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Archive : August 2011

August 24, 2011

INJURED COWBOYS MAKING APPEARANCES

Several key factors in what will undoubtedly be a return to the Super Bowl for the Cowboys have made it back to practice after a plethora of injuries.

Miles Austin is back.
Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray practiced yesterday.
Keith Brooking is healthy and "feels great".
Three of those four had hamstrings, Choice was a calf. But they're all back and healthy.

At this point, you'd rather have the hurt early and back now than healthy early and injured now...obviously.

The season is upon us!!!!!
  • mark rogers
  • August 24, 2011 8:45 AM

COWBOYS SHOULDN'T FRET OVER "DREAM TEAM"

What the Philadelphia Eagles did this off-season used to be something that never happened. Before free agency, players played with their teams and that was it.

But ever since free agency started taking off in the early 90s, teams started trying to buy championships. And it NEVER works.

Philadelphia picked up Michael Vick last year, got rid of Donovan McNabb, then added eight seemingly big-time additions in the few weeks of free agency just days ago.

To recap...Philly brought in quarterback Vince Young, running back Ronnie Brown, wide receivers Steve Smith and Johnnie Lee Higgins, right tackle Ryan Harris, defensive end Jason Babin, cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Philly was under the salary cap, was smart with some of the contracts that were weighing them down, and were able to do this.

They have been deemed the "Dream Team" around the league and are the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

But what has history shown us about teams trying to buy championships?

Let's look just a few months back - June. The Dallas Mavericks, a real team, an underdog, defeated the Miami Heat, a team that (according to LeBron James) is going to win 7 championships.

James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade to form the most powerful, talented team in the NBA since, well, the Lakers in 2003-2004. That team brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to join Shaq and Kobe. They steam rolled their way to the NBA finals and were defeated by a real team, an underdog...the Detroit Pistons.

Washington Redskins Prime Minister Dan Snyder has, year after year, spent millions on free agents trying to make his team better...it hasn't gotten them jack squat.

The Cowboys are basically the same team they were last year. You could argue that a main addition is Tony Romo since he was injured most of last year. Other than that, not a whole lot was added, in fact, more was CUT because Jerry was over the cap.

But this is a real team. A different team than the last few years under the helm of Wade "the Marshmallow" Phillips. In just a few short months, Jason Garrett has completely changed the culture of the team...Rob Ryan has helped the culture as well. He talks trash and (hopefully) backs it up.

So all this talk about Philly being the team to beat will only find the Eagles at the end of the season scratching their heads wondering why they're done playing when six teams are still alive.
  • mark rogers
  • August 24, 2011 8:29 AM

August 12, 2011

HOW ABOUT RAYMOND RADWAY!?!

The kid has hardly played football in his life (relative to other career football-ers his age) and he's returning kicks and catching TDs (well, one TD anyway) in the Cowboys first pre-season game.

Awesome.

I LOVE watching the last three quarters of pre-season games. It's like watching college games. The first possession or two is the starters out there trying not to get hurt - and rightly so.

But when those second, third and fourth teamers come in, guys that are fighting for a spot on the team, things get crazy. From a purely effort standpoint, it looks like the Super Bowl.

And guys that perform in games usually get noticed and make the squad. Look at Kevin Ogletree. An undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2009, he made some big plays in the pres-season that year, and is still on the team.

If you're someone who's even being considered as an NFL prospect, that means you're a freak of an athlete. ALL those guys can run fast, catch the ball, hit hard, and throw lots of weight around.

They can ALL do that.

What the coaches look for is who can do all that and separate themselves from the rest DURING GAMES.

That's the key.

While Radway did make some mental errors and appeared lost at times. He made plays. Crazy to think that if he drops that pass in the endzone, he's probably looking for another team to sign up with today. For some guys, it comes down to one or two moments...you either perform, or you don't.

Radway performed last night.

Can you imagine being the kind of athlete that can not play a sport for four years, walk-on at Abilene Christian, and have a shot to make the Dallas Cowboys roster?

I don't care if he never plays another down of football, what Radway has done to this point has been something remarkable and a once in a blue moon story.

It'll be fun to keep an eye on him.

There was another Abilene connection on the field last night, too. I think Lyle Leong got in the game late in the fourth on the goal line, but they didn't throw his way (if it was even Leong that I saw), and he came out the next play.

Hopefully he'll get a shot and make something happen.

  • mark rogers
  • August 12, 2011 9:19 PM

August 2, 2011

BROWNWOOD LIONS - THE RETURN OF STEHL

Every little boy wants to be called it.

