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Blog: Bosa Thought “For Sure” He’d Be Drafted To Dallas; Injury Updates
Welcome to the 2017 DallasCowboys.com Writers' Blog, your daily resource for up-to-date news and notes throughout the season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie tweaked his ankle on one of the game’s final plays and was looked at by team athletic trainers after the final whistle. Awuzie said Brandon Marshall landed awkwardly on his ankle while he was making a tackle, but he thought he’d be fine.
“When I tackled him, he kind of rolled up on my ankle. But I should be good,” he said.
Chaz Green Shows Progress In First Career Start At Left Guard
Green appeared to work well with the rest of the Cowboys’ offensive line as the offense racked up 392 total yards, including 140 from running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Green, who competed with Cooper in preseason, previously played guard for only one half in his entire college career. The 2015 third-round pick played well in two starts for Tyron Smith at left tackle last season.
He called Sunday’s performance “a good start” at his new position.
“Definitely, that’s something I can build off of,” he said. “I also don’t want to relax. It’s the NFL; every week you’ve got a challenge with a guy right across from you.
“I’m so much more confident out there at left guard. I understand the offense. I understand the techniques and what I need to do. Just keep building from there.”
Witten Reaches Two Milestones During Productive First Half vs. Giants
Witten, already the franchise all-time leader in receptions, caught six passes in the half for 49 yards to move past Tim Brown for sixth place in NFL history in career receptions (1,095).
Late in the half, Witten gave the Cowboys a 13-0 lead with a 12-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s starting his franchise-record tying 15th NFL season tonight.
Darren McFadden & Odell Beckham Jr. Headline The Inactives For Season Opener
The Cowboys released their seven inactives prior to kickoff, as NFL rules stipulate that only 46 of a team’s 53 players can suit up for a game. With Elliott active and McFadden’s limited role on special teams, the Cowboys opted to sit the veteran running back down.
On the other sideline, the New York Giants also declared Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. inactive with the ankle injury that has bothered him for the last two weeks.
These are all fairly straightforward, in keeping with the Cowboys’ good health during the week. Rush will sit for his first career regular season game, giving the nod to Kellen Moore as the Cowboys’ backup quarterback. Lewis and Hitchens are both coping with injuries, making it logical to sit them down.
Benwikere’s absence is tied to Chidobe Awuzie, who has been deemed healthy enough to participate in his first regular season game. Cooper will also sit, as Chaz Green has been ruled healthy enough to play – and will likely start at left guard.
Brown was always likely to be inactive, as the Cowboys’ other five receivers are healthy and expected to participate in Sunday’s game.
The Giants’ other six inactives, other than Beckham, are quarterback Davis Webb, wide receiver Tavarres King, running back Wayne Gallman Jr., linebacker Keenan Robinson, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and tight end Matt LaCosse.
21 Months Since His Injury, Jaylon Smith Ready For Regular-Season Debut
Some thought the devastating knee injury and nerve damage Smith suffered in his final college game on New Year’s Day 2016 might prevent him from playing another game, period.
As Smith readies for his long-awaited NFL regular-season debut Sunday night against the New York Giants, he won’t take any of it for granted.
But he’s also focused on the present. After all, Sunday night is just the beginning.
“I believe with what I went through and the magnitude of it, it’ll always be with me,” he said. “But for me, I’m focused on nothing but being successful.”
Smith back enjoying the on-field camaraderie with his teammates. And throughout this process, he’s been grateful for the entire organization’s support, including Dr. Dan Cooper, the Cowboys’ team physician who performed Smith’s surgery in 2016, and Britt Brown, the Cowboys’ associate athletic trainer who oversaw his rehab.
Smith said he got more and more comfortable in training camp practice and preseason games. His teammates can see it, too.
“It’s been unbelievable what he’s been able to do,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “Being out there with him I’m extremely comfortable. The type of work he’s put in to come back, what he looked like in OTA’s, what he looked like in training camp, he’s ready to play. I’m excited to be out there with him, excited to make plays with him.”
Beckham Listed As “Questionable” For Giants; More Injury Updates
(Sept. 8; 3:30 p.m.) – Odell Beckham’s availability for Sunday’s opener is uncertain – the Giants’ Pro Bowl receiver is officially listed as questionable with an ankle injury – but Cowboys Pro Bowl wideout Dez Bryant wouldn’t be surprised at all if Beckham suited up despite sitting out practice all week.
“He’s the heart and soul of that squad,” Bryant said Friday.
Click here for the full injury report for both teams.
It's Been A Frustrating Wait, But Jourdan Lewis Is Staying Patient
All players deal with injury at one point or another, but consider this fact. Lewis was drafted by the Cowboys more than four months ago, and he just worked into his first padded practice on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s been pretty frustrating,” Lewis said on Friday. “Actually having my first NFL reps, padded – actually being Wednesday – was kind of crazy if you think about it. You’re a rookie and you’re just getting into your first padded practice.”
Lewis worked with the team throughout the offseason program, but his entire training camp was hampered by a hamstring injury he suffered at the outset. He has been rehabbing the injury diligently, but this past week offered his first opportunity to practice in an 11-on-11 format.
“I’m just happy to be out there, getting in the groove of things and trying to get back out there and fully going,” he said.
It’s doubtful Lewis makes his debut along with the rest of his fellow rookies against the Giants. The Cowboys want to make sure he’s fully ready to go, rather than risk re-aggravating the injury. Lewis did say his progress has been encouraging, though.
