Dallas Cowboys Preseason Live

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp! ESPN.com Cowboys reporters Todd Archer and Tim MacMahon have live updates and the latest news from Oxnard, California.

Cowboys to be patient with Murray contract

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys have let it be known they want to sign Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith to long-term contract extensions. They don’t have the same sense of urgency with running back DeMarco Murray.

Murray is entering the final year of his rookie contract, just like Bryant. The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Smith’s deal in the spring for 2015 but want to lock him up before they get to next season.

Just because the Cowboys do not anticipate an extension for Murray does not mean he is not part of their future.

“I think we’ll see kind of how his year goes and go from there,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s the type of player we want on our team. He’s young and he had a good year last year. But I’d imagine that he’s going to have a great year too and I hope he does.”

Murray ran for 1,121 yards last year and was added to the Pro Bowl despite missing two games. He has yet to play a full season, but he is critical to the Cowboys’ success. The Cowboys are 11-0 when he receives 20 or more carries.

But he plays a position that has been de-valued in recent years. The largest free-agent contract signed in the offseason averaged $3.5 million a year. The last time the Cowboys paid a running back big money was Marion Barber, who signed a seven-year deal worth $45 million that included $16 million guaranteed in 2008. The Cowboys cut Barber after the 2010 season.

Jones said contract decisions are made on individual basis, not on how good or bad a deal worked with a player at the same position in the past.

“Running backs, that’s kind of evolved in this league,” Jones said. “It’s tough for running backs to have a lot of longevity. But there’s ones that do. DeMarco is a leader. He takes good care of himself. I think his best football is ahead of him.”

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Tony Romo averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt in 2013 as the field shrunk on the Cowboys. Through two padded practices Romo is looking to get the ball down the field. On the first play of team drills he connected with Dez Bryant on a deep ball after Bryant left cornerback Morris Claiborne. In seven-on-seven drills he led Terrance Williams for a big gain with Williams out-jumping B.W. Webb for the completion and getting his feet down before he went out of bounds. In team and seven-on-seven drills Romo completed 13-of-17 passes. He was intercepted for the first time in camp when Devin Street slipped, allowing Sterling Moore to make the pick.
  • DeMarco Murray showed a burst of speed on a run up the middle of the Cowboys’ nickel defense that had running backs coach Gary Brown oohing and aahing. After seeing the hole open in front of him, Murray accelerated through the line untouched and then received some down-field blocking help from Bryant. Later in third-down drills, Murray caught a Romo dump off for a first down working his way through cornerback Orlando Scandrick for the pickup.
  • Injuries are always a worry early in camp and the Cowboys lost Matt Johnson (hamstring), Terrell McClain (ankle) and DeVonte Holloman (dehydration), and it could have been worse. Safety Jeff Heath jammed his right wrist while attempting to tackle Lance Dunbar on a run. He was examined by the medical staff and was able to return after a tape job. Bruce Carter left briefly during one-on-one drills with a sore knee but he returned and said after practice he was OK.
  • There could be something of a rotation in the battle to be the Cowboys’ third running back. Ryan Williams took the third-team snaps over Joseph Randle, who took that work on Saturday. Williams showed great patience on a screen pass from Brandon Weeden in third-down drills. He nearly came up with a Dustin Vaughan throw on a wheel route after beating linebacker Dontavis Sapp down the sideline, but the pass was just out of his diving reach.
  • Dan Bailey made five of six kicks in his first live work of training camp. Bailey made kicks from 34, 38, 41, 44 and 48 yards. His one miss came from 51 yards in which he hooked the ball left. An interesting note with the first-team field goal protection team: center Travis Frederick lined up as the left wing. Normally that position has been reserved for a tight end or defensive lineman. And for some reason the Cowboys keep Witten on the field goal unit as the right wing.
OXNARD, Calif. -- Head coach Jason Garrett pretty much guaranteed an elite performance by Dez Bryant during Sunday’s practice.

Garrett made sure to get under Bryant’s skin the previous afternoon, throwing another log on the Pro Bowl receiver’s competitive fire. The head coach loudly provided some intentionally inaccurate color commentary after Bryant got wide open but was overthrown on a pass during 1-on-1s, barking that cornerback Orlando Scandrick had kicked Bryant’s butt on the rep.

“I had my reasons for saying what I said, and so, Dez Bryant’s going to be ready to go today,” Garrett said before Sunday’s practice. “Trust me.”

Not exactly a bold prediction, but it proved to be true.

