Hatcher, who leads the Cowboys with nine sacks, and enters a free-agency year has 224,873 votes. Lee, second on the team in tackles with 93 and the team leader with four interceptions, received 193,027 votes. Church, the leading-tackler with 101, picked up 87,634 votes.
The Pro Bowl balloting concludes Dec. 26 with the players being announced Dec. 27.
There will be no more NFC and AFC Pro Bowl teams. Instead players will be assigned to teams through a first-ever Pro Bowl draft regardless of conference. The game will be played Jan. 26 in Honolulu.
Fans, coaches and players will each have their vote count as one-third for the teams which consists of 86 players. The players and coaches vote on Dec. 23-26.
Other Cowboys under strong consideration for the team include left tackle Tyron Smith, tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Dez Bryant, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and quarterback Tony Romo.
Winn, who ran for 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns for the University of Cincinnati last year, has been with four teams since signing with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent. He was most recently on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad before he was cut Nov. 19.
Konz, who has experience playing defensive end as well, was cut by the Seattle Seahawks in camp. He was a seventh round pick of the Seahawks in 2011 after playing linebacker and tight end at Kent State. With Andre Smith claimed by the Cleveland Browns, the Cowboys wanted to add a fourth tight end for practice purposes.
The Cowboys had the vacancies with the departure of Alex Tanney to the Browns’ active roster and the release of linebacker Taylor Reed.
“I’m just going to go in there and make plays and do what I’ve been doing since I was 3,” Randle said.
Earlier in the year with Murray bothered by a knee injury and Dunbar slowed by a hamstring strain, Randle was the No. 1 back. In four games he carried 45 times for 111 yards. His best game came in his first start, rushing for 65 yards on 19 carries against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also caught three passes for 28 yards.
But he has not had a carry or a catch in his last three games as the coaches have gone with Murray and Dunbar.
Coach Jason Garrett said Randle’s 2.5-yard per-carry average is not a true indication of his level of play. Against the Washington Redskins and Eagles, he had plenty of short-yardage or end-of-game carries against stacked lines.
He does not have Dunbar’s quickness, but he showed he can hit the hole well enough to make some yards.
The Cowboys figure to ride Murray even more now, but Garrett said the coaches have confidence in Randle and Phillip Tanner if needed.
“I know his numbers might not indicate that, but he went in and played football at this level,” Garrett said. “Sometimes, when a rookie goes in there, on his first opportunity to carry the ball for an extended period of time, he seems young, seems like maybe a college guy, and it might be a little bit too big for him. Joseph has never had that way about him.”
But don't tell Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick the secondary is bad.
On the season the Cowboys have used three starters at corner in the base defense with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne joining Scandrick. With Claiborne nursing a hamstring injury and now playing on the nickle defense, Scandrick and Carr are the base corners.
Carr and Scandrick are tied for the team lead with 13 pass breakups and Carr is second on the team with three interceptions, behind middle linebacker Sean Lee's four. Scandrick has two picks this season, the most in his career.
Claiborne has been the biggest disappointment considering his health issues. He suffered a separated shoulder in Week 1, and while he's third on the team with eight pass breakups he has just one interception this year.
The Cowboys do have good corners but considering the money and draft position used for all three you would think the pass defense should have better numbers. Yet pass defense is reflective in many ways of the pass rush, safety play and type of coverage employed by the defense.
Scandrick has a right to feel he's got a solid group with him, but in the final four months of the season the Cowboys' corners need to to produce.
A two-catch game against Minnesota, one at New Orleans and New York.
It seemed Williams was on a slump that was extending on Thanksgiving Day.
Williams, in place of an injured Dwayne Harris on kickoffs, fumbled the opening kickoff resulting in a touchdown for the Oakland Raiders.
But Williams rebounded and finished with three catches for 23 yards and returned two kickoffs for 61 yards, including one for 32 yards. It appears Williams has broken out of his slump.
"If you look at the rest of the game, how he covered on the coverage units and how he made plays, two big third-down conversions for us, a contested catch on a third-and-5, I think we converted a third-and-13 on an in-cut that he ran, so he really did a good job responding to that," said coach Jason Garrett, who disputed the slump notion Williams was going through. "And that's really telling about who he is, the kind of character he has just to come back, because the nature of this game is you're going to have things that go against you, and how you respond to it is critical. He did a good job of that [against the Raiders]."
The highest point the now-doomed Candlestick Park ever reached was right at 11 feet, 5 inches, when San Francisco 49ers receiver Dwight Clark leaped to pick a stitched pigskin out of the clouds with his fingernails.
The lowest point ever reached by Clark himself, though, came almost 30 years later.
Bankrupt, in the middle of a divorce, and all his real estate developments upside down, he had to sell his five Super Bowl rings and yet was still up to his nostrils in debt.
