<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcdfw.com/blogs/blue-star http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Tue, 01 Sep 2015 03:11:02 -0500 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 03:11:02 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA['Vintage McFadden' Has Jerry Jones Excited]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:43:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/darren-mcfadden-49ers.jpg

On Saturday night, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saw a flash of the running back he thought Darren McFadden could still be when the Cowboys signed him as a free agent back in March.

It was only a flash--McFadden only had four carries in the game--but that was enough for the longtime Oakland Raider to stack up a game-high 37 yards against the Vikings, and for Jones to allow himself a little excitement.

I think that what you saw was vintage McFadden,” Jones said, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “You saw that acceleration. You saw his abilities. He’s a seasoned veteran running back who can take what’s given to him.

“And yeah, I’d like to say that’s what you’d expect from him, but he’s very capable of using the offense that we’ve got, the weapons we’ve got, the blockers we’ve got and getting the most advantage out of it.”

Jones left AT&T Stadium feeling good not only about McFadden, but about the Cowboys’ backfield as a whole. Joseph Randle, who got the start, added 15 yards on six carries.

“If they’re healthy, I’ll take the skill and what they can bring to our offense,” Jones said, “I’ll take that and go to the [Week 1] game against the Giants and won’t ask for any more.”

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<![CDATA[Sideline Images: Cowboys vs. Vikings]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:44:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485763186.jpg Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes even as Dez Bryant again sat out for the Dallas Cowboys, who lost 28-14 to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Cowboys Not Interested in Fred Jackson]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:37:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP938879031848_4.jpg

Veteran running back Fred Jackson hit the market today when he was somewhat surprisingly released by the Buffalo Bills, which of course presents the question, could the Dallas Cowboys be interested?

This question has been asked about just about every free agent running back since DeMarco Murray left for Philadelphia back in March. But as was the case with all those other vets, according to the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys aren’t interested in Jackson.

As they’ve said since before the draft, and proved by not drafting a running back at all, the Cowboys are happy with the trio of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar in the backfield.

Last season, Jackson had 525 yards rushing and another 501 yards receiving. At 34, he’s going into his 10th season in the NFL and his first with a team that’s not the Bills. A Fort Worth native and an Arlington Lamar product, Jackson’s pro career got started with indoor team, the Sioux City Bandits, in 2004. He also spent a season with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europa, in 2006.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant Held Out Again Against Vikings]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:05:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez-sidelines-preseason.jpg

Cowboys All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant was held out of Saturday’s preseason matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, but that didn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones declared earlier in the week that, with Bryant still nursing a hamstring issue, the team was leaning heavily toward giving him the night off--as they did in the preseason opener against the Chargers, and last week’s preseason loss to the 49ers.

Just didn’t think it was worth having him play eight, 10 plays in this ballgame,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told the team’s official website. “We didn’t practice yesterday. He got today (to rest); he warmed up before the game. He’ll have tomorrow; we don’t practice until Monday night.

“So we’ll take him day by day and just make sure that we give him every chance to be healthy when he comes back.”

No word on if Garrett and co. will attempt to get Bryant some snaps in the preseason finale against the Texans on Thursday in Arlington, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
 

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<![CDATA[Sean Lee Earns Positive Reviews in Return to Action]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:41:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186726662.jpg

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee earned positive reviews in his return to the field on Saturday night after a year-and-a-half absence.

As you probably remember, Lee missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered during organized team activities. Before that, he missed the final three games of the 2013 season with a neck injury. Saturday marked the first game of any sort that Lee has participated in since December 9, 2013.

Owner Jerry Jones, for one, got a familiar feeling watching Lee make a play during the 28-14 exhibition loss.

That was Lee taking on the flow of the play coming his way and I didn’t have to look twice,” Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. “I just saw the five on the back of his jersey and knew Lee had arrived. That was a play that was classic Lee.”

Lee finished with three tackles while playing in three defensive series in the first half.

“He had hits on the ball,” head coach Jason Garrett said,” was around the ball a lot and really looked like his old self.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brandon Carr Gets Confidence Boost From Interception]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:21:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-redskins-b-%2860.jpg

Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr called his second quarter interception against the Minnesota Vikings a “confidence-builder” as he prepares to begin the regular season with a surgically repaired right hand.

Carr didn’t play in either of the team’s first two preseason games as he recovered from surgery to insert a plate and screws in the hand (he actually had the procedure three days before the preseason opener against the Chargers).

“On top of the hand injury, it’s pretty cool to be able to go out there and make a play on the ball,” Carr said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Hopefully you’ll get to see more of that this year.”

Hopefully so.

From a health perspective, the Cowboys aren’t terribly worried about the hand. Coaches were quick to compare Carr’s injury to that of DeMarco Murray down the stretch of the 2014 regular season. Murray played through that hand issue then, as Carr will play through this issue now.

“I’m not worried about injuring it again,” Carr said. “I got two more weeks to get it as strong as possible, and then I’m going to ride from there. And you’ll never hear about it again.”



Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[CBs Make Positive Plays in Scandrick's Absence]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:49:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/486084524-a.jpg

If Saturday night in Arlington was any indication, the Cowboys might just survive the loss of Orlando Scandrick after all.

Of course, we’ve been teased – and fooled – by Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne before.

But in the 28-14 preseason loss to the Vikings bot of the starting cornerbacks had positive impacts. Which, even if it occurred in a meaningless game, is a bit of a relief.

It was Carr’s first game since breaking his right hand early in training camp, and Claiborne’s first start since Week 4 of last season when he tore the patellar tendon in his knee. Each showed glimpses of why the Cowboys gave one $50 million (Carr) and traded up in the draft to get the other (Claiborne).

Not that it was perfect by any means. On the Vikings’ first scoring drive Carr negated a third-down stop with a holding penalty. Four plays later he was beaten on a deep route for a 39-yard gain by Mike Wallace. But two series later he intercepted a pass from Vikings’ backup Shaun Hill, timing his jump perfectly to snatch the pass away from receiver Stefon Diggs.