Bryant actually got off to a bit of a slow start in 1-on-1s, as cornerback Morris Claiborne had pass breakups on their first two reps. Claiborne would have been called for holding on a curl route, but he made a nice play to bat away a deep ball on the second throw.

That didn’t sit well with Bryant, who responded in spectacular fashion, torching Claiborne on a slant-and-go the next time they matched up.

Claiborne was toast as soon as Bryant made the double move, having bitten hard on the slant. Claiborne was at least 15 yards behind Bryant as he caught the pass and sprinted into the end zone.

In team drills later in the practice, Bryant put another highlight on the reel at Claiborne’s expense, burning him on a go route for what would have been another long score.

Claiborne had taunted Terrance Williams during 1-on-1 drills Saturday, shouting that they better bring Bryant over to compete against him.

Be careful what you wish for, especially after the head coach has been talking trash to the No. 1 receiver.

Matt Johnson hurts hamstring again

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- Once again Matt Johnson was unable to make it through a training camp practice because of a hamstring injury.

Johnson has been beset by hamstring injuries since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. He missed most of his rookie season with recurring hamstring injuries. He missed most of the offseason program in the spring with a hamstring injury. He has yet to play in a regular-season game.

“You hate it for Matt,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s done everything right. ... I’m sure no one is more frustrated than him.”

The severity of the injury is not known. He got hurt in team pursuit drills in the early part of Sunday’s practice. He immediately grabbed his leg and was checked out by an athletic trainer before heading inside for the day.

Johnson wasn’t the only injury. Defensive tackle Terrell McClain left early with an ankle sprain. DeVonte Holloman was having dehydration issues. Linebacker Will Smith (groin) and offensive lineman Darius Morris (hamstring) did not practice.

The Cowboys have their first off-day of training camp on Monday.
OXNARD, Calif. -- Three thoughts on Day 4 of Dallas Cowboys' training camp:

1) It was one play, just about as meaningless as can be, considering it was the first day players wore pads, but Morris Claiborne wanted to establish a tone.

First, he locked down Terrance Williams, forcing an incompletion. Then he jumped up and started woofing. Eventually, the players were separated.

It was the first time since he arrived that we’ve seen that type of feistiness from Claiborne.

Hey, whatever it takes. He’s been the epitome of a bust his first two seasons, allowing 70 completions in 117 attempts with only two interceptions and 13 pass deflections.

For a guy who was supposed to be the best defensive player in the 2012 draft that’s not nearly good enough.

Jason Garrett said he’s improved significantly during the offseason. It’s time for him to take it to the field.

Better secondary play is the fastest way for this defense to improve, since their pass rush remains suspect.

2) The Cowboys are moving closer to a long-term agreement with left tackle Tyron Smith, who’s going to deserve every nickel of whatever he gets.

Smith is man-handling the defensive ends on this roster, the way DeMarcus Ware used to destroy tackles, including Smith, during training camp.

Smith is only 23, so don’t be surprised if he signs a deal that’s nine or 10 years long. When he does, it’ll be interesting to see if Dez Bryant can continue to ignore his contract situation and play well.

After all, the club has already taken care of Sean Lee, who was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. Bryant was the Cowboys’ first-round pick.

3) Kyle Wilber spent his first two seasons bouncing around between outside linebacker in the 3-4 and weakside defensive end.

Injuries last season created some playing time for him at strongside linebacker and the Cowboys suddenly found a player.

Wilber has the strength to hold the edge and consistently force running plays inside, in part because of the time he spent at defensive end, and he made several important plays for the Cowboys last season.

He finished the season with 44 tackles and two sacks, while starting six games.


The Cowboys were tied for 25th in the NFL with 34 sacks. Only five teams had fewer.

Their sack total was 10 fewer than the average 2013 playoff team.

Teams that don’t get many sacks often say they’re overrated. Well, they’re not. Pressure is good, but sacks are a momentum-changer and usually result in a punt at the end of the drive.

You must rush the passer and put quarterbacks under duress, or it’s hard to force turnovers and win games.

The Cowboys are counting on defensive Henry Melton, who missed the last 13 games with a torn ACL, to provide pressure up the middle. He has been a terrific pass-rusher, and they need him to command double teams to help other players get to the quarterback.

Player to Watch: Gavin Escobar

The Cowboys wasted Escobar’s rookie season. Hopefully, they’ve learned their lesson.

It’s dumb to ask a tight end who should excel at working from the slot and creating mismatches with his size to be the same type of player as Jason Witten.

