<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]>Copyright 2016http://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.comen-usMon, 27 Jun 2016 12:48:14 -0500Mon, 27 Jun 2016 12:48:14 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Stadium Club to Open at AT&T Stadium]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 11:07:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/204*120/cowboys-stadium-club-render.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys will open a familiar restaurant with an updated look inside AT&T Stadium this fall.

In a news release Friday, the team said the Stadium Club, a restaurant that combines first-class dining with the comfort of a sports bar, will begin serving daily lunch and dinner in the fall.

“We’re thrilled to bring our fans the ultimate Dallas Cowboys dining experience right inside our team’s home at AT&T Stadium,” said Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones. “The Stadium Club will not only provide great dining experience, but it will also offer a game day atmosphere, that can only be captured at the stadium, every day of the week.”

The 19,000 square-foot restaurant is located immediately inside the doors at Entrance A, adjacent to the Pro Shop, and can seat 650 guests.

For longtime fans, the Stadium Club is a familiar name going back to Texas Stadium in Irving.

"Like the “hole in the roof,” that made the transformation from Texas Stadium to the retractable roof at AT&T Stadium, the Stadium Club is a name that has historic origins from the Cowboys former home. The Stadium Club at Texas Stadium was a popular dining and gathering place on game days, while the new Stadium Club at AT&T Stadium will be a destination for members on game days and the general public throughout the week. The inspiration for the new Stadium Club was a direct result of fans requesting an upscale and up-to-date version of its Texas Stadium predecessor as an AT&T Stadium gathering place.

Leading the kitchen will be Chef Anthony Van Camp, who said the heart of the kitchen will be the wood-fired grill and pizza oven.

"The menu will highlight classic fare with a sophisticated touch and a focus on local and seasonal ingredients all while remaining true to our Texas roots," Van Camp said.

During game days, the restaurant will be open to season ticket and suite holders only.

The Cowboys have not said specifically when the restaurant will open.

Photo Credit: Dallas Cowboys Football Club]]>
<![CDATA[Tryon Smith Makes Top Ten NFL Moves]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 20:33:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyron-smith-camp722.jpg

I am a big fan of the website Pro Football Focus.

Writer Mike Renner came up with his list of the NFL’s 10 most unstoppable moves.  The only Dallas Cowboys player to make the list was left tackle Tyron Smith.

Smith’s cut blocking came in at number 7.  Here’s Renner’s thoughts:

"Smith is an absolute freak of nature for an offensive tackle. His athleticism suggests he should be lining up on the opposite side of the ball, and the Cowboys use that to their advantage. They frequently run outside zone away from Smith, giving him the task of chasing down backside linebackers and defensive tackles, which he does with ease. Smith’s +26.5 cumulative run-blocking grade was the highest among all tackles last season."

<![CDATA[Greg Hardy Wants You to See Him Differently]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:04:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/194*120/496337028.jpg

Greg Hardy can’t find a NFL job.

He is trying to make himself look like a good guy with a PR spin that he hopes will get him a second chance to play.

Look at his Twitter page.  No longer is he the Overlord Kraken on his Twitter handle. In his avatar, Hardy is seen holding a baby and another photo has him smiling with a classroom of kids.

His tweets now are full of positive messages.

ProFootballTalk.com writer Darin Gant has more on Hardy’s quest for a new job through positive social media work.

A lot of guys are finding out after the Cowboys wash their hands with you, it's not many more stops in the second chance NFL landscape.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Senator Sues Dez Bryant Over Rental Home Damage]]> Thu, 23 Jun 2016 12:11:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez-lead.gif

A Texas state senator has sued Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Dez Bryant, claiming that he caused more than $60,000 in damages to his DeSoto rental home.

The lawsuit filed by Sen. Royce West described Bryant's treatment of the home in the 1200 block of Regents Park Court from September 2013 through January as "negligent and abusive."

West stated a walk-through of the 6,400-square-foot home "revealed irreparable damage to carpeting, flooring, windows, shutters, and blinds; the presence of animal feces, trash, debris, and personal property inside the residence; and distinct and pervasive odors throughout."

The lease Bryant signed Aug. 31, 2013, stated that pets were not permitted on the property, according to the lawsuit.

West's attorneys stated that Bryant asked to terminate the lease in January. West asked Bryant to appear at the walk-through of the home in February, but Bryant did not show up. The lawsuit stated that the house was "littered with trash and feces, missing blinds and shutters, with cracked windows and blackened carpeting."

Attorneys for West stated that reparations to the home included painting, landscape and removal of carpet. He also claims he had to replace ceiling fans, lighting, windows, doors and the home security system.

West said he sent photographs taken at the walk-through and repair invoices to Bryant in April, requesting reimbursement, but that Bryant did not respond. The lawsuit states that West tried to collect again in May, and was told that Bryant would sue if he made further attempts.

NBC 5 has reached out to the Dallas Cowboys for a comment from Bryant and are awaiting a response.

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

Photo Credit: Dallas County/Sen. Royce West/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scandrick Focused On Getting Back On The Field]]> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 22:24:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scandrick-injured.jpg

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick is progressing nicely in his rehab.  Scandrick missed last season when he tore the MCL and ACL in his right knee at training camp in Oxnard, California. The injury was a major setback to Scandrick and the Dallas Cowboys defense, some argue that the 29 year old was having the best camp of any player for the Cowboys. 

The former 5th round pick says he feels great and is looking forward to training camp but says he is not going to rush back. The Boise State alum says he doesn't want to suffer any setbacks and wants to be ready to contribute once he steps on the field. 

Patience will be Scandrick toughest challenge because he's a competitor and wants to be on the field with the rest of his teammates, but his body must adjust to the grind that he will go through to get back into playing shape.

Scandrick is in his 9th season with the Cowboys and has seven career interceptions.

Listen to Scandrick's full interview below:


Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Tomlinson Impressed With Cowboys New Running Back]]> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 22:02:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Watkins_LT_Talk_Elliott_1200x675_708008003537.jpg NFL legend and former TCU running back Ladainian Tomlinson thinks very highly of Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.]]> <![CDATA[Tomlinson Believes Elliot Will Be Special]]> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 22:56:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-17-20h59m03s114.png

Few running backs in the NFL's history can say they were drafted in the top five.  NFL legend Ladainian Tomlinson and Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott are among the few.

"LT" believes the Cowboys have something special in Elliott.  He's a 3-down back who doesn't need to leave the field unless he needs a break, much like Tomlinson back in his prime.

The former Charger and TCU great stopped by NBC5 to discuss Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys.


<![CDATA[Saying Goodbye to Valley Ranch]]> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 22:18:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/196*120/Dallas+Cowboys+helmet1.jpg

In its 31 years of existence, there have been plenty of stones thrown in the direction of the (literal) glass house that is Valley Ranch. 

