Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Doug Free
Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: NFC East preview

Can Jerry get Tony enough help in 2012? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas 2011 season reeked of redemption for a lost 2010 season much of the way through. Despite close (and awkward) losses to the Patriots, Jets and Lions, the Cowboys rolled into December on a four-game winning streak, with a shot at closing out the NFC East. Then things absolutely fell apart: Jason Garrett iced his own kicker in an overtime loss to Arizona, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin in a tight Week 14 loss to the Giants, Romo was injured the next week in a meaningless game against the Eagles and Dallas got pounded by the eventual Super Bowl champs on New Years Day. Then Jerry Jones team had to watch the 9-7 Giants march to a Super Bowl victory. Not a fun couple of months for them. And though most of the blame usually finds its way onto Romo or Garrett, significant upgrades on the offensive line and secondary could go a long way towards fixing the Cowboys problems and making them a legit contender.

Free Agents of Note
Linebacker Anthony Spencer was tagged on Monday by Dallas, so he'll be back at least one more year and could get a longer deal ... Tight end Martellus Bennett is a good blocker but hasn't panned out the way Dallas wanted ... Linebacker Keith Brooking is 36 but has drawn interest from Dallas to return in 2012 ... FB Tony Fiammetta is an RFA and needs to be retained, especially given the work he did for DeMarco Murray last year ... Linebacker Bradie James is 31 and could be gone ... Wide receiver Laurent Robinson really clicked with Tony Romo in 2012 and would be a big re-addition ... Punter Mat McBriar could be done in Dallas if the 'Boys want to move forward with Chris Jones.

Needs
Secondary
: Terence Newman, 33, could be a cap/age casualty and Abram Elam, Frank Walker and Alan Ball are free agents. If Dallas plans on remaining as aggressive as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants them to be, they'll need to drastically improve the secondary.
Guard
: Tyron Smith and Doug Free flipped sides and are locked in at tackle, but the interior of the line needs improvement.

Targets
Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan would be an ideal target for Dallas as longer-term options. Neither is expected to remain with their respective teams. But if the Cowboys can't get Carr, they'll need to pursue some shorter-term options like Carlos Rogers. Guard is deep in free agency too, and it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a stud like Carl Nicks. Getting Spencer signed to a long-term deal, rather than give him $9 million in 2012, would do a lot for their cap space.

New York Giants

It's crazy to think that the Super Bowl champion Giants looked DOA by the start of the regular season; an almost unbelievable (were it not true) string of injuries hit the team before the season began. The Giants looked even worse off in the middle of a late-season swoon that featured some of the toughest

Free Agents of Note:
Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is going to get overpaid somewhere else based on his postseason performance ... Secret Super Bowl hero Steve Weatherford got the franchise tag Monday, so he'll be back in 2012 ... Wideout Domenik Hixon's already been re-signed ... Cornerback Aaron Ross says he wants to return but won't commit to a "hometown" discount ... Terrell Thomas was lost in the preseason but is closing in on a deal with the Giants ... Deon Grant is scheduled for free agency as well ... Both Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl, so the Giants have to sign someone to play tight end ... Kareem McKenzie is 32-years-old and the Giants could be ready to move on after he struggled last season.

Needs
Tight End: This seems like a classic "address it at the end of the first round" issue, since the Giants could have their pick of Cody Fleener, Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen at No. 32. If not, they'll need to get someone from a not-so-attractive free agent pile.
Offensive Line: This is a unit that's getting older quickly. David Deihl can work anywhere on the line, but he's 31.
Secondary: If the Giants get Thomas, they could be fine here, as they've already got Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. But last year proved how important depth really is, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them beef up the position.

Targets
The Giants are tight up against the salary cap this offseason, but are also coming off a year where they won the Super Bowl. The pressure isn't too intense on them to make a big splash with outside guys in free agency (nor should it be). If they can find value in a some cheaper offensive line options with a little upside (Geoff Schwartz anyone?) that would make the most sense in terms of an outside pick up.

