<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/blogs/blue-star http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:57:26 -0500 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:57:26 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Power Rankings: NFC East]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:26:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_giants_eli_manning_st.jpg

In a weekly post, we'll talk about where teams in the NFC East sit after each weekend of play.

1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) — The Cowboys have won three straight games, and none were more impressive than Sunday night's domination of Drew Brees and the Saints, a year after the script was flipped the other way. The Cowboys' defense might not be great, but it's playing with tons of confidence and is getting a big boost from DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys' running game. Oh, and Tony Romo? He's been awesome, too.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) — The Eagles fall a spot after Sunday's loss in San Francisco, due mainly to the fact their offense was shut out and they have no running game to speak of — the complete opposite of the Cowboys right now. At this point, Eagles fans have to hope that Nick Foles stays in one piece as teams are starting to pin their ears back and go after him.

3. New York Giants (2-2) — The Giants have won two straight and looked dominant in their win over Washington, as Eli Manning had a great game and running back Rashad Jennings approached a 200-yard rushing outing. Now, the Redskins are awful, but the win was still impressive.

4. Washington Redskins (1-3) — They're just bad. Worse yet, it appeared on Thursday night that savior Kirk Cousins was nothing more than a fluke and probably had some folks re-thinking their idea that he's better than Robert Griffin III.



Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Carter Out 10-14 Days With Quad]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:58:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305854.jpg

As we discussed on Monday, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter was in the midst of enjoying a bit of a career revival in the past two games before he pulled up lame with a strained quadriceps chasing down Saints running back Khiry Robinson in Sunday night's convincing Cowboys win over the Saints.

After the game, Carter's leg began swelling up, giving the Cowboys a big scare considering Rolando McClain's injury problem and the fact Sean Lee won't play a down this year.

On Tuesday evening, it was announced that Carter will be out 10-14 days with the injury, meaning he'll definitely miss Sunday's game against Houston and will be questionable for next week's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

"Just rehab basically. I've just got to keep doing my rehab and I should be fine. ...," Carter told ESPN Dallas. "Hopefully it goes a lot faster than that. I want to get back out there."

The injury puts even more pressure on Justin Durant, who has played well, and McClain to remain healthy after returning to action against the Saints.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Offense Exceeding Jerry's Expectations]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:45:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-camp-2014-day0-02.jpg

After the Week 4 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo called this current Dallas offense the most complete he’s ever been a part of. On Tuesday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones lavished some further praise on the unit, saying it has exceeded his own expectations.

“What you’re seeing is that offensive line has jelled, and parts of the offensive line that we don’t call the offensive line--blocking of the receivers, the backs as they take their blocking responsibilities,” Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan, via the team’s official website. “That’s jelling for us, so we’re ahead of my expectations last summer, offensively.”

Jones and co. publicly attempted to temper expectations during what was a relatively quiet offseason, and he says that was by design.

“Well, we were downplaying the expectations for the reasons--look at we were trying to do to build that defense--and we really hadn’t seen Martin, for instance, our draft pick, in the summer. Even into training camp we really hadn’t seen him--what he could do, how he’s evolving,” Jones said. “We’d seen everybody else on the offensive line ... We knew what those guys are. But there were some parts we hadn’t seen, and so I think that’s the play-down.”

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Players Pay Tribute to Tom Landry]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:39:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tom-landry-sideline.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys paid tribute to legendary coach Tom Landry in a subtle, and cool way on Sunday night as they lined up in “Victory” formation.

When the Cowboys offensive line lined up, they quickly (and in perfect unison) stood straight up before getting down in their stances, which was a signature move of the Landry-led Cowboys teams of the 1960s and 70s. Head coach Jason Garrett explained it after the 38-17 win.

“That’s one of the signature things of the Coach Landry teams, was the offensive line coming to the line of scrimmage and doing that when Roger said ‘Shift,’ and the backs would shift behind him,” Garrett said. “That’s an image that we all have. It’s an iconic image in football.”

Garrett added that the decision to use the Landry Shift in a game was made by the players.

“A lot of our players weren’t alive when those things were going on,” Garrett said, “but I think they know the history and they know the tradition and they embrace that tradition.”

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<![CDATA[Two Surprise Teams Square Off Sunday]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:42:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_jjwatt_texans.jpg

It never fails. Every NFL season about this time, there are a few teams that are outperforming their stock heading into the season, and some teams who are major disappointments through the first few weeks.

Count the two teams that will play at AT&T Stadium on Sunday in the former category, as both the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans are looking the part of postseason teams.

The Texans were 2-14 in 2013, a year after they were a Super Bowl favorite throughout the season. Now, they're 3-1 and have the game's best defensive player along with some aging, yet proven weapons on offense. The Cowboys were 8-8 for a third straight year in 2013 and had a historically bad defense, which was looking to be worse this season. So far, the Cowboys' defense has been more than serviceable. It's actually been pretty good. And that Cowboys' offense has been exactly what it was pumped up to be — a dominant, elite unit that might be the league's best offense on this side of the Denver Broncos.

One of these teams is going to be 4-1 on Sunday evening, and it's hard to imagine many people outside of the respective locker rooms envisioning that for either team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On Deck: Houston Texans]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:15:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/texans-at-cowboys-2014.jpg

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Cowboys game during the 2014 season.

The Opponent: A year after going 2-14 and earning the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Texans appear to be rebounding. But that's not a surprise. They had some really nice pieces in place and just had an awful, awful year. The Texans' offense is suspect with shaky quarterback play, but the defense looks to be the real deal led by J.J. Watt, who made yet another ridiculous play on Sunday with a long interception return for a touchdown.

Past Meetings: The Cowboys lead the all-time series 2-1, including wins in their last two meetings. Of course, the Texans won the teams' first meeting in what happened to be the Texans' first game in frachise history — an embarrassing moment for the Cowboys. The last two meetings, though, have been convincing Cowboys wins in 2006 and 2010.

Key Matchup: Cowboys offensive line vs. J.J. Watt — Watt is a man among boys, and could be figuring his way into NFL MVP status early in the season. He is one of those rare defensive linemen that can take over a game and put a team on his back — something usually reserved for quarterbacks or running backs. The Cowboys' offensive line has been spectacular so far this year, as evidenced by DeMarco Murray's success on the ground.

