ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer discusses whether the Dallas running game will be able to neutralize Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

The NFL Live crew make their picks for Houston at Dallas.

Tony Romo: You want to feel healthy

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- This Wednesday off thing seems to have agreed with Tony Romo, so the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was a spectator at practice just as he was the previous two weeks.

After not functioning well in the first two games, the Cowboys and Romo agreed to alter the quarterback's practice schedule so he could spend more time strengthening his core and legs to help him on game days.

The results could not have been better. Romo has completed 40 of 52 passes for 479 yards and five touchdowns and one interception since undergoing this routine.

"You want to feel healthy," Romo said. "You want to feel good. You want to feel like you're maximizing your opportunities to be at your best within each day and obviously within each week and start over and do it again. I don't think about it anymore than that."

Romo took part in Wednesday's walkthrough and spent the early part of the regular practice in the weight room. When the team portion of practice starts, Romo is on the practice field observing the plan.

"It's a full day for him," coach Jason Garrett said. "There's no question about that."

In each of the last two games, Romo has had runs of 16 and 21 yards. He finished the win against the New Orleans Saints with 20 yards on six carries with his yardage total dipping because of three kneeldowns.

He still outgained Philadelphia Eagles back LeSean McCoy, who had 17 yards on 10 carries last week against the San Francisco 49ers.

"Me and him are battling," Romo joked. "Just the speed out on game days I'm sure. I'm sure he's looking at my moves and seeing if he can incorporate them. I think he's safe. I think at the end of the year when you add it up, he'll probably pass me."

Dez Bryant has full practice Wednesday

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant went through his first full practice on Wednesday since injuring his right shoulder Sept. 14 against the Tennessee Titans.

Bryant has not missed a game, but he had been a limited participant in the previous six practices. In the two games since getting hurt Bryant caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns in wins against the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints.

Linebacker Rolando McClain also went through a full practice for the first time since injuring his groin against the Titans.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton (hamstring) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) were limited. Both played last week against the Saints and barring any setbacks will be available Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Quarterback Tony Romo (back) and linebacker Bruce Carter (quadriceps) were the only Cowboys not to practice. Romo will practice on Thursday, following the same plan he has used the past two weeks. Carter will not play against the Texans, but hopes to return Oct. 12 against the Seattle Seahawks.
IRVING, Texas -- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday after recording his first career interception return for a touchdown, a career-high nine quarterback hits, a pass defensed and five tackles in a victory over the Buffalo Bills.

This Sunday afternoon, Watt and the Texans visit the Dallas Cowboys in a battle between 3-1 teams.

Watt's ability to line up at both defensive end spots and inside as a tackle makes him a matchup nightmare for any team. However, Cowboys center Travis Frederick, a teammate of Watt's at Wisconsin from 2009 to 2011, said don't forget the other players on Houston's defense.

"He's a tremendous player, like I said, but they also have a lot of good players in their linebacking corps. Jared Crick on the other end is a good player as well," Frederick said. "He's another Big Ten guy. The guys in the middle are big run stoppers and it's not just one guy. We're not playing the Houston J.J. Watts. We're playing the Houston Texans and it's going to be a good challenge."

Watt has more quarterback hits (16) than 13 other NFL teams. The closest player to Watt in terms of quarterback hits is Seattle's Michael Bennett, who has eight. The Cowboys see him in Week 6.

But Watt's ability to rush the passer from different parts of the line of scrimmage is a challenge. As the right defensive end, Watt will meet the left tackle, and in the Cowboys' case that's Tyron Smith, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

"It's always fun going up against a good player, and everybody is in this game for the competition and that's basically all it is," said Smith, who worked out with Watt prior to the 2011 NFL draft. "He's one of the top players at his position, and I give him credit for what he's done so far."

Can the Cowboys control Watt?

Can the Cowboys contain Watt?

"I think it’s the same thing," Frederick said. "He's one part of a bigger defense, and our job is to control and move against the Texans defense."
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton was listed as limited on the Wednesday practice report.

