawrence also recovered a fumble forced by defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford at the start of the second half.
“That’s the main thing – when opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to go out and take advantage of it, and that’s what we did,” Lawrence said.
With 2 More Sacks, Irving Has "Hands On" Game
Despite playing just three games this year, Irving already has five sacks, including two more on Sunday in a 33-19 win over the Redskins.
Since coming off his four-game suspension, Irving has recorded at least one sack in all three games, along with two first-half sacks on Kirk Cousins in Washington.
“I told him I’m coming for him,” Irving joked about Lawrence, who leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks, including one in all seven games this season. “He just laughed. But we both know we can play off each other. When he does well, I can do well. And the other guys get in there. It’s a good thing.”
Irving used his 6-7 height to his advantage on two other key plays. While Tyrone Crawford got the credit for the field goal block that changed the game, Irving said he got his hand on the ball as well before it landed in Orlando Scandrick’s hands for the 86-yard runback.
“Ty got it first but then it hit my hand, too,” Irving said. “We’re both taking credit for it.”
But it was only Irving’s hand that deflected a Cousins pass late in the game that resulted in a pick-six interception for Byron Jones.
Bailey & Durant Headline Cowboys' Week 8 Inactives
(Oct. 29, 3:12 p.m.) – This is about as unsurprising as the inactives list has been in the past month.
The Cowboys put out their list of seven weekly inactives prior to kickoff against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. They officially ruled out Dan Bailey, Darren McFadden, Chidobe Awuzie, Justin Durant, Justin March-Lillard, Byron Bell and Blake Jarwin.
Injuries have created some uncertainties among the inactives in recent weeks, but the list is pretty straightforward heading into this matchup. Bailey, Awuzie and Durant are all out with injuries. Newly-signed kicker Mike Nugent will fill in for Bailey.
McFadden, March-Lillard and Bell are healthy inactives, which isn’t a surprise at this point. McFadden has been inactive every week this season, with Alfred Morris and Rod Smith serving as Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backups. This is Bell’s second-straight week on the inactive list, as both Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green are healthy and available to play.
March-Lillard was active last week against San Francisco, and he may have been active this week again with Kyle Wilber facing a knee injury. Wilber is apparently good to go, however, which relegates March-Lillard to the sideline for the time being.
Jarwin was called up to the 53-man roster on Thursday, but it was always assumed that the rookie tight end would be inactive. The Cowboys promoted him from the practice squad to prevent him from being signed away by another team.
The Redskins announced cornerback Bashaud Breeland, center Spencer Long, offensive tackle Trent Williams, guard Brandon Scherff, offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, wide receiver Brian Quick and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle as their inactives.
Kellen Moore Moved To Cowboys' Practice Squad
Moore was at practice on Friday morning, as the Cowboys moved the veteran quarterback to their practice squad. The 10-man practice squad had a vacancy after the team promoted tight end Blake Jarwin to the 53-man roster on Thursday.
The Cowboys promoted rookie quarterback Cooper Rush to the backup job last week, and their decision to release Moore cements his status there for at least the time being. The organization values Moore’s ability, though, and is clearly committed to keeping him in the fold.
Taco Charlton Showing Progress As Snap Count Rises
With veteran defensive ends Benson Mayowa and Damontre’ Moore inactive, the Cowboys’ first-round pick played a season-high 37 snaps last Sunday at San Francisco and recorded a tackle and pass deflection.
Moore has since been released. That should mean more opportunity for Charlton, who played only 50 total snaps in the previous three games.
“I want to get him going, got to get him going,” Marinelli said. “The only way he’s going to get better is he’s got to keep playing ball. He does a nice job of working in practice.”
Marinelli wants Charlton to be decisive with his pass-rush movements, putting all the elements of his technique together. More snaps could help him play faster and more proactive, less reactive.
“He’s a young player. He needs to play more,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “But he fought well, he competed well, he was around the ball. Made his presence known a little bit at the line of scrimmage knocking the ball down. So he’s getting there.”
Cowboys Sign Defensive End To Fill Open Practice Squad Spot
(Oct. 26; 9:45 a.m.) – The Cowboys have signed former TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga with their open spot on the 10-man practice squad.
Maponga, a former fifth-round draft pick by Atlanta, has appeared in 26 career games with the Falcons and Giants.
Last week, the Cowboys signed defensive tackle Richard Ash off the practice squad to replace Stephen Paea, who informed the team that he plans to retire.
Three Players Absent From Cowboys' Wednesday Practice
The team held its first practice of the week on Wednesday morning, and Smith was the most notable of three absentees. Dan Bailey was not present during the open portion of the practice, as he works to rehab the groin injury he suffered on Sunday. Newly-signed kicker Mike Nugent was at practice in his place.
Kyle Wilber was also not present during the open portion of practice, as he is dealing with a knee injury.
Smith has been managing a back injury for the past few weeks, although it has not kept him out of any games. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning that the All-Pro tackle is also managing a hip problem.
“He’s dealing with a couple of different things,” Garrett said. “He has the back thing and he also has a little hip thing that flared up throughout the game the other day, so I don’t anticipate him doing much today.”
Last week, Smith was limited at the outset but was practicing fully. Two weeks ago, heading into the game against Green Bay, he didn’t practice at all before eventually suiting up on Sunday.
The Cowboys don’t have a concrete plan for Smith as the season goes along, but it’s a good bet they’ll do what they can to help him get through the week.
“Practice is important. We encourage our guys to practice,” Garrett said. “But at the same there’s a balance there with particular guys and the situations they’re dealing with.”
Zeke Earns Two Award Nominations; Vote Now
For starters, Elliott was nominated as a finalist for the FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Week. Zeke rushed for 147 yards and two scores and caught a 72-yard touchdown as well in the 40-10 win over the 49ers. He was nominated along with Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell (192 all-purpose yards) and Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (131 rushing yards, TD).
Fans can visit NFL.com/FedEx or tweet using #AirandGround and the nominees’ last name to cast their vote. FedEx and the NFL will announce the winners every Thursday afternoon and then FedEx will award a $2,000 donation in the winning players’ names to The USO.
Also, Elliott was one of three finalists for The Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer fo the Week. The other finalists include Philly quarterback Carson Wentz, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, San Diego receiver Travis Benjamin and Chicago safety Eddie Jackson.
Fans may vote for one of these five performers on www.nfl.com/castrol-edge through Friday afternoon to determine the CASTROL EDGE CLUTCH PERFORMER OF THE WEEK. The winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and then posted on NFL.com.
Sean Lee Has Quad Contusion, Expected To Be Ready For Week 8
(Oct. 23, 4:26 p.m.) -- With the obvious exception of Dan Bailey, it sounds like the Cowboys got through Week 7 without any other injuries.
There was some concern about Sean Lee’s health in the second half of the 40-10 win. Lee appeared to be limping in the third quarter, and the coaching staff pulled him in the waning minutes of the game. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the issue wasn’t serious, though.
“He had a quad contusion,” Garrett said. “He was limping at the end of the game. We took him out because we wanted to get the other guys an opportunity to play at the end of the ballgame. We anticipate him being ready this week.”
That should prompt a sigh of relief for the Cowboys, given that Lee had missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Garrett also updated the health of Justin Durant and Chidobe Awuzie, who both sat out of Sunday’s win with injuries. Garrett said both players will likely be limited when practice begins this week.
Elliott Eligible To Play vs. Redskins; Next Appeal Hearing Oct. 30
(Oct. 23; 7:40 a.m.) – Hours after the Cowboys’ 40-10 win at San Francisco, news broke that running back Ezekiel Elliott will be eligible to play this Sunday at Washington following his career-best performance against the 49ers.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla (Southern District of New York) denied the NFL’s petition for an expedited hearing of Elliott’s case, according to NFL.com and reports, meaning the temporary restraining order blocking Elliott’s six-game NFL suspension will last through the Oct. 29 game against the Redskins.
