<![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 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:31:11 -0500 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:31:11 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBC 5 Sports at Cowboys Camp - July 30]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:15:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NS-BSBWebcast-073014_1200x675_313759299563.jpg NBC 5 Sports' Newy Scruggs breaks down the latest Dallas Cowboys news at training camp in Oxnard, California.]]> <![CDATA[Pat Doney, Jon Machota Discuss Cowboys News]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:12:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/PD-BSBWebcast-073014_1200x675_313755715923.jpg NBC 5 Sports' Pat Doney and Jon Machota, of The Dallas Morning News, discuss the latest news from Dallas Cowboys training camp.]]> <![CDATA[Josh Brent Released from Rehab, Free to Play Football]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:45:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Josh+Brent+012114.jpg

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was released from his residential substance abuse treatment program Tuesday and is now free to pursue his football career again, sources said.

Brent’s initial meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had to be pushed back after he wasn’t released Monday. The meeting has been rescheduled and is expected to take place sometime over the next two weeks, sources said.

CLICK HERE to read more from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Excited About Deal with Tyron Smith]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:54:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyronsmith.jpg

As news of Tyron Smith's new mega-deal with the Cowboys was announced Tuesday morning, Jason Garrett took the podium at his daily press conference in Oxnard. And as you would expect, the Cowboys head coach was ecstatic about locking up one of the most talented left tackles in football.

"He's just been everything we've wanted to build this program and this team around," Garrett said. "His work ethic is fantastic, his mental and physical toughness is as good as I've been around, and he just continues to grow and develop as a player."

Later in the day, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones took it a step further.

"There was one thing that wasn't an argument," Jones said to reporters in Oxnard Wednesday afternoon. "We thought based on his skill and based on his age, Tyron deserved to be the highest paid left tackle."

One of the reasons the Cowboys were willing to give Smith the biggest contract for an offensive lineman in the NFL was his age. A 2011 first round pick, at 23-years old, Smith is younger than the two offensive linemen the Cowboys have taken in the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts.

"I think this may be the first ten-year deal I've done in football where I really think the guy will be playing in the last year of his contract," Jones said.

The deal Smith signed is an eight-year extension, with the total value at just under $110 million, nearly $30 million more than the next highest paid tackle in the NFL. Smith also has $40 million guaranteed in the deal, including a $10 million signing bonus.

"He's a really young player we put (on the field) really on minute one of day one, and he's been everything we thought he was going to be, both physically, tangibly, and as a person," said Garrett. "He's still a young man, but he's played a lot of football for us already."

And Smith's youth has the Cowboys believing he can get even better than his Pro Bowl performance of 2013.

"Technically, he's getting better, he's getting bigger and stronger, and he's just tough and competitive," Garrett said. "He's who you want on your football team in a really, really important position."

When asked if making Smith the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL was a goal in the negotiations, Jones remarked, "I think that is what it was going to take to sign him," and that both sides walked away satisfied with the deal.

"We were able to get something done that works for everybody."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Sign Tyron Smith to Eight-Year Extension]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:06:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyron-smith-good-start.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys have taken care of one of their top offseason priorities by signing Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith to a massive long-term deal.

Smith signed an eight-year extension worth $97.6 million on Wednesday morning, according to the team’s official website. Dallas already had Smith signed through 2015--they exercised their fifth-year club option on Smith earlier this offseason--meaning his current deal is worth 10 years and $109 million total.

Around $40 million of this is guaranteed money, and today’s deal brings a $10 million signing bonus for the 23-year-old.

Running through 2023, it is the largest non-quarterback contract in franchise history.

The Cowboys selected Smith out of USC with the 9th overall pick of the 2011 Draft. He spent his rookie season at right tackle before moving to the left in 2012, where he’s developed into one of the best in the game at the position. In 2013, just his second season on the left side, Smith was named to his first Pro Bowl.
 
Smith won’t turn 24 until this December.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marinelli Wants Lineman to be Like Pitchers]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:58:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Bruce-Carter-cowboys-camp-072814.jpg

Wednesday  afternoon in Oxnard, I had a very interesting conversation with new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Marinelli, who was the Cowboys defensive line coach in 2013, is widely considered to be one of the best DL coaches in the NFL.

With (then healthy) rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the front-burner, I asked Rod what the biggest obstacle is for a first-year player trying to make an immediate impact in the NFL on the defensive line.

"That's easy," he said, smiling. "You have to forget everything from college. None of that will work here."

He also stressed to me the importance of quick hands for a defensive lineman (he said Henry Melton was incredible at this), and was quick to point out that hand quickness was much like a golf swing:

"You'll lose (that quickness) if you don't work on it every day," he said. "It's not like riding a bike."
But the most interesting thing I learned from Marinelli in our chat (really, it was an educational conversation) was about the importance of pass rushers looking the exact same coming off the ball.

"You want it to be like a baseball pitcher," he said. "You throw the fastball, fastball, and then, whoops, here comes the change-up, but it looks the exact same coming out of the hand. That's the goal when facing a pass blocker."

Marinelli believes the Cowboys' strength this season will be in numbers. Dallas is considering carrying as many as ten defensive linemen to keep players fresh as it tries to improve its pass rush from ranking 25th in the NFL in sacks in 2013.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys D Down Two DeMarcuses]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:13:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarcus-lawrence-injury_1200x675_313532995930.jpg

At least we know the Cowboys’ offensive line can shove folks around.

First it was rookie Zack Martin plowing over linebacker Sean Lee in minicamp, tearing his ACL. And yesterday at training camp in Oxnard it was Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, overpowering rookie DeMarcus Lawrence to the ground. The defensive end second-round draft pick landed awkwardly, suffering a broken foot that will require surgery and keep him off the field for 8-10 weeks.

Like their Arlington baseball brethren, the Cowboys aren’t deep enough to absorb and withstand injuries. Especially on defense. And particularly along the defensive line.

But with Lawrence now missing anywhere from three to six regular-season games, what’s the plan? Says a lot about a team who must now scramble to replace a player yet to take his first NFL snap, but the Cowboys were counting on Lawrence to be one of the best pass-rushers until Anthony Spencer returns from his injury around Week 7.

The Cowboys had only a meager 34 sacks last season and now without Spencer, Lawrence and the departed DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, that number is likely to dip to epic drought proportions.

Lawrence was fighting for the starting job at right defensive end along with veteran Jeremy Mincey. Now who pushes or ultimately backs up Mincey? Former Saint Martez Wilson? Does Tyrone Crawford move from left to right end? Do the Cowboys sign former Chargers’ first-round pick Larry English?

Last year in camp Crawford tore his Achilles and Spencer limped around on a bum knee. The Cowboys were able to sign George Selvie, and he had a productive season. It’s not a good sign when a thin team is already scouring for depth.

