<![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 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:45:43 -0600 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:45:43 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jerry Not Worried About Rolando McClain's Health]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:44:03 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/072614+Cowboys+McClain.jpg

Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys are able to bring Rolando McClain back in 2015, owner Jerry Jones isn’t worried about the linebacker’s health.

McClain, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, missed three regular season games with various injuries and spent the playoffs dealing with lingering concussion-like symptoms. He visited Dr. James Andrews last week to have his right knee examined, and came away with some good news--that he won’t need offseason surgery.

Jones believes McClain’s health issues in 2014 were the product of his getting back in football shape after sitting out the entire 2013 season.

I look at anything that he dealt with injury-wise as a part of the rehabbing of getting back in the groove in the NFL,” Jones said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I don’t mean to minimize what he played with, but still all of that has a chance to be better as he goes along and plays.

“Just a question of having to adjust and being out [of football] 18 months.”

McClain was signed out of retirement by Dallas during training camp last year, in response to middle linebacker Sean Lee going down for the year with a torn ACL. He finished the year with 81 tackles, a sack and two interceptions.

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Photo Credit: Noah Bullard, NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Add Safety, Defensive End ]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:29:40 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys added two defensive players to the mix late last week, signing defensive end Lavar Edwards and safety Keelan Johnson to reserve-future deals.

Edwards spent the year on and off the Cowboys roster, appearing in four games and recording a tackle before finishing the season on the injured reserve with a groin injury.

Johnson appeared in two games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, but was out of football last year.

According to Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News, Johnson pleaded guilty last week to an aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident involving a police officer in Tempe, AZ last July, and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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<![CDATA[Patrick Peterson: Claiborne Has Talent to "Turn the Corner"]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:53:38 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-played-horrible.jpg

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson believes his former LSU teammate, Cowboys’ corner Morris Claiborne can turn it all around if he can just get (and stay) healthy.

Peterson was drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2011, and Claiborne was drafted sixth in 2012. But where Peterson has become one of the best corners in the game, Claiborne has struggled to hit his stride in three NFL seasons. He was benched in 2013 in favor of Orlando Scandrick, and missed all but four games in 2014 after suffering a torn ACL.

But Peterson maintains that Claiborne has all the tools to break out and finally meet the lofty expectations that come with being drafted with such a high pick.

First of all, I definitely think Morris can turn the corner,” Peterson told the Cowboys official website. “He’s got all the talent. He’s been battling injuries since he got into the league. If you want to play in this league at a high level, one, you have to play with a healthy body. Two, you have to play with a clear mind. Three, you just have to play with confidence.”

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<![CDATA[Pro Bowl Wins DFW Ratings Battle]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:34:23 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pro-bowl-ratings2015.jpg

As much as we joke about how no one watches the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s annual all-star game won the day in terms of ratings on Sunday, at least here in North Texas.

According to Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, ESPN’s presentation of the Pro Bowl drew a rating of 8.1 in Dallas-Fort Worth. Among those competing with the showdown between Team Irvin and Team Carter were the Miss Universe pageant, which got a 4.2, and 60 Minutes, which got a 6.2 locally.

The Mavericks-Pelicans game, which started two hours before the Pro Bowl kicked off, drew a 2.9 rating in DFW.

Team Irvin ended up defeating Team Carter 32-28.

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Help Irvin to Pro Bowl Triumph]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:34:25 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/462226912.jpg

The Cowboys finished their year by winning a game in Glendale. A late-January win at the site of the Super Bowl never rang so hollow.

Team Irvin got a late touchdown catch from the Saints’ Jimmy Graham and several contributions from seven Cowboys to win the Pro Bowl, 32-28, Sunday night. On the same field next Sunday the Seahawks and Patriots will play for the NFL championship.

Though they still feel an officiating error cost them a chance at playing in the Super Bowl, the Cowboys, their coaching staff and a sellout crowd of over 63,000 enjoyed the Pro Bowl.

Quarterback Tony Romo completed 4 of 6 passes for 43 yards. DeMarco Murray gained 18 yards on three carries and caught a 9-yard pass. And tight end Jason Witten caught 4 passes for 32 yards. The bulk of the Cowboys’ representatives played on Team Irvin, the Ring of Honor member.

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[Staubach Plans His Own "Deflategate" Investigation]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:41:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roger+Staubach1.jpg NBC 5 caught up with legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and asked his opinion on the "Deflategate" controversy in the NFL. Staubach says he doesn't have all the facts but he's going to do his own investigation to see if he can tell the difference in an underinflated football and a properly inflated football.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Packer Covering Dez Says it Was a Catch]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:53:01 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461347692.jpg

Even with the resurrection of its most popular and polarizing team – your Cowboys – it’s been a rough year for the NFL.

From concussion cases to Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson to botched officiating to, yes, Deflategate, pro football has seen better days. Oh yeah, about that botched officiating.

This will both sour and soothe the readers who keep yelling at me to “let it go!” Because while this is yet another angle of Dez Bryant’s catch/noncatch, it’s also my final angle.

Promise. I think.

Dez isn’t at this week’s Pro Bowl, because he’s protecting his future earning potential by nursing a sorta sore groin. But someone who is there is the player who covered him on the infamous incompletion in Green Bay, the Packers’ Sam Shields.

No one had a better view of the play. So what’s his opion?

“It was a catch,” Shields told ESPNDallas.com. “But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that’s what the refs came up with. I never said he didn’t catch it. He made a hell of a catch.”

Bryant knows it. You know it. I know it. Even Shields knows it.

And, as if we needed more proof, we also all know the NFL is having a horrible season.

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Draft Profile: CB Marcus Peters]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:55:24 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456225006.jpg

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Ht. 6’0”, Wt. 198, Arm: -, Hand: -
40 yd: -, 10 yd.: - , 3 Cone: - , Bench: -
Games Watched: at Oregon St. (2013), at Stanford (2013), at Hawaii

If you think other games better reflect this player’s ability or you want to request a profile on a specific player, email me or hit me up on Twitter.

Washington cornerback Marcus Peters will be an interesting case to follow during the draft process. He's as talented in coverage as any cornerback prospect drafted in the last few years and he intercepted 11 passes in just 34 college games.

Peters was dismissed from the Washington football team, reportedly for arguing with coaches. So while his ability is evident on tape, scouts and coaches will have to rely on interviews to decide if his personality will fit their teams.

Strengths

Much like Randy Gregory, Peters is basically how NFL coaches would draw up a player at his position. He has ideal size and length for a cornerback and he uses it well, excelling in press-man coverage. In fact, he nearly knocked a Hawaii wide receiver over backward with his jam.

He plays tight coverage, especially man, and takes advantage of his recovery speed by often looking to jump routes. He blitzes well and tries to rip the ball out against runners. The NFL is a splash play league, and Peters plays like he understands that.

Peters plays the run better than most cornerback prospects from the last few years. He plants and drives (stops his backpedal and runs forward) very quickly and easily fights through blocks from wide receivers and even fullbacks.

Weaknesses

The obvious downside to Peters is his dismissal from school in November after reportedly having several arguments with coaches. Some NFL personnel evidently don’t think it’s much of an issue, but interviews will be very important.

