Cowboys Stock Report
By Calvin Watkins (ESPN DALLAS)
The preseason is almost over, but after the Cowboys 23-7 loss to the Texans on Saturday night there were many players that didn’t perform well. It’s placed Wade Phillips in a delicate situation regarding his starting units for Thursday’s game vs. Miami.
Well, before we talk about that, let’s wrap up who did well and who didn’t vs. Houston.
Mat McBriar. You can always count on the punter to do what he’s supposed to do. Of his four punts on Saturday, he netted 50.8 and sent two inside the 20. At the end of the third quarter he had a 61-yard punt with a hangtime of 4.6 seconds.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. With everything that was wrong about the Texans’ loss, there were some positive things. Special teams were pretty good. Owusu-Ansah made a case for himself to be active on Sunday’s on kick returns. He returned two for 69 yards, including a 41-yarder. Dez Bryant will get the call once the regular season starts, but if the Cowboys want to limit his touches due to the ankle; Owusu-Ansah is your man.
Roy E. Williams. Much has been said about Williams’ inability to run routes and catch the ball. Saturday, Willams caught three passes for 39 yards. He should have had a fourth catch, but a poor throw by Tony Romo on a back shoulder fade route, was low.
Marcus Dixon. He’s been invisible this preseason and his status to make the active roster is in doubt. He might have given the coaches and scouts pause about sending him home or to the practice squad for the third consecutive season with a five tackle effort vs. the Texans. He also had two solo tackles.
Jon Kitna. Kitna tells this great story how he was given a traffic ticket for riding his bike in Trophy Club at 6 a.m. before training camp. He’s been a joy to have around here. There should be no worries about Kitna’s arm strength or his ability to run the offense. He’s led the Cowboys to two touchdown drives, more than Romo. Kitna compiled a 117.4 quarterback rating while making just six throws.
Wade Phillips. We understand the team was tired. Phillips didn’t use that as an excuse, but the team didn’t respond to his challenge at halftime. He benched the starters for a play hoping it would spark things. He switched the nickel and base packages at times. His team wasn’t prepared to play and that’s his fault.
Marion Barber. This is Barber’s line from Saturday: Four carries, minus two yards with the longest carry for three yards. Running the ball takes more than the running backs, the offensive line has to make holes and the play calls must come at certain times for an effective attack. Barber isn’t knocking people over anymore. He’s just running into them and falling down.
Andre Gurode. Yes he made the Pro Bowl last year, but by his own admission, 2009 wasn’t his best year. In the offseason, line coach Hudson Houck asked Gurode to play with more technique instead of power. Gurode is doing that, but on Saturday he gave up a sack, he was unable to pick up a defender when there was a twist up the middle and he bad snap. It was a like a tricky hop that made Romo look like Buddy Bell playing third base.
Miles Austin. Maybe Austin will pick it up once the regular season starts. But he dropped another pass on Saturday, which makes two in four games this season. He finished with two catches for 35 yards. Austin is a threat once he catches the ball on a slant and makes people misses. He’s not doing it enough now.
Jason Witten. He led the team with four catches. But the catch he should have had, when he allowed a defender to intercept the ball, hurts him. Witten also had a false start, which is so un-Witten like. Like Gurode and Austin, he is better than this. He just had a bad night.