<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/blogs/blue-star http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:01:46 -0500 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:01:46 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Orton's Absence Prompts Red Flags at Valley Ranch]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:46:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28147%29.jpg

If red flags were raised by quarterbacks during the Cowboys’ first week of off-season workouts at Valley Ranch, we expected them to be Tony Romo’s back.

Nope, try Kyle Orton’s absence.

The veteran backup makes $3.2 million and is the NFL’s second-highest paid No. 2 behind the Dolphins’ Matt Moore. His agent has said repeatedly that his client isn’t contemplating retirement. He played admirably in last season’s finale against the Eagles, throwing for 358 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s only 31. And, above all else, the workouts are voluntary.

Orton will not be fined for missing days. But he will create doubt.

Is Romo’s backup flirting with retirement? Is he making a contract negotiation ploy? Or did he just decide to sleep in?

The Cowboys won’t panic about Orton’s status until the mandatory June minicamp. But by then will it be too late?

They obviously acquired an insurance policy by signing Brandon Weeden, but the prospect of not having a more proven backup to Romo is scary. The Cowboys attended the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week and at their recent “Dallas Day” tryouts they invited Garrett Gilbert (SMU) and Casey Pachall (TCU).

If worse comes to worse, the Cowboys can always trade or even release Orton. All that is premature as we sit here in mid-April.

But questions at quarterback always raise red flags. Even when it’s not Romo’s back.

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: Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Phil Costa Explains His Abrupt Retirement]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:53:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phil-costa9.14.11.jpg

Former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa says it was a concern for his long-term physical well-being that inspired his decision to abruptly announce his retirement on Monday, less than a month after signing a two-year deal to compete for a starting job with the Indianapolis Colts.

Costa is just 26, and he won’t be 27 until July.

“Unfortunately, the day-to-day physical rigor of the NFL season has taken a toll on my body and has been a driving force behind my decision,” Costa said in a statement released by his agent on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

Costa went on to thank his former teams, teammates and coaches.

“As I look forward to the next chapter of my life, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have played in the league,” he said.

In his four seasons with the Cowboys, Costa started 20 games, including all 16 in 2011.

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<![CDATA[DeMarcus Ware Praises Broncos Conditioning Work]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:39:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ware_on_end_of_game_1200x675_102855747837.jpg

For the first time in his career, DeMarcus Ware missed games due to injuries in 2013. After one workout with the Denver Broncos, Ware believes his new team’s method of conditioning will help him bounce back and stay on the field in 2014.

“It’s an unconventional type of way of working out, but it’s the best way to keep guys on the field and keep them flexible, but also being able to maintain a guy through their whole career,” Ware said, via the Dallas Morning News. “We did sleds, we did leg slides, Keiser machines. You name it, it was in there. Really state-of-the-art. I’m really looking forward to just working out this type of way.

“It’s a whole different deal.”

The Dallas Cowboys’ strength and conditioning coach is Mike Woicik, who has a total of six Super Bowl rings--three with the Cowboys and, more recently, three with the Patriots--and is considered one of the best in the game. But for whatever reason, the Cowboys have struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons. Over 2012 and 2013, in terms of games lost by starters due to injury, they were the third least healthy team in the league.

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<![CDATA[Orton Absent From Day 1 of Offseason Workouts]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:25:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28147%29.jpg

After months of speculation over rumors that Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was considering retirement, Orton was conspicuously absent from the opening of the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program on Monday.

According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, Orton did not notify team officials of his absence beforehand.

The rumors about Orton retiring began shortly after the Cowboys’ 2013 season came to a close, but in recent weeks, parties on both sides have expressed confidence that he’d be back after all. This list includes Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Orton’s agent, David Dunn, who said at the owners meetings in March that his client will return in 2014.

Head coach Jason Garrett, too, has said he expects Orton back.

“Kyle is under contract and we feel very good about him as our backup quarterback,” Garrett said. “He’s under contract. And we’re excited to get him back here in the spring.”

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Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys at Seahawks to Kick-Off 2014 Season?]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:58:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-seahawks1.jpg

With the release of the NFL 2014 regular-season schedule Wednesday, or perhaps Thursday, we’ll find out if the Cowboys are indeed still America’s Team.

Prediction: They are, at least as far as network TV is concerned. And, therefore, they’ll open the season on a Thursday night in September in Seattle against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.

For a team coming off three consecutive 8-8 non-playoff seasons to be even considered for such a prime-time gig says a lot about Dallas’ pull. But where once the Cowboys vs. the Super Bowl champs was a no-brainer, there is legit competition for the prestigious honor of kicking off the NFL season.

The Cowboys playing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks surely has pizzazz. Dallas must travel to the Pacific Northwest at some point, and the matchup makes sense on multiple levels.

But there would also be national intrigue in games featuring other teams on the Seahawks’ home schedule, like a Super Bowl rematch with the Broncos, an NFC Championship Game rematch with divisional foe San Francisco or even the Giants or Packers.

Not that long ago the Cowboys would be a natural fit for the NFL’s lid-lifter. Let’s hope we’re not reminded again this week that those days have come and gone.

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[Former Cowboys C Phil Costa Retires]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:30:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phil-costa12.14.11.jpg

Less than a month after signing a two-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts, former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa has abruptly retired.

Costa was cut by Dallas after four seasons back on March 7, with the Cowboys having found a long-term solution at the center position in 2013 first round pick Travis Frederick. Just two weeks after that, he signed with Indianapolis and it was being reported that he’d compete for a starting job under Andrew Luck there.

Which makes today’s announcement pretty surprising.

As far as we know, Costa isn’t dealing with any potentially devastating injuries--usually the catalyst for this sort of sudden retirement--and age certainly wasn’t a factor. He won’t turn 27 until this July.

Phil feels it’s in his best interest to retire from the game,” Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement today, via ProFootballTalk.com. “We certainly understand and wish him nothing but the best.”

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<![CDATA[Workouts Could Net Dez a Nice Payday]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:24:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186730007.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys’ offseason conditioning program kicked off on Monday, and Dez Bryant is at the head of the list of players who will pull in a nice payday if they attend at least 90 percent of the sessions.

Per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, Bryant has a cool, $250,000 workout bonus coming his way if he meets that requirement. The workouts are technically voluntary, but as Archer points out, they usually see close to full attendance because most players have taken up permanent residence in North Texas.

Bryant is the most handsomely paid of the group, but he’s not the only one with financial incentive to attend.

Pending their attendance, LB Bruce Carter ($50,000), RB DeMarco Murray ($25,000), S J.J. Wilcox, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford and WRs Dwayne Harris and Terrance Williams ($10,000 each) will also have a chance to fatten their pockets a bit going into training camp.