Claiborne, likewise, overcame an early hiccup. In the second quarter he was called for pass interference for bumping receiver Adam Thielen. But on the next series he was in perfect position for an interception in the end zone until bumped off by Thielen, who was called for offensive pass interference.

“You’re going to invent a hole where Scandrick was,” owner Jerry Jones said after the game. “I’m confident just from whatever I’ve seen during training camp and what I’ve heard the coaches say that we’re going to be able to have a good go at taking up some of the slack Scandrick gave us. We won’t replace him. He’s too good a player to do that, but I certainly think we’ve got a chance to compete at a level we all expect.”

So far at least, it hasn’t been the disaster some of us are prepared for.

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Talking Cowboys With Former Dallas Wide Receiver Jesse Holley ]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 22:25:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys_Holley_Web_1200x675_516113475609.jpg NBC 5's David Watkins talks with former Cowboys wide receiver and 105.3 The Fan's Jesse Holley.]]> <![CDATA[Patriots-Inspired Deflated Football Hats Hit the Market]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:34:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/deflategate-hats-apparel.jpg

If you're looking for the perfect accessory to irk Tom Brady and the Patriots when they play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in October -- look no further.

DeflateGate Hats and Apparel is offering clever T-shirts and ballcaps emblazoned with the word "Deflatriots," accented with a deflated football, in a script that looks unsurprisingly like that of the current NFL Champions.

If that weren't enough, they've got a Cheesehead-inspired novelty polyurethane deflated football hat that'll sit atop your dome and poke fun at quarterback Tom Brady for four full quarters.

"These trademarked, American-made hats, along with the whimsical "Deflatriots" logoed caps and t-shirts, are the perfect way for fans to give the Patriots and their fans a little grief! The "Deflatriots" caps and t-shirts come in the colors of all eight teams that the Patriots face on the road during the 2015-16 NFL season. So whatever your team, we have you covered," said the company in a news release.

The hats are available for kids and adults from $34.95 to $38.95, depending on size and whether or not you need the addition of the air needle. To order, visit DeflateGateHats.com.



Photo Credit: DeflateGate Hats & Apparel]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant (Probably) Won't Play Against Vikings]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:20:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/453321588.jpg

Dez Bryant’s return to practice this week was read by many as a sign that we might see the All-Pro receiver on the field for the first time this preseason when the Cowboys host the Vikings at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night, but it’s actually more likely that he’ll be held out once again, according to owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

Bryant was eased into camp work after sitting out all offseason in an effort to pressure the Cowboys to give him a new, long-term contract. They did, of course, and for awhile Bryant was on the field and all was right with the world. Then on August 6, Bryant strained a hamstring and missed over two full weeks before returning this week.

If the Cowboys needed Bryant to go, Jones said in an appearance on 105.3-FM The Fan’s G-Bag Nation on Friday, he’d be available. But since this is still the preseason, they don’t, and he probably won’t.

“I’m not so sure we’re satisfied that it’s necessary for him to extend that [hamstring] that he’s got, since he did extend it with probably a suddenness that had he probably been out there for longer periods of time, he might not have had that happen,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “Let’s give him the rest. We don’t have to have him [Saturday] night. That’s the way I would look at it, and do look at it.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Orlando Scandrick Has Successful Knee Surgery]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:21:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/orlando-scandrick12.5.11.jpg

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick underwent successful knee surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament and the torn medial cruciate ligament in his right knee on Thursday morning, the team said. The injuries, of course, will keep Scandrick out until the 2016 season.

Orlando is a person who we care a great deal about,” head coach Jason Garrett said, per the Dallas Morning News. “The coaches care about him, his teammates care about him. He’s going through a hard time. That’s challenging for him. We’re going to be there for him. We’re going to be there for him every single day. I told him (Tuesday) he’s a young man, he’s a great athlete, he has a great feistiness and fight to him, so he’s going to come back better and stronger than ever. OK?

“We’re not leaving Orlando. We’re with Orlando. He’s with us. But now you have to focus on what is the task at hand. You’ve got to figure out who is going to play in his spot, what kind of competition you’re going to try to create and what we need to do as a team. There are parallel lines. We do them both.”

A fifth round pick out of Boise State in 2008, Scandrick has been the Cowboys’ best cornerback over the past two years.

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<![CDATA[A.J. Jenkins Making Push for a Roster Spot]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:41:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458294338.jpg

Dallas Cowboys receiver A.J. Jenkins may very well be on the outside looking in when the team has to trim the roster to 53, but he’s at least making a push for a spot with Devin Street nursing an ankle injury and Dez Bryant still limited.

"I'm definitely getting my confidence back," Jenkins said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "I'm in the playbook and trying to feel like myself back again."

Jenkins had a pair of catches for 20 yards in the preseason loss to the 49ers last weekend. The 49ers, of course, are the team that drafted Jenkins with the 30th overall pick of the 2012 Draft. His time there was, uh, disappointing--to the point that he never caught a pass for the team. He was targeted once in his one year with the 49ers and dropped that pass.

From there Jenkins spent the past two seasons with the Chiefs, where he fared a little better, catching 17 passes 223 yards.

After such a rough start in the NFL, Jenkins admits that he’s somewhat motivated by a desire to prove people wrong.

"Trying to prove myself also," Jenkins said. "I haven't been on a team (for a long time). I've been bouncing around. I have to prove to myself I can do it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rash of Camp Injuries Nothing Unusual: NFLPA]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:12:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scandrick-injured.jpg

If it seems like there have been more season-ending injuries than usual this preseason, there haven’t, according to Thom Mayer, the medical director of the NFL Players’ Association.

The Dallas Cowboys lost their best cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn medial cruciate ligament in his right knee this week. The Packers lost their No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL last weekend and the Panthers lost their No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL on Aug. 19.

It’s a shame, Mayer acknowledges, but nothing that suggests any new trend is at work.

As a physician, your heart goes out to these guys,” Mayer said, per the Washington Post. “You feel so bad for them. These guys put so much into this and it’s such a letdown for them, for their teams, for the fans. [But] as a research scientist, you have to say, ‘Let’s look at this over time.’ Statistically it doesn’t look like it’s a trend.