In addition to the temporary restraining order, the NFL Players Association filed for a preliminary injunction that could extend Elliott’s playing eligibility beyond Week 8.
Elliott has played in all six games this season. Against the 49ers, he gained a career-best 219 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns.
Sean Lee Returns As Defense Delivers Complete Performance
Linebacker Sean Lee had five tackles in his return Sunday following a two-game absence due to a hamstring injury.
“I feel great. It’s nice to be back,” he said. “It’s frustrating not being out with the guys, especially because I’ve dealt with a lot of missed time. So it’s fun to be back. Great win for us.”
Lee’s return helped, but the Cowboys got a complete performance on defense: two defensive takeaways and five sacks on 49ers rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence became only the 10th player in NFL history to record a sack in the first six games of a season.
And with linebacker Anthony Hitchens leading the team with eight tackles (three for loss) in his second game back from a knee injury, the defense is getting healthy.
“I think getting a lot of guys back and kind of building continuity week to week and kind of building some momentum,” Lee said.
Dak Prescott Joins Exclusive QB List In Win Over 49ers
Yet, somewhat quietly, Dak Prescott became only the third quarterback in Cowboys history to throw at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games.
Tony Romo accomplished the feat three times and Don Meredith did twice.
“I think he’s just done a really good job making plays down in the red zone to cash in on some of these long drives that we’ve had,” head coach Jason Garrett said of Prescott. “And he’s playing, obviously, at a very high level.”
Prescott added a touchdown run in the third quarter to make the score 33-3.
Jason Garrett Updates Tight End Rico Gathers’ Injury Status
(Oct. 18; 4 p.m.) – With six weeks gone by in the regular season, tight end Rico Gathers is eligible to begin practicing while on the Reserve/Injured list.
Head coach Jason Garrett said before Wednesday’s practice that he didn’t anticipate Gathers participating yet.
The first-year tight end suffered a concussion near the end of training camp and was placed on IR to start the season.
“He has been working out on the side with our strength coach, and I think that’s been a positive thing for him,” Garrett said. “I think he’s getting better and better.”
By rule, a player must remain on Injured/Reserve for a minimum of eight weeks before he's eligible to return to the
After Court Ruling, Elliott Back At The Star For Practice
(Oct. 18; 11 a.m.) – Head coach Jason Garrett said Ezekiel Elliott is back at The Star in Frisco for practice Wednesday after New York district judge on Tuesday granted the All-Pro running back a temporary restraining order that again makes him eligible to practice and play this week.
“He’s at work today and excited about having a good practice today,” Garrett said.
“Zeke has done an excellent job of focusing on what he needs to do and we certainly try to do that as a football team. Nothing’s really changed from our perspective.”
Elliott’s six-game NFL suspension was reinstated last Thursday, which means he wasn’t permitted to be at The Star on Tuesday as the Cowboys returned for meetings coming off the bye week.
Elliott’s playing status beyond Sunday is uncertain. The temporary restraining order reportedly is in place until Oct. 30, or until Judge Katherine Polk Failla returns from vacation to rule on the NFLPA’s petition on Elliott’s behalf for another preliminary injunction.
Jourdan Lewis Has Faced 49ers’ New Quarterback Before
Last November, Beathard’s Iowa Hawkeyes upset Lewis, Cowboys first-round pick Taco Charlton and third-ranked Michigan, 14-13, with a field goal as time expired.
In April, the Cowboys selected Lewis in the third round, 12 picks before Beathard. The 49ers named Beathard their starter after he replaced Brian Hoyer this past Sunday against the Redskins and threw for 245 yards and a touchdown in a two-point loss.
Lewis said Iowa and the 49ers both have pro-style offenses, but otherwise, Beathard will be taking over a different scheme in San Francisco.
“He’s a great player, I know that,” Lewis said. “He’s a great decision maker, as young as he is right now. But it’s a different offense that we haven’t prepared for.” [full interview HERE]
The Cowboys return to practice Wednesday coming off last weekend’s bye.
LB Bowman Signs With Raiders Before Planned Visit With Cowboys
(Oct. 17; 3:25 p.m.) – Before the Cowboys had a chance to visit with free agent NaVorro Bowman, the veteran linebacker reached a one-year, $3 million deal with the Oakland Raiders, according to NFL.com and reports.
The 49ers released Bowman over the weekend, and on his first visit Monday – the Raiders – the four-time All-Pro linebacker quickly reached an agreement to stay in the Bay Area.
The Cowboys hoped to meet with Bowman on Tuesday, but he’s no longer an option for depth at linebacker.
The team has played without starters Sean Lee and/or Anthony Hitchens in each of their first five games and currently rank 22nd in run defense, allowing 118.0 yards per game.
Hitchens (knee) returned in Week 5 against the Packers, and Lee (hamstring) could be back in the starting lineup this Sunday at San Francisco.
Garrett Explains Reason For Stephen Paea’s Retirement
Paea, 29, signed a one-year contract in March. He had a productive training camp, but the Cowboys tried to manage his knee condition with periodic rest in preseason. He started the first four games at nose tackle with seven tackles and three quarterback pressures, but he was inactive against the Packers last Sunday.
“He came in here and he had a knee injury that was preventing him from practicing and playing at the level that he felt like was up to his standard throughout his career. We had a good conversation yesterday and he explained all that to me. He was working through it for the last few weeks trying to get himself back but simply wasn’t able to do that.”
With Paea retiring, the Cowboys have fewer true defensive tackles for Rod Marinelli’s rotation. Maliek Collins is the starter at the three technique. David Irving played a lot of nose tackle against the Packers. Backup Brian Price is an option. The Cowboys also have Lewis Neal and Richard Ash on the practice squad.
Reports: Veteran DT Stephen Paea Retiring
Hours after releasing veteran cornerback Nolan Carroll, the Cowboys were reportedly informed that Stephen Paea intends to retire. ESPN first reported the news, and NFL.com shortly followed suit.
Paea has been battling a knee injury since training camp, but it’s still a bit surprising to hear he’s calling it a career. The Cowboys signed him in free agency in the spring, and he won a starting defensive tackle job alongside Maliek Collins during training camp.
The knee injury first cropped up during camp, but it limited him during the last three weeks of practice, and it sidelined him for last week’s loss to Green Bay.
Damien Wilson Cleared of Felony Charges
However, while a grand jury chose not to indict Wilson on second-degree felony charges when he was accused of intentionally backing his truck into a woman in a parking lot in Frisco, that doesn’t exactly clear him of suspension by the NFL.
Wilson was also accused of taking out a rifle during the altercation, according to the Frisco police.
Still, the linebacker sent out a relieved Tweet on Wednesday, stating “It’s a beautiful day don’t u all agree.”
Wilson has played in all five games this season, with two starts.
Sean Lee On The Field As Cowboys Get Back To Practice
Lee didn’t practice the last two weeks and sat out the Cowboys’ losses to the Rams and Packers while recovering from a hamstring injury.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (knee), inactive against the Packers, was not participating. Neither was left tackle Tyron Smith, who started against the Packers despite dealing with back tightness during the week.
The Cowboys are scheduled to hold two light practices Wednesday and Thursday. They’ll be off Friday through Monday before resuming a normal weekly schedule Tuesday.
Next game is a road trip to San Francisco on Oct. 22.
David Irving Boosts Pass Rush In Return
On the Packers’ final scoring drive, Aaron Rodgers scrambled left for 18 yards to the 12-yard line on third-and-8 to set up his winning touchdown pass two plays later. Irving, rushing inside at defensive tackle, shed a block from Green Bay’s Corey Linsley and nearly got hold of Rodgers’ legs for a 7-yard loss.