"One day, I realized the total amount of money I had available to me was under $500," remembers Clark, now 56. "I really had no idea what I was going to do next."
Like Candlestick itself, the life of Dwight Clark has been bittersweet, full of shimmering memories and smelly ones.
Trust me, Candlestick, which will be imploded not long after its final game of this season, was a 70,000-seat toilet stall where Picassos hung: cramped corridors, prison-quality bathrooms, freezing winds, and a bog for a field. And yet Candlestick somehow produced some of the greatest sports memories of the 20th century: The Catch, Montana-to-Rice, Willie Mays roaming the outfield. "The locker room was all screwed up," Clark says. "The showers were awful -- no water pressure and tiny. The field was the worst. It was like a quagmire."
Which was perfect for Clark, the third-leading receiver in Niners history. "The field slowed everybody else down to my speed."
He has worn different padding in the past two games against the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders and has not had any setbacks.
“It’s uncomfortable, but it’s one of those things I’ve got to get used to,” Hatcher said, “and I think I’m just going to keep it for the remainder of the season.”
Before aggravating the stinger late in the win against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 3, Hatcher had hoped to be able to return to practice on a full-time basis, particularly the Wednesday sessions since that is the only day the Cowboys are in pads.
Hatcher had a season-low one tackle against the Raiders but had a tackle for loss and two quarterback pressures. He said after the game he felt like he was playing with one arm. On Tuesday Hatcher said the rest after Thanksgiving had helped.
“It’s getting better each game I play,” Hatcher said. “I just got to continue to rest it and not do nothing crazy in practice to damage the nerve again and set it back. The trainers and the coaching staff do a great job of letting me go through practice not too physical and just having me rest for the games. I’m just going to continue with that game plan they have for me. It’s working.”
When he had options to make changes in the starting lineup earlier in the season, he was not afraid to make changes, be it Brian Waters for Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard, Orlando Scandrick for Morris Claiborne at cornerback or Ernie Sims for Bruce Carter at weakside linebacker.
Injuries have taken away some options, but the Cowboys have an option at strongside linebacker with Kyle Wilber playing well in his two starts and Justin Durant coming back from a hamstring injury.
Wilber had 13 tackles, two quarterback pressures and a tackle for loss in the wins against the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. Durant, who earned praise from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, has 28 tackles, two quarterback pressures and one tackle for loss in nine games.
“It’s just good to have those guys playing,” Garrett said. “We’ll figure out the best guys. It was just nice to see Kyle Wilber step in there and be a contributor. We talked about it the other day – really, really productive in both games, around the football, making plays on the ball, tackles for loss. So that’s been a real good thing for our team that he’s been able to step up and really step up and have more of a role at that position than he did at the defensive end position. That’s certainly been positive for us. But Justin Durant has done a real nice job for us when he’s played this year. So just having both those guys is good for our team.”
Wilber might finally be settling into a position that fits him most after the Cowboys tried him at outside linebacker in a 3-4 last year and at defensive end in their 4-3 this year.
“He’s just been productive,” Garrett said. “He’s been around the ball. He’s made tackles. He’s made tackles for losses. He’s made plays on the ball, fumble recoveries, caused fumbles. It’s just a really good thing. We thought he was a good football player coming out of school, [and] that’s why we drafted him in the fourth round. The scheme that we were playing, we felt like he was best suited to play the outside linebacker, essentially a rush linebacker, in a 3-4 scheme. I think he probably benefitted from some of the times that he’s dropped in that 3-4 scheme and he draws from some of that experience playing as an off-the-ball linebacker. But you literally saw him get better diagnosing things over the last couple weeks. Sometimes he was a little hesitant at the beginning, but I think he was seeing schemes better and pulling the trigger more quickly and just making more plays – a real positive thing for our team.”
To me, however, the signing does not make a lot of sense.
The Cowboys’ pro personnel department deserves a lot of credit for finding guys. George Selvie, Nick Hayden and Jarius Wynn have all helped this year. You can go back to last year for guys like Ernie Sims, Sterling Moore and Eric Frampton. And who can forget the Laurent Robinson signing?
This is not a knock on Clutts, who was described by a personnel chief as a “workmanlike lead blocker.” He might be another solid find. I just don’t see how he fits in what the Cowboys do well in their running game.
The weather will be cold in Chicago on Monday. It could be cold when the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins. And Jason Garrett keeps saying you want to be a physical team in December. I get all of that, but what the Cowboys do best when they run the ball is spread the field with three wide receivers.
Maybe it’s the curse of Tony Fiammetta, another pro department find who helped DeMarco Murray bust out in 2011. The fullback is a revered spot around here, going back to Walt Garrison and leading us to Daryl Johnston.