The physicality and aggression he plays with can also be a detriment at times. He can be a bit “grabby” in man coverage, which the NFL clearly doesn’t like. Plus, looking to jump routes left him open to double moves at times as well.

Fluid hips (smooth transition from backpedal  to running, for example), might be the most important trait for a good cornerback. Peters isn’t stiff, but he’s not that smooth either. It’s a minor gripe, but NFL wide receivers will be able gain slight separation on breaks if he doesn’t improve.

Verdict: Top-15 Talent With Questions

Peters looks like the quintessential Seahawks cornerback, and he could probably step in that system and be another Byron Maxwell right now. The Cowboys need an injection of youth in the secondary, especially with Claiborne and Carr potentially being cut.

On talent alone, Peters should be gone well before the Cowboys pick 27th overall, but questions about his "character" might push him down or off some boards. Defensive tackle Josh Brent is still on the roster, so Jerry Jones seems willing to overlook a few transgressions.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Positional Grades: Tight End]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:27:16 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461029146.jpg

With the 2014 season in the rear-view, let's look back at how the Cowboys did on a position-by-position basis. We'll look at starters and contributors, not every last man on the roster.

Grade: B+

2014 stats: Jason Witten had 64 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns, and Gavin Escobar added four more touchdown catches despite disappearing late in the season. James Hanna was used as a blocker in two-tight sets.

Witten had a very average year by his standards, but he deferred to the Cowboys' new identity of running DeMarco Murray 25 times a game and Tony Romo throwing it 20 times instead of 35. But he was huge down the stretch and in the postseason on key conversion downs, and really kept the Cowboys alive in that Lions playoff game even though that'll be forgotten in favor of the no-call pass interference on Anthony Hitchens.

Witten isn't the receiver he was 10 years ago, but he is such a solid veteran and is still one of the best tight ends in the game, and without debate, the best all-around true tight end in the game before the advent of wide receivers playing on the line like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jimmy Graham to Witten: You're an Idol For Me]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:26:02 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jimmy-graham-witten.jpg

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was glad to end up on the same Pro Bowl team as the Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten.

Witten and Graham were both drafted by Team Irvin and Graham, one of the best of a new breed of ultra-athletic tight end, took the opportunity to tell the veteran that he considers him a role model--and not just because he’s been among the best of the best at the position for over a decade and has the 10 Pro Bowl nods to prove it.

First thing I told him is that he’s an idol for me,” Graham said of Witten. “Him, on and off the field. Not only how he’s so consistent and him as a pro in the pass game and run game, but what he does for his community and his city. It’s been inspiring for me, and it’s something I try to emulate as much as I can.”

Witten, who was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2012, for his excellence on the field as well as his volunteer and charity work off the field, was honored by Graham’s words.

“Really, that’s what you play for--to have guys like that, who are the best of the best that come to you and say, ‘Hey, we respect you,’” Witten said of Graham. “He’s a young, bright star. He told me that (Wednesday) night that on the field he’s always watched me and off the field as well. And I’m glad that he views me like that. I’m really honored that he feels that way.”

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<![CDATA[Looking Away From Murray: Mike Davis]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:12:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456661852.jpg

One of the biggest offseason questions facing the Dallas Cowboys after their 13-5 season, and one that will need to be answered sooner rather than later, is whether they bring back running back DeMarco Murray on the heels of his record-setting season.

Emotion and sentiment says it's a no-brainer, but logic might say otherwise.

So what if the Cowboys let Murray walk after the greatest season in franchise history for a running back? Where could the Cowboys go as an alternative? There's talk of the Cowboys looking to the draft to replace Murray, which would likely require a first-round pick (No. 27) and definitely no later than their second-round selection.

A guy that could possibly be there when the Cowboys come up in the early rounds is South Carolina running back Mike Davis.

At 5-9, 220 pounds, Davis is a bowling ball back. While he isn't as flashy as some of the first-round talent such as Melvin Gordon, he has something that the Cowboys could covet in the early to mid rounds while still being able to go defense early in the draft — durability and workhorse potential.

If the Cowboys are going to move on from Murray, they need someone who can step into his shoes of carrying the ball 25-30 times a game because the idea wouldn't be to platoon a supposed "replacement" for Murray with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. If the Cowboys are going to replace Murray, they need to replace him. Davis could do that, and not cost the Cowboys a fortune.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tony Romo Far From Satisfied]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:24:42 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461347814.jpg

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo arguably had his best season as a pro in 2014.

Romo threw 34 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions, and led the Cowboys to their first NFC East Championship since 2009. In the playoffs, he stayed hot, throwing four touchdowns and no picks in two games.

But, 12 days into his offseason, Romo is far from satisfied--which is understandable, considering the last throw of his season was that 4th-and-2 toss to Dez Bryant that could have set the team up at the Green Bay one-yard line with a very good chance to take the lead and advance to the NFC Championship, but instead was ruled an incomplete pass and a season-ending turnover on downs.

“You want to keep constantly trying to figure out new ways to improve,” Romo said, per ESPN Dallas. “You’re never satisfied. Last year is not a satisfying feeling. If anything, it makes you more hungry to be better going forward so you have an opportunity to achieve all your goals. Ultimately we didn’t get that done and that just never sits well. I’m a firm believer that you have to start over and go do everything you did to be better the next season. You can’t just rest on anything you’ve done. It just doesn’t work that way.

“I’m going to have to start over, tear it all down and figure out what I did well and work on the things I didn’t do as well and then go try and continue to perfect your craft to get to your highest level.”

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<![CDATA[Rookie Martin Says Cowboys' Line Made Him]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:23:56 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305802.jpg

All season long, we've heard about how the third in a line of three years of first-round draft picks on the offensive line, Zack Martin, made the difference this season in the Cowboys' offense and the overall team success.

He's often been called the "missing piece" to a line that was otherwise the same as the 2013 version that struggled to protect Tony Romo and didn't produce near the rushing numbers as it did in 2014.

But Martin, the rookie guard out of Notre Dame, sees it the other way.

In advance of his first Pro Bowl appearance in his first NFL season, Martin said he isn't sure he'd be in the Pro Bowl if not for the situation he was placed in to start his professional career.

“I don’t know if I’d be here right now if I didn’t get drafted in Dallas,” Martin told the team's website from the Pro Bowl in Phoenix, where he is one of eight Cowboys selected for the game. “It’s just right place, right time. [Martin’s offensive line teammates] hold you to a higher standard and bring out the best in you. I really couldn’t ask for a better spot.”

Martin says he's been helped tremendously by playing alongside second-year center Travis Frederick, a fellow Pro Bowler, and veteran right tackle Doug Free.

“I couldn’t have landed in a better spot, with a better group of guys that just want to be successful,” Martin said. “These guys have helped me so much this year. And I think as a group, we’ve just made an effort to get better and better and keep raising the bar.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Witten: Murray's Worth Goes Beyond On-Field Production]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:23:18 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457134664.jpg

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray set a new franchise record in 2014 with 1,845 rushing yards, but his importance goes far beyond his on-field performance, according to veteran tight end Jason Witten.

