Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Dallas Cowboys

Team: Dallas Cowboys

  • Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

    Tom Savage
    Quarterback
    Pittsburgh
    6-foot-4, 228 pounds
    2013 stats: 238-of-389 passing (61.2 percent completions) for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions; 76 rushes, minus-208 yards, three touchdowns
    40-yard dash: 4.97 seconds

    The good: Who is Tom Savage and why is he perhaps the hottest mystery quarterback heading into the 2014 NFL draft? Savage stepped up with a strong final college season — his only one on the field at Pitt — and lived up to the hype he received when he was a highly rated passer in high school. Things didn't go according to plan, as he committed to Rutgers, started for parts of two years there and then transfered to Arizona but left before playing a game for the Wildcats. Savage attempted to re-enroll at Rutgers, but his hardship waiver to play immediately was denied, so he landed at Pitt and sat out the 2012 season.

    Savage's stock grew again as the 2013 season wore on, and he took care of the football well (three INTs in his final nine games) after a shaky start. His arm strength rivals that of two of the draft class' best flamethrowers — Fresno State's Derek Carr and LSU's Zach Mettenberger. As one AFC offensive coordinator told Shutdown Corner about Savage, "He can really shoot it."

    Savage also has an NFL-caliber frame, played in a pro-style offense under Paul Chryst (who tutored several future NFL quarterbacks, including Russell Wilson at Wisconsin) and had his stats skewed by some dropped passes. It also says something that his teammates named Savage a captain despite him transferring in.

    The bad: There are concerns about Savage's lack of athleticism, as the same offensive coordinator pointed out, and ability to throw on the run. For having such a strong arm, Savage was asked to throw horizontally and short quite a bit, which was odd, and his accuracy wavered at times. Also, pressure appeared to bother him; although Savage doesn't back down from the rush, standing tough against some big hits, he can deliver some wild passes in those situations.

    He turned in some real clunkers this season — there's no shame in Florida State getting the best of him, but Savage also struggled noticeably through stretches against marginal opponents such as Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion and Georgia Tech. Savage turns 24 two weeks before the draft.

    The verdict: Savage bears a striking resemblance as a prospect to the Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles, Savage's former teammate for a year in Tucson. It's all there, from Foles' size to his circuitous college route (Foles committied to Arizona State, then signed with Michigan State before transferring to Arizona) to him also toughing it out and taking a beating behind a bad offensive line. That's Savage, too, although he's not quite as big as Foles, and Foles' incredible statistical success last season under Chip Kelly might skew this comparison somewhat unfairly.

    Savage has enough tools to be attractive to NFL teams seeking a pocket passer with a big arm, and he appears to care greatly about football and getting better. He can make every NFL throw there is; turn on the Duke or North Carolina games this past season for proof of that.

    But Savage also has enough sub-par tape to question his pro potential, especially given that he's a year or two older than most of the other prospects in this class. Savage has one full season of football to his name since 2009, and he could benefit from learning in a scheme that favors his arm strength where he doesn't have to play immediately — the Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys are a few teams that come to mind here.

    But there's a good chance that Savage could, like Foles did in 2012, come off the board higher than many expect, perhaps even in the draft's first 64 picks.

    Previously Under the Microscope

    Buffalo LB-DE Khalil Mack
    Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio

    South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
    USC WR Marqise Lee

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    Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Cleveland Browns fans have been through enough. This proud franchise does not deserve to be kicked again by being associated with “Draft Day."

    Kevin Costner’s newest film, released nationwide on Friday, is more of a bust than Ryan Leaf ever was. Some critics compared it to “Moneyball," but at least that movie was well-written and compelling. “Draft Day” may have been written, but moviegoers will be compelled to wonder how they can salvage a bad date night. 

    Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns. He is an incompetent front-office executive who seemingly does not understand how to run a team (insert Browns punch line here). The film is based on what occurs during the first day of the NFL draft. However, Costner’s character is expecting a child with the salary cap manager for the Browns, who is played by Jennifer Garner, and their story adds no value to the movie. There is nothing compelling about their relationship, other than wondering how many drinks it took her to find him attractive. 

    The movie borders fiction and non-fiction, which makes it hard to follow. Comparing Andrew Luck to fictional characters is confusing, and the picture would have been much better if based on actual events.