By then, though, Rodgers had cut too far toward the sideline and was up the field. It was a difficult play for the 270-pound Irving to finish outside the pocket.
“It’s a missed tackle,” Irving said. “It is what it is. No way to (B.S.) it.”
Regardless, Irving made a major impact in his first game back from suspension. He sacked Rodgers twice in the second quarter, including a third-down play that stopped a Packers drive.
“It was real emotional coming into the game,” he said. “The coaches were telling me to control my emotions and what not. You know I got out there, got a feel for the blockers and how they were blocking me and I just tried to make some plays.”
Cowboys Optimistic That Sean Lee Will Be Available After Bye Week
(Oct. 8, 9:51 p.m.) – The Cowboys got at least a little good news in the wake of their heartbreaking loss to Green Bay on Sunday.
Asked about Sean Lee’s availability for Week 7, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he thought the All-Pro linebacker would be ready to play when the team returns from its bye week.
“That’s Dr. Jones talking, but seriously I do think that he will be, by then – that will give him as many as four weeks off of it, maybe five. So yeah,” he said.
Lee injured his hamstring in the Week 3 win against Arizona, and he has missed two games since then. But the combination of sitting two weeks, plus having the upcoming week off, gives the Cowboys confidence he will be ready to go when the Cowboys face San Francisco on Oct. 22.
Awuzie Exits Game Early Due To Hamstring Injury
The Cowboys’ second-round pick has battled hamstring tightness at times since training camp and had missed the previous two games due to the same issue.
Primarily working at cornerback since he joined the Cowboys, Awuzie entered the game at safety in the second quarter against the Packers, replacing starter Jeff Heath in a rotation next to Byron Jones.
Sean Lee Ruled Out For Week 5 vs. Green Bay; Tyron Smith Active
(Oct. 8, 2:05 p.m.) – All signs pointed toward Sean Lee sitting out of Sunday’s game against Green Bay, and the Cowboys confirmed that prior to kickoff.
The Cowboys have released their list of seven inactives prior to their Week 6 matchup with the Packers. Lee was the most notable of the seven, but the Cowboys also ruled out Cooper Rush, Darren McFadden, Nolan Carroll, Kavon Frazier, Stephen Paea and Noah Brown.
Lee has been battling a hamstring injury for almost two weeks, and the Cowboys ultimately decided that – with the bye week following this game – it made more sense to sit their All-Pro linebacker for a second consecutive week and give him an opportunity to recover.
While Lee will be absent, Anthony Hitchens is set to make his 2017 debut after practicing all this week. Hitchens has been missing since he injured his knee during the preseason, but it’s a good bet that he’ll start alongside Jaylon Smith in Lee’s weak side linebacker role.
Of the other six inactives, it’s a bit surprising to see Paea’s name – although not that surprising. The veteran defensive tackle had yet to miss a game this year, but he has been battling a knee injury on and off since training camp began. Much like Lee, it’s a safe bet that the Cowboys weighed the value of resting Paea for two-straight weeks when they ultimately decided to sit him down.
With Paea out of the lineup, Maliek Colliuns and Brian Price are the only primary defensive tackles on the roster. Look for Tyrone Crawford and David Irving – who will also make his 2017 debut – to shift inside as needed. Rookie defensive end Taco Charlton can also play inside, if necessary.
Tyron Smith was deemed questionable on Friday’s injury report after not practicing all week. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett described the issue as “back tightness,” which bothered him at times in training camp. Smith is active for the game, but the Cowboys decided to keep all eight of their offensive linemen active for this game – likely as an insurance policy for Smith.
The Packers’ seven inactives are cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, linebacker Joe Thomas, offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, running back Ty Montgomery, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and linebacker Chris Odom.
Trying To Predict Sean Lee & Tyron Smith's Availability For Sunday
(Oct. 6; 12:00 p.m.) – It’s going to be another wait-and-see weekend for the Cowboys, at least as it pertains to two of their best players.
Friday didn’t bring much clarity on the injury status of Tyron Smith and Sean Lee – both of whom have been hampered by injuries recently. Lee has been nursing a hamstring injury since Sept. 25 and has not undergone a full practice since Week 3.
Smith left practice Wednesday with tightness in his back and has not returned to the field in the time since. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Smith is considered day-to-day, but he does think the All-Pro is feeling better.
“We think he has improved, yes,” Garrett said.
For his part, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he feels optimistic that Smith will be available Sunday against Green Bay.
“I think Tyron I feel very good about,” Jones said. “That would really be a surprise if he doesn't play.”
As for Lee, it seems unwise to bet against an All-Pro linebacker, but the reaction wasn’t quite as optimistic. Jones said the Cowboys will weigh the effect of the upcoming bye week on Lee’s health. If he sits against the Packers, he would essentially get three weeks of rest – which could make a huge difference in his recovery.
“Sean, today will mean a lot and tomorrow will mean a lot,” Jones said. “If we were not looking at a bye next week, then you could be more aggressive with this decision. But the fact that you've got a bye means that he could actually go two more weeks without putting competitive-type pressure on that hamstring. So that makes you head scratch a little bit."
Charles Tapper Moved To Reserve/Injured List
Tapper will have surgery Friday with an initial recovery timetable of 8-10 weeks, head coach Jason Garrett said.
Teams are permitted to activate a maximum of two players off Reserve/Injured during the season. Tapper must spend at least eight weeks on IR before being eligible to return to the active roster.
The Cowboys now have an open spot on the active roster that has not been filled yet.
Defensive lineman David Irving is eligible to return this week following his four-game suspension. The team has a one-game roster exemption for Irving, meaning he doesn’t have to be moved back to the active roster this week.
Sorting Out Jaylon Smith’s Workload When Veteran LBs Return
With Anthony Hitchens recovering from late-August knee surgery, Smith has played 86.3 percent of the defense’s snap total this season as the starting middle linebacker, only coming off the field for 56 total plays in four games. He played all 69 snaps last Sunday against the Rams and said Wednesday he’s feeling good physically – just typical soreness after games.
Hitchens, the starting middle linebacker entering camp, practiced fully Wednesday. What happens with Smith’s workload when Hitchens returns to the lineup, possibly as soon as this Sunday against the Packers?
Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday he expects both to play a lot when Hitchens is back, though naturally Smith would see some reduction in snaps.
“That would be the result, but the quality of his plays would go up,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, pointing out that Smith is still gaining experience in his first healthy season.
Sean Lee is part of the equation, too. The All-Pro missed practice Wednesday, and if he’s unable to play against the Packers, Hitchens (if active) could fill in at weak-side linebacker against Green Bay. Veteran Justin Durant has experience at the "Will" spot too.
Travis Frederick Discusses Critical Holding Penalty vs. Rams
The officials may have decided Frederick’s left hand was too far wide on Tanzel Smart's shoulder pad as he blocked Smart to the ground during Dak Prescott’s quarterback draw into the end zone.
“Looking at the film I probably could’ve let the guy go,” Frederick said. “But in it, the guy was going down, I was driving him. What you do is you play physical and you go down on top of him.”
On Monday, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters, “We saw a good block, but it’s not our job to officiate. It’s our job to play and coach.”
Sean Lee, Stephen Paea Not Participating During Wed. Practice
(Oct. 4, 12:09 p.m.) – The Cowboys look healthy as they begin their preparations for Green Bay.
Wednesday morning marked the first practice of Week 5, and just two of the Cowboys’ 53 active players did not participate in the open portion of practice.
Sean Lee took part in team stretch to start the day, but he then headed to the sideline to continue rehabilitation on his hamstring. Lee suffered the injury in the waning minutes of the Week 3 against Arizona, and he sat out of last week’s loss to the Rams while he recovered.
“I think he’s feeling better this week than he did last week,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “Don’t anticipate him doing much in practice today. If he does anything it will be in a limited mode.”