Who's Hot: Before DeMarco Murray took the field on Sunday night, he led the NFL in rushing THROUGH Sunday. Then, he added 149 yards to his total. Murray is on an absolute tear right now, and if you're a Cowboys fan, you're just holding your breath hoping the annual Murray injury doesn't come this year. Speaking of injury concerns, Tony Romo had his best game of the season, going 22-for-29 for 262 yards and three TDs with no turnovers. Second-year receiver Terrance Williams caught two touchdowns while the Saints were set on containing Dez Bryant. The Cowboys' offense, as a whole, seems pretty unstoppable right now.

Aging wide receiver Andre Johnson has gotten off to a solid start this year, and led the Texans with six catches for 71 yards in Sunday's win over the Bills. His young teammate out wide, DeAndre Hopkins, continued his solid start with 64 yards and a score. Watt had an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown on which he looked more like a safety running 80 yards than a defensive lineman.

Who's Not: In the recent past, the Cowboys have not done well with success. That's why it's scary to say this: There is no one that can really fall in this category right now. Everyone played well on Sunday night. Now, you just have to wait for the other shoe to fall.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in as a short-term fix at quarterback after Matt Schaub lost his way last yaer and the Texans declined to go with a quarterback with their first-round draft pick. And now, he's reportedly on the hot seat with Ryan Mallett waiting in the wings. The Texans rushed for just 37 yards on Sunday, as injury-riddled running back Arian Foster had eight carries for six yards, while his backup, Alfred Blue, had nine yards on nine carries. That's just awful.

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<![CDATA[McClain Makes Impact in Return]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:04:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305278.jpg

After missing the victory over the St. Louis Rams with a groin injury, linebacker Rolando McClain returned for the Sunday night matchup with the New Orleans Saints, and certainly made his impact felt.

McClain finished with two tackles and forced a fumble from Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham in the red zone.

"It was physical," McClain said, per ESPN Dallas. "I wasn’t here last year, but we watched the tape from the game and it was embarrassing and everybody knew that. As a defense, we just want to go out and play better."

McClain may be the biggest and best surprise of the Cowboys’ season thus far. In three games, he has 17 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble, and is fitting in nicely in the Cowboys locker room.

"I need them," McClain said of his teammates. "I need to be on the field. They want me on the field, we need everybody. It’s not taking one, it’s taking everybody to finish the game. It was a great team win, it’s not just me, it’s everybody."

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<![CDATA[Jerry: Future is Still Bright for Mo Claiborne]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:51:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-hurt-shoulder.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys learned Monday that Morris Claiborne would miss the rest of the season with a torn patellar tendon, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones remains optimistic about the former sixth overall pick’s future with the team.

The thing is that I see his future, and I see a good one here with the Cowboys,” Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan on Tuesday, via ESPN Dallas.

Claiborne was injured in the first quarter of Sunday night’s victory over the Saints, while pursuing a scrambling Drew Brees. This followed a week in which Claiborne was demoted by the team and responded by storming out of team headquarters at Valley Ranch.

Jones said Tuesday that several NFL coaches and general managers contacted him last week and told him not to get too down on Claiborne.

“‘He is an outstanding player,’” Jones says he was told. “‘He has outstanding skills. He is in the top elite group, but he’s got to get his confidence and he’s got to continue to see the relationship between work and repetition.’”

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<![CDATA[Anthony Spencer Glad to be Back]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:35:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158439069.jpg

Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer recorded three tackles and a quarterback hurry in his first game in over a calendar year on Sunday night and, not surprisingly, said afterward that it felt good to be back on the field.

"It feels good. It's what I've been waiting for, I've been working toward this for the last year or so,” Spencer said, per ESPN Dallas. “It's all the hard work paying off and now I got to start working hard on being a football player again."

Before Sunday night, Spencer hadn’t played since Week 2 of the 2013 season, his only game action last year. He recorded two tackles before leaving that loss to the Chiefs, and underwent microfracture surgery on his knee shortly thereafter.

"Every game you have some kind of nerves but you still go out there and play," Spencer said. "I wasn't afraid, I knew my knee was going to hold up and I knew the things I've been doing have been working. I feel confident in how the surgery went and how it feels. I don't feel worried about that."

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<![CDATA[Kyle Orton Finds a Starting Job ... in Buffalo]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:30:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455862256.jpg

Kyle Orton, starter?

With Tony Romo playing well behind an enhanced running game, thankfully that’s not a discussion for this year’s Cowboys. But it certainly is up in Buffalo.

Just four games into the season the 2-2 Bills have decided to bench second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel in favor of Orton, who left the Cowboys high and dry in the off-season.

“We can’t keep going in the direction we’re going,” said rookie head coach Doug Marrone.

Manuel threw two interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Texans, but good luck with Orton. In training camp Marrone wasn’t thrilled by the addition of Orton, thinking it undermined his young starter.

All I know is that Orton didn’t want to play football all off-season. And I’m thrilled that he’s someone else’s headache.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Says He's "Getting Close" to 100 Percent]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:45:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456306356.jpg

After going 22 for 29 for 262 yards and three touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo believes he’s getting close to 100 percent--but not quite there yet.

I think I am getting close,” he said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

Romo’s arm might not have even been the most encouraging part of Romo’s game on Sunday night. For the second consecutive week, Romo ran for a crucial first down, something he admittedly might not have even tried in the first two weeks of 2014.

“I don’t know that I would have attempted it to tell the truth,” Romo said. “I wasn’t in position to feel like I do now. You’re trying to manage the game instead of just going out and doing it. That’s the difference from Week 1 to now.”

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<![CDATA[Amobi Okoye On Track to Return in Week 7]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:34:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amobi-okoye-master-splinter.jpg

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Amobi Okoye says he’s on track to return to action in Week 7, when he is scheduled to come off the non-football injury list.

Signed by the Cowboys this offseason, Okoye is recovering from anti-NMDA encephalitis, a rare brain condition that put him in a medically-induced coma just a year and a half ago and caused him to miss the entire 2013 season. By opening the season on the non-football injury list, he’s ineligible to play for the first six weeks of 2014.

It’s definitely been tough,” Okoye told the team’s official website. “I mean, first of all, I had to sit out all of last year, then had to sit out another six weeks. But it is what it is. I was pretty bummed out the first time when I was put on the list, but I took it for what it is. I needed more time to get better.”

There’s no overstating the serious of the illness suffered by Okoye, but the 27-year-old says he never doubted that he would make his way back to football.

“I never looked at it that way, because I don’t believe that,” Okoye said of the idea that his career might be over. “I believe that I’m still young enough to play a couple more years. I think that’s what I’m put on this Earth to do, is play football.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

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<![CDATA[Josh Brent Returns to Valley Ranch]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:16:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/128041650.jpg

Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent’s suspension has been modified so as to allow him to return to the team facility on Monday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters after the Sunday night win over the Saints.

