Cowboys with Tim MacMahon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Dallas Cowboys reporter Tim MacMahon stops by to chat about the team.
MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. He joined ESPN in September 2009.
Send your questions now and join MacMahon Thursday at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET!
Tim MacMahon (2:58 PM)
Thanks for joining me for this week's ESPNDallas.com Cowboys chat. Let's get right to the questions.
Tim-- With Jerry saying they aren't finished with free agency yet, does that mean they are still look for OL depth or Safety Help after cuts?
Tim MacMahon (3:00 PM)
Jerry didn't say anything definitive, just that the Cowboys might not be done with free agency. Really, they never got started, but whatever. With Montrae Holland and Alex Barron, they feel OK about the O-line depth. I could see them addressing the secondary, but I think it's more likely that they'd sign a veteran corner for the minimum than spend significant money on a starting free safety such as O.J. Atogwe.
carlos (dallas, tx)
Who will be better in the slot Austin or Bryant?
Tim MacMahon (3:01 PM)
My hunch is that the Cowboys will try to keep things as simple as possible for Bryant this season, which would mean he doesn't move around much. Austin has been in Jason Garrett's system for three-plus years and knows all the receiver spots, so he'll have no problem moving from outside to the slot. They both have the physical skills to be dangerous in the slot, but I'd expect to see Austin there in the three-receiver packages. That's what we've seen in OTAs so far.
Kirk (Schweinfurt, Germany)
Its well documented about P Crayton and Sam Hurd not happy being down the depth chart. Is there any friction between the RB's, I know they all want to be the "man".
Tim MacMahon (3:02 PM)
I just blogged about Tashard Choice's situation. There isn't friction between the backs, who are all friends, but Choice definitely wants a bigger role. That won't happen this season, barring injury to Felix Jones or Marion Barber, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if this is Barber's last season with the Cowboys.
Does it make sense to sign a vet cb to provide insurance at cb and would that cost roster spot for one of the young wr ie titus , holley, hurd, johnson
Tim MacMahon (3:05 PM)
It certainly makes sense to address the corner depth. It wouldn't necessarily impact how many receivers the team keeps. The Cowboys could go one lighter at a lot of positions or opt just to keep four corners again.
If Dez Bryant reaches his full potential he will be...
Tim MacMahon (3:05 PM)
... a perennial Pro Bowler.
Thomas (Austin, TX)
Wade is always raving about Brandon Williams. Is this guy a legit backup for OLB? Better that Greg Ellis? Seems like ACL damage would really hurt that burst that is so important to a good outside rusher.
Tim MacMahon (3:06 PM)
Better than Greg Ellis a few years ago? Very doubtful. Better than Greg Ellis now? Maybe. Wade Phillips mentioned Monday that he saw the burst in Brandon Williams that he had during last season's training camp. That wasn't the case the previous week, but the team's doctors and athletic trainers warned that it'd take Williams some time to trust the knee and regain his explosiveness.
Brian M. (Lake Highlands HS Annex)
Hey Mac, do the Cowboys have a backup plan if Buehler fails at kicking field goals??
Tim MacMahon (3:08 PM)
I addressed this in today's column about Buehler. If he fails, it's likely that the Cowboys will scan the waiver wire or sign an unemployed kicker. Lake Highlands legend Matt Stover, who is still money inside 40, is probably the best available guy right now. There will be others after final cuts.
Riley (South Carolina)
If Austin or Sensabaugh dont sign their RFA contracts do u see Jerry trading them or releasing thim.... He has been practicing a no nonsense relationship these couple of years....
Tim MacMahon (3:10 PM)
I don't think it will get to that point. But there's no way either player is released. Jerry has made it clear on several occasions that he considers Austin and Sensabaugh to be key parts of the Cowboys' long-term future. He's been "no-nonsense" with veterans near the end of their careers. These are guys with several good years ahead of them, and the odds are great that those years will be in Cowboys uniforms.
Joe (Charlotte, NC)
Do you think Jerry is really going to stay put at FS or do you think he will make a play for Atogwe from St. Louis if he is available?