Stephen Paea was not present at practice, which has become a bit of a theme during this young season. Paea is managing a knee injury that has kept him out of practice for the last two weeks – although it has not prevented him from playing in any games.
The Cowboys did see some reinforcements elsewhere on the roster on Wednesday morning. Chidobe Awuzie and Nolan Carroll both took part in the open portion of practice after missing last week’s game. Awuzie is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in the Sept. 17 loss to Denver. Carroll is still recuperating from a concussion he sustained in the same game.
Anthony Hitchens was also taking part in the early portion of practice, as he works to return from a knee injury he sustained in the preseason. David Irving was also on the practice field, having just returned to the roster from a four-game suspension to start the year.
Jason Garrett Gives Injury Updates On Sean Lee, Others
Starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens is also day to day after returning to practice on a limited basis last week. He has missed the first four games following knee surgery at the end of August.
Garrett said cornerback Nolan Carroll is still in concussion protocol after missing his second straight game Sunday. Rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie was also inactive against the Rams due to a hamstring injury.
And left guard Chaz Green was active but did not start against the Rams due to hip bursitis that flared up Friday, Garrett said.
Fifth Circuit Hearing Takes Place In Elliott Case; No Ruling Yet
(Oct. 2; 2:15 p.m.) – As scheduled, NFL and NFL Players Association lawyers made oral arguments regarding the Ezekiel Elliott case Monday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, according to NFL.com and reports.
The NFL previously filed a motion for a stay of the injunction that is currently blocking Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. A decision by the Fifth Circuit’s three-judge appellate panel has not been rendered yet, according to reports.
As long as the injunction is still in place, Elliott remains eligible to practice and play in games.
On Aug. 11, the NFL suspended Elliott six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, and independent arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld the suspension. The NFLPA then filed for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order on behalf of Elliott.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III granted both and denied the league’s emergency motion for a stay of the injunction. The league then moved to the Fifth Circuit requesting a stay.
Elliott gained 139 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns in Sunday’s 35-30 home loss to the L.A. Rams. After the game, Cowboys owner/general manager declined to speculate on the upcoming hearing.
“We are down to where it’s in the hands of that appellate group of judges,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t dare speculate as to, or try in any way to have them read something I might say.”
Cooper Starts For Chaz Green At Left Guard
Chaz Green, the starter for the first three games, was active but did not start after sustaining a hip injury late in the week. Jonathan Cooper started in his place, making his 15th career start and his first with the Cowboys.
The offense scored on its first four possessions and entered halftime with 24 points, tying last year’s season high for a first half. In the second half, the unit gained 153 yards scored just six points in a 35-30 loss.
Asked about the offensive line’s overall performance, Cooper said, “I think that goes back to being a 60-minute game. Early on we started off fast and we had spurts. But I think it’s about being a consistent pro and at times we had a couple letdowns.”
Cooper competed with Green at left guard in preseason but began the season as the backup. In the last two years, injuries prompted a change at the position by early October: La’el Collins for Ronald Leary in 2015 and vice versa last season. Collins is now the starting right tackle.
Cowboys Rely More On Durant, Jaylon Smith With Lee Inactive vs. Rams
Lee, an All-Pro and defensive captain, certainly could have had a positive impact on the group if active. Instead, the Cowboys played Justin Durant at Lee’s weak-side spot, while first-year pro Jaylon Smith continued start at middle linebacker for an injured Anthony Hitchens. Damien Wilson started at strong-side linebacker.
Head coach Jason Garrett said Smith primarily assumed Lee’s role of directing pre-snap communication to the defense.
The Cowboys held L.A. to seven field goals in the game, but running back Todd Gurley racked up 115 all-purpose yards in a 35-30 road win over Dallas.
“Everyone knows what Sean brings to the table, so if you don’t have that, it’s a loss,” Smith said. “But there’s no excuses. The next man has to step in. We have to be great.”
“This league is so great, and if you can’t get off the field, bad things happen.”
Durant, signed just before training camp, played a season-high 32 snaps six days ago at Arizona after playing only three snaps in the first two games. He and Smith were on the field together often unless substituted for an extra defensive back in sub-packages.
Jerry Jones Declines Comment On Monday's Zeke Hearing
(Oct. 1, 5:14 p.m.) – The Cowboys didn’t have much to say about it, but they’ll undoubtedly have their eyes on New Orleans on Monday.
That’s where the next turn in Ezekiel Elliott’s ongoing legal battle against the NFL will take place. Oral arguments will take place Monday in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as the NFL has requested an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction that has allowed Elliott to play the first four games of the season.
Elliott was granted that injunction on Sept. 8, just days before the beginning of the regular season. That decision has allowed him to play, despite the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the first six games of the year over allegations of domestic violence.
Essentially, this coming court decision will decide whether Elliott may continue to play while this matter plays out in court – or if he will begin serving his suspension. In light of that fact, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones did not have much of a comment on the matter.
“We are down to where it’s in the hands of that appellate group of judges,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t dare speculate as to, or try in any way to have them read something I might say.”
Asked about it following the Cowboys’ 35-30 loss to the Rams, Elliott said he didn’t yet know if he would make the short trip to New Orleans to be present for the hearing.
Sean Lee Ruled Out Of Rams Game; Chaz Green Active
(Oct. 1, 10:49 a.m.) – The Cowboys will be without Sean Lee when they face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon.
Lee led the list of inactives for the Cowboys’ Week 4 kickoff, along with Nolan Carroll. The team’s other five inactives are Cooper Rush, Darren McFadden, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Hitchens and Charles Tapper.
It’s not surprising the Cowboys are without their All-Pro linebacker, given that he’s been working to come back from a hamstring injury all week. It still isn’t ideal, as they prepare to face a high octane running back in the shape of Todd Gurley.
Lee tweaked his hamstring in the final minutes of last week’s 28-17 win against Arizona. He was hopeful he could get himself ready for this game, but a six-day turnaround was not a lengthy amount of time for a recovery.
The Cowboys did get some good news from Chaz Green, on the other hand. Green seemed to come out of Week 3 in good health – but he was held out of Friday’s practice with a sore hip. The third-year offensive lineman has battled injuries in the past, so there was concern he might have to sit this game out.
The Cowboys did take precautions, however. Jonathan Cooper is active for the first time in his Cowboys career, and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he will start. Green will fill in as needed, as the Dallas offensive line hopes to neutralize Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and the rest of an impressive Rams pass rush.
The loss of Lee for this game will leave the Dallas defense short-handed at linebacker. Justin Durant will fill his place as the starting weak side linebacker, while Jaylon Smith mans the middle. Damien Wilson will start on the strong side in the Cowboys’ base defense and can play wherever he might be needed.
With Hitchens still sidelined by a knee injury, though, Kyle Wilber is the only healthy linebacker behind that trio. With that in mind, look for Keith Smith to fill in at linebacker if there are injury issues. Smith played linebacker during his first two seasons with the team. He switched to fullback in 2016, but the Cowboys had him take practice snaps at linebacker this week just in case.
This will mark Carroll’s second-straight week on the inactive list. He suffered a concussion during the Week 2 loss to Denver and was limited in practice this week. Awuzie is also inactive for the second-straight week, as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.
There had been speculation this week that Alfred Morris might be inactive, opening the door for Darren McFadden to appear in his first regular season game this year. The Cowboys ultimately decided to stick with Morris, leaving McFadden on the sideline for the fourth consecutive week.
Chaz Green Misses Media Portion Of Friday's Practice
(Sept. 29, 11:38 a.m.) – Chaz Green was not at the 15-minute media portion of the Cowboys’ practice on Friday.
The third-year guard is dealing with a hip injury that kept him off the field at the start of practice, but the Cowboys are still hopeful he might participate before the end of the day.
