Shark Bites

Cowboys LB Rolando McClain worked as the 2nd-team MLB Saturday after missing the 1st 2 days of camp to attend his trial.  “I was glad to see him,” owner/GM Jerry Jones told ESPN Dallas. “I was impressed that they put him right in. I really thought they might ease him in, might need to since he hadn’t had OTAs, hadn’t had the kind of drills. The deal with him, and because of the issue retiring, what you want to see is what you were seeing when he wasn’t in the drill. He was back over there, his body language was great.”  McClain missed all of last season with off-field issues and retired as a Raven in the offseason before heading to Dallas via trade.  He'll compete for the starting middle job in the wake of MLB Sean Lee's season-ending injury.

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Dallas coaches have been impressed by Cowboys LB Bruce Carter's dedication this offseason.  HC Jason Garrett told ESPN.com that he thinks Sean Lee's absence might help the OLB by forcing Carter to step up and fill some of the leadership void.  Garrett also said that Carter has showed the desire to become a "really good football player."  LBs coach Matt Eberflus echoed the sentiment, saying: "He's meeting with me as much as he can. Studying the tape, giving him clear and concise goals daily for practice and he's doing a good job of attaining those goals each and every day."  We pushed Carter too high up the IDP rankings in 2013 in all the excitement over him taking on Derrick Brooks' old role in Monte Kiffin's "Tampa 2" scheme.  But the talent has always been there.  If Carter proves this summer that he's honed his game, he could turn into a strong post-hype sleeper in the 2014 IDP rankings.  We'll be watching him in training camp and the preseason.  It's also worth noting that he's in a contract year.

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Cowboys insider Todd Archer believes RB Lance Dunbar's role would expand only "a little" in the event of a DeMarco Murray injury.  Dunbar goes just 5'8, 188 pounds and isn't built for a feature-back role.  If Murray goes down, Archer believes either Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams would become the "every-down back."  Dallas only figures to keep 1 of those guys, making it an intriguing training camp battle to monitor.

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The Cowboys are planning to use RB Lance Dunbar all over the formation this season.  "He's a guy that's going to be a complete weapon," RBs coach Gary Brown said.  "We can line him up anywhere on the team - tailback spot, at the wide receiver spot, in the slot. He has tremendous hands and he's just not a specialty guy. He could play tailback if you need him to go out there and give you 15 or 20 carries. He's that type of kid. He brings a whole different dimension, a whole different vibe in our room as far as what he does and we're looking forward to using him as a weapon as well."  Brown went on to compare Dunbar to RBs Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead.  But a better comparison might be Reggie Bush, who caught 54 balls in Scott Linehan's offense last year.  Linehan, of course, will be calling plays in Dallas this season.  Mark down Dunbar as a PPR sleeper on your fantasy football cheat sheet.

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Cowboys WRs coach Derek Dooley says Cole Beasley will play an expanded role this season.  “We’re moving him around a little bit. He’s going to have to play some outside,” Dooley said. “But he’s really expanded his route inventory, so because of that, he’s going to be a much better player than he was last year. And he was really valuable to us last year.”  Beasley hauled in an impressive 75% of his targets in 2013 and committed just 1 drop, according to Pro Football Focus.  But he averaged just 9.4 yards per catch with 2 TDs.  And he ran 92.5% of his routes from the slot.  We're skeptical that the 5'8, 177-pounder can make an impact on the outside.  And as the 4th or 5th option in the passing game, Beasley will struggle for consistent production.  He's just a late-round option in PPR fantasy leagues.

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Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) is on track to be at 100% for the start of training camp next month.  “I think earlier on, right after surgery, you kind of go through that mode of getting healthy, kind of having to not do too much right away," Romo explained.  "But now I’m to a point where I can push it and kind of go, and I feel like at this point I could play in a game if I had to.  Obviously you wouldn’t want to right yet, just to let it completely scar up and heal in all the areas that you want. In the next couple weeks I think I’ll be 100 percent ... Your ultimate goal is to be 100 percent on Day 1 of training camp so you don’t miss any time."  Romo has been working in individual drills this spring and has yet to encounter a setback.  At this point, there's no reason to believe the back will be an issue in 2014.  With a 9th-round ADP, Romo is looking like one of the best values at the QB position in fantasy drafts.