Last week, Melton (hamstring) didn't practice until Friday and was listed as questionable going into the game against the New Orleans Saints. Melton did play against the Saints.

Defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee), who made his season debut last week, was limited.

Tony Romo (back) and Bruce Carter (thigh) didn't practice on Wednesday. Romo is expected to practice this week and play in Sunday's game against Houston. Carter most likely won't play.

Linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (shoulder) were full participants on Wednesday.
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett recently addressed his players about the team’s stance on domestic violence and similar issues.

Garrett made it clear that any player involved in such an incident won’t be allowed to play until the situation has been resolved.

When defensive tackle Josh Brent was involved in a car accident in December 2012 and subsequently charged with intoxication manslaughter since the wreck resulted in practice squad player Jerry Brown’s death, the Cowboys deactivated Brent for the final four games of the season.

Brent, who spent nearly five months in jail and 45 days in a rehabilitation facility, rejoined the team this week after the NFL reduced his suspension.

“Part of what our jobs are as coaches is to create the right environment for our players to function both on and off the field,” Garrett said, “so we need to be clear about where we are and we need to be clear that we have a structure in place to help anybody who has any off-the-field issue.

“We have a lot of resources here to help guys, if you’re dealing with anything off the field. That was the first message. Having said that, there are standards we have about all off-the-field behavior and certainly domestic violence applies to that. We’re very clear about how we’re going to handle things.”
IRVING, Texas - Tony Romo missed his third consecutive Wednesday practice.

Three weeks ago, it was a big deal. Now, it’s considered a blessing for backup quarterback Brandon Weeden to get practice repetitions he’d otherwise never get, while Romo goes through a series of core-strengthening exercises.

While Jason Garrett has refused to say whether this will be Romo’s routine the rest of the season, it doesn’t make any sense to change it since he’s playing well.

In his first two games, Romo completed 42 of 66 passes for 457 yards with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 75.1. In the last two games, Romo has completed 40 of 52 passes for 479 yards with five touchdowns and one interception with a passer rating of 128.6.

He’s also moving better in the pocket, eluding defenders and creating more time to find receivers. He was sacked seven times in the first two games and once in the last two games.

He also has had runs of 16 and 21 yards in the last two games, converting key third-down situations each time.

“I’m continuing to get healthier each week that goes by and that’s encouraging,” Romo said. “My ability to move and react and fire and activate everything when you want it -- for me personally that has been a huge difference since the first two weeks.”

Tony Romo, Bruce Carter miss practice

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo missed practice Wednesday to rest his back, something he's done the last two weeks. Romo did take part in the Wednesday morning walk-through and is expected to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Linebacker Bruce Carter (quad) also missed practice and will miss Sunday's game.

Safety Jakar Hamilton, who was reinstated by the NFL after being suspended the first four games for violations of the league's substance abuse policy, participated in his first practice.

Defensive tackles Henry Melton (hamstring) and Terrell McClain (groin) and linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) took part in individual drills during the open portion of practice. All three practiced just once last week because of health issues.

Mother's fight inspires Brandon Carr

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- The pink cleats are on the top of Brandon Carr's locker. The pink bracelet connected with a cross is on his wrist, as is a silver bracelet.

Kathy Carr is never far from Carr’s mind or body.

“I just know her skin was on it,” the Dallas Cowboys cornerback said twirling the bracelets around his wrist, “so we’re skin-to-skin still.”

Carr’s mother died July 30 after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. She was 59.

[+] EnlargePink Ribbon
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneThe NFL's annual breast cancer awareness campaign resumes this month.
Carr missed most of training camp to be with his family in his mother’s final days, taking only short breaks to work out at a local high school or church near his parent’s Flint, Michigan, home.

On Sunday the Cowboys and NFL will celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month in an attempt to raise awareness to beat the disease. October has always been special to Carr because of his mother’s fight. The pink cleats, wrist bands and towels he wears are more than just a symbol.

“It means a lot just because of the story behind it, my personal connection,” Carr said. “But in my case, I can smile. It’s a victory that my mom was a strong fighter, courageous. Stood there in the midst of all the cancer, everything going bad for her, and was still able to experience life and her family. That’s what it’s all about to me.”