Philadelphia Eagles

You know what happened here: a dream-team season quickly turned into a nightmare out of the gates, and the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL as they fell to 1-4. They finally turned things around with a four-game winning streak to close out at 8-8, giving Philly fans plenty of hope for 2012. (Not to mention helping Andy Reid's job security.) But there are still concerns here, because the Eagles have to get some linebackers and safeties in order to stop the run, manage their high-priced cornerbacks in a more efficient manner and keep Michael Vick from getting tattooed by opposing defenders. It's unlikely that Philly will make the same splash in free agency as they did in 2011, but that could actually be a good thing.

Free Agents: Running back Ronnie Brown might've thrown away (literally) any chance he had of returning to Philly ... DeSean Jackson got the franchise tag, and the team could still sign him long term or seek to trade him ... King Dunlap and Evan Mathis are both free agents on the offensive line; Mathis wants to return and should be priority No. 1 ... Trevor Laws, Juqua Parker and Derek Landri would depart the defensive line's depth if they all left ... Vince Young and Steve Smith, two big-name additions that didn't contribute much in 2011, seem likely to bolt.
Needs
Linebacker: Luke Koechly is the hot name for the Eagles in the draft, but his stock is rising and might not be available. Getting a middle linebacker who can stuff the run is absolutely essential for the Eagles defense in 2012. Adding some help at outside linebacker would be a bonus; acquiring linebackers isn't really Andy Reid's forte though.
Defensive Line Depth: The Eagles still have Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Trent Cole starting, but as noted above, they're going to need depth to keep those guys fresh throughout the year.

Targets
Linebacker, as noted, is the biggest need. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some nice names out there. Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton represent pricier, albeit talented, options at middle linebacker. Dan Connor's a name that's been rumored with Philly and he could make sense as a run-stopping specialist who doesn't cost that much.

Washington Redskins

As Clark Judge recently wrote, the Redskins are running out of options for 2012. Either get Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III or prepare to move on from Mike Shanahan. They'll have their chance at each, as Manning will be a free agent soon and the Rams are willing to deal the No. 2 pick in April's draft. And the Redskins success really could come down to the quarterback position: if they can get Manning or RG3 and put suitable weapons around one of those guys (I personally prefer RG3 for them), Washington could net a few more wins and at least challenge for the division title that Rex Grossman guaranteed before 2011 started.

Free Agents
Fred Davis was franchised and remains the team's most explosive offensive weapon but he needs to stay out of trouble ... Tim Hightower fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do but wasn't as effect ... London Fletcher is old but remains effective and the Redskins need him back ... Rex Grossman seems destined to remain with Shanny forever, even if it's just on one-year deals ... Graham Gano was tendered and should be back ... Washington's already re-signed center Will Montgomery ... LaRon Landry can't stay healthy but Washington might gamble on him at a cheap price ... Roy Helu makes Tim Hightower expendable, though Hightower was decent in his five starts before being injured.
Needs
Quarterback: Quite obviously.
Wide Receiver: Jabar Gaffney shouldn't be anyone's No. 1 wideout. If the Skins go with the Manning route, it's entirely possible they can lure other free-agent wideouts into town. Either way, reports indicate they want to get a "high-profile wide receiver" and that's a good thing. Pairing Manning or RG3 with a viable wideout could make this offense explosive in 2012.
Offensive Line: Washington's set at several slots on the front, but could use an upgrade on the right side, where Jamaal Brown in particular has not been as good as they'd hoped.
Targets
Manning's the main target here. If they can't get Peyton, then the Skins have to get RG3. Both are attainable, it's just whether or not the cost is prohibitive. Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston would all qualify as "marquee" wideouts. Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks would be obviously be tremendous adds and allow the Redskins to shift some personnel and improve their line. Evan Mathis would take away from a division opponent as well.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:12 am
 

Tyron Smith, Doug Free to switch sides for Dallas

Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Thursday he would move Smith to left tackle next year. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

When the Cowboys selected Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft, they certainly didn’t make that move to keep him at right tackle. So, after only a season in that position while Doug Free manned the left side, Dallas coach Jason Garrett said the team has decided to make a change, moving Smith to the left side and returning Free back to the right.