     A big complaint about most movies is the story was nothing like the book. Well, any person who watches this film that has a basic understanding of the NFL draft, or common sense, will continuously roll their eyes while watching unlikely events unfold.

    Without spoiling the plot, which there is very little of, Costner is pressured by his team owner to make a splash in the draft. That message is relayed on draft day, the most unlikely time an owner would convey that desire. Most owners express their expectations of coaches and general managers at the end of the regular season, not at a water park on draft day morning. 

    Even if viewers overlook that inaccuracy, Cleveland’s coach, portrayed by Denis Leary, has zero faith in his boss' vision. Leary’s character even flashes a championship ring he won as a coach of the Dallas Cowboys at one point to prove he knows how to win.

    Really? Dallas was awarded a championship ring for an 8-8 season?

    As the general manager struggles to make decisions, he begins researching a top-10 pick on draft day. Any GM who does not know everything about a potential top-10 pick weeks before the draft should be immediately fired.

    However, the ignorance does not prevent him from somehow making moves.

    Of course, the tables eventually turn, and Costner emerges as a genius as other general managers somehow lose their ability to think. They even call Costner’s character to ask for his advice during the draft. The scouting department for those teams had to wonder why they were not working for an organization that respected their skills, like the Miami Sharks from "Any Given Sunday."

    Houston Texans running back Arian Foster had a small role in the movie. It was a great acting opportunity for him, but nothing he will be remembered for. Foster was a decent actor, but his skills were wasted in this subpar film.

    If “Draft Day” was an NFL prospect, it deserves the “Mr. Irrelevant” title.

    And Browns fans deserve a better movie to be associated with.

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    Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Detroit Free Press writer Dave Birkett spoke with Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, who said it would be "a blessing" to play for the Lions, alongside Calvin Johnson and new No. 2 receiver (for now) Golden Tate. 

    And now, there are indications from all over — including this follow-up report from Birkett — that the Lions' interest in Watkins is very much mutual.

    There are several layers to this story.

    First, Lions fans bristle at the mention, but history has a seat at this table. The team has hit the entire spectrum at drafting receivers high, with Johnson the lone high note (albeit one of the best high notes ever), middling Roy Williams (who produced one big season in Detroit then netted a draft haul from Dallas), plus all-time flops such as Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. But even the team's recent second-round swings, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, have been misses.

    Second, is Watkins really even that needed? He's great — no arguing that. But with Tate on board and this being such a deep class of wideouts, would Watkins be something of a luxury pick? Clearly, the team wants as much of a sure-thing pick as possible, and there's little doubt they are doing everything they can to help out Matthew Stafford be the best he could be. Adding another prime target would only be the latest move toward that end, and it would give new coordinator Joe Lombardi a Saints-like attack in terms of diversity and talent. The upside of the deal from that perspective is fairly obvious.

    But, third, there's the cost. Consider: This was a flawed team last season that blew leads late. It had problems on all three levels of the defense, ones that only partially have been addressed this offseason. The Lions appear to want to let their young corners figure things out and develop, but that's not a position of certainty. Neither is safety. There is an outside linebacker spot open. Another pass rusher is needed.

    So would trading up and giving up multiple picks be the best option?

    Let's explore what it might cost the Lions. Here's a look at the draft trades the past two years involving picks inside the top 10:

    Draft year Highest number pick (overall) traded Team receiving highest pick Picks traded in return (all same year unless noted) Other trade team
    2012 2 Redskins 6, 39, first-rounders in 2013, 2014 Rams
    2012 3 Browns 4, 118, 139, 211 Vikings
    2012 5 Jaguars 7, 101 Buccaneers
    2012 6 Cowboys 14, 45 Rams
    2013 3 Dolphins 12, 42 Raiders
    2013 8, 71 Rams 16, 46, 78, 222 Bills

    (FYI: I only included trades involving the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts because I believe that the pre-CBA ramifications of the 2011 NFL draft changed the value dynamic that year that doesn't apply now.)

    In order to move up to assure they land Watkins, the Lions likely would have to make a deal up to the 2nd overall pick with the Rams, who — as this chart clearly shows — are willing dealers. They have made more significant draft-related trades than any other team the past few years. Would they move all the way down to No. 10? With myriad needs (receiver, offensive tackle, safety and linebacker, for starters), the Rams just might, and it still would give them two picks inside the top 13 (they netted the No. 2 overall pick in that 2012 trade with the Redskins listed above). But then again, maybe they have eyes for Watkins, or one of the top offensive tackles. That's the leverage the Rams and GM Les Snead could use against the Lions in order to raise their price in return.

