Henry Melton, the Dallas Cowboys' key offseason defensive acquisition, said he’s ready for the season opener against San Francisco after not playing in the preseason.

Melton said his knee and his groin, which he tweaked during training camp, are fine and he expects to start Sunday against the 49ers. Melton said he’s not sure how much he will play against San Francisco but won’t be opposed to the coaching staff putting him on a play limit.

“I’m just going to go with the flow,” Melton said. “If they want to hold me to a certain amount of plays, I’m just going to listen to them.”

For the Cowboys to have any chance of having a solid defense this season, they need Melton to play well.

The 2012 Pro Bowl defensive tackle is capable of being disruptive against the run with his ability to penetrate, while also providing a good pass rush and collapsing the middle of the pocket.

That's especially important against a physical offense like San Francisco, which prefers to use its running game to control the game. Last season, the 49ers ranked third in the NFL in rushing attempts (505) and yards per game (137.6) and fourth with 18 touchdowns.

“The biggest thing for (Melton),” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “is to get out there and practice and go against a live opponent. He was able to do some of that today.”
Defensive end Lavar Edwards, a fifth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans last season, is happy to be with the Dallas Cowboys because he believes he’ll fit better in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme than the Titans' 3-4 defense.

The 6-foot-4, 277-pound Edwards had nine tackles in seven games as a rookie. The Cowboys acquired him on Saturday for a conditional 2015 seventh-round pick.

“I think I’m a little better fit in the 4-3,” Edwards said. “I was the only defensive end they kept on the line last year. They moved all the others to outside linebacker. I had no idea I was going to get traded, but it’s good to be employed. That’s the most important thing.”

Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys view Edwards as a left defensive end, which means he’ll usually line up against tight ends and tackles and will need to be strong against the run.

He'll join George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford and Jeremy Mincey as part of the Cowboys' defensive end rotation.

“He was a guy we really liked coming out of school,” Garrett said. “We feel like he can be part of our rotation -- a big strong guy who plays with really good effort.”

Ryan Williams confident his time is coming

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- Running back Ryan Williams isn't pouting about passing through waivers and ending up back at Valley Ranch as a member of the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad.

It's not the path Williams anticipated taking after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, but nothing has been easy for Williams in his NFL career. He played only five games in three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals -- which is why he's still eligible for the practice squad -- due to serious knee and shoulder injuries.

After being cut by the Cardinals, Williams was thrilled to get a shot to resuscitate his career with the Cowboys. That's still the case despite being one of the final cuts as Dallas trimmed its roster to 53 players.

"I can wake up every day and be happy coming to work and not somewhere I feel I'm not wanted," Williams said. "I feel all the players in this organization, from top to bottom, whether you're a Tony Romo or a Ryan Williams, you're going to get respected, you're going to get coached, and you're going to get an opportunity to show your stuff.

"I signed in the spring and all I started with was a shot. They gave me a shot and I ran with it and landed me a spot on practice squad and hopefully I can move up to the 53."

Williams performed well during the preseason, running with power, speed and elusiveness. As head coach Jason Garrett said, Williams showed why he was such a high draft pick.

But Joseph Randle also impressed the coaches and has proven that he can contribute on special teams, a critical part of the third running back's job description.

As a result, Williams got caught in a numbers game. He said he wasn't surprised -- or upset -- that no other team claimed him on waivers, understanding that his injury history frightens front offices.

"I can't get mad at that," Williams said. "This preseason, I shut a lot of people up. I shut a lot of doubters up. I closed a lot of questions. I just have to be patient. I know my time is coming. I've worked too hard for my time not to come. Everybody will see 34 again."

Cowboys waive DB Thomas, sign LB Toomer

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys waived defensive back Jamea Thomas to make room on the roster for linebacker Korey Toomer.

Thomas was a sixth-round draft pick by the New England Patriots who was claimed by the Cowboys before the final preseason game. He was the fifth safety on the roster.