Tim MacMahon (3:11 PM)
I really think they'll stay put. Wade Phillips is very high on Alan Ball, and a lot of people at Valley Ranch believe he's an upgrade over Ken Hamlin, especially in coverage. I'd be surprised if Jerry offered the kind of money it'd take to sign Atogwe.
Do you really believe that there will be a true open competition at the WR position? Roy Williams to me has to earn the starting position. He should not be given the position because of his salary.
Tim MacMahon (3:13 PM)
No, not buying the competition, especially when it comes to Patrick Crayton's chances of earning a role as one of the top three receivers. Crayton was more productive with fewer opportunities than Williams last season, but there won't be a legit competition between the two. Jerry made that clear at the scouting combine. Maybe Dez Bryant gets a chance to unseat Williams, since Jerry has a high-profile investment in Bryant, too. But that depends on Dez's ability to learn the offense.
chatsworth (Ben wheler)
besides Anderson who is working at fullback and how do they look?
Tim MacMahon (3:16 PM)
Undrafted free agent Chris Gronkowski is the only other true fullback on the roster right now. Tight ends John Phillips and Scott Sicko also work some at fullback. If Anderson is released, I think the Cowboys will have a tight end handle fullback duties. But I think Anderson will keep his job. Hard to tell a whole lot about fullbacks without pads, as about 90 percent of their jobs are blocking.
Daniel (Austin, TX)
Why was Buehler not trusted last year when the cowboys signed Suisham? Was he really that bad at kicking field goals?
Tim MacMahon (3:18 PM)
He was way too erratic. He was all over the place during the kicking competition with Nick Folk. However, Buehler barely worked on field goals last season, focusing on kickoffs and his other special teams duties. He's concentrated on field goals all offseason and tweaked his technique and mental approach with Chris Boniol's help.
Jeremy (Roswell, NM)
What happens if Patrick Crayton has not returned to Dallas when the season starts?
Tim MacMahon (3:20 PM)
He would get fined every day he doesn't show up for mandatory workouts, which include the June minicamp and training camp. If Crayton takes that route, the Cowboys might as well release him, which might happen anyway. In my opinion, it's not worth risking the potential distractions to pay $2 million to a guy who won't have a role. If Crayton spends his Sundays standing on the sideline, knowing he wasn't given a legitimate chance to earn a role, he won't be able to keep his mouth shut.
Derrick (Canton, OH)
For years Dallas has had one of the worst special teams in the league - why can't we get over that hump ?
Tim MacMahon (3:21 PM)
I'd argue that Joe DeCamillis got the Cowboys over that hump last season. They ranked in the top 10 in a lot of special teams categories last season. They had an elite kickoff specialist and an elite punter. They need to be better on kickoff returns. And the field goals are obviously a glaring issue. But overall, the Cowboys were pretty good on special teams last season.
Bryan(Springdale,AR) [via mobile]
What kind if season does Bsrber need to have to be retained next year?If kept, would Choice then be dealt.
Tim MacMahon (3:23 PM)
My hunch is that Barber will need to be Pro Bowl-caliber to be back. Why pay a guy $4.25 million when there's a $550,000 dude on the roster who can be just as productive? Never say never, but I don't think Choice will be dealt.
I need a good answer to this question. I know everyone is excited about Dallas because the SB is here this year but I need to know whether the Cowboys's additions on both sides of the ball are going to be enough for us to go into New Orleans or Minnesota in mid January in the NFC title game and win or are we a sunken ship without home field advantage? (Please don't mention the W against the Saints because they were a different team come the NFC title game against Minny.)
Tim MacMahon (3:26 PM)
That's pretty tough to predict eight months in advance. What will the injury situations be for those teams? It's not about the additions to the roster for the Cowboys as much as it is about the improvement of the young players. Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins emerged as stars last season. If Felix Jones, Doug Free and Alan Ball make similar jumps this season (just to name a few candiates), anything is possible for the Cowboys.
TrueBlue1014 (Miami, FL)
What do you think the chances are that Jessie Holly makes the team?