Echoing what head coach Jason Garrett said shortly after the season came to an end in Green Bay, Witten credits Murray with playing an integral role in establishing the Cowboys’ identity in 2014.

“We’ve got good running backs. Joe Randle took advantage of every opportunity he got. I think [Lance] Dunbar’s got a great future ahead of him,” Witten said, per ESPN Dallas. “Obviously the O-line, but I think it would be silly to not give him the credit for what he did.

“It’s not easy to do that and I think Coach [Jason] Garrett said it a few weeks back that he created a mindset for our team and that’s not easy to do. He deserves a lot of that credit, DeMarco does, and so that’s why you want a guy like that back because he stands for everything you want in your football team.”

In 2014, Murray played 16 games for the first time in his career, as well as two playoff games. He finished with a league-high 392 carries the aforementioned 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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<![CDATA[Witten Wants Murray to Remember Him]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:22:05 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460756556.jpg

Unless DeMarco Murray is handed the franchise tag this offseason, which isn't too likely considering Jerry Jones' apparent desire to either not use it at all or give it to Dez Bryant, it seems Murray will almost certainly have a decision to make this offseason on whether to stay in Dallas or go elsewhere.

One thing's for certain: The league's top running back in 2014 will get a better contract offer from some team other than the Cowboys, it'll just be up to him to decide what he wants to do — go for the biggest payday or stick around to finish what he helped the Cowboys start this season.

Before you go off on Murray for the idea of chasing a payday, keep this mind: The deal Murray signs this offseason will be his one shot at a big contract. That's just a simple truth for the life of an NFL running back given their relatively short shelf life.

But at least one of Murray's teammates hopes he doesn't solely base his decision on money.

"You want to see him maximize that but there’s no question that I hope he’s thinking about guys like me when he’s going through that decision," Witten told ESPN Dallas.

You get the sense Witten understands Murray's position and wants what's best for him, but he also wants what's best for him, which would be having a 2014 Murray season again in 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Campaigning for Dallas to Bring Back Murray, Bryant]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:20:28 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/175904189.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager said just last week that it might not be reasonable to think that the team can bring back both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray in 2015, but that hasn’t stopped quarterback Tony Romo from campaigning for the team to do exactly that.

In an appearance on 103.3-FM ESPN Radio this week, Romo said he’s taken every opportunity to pester Jerry Jones and co. about keeping the band together.

"I’m pretty consistently [talking to Jones], and everyone around the building, about bringing them both back," Romo said, via the Dallas Morning News. "I think everybody understands how great these guys are and how lucky we are to have them.

"Any time you get talented guys where you can put more than two on one side of the ball, you get three, four, if you’re lucky enough to ever get five, it’s one of those things where if you can put a group like that together you can make a run and be very difficult for teams to deal with for years. I think that’s what you’re trying to build ultimately is to have sustained success. We have an opportunity to have that."

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<![CDATA[Stephen Jones: About Time Jerry Got Some Credit]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:19:11 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457124394.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was named the Pro Football Writers of America’s Executive of the Year this month, and his son, executive vice president Stephen Jones thinks it’s about time his old man got some recognition.

Jones has been criticized heavily for his work as GM over the years, but he put together a squad in 2014 that won the NFC East and won a playoff game for the first time since 2009.

Well I think it’s a long time coming,” Stephen Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Obviously, we won three Super Bowls in the 90s, and he played a big part of that. The job that this organization has done under his leadership and guidance as the general manager, I think, it’s well-deserved.

“Certainly, he’s done one heck of a job with really setting a tone and a way to do things with not only myself, but with our personnel department and our coaching staff and Jason [Garrett]. I think everybody has the utmost respect for him. And his passion and will to win, I think really trickles down the organization--starting with me, and then into Will [McClay] and his personnel department, Jason and the coaching staff and everybody else that touches the football field. I think it’s great that he finally got that acknowledgement.”

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<![CDATA[Inmate Vows $88B Suit After Cowboys Win 'Stolen']]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:59:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terry-hendrix.jpg

A prison inmate still reeling from the Dallas Cowboys' playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers has decided to take action to remedy to defeat, announcing intent to sue NFL officials for $88 billion for "gross stupidity" and "the loss of a Super Bowl."

In a hand-written notice, Terrance Hendrix, a 51-year-old inmate at the Fremont Correctional Facility in Colorado, accused the NFL and its officials of "committing fraud" and "gross negligence" when they overturned a potentially game-changing catch. He's seeking $88,987,654,321.88 — Bryant's jersey No. 88 book-ended by digits 9 through 1 — in damages on behalf of the team, its fans and "all people in or and from the sovereign Republic of Texas."

Dez Bryant's catch at the Green Bay 1 yard line on fourth down late in the fourth quarter put the Cowboys in position to take the lead in a game that sent the winner to the NFC Championship Game. Packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged the play, though, and referees overturned the call.

According to the lawsuit, Hendrix stated that referees Dean Blandino and Gene Steratore and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "have stolen a victory from the plaintiff(s) because the Cowboys offense would have perfectly created an 'autobahn' for DeMarco Murray to drive into the end zone for the score and victory." That loss, he writes, constitutes the theft of a Super Bowl committed against the "hearts, minds and souls" of the players, cheerleaders, fans and all Texans.

Hendrix is acting as his own attorney in the case.

Officials with the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL declined to coment.


NBC Owned Television Stations' Esther Katro contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Team Irvin Lands (Almost) All the Pro Bowl Cowboys]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:27:34 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/82888380.jpg

For the Dallas Cowboys fans who actually tune into the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Team Irvin will have a very familiar feel.

Michael Irvin’s team drafted six of seven of the Cowboys in the Pro Bowl, and made quarterback Tony Romo their top pick. They also picked up tight end Jason Witten, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. DeMarco Murray was named a captain on Team Irvin, so he didn’t have to be drafted, and the team will be coached by the Dallas staff.

Long snapper LP LaDouceur is the only Cowboy who will play for Cris Carter’s squad.

It’s going to be great because it just brings that continuity,” Frederick said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “Even if we’re not exactly running our playbook it’s at least the same terminology. It’s a lot of the stuff we will have heard before.”

Sunday will mark a reunion of sorts for the six Cowboys on Team Irvin--except for Martin, who wasn't with the team in 2013--as they also picked up longtime Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, who departed for Denver last offseason.

“Actually [defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli] came to me and he said, ‘Do you have any rushes left in you? Let’s get to the quarterback this week,’ so I know he’s excited,” Ware said. “He takes his game to a whole other level. Whenever he’s out there able to coach it’s a game and he said, ‘I am going to be on the winning team. I’m not going to lose.’”

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<![CDATA[The Top 10 Reasons The Cowboys Are Better Than The Patriots]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:22:43 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bill-belechick-deflate-presser-AP145710954535.jpg

With Bill Belichick and the Deflatriots digging their lying, cheating hole deeper and deeper, I was reminded this morning why I – along with the rest of America – love the Cowboys more than New England.

Then I remembered another reason. And yet another, until I got to 10 …

10. Bill Parcells coached both teams for 64 regular-season games, going 34-30 in Dallas and only 32-32 in New England.

9. Former Patriot Aaron Hernandez is in prison for murder. Former Cowboy Dwayne Goodrich is out of prison after serving nine years for criminally negligent homicide.