The addition of Toomer, a 2012 fifth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks who has yet to play in an NFL regular-season game, gives the Cowboys seven linebackers on the roster.

The Cowboys waived safety Ahmad Dixon, a seventh-round pick out of Baylor, earlier Monday to make room for safety C.J. Spillman. Head coach Jason Garrett was noncommittal when asked whether the Cowboys plan to sign Dixon to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

McClain: 'I still love game like a kid'

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- There are parts of his job that twice-retired middle linebacker Rolando McClain readily admits he does not enjoy.

For example, he could definitely do without dealing with the media, as McClain said as politely as possible as a swarm of reporters surrounded him Monday, six days before his debut with the Dallas Cowboys.

McClain at least sees the value in training camp, especially after a 20-month layoff from football. That doesn’t mean he liked it, especially as his body got used to the grind again after his long break from the game.

"If I lied and said I did enjoy camp, then you shouldn’t ask me any more questions," McClain said, laughing.

The real fun starts soon for McClain, who will likely start at middle linebacker for a Dallas defense desperate for playmakers.

McClain cut off questions about Sunday’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. He is adamant that he has to simply focus on the next practice, a fair point for a guy who has had problems staying on the practice field this summer. But he is clearly anxious for his first regular-season action since November 2012.

This is the kind of opportunity that makes the work worth it.

"I still love the game like I’m an 8-, 9-year old kid," McClain said. "It’s just about getting back into it, building chemistry with some of these guys, some trust, and just playing and having fun really."

The 25-year-old McClain’s passion for the game can certainly be questioned after he gave it up twice after being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Oakland Raiders, but he insisted that was never his problem. He had to learn how to be a professional, which required a lot of growing up for a guy whose rocky road has included three arrests.

Over the past year, McClain has cut ties with a lot of his friends and family from his Alabama hometown, attempting to eliminate the bad influences from his life. He has made his two sons his priority and made his faith his foundation.

McClain doesn’t want to be the same guy who came into the league with such high expectations after being an All-American at Alabama. That guy failed in football and life.

"I’m just an overall better man," McClain said. "That makes me a better football player, a better boyfriend, a better father. You’ve got to start with the base, man, get yourself right and then fill in the blanks from there. That’s what I had to do."

The Cowboys acquired McClain’s rights in a minimum-risk deal with the Baltimore Ravens because they had a massive void at middle linebacker after Sean Lee's injury. After consulting with Alabama coach Nick Saban, head coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas decision-makers determined that it was worth taking a chance on McClain.

Given the low risk and Saban’s recommendation, the Cowboys could deal with McClain’s character red flags. Of course, that is the case only because of his rare talent.

The Cowboys really need McClain to live up to his potential to have any realistic hope of fielding a respectable defense.

"If you live up or care about somebody’s expectations, you’ll always let them down," McClain said. "So you set your own expectations.

"What are my expectations? I don’t have to reveal them."

McClain punctuated the thought with a laugh. At least football is fun for him again as the regular season approaches.

Tony Romo to be ready for full work week

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to practice three straight days for the first time this summer when the players return to practice on Wednesday.

During training camp Romo never worked more than two straight days as he worked his way back from December back surgery. He did not play in the preseason finale on Aug. 28 against the Denver Broncos and sat out one of the two full days of practice.

Coach Jason Garrett said Romo had a “good day” in Monday’s practice. Players will be off on Tuesday and return for practice on Wednesday-Friday.

“The thing I kept reminding Tony about as we went through this process, starting all the way back in the spring was the goal is to be ready for the 49ers, Sept. 7 at our stadium,” Garrett said. “So we’re going to find our way, somehow, someway we’re going to get you to that point to where you’re ready to go and hopefully behind that. Play that game and that’s the start of a heckuva year for you.”

That doesn’t mean Romo will take every snap in every practice like he did five years ago or like he did last year during the week. In all likelihood Romo will be listed as limited in practices because he will not do everything.