But it is also a dying position with offenses designed to pass the ball more or run out of “11 personnel,” like the Cowboys.
The Cowboys offensive line is not the ‘90s version of the Cowboys’ line. They do not overpower people. The scheme is not really a power scheme. They look to create creases, not gaping holes. Nate Newton and Larry Allen are not walking through that door to do that.
Murray is averaging 5.5 yards per carry for his career when he runs out of three-wide receiver looks. This year the Cowboys have gained 531 yards on 114 carries and scored five touchdowns out of 11 personnel. Against the Raiders they had 92 yards on 11 carries in 11 personnel. Lance Dunbar’s 45-yard run came out of 11 personnel. Even without that run the Cowboys averaged 4.7 yards a pop when they ran out of three-wides.
So this brings me to Clutts. Will he play five snaps a game? Is it worth it? Was using a tight end or linebacker Kyle Bosworth at fullback that bad? Not really.
The Cowboys could have gone a number of different ways in replacing Dunbar, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a knee injury. They worked out Clutts and a handful of other runners that have barely made their mark in the NFL. Would any of those guys helped? If you’re going to look for a runner, find a tested runner -- even one that has not played this year -- who might have six weeks left in him.
The better move would have been to poach from a practice squad. They did it late last year with tackle Darrion Weems. Maybe he develops into a backup. Maybe he never develops. But they at least had the chance to develop a player. They could look at any position really. In my Five Wonders post, I wondered why they don’t add a No. 3 quarterback for the stretch run. He’d be inactive for the final four games anyway, so at least get a guy in here to learn how they do things as they head into the offseason.
Maybe Clutts will help the running game, but statistics suggest otherwise.
McAulay was the referee for the Cowboys’ 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos on Oct. 6. The Cowboys were penalized nine times for 81 yards. The Cowboys are 1-2 in their last three games with McAulay as the referee.
Last week McAulay’s crew worked the Kansas City Chiefs-Broncos game and called 19 penalties for 177 yards. The Broncos had 10 penalties for 75 yards and the Chiefs had nine penalties for 102 yards.
Offensive holding – 4
Illegal formation – 1
Defensive holding – 2
Intentional grounding – 1
Unnecessary roughness – 3
Illegal block above the waist – 1
Defensive pass interference – 2
Illegal use of hands – 1
Face mask – 1
False start – 2
Illegal shift – 1
Quarter by quarter:
First – 2
Second – 4
Third – 5
IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo knows the deal, and he willingly accepts it: Playoff wins are all that matter at this point in his career.
Not 300-yard passing games. Or touchdown passes. Or fourth-quarter comebacks.
You must respect Romo's approach because he doesn't hide from his 1-3 playoff record or his overall lack of late-season success.
Until his playoff record changes substantially, the narrative among much of the media and "Romo haters" is that Romo is one of the NFL's most talented choke artists.
Remember, fairness has nothing to do with this discussion. It never has.
No quarterback has more than Romo's 11 fourth-quarter, game-winning drives since 2011. His 95.8 passer rating is the fifth highest in NFL history.
In some ways, it's all irrelevant. For the best of the best, it's about winning in the playoffs. And Romo can't do that until he masters December.
He gets another chance Monday night on the road against the Chicago Bears.
"I think it's real and I don't mean to be trite," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of Romo's December struggles Tuesday morning on his radio show on KRLD-FM in Dallas. "You can probably tie that [into] why we have had disappointments in December."
Traditionally, Romo plays his best football in November, where he's 24-5 as a starter with 55 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 102.9 passer rating. He hasn't played nearly as well in December and January, where he's 12-16 in regular-season games with 45 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
But Ratliff never played a down for the Cowboys in 2013 and was cut on Oct. 16. Hatcher has put up a career-high nine sacks in 11 games (he missed one game with a stinger) and has five tackles for loss, 23 quarterback pressures, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and 40 tackles.
“Horrible,” Hatcher said when asked about the possibility of playing nose tackle. “Horrible. Horrible. I’m not a nose tackle. I probably would’ve been asking to be traded or something because I don’t like to play the nose. I’m not going to say I’m glad Rat is gone because I wish we had him because he’s a helluva football player, but God works in mysterious ways and I’m at the position. I’m making plays and having a helluva year, so I’ve got to keep it up.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Hatcher, who will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. He also turns 32 in July, which could keep the Cowboys and other teams from making a big financial play to sign him.
But speaking on KRLD-FM recently Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Hatcher has outperformed the three-year, $6 million deal he signed in 2011.
“Thank you Stephen for saying that,” Hatcher said. “I think it’s awesome. I don’t want to just talk about my contract. I just want to focus on these next couple of games, man, and let the chips fall where they may. I’m not worried about it. I think my play will take care of everything. It’s nothing you can really do about the situation with my contract, so there’s no need to be talking about it.”