Disgruntled defensive end Greg Ellis is no longer proving to be the push over nice guy the Cowboys have grown accustomed to seeing.
Ellis, unhappy with his role and demanding a new contract, skipped the organized team activity days last week. He showed up for the mandatory minicamp the weekend before, but did not return for the voluntary practice sessions when it became the clear the Cowboys weren't going to meet demands for a new deal.
Now Ellis said he wants the Cowboys to trade or release him.
He will report to training camp in July if he is still on the roster. But he said it would not be a good situation for him or the Cowboys.
"As long as they are committed to me, I will do whatever they want me to do," Ellis said. "If the level of commitment isn't there, how do you expect me to play the kind of roles you want me to play? My heart will not feel the same. It would be best for me to not be here."
Ellis wanted the Cowboys to show some commitment to him by restructuring his contract and giving him a serious financial guarantee by bringing some of the money in his deal forward in a bonus.
His contract runs through 2009 and includes salaries of $2.25 million, $2.5 million, $3.325 million and $4.15 million over the next four years. He has already received a $500,000 roster bonus for 2006. He feels he is playing on a series of one-year deals after being benched last season in favor of Chris Canty because Canty was a better fit for the 3-4.
Ellis still tied for the team lead in sacks with eight and remains one of two proven pass rushers on the team. The Cowboys want him to play linebacker as well as defensive end this season in an effort to increase his role. Ellis has no problems with the move as long as the Cowboys re-do his deal. He believes he will be released at the end of the season if the moves don't work out.
The Cowboys have no intention of meeting Ellis' demands, which has now caused the current stalemate.
"Linebacker is a huge risk," Ellis said. "I hadn't done it in the league. Last year was a risk. I never played (in the 3-4). We know how that worked out. If this doesn't work out or I don't produce, they are not going to keep me around."I am taking all the risk. I would like them to share this risk with me."
Quotes and Notes
"They are big shoes to fill, but I have confidence I will get it done," Kosier said. "I'll play anywhere they tell me."
"I am not saying it's wide open because Kosier has more experience than the other guys," coach Bill Parcells said. "If someone showed up big, you would have to (consider) that."
--RB Julius Jones has big goals for 2006, just like he did last year.
This time, however, he is keeping quiet.
Jones rushed for 993 yards and five touchdowns in 2005 after a preseason prediction 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. He said he has learned a lesson.
"Maybe it jinxed me. I ain't going to say it this year. I ain't saying nothing," Jones said. "I'm not putting any numbers out there. I'm going to keep them in my head this year."
--TE Jason Witten is in the last year of his contract and wants a new deal. The Cowboys want to oblige. The two sides have had some discussions about a contract extension. Witten said he would like to get something done before the start of the season or wait until the season is over.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think (Bengals receiver) Chad (Johnson) and I are just going to be collaborating a little bit and try to find a way around it and just have some fun with it." -- Terrell Owens on the new NFL rules regarding end zone celebrations
--FB Lousaka Polite is working at tight end and running back because the Cowboys are going to a two-tight end offense and have all but eliminated the full back position.
--LS Danny Young was released, leaving 88 players on the Cowboys roster. They must make three more cuts before training camp next month.--LB Kevin Burnett participated in the Cowboys' on field activity days after missing three day minicamp while still recovering from offseason knee surgery. LB Al Singleton was also back at practice after missing the camp to attend a wedding -- his.
Quietly, the Giants are filling in pieces of the puzzle in what they hope will be a finished product that takes them deep into the playoffs at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
The big names are in, biggest of them being veteran free agent linebacker LaVar Arrington (Redskins), already established as the starter on the strong side.
But there are others such as free safety Will Demps (Ravens), cornerbacks Sam Madison (Miami) and R.W. McQuarters (Lions), defensive tackle Junior Ioane (Texans), quarterback Rob Johnson (Bucs) and offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer (Packers).
So now, having solidified both offense and defense, they are finding a part here, a part there, all designed to allow the overall units to mesh properly and operate smoothly.
Latest is the signing of former New Orleans tight end Eddie Lee "Boo" Williams, 6-feet-4 and 265 pounds, who spent the 2005 season out of football because of a knee injury (torn anterior cruciate ligament) that required surgery. He was released by the Saints on Feb. 23.
With his background -- he played in all 16 New Orleans games from 2002 through 2004 -- they hope the backup position behind Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey is more secure than with just Visanthe Shiancoe, who was a third-round draft pick out of small-school Morgan State (Md.) in 2003 who has never fully vindicated that status.
To make room for Williams, the Giants released tight end Matt Kranchick, 6-7 and 260. He joined the team on Dec. 19, 2005, and played in two games at the end of the season.
Having signed the veteran free agents they did, having spent the money they were able to spend, the Giants continue to address backup roles, in effect swapping players signed for players released.
"I am feeling good about this team," said coach Tom Coughlin. "We have made several changes and I am pleased with them."
Feeling better than he did entering the 2005 season, Coughlin nevertheless took the Giants to a record of 11-5 and the NFC East championship.