Far from the luxury that Cowboys players experience on game days at AT&T Stadium, there will be, at least to an extent, something to be missed after the outdated, but charming facility hosts a Cowboys practice for the final time at minicamp this week.

“I remember when I first walked into this locker room, listening to the guys that were here, just being a part of it made me feel good,” Dez Bryant said.

Me too, Dez.

It was April 25th, 2013, and the first assignment at my new job at NBC 5 was to report live at Valley Ranch.  The Cowboys were preparing for the first round of the NFL Draft after a second-consecutive season that finished with an 8-8 record.

As I walked the building’s hallways lined with photos of Aikman, Irvin, Emmitt and Jimmy, I kept thinking, I can’t believe this is happening, and tried not to look nervous.  This was the ground on which the sports memories of my youth were built upon.

After the initial shock and awe wore off, however, I began to realize just how outdated the facility was.

Anyone who has visited Valley Ranch and another NFL team’s practice facility would almost certainly rank the Cowboys’ grounds second on the list.  That clearly won’t be the case after the team makes the move to The Ford Center at The Star paradise awaiting in the greener pastures of Frisco. 

Or, as Bryant described it in simpler terms, “that beautiful thing.”

From all personal accounts and drawings, the new practice facility will be phenomenal.  It is Jerry Jones’s latest exclamation point in an NFL world trying to exterminate personality and pizzazz.

But with the excitement of enormous new beginnings comes the end of an extremely memorable era. 

“I know I’m going to miss it, I’ll tell you that,” Bryant said.  “Man, I’m going to miss it.”

Me too, Dez.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[The Cowboys Say Goodbye to Valley Ranch]]> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:18:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Valley+Ranch+team+picture.png

Since 1985, the Cowboys have called Valley Ranch home. That will be the case for another month, but then the fields that saw legendary players, coaches and teams will no longer be used.

Thursday was the final Cowboys practice at Valley Ranch. When the team returns from training camp in California, they will continue workouts at The Star in Frisco.

Valley Ranch is a charming place full of history and character, but the outdated building's time has come. Head coach Jason Garrett started the day by showing the team a video of what Valley Ranch looked like in the early 90's, and finished the practice with a team picture. Famous ex-players, long-time employees and family members gathered on the field to pay tribute to the Cowboys home. Many of the offensive players wore grey shorts in honor of previous teams who wore them during practices.

Here are some of the best quotes from players and coaches talking about Valley Ranch.

Jason Garrett: "This is a really special place. For the last 31 years, some of the greatest coaches, the greatest players and the greatest teams ever assembled in the National Football League worked here. And the standard they set is high. And what we try to do as coaches and players is embrace that standard everyday."

Tony Romo: "It was a little bit of a nostalgic day. We started off actually looking at a little Cowboys practice from about 20 to 25 years ago. There weren't too many houses out back, a lot of fields. You just remember how many great players and how many practices, how many different guys they've had here, the great coaches, the people who have walked these halls. We're going to miss it and it's been a special place to me over my career. We build a team out here. You go show off what you've built in the stadium."

Cole Beasley on who might get teary eyed about leaving Valley Ranch: "Probably coach Garrett, man, if anybody. Other than that, I don't know. Maybe Witt, and Romo they've been around for awhile."

Many are curious as to what will happen to Valley Ranch when the Cowboys leave this summer. Stephen Jones says the team is still considering options.

"We're going to play that by ear. We have some ideas on what could happen out here at Valley Ranch, but we'll take that slowly. First you have to move out and get everyone prepared to move out to The Star and be ready to go to work when we get back from training camp. It's obviously a special place out here and hopefully in some way it will always commemorate what took place out here," said Jones.

<![CDATA[Romo Says He's Throwing Better Than Ever]]> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:01:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Tony+Romo.png

How good is Tony Romo feeling about his throwing ability? Better than ever if you ask him.

The Cowboys quarterback met with the media for the final time until training camp and explained why he's slinging the ball so well.

"I'm throwing the ball as well as I ever have. A lot of that is just based on years of trying to perfect your craft, get to a point where you feel very confident from multiple launch angles throwing the football," said Romo.

The quarterback elaborated on his throwing mechanics, explaining that he feels a good pass from every possible situation. Sometimes he'll be off-balance, people will be in his way or around his feet or perhaps he can't step into a throw.

"It's been a few years of trying it and I feel like now, this off-season when I wake up, it's there everyday. So, that's pretty exciting," the quarterback explained. "Once you're there, you can start playing with your footwork and doing things to technically, like I said, perfect your craft. I'm just excited that I get to throw and practice those things."

Romo was limited to just four games and 121 passes in 2015, but a healthy off-season has allowed the quarterback to work on his mechanics. That will be Romo's focus in the weeks leading up to the training camp. And, when time allows it, work with Dez Bryant to recapture their connection on the field.

"We're going to be out there and there's a schedule in place. Like I said, he just needs to go out there and run routes and simulate two-minute. You got to get your lungs and do all these little things that emulate practice and games. The only way to do that is to get on the football field and go do it."

<![CDATA[Garrett Gets Emotional After Father's Day Question]]> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 12:36:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/garrett-fathers-day_1200x675_706906691530.jpg

With emotions already running high during Valley Ranch's final practice, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett got unexpectedly teary eyed.

With Father's Day approaching, the head coach was asked how special it was for his father, Jim, to watch his son make it in the NFL and ultimately coach the Dallas Cowboys.

"That's a hard question for me to answer right now," Garrett said then paused as he gathered his emotions. "It's very meaningful. It's very meaningful to all of us. Football has been a big part of our lives. It certainly was a big part of my life growing up, my brother's lives growing up. And my dad, probably more than anything else instilled a passion for football in all of us and all the people he came in contact with. So [father's day] it's a special day."

Jim Garrett was a Cowboys scout from 1987 to 2004 and watched Jason first hand play for America's Team. He's now 85-years-old.

<![CDATA[Jones Happy to See LB McClain at Valley Ranch]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 20:50:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/McClain.png

Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain fully understands the word "mandatory." As he has in years past, McClain missed the voluntary Organized Team Activities in late May and early June. The key word there is voluntary.

However, attendance at "OTA's" is well attended. Only McClain and offensive lineman Ronald Leary skipped out. But, McClain didn't want his pocket book to get damaged, so he showed to the mandatory mini-camp this week.

Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones is happy to have his starting middle linebacker at Valley Ranch.

"Well first of all, he's here," Jones said with a smirk. "As I have mentioned, I know how much our coaches have lobbied to have him. I know how much they want him."

During the off-season, McClain has a tendency to put on weight but it sheds off quickly once he practices. This mini-camp was no different, as McClain looked notceably heavier than his fellow linebackers who have been working out with the team for weeks.

While the specifics of McClain's previous absence are unknown, the Cowboys continue to say it's a family matter.