“I think the whole thing is semantics,” Garrett said. “We’re going to get him into a routine and get himself ready to play. If the standard is based on what he did six years ago, I don’t know if that should be the standard. We’re going to get him ready to play. At different times last year, he was able to more things than at other times. But that’s really every guy on our team.”

Romo played in only two of the Cowboys’ four preseason games. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 167 yards with a touchdown in games against the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins. He was sacked three times and hit once more in the first half against the Dolphins.

“I think the last couple of weeks, I think we’ve seen Tony really be himself,” Garrett said. “He’s moved around in practice very spontaneously, made a lot of throws. He’s taken hits in games. He’s come back from all that stuff. He’s worked very hard to get himself to a point where he’s 100 percent with his back and it’s going to be a work in progress for him just like it would be for anybody coming off of any kind of injury. He’s really looked like himself to me. I think he’s got that look on his face. He’s got confidence about his body being where it needs to be. He like everybody else is just getting ready for this challenge this weekend.”

Practice report: George Selvie sits out

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie was the only player expected to practice on Monday not taking part in the session.

Selvie has not practiced since hurting his right shoulder Aug. 23 against the Miami Dolphins. He missed most of the offseason rehabbing from shoulder surgery, but said after the game the shoulder would not keep him out of Sunday’s regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. He was doing conditioning work on the side during the portion of practice open to the media.

Anthony Spencer is not practicing but will not play against the Niners as he comes back from a knee injury. The Cowboys chose to put Spencer on the active roster as opposed to the physically unable to perform list, which would have cost him the first six games.

Defensive tackle Terrell McClain is practicing for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in training camp.

Defensive end Lavar Edwards, picked up in a trade from the Tennessee Titans, and safety C.J. Spillman are at practice. Linebacker Korey Toomer is expected to be added to the roster on Tuesday when the Cowboys place defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) on injured reserve/designated to return.

Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith debate whether Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should put Jimmy Johnson in the Cowboys Ring of Honor.

Dallas Cowboys waive Ahmad Dixon

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- In order to make room for veteran safety C.J. Spillman on the 53-man roster, the Dallas Cowboys have waived Ahmad Dixon.

Dixon had an eventful summer, leading the Cowboys with 12 tackles in their preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, showing up late to a walk-through that left him benched for the second preseason game and earning a $22,050 fine for hitting a defenseless receiver in the third preseason game.

If Dixon clears waivers, he could be brought back to the practice squad.

At the time Dixon was drafted, the Cowboys hoped he would develop into a special teams' ace, but they opted to keep Jemea Thomas, who was claimed off waivers from the New England Patriots last week, and go with Spillman, who led the San Francisco 49ers with 19 special teams' stops in 2013.

Dixon was one of the Cowboys' five seventh-round picks and the third to be cut, joining Will Smith and Terrance Mitchell. Ben Gardner is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The only seventh-rounder currently on the 53-man roster is defensive tackle Ken Bishop.

Cowboys to kick up Niners' prep work

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas -- The preparation for the San Francisco 49ers begins in earnest today, but the Dallas Cowboys have been looking at regular-season-opening opponent for some time now.

It started during training camp in Oxnard, California, and continued last week with two practices leading into the preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.

The 49ers have not lost a season opener under coach Jim Harbaugh, but they will be without three of their better defenders in linebacker Aldon Smith (suspension), linebacker NaVorro Bowman (injury) and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (injury). They could also be without defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who was arrested over the weekend on domestic violence charges.

“I know from our perspective (on offense), we’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play defense,” tight end Jason Witten said. “They’re a hit-you-in-the-mouth 3-4 team. Really good players across the board. It’s going to be a tough challenge. We’re going to see what we’re made of early in the year.”

And that’s why the Cowboys kicked off their prep work so early.