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<![CDATA[Travis Frederick Says His Rookie Year "Went OK"]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:34:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/travis-frederick-beard5.31.13.jpg

From the outside looking in, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick seemingly had a pretty nice rookie season.

Frederick was named a starter on the first day of training camp, started all 16 games there, and was widely credited with anchoring the best Cowboys’ offensive line since the team’s 13-3 season back in 2007. For his efforts, Frederick was named to the All-Rookie team.

But going into his second year, Frederick is hardly patting himself on the back. In fact, he’s looking to be a whole lot better in 2014 than he was a year ago.

“I think it went OK,” Frederick said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I saw a great deal of improvement throughout the season. You go back and look at the film, to me, it looks like I’m a different player at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year.”

One thing that will benefit Frederick greatly, he says, is the simple fact that he’s had a year to settle into his surroundings here in North Texas.

“Your rookie year, I think your biggest challenge is not knowing what’s coming next, even from one game to the next, or how to handle practice on this day and this week,” he said. “But after having been through it, I think it kind of helps you prepare for that and know what you need to be able to do for the next week and kind of that grind of putting it all together.”

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<![CDATA[Hatcher: "I Heard it All From Cowboy Fans"]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:21:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jason-hatcher-generic.jpg

Well, this isn’t a good look for Dallas Cowboys fans.

Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher told NBC News4’s Diane Marie Russini in Washington DC this week that after he left Dallas for the hated Redskins in free agency last month, fans attacked him on social media.

“I heard it all from Cowboy fans,” Hatcher told Russini. “I hope you die. I hope you tear your ACL. I hope your plane crashes. People forget it’s a business.”

Hatcher never made any secret of the fact that he intended on cashing in on his free agency, following a career-year in which he recorded 11 sacks and made his first ever Pro Bowl team. But that doesn’t mean Hatcher doesn’t think Washington will give a chance to win, too. He told Russini that he believes Robert Griffin III can take his new team to professional football’s promised land.

RG3 can take me to a Super Bowl,” Hatcher said. “This is my last ride. I know he can…I know he will.”

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Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Dominique Easley to Visit Valley Ranch]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:59:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/domonique--easley-cowboys.jpg

Add former University of Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley to the list of defensive linemen to make a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch. According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, the visit is scheduled for later on this week.

Easley is widely regarded as having first round talent, but thanks to a pair of devastating knee injuries--a torn left ACL back in 2011, and a torn right ACL on March 24 of last year--he’s projected to come off the board between Rounds 3-4.

“Undersized, explosive, athletic, high-motor three-technique whose junior season was cut short in Week 3 by a knee injury,” Easley's NFL.com Draft Profile reads. “Injury history will likely affect his draft stock, but when healthy, he shows the ability to disrupt the backfield and pressure the quarterback. Fits best in an aggressive scheme in which he could use his quickness to slant, stunt and shoot gaps. Medical evaluations will determine draft standing.”

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<![CDATA[Romo Participates in Off-Season Conditioning ]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:13:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1066577941.jpg

No pads. No helmets. No cornerbacks. No coaches.

But if you’re hoping to see Tony Romo under center when the Cowboys kick off the 2014 season in September, the sight this morning at Valley Ranch was no problem.

After undergoing season-ending back surgery last December, the quarterback celebrated his 34th birthday by participating in the team’s voluntary off-season conditioning program. In this first phase of off-season workouts, players can lift weights, run sprints and conduct football activities without the supervision of coaches and/or scouts.

Quarterbacks like Romo can throw to receivers, as long as they are not being covered/defended by defensive backs.

OTAs – Organized Team Activities – that feature coaching and on-field activities begin May 28.

The fact that Romo is healthy enough to participate in this off-season work strengthens the hope that his back won’t be a deterrent to him beginning the season at 100 percent.

Other injured Cowboys – Lance Dunbar (knee), Tyrone Crawford (Achilles), Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and Dwayne Harris (shoulder) – are also at Valley Ranch Monday to take part in the workout program.

Barring a setback, Monday is a positive step for Romo and the Cowboys.

 

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[Aaron Donald Turns Down Draft Invite]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:09:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aaron-donald-cowboys.jpg

Potential Dallas Cowboys draft target Aaron Donald has decided against attending the 2014 NFL Draft in New York City.

The former Pittsburgh defensive tackle got an invite from no less an authority than the head honcho himself, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But after weeks of considering the offer, Donald decided against the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall, said his mother, Anita Goggins.

Aaron is so personal,” Goggins said, per TribLive.com. “He just didn't want to go and have all those cameras in his face. He thought about it. He received a letter from Roger Goodell. One minute, he was going. The next minute he said, 'I'm not going.' I told him to pray about it, just like when he wasn't sure if he wanted to leave (Pitt) after his junior year. Last Friday (April 11), he made his choice.”

Donald was in Dallas this week for a pre-draft visit, and said he’d love to play under defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

“I just want him to go somewhere where they are going to take him and teach him and make him the best possible player he can be,” Goggins said.

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[Henry Melton Settles Lawsuit]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:06:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/156942405.jpg

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton has settled a lawsuit that alleged he assaulted a Grapevine bar owner during a row earlier this year, Jeff Mosier of the Dallas Morning News reports.

The owner and manager of Chill Sports Bar, Donald Payne, filed suit in January, claiming that Melton bit him. Melton filed a countersuit, alleging that the staff of the bar kicked, punched and choked him during the incident. In a statement released Friday, Melton’s lawyer, Christian Dennie, said the two sides came to an agreement without any money being exchanged.

The original suit filed by Payne in Tarrant County said the bar owner was seeking upwards of $1 million in damages.

“After sitting down together and talking face to face we have both agreed to drop our lawsuits,” the statement reads. “Talking openly and directly is sometimes the best way to resolve issues. We both realize that our time is better spent on more meaningful things. No money was exchanged and we both realize we are better off as allies. We both have ties to Dallas and Grapevine, Texas and we feel it is best to put our time towards positive things for the future.”

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<![CDATA[Josh Mauro: Valley Ranch Visit "Something Special"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:23:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/josh-mauro-dallas-day.jpg

Former Stanford defensive end and L.D. Bell product Josh Mauro was at Valley Ranch this week for the annual “Dallas Day,” and he wasn’t shy in discussing his excitement over the mere idea of playing for the team he grew up watching.

"It's kind of like a dream come true," Mauro said, per ESPN Dallas. "Playing Pee Wee football and high school, you see the Cowboys and it's like a dream to think you could play for them. This isn't a sign-up for the Cowboys, but to even have the opportunity to work out for them is something special."