    So of these trades above, we probably can throw out the Rams-Redskins deal — there's no way the Lions would give up that kind of insane bounty, and with no franchise QB as bait, the price drops precipitously. That one is out.

    But if we look at the deals involving the Cowboys and Rams and Dolphins and Raiders, we might have a decent starting point for the Rams and Lions this year. The Lions have eight draft picks this year — Nos. 10, 45, 76, 111, 133, 136, 189 and 227 overall. Picks 133 and 136 are compensatory choices and can't be traded.

    Would the Rams take 10 and 45 straight up for No. 2 overall? Would the Lions be willing to give that up? There would be a long wait for the Lions between Watkins and the mid-third-round choice at 76, but such would be the cost of doing business. And the Rams might say, "Hey, give us 111, too" or perhaps a 2015 pick. That might be their counter.

    If you're Lions GM Martin Mayhew, Watkins is your guy and you're trying to convince beat-up Lions fans that you should be kept in your current position, do you throw in 111 as the sweetener to make the deal happen, knowing you have those two compensatory picks in your back pocket?

    It's a deep draft, and it certainly would be tempting. But that would also put the onus on the Lions finding, let's say, a safety, a pass rusher and one more front-seven player in Rounds 3 and 4. Can it be done? Sure. Some defensive gems — Tyrann Mathieu and Logan Ryan — will slip into that range, and this is considered a talent-richer crop than the past few years. The Lions themselves also struck gold in Round 3 a year ago, selecting guard Larry Warford, who could anchor the interior of the offensive line for years. 

    The Lions' secret fear might be not making a deal for Watkins, and then also missing out on a pretty good consolation prize in Texas A&M's Mike Evans. What if he goes 5th to the Raiders, 7th to Tampa Bay or 9th to the Bills? He could fit on any of those rosters.

    This is the Lions' dilemma. It has many layers. This will not be an easy decision. And as Lions fans surely know, nothing ever seems easy for their team.

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    Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cannot brag about his team’s recent success in the playoffs, so he had to boast about something.

    On second thought, he really could have kept those thoughts to himself.

    Jones recently held a press conference to announce AT&T Stadium will host the 50th annual Academy of Country Music awards next April. Instead of just bragging about the beautiful stadium, or everything Dallas has to offer, Jones made a horrible analogy involving his football team.

    "As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years," Jones said (via The Dallas Morning News). "We have not gone, yet we’re the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play they’re up there at the top and leading. Now, what causes that? What causes that is creating some aura, creating some excitement. We want to use that as best we can to make this award show the greatest ever."

    That observation should do wonders for season ticket sales.

    There is a difference between being popular and good. A random search on YouTube will produce several popular videos, but that does not mean it is quality entertainment.

    Jones also does not realize many people enjoying watching Dallas because of its annual collapse. Dallas has finished 8-8 the past three seasons, while quarterback Tony Romo’s record in December is 14-19.

    Dallas may be a popular team, but Jones should be uncomfortable settling for that insignificant accolade.

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    Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Mock drafts are a blast. I write them up, and you flamethrow me after reading them. It's fun for everyone involved.

    But as I see it, there often are problems when people do mock drafts. Too often they blur the lines between what they think teams will do and what they think teams should do.

    So we'll solve that problem with a handy double shot: both things in one side-by-side list. Sometimes the picks will align. We realize that teams are smart, too, and often have the best idea of what they need. But we also have a few thoughts of the way this thing should go on May 8.

    In this first-round mock draft, you get the best of both worlds. And that means twice the feedback of how terrible I am — at football, at life, whatever.

    Flame on.