Escobar can help this team by making plays downfield and giving Tony Romo one more vertical threat.

He caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. He can be a playmaker, if Scott Linehan gives him a chance to do it. If not, he’ll be a wasted pick.

Rod Marinelli's love of football

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- Rod Marinelli never had a backup plan. He was going to be a football coach.

The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator is in his 19th season in the NFL and second with the Cowboys. He has been coaching since 1973.

What would he be doing if he wasn’t on an Oxnard, California, practice field at the end of July?

“Doing this,” Marinelli said. “Free some place.”

He turned 65 on July 13 and he inherits a defense that was last in the league. Others might blink and shy away from the opportunity, but Marinelli embraces it. He wants his players to embrace it. The last time he was a defensive coordinator he had Pro Bowlers like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, Tim Jennings and Henry Melton.

With the Cowboys the only Pro Bowler he has is Melton, who is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. There are questions at every level of the Cowboys’ defense, but nothing can take away the juice he gets from being on a field.

“I love practice,” Marinelli said. “I love the physicalness. I love the fundamentals. I love the competition. And you like to see men grow and develop. That’s as much as anything. And then the schematics of it. It’s fun. I mean it’s all good. It’s a great sport.”

He might walk slowly but it does not hinder the energy he has in practice or the feelings his players have for him. Marinelli was one of the main reasons Melton chose to sign as a free agent with the Cowboys.

“He’s got the credentials and he actually cares for you, not just as a football player but as a man,” Melton said. “Even in the offseason, not necessarily call or text about football, it would be about family. He actually cares about your success.”

Marinelli said he coaches the man first, the player second.

“Responsibility, accountability, all those things first,” Marinelli said.

Marinelli and the Cowboys hope that approach leads to results. He is in the final year of his deal with the Cowboys, but he knows he will be coaching somewhere in 2015 if he is not back with the Cowboys. Retirement is not in his mind.

“I don’t think that far,” Marinelli said. “I don’t. I like it. I can’t tell you, but I just like it. I can’t see being home, my gosh.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Cole Beasley wants to prove he’s more than just a slot receiver after feeling like he’s been pigeonholed in his NFL career.

“That comes with being 5-8 and 175 pounds,” Beasley said.

 The Cowboys plan to give Beasley every opportunity to prove he can make plays as an outside receiver. It’s not just about expanding the role of a receiver who emerged as a significant contributor in his second NFL season, catching 39 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. If Beasley can do more than just play in the slot, it opens up possibilities for the Cowboys coaches to create mismatches with their most dangerous weapon.

For the first few seasons of his NFL career, the Cowboys featured Dez Bryant solely as the X receiver, keeping his role as simple as possible. They moved him around some last season, and he’s mentally prepared for much more of that entering his fifth year, often working out of the slot in three-receiver sets with Beasley outside.

“I think there’s really no limit on what we can do with him, and I believe that,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “We started moving him around last year, and that’s the only way to continue to get him the production that he needs to get because defensive coordinators are too good. If they know where he’s going to be, it’s going to be a long Sunday.

“So the sky’s the limit. It’s a matter of repping. To your point, moving him into the slot, we’ve got to figure out what Cole’s role is, so that’s what we’re working through right now.”

It’s a challenge that Beasley embraces.

“I’d just say [I am] more confident after being in the last two seasons and getting some time to actually play,” Beasley said. “Knowing I can do it and knowing how good I can be, that really excites me. I wouldn’t say I’m a different player. I’d just say with more opportunities, I’ll get better and better.”

Rolando McClain impressive in debut

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- Linebacker Rolando McClain got thrown right into the fire in his return from retirement.

There was no acclimation period for McClain, the 25-year-old former eighth overall pick who sat out last season and missed the first two practices of the Dallas Cowboys' training camp to attend his trial on two misdemeanor charges in Alabama. He put on the pads Saturday afternoon and got to thumping.

In fact, McClain hit a little too hard on his first rep of team drills, tackling running back Lance Dunbar to the ground, something that isn’t supposed to happen in practice.

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound McClain worked as the second-team middle linebacker but will have every opportunity to win the starting job with Sean Lee out for the season. McClain displayed the talent on that snap that made the Cowboys decide he’s worth the risk despite his red flags. He shed a block by tight end James Hanna and stuffed Dunbar for a short loss.

“I was glad to see him,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “I was impressed that they put him right in. I really thought they might ease him in, might need to since he hadn’t had OTAs, hadn’t had the kind of drills. The deal with him, and because of the issue retiring, what you want to see is what you were seeing when he wasn’t in the drill. He was back over there, his body language was great.”