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[DeMarco Murray Ready to Earn a New Deal]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:43:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157371426.jpg

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones recently said the team would hold off on giving DeMarco Murray an extension for now, and see how this season goes for him. Even though the team will continue negotiating long term deals with Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, Murray didn’t take any offense to the declaration.

In fact, Murray is looking forward to proving he deserves a new contract.

"It's not a big deal at all," Murray said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You get what you put in and that's what I plan on doing. I plan on having a good team year. I plan on having a good individual year as well.”

Murray does seem to be primed for a big year, for a few reasons. He went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2013, working behind a rebuilt offensive line. That line only got better this offseason with the first round selection of right guard Zack Martin, and new playcaller Scott Linehan has said he intends on leaning on Murray and the running game this season.

Last year, the Cowboys finished 31st in the league in terms of rushing attempts.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Shrugs Off Raiders' Meeting with San Antonio]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:28:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-camp-2014-day0-03.jpg

One would think the news that Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis recently met with city officials in San Antonio to discuss a potential move is relevant to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, because Jones has a vested interest in the football allegiances of that city.

But the Cowboys owner and general manager says he wasn’t much bothered by the news.

"I don't make a lot of this at all," Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. "Again, my interest in San Antonio is because of how important it is to the Cowboys and our history of having training camp there and the fact that we have such a tremendous fan base in San Antonio.

"The first I heard about it, I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me about him going to San Antonio."

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Dez: Cowboys Are Doing the Right Thing with Romo]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:54:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tony-romo-dez-bryant7.26.13.jpg

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been held out of two of the team’s five training camp practices as the staff eases him back into action following back surgery. But Dez Bryant, who has been catching passes from Romo for the past four years now, says the rapport between the two is such that they don’t need many practice reps together.

That’s exactly how we feel,” Bryant said, via ESPN Dallas. “It’s mutual. We know each other like the back of our hand, so whenever he gets in, I know what’s up. We’re ready to roll.”

That was certainly the case last year, when Bryant caught 93 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns, almost all from his pal Romo. (He caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown from Kyle Orton in Week 17, when Romo sat out with this latest back injury).

Bryant is in full support of the Cowboys’ cautious approach to Romo’s return.

“He looks good. He looks real good,” Bryant said. “It’s Romo. What the coaches are doing, what the organization is doing, that’s exactly what they need to do. We don’t need him right now. We don’t.”

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<![CDATA[Sean Lee Confident He'll Come Back Healthy in 2015]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:35:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sean-lee-neck-injury.jpg

Sean Lee is staying optimistic following the latest in a long and unfortunate string of injuries.

The defensive captain Lee remains highly involved in training camp, doing what he can to help the team and stay sharp himself after suffering a season-ending torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) on the first day of organized team activities. Lee says being close to the team helps him avoid falling into a negative mindset.

When you disconnect, it’s hard to stay positive,” Lee said, via the team’s official website. “Just staying around the guys and going through the process, not only is it going to give me another year of football mentally under my belt but it’s also helping me stay positive.”

By the time Lee returns in 2015, he will have missed 34 games due to injury in his first five seasons in the league--the equivalent of more than two seasons. Lee’s not focused on that, though. For now he’s focused on doing what work he can, and he remains confident that he’ll bounce back.

“I think I’ll come back completely healthy,” Lee said. “Now, the question is, can I stay out there? That’s something that obviously I’m hopeful for and I’m going to do everything I can do to do that and control everything I can. But at the end of the day, there’s situations that you might not be able to avoid. I’m not going to stress too much about that end. I’m just going to do what I can do.”

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<![CDATA[Jerry Not Concerned About Romo's Back]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:20:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-whitten-jj-wilcox.jpg

The fact that quarterback Tony Romo has missed two of the Cowboys’ first five training camp workouts is not a sign that the veteran is not 100 percent, this according to owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

Romo, of course, is recovering from a December procedure to repair a herniated disk in his back. At the time, it was his second back surgery in an eight-month span.

Yes, he’s 100 percent. He’s 100 percent,” Jones told the team’s official website. “We’re just being real smart and sensitive about having come off the back surgery. He’s certainly not losing any ground from the standpoint of opening up against San Francisco.”

Jones did his best to emphasize that the Cowboys were limiting his reps as strictly a precautionary measure, and that he isn’t concerned about Romo’s back at this point.

“No, not at all. I had a brief visit with it,” Jones said. “We feel real good. We’re really pleased with the way he’s practicing and the work he’s getting down, both on and off the field. Nothing in any way would concern me about certainly his back.”

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Newhouse to Have Public Viewing, Reception This Week]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:54:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP449208758918.jpg

Memorial services for former Dallas Cowboys great Robert Newhouse have been scheduled for Thursday.

Newhouse died last week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota after a battle with heart disease.  He was 64.

He was a member of three Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl teams, including the winning team in 1977.

The public is invited to a visitation for Newhouse at Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home at 7405 W. Northwest Highway in Dallas between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

A private funeral service will be held Friday at Prestonwood Baptist Church at 11 a.m. A public reception will follow the service. The church is located at 6801 W. Park Boulevard in Plano.

Newhouse is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters, Dawnyel and Shawntel, and sons Rodd and Reggie, who played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2004-05.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lawrence May Miss Opener With Broken Ankle]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:52:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarcus-lawrence-injury.jpg

There's more bad news for the Dallas Cowboys.

Overnight, NBC 5 learned that defensive end DeMarcus Lawence broke his ankle during Tuesday's practice in Oxnard, California.

NBC 5 Sports was there when the injury occurred.

Lawrence, a second-round draft pick, was able to walk off the field on his own after the injury but then had to be carted off when he reached the sideline.

Our media partners at The Dallas Morning News learned Lawrence could be out as long as 12 weeks recovering.

The 2014 football season starts Sept. 7, which is a little more than five weeks away.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Responds to Raiders-to-San Antonio Report]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:54:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-camp-2014-day0-03.jpg

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has always considered the city of San Antonio, Texas, part of the Dallas Cowboys fan base.

"Certainly, San Antonio is a great city and a great sports town," Jones said Tuesday. "I'd like for some of that stuff that's in the drinking water down there, that the Spurs get, to get some of that to the Cowboys."

So, when a report Tuesday revealed that the Oakland Raiders had met with city officials in the Alamo City about possibly relocating from Northern California to San Antonio, you could understand why Jones, speaking to reporters in Oxnard, did not seem thrilled about the idea and would not give a direct comment about the topic.

"I thought it was somebody joking with me when they came out here," Jones said. "So, I don't have any comment other than how valued we feel, and the Cowboys feel, about our fans in San Antonio."

When asked by NBC 5's Newy Scruggs if the state of Texas can handle three NFL teams, Jones had a similar response.