According to Jones, Brent will still serve all of his ten-game suspension, and won’t be permitted to practice until Week 9, as planned. But his being allowed to work out and attend meeting this week is two weeks earlier than originally planned.

Josh Brent will be at the facility,” Jones said. “He won’t practice, but he’ll be at the facility to continue everything but practicing with the team.”

Jones wouldn’t venture any guesses as to when Brent would play, but wouldn’t dismiss the notion that he could go with the team to London for their Week 10 matchup with the Jaguars, the first game he’ll be eligible to play.

“All I really know, without being defensive, he will be back with the team tomorrow, and we’ll go from there,” Jones said. “I know that he’s had a lot of time. He’s very contrite. He understands how much sorrow that he was responsible for, and I think he’s going to be inspired to try to do the right thing.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



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<![CDATA[Murray Joins Another Exclusive Club]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:05:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456304044.jpg

Late in NBC’s telecast of Sunday Night Football, with DeMarco Murray running wild once again, a graphic came on the screen that gave us some pause.

As said graphic explained, on Sunday night, Murray became just the fourth running back in NFL history to open a season with four consecutive games of 100-plus yards rushing and at least one touchdown, the others being Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson and Emmitt Smith--all Hall of Famers and firmly in the conversation of the best backs ever.

I think he is better than a good back,” Tony Romo said after the 38-17 victory, “I think he is a great back.”

Murray, who had 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against the Saints, predictably downplayed his individual work in the victory.

“I’m just out there to do whatever I can to help the team,” Murray said. “There’s a lot of things I’m worried about. Obviously got to give credit to the offensive line for what they were able to accomplish up front, but that’s definitely not something I’m thinking about.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

 

 



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<![CDATA[Cowboys Fear Claiborne Tore His ACL]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:49:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456298166.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday night that the team fears Morris Claiborne suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter of the 38-17 victory over the Saints.

Well, just a cruciate, yes, a tear is the concern we have,” Jones told the team’s website. “I don’t know. I don’t know. We did not MRI, we simply examined it. But the initial examination was not encouraging.”

Claiborne hurt the knee while trying to get off a block during a scramble by Drew Brees early on in the game. He was replaced by Sterling Moore, who, really, did a very nice job in his stead.

The team will know for sure later Monday, after Claiborne undergoes an MRI.

“I am concerned about Claiborne,” Jones said. “We’ll get more on it, but it doesn’t look good right now. I hope we’ve got a big surprise for us in the morning.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



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<![CDATA[Carter Injury Not as Bad as Feared]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:17:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305854.jpg

When Bruce Carter left Sunday night's game with a quad injury, it didn't look good.

With Sean Lee already out for the season, the last thing the Cowboys need is another linebacker hitting the shelf for an extended period of time. When Carter pulled up with the injury and exited the game, it looked fairly uneventful, but after the game was over, it started getting scary.

Carter's leg apparently blew up swollen, which the team initially thought was a sign of very bad things, but after examination, Carter said the injury wasn't as bad as originally feared and the swelling was from fluid (blood) built up after a small tear.

“It just depends on how sore I am [on Monday], to be quite honest,” Carter told ESPN Dallas. “For right now, they said I had great strength in it. I was able to do all the tests and pass all of those. It’s swelling up. They said I’ve got a little bit of fluid, just blood from a little tear, but I should be fine.”

Not sure if that means "fine" for next week, or "fine" in a few, but it's better than originally feared. Carter has had a pretty good year. He had a pivotal interception returned for a touchdown in last week's win over the Rams and had a key tipped ball that ended up as a Justin Durant interception on Sunday night.

The Cowboys will be waiting anxiously to hear Carter's status, not only because he's been pretty good this season but because the depth is running out at that position.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Gladly Accept Gift of Saints' Fake Punt]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:10:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456306182.jpg

Admit it, you were getting squeamish. You’d seen this movie before, and it ended with the good guys dying in the end.

The Cowboys built an impressive 31-3 lead on the Saints Sunday night. Comfortable? Sure. But then 31-10 became 31-17 in a matter of minutes and suddenly memories of last season’s blown 26-3 lead in a home loss to the Packers started tapping on your sweaty forehead.

Thanks to the Saints’ mind-boggling decision to attempt a fake punt, however, Dallas escaped with a routine rout rather than another epic collapse.

After a sack of Tony Romo, New Orleans took possession at their 40 with still eight minutes remaining. But then Drew Brees missed a wide open Kenny Stills. After the Saints committed a penalty for having 12 men in the huddle, Cowboys’ cornerback Sterling Moore made an acrobatic breakup of a long pass intended for Jimmy Graham. After a short completion, New Orleans faced 4th-and-9 at its own 41. But needing two touchdowns to tie the game, coach Sean Payton put the ball not in the hands of Brees – but rather punter Thomas Morstead.

Instead of punting, Morstead faked a reverse and rolled right. The Cowboys sensed something fishy, but had only 10 players on the field. Didn’t matter.

Because Tyrone Crawford chased Morstead, Brandon Carr blanketed intended receiver Josh Hill and Jack Crawford eventually sacked the punter for a 2-yard loss. It was the first full sack by a Cowboys’ defensive linemen this season, and it allowed the Cowboys to breathe a sigh of relief.

For a change the Cowboys held onto a big lead. And the opposing head coach made a head-scratching decision.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sideline Images: Cowboys Vs. Saints]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:06:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-saints-gallery-lead.jpg Images from the sideline at AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints, 38-17, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Three Phases: Cowboys-Saints]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:07:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456306852.jpg

Every week, we'll grade the Cowboys on the three phases of the weekend's game.

Offense: A+

Right from the get-go, Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray & Co. stuck it to Rob Ryan and his Saints defense. They opened the game with a 12-play, 80-yard yard to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead before Drew Brees ever touched the ball. Romo was phenomenal and efficient, and Murray continued his dominance with 149 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Terrance Williams scored twice through the air, including the opening touchdown on a spectacular catch. This offense is rolling right now behind the stellar offensive line, Murray and now Romo. Hate to get your hopes up, Cowboys fans, but look out.

Defense: A

The only reason this doesn't get the A+ is because the Saints made things interesting in the fourth quarter, but overall, the Cowboys defense was great against the first elite quarterback they've played this season in a game many thought would be a field day for Drew Brees and the Saints' offense. I don't care if the Saints' offense is a bit down this year, it's still Brees and it's still Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills — you get the idea.