As a man who has always followed the team, Mauro is well aware that the Cowboys are in the market for defensive linemen, a group that (to put it lightly) is in transition mode. Already this offseason, Dallas cut all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware and allowed defensive tackle Jason Hatcher to walk in free agency. Ware ended up in Denver. Hatcher, in a more gut-wrenching move for fans, stayed in the division and signed with Washington.

"You're talking two, possibly three starters up front in that defense that aren't there anymore," Mauro said.

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[Report: Cowboys Exercise 5th Year Option on Tyron Smith]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:05:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyron-smith-vs-broncos.jpg

In a very unsurprising move, the Dallas Cowboys have exercised their fifth year option on left tackle Tyron Smith’s rookie contract--meaning he’ll be in Dallas through the 2015 season--according to a Dallas Morning News report.

Now, they can get cracking on a long-term deal for the 23-year-old.

Since moving from right tackle to left tackle in his sophomore season in the league in 2012, Smith has emerged as one of the best young linemen in the league--which isn’t to say he was bad on the right side in his rookie year. He was good. Smith went to his first Pro Bowl last year, and the team has made no bones about their desire to lock up the USC product.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement, rookie contracts span four years and come with a team option for a fifth. Smith will make a little over $2 million in 2014, but that figure jumps to over $10 million for the option year of 2015.

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[Kony Ealy Visits Valley Ranch]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:45:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kony-ealy-dallas.jpg

Among the pre-draft visitors at Valley Ranch this week, the first week of pre-draft visits, was Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, who was linked to the Dallas Cowboys through a number of mock drafts earlier this offseason.

Ealy posted a 4.92 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, and put up the standard 225 pounds 22 times. At 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds, Ealy has some major upside.

According to Ealy’s NFL.com Draft Profile, he’s projected to come off the board in round two or three.

“Big, athletic, ascending, pass-rush talent with the size, burst and flexibility to pressurize the edge as a right defensive end,” the profile says. “Is not a finished product, particularly as a run defender, but should only become more disruptive as his strength, technique and savvy catch up with his natural physical ability. Could also draw looks as a 3-4 rush linebacker.”

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[10 Good Friday Reasons to be Happy]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:38:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyron-smith-good-start.jpg

It’s Good Friday, a time to reflect. To play hookie. To hide Easter Eggs. Maybe a cool drink on a sun-splashed patio. And, yes, to remember all the positive things about the Cowboys.

I realize they are coming off 8-8 and 8-8 and 8-8 seasons and haven’t won a Super Bowl since “The Macarena” somehow topped the music charts, but there are silver-'n-blue linings these days if you squint hard enough.

On Good Friday, 10 good things about the current Dallas Cowboys.

10. No matter what happens, the defense can’t get any worse than it was in 2013. Please tell me I'm right about that one. If not ...

9. Sean Lee is due for a healthy season. Actually past due.

8. An imminent season void of the nagging question, “Where is DeMarcus Ware when we need him?!” He's a Ring-of-Honor player, but he's disappearance did get nauseating.

7. Stephen Jones seems a tad more rational than his dad, and he will run the show sooner or later.

6. Jason Witten. Still, after all these years.

5. It’s been a quiet off-season for Dez Bryant. As he and his mom know, that’s a good thing.

4. With Super Bowl hype, if not hope, a thing of the past, the Cowboys now have no pressure to overachieve. And, present malaise be damned, there are still five trophies residing at Valley Ranch for the nostalgic type.

3. Tony Romo’s surgically repaired back is on schedule to be healthy and 100 percent by training camp. Like him or not, the Cowboys have zero chance at success without their quarterback.

2. AT&T Stadium remains the NFL’s biggest, bestest joint.

1. Tyron Smith. Only 23 and already making Pro Bowls, he has the talent and temperament to dominate a key position (left tackle) for the next decade. And he's as good off the field, evidenced by his $10,000 donation last night at a charity auction put on by the Nancy Lieberman Foundation in Dallas.

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[Aikman Doesn't See Cowboys Drafting QB]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-stephen-aikman.jpg

Not that it will come as any surprise, seeing as how the team just signed quarterback Brandon Weeden, Troy Aikman doesn’t see the Dallas Cowboys selecting a quarterback at any point in next month’s NFL Draft.

Didn’t sound like it,” Aikman said of Dallas taking a quarterback. “I think Brandon Weeden obviously has some talent, and Kyle Orton, I’m assuming he’s back. I’ve always been a big Kyle Orton fan. I think he’s fully capable, and I think he proved that in the last game of the season. "

“It doesn’t sound like they’ll be drafting anybody. But if they can find a free agent to come out and at some point down the road play like Tony has played, that’s a pretty good way to go.”

Orton reportedly considered retirement for a period following last season, but the word out of Valley Ranch is that--as far as the team knows, anyway--he’ll be back. Weeden is an interesting pickup, as the Cowboys showed some real interest in him when he was coming out of Oklahoma State in 2012. He was picked by Cleveland 22nd overall that year, but was cut after two disappointing seasons.

Helped along by their meetings with Weeden prior to the 2012 draft, the Cowboys were quick to bring him into the fold when he hit the market.

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[Report: NFL Schedule to be Released April 22]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:29:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP370586931921.jpg

For those waiting with bated breath for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 regular season schedule to be announced, you most likely only have five days to go.

According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the NFL will release the regular season on April 22, next Tuesday. In keeping with tradition, the league has been noncommittal about the release, adopting a “we’ll announce is when we announce it” approach.

Florio adds that there’s a chance the unveiling could be pushed to Wednesday or Thursday, but according to his source--”with knowledge of the situation”--Tuesday’s probably the day.

The Cowboys already know their opponents for the year. That announcement came back in February.

Aside from the six NFC East games, Dallas will host the Cardinals, the 49ers, the Texans, the Colts and the Saints at AT&T Stadium. They’ll travel to face the Rams, the Seahawks, the Titans, the Bears and the Jaguars.

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: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Danny White: Romo the Perfect QB for Dallas]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:33:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/danny-white-romo.jpg

Longtime Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White doesn’t only believe that Tony Romo is a great signal caller, he says he’d take Romo over the likes of Peyton Manning.

In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, White opined that Romo is THE quarterback for the Cowboys at the moment, the right man for the job. And, echoing what many other ex-players have said over recent years, White made clear that he doesn’t believe Romo is the problem--quite the opposite.