"I haven't even thought about that at all," Jones said. "I'm certainly proud of the fan support we've got in San Antonio, but I really haven't thought about it. This is the first it's crossed my mind."

The Cowboys have hosted training camp in San Antonio six times in franchise history. The Raiders will be in Oxnard to practice against the Cowboys this year on August 12 and 13.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Jason Garrett's Message to Cowboys: "FIGHT"]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:52:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-fight-tshirt.jpg

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett wants a team of fighters, and he’s expressing that wish through t-shirts, which made their debut at this year’s edition of training camp.

Out in Oxnard, the Cowboys have been seen wearing shirts that simply read, “FIGHT” across the front. Garrett explained the new shirts recently.

“It's a fight to be your best," Garrett said. “It's not a fight to try your best, it's a fight to be your best, and there's a lot of things that go into being your best. Obviously we are all fighting for our team goals and what we want to accomplish.”

A few of the Cowboys have taken the message literally. In offseason workouts, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford got into a scrape with center Travis Frederick. And over the weekend, in the first day of full-pads workouts of training camp, cornerback Morris Claiborne had a bit of a scuffle with receiver Terrance Williams.

The Cowboys weren’t doing any fighting on Sunday--they had the day off--but they got back to work (and fighting, we guess) on Monday.

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<![CDATA[Henry Melton Impressed by Zack Martin]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:50:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/zack-martin-minicamp.jpg

Veteran defensive tackle Henry Melton has made a point to line up against rookie guard Zack Martin in practice, saying the Notre Dame product provides a nice challenge. Martin, who was picked up with the No. 16 overall selection in May’s NFL Draft, has already done enough to impress the former Pro Bowler Melton.

"He's good," Melton said, per ESPN Dallas. "I purposely line myself up with him. He's coming on strong. If I'm working with him, he's making me better and I'm making him better. There's no one else better to work with."

Of course, being the veteran, Melton has seen his share of success against the rookie. ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon has an account of one such case, in which Melton beat Martin in a one-on-one pass-rush drill with relative ease over the weekend.

"I just had to let him know that I'm here and it's going to be a long training camp," Melton said.

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Get First Glimpse of Rolando McClain]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:50:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/072614+Cowboys+McClain.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones says he was a bit surprised that the team threw linebacker Rolando McClain right into the action on Saturday, after he missed the first two days of practice to be in court in Decatur, Alabama on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges.

But he was happy to see the recently retired McClain on the field at long last.

“I was glad to see him,” Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. “I was impressed that they put him right in. I really thought they might ease him in, might need to since he hadn’t had OTAs, hadn’t had the kind of drills. The deal with him, and because of the issue retiring, what you want to see is what you were seeing when he wasn’t in the drill. He was back over there, his body language was great.”

After being drafted eighth overall in 2010 and spending three seasons with the Raiders, McClain was released by the team last May. He signed with the Ravens but retired abruptly before the 2013 season. He was out of football until Jones and the Cowboys came calling and he signed with Dallas on July 1.

“We have such a need with our linebacker and here you got a guy that has shown up enough to be drafted in the first round and has shown he was certainly a top college player and he’s shown flashes of that while he’s been in the pros,” Jones said. “That’s good opportunity when you’re in this business to be able to go get a guy that has that kind of skill and those kinds of issues. You don’t get them if they’re free of issues.”

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Photo Credit: Noah Bullard, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett: Everything Going According to Plan with Romo]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:51:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-training-camp-2014-02.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys have seemingly changed their tune somewhat on quarterback Tony Romo. Or have they?

Prior to the opening of training camp last week in Oxnard, CA, head coach Jason Garrett said Romo was a full-go for practice after being limited all offseason as he recovered from back surgery to repair a herniated disk. Then on Friday, just the second day of workouts, Romo was held out of the afternoon practice session.

Garrett denies that this is anything more than a cautionary measure though, and says proceeding with caution with Romo was the plan all along.

"The idea was just to be mindful of his back," Garrett said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We talked about this beforehand with all of our players. Whenever they are coming back, to be mindful of the two-a-days and what they are doing. You are out here for an hour. It doesn't seem like much. It’s a walk through situation. But you warm up for that, cool down and get started again in the afternoon. We just wanted to make sure we are careful on the two a days and then the consecutive two a days. I think the schedule sets up pretty well for him the next few days. It gives him a chance to get himself settled in. We will keep an eye on him every day."

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant to Work Out of the Slot More in 2014]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:51:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/182520858-1200.jpg

New passing game coordinator and playcaller Scott Linehan has said he intends to use Cole Beasley, usually a slot receiver, on the outside more in 2014. The Cowboys will also experiment with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ best big-play receiver, in the slot, Jason Garrett said recently.

Per Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas, Bryant caught 11 passes out of the slot in 2013--not a huge amount, but that number was up from just two receptions out of the slot in 2012.

"He's grown as an inside receiver," Garrett said this week. "The trait and the qualities are different. I've been around a lot of outside receivers who looked like a fish out of water when they moved inside. If you picture an X receiver in right formation, there's no one outside of you. You're typically working against a corner by yourself or there's a safety rotating over the top. When you're inside, you have people inside of you and outside of you. You have a linebacker walked out, you have a safety coming down, and you have to have a feel for how to run the routes because there's a lot going on.

"It has a lot to do with your feel as an athlete--your vision, your instincts and your experience. You have to get in there and do it."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scandrick: "We Can't Go Anywhere but Up From Here"]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:52:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/orlando-scandrick12.5.11.jpg

Not long ago, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declared that he expects the team’s defense to be better in 2014, because there’s no way they can possibly be as bad as they were a year ago, when they finished dead-last in overall defense. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick agrees with this assessment, but knows that any improvement will come as the result of hard work.

The facts are the facts,” Scandrick told 103.3-FM ESPN Radio. “We were the last-ranked total defense, so we can’t go anywhere but up from here, but that’s not going to change just by showing up. We’ve to have an attitude about us as a defense, and we’re going to have to play together. Playing together stops a lot of the things that happened that caused us to be the 32nd-ranked defense.”

With defensive stars DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher gone, Scandrick believes what the unit lacks in big names, it makes up for in hunger.

“I just think this year is going to be different,” Scandrick said. “I don’t know if I’m just an optimist, but I really feel that this year is going to be different. We have a different group of guys. We have some younger guys. We have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove. We have some younger guys who want to prove they can play in this league. We have some other younger guys who want to prove they can be starters in this league. I really think from the bottom of my heart that we have a chance to be a solid defense this year.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys to the Super Bowl Not Impossible]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:54:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Jason-Garrett-02-cowboys-camp-072814.jpg

The last NFL team to produce three consecutive, non-playoff 8-8 seasons was in such bad shape that they changed cities. And then almost won the Super Bowl.