“It’s getting better, and that’s all we can ask for,” he said.
In the meantime, Lewis said he’s doing his best to say sharp on the mental side of the game – familiarizing himself with the playbook and the game plan. The wait might be agonizing, but hopefully it won’t last too much longer.
“It’s definitely been frustrating, but it’s a learning curve. Just try to stay in everything, try to be mentally focused and prepare for it when I do get my chance.
Linehan Says Rush-Moore Backup Competition Is A “Healthy Situation”
There might not be a permanent decision anytime soon, either.
“They’re going against the No. 1 defense (on scout team), so I think that’s a big plus,” Linehan said.
Asked if the backup competition could be a week-to-week proposition, Linehan said, “Don’t know for sure right now. Right now I’d say week to week. At some point I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a definitive No. 2, but I like the fact that they’re competing and getting better as we share the reps. I think that’s a really healthy situation for us.”
Cowboys Looking Healthy At Wednesday Practice; Zeke Practicing
(Sept. 6, 11:47 a.m.) – The Cowboys appear to be remarkably healthy heading into their matchup against the Giants – even for Week 1.
The first practice of the week began Wednesday morning, and Anthony Hitchens was the only member of the 53-man roster who did not participate while the media was in attendance.
There are still some players that bear monitoring. Chaz Green is working back from an ankle problem, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Jourdan Lewis likely won’t participate fully in practice. The rookie corner is still coming back from a hamstring injury. Tyrone Crawford is also working his way back to practice after missing the past few weeks with a lateral ankle sprain.
Having said that, it has to be considered encouraging that the vast majority of the Cowboys’ roster was able to take the field for the first practice of the week.
There are no injury concerns for Ezekiel Elliott, but all eyes were on him during the open portion of practice. Elliott is eligible to play against the Giants on Sunday, although his six-game suspension was upheld by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson on Tuesday night.
Garrett said Elliott will focus on what he can control heading into this game, while the Cowboys wait to hear whether a Texas judge will grant him a temporary restraining order, which would potentially allow him to play in subsequent weeks.
“He’s going to practice today and the rest of the week and he’s able to play in this ball game on Sunday,” Garrett said. “That’s really where our focus is – nothing really beyond that. That’s what we’ve been planning for all along.”
Prescott, Scandrick Voted Among Captains For 2017 Season
After a team vote, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Dak Prescott, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, Orlando Scandrick and Dan Bailey will serve as captains for the upcoming season. That’s a whopping six captains.
NFL teams typically feature five captains – two on offense, two on defense and one on special teams. The Cowboys made an exception, given the leadership displayed by both Crawford and Scandrick. Garrett said the team tried to add in a seventh captain, but NFL rules didn’t allow it.
Travis Frederick served as an offensive captain in 2016 after Tony Romo went down with a back injury. It’s a testament to Prescott’s ownership of the offense that he was elected a captain heading into just his second season.
Nzeocha Returns to Practice Squad; Rookie WR Cut
A seventh-round pick in 2015, Nzeocha has played in only eight games, including six last year. He has four tackles on defense and another on special teams. Injuries have plagued Nzeocha since he arrived, including a knee injury he sustained in college at Wyoming.
To make room, the Cowboys released Brian Brown, an undrafted rookie wide receiver from Richmond. Brown had a few nice catches throughout the preseason and training camp and figured to be a player in the team’s plans moving forward. The Cowboys still have one receiver on the practice squad in rookie Lance Lenoir.
Jerry Jones: Tyrone Crawford Is "Ready" To Play Sunday Against New York
Jones held his weekly interview on 105.3 FM The Fan on Tuesday morning, and one of the numerous topics he covered was the health of Tyrone Crawford. The veteran pass rusher has been sidelined since Aug. 8, when he suffered a lateral ankle sprain during a training camp practice.
The injury looked grisly at the time, but the Cowboys were optimistic he’d be able to return for the season opener – and that does in fact look to be the case.
“He's ready. He'll play Sunday night," Jones said.
That could be a big boost for a defensive line that is without two contributors in David Irving and Damontre’ Moore, both of whom are suspended to start the year. Crawford appeared in 14 games last season and finished third on the team with 4.5 sacks.
Rico Gathers Placed On Reserve/Injured List
Gathers has been in the concussion protocol and out of practice since an accidental helmet-to-helmet collision in training camp practice on Aug. 15. He will be eligible to return to the active roster from Reserve/Injured after a league-mandated eight weeks. Teams are permitted to recall two players from IR during the season.
Gathers, a sixth-round pick in 2016, has shown progress in his transition from college basketball to the NFL. He caught a touchdown pass in each of the Cowboys’ first two preseason games.
Cowboys Trade For Green Bay OLB Jayrone Elliott
(Sept. 3, 2:26 p.m.) – With Anthony Hitchens sidelined by injury, the Cowboys took steps to address their linebacker depth on Sunday afternoon.
The Cowboys traded an undisclosed 2018 draft pick to Green Bay in exchange for Jayrone Elliott, who is entering his fourth season after going undrafted in 2014. To make room on the roster, they released third-year linebacker Mark Nzeocha.
Elliott played as an outside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme, featuring on special teams while also contributing to the pass rush. It’s unclear how exactly the Cowboys intend to use him, but his ability to handle three roles has to be seen as a positive.
Through three seasons, he has posted 47 tackles with four sacks and an interception.