The news was the lone hiccup for an offense which has otherwise been fully healthy this week. If Green is unavailable this weekend, the Cowboys would likely turn to Jonathan Cooper to start at left guard. Byron Bell also has experience playing the position, if need be.
Defensively, Sean Lee and Stephen Paea once again did not take part in the open portion of practice. Both veterans were going through rehab work with the athletic training staff. Lee is trying to work through a hamstring injury that cropped up late in the game against Arizona on Monday night.
“Yeah, he’ll be limited if he practices at all today, and again, we’ll take his situation day by day,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
Paea is working through a knee injury. The problem bothered him last week, as well, but it didn’t keep him off the field against the Cardinals.
Jerry Jones Updates Sean Lee's Hamstring Injury Leading Into Rams Game
“These hamstrings are very positively influenced with rest,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “You can get out on one just a week early and get a setback of literally weeks or months.”
The hamstring appeared to tighten up on Lee late in Monday’s 28-17 victory at Arizona. The Cowboys have one more practice Friday before Sunday’s noon matchup with L.A. at AT&T Stadium.
Jones said Lee will make the call on whether he’ll be able to play Sunday.
Lawrence, Rams' Gurley Get NFC Player Of The Month Honors
Lawrence is only the second Cowboys player to win the award. Sean Lee was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month once in 2011 and 2013.
The Cowboys (2-1) face the L.A. Rams (2-1) at AT&T Stadium this Sunday. Rams running back Todd Gurley was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month with 253 rushing yards, fourth most in the NFL. With 36 points (four rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns), he’s the league’s leading scorer among non-kickers.
The Cowboys currently rank 13th in run defense, allowing an average of 87.3 yards per game.
LB Signed To Replace Nzeocha On The Practice Squad
(Sept. 27; 4 p.m.) – The Cowboys signed linebacker Tre’von Johnson (Weber State) to the practice squad on Wednesday, filling the open spot vacated by linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who signed onto the 49ers’ active roster Monday.
Nzeocha, a fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2015, was waived after final cuts earlier this month and signed back to the practice squad.
Lawrence Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Lawrence posted three sacks and three tackles for loss with six quarterback hurries in the Cowboys’ 28-17 win over the Cardinals. Lawrence also had another sack taken away because of a defensive penalty.
It’s the first ever weekly award for Lawrence, who is now leading the entire NFL in sacks with 6.5. He became just the third player in NFL history to begin a season with three straight multiple-sack games. Lawrence posted 1.5 sacks in a win over the Giants, and then two against Denver and now three more in Arizona.
Lawrence becomes the Cowboys’ first defensive winner since David Irving won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors against Green Bay last season with his three forced fumbles in a road win over the Packers.
Garrett Provides Injury Updates On Sean Lee, Jourdan Lewis
“Sean had to come out of the game and it seems like he’s doing better today,” Garrett said. “We’ll take his situation day by day and then Jourdan had some tightness. Same thing.
“The reports we got from our trainers was he was feeling better today but we’ll see what they’re able to do as the week goes on.”
The Cowboys returned from Arizona early Tuesday morning on a short week to get ready for the L.A. Rams this Sunday. Garrett said the team won’t hold a typical Wednesday practice, the idea being to let the players get their legs back underneath them.
Lewis’ participation level in practice later in the week will be worth monitoring, since starting cornerback Nolan Carroll (concussion) and rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) did not play against the Cardinals.
Ezekiel Elliott Gets First Rushing TD Of The Season
(Sept. 26; 3 a.m.) – With a 30-yard run in the second quarter Monday night against the Cardinals, Ezekiel Elliott more than tripled his rushing yardage in a Week 2 loss to Denver (career-low nine yards on a career-low eight carries).
Elliott (22 carries, 80 yards Monday) only gained one yard on his other seven carries in the first half against. Like the Broncos a week ago, the Cardinals’ front seven won the line of scrimmage early, forcing the Cowboys into third-and-long often.
“Just keep grinding,” Elliott said. “They have a great defensive front. They were giving us some problems. They’re pro players too and they’re paid to go out and stop us and they fought really hard.”
Elliott and the offense got moving in the second half. The All-Pro running back gained 49 yards over the final two quarters, including an 8-yard touchdown run to seal the 28-17 victory with just under five minutes to play.
“That’s just how our offense is built,” Elliott said. “We want to run the ball. We want to tire them out and then we want to take shots. Dak (Prescott) did a great job early in the game when the run really wasn’t working, just making those plays downfield.”
Brice Butler Gets Deep For Two Key Catches Late
Butler hauled in two catches for a game-high 90 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown, to help the Cowboys finally break away from the Cardinals in a 28-17 road win.
On both plays, quarterback Dak Prescott rolled away from pressure and threw deep to Butler. His touchdown was a leaping grab in the end zone, and his second catch – a 53-yarder – set up Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown run to put Dallas ahead two scores.
Butler, a reserve receiver, was often a top option in preseason games but says he needed to adjust his approach in the regular season with the Cowboys’ full complement of wideouts available.
“You’ve just got to have the same mentality, expecting the ball to come to you,” he said. “That’s one thing that can be hard, leaving camp, going into the regular season, being in the position that I’m in.
“I feel like I did a bad job of that the first two weeks. That was the main thing I was just telling myself all week, just expect the ball to come every play and when it comes you’ll be ready.”
With 3 Sacks Monday, Lawrence Joins Exclusive NFL List
The fourth-year defensive end also made history in Monday night’s 28-17 win over Arizona.
With three sacks against the Cardinals, Lawrence became only the third player in NFL history with three consecutive games with more than one sack in the first three games of a season, joining Mark Gastineau (three games; 1984) and Kevin Greene (four games; 1998).
Lawrence would’ve had a fourth sack Monday if the officials hadn’t called linebacker Sean Lee for an illegal contact penalty near the end of the first half.
Still, he became the first Cowboy defender to post three consecutive multi-sack games since DeMarcus Ware in 2011-12.
"It's been a great start,” Lawrence said. “Just got to keep it going."
Charles Tapper Ruled Inactive As Damontre' Moore Returns To Action
(Sept. 25, 4:20 p.m.) -- The Cowboys’ inactives were fairly straightforward for Monday night’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
Much of the mystery was removed on Saturday afternoon, when the team declared cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie inactive for Monday Night Football.
Arizona’s inactives are quarterback Blaine Gabbert, wide receiver John Brown, linebacker Deone Bucannon, running back D.J. Foster, offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, offensive guard Mike Iupati and defensive lineman Xacier Williams.
If there is a surprise on the Cowboys’ list, it’s most likely Tapper – who played in both of the first two games of the season and registered a sack against the New York Giants. However, with Damontre’ Moore returning to the lineup after a two-week suspension, the coaching staff didn’t have room for all nine of its defensive linemen on the game day roster.
There was some speculation that Stephen Paea might sit out the game, as he was limited by a knee injury throughout the week. With Paea suiting up for game action, Tapper was one of few logical choices.
Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are also available against the Cardinals, after both wide receivers were limited by ankle injuries this week. The Cowboys opted to keep Noah Brown active as an insurance policy, marking the second-straight week the rookie receiver will be available.
Veteran cornerback Bené Benwikere will be making his Dallas debut against the Cardinals. The Cowboys traded for him during final roster cuts, back before the start of the regular season, but they hadn’t needed him through the first two weeks. Orlando Scandrick is returning to action Monday night, but the losses of Carroll and Awuzie to injury prompted Benwikere into action.
Jaylon Smith Focused On Cardinals, Not Returning To Site Of Old Injury
As Smith lay on the turf, his knee severely injured in his final game at Notre Dame, Ezekiel Elliott – running back for Ohio State – came over to check on his friend.
The players had met through all-star camps in high school and played on the same All-American team. Now they’re NFL teammates and part of the Cowboys’ talented young core.