Barely two months have passed since her death and Carr said he is still trying to digest everything that has taken place. He has closed his inner circle to just a handful of friends. He has leaned on his brother Tony for support on and off the field. Tony put him through those workouts during the summer so he could remain in shape.

His father, John, has been visiting him the last two weeks and was supposed to return to Michigan on Tuesday but Carr asked him to stay longer.

“I think we both need each other,” Carr said. “You know men, we don’t really talk about what’s going on, but we can kind of look at each other ... I just kind of looked at him like, 'You can't leave right now. I need you right here, man.' It's been cool. It’s life. My parents always try to prepare for me something happening in life, even with them, and death and all those things that you try not to think about. It’s inevitable. You never understand it. I’m not trying to understand it. When it’s all said and done, we’ll know why everything happens in this world. You just have to continue to try to live a great legacy and continue to motivate and do great things. That’s what I took from everything my mom went through was she still was trying to get after it and motivate her grandchildren, kids at school or just whoever she came across. I’m going to try to finish out her task.”

Kathy Carr was a teacher for 33 years in the Flint Community Schools. Her devotion to her family and students will never leave Carr.

“I know my mom would be an advocate for getting women of all ages aware and getting the proper medical attention needed to prevent or stop whatever the case may be, or spread awareness,” Carr said. “She was a selfless person. I mean it was never about her. She was always thinking about the next person. I guess I kind of got it from her because I put myself last and think about everyone else.”

On Sunday against the Houston Texans Carr will wear his pink cleats, and he will talk to her before he takes the field. She is gone in body but not in spirit.

“She’s always with me,” he said.

Cowboys can't eat the cheese

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- Brandon Carr didn't play for Bill Parcells, but the Dallas Cowboys cornerback is aware of a famous Parcells-ism: Don't eat the cheese.

Parcells told that to his players when things were going well. He didn't want them to read about their successes for fear it would infect their work. It was Parcells trying to affect the players' minds.

At 3-1, the Cowboys are something of a surprise. They have the NFL's leading rusher in DeMarco Murray. They have a dominating offensive line. They have a defense that has played better than many thought.

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones and Bill Parcells
Paul Buck/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was fond of the phrase "Don't eat the cheese."
And everybody is about ready to believe that they are for real.

"Don't read your own clippings," Carr said, offering up a definition for don't eat the cheese. "It's 17 weeks and you can't come up for air until the 17 weeks. You know around here how things go in December and January and those last couple of games. It's crucial that, like you said, you don't eat the cheese, keep the chip on your shoulder, stay hungry and just keep that attitude because we're still in the process of establishing our identity as a football team."

Coach Jason Garrett does not offer up any Parcells-like imagery. He prefers to talk about the process and having a great Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Carr claimed to be unaware of the Cowboys' schedule beyond this week and how four of their next five are at home.

"We're not going to have any issues with complacency," Garrett said. "We'll make that point very loudly and clearly. But one of the byproducts of doing this new schedule the way we're doing it is the emotional part kind of goes away by the time we get to the tape, and that's a really good thing. When we watch the tape, it's about learning. There's no better environment to learn in than the game. The game is just such a valuable teaching tool. You keep the standard high. You hear me say this all the time, build on the good stuff. Recognize it and build on it. Those are good things. That should give guys confidence, that should make us feel good as a team. Having said that, there's plenty of stuff that you got to address. We're going to address it and we're going to get it right."

It's one thing for Carr to understand the one-game-at-a-time process. He is in his seventh season. He is used to life in the NFL, but the majority of teammates are not.

The Cowboys haven't been 3-1 since 2008. Only Jason Witten, Tony Romo, L.P. Ladouceur, Anthony Spencer, Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick remain from that team. Only 16 players have been around for the four-game winning streak the Cowboys experienced in 2011.

The majority of the Cowboys have not experienced what it's like to have sustained success in a regular season. They know nothing more than 8-8.

