<![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 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:17:06 -0500 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:17:06 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:15:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-training-camp-banner-2014-2.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]]>
<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Giants "Rejuvenated" by New Offense]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:32:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP681223174027_6.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys’ New Jersey-based rivals, the New York Giants have been rejuvenated by the installation of a new offense, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Longtime Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride retired this offseason, and was replaced by former Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. We’d imagine the acquisition was motivated at least in part by New York’s hope that McAdoo can do with Eli Manning--who threw a whopping 27 interceptions in 2013--what he did with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

Or at least cut down on that interception total.

“I felt like this would be an opportunity for us to rejuvenate those veteran players who were here, Eli for one, to force all of us to learn, again, a new system, a new communication process,” Coughlin told ESPN’s Josina Anderson recently, via Pro Football Talk. “For 10 years we had used the same system--we got two Super Bowls and accomplished an awful lot of things offensively--but last year wasn’t one of those years. We turned it over way too much.”

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<![CDATA[3 Questions for Cowboys Training Camp]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:57:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Camp-Plane-072314.jpg

Welcome to beautiful Oxnard, California, where the weather is perfect (I'm writing this on a 70-degree morning while sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean) and the only thing that gets me more fired up than a Pacific Ocean breeze is this: football season is here.

Hallelujah.

The Dallas Cowboys will open training camp with their first official practice of the 2014 season Thursday, beginning the journey to what they hope is the franchise's first playoff season since 2009.

Here are three questions I'll be looking to find the answers to over the next three weeks following the team:


1. How's your back Tony... really? The Cowboys quarterback isn't given enough credit for the way he finished the 2013 season -- leading Dallas to a road win in our nation's capital while a back injury that would eventually require surgery barely allowed him to walk after the game (you should have seen him hobble to the podium for his postgame press conference). That said, with Kyle Orton now enjoying the early dinners and discounted green fees of retirement, I think it's safe to say -- the Cowboys season comes down to if Romo is able to play 16 games. Brandon Weeden may not have been given a fair shake with the problems in Cleveland while he was there, but that's not a theory the Cowboys are hoping to have to test at any point this season. I, and every other writer, photographer, and radio show host in Oxnard will be watching every move Tony Romo makes to see -- how's your back, Tony... really?

2. Who is William Wallace? Leadership is so important in professional sports (in life, really). So, when the Cowboys decided to allow DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher leave in free agency and then Sean Lee went down with a knee injury in offseason workouts, it left me wondering -- who is playing the role of Mel Gibson in Braveheart on this squad? You know, the guy rocking the blue face paint that every other person on the field is looking to when times are tough? Typically, that position on an NFL team is earned, and the training camp grind is fertile ground for a player looking to grow respect from his teammates. So, which of the Cowboys players wants to become William Wallace?

3. Is "the process" actually making progress? I've invented a fun little game here in Oxnard. I'm going to count the number of times Jason Garrett says the word, "process," in his press conferences during training camp. The over/under is 500. The Cowboys head coach has been preaching the "it's a process" message consistently since he took over as head coach. I think that philosophy, along with eating an elephant one spork bite at a time, makes for a a great speech and is logical. But speeches, messages and inspirational posters with pictures of lighthouses on the wall mean nothing if the recipients aren't really listening. It's no secret: this is a must-win year for Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. He's survived and advanced as Jerry Jones' head man in a way that would make the writers from the Fast and Furious series proud. But I want to see if players are listening during this training camp. I mean really listening. Because if they're not engaged and fired up by what Garrett's preaching in late July? That's a very bad sign for what's to come in November and beyond. So, is "the process" really making progress?

 



Photo Credit: Pat Doney, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Newhouse One of the Most Underrated Cowboys]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:27:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP449208758918.jpg

I was a wide-eyed 9-year-old when I ran into the ‘House.

Robert Newhouse, that is.

Growing up a huge Cowboys fan, I was giddy when the family took me to Duncanville High School’s gym one summer night for something called Donkey Basketball. I kid you not. It was Cowboys players, riding donkeys and attempting to play basketball. As confused as I was, I was even more elated.

After the game the players signed autographs. And one of my most cherished belonged to No. 44. He wasn’t one of the biggest or most talented Cowboys ever, but he was one of the Top 10 toughest. His running style was beast mode before Marshawn Lynch took his first handoff.

Newhouse died Tuesday at 64 after a long illness including a stroke and heart disease.

A product of Longview, Newhouse played at the University of Houston before joining the Cowboys in ’72. With turbine-like, 44-inch thighs, Newhouse spent a decade bulling for tough inside yards or opening holes as the lead fullback blocker for Hall-of-Famer Tony Dorsett. In ’75 he rushed for 930 yards with two touchdowns and with 4,784 yards remains fifth on Dallas’ all-time rushing list.

Tackling him was like trying to harness a bowling ball.

Newhouse’s most memorable play was his halfback pass to Golden Richards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XII. His most memorable moment? When, after a typical run when he broke several tackles, Monday Night Football analyst Howard Cosell exclaimed of Newhouse: “Look at that little monkey run!”

I got to meet Newhouse and interviewed him several times. He was a genuinely good guy, and the most underrated Cowboys players of all-time.