8. Less than 12 months after the death of his wife (Myra) of 38 years, Patriots owner Bob Kraft began dating a 32-year-old aspiring actress. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is … well … um … okay, he is hardly squeaky clean. But he did give $10 million to his alma mater, Arkansas.

7. Super Bowl appearances: Cowboys 8, Patriots 7. Super Bowl wins: Cowboys 5, Patriots 3.

6. In the 2010 NFL Draft the Cowboys traded up three spots to draft a receiver named Dez Bryant. The team that allowed Dallas to jump up and nab one of the league’s best players? You guessed it.

5. Patriots claim six members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but half of those – Parcells, Curtis Martin and Nick Buoniconti – starred with other franchises. The Cowboys boast 14 players in Canton who produced all of their immortal success with the star on their helmet.

4. The Patriots spied on opponents, orchestrated confusing eligible receiver substitutions and, ahem, mysteriously played with illegally deflated footballs. The Cowboys were fined for merely attempting to manipulate the salary cap.

3. Cowboys beat the Patriots, 44-21, in Texas Stadium’s debut back in 1971 and lead the all-time series, 7-4.

2. Roger Staubach won a Heisman Trophy, served in Vietnam and married his grade-school sweetheart. Tom Brady was a backup at Michigan and proposed to the world’s richest model at an airport in New Jersey.

1. With his football genius and saintly life, Tom Landry has a statue. With his lying, cheating, loathing of social interaction and abject lack of remorse for the consequences of his actions, Bill Belichick is a borderline sociopath. 

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/Elise Amendola]]>
<![CDATA[Rolando McClain Avoids Offseason Knee Surgery]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:50:43 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rolando-mcclain9.15.jpg

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain had his right knee examined by Dr. James Andrews recently, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, but he emerged with some good news.

McClain will not need surgery on the knee this offseason.

After middle linebacker Sean Lee suffered a torn ACL on the first day of training camp, the Cowboys acquired McClain--who had retired and sat out the entire 2013 season--in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens.

At times in 2014, McClain looked like the best player on the Dallas defense but he missed three games due to various injuries, including the aforementioned troublesome knee. He finished with 81 tackles, a sack and two interceptions.

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<![CDATA[Green Bay Loss Still Hurts for Cowboys Pro Bowlers]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:51:18 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461345626.jpg

For the seven Dallas Cowboys who are in Glendale, AZ for the Pro Bowl--and for Dez Bryant, who had to pull out of the game with a lingering groin issue--the honor of being selected for pro football’s All-Star Game can only do so much to assuage the lingering pain of the season coming to a sudden end in Green Bay 11 days ago.

It was tough. We played well the whole game,” long snapper and first time Pro Bowler L.P. Ladouceur told the team’s website this week. “The weather was in our favor. It wasn’t that cold. We played well, but stuff happens. The next thing you know you’re in the locker room like, ‘Where did that go?’ But, it was a hell of a game. We competed our butts off.”

Granted, the way the Cowboys’ improbable playoff run ended was especially painful.

Down 26-21 with a little over four minutes left, Bryant appeared to have caught a pass from Tony Romo (another Pro Bowler) on a 4th and 2 that would have set the team up on the Green Bay one-yard line. But on review, based on a stupid, stupid rule, it was ruled that Bryant did not control the ball going to the ground. Packers ball and, with a pair of first downs, game over, season over.

“Waking up and realizing that the season is over ... it’s a different Monday as previous weeks,” said running back DeMarco Murray last week. “It’s a little hard. It’s frustrating but you know it is what it is. A lot of guys had good individual years but I think at the end of the day you look at what we did as a team and it was good, it wasn’t great, but a lot of guys will learn from it. We’ll have this taste in our mouths for a long time and leading into off season workouts and hope for a different result.”

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<![CDATA[Witten Joins Exclusive Club With 10th Pro Bowl Nod]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:49:52 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456297934.jpg

When veteran tight end Jason Witten was added to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement last week, he reached some seriously rarified air, joining Dallas Cowboys legends and Pro Football Hall of Famers Mel Renfro and Larry Allen as a 10-time Pro Bowler.

The always humble Witten was predictably humbled by the company.

“When Mr. Jones called to tell me (about the Pro Bowl), he mentioned some of those names,” Witten told the team’s website this week. “I’ve always been a guy that has prided myself on doing it year in and year out and having a high standard. But to be mentioned with those guys, those were some of the best of the best.”

Bob Lilly, also a legend and a Hall of Famer, owns the franchise record with 11 Pro Bowl appearances. Despite seeing a dip in his stats in 2014, there seems a good chance that Witten could join Lily around this time in 2016.

“I think when you come into the league you don’t ever envision 12  years later you can say you’ve been to 10 pro bowls,” Witten said. “It’s a huge honor. I’ve been fortunate to be able to play in a good system and good people around you, help you [succeed]. This year is different because it was a different goal. To end up back here definitely feels good how things went for me this year.”

Of course there also seems a good chance that before we know it, Witten could be joining Lilly, Allen and Renfro in Canton and on the Ring of Honor as well.

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<![CDATA[LP LaDouceur Excited for First Pro Bowl]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:51:53 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lp-ladouceur-pro-bowl1.jpg

After a decade in the NFL, Dallas Cowboys long snapper L.P. LaDouceur is set to play in his first Pro Bowl, and the Canadian-born veteran is understandably excited.

“This is great,” Ladouceur told the team’s official website from his Phoenix-area hotel this week. “After 10 years, to get a little reward like this, it’s a little cherry on top of the sundae to me. I’m excited to be here.”

More casual fans--fans who probably don’t read this blog--might not know his name, which really speaks to his effectiveness as a long snapper. His job is to be a faceless but invaluable part of some of the less exciting facets of the game--punts, field goals and extra points. And he’s done it well, since Week 4 of the 2005 season, when he took over the position full-time.

If LaDouceur has his druthers, he’ll have plenty more opportunities for a return trip to the Pro Bowl.

Asked how long he’d like to keep playing, LaDouceur said--only half-jokingly, we’d imagine--“Until I’m 52.”

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[Cowboys Positional Grades: Wide Receiver]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:56:53 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461346220.jpg

With the 2014 season in the rear-view, let's look back at how the Cowboys did on a position-by-position basis. We'll look at starters and contributors, not every last man on the roster.

Maybe they were helped by the powerful rushing attack, but the same could've possibly be said for record-setting running back DeMarco Murray benefitting from his teammates out wide, as the Cowboys' wide receivers had a great season.

Grade: A+

Stats: Between the three starting receivers: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, the three combined for 162 catches for 2,361 yards (14.6 yards per catch) and 28 touchdows.