Special teams: A

Dan Bailey is an absolute machine — a kicking god, if you will. He hit his 29th straight field goal attempt to extend his own franchise record by drilling a 51-yarder. He also connected on all five of his extra points. Chris Jones punted four times and two were downed inside the Saints' 20-yard line.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Teen Leads Cowboys Onto Field Vs. Saints]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:20:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/092814+Luis+Chaparro.jpg

A North Dallas High School student will never forget Sunday night's Cowboys game against the New Orleans Saints after he was allowed to lead the team onto the field alongside head coach Jason Garrett. 

"Being escorted down here, it's like VIP status! It's just crazy! I never knew this would happen to me," said 17-year-old Luis Chaparro.

Chaparro, who is a senior at North Dallas High School, said about a year ago his principal nominated him to represent North Texas for Hispanic Heritage Month at a Cowboys game.

Chaparro's parents emigrated from Mexico City 20 years ago and he said his family never really paid attention to football until his older brother started to play.

Chaparro himself started playing just three years ago and is now the kicker for his high school varsity team.

Last week he appeared on NBC's Today Show, where he made a field goal and was told he would get to lead the Cowboys onto the field before their Sunday Night Football game, and attend the game, along with his teammates, as a guest of Michael Irvin.

Chaparro's parents were in constant awe of their son as they watched him on the field before kickoff.

"It's amazing for them because they came as immigrants to the United States almost 20 years ago. I was born here. And for them to see one of their children on live TV, on national TV, it's just something to be really proud of," Chaparro said. 

And sure enough, minutes before the game started, with 80,000 cheering fans, Chaparro held the large Hispanic Heritage flag with a tight grip and ran out onto the field alongside Jason Garrett, with the Cowboys players right behind him.

"Jason Garrett came up to me and shook my hand. It was just amazing! He's really tall! I couldn't believe it," he gushed afterward.

Walking into the outstretched arms of his beaming parents, Chaparro said he never forgot why he was there in the first place.

"Being in that tunnel, holding that flag — it just symbolized more than just being there. It symbolized everybody, my whole people being there."



Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Beat Saints, 38-17]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:08:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/saintsgame9.28.14.2.jpg

Aside from a brief second half scare, the Dallas Cowboys cruised by the visiting New Orleans Saints on Sunday night in Arlington, 38-17.

The tone was set early. Dallas took the opening possession of the game and drove 80 yards in 12 plays, with Tony Romo hitting Terrance Williams on a six-yard pass to open up the scoring, 7-0. Romo had his most impressive game of the season on Sunday night, finishing 22 of 29 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

In the second quarter, following a rare miss from New Orleans’ kicker Shayne Graham, Dallas kicker Dan Bailey hit a 51-yard field goal to extend their lead to 10-0. But the Cowboys weren’t done.

After an interception by Justin Durant, DeMarco Murray took a 15-yard run to paydirt on just the second play of Dallas’s ensuing drive to make it 17-0, Cowboys. Murray finished with 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. He has started the season with four consecutive 100-plus-yard rushing games, and he’s had a touchdown in each of those.

Williams caught his second touchdown pass of the night, a 23-yarder, with just 19 seconds left in the first half to extend the Dallas lead to 31-3.

Graham hit a 30-yard field goal on their first possession of the second half, but the Cowboys answered with a 76-yard drive, capped with Murray’s second touchdown run of the day.

That’s when it got scary for Cowboys fans.

After the fourth quarter began, Josh Hill and Jimmy Graham caught touchdown passes from Drew Brees on consecutive drives to make it a two-possession game at 31-17. Brees had a nice night statistically, with 340 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.

But after an exchange of punts, the Cowboys more or less sealed the victory with a 39-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass from Romo to Dez Bryant.

At 38-17, the game was truly ended on the Saints’ ensuing drive, when running back Travaris Cadet fumbled and Dallas cornerback Sterling Moore recovered.

With the 38-17 win and at 3-1, the Cowboys will host the Texans at AT&T Stadium next week.

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<![CDATA[Retired Cowboy Turns Expert Angler]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:36:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/092814+Sensabaugh+fishing.jpg

It’s a classic cliché. Retire. Then fish. 

You can find former Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh almost every day on a lake with his to boys Isiah and Jackson.

“We have a blast. Whether we catch something or not, I mean with them it’s a blast,” said Sensabaugh. "If they get bored they just jump in the water.”

Fishing is more than a lifelong hobby for Sensabaugh. He spent so much time on the boat that he decided to take it the next level.

“It got to where I was going to the facility with boat," said Sensabaugh. "I was taking some of my teammates out fishing. I was fishing Wednesday tournaments over here in Lake Grapevine all the time. Then I started fishing bigger stuff, and then this year I jumped in to more of the professional side and it’s a great experience.”  

Sensabaugh is a fast rising angler in the professional fishing world. He's just a rookie but the former safety but is constantly placing in major bass tournaments.

“Fishing is a way for me to compete after football. That’s one thing about being retired, you want to compete at something.”

And he's doing it in style. Sensabaugh's boat is the talk of the tour.

“Now that boat right there gets more looks than anybody’s boat," said Sensabaugh. "I don’t care if it’s the number one fishing guy. They’ll recognize that and say ‘whose boat is that?’ I get it everywhere I go.”  

But its these moments on the water with his sons that make retirement so sweet.

“As long as we’re having a good time and they have smiles on their faces, I’m having a blast.”



Photo Credit: David Watkins, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys 38, Saints 17: Whitt Watch Top 10]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:08:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4562996321.jpg

10. The Cowboys have now won three straight in the month of September, something they haven’t done since 2008. Cowboys are 3-1 for first time in six years.

9. Best part of the unexpected blowout? Seeing all the anguish and none of the smugness on Rob Ryan’s face.

8. Sean Lee is certainly missed, but Bruce Carter’s athleticism (tipping an interception) and Rolando McClain’s violence (causing a fumble) is minimizing the void.

7. Look, the Saints are 1-3 and if you watched them vs. the Vikings last week you were wildly underwhelmed. Still, the Cowboys made them look like a JV team until garbage time. The 24-0 first half was Dallas’ most dominant first two quarters since they ambushed the Packers, 26-3, last December. Unlike like that game, however, the Cowboys sealed this deal. Saints made it interesting, but down just 14 points and facing 4th-and-9 midway through the fourth quarter Sean Payton inexplicably called for a fake punt.

6. Morris Claiborne left the game with a sprained knee, and a severely bruised ego.

5. On an almost perfect night I fully admit this is nit-picking. But why is it that Jason Garrett – and almost every NFL coach – emphatically raises a finger to signal “we’re going for one!” after a first-quarter touchdown? I mean, I can’t envision a scenario where the Cowboys would take the opening kickoff, drive for a touchdown, and then go for two.