Cedric Thornton Released; Cowboys Claim DT Price Off Waivers
(Sept. 3; 1:15 p.m.) – A day after reaching the 53-man limit, the Cowboys’ roster tweaks continued with a somewhat surprising veteran release: defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract in March of last year.
Thornton’s departure created a spot for the Cowboys to claim first-year defensive tackle Brian Price off waivers from the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Price, undrafted out of UT-San Antonio a year ago, spent time on the Packers’ active roster and practice squad last year.
The Cowboys chose to move on from Thornton despite his guaranteed $3 million base salary for 2017. Last year he was a reserve behind Terrell McClain in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s rotation.
McClain’s free-agent replacement this year, Stephen Paea, worked primarily with the starting defensive line ahead of Thornton in preseason. A hamstring injury sidelined Thornton for part of camp.
Thornton appeared in 13 games for Dallas last season, recording 22 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Cowboys Sign RB Brandon Brown-Dukes
(Aug. 31; 10:45 a.m.) – For now, the Cowboys are back at 90 players with the signing of running back Brandon Brown-Dukes on Tuesday.
Before Thursday’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans was canceled so the Texans could travel back to Houston and see their families in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Cowboys likely planned to give Brown-Dukes some carries with starters and veterans expected to rest or play sparingly.
The Cowboys had an open roster spot after placing cornerback Leon McFadden on the Reserve/Injured list. The team must trim the roster to 53 players on Sept. 2.
With the game canceled, the Cowboys will hold a closed practice Thursday at AT&T Stadium that will be televised locally on CBS-11 and 20 other markets throughout the southwest. During practice, select Cowboys players will participate in a live telethon. Funds raised from the telethon will be dedicated to The Salvation Army for the purpose of supporting the ongoing relief efforts to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Texans Issue Official Statement on Game Cancellation
The Houston Texans release the following statement after deciding to cancel Thursday's game.
“The Houston Texans have made the decision to travel back to Houston after local authorities have now found a safe route for the team to drive home today. The fourth preseason game scheduled for Thursday night in Dallas will be cancelled. At this time, the priority of our organization is getting our players, coaches and staff back home to be reunited with their families, many of whom have been evacuated from their homes and are currently sheltered. The team feels it is imperative to get back home to help the Houston community recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Robert, Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair will make a donation equal to the money that would have been generated from ticket sales from Thursday’s preseason game in Arlington to recovery and relief efforts.
Fans that have purchased tickets to Thursday’s game will have the option to donate the money to relief efforts or request a refund through Ticketmaster. Further details regarding refunds will be announced later today.
The Houston Texans sincerely appreciate the support shown by the Dallas Cowboys and our NFL family during this difficult time.”
Thursday's Cowboys-Texans Preseason Game Canceled
(Aug. 30, 10:47 a.m.) – Roughly 48 hours after it was announced, Thursday’s relocated preseason game between the Cowboys and Texans has been canceled.
It’s the latest twist in what has been whirlwind week after Hurricane Harvey slammed the Houston area and the Gulf Coast. The Texans traveled to Dallas on Saturday night after a preseason game in New Orleans, unable to return to Houston due to flood and extensive storm damage.
The Texans have been using the Cowboys’ facility at The Star to practice this week, and the two teams’ preseason contest – original slated to be played in Houston – was relocated to AT&T Stadium.
In the time since, the Texans have opted for an opportunity to return home to their families and community.
The Cowboys made all tickets to the game available for $25 on Tuesday night, with all of those proceeds going to hurricane relief efforts. Fans who have already purchased tickets may get them refunded. Otherwise, that money will still go toward storm relief.
Cowboys officials are in the process of determining whether an event can still be held on AT&T Stadium on Thursday night -- be it a practice, a scrimmage, an autograph session or something similar.
Cowboys Place CB Leon McFadden On Reserve/Injured List
McFadden had missed the last several practices with a hamstring injury.
The roster move puts the Cowboys closer to reaching the NFL-mandated 53-man limit by Sept. 2. The team has one more preseason game Thursday against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium and then will focus on final roster cuts.
Preseason Finale With Texans Officially Moved to AT&T Stadium
(Aug. 28; 5:20 p.m.) As expected, Thursday’s preseason finale with the Texans has been officially moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The NFL made the announcement Monday afternoon, not long after the Texans finished up their practice at Ford Center here in Frisco.
With the relentless rain from Hurricane Harvey that has hit the city of Houston, the league has decided to divert the game from NRG Stadium to AT&T Stadium.
As of now, ticket and parking information is unavailable but will be announced later in the week.
Hurricane Forces Texans To Dallas; Practicing At The Star & Maybe More
(Aug. 27; 6:20 p.m.) While football obviously takes a backseat to the catastrophic events taking place in Houston, the Cowboys have not only opened up their facility for the Houston Texans, but are prepared to even host Thursday’s preseason finale, which was scheduled at NRG Stadium.
Hurricane Harvey and the massive amounts of rain prevented the Texans from returning to Houston after Saturday’s preseason game in New Orleans. Instead, the team traveled to Dallas, where they are expected to practice indoors at The Star on Monday and Tuesday in Frisco.
The Cowboys have scheduled practices at Ford Center, which are open to the public. Houston will alternate its practice schedule around the Cowboys’ plans. Dallas is scheduled for a night practice at 5 p.m. on Monday and then 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s likely the Texans will stagger their practices, going in the morning on Monday and in the afternoon Tuesday.
