<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2015 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, 07 Oct 2015 05:28:48 -0500 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 05:28:48 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jerry Jones Thinks Dez Could Return in Week 7]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:21:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez-bryant-injured-return.jpg

It still hasn’t been a month since Dallas Cowboys All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant had surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right foot, a procedure that involved inserting a bone graft and a screw into the foot, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones is already eyeing a potential return date for Bryant--and it’s an early one.

Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan’s Shan & RJ Show this week that he’s looking at the Week 7 matchup with the Giants as the target at this point, which would mean Bryant would only miss one more game--this week’s matchup with the Patriots--with the injury that caused some to wonder (ahem, Roddy White) if he would be back at all this season.

"Dez, of course, is Superman," Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. "I say that without a smile. He heals extraordinarily quick. His procedure went well. He's sound with the procedure. Everything they did, by the way, the graft all that, it enhances his chance to get out there. I think he's got a chance to do it after the bye."

Bryant, who hasn’t played since Week 1, had five catches for 48 yards against the Giants in the opener before he went down with the broken foot.

<![CDATA[On Deck: New England Patriots]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/brady+poll+down.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 2015 season.

The Opponent: The Patriots are undefeated and coming off a bye week, which is a scary combination for the reeling Cowboys. And not to mention the fact that they appear hell-bent on the Tom Brady revenge tour this year. This game could get ugly in a hurry.

Past Meetings: The Cowboys are 7-4 all-time against the Patriots.

Who's Hot: Brandon Weeden was actually decent on Sunday night and wasn't the problem in the Cowboys' loss, as he threw for 246 yards and a touchdown in the waning seconds to tie the game before the Saints won the game on the second play of overtime. Cole Beasley had six catches for 62 yards, and Anthony Hitchens had a pretty nice day in relief of the concussed Sean Lee.

The Patriots last played two weeks ago and took down Jacksonville with a 51-17 defeat behind Tom Brady's 358 passing yards and two scores. Rob Gronkowski, perhaps the biggest mismatch in the league, had four catches for 101 yards and LeGarrette Blount had three touchdowns on the ground to go with 78 rushing yards.

Who's Not: Joseph Randle had a rough day at the office on Sunday night, running for 26 yards on 11 carries (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown, while Darren McFadden had 31 yards on 10 carries.

Not really much to speak of in regards to the Patriots, as the defending champs are rolling at the moment and not just beating teams, but embarrassing them. The Cowboys might be next.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mo Claiborne Playing Well, Feeling Better Than Ever]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:06:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne10.2.15.jpg

This time last year, Morris Claiborne’s 2014 season had just come to an unfortunate end on the turf at AT&T Stadium.

In that Week 4 home win over the Saints, Claiborne suffered a non-contact ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee, an injury that--even with Claiborne’s history of injuries--stands out as one that is very difficult to return from. To add to Claiborne’s extended, no-fun offseason, he had arthroscopic surgery to strengthen the patellar tendon in his right knee.

But that’s all behind Claiborne now. The former No. 6 overall pick out of LSU says it’d be fair to say he’s playing as well this season as he ever has since coming into the league in 2012--perhaps because he’s feeling better than he ever has since coming into the league.

Definitely, you could say that,” Claiborne told Ben & Skin on 105.3-FM The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “I feel better than I've ever felt since entering the NFL, and I feel like I'm moving better, running better, trying to stay as sticky as I can on the receivers, matching them out of breaks. I feel good.”

Through four games, Claiborne has 14 tackles and two passes defensed, but is still looking for his first interception.

<![CDATA[Trying to Overcome Dunbar Injury, Garrett Glad to Have Scott Linehan]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:08:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457508598.jpg

Lance Dunbar is a man who wears a lot of hats for the Cowboys.

Through four games in 2015, Dunbar worked mostly as a pass-catching option out of the backfield and had 21 catches for 215 yards receiving before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending torn ACL on Sunday night. But he also got some carries (three for 54 yards against the Saints), and returned kicks and punts.

Which is to say, his loss hurts the team in several different areas.

"He's gotten more opportunities this year," Garrett said of Dunbar, per ESPN Dallas. "I think he just shows how versatile and productive a player he can be. You saw that last night, he ran the ball from the backfield, a big run early on in the ball game, he's shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he's shown he can line up as a receive and catch the ball and make plays. He's a good return guy. He's just one of those guys when the ball is in his hands he does a lot of positive things for your football team. He's a hell of a kid, and he's got a great future ahead of him. He's going to come back. He's going to handle it the right way. He'll be better than ever."

Where traversing this latest injury is concerned, Garrett was quick to put his faith in his staff, particularly offensive coordinator Scott Linehan--who, he says, is among the best there is at working with what he has, and making it work.

"One of the things we really pride ourselves on as coaches, and I think what [offensive coordinator] Scott Linehan does such a great job of is using the personnel that we have," Garrett said. "Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game. To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don't know that we have somebody like that, but we have guys in house who can do different things, and hopefully we'll play to those strengths."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Confident in Former Teammate, New Dolphins Coach Dan Campbell ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:10:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dan-campbell10.6.15.jpg

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has faith that his old friend and teammate Dan Campbell will be able to right the ship in Miami--at least, as much as the ship can be righted.

Garrett is uniquely qualified to discuss the hiring of Campbell, which was announced Monday along with the firing of Joe Philbin. He knows the Dolphins franchise (having worked for them), Campbell the man (having played with him), and he certainly knows what it’s like to take over as an NFL head coach for the first time as the result of a brutal start to a season. Garrett did that five years ago, after Wade Phillips led the Cowboys to a 1-7 start and was fired.

"Sometimes these things happen," Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "It's a challenge when they happen during the season but Dan Campbell was a teammate of mine and he's just a hell of a guy and I think he's a really good football guy. I think somehow someway he's going to help that football team get righted and he's going to do that because he's a really willful guy. He's got a great personality and he's a tough guy and I just wish him nothing but the best."
Garrett and Campbell spent three seasons, from 2000-2002, as teammates with the New York Giants. Campbell left the Giants for the Cowboys in 2003, as one of the first free agent signings of the Bill Parcells era. He played three years in Dallas, and served as something of a mentor for Jason Witten through the first three seasons of his career.

"Always a very smart guy," Garrett said. "Knew the game really well, knew things beyond his position and really cared about it, cared about detail, always wanted to know more and loved to play, has a great passion for playing, a great passion for teams and a great passion for the game of football."

<![CDATA[Already Depleted, Cowboys' Offense Will Struggle To Replace Dunbar]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:12:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491358482.jpg

The committee has lost a key member.