4. On Dallas’ opening possession Tony Romo was at his agile, accurate best. I petition that – in order to maximize performance – from here on we all take Wednesdays off. Any takers?

3. DeMarco Murray didn’t fumble. And, oh by the way, he’s off to a historic start. Murray gained another 149 against the hapless Saints, joining an exclusive club of Emmitt Smith, O.J. Simpson and Jim Brown as running backs to start the season with four consecutive season-opening games of 100+ yards and a touchdown. Murray leads the NFL in rushing by an eye-opening 156 yards.

2. Funny how everyone made a big fuss about how many 49ers fans invaded AT&T Stadium for the season opener. Sunday night there were tons of Saints fans in the crowd of 91,000. But, um, when the home team produces a rout it’s really not an issue, is it? “Who Dat?” barely made a peep. Cowboys, by the way, improved to 24-19 all-time in Arlington.

1. What a difference a year makes? Last November in New Orleans the Saints embarrassed the Cowboys 49-17, amassing 625 yards and an NFL-record 40 first downs. Tonight, it was the Cowboys doing the humiliating to the tune of 38 points, 448 yards and 24 first downs. Call it even? True dat!

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Lead Saints at Half, 24-0]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 22:25:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/saintsgame9.28.14.jpg

It’d be hard to imagine the Dallas Cowboys starting any better against the visiting Saints on Sunday night in Arlington.

To wit, the Cowboys are up 24-0 at the half.

Dallas took the opening possession of the game and drove 80 yards in 12 plays, with Tony Romo hitting Terrance Williams on a six-yard pass to open the scoring, 7-0. Romo finished the half 17 of 22 passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

Following a rare miss from New Orleans’ kicker Shayne Graham in the second quarter, Dallas kicker Dan Bailey hit a 51-yard field goal to extend that lead to 10-0--but Dallas wasn’t done.

After an interception by Justin Durant, DeMarco Murray took a 15-yard run to paydirt on just the second play of Dallas’s ensuing drive to make it 17-0, Cowboys. Murray posted 87 yards in the first half.

Williams caught his second touchdown pass of the night, a 23-yarder, with just 19 seconds left.

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<![CDATA[Cowboys-Saints Game Day Twitter Chat]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:56:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-saints-lead.jpg

Join the writers and editors of SportsDay and the Blue Star Blog as we discuss the Cowboys game against the New Orleans Saints, live.

Offer your comments in the ScribbleLive module below and SportsDay editors will incorporate them when possible.

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<![CDATA[Anthony Spencer Set to (Finally) Return]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:24:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-spencer-carolina.jpg

It’s looking increasingly likely that Anthony Spencer will play for the first time in over a year on Sunday against the Saints. To say that his teammates are glad to have him back may be an understatement.

To have Spencer back is great,” defensive end George Selvie told the team’s official website . “He’s a Pro Bowl guy who can rush the passer. We need somebody out there that can do that. With him coming back, we have a lot of rotation going on. Having him there is going to be great.”

Spencer last played in September of 2013, when he recorded a pair of tackles in limited action against the Chiefs. The following month, he underwent microfracture surgery on his knee and has been slowly working back ever since.

“That’s probably No. 1, is make sure we don’t overuse him,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “He’s kind of on a pitch count. But, you know, he’s had a good week of work. He hasn’t played in a year, so he's practiced well. He's got all the stuff you want. Hopefully this week and every week after this he gets better and better, and now you look for matchups. Once you get a guy like that, then it starts helping everybody."

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Out for Redemption Against Rob Ryan]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:20:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rob-ryan-jerry.jpg

Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was publicly peeved when the Dallas Cowboys fired him following the 2012 season, got his revenge last November when his new team drubbed his old team 49-17 in New Orleans.

The Cowboys are hoping they’ll have the advantage this time around.

I’d like to forget all of it if I could,” tight end Jason Witten told the team’s website this week. “I mean, really, we just got outplayed in all three phases. You go back and watch it, we were 0-9 on third downs. We weren’t really effective in the game. Rob did a good job against our offense and we really couldn’t get anything going.”

Dez Bryant remembers Ryan fondly, even going so far as to say Ryan was one of his favorite coaches.

“I know he’s going to double me. I know he is. But I’ll be ready for it,” Bryant said of Ryan, whom he still calls one of his favorite coaches. “(Last year) was embarrassing. No team wants to go through that. It was just two guys on me pretty much all game. When you don’t have anything for the double-team that's what happens. You’ve just got to live with it and do the best that you can.”

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<![CDATA[Place Your Bets: Week 4]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:58:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455872456.jpg

If you live in Nevada, Oregon, Montana or Delaware, you're in luck. Otherwise, go to Canada or Europe and get your bet on for the NFL weekend! All games are Sunday unless otherwise noted.

1. Atlanta (-3) at Minnesota — Matt Ryan is coming off one of the best games of his career, and he's opposing a quarterback making his first career start without one of the best running backs in football. The Falcons have too many offensive weapons for the Vikings to keep up with.

2. Carolina at Baltimore (-3.5) — The Ravens have been quietly good this year despite all of the Ray Rice/NFL controversy that the Ravens themselves have been brought into recently. The Panthers have struggled despite having one of the league's best defenses. Other than Kelvin Benjamin, who is Cam Newton going to throw the ball to? Oh, and who is he going to hand the ball to? The Panthers' offense is a mess.

3. Green Bay (-1.5) at Chicago — Everything about this game points to the Bears winning, but it's really hard to imagine the Packers falling to 1-3 on the season, and a 1.5-point spread is barely anything. A win for the Packers basically means a win against the spread.

4. Philadelphia at San Francisco (-5) — The 49ers have been a first-half juggernaut and a second-half slouch so far this season. The Niners defense has struggled by their lofty standards, and the Eagles aren't an offense you want to struggle against. But give me Colin Kaepernick for a huge bounce back week after a couple of pretty disappointing outings.

5. New Orleans (-3) at Dallas — This game has all the makings of a shootout. Except there's one thing: The Saints' juggernaut offense hasn't been anything special through three games this year. But you know what, expect that to change in primetime. The Saints and Drew Brees have routinely torched the Cowboys' defense in recent years, and don't be shocked if it happens again. I expect a fun game between two elite offenses and two suspect defenses, but the Saints should pull it out in the end.

Last week: 2-3. 2014 season: 4-6.