For now, there has been no official word on moving the game to AT&T Stadium. On Saturday, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said it’s not their decision to make but if the Texans and the NFL decide to go that route, they will make sure AT&T Stadium is ready for action.
Anthony Hitchens, Chaz Green Leave Game With Injuries vs. Raiders
Hitchens was helped off the field by team athletic trainers with a knee injury, according to a press box announcement. Earlier in the second quarter, Green limped to the locker room with an ankle injury. Cornerback Duke Thomas also suffered a knee injury in the first half.
The severity of each injury is unknown at this point.
Cowboys Sign New WR & LB To Fill Roster Vacancies
(Aug. 25, 3:43 p.m.) – The Cowboys have released two injured players ahead of Saturday’s game against Oakland, replacing them with two new names.
The team announced Friday that it had waived/injured wide receiver Corey Washington and linebacker John Lotulelei, after both players sustained injuries in the last few days. Washington had only been with the team for a week or so, while Lotulelei had been with the Cowboys throughout the offseason program after signing a futures contract in January.
The Cowboys held workouts on Friday, and they signed two of those – wide receiver Karel Hamilton and linebacker Lamar Louis. Hamilton is a rookie who signed with Cincinnati after going undrafted in the spring. The Bengals released him last weekend.
Louis is in his second NFL season and has spent time with three clubs. He signed with Arizona after going undrafted in 2016, and he was ultimately released in Week 2 of last season. He later spent a month with the New Orleans Saints. The Baltimore Ravens signed him last December, and he remained there through the 2017 offseason until he was released last week.
It seems like a good bet that both players will have opportunities to make an impression in the Cowboys’ preseason finale against Houston next week. Read
Elliott To Be Excused From Practice During Next Week’s Appeal Hearing
Two weeks ago, the NFL suspended Elliott six regular-season games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Jones said a Cowboys representative will attend the appeal hearing. He did not want to speculate on a timetable for a ruling by Harold Henderson, who was appointed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeal.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said Thursday that he's leaning toward playing Elliott for the first time this preseason Saturday night against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. The All-Pro running back is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.
Stephen Jones: AT&T Stadium Available If Necessary For Preseason Finale
(Aug. 25; 11:48 p.m.) – With Hurricane Harvey moving toward Houston, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said AT&T Stadium’s “doors are open” as a contingency plan for next Thursday’s preseason finale against the Texans, currently scheduled to be played NRG Stadium in Houston.
“Yes, we’ll make it available if we need to,” Jones said. “We want to help them in any way we can.
“We’re working with them. Certainly our door is open. We think so much of them, Mr. (Bob) McNair and the Texans, and if we can help them in any way, then obviously our doors are open to help them out if they need help.”
Chaz Green Knows Staying On The Field Is Critical In Camp Competition
Injuries held him back his first two seasons in the league – and as he competes with Jonathan Cooper at left guard in this year’s training camp, he also continues to fight against cramping due to dehydration.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with my whole career,” Green said. “It’s definitely frustrating but it’s kind of part of what it is to be an athlete.”
Green has battled cramping in practice in his first two seasons in the league, and he left late in practice Tuesday for the same reason. He continually works with the athletic training staff to combat the issue, and he has practiced the last two days at both guard and tackle.
But with La’el Collins entrenched at right tackle, left guard is Green’s best chance to start.
He said he only played guard once at the University of Florida: one half against Vanderbilt his senior year. The 2015 third-round pick missed most of his rookie season with the Cowboys due to hip surgery, and he was the backup swing tackle last year before a back injury ended his season.
Now he’s adjusting to guard, and doing everything he can to stay on the field.
“I’ve said this in the past: The more reps I get, I tend to do better out there, especially at a new position,” Green said. “It’s key. It’s something they’ve talked to me about. I know myself. Just got to do what I can to stay on the field as much as possible.”
Garrett Updates Status Of Chaz Green & Charles Tapper
“He had a good day’s work yesterday,” Garrett said. “That happened at the later part of practice, so we do anticipate him going today.”
Tapper left practice with a neck injury, but Garrett was optimistic that the problem doesn’t seem too serious.
“The X-Rays and the tests were negative, which was positive for us, but we’ll see how he feels today,” Garrett said.
Elsewhere, Garrett said the Cowboys’ veterans will have their usual off day during the practice cycle. Darren McFadden, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick will all sit out of the competitive portions of practice. Those absences are not injury-related.
Crawford Looking To Return From Ankle Sprain “Sooner Than Later”
“He’s doing a lot of stuff on the side with our trainers and with our strength staff. And he’s got a real good spirit about him,” Garrett said. “I think that was a scary situation for all of us when it first happened. But we got some good news afterward and we don’t anticipate him doing anything this week or even next week. We’re hopeful in the next couple of weeks he’ll be back ready to go again.”
The Cowboys’ regular-season opener is Sept. 10 against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.
Crawford was carted off the practice field Aug. 8 in Oxnard, Calif., after his ankle bent awkwardly during a play in team drills. Initially, he feared the worst.
“When you have a time in your career (2013) where you tear your Achilles, that’s the first thing that goes through your mind when something happens around your ankle area,” he said. “That’s the first thing that went through my mind. I heard a little pop. Immediately started praying, hoping it wasn’t, and thank God it wasn’t.”
Crawford is out of a protective boot and seems to be moving around well. He said he's started in his on-field rehab work with Britt Brown, the Cowboys' associate athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation.