“I went down and he came over and basically just told me that he was with me,” Smith reflected on that Jan. 2016 Fiesta Bowl game. “Now we’re teammates and all is well.”
That moment launched Smith’s inspirational comeback from torn knee ligaments and nerve damage. Now healthy, he leads the Cowboys in team-credited tackles (23) through two games from the starting middle linebacker spot.
Monday night against the Cardinals, Smith says there will be “no mental hurdle” in returning to the same stadium where he suffered that devastating injury nearly two years ago. He’ll be looking forward, not backward.
“I look for a great opportunity to play against a great team in the Arizona Cardinals,” he said. “I look forward to going out there and giving it all.”
Fifth Circuit Schedules Oct. 2 Hearing On NFL's Request For Stay In Elliott Case
(Sept. 22, 4:15 p.m.) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has scheduled an Oct. 2 hearing in New Orleans regarding the NFL’s request for a stay of the injunction that is currently blocking Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, according to NFL.com and multiple reports.
As long as the injunction is still in place, Elliott remains eligible to practice and play in games. The Cowboys have two games scheduled between now and Oct. 2: Monday night’s game at Arizona and an Oct. 1 home game against the L.A. Rams.
On Aug. 11, the NFL suspended Elliott six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, and independent arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld the suspension. The NFL Players Association then filed for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order on behalf of Elliott.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III granted both, and earlier this week he denied the league’s emergency motion for a stay of the injunction. The league has now moved to the Fifth Circuit requesting a stay.
Lawrence 2nd In Sacks After 2 Games, Aims To "Keep Getting Better"
He’s now down to 3.5 after the NFL reviewed the Week 1 game film against the New York Giants and credited defensive tackle Maliek Collins with a half-sack on Eli Manning.
“At least it went to my brother, so I’m cool with it,” Lawrence said Thursday.
Regardless, the fourth-year veteran is a setting an impressive early-season pace. Healthy after two back surgeries in the last two offseasons, his 3.5 sacks rank second in the league behind Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell (4.0).
Lawrence also leads the Cowboys’ defense with six quarterback pressures.
“For me, I feel like I’ve just got to keep getting better,” he said. “I don’t feel like you can be complacent in just that one standard. You’ve just got to keep getting better overall as a man and as a football player.”
Arizona's Arians Doesn’t Believe In Blueprint Theory vs. Cowboys Offense
(Sept. 21; 1:30 p.m.) – It’s well-established by now: The Cowboys’ offense is coming off one of their most disappointing performances in recent memory, tallying only 17 points and 16 first downs in a 28-point loss at Denver last Sunday.
The natural narrative becomes this: With the Cardinals next on the schedule, did the Broncos provide a 'blueprint' for stopping a Dallas offense that ranked in the top five in total yards and points last season?
“If you can borrow Denver’s players,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said with a laugh Thursday via conference call with the Dallas-Fort Worth media.
Arians, obviously, is being a little self-deprecating there. Like Denver, his Arizona defense has a strong combination of pass rushing and coverage talent. It’ll be a challenge for the Cowboys on Monday night.
But Arians doesn’t think the Dallas offense has cratered. He recognizes that the Broncos’ early lead, to some degree, took Elliott and the running game out of the equation.
“We anticipate what they’ve done for the last year and a half,” Arians said, “not just what happened last Sunday.”
Cowboys Make Practice Squad Move, Sign OT
(Sept. 20; 5:45 p.m.) – The Cowboys released offensive lineman Dan Skipper (Arkansas) from their practice squad and signed rookie offensive tackle Jarron Jones (Notre Dame).
Jones, undrafted this past spring, went to training camp with the Giants and converted to offensive tackle from defensive tackle, his position at Notre Dame. The Giants waived him at final cuts after preseason.
The Cowboys signed Skipper as a rookie free agent this past spring and waived him at final cuts.
Witten Leading The NFL In Catches After 2 Games
Witten is leading the entire league in catches (17) after two games, and he’s coming off a game-high 10 for 97 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 42-17 loss at Denver.
That gives him a very-early pace for 136 catches over 16 games, which would easily eclipse his career high of 110 in 2012.
Of course, Witten and the offense are a seeking better collective results. The Cowboys produced one of their worst offensive performances in recent memory against the Broncos, gaining only 268 yards and 16 first downs. With quarterback Dak Prescott facing pressure most of the day, Witten was a strong option underneath last Sunday.
There’s no question the offense wants to make more explosive plays in the passing game. Prescott delivered four completions of 20 yards or more in the season-opening win over the Giants, but Witten’s 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was their only explosive play in Denver.
Cowboys Make Two Roster Moves During Tuesday Off Day
(Sept. 19, 3:13 p.m.) – Three weeks after acquiring him in a trade, the Cowboys have released linebacker Jayrone Elliott.
Elliott was one of the newest additions to the roster, as Dallas sent a conditional seventh-round draft pick to Green Bay to secure his services during final roster cuts back before the start of the season.
The team hasn’t announced it as of yet, but it’s highly likely Elliott was released to make room for Damontre’ Moore, who is returning from suspension this week. Moore was suspended the first two games of the season for an arrest that stemmed back to his time with the Seattle Seahawks last season.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed on Monday that Moore would be rejoining the team this week, but the Cowboys have until Wednesday to make the move official.
Elliott was with the Cowboys for two games. He was active in Week 1 but did not play, and he was inactive last Sunday against Denver. Given his inactivity during his time in Dallas, the Cowboys should hold on to the seventh-round draft pick they offered to the Packers to get him.
Elsewhere, the team also brought a familiar face back to its practice squad. The Cowboys re-signed Jameill Showers one week after releasing him. They released guard Nate Theaker to make room on the 10-man squad.
Damontre' Moore Set To Return To Roster After Suspension
“We’re just going to get him back into the fold this week,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Monday. “We’ll get him back into practice and just see how he does and see how he stacks up against the rest of them.”
Moore was suspended in August for an arrest that stemmed back to his time with the Seattle Seahawks last season. He was allowed to be at the team’s facility and work out during his two-week absence, but the Cowboys may now add him to their 53-man roster.
Garrett said no roster move has been made to free up space for Moore as of yet. What they decide to do will likely be dictated by injuries, as several members of their secondary are coping with issues after Sunday’s loss in Denver.
The Cowboys have until Tuesday afternoon to make a roster move.
Stephen Jones Hopeful Chidobe Awuzie Can Practice This Week
(Sept. 18, 1:37 p.m.) -- In the wake of Sunday’s 25-point loss in Denver, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones had least had some good news on the injury front.
Jones talked to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas on Monday morning, and he shared a positive update on Chidobe Awuzie’s hamstring.
“Chidobe never got loosened up and we decided not to push that issue with him and do anything that might further put him in a negative position,” he said. “We were conservative with him and did an MRI on him, and we think there’s nothing further there.”
Awuzie exited Sunday’s game in the first half with the hamstring injury and did not return. He said following the game that it was the same hamstring that bothered him during training camp.
The rookie cornerback said that he wants to play next Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, but he ultimately left that up to the team’s athletic training staff.
“It’s definitely my goal to play,” he said. “Even today I wanted to play, but you’ve always got to be smart. It’s up to the trainers, and I know they’re going to do their best job to get me on that field.”
Jones echoed that sentiment on Monday, expressing optimism that Awuzie will be able to participate in this week’s practices leading up to Week 3.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to work back into practice this week and hopefully be ready to go,” he said.
Judge Denies NFL's Request For Stay Of Elliott's Injunction
The NFL has also filed an emergency motion for a stay to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. According to reports, the league requests a ruling no later than Sept. 26.
As long as the injunction is in place, Elliott remains eligible to practice and play. He had eight carries for nine yards and four catches for 14 yards in the Cowboys’ 42-17 loss to Denver on Sunday.