On the heels of atrocious seasons of 2-14 and 7-9, the Houston Oilers went 8-8 in 1996. Owner Bud Adams up and moved the franchise to Tennessee, where two more mediocre .500 seasons followed.

But in ’99 something happened. Jeff Fisher coached and Steve McNair threw and Eddie George ran and Jevon Kearse sacked and the re-branded Titans went 13-3, made the playoffs and came within one yard of beating the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

I’m not suggesting Jerry Jones re-locate the team to Omaha and call them the Prairie Dogs. But there is a precedent for an NFL team to suddenly break out of an 8-8 rut. And break out big-time. The last team to be in the Cowboys’ position played for a championship.

“A lot of comparisons and predictions are made this time of year and I get that,” Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo told NFL Network. “But we know that as we look around this is a new season and a new team. We can be excited about that.”

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: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Johnson Suffers (Another) Hamstring Injury]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:49:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/matt-johnson.jpg

Cowboys safety Matt Johnson just can’t catch a break.

Johnson injured his hamstring during an early portion of Sunday’s workout, and was checked out by trainers before leaving the field. It was a “here we go again” moment for Johnson, who is entering his third season in the NFL but still hasn’t played in a regular season game due to a string of health issues, most involving the hamstring.

You hate it for Matt,” said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, per ESPN Dallas. “He’s done everything right. ... I’m sure no one is more frustrated than him.”

The Cowboys selected Johnson out of Eastern Washington in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft, and were initially very high on him. But to this point, despite the team’s belief that he could be a difference maker if he could only stay on the field, Johnson has appeared in all of two preseason games.

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[Anthony Spencer Aiming for Season Opener]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:22:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158439069.jpg

Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer is cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to return in time for the team’s regular season opener against the 49ers on September 7.

I hope so. I hope to be back before the first game,” Spencer told the team’s official website. “I hope some time around there. It’s hard to say now. We’ve got time and not trying to rush things.”

Coming off microfracture surgery on his knee, Spencer was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to begin training camp. During the team’s practice sessions in Oxnard, Spencer remains off to the side, doing rehab work with the Cowboys’ training staff.

So far, Spencer has been encouraged by his rehab work.

“If I just keep working the way I’m working, I feel like we’ll be in a good place,” Spencer said. “Lifting heavier weights. I run little more. I just add a little more to my workout regime every day. It’s getting better.”

If Spencer isn't able to return, and he begins the season on the PUP list, he'll won't be eligible to come off of it for three to six weeks.

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.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Get Glimpse of the New Mo Claiborne]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:23:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-cant-relax.jpg

All offseason, Cowboys coaches said they were seeing a new Morris Claiborne, one who was playing with a visible sense of confidence, and it didn’t take long for that guy to show up at training camp in Oxnard.

On Saturday, the team had their first full-pads practices, and Claiborne summarily got into a scrape with second-year receiver Terrance Williams. According to ESPN Dallas’s Todd Archer’s account, Claiborne shoved Williams to the ground during one-on-one drills and yelled, “Get Dez over here.”

Maybe it was losing his starting job in 2013 or the effectively unanimous opinion among Cowboys fans that he has been a disappointment to this point in his young career, but sometime between Week 17 of last year and the beginning of workouts this offseason, it seems Claiborne had a fire lit under him.

I’ve got a different approach just from football, from life period,” Claiborne said, per ESPN Dallas. “A lot of things happened in my life that you had to face and had to make changes. For that, I feel like I’m a better person from it even though it might’ve hurt at the time. I feel like I’m a better man after it and it’s carried over to football.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys in No Rush to Extend DeMarco Murray]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:15:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarco-murray-tc-2014.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys are in no great rush to extend running back DeMarco Murray, executive vice president Stephen Jones said this weekend.

Murray, 26, is coming off a career year. He exceeded the 1,000-yard mark for the first time, finished with nine touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl, where he scored the game-winning touchdown for Team Rice on a 20-yard reception from Kansas City’s Alex Smith.

Which is to say, Murray seems to be on the upswing. But, whether because he’s had a history of health issues or because the Cowboys have had a history of pulling the trigger too quickly on contract extensions, Jones said fans shouldn’t expect a new deal before the end of the upcoming season.

I think we’ll kind of see how his year goes and we’ll go from there,” Jones said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s the type of player we want on our team. He’s young, and he had a good year last year, but I think he’s betting that he’s going to have a great year, and I hope he does.”

Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Murray is set to make $1.4 million in 2014.

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.


 

 



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys See Dip in Training Camp Attendance]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:02:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-training-camp-banner-2014.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys may be seeing the ill effects of three consecutive 8-8 seasons and a four-year playoff drought in the size of the crowds present to watch them practice in Oxnard, CA.

Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas writes today that there was a combined attendance of 11,000 over their first four days of training camp. Last year, they had over 13,000 in that same span.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones isn’t worried about the dip in attendance though, and was quick to point out that the Cowboys had some competition over the weekend in the form of the Oxnard Salsa Festival.  

Those things will take care of themselves,” Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. “It’s my understanding there’s a festival in town this weekend and some of the people who would normally come here, some of them are over there. The crowds will take care of themselves.

“We’re worried about winning, putting a good team on the field; not about the crowds.”

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.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Heaps Praise on No. 88s, Past and Present ]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:32:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-whitten-jj-wilcox.jpg

You know Cowboys’ training camp is in full swing when:

A) Matt Johnson has suffered a hamstring injury.

B) Tony Romo sits down with NFL Network.

While the oft-injured safety is sidelined yet again with a leg injury, the quarterback took time after Sunday’s practice to talk with the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen and Michael Irvin.

The noteworthy nuggets:

*Romo has become Dez Bryant’s No. 1 fan, saying “If I was getting married this year, he’d be in my wedding. He’s like a little brother to me.” He also attempted to explain what it was like during one of Bryant’s infamous sideline rants. “Well a camera can say a lot. It doesn’t always tell the truth, but makes for fun dialogue between a lot of different people. But I think when you’re actually around Dez, you know where his heart is.”

*Romo also heaped praise on the Cowboys’ former No. 88, calling Irvin “the greatest leader in the history of the franchise.”

*And of his surgically repaired back, Romo admitted to taking things slow in camp while oozing confidence that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. “I feel good. I think what you end up doing is using your back or using your body for the right time. So if I went out of two-a-days and then you ran all day, you did everything like that, well it would get heavy. It’s like coming off of any surgery. You want to make sure that you’re working it, but you’re doing all the things in the weight room, in the training room to get yourself feeling good, and then when you have the chance to come out here, you test it and you know how many reps you can do before you kind of know that your days is over. And before you get back to where you’re 100 percent, you kind of have to watch the numbers as you go through the process, so that’s all we’re doing right now.”