“We’re working to be back sooner than later, definitely,” he said. Read
Cooper Rush Will Get Some More 2nd-Team QB Reps, Garrett Says
Kellen Moore took the majority of the second-team work Monday, but late in practice Rush was given a few reps. The undrafted rookie has been productive in three preseason games, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“From minute one, rookie minicamp all through the OTA’s and certainly through training camp and his first few preseason games, he’s ready for his opportunities," Garrett said. "So yesterday we gave him some work with the twos and he did a nice job with that. We moved Kellen Moore to work with the threes. We moved them back again during practice. Just wanted to see how each of those guys responded.”
Moore played well in the Hall of Fame Game against Arizona, posting a 100.6 passer rating with one touchdown and one interception. In the last two preseason games he’s completed 18 of 38 passes for 200 yards, and he lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown against the Colts this past Saturday.
Garrett was asked if Rush’s work with the second team is a product of what he’s done or what Moore hasn’t done.
“Probably a combination,” Garrett said. “I thought Kellen has done some really good things and then other times hasn’t been as good. And Cooper has taken advantage of his opportunities when he’s gotten them. That’s the big thing we try to emphasize to all our players. “If you get 20 reps in practice and work two, maximize them. … Each of those guys has done a good job of that.”
Rod Smith’s “No. 1 Fan,” Jaylon Smith, Is Proud Of His Big Brother
"That's my big brother. He's doing his thing,” Jaylon said. “He's very comfortable back at the running back position. Last year, he switched to fullback, a position he never played before. They asked him to gain 10 pounds. He's confident. He's looking like his old self."
While Jaylon has worked diligently to return from his 2016 injury, Rod has impressed the Cowboys in training camp while competing for a backup running back spot.
Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, pending appeal, could help pave the way for Rod to make the team. A strong preseason performance like last Saturday night certainly helps, too.
“I’m really proud of him,” Jaylon said. “I’m his No. 1 fan.”
As Zeke Rests, Cowboys Show Their Running Back Depth In Win
That’s six yards per carry in limited work for Elliott’s primary backups, both established veterans and former 1,000-yard rushers.
“We always approach every day as to be the starters because you’re one play away,” Morris said. “Every day in practice we show up and let it be known we can carry the load just like we have in the past and can continue doing in the future.”
One miscue was McFadden’s lost fumble inside the red zone on the offense’s second series. He wasn’t sure what caused the fumble, but overall he was productive running behind the Cowboys’ starting offensive line.
“It felt good being out there and being able to work with those guys,” he said. “They do a great job up front. Anytime I can I get behind those guys and run, I love it.”
Proof of the team’s depth at running back, Rod Smith also continued his strong preseason with seven carries for 53 yards in the second half.
“No difference than we’ve seen in camp,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Everybody on this team would say the same, that tonight was just another extension of what he’s done all camp long -- a guy that runs hard, drives his knees, breaks tackles. He was a broken tackle a way from a long touchdown, as you see. He’s just a great guy that goes out there and shows his all every time.”
Jones Still Gathering Thoughts On Elliott Suspension; Team “In Support Of Zeke”
The suspension is currently under appeal and reportedly will be heard Aug. 29.
“I have said I just want to get my thoughts together, see some more cards played and just see kind of how this thing turns out,” Jones said. “I know that they’ve got a real important date set and want that to have every opportunity it can to have things in its best light. But we certainly are in support of Zeke.”
Garrett Reflects On Oxnard Camp; Three Competitions In Final Practice
The team held its final practice on the West Coast, a combination of work in pads and shells, on Thursday. The players will fly home Friday, play their third preseason game Saturday against the Colts at AT&T Stadium, then resume a camp-like format next week with a series of practices at The Star in Frisco.
“I thought we had a really good camp,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought guys came in, they were ready to practice. They did a good job preparing themselves in the time that we had off before camp and we got right to work. To me, having the opportunity to play in the Hall of Fame Game was really good for our team, a chance to see a lot of young guys in a game-type environment has been good for us. I think it’s helped their development and growth throughout camp. And now to have three more games to get some of the more veteran players ready and to get our entire football team evaluated the way we need to, it’s a great opportunity for us.”
As he’s known to do at the end of camp, Garrett decided to finish the final practice with a little friendly competition. He promised to tweak the team’s remaining Thursday schedule (meetings, walkthrough, regular curfew time) if the players met three challenges.
They did. Quarterback-turned-safety Jameill Showers threw a pass that hit the star logo on the River Ridge Complex tower, safety (and former high school kicker) Jeff Heath kicked a field goal, and offensive lineman Dan Skipper fielded a punt from Chris Jones.
The Best Jason Garrett Impression That Cooper Rush Can Give
Quarterback Cooper Rush didn’t fare so well.
“He got booed in the first three words,” Dak Prescott said.
Plan B for Rush: Do an impression of head coach Jason Garrett.
“It was great,” Prescott said. “The redhead, the resemblance. He did a great job.”
Asked to rate Rush’s impersonation, Garrett smiled and said, “It’s hard to know. He’s a better quarterback than an impressionist.”
Indeed, Garrett and the Cowboys are pleased with Rush’s progress in camp. The undrafted rookie has shown poise and composure in the second half of the first two preseason games, throwing a touchdown in each game.
Perhaps that’s the best Garrett impression Rush can make: Catch on in the league as a backup with upside. Garrett played 13 years, including seven with the Cowboys as a member of two Super Bowl teams.
“He has a good feel for playing,” Garrett said of Rush. “A lot of the stuff we look for that maybe stuff other people don’t see, he gets the ball out of his hand quickly, sometimes he’ll speed up through a progression because there is a guy rushing him, he knows he has to get it out of his hand.