Just as in the injury-related departures of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ offensive plan has taken another hit in the loss of running back Lance Dunbar. He tore his ACL on the second-half kickoff return against the Saints, and will undergo season-ending surgery this week.

It further weakens an offense that was already struggling without its stars. And if further dilutes the “committee” of running backs that was supposed to compensate for the loss of last year’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray.

Dunbar was having a fantastic season reminiscent of Cowboys’ receiving running backs of old

He already had 21 catches, had a 45-yard run against New Orleans and had five plays of 20+ yards. Without Bryant, he was the Cowboys’ most explosive weapon. But on a night when he bought 17 tickets for family – including his grandmother, who’d never seen him play in person – Dunbar’s bad choice to return a kick-off from eight yards deep in the end zone resulted in a horrible injury.

He suffered a season-ending injury to the same left knee in 2013 and who knows if he’ll ever return with the same burst and electricity.

Without him, head coach Jason Garrett will deliver his “next man up!” mantra. It sounds great in the pre-game huddle and looks good on motivational T-shirts, but, in reality, what’s it mean?

Without Dunbar who is now the Cowboys’ main receiver out of the backfield? Who returns kickoffs? Who is their third-down back?

“Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don't know that we have somebody like that. But we have guys in house who can do different things, and hopefully we'll play to those strengths.”

“Next man up!” would indicate those answers come from Darren McFadden (receiver out of backfield and third-down back) and Lucky Whitehead (kick returner). But, to say the least, a sputtering offense that can’t afford it is about to endure another downshift. The loss will likely mean more involvement for Christine Michael and perhaps even Whitehead in the backfield on third downs.

Problem is the Cowboys don’t have another Romo. Another Dez. And now I’m afraid we’re about to find out, not another Dunbar either.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Says Cowboys Didn't Bench Randle]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:26:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357526.jpg

In an appearance on 105.3-FM The Fan on Tuesday morning, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones denied that running back Joseph Randle was benched after using a jumping, stretching goal line move (that he had been warned against using by the coaches the week before) on a second quarter touchdown run.

"No, we didn't bench him," Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. "We did not bench him. We just wanted [Darren] McFadden in there at that time. Seriously, it was not a bench."

Just the day before, on Monday, head coach Jason Garrett seemed to suggest that Randle’s high-risk move had played a role in his being sparsely seen throughout the rest of the loss. But Jones insists that wasn’t the case.

Of course, that’s not to say Jones is a fan of the move that got Randle uh, not benched, but pulled from the game in favor of Darren McFadden.

"We teach, they teach, everybody teaches take that ball out down there," Jones said. "It's one of the premium thoughts that you have on the goal line, 'Get the ball out!' That's one of the real opportunities the defense has when they get their back against the wall like that. You got to protect the ball near that goal line."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Fan Photos - October 5, 2015]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:40:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys-Fan-Photos-100515.gif Jocelyn Rose and John Patrick as well as Jada were featured during the Cowboys Fan Photo segment on Monday, October 5, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Weeden Draws Some Praise After Loss to Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:05:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

Somewhat lost in the ugliness of the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday night is the fact that backup quarterback Brandon Weeden looked pretty darn good for most of the night.

Weeden played well two weeks ago in the loss to the Falcons as well, but failed to complete any long passes downfield, leading to criticism that he was powerless to do anything but dink and dunk the ball down the field. Against the Saints, he answered the calls for more throws downfield with a beautiful toss to Brice Butler for a 67-yard gain, and a 17-yard fade to Terrance Williams in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.

To borrow a phrase from Jerry Jones, both passes were things of beauty. Jones offered up some high praise for Weeden after the game, before ending on a kind of weird note about Weeden's limitations.

I thought he did really good and he did good all night,” Jones said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “When he took his initial look he threw it, and he did all night. He does some real good things, though it’s not quite apples to oranges when the other guy on the other side is Brees and you’re dealing with a guy that is as limited as Weeden.”

Weeden finished the night 16-of-26 passing for 246 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked three times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drew Brees' 400th Career TD Pass a Killer for the Cowboys]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:56:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/drew-brees-cowboys10.4.15.jpg

Fans of the New Orleans Saints won’t soon forget the night Drew Brees threw his 400th career touchdown pass. Neither will Cowboys fans, but for entirely different reasons.

Brees saved the milestone for the second play of overtime on Sunday night, when he hit C.J. Spiller on a wheel route and watched him go 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown. For Cowboys, it was an ugly end to an ugly night of football. For the Saints, it was a fun milestone on top a desperately needed victory, their first at home in their last seven games.

I was aware of it,” Brees told the team’s official website after the 26-20 win. “You try to tune a lot of stuff out, but kind of like the passing record back in 2011, you hear guys whispering, and then somebody kind of makes the mistake, just like in a dugout when somebody’s got a no-hitter, saying ‘Hey, did you know that it’s the seventh inning and they don’t have a hit on you?’ I guess I was aware of it, and just kind of made that part of my thought process.

“I knew we were going to out there and win this game. Right when the play call came in out of Sean Payton’s mouth for C.J., I thought ‘This was it. This one is going the distance.’”

For what it’s worth, Brees was the fastest quarterback in history to reach 400 touchdowns.

<![CDATA[Cowboys Staff Miffed by Randle's Risky, Over-the-Top Effort]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:18:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490301432.jpg

Not that anyone had to wait until the postgame press conference to learn that the Dallas Cowboys’ staff was less than thrilled with Joseph Randle’s approach to what turned out to be a second quarter touchdown--even after the play was called a touchdown, coaches were visibly incensed--but Jason Garrett left no question when he took the podium.

Obviously it worked out,” Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “We scored the touchdown there. He got in before the ball came out. That is something we discussed with him and our other running backs how we want to handle that situation. It’s a dangerous play when you extend the ball like that. It worked out for us but we don’t want to do that in that situation.”

The fury over Randle’s leap of faith comes in part from last week’s loss to the Falcons, when coaches saw Randle attempt to extend the ball over a plane and told him not to do that again--it’s just too dangerous. That he did the move again, a week later, had the coaches fit to be tied.

Randle finished with a modest 26 yards and the touchdown on 11 carries.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Christine Michael Loses a Yard in Cowboys Debut]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:02:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/christine-michael-debut.jpg

Ahead of Sunday night’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, a fair amount was made of the fact that running back Christine Michael was active.

Michael was acquired by the Cowboys in a trade almost a month ago, but until last night, he hadn’t so much as been on the field for a snap.

"You'll see him on real short-yardage situations, especially if we get a chance in the red zone," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan before the game, via the Dallas Morning News. “That's where we think he can add something. He's low to the ground.”