The Cowboys next play at Arizona on Monday, Sept. 25.
(Sept. 17, 1:31 a.m.) – It might be too soon to speculate on Ezekiel Elliott’s long-term future, but Jerry Jones feels good about the short term.
Asked Sunday if he thought Elliott would be available to play for the rest of the 2017 season, the Cowboys’ owner/general manager was unsure. But he was willing to comment on Elliott’s availability for the team’s Week 3 game against Arizona.
“Well, I don’t know about that, but I sure think he’ll play Monday night,” Jones said.
Elliott’s ongoing battle against the NFL has followed the Cowboys for roughly five weeks now. The Pro Bowl running back successfully filed for an injunction against his six-game suspension, allowing him to play while his legal team takes the matter to court.
However, the NFL recently filed an appeal of that injunction, requesting that Elliott serve his suspension while the issue is determined in court.
It remains to be seen how things will unfold, or how much – if any – time Elliott will miss. With all the twists and turn the situation has taken, Jones quipped that media members are more attuned than most.
“Well, I’ll tell you – my hat’s off. I think you, the media, are doing a great job of helping me understand some of the nuances – really are,” he said. “As we all see, there are a lot of if’s and but’s here. And because of that, and because it’s got courtrooms all over it, I can’t make a comment about it. Because I don’t want to influence that.”
Dak Prescott Blames Himself For Offense’s Struggles vs. Denver
Quarterback Dak Prescott blames himself.
“If I make more plays, we give ourselves a chance in that game,” the second-year quarterback said. “I just simply didn’t make the plays. There’s no excuse for it. Playing like that, you won’t win games. It doesn’t matter who you play.”
Facing a Broncos secondary he calls “one of the best in the league,” Prescott completed 30 of a career-high 50 pass attempts for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Dealing with pocket pressure for much of the game, he threw two interceptions. The second one was returned 103 yards for a touchdown by Aqib Talib to seal the Broncos’ blowout victory.
Late in the first quarter, Prescott landed awkwardly while tackled from behind and had both his ankles re-taped. After the game he said he was fine. His main concern was missed throws leading to failed drives and an unbalanced offense. The Cowboys converted only 3 of 14 third down chances, and All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott got only eight carries for nine yards.
“They did a good job with sticky defenders; they were on us,” Prescott said. “They made me throw in tight windows and tight areas and I simply didn’t make some of them.
“It doesn’t matter who you play. When you play the way I played tonight, you’re not going to win many games in this league.”
More Milestones For Jason Witten Despite Lopsided Loss
The veteran tight end reached two more career milestones: With a game-high 10 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos, he moved past Cris Carter and Marvin Harrison for fourth on the NFL’s all-time career receptions list (1,106).
And, now with 12,044 career receiving yards, he became only the second NFL tight end (Tony Gonzalez – 15,127) ever to reach 12,000 career receiving yards.
After the game, Witten recognized the significance of joining Gonzalez in the record books. But his thoughts were on the Cowboys’ blowout loss to Denver.
“My mind is so focused on helping this team win,” he said. “It’s so much bigger than just me. Certainly I recognized the people that helped me along the way to help me achieve something like that. But it’s kind of hollow right now.”
Secondary Depth Tested With 2 Corners Leaving Sunday’s Game Early
Awuzie, the Cowboys’ second-round pick, made his second NFL appearance after dealing with a hamstring injury for part of preseason. He had been replacing starter Anthony Brown on the outside when Brown moved into the slot in subpackages.
Carroll, the other starter on the outside, left the field with the assistance of the athletic training staff after taking a hit to the helmet.
Scandrick, the Cowboys’ 10-year veteran, had surgery last Monday to repair a fracture in his left hand. The team is hopeful he won’t miss much time.
Terrance Williams Active For Week 2 vs. Denver; Two Rookies To Debut
(Sept. 17, 1:18 p.m.) – It’s a day of debuts for the Cowboys’ 2017 rookie class.
The two rookies may be asked to help offset injuries, as the Cowboys could be without two key veterans for the game. Orlando Scandrick has already been ruled out after he had surgery on a broken hand last week. Terrance Williams practiced Friday and was officially listed as “questionable,” but the Cowboys undoubtedly activated Brown in case Williams isn’t available at any point on Sunday afternoon.
Perhaps the most notable inactive, for a second-straight week, is McFadden. The Cowboys’ coaching staff will once again go with Alfred Morris as Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backup. Morris carried the ball four times for just one yard in relief of Elliott last week, but the Cowboys feel that he is the better all-around option as the backup running back.
Scandrick’s injury might have given cause for the Cowboys to activate Benwikere, after they traded for him during roster cuts two weeks ago. However, with Lewis recovered from a hamstring injury that limited him during training camp, the coaching staff opted to give the rookie a look against the Broncos.
With Jay Elliott and Anthony Hitchens both inactive for this game, the Cowboys will be playing with just five linebackers. Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson figure to start, while Justin Durant and Kyle Wilber can fill in as needed.
The other pecking orders on the Cowboys’ depth chart remain the same. With Rush sitting out, Kellen Moore will once again back up Dak Prescott. With Jonathan Cooper once again sitting, look for Joe Looney and Byron Bell to be the primary depth behind offensive line starters Chaz Green and La’el Collins.
The Broncos’ inactives for Sunday are quarterback Paxton Lynch, running back Devontae Booker, cornerback Brendan Langley, guard Billy Turner, defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin, wide receiver Jordan Taylor and defensive end Zach Kerr.
Witten Set To Pass "Too Tall" Jones For Most All-Time Cowboys Games Played
Witten might have missed more during that rookie season if he hadn’t made his designated weight the following week. With his diet restricted due to the injury, his old head coach Bill Parcells had a solution:
Baby food. Sweet potato, specifically.
“I thought, ‘This guy’s got to be kidding,’” Witten recalled Thursday. “Come to find out, he was serious. I missed one game and was able to get back out there.”
Witten had his own solution to making weight that week. Little did Parcells know, the rookie had a five-pound weight hidden in his sweatpants pocket when he stepped on the scale.
“That was a gutsy move on my end as a 20-year-old kid to make that decision,” Witten said with a laugh. “Here I am 15 years later.”
This Sunday, the 15-year veteran tight end is set to pass Ed “Too Tall” Jones for the most games played all-time by a Cowboy (225).
Another week, another major milestone. Last Sunday, Witten passed Michael Irvin for first on the franchise’s all-time receiving yards list.
This week’s record, maybe more than any other, illustrates Witten’s commitment to excellence. Many injuries came close to keeping him off the field on a given week: a spleen injury in 2012, an ankle injury on a short week before a Thanksgiving game.
Yet Witten has always been driven to show his teammates “I’m going to give everything I have.”
“A lot of luck goes into, too,” he said. “I don’t want to make it seem like I’m some Hercules or something, because that’s not the case. You’ve got to be lucky with it and being healthy is part of that.
“When you think of the great players over the course of this organization and their ability to be available week in and week out, to join that list it really is humbling because those guys were some mentally tough and physically tough football players.”
Byron Jones Added To Cowboys' Injury Report
(Sept. 14; 4 p.m.) – Cowboys starting safety Byron Jones was added to Thursday’s injury report with a groin injury that limited his participation in practice.
Rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis practiced fully for the second straight day, seemingly putting him on track to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Wide receiver Terrance Williams did not practice for the second straight day. Neither did cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who had surgery Monday to repair a fracture in his left hand.
Click here for the Cowboys' and Broncos' injury reports.
Talented Matchup Between Cowboys' WRs and Broncos' Secondary
(Sept. 14; 3:30 p.m.) – As good as the Denver Broncos’ front seven is with Von Miller and Co., their “No Fly Zone” secondary remains among the NFL’s best defensive backs group.