"The versatility that Tyron has coming out is something that we were really attracted to,” Garrard said Thursday at the scouting combine (via the Fort Worth Star Telegram). “He was a right tackle in college. We felt like he had the physical traits to play left tackle and the same thing with Doug Free. We felt like he could play either side."

While Smith was playing well enough to be considered one of the top right tackles in the game last year, according to Pro Football Focus, Free struggled on the left side, allowing 10 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures. The Cowboys also gave Smith a few snaps at left tackle last year, and obviously, he impressed Dallas enough to make the move a permanent one. 

While CBSSports.com’s Andy Benoit pointed out in December that Smith was exploited at times early in the season by “wily defenders,” Benoit also wrote that Smith improved faster than some could have expected.

"We feel like he is ready to make that move now,” Garrett said. “We're just trying to come up with the best combination."

As PFF writes, it’s the move that makes the most sense, writing in December, “Regardless of how Dallas’ season ends they will feel reassured in the knowledge that  they’ve found a stud of a tackle for the future in the shape of the youngest player in the league, Tyron Smith … The rookie right tackle has been exceptional all year …  It’s rare to see a tackle come out and play so well, but Smith has been just that good. A move to the left side next year will surely provide him with some new challenges. If he handles the transition in the same manner that he’s handled his move to the NFL coming from Southern California I’ll be betting on him to succeed.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 9:33 am
 

Suh won't 'FBI half-target' Romo's ribs

Posted by Will Brinson

Before last week's Monday night tilt between the Redskins and Cowboys, DeAngelo Hall caused quite a stir by stating that he would target the broken ribs of quarterback Tony Romo. (Hall missed the mark.)

This week, as my colleague Andy Benoit pointed out yesterday, Romo will be dealing with a substantially better tackler in Lions defensive tackle and general havoc-wrecker Ndamukong Suh. Suh won't put an official target on Romo, but his comments, via Howard Balzer of 101Sports.com, are equally as terrifying.

"There isn't going to be any FBI half-target on him," Suh said. "But I am on his right side, as everybody wants to point out. I am coming at him from that side. If I accidentally hit (the broken rib), so be it. It's not my problem, not my issue to deal with. I just go for the ball because that's the only thing that can hurt you.

"I am 307 pounds. I am pretty sure if I land on you with all my weight, you are going to feel it."
Week 4 NFL Preview

The cool thing about that statement is that Suh managed to a) inform Romo he is coming after him, b) take a potshot at Hall for the weaksauce target he put on Romo's ribs and c) make sure and avoid already putting a fine in the books for the first time he touches Romo.

Make no mistake, though -- Suh wants to be more effective than he was last week.

"I was definitely not disruptive enough," he said per The Detroit News. "I am not satisfied with the way I played. I am going to try and redeem myself and get back on track."

If the Cowboys offensive line behaves like it did on Monday night, Suh's going to be just fine come next week.

But he's being wise with his comments -- alerting the league and the refs to an intent to hurt would be foolish and only add to the "dirty" reputation that Suh's managed to (incorrectly, in my opinion) pick up in his first year and a quarter in the league.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:28 am
 

Report: Cowboys give big contract to Doug Free

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For the Cowboys, it seems like the starting offensive line is falling into place quite nicely.

After telling RT Marc Colombo the club would be cutting him, Dallas shored up the tackle position Tuesday night by, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, agreeing to terms with Doug Free on a contract worth four years and $32 million ($17 million of that is guaranteed).

As CBSSports.com’s Andy Benoit told you after the draft, the plan for Dallas was to get rid of the “slow-footed” Colombo. Then, the Cowboys would use their first-round pick Tyron Smith at the other tackle spot opposite Free.