"We all understand that he has a challenge in parts of his off-season. It's good to see him."

McClain signed a 1-year deal worth $5 million to stay with the Cowboys in 2016.

Photo Credit: David Watkins]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones "Incentitized" by Elliott's Influence on Offensive Line]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 20:08:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ezekiel+Elliott.jpg


Not a word. Unless Jerry Jones says it, then maybe we can let it slide.

That's the word Jones used to describe his excitement for running back Ezekiel Elliott and his potential impact on the offensive line.

When talking about the O-Line, Jones said, "You've got a good bunch, but they're not beyond being 'incentitized.' And when they know they've got someone back there that can make those plays and get every ounce out of their work, they go to another level. Expect to see that. Elliott will bring that, along with McFadden.

Elliott was the top player on the Cowboys board before the draft. So needless to say, they liked him a lot. Jones was asked if it's possible he could be even more excited about Elliott now after spending the last few weeks with the first round running back.

"We were pretty excited. And I must have to say, that we have the expectation that we'll feel good about him right now. I would expect that," said Jones. "I think the more he gets out there the better, but he certainly won't disappoint."

Jones' wish is coming true, because Elliott will get a lot of time with the first team. Darren McFadden broke his elbow while grabbing for his phone. For the mandatory mini-camp and potentially the first part of training camp, Elliott is the Cowboys starting running back.

"It just means more reps with the first team," said Elliott. "You hate to see one of your warriors wounded, but he's going to be around a lot. He's going to be back as soon as possible."

When McFadden comes back, his starting job may be gone considering Elliott's early impact and draft status.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Sports Medicine Facility Breaks Ground at The Star]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 18:46:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/the+star+health+center+groundbreaknig.jpg

Construction has started on a game-changing sports medicine, research and performance facility in Frisco.

The Dallas Cowboys, along with Baylor Scott & White Health, broke ground Wednesday on the 300,000-square-foot campus at The Star, the new home of the Dallas Cowboys corporate headquarters.

"With a focus on preventing injuries and keeping people healthy, the goal of Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star is to make North Texas the safest place in the country to play sports," said Joel Allison, president and CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health.

"This initiative is a perfect complement to Baylor Scott & White's broader strategy of serving communities, with a focus on overall health and wellness," Allison said.

The campus at The Star in Frisco will include an ambulatory surgery center, diagnostic imaging, a sports performance program, an urgent care center, outpatient rehabilitation and a pharmacy.

"It's with wonderful pride when I think about the job that these guys are doing and the job they will do because they're doing it for us. They're doing it for the youth," said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The first-of-its kind collaboration between an NFL team, a health system and a school district, is expected to open in early 2018.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Welcome Spelling Bee Co-Champ to Minicamp]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 18:14:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/spelling+champ+meets+Dez.jpg

Nihar Janga, a fifth grader from Austin, caught the attention of the Dallas Cowboys when he “threw up the X” to celebrate his co-championship in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. 

The “X,” which mimics how Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant celebrates when scoring a touchdown, was a tribute to Janga’s favorite player.

“This little kid is really amazing,” Bryant said. “He thinks that much of me.  That’s the stuff that drives me, when I see stuff like that.”

After his victory, the Cowboys invited Janga and his family to attend Cowboys minicamp practice and to spend the afternoon with Bryant. 

The 11-year old was also a guest of Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett, at his morning press conference.

In front of a room filled with reporters and cameras, Janga stepped up to the podium and spelled, “gesellschaft,” the word that sealed his co-title in the competition.

Garrett asked the fifth grader how he knew a word like that. 

“My mom helped me to prepare,” Janga said.

But his time around his favorite NFL team didn’t stop with Janga’s one visit to Valley Ranch.

“I told him, he’s coming to all the home games,” Bryant said. “He lives right down the road in Austin, Texas. He’s free to come to all of them.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant 'Speechless' Over Fan Who Died in Car Crash]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 18:41:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-14-17h53m10s149.jpg

When Irving’s Kassandra Martinez tagged Dez Bryant on Facebook about her late husband, Rudy, and his passion for the Dallas Cowboys, the wide receiver was stunned.

Dez responded, leaving a personal message for the widow's husband.

“To see that post, I was speechless,” Bryant said.  “I had seen videos of him talking about throwing up the 'X' and all that stuff. I almost went to tears.  Because I couldn’t believe this guy [thought] that highly of me.”

Martinez was killed in a car crash early Thursday morning in Dallas.

The post by Martinez's wife is below:

Bryant shared the post on his Facebook page and included the message,

Rudy Martinez thanks for the support man over the years .. may GOD rest your soul family...I will keep working hard you ‪#‎throwupthex

Wednesday, after Cowboys minicamp practice, Bryant reiterated that message.

“I think it’s extremely special,” Bryant said. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Facebook
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<![CDATA[ Scandrick: 2015 Knee Injury “Put Things in Perspective”]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 11:43:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scandrick-injured.jpg

When Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick tore his ACL and MCL during a training camp practice, it was the culmination of what had been a “very sketchy, spotty offseason.” 

“It was a difficult situation and it was a weird situation, just from a business standpoint,” Scandrick said.

The 29-year old cornerback missed part of Dallas’s 2015 offseason workout program in hopes of getting a new deal.  The two sides eventually came to an agreement on a five-year, $20 million extension in late May.  But in late August, he fell to the ground grabbing his knee and knew right away the injury was serious.

 “What’s crazy is that I was just starting to get back to myself in training camp,” Scandrick said.  “It was the best day that I had had in training camp.  I made plays on the ball that day, and that that just hit me.”

Scandrick missed the entire 2015 season, but is on track to be medically cleared to do everything for 2016 training camp.  And while the injury was difficult, he shared with the media that he is trying to look at the obstacle as a growing opportunity.

“It was good for me,” Scandrick said.  “It put things in perspective and showed me how very fortunate and blessed I am to play this game and just going through that adversity has made me stronger mentally and made me see things different.  I’m really, really excited to get back out there this season and contribute to this team.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[ Jaylon Smith 'Definitely Learning a Lot' from Sean Lee]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 11:18:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jaylon-smith-cowboys.jpg

Though Cowboys rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith’s injured knee won’t allow him to get reps on the field, the second round pick is taking advantage of what he can learn off the field.

Asked about the improvements he’s made from studying film, Smith said, “a lot,” and gave specific credit to Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee.

“I’m definitely learning a lot from Sean,” Smith said.  “I’m picking his brain each and every day.  It’s about learning the system, getting acclimated to the surroundings.  When I’m back out there, it’s going to be elite.”

Widely considered to be a first round talent when healthy, Smith suffered nerve damage in his knee when injured in Notre Dame’s bowl game.  The Cowboys hope Smith is available to return at the end of the 2016 regular season, and the rookie is encouraged by the progress he’s seen in his knee since he was drafted in late April.