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: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Look to "Get Through That 8-8 Rut"]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:47:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/185430300.jpg

After three consecutive .500 seasons, the Dallas Cowboys won’t be wanting for any motivation when they open camp practices on Thursday.

The Cowboys haven’t been to the playoffs since 2009, a drought so long that a good deal of the bigger stars on the current roster--Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, the list goes on--still haven’t seen the postseason. Neither has Jason Garrett, as a head coach. He was but an offensive coordinator for that run five years ago.

That said, recent history hasn’t put a damper on the optimism at Cowboys camp in sunny Oxnard, CA.

It’s never too early to think that,” said safety Barry Church, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s our goal going into Day 1 of the off-season was to get to that goal of the Super Bowl. We have to get through that 8-8 rut and we have to make the playoffs first. It starts one game at a time and we’re just going to focus that way.”

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[Report: Redskins Will Put Jason Hatcher on PUP List]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:33:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jason-hatcher-shoulder-injury.jpg

Longtime Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher will start his first training camp with the Washington Redskins on the physically unable to perform list, ESPN 980 reports (via CSN Washington). He’ll be joined on the PUP list by fellow former Cowboys defensive lineman, Stephen Bowen.

Hatcher, who signed a four-year, $27.5 million deal with $10.5 million guaranteed back in March, is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The procedure comes with a recovery time of four to six weeks, and he is a few weeks into it.

Bowen finished last season on the injured reserve with a knee issue of his own--a torn right PCL which required microfracture surgery. The timetable for his return is somewhat less clear than that of Hatcher.

Players can come off the PUP list at any time, and while they’re not permitted to practice until coming off, they can attend all team meetings and count against the 90-man camp roster.

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[Rolando McClain Due in Court Friday]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:51:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rolando-mcclain-cowboys.jpg

Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain is in Oxnard, CA with his new teammates for the opening of training camp, but he might not be there for too much longer.

On Friday, the day after the Cowboys are scheduled to hold their first practice of camp, McClain is due in Decatur (Alabama) Municipal Court on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. McClain attempted to have his court date delayed, but Judge Bill Cook, Jr., denied the request.

The charges stem from McClain’s April 2013 arrest and, according to Decatur Municipal Court Clerk Jessica Haggard, his court date has already been postponed three times.

The Cowboys signed McClain on July 1, after the former Raider and Raven spent a year retired and out of the game, and view him as a low risk, high reward addition. To wit, unless McClain plays in 50 percent or more of Dallas’s defensive snaps in 2014, the team won’t have to give up anything to the Ravens in exchange for him.

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[Frederick: "We're Out Here to Work"]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:58:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/travis-frederick-beard5.31.13.jpg

We’re just a day away from the Dallas Cowboys’ first practice of training camp 2014, and for players, it represents a sort of calm before the storm.

"It's truly work," said second-year center Travis Frederick, ESPN Dallas. "We're out here to work. We're out here to make our team better. I think that the team's done a really good job of doing things in the offseason. I can speak especially for the offensive line and tell you that our group has put in the work and we're ready to go. I know that we've seen that throughout the other (groups). We don't always get to work out with everybody else but every chance that I've seen guys are in here working, they're working extra and guys are excited and ready to go."

The mindset on the other side of the ball is pretty much the same. Starting safety and (suddenly) a veteran leader among the secondary, Barry Church says the super-competitive nature of camp is beneficial for all involved.

"The mindset is just to get better as a whole and as a defense specifically," Church said. "I'm part of the defensive side. When we go out there we just make sure everybody--from top to bottom, either first string or fourth string--knows their playbook front and back."

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[Dallas Cowboys Greet Fans in Oxnard]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:30:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Romo+Signs+Autographs.jpg The Dallas Cowboys arrived in Oxnard, California ahead of training camp. NBC 5's Pat Doney was there as the players greeted military members and their families.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Former Cowboys RB Robert Newhouse Dies at 64]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:00:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/154581884.jpg

Robert Newhouse, who played running back for the Dallas Cowboys for 12 seasons and went to three Super Bowls, has died. He was 64.

Newhouse's son, Rodd Newhouse, says his father died Tuesday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, after a battle with heart disease.

Newhouse had suffered a stroke in 2010.

The burly running back was drafted by the Cowboys in 1972 out of the University of Houston, where he ran for 1,757 yards as a senior, a school record that still stands.

Newhouse ran for 4,784 yards in his career with Dallas. He retired in 1983 after playing in three Super Bowls with some of the Cowboys greatest teams, including the 1976 NFL champions.

In the 1977 Super Bowl victory against Denver, Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Golden Richards on a halfback option to help seal the win.

Newhouse was born in Longview and went to Galilee High School in Hallsville before enrolling at Houston. All three Cougars teams he played on finished the season ranked in The Associated Press Top 20.

He was taken in the second round of the draft by Dallas. He led the Cowboys in rushing in 1975 with 930 yards, but became most well known as a fullback leading the way for future Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, who Dallas drafted in 1977.

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: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Frederick Impressed by Martin's Development]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:07:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/zack-martin-minicamp.jpg

Cowboys rookie guard Zack Martin is in pretty much the same place center Travis Frederick was in at this time last year, going into his first NFL training camp as a first rounder, expected to make an immediate impact.