I don’t know if there’s ever been a more athletic quarterback,” White said, via the Dallas Morning News. “People keep saying they need to get somebody else, I don’t think there’s another quarterback in the league that would be a better fit for the Cowboys and what they need, because he has to be able to move. He has to be able to improvise, with the offense he’s got. He does that better than anybody ... I’m a Peyton Manning fan, I’m a fan of all those guys, but they’re not the guy that the Cowboys need.”

To be sure, White knows good quarterbacking. He entered the league in 1976 as the team’s punter and Roger Staubach’s backup. He took over in the 1980s and went to three NFC Championship games before retiring after the 1988 season.

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Meet with Veteran G Davin Joseph]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:34:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/davin-joseph-cowboys.jpg

With little cap room to work with, the Dallas Cowboys have largely stayed out of the free agent market, signing three defensive players, only one of whom--defensive tackle Henry Melton--really made any headlines. But that doesn’t mean they’re done making moves for the year, as evidenced by the their apparent interest in veteran guard Davin Joseph.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Joseph has already met with the Cowboys.

A University of Oklahoma product product, Joseph has spent all of his eight seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that drafted him 23rd overall back in 2006. He’s been to two Pro Bowls, in 2008 and 2011.

If the Cowboys are able to sign Joseph--who would come in and compete for a starting job--the move will be reminiscent of their signing of veteran guard Brian Waters a year ago. Waters flourished in Dallas before suffering a season-ending triceps injury, and has been credited with bringing some toughness to the offensive line, a toughness that remained evident after he was hurt.

Joseph has also met with the New York Giants.

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<![CDATA[Aikman Worried About Romo's Back]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:35:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/troy-aikman-concussions.jpg

Tony Romo having two surgical procedures on his back in an eight month span has Troy Aikman a little concerned.

Speaking at a United Way event at AT&T Stadium on Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Famer and FOX analyst reflected on the back surgery he underwent early in his NFL career. Obviously, Aikman bounced back from that procedure nicely. He’s hoping Romo can do the same.

“I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he’s at least afforded more time to get ready,” Aikman told the team’s official website. “But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned."

“I’m hopeful that he’s able to come back--everybody is. This team won’t be the same if he’s not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, ‘Hey, he’s ahead of schedule and everything’s going fine,’ I’m not sure how you can really measure that here in April.”

Of course, “he’s ahead of schedule and everything is going fine” has been the team’s official stance on Romo’s rehab all offseason.

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<![CDATA[5 Best Draft Picks in Cowboys History]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:18:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/troy-aikman-concussions.jpg

Yesterday I had the audacity to dump in your lap the 5 Worst Draft Picks in Cowboys’ history. On the eve of Good Friday, allow me to make amends. Let’s get some positivity up in here.

The Cowboys have drafted a basketball player (Pat Riley in ’67), a baseball player (Merv Rettemund in ’65) and a sprinter (Carl Lewis in ’84). They’ve had their share of misses – ahem, Morris Claiborne better get in gear – but also their moments of draft-day Zen, where a seemingly strange selection helped win a Super Bowl. Or two. Or three.

If the Cowboys come close to any of these with the 16th pick in next month’s draft, the playoffs in 2014 might not be such a pipe dream after all.

The Top 5 draft picks in the history of America’s Team:

5. Troy Aikman – Seemingly a no-brainer, but several draftniks touted Tony Mandarich instead as No. 1 in ’89.

4. Rayfield Wright – Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman was nabbed in the 7th round, the 182nd player picked in ’67.

3. Emmitt Smith – Jimmy Johnson desired Baylor linebacker James Francis, but instead drafted the NFL’s all-time leading rusher 15 spots behind another running back, Blair Thomas, in ’90.

2. Larry Brown – 12th-round afterthought in ’91 has three Super Bowl rings and won Super Bowl XXX MVP.

1. Roger Staubach – While Captain America’s four-year Navy commitment scared off most teams, Dallas gambled – and won – with him in the 10th round in ’64.

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

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<![CDATA[Anthony Barr Was Starstruck by Jerry Jones]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:36:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-jerry.jpg

In all likelihood (barring a trade), the Dallas Cowboys won’t have a chance at UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who was at Valley Ranch on Tuesday for a pre-draft meeting with the team, as he’s a projected Top 10 pick. But if he slipped to No. 16 and Dallas grabbed him there, Barr would be a-OK with that.

“There’s pros and cons to every team and everywhere you go, but if I were a Cowboy, that would be really a blessing, truly a dream come true--a team I watched growing up,” Barr told the team’s official website. “It would just be surreal. I would be really appreciative to be here.”

A consensus All-American in 2013, the converted running back admitted to being a little taken aback by the whole experience here in North Texas--and a little starstruck by Jerry Jones.

“If you coach in the NFL, obviously you’re going to get some respect right off the bat,” Barr said. “But these guys that I’ve watched growing up and coaching, it’s just real humbling to speak with these guys. I met Jerry Jones last night, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even talk at first, like, ‘This is Jerry Jones.’ It was a pretty cool experience, so these guys get my respect right off the bat.”

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<![CDATA[Gil Brandt: Cowboys Need a "Banner Draft"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:46:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gil-brandt-draft.jpg

Longtime Dallas Cowboys front office member Gil Brandt believes the team has backed itself into a corner over the past few years, and are now in dire need of a good draft.

Under the title of vice president of player personnel, Brandt (pictured here with UCF quarterback Blake Bortles) is generally considered one of the three men--along with Tom Landry and Tex Schramm--to build the franchise from 1960-1988. He left after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989, and stayed away from football for a few years before returning as an analyst.

Now with NFL Network, Brandt believes the team he left 25 years ago is one of a few who have a lot riding on next month’s draft.

The Cowboys have been stuck at 8-8 for three years,” Brandt writes. “They're facing what promises to be a tough NFC East. And their salary-cap picture is not looking good. Which means they desperately need to have a banner draft.”

Dallas put itself behind the eight ball with a run of bad drafts--as Brandt says, “consider that none of the players they picked in the first round from 2005 to 2009 is still with the team (though Anthony Spencer, who is still a free agent at the moment, could change that if he re-signs with Dallas)”--but Brandt believes they may have stemmed that tide with the 2013 class, highlighted by center Travis Frederick (first round) and receiver Terrance Williams (third round).

“Owner Jerry Jones provides the tools the Cowboys need to be successful, in terms of money for scouting and supporting cutting-edge analytics,” he writes. “Dallas needs to have a dynamite draft--like the class we landed back in 1975, when we had 12 rookies make a team that went on to reach the Super Bowl.”