Dez Bryant, of course, led the way for this unit, not only setting a new franchise record for touchdown receptions in a season, but leading the NFL in the category with 16 (quick math: one per game). He further proved the fact he's in the discussion for being the best wideout in the NFL and had his moment of glory taken away in the NFC Divisional round loss to the Packers. His opposite, Williams, disappeared for a stretch in the middle of the year but turned it on late showing explosiveness and the ability to break a big play at any moment, including a huge postseason. And the biggest improvement came from Beasley, who showed to be one of the league's most effective slot receivers, especially down the stretch.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Looking Away From Murray: T.J. Yeldon]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:55:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460219353.jpg

One of the biggest offseason questions facing the Dallas Cowboys after their 13-5 season, and one that will need to be answered sooner rather than later, is whether they bring back running back DeMarco Murray on the heels of his record-setting season.

Emotion and sentiment says it's a no-brainer, but logic might say otherwise.

So what if the Cowboys let Murray walk after the greatest season in franchise history for a running back? Where could the Cowboys go as an alternative? There's talk of the Cowboys looking to the draft to replace Murray, which would likely require a first-round pick (No. 27) and definitely no later than their second-round selection.

A guy that could possibly be there when the Cowboys come up at No. 27 is Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon.

Look at the recent line of Alabama running backs to come out of Tuscaloosa, and there are some big names there: Mark Ingram (who is a Cowboys' free agent option), Trent Richardson (who's been a bust so far) and Eddie Lacy, who's been the best of the bunch.

Yeldon isn't the bruiser Lacy is, but he's much faster and better in the open field, and he's also got good size at 6-2, 221 pounds. As a junior last season, Yeldon rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards on just shy of 200 carries, which aren't eye-popping numbers. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield, and while he's not the elite talent of a Melvin Gordon-type guy, he could be a good value pick in the early rounds running behind the Cowboys' mammoth offensive line and still allow the team to go defensive line in the first round.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aikman Says Patriots Cheated and Should be Punished]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:56:01 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bill-belechick-deflate-presser-AP145710954535.jpg

So has everyone heard that the Patriots reportedly had all but one of their game balls deflated to two pounds of pressure under the NFL minimum? It's a pretty big deal, and it's even taken on cute names like Deflategate and Ballghazi, and it's even hit the tabloid shows on late night TV (not that I watch those, or anything).

Former Cowboys quarterback and FOX broadcaster Troy Aikman had some opinions about the matter on KTCK The Ticket on Thursday morning, and they were piping hot.

Aikman — and I'm paraphrasing — pretty much said there is no way the directive to deflate all but one of the balls from Sunday's AFC Championship Game didn't come from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In fact, it's been well documented that the quarterback of each team selects the game balls and turns them into officials, who inspect them and sign off on them.

No one would've cared about those game balls more than Brady, and Aikman said he has no doubts Brady knew about it. He also said the NFL has enough evidence to take action against the Patriots, and added that if the NFL can suspend Saints head coach Sean Payton for Bountygate, then they can easily suspend Patriots coach Bill Belichick for at least that long. He called it cheating, while Bountygate was something that goes on in every NFL locker room.

It'll be interesting to see how the NFL handles the Patriots, who have been under scrutiny before for cheating and been punished for it. One thing's for sure, it will not involve the Super Bowl at all, and it shouldn't, but it should be a pretty hefty penalty for next season.



Photo Credit: AP/Elise Amendola]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Talks Beyond X's, O's]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:13:37 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jason-garrett-interview-land-peppard.jpg

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett sits down with NBC 5 and The Dallas Morning News for a rare, personal interview.

Garrett talks not only about his new $30 million, 5-year contract, but also about his relationship with owner Jerry Jones and quarterback Tony Romo -- one he assures is "not a Bromance." He also talks about the Dez Bryant catch/noncatch and the side of himself that's not so disciplined.

NBC 5’s Meredith Land and Dallas Morning News columnist Alan Peppard sit down exclusively with the head coach.

"People are so nice here in Dallas, I can't even begin to tell you. Clearly they love football, they love the Cowboys and I've benefited from that."

Learn more about Garrett, outside of the X's and O's, in our exclusive on-camera interview. Also, read more on the Garrett interview from Peppard in Thursday's edition of The Dallas Morning News.

CLICK HERE for "Jason Garrett: The Once and Future Cowboy" from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Draft Profile: EDGE Randy Gregory]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:15:47 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456047976.jpg

Randy Gregory, Edge*, Nebraska
Ht. 6’6”, Wt. 245, Arm: -, Hand: -
40 yd: -, 10 yd.: - , 3 Cone: - , Bench: -
Games Watched: at Wisconsin, Miami, at Michigan St.

If you think other games better reflect this player’s ability or you want to request a profile on a specific player, email me or hit me up on Twitter.

Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory burst onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore in 2013. The junior college transfer from Arizona Western College made an immediate impact for the Huskers with 16 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Gregory missed time in 2014 when he aggravated an old knee injury, but he still managed to record 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two blocked kicks.

Strengths

If NFL coaches could draw up an edge defender’s frame, it would look a lot like Gregory. At 6 feet 6 inches tall and with long arms, he has ideal length for an edge defender. His length helps him stack and shed well despite his low weight.

The most impressive thing about Gregory’s film, though, was how well he uses his hands. He has the hands of a boxer, which help him easily disengage from blockers. He has an NFL-caliber swim move right now.

Gregory converts speed to power and consistently pushed bigger offensive linemen backward. He’s highly athletic and has exceptional balance. He plays well in space and would fit well as a SAM — strongside outside — linebacker for the Cowboys until he added enough weight to become an every-down defensive end.

Weaknesses

The first negative that jumps out about Gregory is his weight. He set the edge well in college, even against Miami’s talented OT Ereck Flowers, but he would be a liability against the run as a defensive end in Dallas’ scheme.

Gregory occasionally makes bad run fits and loses containment on outside plays. Several teams took advantage of this in 2014, calling counters and play-action bootlegs toward his side of the field. He must maintain discipline moving forward.

Gregory’s burst is exceptional, but he was one of the last players off the snap on many of the plays I watched. Minor gripe, but it's something to work on.

Verdict: Top-10 Pick

Gregory has the potential to develop into a player like 49ers edge defender Aldon Smith, but faces the same questions as Browns edge Barkevious Mingo. He needs to add about 20 good pounds and improve his run defense, but he might be the best of a deep class of pass-rush prospects.

At this point, I’d gladly turn in a top-10 draft pick for him. So the question for the Cowboys is whether his potential is worth the picks they'd have to give up to move up from No. 27.

* Because of the variety of NFL schemes and the negligible differences between certain positions, the term 'EDGE' replaces 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sorry, Patriots, Cheaters Are Never True Champions ]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:58:05 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/TLMD-patriots-AFC-champions-461747020.png

Give me the Fedora-topped suit over the sleeveless hoodie. And, despite last weekend's re-writing of the NFL record book for playoff coaching wins, give me Tom Landry over Bill Belicheat.

Why? Because cheaters never win and winners never cheat.

Unless, that is, you root for - or coach - a team called the New England Deflatriots.

While Cowboys fans – I’m certainly guilty – are still grousing about how they were cheated by the referees in Green Bay, the NFL’s dirtiest franchise prepares for yet another Super Bowl amidst another round of cheating allegations. The Patriots, who were once convicted of illegally spying on opponents, are now bending the rules – or perhaps breaking them – with all these “eligible receiver” shenanigans and allegations of purposefully deflating footballs to make them easier to throw and catch.