And that’s exactly what seems to be happening (assuming Smith signs his contract as well).

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:15 pm
 

NFC East draft truths revealed

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the best things about the draft is that from it we can find out what teams really think about their current players. Excluding examples of teams filling obvious needs, here are some of the more revealing draft picks from 2011, with a quick blurb of what the team was really saying by making this pick.

Dallas Cowboys

1st round, Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Many believe this pick means that our left tackle Doug Free will move to the right side. That could be. But we can cross that bridge later. Right now, we’re just glad to have an upgrade over slow-footed right tackle Marc Colombo.
 
3rd round, DeMarco Murray, RB, OklahomaP. Amukamara (US Presswire)
The rumors about Marion Barber being on the way out are true.
 
New York Giants

1st round, Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
We are tired of waiting on Aaron Ross to polish up and stay healthy.
 
2nd round, Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Does RFA Barry Cofield want to play hardball for a long-term contract now?
 
3rd round, Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
OK! OK! Sinorice Moss was a bust.
 
6th round, Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa
We haven’t been pleased with the play of Michael Johnson the past few years. Now, thanks to one of the highest rated safeties in the draft falling clear down to Round 6, we can do something about it.
 
Philadelphia Eagles

2nd round, Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple
Free agent Quintin Mikell might not be back after all. We historically get rid of defensive players a little too early rather than risk holding them a little too late. Mikell will be 31 in September.
 
3rd round, Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
We need some competition for starting corner Dmitri Patterson.
 
4th round, Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
We gave David Akers a transition player tag because we don’t want him here past 2011 (if that).
 
Washington Redskins

1st round, Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue
We don’t like Andre Carter (he’s a free agent anyway). And we acknowledge that Lorenzo Alexander is a versatile role player, not a starter.
 
Check back throughout the week for other division’s Draft Truths Revealed. To see all Draft Truths Revealed, click the “Draft Truths” tag.

Posted on: August 9, 2010 12:11 am
Edited on: August 9, 2010 12:16 am
 

Winners and losers from the Hall of Fame Game

Posted by Will Brinson

Football is underway. That means two things: 1) we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and 2) it's time for immediate snap judgments!

Sure, firing out winners and losers for one little football game that featured only two teams may seem a bit extreme, but, look, this is all the NFL action we've got right now, okay? So we're gonna break it down.

Winners
Doug Free -- He's was the most talked about player on the Cowboys this offseason (somehow). And he showed exactly why the Cowboys had faith enough in him to let Flozell Adams go. Granted, it was just one serious, but he looked strong, agile and acc-ur-ate, if I may quote Ben Wallace. Given Alex Barron's struggles and the injury he suffered on Sunday night, there's no reason to think Free's job is in trouble.

Jordan Shipley -- The rookie out of Texas managed to make two catches for 17 yards, which is pretty impressive when J.T. O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer are throwing the ball. But he made his biggest impression when he made a sick 63-yard punt return to setup Cincy for their only touchdown of the game. Consider that not only is Carson Palmer being very vocal for Shipley but that Antonio Bryant is injured, and it's entirely possible we see Shipley getting a lot of action in the slot early in the season. He would do quite well there.

Tashard Choice -- Choice's "job" (read: third-string running back) is necessarily in jeopardy. But the better he performs, the more action he'll get during the regular season. And that's not even counting when the oft-injured Felix Jones eventually goes down, which he will. Choice piled up 41 yards on just seven attempts and looked vastly better than any other running back on the field outside of this guy ...

Marion Barber -- He didn't do anything -- two runs, one for five yards and one for two yards -- really special. But it's what he didn't do (fumble in the red zone) that separates him from Jones. And considering that many people felt like Felix could take over the starting role this year, well, that's a good thing.