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<![CDATA[Eli Manning Glad to See Ware Leave NFC East]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:20:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarcus-vs-eli.jpg

As it turns out, when the Dallas Cowboys made the tough decision to part ways with all-time franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware, both of the Manning brothers benefitted.

Peyton got a teammate who, if he can bounce back from the worst and most injury-plagued career of his season in 2013, will immediately upgrade the Broncos’ defense.  Eli was just glad to see Ware leave the NFC East where, as a member of the Cowboys, he made a habit of terrorizing the Giants’ signal caller twice a year.  

"Eli told me he was excited about DeMarcus leaving his division; he can no longer hit him,” said Peyton this week, per FOXSports.com. “And I'm glad he's on my team.”

To be sure, Ware quite enjoyed facing the younger Manning. His 13.5 sacks of Eli are his most on any quarterback and, as you may remember, Ware intercepted Manning’s first pass of the 2013 season--setting a tone of frustration for the Giants that would last all year.

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<![CDATA[Report: Cowboys Visit Georgia QB Aaron Murray]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:50:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aaronmurray-cowboys.jpg

Having signed Brandon Weeden just about a month ago, the Dallas Cowboys have three quarterbacks on the roster--Weeden, Kyle Orton and, of course, Tony Romo--but that won’t stop them from making sure all their bases are covered going into next month’s NFL Draft.

A contingent of Cowboys staffers, including quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson are in Athens, GA today to look at (and meet with) former Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.

As Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas points out, the team had a similar meeting with Weeden when he was coming out of Oklahoma State. They very predictably didn’t draft him--he went to the Browns with the 22nd overall pick in 2012--but the meeting helped their decision to bring him in when he was released by Cleveland last month.

Murray is projected to be a mid- to late-round selection, but Super Bowl winning head coach turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden believes he could be “the steal for somebody” in this year’s draft.

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<![CDATA[Marinelli Would Move Anthony Barr to DE]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:24:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-cowboys.jpg

Former UCLA linebacker and potential draft target Anthony Barr says Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants to convert him to defensive end if he winds up with the team in next month’s draft, and he says that’s fine by him.

Barr was in town for a pre-draft visit on Tuesday, where he met with Jerry Jones, Marinelli and the rest of the staff.

I spoke with him at length today,” Barr said of Marinelli, per the team’s official website. “He showed me a lot of tape of (Julius) Peppers and Simeon Rice and (Warren) Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for.”

This wouldn’t be Barr’s first position change. He spent his first two years in college as a running back before converting to linebacker where, in his final year with the Bruins, he was named a consensus All-American.

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[5 Worst Draft Picks in Cowboys History]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:26:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP612893429718.jpg

Lowndes Shingler. John M. Longmeyer. Lou Cioci. Ring any bells?

No? Then how about Bill Van Bukleo? Sonny Utz? Linc Harden? Or the one and only Fallon Wacasey? Fuzzy memories of Lorenzo Bouier, Topper Clemons of Charvez Foger?

If you’re a draft geek, you know that those are former draft picks of your Dallas Cowboys. And if you know your football, you know that they all sucked.

Yep, even the legendary Cowboys' computer and the hallowed triumverant of Tom Landry-Tex Schramm-Gil Brandt made draft gaffes. Lots of 'em. Big ones.

No matter what the Cowboys do with the 16th overall pick, it’ll be difficult to top their worst draft picks ever. Keep a barf bag handy as I present the Bottom 5 draft picks in the history of America’s Team:

5. Bill Thomas – The Boston College was taken ahead of Robert Newhouse in ’72, but never scored an NFL touchdown.

4. Tody Smith – Southern Cal stud defensive end was drafted 25th overall in ’71 but produced 0 sacks in 69 games with Cowboys.

3. Kevin Brooks – Forgettable defensive lineman picked 17th overall in ’85, one spot behind some guy named Jerry Rice.

2. Rod Hill – First-round cornerback in ’82 wasn’t even good enough to flop, never starting a game for Cowboys.

1. Scott Appleton – University of Texas Outland Trophy winner was taken 4th overall in ’64, but instead signed with the AFL’s Houston Oilers and never played a down in Dallas.

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[Marcus Spears: Wonderlic Not That Big of a Deal]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:01:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/marcus-spears9.14.11.jpg

Late last week, it was reported that Johnny Manziel’s 32 on the Wonderlic test was the highest among all top quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. According to former Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears, who’s working as an NFL analyst with the Dallas Morning News these days, having a high score certainly won’t hurt Manziel’s stock.

But Spears added that players don’t view the Wonderlic as a big deal.

It was sort of quirky,” Spears said of taking the Wonderlic. “I’m sure that’s a method the brass uses in the NFL to see how it’ll translate... I think it’s more of an information retaining system as opposed to seeing how smart a guy really is. Can you directly coordinate what we’re giving you in the playbook and kind of think things out on the fly. "

“To me and most guys that’s being drafted, the Wonderlic isn’t that big of a deal, especially when you just ran a 4.4 40 and jumped high and the athletic side, so the Wonderlic, I think it’s just a tool, an extra tool they like to give us to see if we’re draft worthy.”

Dallas fans should know as well as any that NFL prospects have been known to disregard that particular portion of the NFL Scouting Combine. Cornerback Morris Claiborne, who somewhat famously scored a four on the test, remarked that he didn’t  take it seriously because the questions were not related to football.

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<![CDATA[Chris Johnson at Jets Headquarters]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:02:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/215*120/AP823697493226_1.jpg

Ever since Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans 10 days ago, the Dallas Cowboys have been rumored to have interest in the former rushing champion. Those rumors might die pretty soon though, as it’s being reported that Johnson is currently at the Jets’ team facility.

The Jets have seemingly been the frontrunners for Johnson’s services since he hit the market, so this isn’t terribly surprising. But the two sides meeting is the most concrete development we’ve seen thus far in the sweepstakes for the man they used to call CJ2K.

Earlier this week, Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said he was happy with the team’s stable of running backs, which includes DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle. Randle was drafted in the fifth round just a year ago, and Murray is coming off a 1,000-yard season and a Pro Bowl nod, both firsts for the University of Oklahoma product.

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Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Jenkins on Dallas Defense: "It Must be the Players"]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:47:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/malcolm-jenkins-smacktalk.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys defense has to be better in 2014. Right?

After all, statistically, last year was the worst defensive season in franchise history. The unit was hampered by injuries early and often, made a habit of allowing monstrous offensive performances and finished dead last in the league. It would be kind of difficult not to improve upon that dumpster fire, to some degree at least. I mean, right?

Well, not according to new Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins, who came to Philly from New Orleans this offseason with a three-year deal, believes the personnel is the problem on the defensive side of the ball and that there’s no reason to believe the defense will be any better.