Nobody has ever questioned McClain’s ability. He’s big, athletic and has great “functional intelligence,” as linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. It’s his commitment, or lack thereof, and off-field behavior that has derailed his career to this point.

Those are also the reasons the Cowboys were able to get McClain, whose most notable stats since leaving Alabama are two retirements and three arrests, for next to nothing. “An excellent signing,” Jones called it.

“We have such a need with our linebacker and here you got a guy that has shown up enough to be drafted in the first round and has shown he was certainly a top college player and he’s shown flashes of that while he’s been in the pros,” Jones said. “That’s good opportunity when you’re in this business to be able to go get a guy that has that kind of skill and those kinds of issues. You don’t get them if they’re free of issues.”

Lance Dunbar still carries undrafted chip

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. -- In some ways Lance Dunbar still carries himself as an undrafted running back from North Texas.

It doesn’t matter that this is his third training camp with the Dallas Cowboys. It doesn’t matter that he already has a role as the third-down back. It doesn’t matter that he could be a core player on special teams.

“I wouldn’t say I like it that way better, but it kind of pushes me, made me work harder, made me the guy I am today,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar is not established the way DeMarco Murray is established. He had just 30 carries last season and caught just seven passes before suffering a knee injury last Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders. But it was what Dunbar did in that game -- 12 carries, 82 yards; one catch, 12 yards -- that has many intrigued about his role in 2014.

“This league has kind of evolved into a two-back type league, meaning two marquee backs instead of that one bell cow,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That was the case in this league for a number of years, but very few teams have that one guy who is going to get it 25 times a game. We want to make sure DeMarco Murray gets his touches. We play well on offense, we play well as a team when we hand him the football so we’ll keep trying to do that, keep trying to get him the ball in the passing game too. But anybody who has followed our football team the last couple of years sees that Lance Dunbar can contribute and he continues to get better and better.”

Dunbar’s recovery from knee surgery went better than anybody could have expected. He was not limited in his offseason work and there won’t be any rest in training camp. Garrett said the scores Dunbar put up on tests – benching, squatting, change of direction drills, vertical jump - this spring were better than they were a year ago.

“I couldn’t feel sorry myself,” Dunbar said. “I had to do it myself to get better each and every day. I just pushed myself and I came back stronger and a better player.”

Cowboys wake-up call: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
OXNARD, Calif. – Every day of Dallas Cowboys training camp, we’ll offer up a wake-up call that offers a quick review of the previous day and a preview of the current day.

Today’s schedule: Coming off their first practice in pads, the Cowboys will not have a walk-through this morning with their second full-padded practice scheduled for 3:45 p.m. PT.

More observations from Saturday’s practice:
  • Coach Jason Garrett likes to break up practice with some one-on-one drills between the offense and defense. After the first day in pads, the offense and defense have one win apiece. Orlando Scandrick won his matchup with Dez Bryant in part because the receiver pushed off and should have been called for a penalty. And the pass from Tony Romo was incomplete. The offense got its redemption when left tackle Tyron Smith smothered Jeremy Mincey in a pass-rush drill.
  • Romo
    Romo completed 7 of 8 passes in seven-on-seven drills, with his only incompletion coming after tight end James Hanna floated too far to his left on a check-down. Romo pump-faked, which drew Hanna a little outside, but the pass went inside.
  • Wide receiver Cole Beasley had a good first day in pads. The defense could not stay with him in the slot. His best catch came after Romo had to throw around linebacker DeVonte Holloman. Beasley was able to adjust and make a diving catch.
What I’m watching: With Romo coming back from his first full practice since back surgery, he will be on this list for a while. How will he recover in Day 2 with pads? If Romo has some soreness, then he will make the call as to how much or how little he practices.

With how emotional Morris Claiborne was early in practice and how drained he was at the end, how will he recover in his second day? Claiborne understands how important this season is to him and came out fired up in one-on-one drills against Terrance Williams. But he expended too much energy and was cramping up by the end of the workout.

A big key to the Cowboys’ success this year will be the pass rush. Where will it come from? The Cowboys do not have a healthy pass-rusher with a double-digit sacks season to their credit. Sometimes the one-on-one pass-rush drills become unrealistic because of the paths the defenders take to the quarterback, but Mincey, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and George Selvie will be under the microscope.