Terrell Owens -- There's nothing special about two catches for 18 yards, but the good news for the prima donna is that it looks like the Bengals are willing to cater to him. Either that or it was just all fun and games spending the offense's first quarter targeting him at every opportunity. For Owens' part, he really did nothing wrong outside of he and Chad Ochocinco's eye-rolling Batman/Robin interview before the game. Also, he signed autographs for fans during the entire second half.

Losers
Felix Jones -- See above. If you're trying to steal carries during a season in which you bulked up to make yourself a better "between-the-tackles" back, do NOT fumble the ball on your first red zone carry of the season. There are only so many opps that Jones will get in the preseason to prove he carry the ball there before Wade Phillips just hands Barber the rock every time.

Alex Barron -- He got injured and blew any shot he had of getting the upgrade to left tackle.

Brian Leonard -- He's not exactly a fantasy monster or anything, but Leonard became a fan favorite (I think anyway -- I was rooting for him) after beating out "better" players for a roster spot during last season's Hard Knocks . Now the report is that his ankle injury "doesn't look good," which, obviously, is not good. I'll make the frowny face if Leonard is down for an extended period of time.

Dez Bryant -- His status isn't exactly getting crushed, but it's really important to note that the Cowboys have plenty of weapons on their squad. Roy Williams showed some life, Miles Austin is clearly the No. 1, Jason Witten is there, etc., etc. All I'm saying is that anyone expecting a 2,000 yard season out of Bryant already might want to slow their role.

David Buehler -- Three-for-four ain't a bad percentage, when you're talking about field goals. But he nearly missed his second one, and 2/4 would have people talking in hushed tones on Monday. He needs to crush it all preseason to keep his job on lockdown.

John Phillips -- He's at the bottom only because he was balling so hard that he suffered an injury later in the game. Phillips ended up being the early star of the show, catching four balls for 60 yards (and the first two were on horrible Jon Kitna passes, no less) and laying down some pretty sick blocks. He probably won't be seeing a ton of playing time because of Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett, but let's just hope the injury isn't too serious. (Edit: Moved him to the "losers" section since it appears he tore his ACL . Ugh.)

Jordan Palmer/J.T. O'Sullivan -- If Carson Palmer doesn't stay healthy this year, things will not go well for the Bengals.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: August 8, 2010 9:04 pm
 

2010 NFL Hall of Fame Game: 1st quarter notes

Posted by Will Brinson

As we noted earlier, this IS preseason football, so there's only so much we can hope for.  That being said, the first couple of series were still pretty revealing for Bengals and Cowboys fans in the first quarter of kind-of-real-but-still-fake football action, which ended with the Cowboys leading 3-0.

Oh, and if you want to hang out and talk football during the game, follow us on Twitter. We're quite chatty .

Doug Free, whose blocking skills the Cowboys plan to hang much of their offensive success on this season, looked both sharp and strong, keeping Tony Romo free in the pocket and opening up holes for Marion Barber and Felix Jones.

Of course, Jones fumbled on the one-yard line on the Cowboys' first possession, which is indicative of a few things. One, the Cowboys aren't totally against letting the beefed-up Jones carry the ball in the red zone. But, more importantly: two, Jones might not be cut out for it. Obviously making a snap judgment on one preseason series isn't entirely safe, but if the Cowboys are going to give him run during the preseason as a red zone back, he can't be putting the ball on the ground, or else he won't get shots at it in the regular season.

Antwan Odom was briefly on the ground, terrifying Cincy fans everywhere. Fortunately, it was just a "poked eye."

Terrell Owens was targeted by Carson Palmer. A LOT. But Palmer only went 2/5 for 18 yards (both completions to Owens) while getting sacked once by Stephen Bowen, and pressured a few other times. There's no real need to look at the Bengals' first-teamers and think they're suddenly going to be a pass-first offense, though.

On the next-to-last play of the first quarter, Jon Kitna fumbled -- although Dallas recovered -- on a sack by Jonathan Fanene. The bigger problem is the fumble was caused because Alex Barron did a poor job of blocking (well, the bigger problem for Dallas anyway) on the play. Free's looking pretty good to hold down his line spot.