Tim MacMahon (3:27 PM)
Pretty slim, but they could increase if the Cowboys get rid of Patrick Crayton and/or Sam Hurd. Holley, Manny Johnson and Titus Ryan are all guys who have caught the coaches' eye that could end up competing for the final receiver spot.
Erin Dalton (Pensacola, FL)
WHo will be starting FS in Week 1? Week 17? I love A. Ball but from what I've heard and read M. Hamlin has INCREDIBLE ball skills.... I think Ball is safer pick but Hamlin has much higher ceiling.
Tim MacMahon (3:28 PM)
You've got a pretty good read on the situation. Ball is the clear frontrunner, but the coaches really like Hamlin's potential, especially when it comes to creating turnovers.
will this finally be the year Marty B breaks out? How dangerous would it be to have 2 legit TE's, 2 legit WR's and 3 legit RB's; is there any other team that would have that much offensive power?
Tim MacMahon (3:31 PM)
Finally is a bit harsh. It's only his third season. But it is time to potential to translate into production. Bennett did a good job blocking last season. In fact, Wade Phillips called him the best blocking TE on the roster, no disrespect to Jason Witten. But Bennett is too physically gifted to be a nonfactor in the passing game. He needs to earn Romo's trust by consistently running precise routes and catching the ball. And Romo needs to give the kid a little more rope, because Bennett has the tools to be a big-time playmaker.
How is Terrence Newman looking in OTA's? Could this possibly be his last year here?
Tim MacMahon (3:34 PM)
We've seen two OTA workouts, and the action was on the other end of the field with a wall of guys blocking our view this week. In other words, we haven't seen enough to offer analysis worth getting worked up about. Having said that, Newman didn't look great during the opening OTA day. It's possible this could be his last year, but I don't think it's likely. Depth at corner is already a concern. The position should be a draft priority next season, because the Cowboys need to start planning for life without Newman, who turns 32 in September.
Rogerio Riley (Columbia, SC)
Why wont the Cowboys start TC.... Yea Felix is explosive, Barber is the hammer..... But neither one can stay health and last year with just 64 touches he had almost 400 yards..... They say he isnt fast enough.... But I remeber a running back we had named Emmitt Smith that wasnt that fast either now look NFL Leading rusher.... After 22 comes 23!!!!
Tim MacMahon (3:36 PM)
Barber is making $7.8 million this season. He's not just going to sit on the bench. If Choice starts, Barber's role is minimal. You don't have to like that answer -- and you shouldn't -- but it's the truth. Highly paid guys like Barber and Roy Williams are pretty much guaranteed prominent roles as long as they're on the roster.
Thomas (Austin, TX)
Why are the 'Boys investing so much time in Stephen Hodge? For a late round draft pick that's undersized for his position and has severe knee damage, they seem to be giving him a lot of rope.
Tim MacMahon (3:37 PM)
Why cut him now? The Cowboys stashed him on injured reserve last season and think he'll be ready for training camp. They believe he can be a Bill Bates-like special teams force. They didn't draft him thinking he'd develop into a starting linebacker.
Dawon (Harrisburg, PA)
Defense wasnt that bad last year but what do you think the 'Boys can do to force more turnovers? Do they have special drills for that (like stripping the ball or catching with the wide receivers)?
Tim MacMahon (3:39 PM)
The defensive backs do all kinds of drills focused on creating turnovers. It comes down to guys making plays. Jenkins did last season, but he was really the only guy in the secondary. Ken Hamlin's lack of playmaking cost him a job. Give Gerald Sensabaugh a pass, considering he played most of the season with a cast to protect his broken thumb.
What do you put Dezs chance at ROY?
Tim MacMahon (3:42 PM)
He'd rank somewhere near the top of the preseason candidates. I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up catching 50 balls for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus some impressive work on punt returns. But, again, his production depends largely on his understanding of the playbook.
Dez will be returning punts. Kickoffs too?