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2 months ago

Although the official diagnosis is expected Wednesday morning, the Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys believe LB Sean Lee suffered an ACL tear in Tuesday's OTA.  Lee limped off the field with the help of 2 teammates and appeared to know it was something significant, according to reports of his demeanor.  If Lee misses the season, 4th-round rookie Anthony Hitchens stands as the next man up in the middle.  Many observers believed Dallas reached for the former Iowa Hawkeye in Round 4, but he'd obviously carry some IDP upside as the Cowboys' MLB starter.  Justin Durant and DeVonte Holloman also stand as options already on the roster.

UPDATE: Multiple sources have confirmed the ACL tear.  Lee is done for 2014.  Look for the Cowboys to add a free agent at the position.

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2 months ago

Cowboys LB Sean Lee limped off the practice field Tuesday with help from teammates, audibly cussing in disgust, according to multiple Twitter reports from Dallas' minicamp.  Lee, of course, has struggled with various injuries over his 4 pro seasons and finished each of the past 2 campaigns on the sideline.  We'll watch to see what the problem is this time and what it might mean for Lee's season and our upcoming 2014 IDP rankings.

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Cowboys QB Tony Romo continues to get closer to 100% after December back surgery.  "I'm getting close," he said. "We're just going to be smart during the OTAs and have a little bit of a pitch count but we're going to go out there each day and try to do all that we can. The guys are working hard and doing great and I think we're going to be ready.  Within the next month, there's no question we'll be 100 percent."  Romo was limited in Dallas' first set of OTAs but is expected to do more when practice gets going again next week.  It's important for him to be on the field as the Cowboys install new play-caller Scott Linehan's offense.  A 34-year-old QB with a history of back problems, Romo isn't the safest fantasy pick this season.  But the risk is mitigated by his mid-round ADP.  And his upside in Linehan's pass-happy offense is huge.

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2 months ago

New Cowboys OC Scott Linehan has a history of favoring the pass, but he's focused on the Dallas backfield right now.  “That’s going to be our strength, being able to lean on that running game a little bit more than they have in the past," he said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas recently.  TE Jason Witten also said this week that the 1st-round pick of OL Zack Martin "speaks volumes" on the offense's direction.  RB DeMarco Murray's coming off his best pro season and already looks 1st-round caliber across fantasy formats (albeit with injury risk).  RB Lance Dunbar carries late-round PPR appeal after Linehan had a pair of 50-catch RBs in Detroit last season.  Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams don't stir much fantasy interest at this point.

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Former Cardinals RB Ryan Williams joined the Cowboys Saturday following a workout with the team.  Arizona released its 2nd-round pick from 2011 just 5 days ago after 3 injury-plagued seasons.  But Williams apparently impressed in Dallas.  Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle currently stand behind the oft-injured DeMarco Murray on the Cowboys' RB depth chart, but that situation could prove wide open based on summer performance.  Of course, after several failed comebacks in the desert, Williams must prove he can turn it around before we'll take much interest.

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Cowboys new play-caller Scott Linehan is planning on taking lots of deep shots this season.  “That’s a big part of what I grew up in or believe in," Linehan said. “It’s going to be our philosophy to do those kinds of things maybe a little more. I think we have the personnel for it, for sure. It’s a way to get people backed up a little bit and also create big plays. Everybody says it’s a low percentage play. Depending on the look, it’s a high percentage play, as long as you got weapons on the outside part of the field. I really believe we have that. We also have some big targets with our tight ends. Having the talent, the speed and the length we have at our skill positions I think it’s something you got to implement."  It's excellent news for QB Tony Romo.  He ranked just 18th league-wide last year with 56 attempts of 20+ yards.  He completed 43% of those, though, which ranked 10th best.  In Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, Romo has a couple dangerous downfield threats.  Linehan's play-calling is a perfect fit for Dallas' personnel. 

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The Cardinals have released RB Ryan Williams.  The 2011 2nd-round pick has had his career derailed by injuries.  He tore his patellar tendon in 2011 and fractured his shoulder in 2012.  The knee continued to bother Williams this past season, when he didn't appear in a single game.  Williams is still only 24 and will likely get a shot with another team this summer.  But we're not expecting him to ever emerge as a fantasy factor.  Williams' release only strengthens RB Andre Ellington's grip on the lead role in Arizona.

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