Tag:Jason Witten
Posted on: September 27, 2010 2:15 pm
 

Knee injuries ding Cowboys offense

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Cowboys will once again have to do battle without left guard Kyle Kosier. Jan Hubbard of the Star Telegram reports that the veteran lineman is out roughly a month after spraining his right knee again. Kosier missed the season opener and final two preseason games with problems in the same knee. He is scheduled to have an MRI Monday.

In the meantime, journeyman backup Montrae Holland will fill the void. Holland is not a liability, but he certainly does not offer Kosier’s level of run-blocking mobility.

In other “sore knee news” with the Cowboys, tight end Jason Witten has a sprained MCL. He told Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas that everything is fine, though Witten’s status for practice this week is up in the air.

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Posted on: September 19, 2010 8:45 pm
 

Harvin to undergo MRI

P. Harvin couldn't hang onto this pass, and Miami's V. Davis picked up the INT (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

A few injury updates on this Sunday night.

Vikings WR Percy Harvin will undergo an MRI after reinjuring his hip in the Vikings loss to the Dolphins.

"We knew coming into the game that it was going to get tight," Harvin told the media after the game, including espn1500.com. “Just sitting on the sidelines for a while, it kept tightening up, and it was hard to get loose. When it came to the fourth quarter I got adrenaline rushing a little bit, so I kind of forced my way back on the field a little bit. We'll evaluate it (Monday) and see what's going on."

Harvin didn’t practice much this past week because of the hip, but Minnesota made him active anyway. He finished with five catches for 32 yards, but he clearly wasn’t 100 percent and bobbled a pass at the goal line that Miami intercepted.

"It just grabs," Harvin said of the injury. "I can't really get to the top of my speed. It kind of grabs a little bit, and it's hard to stop and go. It's something I'll keep treating, and each week hopefully, it'll get better."

As for TE Jason Witten, who clearly was upset with the Dallas medical staff who wouldn’t let him back into the game, he suffered a concussion. So, obviously, there’s no telling when he’ll return.

Andwhile we’re at it, the Denver Post reports Broncos CB Champ Bailey left the locker room with crutches. His right ankle was lightly wrapped.

“It happens,” Bailey said. “I should be all right, though.”

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Posted on: August 29, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2010 6:19 pm
 

Could Dallas' 1st team play in final exhibition?

Dallas got run over by Houston on Saturday, and coach Wade Phillips is debating about whether to play his starters in the team's fourth preseason game (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s not all that often that a coach is so upset with his team that he threatens to play the starters in the fourth and final exhibition game before the regular season begins. Since taking over Dallas in 2007, Wade Phillips certainly wasn’t the kind of coach to make that decision.

But Phillips was so disgusted by what he saw in the Cowboys 23-7 loss to the Texans Saturday that he’s thinking about doing exactly that (even if owner Jerry Jones isn’t all that concerned with the poor showing ).

"I'm not ruling out that we won't play our guys," Phillips told reporters after the game, including the Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley. "We have to evaluate this."

The evaluation will probably read something like this: Dallas stunk out loud against the Texans, and for a team that is so ready to return to the Super Bowl, that’s not a good trend to start.

The defense allowed Texas’ running backs to average 4.8 yards per carry, and the Cowboys gave Houston permission to do pretty much whatever the Texans wanted. And the offense? Well, the offense wasn’t so swell either.

Fraley explains:

In five full series, the first offense produced zippo. For 12 full possessions in the exhibition season, the first offense has managed 13 points on a touchdown and two field goals. The touchdown capped an 8-yard drive against San Diego.

No wonder offensive coordinator Jason Garrett acknowledged the first offense probably will play some against Miami. It needs the work.
 
"We had too many mistakes," quarterback Tony Romo said. "We need to get better."

Romo was actually a highlight, completing 13 of 18 throws with drops by wide receiver Miles Austin and tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys again had nothing resembling a ground game.


Even so, it’s hard to imagine Phillips putting his first team units at risk in the final tuneup before the season begins. Maybe he’ll play them a series. Two, at most. Anything else would not be very smart. Especially because we know how Jerry Jones feels about Cowboys who suffer injuries in practice .

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Posted on: August 9, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Report: 'Boys Phillips ACL tear ends season

Posted by Will Brinson

Ugh.

John Phillips was very nearly a big winner from the Hall of Fame game on Sunday night. He looked superb in running routes, making tough catches and blocking, which is about all you can do as a tight end. Even with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett on the roster, he seemed prime to get some PT on a very talented Dallas Cowboys team in 2010.

And then he got hurt. We heard last night that it was possibly/likely an ACL tear, which stinks. Badly. Now Tim MacMahon reports that an MRI has confirmed those suspicions and Phillips will be done for the season.