But the ignominy of their 23-0 home field loss to Carolina in the first round of the playoffs has clearly spurred the offseason activities, which when coupled with a sensible draft might push the team just a little farther in what might be considered the toughest division in the NFL.
Quotes and Notes
--Former Giant DE Bob Taylor (1963, 1964) died earlier this week in New York City from complications arising from colon cancer surgery. He was 68 years old and was a ninth-round draft pick in 1963 out of Maryland State. Taylor saw action in the 1963 NFL championship game (the Giants lost to Chicago, 14-7).
--With the signing of free agent QB Rob Johnson, the Giants appear on the verge of waving goodbye to their current backup, Tim Hasselbeck. He was the backup to Eli Manning last year, taking that job from Jesse Palmer (now with San Francisco). But there are still reports that the team isn't satisfied with this nominal upgrade, and the names Jay Fiedler and former Giant Kerry Collins continue to surface.
--One of the areas slowly building into a top unit is the offensive line, and a breakdown is in order. RG Chris Snee may well be on his way to Pro Bowl stature in this, his third season. RT Kareem McKenzie, the highest-paid lineman on the team, showed solid improvement as the season progressed (his first season since signing on from the AFC New York Jets). LT Luke Petitgout, despite too many false start penalties, is an experienced performer. LG David Diehl has started every game since his rookie year in 2003 while playing three different positions. C Shaun O'Hara, another veteran, plays smart if not with power.
--Offensive coordinator John Hufnagel and head coach Tom Coughlin are busily installing new pass patterns to take advantage of the speed and moves of their second round draft pick, Sinorice Moss (5-8, 185). Look for him to be the third receiver on the field -- but on the field a lot.QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to be better than we were last year (the Giants were 11-5 in 2005) because we are in a very strong division and all the other teams got better, too. You can't really expect to get into the playoffs if you can't get out of your division." -- General manager Ernie Accorsi.
Donovan McNabb has acknowledged that the abdominal injury that ruined his and the Eagles' season last year occurred not on the field but in the weight room during his rigorous offseason training in Arizona.
He ended up playing hurt the first half of the season before aggravating the injury in November and missing the final seven games. Now, McNabb appears to be completely recovered. But as soon as the Eagles' voluntary minicamp ends next week, he's going back to Arizona to train before the July 20 start of training camp.
"Just like a little kid, you tell him he can't have any candy and he's still reaching in the candy jar," McNabb said when asked why he doesn't just play it safe and rest up until the start of two-a-days.
"If you're training, you're working. You are not going to pull back because you hurt yourself before. I am going to work harder and try to avoid it and hopefully I will avoid that injury.
"When I'm in the weight room I am not going to pull back on the weight. I'm not going to get out on the field and pull back on the running. I am going to prepare myself to make sure I am in the best shape possible coming into camp. I think when you do that mentally, it prepares you knowing that I'm ready to go. If anything, I am a competitor first and foremost."
The Eagles believe they can be Super Bowl contenders again this year, but only if they stay healthy. And nobody needs to stay healthy more than the 30-year-old McNabb, who has missed substantial chunks of two of the past four seasons.The team upgraded the backup quarterback situation in the offseason, cutting loose Mike McMahon and signing veteran Jeff Garcia. But Garcia is well past his prime. He knows what to do, but doesn't have enough of the skills left to do it. If the Eagles are going to make a Super Bowl run, it will be with McNabb.
Quotes and Notes
--Defensive end Chris Gocong, the Eagles' rookie third-round pick out of Division 1-AA Cal Poly who the team is hoping to turn into a strong-side linebacker, missed nearly two weeks of the team's important rookie camps because NFL rules forbid rookies from practicing until their school's spring semester is over. Cal Poly didn't finish up until June 5. Those missed two weeks make it unlikely Gocong will be able to make the end-to-linebacker transition fast enough to wrestle the starting strong-side linebacker job away from Dhani Jones.
--Donovan McNabb is playing host to his annual celebrity weekend June 9 and 10 in Philadelphia. The event benefits the American Diabetes Association. It includes a by-invitation-only soiree on the 9th at Zanzibar Blue, a popular Philadelphia jazz club, featuring a host of celebrities, including McNabb. McNabb also will play host to a youth football clinic on the 10th at the Eagles' indoor practice facility. There also will be an online auction.
--The Eagles have made some changes in their scouting department. Ryan Grigson, who had been the club's western regional scout, was promoted to director of college scouting. The Eagles didn't have a college scouting chief last year. Also, Matt Russell, Johnathon Stigall and Ahmad Russell were hired as area college scouts. John Spytek was hired as a college scouting assistant.
--The Eagles released quarterback Matt Nordgren. Nordgren, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last month, backed up Vince Young at the University of Texas. That leaves the Eagles with four quarterbacks on their roster -- Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia, Koy Detmer and undrafted free agent Timmy Chang. The club also signed cornerback Joselio Hanson, who had spent the spring playing for the World Bowl-champion Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe.
--Despite losing 10 games last season, the Eagles still were one of the league's most popular teams as far as merchandise sales were concerned. According to the league, they finished second to the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in merchandise sold.