Frederick made good on those expectations in 2013, anchoring a rebuilt offensive line and earning All-Rookie Team honors, and obviously, Dallas is hopeful that Martin can put up a similar rookie campaign.

Thus far, Frederick has been impressed by Martin’s development.

I think so a little bit but he’s been doing a really good job,” Frederick told the team’s official website. “He did a great job in OTAs and mini-camp going through and really asking the questions that he needed to and putting himself in a good position, so I think that through this offseason he did a great job of learning all the plays and that, so maybe he can focus on some of the smaller things as well.

“At guard, there’s not quite as much to know as at center as far as seeing these and understanding what the defense is doing you still have to know, so I think it makes the learning curve a little less steep.”

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<![CDATA[Weeden Looking Forward to Oxnard]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:03:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-weeden11.18.12.jpg

Gone from Cleveland after two disappointing seasons, quarterback Brandon Weeden is looking forward to his first training camp as a Dallas Cowboy. But he admits it’ll be tough to say goodbye to his wife and his new, three week old son.

That’s going to be tough, being away but at the same time I’m looking forward to practicing somewhere else,” Weeden said, per ESPN Dallas. “I always heard about Oxnard and the setup and the fan base that travels and the people that are out there already who are Cowboys fans. I heard it's first class, top-notch. I’m excited about that part and the weather, getting out of that 100 degrees is always nice.

“But having the little man around would’ve been nice. I’m going to miss him and the wife, but I think that’s part of playing this sport. There’s adversity you’ve got to get over.”

The offseason has been good to Weeden, for the most part. He was released by the Browns back in March but quickly found a new home with the Cowboys, where he believes he can make a much-needed fresh start. The little bundle of joy came and then, last week, holdout backup quarterback Kyle Orton’s release was made official, meaning Weeden is pretty much locked in as Tony Romo’s backup going into camp.

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<![CDATA[Witten: Dez, Murray, Smith an "Elite" Trio]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:30:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP311079350291.jpg

Running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant and left tackle Tyron Smith all went to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2013 and, having reached that level, veteran tight end Jason Witten doesn’t see any of them slowing down. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Witten, who is speaking from experience as a nine-time Pro Bowler, believes now that these three young stars have been there, they’ll want to go back.

"I think for all those guys, there's not harder workers and competitive guys than the guys you just mentioned," Witten said, per ESPN Dallas. "But I think for anybody, you do it (make the Pro Bowl) once you want to stack a bunch of these together. It gives you confidence that you can do it. These guys are elite players. They are ingrained in this system. They are committed to help turn this around. They want to be the best players they can be but also help this team compete for a championship."

Murray in particular has come out and said that, while making the Pro Bowl is an honor, he plays the game to win.

"Yeah, that's it," Murray said. "That's the result, just straight winning. Yards, all that crap doesn't mean a thing. If we're winning, at the end of the day, that's what you play for."

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Eli "Nervous" in New Offense?]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:16:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP894702593040_19.jpg

Eli Manning is coming off a brutal 2013 campaign, in which he threw a career-high 27 interceptions and just 18 touchdown passes, and suffered an ankle injury in Week 17 that required offseason surgery. Manning says the ankle feels great, pain-free, but he’s somewhat less comfortable when it comes to the newly installed offense.

Manning admitted recently that, at the moment anyway, he’s a bit nervous in the new system.

“Yeah, it is different. You come into the season a little nervous; you just don’t have [the same comfort],’’ Manning said, via the New York Post. “You have a good feel for it, but not to where I want it to be. That’s with repetition and more plays.

“It’s a different feeling this time of year than in previous years. We’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot to improve on to get comfortable, myself with my teammates and everything that goes on with being successful in an offense. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re excited about that challenge.”

The Cowboys will see this new offense for the first time on October 19, when the Giants visit AT&T Stadium.

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<![CDATA[Dez Bryant the Lone Cowboy on Top-Selling Jerseys List]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:04:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28576a%29.jpg

The NFL released its list of top selling jerseys for the first quarter of the fiscal year, and the Dallas Cowboys are (not all that surprisingly) not all that well represented.

The numbers reflect jersey sales on NFL.com between April 1 and July 17 of this year, and the only Cowboy to crack the top 25 most was wide receiver Dez Bryant. Bryant came in at No. 15, between Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (14) and Texans’ rookie Jadeveon Clowney (16).

The Cowboys might have had the No. 1 jersey on the list, if they’d have drafted Johnny Manziel with that 16th overall pick back in May--Manziel is on the top of the heap, beating out Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson (2), 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick (3) and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (4).

Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman rounds out the top five.

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<![CDATA[Entering Oxnard, Cowboys Look Like 7-9: Whitt]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:36:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/103419544.jpg

Last time we saw the Dallas Cowboys in pads we were returning Christmas presents, preparing to ring in 2014 and watching Kyle Orton throw three interceptions.

Then: The Cowboys lost to the Eagles, 24-22, on Dec. 29 to end their season at another disappointing 8-8.

Now: Their roster is different. But as the Cowboys land in Oxnard Tuesday to begin training camp, is the team any better?