"It's disappointing because he was having such a great camp and such a great game," tight ends coach John Garrett said after Sunday night's preseason win. "But I know one thing: He's got great resolve. He's got great perseverance. If there's anybody going to come back even stronger than he was before, it'll be John Phillips."

It's also disappointing because it happened in a preseason game, where nothing counts as "winning" except "not getting hurt." Which is precisely why we constantly debate whether or not these guys should even be playing in games that don't count.

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Posted on: July 15, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Position rankings: tight ends

A. Gates makes a TD catch against Cincinnati last year (Getty). Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on tight ends.

Josh Katzowitz's top five

5. Vernon Davis, 49ers

4. Dallas Clark, Colts

3. Jason Witten, Cowboys

2. Antonio Gates, Chargers

1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

To pick a top-five list of tight ends, you can go the easy route or you can get it right. It’d be easy to sit back, click on last year’s receiving stats and pick the tight ends who had the most catches and/or touchdowns. But it’s not just about pass-catching ability. You also have to block the defensive end, linebacker or blitzing safety. Duality is important. You can make a lot of money catching passes as a TE, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily top-five in my eyes.

Gonzalez isn’t only top-five currently; he’s top-five all time. Heck, he might be No. 1 all-time, and even though he’s 34, he’s found new life with the Falcons. He’s been catching and blocking well since 1997.

Gates has grown into his TE role. He’s 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds – who can defend him? Not a linebacker – he’s too fast for him. Not a safety – he’s too big for him. Who then? Defenders have to hope that maybe the plantar fasciitis from which Gates is suffering will slow him.

I really like Witten. He blocks well in the run game, he catches a higher percentage of the passes that are thrown to him than just about any other tight end and he’s made the Pro Bowl six years running.  Dallas Clark had 100 receptions last year. That’s just impressive. Vernon Davis has great blocking skills to go with his ’09 78-catch, 13-touchdown season. The No. 5 spot was between him and Kellen Winslow, but ultimately, I like Davis’ consistency just a little more.

Andy Benoit's top five

5. Dallas Clark, Colts

4. Owen Daniels, Texans

3. Vernon Davis, 49ers

2. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

1. Antonio Gates, Chargers


Tight end is one of the most difficult positions to rank. We’re basically in agreement on Gates and Gonzalez. Gates might be the greatest mismatch exploiter in the NFL. And you’re right about Gonzalez’s blocking. Vernon Davis is a monster athlete. He’s not the most natural all-around receiver – changing direction as a route runner and tracking off-target passes can challenge him at times – but he is far and away the best seams weapon in the sport. Mike Singletary has called Davis the best blocking tight end he’s seen. That’s a little hyperbolized, but only a little.

Most people will think I’m a joke for leaving Witten off. To be honest, I feel like a joke. But Clark is a lynchpin in arguably the best offense in football, and I can’t have a top five list without Daniels. He has become the best pass-catching tight end in football. Privately, I’ve heard a few well-known, universally-respected NFL analysts say he is THE best tight end – period. He is coming off major knee surgery, though.

I’m going to give you a prediction: by this time next year, every intelligent football observer will have Packers tight end Jermichael Finley No. 1 on their list. Finley is Gates with more size and athleticism.

Josh’s rebuttal

So, you’ll see my Bobbie Williams, my Jon Stinchcomb and my Manny Lawson, and you’ll raise me a Jason Witten. A bold move, my friend. Obviously, I don’t agree with you excluding Witten – at the very, very least, I’d pick him over Clark – but I don’t think you’re a joke. Maybe a pun that isn’t very funny, but not a joke. Honestly, I think Daniels is a sturdy pass-catcher, but his blocking is too much of a factor (or a non-factor) for me to consider him a top-five guy.

Andy’s final word

I’m fine with criticism of Daniels’s blocking, but in Houston’s system, it really doesn’t matter. Since we’re on the topic, I’ll take this opportunity to give props to Broncos veteran Daniel Graham, who is far and away the best blocking tight end in the NFL. And Kellen Winslow, who Josh mentioned earlier, is the league’s best route-running tight end.

To anyone out there who feels the urge to say “Hey! What about Brent Celek?!” or “Hey! Aren’t you forgetting Visanthe Shiancoe!?”, save it. Both players are classic examples of guys who benefit from having stars around them. Celek gets to operate against linebackers on just about every snap, and Shiancoe is primarily Brett Favre’s dumpoff option.

I’ve also noticed that Steeler fans are particularly sensitive about Heath Miller. Yes, Miller has soft hands and he’s incredibly sound fundamentally, but he’s also the fourth option in Pittsburgh’s offense. Just to finish things off, don’t try to sell Chris Cooley, either. Josh and I both put a better version of Cooley on our list, called Dallas Clark.

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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