“I think he manages the game well. He’s poised and composed, he handles success and adversity. Those are the things that you want to see in a young quarterback. He demonstrated that in his first two outings.”
Jerry Jones Not Prepared To Comment About Ezekiel Elliott Suspension
(Aug. 15, 6:43 p.m.) – Jerry Jones said he intends to discuss Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and subsequent appeal at some point – but not quite yet.
The Cowboys’ owner and general manager was stopped by reporters after his team’s Tuesday practice, just a few days following the announcement of Elliott’s six-game suspension. But even as the NFL Players Association announced it would appeal the ruling, Jones said he isn’t prepared to comment.
“I don’t have anything to say about any of the appeal or anything about that issue, today,” Jones said. “But certainly I’ll be visiting with you guys about it in the future. Right now, today, is just not the time for me to talk about it.”
Jones was asked a variety of follow-up questions, such as whether he was upset about the ruling or whether he had spoken to Elliott. He declined comment on all of them, but he did allow that he intends to speak about the situation at some point in the future.
“I’m not going to visit about that,” he said. “I’m best going to comment on this thing when I have all of our thoughts and plans in place.”
The Cowboys switched out a few players near the bottom of the roster on Tuesday, adding four new players.
(Aug. 15; 4:10 p.m.) – Among those are two cornerbacks who worked out for the team after walk-through practice here in Oxnard. Dajuan Butler and John Green were signed to the roster to help with cornerback depth that has been depleted thanks to hamstring injuries to Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Marquez White.
The Cowboys also signed tight end M.J. McFarland, who was with the team briefly in the offseason and wide receiver Corey Washington.
To make room, the Cowboys waived guard Ruben Carter and linebacker Lucas Wacha. Tight end Connor Hamlett (ankle) was waived/injured and wide receiver Javonte Herndon received an injury settlement.
Justin Durant Passes Physical, Expected To Return To Practice
For the second straight year, Durant signed a one-year deal with Dallas in mid-July. This year he entered training camp coming off elbow surgery.
A 10-year veteran, Durant appeared in 13 games last season and registered 54 tackles.
It’s uncertain how much work Durant will get in practice as he works his way back into the linebacker rotation. As a free agent, he did not participate in an NFL offseason program while recovering from his elbow injury.
Updating Injury Status On Tyron Smith, Rookie CBs
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addressed the media Monday afternoon and updated several injury issues facing the team – namely, Tyron Smith, who missed last week with tightness in his back.
“We’re going to try to work Tyron back in there,” Garrett said.
Smith might not have a full workload, as the aim is to manage his back properly through the preseason. But smith participated in the team’s morning walkthrough, so his ability to do some work in practice is in line with the Cowboys’ assessment that the injury isn’t a serious issue.
Elsewhere, it was encouraging to see cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis participate in the morning walkthrough. However, both players are still recovering from hamstring injuries, and Garrett said neither will participate in the competitive portions of practice.
Taco Charlton Hopes Sack vs. Rams Is “First Of Many”
Starting at right defensive end, the Cowboys’ first-round pick was more active with about 10 more snaps than his debut in the Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals. Early in the game he had a quarterback pressure and hustled across the field to chase down running back Malcolm Brown.
His sack, late in the first quarter, helped force the Rams to punt from deep in their own territory. The Cowboys would then drive for a field goal.
“It felt good to finally get one,” Charlton said. “Hopefully this is the first of many, but it felt good to finally get one in an NFL game.”
Charlton said he played 16 snaps against the Cardinals on Aug. 3. Head coach Jason Garrett said at first glance, the rookie appeared to be around the ball more in his second game.
“When you’re a defensive lineman, you have the opportunity to go against our offensive linemen in practice, what a great opportunity to get better,” Garrett said. “And you’re not going to win all the time, you’re going to lose a lot. But you just have to keep battling. He’s certainly done that.”
Injury Updates: Connor Hamlett Hurts Ankle; Stephen Paea Sits Out; More
Hamlett’s injury adds to a list of Cowboys players who have been sidelined. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea did not travel with the team to L.A. due to swelling in his knee. Among those who did not play were Tyrone Crawford (ankle) left tackle Tyron Smith (back), Sean Lee (hamstring), Brice Butler (foot) and rookie Jourdan Lewis (hamstring).
Lee Walks Into Locker Room With Hamstring Injury
Head coach Jason Garrett will address the matter in his post-practice press conference but the vibe here at camp is that Lee’s setback isn’t too serious.
He walked into the locker room midway through practice without a noticeable limp. He was held out of Wednesday’s practice for a veteran day.
It was probably 50-50 if he played Saturday in Los Angeles but it’s likely not going to happen now.
Tapper Dealing With Hip Soreness; Says Back Is Fine
Tapper, who made his game debut last week against the Arizona Cardinals, said the long trip back from Ohio on Hall of Fame weekend likely contributed to the muscle spasms he’s dealing with this week. He didn’t take part in team drills on Wednesday.
The good news: Tapper says his back isn’t an issue. He spent his rookie season rehabbing a back injury and still does core workouts to help strengthen that area.
He’s listening to the athletic trainers and hopes to be back to full participation soon. Last week was a start.
“A whole year I’ve been missing playing football,” he said, “to finally get out there and run around and have some fun.”
(Update: Tapper worked back into some team drills on Thursday.)