While the offensive nucleus of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith returns, there are significant changes on the coaching staff and instabilities along what was last year a horrendous defense.

Gone from last year’s roster are DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Miles Austin and, as of last week, Orton.

New faces will include No. 2 quarterback Brandon Weeden, draft picks Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence and free-agent signees Terrell McClain, Jeremy Mincey and Will Herring.

The Cowboys, of course, have already suffered a major blow with linebacker Sean Lee’s season-ending injury on the first day of minicamp.

And with Monte Kiffin demoted in favor of Rod Marinelli on defense and Scott Lineham now calling the plays on offense, the Cowboys will certainly have a different look.

Entering training camp the Cowboys should have a better, more balanced offense, a defense that will struggle because of its lack of playmakers, and no delusions of a Super Bowl. Looks like a 7-9 roster to me.

But that’s what training camp is for.

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys First Test of 2014: Conditioning]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:30:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/169*120/romo1blog.jpg

In 1989 Jimmy Johnson famously banished an out-of-shape kicker to the “asthma field.” A couple years ago Felix Jones – a running back – infamously huffed and puffed and failed, helping lead to his eventual exit from the team. And last year Jay Ratliff couldn’t pass, and wound up never playing a down in the regular season before being cut.

The root of the evil? The dreaded pre-training camp conditioning test. And this year’s event takes place today at Valley Ranch.

It sounds like a relatively simple task for professional athletes paid handsomely to be in elite condition, but every year it seems a player fails. The players have to run 20 sprints of either 40, 50 or 60 yards and of varying time frames depending on their position group. For example, skill players must run the 60 in eight seconds and linemen 40 yards in six seconds.

There are seven-second breaks between sprints, and a three-minute break after 10 sprints.

I’m just a dorky sportswriter who just turned 50, but I’m confident I could pass the test right now today. Guaranteed, however, that a handful of Cowboys won’t, and will be placed on the embarrassing Physically Unable to Perform List heading to Oxnard on Tuesday.

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: Louis DeLuca, Dallasnews.com]]>
<![CDATA[Frederick Taking Different Mindset to Oxnard]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:03:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/travis-frederick-camp.jpg

With a year of experience under his belt, Cowboys center Travis Frederick is approaching his second NFL training camp quite differently than he did as a rookie a year ago.

Having played a year in the offense, Frederick is freed up to focus on the finer points--technique, reading the defense and so forth. This is, of course, just the next step for Frederick, who was a widely criticized selection at 31st overall last year but went on to prove those many critics wrong. He was named to the All-Rookie Team and helped anchor a resurgent Cowboys line that proved to be one of the few bright spots to speak of.

I think it’s just a different approach,” Frederick told Nick Eatman of the team’s official website. “Last year going into camp ... I kind of knew what was going on but it was about going and making sure you know how to make all the calls and knew all the plays and being in the right spot, basically.

“Now I think the mindset has changed a little bit, where my focus is more on small technique things and seeing maybe a little bit more of the defense or placing my hands in a different spot. So I think it’s really been narrowed down as far as what my focus is.”

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<![CDATA[Marinelli: Repetition is Key in Training Camp]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:20:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rod-marinelli-rumors.jpg

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli says the key to a good training camp is repetition, repetition and repetition. And then some more repetition.

“The habits are easy to understand in a classroom setting,” Marinelli said, per ESPN Dallas. “It’s a whole different world when you’re come out there in the heat, in the pads and you’re trying to be able to keep doing the same things over and over but better.

Tedious repetition of the simplest movements every single day. That is tough to do. That is really tough to do but that’s what you shoot for. In this system it’s really important because we’re based so much on fundamentals. The standard is us as coaches. We have to set the standard in terms of that because you see over the course of the year your drill work can start going downhill a little bit. You can’t allow [bad habits] to creep in on you. What happens is you get guys starting to get beat up and they can’t practice as well. ... It sounds incredible but you lose them quick. You’ve just got to stay on them.”

This is Marinelli’s first training camp as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. He was promoted from defensive line coach this offseason, and takes over for his old friend Monte Kiffin, who remains on the staff as an assistant. The Cowboys will convene in Oxnard, CA for camp on Tuesday, and the grind begins with their first practice on Thursday.

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<![CDATA[Peter King Predicts Redskins Change Name by 2016]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:07:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/101313+redskins+cowboys+helmet.jpg

The debate over the Washington Redskins’ nickname is still simmering along, and according to one veteran writer, a change may be coming sooner rather than later.

In Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column on Sports Illustrated, fittingly published on Monday, King says, “I think the Washington franchise will have a new team name by 2016.”

A lot of folks have made similar predictions, but this one stands out because King actually gives the change a timetable--something no one else has really done.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on the Redskins to change their name, saying it is “obviously” the right thing to do, and he isn’t the only politician to weigh in on the issue. Senator Harry Reid has also been an outspoken critic of the name, while President Barack Obama was more noncommittal, simply asking the league to look into the matter.

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Giants' Wilson Says He's Been Cleared]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:13:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DavidWilson.jpg

The New York Giants got some good news on the health front on Monday, when running back David Wilson Tweeted that he’s been “cleared for everything” after undergoing neck surgery this offseason.