“Unless it continues at this pace for some time, it doesn’t look like anything out of the norm. But for each of these guys individually, it’s 100 percent of their experience. It’s a setback professionally and it’s very difficult personally.”



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Randy Gregory Fielded a Punt to Send Cowboys Home Early]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:13:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/randy-gregory-cowboys.jpg

Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive end Randy Gregory came through for the team in a big way on Thursday when he lined up deep to field a punt. On the line? An early departure from training camp.

Gregory was one of six linemen, three offensive and three defensive, selected to try to catch a punt off the foot of Chris Jones at the end of Thursday’s practice, which had been moved from late afternoon to mid-morning by head coach Jason Garrett. If one of them could do that, camp would be over a day early--they were originally supposed to depart Oxnard on Friday.

Gregory was the first lineman up, and he secured the punt, drawing cheers from his teammates.

Just at least get a hand on it,” Gregory recalled thinking, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I didn’t want to overrun it or not go up to it far enough. I’ve done it before. It’s really not hard, but lost my footing there a little bit. Just trying to make sure I got under it. I did well.”

The Cowboys got back to North Texas yesterday afternoon and will host the Vikings at AT&T Stadium for this year’s dress rehearsal game on Saturday.
 
“It’ll be good to get everybody back home, sleeping in their own bed tonight,” Garrett said. “We’ll go into Valley Ranch tomorrow and have a regular day before the game schedule and then play Saturday night.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Need to Show Improvement Vs. Vikings]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:05:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485064310.jpg

The Cowboys have looked awful in the preseason, getting outscored 40-13 amidst of comedy of errors in going 0-2.

That needs to change Saturday night. And it will.

Oh, they might not necessarily beat the Vikings at AT&T Stadium, but the performance will be greatly elevated by the “dress rehearsal” nature of the game. The starters will play more snaps tomorrow than in any other exhibition game, and the team you see against the Vikings – at least for a half – will closely resemble the one that will take the field in the regular-season opener Sept. 13 against the Giants.

“Saturday night will be a good test for our football team,” head coach Jason Garrett said before his team left training camp in Oxnard a day earlier than scheduled. “Our starters will play the most in this game than they will in any of the preseason games, so it’ll be a good opportunity for them to get their feet underneath them a little bit and just to play some football. We’ll have a different substitution pattern, like every team in the league, for this ball game.”

What the dress rehearsal means is much more playing time for Tony Romo, who has taken all of three snaps so far. Dez Bryant might play, though the Cowboys are being very careful with his nagging hamstring injury.

“Dez has been practicing and not practicing over the last few weeks coming off a hamstring injury, so we’re hopeful that Dez will play and the other guys will play,” Garrett said. “If they don’t we’ll get them ready for the season another way.”

On offense the Cowboys would love to see a burst from running backs Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden, who should be running behind most – if not all – of the starters along the offensive line.

On defense, Morris Claiborne begins his starting job in the wake of Orlando Scandrick’s season-ending injury and we’ll see the debut of linebacker Sean Lee, set to see his first game action since tearing his ACL in June 2014.

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[With Weeden Out, Garrett Takes Some Snaps at QB]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:19:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459955034.jpg

An injury to the Cowboys’ current backup quarterback has former backup (and current head coach) Jason Garrett under center, 11 years after his 11-year playing career came to an end.

Brandon Weeden suffered a concussion in the preseason loss to the 49ers last week and has been held out of practice ever since.

That left the Cowboys with Tony Romo, Dustin Vaughan and Jameil Showers to take the practice reps. With his QBs spread thin  as such, Garrett jumped in this week and, in doing so, opened himself up to some criticism from Romo.

Arm’s doing OK,” Garrett said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I love it. I love playing football. (Tony) Romo was on me because I wasn’t really taking a full drop. I said, Not only do I have arm limitations, I have foot limitations too so I’ve got to give myself some advantage.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Darrion Weems Making Push for Swing Tackle Gig]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:00:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/joseph-randle-darrion-weems.jpg

Darrion Weems is quietly making a push to take over the Dallas Cowboys’ swing tackle job.

With third round pick Chaz Green still on the physically unable to perform list recovering from June hip surgery, Weems is the frontrunner for the position left vacant by Jermey Parnell, the swing tackle who did so well replacing Doug Free on the right side last year that the Jaguars gave him a five-year, $32 million back in March.

It’s not that Weems hasn’t struggled. Playing left tackle in each of the first two preseason games, he committed his share of mistakes. But head coach Jason Garrett has been encouraged by the fourth-year Oregon product’s steady improvement throughout the offseason and camp.

Getting better,” Garrett told the team’s official website. “He played a lot on the San Diego game. He played a lot in the San Francisco game. He’s out here. He takes a lot of snaps in practice. Every chance we get, we put him in one on one situations in front of the team, see how he responds. He’s getting better. He’s fighting through it. He’s improved technically. I think his demeanor has improved.”



Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[McFadden 'Definitely' Available Against Vikings]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:30:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/darren-mcfadden-49ers.jpg

Cowboys running back Darren McFadden came away from his short-lived preseason debut feeling a little banged up, but he should be ready to go when the team hosts the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium on Saturday.

McFadden told reporters in Oxnard, California this week that he had some lingering soreness from the game around his shoulder and neck area, after running for four yards on three carries and catching a pass for three yards against the 49ers, but that it was nothing serious.

“I feel good. I came out yesterday and was just a little sore,” McFadden said Wednesday after being somewhat limited on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News. “But I definitely feel good and I’ll be out there today.”

When asked about Saturday’s matchup with the Vikings, McFadden said he’d “definitely” be available, and he’s certainly not going to be overly cautious about how much work he takes on.

“You can go out there and get one carry and get hurt, so I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” McFadden said. “It’s just going out there and playing ball.”