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: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Newy Goes One On One With Jerry Jones]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:02:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/072714+Scruggs+Jones.jpg NBC 5 Sports Director Newy Scruggs goes one on one with Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones in Oxnard, California.]]> <![CDATA[Cowboys Chat: Rick Gosselin]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:23:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/10p_gosselin_interview_1200x675_312836675692.jpg NBC 5 Sports anchor/reporter Pat Doney and Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin break down the big topics at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California.]]> <![CDATA[Six Observations from Cowboys Camp]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 21:23:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lance-dunbar-promoted.jpg

A lot's happened in a short amount of time at Dallas Cowboys training camp.  Here's a quick list of things I think you'll want to know that I've seen:

 
1. Lance Dunbar is poised for a huge year... if he stays healthy.  The running back out of North Texas showed flashes last season before a knee surgery shortened his 2013 campaign.  Dunbar told me he was nervous going into the procedure -- "that was the first time I'd ever had surgery!" -- but is really excited to have new Cowboys play caller Scott Linehan around.  Linehan was very good getting the ball to running backs in the passing game in Detroit last season (Reggie Bush, for example).  Dunbar was described to me by Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown as an unbelievably gifted RB in the passing game -- "He runs routes so well; it's a natural gift.  He just sees things and angles really well."  Linehan told me he really likes what Dunbar can add to the passing game, though he was quick to point out DeMarco Murray is still the main guy.  I've been told the two things Dunbar needs to show are that he can stay healthy, and that he needs to be better in pass-blocking (a trait that has become crucial for running backs in today's NFL).
 
2. Zack Martin looks the part. The rookie first round pick was called "safe" when the Cowboys took him with the 16th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Don't tell that to opposing defensive tackles.  In his first action against professional big boys, Martin looked dominant.  Whether that's a sign of a long, successful career for Martin, or a disappointing group of Dallas defensive linemen, we don't know yet.  What I do know: the rookie out of Notre Dame beat the competition in front of him Saturday.
 
3. Speaking of Cowboys defensive linemen, new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is going to use a lot of them this season.  The Cowboys could carry an unusually high number of D-linemen on their roster this season -- the number being thrown around here in Oxnard is ten -- and Marinelli wants to use all of them so players stay fresh.  Though, in camp, he told me, "I like to get guys tired and then make them execute under duress, because our game is played under duress."  Marinelli did very well coaching the Cowboys defensive line in 2013 considering the team was signing players out of the league.  He has a shiny, new toy in rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence out of Boise State who the Cowboys love, and who told me his goal was to record 10 sacks in 2014.
 
4. Mo Claiborne is out to (finally) prove he was worth it.  The Cowboys have been waiting for Claiborne to get it.  Championing the 2012 first round pick out of LSU as the highest-rated DB prospect they'd seen since Deion Sanders, Claiborne had a tough time finding a consistent role on a 2013 Cowboys defense that ranked last in the NFL.  Fast forward to Saturday where Claiborne looked like he wanted to send a message.  He was in the face of wide receiver Terrance Williams multiple times, and played with a swagger we haven't seen in his time in Dallas. That was Day 1 in pads.  Can he continue it (and stay healthy) throughout a full season?
 He'll have to if he really wants prove he was worth what the Cowboys spent to get him.
 
5. Second year wide receiver Terrance Williams is putting in extra time, and doing the little things that could make a big difference.  As I approached him after practice, Williams was catching footballs being fired at him at about 80-mph by a JUGS machine in the corner of the field... while he was sitting on the ground.  "You never get to run clean in the game, so I want to be good catching balls in every position."  In the fantastic book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins points to people willing to "rinse their cottage cheese" as the ones who will be truly great (a reference to a triathlete they studied who thought, to be the best, it was important and necessary to remove excess fat from his diet, despite burning thousands of calories a day working out).  Dez Bryant has been raving about the progress he's seen from Williams, especially in his route running, while Jason Garrett described Williams as a player that picks things up extremely quickly -- "You tell him to work on something and he does it."
 
6. Is Rolando McClain really a changed person?  Who knows.  One thing I do know, McClain looks like he was built to be a football person.  At a legitimate 6-foot-4, McClain was once described by Nick Saban in a conversation with Garrett as the "best player I've ever coached."  The issue with McClain hasn't been football (he was the Raiders leading tackler in 2011).  In an Alabama court Friday, McClain was convicted of 2013 charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.  The 8th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he's also already retired from football once.  But Saturday, McClain said he was fully committed to play football again, especially after his oldest son told him he wanted him to play again.  Garrett said McClain's slate "is completely clean" with the Cowboys, and they'll make evaluations of his abilities going forward.  The guy looks the part and the Cowboys gave up almost nothing to get him.  With Dallas needing help at the middle linebacker position "more than the next break," according to Jerry Jones, I don't see the downside for the Cowboys in this experiment.
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<![CDATA[Cowboys' McClain Back to Football After Court Date]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 22:19:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/072614+Cowboys+McClain.jpg

Rolando McClain says a phone call from Jerry Jones was the last bit of convincing the linebacker needed to come out of retirement.

 
The former top 10 pick wasn't so much moved by what the flamboyant Dallas owner had to say. It was more where Jones was when he said it.
 
"He called me from Turkey and I figured that had to be an expensive phone call," McClain said as he tried to keep a straight face. "So, it was pretty serious with me from that point."
 
McClain just turned 25, but he's already flamed out in Oakland just three years after the Raiders drafted him eighth overall and quit twice in Baltimore.
 
The Cowboys, who lost middle linebacker Sean Lee for the season to a left knee injury in the first offseason workout, got McClain in a trade with the Ravens earlier this month.
 
He flew to California with the team for training camp, but had to turn right back around and go to Alabama for a trial on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The case stemmed from his third arrest since 2011 in his hometown of Decatur, Alabama.
 
McClain was on the practice field Saturday, a day after he was convicted and sentenced to 18 days in jail. He's free while the case is appealed to state court.
 
"Yesterday I was sitting in a courtroom not knowing what was going to happen," said McClain, who started 38 of his 41 games with Oakland over three seasons. "Today I'm here with the Dallas Cowboys with an opportunity to make a football team and fight for a position. You can't argue with that."
 
McClain was out of football last season because he said he needed to focus on being a better father to his young sons. He thought he was ready to return to the Ravens in April, but walked away again six days after he was reinstated.
 
Jones said the loss of Lee motivated him for a low-risk that cost the Cowboys a sixth-round pick but gave them one in the seventh. Being a businessman, Jones thinks he knows what might motivate McClain.
 
"You might have a different appreciation if you're out of dollars," Jones said. "I'm not saying he's out of dollars, but he certainly is less some dollars than where he was a few years back."
 