They said it: “Life is about struggling. Life is about getting knocked down. You’ve just got to get back up. These things I’ve been going through, it’s no different than anything else I went through in life from a young age. So it’s just adversity. You learn to fight through it. Help you grow. Become a better man from it. I just learned you’ve got to take it for what it is. It’s a great opportunity. You just think about how many kids from your neighborhood say they’ve got a dream; they want to play in the NFL. I’ve got great God-given ability, football \-wise. I feel like I’ve got another talent, just being able to touch some younger kids with my time away. I realize I like coaching. I like being able to give back to the guys, just being around the university. I feel like I’ve got some knowledge and they want to listen. You want to be that person. You don’t want to be a distraction to any team.” – linebacker Rolando McClain

Dez watch: Couple of circus catches

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
OXNARD, Calif. -- You can pretty much count on a couple of circus catches by Dez Bryant per training camp practice.

No. 88 met his quota during the first full-speed practice of the Dallas Cowboys' camp this season.

Both of Bryant’s “wow” moments were leaping catches over cornerbacks on deep balls from Tony Romo. The plays made the crowd ooh and ahh, but they seem almost routine for a guy who is arguably the best jump-ball receiver in the NFL.

The first came on a deep fade route down the right sideline in a 1-on-1 rep against Sterling Moore. Romo threw the ball high and to Bryant’s outside shoulder, allowing the Pro Bowl receiver to soar over Moore to make the catch then continue sprinting down the sideline.

The second came on a go route down the left sideline against Morris Claiborne in 7-on-7 drills. Both players went up high for the ball, but the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bryant overpowered and outjumped the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Claiborne.

“I mean, a big guy like that, once he’s exploding in the air and he’s already looking back at the ball, it’s hard,” Claiborne said. “But it’s good competition at the end of the day.”

It’s good entertainment, too.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • All eyes were on Tony Romo as he practiced in pads for the first time since Week 16 last season because of a back injury. Romo completed nine of 12 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills. The offense attacked downfield with Romo opening the seven-on-seven drills with a back-shoulder throw down the seam to tight end Jason Witten. He connected with Dez Bryant on a deep ball in seven-on-seven drills but overshot Bryant on a deep throw in team drills.
  • The Cowboys threw Rolando McClain into the action right away. He took some of the second-team middle linebacker snaps despite not being acquired until earlier this month and missing the first two days of camp to stand trial in Alabama. On his first play in team run drill, McClain shrugged off tight end James Hanna and tackled running back Lance Dunbar for a short gain. McClain’s conditioning will have to be watched since he was not in football during the spring.
  • Owner and general manager Jerry Jones was impressed with the work of defensive tackle Henry Melton. The Cowboys will limit his work in team drills as works his way back into form from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. After one play defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli yelled, “Go to the ball, Henry. Every play is your play.”
  • Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner suffered a shoulder injury in practice and will have an MRI. He was the only player injured in camp. During the pre-practice festivities a Cowboys cheerleader suffered a knee injury and needed to be carted off the field.
  • Like they did in the June minicamp, the offensive and defensive linemen were required to wear knee braces. The Cowboys want to limit the possibility of injuries with players falling to the ground. The offensive linemen are more accustomed to wearing the braces. The second the first-team defenders were done with team drills they unfastened their braces.

Jerry Jones on Romo: 'Tony threw it well'

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
OXNARD, Calif. – Tony Romo ’s first full-pads practice of Dallas Cowboys training camp came off without a hitch Saturday.

It was Romo’s first extended action since undergoing back surgery last December after he was kept out of competitive drills in the spring. Romo did not take part in Friday’s afternoon workout in which the offense did not go against the defense so he could gear up for his first 11-on-11 action.

“I thought Tony threw it well,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the practice.

To start the practice, Romo went through his normal limited work in noncompetitive drills. He did not go through individual drills. He threw five passes in one-on-one drills between wide receivers and cornerbacks, throwing only to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.

His first live action (or as close to it as it can be in a training camp session) came when he took snaps from center in running drills. He completed 7-of-8 passes in seven-on-seven drills and went 2-of-4 in team drills.

“We’ve got to make sure that he’s throwing to Dez and Terrance and really getting good, quality work,” coach Jason Garrett said, “and the other guys are getting the chance to throw to the other guys in the drills.”

Romo is in control of how much or how little he works in camp. He has said his back is fine, but if there are days that it does not feel quite right, he will limit how much he does.

“I’m glad he’s mature enough, experienced enough – and he should be – to understand his body enough to make those kinds of decisions,” Jones said.

Romo did not speak to reporters after practice.