“Great improvements, strength, a lot of those things,” Smith said.  “We have a great training staff here.  For me, it’s just about putting faith in our team physicians and everything is going to be alright.  I’m not sure when the next test will be, but I have all of my trust in them and we’re going to do some great things in Dallas.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Thoughts On The Cowboys From Harris And Hennings]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 09:12:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/196*120/Dallas+Cowboys+helmet1.jpg

With minicamp in full swing this week, I recently asked former Cowboys safety Cliff Harris and defensive tackle Chad Hennings about this year’s team going into the season during the JDRF Reunion Golf Classic, an event to help raise money in the fight against diabetes.

“I’m like everybody else, (Tony) Romo has to stay healthy,” said Harris, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Cowboys during the 1970’s. “I know we’ve got a great new running back and an offensive line that’s going to be excellent. We’ve just got to have a quarterback that’s going to do two things: stay healthy for us and win.”

“I’m always optimistic,” added Hennings, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys in the 1990’s. “Just get through the preseason healthy, keep everybody on the field, get guys into camp and get everybody signed up contract-wise. It’s not make-or-break in the fall; it’s make-or-break right now during the offseason.”

This week’s minicamp will run until Thursday. It will be the last one at Valley Ranch as the Cowboys will make the move to The Star in Frisco in August after returning from training camp in Oxnard, California.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Leigh Steinberg Talks About Aikman's Rough Rookie Season]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 15:15:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/478*120/NBCSR-Newy-Banner11.jpg

Coming off a 3-13 season in 1988, many Cowboys fans looked to first overall pick Troy Aikman out of UCLA. They got nothing but disappointment. Aikman lost every start he made; the Cowboys lone win came with backup Steve Walsh under center while Aikman recovered from a broken finger.

Jimmy Johnson, Steve Walsh's former college coach at the University of Miami (Fla.), considered going with Walsh full time following the 1-15 season, but "Troy's dichotomy," as Leigh Steinberg mentioned on Newy Scruggs' Voices of the Game radio show, was so tough that it "resolved itself."

He also mentioned how strenuous the relationship between Jimmy and Troy was, early on. Steinberg said Aikmen and Johnson "weren't very close the first year ... when it came to a matter of trust," to say the least.

Regardless, the Cowboys stuck with it because of Troy's mental makeup and the rest was history. Three Super Bowls later I think we would all agree they made the right choice.

Listen to Newy Scruggs' full interview with Leigh Steinberg below.

<![CDATA[Dez's FB Post Brightens Day for Grieving Family]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 19:00:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-14-17h53m10s149.jpg

A Dallas Cowboys star has brought a bit of joy to an Irving family during a difficult time.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant shared a photo posted by Kassandra Martinez of her late husband, who was killed Thursday in an car accident along Interstate 35 in Dallas.

"It made us smile," Martinez said. "Actually, for once, if anything we got a big smile out of it and I think that's probably the first time we've all smiled as a family so far."

Martinez first posted the photo Saturday with this caption:

Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant I know my husband Rudy Martinez would of loved for you guys to share this he was yalls biggest fan!!! He had every jersey, mainly in Dez Bryant with the exception of one! He was always wearing Cowboys no matter the time of the year and "throwing up the X", Please do him one last bucket list and share his photo..

She said her husband, 22-year-old Rudy Martinez, was a Cowboys fans for as long as she could remember. The pair met when they were 12 years old, and were married a little more than a year ago.

"Best day was probably the day we got married, second best day is her," she said, referring to the couple's nearly 4-month-old baby girl.

"If we have a boy, we're going to name him Dez," Martinez mused, recalling what her husband had once said. "We are not naming my kid Dez."

It's why Martinez believes it would have been on her husband's bucket list to have Dez Bryant share something of his on social media.

"That was probably a bucket list, because I know every post he's done wearing Cowboys things, he'd always tag Dez Bryant," Martinez said.

It was on the night following his funeral, Monday, that the Martinez family noticed their wish had been answered.

Bryant posted the following message, along with a photo of Rudy Martinez placed near two Cowboys jerseys:

Rudy Martinez thanks for the support man over the years .. may GOD rest your soul family...I will keep working hard you ‪#‎throwupthex‬

"I was like we did it, we were in tears of joy," Martinez said. "I know he's up there jumping around like he was at the playoffs game throwing up the X like crazy."

The family would like to thank Dez Bryant, and said he is welcome for a free meal and drinks anytime at their Irving restaurant, Rancho Restaurant, where a photo of the post he shared will soon be hanging on the wall.

The accident that killed Rudy Martinez is still under investigation. He was not wearing a seatbelt, nor was one of two passengers in his Jeep who was hospitalized, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Facebook
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<![CDATA[Cowboys Mini-Camp in Full Swing]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:05:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-000181.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney and Jon Machota with the Dallas Morning News talk Cowboys mini-camp and Dez Bryant.]]> <![CDATA[Witten Can’t See Himself Playing Anywhere But With Cowboys]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 18:05:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488176750.jpg

Tight end Jason Witten has spent more than one-third of his life playing for the Dallas Cowboys, and the franchise’s leading receiver can’t see himself signing with any other team before his career is finished.

“Mr. Jones has allowed every opportunity and dream of ours to be reality, so there’s a commitment and loyalty there that you want to bring [a championship] back here,” Witten said. 

The veteran entering his 14th season in Dallas was asked if he would consider signing with another team in pursuit of a Super Bowl championship if that goal is not achieved in the next few seasons with the Cowboys. 

His former teammate, DeMarcus Ware, signed with the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos after Dallas released him in the spring of 2014.

“Circumstances worked out differently for DeMarcus and I’m happy for him because he’s one of the great guys and great players and great teammates,” Witten said. “But I couldn’t see myself doing it any place besides right here.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McClain, Leary Return to Cowboys Offseason Workouts]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 11:35:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/457134160.jpg

After skipping voluntary organized team activities in early June, both Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain and offensive lineman Ronald Leary returned to Valley Ranch for mandatory minicamp Tuesday morning.

“They’re the only two guys who have not been a part of the OTA part of our offseason,” head coach Jason Garrett said.  “With that understanding, we want to make sure we acclimate them slowly.  Both guys will be a part of some of the stuff early in practice, then really watch the offense and defense work as practice goes on.”

McClain had been home in Alabama dealing with what Garrett referred to as “a family situation he was working through.”  Jerry Jones said on a radio show McClain’s absence was about spending time with his sons in Alabama.

Leary, who is playing under a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, is seeking a new contract.

“He had a contract situation, but now, he feels it’s in his best interest to be here,” Garrett said.