Indeed, the Cowboys attempted to use Michael in this way in the fourth quarter, on a 3rd-and-1, but the former Seahawk really never had a chance on the play. He hit the hole--or rather, the area where the hole was presumably supposed to be--and was pushed back, losing a yard on the play.

<![CDATA[Sean Lee Dealing With Concussion]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:11:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488181450.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys just can’t get away from the injury bug.

During the first half of Sunday night’s overtime loss to the Saints in New Orleans, Dallas lost linebacker Sean Lee to a concussion. He left fairly quietly really, after being hurt on the Saints’ second possession of the night, and went to the locker room to undergo further testing.

Lee never did return, leaving the Cowboys defense without their leader and leading tackler. He finished with three tackles.

Of course, Lee missed all of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in OTAs. He has still yet to play 16 games in a season, though he came close in 2011, when he appeared in 15 games. He’ll have to go through the NFL concussion protocol this week to be cleared for next week’s matchup with the Patriots.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Three Phases: Cowboys-Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:09:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

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

Offense: C

The offensive line is struggling. The running game was terrible once again outside of an early 45-yard run from third-down back Lance Dunbar, who ended up leaving the game with injury and is probably done for the season. Brandon Weeden was better and found some of his wide receivers, eventually making a clutch TD pass to Terrance Williams on fourth down to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation.

Defense: F

Drew Brees marched down the field with no timeouts on what should've been a game-winning drive in the final seconds — reminiscent of how Tony Romo toyed with the Giants in Week 1. That, of course, failed thanks to a missed field goal. But it didn't matter because on the second play of overtime, C.J. Spiller was left all alone and scurried 80 yards to paydirt, and a Saints win.

Special teams: B

Dan Bailey and Chris Jones did their thing in the kicking game, and the coverage units didn't blow anything. They took a big blow when they lost Dunbar.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Get Boost With Return of McClain, Hardy]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:20:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/greg-hardy-9.8.15.jpg

The Cowboys probably won’t win against the New England Patriots Sunday, but they will begin to look more like the team that will win consistently come December.

In a season that has seen the injury-related departures of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Randy Gregory, Sean Lee and Lance Dunbar, the pendulum will at least begin to swing in the Cowboys’ favor. Appearing at AT&T Stadium for the first time this season: linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy. Both of their league-mandated four-game suspensions are over, and they’re expected to practice Tuesday and play Sunday.

It’ll be a sight for sore eyes, seeing that on the Saints’ game-ending touchdown in overtime the Cowboys had on the field role-playing linebackers named Keith Smith and Damien Wilson. And after strong first-half showings against the Falcons and Saints, the defense visibly wore down late in the game in both losses. Late in last night’s game the Cowboys couldn’t produce any pressure on New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees.

Hardy has 27 sacks in his last 32 NFL games. And McClain was one of Dallas’ most productive playmakers last season.

The Cowboys won’t look like themselves until around Thanksgiving. But against the Patriots that long transformation will at least commence.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

<![CDATA[5 Things To Know: Cowboys OT Loss to Saints]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:30:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357970.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney discusses Sunday's memorable moments in the Cowboys' loss to the Saints at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Fall to Saints in Overtime, 26-20]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:58:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/drew-brees-cowboys10.4.15.jpg

The Saints needed overtime to beat a depleted Cowboys team on Sunday night in New Orleans, but beat them they did, 26-20.

The Cowboys are now 0-2 with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, though once again, Weeden played well.

Sprung by a couple of big runs, Weeden led the Cowboys 74 yards down the field on their opening drive, but they ultimately stalled and gave way to Dan Bailey, who knocked a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.

The Saints answered immediately with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Josh Hill to take the lead, at 7-3.

The Cowboys then took the kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays, with Joseph Randle going over the top for a one-yard touchdown run--a play that was called a fumble at first, but a touchdown upon further review. The touchdown gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead going into halftime.

After intermission, the Saints wasted no time in tying it up. Zach Hocker hit a 51-yarder to open the scoring in the half and, after Dallas took the lead again on a 38-yarder from Bailey, Hocker tied it again at 13-13 with a 29 yarder.

In the fourth quarter, Brees led an 11-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, capped by a one-yard run by Khiry Robinson, to give the Saints the lead. The Cowboys responded with a 91-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard pass from Weeden to Terrance Williams, to tie it at 20-20. Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Saints a win, which took us to overtime.

In overtime, the Saints needed two plays to beat the Cowboys for good. On the second, C.J. Spiller took a run 80 yards to send the Cowboys home in about the most demoralizing possible way.

To add injury to insult, Dallas lost Lance Dunbar to a knee injury, and Sean Lee to a concussion during the loss.

Weeden finished 16-of-26 passing for 246 yards and a touchdown.

Lance Dunbar had 54 yards on three carries, Darren McFadden had 31 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and Joseph Randle had 26 on 11 carries. As in last week’s loss, the vast majority of the running production came in the first half.

On the other side, Drew Brees finished 33-of-41 passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Ingram went for 77 yards on 17 carries, and Robinson and CJ Spiller combined for another 26 yards on eight carries.

At 2-2, the Cowboys will host the Patriots at JerryWorld next week.

<![CDATA[Saints 26, Cowboys 20: My Top 10 Whitty Comments]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:19:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491357506.jpg

10. Sorry, but part of Sean Lee’s job is to remain healthy and stay on the field. Whether it’s bad luck or bad form (leading with his helmet), Lee will merely frustrate and tease us until he finds a way to avoid injuries. Lee’s the Cowboys’ best defensive player, but critics that say “he’s too small to play so violently” have another card in their deck tonight after his concussion.

9. I contribute the following analysis fully aware that I expect too much logic from TV commercials. But … Good try by Subway with its “Trophy Talk”, but it’s gonna take more than Davey O’Brien’s statue to make us forget Jared Fogle’s pedophilia. And in the US Bank ad, the woman buys the giant helmet blocking her view only to put it on and thereby block the view of the poor fan behind her? Real nice.

8. The Cowboys are too hurt and too mediocre to play dumb. What’s dumb? A penalty for 12 men on the field during that turns a punt into a field goal. 3-point mistakes in overtime games are killers. And, yep, dumb.

7. The Cowboys are besieged by injuries, but not along the offensive line. I watched the lowly Buccaneers run for 139 yards against Rob Ryan’s porous Saints’ defense. But tonight? Only 115 for the Cowboys. Unacceptable.