NFL Nation's Kuharsky sizes up Edwards

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
IRVING, Texas – Defensive end Lavar Edwards will practice for the first time with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday after he was acquired Saturday from the Tennessee Titans for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015.

Jason Garrett will explain how Edwards will fit in the Cowboys' scheme, but NFL Nation Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky was brought in to offer something of a scouting report.

Archer: The Cowboys need defensive line help, especially pass rushers. Can Edwards fill that kind of role?

Kuharsky: I think he's a decent prospect who might develop into something. The Titans aren't very deep, but they are deep on the defensive line. And with the shift to a 3-4 he's not a system fit in Nashville.

Archer: He was a fifth-round pick last year. Is this a case of the Titans trading a player they would've cut and was he a disappointment?

Kuharsky: Bad job turning a fifth into a seventh. Good job turning a guy they were going to cut into a seventh. He didn't shine or get in front of anyone on the depth chart, but it was a pretty good crowd ahead of him. The edge rushers they need now are outside linebackers, not ends.

Archer: The Cowboys see the Titans early in the season, could they get something from Edwards on the defensive scheme?

Kuharsky: I always tend to think that stuff is overrated. He should have a generally understanding of the scheme. But I'd think Cowboys coaches are better equipped to dissect what DC Ray Horton is doing and will do than Edwards will be.

Spillman agrees to deal with Cowboys

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
IRVING, Texas -- Safety C.J. Spillman has agreed to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, a source said.

Spillman, 28, a special teams player who was credited with a career-high 25 tackles last season, was cut Saturday by the San Francisco 49ers. He played 59 games for the 49ers over the last four seasons after beginning his career with the San Diego Chargers, where he played for Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.

Spillman’s knowledge of the 49ers’ schemes could be useful to the Cowboys as they prepare for their season opener against San Francisco.

The Cowboys need to make a roster move to create a spot for Spillman. They'll need to do the same in regards to linebacker Korey Toomer, who has also agreed to a deal with Dallas.

Cowboys to add LB Korey Toomer

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
IRVING, Texas -- Linebacker Korey Toomer will sign with the Dallas Cowboys after he cleared waivers.

The Cowboys have to make a move to create a roster spot before Toomer's addition becomes official.

The 6-foot-2, 234-pound Toomer, a fifth-round pick in 2012, was one of the Seattle Seahawks' final cuts. He has yet to play in an NFL regular-season game, getting put on the practice squad in 2012 before going on injured reserve and spending last season on the non-football injury list.

Toomer had impressive measurables coming out of Idaho. He was timed at 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, where he had a 10-foot-10 broad jump and a 42-inch vertical leap.

Cowboys make practice-squad additions

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys added to their practice squad Sunday with five players who were among Saturday's final cuts.

Running back Ryan Williams, who led the Cowboys in rushing in the preseason, cleared waivers and agreed to rejoin the practice squad. The new practice-squad rules gave Williams, who played in only five games in three years with the Arizona Cardinals, more eligibility.

The Cowboys also added defensive end Kenneth Boatright, linebacker Will Smith, linebacker Keith Smith and center Ronald Patrick, who were among their final cuts.

The Cowboys signed defensive back Micah Pellerin to the practice squad as well. He spent time on their active roster last year and was recently cut by the Tennessee Titans. If the Cowboys were not awarded Jemea Thomas on waivers last week, they would have signed Pellerin.

The Cowboys wanted to sign LaRon Byrd to the practice squad but he was claimed by the Cleveland Browns.

The Cowboys have four open spots remaining on the practice squad.

Cowboys claim OG Hawkins, cut OT Wetzel

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys claimed guard Donald Hawkins off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

Dallas released offensive tackle John Wetzel to make room for Hawkins. Wetzel can be placed on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Hawkins, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound undrafted rookie out of Texas, played three preseason games with the Philadelphia Eagles before being released. He was claimed off waivers by the Browns last week before being released again Saturday.