If the players had decided to skip the entire three-day mandatory minicamp, they could have been fined as much as $76,580.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys RB McFadden Has a Broken Elbow]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 18:42:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490319438.jpg

Cowboys running back Darren McFadden had surgery to repair a broken elbow Tuesday morning, according to Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

“Darren McFadden hurt his elbow in an accident at home,” Garrett said.  “He’s going to be out at least a couple of months, though we do anticipate seeing him at some point in training camp.”

McFadden suffered the injury over Memorial Day weekend, but returned to practice at Cowboys organized team activities the following week.  When the elbow continued to bother him, he had an x-ray performed which revealed the break.

"He's a tough guy. That's one of the things we know about McFadden," Garrett said. "He didn't say anything to anybody. At the end of the week he went to our trainers. The X-rays certainly helped us identify what the problem was."

The 28-year old running back rushed for 1,089 yards in 2015, his first season with the Cowboys, which ranked fourth in the NFL.  McFadden was expected to compete with 2016 first round draft pick Ezekiel Elliott and veteran Alfred Morris for the Cowboys starting running back job this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Even With Elliott, Alfred Morris Has a Role in Dallas]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 11:41:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-502798570.jpg

I did an interview for Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic Monday afternoon and they were asking lots of Cowboys questions, but one that I found interesting was about Alfred Morris.

The former Pro Bowl running back is no longer in Washington and signed with Dallas in the offsesason.

CSN wanted to know if he will have any real role since the Cowboys drafted Ohio State's excellent running back Zeke Elliott with the fourth overall pick the NFL draft back in April.

My response...yes.

The NFL is a long season and we just don't see many bellcow backs anymore. I think Elliott will become a very good player and become the lead dog as the Cowboys ballcarrier, but he will not shoulder the load alone. That's a lot to ask of a rookie.

Most teams use multiple running backs and, so many guys get injured, a club will need to use three backs over the course of the season.

The day after I did my interview with CSN, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett announced Tuesday McFadden broke his elbow at home over Memorial Day weekend, came back AND PRACTICED with it last week.

Garrett said, "The guy is tough.

He'll out a few months according to the coach, which just proves more of my point, Morris will have a role on this team.

New England ran out of guys last year. LeGarrett Blount and Dion Lewis were lost to injuries. The Pats used Brandon Bolden, James White and Steven Jackson before losing in the AFC Championship at Denver.

Buffalo led the NFL in rushing and used a trio of running backs: LeSean McCoy led the Bills in rushing yards (895), Karlos Williams led Buffalo in TD's (7), and Mike Gillislee got 43 carries and scored three times. Anthony Dixon was also given 21 carries.

That brings me to Dallas who started off trying to make Joseph Randle the DeMarco Murray replacement. He started six games before being cut during the season. He still led the club in rushing touchdowns with four.

Darren McFadden finished fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,089 yards. Lance Dunbar was expected to be their 3rd down back but his season was cut short due injury by Week 4.

Dallas traded for Christine Michael before letting him go and then tried to work in Robert Turbin.

That's five players the Cowboys needed to use at the running back position in 2015.

That is why Alfred Morris is on the Cowboys and the recent trend in the NFL tells us Morris will be need to carry some of the load at some point in 2016.

Can we trust that McFadden will stay healthy? His history says no.

I also think Morris can be an effective short yardage back. The Cowboys lacked that ability last year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denver Is Cheap, Needs to Pay Von Miller]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 09:58:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DenverBroncos-ManningyMiller.jpg

Stop calling DeSoto high school alum, Von Miller, greedy. The man is the Super Bowl 50 MVP and his contract is up.  It’s not his job to give the Denver Broncos a break and takes less money.

I am the guy who believes NFL players should get what they can while they can because they are in a 100 percent casualty business. A torn knee, a shoulder that won’t heel, I can go down a list of injuries that have shortened the life of football players.

Unlike the NBA or major league baseball, contracts in the NFL are not fully guaranteed. Teams can cut players and stop paying them in the middle of a deal.

Denver let the media know Miller declined their offer of $114 million over six years with $39.8 million guaranteed.   

The average fan does not understand turning down life-changing money, but people with special skills in a marketplace have the ability to earn large amounts of money. Think Wall Street hedge fund managers, CEO’s, Oprah, Brad Pitt, Taylor Swift, etc. 

Defensive players not as good as Miller have gotten more in guaranteed money: Linebacker Justin Houston of Kansas City $52.5 million, Miami’s defensive end Olivier Vernon $52.5 million and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox just received $55.5 million, according to Mike Florio of NBCSPORTS.com.

Neither of the three aforementioned players have won a Super Bowl or been named Super Bowl MVP like Miller.           

It’s time for the Broncos to pay their best player.

He deserves to be the high paid defensive player in the NFL.  If no long-term deal is reached with the Broncos by July 15, he will have to play the 2016 season for $14.129 million and hit the free agent market again in 2017.

Denver probably will not be able to afford a second franchise tag, and believe me, Miller will find plenty of NFL clubs in the market for services.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Cowboys Reunite For JDRF Golf Event]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 00:21:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Harris+JDRF+Golf.jpg

Some of the Cowboys greats tee’d off Monday for a good cause.

They hit the golf course, along with various business associates, at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano for the Cliff Harris Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Reunion Golf Classic. The event helps raise money and awareness for research in finding a cure for diabetes.

Harris played safety for the Cowboys from 1970-1979 and was one of the few players to play in five Super Bowls.  A four-time Pro Bowler and member of the elite Cowboys Ring of Honor, Harris was also named to the 1970’s All-Decade Team.

But this event is something that hits close to home for Harris.

“My dad was a type 1 diabetic (T1D) and I saw him lose his vision,” said Harris. “He didn’t see me play in four of my five Super Bowls. Many people don’t know how difficult of a disease it is with the complications that happen.”

JDRF has funded nearly $2 billion in research to date and has made progress in understanding and fighting the disease, so there was no shortage of people ready to show up and lend their support on Monday.

“This means a lot to me to see and know that my friends and business associates come out and respond,” said Harris. “In a tough time, it really means a lot to me for these guys to step up and come out, donate and play golf for research to ultimately help cure diabetes.”

Among those in attendance Monday were former teammates Roger Staubach, Charlie Waters and Preston Pearson.

“I’ve been coming to the event for at least 10 years,” said Pearson. “We were all not just teammates, we were friends. So what do friends do when somebody asks you to come out and support an event?”

“In Cliff’s case, it’s because it revolves around his dad. So I’m here to support Cliff and support his event, which is to raise funds to help those who have trouble with diabetes.”

Former Cowboys defensive tackle Chad Hennings, a member of three Cowboys Super Bowl teams in the 1990’s, was also at the event today.

“Once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy,” said Hennings. “Any time we can support former alumni, that’s what we do.”

Coming together for an event such as this gave many of these Cowboys greats a chance to reunite and maybe take a trip down memory lane.