Tim MacMahon (3:43 PM)
Maybe. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and Kevin Ogletree are other candidates. Seriously doubt that Felix Jones will handle that job again with his offensive workload expected to increase.
in your opinion, who is our #1 CB, T New or M Jenkins?
Tim MacMahon (3:44 PM)
Jenkins. No question. Terence Newman will probably have more balls thrown his way this season than he has since he was a rookie. But don't think Newman is washed up. He's the guy primarily responsible for shutting down DeSean Jackson three times.
Juaquin (san antonio)
what are the chances that we see kevin ogletree in more games this year and will the cowboys look to utilize his speed more this year
Tim MacMahon (3:46 PM)
I don't know that Ogletree's role will be expanded much from what it was late in the season, when they gave him a small part in each game plan. There are too many other guys who need to get the ball to make Ogletree a major focus.
What do you think Akwasi Owusu-Ansah's role will be this year? I know they see has as an eventually safety, but do you see him playing some CB, returning punts/kicks, or even challenging for the safety spot this year?
Tim MacMahon (3:47 PM)
I think his role on gamedays this season will be limited to special teams. He won't return punts, but he might block a couple. He could return kickoffs. He should cover punts and kickoffs. He'll spend this season learning Wade Phillips' scheme and could challenge for a starting job as early as 2011.
Considering his age, how concerned should we be with Brookings injury? Any chance he won't be ready for the start of the season? If so, is Lee the starter if Brookings is a no go?
Tim MacMahon (3:50 PM)
I wouldn't worry too much about it. He's had that knee scoped three times during his career, and he said there was less damage in it this time than the previous two. Sean Lee and Jason Williams would compete for the job if Brooking can't go. I'd bet on Lee, but Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones have publicly praised Williams without prompting this week.
Do we see more Kitna or Mcgee in the preseason?
Tim MacMahon (3:51 PM)
More McGee. Kitna's needs just enough reps to stay sharp. The Cowboys need to see McGee against live competition as much as possible. His roster spot is secure this season, but his preseason performance will play a major role in determining whether the Cowboys target a QB in the middle rounds of next year's draft.
Mike (Red Oak, TX)
With Wade's experience with Buddy Ryan, and a defense that has been largely intact for a few years now, do you think the Cowboys could offer up opposing offenses a 46 look this year? Have you heard any whispers?
Tim MacMahon (3:52 PM)
They've actually incorporated some 46 ideas into the defense at times the previous two seasons.
Fred (Gilroy, CA)
With all the offseason moves in the NFC east and the Cowboys remaining mostly silent thus far. Do you believe Dallas will repeat as the division leader heading towards the playoffs? And how many wins do you predict for Dallas this season?
Tim MacMahon (3:53 PM)
I've got the Cowboys as a 12-4 division champion. Of course, I had them as a 9-7 team that was fighting for the final playoff spot last season. And I thought they'd go to the Super Bowl the previous year. So what the heck do I know?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What do you think of Super Bowl XLVIII to be held at Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ?
Tim MacMahon (3:55 PM)
I don't think it will set a trend of cold weather cities being in the running. When a city gets a new stadium, they've got a great shot of getting a Super Bowl. Especially in the nation's biggest market. It was a good business move by the NFL. By the way, it was also wise of Jerry Jones to be so supportive of the New York bid. He now can count on votes from the Jets and Giants the next time North Texas bids on a Super Bowl.
Very surprised no one has ever mentioned this yet. Do we see Dez as the 'Razorback' this season in some situations?
Tim MacMahon (3:55 PM)
Seriously doubt it. Don't throw too much at the kid. Keep it simple for him. No need to make him think too much. Just let him ball.
Not a question, just wanted to say thanks for answering all the questions Tim, the amount of coverage you guys provide is awesome, we are spoiled fans thanks to yall! Keep up the great work!
Tim MacMahon (3:57 PM)
Thanks, Josh. That's a great way to wrap it up this week. Appreciate all the questions. OTAs are open to the media on Tuesday, so make sure to hit the ESPNDallas.com Cowboys blog then for live updates. Actually, make sure to hit the blog every day.