6. Brandon Weeden doesn’t know how to “climb the pocket” to avoid sacks and he salivates over check-down throws like we do free buffets, but I give him credit for at times looking like an NFL quarterback. His throw to Brice Butler for a 67-yard gain was a beauty, and his game-tying touchdown to Terrance Williams on 4th-and-7 was both gutsy and glorious. Still, there’s a reason he’s lost his last 10 NFL starts and we saw it on display for most of the game.

5. Tough night for Lance Dunbar. He buys 17 tickets for family members, and has his grandmother watching him play live for the first time. But for some reason he returns the second-half kickoff from eight yards deep in the end zone and promptly injures his knee. Game over. Season likely in limbo.

4. Joseph Randle obviously has talent, but not a lick of sense around the goal line. He fumbled last week diving across the goal line against the Falcons and tonight he, well, I’m not sure what to call it. Let’s try this: Randle took a hand-off at the 1 and attempted a spinning, whirling, Peter-Pan finesse move punctuated by him sticking the ball out with one hand and trying a George Gervin-like finger roll. That about right? It resulted in a touchdown, but also a tongue-lashing from both Jason Garrett and running backs coach Gary Brown. My $1 says Dallas’ next goal-line hand-off is to someone other than Randle.

3. At least one team that calls Arlington home won a big game on Sunday. Sorry Cowboys, but considering your plight and the Rangers’ play, our sports spotlight will be focused on baseball for a week or so. Or longer.

2. The trouble on Drew Brees’ game-winning touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller actually started the play before, when linebacker Andrew Gachkar was picked by a Saints’ receiver and had to leave the field with a leg injury. Enter Keith Smith, who has been on and off the Cowboys’ roster constantly the last two years. Unsure of where to line up, Smith was consulting with rookie Damien Wilson when the ball was snapped to Brees, a wily veteran who obviously sensed Dallas’ defensive confusion. Spiller got a step immediately on the out-of-place, out-of-sorts Wilson, then somehow eluded safety Barry Church’s feeble tackle attempt around midfield and scampered 80 yards. Reminiscent of the Cowboys’ loss in Arizona in 2011 when LaRod Stephens-Howling took a pass 52 yards for the game-winning score on the first possession of overtime.

1. You catch the break of a season when the Saints’ miss a 30-yard field goal, then lose the game two plays later? This was the worst possible scenario for Cowboys. Not only did they lose an offensive playmaker (Dunbar), their defensive quarterback (Lee) and a heart-breaking, overtime game, but Weeden looked just competent enough on Dallas’ last drive to earn a third start next week. Which, yep – against the Patriots – means a third straight loss.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sideline Photos: Cowboys at Saints ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys-Saints-October-4-2015.jpg Sideline photos: Cowboys at Saints

Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC 5 Sports ]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Lead Saints at Half, 10-7]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 21:07:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lance-dunbar-saints-10.4.15.jpg

After a half of football in New Orleans, the Dallas Cowboys lead the Saints, 10-7.

Sprung by a couple of big runs, Brandon Weeden led the Cowboys 74 yards down the field on their opening drive, but they ultimately stalled and gave way to Dan Bailey, who knocked a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.

The Saints answered immediately with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Josh Hill to take the lead, at 7-3.

The Cowboys then took the kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays, with Joseph Randle going over the top for a one-yard touchdown run--a play that was called a fumble at first, but a touchdown upon further review. The touchdown gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead, which stands as the tally at halftime.

Weeden is 8-of-12 passing on the evening for 66 yards.

Lance Dunbar has 54 yards on three carries, Joseph Randle has 25 and a touchdown on seven carries, and Darren McFadden has five on four carries.

On the other side, Drew Brees is 17-of-20 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown. Mark Ingram has 26 yards on four carries.

The Cowboys will receive the kick to open the second half.

<![CDATA[Your Photos: Cowboys V. Saints]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 17:15:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/e99e377331f14acaa5e33df8b4f91c4d.jpg NBC 5 viewers shared their photos with isee@nbcdfw.com ahead of Sunday night's Cowboys game against the New Orleans Saints.

Photo Credit: Leah Velasquez]]>
<![CDATA[Claiborne Confident After Long Road Back]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:41:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne10.2.15.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne’s young career had already been thoroughly hampered by injuries last October, when he went down during a Week 4 victory over the Saints at AT&T Stadium with a ruptured patellar tendon--which stood out among the various injuries that have befallen Claiborne in his NFL career as being the worst and most difficult to recover from.

For good measure, just three months after the patellar tendon was hurt, Claiborne had arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

Simply put, Claiborne had a very long road back to where he is now. But now that he’s back, the former No. 6 overall pick’s confidence is as high as ever.

I’m just going out and playing,” Claiborne told the team’s official website. “No matter who’s in front of me, I feel like I have a job to do and I know the team is depending on me to go do my part. My confidence level is high. It’s just high on the standpoint of just being able to go play football again. I’m excited and I’m just working my tail off to try go get the job done.”

Claiborne has started all three games thus far in 2015, and has 10 tackles and a pass defensed. He’s narrowly missed a pair of interceptions.

“I think he’s playing really good,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “I mean, he is playing really good man-to-man technique. He’s tackling, making plays. The one that he dropped down there (against Atlanta), that was a great play. It wasn’t great enough – it’s a good play. Great plays, you’ve got to come up with the ball. But we’re pleased with where he’s at. I think a big part of it is coaching with Jerome [Henderson, the Cowboys’ secondary coach], and he works on it, but he’s got a chance to go out every single day and work on football. He’ll get better. He’ll get better.”

<![CDATA[Witten "Past" All Those Minor Leg Injuries]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:17:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460756556.jpg

Last week, some doubt was cast on whether Cowboys veteran tight end Jason Witten would be able to play in the team’s matchup with the Falcons. He had suffered two sprained ankles and a sprained knee in the victory over the Eagles, it was reported, meaning he was not a lock to play.

Of course, he did, because he is Jason Witten. He played, caught six passes for 65 yards, and came out on the other side feeling just fine, saying he has put “all that”--all that meaning two sprained ankles and a sprained knee--behind him.

“Early in the week it was a little tough trying to get some of that swelling out, but by the end of the week it felt really good,” Witten said, per Todd Archer ESPN Dallas. “The trainers did a good job helping me out, so yeah, I think I’m past all that and feel good.”

Through three games this season, the 10-time Pro Bowler Witten has 21 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Place Your Bets: Week 4]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:56:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457499446.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. New York Jets (-1.0) vs. Miami, at London — The Dolphins have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far and have looked pretty terrible all the way around, especially on defense, which was supposed to be their calling card this year. The Jets have some weapons and a stingy defense that forces a ton of turnovers. The London factor is always scary, but these seems pretty safe.