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Still Optimistic About Claiborne]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:46:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882008.jpg

Still encouraged by an impressive showing in training camp, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones remains confident in cornerback Morris Claiborne. Claiborne, who has struggled with consistency and health issues since Jones picked him sixth overall in 2012, stormed out of Valley Ranch on Tuesday after being demoted.

Claiborne ultimately returned and apologized to the team, and will play in Sunday night’s matchup with the Saints at AT&T Stadium.

"He's in the right place with his heart," Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan on Friday, via ESPN Dallas. "He's an outstanding talent, outstanding athlete. Has got a lot of work to do and has missed the evolving that you'd expect a young player in the NFL to have because of various injuries, various reasons.

"We think, I think, that if he can get in the groove, get his repetition, get in the same groove he was in in the early part of our two-a-days out in California, then I think he can become the player that we expect him to be."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Saints Not Surprised by Murray's Hot Start]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:35:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882068.jpg

It’s safe to say the New Orleans Saints aren’t about to underestimate Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, following three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances to open the 2014 season.

Saints head coach Sean Payton, for one, isn’t all that surprised by Murray’s hot start.

I don’t know that [Murray’s rise has been] quiet,” Payton said, via Mike Triplett of ESPN Dallas. “I think that when he’s been healthy, I think people in our league that know the player know that he’s someone who’s got strength, he’s got power. I think what’s also impressive is he’s playing on all the downs. He’s playing in base. When they get to third down, you see him in there as a protector. So he’s getting a lot of snaps and has been a big weapon for ‘em.”

Linebacker Curtis Lofton may be less surprised than Payton. Lofton knows Murray well from the two years they spent together at the University of Oklahoma.

“Oh, he’s very special, in how he can run the ball and plus how he catches the ball,” Lofton said. “Coming to Oklahoma, I took him on his recruiting trip, so we’ve been pretty close for years. And when Adrian [Peterson] was there, he was on the scout team, so he had the duty of getting us ready to play. And we used to hate it because he gave us fits all week. Now, he’s really matured into one of the top backs in this league. He’s one of those guys that can bounce it in and out, cuts back, has great speed, can go the distance. So it’s gonna take a group effort to get him down and get to him.”

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rolando McClain Returns to Practice]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:14:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rolando-mcclain9.15.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain returned to the field on Friday after missing the past week, including last Sunday’s win over the Rams, with a groin injury.

Before the injury, McClain led the Cowboys in tackles in each of his first two games with the team, and recorded a sack and an interception in the Week 2 victory over the Titans. What’s more, McClain wasn’t the only potentially huge defensive piece to return to practice on Friday.

Also back were defensive tackles Terrell McClain (no relation), who left the win over St. Louis with a concussion, and Henry Melton--who is dealing with a strained hamstring.

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<![CDATA[3 Reasons the Cowboys Will Beat the Saints]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882074.jpg

The Cowboys face what should be their toughest test of the young season in the New Orleans Saints Sunday, but they are positioned well to come out on top.

1. Saints’ Lack of Turnovers

Dallas’ only glaring offensive issue this season has been turnovers, but New Orleans counters with its biggest issue.

The Saints have not intercepted any passes this year after recording only 12 last season — eighth worst in the NFL. While Tony Romo has made unusually poor reads this season, but he should return to form against a secondary not known for takeaways.

The Saints defense has been even worse at forcing fumbles with 1 this season and 15 last season — third worst in the NFL. After fumbling only twice in 217 carries last season, running back DeMarco Murray has already matched that number with only 75 carries. If he’s going to bounce back, this is the week to do it.

2. Tyron Smith, Jason Witten

As far as a defensive front is concerned, disruption is production. The Saints only have 4 sacks on the season, but defensive end  Cameron Jordan (second in the NFL with 7 hurries) and outside linebacker Junior Gallette (third in the NFL with 5 hurries) have harassed quarterbacks all season.

Tyron Smith has turned into an elite offensive tackle and should be able to lock down Romo’s blind side. Tackle Doug Free, however, has struggled with speed rushers lately and will have a tough time with Gallette in particular.

Jason Witten has consistently been one of the better blocking tight ends in the game, and he’ll need to be on his game to help Free. Otherwise, Romo could spend most of the game on the run or the ground.

3. Tyrone Crawford, Henry Melton

Dallas shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball against New Orleans, but what about the defense? The bad news is that New Orleans will move the ball on Dallas. The good news is that Dallas slightly resembles the type of team that has given Drew Brees trouble.

Led by Crawford and Melton, the Cowboys’ defensive line has taken a big step forward. Brees is tough to slow, but teams that can generate pass rush with only four and drop seven into coverage have been the most effective.

If the Cowboys’ secondary can hold their own in man coverage, which is their strength, the defense might be able to slow the Saints enough to improve to 3-1.

Bottom Line

Against the Saints, the Cowboys' weaknesses should be masked and their strengths play well.While the Saints are probably the better team overall, the Cowboys are absolutely capable of winning comfortably.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Standing by Mo Claiborne]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:56:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455881080.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne believes he let his teammates down when he stormed out of Valley Ranch on Tuesday. For their part, Claiborne’s teammates have welcomed him back and are ready--like head coach Jason Garrett--to put the incident behind them.

We are like a family,” said Orlando Scandrick, the man who leapfrogged Claiborne on the depth chart, per ESPN Dallas. “We all support him. We all went through tough times. I’m sitting here in front of this camera as someone who has been benched before after a game in my second year in the league. I know how that feels.”

First-year defensive captain Justin Durant added that he respects Claiborne for returning to the facility and apologizing to his teammates.

“I’m OK with just trying to move past it,” Durant said. “It’s a tough situation. At the same time, he’s a man. He handled it the way he did. He came back, he realized what was wrong and he apologized. So I’ve got to respect that.”

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<![CDATA[Claiborne Believes He Deserves to Start]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:52:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-played-horrible.jpg

Even after being demoted in a somewhat embarrassing episode at Valley Ranch earlier this week, Morris Claiborne believes he’s deserving of a starting job.

"I'm not going to sit here and say, 'No, I don't deserve to start,' because I know I deserve to start," Claiborne said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. "But that's not what the coaches see."

Why does he feel this way?

"Because I've worked, I've worked for it," he said. "Night and day, I've worked."

Of course, Orlando Scandrick isn’t about to apologize for jumping the former No. 6 overall pick on the depth chart. He feels he deserves to start, too--and, more importantly, the coaches agree with him.

"I feel like I had a good year last year and I feel like it carried over into training camp," Scandrick said. "I feel like I'm still ascending as a player, and yes, I do feel like I earned a right to play full time."