It’s a unit that led the league in pass defense the last two seasons under Joe Woods, who was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator in the offseason, replacing Wade Phillips.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spent the final season of his playing career (2004) in Tampa Bay when Woods was coaching the Bucs’ defensive backs.
“When you get a chance to be around a guy on the practice field and be a part of a team, you see how guys respond to him,” Garrett said. “He was a younger coach at the time but you could tell he was well-respected by the players and by the other coaches. It doesn’t surprise me one bit he’s had the success he’s had.”
This Sunday, the Cowboys’ offense must find ways to move the ball and score points against a Denver defense with talent all over the field, including Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. The Cowboys counter with a dynamic receiving group that includes Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley, though Terrance Williams (ankle) has missed practice this week.
“Probably the best (defense) in the AFC,” Prescott said. “They’re great in the back end. They’ve got All-Pro cornerbacks. They’re fast. They’re savvy guys.”
Cowboys Re-Sign WR Brian Brown To Practice Squad
(Sept. 13; 6 p.m.) – The Cowboys brought back a training camp standout on Wednesday, as they signed wide receiver Brian Brown to their practice squad.
Brown signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent last spring, and he enjoyed a productive training camp before he was ultimately released during final roster cuts.
The Cowboys released safety Jameill Showers to make room for Brown on the practice squad. This will be the first time Showers hasn’t been with the team since he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He spent his first two seasons with the team as a quarterback, but the coaching staff moved him to safety after Dak Prescott eventually took over the starting job.
Anthony Hitchens Improving “Every Single Day” Since Knee Surgery
“I’ve gotten better every single day since I got out of surgery,” he said Wednesday. “That’s all I can ask for.”
In the Cowboys’ Aug. 26 preseason game, Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee with an initial recovery timetable of eight weeks. A scope confirmed no ACL damage. Jaylon Smith started at middle linebacker in Hitchens’ place against the Giants.
Hitchens is currently focused on his rehab with the athletic training staff. He’s also watching film, still preparing as if he were healthy enough to play right now.
“It’s always good news when it’s not an ACL,” Hitchens said. “I’m just thankful that it wasn’t and I’m just trying to get better each and every day so I can be my best when I get back.”
Scandrick & Williams Sit Out On Wednesday; Rookie Corners Practicing
(Sept. 13, 12:05 p.m.) – For a second-straight week, the Cowboys have to be encouraged by their injury status at the outset of practice on Wednesday.
There are a couple of issues, to be sure. Orlando Scandrick and Terrance Williams both sat out of practice on Wednesday morning, giving the Cowboys three total absentees, including Anthony Hitchens.
Scandrick and Williams were both injured during Sunday’s win against New York, but the prognosis on both seems to be favorable. Williams hurt his ankle on the first play from scrimmage on Sunday, but he finished the game and tallied six catches for 68 yards.
“I would see him as a limited practice player at most,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett of Williams on Wednesday.
Garrett confirmed that Scandrick underwent successful surgery on his broken hand on Monday evening. He seems unlikely that the veteran corner would suit up against the Broncos on Sunday, but the Cowboys are optimistic he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
“He had the surgery the other night and it went well,” Garrett said. “We'll take his situation day by day, but he's in good spirits and I think physically he's on the mend.”
While Scandrick recovers, there were encouraging signs from the Cowboys’ two young cornerbacks. Chidobe Awuzie was present and participating on Wednesday after tweaking his ankle in the final seconds of Sunday’s win. Jourdan Lewis, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury, was also participating in practice.
“I would anticipate Jourdan practicing a little bit more and hopefully Chidobe handles the work well and can do more as the practice goes on,” Garrett said.
Crawford Continues Making Progress With Ankle In Return vs. Giants
Crawford tallied two tackles against the Giants, working mostly at left end. His presence added necessary depth to the line rotation with Damontre’ Moore (two games) and David Irving (four games) suspended.
Crawford missed the entire preseason due to the ankle injury and worked hard on his rehab with the athletic training staff. He knew he’d be “a little rusty” in his return.
“Felt a lot better than I expected it to going into the game,” he said. “I’m just working on getting my ankle right and everything. It’s a work in progress; I know that. I know how injuries go.”
Jerry Jones Expects Elliott To Play Sunday As NFL Appeals Injunction
(Sept. 12; 9:30 a.m.) – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan that he expects running back Ezekiel Elliott to play in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos but didn’t speculate beyond this week regarding the NFL’s appeal of Elliott’s preliminary injunction.
Reports surfaced Monday that the NFL filed its appeal with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and planned to file for an emergency stay of the injunction blocking Elliott’s six-game suspension for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.
Last Friday, a Texas federal judge granted Elliott the injunction and temporary restraining order, paving the way for Elliott to remain on the field for the foreseeable future while the case moves through the court system. A timetable for a ruling on the league's appeal is uncertain.
“We’ve got a good narration going with the media, really doing in my mind a pretty good job of explaining it to our fans,” Jones said Tuesday during his weekly radio segment. “I’m not going to try to trump that, but I do expect him Sunday.”
Elliott rushed for 104 yards and gained 36 receiving yards in last Sunday’s 19-3 win over the New York Giants.
Scandrick Expected To Have Surgery On Fractured Hand
It’s currently uncertain whether Scandrick will be available for Sunday’s Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos.
Scandrick left for the locker room in the first half of the Cowboys’ season-opening win over the New York Giants and was subsequently ruled out of the game. Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones confirmed Scandrick’s fracture after the game.
Rookie Chidobe Awuzie took more defensive snaps with Scandrick out of the lineup.
NFL Files Appeal Of Ezekiel Elliott’s Preliminary Injunction
(Sept. 11; 9 a.m.) – The NFL has filed an appeal of running back Ezekiel Elliott’s preliminary injunction that currently blocks his six-game suspension for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, according to NFL.com and other reports.
The league filed the appeal with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last Friday, a Texas federal judge granted Elliott a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order that prevents the league from imposing the six-game suspension. The ruling paves the way for Elliott to remain on the field for the foreseeable future while the case moves through the court system.
Elliott gained 140 all-purpose yards in Sunday’s season-opening win over the New York Giants. Speaking publicly for the first time since the league suspended him Aug. 11, the second-year running back said he’s grateful to have the opportunity to continue playing while the process plays out.
“Just relief, just relief – the fact that I finally get a fair trial, the fact that I finally get a chance to prove my innocence,” he said. “I’m just happy that I’m able to be with these guys for as long as it’s permitted and just not having to miss time and not being away from them.”
A timeline for a ruling on the league’s appeal is uncertain. The Cowboys next play at the Denver Broncos this Sunday.
Williams Leaves in Walking Boot; Expects To Be Ready
It’s hard to think he would have one of the more productive games of the night, but that’s what happened. He returned to catch six balls for a team-high 68 yards – all of which with what he described “just a sprain” to his right ankle, which was in a walking boot after the game.
Williams said the doctors told him he was fine but that it wasn’t going to painful to run.
“It bothered me a little bit,” Williams said. “Not really when I was out there but more standing around on the sidelines.”
When asked about his status for Sunday’s game with the Broncos, Williams said he hopes to be ready.
“I hope so but I’m going to go in (Monday) morning and see what they say,” Williams said. “If it’s just based off of pain-tolerance, I say, let’s go.”
Scandrick Exits With Fractured Hand; Updating Chido's Ankle
The most notable would be the hand injury suffered by Orlando Scandrick, which forced him out of the game in the first half. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones described it as a fracture of his left hand.
Jones said he wasn’t sure if the injury would require surgery or simply protection, but he was optimistic it wouldn’t hold the veteran cornerback out too long.
“It looked like that they could do some work on it tomorrow and possibly have him ready for future games,” Jones said. “I’m not trying to dismiss it, but it’s something that we’d hope and think he can play with – just from the initial thing I looked at.”