2. Oakland (-3.0) at Chicago — The Bears have looked awful — maybe the worst team in the NFL awful. The Raiders have been surprisingly good with some explosive, exciting young players, named rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper and second-year quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders aren't great, but the Bears will make them look that way.

3. Philadelphia at Washington (+3.0) — A home underdog in a divisional game between two seemingly even teams, I'll take it. The Eagles got their first win last week, but they didn't necessarily look good doing it. The Redskins should be able to do some damage on the ground and keep it very close at home.

4. St. Louis at Arizona (-7.0) — The old St. Louis franchise hosts the current one this weekend, and it's not going to be pretty. The Rams' defense has failed to live up to expectation, and their offense has looked stale. That's never a good sign when you go to Arizona to face the Cardinals' defense. Oh, and the Cardinals have a red-hot offense now, too, under the rejuvenated Carson Palmer-led passing attack.

5. Dallas (+4.0) at New Orleans — The Saints are suddenly very beatable at home, and while the Cowboys are no world beaters without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, they still look to have a much better team than the Saints, who could once again be without Drew Brees.

Last week: 3-2. 2015 season: 9-6.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Preparing for a Raucous Superdome]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 15:41:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20131110-Dallas-Cowboys-New-Orleans-Saints.jpg

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome isn’t quite the scary road test it once was, not too long ago--they're actually winless in their last six games at home--but the Cowboys are preparing for it to get loud on Sunday night.

According to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, the Cowboys have been pumping loud music into their practices this week, something that he notes isn’t at all unusual for the team. But this week it becomes a potentially more important element, with the team set to face an 0-3 Saints team desperate for a win and a homecrowd in New Orleans desperate for something to cheer about.

“It’s hard to simulate it,” said quarterback Brandon Weeden. “From what I hear it gets pretty loud there. Just got to rely on the assignment, rely on the communication and got to be on point with the communication. That’s first and foremost. And if you’re changing plays, whatever it may be, you better be clear.”

Cowboys center Travis Frederick doesn’t see the noise being an issue.

“The only time I really think about the noise is when I run out for the first time and you hear it,” Frederick said. “But after that you’re so focused on the game that it really has nothing to do with what you’re doing. You just have to figure out how to work around it. You do it all week in practice and then it becomes second nature during the game.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Marinelli Calls Pass Rush "Not Good Enough"]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:31:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459955020.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys made it their mission to improve the pass rush this offseason after finishing 28th in the league in sacks in 2014, with 28.

On paper, they did a fine job. The team signed former Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy to an incentive-heavy one-year deal in free agency, and projected first rounder Randy Gregory fell into their laps in the second round of the draft.

Granted, Hardy has yet to play this year because of his four-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league, and Gregory has been out with a high ankle sprain since the opener.

But defensive coordinator and pass rush guru Rod Marinelli didn’t get into any excuses this week when he declared that, through the first three games--through which the team has produced only three sacks--the Dallas pass rush simply hasn’t been living up to their own expectations.

"It's not good enough," Marinelli said, per ESPN Dallas. “It's not. Not at a championship level that we want. And they know that. So we've just got to keep grinding and keep pushing each and every day and each and every week, try different guys in there, move guys around, maybe different matchups and just work at it. Come out and work at it. It's not good enough.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Christine Michael Getting First Team Reps]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:14:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/christine-michael-cowboys9.4.15.jpg

It’s looking increasingly likely that Christine Michael will make his Dallas Cowboys debut on Sunday in New Orleans.

Michael hasn’t been active for a game since being traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Cowboys a few weeks ago, but he has been taking first team reps in practice this week, which seems to suggest he’ll play in Sunday night’s matchup with the Saints at the Superdome.

“It feels good. First-team reps always feel good,” Michael said, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Just looking to go in there and help contribute as much as possible. It’s outstanding to get those reps and I feel good about it. Physically I feel like I’ve been ready. It’s a lot of plays. I had to get my plays down, which have been coming along pretty well. Study pretty much every day. I get in my books every day. But for the most part, man, just looking to go out there and have fun.”

Michael is the most physically imposing of the Cowboys’ options at running back and, the thought is, he could be used as a battering ram against defenses who load the box in order to stop the run--as the Falcons did with great success last week.

“I think he brings a different style,” said running backs coach Gary Brown. “He is more a short squatty, power-type back with good feet and good explosion. You would like to have a guy with that type of build to take on that eighth man to make him miss or run over him. If you are a good running team, you are going to get eight in the box. You got to be able to have that back to make that guy miss. It will be a nice little mix for us.”

<![CDATA[Williams Looking to Bounce Back]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:13:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-489370578.jpg

Terrance Williams isn’t blaming anybody but Terrance Williams for his disappearing act in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

With Brandon Weeden in for the injured Tony Romo, Williams was targeted twice--once on the second play of the game, and again in the fourth quarter. He dropped both of those passes, though he was facemasked on the first of the two so it actually went for a positive gain.

It’s my job to be ready no matter if it’s toward the end of the game, the beginning of the game or the last pass,” Williams said, per Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas. "I have to be ready. There are no excuses for dropping passes or stuff like that. I have to cash in on my chances because you have guys depending on me. Whether it’s the last quarter, the last minute or the last second you have to fight throughout the whole game.”

Interestingly enough, Williams’ only touchdown and over a quarter of his yardage in 2015 to this point came from a single pass from Weeden, a 42-yard catch-and-run after he took over for Romo in the win over the Eagles in Week 2.

“Our job as receivers is to make it quarterback friendly like we do for Tony,” Williams said. “We did a great job today in practice just working our hands because they have big, physical corners and if you don’t get their hands off you, you're going to look bad.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brees Feels 'Really Good' About Playing Vs. Cowboys]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 12:14:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456297412.jpg

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees hasn’t declared himself available for his team’s Sunday night matchup with the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, but he certainly sounds optimistic.

Brees threw on the Saints’ day off Tuesday to test his bruised rotator cuff, and was encouraged enough by that to throw in practice on Wednesday. It was his first practice reps since he suffered the injury in Week 2, and he came away feeling “really good” about his chances of playing this week.

"I'll see how the shoulder responds tomorrow and for the rest of the day. But each day I'm able to do more and more; each day I feel stronger," Brees said, per ESPN Dallas. "Each day there's more range of motion, more strength, and so that's the key."

The shoulder injury forced Brees to miss last week’s matchup with the Panthers and, even though backup Luke McCown played well, going 31 of 38 for 310 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, the Saints lost 27-22 to fall to 0-3 on the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Are Eagles Avoiding Redskins' Nickname?]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 11:56:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chip-Kelly-Loss.jpg

As you might have heard, there’s some controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins’ nickname.