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<![CDATA[Cowboys See Some Orlando Scandrick in Tyler Patmon]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:19:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyler-patmon-big-night.jpg

In the aftermath of Orlando Scandrick’s season-ending knee injury, it only makes sense that the Dallas Cowboys would turn to Tyler Patmon, a second-year corner who has reminded the team of Scandrick in his year and change in Dallas.

He has a lot of the same kind of traits that Orlando has,” head coach Jason Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “His strengths are the instinctive way he plays, his ability to make plays, just has a good feel for the game. He’s a great competitor, he’s feisty, he fights, he battles and scratches and claws, so we’re going to give him an opportunity in there first.”

An Oklahoma State product, Patmon came to the Cowboys on a mini-camp invite last May and showed the staff enough to earn a contract. He went on to appear in 11 games and record eight tackles and an interception, which he returned 58 yards for a touchdown.

“He came in here and about halfway through the first practice we looked at each other and we said, ‘We like that guy,’” Garrett said. “You start figuring out ways, 'OK, he’s better than that one who we signed so let’s get rid of him and let’s give this guy a chance.' So he’s had that feistiness, he’s had those playmaking traits really from Day One since he’s been with us and I think he’s just getting better and better.”

Patmon himself has noticed the similarities between he and Scandrick.

“Coming on this team, it was me and Orlando had the most similarities out of anybody else, any corners on the team,” Patmon said. “I definitely watched him a lot last year, watched him a lot this year and learned a lot from him of how to play in there.”

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<![CDATA[Anthony Hitchens Still Dealing with Foot Issue]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:19:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-hitchens9.11.jpg

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens appeared briefly in the team’s preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego, recording a single tackle, but it looks like that’ll be all the action the second-year Iowa product sees this preseason.

Hitchens, the most likely candidate to start the season at middle linebacker with Rolando McClain suspended for the first four games, bruised his foot two days after that preseason opener and has been out ever since.

He was held out of last Sunday’s matchup with the 49ers and until recently, he had been in a walking boot.

Now it’s thought Hitchens won’t return to practice until after the preseason finale.

“I’m just getting my foot better, doing what they’re telling me to do,” Hitchens said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I’m doing a lot better than last week. That’s all that matters.

“I’m just trying to get the mental reps. I’m still watching film with the guys, just trying to get better in a different way. It may not be out there on the field but get better in the film room, get stronger in the weight room and get the mental reps.”

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Will Leave Camp With Unanswered Questions]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:37:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485063396.jpg

Today is the Cowboys final full practice in Oxnard, Calif. On Friday the team returns to DFW as training camp ends.

After 31 days, 16 practices in full pads, two pre-season losses, one major significant injury to Orlando Scandrick and a gaggle of fights amongst themselves and versus the Rams, the Cowboys are coming home.

So … did they have a good camp?

Before they departed in late July I pinpointed six position battles that needed to be won. Let’s review shall we?

Cornerback – The season-ending injury to Scandrick gives a starting spot to Morris Claiborne, who entered camp merely trying to hang onto a roster spot. First-round pick Byron Jones has been solid, but he’s behind Tyler Patmon on the depth chart as camp concludes. Scary thought: Brandon Carr is the best corner on this team.

Defensive End – With Greg Hardy, Jeremy Mincey, DeMarcus Lawrence and rookie Randy Gregory, they return from the West Coast with a plethora of pass-rushers. Gregory had the best camp with two sacks in two games, and he’ll likely push for a starting spot opposite Hardy before the season is over.

Defensive Tackle – Appears that Tyrone Crawford is going to win a starting job over Terrell McClain and alongside Nick Hayden.

Linebacker – We’ve yet to see Sean Lee in a game and Rolando McClain will miss the first games while suspended. On the strong side, Kyle Wilber has to this point held off Anthony Hitchens for the job. In McClain’s absence looks like more playing time for free-agent pick-up Jasper Brinkley.

Left Guard – Though La’el Collins has shown glimpses of first-round talent, veteran Ron Leary clearly kept his starting job.

Running Back – The most anticipated battle of camp really provided little fireworks, or substance to make a decision. All three of the top backs – Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar – spent time off the field with injuries and played sparingly last week against the 49ers. Headed back to DFW, it remains Randle’s job to lose.

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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
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<![CDATA[Dez Bryant Returns to Practice]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:11:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460752926.jpg

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant returned to practice on Tuesday after missing almost three weeks with a hamstring issue, but was limited in what he was permitted to do by the staff.

There’s a chance he’ll see some action in the third preseason game, against the Vikings on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

As Jason Garrett said before the workout, via ESPN Dallas, the idea was to have Bryant "get involved in individuals and see how he does and how he responds to that.

While Bryant has made no secret of the fact that he’s been frustrated by his inability to get on the field in the past couple of weeks, Garrett praised the work the All-Pro has done since suffering the injury on August 6.

"Stayed very engaged, really good in meetings, good at the walk-through, engaged with his coaches, engaged with his teammates," Garrett said. "He's a professional."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Jones Returns, Says Shoulder Issue "No Big Deal"]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:54:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/byron-jones-draft-night.jpg

Cowboys first round pick Byron Jones went through a full practice on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a left shoulder injury a week and a half ago, and did not wear a harness on the shoulder. The cornerback/safety came away from the workout feeling optimistic.

It felt great,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Going out there hitting people, I didn’t think about it once throughout the entire practice. It’s one of those things it may flare up again. It’s no big deal. For me, as long as it’s structurally sound, that’s going to keep me at ease. If it’s not popping out, sliding out, I’m happy. I can deal with a little bit of pain.”

The Cowboys have been working Jones at both corner and safety in training camp but as Jon Machota of the Morning News points out, they could refocus his efforts on the cornerback position in the wake of Orlando Scandrick’s season-ending knee injury.

“It felt good to be out there with the guys,” Jones said. “A little winded but the shoulder feels great.”

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<![CDATA[Whitehead Feeling "More Poised" as Cowboys' Return Man]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:35:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-455168706.jpg

In his second NFL preseason game, rookie receiver and return man Lucky Whitehead returned two kicks for 53 yards and four punts for 45 yards, including a 26-yard dash in the third quarter. He also recorded a catch on offense, for six yards.