    Pick Team Who they will take Who they should take Explanation
    1 Houston Texans South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney I know that esteemed beat writer John McClain says it's Johnny Manziel for now (and has said QB first the entire process). But I still believe Clowney will be too hard to pass up here.
    2 St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) Auburn OT Greg Robinson Clemson WR Sammy Watkins If a team is not drafting Watkins because it used a first-round pick last year on Tavon Austin and then signed Kenny Britt to a contract this season, its priorities are messed up. That said, Robinson and Jake Matthews could be great ones.
    3 Jacksonville Jaguars Clemson WR Sammy Watkins Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater Maybe we're wrong, but the precocious Bridgewater might be the leader Gus Bradley could use for his ascending team, and there's no pressure to start him immediately. Then again, Watkins is one of our favorite players in this draft.
    4 Cleveland Browns Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews Auburn OT Greg Robinson The Browns do the right thing? Look, if you're in love with Derek Carr, then fine ... take him at 26, or thereabouts. But please, for the love of all good things, don't reach for him here. Don't believe they will. Either Matthews or Robinson would be a hit.
    5 Oakland Raiders Central Florida QB Blake Bortles Buffalo LB Khalil Mack The Raiders need a QB, so they take one. Is he the franchise savior? No. There is chatter the Raiders might go way off the grid here. I know, shocker, right? 
     6 Atlanta Falcons  Buffalo LB Khalil Mack Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews We actually like the Mack fit, if he's there. The Falcons were one of the worst teams rushing the passer without the benefit of the blitz last season. If Mack is not there, Matthews would add the skill they need up front.
    7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Texas A&M WR Mike Evans Michigan OT Taylor Lewan  Evans might not be the receiver everyone is making him out to be, but an Evans-Vincent Jackson combo would rival the Bears' WRs as the most physical combination going and give Josh McCown two similar types of targets. Lewan would give them more blocking help and nastiness. A win either way.
    8 Minnesota Vikings  UCLA LB Anthony Barr  Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel We admit: We just want to see what a Manziel-Mike Zimmer-Adrian Peterson-Cordarrelle Patterson-Norv Turner situation would produce. It would be fascinating and get people pumped about the Vikings again. 
    Buffalo Bills  Michigan OT Taylor Lewan  Texas A&M WR Mike Evans If you're going to support your almost-rookie quarterback (considering how much time EJ Manuel missed last season), then you need to help him out, and either a right tackle (Lewan) or a seam-stretching receiver (Evans) would achieve just that. 
    10 Detroit Lions  Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  UCLA LB Anthony Barr  We're not quite as jacked on Clinton-Dix as everyone, and this pick feels like it's a bit too needs-based. Barr fits what the Lions do not have (and actually have said they needed): a pass-rushing linebacker opposite Ziggy Ansah. Maybe they surprise and take the right guy here.
    11  Tennessee Titans  Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert  Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert  Too easy. You lose your top corner, Alterraun Verner, to free agency and your new defensive coordinator is one of the most aggressive, blitz-happy play callers out there. The Titans need a man-cover ace, and Gilbert is the guy. 
    12  New York Giants  Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald  Pittsbugh DT Aaron Donald  Once more, fiction and reality intersect. The Giants have been big middle-class players in free agency, helping rebuild the core of the roster. Smart stuff. But they need more help on the defensive front with Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck gone.
    13  St. Louis Rams  Louisville S Calvin Pryor Alabama LB C.J. Mosley  We're higher on Mosley than others and not as high on Pryor as some. The Rams need a safety more than they need a linebacker, per se, and Mosley might not be best on the strong side, which is where he would play here. But he can cover tight ends and be a more disciplined answer to Alec Ogletree on the other side. The Rams could lay claim to the best front seven in football.
    14  Chicago Bears  Minnesota DT Ra'Shede Hageman Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard 

    GM Phil Emery might be disappointed if he was left to pick from the options on the left side of the equation. Our choice, Dennard, might not excite Emery enough, however, even though it's a need position and a good value. We say he rolls the dice on the scary — both good and bad — Hageman.