Most believe it will change eventually, Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder’s insistence that it won’t ever change aside, but in the meantime many fans, journalists and publications have declared that as long as the name stays, they simply will not use it.

Now, it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles have become the first NFL team to adopt such an approach. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk fame noticed that the name is, in great part, gone from the Eagles website:

“The Philadelphia Eagles, who travel to FedEx Field on Sunday, have referred to the Week Four opponent only as ‘Washington,’ in various places. As noted by Matt Lombardo of 97.5 The Fanatic in Philly (and picked up by TheBigLead.com), the weekly media guide refers to the contest as ‘Philadelphia vs. Washington’ when past weekly media guides this season have used team names. A scroll through the Eagles’ Twitter page shows no uses of the R-word, but has an invitation to fans for “Eagles vs. Washington” this weekend. A similar reference to ‘Eagles vs. Washington’ appears at the team’s Facebook page.

“Portions of the Eagles’ website make reference to the Washington name, including the NFL.com-generated season schedule and this week’s injury report. Still, only “Washington” appears elsewhere in the site, including in an item regarding film study of the team’s most recent game against the Giants.”

If the sparse usage of the nickname on its site was by design, as it sure seems to be, the Eagles are the first NFL team to take such a stand. As Florio points out, this is a potentially huge step for those who want the team name gone. The name has had many critics, even powerful critics, but until now the criticism has come from, not only outside the Redskins organization, but outside the NFL.

If a fellow NFL franchise, one that’s been in the same division as Washington since 1967 and are acutely aware of their history as a team declares that they won’t use the name, the position that its one born of honor and heritage, and not a slur, becomes still less tenable.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Can't go 'Oh-Fer' in Romo's Absence: S. Jones]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 11:19:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490327288.jpg

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones declared this week that the team is trying to win games, and not merely “hold on” in the absence of franchise quarterback Tony Romo, before adding that the team can’t afford to go winless in this stretch.

"We have to go play our ass off. We can't hold on to anything,” Jones said, per Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas. “We'll play with what we have and play as hard as we can play.

"If we go oh-fer while Tony is out we're probably out of it, but we don't feel like that's going to happen. I think we're going to win football games with the team we have, and we're going to get better.”

The good news is some help is coming. Starting left guard Ronald Leary and defensive end Jeremy Mincey will be back this week after sitting out the Falcons game with a groin injury and a concussion, respectively. Next week, Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain are eligible to return from suspension.

"There are a lot of guys that don't have franchise quarterbacks out there but win games,” Jones said. "There are different ways to win a game. Last week was tough but no excuses. Everybody has issues. We're not the only team in the league that has issues. No one feels sorry for us."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weeden Tired of Downfield Criticism]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 11:04:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485064514.jpg

We get the feeling Brandon Weeden is sick of talking about the Cowboys’ lack of a downfield passing attack in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Weeden threw the ball deep once, to Terrance Williams, on the second play of the game. The pass was dropped but Williams was facemasked, so it was still a positive play. But it was the last long-ish throw of the day for Weeden, and the last target for Williams until the fourth quarter.

Obviously you guys are beating a dead horse, talking about throwing the ball underneath,” Weeden said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “That was our plan all along. You look back, was there a couple times I could’ve thrown a ball maybe to outside receiver given the plays that were called? Maybe one or two I could’ve thrown it out there. But those were the matchups we liked and that’s what they were giving us in coverage.”

The man whose arm strength was so highly praised by Jerry Jones last week insists he can, and will hit the deep ball when it’s there.

“If we got a drop-back pass with four verticals and a comeback, if they’re there, I’m going to rip them," Weeden said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[You Betcha: Week 4 - Cowboys Over Saints]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:47:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456297390.jpg

I long ago burned out on Fantasy Football. I can’t wrap my little brain around the FanDuelDraftKings craze. And I’ve wasted lots of time and a little money on not finishing first in those Eliminator Pools.  But, alas, like of fans, I do like to have a little extra interest in Cowboys games.

So let’s do this: I just robbed an imaginary bank and pocketed a virtual $1,000. What better way to spend it than on some mythical wagering.  I’ll start with my $1k bankroll and each week – usually on Thursday or Friday – I’ll analyze the upcoming Cowboys game and make a wager. With any luck, by Christmas it’ll be iPhone upgrades for everyone.

Do I think we’ll win? You betcha!

I’ve been bungee jumping over a river, sky diving into a mountain and married a couple times.

But this just might be the scariest activity I’ve ever undertaken: Betting on Brandon Weeden.

Last week his stats looked impressive (22 of 26), but if you watched the game you know he was harmless. Most throws underneath, nothing downfield. Nada to strike fear into a defense that eventually shrank the field and shut Dallas down and out.

This week, however, should be different.

The Cowboys know they can’t dink-and-dunk with Weeden and win, so I expect more throws deep to Terrance Williams. I also so what rookie Jameis Winston did to Rob Ryan’s putrid defense, and Dallas will be able to move the ball on the ground and in the air.

Then there’s the availability of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He’ll likely play, but won’t be at 100 percent.

And don't give me that "night game on Bourbon Street" myth. Don't look now but the Saints have their longest losing streak in the Superdome since 1980. They've lost their last six at home by a combined 185-104.

The Cowboys are a better team, even with Weeden. Getting points here is just a luxury I can’t pass up.

Cowboys 20, Saints 17.




LAST WEEK: 1-0, +$175

THIS WEEK: Cowboys +4 over Saints for $200

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Land: Studs and Duds, Week 4]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:43:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/raiders26.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

Amari Cooper, WR, OAK — It's been a while since the Raiders have had much fantasy relevance, but this year, that skid appears to be over. Cooper is perhaps this year's Odell Beckham Jr. as the rookie out of Alabama has had two straight huge days and is burning veteran secondaries all over the league. He was said to be the most NFL ready offensive rookie this year, and it's coming true. Oh, and he gets a putrid Bears defense this weekend to toy with. Start him.

Honorable mention: Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. KC); Derek Carr, OAK (at CHI); Karlos Williams, BUF (vs. NYG); Keenan Allen, SD (vs. CLE)

Dud of the Week

Eli Manning, QB, NYG — Manning has been a decent NFL quarterback this year, as he shockingly has yet to throw an interception through three games. But, he hasn't been a great fantasy quarterback despite having the best weapon in the game in Beckham. This week he gets a Bills defense that has been great, but if there's one weak link, it's the pass defense. Still, start Manning at your own risk.