McClain will have to make the roster to earn most of those dollars. He will most likely be part of the competition to replace Lee. Justin Durant tops that list right now, and second-year player DeVonte Holloman and rookie Anthony Hitchens could be in the mix.
 
"His slate is completely clean with us," coach Jason Garrett said. "He has got some good endorsements, so we're hopeful that we'll see a player that we like and a guy that can help our football team."
 
Cowboys fans might remember McClain as the player who lacerated tight end Jason Witten's spleen with a hit in a preseason game two years ago.
 
Witten still takes issue with how McClain celebrated after the play, but has long since forgiven him for what everyone agreed was a clean hit. McClain said he apologized to Witten a few days ago.
 
Now McClain gets a chance to show whether he still has any highlight plays in him -- and whether he has the desire to stay out of retirement this time.
 
"I have a known a lot of people, a lot of successful people, that quit and then got it together and turned it around and came back and really made something of what they quit actually," Jones said. "I have a little empathy."
 
And the Dallas owner has the long-distance phone call to show for it.


Photo Credit: Noah Bullard, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Sports at Cowboys Camp - July 25]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:24:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/BSB-CowboysWebcast-072514_1200x675_312592963937.jpg NBC 5 Sports' Newy Scruggs and Pat Doney report on the latest news from Cowboys camp in Oxnard, California.]]> <![CDATA[Is Rolando McClain the "Right Kind of Guy?"]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:06:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/garrett-jones-camp-day0-02.jpg

Jason Garrett is fond of saying he wants the "right kind of guys" on the Dallas Cowboys.

Now, one of "his" guys has been sentenced to 18 days in jail. That guy is linebacker Rolando McClain.

A judge in Alabama found McClain guilty of misdemeanor charges from last year. He was arrested for yelling, "F--- the police" in a large crowd and was convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

McClain's jail term will be delayed and he is back in Oxnard, Calif., for Cowboys training camp.

I spoke with Birmingham Herald columnist Kevin Scarbinsky on my NBC Sports Radio show and said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is wasting his time with the former Alabama star.

"There are people in his hometown of Decatur, Alabama, that will tell you he doesn't get it and some people in the state of Alabama who will tell you he is a bad man," Scarbinsky said.

McClain retired from the NFL because of his numerous off-the-field issues, and his performance in NFL stadiums as a Raider made him a bust as a first-round draft pick.

Dallas made a trade for him with Baltimore once he decided he was going to unretire from pro football and resume his playing career.

Jones is sold on giving McClain a second chance, telling the media in Oxnard on Wednesday, "I've known a lot of successful people who quit" and "somebody thought he could play" because he was and All-American player at Alabama and Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban spoke glowingly to Garrett about his abilities.

McClain was back at training camp Friday and has an opportunity to win a job and, who knows, maybe he can turn into one "the right kind of guys" the Dallas head coach speaks about.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Doing Less During Friday Workout]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:15:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/romo-training-camp-2014-03.jpg

A day after Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo emphasized that he believes his best years are still ahead of him, head coach Jason Garrett told the media that the team will have Romo "do less" in Friday's afternoon practice than his normal work load.

Garrett was asked if limiting Romo had to do with any soreness or problems with the quarterback's ailing back arising from the first day of practices, and the coach would only say the team plans to "be mindful" of two-a-day practices on back-to-back days for Romo.

"When you’re coming off a back issue like Tony has, sometimes being on your feet like that can be taxing," said Garrett.

Romo is coming off his second back surgery in the last two years, and had to miss the Cowboys final game of the 2013 season.

When the Cowboys arrived in Oxnard earlier in the week, Garrett had described Romo as, "full go," for practice in training camp.  And while Romo said Thursday he feels much better at this point of the season than he did in Oxnard last year, he also revealed that he is undergoing as much as four hours of rehabilitation work a day on his back to make sure he's ready to go for the 2014 season.

The Cowboys will be back on the practice field in Oxnard Friday at 5:30 p.m. central time.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Spencer's Delayed Return Will Thwart Defensive Progress]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:56:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-spencer-jerry-jones.jpg

The Cowboys’ defense was historically atrocious in 2013. And it may take a while before it’s better in 2014.

Gone from the squad are accomplished veterans DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee. And late to the party will be Anthony Spencer, who will likely begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list and not be eligible to play in a game until Week 7.

Spencer, by far the best pass-rusher on the Cowboys’ roster, underwent microfracture knee surgery a year ago in training camp and played in only one game last season. In Oxnard he is running and pulling a sled in a straight line, but has yet to start cutting in an attempt to test the knee.

To say the Cowboys’ defense desperately needs him is an understatement. In 2012 he produced 11 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. No one else on the defensive line has that kind of history or, honestly, that kind of potential.

We know how bad the defense can be. We may have to wait until Spencer’s return in October to find out just how good they can be.

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[Cowboys Expect McClain Back This Weekend]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:15:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rolando-mcclain-cowboys.jpg

Recently signed Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was absent from the first day of training camp workouts in Oxnard, CA, but head coach Jason Garrett said Thursday that the team expected him back on Saturday.

According to the team’s official website, Garrett had originally thought McClain would attend the first day of practice on Thursday. But McClain had to depart Wednesday night to prepare for his court date in Decatur, Alabama on Friday for an incident dating back to last year, when he was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

A year ago, McClain was retired.

But when Sean Lee went down for the season with a torn ACL on the first day of OTAs, the Cowboys went looking for linebacking help and McClain--who had signed with the Ravens prior to the 2013 season, only to abruptly retire--was ready to return.

Garrett said that, for the Cowboys, it was “worth taking a shot to resurrect his career.”

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[Witten Hopes Cowboys Have Learned From the Past]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:15:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28564a%29.jpg

As you’ve probably heard, the Dallas Cowboys have finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs by a single win in each of the last three seasons.

Veteran tight end Jason Witten is one of the relatively few Cowboys left on the roster who was there the last time the team won a playoff game, over the Eagles at AT&T Stadium (then known as Cowboys Stadium) back in 2009, but that doesn’t offer him much consolation for the recent middling.

Witten just hopes those who were there have learned from all those (admittedly painful) near misses.

“There’s no question there’s a lot of sleepless nights there, but really, nobody cares,” Witten said, per ESPN Dallas. “Ultimately, you find ways to get to those games, you’ve got to find ways to play better. We got outplayed. Nobody is going to give you anything. You’ve got to earn it. This is a tough league. Nobody cares about last year. You move on, so we’ve got to be better.

“I think each of us has to look ourselves in the mirror. If you want to have that breakthrough, I think it takes a commitment. Hopefully those experiences, we’ll learn from it and be better because of it. I think we’ve got the right guys who will go do it, but it’s a long ways away. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Demarcus Lawrence Wants 10-Plus Sacks]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:15:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/152439367.jpg

Cowboys rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence made clear shortly after arriving in Dallas that he was not trying to be DeMarcus Ware 2.0.