If you’re a Patriots fan, the rest of us are whiners. But to the rest of the common, decent, law-abiding sports world, the Patriots aren’t winners.

Or are they?

Cheating, after all, is about as American as apple pie, blue jeans and the Cowboys. No?

Your taxes. Your spouse. Your diet. Your résumé. Your handicap.

Chances are you've cheated on one of them.

If not, how about the time you scurried across the street instead of using the crosswalk? That day you sneaked 12 items through the 10-or-fewer grocery line? The iPod music pirated off the Internet? The MENSA test answers impatiently pilfered from the back of the airplane magazine? The 79 mph drive home in the 65 zone? Alone, in the HOV lane, with beer open and seat belt unfastened? Shoot, even the old TV show Cheaters was staged and fake. Yep, Cheaters cheated.

It's OK, we reason and shrug. Because we’re living, breathing, cheating humans hard-wired with an insatiable hunger to get ahead and stay there. Cutting corners is ingrained in our society. If you’re not first – the American saying goes – you’re last.

Cheating is why our prisons are full and our presidents are full of crap.

Lance Armstrong cheated and won. Barry Bonds cheated and won. SMU’s football cheated and won. Rosie Ruiz cheated in the New York Marathon and won. Tommy Lewis cheated in the Cotton Bowl and won. Tiger Woods cheated and won. Sure, they all were eventually caught and forced to apologize. But to them, they’d do it all over again. Since cheaters inherently desire instant gratification, the negative after-effects are just a price they’re willing to pay.

They initially got what they wanted, and so do the Patriots.

Here's the problem. Cheating is wrong. You know it. I know it. And Belicheat knows it.

But just know this, Bill. No matter how many Super Bowls you play in and despite your 21 playoff wins now topping Landry's 20, your legacy will always be tarnished as a cheater. To gain a competitive edge, Landry designed the Flex Defense and implemented the shotgun snap. To gain a competitive advantage, you spied on opponents and sent offensive linemen out for passes after stealthy, confusing substitutions.

Don't ever confuse "winningest" with "classiest."

Belichick is the guy who cuts-and-pastes another writer’s work and claims it as his own. He's the fighter who sneaks in a sucker punch before the opening bell. And he's the head coach seemingly afraid to play straight-up football, by the rules.

Why? Because, at their core, all cheaters are also chicken. Afraid they won't win within the rules, so they find ways to play outside of them.

American mindset be damned, some of us would rather lose fair and square than be forced to cheat to win. Right, Saint Tom?

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[Waxahachie Set to Hire Jon Kitna?!?]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:39:28 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jon-kitna9.1.11.jpg

Hold on to your horses, Texas High School Football fans.

One of several rather significant job openings on the Metroplex landscape is about to be filled, as numerous reports are suggesting Waxahachie has hired former Cowboys backup quarterback Jon Kitna as its next head coach.

The move was first reported by the Tacoma (Washington) News Tribune, where Kitna had headed up his alma mater Tacoma Lincoln, following his playing career. If you remember, Kitna was signed for that ill-fated regular-season finale in 2013 to back up Kyle Orton after Tony Romo had been ruled out, but before that he had a decent run as Romo's backup, and before that was a pretty good starter for the Detroit Lions.

Kitna's son, Jordan, who will be a senior this upcoming season, was the Lincoln quarterback, and would certainly be a frontrunner to hold the same position for the Indians.

Interestingly enough, not all states require coaches to have teaching certification, which is why you see many former NFL players as head coaches in other states, but rarely in Texas and especially not in the public school realm.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Looking Away From Murray: Tevin Coleman]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:54:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459047686.jpg

One of the biggest offseason questions facing the Dallas Cowboys after their 13-5 season, and one that will need to be answered sooner rather than later, is whether they bring back running back DeMarco Murray on the heels of his record-setting season.

Emotion and sentiment says it's a no-brainer, but logic might say otherwise.

So what if the Cowboys let Murray walk after the greatest season in franchise history for a running back? Where could the Cowboys go as an alternative? There's talk of the Cowboys looking to the draft to replace Murray, which would likely require a first-round pick (No. 27) and definitely no later than their second-round selection.

A guy that could possibly be there when the Cowboys come up at No. 27 is Indiana running back Tevin Coleman.

The only running back in the nation to rush for more yards than Coleman's 2,036 yards was yesterday's entry, Wisconsin's Heisman runner-up Melvin Gordon. Coleman is a workhorse and can carry the load of being a No. 1 back, that is not a question, as he's probably one of just three running backs in the draft who could go in the first round.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DeMarco Murray "Would Love to Come Back"]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:15:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/152722931.jpg

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray would love to be back in Dallas in 2015, but he also understands that the NFL is a business, and he’s ready to move on if it comes to that.

“Obviously I love playing with these guys, love playing for Jerry, love playing for Jason [Garrett],” Murray told ESPN.com this week. “He’s a helluva coach, a helluva guy. The things I’ve learned from him and [Jason Witten] in the four years I’ve been here, I’m very gracious and appreciative of it. If the chips fall that way, I’m excited and would love to come back. I don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’ll see.”

Murray led the NFL in rushing and set a new franchise record in 2014 with 1,845 yards and, for the first time in his career, played all 16 games. He also went for 198 yards in the team’s two playoff games.

Suffice to say, there should be plenty of interest in Murray in free agency.

“Those guys know how I am as a person and I understand that business aspect,” Murray said. “I don’t get butt-hurt. I don’t get my feelings hurt. I believe in myself and what I’m capable of doing and whoever it is I’m playing for next year, I know I’m going to make a huge impact.”

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[Jerry: Colombo the Frontrunner for Asst. O-Line Coach]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:57:11 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/marc-colombo-722.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys still haven’t filled the assistant offensive line coach position left vacant when Frank Pollack was promoted to offensive line coach, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones said this week that former offensive tackle Marc Colombo is currently the frontrunner.

You would have to think he’s the leader in the clubhouse because he’s highly, highly respected and thought of by all the members of the staff and I know firsthand with Jason [Garrett],” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News, “and I can tell you the work he’s been doing around our place this year is really admirable.”

Colombo played for the Cowboys from 2005-2010, before spending his final season as a member of the Miami Dolphins. He returned to Dallas in April of 2012 to retire as a Cowboy.

Last year, Colombo worked in the team’s personnel department.

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[Jerry: Claiborne Deserves to Stick Around]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:57:03 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456298166.jpg

It didn't take long for Dallas Cowboys owner/GM/NFL Executive of the Year to get back to his questionable ways on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl when he made the outlandish comment that Cowboys cornerback Mo Claiborne has done enough to warrant bring back despite a big salary hit it would cause.

Jones has until May 3 to make a decision on the embattled cornerback, who the Cowboys traded way up in the draft to pick 7th overall only to see him bomb in the biggest way. That decision would mean Claiborne would either be shown the door or have his fifth-year team option picked up. If that happens, it would also guarantee an estimated $11 million to Claiborne in 2016.

That would just be insane, but Jerry believes Claiborne has done enough to earn the fifth year.

"Yes," Jones told reporters in Mobile, Alabama. "Yes I do."

