Each Sunday I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. Should the NFL do something different with preseason? Mark Sanchez is headed to town. And the pickings look slim on the waiver wire, if you’re looking for experienced defensive ends, in this edition of First and 10.
1. Randy Gregory has not won the appeal of his 10-game substance-abuse suspension. That was reported by many outlets Sunday morning, which left many Cowboys fans optimistic that Gregory might be back on the field after four games. However, by noon, the information had been clarified by those same outlets.
So what does this mean? It means I'm still counting on Gregory missing 10 games this season.
The misreported "four games'' is about a confirmation of that status only. It doesn't preclude the 10 coming later. And as we've said in this space before, the Randy Gregory story is a drug-rehab story right now, more than it is a football story.
2. You know what I spent most of the final preseason game doing? Wondering why the NFL needs four preseason games to get ready for the regular season and college football only needs a couple of intrasquad scrimmages?
Do a little digging — and I did — and you’ll find that preseason football — or exhibition games — have a history that dates back to the NFL’s nascent days of the 1920s. Teams would play exhibition games all the time — sometimes a full season’s worth if they weren’t in a true league. This Peter King article, along with Mark Ford’s book, “A History of NFL Exhibition and Preseason Games: 1960-1985,” really presents the history of those games in a fashion that’s easy to grasp. There was one thing that caught my eye in reading both, one thing that might actually make the preseason a bit more palatable. And it involves the Cowboys.
King references the team’s 1960 season, its first in the NFL. The Cowboys were pulling in $25,000 appearance fees in some cases to play preseason games in cities like Pendleton, Oregon; Louisville, Kentucky; San Antonio, Texas; and Bloomington, Minnesota.
Why not bring back at least some of this traveling road show? Allow NFL teams to play two preseason games at home so the local fans can see the team and the team can generate local revenue. Then have the teams play two neutral site games in the U.S. in places that don’t normally see the NFL, but have the infrastructure to support it for one night.
Think about it? The Cowboys could play a neutral site game in Norman, Oklahoma. Or El Paso, Texas. Or Boise, Idaho. Or New Haven, Connecticut, where the Yale Bowl holds nearly 65,000. Bringing back this element of the preseason might excite NFL fans that can’t get to an NFL game. It would continue to grow the game, which the NFL is extremely concerned about. It would bring players closer to fans (autograph sessions and photo opps, please).
The preseason isn’t irrelevant from a preparation standpoint. But, dear Lord, could we just make it a bit easier to digest?
3. Welcome to Dallas, Mark Sanchez. Where the most iconic plays in franchise history don’t include the word “butt.” (Here's the CHQ story on Sanchez and the cut to 53 from Saturday. Good stuff.) Sanchez is coming onto the roster as Sunday the Cowboys cut Showers ... who will probably bounce back to the P-squad here.
4. No real head-turners from Saturday’s final cuts. I mean, I’m sure the Cowboys would have liked to have kept tight end Rico Gathers on the active roster. But he’s still miles away from being helpful on an active roster and when you get to final cuts that’s the biggest component in a team’s decision making. We are now past the time to get worked up over a fifth-string tight end.
Gathers is, however, boomeranging back to the practice squad.
5. So who should the Dallas Cowboys pursue? Well, if that player has a DE or a DT in front of his name then that player should be on the Jones’ call sheet. Here are a few players to consider:
DE Ego Ferguson: At 300 pounds he has two NFL sacks. But he’s more of a 3-4 fit.
DL Henry Melton: Cut by the Broncos, at least he knows the system and the coaching staff. Plus he can catch Sanchez’s flight down to DFW. (Not happening, as the Dallas coaching staff is been there/done that.)
DE David King: The Houston native has 1.5 sacks in three seasons in the NFL.
DE Zack Moore: The former Patriot had half a sack in eight games last season. (We think this one is happening, at least as a P-squadder.)
DE Bobby Richardson: half-a-sack in 11 starts with New Orleans last year.
DE Stansly Maponga: The former TCU Horned Frog had a sack in two seasons in Atlanta.
DE Jordan Hill: Seven sacks in three seasons in Seattle.
At this point the Cowboys already have too much potential and not enough proven talent at defensive end. They need experience and a track record. The problem is there’s too little of it out there.
There’s a reason why most of these guys were cut. That’s why I’m not optimistic the Cowboys will add an impact pass rusher off waivers, unless the Cowboys choose to swing a trade. (And indeed, it seems they were not awarded any gets even though they were No. 4 in the claim order. So they may have not even claimed anybody.)
I wonder what the Cowboys could get for a Ron Leary-Darren McFadden package? (McFadden, of course, is locked onto the NFI for six weeks. So we wonder and wait.)
6. My practice squad 10? Here’s my list of the 10 guys I would sign to the practice squad, assuming they clear waivers: TE Rico Gathers, WR Andy Jones, LB Deon King, WR Vince Mayle, TE Austin Traylor, DE Mike McAdoo, CB Deji Olatoye, DE Ryan Russell, DL Lawrence Okoye and WR Devin Street.
New practice squad rules allow the Cowboys to stash Russell, Olatoye and Street, who have two accrued NFL seasons. The Cowboys could benefit from that.
The real deal so far?
Stay tuned. We'll update this as the day goes on.
7. I said the Cowboys should do Tony Romo a favor and put him on short-term IR. The message is simple — we know you’re seriously injured so take your time and get better. Leaving him on the active roster just leaves open the temptation that Romo might try to come back too soon. Let’s home the Cowboys make that move in the next couple of days. Or even hours.
For now? Nope. Romo is staying on the 53.
Know that Romo has no plans to retire but at the same time, Dallas can escape his contract if need be. That breakdown is here. The importance of the Romo move as "The Biggest Roster Decision in the NFL'' is here.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
Maybe he’s not a world-beater at quarterback. But it appears Mark Sanchez might be a world-beater at life. And that’s what you want when you get right down to it.
9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Three hours on Cowboys sidelines nets QB Jarrod Johnson $1,800 pay day” from espn.com
That sounds like the amount of money I’ve made for exactly none of the freelance jobs I’ve ever had.
10. One more thing. The Cowboys restructured Sean Lee’s contract for 2016 to enable him an opportunity to make the $2 million roster bonus he barely missed out on last year. A touch of class there from the Cowboys. There is, of course, no guarantee that Lee will net the bonus this year, either. (Premium Cowboys fans get a treat here: "Sean Lee Can Read Your Mind.'')
On a non-Cowboys note, I’m the editor of College Football America and our 2016 Yearbook is out now. Our yearbook is more than 300 pages, features more than 900 college football teams and previews more than 100 college conferences. If you’re looking to get ready for the college football season there is no better way. In fact our late publication date means we have more up-to-date information than other football annuals.
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