Dak Looks Up To Roger Staubach On And Off The Field
One Cowboys legend in particular Prescott has enjoyed visiting with since entering the league: Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, who was known for his scrambling ability as a quarterback, too.
“He’s just a great guy,” Prescott said. “He definitely gives me advice, talks about me running and stuff like that on the football field. But he’s just a guy that I like to watch and look at over his whole life in everything that he’s done, from being in the military serving our country to playing this great game and now the businessman he is.
“He’s just somebody that you’re forced to idolize. So any chance I get to just talk to him, it’s special to me.”
Garrett: Tyrone Crawford Will Be Out “A Little Bit” With Sprained Ankle
“We don’t anticipate him practicing here in the next few days, but maybe not as quite as serious as everyone initially reported,” Garrett said.
The Cowboys haven’t listed a specific timetable for Crawford’s return. Four preseason games are left, and their Sept. 10 regular-season opener is just over four weeks away.
Crawford has been working at defensive end in the base defense and moving inside to defensive tackle in the nickel defense.
“He’s just a really hard-working guy,” Garrett said. “Football’s very important to him. He’s a great example to his teammates and he’s getting better and better and better.”
Garrett, Cowboys Not Alarmed By Smith’s Back Issues
While he’s been relatively healthy all summer long, Smith has now started to experience more issues with his back, causing him to sit out of a few practices over the last two weeks. And even when he’s returned, Smith hasn’t looked himself, getting beat a few times in pass-rushing drills.
Head coach Jason Garrett said Smith is dealing with “tightness” in his back but doesn’t seem overly cocnered at this point.
“We don’t think issue is related to anything in his past,” Garrett said. “For a guy like that, we just want to be deliberate bringing him back.”
Garrett said Smith won’t practice on Wednesday, but that was more scheduled as six other vets – Bryant, Witten, Crawford, Lee, Scandrick and McFadden are taking veteran rest days.
Jaylon Feels “Great” As He Gets Set For More Reps Wednesday
“I feel great, I really do,” Smith said. “Just taking it day by day.”
Lee starts at the weak-side (WILL) spot. Smith has been practicing mostly at middle linebacker (MIKE) but played WILL in college.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the team hasn’t decided whether Smith will make his debut this Saturday against the L.A. Rams, but he “absolutely” expects Smith to play in preseason. The Cowboys have four games left.
Smith says the padded practices have been good preparation for game action, whenever it comes.
“Cowboys practice is tough,” he said. “You’ve got to grind it out and it’s something that I’ve been doing and when you get in the games that’s the fun part.”
Crawford Carted Off With Apparent Ankle Injury
Defensive linemen Tyrone Crawford appeared to have a significant right ankle injury towards the end of Tuesday’s afternoon practice, forcing him to be carted off the field.
Crawford, who has been playing mostly defensive end as of late, tried to chase down Ezekiel Elliott on a play. But when the running back reversed field, Crawford stopped abruptly and went down immediately. He was on the field for a few minutes and expressed obvious frustration as his teammates tried to offer support.
It wasn’t far on the field from when Crawford suffered a torn Achilles and missed all of the 2013 season.
Stay turned for more details.
5 Players Who Have Stood Out To Stephen Jones So Far In Camp
Who and what has stood out to Stephen Jones so far in practice and games? In a visit with reporters Monday, Jones mentioned five players: Read
- The early receiver battle between first-year veteran Andy Jones and seventh-round pick Noah Brown. “I think Andy’s come a long ways and I think Noah brings a skill set to the table that’s going to be interesting in terms of that competition," Stephen Jones said.
- Jones said linebacker Jaylon Smith has “answered the bell every time” in terms of his work back from last year’s knee injury and nerve damage.
- Second-round cornerback Chidobe Awuzie’s start to camp. Jones said the Hall of Fame Game was a good early test that he will continue to build on in preseason.
- Jones praised first-year defensive end Charles Tapper’s productivity prior to the lower body tightness that sidelined him for most of Monday’s practice.
"Too Early To Speculate" On a Contract Extension for Zack Martin
“We’re making our rounds there, and it takes time,” Jones said. “That’s usually kind of how these things work. There’s a whole lot of zero progress, then all of a sudden you make some.”
Jones said when the Cowboys arrived at training camp that they would try to work out a new deal for their All-Pro guard. Martin still has two seasons left on his rookie contract, but the Cowboys would prefer to secure him for the long-term, as they’ve done with other offensive line building blocks like Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.
“It’s too early for me to speculate whether we’re close or whether this thing can get done or not,” Jones said. “Obviously, we would love to get it done. But there’s two sides to this, and certainly it’s not easy to figure out exactly where it should be.”
Martin has been a Pro Bowler in all three of his professional seasons, and he has been named first-team All-Pro twice. When he does eventually sign a new deal, it’s bound to be a hefty one. However tough the negotiation might be, Jones said he was happy in the knowledge that Martin wants to be with the Cowboys – and the Cowboys certainly want him with them.
“As I said, I fully suspect we’ll figure something out at some point in time, and he’ll be a Dallas Cowboy for most of his career,” he said.
Tyron Smith and Maliek Collins Return to Practice on Monday; Other Injury Updates
“We do anticipate those guys doing some work in practice,” Garrett said.
Smith missed the last two days of practice before the Cowboys’ trip to Ohio with back tightness. Collins has been out a bit longer, as he suffered a hip flexor injury during the first padded practice of camp.
