IRVING, Texas - While Wednesday might have been the Cowboys players' final day off before beginning preparation in earnest for Monday night's game in Philadelphia, the organization used the day to churn the roster a little more.
Still in need of more depth at outside linebacker after placing veteran Al Singleton (broken clavicle) on injured reserve, the Cowboys signed fifth-year veteran Quinton Caver, who was cut by the Chiefs before the start of the regular season.
To make room on the 53-man roster, the Cowboys released safety Tony Dixon, who was signed just last week as safety insurance along with Lynn Scott.
The Cowboys cutting Dixon could indicate nickel safety Willie Pile has a chance to play Monday night in Philadelphia. Pile is listed as questionable with the groin injury he suffered Oct. 30 against the Cardinals. The Cowboys will return to practice on Thursday.
Caver not only adds more depth to the outside linebacker position, but brings more size (6-4, 241) as well.
The Cowboys already had moved Scott Fujita into the starting lineup at left outside linebacker to replace Singleton, who suffered the shoulder injury in the team's last game, a 34-13 victory over Arizona. Fujita, a teammate of Caver's in Kansas City, had been rotating series with Singleton the past couple of games. The Cowboys acquired Fujita in a trade with Kansas City just before the season began.
Along with increased playing time for Fujita, the Cowboys are expecting rookie Kevin Burnett to play a larger role in the defense as a backup.
The Cowboys have had their eye on Caver dating back to the 2001 draft. They nearly drafted the former Arkansas linebacker in the second round, but instead chose Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter with the 53rd overall pick, hoping to take him with their second of two second-round picks three picks later.
But the Eagles beat them to the punch, selecting Caver and leaving the Cowboys to take Dixon, who was not re-signed this off-season when he became an unrestricted free agent after spending four years in Dallas.
Caver spent just two seasons in Philadelphia, playing 11 games as a rookie and then five more in 2002 before getting released at mid-season. The Chiefs then signed him, Caver playing only one game for Kansas City the rest of that year. He did, though, play in 12 games for the Chiefs in 2003 and then all 16 last year, including four as a starter.
Caver is also an experienced special teams player, recording 32 tackles in the last two seasons with the Chiefs.
Like Fujita, Caver also became somewhat expendable in Kansas City after the Chiefs drafted former Texas standout Derrick Johnson with the 15th pick.
The Eagles certainly have more problems than just Terrell Owens, who was suspended four games this week for conduct detrimental to the team and told to stay away for the remainder of the season. They now are without starting center Hank Fraley and linebacker/special teams player Jason Short.
Fraley and Short have been placed on injured reserve. Fraley suffered a shoulder injury against the Redskins, and the Eagles were alternating center snaps with the first team between Trey Darilek, a converted guard, and Jamaal Jackson, just signed off their practice squad. Short, who broke his fibula against the Redskins, was third on the team with eight special teams tackles.
The Eagles also have significant concerns at the tight end position, starter L.J. Smith listed as questionable following a concussion suffered against the Skins and backup Stephen Spach listed as questionable with a foot injury. So Wednesday they signed veteran Chad Lewis, who hasn't played since suffering the torn Lisfranc foot injury while making the game-clinching catch in this past NFC title game. He practiced with the Eagles on Wednesday.
Also missing practice along with Smith and Spach were starting right defensive end N.D. Kalu (shoulder), who is listed as doubtful for Monday night's game with the Cowboys, and cornerback Roderick Hood (heel), who is listed as probable.
Making A Difference
The Cowboys' day off from practice allowed several players to serve an "early" Thanksgiving dinner to more than 200 less fortunate men and women at the Salvation Army's homeless shelter.
Flanked by team mascot Rowdy and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, several Cowboys players donned Salvation Army red aprons to serve the annual dinner sponsored by Albertsons and Honeysuckle White Turkey.
"I've always been involved in doing something with the Salvation Army," safety Roy Williams said. "Being from church activities when I was growing up, in college to now, something I will always do is give back to my community."
Williams and Salvation Army Major William Mockabee addressed two separate groups of eager diners before the food was served.
"As excited as these clients are to see these people, a lot of these players . . . some of them may have come from this type of situation themselves," Mockabee said. "They are now seeing it and they all say they're giving something back. And that's very important for these young athletes to give something back to the community."
--- Rob Phillips
CB Anthony Henry (groin)
S Willie Pile (groin)
C Hank Fraley (shoulder, placed on IR)
LB Jason Short (fibula, placed on IR)
LB N.D. Kalu (shoulder)
TE L.J. Smith (concussion)
TE Stephen Spach (foot)
K David Akers (hamstring)
S Brian Dawkins (foot)
CB Roderick Hood (heel)
DE Jevon Kearse (shoulder)
QB Donovan McNabb (rib, sports hernia)
DT Sam Rayburn (stinger)
OT Jon Ruynan (shoulder)
LB Jeremiah Trotter (knee)
Missed Portions of Team Practice: Kalu, Smith, Spach, Hood
At the halfway point of the season a couple of Cowboys players lead the NFC in statistical categories. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe's 97.4 QB rating tops the NFC and wide receiver Terry Glenn's 18.9 yards per catch also is best in the conference . . . The Cowboys are the only NFL team with three running backs having gained at least 180 yards: Julius Jones 407, Marion Barber 253 and Tyson Thompson 180. That's 840 yards on 218 carries. Seattle's Shaun Alexander leads the NFC in rushing with 949 yards on 175 carries . . . While the Eagles might be 4-4, they still haven't lost an NFC East Division game at their three-year-old Lincoln Financial Field . . . The Eagles have lost three of their past four games, including two straight. They have not lost three straight games since 1999, head coach Andy Reid's 5-11 first year.