Wilson suffered the injury that led to the surgery in Week Five of last year and missed the rest of the season. With his return, he’ll join a stable of running backs that includes veterans Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox, free agent addition Rashad Jennings and fourth round draft pick Andre Williams.

Of the group, Wilson is the A-1 speed guy.

Like the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants will open camp on Tuesday.

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<![CDATA[How Much Pressure is Jason Garrett Under?]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jason-garrett-6.18.14.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys will convene for training camp on Tuesday, coming off three consecutive 8-8 finishes. But how much pressure is head coach Jason Garrett really under?

Garrett has never led the team to the playoffs, although he has been a win away in each of his full three seasons at the helm. This means heartbreaking season ending losses have become the norm--in 2011, the fell to the Giants, and 2012 to the Redskins and last year to the Eagles.

Jerry Jones, meanwhile, refuses to say Garrett is coaching for his job in 2014. But in this instance, Jones’s actions--or lack of action, in this case--speaks volumes louder than words could, and Garrett doesn’t have a contract going into this season. Meaning he’s a so-called sitting duck.

Ultimately, while Jones might not come out and say it, it seems that Garrett is facing some real pressure in his fourth full season in the job--which doesn’t necessarily mean he has to make the playoffs, but he’ll certainly have to show Jones that (a) he still has control of the ship and (b) it’s moving in the right direction.

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<![CDATA[Austin Ready to Prove Himself in Cleveland]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:45:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-giants-2012-12.jpg

After seeing his career with the Dallas Cowboys come to an unceremonious end back in March, designated as a post-June 1 cut, Miles Austin feels like he has plenty to prove with his new team, the Cleveland Browns. Fortunately, this is nothing new for the two-time Pro Bowler.

“Regardless (the year), I always felt I had to go out and prove myself,” Austin said, via the News-Herald (Ohio). “I’m looking forward to going out and playing again.”

It’d be cliche to say Austin’s tenure in Dallas was a roller coaster ride, but it wouldn’t be wrong. He came in as an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth in 2006, and remained on the periphery of the roster until 2009, when he emerged as a Pro Bowler. Then, he did it again in 2010.

After that, the injury bug--the hamstring injury bug, in particular--began hitting Austin with terrible frequency. Last year, his last with Dallas, he was shut down for over a month as a precautionary measure and didn’t record a catch between Week 3 and Week 12.

After all that, it’s understandable that Austin is ready to make a fresh start in Cleveland.

“I’m fortunate to be in this situation and have another opportunity to go out and prove myself again,” Austin said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Confident Carr Will Live Up to Expectations]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:34:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-redskins-b-%2860.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr has brought down six interceptions in his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, but he’s also had stretches rough enough to make many fans wonder if Dallas didn’t overpay for his services when they gave him a five-year, $50 million deal in 2012.

In the locker room, though, there’s little doubt that Carr--who said this offseason that he intends on “taking over the league” in 2014 along with his mates in the secondary--will live up to any and all expectations brought on by the size of his contract.

I expect him to live up to that contract, and I know he will,” said safety Barry Church, via ESPN Dallas. “He’s been putting in a lot of work this offseason. Me and him especially have working on our footwork drills, man-to-man drills and lifting together and running together.

“I feel like he’s got just a whole new focus going into this season. He wants to, like he said earlier in one of his interviews, take over the league. I feel like he can be one of those top-3 corners in the NFL. I feel like he’ll show everybody this year. I definitely have the faith in him to live up to that contract, and I know he will.”

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<![CDATA[Worst Safeties in the NFC East Belong to the Cowboys]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:15:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

As we’re now only a week from training camp’s padded practices in Oxnard, I was contemplating the Cowboys’ defense. As in, how the heck is it going to be better than the wretched, record-breaking unit from 2013 when this off-season it’s lost Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher?

I still go back to the safeties, and what I think is the worst positions on the team, if not the entire league. Barry Church can make some plays, but J.J. Wilcox last year got beat out by Jeff Heath, who belongs on special teams at the best. With a tremendous amount of trepidation, I decided to look up the safeties on the other NFC East teams and sure enough … the Cowboys have the lousiest group.

The Eagles will start Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen. The Giants Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. And the Redskins Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather.

Rolle made the Pro Bowl for the Giants in 2013 and Brown is back after blowing out his knee last summer. He had a productive 2012 and gives the Giants the best duo in the division. For the Eagles, Jenkins is a veteran from the Saints who can play the run while Allen has six interceptions in 54 NFL starts. The Redskins have a couple players on the downside of their careers in Meriweather and Clark, but they combined for 114 tackles and four picks in 2013.

Church, remember, has just one interception in his four-year career. He is the Cowboys’ best safety by far, but I’m not so sure he could start for any of the Cowboys’ divisional foes.
 

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ware: "I Feel Better Than I Did the Last Two Years"]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:26:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28273a%29.jpg

Now a Denver Bronco, Cowboys’ all-time sack-leader DeMarcus Ware is feeling refreshed and ready to begin the next chapter of his career.

Ware was let go by the Cowboys this offseason in a cost-cutting move, following a season in which he posted career-lows in tackles, with 40, and sacks, with six. He also missed three games, the first time in his career he’s been forced out of action due to injury.