    15  Pittsburgh Steelers  Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard Ohio State CB Bradley Roby I think their need at corner trumps everything, but I am guessing they would not go that direction if Gilbert and Dennard are off the board. Still, Roby could be one of the 20 best players in this draft when it's all said and done. 
    16  Dallas Cowboys  Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan  Notre Dame OG-OT Zack Martin  I hate their options here but resist the temptation to force defense because Jernigan is not the 16th best player available (and because he's something of a Henry Melton clone), even with the defensive front being such a wasteland. Martin is a huge upgrade over both projected starting guards and can replace Doug Free at right tackle in a year.
    17  Baltimore Ravens  Notre Dame OT Zack Martin Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix   Martin is an Ozzie Newsome type of player and would give the Ravens their starting right tackle. Clinton-Dix would be a decent fallback and a nice SEC-proven combination at safety with Matt Elam. 
    18  New York Jets  North Carolina TE Eric Ebron  LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.  An almost can't-lose scenario for the Jets. Either way, they add a much needed target with separation ability in a unit that severly lacks it. 
    19  Miami Dolphins  UCLA OG Xavier Su'a-Filo UCLA OG Xavier Su'a-Filo  We're giving the Dolphins some credit here. They almost feel obligated to upgrade their offensive line in three regards — talent, versatility and character — and this would represent all three. Best value at 19? Perhaps not, and this might be a trade-down spot for a team angling to move up for a QB. But it would be a rock-solid pick in our minds.
    20  Arizona Cardinals  Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller  Fresno State QB Derek Carr  Fuller appeals to the Cardinals because he's big and athletic, and provides depth with Patrick Peterson a year removed from free agency. (Plus, for good measure, Bruce Arians is a Hokie.) But we'd be tempted here to roll the dice on Carr, who could sit for as long as needed behind Carson Palmer and has the arm strength Arians covets in a quarterback. 
    21  Green Bay Packers  Alabama LB C.J. Mosley  North Carolina TE Eric Ebron  We actually like the first scenario better, but having used Mosley on the "should take" list previously, we'll switch to another need, which is at tight end. Either way, one of two sore spots gets a boost. 
    22  Philadelphia Eagles Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks  Yes, the defense needs help, but there is no need to reach here. The loss of DeSean Jackson, while necessary in Chip Kelly's mind, creates a speed void — one which Cooks would fill perfectly, keeping Kelly's Pac-12 talent scoop alive and well.
    23  Kansas City Chiefs  LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. USC WR Marqise Lee   We like both players, although Beckham > Lee. We might be wrong about Lee, whose 2013 season raised some questions about his NFL ceiling. But he's an ideal fit in a West Coast scheme and would be a nice No. 2 option — albeit one lacking deep speed — opposite Dwayne Bowe. Still, Lee plays faster than he times. 
    24  Cincinnati Bengals  Auburn DE Dee Ford  Central Florida QB Blake Bortles  OK, is Blake Bortles falling to 24? Nah, likely not. But we think that he should be a mid-to-late first-round pick based on his body of work and need of refinement, and there would be quite the intriguing situation with Andy Dalton's contract coming up. Again, likely? No. But a trade would work. Short of that, we think Ford might be the actual pick.
    25  San Diego Chargers  Ohio State CB Bradley Roby Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III  Either pick looks like a winner, although one that carries risk. Neither played to expectations last season, but the Chargers are so thin at both spots, that Nix or Roby would be Day 1 starters and instant upgrades. Sean Lissemore isn't a starting-caliber nose tackle. Not in the NFL, certainly. 
    26  Cleveland Browns (from Colts) Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo  In our "should take" minds, they'd be trading up to No. 19 and snagging Bortles or Carr so the Dolphins can take Su'a-Filo here, which would harmonize the universe and not make the Browns look like they are playing out the script of "Draft Day" that the NFL likely rejected. But in lieu of that, and in dire need for a quarterback here, they'll settle for Garoppolo, in whom they have shown a lot of interest. Hey, we're not perfect.
    27  New Orleans Saints  Missouri OLB-DE Kony Ealy  Auburn OLB-DE Dee Ford  Rob Ryan would run from Metarie to Bourbon Street and buy drinks for everyone if he could get another pass rusher such as Ealy or Ford. 
    28  Carolina Panthers  Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson Virginia OT Morgan Moses  Taking a receiver, such as Lee, would put a lot of pressure on him "replacing Steve Smith," so the guess is that the Panthers shift to their other glaring need: left tackle. Yes, Jordan Gross will be hard to replace, too, but he wasn't the best player in Panthers franchise history
    29  New England Patriots  Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel Louisville S Calvin Pryor The Internet would break. Johnny to the Patriots! Not so fast. Yes, they brought him in for a visit, and oh boy, the thought of him playing for Bill Belichick would be incredible. But the guess is that the Patriots would trade down to a team high in Round 2 that still needs a quarterback. Can you imagine Belichick and BIll O'Brien cooking this up so that the Texans get Clowney and Manziel? Oh, my beloved goodness.
    30   San Francisco  USC WR Marqise Lee Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman   In both scenarios, we project them a highly rated "need" position that represents great value. The 49ers are set up to have a banner draft, but we expect them to consider moving up at some point along the way. A cornerback also would make sense — someone such as Fuller.
    31  Denver Broncos  Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin  We love Shazier and could see him being a four-down player (defense and special teams) immediately for whatever team drafts him. But if he's not available, Benjamin could be a nice addition for a team that has to start thinking about WR depth with Eric Decker gone and Demaryius Thomas' contract situation unresolved.
    32  Seattle Seahawks  Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin  Missouri DE Kony Ealy  Cliff Avril is in the final year of his deal, and Ealy is the kind of versatile, playmaking defender they love in Seattle. But Benjamin tempts the Seahawks, too, and he'd be a perfect project for a team that always could use another big, physical receiver to battle in the NFC West. 