Claiborne was relegated to nickel corner duty this season before he ruptured his patellar tendon in the fourth game of the season and missed the remainder of the year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Linehan's Return Motivated by More Than Money]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:31:47 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457508598.jpg

New Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan certainly had options after the team’s season came to an end. The Raiders and the Browns were quick to request permission to talk with Linehan, who served as Dallas’ passing game coordinator and offensive playcaller in 2014, among others.

But in the end, Linehan chose to return to Dallas.

“I had other options, but there was no better options regardless of the term of a contract than to be able to join this franchise with the current state of the personnel and felt the coaching staff was obviously strong before I got here,” Linehan said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “So I just felt like it was a no-brainer at the time and the guys played their butts off and we had a really successful year. It wasn’t what we wanted at the end, but it was great. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Jerry Jones made Linehan one of the highest paid assistants in football, with a three-year deal worth $2.1 million annually. But Linehan says the reasons for his return went far beyond the money.

“I told somebody I don’t think I ever had as much fun as I did last year coaching,” Linehan said. “There were a lot of things. It wasn’t just the winning. It was the way the organization is run and the day to day and working for Jason [Garrett]. All of those things have been great."

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[NFC East Watch: 'Skins Get New Defensive Coordinator ]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:14:57 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/joe-barry-redskins.jpg

The Washington Redskins’ search for a new defensive coordinator came to an end on Tuesday with the hiring of former San Diego Chargers linebackers coach, Joe Barry.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the hiring on Tuesday afternoon and the team announced the move via Twitter later in the day.

The Redskins had seemed set to bring in former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for the position, interviewing him officially on Sunday, but Fangio opted for the Chicago Bears.

Barry coached the Chargers linebackers from 2011 through last season, and has had two stints as linebackers coach with the Buccaneers. His only experience as a defensive coordinator came in 2007-2008, with the then-miserable Detroit Lions.

Which brings us to the Cowboys connection. With the Lions, Barry worked under his father-in-law and current Cowboys defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli.

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<![CDATA[Murray Says He'll Play in the Pro Bowl]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:03:58 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459956212.jpg

Just a month after folks were wondering if DeMarco Murray could play in real, meaningful games after suffering a broken bone in his hand, Murray says he’s committed to playing in the ever-so-meaningless (for most fans, anyway) Pro Bowl.

I love playing, so I’m not going to (sit out),” said Murray, who led the NFL in rushing and set a new franchise record with 1,845 yards in 2014, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “The hand’s alright so I’m excited to just go out there have fun and compete.”

As he did after suffering the injury in the Week 15 victory over the Eagles, Murray will wear a protective shell on the hand on Sunday.

“I’m not worried about (the possibility of getting hurt),” Murray said. “It’s not been a worry all year, so it’s not going to start now.”

Murray, who is a Captain on Team Irvin, added that he’d campaign to get his offensive linemen, LT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick and RG Zack Martin on his team.

“I definitely want to make sure they’re the top three picks,” he said.

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<![CDATA[Jones Not Sure Melton Will Return]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:15:47 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458290508.jpg

Jerry Jones and his cronies in the Dallas Cowboys front office took a calculated risk when they signed Grapevine native Henry Melton to a one-year deal for the 2014 season in hopes the defensive tackle would return to his Pro Bowl form from before his torn ACL in 2013.

The deal was for one year, but it had a three-year team option, and it seems highly unlikely Jones and the Cowboys will pick up that option after a disappointing year.

According to The Dallas Morning News, if Melton is on the Cowboys' roster on March 10, he automatically gets his three-year extension with $9 million guaranteed in 2015 and $8 million per season over those years.

That is not money you'd want to pay a guy that did what Melton did last year, when he picked up just five sacks and 15 tackles, while missing two games.

All of that makes it highly unlikely Melton will see March 10 as a Cowboy.

"I think we all had hoped from the day that he got there and OTAs that he would be at Pro Bowl form,” Jones said. “That was probably unrealistic, but that’s a goal. As he went through the season, he evolved and improved. He had a setback or two that I would call nicks, probably impacted his overall steady progression to back to where he was that year in Chicago (2012) before he got hurt. But in general, I did see progress with how he rehabbed from his injury. I know that we’re eons better off today relative to rehabbing his injury than he was when we started training camp.”



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<![CDATA[Marinelli Never Considered Leaving Dallas]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:12:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459955020.jpg

After all sorts of wild speculation the evening the Dallas Cowboys' season ended a couple of weeks ago, it turns out defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was not only not leaving Dallas to reunite with ol' buddy Lovie Smith, but he never even considered it.

Turns out, Marinelli was pretty darn happy with the Cowboys in his first season as the defensive coordinator, where he worked a minor miracle by putting a capable defense on the field after the 2013 Cowboys owned the league's worst defense by a lot.

“I just love it here,” Marinelli told ESPN.com as he checked into his hotel at the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. “I love football and this place, it just reeks with tradition and winning and wanting to win, wanting to be the very, very best. I think that’s as exciting as anything.”

After a historically woeful year defensively under Monte Kiffin in 2013, Marinelli made the Cowboys a respectable unit in 2014 and had them playing at their best late in the season. When all was said and done, the Cowboys ranked 19th in yards per game, 15th in points and second in takeaways with 31, a huge number that told the story of their success.

“I think we laid really a strong foundation of what we want in terms of how hard we want to play, the discipline of the system, physical and takeaways,” Marinelli said.



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<![CDATA[Russell Wilson "Kind of Reminds" Belichick of Staubach]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:49:38 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/roger-staubach1.16.11.jpg

Watching tape of Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson in preparation for the Super Bowl, New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick was reminded of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach--particularly in the way he is able to scramble out of trouble.

Belichick remembers Staubach well from his father Steve’s years as an assistant at the Naval Academy, where the man they called “Roger the Dodger” played his college ball. Staubach went on to win two Super Bowls with the Cowboys in the 1970s. Wilson will be going for his second Super Bowl Championship on February 1.

He kind of reminds me of watching [Roger] Staubach," Belichick said Tuesday, per ESPN. “I remember a lot of Staubach's spectacular running plays where it looked like he was about to get tackled by three or four guys, and he would Houdini it out of there somehow. You see Wilson doing some of the same things.”

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<![CDATA[Marinelli, Linehan Among Highest Paid Assistants in NFL]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:48:12 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459955020.jpg

Last week, when the Dallas Cowboys signed Rod Marinelli to stay on a defensive coordinator and Scott Linehan, to take over the title of offensive coordinator after a year as passing game coordinator and offensive playcaller, Jerry Jones made the pair a couple of the highest paid assistants in the NFL.

According to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, Marinelli will earn $2 million a year for the next three years. In that same span, Linehan will get $2.1 million a year.

“There’s a little bit of ambiguity as to your information, and its definition,” Jones said. “If [Marinelli]’s not, he’s right there with the top two or three, but again, as you get to a certain point you can have a little phantom numbers one way or the other. I think he is one of the top and I know Scott is as well.

“Both of these guys will be right there in the handful of top coordinators. And I would say I expected that.”