Honorable mention: Michael Vick, PIT (vs. BAL); Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. NYJ, at London); Alfred Morris, WAS (vs. PHI); Jeremy Maclin, KC (at CIN)

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Saint Corey White Excited For Return to New Orleans ]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:30:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485931710.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Corey White doesn’t need to wonder what it’s going to be like inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at kickoff on Sunday.

White was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round in 2012 and played three seasons for the team, starting 19 games in that span. He was waived by the team in March and claimed by the Cowboys the very next day.

“It’ll be loud. I’ll be on the other sideline this time, but I’m looking forward to it,” White told his new team’s official website. “Just remembering the ‘Who Dat’ chant before the games gives me the chills--it still will, probably, this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it.”

White, who has a pair of tackles through three games with the Cowboys, said he’s doing his best to keep emotions out of his preparation, but acknowledged that there’s a little something extra to this particular date on the schedule.

“It’ll be fun, I’m looking forward to it,” White said. “I know the offense well, I know all those guys well--I won’t be nervous at all. It’s just football."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gregory Ahead of Schedule: S. Jones]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:29:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/randy-gregory-cowboys.jpg

Injuries have been the talk of the Cowboys season thus far, for obvious reasons, but the team got some good news on the health front this week: rookie defensive end Randy Gregory is getting closer to returning from the high ankle sprain that’s had him sidelined since the season opener.

He’s not going to be ready for the Saints or anything, but in an appearance on 105.3-FM The Fan recently, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones described Gregory as being (probably) ahead of schedule in his rehab, and possibly just a couple of games away from being back on the field.

He’s probably maybe even a little bit ahead (of schedule),” Jones said, via the team’s official website. “It’s probably unlikely that he makes it before the bye but I think very likely that he makes it after the bye.”

For those without a pocket schedule handy, this means Gregory will miss this week’s matchup with the Saints and the next week’s with the Patriots, but could return for the October 25 matchup with the Giants in East Rutherford.

<![CDATA[Garrett Explains Mental Miscues in Loss to Falcons]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:18:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490301600.jpg

On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett attempted to explain what happened on the Falcons’ two-point attempt, which succeeded and pulled the still-trailing visiting team to within three points of the lead at 28-25. You see, not long after that play, it came out that the Cowboys’ had just 10 men on the field. Oops.

“We were trying to get the information as to whether or not we had 10 or 11 on there and they had snapped the ball before we got that information,” Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

That wasn’t the only gaffe for which Garrett took heat during the loss. He was also criticized for calling a timeout on the Cowboys’ final drive of the first half, when they scored a touchdown, but did so too quickly. With over 40 seconds left when Atlanta got the ball back, Matt Ryan knifed through the defense like butter to set Matt Bryant up for a field goal to end the half.

The 25 unanswered points the Falcons put up to win the game, in fact, started with that field goal.

“That’s a tricky situation for us because we’re changing personnel groups and we wanted to put our big personnel in,” Garrett said. “And sometimes that can be complicated there. It turned out that we scored on that first play and we gave them an opportunity. So in the ideal situation you work that thing all the way down and don’t give them a chance to go back the other way and get that field goal. A combination of different factors: personnel group, new quarterback. A few different things.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nate Newton: Cowboys "Gonna Have to Trust in Weeden"]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:55:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/490375720.jpg

Like a lot of fans, we’d imagine, former Cowboys offensive lineman turned radio host Nate Newton has found himself lamenting the fact that, throughout the team’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the team never really even tried to throw the ball downfield--which, of course, freed the Atlanta defense up to pin their ears back and put the kibosh on all the run plays and dinks and dunks that were working for Dallas in the first half.

The rest is history. The Falcons scored 25 unanswered to come away with a 39-28 road win. The Cowboys’ offense was shut out in the second half.

In an appearance on 103.3-FM ESPN Radio this week, Newton said the solution to the problems we saw Sunday comes down to the Cowboys placing more trust in Weeden as their starting quarterback for the next seven or so games.

You gonna have to trust in Weeden,” Newton said, per the Dallas Morning News. “You gonna have to let him be a starting quarterback. You're gonna have to press things down the field. If you don't, you limit yourself. They can put eight, nine people around the box, stop the run. What we have to do is get our outside guys to be a part of this. Either the quarterback or the wide receivers have to take it upon themselves.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Sign DT David Irving Off Chiefs Practice Squad]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:23:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/david-irving-cowboys.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys did some shuffling along the defensive line this week, signing David Irving off the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad on Tuesday, a day after they released defensive tackle Davon Coleman. They also released practice squad tackle Ronald Patrick, and re-signed defensive end Lavar Edwards.

An Iowa State product, Irving went undrafted in 2015 but was signed by the Chiefs, who thought enough of him that, when time came for final cuts, they decided they wanted to hang onto him and assigned him to their practice squad.

Which brings us to this week when, in desperate need of defensive line help, the Cowboys made their move to acquire the 6-foot-7, 273 pounder. Per league rules, he has to be placed on the active roster for at least three weeks.

In his college career, Irving recorded 44 tackles including 7.5 for a loss, three sacks and an interception, which he ran back for a touchdown.

<![CDATA[Dunbar a Productive Member of Cowboys RB Committee]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:13:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488131716.jpg

On a team that features Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, after three games the Cowboys’ leading receiver is …

A running back.

That says a lot about Dallas’ lack of downfield prowess. But it also says something about Lance Dunbar’s progress.

Dunbar is in 2015 what Preston Pearson was in the late ‘70s – a mismatch for linebackers with reliable hands and shifty moves.

The North Texas alum has been the favorite target of both Tony Romo and Brandon Weeden so far, amassing 21 catches for 215 yards. He’s on pace – not that anyone expects it to hold up – for 100+ receptions for 1,000+ yards.

Nonetheless, he’s a legit weapon out of the backfield on screens, swing passes and, most importantly, third downs. The Cowboys are using him the same way the Eagles use Darren Sproles, the way the Giants once used Dave Meggett, and the way they used to employ Pearson, who caught 189 balls for 11 touchdowns from Roger Staubach.

When Bryant returns and Witten gets healthy and Romo is back, the offense will be loaded. And for the first time in a long time, the Cowboys will have an asset catching passes out of the backfield.

Dunbar isn’t big enough or durable enough to be an every-down back. But he’s already shown he can be a productive part of the Cowboys’ running back committee.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Power Rankings: NFC East]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:07:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/192*120/ap-chip-kelly-eagles_2.jpg

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

1. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) — The Eagles beat a good Jets team last week as Ryan Mathews became the first Eagles running back to top the 100-yard mark with DeMarco Murray out with an injury. Sam Bradford still looked very pedestrian, but at this point, the Eagles are likely the best team in the division. Next up: Sunday, noon, at Washington Redskins.

2. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) — We saw the Cowboys' offense sans Tony Romo on Sunday and it looked pretty good for a half, then awful in the second half as the Cowboys collapsed and blew a big lead partly because the defense couldn't stop anything and partly because they were on the field too much. They have a head-to-head win over the Eagles, but at the moment, they're taking a back seat. Next up: Sunday, 7:25 p.m., at New Orleans Saints.

3. New York Giants (1-2) — The Giants scored their first win over what appeared to be a running machine in the Washington Redskins. Still, they almost blew it late, as they had in their first two games of the year — both losses in fourth-quarter blown leads. Next up: Sunday, noon, at Buffalo Bills.

4. Washington Redskins (1-2) — See above. The Giants worked over the Redskins before a late rally fell short. Next up: Sunday, noon, vs. Philadelphia Eagles.

<![CDATA[Absence of Downfield Throws Doesn't Bother Garrett]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:56:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-486404296.jpg

In his first start in the place of Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden took a shot downfield exactly once, on the second play of the game.

For awhile, that seemed fine. The run game was working, Dallas jumped out to a few 14-point leads, and everything was hunky dory. But then the run game stopped working, which led to a lot of third-and-longs, which led to a whole lot of third down check down passes--in most cases to Lance Dunbar, who accounted for almost half of Weeden’s 22 completions--and a whole lot of punts.

Simply put, there was zero deep threat for the defense, which made their job a whole lot easier down the stretch.

But, aside from acknowledging that there might have been some missed opportunities over the course of the game, Garrett defended Weeden’s decision-making after the 39-28 loss.

You have to understand what their style of defense is,” Garrett told the team’s official website. “They commit a lot of people to the line of scrimmage and then their corners play high. If you can picture Seattle’s corners how they play high and deep. Not many people make a lot of big plays. That’s the style of defense. So they help themselves that way by making it difficult for you to run the football and equally make it challenging for you to make big plays in the passing game. There were some opportunities to throw the ball outside to the outside receivers that we didn’t take full advantage of. To say we should’ve thrown it down the field more, I don’t know that’s accurate.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Loss Puts Damper on Dunbar's Big Day]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:34:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lance-dunbar-big-day.jpg

One of the positives to be taken from Sunday’s 39-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons is that the Dallas Cowboys may be starting to figure out how to best use Lance Dunbar.

Since the arrival of Scott Linehan, last year, the Cowboys have been moving toward using Dunbar primarily as a pass-catching running back, a role similar to that of Reggie Bush when he was playing under Linehan in Detroit.

In 2014 Dunbar finished with 18 catches for 217 yards, while running it just 29 times for a total of 99 yards.

This year, Dunbar just has two carries for 13 yards. But he has 21 catches for 215 yards, including a 10-catch, 100-yard performance against the Falcons on Sunday.

“It’s fun to be a bigger part of the offense, but I’m all about winning,” Dunbar said, per ESPN Dallas. “The stats don’t mean much when you don’t win.”

<![CDATA[Pereira Declares Catch Rules "Most Confusing Part of the Game Right Now"]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:09:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4613464321.jpg

Spurred on by the controversial end to the Dallas Cowboys’ Divisional Round loss to the Green Bay Packers--the Dez Bryant catch that wasn’t--the NFL set out to clarify what constitutes a catch this offseason. Through three weeks of the 2015 season, it doesn’t appear that they did a very good job of it.

Just this weekend we had another controversial call, another big catch that looked like a catch to pretty much everyone, until an official declared it wasn’t. This time, it was the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert, who caught a pass, was met at the goal line, extended the ball over the plane and then had it knocked out. It looked like a clear-as-day touchdown. But it wasn’t.

Head of officiating Dean Blandino said after that Eifert didn’t control the ball long enough before he stretched the ball over the goal line.

Former official turned TV expert on officiating, Mike Pereira, meanwhile, said in an appearance on the Rob Dibble Show on Monday that what is and isn’t a catch is the most confusing part of NFL football--and that he himself no longer always knows what is and what isn’t.

“The most confusing part of the game right now: What is a catch and what is not a catch?” Pereira said, per Pro Football Talk. “Even I, in my role, I’m not even confident anymore in knowing when someone has possession long enough.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Impressed by Julio Jones]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:49:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/patmongettingbeatbyjulio.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was mighty impressed by Julio Jones (no relation) on Sunday, and it’s not hard to understand why.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Jones went for 12 catches, 164 yards and two touchdowns, both coming as part of the 22-point onslaught the Falcons put on the Cowboys in the second half of the 39-28 Falcons win.

"I think our early defensive success gave us a certain confidence in what we were doing, and the when we relied on that later ... I think that betrayed us," Jerry Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan’s Shan & R.J. Show, via the Dallas Morning News. “I'm not criticizing here at all. I'm just saying that it's pretty obvious to me that every down is almost a new day with a Julio Jones. He was no surprise. His first two games have been almost lay-downs to what he did against us.”

The Cowboys’ esteemed owner admitted that, watching Julio Jones run roughshod over the defense on Sunday from all different offensive alignments, he couldn’t help but think about the possibilities with his own franchise receiver, the currently sidelined Dez Bryant.

"When you cover him the way we did in the slot and you don't have a sideline to work with, then it's really very difficult for him not to get the plays,” Jerry Jones said. "My observation, though, my coaching observation--and I'm holding two fingers up on each side--I want to see the way they do Julio, and does anybody want to see us do Dez [Bryant] that way? Is that too elementary?"

For what it's worth, Julio Jones has been doing this to everyone so far this season: His 34 catches through three games are an NFL record, and he already has 440 yards and four touchdowns.

<![CDATA[Brees May Play Against Cowboys]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:26:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456297390.jpg

After being held out of the New Orleans Saints’ matchup with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, a 27-22 loss, Drew Brees thinks there’s a good chance his shoulder will be well enough to return this week against the Cowboys--and head coach Sean Payton is similarly optimistic.

“[T]he one thing [that] is certain is the day-to-day progress he has made and truly a week ago at this time, Wednesday and Thursday, we didn’t know,” Payton said, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “It was day-to-day and then on Friday, we just felt where it was at that time it was smart to rest it.

I would say optimistic and yet will just pay attention to his symptoms and strength.”

The Saints are 0-3 on the season and riding a six-game losing streak at the Superdome, where the Sunday Night tilt between the Cowboys and Saints will unfold.

Brees will throw in Saints practice on Tuesday to test the injured shoulder.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>