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    Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • It has been less than a month since DeMarcus Ware has joined the Denver Broncos, and yet it has more than sunk in that he's playing for a new team after nine years with the Dallas Cowboys, even if it seemed for a long time that the Cowboys would be the only team he'd ever know in the NFL.

    Ware told Shutdown Corner by phone on Friday that despite reports that the Cowboys tried to make a late push to keep him in Dallas, it really was past the point of no return by then. 

    "I did everything in my power [to stay]," Ware said. Obviously, it was not [as close] as some made it seem.

    "I am just glad that Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells gave me an opportunity to play, and it was nine years with the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is always going to be home. But now it’s onto the next challenge in Denver."

    Ware leaves Dallas, he says, will no ill will and only good feelings. He knows he'll return at some point and remember the best of his time there.

    "[Dallas is] always going to be my NFL home," he said. "But at the end of the day, you have to make business decisions and you have to take the most ethical approach to prolonging your career. For Denver, that’s what it was. I now have a great opportunity to play with a great team, and life is all about transition, so this is the next chapter for me."

    Picking a team happened rather quickly for Ware, even though he had more than a dozen teams inquire about his availability. After making his first and only free-agent visit to the Broncos, he signed for three years, $30 million with $20 million guaranteed. Ware said money played a factor in his decision but that joining a proven team was the biggest thing.

    "I think the money part wasn’t the biggest factor to me, but it did play a part, of course," Ware said. "But the main thing is playing for a great team. That’s what makes you want to go someplace. That played the biggest role."

    Ware took time out of his schedule this weekend, which included attending a four-day financial bootcamp of sorts at the NFL's Business Management & Entrepreneurial Program, to talk about that chapter in Denver. Some believe that Ware and Von Miller can form the nucleus of a tremendous defense for the Broncos, who went 13-3 last season and made the Super Bowl but were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks.

    Ware and Miller have yet to talk, but they have gone back and forth with texting since they became teammates a few weeks back.

    "I can't wait to work with him," Ware said. "He's a special talent."

    But Miller also has had quite a few obstacles in his early career, including a few traffic-related run-ins, a six-game suspension prior to last season and a torn ACL he suffered in December. There are some who have worried that Miller, who just turned 25 in March, might be getting off track after such an amazing start to his career on the field. 

    Miller finds himself in a place where Ware once was years ago: a young, gifted pass rusher just waiting to cash in after a few years in the league. When asked what advice he would — or will — give Miller, Ware preached consistency in his life.

    "I think the biggest thing with him is to be consistent<" Ware said. "You have to find something stable in your life, someone you can look up to. Whoever that is, or whatever you hope to do, make sure you put that number one and let that drive you. If it’s family, if it’s a teammate, you can find that passion and strive for it."

    Ware said he hoped to be a big-brotherly type for Miller and a sounding board whenever he needed to discuss anything — football, family, other aspects of life.

    "I can fill that [role] if he wants it," Ware said, "but he's a grown man, too."

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    Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Coach Pete Carroll’s climb to the NFL’s pinnacle has resulted in a well-deserved contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks.

    Carroll took over the Seahawks in 2010 and has guided his teams to three playoff appearances in four seasons. Seattle finished 13-3 and had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2013 before its dominating Super Bowl victory against the Denver Broncos last season.

    The climb to the top was difficult for Carroll.