Jenkins sounded off on his new rivals on NFL Network this week.

"A couple years ago, their scapegoat was Rob Ryan, and they got rid of him, and he was the cause of all their problems,” Jenkins said, via Philly.com. “He went to New Orleans and took the worst defense in NFL history and turned them into a top 5 defense. So he couldn’t have been the problem. And then you look at this year, I had the best seat in the house when I watched the Saints get 40 first downs in one game. Forty. In one game. So it must be the players.

“The offseason comes and you don’t do anything in free agency to get any big name players to come help you out, so I really don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for this defense in improving when you got the same guys and the same coaches."

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<![CDATA[Will McClay & Co. Gearing Up For May 8]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:26:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/will-mcclay-cowboys.jpg

Last June, Will McClay was promoted from director of football research to assistant director of player personnel, which makes him the senior most personnel guy not named or related to Jerry Jones. In May, McClay will have his first draft in his new position and he’s looking to find, if not hidden gems, players that can come in and play a role for the team.

As executive vice president Stephen Jones points out, McClay has a track record of pulling this off.

"Everything equates in looking at talent," Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. "He found some really unique guys in the arena league and then of course when he was back in scouting. He has had a passion for it, and it just seems like every step of the way he's done a good job for us. I commend him on the job he did finding guys like [George] Selvie and [Nick] Hayden, people like that. People that everybody had a shot at, but he brought them in."

According to McClay, he and the staff are logging 15-18 hour days at Valley Ranch in anticipation of the opening of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

“This is our gameday,” McClay said. “And we want to try to leave no stone unturned.”

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[Ranking: Romo Was 14th Highest-Paid Athlete in '13]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:03:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458910811.jpg

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo got a sweet payday a year ago when Jerry Jones & co. gave him an unprecedented six-year, $108 million extension. But how does that payday stack up against the rest of the sports world?

ESPN has the answer.

The so-called “Worldwide Leader” recently put together a ranking of the 25 highest paid athletes in the world based on their salary last year--endorsements are not taken into account--and Romo ranks 14th, between Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton (T-12) and Wayne Rooney, the English Premier League superstar (15).

Romo made $26.5 million last year in salary.

The NFL quarterback club is represented well on the list, with Aaron Rodgers (4), Matt Stafford (6), Tom Brady (7), Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco (T-9) joining Romo in the Top 15. The only non-QB NFL player in the Top 25 is Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pitt Defensive Tackle Among Best Available]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:55:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/156901043.jpg

The Cowboys’ desire for defense in the upcoming NFL Draft is sharpening its focus this week at Valley Ranch as top prospects roll in for visits.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr is expected to meet with the Cowboys today, Florida State defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan later this week and yesterday it was Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s turn.

Though Donald, an All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, plays the same defensive tackle position as new Cowboy Henry Melton, if he’s on the board at No. 16 it would make total sense for Dallas to draft him.

And, in turn, Donald told the team’s official website that he’d love to wear a star on the side of his helmet.

“I had the opportunity to talk to (Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli) a couple times at the Scouting Combine, I talked to him last night and I talked to him today,” Donald said yesterday to DallasCowboys.com. “He’s a great coach, and just talking to him and looking in his eyes – the way he talks, he’s got a passion for the game of football and he loves the game of football. He loves doing what he does, so that’s a coach I’d love to play for and learn from. Knowing he coached guys like Warren Sapp, that just gets you excited just knowing he’s got history and is one of the best to do it. If I was able to play for Coach Marinelli that would be a blessing, but we’re going to see.”

At 6-feet, 288 pounds with immense quickness and power, Donald fits the mold of the "under tackle" necessary to disrupt offensive rhythm and put the oomph in Marinelli’s Tampa 2 scheme. In 13 games last season, Donald had 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.

After the defense we’ve been forced to watch the last couple seasons and with the departure of Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys can’t have too many quality linemen.
 

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[Marinelli a Big Factor in McClain Coming to Dallas]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:37:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terrell-mcclain3-21.jpg

It’s no secret that the presence of Rod Marinelli’s presence in Dallas helped the Cowboys land defensive tackle Henry Melton, who went to a Pro Bowl under Marinelli in 2012 when both were with the Bears. Apparently, Melton wasn’t the only defensive player who was drawn to the Cowboys this offseason, at least in part, because of their respect for Marinelli.

In an interview with Sirius XM’s NFL Radio over the weekend, defensive tackle Terrell McClain was asked how much of a factor the defensive coordinator played in his decision to sign a three-year deal with Dallas in early March.

It factored in a lot,” McClain said, via the Dallas Morning News. “He actually came down to my pro day and actually did the drills at my pro day three years ago when I was coming out of college, so I had a chance to talk to him. He was telling me all about himself. He’s a great guy, a great coach and I’m really fortunate to be able to be coached by him the next three years.”

After three seasons with the Panthers, the Patriots and the Texans, McClain comes to town with 29 career tackles and a sack.

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<![CDATA[Report: UCLA's Barr to Visit Dallas on Tuesday]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:38:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-cowboys.jpg

It was reported last week that All-American UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr would be one of the Dallas Cowboys’ 30 allotted pre-draft visitors. According to the Dallas Morning News, that visit will come on Tuesday, the same day they’re reportedly hosting Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.

Of course, Barr may not even make it to the Cowboys, who hold the No. 16 overall pick. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, the converted running back is likely a Top 10 pick.

“A highly disruptive, athletic specimen with the pass-rush potential to effortlessly emerge as a double-digit sack producer,” the profile says. “Is far from a finished product and his best football is still ahead of him, yet he plays the game with more of an offensive temperament and could require some patience."

"Is the type of rare athlete that could even contribute as an offensive playmaker once he learns to grasp defensive concepts and the game slows down for him.”

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<![CDATA[Report: Timmy Jernigan to Visit Valley Ranch]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:39:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461095035.jpg

Potential draft target, former Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will make a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch this week, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A second-team All-American with the ‘Noles in 2013, Jernigan will fly into North Texas on Monday evening.

Aside from Pitt’s Aaron Donald (who visited Dallas last week), no defensive tackle in this year’s draft class has been linked to the Cowboys through mock drafts more than Jernigan. He finished last season with 63 tackles, 11 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks.

At 6-foot-2, 299 pounds, Jernigan isn’t exactly a giant for his position, but he is lauded for his strength on the inside.

From Jernigan’s NFL.com draft profile: “Slightly undersized, stoutly built, country-strong run stopper with the ability to drop anchor inside an odd front and develop into a solid, 3-4 movement nose tackle. Strength is his calling card despite his relatively modest size.”