“I haven’t seen some of the guys for a while,” said Pearson, who is the president of Pro-Style Associates. “Fortunately here in Dallas, a lot of the guys stayed in the area. Being in the public relations/sports marketing world, I’ve had a chance to stay in touch with quite a few of them.”

 “Even though you may not have seen guys 10-15, with some guys even 20 years, you pick up right where you left off,” added Hennings. “You don’t necessarily talk about games, you talk about that chemistry you had in the locker-room.”

“Remember when so and so did this and so and so did that, those are the special memories and the bonds that really tie us all together.”

When it came to golf, I asked Harris which of the former Cowboys could put on a show on the golf course. The name Roger Staubach came up.

“I know that he’s a competitor, I can beat him at golf most of the time,” Harris said jokingly.

However in the end, it was about helping out for a good cause.

“All the money from the golf tournament goes towards research,” said Harris. “So we get out here to have a good time and a good reunion and raise money for a great charity.”

Other notes:

* Hennings has a new book titled Forces of Character – Conversations About Building A Life Of Impact.

You can find the book at chadhennings.com and Amazon.

<![CDATA[SMU’s Larry Brown “In Awe” Watching Cowboys OTAs]]> Sun, 12 Jun 2016 16:23:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-466436678.jpg

He’s been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, won an NBA title and NCAA championship, and led USA basketball to two gold medals.  But Wednesday, SMU coach Larry Brown – who has won more than 2,600 games as a basketball coach – was fascinated with what he saw as he observed Dallas Cowboys Organized Team Activities from the sidelines.

“I was just in awe of being here and watching them practice and work hard,” Brown said.  “I’ve been a huge fan of Jason (Garrett), the staff and the team since I’ve been here.  Watching them, the attention to detail, how direct and honest (Garrett) is… it was neat hearing him coach them and how they accept it.”

Usually accompanied by Cowboys players (mostly quarterback Tony Romo), Garrett frequently attends SMU basketball games to watch Brown display “great wisdom about life and about how you can coach your team better.”  In his post-practice press conference, Garrett opened up about what his relationship with Brown has meant.

“I can speak for myself, he’s helped me immensely,” Garrett said.  “I told our team afterwards, he’s arguably as good a coach in any sport that there ever was, if you think about his accomplishments.  He’s just a wonderful guy and he’s a generous guy.  We’ve taken our staff down there to watch practice.  We’ve become close with the SMU basketball program.  He’s been so welcoming to us.  There’s just a really high-level of coaching that’s on display every time you’re around him.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bryant Talks About Getting Rhythm Back With Romo]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 22:50:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1806406391.jpg

Despite having limited time working with his quarterback in the last 17 months, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is not worried about getting back on the same page with quarterback Tony Romo.

“It never left,” Bryant said.

“Their past work helps, there is no question about that, but (they) also need to work together,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Those guys do have a great foundation of playing together for a number of years now, but you have to recapture that and you have to earn that all over again.”

With Bryant and Romo both sidelined much of the year with injury, the quarterback-wide receiver connection that has combined for fifty career touchdowns played together in just three games in the 2015 season.  The minimal time together on the field last season followed Bryant missing a large portion of training camp with a hamstring injury.  The Cowboys wide receiver also missed almost all offseason workouts in 2015 while holding out for a new contract.

The 2016 offseason work for the combo has been slowed by Bryant recovering from foot surgery in January, though he believes even limited time on the field is an enormous improvement in preparations.

“Just being around my teammates, a lot of people don’t realize you need that to help build confidence,” Bryant said.  “Just learning new things on and off the field, technique wise, all of that is a big factor for Sunday games, and I think that just by having that back, it’s going to do a lot.”

“When Dez gets himself healthy and he’s ready to (work together), those guys are going to get plenty of opportunity to do that throughout training camp,” Garrett said.  “It starts with the basic stuff, throwing routes on air, throwing one-on-ones, getting in seven-on-seven situations, and then the team situations.  Certainly those guys, when Dez is ready to go, are going to do that.”

Bryant says his foot has been medically cleared, though he and the Cowboys will be "cautious" as he makes his way back to full speed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden Splitting First Team Reps]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 13:37:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Zeke-jersey.jpg

In the first week of Cowboys’ organized team activities (OTAs), veteran running back Darren McFadden took the first team reps at running back. In the second week, McFadden was absent from practice for personal reasons, and first round pick Ezekiel Elliott took the first team reps.

This week, the No. 4 overall pick and the veteran (who was actually the No. 4 overall pick back in 2008) split carries with the first team.

Aside from their belief that Elliott earned the first team reps he’s getting with McFadden back, the team wants to get Elliott well acquainted with quarterback Tony Romo.

We want him to get a feel for being in there with Tony. He has worked and earned it,” said Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So we are giving him an opportunity to do that. He has to keep working. He is not there yet, but we’ve got to keep going. I’m happy with his progress.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sean Lee Says He's "Right on Track" for Training Camp]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 13:05:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488181450.jpg

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee anticipates being 100 percent for training camp next month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in April to clean up his knee.

I think I’m right on pace to be there,” Lee told the team’s official website. “At the same point, I’m going to make sure I’m healthy in-season and ready for the first game. But I think first day of training camp will be the goal.”

Lee earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2015, when he appeared in 14 games and posted 128 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors with his performance in Week 2 against the Eagles, which included 14 tackles, two passes broken up and an interception.

“He’s doing great,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “He has not been involved practicing football with us but his rehab has been outstanding. And typical Sean, he’s in here early, he stays late. He’s getting himself right.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carnell Lake Responds to Brandon Boykin]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 12:39:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-boykin-cowboys.jpg

After working out for the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, veteran cornerback Brandon Boykin told Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had no injury issues, and blamed Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake for starting a rumor that he did—a potentially career-threatening hip injury, at that.

Well, Lake has responded, but he didn’t back off any of his comments—whatever exactly those might have been—to a fantasy camp recently.

“Well, I’m going to leave it like I left it. I’m going to leave all that at the Fantasy football camp and you guys can take it and go with it and do what you want with it,” Lake said, per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But it was what it was. …

“I made some comments that I had at fantasy camp and I’m not going to go back on that. I wish Boykin all the best; he helped us when we needed him, and I wish him the best in his career.”

The Cowboys are the second team Boykin has worked out for since being released by the Panthers in May (after two months of offseason with them), the other being the Falcons, but he’s still without a team.

<![CDATA[Cowboys Top 5 Issues Heading Into Minicamp]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 11:48:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-503288356.jpg

With OTAs finished this week at Valley Ranch, all that stands between the Cowboys and training camp is next week’s minicamp. All players are required to attend the three-day camp Tuesday-Thursday, and we’ll begin to crystalize our perception of this year’s roster.