Tony Romo went 5/10 for 59 yards on the 'Boys first drive, and the numbers might have looked a little cleaner were it not for some "meh" playcalling in the red zone following Jones' fumble.

What were your thoughts?

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: August 8, 2010 6:23 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2010 6:52 pm
 

2010 Hall of Fame Game Preview: 10 to watch

Posted by Will Brinson


All due respect to Christmas, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Why? Because, well, football's here people. Hope springs eternal right now for nearly every team in the league, and for everyone who loves Sundays the way they should be enjoyed.

And though tonight's game between Cincinnati and Dallas isn't a regular season game, it's still the metaphorical starter waving his proverbial flag for us to get pumped for football. As such, let's run through 10 things to watch for tonight.

First things first, though: make sure to follow us on Twitter , so you can discuss all things NFL as the football season kicks off.

1. Terrell Owens' interaction with the Bengals
Obviously, Bengals fans are going to be interested to see how he fits in with the team. Certainly, timing between Carson Palmer and Owens will be of tantamount importance, but there's no reason to discount watching the defense as well; the Cowboys have a good idea of the damage that TO can do, and seeing the initial schemes that they throw at Chad Ochocinco -- based on Owens' presence on the other side -- will probably give a reasonable indication as to what he should see all season long (provided Owens doesn't prove to be a total non-factor throughout the year).

"I'm a playmaker," Owens said. "I know Michael Irvin has adopted that title, but that's what I do and have done throughout my career is make plays. The coaches know what I'm capable of once the ball is in my hands. They're going to get all of Terrell on the field."

Andy also makes an excellent point about Owens -- how will his demeanor be towards Tony Romo and the rest of the Cowboys throughout the game? More on this in just a second.

2. Who's carrying the Cowboys' weight?

As we detailed previously, Jones bulked up in the offseason, while Marion Barber lost a few pounds. There's a certain school of thought, expressed quite nicely by Will Carroll at SI.com , that adding pounds to certain body frames can actually be a bad thing.

"Health is a skill, one that linebackers try to take away with every hit. Jones' problem hasn't really been those kind of hits, but in holding together his own body. Bulk often is accompanied by a reduction in flexibility and any additional tightness is going to be even more risky for the tightly-wound Jones. It also isn't going to keep him on the field for his pass blocking either. (It's still bad.)"

Personally, I'm still high on Jones, but concern over someone who traditionally hasn't been able to stay healthy changing his body style (potentially for the worse in terms of health) is certainly understandable. Also understandable: wanting Tashard Choice to look good on Sunday night. He's definitely the third option for the Cowboys, but because of, well, Jones' health he's seen plenty of playing time in the past few years.

3. Cincy's other new weapons
Lost -- somewhat -- in the hype that is Batman and Robin are the signings of Antonio Bryant and Jermaine Gresham since the Bengals last took the field for meaningful football. Bryant won't likely be playing for the Bengals, but Gresham should. And considering that he's supposed to provide the high-end receiving option from the tight end position, well, Bengals fans should be curious to see how he performs, especially with a recent report that he "looked lost" not offering immediate enthusiasm.

Also of interest is the possibility of seeing double tight end sets out of Cincy -- 2009 third-rounder Chase Coffman (who won the John Mackey Award for the best tight end in college his senior year) will likely get some action tonight -- which, given the receiving talent at the position, could provide for some very interesting formations during the season.

4. Trickeration time?
It's fairly obvious that Owens and Ochocinco like attention. So do the Dallas Cowboys, duh. And since this is the first game of the 2010 season, it seems like a reasonably awesome moment to bust out some first quarter fanciness. If I had to put money on one thing, it would involve Ochocinco throwing a pass to Owens on some sort of end-around. If you've got better ideas, leave them in the comments.