But if he lives up to his own expectations, Lawrence will have a better rookie year than Ware in one (pretty important) statistical category: Sacks. Ware, a legend in North Texas at this point, had eight sacks in his rookie year of 2005; Lawrence is going after double digits.

“My expectation is to go out and get 10 sacks, 10-plus sacks--whatever coach needs me to do,” Lawrence said, per the team’s official website. “I really don’t think coach really cares about the numbers, he just cares about us doing our assignment and job, really.”

The expectations from the outside will be high for the Boise State product. He was drafted in the second round of this year’s draft and the Cowboys are hoping he helps turn around a defensive front that was a largely ineffective, patchwork job a year ago.

Not that he’s thinking about any external expectations.

“My mentality is, I have my own expectations, I know what I need to do to be successful and help this team be where we need to be,” Lawrence said. “It don’t matter what everybody else’s expectations is, it’s about the team.”

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.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brandon Carr Misses First Day of Camp with Personal Issue]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:15:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-carr-chargers.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr missed the first day of training camp practice on Thursday as he attended to what head coach Jason Garrett called a “family health situation,” according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

Carr didn’t travel with the team to Oxnard, CA on Tuesday, and Jason Garrett isn’t sure when he’ll return.

We’re just going to communicate with him as he’s dealing with the situation,” Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “We’re going to give him some time to take care of it.”

Carr is entering the third year of a five-year, $50 million deal, and to this point, he hasn’t really lived up to expectations. He recorded 71 tackles and three interceptions in 2013, but had some decidedly rough performances, the worst coming in Week 7 against the Lions when Calvin Johnson (working mostly against Carr) posted 329 yards and a touchdown on 17 catches.

All that said, Carr is confident that he’ll bounce back in a major way in 2014.

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<![CDATA[Romo "Ready to Go in All Aspects"]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:58:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/103419544.jpg

After an offseason of limitations stemming from his recovery from back surgery, Tony Romo will be a go for all activities in camp, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Romo suffered a herniated disk in his back last season in Week 16, an injury that forced him out of the Week 17 win-and-in matchup with the Eagles (they lost) and required surgery--his second back surgery in a span of just eight months. The three-time Pro Bowler never experienced any setbacks in his rehab, but for obvious reasons, the Cowboys opted to proceed with caution where their franchise quarterback was concerned all offseason.

“He’s been working very hard on his conditioning and his throwing, and we do anticipate him being ready to go for all aspects,” Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “Like with anybody else coming off of an injury, though, we’ll evaluate him on a day by day basis and just see how he’s doing. In a situation like this, you want to monitor his throws. You want to make sure his reps are quality reps, that he’s not just out there banging balls, so to speak. So we want to make sure we’re very thoughtful about that, really like we would any player who is coming off an injury, and evaluate how he’s handling the work and continue to progress with him or dial it back a little bit.

“But he’s had no issues, no obstacles, nothing that’s held him back from doing anything. He’s certainly on schedule and ready to go full go.”

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<![CDATA[Jerry: Weeden's Performance Influenced Orton Decision]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:20:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459739647.jpg

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes Brandon Weeden has some work to do to be as good of a backup quarterback as Kyle Orton, but he admits Weeden’s performance through the offseason--along with Orton’s refusal to show up and the monetary concerns surrounding the whole situation--helped the team come to the decision to part ways with Orton last week.

We liked what we saw from Weeden in [Orton’s] absence,” Jones said, via the team’s official website. “That was pretty good stuff. Does he have a lot to do to be where let’s say Kyle Orton might have been starting against San Francisco? Yes, he’s got a lot of work to do and we know that. On the other hand, he does a lot of good things as well.”

To be sure, the Cowboys got a good, long look at Weeden this summer. With Orton no-showing and Tony Romo limited as he recovered from back surgery, the former first round pick got a good deal of snaps with the first team. Weeden viewed his time with the 1s as a golden opportunity, and he took advantage of it.

Jones hopes taking advantage of opportunities is a theme of this camp.

“It’s kind of a mantra for what’s going to go on out here during training camp,” Jones said. “You need to be out there, you need to be on the field, you need to be doing your best every play or somebody else can step up there. That was all alive and well in this decision. But it’s important to understand we were paying Kyle a lot of money and that money can go toward paying a pretty good football player that can help us win in our judgment more than having that much invested in his position at backup quarterback.”

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<![CDATA[Ronald Leary Headed to PUP List]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:40:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ronald-leary-preseason.jpg

Cowboys guard Ronald Leary is headed to the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list to begin camp, after suffering a hamstring injury while doing a conditioning run at Valley Ranch last week.

The Cowboys also placed defensive end Anthony Spencer on the PUP list, a move that seemingly everyone knew was coming. Spencer is still recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee last September. Unlike Leary, there’s a good chance Spencer will begin the season on the PUP list. If he does, he’ll be obliged by league rules to stay there for three to six weeks before he’ll be eligible to come off.

Leary, whose time-table is shorter than that of Spencer, will be eligible to come off the PUP as soon as he’s healthy enough to do so. The third-year guard will then resume a position battle for the starting left guard job with Mackenzy Bernadeau.

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<![CDATA[Saban Encouraged Cowboys to Sign McClain]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:36:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rolando-mcclain-saban.jpg

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has made something of a tradition of visiting other successful coaches throughout the sports world during the offseason, and this habit may have played a role in the team’s acquisition of the retired-until-just-recently linebacker Rolando McClain.

Back in 2008, when he was just a second-year offensive coordinator, Garrett visited Nick Saban and the University of Alabama. While there, Saban told Garrett that McClain--a true sophomore for the Crimson Tide at the time--might be one of the best players he’s ever coached.

“When a guy like that says that, who’s been around for as long as he has and has so many good players, it kind of gets your attention,” Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “So I can remember watching him in college and certainly we evaluated him very closely coming out. He was a top-10 pick by the Raiders when he came out of school and someone who has an immense amount of ability and, more than that, production. He was a really, really good college player and I think people have a lot of hopes for him as a pro player.

“Certainly he’s had some issues since he’s been in the NFL--played a couple of years, retired, unretired--and the research that we did, the due diligence we did, both with Coach Saban and other people who have been around him, we felt like with his ability with the kind of person he’s demonstrated himself to be in the past, maybe we can help him through some of these issues he has and get this guy back playing at the level we all thought he was capable of playing.”

McClain traveled to Southern California with the rest of the team for training camp this week, but he is due in court in Decatur, Alabama on Friday on year-old charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

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<![CDATA[Jerry Says He'd Consider Bringing Josh Brent Back]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:56:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158440597.jpg

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes former defensive tackle Josh Brent is deserving of another opportunity in the NFL and he says he would consider bringing the 26-year-old back.