“We obviously aren’t going to take risk on getting him hit out there, but this is a different thing,” Jones said. “He’s got to let himself and let us know how he’s torqueing, what he’s doing so he can not only give it every chance to do anything more than it needs to do mending-wise, but also just not overdo it. We need to have him ready to go against San Francisco.”

Claiborne puts on a Prime Time show

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
OXNARD, Calif. – For a one-on-one session, Morris Claiborne lived up to the hype of that 2012 draft night.

After the Dallas Cowboys packaged their first two picks to move up to select Claiborne with the No. 6 overall pick, owner/general manager Jerry Jones bragged to anybody who would listen that Deion Sanders was the last cornerback the team gave a higher draft grade. Well, Claiborne did a pretty good Prime Time impersonation in his first few full-contact reps of his third training camp.

Claiborne, a massive disappointment during his first two injury-plagued seasons, showed a physical style and swagger that hadn’t been seen from him since he won the Jim Thorpe Award as a junior at LSU.

“I can play,” Claiborne said after the practice. “I’m that same guy that they traded up to go get.”

Claiborne made much more colorful statements to Terrance Williams while dominating four consecutive one-on-one reps against the Cowboys’ No. 2 receiver. At one point, Claiborne barked that they had better bring Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant over to compete against him. Several of his comments aren't suitable to be printed on a Disney-owned website.

Claiborne got in Williams’ face at the line of scrimmage and stayed in the receiver’s face well after forcing each incomplete pass. Williams returned the verbal fire at his friend – all was well between the two after the practice ended – but Claiborne clearly got the best of the matchup. He at least flashed the potential of being a premier press cornerback, something that frankly hadn’t happened in the previous two seasons.

Claiborne couldn’t sustain that energy or excellence for the entire practice. He gave up a couple of big plays in 7-on-7 drills and needed attention from associate athletic trainer Britt Brown after cramping up later in the practice.

“That’s what this is about for him is keeping his confidence at a high level,” Jones said. “We obviously know his talent, his speed and that was good to see him over there competing. And his coaches were pointing that out to him. He’s got to really fight through it at the end of practice.”

It wasn’t a perfect afternoon, but this practice was a heck of a first step in Claiborne’s fight to prove he isn’t an epic draft bust.

“I’m just playing. I’m just competing,” Claiborne said. “I’m not out there thinking about anything, thinking about what went on yesterday or last year. I’m not thinking about none of that. My focus is on one place and one place only. I’m thinking about going forward, building off this day.”

Rolando McClain embraces Dallas chance

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
OXNARD, Calif. – On Friday, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was found guilty on two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in a Decatur, Alabama, courtroom. On Saturday morning he was taking part in a special-teams walkthrough.

McClain spoke for the first time since being acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month.

“It’s my first day here. Really just this will be my first practice with the guys, this will be my first time seeing the guys run around,” McClain said. “I’m just taking it for my first day, enjoy my mistakes, enjoy when I do something well. Yesterday I was sitting in a court room not knowing what was going to happen. Today I’m here with the Dallas Cowboys with an opportunity to make a football team and fight for a position. You can’t argue with that.”

McClain said he was surprised by the judge’s decision but would not elaborate. He appealed Friday’s verdict. but the expectation is that he will not miss any more time on the field.

McClain retired twice after stints with the Oakland Raiders, who made him the eighth pick of the 2010 draft, and Ravens and was involved in numerous off-field incidents. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones had extensive conversations with Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome when the teams made the trade, and coach Jason Garrett spoke with Alabama coach Nick Saban, McClain's college coach.

“My life wasn’t going in the right path,” McClain said “Me being a young father of two, I had to sit down and realize I have things I need to do to be a better man for those two little boys. The best thing for me to do is get away from football and work on my personal life. I told Mr. Newsome when I felt like I had that clear I would come back. Unfortunately when I did come back everything wasn’t settled. At the end of the day, I still have to stay true to my word and true to my family.”

The Cowboys are taking a low risk in McClain. If he does not make the team, the Ravens do not receive any compensation. He is also being paid the minimum.

The Cowboys have an obvious need with Sean Lee out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. McClain has not played since Nov. 12 when he was with the Raiders, but he was suspended by the team for two games and did not play the rest of the season.

“His slate is completely clean with us,” Garrett said.

A phone call with owner and general manager Jerry Jones after the trade made a big impression on McClain.

“No, I think he convinced me I needed to play again,” McClain said. “He called me from Turkey and I figured that had to be an expensive phone call, so … It was pretty serious with me from that point.”