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Giants Looking at Backup QBs]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:41:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP788810873530_1.jpg

With Eli Manning down for around six weeks following ankle surgery last week, the New York Giants are looking to the free agent market to find some security at the quarterback position. According to Kim Jones of NFL Network, Matt Flynn and Josh Freeman will arrive in East Rutherford today and work out for the team on Tuesday.

Aside from Manning, the Giants have QBs Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster. Both came to New York last year, the ex-Colt Painter in free agency and the Syracuse product Nassib via the draft (fourth round).

Freeman, the 17th overall pick out of Kansas State in 2009, spent four seasons and change with the Buccaneers--and for awhile looked like a potential star in the NFL--but was released last October. He spent the rest of the season as the third string quarterback in Minnesota.

Like Freeman, Flynn was once viewed as a rising star. He spent 2008-2011 backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay before signing with the Seahawks in 2012. In 2013, he spent time with the Raiders and the Bills, before returning to the Packers in the wake of an injury to Aaron Rodgers.

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<![CDATA[RBs Coach: Murray "One of the Better Backs" in NFL]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:42:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/152722931.jpg

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had his first career 1,000-yard season in 2014, and was rewarded with his first career Pro Bowl nod. But Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown says the University of Oklahoma product is just getting started.

“He’s just scratched the surface. I think he’s one of the better backs in the league--he just has to go out and prove it now,” Brown said. “People now know his name, he’s been in the Pro Bowl--people are going to know who he is. So now it’s more of a challenge to go out and play well, and I think he’s going to go out and take that challenge full force and have another good season.”

Murray’s totals in 2014: 217 carries for 1,121 and nine touchdowns.

But his contribution wasn’t limited to the ground game. He also caught 53 passes for 350 yards and a score--his first career receiving touchdown and the difference in the team’s Week 16 comeback victory over the Redskins.

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<![CDATA[Mocking The Experts Picking the Cowboys Draft]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:15:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/474649589.jpg

I’ve never put much stock in mock drafts. Here’s why:

Less than a month before the NFL holds its annual selection process in New York there are as many as 30 mock drafts from experts, broadcasters, former players and various websites. And of those 30 how many different players are predicted to be drafted by your Cowboys?

11.

Truth? Nobody other than defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a clue what the Cowboys are going to do with the 16th pick. Other than they will – almost assuredly, right? – take a defensive player.

If you had to have a “consensus” pick from the mock drafters, it’s Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Seven of the 30 mocks had the Cowboys taking him, followed by Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (six), Louisville safety Calvin Pryor (four) and UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr (three).

Any of those picks make sense, as the Cowboys need help both along the front four and the back two. But don’t be shocked if of the 11 names on the current mock drafts, none of them is on the card the Cowboys hand in on May 8.

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



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<![CDATA[Cowboys K Dan Bailey Rides With Blue Angels]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:09:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20130409BlueAngels.jpg

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has had a nice offseason.

Back on January 23, Bailey was signed to a seven-year deal worth $22.5 million, $7.5 million of which is guaranteed. The deal also came with a $4 million signing bonus. Then, this week, Bailey got to mark something off his bucket list when he flew with the world famous Blue Angels.

"Growing up, I've always wanted to come out and take a ride in one of these aircrafts," Bailey said, per NFL.com. "It's always been a dream of mine. It's just always something I've had on my bucket list."

No word if landing such a long-term deal with the Cowboys was on Bailey’s bucket list, but he’s still pretty excited about that, too.

"In The NFL, job security is at a premium, so anytime you can afford yourself that on some level, it's always nice to work something out," Bailey said. "But from a personal standpoint, (Dallas is) one of the best places to kick in the league. Eight of my games are inside, so that makes my job easier. It's a first-class organization. It's a good city, a good place to raise kids, so I couldn't be happier to stick around here a little longer."

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<![CDATA[Cowboys to Get Defensive in Draft: Uh-Oh]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:07:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terence-newman-done.jpg

We all agree the Cowboys need defensive help, right?

You know the nauseating numbers from 2013: 432 points allowed, including seven games over 30 and three games over 40. A league-worst 415 yards surrendered per game. And just, in general, a whopping liability on a team that again finished 8-8.

The NFL Draft is now only a month away and unless Dallas is trading the farm for Johnny Manziel – which they’re not – we can assume the first pick will be used on defense.

If history is any indication, prepare to be disappointed. In the Jerry Jones era the Cowboys have taken a defensive player with their first pick in the draft 14 times. Of those 14, it can be argued that as many as 11 of those players failed to live up to their potential.

A look at the Cowboys’ defensive first picks:

  • 2011 6th Morris Claiborne -- Only 2 INTs in 2 years and minimal impact.
  • 2009 69th Jason Williams -- Nada.
  • 2007 26th Anthony Spencer -- One good season in an otherwise underwhelming career.
  • 2006 18th Bobby Carpenter -- Blame Bill Parcells for this one.
  • 2005 11th DeMarcus Ware -- One of the greatest Cowboys’ linemen of all-time.
  • 2003 5th Terence Newman -- Only 2 Pro Bowls in 11 years as the 5th overall pick makes it a bad selection.
  • 2002 8th Roy Williams -- 5 Pro Bowls, 1 All-Pro year and a difference-maker on defense.
  • 2000 49th Dwayne Goodrich -- What a waste of talent.
  • 1999 20th Ebeneezer Ekuban -- Nope.
  • 1998 8th Greg Ellis -- Passed up Randy Moss for a linebacker who made 1 Pro Bowl in 12 seasons.
  • 1996 37th Kavika Pittman -- See: Ebeneezer Ekuban.
  • 1994 23rd Shante Carver -- See: Kavika Pittman.
  • 1992 17th Kevin Smith -- 3 Super Bowl rings and 19 INTs in 8 seasons at cornerback.
  • 1991 1st Russell Maryland -- Solid, but never spectacular on defenses ranked No. 1 and on Super Bowl teams.

 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[Ex-Cowboy Rips "Me" Culture at Valley Ranch]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:45:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scott-shanle-cowboys.jpg

Earlier this week, former Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears publicly questioned Jerry Jones’ decision to host Tony Romo and Jason Witten in his suite for the NCAA Basketball Championship between UConn and Kentucky on Monday, suggesting that it might send the wrong message to the rest of the team.

Fellow former Cowboy Scott Shanle, who played for Dallas from 2003-2005 before moving onto the Saints from 2006-2012, picked up Spears’ comments and ran with them. He praised Spears for his candor on Twitter, before launching into an indictment of the culture at Valley Ranch.