But for all the things  he did on Sunday night, maybe equally important was what he didn’t do--namely, he didn’t fumble away a punt, like he did in the preseason opener against the Chargers.

Yes, I didn’t fumble,” Whitehead said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I definitely think I improved. In the return game, I got more balls. I definitely feel like I’m getting better.”

Against the 49ers, Whitehead said he was a lot more comfortable back deep than he was against the Chargers, which is only understandable given that the Chargers game was the Florida Atlantic product’s first NFL action.

“I felt better back there, more poised,” he said. “It’s starting to come to me better. I’m understanding the speed of it. It’s definitely coming to me. It’s just a matter of time.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Geoff Swaim Making a Case for Third TE Spot]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:19:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Geoff-swaim-cowboys.jpg

Cowboys rookie tight end and seventh round pick Geoff Swaim knows that what he’s doing--competing for a spot with the Dallas Cowboys, playing in NFL games, so on--is pretty cool. But he’s not about to bask in the coolness at all. He can’t afford to.

“The minute you step back and say, ‘Oh, wow, how cool is this?’ sometimes you take your foot off the gas,” Swaim said after the preseason loss to the 49ers on Sunday, via the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t think that I can afford to do that right now.

“It doesn’t matter if you are drafted or wherever, you are always on the chopping block.”

Swaim has spent the past two weeks stating his case to take over the third tight end spot from James Hanna, the former sixth round pick out of Oklahoma. In his preseason debut against the Chargers, he had two catches for 21 yards. In the loss to the 49ers, he had four catches for 57 yards. Meanwhile, his competition for the third tight end spot, James Hanna, has been sidelined since the Chargers game with a sprained knee.
 

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<![CDATA[Jerry Jones Sounds Pretty Excited About Randy Gregory]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:05:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/randy-gregory-cowboys.jpg

Pardon Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ excitement over Randy Gregory, but he can’t seem to help it.

The rookie defensive end recorded a sack in Sunday night’s preseason loss to the 49ers in Santa Clara, his second in as many exhibition games, and drew two holding penalties on 49ers’ offensive linemen. On the preseason, Gregory now has four tackles and two sacks, while being limited

“Boy, we’ve added some personnel that are just playing at a level beyond what I expected,” Jones told Ben and Skin on 105.3-FM The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “That Randy Gregory, as a rookie I know you shouldn’t do this, but I’m excited about him. He excites the huddle when he gets in it. He excites the team meeting room. He gets his coaches excited.”

Gregory, of course, fell to the Cowboys in the second round of the draft as a result of off-field concerns spurred on by a positive test for marijuana at the combine. Since he’s been here, though, the reports have been pretty much all positive.

"This is what they brought me in for,” Gregory said. “Obviously I want to be the best overall player I can be, well-rounded, so working on other aspects of my game. But for the most part, I’ve done a good job of what they’ve asked me to do.”

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<![CDATA[Brace Yourselves, Claiborne is a Starter ]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:45:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-hurt-shoulder.jpg

Out: Orlando Scandrick. In: Morris Claiborne.

Ring a bell?

Better late than never – but under undesirable circumstances – the Cowboys desperately need the former No. 6 overall draft pick to play like, well, a No. 6 overall draft pick. When Scandrick was carted off the field Tuesday afternoon in Oxnard with a torn ACL that will require season-ending surgery, it gave the starting right cornerback job to Claiborne.

From insurance policy to pressurized position. And, like yours, my confidence level in Dallas’ defense just took a measurable dip.

That’s because Claiborne has never been an impact player. In three years he has three interceptions, scoring a lone touchdown as a rookie in 2012 on a fumble recovery. The Cowboys traded up to nab him, but Deion Sanders he isn’t.

In fact he was beaten out by Scandrick last year before he suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon. But now, necessity just gave Claiborne a job promotion.

By all accounts Claiborne was diligent in his rehab and – though he didn’t play in the first two preseason games – has enjoyed a productive training camp in California.

Still, I’d feel much more comfortable with Claiborne and his shaken confidence as a backup than a starter. A couple of mental breakdowns and – voila – the Cowboys are starting rookie Byron Jones.

That’s the dangerous thing about Scandrick’s injury. Not only what the Cowboys will miss. But also what they might get.

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.

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<![CDATA[3 to Watch at Cowboys Camp - Aug. 25]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:30:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/232*120/scandrick.JPG NBC 5 Sports' Pat Doney has 3 to Watch after Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick sustained an apparent knee injury at training camp Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Coach Garrett Inspired by Bruce Springsteen]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:39:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_brucespringsteenpng_bim.jpg

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is a big Bruce Springsteen fan.

In fact, he shared Tuesday morning that he has seen Springsteen in concert between 25 and 30 times.

So, on the 40th anniversary of Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” the Cowboys coach didn’t mind spending a few minutes after his press conference chatting about his favorite musician.

“I was fortunate to have older brothers and sisters and they introduced me to (Springsteen) a long time ago,” Garrett said.  “They used to chase him up and down the Jersey Shore in these little seashore bars.  He’s just been an inspirational guy.  People talk about music and books being kind of alive, and I’ve come to understand that because his songs mean different things to me over the last forty years.”

Having spent the majority of Cowboys training camp emphasizing putting excellence in front of his team, Garrett became passionate about what Springsteen’s work has meant to him.

“He’s certainly somebody who has been a part of my life for a long time,” Garrett said.  “I’m inspired by him.  I love the guy.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Seahawks Pick Up Ex-Cowboys WR George Farmer, Move Him to DB]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:55:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/george-farmer-cowboys.jpg

Shortly after the draft, the Dallas Cowboys shelled out $55,000 guaranteed for former USC wide receiver George Farmer, a pretty unheard of sum for an undrafted free agent. The marriage didn’t last, of course. Farmer was waived by the team a little over a week ago, but he already has a new team.

Farmer signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, reuniting him with Pete Carroll, the man who recruited him to USC. But in an interesting twist, they didn’t sign him as a receiver--they’re looking to turn him into a defensive back.