Heading into what is essentially a pre-training camp camp, a look at the five biggest issues Dallas faces before heading to Oxnard, California late next month:

5. Backup quarterback – We all know that if Tony Romo misses a big chunk of the season the Cowboys are going nowhere fast. And chances are that he won’t start all 16 games. In the event Dallas needs a stop-gap to win a game or two as Romo’s stand-in, is Kellen Moore really capable?

4. Takeaway trouble – Barring a miracle recovery by 2nd-round draft pick Jaylon Smith, this year’s defense will be basically the same one that last year created only an NFL-low 11 takeaways. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is back, but pass-rusher Greg Hardy is gone. Players like Brandon Carr, Barry Church and Rolando McClain have to get their hands on the football.

3. RB rotation – We all expect Ezekiel Elliott to be a star behind Dallas’ elite offensive line. 1,500 yards. Offensive Rookie of the Year. But how will the ball be distributed to the rest of a talented running-back stable? Darren McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards last year. Lance Dunbar was on a record pace for receptions by a back when he tore up his knee. And added to the mix this offseason is former Pro Bowl runner Alfred Morris. Strange to say for a team coming off only four wins, but there doesn’t seem to be enough balls to go around.

2. Pass rush – With Greg Hardy gone and DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory facing four-game suspensions, they need someone to step up and put pressure on the quarterback. If not, we’re looking at 35-31 shootouts the first month of the season. It can viewed as temporary, but there’s pressure on the likes of Jack Crawford, Benson Mayowa, Ryan Russell, David Irving and 4th-round draft pick Charles Tapper.

1. Health – The healthy, productive returns of Romo, Dez Bryant and Scandrick can drastically change the makeup of the team and the results on the field. Without Romo, of course, all bets are off and 4-12 is back in play. At this point, all three are on schedule to participate in training camp.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WR Brice Butler Taking Advantage of Off-Season with Romo]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 18:48:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brice-butler.png

It's hard to get excited about a wide receiver who caught 12 balls for 258 yards in his 4th season as a pro. However, there's intruiging upside regarding Brice Butler.

The wide receiver came to Dallas in a trade with Oakland during the 2015 season after Dez Bryant hurt his foot.  Butler quickly passed Devin Street on the depth chart while learning a new offense, in a new city on a new team. 

He showed flashes and started a few games down the stretch, but a full off-season at Valley Ranch is already paying off.  With Dez Bryant still sidelined during Organized Team Activities recovering from foot surgery, Butler is getting a lot of reps and catching balls from Tony Romo.  He didn't catch a single ball from No. 9 during the season because of the quarterback's collar bone injuries.

"That's two big points that he didn't have last year.  You know, we just dropped him in there and the next thing you know he's running 9-pump," said Cowboys wide receiver coach Derek Dooley.  "This [off-season] has been good for him because in some ways he's like a rookie, learning our offense from the ground up."

"Getting out there with Tony, learning the philosophy of the offense; obviously I wasn't able to do that [last year] when I was in Oakland," said Butler.  "So, this is a pivotal moment for me to show the coaches that I can be a starter and be out there with Tony and all those guys."

Has he shown enough to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind Bryant and ahead of Terrance Williams?  His position coach believes Butler has talent, but certainly recognizes what Williams has accomplished opposite Bryant.

"Terrance has three years of production and has proven to be a big play No. 2 in this league.  Brice, and everybody beyond, is fighting like heck to make this roster," said Dooley.

"This whole off-season I've focused on being a more physical player.  I'm 6'3, 215 pounds and here they cherrish guys who can go up and get the ball," said Butler. 

The Cowboys are intruiged after Butler caught 8 balls for 134 yards in the final two games with Kellen Moore at quarterback.  He'll have to outplay Williams during training camp and the pre-season to get significant playing time in 2016, but the Cowboys are going to give him that opportunity.

<![CDATA[Brandon Carr Moving Back to the Right Side]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 13:45:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-carr-2015-preseason.jpg

When Brandon Carr came from Kansas City to Dallas on a five-year, $50 million deal in 2012, he moved from right corner to left corner. After four years in Dallas, he is now moving back to the right side.

I like the right side,” Carr said, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I used to play right corner prior to coming here. We will see what the future holds. I just prefer the right side. We are trying to see what we can do.”

This move makes a lot of sense, and in fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to wonder why it wasn’t made sooner. Carr has struggled in Dallas to the point that he agreed to take a pay cut this offseason, and he doesn’t have an interception since Thanksgiving Day 2013.

The move also means Morris Claiborne is on the left side, and Claiborne is fine with the change.

“However it happens, I feel like I’m prepared to go play inside, outside, left corner, right corner,” Claiborne said. “It doesn’t matter.”

<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Feeling Good About Kellen Moore as Backup?]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 13:27:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/502602352.jpg

It took a lost season in which the Cowboys posted the worst record in all of the NFC, but Jerry Jones believes the team may have found a solid backup quarterback in Kellen Moore.

Moore was one of the three backup quarterbacks the Cowboys trotted out in Tony Romo’s absence last year, along with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, and went 0-2 in two starts, with four touchdown passes and six interceptions. The three combined to go 1-11, but Moore apparently showed enough at the end of the year to inspire some confidence in Jones.

… Moore has shown us he has inordinate instincts,” Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan on Thursday, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Look at his won-loss at a high level in college (Boise State). He does, at the end of the day, many things that can’t be coached. He has a natural feel for getting the ball timely and an awareness of what is coming open. I feel we have a very good chance of having an outstanding backup quarterback to Romo.

“He really knows the offense well. Our coaches have tremendous confidence in him. The players do to. I can speak for them. So I feel good at backup quarterback.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant Cleared, Cowboys Will Continue to Exercise Caution]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 13:03:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461346426.jpg

Five months after undergoing surgery on his broken foot, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has been cleared to return to football activities, but that doesn’t mean the team intends to just cut the former All-Pro loose when they get together for their mandatory minicamp next week.

In fact, head coach Jason Garrett suggested Bryant will remain limited throughout.

“We’ll have a similar schedule for him next week,” Garrett told the team’s official website. “We’ll bump him up if we feel like we want to, but we don’t anticipate him practicing fully at all in the minicamp but hopefully he will get some productive work in.”

As you might imagine, Bryant would very much like to be a full participant, but he understands the approach the team is taking with his recovery.

“I’ve been cleared, but you know how it goes,” Bryant said. “We’re all just very cautious, just trying to get right. We’ve got a long way before the season starts. We’re just trying to get right.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mo Claiborne Ready to Change the Narrative of His Career ]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 12:46:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-cant-relax.jpg

The narrative of Morris Claiborne’s career to this point has been one of disappointment and frustration, a No. 6 overall pick who has struggled to find his stride in the NFL, thanks in large part to a history of injuries that forced him to miss 24 games in his first four seasons.