Every football coach wants it.

Every dad has visions of grandeur of it. The only problem is, most dads and moms (or whoever has naming responsibility) don't have the guts to pull the trigger to make it happen.

What am I talking about?

A tough-nosed, gritty, hard-working, super athlete named....Stehl Ratliff. Yes. The greatest football name that has ever existed.

A better name than Dick Butkus, Boss or Champ Bailey, Sirr Parker, or Mean Joe Green.

He's the running back for the Brownwood Lions who will anchor a running attack that might just send the Lions to another deep state title run.

In 2010, the Brownwood Lions missed out on playing for their 8th state championship by a mere 7 points. Carthage was the hurdle that finally tripped up the previously perfect Lions (14-0 going in to the semi-final game) beating Brownwood 35-28.

If the Lions were going to win a state title in this era, last year was their only chance...right? After all, they lost Graylon Brown, a seasoned QB, and Jaxon Shipley, a star receiver that will most likely see the field at Texas next year, to graduation.

Check out this ridiculous, video game-esque punt return for a little refresher on the type of player Shipley is.

They also graduated 17 other senior starters. Makes sense to think that last year was the year. This year the roster will be scattered with too many unknowns and too much inexperience. Right?

Maybe not.

The good news about winning 14 games by an average score of 55-15 is that since the games are pretty much over 20 minutes in, the backups get a lot of quality minutes. You may argue that those minutes were "garbage" minutes and weren't productive, but any time  a sophomore or junior can get out under those Friday night game lights and play real minutes is enormously beneficial.

As much as coaches try to simulate game speed and atmosphere in practice and scrimmages, NOTHING can substitute for Friday nights in the fall...nothing.

So even if the backups last year were playing against lesser opponents who already had their tails tucked, at least they were on the field....and that's half the battle of getting experience.

Another positive thing about the Lions this year is that no one expects them to do what they did last year. The expectation is "well, they had a great run, lost their star power, so making the playoffs this year will be a solid year." So the pressure is off. And that's huge.

But I can guarantee you that just making the playoffs is not the Lions' goal for 2011. The goal is to get back to the state semi-finals, win, then win the next one and bring home that elusive 8th title.

Besides gaining quality experience late in games last year and the pressure factor, here's how they're going to make a run:

Unless he gets injured, Mitch Stephens will be the stating QB. A solid athlete who has a good deal of game smarts.

The aforementioned Stehl Ratliff is coming back at running back. And if you think his name is the best thing about him (and, I know, it's the coolest football name...EVER), it pales in comparison to the kid's athletic ability.

Know what he does in the football off-season? Oh...not much...just pole vaults competitively. Do you know what kinds of athletes high school and college coaches pick to be the pole vaulters? Don't know?

Just go look at the pole vaulter table in the lunch room. It's the table with the freakishly gifted athletes who can do kip-ups from the floor, have vertical jumps around the 40-inch range, have somewhere between 2 and 4 % body fat (depending on gender), can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and are better athletes than you.

THOSE are the pole vaulters. And that's the kind of athlete Ratliff is. He really has no choice being a relative of Jordan and Jaxon Shipley.

There probably isn't a high school team in the nation that wouldn't want a guy like Stehl Ratliff on the roster (even if his name was Frank Smith).

But we're not done there. Recognize the name Kenny Vaccaro? That's right, he's the freshman who made a big impact on special teams for the Texas Longhorns last year. A ball hawk with a killer instinct, his little brother, Kevin will start at safety for Brownwood.

Check him out here. He's an impressive football player and has a grey shirt offer from UT on the table.

Add all those ingredients together and it doesn't matter what kind of district they're in or who they might play in the playoffs, the Brownwood Lions will be contenders, serious contenders, in 2011 and will be just as fun to watch as that 2010 crew.

And after all, you can't be named Stehl Ratliff and NOT play championship football. That just doesn't make sense.
  • mark rogers
  • August 2, 2011 1:40 PM

August 1, 2011

POTTS UPDATE

He made it up to St. Louis on Tuesday and was given a playbook about five inches thick.

He'll be competing for the third spot with Thad Lewis. Besides Bradford, the only other QB on the roster is AJ Feeley, but he's the only QB they have with any experience. So even if they trade or cut Feeley, it would be strange if the Rams didn't have at least one QB on the roster with a few years under his belt.

More to come...

and go here for an update on some ACU rookie free agents:

http://acusports.com/news/2011/7/26/FB_0726111543.aspx

  • mark rogers
  • August 1, 2011 11:14 AM