“George was a tremendous athlete (in high school), a great track runner from a great school that featured track guys,” Carroll told the Seahawks’ website. “So we’re playing him on defense, we want to see what he looks like. It didn’t work out for him offensively. He had a good day (Monday), he made a couple plays for us so we’ll see what happens.”

Farmer said he hadn’t been approached about moving to defense until he visited Seattle after his release from Dallas.

“I’ve thought about it before this, but they brought it up to me and I thought, why not give it a shot?” Farmer said.

The Seahawks have had some success with moving players around before. Their starting right guard, J.R. Sweezy, was a defensive end in college before being taken by the Seahawks in the seventh round in 2012 with the notion that he could be a fine offensive lineman.
 

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<![CDATA[Barry Church on Run Defense: "We'll Get it Fixed"]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:34:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461029616.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense didn’t surrender a touchdown in Sunday night’s preseason matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, but their overall performance, particularly against the run, left a lot to be desired. Safety and defensive captain Barry Church was quick to tell reporters after the loss in Santa Clara that the unit will fix its problems with the run.

“When you go out there and give up that amount of rushing yards, preseason or not, that’s just not acceptable with our style of defense,” Church said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “We’ll get it done. We’ll get it fixed.”

The Cowboys gave up 155 rushing yards to the 49ers. The week before, they gave up 135 to the Chargers.

“With our defense, it’s a one-gap defense,” Church said. “If you’re not in your gap, the ball is going to split up in your gap and it’s going to expose you. That’s the good thing about this defense. We’ll know from watching film immediately who did what and why the running game was effective against us. We’ve definitely got to fix what we’ve got to fix and come out against Minnesota and have a better performance.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Wanted More PT in San Francisco]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:58:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485062724.jpg

If you were just a little late in turning on the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, you probably missed Tony Romo’s preseason debut. Romo’s night consisted of two handoffs to Darren McFadden and a screen pass to Lance Dunbar.

That was it.

It’s disappointing," Romo said after the 49ers ran away with the contest 23-6, per the Dallas Morning News. “They were ready to go and took it to us. Obviously I would have liked to have played and been involved in the game more, but it’s preseason and we’ve got to look at some guys.”

Head coach Jason Garrett said afterward that limiting Romo to one series was the plan all along. Do the Cowboys wish his series had lasted longer? Of course. But they weren’t going to change the plan when it didn’t.

“We just wanted to get him some reps early on in the game, hopefully convert a third down, get a little drive going,” Garrett said. “We just thought it was best to have him play one series.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Singles Out Defensive Line as "Bright Spot" in Loss to 49ers]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:43:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4594860021.jpg

On Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett singled out the young defensive line as the bright spot of what was an otherwise pretty ugly first half performance against the 49ers.

The Cowboys would go on to lose that preseason game 23-6, but the defense didn’t surrender a touchdown. Rather, the 49ers scored their touchdowns on defense (a pick-six by Mike Purcell in the second quarter) and special teams (Quinton Patton blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone in the fourth quarter).

Also, the defensive line posted three sacks in the loss. Second-year defensive end Ben Gardner--really a redshirt rookie, as he missed all of last season with torn ligaments in his left shoulder--and rookie defensive end Ryan Russell each had a sack in the first half, and Randy Gregory got his second sack of the preseason in the second half.

That was the bright spot of the game,” Garrett said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We were in some compromising positions on defense, bad field position and scoring opportunities for them. We kept them out of the end zone, had some timely sacks and that was impressive.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[0-2 in Preseason, Wake Me When it Matters]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:22:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485068262.jpg

The majority of the offensive line didn’t suit up. Dez Bryant wore a towel under his baseball cap. Tony Romo played three snaps.

In other words, it was perfectly imperfect. Because most importantly, no Cowboys were injured in Sunday night’s 23-6 loss to the 49ers.

Funny, we breathlessly wait for the return of football for six long months only to get this: the preseason. For some reason the lackluster blowout drew a TV rating of 16.8 on CBS. That translates into 438,000 DFW homes that watched and, let’s be honest, just had to be bored to death.

I mean, witnessing No. 3 quarterback Dustin Vaughan look as inept as a high-schooler was bad enough. But to think, the result – the score – was absolutely meaningless.

No? The Cowboys went 0-4 in the preseason last summer, then turned that around into a 12-4 regular season, complete with a division championship and a playoff appearance. In 2008 the Lions went undefeated in the preseason, then winless in the regular season.

In their history the Cowboys have played over 225 preseason games and I have distinct memories from exactly three of them: 1979 when safety Charlie Waters tore up his knee in a season-ending injury; 1989 when they beat the Oilers on a last-second field goal, sending rookies Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones skipping up the Texas Stadium tunnel in naïve joy and optimism; and 2005 when a rookie defensive end named DeMarcus Ware provided a glimpse of his immense talent with three tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, a deflected pass and a diving interception – all in the first quarter.

But, seriously, the preseason doesn’t matter. Quick, who did the Cowboys play in the preseason last year? That’s what I thought. But ask the Packers (receiver Jordy Nelson) and Steelers (center Maurkice Pouncey) about this year’s preseason and they’ll say it’s been very impactful in a negative way.

I think the NFL does it wrong. Not enough football practices in the offseason and too many exhibition games in the preseason. Caught a little of Bengals-Buccaneers on ESPN last night and I swear there weren’t 500 people in the stands in the 4th quarter. When the draft and the scouting combine are more exciting than actual football games, you’ve got a problem.

Bottom line: Don’t allow your major players to suffer major injuries in the preseason. Because in the big picture, it’s pointless.

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[Mo Claiborne Says He's Physically Ready to Return]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:21:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-cant-relax.jpg

Unsurprisingly, Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne didn’t play in Sunday night’s preseason matchup with the 49ers in San Francisco as the team continues to handle the former No. 6 overall pick in 2012 with care. He is, after all, coming off a ruptured patellar tendon last year.

But Claiborne himself was hoping he’d see some action.