"I believe Marcus had tweet of the day! I've been part of a team in (New Orleans). It works! (Dallas') biggest issue is individualism," Shanle tweeted, per the Dallas Morning News.

This caused something of a stir, as anything remotely controversial on Twitter tends to, but the former linebacker held fast: "Getting players not the issue (it's) the environment that needs (to) promote team-first mentality, and that can do wonders."

Shanle made clear that, to his eyes, this “team-first” mentality was not present when he was in Dallas: "Turned into some ME guys. Need leaders. Never forget where you came from!"

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<![CDATA[Why Are Cowboys Fans Threatening One Direction?]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:26:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/177453680.jpg

We had been operating under the assumption that no one really cared about the NFL preseason.

But when word got out that the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason schedule was altered to accommodate a One Direction concert at AT&T Stadium on August 24, a few fans were apparently pretty upset.

According to the Daily Mirror (U.K.), fans of “America’s Team” took to Twitter to lash out and even lob threats at the boy band for “f****** up” the season. Kind of a harsh accusation, considering we’re talking about meaningless exhibition games, here, but the vitriol didn’t stop there.

Per the Mirror, other users threatened to “hunt the boys down” and “punch their smug little faces.”

Usually, because they spend training camp in Oxnard, CA, the Cowboys prefer to play their first two preseason games on the west coast before returning home for the final two. But this year, they’re alternating home and away games in order to accommodate the boy band, who will take over JerryWorld in Week Three of the preseason. They will be back home the next week, to finish up the preseason against the Broncos.

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Eli Manning Has Ankle Surgery]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:16:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/451794375.jpg

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will undergo arthroscopic surgery he injured in the season finale last year, the team’s official website announced Thursday.

Manning had been rehabbing the injury--a high left ankle sprain--all offseason, but after experiencing some lingering discomfort, he met with foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. Together, they decided that going forward with the procedure now was the best route for the two-time Super Bowl winner.

I went through the recovery and rehab after suffering the sprain,” Manning said. “I was still experiencing some discomfort as I began my normal offseason preparation, and after consultation, we felt the right thing was to have Dr. Anderson clean out the ankle. The doc tells me I should be running in about six weeks.

“I’m looking forward to the start of the offseason program on the 21st. I will be in the weight room and in the meeting rooms so we can all learn the new offense. I got some good work in this week at Duke, and I think it’s smart to get this procedure done now so the ankle isn’t an ongoing issue. I’m eager to get to work with our new offensive coaches and system.”

Like the Cowboys, the Giants offseason conditioning program will kick off on April 21.

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<![CDATA[Retired Redskin London Fletcher Takes Shot at Romo]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:05:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tony-romo-golf722.jpg

On Thursday morning, NFL Network’s NFL AM posted a photo of Tony Romo and Tiger Woods golfing together to their Twitter page--this in honor of the opening round of The Masters--and asked fans to caption the photo. Recently retired Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher took this as an opportunity to take a pot shot at his old NFC East foe.

In response to the photo--which shows Woods and Romo carefully measuring a shot--Fletcher suggested the caption: "why is he taking all this time just to choke?”

Hoho! Looks like someone’s after David Letterman’s soon to be vacant seat at The Late Show.

Or, as Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News points out, this could just be a case of sour grapes.

Fletcher’s long and decorated career came to an unceremonious end last year, as the Redskins went 3-13 and were swept in the season series by Romo and the Cowboys. In his last home game, a 24-23 loss to Dallas, Romo played through what turned out to be a season-ending back injury to lead the Cowboys on a game-winning, fourth quarter drive, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Romo to DeMarco Murray with just 10 seconds left--pretty much the opposite of a choke job.

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<![CDATA[Jason Witten: "We Have a Lot to Prove"]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:37:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186726751.jpg

Jason Witten, who spent Sunday driving the pace car at the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway before heading to AT&T Stadium to take in the NCAA Basketball Championship with Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones and a couple ex-presidents among others, says the Cowboys are coming into the 2014 season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

This chip won’t likely do much good if Romo isn’t healthy, of course, but Witten believes his pal is “right on track” in his rehab from back surgery and poised for a great season.

Seems like he’s excited to get back and get healthy,” Witten said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “And I think all of us are eager to get going. I can’t speak for him, but I think everything’s on track. We’re excited for the offseason. We have a lot to prove. We know exactly what we have to do.”

Romo has suffered some disappointment this offseason but, thankfully, it had nothing to do with football. Rather, it had everything to do with the University of Wisconsin basketball team losing in the Final Four.

“He was pulling for Wisconsin pretty hard, being from there,” Witten said. “What a game, man. You could tell a lot of people in his family were cheering for Wisconsin.”

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<![CDATA[Aaron Donald Headlines First Wave of Pre-Draft Visits]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:17:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aaron-donald-cowboys.jpg

Former Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, long linked to the Dallas Cowboys through mock drafts, will headline a group of defensive players set to make a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch next week, according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

Joining Donald will be Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward and linebackers Anthony Barr and Ryan Shazier--from UCLA and Ohio State, respectively.

Donald has been described as a “perfect fit” for Rod Marinelli’s defense, another step in the makeover of the defensive line, which started in free agency with the signings of defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackles Terrell McClain and (the big fish) Henry Melton.

Owner Jerry Jones said this week that the team would likely go defense-heavy in the draft, having addressed a number of weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball in last year’s draft. Most every mock has Dallas either taking a defensive lineman or a safety with their No. 16 overall pick.

According to Archer, since 2005, the Cowboys have only selected two early round picks--DeMarcus Ware in 2005 and Morris Claiborne in 2012--who didn’t visit Valley Ranch prior to the draft.

All NFL teams are afforded 30 such visits leading up to the draft.

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<![CDATA[Nike Jacks Up Prices on NFL Jerseys]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:07:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28576a%29.jpg

NFL fans will have the shell out a little more to get the highest end replica NFL jerseys sold by Nike in 2014.

Beginning on April 1, the change showed up on the websites of official retailers of the jerseys. “The Elite” jersey, which is the highest end replica offered by Nike and the closest to what players actually wear on the field, jumped from $250 to $295. “The Limited” jersey went from $135 to $150.

The price of “The Game” jersey, which is the best seller of the three according to Darren Rovell of ESPN, is staying put at $100.  

Per Rovell’s report, the prices of jerseys are determined by Nike and their licensed retailers and not the NFL. In that same report, Nike spokesman Brian Strong did not give a reason for the increase in prices, but said the company’s tiered pricing system is designed to accommodate a wide array of fans.

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