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<![CDATA[Tony Romo Returns to Practice]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:27:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-training-camp-2014.jpg

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out of Wednesday’s session for the second consecutive week, a measure taken by the team to keep Romo fresh as he continues to rebuild strength following back surgery in December.

There’s a chance this could become a regular thing, but nothing is set in stone to this point.

“I didn’t have quite the strength I wanted to explode off in the first couple weeks, and last week I was able to during the week through some changes we made,” Romo told the team’s website. “I think that it’s going to only continue to get better. Last week I was pretty excited about the way that I was moving and feeling, so I think I’ll continue to feel better each week.”

Head coach Jason Garrett explained that Wednesday is an ideal day for Romo to rest.

“Typically, Wednesday is a run and play-action type day for our whole football team,” Garrett said. “He can get a lot of that work done in the walk-through like he did this morning, and then some of the more situational stuff will happen as the week goes on.”

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Terrell McClain Dealing with a Concussion]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:18:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terrell-mcclain3-21.jpg

Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a concussion, and will have to pass the league’s concussion protocol before he is eligible to return to action, Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas reports.

McClain suffered the concussion in last Sunday’s victory over the Rams in St. Louis, after recording his first two tackles of the season. He missed the season opener against the 49ers, as well as all of the preseason, with a high ankle sprain.

Terrell wasn’t the only McClain sidelined on Wednesday. Rolando McClain continues to be held out with a groin issue, which kept him out of the Rams game and will very likely keep him out of Sunday night’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium.

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<![CDATA[Justin Durant Feeling Good After Returning to Practice]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:05:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Justin-Durant-cowboys-camp-072814.jpg

Cowboys linebacker and defensive captain Justin Durant participated in practice on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a groin injury two weeks ago, and was encouraged by how he felt.

"I felt good," Durant said, per ESPN Dallas. "I felt real good."

Durant recorded eight sacks in the season opening loss to the 49ers, but was held out of the team’s wins over the Titans and the Rams. Ever since training camp, the Cowboys have moved Durant back and forth between the weak side and the middle. He’ll most likely play on the weak side in Sunday night’s matchup with the Saints.

"It’s not hard, you just have to know where you're playing when you go out there," Durant said. "We all know, when we're all in the room, he got this and I got this. You just have to remember when you get out there what position you're playing."

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[3 Reasons the Saints Will Beat the Cowboys]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:41:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882038.jpg

There’s a lot to like about the way the Cowboys have played during their 2-1 start, but there are a few concerns going into this weekend’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

1. Saints Offense

Fans in New Orleans might be nervous about the Saints’ 1-2 start, but it’s definitely not because of the offense. The Saints are the third most efficient offensive team in the National Football League this season, averaging 6.1 yards per play.

During the last two years, head coach Sean Payton has shifted his offensive approach from a primarily spread attack to something more contemporary. The team is averaging 4.8 yards per run, which is comparable to Dallas’ 4.9 yards per run this season.

2. Cowboys’ Slot Cornerback

In addition to run-pass balance, the Saints diversified their passing game when they drafted wide receiver Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State. So the task of covering the slippery Cooks, big-bodied wide receiver Marques Colston and match-up nightmare Jimmy Graham out of the slot falls on the weak link in the Cowboys’ secondary.

Forward-thinking teams have placed greater importance on the slot corner recently, often using their best coverage defender in that position. If Dallas decides to use disgruntled Morris Claiborne or undrafted free agent Sterling Moore in that role Sunday, quarterback Drew Brees has a chance for a big day.

3. Romo Miscues

The Cowboys seem to think they have quarterback Tony Romo’s physical issues under control, but that’s only been part of the problem. Romo has made several questionable decisions during the last few weeks, and the pick-six he threw to Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins is a good example:

I understand looking for Dez Bryant when he’s in one-on-one coverage, but Romo’s first read on the interception seemed to be wide receiver Cole Beasley running toward the middle of the field on a pick. Romo was looking at an open Beasley when he turned and threw to Bryant, who ran a 5-yard hitch.

Jenkins played Bryant’s route perfectly, but even decent coverage would have been enough to break up that play. Missing a wide-open receiver is one thing, but Romo must get the ball out more quickly on a short route in tight coverage.

Bottom Line

The Cowboys and Saints are pretty evenly matched, and the team that loses the turnover battle will likely lose the game as well. The Saints haven't forced many turnovers during the last two seasons, but Romo has to make better reads to continue that trend.



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<![CDATA[More Rest Equals Better Play for Romo]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:17:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455881096.jpg

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Tony Romo’s back might not be perfect, but apparently his new practice routine is.

Last week the Cowboys’ quarterback skipped Wednesday’s practice to work on some stretching and core training in the weight room. Then, after looking slow and cumbersome against Tennessee the week before, he appeared spry and athletic in his best performance of the season against the Rams.

So this week? Duh, Romo wasn’t on the field again Wednesday.

“It’s not just superstition,” Romo joked to reporters Wednesday at Valley Ranch. “It’s probably a little deeper than that, but you can write that if it helps.”

Wednesday is the team’s only full-pads practice of the week and, barring a major change in Romo’s performance, it appears the quarterback this season will only fully suit up for football on Sundays.

“I definitely felt better (against the Rams),” Romo said. “I think there are multiple reasons. I think I’m continuing to get stronger. I think everything firing, you know, activating things. I didn’t have quite the strength I wanted to explode off in the first couple of weeks. And last week I was able to during the week, due to some changes we made, and I think it’s going to only continue to get better. Last week I was pretty excited about the way I was moving and feeling. So, I think I’ll continue to feel better each week and playing your best football as you continue on.”

Against the Titans Romo was hesistant to run and looked sluggish in not avoiding sacks. But in St. Louis he had more zip on his passes and produced a key 16-yard scramble – punctuated by a nifty open-field juke – that picked up a first down to help the Cowboys’ rally from a 21-point deficit.

Moving forward it looks like the better Romo plays, the less he’ll have to practice. What more motivation could he possibly need?

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



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<![CDATA[Fantasy Land: Studs and Duds, Week 4]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:06:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/philip+rivers+vs+bills.jpg

A two-time champion in a hardcore keeper league, including some know-it-all media "experts," Adam Boedeker gives his fantasy expertise on a weekly basis.

Stud of the Week

Philip Rivers, QB, SD — Rivers has been fantastic this year. He torched the Seattle Seahawks secondary and handed the defending champions their only loss of the season. He did the same thing on Sunday in Buffalo in a dreaded West Coast team playing a 1 p.m. game on the East Coast against a pretty solid Bills defense. So what will Rivers do this Sunday against a dreadful Jaguars defense? Who knows, but you can bet it's going to be pretty good.