I’m still praying,” Claiborne said before the team traveled to Santa Clara, per the Dallas Morning News. “Don’t bad luck it yet.

“If I am held back it’s not because I can’t go because I’m injured, he can’t go do it. I feel like I can do it. The coaches know I can go do it, also the training staff. It’s precaution. I’m on the same page as those guys.”

So Claiborne was held out--as a precaution. He hasn’t appeared in a game since the Week 4 victory over the Saints last year, but insists he’s ready to go whenever the Cowboys decide they’re ready to throw him out there.

“I feel like I’m ready to go,” Claiborne said. “But it’s not my decision at this point.”

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<![CDATA[5 Things to Know About the Loss to San Francisco]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 13:59:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pdoney-5things.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney has five takeaways from the Cowboys loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.]]> <![CDATA[McFadden Feeling Good After Quiet Preseason Debut]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:37:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/darren-mcfadden-49ers.jpg

Darren McFadden didn’t do a whole lot in his preseason debut with the Dallas Cowboys, but after being held out of the opener against the Chargers in San Diego, the veteran was just glad to be back on the field.

“For me, I’m just glad I was able to get out there and run around with my teammates and fight with them,” McFadden said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We didn’t get the thing accomplished that we wanted to accomplish out there but it’s something that we got to come back and look at the film and try to correct these things and get better for next week.”

McFadden went for just four yards on three carries, and added a three-yard reception to bring his all-purpose total on Sunday night to seven yards. But the veteran, who came to the Cowboys as a free agent in March after seven seasons with the Raiders, doesn’t believe the time he missed this offseason and in camp with a pair of hamstring issues has him behind his teammates, or where he’d normally be around this time of year.

“For me, I don’t feel like I’m behind at all,” McFadden said. “It’s one of those things that you have to get your reps and get your feet back under you. I feel like these last couple weeks I’ve been doing that.”

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<![CDATA[Another Preseason Game, Another Sack for Randy Gregory]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:49:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/randy-gregory-cowboys.jpg

It’s just a couple of preseason games, but Cowboys rookie defensive end Randy Gregory continues to show promise.

The second rounder, who fell into the Cowboys’ laps as a result of some off-field concerns, recorded his second sack of the preseason on Sunday night as he dropped the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick for a loss of 14 in the first quarter. He also drew a pair of holding penalties.

I feel like he’s been consistent like that both games and I thought our practice against the Rams, too,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, per the Dallas Morning News. “I thought he’s really shown his rush ability. The first couple of groups are starting to rush a little bit.”

On the preseason, Gregory now has four tackles and two sacks.
 

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<![CDATA[Sean Lee Set to Return Against Vikings]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:52:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-sean-lee-camp.jpg

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was fully suited up for Sunday night’s preseason matchup with the 49ers in Santa Clara, CA, but he was never going to play. The Cowboys continue to handle Lee with caution as he continues to work back from the torn ACL that ended his 2014 season before it began.

The good news for Lee: It appears he’ll be on the field for the third preseason game, on Saturday against the Vikings in Arlington.

You want to be out there with the guys and playing football,” Lee said, per the Dallas Morning News. “But they have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow it. Next week should be a good week to start playing.”

Lee’s not about to get ahead of himself, of course. Standing between him and Saturday is a week of ever-important practices.

“It means I have to put a lot of work in,” Lee said. “It means it’s time for me to keep ramping up and that’s the plan they have, to add load and continue to build and we’ve done a good job with that, but now it’s time hopefully to get in playing a lot more football.

“I feel great. You’ve played football a long time, but I think I’ve come back and done a good job in practice. But that’s one thing. Taking it to the game is the next step and that’s something I need to do.”



Photo Credit: Pat Doney, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Jones "Concerned" About Special Teams]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:33:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485056164.jpg

The performance of the Dallas Cowboys’ special teams units in Sunday night’s 23-6 preseason loss to the 49ers was enough to worry Jerry Jones a bit.

It was bad all over, the special teams.

The 49ers’ Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby player making the transition to the NFL, averaged 28 yards on three punt returns against the Cowboys on Sunday. The usually automatic Dan Bailey missed a 43-yard field goal. And backup punter Tom Hornsey had a punt blocked in the end zone for a 49ers’ touchdown in the third quarter.

I am concerned about special teams because those guys have to take what we’re missing out there and they’ve got to meld together as a unit,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “It’s one of the real challenges that you have and at the same time put the 53 together that we want to.”

On the bright side, Lucky Whitehead, the rookie receiver/return man auditioning to replace Dwayne Harris on the roster this preseason, did not fumble a punt against the 49ers as he did against the Chargers.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sideline Images: Cowboys, 49ers]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:32:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485064506.jpg The San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 23-6 on Sunday night in the second week of preseason action.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weeden Suffers Concussion in Loss to 49ers]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:33:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485064514.jpg

Cowboys backup quarterback Brandon Weeden didn’t have a great Sunday night.

Weeden came into the game after Tony Romo’s lone, forgettable series, and went 2 of 5  passing over three series for seven yards. His night came to an abrupt end when he took a blow to the head while being sacked.

He seemed to be fine in talking to him afterwards,” head coach Jason Garrett told the team’s website afterward, “but we’ll see what the (team’s) medical people have to say.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones later confirmed that Weeden had suffered a concussion.

The Cowboys’ next preseason game is set for Saturday, when they will host the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium for the penultimate exhibition match-up of the year.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vaughan Throws Away Chance to Shine at QB]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:36:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/485049032.jpg

Well, at least now we know: Dustin Vaughan isn’t the Cowboys’ quarterback of the future.

We didn’t think he was. But now – after Sunday night’s hideous performance in Santa Clara – we’re pretty certain. Tony Romo still has 3-4 peak years in him, but after that the search will continue. Because Vaughan did nothing to signal that he’s ready to be an NFL quarterback.

It was an ugly night all around. The Cowboys couldn’t cover kicks, had a punt blocked and lost 23-6 to the 49ers. Even Dan Bailey missed a field goal.