"I think we're young enough to not even think about the cheese, that's how young we are, which is good," Carr said. "Don't even know about the cheese. As long as nobody puts no mouse traps around they're not going to know what it is."
IRVING, Texas -- The New Orleans Saints dared Terrance Williams to beat them. The second-year Dallas Cowboys receiver seized the opportunity.

Facing a steady diet of single coverage, Williams feasted in Sunday night’s rout, catching six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

“The more they disrespect,” receiver Dez Bryant said, “the more he dominates.”

It’s really not a matter of disrespecting Williams, who became a full-time starter when the Cowboys released Miles Austin in the spring and has four touchdowns in this season’s first four games. It’s just that the Cowboys have so many other offensive weapons who command respect.

No defensive coordinator is going to scheme to stop Williams when he has to deal with NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray and a pair of Pro Bowl pass catchers in Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. Cornerbacks are going to get left on an island against Williams a lot.

“I mean, it’s the best thing when it’s one-on-one and you can just find a way to get open,” Williams said. “I’m just really trying to take pressure from Dez and Witten, because when they get singled, they’re the best at what they do. I’m just really trying to help them out.”

Williams understands he’s fourth on the pecking order of Dallas’ playmakers. The Cowboys are going to hammer away with Murray and come up with ways to get Bryant and Witten the ball despite the defensive attention they receive.

As far as Williams is concerned, his job is to maximize the opportunities he gets, giving Tony Romo reason to trust him. He’s certainly done his part in the first quarter of the season, turning 20 targets into 14 catches for 179 yards and the four scores.

“Whenever he looks my way, be ready, no excuses,” said Williams, who had 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. “That’s just how I go about it. I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do because I have too much pride to let that get in the way. Whenever Tony gives me a chance, I’ve just got to be ready.”

Williams has done that well enough to give opponents reason to worry about covering him one-on-one -- not that they have many options with all the other weapons on the Cowboys’ offense.
ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer talks about the team’s ability to handle and sustain its early-season success and a 3-1 record.

Brandon Weeden happy about practice snaps

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
IRVING, Texas -- If form holds, Brandon Weeden will take the first-team offensive snaps today with Tony Romo spending his time on the weight room to continue to strengthen his core and legs.

It’s worked so well the last two weeks for Romo, why change?

It also provides good work for Weeden.

“It’s huge,” Weeden said. “Between those and the walkthrough, that’s more than probably a lot of backup quarterbacks get the rest of the week. They’re good. It’s our base gameplan and you’re not getting third down or red zone, but it’s there with the same guys you would be out there with if something were to happen. I talked to Coach [Jason] Garrett about it and they’re huge. I can’t not take advantage of each and every rep whether it’s one play, five plays or whatever it is. I don’t know how long it’ll last. I’m sure Tony’s feeling good, but it all depends on how he does it.”

Weeden did not take a snap with the Cowboys’ offense in the first two weeks of the season. Under Garrett the backup quarterback usually never takes a team snap during the week of practice, unless it is the bye week.

That the work comes closer to when Weeden played in the preseason helps. He started two preseason games and completed 34 of 57 passes for 388 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions.

“There’s going to be that rust,” Weeden said. “I think now that I played against Denver whenever that was (in the preseason) and had three, four weeks here where it’s not so much of a problem now because of how fresh everything is. At the end of the year if you’ve not gotten a whole lot of reps, it’s going to take a little bit of time just to get the speed and everything else down.”

NFL to mark Remembrance Sunday

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1

LONDON -- The NFL will join in honoring Britain's war dead when the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium next month.

The NFL says it will team up with the Royal British Legion to mark Remembrance Sunday on Nov. 9.

The Jaguars are the "home" team that day for the third regular-season NFL game in London this year.

In line with the legion's poppy charity appeal, the uniforms and helmets of both teams will feature the red poppy logo. At the end of the game, 80,000 poppies will be dropped into the Wembley stands. The uniforms will be auctioned off for charity.

Poppies are traditionally worn to commemorate the sacrifice of those who died for Britain.

Money raised by the poppy appeal goes to support current and former members of the armed forces and their families.

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