Two injured players from the Hall of Fame Game will sit out to start this week. Anthony Brown is still recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered in the win against Arizona, and Joe Looney is sitting out with a toe injury.
“Don’t anticipate either of those guys practicing,” Garrett said. “Anthony is dealing with a hamstring, Joe is dealing with a toe. We’re taking each of those situations day by day.”
Elsewhere, it doesn’t sound like either Ryan Switzer or Jourdan Lewis is quite ready to return to the fray. Both players are recovering from hamstring injuries, and Garrett said all the Cowboys’ hampered players are working their way back on their own schedules.
“Some of those guys will be limited. It varies from guy to guy – warming up on the side, doing individuals,” he said. “Some guys will do some team as we go. There’s a group of guys who are kind of in that limited category.”
Cowboys Find Some Normalcy in Oxnard
The Cowboys made it back on the practice field here in Oxnard for the first time in nearly a week. Monday’s practice was a sense of normalcy for the Cowboys, who spent four days in Ohio, both playing in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, along with the weekend of festivities surrounding Jerry Jones’ induction.
The Cowboys did have one practice spliced into the hectic week when Jason Garrett had the team working out at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon before the team went to the Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton. View Gallery.
Witten, Sean Lee Comment On Jerry Jones’ HOF Enshrinement
"It was a special weekend for the Jones family and all of us who have been a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization over the years.
It certainly was an honor well deserved for a man who respects the game, has given his life to it, and has done so much for the betterment of our game.
Tonight ensures that his accomplishments won't soon be forgotten, and his legacy memorialized for generations of the future.
It was neat for the world to see what we get to see so often — with an owner like Jerry, it makes you want to be the best you can possibly be every day, to represent the Star the right way."
“To see Mr. Jones enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is something special for our entire football team, and we are all honored to be a part of it.
His hard work, not only within our organization, but around the entire NFL, has solidified the future of our game and made it what it is today.
His passion for the game is on display each and everyday, and it is evident to the entire organization. It makes everyone more determined to get their job done.
His leadership and drive represent the values of both the Star and the NFL shield.”
Anthony Brown Leaves Game Early With Tight Hamstring
Brown, a nine-game starter as a rookie a year ago, said his hamstring tightened up diving for the ball on an extra point by the Arizona Cardinals.
Exiting the game early was likely a precautionary move by the team. Head coach Jason Garrett told reporters he didn't think the injury was too serious.
“Just put some ice on it and go to treatment in the morning," Brown said.
First Official Game Without Romo… Still Includes Romo
Minutes before kickoff, Tony Romo was walking down the hallway when he ran into Miles Austin. Then he saw Marc Colombo and the two had a quick chat.
No, this wasn’t 2008 all over again. Just a press-box scene here in Canton as Romo made his way to the broadcast booth for a “practice run” with new CBS partner Jim Nantz. The Cowboys’ all-time leading passer, Romo hasn’t officially retired from football but appears to be in full swing in his new gig as the analyst on the CBS’ No. 1 team.
Austin is now serving as a scout for the Cowboys, while Colombo is an assistant offensive line coach who watches the games from the upstairs coaching booth.
Jerry Jones Says Jaylon Smith Is "Unlikely" To Play Against Cardinals
As recently as Tuesday afternoon, the Cowboys’ head coach declined to tell reporters who would and wouldn’t be playing when his team faces the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones provided at least a clue after Tuesday’s practice, though. Jones was asked about the possibility that Jaylon Smith participates on Thursday, and he wasn’t encouraging.
“I’m not going to get into it, right now – but I think it’s unlikely,” he said.
That’s not a huge surprise. Smith is still working his way back from a major knee injury and has gone through just four padded practices since training camp began. The Cowboys will likely wait to get him a bit more acclimated before inserting him into a game environment.
Jerry Jones Excited For Canton As HOF Enshrinement Draws Closer
Visiting with reporters after practice, Jones said he’s looking forward to catching up with old college teammates from the University of Arkansas who are expected to attend. And of course, he’s proud that his family and the Cowboys team will be there two nights after Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jones’ wife, Gene, will present him Saturday.
How’s the prepared induction speech coming along?
“I’m in good shape with my time, let’s put it like that,” he said with a smile.
Back Issues Sideline Tyron Smith From Tuesday Practice
(Aug. 1; 12:22 p.m.) –For second straight day, left tackle Tyron Smith is not practicing with the team here in Oxnard. On Monday, Smith was among six veterans with a scheduled day off but the Cowboys held out Smith, who is dealing with some minor back tightness. Smith battled through injury back and neck issues last year, forcing him to miss three starts in 2016.
Smith wasn’t on the field for the first part of Tuesday’s practice but came out later in the session, but not in uniform.
Smith is one of several starters who will likely be held out of Thursday’s preseason opener with the Cardinals in Canton.
Expect head coach Jason Garrett to address the matter and more in his daily press conference, which is schedule around 1:15 p.m. (PDT).
Chaz Green To Miss "A Week Or So"; 6 Vets, Jaylon Smith Resting Monday
“We think it’s a shorter rather than a longer timetable for it,” Garrett said.
Garrett also said the same six veterans who rested the first day of pads last Wednesday will be held out again today: Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Darren McFadden, Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick and Tyrone Crawford.
First-year linebacker Jaylon Smith will also rest Monday after practicing pads two straight days.
“I think he’s getting better and better," Garrett said. "He’s very active, he’s around the ball a lot. He’s moving better, and he’s done a really good job with the work we’ve given him.”