“It was not every good,” head coach Jason Garrett said in his post-game press conference. “It wasn't very good on offense. It wasn't very good on defense. It wasn't very good in the kicking game. It wasn't very good early, middle or late.”

Other than that, it was … Oh, forget it. It was bad.

Especially the No. 3 quarterback whom some in the organization had a chance to push for No. 2 during training camp.

Nope.

Romo played three snaps and backup Brandon Weeden suffered a concussion on his first series. The table was set for Vaughan, and he wound up tripping on the table cloth, breaking all the plates and completely ruining the meal.

The Cowboys didn’t play Dez Bryant and 4/5ths of the starting offensive line sat out with various injuries. But, still, Vaughan was, well, horrible. He was panicky in the pocket. He threw late. He threw high. He threw when he shouldn’t have thrown. He threw where he shouldn’t have thrown. He threw an interception to a 300-pound defensive lineman for a touchdown, tossed another pick over the middle and only two salivating 49ers colliding prevented him from three interceptions – in the first half.

He finished 7 of 16 for 84 yards, two interceptions and two sacks. His rating? Would you believe, 20.8?

Bottom line: Vaughan looked every bit the practice-squad quarterback.

Vaughan’s a free agent out of West Texas A&M. So, obviously, it’s not the end of the world. But for the Cowboys, Vaughan certainly isn’t the end of the search.

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[5 to Know at Cowboys Training Camp - Aug. 21]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:05:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/212*120/doney+machota.JPG NBC 5 Sports' Pat Doney and Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News have 5 to Know ahead of the Cowboys' game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Romo, Witten Growing 'Old' While Seeking Title for Cowboys]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:27:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/081515+pat+witten+and+sons.jpg

Tony Romo crouches to give his little son Hawkins instructions on running a pass route while Jason Witten carries one of his kids nearby, surrounded by autograph seekers.

This is the training camp tradition after practice these days for one of the best quarterback-tight end combinations in NFL history, and the steady force in the Dallas offense for nearly a decade.

Their desire to win a Super Bowl hasn't changed since Romo and Witten came into the league together 12 years ago, or from when Romo became a starter three years later. But their appreciation for how difficult it is to win a title has grown, along with the friendship that formed through the disappointments in trying.

"When you are competitors like we are and you've gone through the highs and lows like we have, you grow," said Witten, who needs 57 catches to become the NFL's second tight end with 1,000 for his career, trailing only Tony Gonzalez. "And then off the field, just the friendship and brotherhood. You get married. You have children. All in that course of when you first met."

The perception of the commitment for each of these teammates differed for years, reputations sewn a year apart starting with Witten famously running 30 yards without a helmet after a catch in 2007. When the next season ended in a blowout loss at Philadelphia that kept Dallas out of the playoffs, Romo infamously said his life would be pretty good if that was the worst thing that happened to him.

Only recently have views on Romo been changing, partly because he battled through three back injuries in just a year and a half to have the most efficient season of his career in 2014.

Then the Cowboys came close to winning multiple playoff games for the first time since Troy Aikman led the last of three Super Bowl-winning runs after the 1995 season. A loss at Green Bay in the divisional round turned in the fourth quarter when Romo's deep throw to Dez Bryant on fourth-and-2 was overturned on review after being ruled a catch near the goal line.

"When you're in the NFL and you're young, it's all about yourself," said Romo, the franchise leader in yards passing (33,270) and touchdowns (242) -- ahead of Hall of Famers Aikman and Super Bowl winner Roger Staubach. "And as you get older and you create the relationships that you have, through a Jason Witten and other people, you want to share those moments. Playoff games. Super Bowl."

Romo also frequently faced questions about his leadership in the locker room, but those have mostly subsided. When nobody -- Witten included -- could get Bryant to calm down on the sideline after a fight with cornerback Tyler Patmon early in camp this year, Romo slowly approached the scene. And Bryant quietly walked away with him.

"He's real. There's nothing fake," Bryant said. "If I'm doing something wrong, Tony's not afraid to let me know."

While Bryant is Romo's most dangerous target these days, Witten will go down as his most consistent. They lead the NFL in connections between quarterback and tight end with 632 since 1991, according to STATS. That's as far back as STATS tracks the numbers. They are second in yards, behind San Diego's Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.

Romo dominates the season charts for Dallas quarterbacks, and Witten has the NFL season record for catches by a tight end (110 in 2012). The former Tennessee player likely will be at least 300 catches ahead of Michael Irvin on the Cowboys' career list when he retires, and Romo and Witten could end up with as many completions together as Hall of Famer Irvin had in his 12-year career (750).

"As much as they've played together there is always something new: `The guy covered me differently on this particular route; he played with this kind of leverage,"' coach Jason Garrett said. "So the fact that they know each other so well, communicate so well, I think they can take full advantage of those situations."

Romo and Witten don't figure to match Irvin's three Super Bowls with Aikman and NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith. They're only worried about the first one. If it happens, their embrace could last a few seconds -- at least.

"If it's just you, it just seems a little bit like, `All right. It's fine.' But to have people with you, that makes it special, I think," Romo said. "And being with a bunch of people you care about, it makes it really enjoyable to go through the process and through the whole journey."

Together, Romo and Witten have lost four season finales with a postseason berth on the line, and their playoff opener after the 2007 season when they were the top seed in the NFC. Their first playoff game after Romo became the starter in 2006 was his famous flub of the snap that prevented a potential go-ahead field goal in a 21-20 loss at Seattle.

"I think the greatest thing I can ever say about Tony is through the tough times and all that was being said, his focus was simply on becoming the best quarterback that he could become," Witten said. "He always had a rare ability to kind of be above it and focus on what really mattered. I respect that. It's not easily done."

And it's not easy for two players to spend 13 years together in the NFL. Never mind that it will probably be at least 15 years, with both under contract at least through 2017.

"We want to win just as bad as for the team as for those guys," sixth-year safety Barry Church said. "They've been through it all. I know they want to win bad as hell."

That's one thing that hasn't changed.



Photo Credit: Pat Doney, NBC 5 Sports]]>