But Ware says he’s healthier than he’s been in a good while.

I feel better than I did the last two years going into the season,” Ware told the Denver Post recently. “Stronger, faster. I feel flexible.”

Ware, who will turn 32 in a couple weeks, signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Broncos back in March, shortly after his release from the Cowboys.

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<![CDATA[Goodell Sees Huge Demand for the NFL in Europe]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:27:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/roger-goodell1.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys will play their first ever regular season game on European soil this year when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 9 at Wembley Stadium in London. The NFL has been playing regular season games in London since 2007 and, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, European demand for American football has never been higher.

The fans want to see more NFL football, and they want to see the real thing,” Goodell told NFL Network, via Pro Football Talk. “They don’t want to see the ‘friendlies’ as they call them over there, which is preseason games. So we changed our strategy eight years ago and said, ‘Let’s play regular season games.’ And our clubs have responded very favorably.

“They’ve enjoyed the experience. So we’re anxious to do more of it. I see us continuing to play more games there, to focus on our television coverage there and expanding that, our other business efforts including licensing and sponsorship.”

Goodell added that the interest in the NFL overseas is so high, a Europe-based NFL team could be closer than previously thought.

“We couldn’t be happier with what we’re seeing,” Goodell said. “We actually couldn’t be more surprised by the tremendous demand for NFL football in London, in the UK in general, and frankly in Europe. So it’s not something that I think is 15 or 20 years away. It could be five or 10 years away.”

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<![CDATA[Time is Now for Bruce Carter to Step Up]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:28:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/187615288.jpg

With Sean Lee out for the season with a torn ACL, safety Barry Church says the time for Bruce Carter to breakout is now.

Carter finished 2013 with a career-high 96 tackles, but he struggled mightily by his own admission with the switch from the 3-4 run by Rob Ryan in 2012 and the 4-3 installed by Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli last year. With a year of the new system under his belt though, coaches say he’s been making huge strides this offseason, an idea echoed by Church.

“Definitely with the loss of Sean Lee, it’s time for him to step up and be that focal point of the defense, and I feel like he’ll be able to do that,” Church said of Carter, per ESPN Dallas. “He’s making a lot of the checks out there. He’s the head of the huddle for the defense, so I feel like this offseason really generated a lot of confidence for him, and I feel like going into the season that’s going to work for him.

"He’s going to get better and better as the season progresses.”

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<![CDATA[Church: J.J. Wilcox Can be a "Big Playmaker"]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:33:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jj-wilcox-late-hit.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff seem to believe second-year safety J.J. Wilcox has the potential to shine, following a rocky rookie season.

A third round pick out of Georgia Southern in 2013, Wilcox was penciled in as the starter opposite Barry Church at the beginning of the season. But his mother passed away in August, and Wilcox had to leave the team for a period of time, which left veteran Will Allen to step in as the starter for the first three games of the year.

Wilcox won the job back beginning in Week 4, but then he suffered a knee injury. When he returned from that, rookie Jeff Heath was locked in at the starting spot.

Rookie year misfortune aside, Wilcox is once again looking like the starter, and the man he’ll play alongside, Church, expects big things from his young teammate in 2014.

Just an explosive playmaker,” Church said in an interview with 103.3-FM ESPN Radio on Tuesday. “Those are the words that come to my mind when I think of him. This whole offseason, he was all over the place--getting interceptions, locking up tight ends--so I feel like he’s going to be a big playmaker for us on the back end. I’m excited to see what he can bring to the table this season.”

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<![CDATA[RG3: Players Aren't Fans of Expanded Thursday Schedule]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:46:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20131125-Washington-Redskins-San-Francisco-49ers2.jpg

Not that it will come as a surprise to the NFL, or that they’ll care all that much, but Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III wants the league to know that not all players are thrilled about their expansion of Thursday night football, which was made official this offseason when CBS got in on the action with an eight-night slate.

"There are a lot of players out there who feel like there are not enough days in the week for us to be playing on Thursdays," Griffin told the Hollywood Reporter. "It's something the NFL is going to have to address to make sure they're keeping their players safe while also trying to maximize their revenue."

This isn’t a new issue, of course, and Griffin’s take on it isn’t surprising.

Ever since the idea of expanding the Thursday night schedule was suggested, critics of the league were quick to point out that their willingness to make such a move runs counter to their stated (and restated, and restated again) commitment to player safety.

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Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ryan Williams Thinks of Himself as a Starter]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:47:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/450657739.jpg

Coming to the Dallas Cowboys in May after impressing coaches in a workout at Valley Ranch, Ryan Williams has started a grand total of three games in the NFL. But he still thinks of himself as a starting running back, and one that can make an impact as part of the team’s stable of running backs.

“I’m never trying to fit in anywhere, and that’s no disrespect to anyone on this team,” Williams told the team’s official website. “But me being who I am and loving doing what I do, I’m not just trying to be a running back on this team. I’m trying to have a legacy when I leave, and however I’m going to get it I’m going to get it.