5. Terrell Owens' interaction with the Cowboys
Yeah, I know. Giving the VH1 star TWO of 10 bullet points is kind of feeding the monster. So we'll add Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson too. Since, you know, all three are former Cowboys. That's not to say that we should expect TO to try and extract revenge on his former team. Or do we ?

"Do I think I probably should still be there?" Owens said about his time in Dallas. "Yeah. But that's not the case. You deal with that situation as it comes. I think a lot of people know there are some unfortunate things that happened there ... Again, I still stand by the things I said and what was done and I know it wasn't my fault.''

You may recall that Owens shamed the entire state of Texas by mocking the glory of the Cowboys' star. They temporarily forgave him when he joined the 'Boys for his run there, but considering how many Cowboys fans were in attendance to see Emmitt Smith's spectacular speech last night, would it be surprising to hear some boos for Owens? Of course not.

The only thing less surprising would be Owens abstaining from some action designed to rib Dallas' fans and players a little bit.

6. What do you know about pressure ?
Kickers are considered an afterthought for many people (and "idiots" by folks like Peyton Manning), but the reality of the NFL is that they matter. A lot.

Mike Nugent and Dave Rayner are battling it out in Cincinnati, while the unproven -- but quite brash -- David Buehler should be the guy to take the Cowboys through the season. However, kicking in practice and kicking in an actual game situation are two completely different things. And while preseason games might not matter much for first-stringers or guaranteed starters, for someone looking to lock down a job with an NFL team for pushing an oblong ball between two poles, performing well before the regular season starts is an absolute  must. (Quick update: Looks like THE NUGE isn't bringing his leg to the field today, so it's up to Rayner to try and not look stupid in kicking action for the Bengals tonight.)

7. Will Doug B. Free?
To not worry about his job stability, that is. Doug Free takes over for Flozell Adams on the left side of the line in Dallas, and the reason Adams is gone is that Wade Phillips (and presumably Jerry Jones as well) was confident enough in Free's ability as a blind-side protector to make the move.

Whether Free wants it or not, that's an ample amount of pressure on him. And while Alex Barron wasn't signed in the offseason to compete with Free, he's still there, which only adds to the pressure. Free's been very good in camp thus far (his first two snaps excepted), but that performance would be worthless if Tony Romo got decapitated on the first play from scrimmage.

8. The Big Backup D
Wade Phillips has already said that Jason Hatcher "needs to play anyway" while calling Marcus Spears' 4-6 week injury a "good opportunity" for Hatcher. That's true, and with 8.5 of the Cowboys' 42 sacks from 2009 on the mend, it'll be interesting to see how Hatcher can step in and play. Optimistically, the Cowboys won't need him immediately, but optimism isn't always warranted.

Additionally, Sean Lee won't see time tonight, which means that Jason Williams and Victor Butler should get plenty of backup-LB action behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Again, you don't WANT to use them, but finding out that your team is deep at an already strong position isn't exactly a bad thing. If they actually are.

9. Sack lunch
The Bengals defense was superb last year, with one exception: putting the quarterback on the ground before he throws the ball. They ranked 16th in the NFL with 34 sacks, but this year should be different. As Pete Prisco noted in his love/hate for the Bengals camp tour , the line has a lot of depth heading into 2010. The return of Antwan Odom, who was leading the NFL in sacks before he tore his Achilles' last season, is particularly beneficial. If they can generate more pressure on the quarterback than they did last year, it won't be hard to duplicate it. We just need to see that the depth is there.

10. Emmitt Smith's Interview
Another excellent suggestion from Andy -- who tweeted about it earlier -- because, if you recall Emmitt's speech from last night, he was wonderful. Shockingly wonderful, in fact, having memorized the entire lengthy speech, which he delivered without any of his trademark bumbling.

If you're Norby Williamson or George Bodenheimer, are you wondering "Where was that guy when he worked for us?" Because you should be. Smith's time as a commentator was a bit rough and he was an absolute gem as a speaker last night ... with a little preparation. It's worth seeing how he does when he steps back into the booth.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com