So it should come as no surprise that Claiborne would like to change the narrative.

I’m ready to change it,” Claiborne told the team’s official website. “When y’all come talk to me, I want y’all to say ‘Oh, that was a nice pick’ or ‘Oh, you made a great play.’ ‘How’s it feeling going to the Pro Bowl?’ or ‘How’s it feel going to the Super Bowl?’ That’s the questions I want. I’m ready to take on that task, and I know the coaches expect a lot from me.”

The 2015 season was the first in which Claiborne failed to record an interception, but his seven passes broken up were just one off his career high. He still only played 11 games, but that’s actually the most action he’s seen since he played in 15 games as a rookie in 2012.

“I just need to prove to myself that I know that I can go out and make plays,” Claiborne said. “It hasn’t happened for me, but I feel like it’s going to happen when it happens. But right now I’m pushing the issue.”

<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Offers Explanation for Rolando McClain's Absence]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 12:29:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/PackersCowboys-GettyImages-501267410.jpg

Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was a no-show throughout organized team activities (OTAs) because of an arrangement made with the team (or at least Jerry Jones) from the very beginning of his time in Dallas, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said this week.

Prior to this, we had known McClain was at home in Alabama, but not much other than that.

"It's fair to everybody to understand that Rolando's boys, his family lives in Alabama and he doesn't live with them. His former significant other is where they are. His offseason is spent with those boys and that's an understanding we have when he came through the door," Jones said on 105.3-FM The Fan on Thursday, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "He has to be there to spend time with them, and we expect him to compensate for that.”

That said, Jones believes McClain has earned some leeway where these kind of issues are concerned over the past two seasons with the Cowboys.

“If you look at how his impact when he's there with us on the field, what he can do for our team,” Jones said. “If you look at his background in the NFL, how he's evolved, I'm glad he's a Cowboy.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lucky Whitehead's Birthday Audible Validates His Name]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:59:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485763186.jpg

They don’t call him Lucky for nothing.

Cowboys’ receiver/kick returner Lucky Whitehead changed plans for his 24th birthday party last Saturday night. Good thing, because his original destination – Dallas’ V Live club – was the site of an incident that left Broncos’ cornerback Aqib Talib shot in the leg.

“I’m glad I didn’t make it there,” Whitehead told reporters during his team’s OTAs at Valley Ranch. “Definitely that whole thing. I guess it’s true nothing good happens after midnight. It’s something you put in the back of your head. When I heard about it, I was definitely happy I never made it back over there.”

Whitehead and friends (including a few teammates) changed venues but on their way home drove by V Live and saw police and an ambulance in the parking lot.

It’s been a relatively quiet offseason off the field for the Cowboys. Luckily.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Working Out for Cowboys, Brandon Boykin Denies Injury Issue]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 15:27:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brandon-boykin-cowboys.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys worked out veteran cornerback Brandon Boykin on Wednesday, after which Boykin told Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the workout went well and that he has no injury issues.

This second point seems to be the important one.

Boykin has been on three teams in the past calendar year, despite having been solid in stops in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He was signed by the Panthers in March, and then released in May. So what’s going on?

According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it could be a potentially career-threatening hip injury that’s scaring teams away. Bouchette said in a chat recently that he had heard “he had hip problems that might end his career.”

Which brings us to today. After working out at Valley Ranch, Boykin not only denied there were injury concerns, but blamed Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake started the rumor.

Boykin played in all 16 games for the Steelers in 2015, and posted 25 tackles, an interception and a sack.

<![CDATA[Gil Brandt: Ezekiel Elliott "Looks as Good as Advertised"]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 14:48:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/zeke-jersey1.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys let the world know how good they think Ezekiel Elliott is going to be when they drafted him with the No. 4 overall pick of the draft back in April, and according to longtime Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, to this point it looks like they weren’t wrong.

Brandt visited Cowboys OTAs recently, and came away with the feeling that the team could bounce back from a 2015 campaign that saw them go 1-11 in the absence of Tony Romo on their way to a last place finish and the worst record in the NFC.

The addition of Elliott is a big reason why he arrived at that feeling.

“The rookie running back looks as good as advertised. So many times you get a rookie and he comes in and everything is overwhelming to him. Not Elliott. Nothing seems to bother him; he looks exactly like the running back Urban Meyer had at Ohio State,” Brandt wrote in a piece on NFL.com. “At the OTAs, he displayed very good quickness and speed. I didn't see a coach correct any of his routes or runs. He has the mental ability and work ethic to succeed right away. He was always one of the first on the field, and one of the last to leave. I feel as strongly about him winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as I did with Todd Gurley at this point last year.”

For what it’s worth, Brandt was right about Gurley, who rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Rams and won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for his trouble.

Photo Credit: Noah Bullard, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Sign Three, Including Lawrence Okoye]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:44:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lawrence-okoye-49ers.jpg

Jack Crawford is no longer the only Englishman on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster, or even the defensive line, after the team made a series of roster moves this week, including the signing of Lawrence Okoye.

The team's official website announced the roster moves on Wednesday.

Okoye holds the English record for the discus throw, and represented Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He participated in the Combine in 2013 and was ultimately signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers.

After two years with the 49ers, Okoye was among final cuts last year and moved on to the Cardinals for a little over a month, and then the Jets. He was waived by the Jets a week ago. He still has never recorded a tackle in an NFL game.

In order to make room for Okoye and the other two signings this week, of offensive tackle Bryan Witzmann and linebacker Brandon Hepburn, the Cowboys waived offensive tackle Justin Renfrow, linebacker Jerrell Harris and defensive end Caleb Azubike.

<![CDATA[Cowboys' Search to Upgrade Roster Turns to Former Eagle Boykin]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:58:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/us-brandon-boykin.png

The effort to erase 4-12 never ends. So the Cowboys’ revolving door at Valley Ranch is in full motion.

Coming off their worst season since the infamous 1-15 campaign in 1989, the Cowboys continue to search for upgraded talent wherever possible. The draft. Trades. Free agency. And, yep, even the scrap heap.

Dallas brought in seven players on Tuesday for look-see workouts, and later this week will give a tryout to former Eagles’ cornerback Brandon Boykin.

He had six interceptions in Philadelphia in 2013, but was traded to the Steelers last year. Cut there, he signed with the Panthers in March but was again released when Carolina decided to rescind their franchise tag on star Josh Norman.

When he was good, Boykin was above-average playing the slot. He’s likely a long-shot, especially considering Orlando Scandrick should be full-speed for Cowboys’ camp next month.

The Cowboys also worked out defensive backs Dax Swanson and Isaiah Frey, offensive tackles Cameron Bradfield and Bryan Witzmann, linebacker Brandon Hepburn, tight end Nate Askew and defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye, a former British Olympian who has bounced around in the league since 2013.

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

Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>