“I’m not trying to step on any toes, but I do know what situation I brought myself into coming in, but every time you see 34 on that field, everybody’s going to know it’s not a step down from any other running back that was in there before me, whether DeMarco came out to get a breather and 34 is in there, or Lance (Dunbar) or Joe (Randle). I’d just like to say that you’ve got another starting running back on this team with the other running backs you’ve got.”

In two seasons with the Cardinals, Williams had just 164 yards. He suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his rookie season with the team and never saw a snap in 2013, even though he says he was healthy and never missed a practice.

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<![CDATA[Orton's Release Won't Change Weeden's Approach]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:47:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-weeden11.18.12.jpg

With the release of Kyle Orton becoming official on Wednesday, barring something completely unforeseen, Brandon Weeden will begin the season as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart behind Tony Romo. But just because the job looks to be his, that doesn’t mean Weeden is going take his foot off the gas.

“Given the situation Kyle has been in in previous years in Dallas, he’s been the backup quarterback, so I think if he was there it would be one more obstacle I would have to kind of hurdle,” Weeden said, per ESPN Dallas. “But at the same time I can’t really get wrapped up in putting all of my attention on that. I need to do what I did in the [organized team activities] and continue to play well and get better. I think hopefully things will work out that way regardless.”

We’d imagine the Cowboys’ willingness to cut ties with Orton had a lot to do with Weeden’s presence on the roster. Dallas was reportedly quite high on Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State in 2012, and were impressed by his work in offseason workouts--in which he got a lot of reps with the 1s, as Tony Romo was recovering from back surgery.

For his part, Weeden has said Dallas presents just the change of scenery he needed, coming off two disappointing seasons in Cleveland.

“I think the reps I got in the OTAs were kind of irreplaceable,” Weeden said. “If I was in a situation where God forbid something happened to Tony and I’m asked to play, those are the guys I’m going to battle with, so those reps I got were invaluable. I know I won’t get many of those in [training] camp, but fortunately I had 12 practices where I was able to get out with those guys. Now it’s, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I’m ready to get to California and get things rolling.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Add Tight End Dallas Walker]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:27:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

With a roster spot left vacant by Kyle Orton, who was released after holding out all offseason this week, the Dallas Cowboys added tight end Dallas Walker on Thursday, according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

A Western Michigan product who went undrafted in 2012, Walker spent training camp last year with the San Diego Chargers but was cut before the season. He worked out for the Cowboys at Valley Ranch in June, but wasn’t offered a deal at the time.

With Walker in the fold, Dallas will have five tight ends to work with when training camp opens next week: Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Jordan Najvar and, of course, the newcomer Walker.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DeMarco Murray Says He Can Handle 300 Carries]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:14:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28295%29.jpg

Thanks to several factors including his health and Dallas’s spotty-at-best level of commitment to running the ball, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has never so much as approached 300 carries in a season. He set a career high with 217 carries last year, his best in the NFL so far.

But Murray believes he can shoulder the 300-carry load, if the Cowboys follow through on Scott Linehan’s statement that they’d lean on the University of Oklahoma product.

"If they decide to do that with me, of course," Murray said, via FOX Sports. "Whatever they decide to do with me, I think I can handle it."

Murray played in a career-high 14 games in 2013--he missed two games due to a knee injury--posted 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns, and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time. He comes into camp this year healthy and, he says, a wiser running back than he was earlier in his career.

"You just have to take care of your body and know when to go and fight for that extra yard or inch and know when not to," Murray said. "That's something about just being a smarter football player in general and knowing when you're helping your team and when you're hurting your team."

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Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Aikman Surprised Jerry Passed on Manziel]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:40:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/115270955.jpg

Troy Aikman’s a smart cookie. Family upbringing and UCLA education and Hall of Fame career and on Sundays he educates us dorks about the nuances of the NFL on Fox.

So, um, why did he think the Cowboys would actually draft Johnny Manziel?

Because he knows Jerry Jones' history, that's why. I wrote repeatedly on this here blog that there was zero chance. Tony Romo’s here, and that’s that. But on draft night, nonetheless, there were Cowboys fans on the edge of their seat when the team selected Zack Martin.

Including, inexplicably, ol’ No. 8.

“I thought there was a real good chance if he fell to the Cowboys’ pick that he would take him,” Aikman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I understand why they didn’t. It would have certainly added a lot of excitement around here, but I don’t think it would have been best for the club, certainly not in the short term. There’s a lot of other needs, as we saw last year, that this team has, so it was probably the right thing not taking him, but I was a little surprised. I think that had to have been a difficult decision for Jerry.”

Aikman obviously expected Jones’ short-sighted passion to overrule the team’s rational needs. Because he knows a Romo/Manziel situation would’ve been a distraction for a team that can’t afford one. After all, when he was the starter in ’89 coach Jimmy Johnson made his life uncomfortable by selecting Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft.

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Holloman Balances Rest, Work During NFL's Dead Month]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:25:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/devonte-holloman8.26.13.jpg

For the Dallas Cowboys and their fans, the uneventful stretch between the end of offseason activities and the beginning of training camp, the so-called “dead month,” is almost over. The team opens camp next Tuesday in Oxnard, CA.

For second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman, the key to this stretch of down time before the camp grind begins is finding a balance between rest and work.