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Kelly Trying to Bring Mariota to Philly?]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:47:29 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Marcus+Mariota.jpg

If there’s any way the Philadelphia Eagles can trade up to land Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in this year’s draft, head coach Chip Kelly will pull the trigger, according to a report.

Barring the unforeseen, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner will be long gone by the time the Eagles pick at No. 20. For now, according to most experts, he’s being projected among the top two overall picks. But Kelly, who recruited Mariota to Oregon and served as the Ducks’ head coach for his first two seasons there, is already planning on trying to move up to land his former pupil, a source told NJ.com this week.

From No. 20, it’s certainly not going to be easy,” the source said. “It's probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There's going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.”

After the Eagles rearranged their front office last week, Kelly has full authority to make whatever personnel moves he pleases, barring owner Jeffrey Lurie using his veto power.

“That makes it a little easier,” the source said of the Eagles’ shuffling of the front office. “There isn't anyone in (Kelly's) way."

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<![CDATA[Church, Wilcox to Get Pay Raises]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:46:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461029554.jpg

Dallas Cowboys safeties Barry Church and JJ Wilcox have earned themselves raises.

Church’s raise kicks in in 2015, as a result of his playing more than 85 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2014. He will have a base salary of $2.75 million next year, rather than the $1.75 million he would’ve made if he would’ve fallen short of that 85 percent mark.

Wilcox won’t see his raise until 2016. As Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas deftly explains, the league’s “proven performance escalator” stipulates that players drafted in rounds three through seven who play 35 percent or more of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of their first three seasons are due a bump in pay in their fourth year.

So Wilcox--who was drafted in the third round last year--was scheduled to earn $690,000 in 2016, but will earn the restricted free agent tender instead, as he played 35 percent of defensive snaps in 2013 and 94 percent in 2014.

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<![CDATA[Brandt, Harris, Walls to be Inducted to Texas Sports HoF]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:46:19 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/everson-walls5.2.12.jpg

Three Dallas Cowboys legends will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame this year as part of the Class of 2015, the organization announced Monday morning.

Longtime vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt--he was with the Cowboys from the franchise’s inaugural season of 1960 through 1989--and longtime defensive backs Cliff Harris and Everson Walls (pictured) will be inducted in a ceremony on April 9 at the site of the Hall of Fame in Waco.

It’s a fitting grouping, as Brandt’s revolutionary scouting practices helped bring the undrafted, small-school products Walls and Harris to Dallas. The rest, as they say, is history.

Harris went on to become a six-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and a member of the All-Decade Team for the 1970s. He also won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

Walls was a four-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 1983. He was a member of the New York Giants team that won Super Bowl XXV.

Joining Brandt, Harris and Walls are former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Ty Detmer, former University of Texas swimming coach Richard Quick, former Arkansas basketball coach Owen Nolan, Olympic champion 400 meter runner Jeremy Wariner and the late Zelmo Beaty, a Prairie View A&M basketball star who went on to a 14-year professional career in the NBA and ABA.

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[Cowboys Positional Grades: Running Back]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:45:47 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461027872.jpg

With the 2014 season in the rear-view, let's look back at how the Cowboys did on a position-by-position basis. We'll look at starters and contributors, not every last man on the roster.

The Cowboys established a new offensive identity in 2014 thanks to the pounding, physical rushing attack led by DeMarco Murray. Today, we'll grade the running back position.

Grade: A+

Stats: Cowboys backs rushed for 2,287 yards, with an NFL-leading 1,845 of those coming from Murray in a franchise single-season record.

Murray was undoubtedly the straw that stirred the drink known as the Cowboys' rushing attack. While quarterback Tony Romo might've ultimately been the Cowboys' true MVP, Murray gave the Cowboys an offensive identity and took a ton of pressure off Romo to make every single play. Murray had an eye-popping workload of nearly 500 touches between carries and catches, which could sap future production out of him, but it was all about this season, and this season Murray was very good.

When Murray did get a breather, backup Joseph Randle did an admirable job, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry in his limited work. Lance Dunbar didn't do much, but he didn't see the field much either.

And it's overshadowed by just about everything, but the Cowboys had their best fullback since the Moose days in Tyler Clutts, who was a huge part of Murray's success.



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<![CDATA[Jones & Co. Set for First Senior Bowl Practice]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:45:08 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_jerry_jones2.jpg

While the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff is in Arizona preparing to coach one of the Pro Bowl teams, the team's scouting department and owner/GM Jerry Jones are soaking in the first day of practices at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

If you remember, the Cowboys' scouts, and less so Jones, were blown away at this time last year when they watched an offensive lineman from Notre Dame named Zack Martin dominate the competition throughout the week before they drafted him months later to several jeers from the "experts" wondering what they were doing drafting a guard with their first-round pick.

That worked out pretty well.

As practice gets going this week for this weekend's Senior Bowl, you can bet the Cowboys are finding people they want to take in April's draft, where they have their first pick at No. 27, and the focus will be on defense — all across the board — but mainly up front and in the secondary.

They might be looking at a top running back if they think they'll let DeMarco Murray walk in free agency, and they could even be looking to draft an eventual replacement for Tony Romo at quarterback.

It's an overlooked, but very important week of the NFL calendar, and it starts Tuesday.



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<![CDATA[Looking Away From Murray: Melvin Gordon]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:44:35 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460426840.jpg

One of the biggest offseason questions facing the Dallas Cowboys after their 13-5 season, and one that will need to be answered sooner rather than later, is whether they bring back running back DeMarco Murray on the heels of his record-setting season.

Emotion and sentiment says it's a no-brainer, but logic might say otherwise.

So what if the Cowboys let Murray walk after the greatest season in franchise history for a running back? Where could the Cowboys go as an alternative?

There's talk of the Cowboys looking to the draft to replace Murray, which would likely require a first-round pick (No. 27) and definitely no later than their second-round selection. A guy that could possibly be there when the Cowboys come up at No. 27 is Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

Gordon, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, was a machine for the Badgers as a junior this past season, leading the nation with 2,587 yards, including a record-setting 408 yards on just 25 carries against Nebraska. He was simply a production machine for the Badgers.

Along with Todd Gurley, Gordon is probably the cream of the crop in what might be the best running back draft class in quite some time, and given the NFL's decreased reliance on the workhorse running back, it's not out of question these days that guys like that could fall to the end of the first round or even into the second.



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<![CDATA[Bryant Makes Savvy Decision to Skip Pro Bowl]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 10:58:33 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460755002.jpg

Smartly choosing not to risk his future reward, Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant will skip the upcoming Pro Bowl with what he says is a lingering groin injury.

We all know the injury isn’t serious. And we know that if the Cowboys had a game today Bryant would play and run and jump and do anything within his physical capabilities to help them win. But now, on the verge of free agency, there’s no reason to do anything stupid.

Such as, well, get seriously injured in a meaningless exhibition game.

Bryant, who will be replaced by the Packers’ Randall Cobb, caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and a franchise-record 16 touchdowns. He will be a free agent on March 10, although owner Jerry Jones has stated that if a long-term agreement can’t be reached before then the team will use its franchise tag on the receiver to ensure he remains a Cowboy next season.

Even without Bryant, the Cowboys will have seven players in the Pro Bowl.

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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