"We have stood with Josh Brent from the very beginning and continue to," Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. "Josh Brent deserves an opportunity. He has made a terrible mistake. He knows it. I know firsthand he has contrition. I know that. And so, yes, I will consider giving him an opportunity."

Brent was just recently released from jail after serving five months for intoxication manslaughter, stemming from the December 2012 single-car wreck that killed his teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown, Jr. At the beginning of training camp last year, Brent retired from the game, meaning he’d have to file reinstatement papers with the league if a comeback is in the cards.

"I think we go to ask the other side of the question," Jones added. "Do you get a chance to start over? Do we believe in paying your dues and getting a chance to start over? That's the other side of that. Principally in this country, we believe in giving an opportunity to pay your dues and pay your penalty and move forward. I don't know the detail of where he is or on what basis we even have to consider him rejoining the team, but it will be certainly be something I consider."

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<![CDATA[Jason Garrett is Coaching For His Job in 2014]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:41:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jason-garrett-camp-2014-01.jpg

And awaaaay we go …

The Cowboys haven’t held their first training camp practice in Oxnard and already Jerry Jones has told he first fib.

“In terms of the record this team, this is not a make-or-break situation for Jason (Garrett) and members of this staff,” the owner said Wednesday afternoon in his annual state-of-the-union address.

Raise your hand if you believe that one.

Didn’t think so.

Garrett enters the final year of his contract with a 29-27 record, three consecutive 8-8 seasons and exactly zero playoff appearances despite coaching in the prime years of Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware and being given an abundance of young talent in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Tyron Smith.

Only eight of the 90 players on the current roster are holdovers from Wade Phillips’ team. Garrett has changed players, tweaked systems and improved the culture of accountability at Valley Ranch.

But, let’s face it, he hasn’t done enough. He hasn’t won. He hasn't made enough progress, if any.

Despite what Jones says, if the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs in 2014 Garrett will be fired as head coach. And should be.

“I know firsthand that we've got a relationship, that I have a relationship with Jason and there's nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of the relationship,” Jones explained. “We both know where our expectations are and when it's looking good and when it's looking dire. And I don't expect it to be the latter.”

You didn’t expect the owner to kick-off training camp with a win-or-else ultimatum for his head coach. Because he didn’t have to.

Regardless of the rhetoric, we all know Jason Garrett is coaching for his job.

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: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 2014]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:53:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DCC-27-cowboys-camp-072814.jpg The Dallas Cowboys are in Oxnard, California for their annual training camp leading up to the start of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA["State of the Cowboys" Observations]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:39:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/garrett-jones-camp-day0-03.jpg

A few quick thoughts from Wednesday's opening press conference from Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett here, then it's back to fish tacos and ocean breezes for me...

1. Armageddon 2.0? Last year, it was, "this isn't an Armageddon season" for Garrett. This year, Jones stayed away from fire and brimstone by describing 2014 as, "not a make-or-break season" for Garrett, at least regarding the team's record. I firmly believe Jerry really likes Jason and is going to do everything he can to keep him around in 2015, barring the team ending up with a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft. That said, another year out of the postseason (which is likely, considering Dallas' unbelievably difficult schedule) would have the Cowboys fan base continuing its downward spiral beyond its already frustrated state. The 2014 season very well could be make-or-break for Jason Garrett, no matter what Jerry Jones is saying on July 23rd.

2. Josh Brent, Jerry? I think it's fair to say the media was pretty surprised to hear Jones speak so candidly about the Cowboys interest in bringing back Josh Brent once he serves his suspension (likely) on the way from Roger Goodell's office. Brent was convicted of intoxicated manslaughter in a wreck that resulted in the passing away of his Cowboys' teammate, Jerry Brown, and was just recently released from prison. After his press conference, Jones (per usual) conducted a walk-and-talk media session for reporters who thought 30 minutes of Jerry and Jason talking wasn't enough. In that interview, Jones said, "Josh Brent deserves an opportunity. He has made a terrible mistake and he knows it. I know firsthand he has contrition, and so, yes, I will consider giving him an opportunity."

3. They like Brandon Weeden. One of the reasons the Cowboys were willing to allow Kyle Orton to walk away from the team and into retirement was, according to Jerry, that they liked what they saw from former first round quarterback Brandon Weeden in offseason workouts. Don't show that sentence to a Cleveland Browns fan. The members of the Pound in Ohio will tell you that Brandon Weeden is not a good football player. That said, my colleague at NBC 5, Newy Scruggs, made a great point on our Blue Star Blog webcast. Newy believes Weeden is better than what he showed with the Browns because, well, nobody looked good with the Browns while he was there. Weeden put up huge numbers in college at Oklahoma State, and is (selfish point here) one of the better soundbites I've chatted with in a pro football locker room. However, he's been widely criticized for his decision making (26 interceptions in 23 career games). I'm very interested to see him play in the preseason.

4. Romo is full go. Mike Fisher from 105.3 The Fan tweeted in the week leading up to Cowboys training camp that Tony Romo was working out in "a cardio spin class" to get ready. That sounded to me like a quarterback preparing to be a full participant in training camp. And then Jason Garrett told the media Wednesday that he anticipates Romo will be "ready to go in all aspects" when the team takes the field for the first time Thursday. Romo is coming off his second back surgery in the last two years, and without a proven backup quarterback (see point #3 above), Dallas desperately needs him to play a full season at a high level.

5. The best linebacker Nick Saban's coached? The Cowboys are beginning to stock up on players who have not lived up to their NFL Draft first round selections. Along with Weeden (again, see #3), Dallas signed former first round pick Rolando McClain to a deal, hoping he can fill the void left when Sean Lee went down with a torn ACL in offseason workouts. McClain didn't totally live up to the hype when the Raiders made him the eighth overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, although he did lead Oakland in tackles in 2011. McClain has been hampered by a handful of off-the-field incidents, and actually retired at the age of 23 before agreeing to the deal with Dallas. We'll get our first look at Rolando on the field Thursday before he'll be gone briefly (he's due in court in Alabama Friday because of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges filed in 2013). Garrett said he expects McClain to be back from Alabama and in practices this weekend, and that he remembered Nick Saban calling the former Alabama linebacker one of the best players he'd ever coached. Jones said his motivation in bringing in McClain was mainly the injury to Lee, and that, "I know a lot of successful people who have quit and come back." McClain will have the opportunity to face his former team, the Raiders, in practice in Oxnard in a few weeks. Oakland and Dallas will have joint practices in Oxnard Aug. 12 and 13.



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Sports Goes Inside Cowboys Camp]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:38:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pat-newy-webcast-072314.jpg NBC 5 Sports' Newy Scruggs and Pat Doney preview Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>