“You’ve got to go into camp ready, and the break is also the last little bit of free time, so you’ve got to balance it,” Holloman said, via the team’s official website. “I’ll probably take two or three days a weekend to go home and spend some time with my family, then come back Monday or Tuesday and get back to work. Because that first day of camp, it gets pretty intense.”

One of a handful of players in the mix at middle linebacker, Holloman will look to pick up where he left off last year, when he recorded a team-high 11 tackles and two sacks in the season-ending loss to the Eagles--a promising performance for the South Carolina product, who had missed seven games in the middle of the year due to a spinal contusion.

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<![CDATA[Tyrone Crawford Shaking Off the Rust]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:00:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyrone-crawford-2014.jpg

After a very promising offseason last year, Cowboys defensive end / defensive tackle (we’re still not sure what his primary position will be this year) Tyrone Crawford suffered a torn achilles on the first day of training camp, ending his 2013 season before it started. Now on the mend and ready to finally cash in on the promise of last summer, Crawford is being helped along by a defensive coaching staff that includes Rod Marinelli, Monte Kiffin and player-turned-coach Leon “Big Cat” Lett.

I’m really excited to be coached by them. They’re Great,” Crawford told Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com. “Big Cat’s obviously played and he can tell you a lot from experience and (assistant defensive line and defensive ends coach Ben) Bloom is really smart. He definitely corrects me when I’m wrong, Coach Marinelli, they all correct me when I’m wrong, and recently it’s been a lot. I knew that was going to happen because I’m a little rusty, but love the coaching, they’re doing a great job with us right now and every day I’m getting better under them.”

After sitting out for all of last year, Crawford is just excited to pad up again.

“I’m just getting ready to get off the ball in a game,” he said. “See what it’s like wearing pads again and just being able to incorporate all my different moves and make the offensive linemen be aware that I have a bullrush as well.”

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<![CDATA[NFL COO Says Cuban Was Asking the Right Question]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:32:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/967059051.jpg

Always outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made some waves this offseason when, in response to the announcement that the NFL would expand Thursday Night Football, he wondered aloud if the league wasn’t diluting its product and going down a dangerous road in terms of business.

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And [the NFL is] getting hoggy,” Cuban famously said, per the Hollywood Reporter. “When you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule No. 1 of business.”

It was viewed at the time as shots fired from one of the more visible faces in the NBA across the deck of the NFL. But NFL Media chief operating officer Brian Rolapp isn’t mad about Cuban’s remarks. In fact, he says his questioning is justified--it’s just that the league is yet to see any evidence to suggest they’re over-saturating the market.

"Cuban was asking the right question, and it's a question we ask ourselves all the time," Rolapp said. "But what we haven't seen yet is dilution [of the brand]. If we've hit the saturation period, we certainly haven't seen it. But it's something we keep an eye on."

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<![CDATA[Forbes: Cowboys Still the Most Valuable NFL Franchise]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:35:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186709154.jpg

As you’re probably painfully aware if you’re reading this blog, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs since way back in 2009, when Barack Obama was just settling into his first term and Wade Phillips was the head coach of the team. But they remain the most valuable football franchise in the world, according to Forbes.

The Cowboys come in as the fifth most valuable sports franchise in the world in Forbes’ annual list of the 50 most valuable franchises. Spanish soccer clubs Real Madrid ($3.44 billion) and Barcelona ($3.2 billion) come in at the top of the list, followed by English club Manchester United ($2.81 billion).

Coming in at the fourth spot, the New York Yankees are the most valuable American sports franchise, with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion. Which brings us to the Cowboys, who are at the top of the NFL, a league that accounts for 30 of the 50 spots on the list. Of all NFL teams, only the Raiders and the Jaguars failed to make the cut.

Leading the way is the Dallas Cowboys, who rank fifth overall worth $2.3 billion,” writes Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. “The Cowboys have been the NFL’s most valuable team since 2007 thanks to the league’s highest sponsorship and premium seating revenue--a combined $220 million. The ‘Boys revenue got a boost last summer when owner Jerry Jones inked a 25-year stadium naming rights deal with AT&T worth $500 million. The club has the top operating income in sports at $251 million for the 2012 season.”

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<![CDATA[Good Riddance, Bad Orton]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:22:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459740307.jpg

Not surprised the Cowboys released Kyle Orton. I even called for it a month ago.

Only shocking thing is the timing of the transaction. As in, what took so long?

Orton clearly didn’t want to play football. But nor did he want to retire and be forced to pay back a large chunk of money from his signing bonus.

Whatever, his riddance is indeed good.

Directly, it means Brandon Weeden is the No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo. Fine by me. The Cowboys’ talent level is so thin that any injury to Romo will be terminally devastating. Weeden won’t be able to salvage the season, but neither would have Orton.

Indirectly, the release frees up $3.25 million in salary cap space this season to re-sign foundation stars Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith to long-term contracts. Orton will count $2.25 million against next year’s cap, but that was the case whether he played or not.

Facing an expensive retirement or a $30,000-per-day fine, Orton likely would’ve shown up for training camp next week in Oxnard. But he wouldn’t have wanted to be there. And that would’ve made him a distraction.

The Cowboys are better off without Orton. Now. And in the future.
 

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>