Honorable mention: Tony Romo, DAL (vs. NO); Jay Cutler, CHI (vs. GB); Lamar Miller, MIA (at OAK); Brandin Cooks, NO (at DAL).

Dud of the Week

Joique Bell, RB, DET — The preseason fantasy darling hasn't quite lived up to his unreasonable expectations this year, but he's been solid as the Lions' new feature back ahead of Reggie Bush. But this week against the New York Jets, Bell is going to have trouble finding much in the way of open real estate to run on. If you have other decent options, you might want to consider them.

Honorable mention: Tom Brady, NE (at KC); Chris Johnson, NYJ (vs. DET); DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs. NYG); T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. TEN).



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<![CDATA[Last Year's Drubbing a Teaching Tool]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:56:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882072.jpg

There are plenty of ways to describe the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 loss to the Saints last November in New Orleans, in which Drew Brees and co. set an NFL record with 40 first downs.

A beat-down.

A drubbing.

An embarrassment.

According to head coach Jason Garrett, though, the game was also a teaching moment for his players.

"I think it's probably more of a teaching tool," Garrett said this week, per ESPN Dallas. "You watch the tape and you try to evaluate just like you would any other previous experience you would have with a team. If you can get anything from it, from a scheme standpoint or a personnel standpoint, you certainly try to use that. It was not a good game for us. Their team is different. Our team is different. We’re focused on this game on Sunday."

At 2-1, and playing noticeably better defense than a year ago, the Cowboys will get their shot at redemption on their home turf on Sunday Night Football this week.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

 

 



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<![CDATA[Garrett: Mo Claiborne is Back, Admitted Mistake]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:42:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-hurt-shoulder.jpg

Morris Claiborne admitted he was in the wrong on Tuesday when he stormed out of team headquarters at Valley Ranch after learning that he’d be benched, head coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Wednesday.

“We informed Mo yesterday that his role was going to change, and he didn’t take that news very well--by his own admission,” Garrett said. “He left the building and didn’t participate in the meetings and short walkthrough that we have on Tuesdays.”

Garrett added that the team considers the incident behind them: “He did come back to the building last night. He and I visited, and he was here early this morning and has been going through everything. We’re going to discipline him. We’ll keep how we’re disciplining him in-house, but we’ll move forward. It’s behind us.”

Claiborne was having a pretty brutal day on Sunday until he brought down the fourth quarter interception that sealed the 34-31 comeback victory over the Rams, but told reporters afterward that the pick wasn’t enough to make him feel better about his performance.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

 

 

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<![CDATA[Romo Held Out of Practice on Wednesday]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:16:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455452996.jpg

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was held out of practice on Wednesday for the second week in a row. Earlier in the week, head coach Jason Garrett credited the extra day off with keeping Romo fresh going into Sunday’s match-up with the St. Louis Rams.

It certainly helped him last week,” Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “He looked better as the week wore on, both Thursday and Friday in practice. And I think he looked his best in the game. So we’ll evaluate how he feels and what the best thing is to do. We’re not going to make any grand proclamations about what we’re going to do for all the weeks in the rest of the season. We’re just going to take it day by day, week by week.”

The Cowboys, of course, have been treading with caution where Romo is concerned all year. He underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back in December which, at the time, was his second back surgery in an eight-month span.

If today plays out like last Wednesday, Romo will spend the day in the weight room doing core strength exercises.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

 

 



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<![CDATA[Melton Wants AT&T Stadium Packed on Sunday Night]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:06:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455451602.jpg

Dallas defensive tackle Henry Melton wants AT&T Stadium to be packed with Cowboys fans for Sunday night’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints, and he wants them--and you--to be loud.

Consider it a personal invitation.

I just want to let everybody know to come to the game,” Melton said this week. “It’s going to be Sunday night at 7:30 and we’ll be out there playing the Saints. It’s going to be a good show. Come on out. Spend some money. Don’t just stay out in the parking lot, come on in.”

AT&T Stadium has been criticized in the past for not providing much of a home-field advantage, though there have been exceptions. Melton hopes Sunday night is one of those exceptions, as he’s a firm believer in the idea that crowd noise can make a difference.

“Of course you hear it,” Melton said. “As a defensive player, it’s huge to get the crowd into it. You feed off their energy. You already have energy going into the game, but when you hear the crowd getting into it, it gives you another pep.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



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<![CDATA[Cowboys Bring Back DE Lavar Edwards]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:56:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys re-signed defensive end Lavar Edwards on Tuesday, less than a week after being released.

The Cowboys originally acquired Edwards in a trade with the Tennessee Titans, the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 Draft, in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick just before the season began. He played some in the opener, missed the Titans game with a knee injury and was released the day before the victory over the Rams.

In eight career games, Edwards has nine tackles and a pass defensed. He has yet to record a tackle as a member of the Cowboys.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

 

 



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<![CDATA[No Way Around It, Claiborne is a Bust ]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:23:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/143444329.jpg

Morris Claiborne demoted himself with his play and now Cowboys fans are denouncing him with the cruelest of labels: Bust.

But there’s no way around it. In 2012 the Cowboys gave up a second-round draft pick in order to move up in the draft to take the LSU cornerback. At the time we thought it was a shrewd move. The Cowboys had signed Brandon Carr and would now pair him with a shut-down corner they projected to make perennial Pro Bowls with a similar skill set to Deion Sanders.

But after injuries, pathetic play and now a temper tantrum at Valley Ranch, Claiborne is indeed an underwhelming bust.

So much so that even the owner is admitting it.

“Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth overall pick, giving up the pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No,” Jones said during his weekly show on KRLD-FM. “But he's going to be a good player.”

You don’t trade up for a “good” player. And a “good” player doesn’t get demoted in Week 3 of the season, especially on the heels of a game-saving interception against the Rams.

Not only is Orlando Scandrick better than Claiborne, so is Sterling Moore. For the 6th overall pick to be 4th-best at his position on his own team, that’s embarrassing.

I can’t think of a bigger bust in Cowboys’ draft history. Maybe Scott Appleton, the University of Texas Outland Trophy whom the Cowboys drafted 4th overall in ’64 but who instead signed with the AFL’s Houston Oilers. But that’s about it.

The picks Dallas traded to get Claiborne turned into starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery.

The Cowboys are left with another draft-day disaster, a high pick who can’t play and now needs his ego stroked just to keep playing football.

And to think, when the Cowboys drafted Morris Claiborne they were envisioning a totally different kind of bust. 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



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