    It will be harder for his team to sustain that success.

    "It’s really hard to get there, and it’s really hard to maintain it," Carroll recently said at the NFL owners meetings. "I do think the challenge of sustaining is greater than getting there. It’s been demonstrated that teams can get there, but for the most part, can’t stay there. There’s a lot of natural things that happens to the teams, attrition, expectations, and all those things you have to deal with that make it very difficult. With great expectations, we take that challenge on, and we’ll see if we can demonstrate how to do that."

    Carroll is referring to the Super Bowl curse, a subject every NFL observer is aware of, and one most championship coaches hope to circumvent.

    Since New England won back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004, no team has repeated as NFL champions. Only three teams since 1990 have won consecutive Super Bowl titles: Dallas Cowboys (1992 and 1993), Denver Broncos (1997 and 1998) and New England.

    Prior to Seattle, three of the past five Super Bowl winners failed to make the playoffs. Baltimore (Super Bowl XLVII), the New York Giants (Super Bowl XLVI) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl XLIII) failed to make the postseason after their titles.

    "When you win that first one, there is that sense of excitement and you kind of caught the chicken, proverbially, and then you kind of let it go and start chasing it again," Saints coach Sean Payton said. “I think they’re both challenging. I know this. Once you’ve tasted it and had a chance to experience it, you recognize how special it is and how much it’s worth it, the journey."

    Packers coach Mike McCarthy agrees, but believes the journey to a first title is more difficult than chasing the elusive second crown.

    "It’s difficult every year,” McCarthy said. “It’s a goal that everybody strives for. It was as good or better as I thought it was going to be when we got there. We’re doing everything we can to get there again. It’s probably harder to win your first one because of the element of building your program, getting your team to develop, and the years it took us to win the first one."

    Carroll does not plan to back away from the expectations that will be placed on his team in the upcoming season.

    Seattle re-signed defensive end Michael Bennett during free agency, which was a key move. He rejoins defensive end Cliff Avril, cornerback back Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and linebacker Malcolm Smith, the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

    Offensively, Seattle excelled most of last season without Percy Harvin, who returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown during the Super Bowl. Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions during free agency, but Seattle placed a second-round tender on receiver Doug Baldwin this offseason. Then there is quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch, the leaders of Seattle's offense.

    "The most important thing that will happen when we come back together is we recapture the work ethic that made us what we are,” Carroll said. “That’s always the greatest challenge. Can you recapture that work ethic, that standard that you operate with daily? That’s what counts. Nothing else really matters. If that isn’t there, we won’t be as good as we’ve been. They know that. They know that is the expectation, and they have to be able to live up to that."

    Even though history says to expect failure with Carroll’s team in the upcoming season, he is prepared to maintain Seattle’s success.

    "We went into the season as a pretty highly rated team, and we had the opportunity to deal with those expectations right from the start, and the same questions were asked last year about that," Carroll said. "That was a good step of understanding there are expectations. We dealt with that language and all that. It’s different. It’s even more so, but the staging of that was important to us because when that was happening, I was talking about this happening, and what it would be like and how it would translate and transfer to the next level of expectations."

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    Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • When receiver DeSean Jackson signed in Washington, the $24 million he was given over a three-year deal was the main incentive, but he probably could have received a similar deal with another team.

    Among his most serious suitors, only the Redskins offered the ability to play the team that cut him twice a year, when Washington faces NFC East rival Philadelphia. The thought of beating Chip Kelly a couple times a season had to cross Jackson's mind.

    Jackson isn't the first star to go to a division rival. There have been many instances of a
    player ending a memorable run with one team, then coming back to play (or coach against) his former team twice a year. Here are a few of the most famous recent examples:

    WR Terrell Owens, Eagles to Cowboys: Heck, this isn't even the first time the Eagles have had this happen with an exiled receiver. Owens left Philadelphia under acrimonious conditions, but the Cowboys didn't mind. And Owens was very good in Dallas, with three straight 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons ... before he wore out his welcome there too.

    QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles to Redskins: The Eagles really are used to this. We probably should have known how this would turn out when Philadelphia traded McNabb to the Redskins, the kind of high-profile trade between division rivals that you very rarely see happen. McNabb and Mike Shanahan didn’t get along, and McNabb had a poor season in Washington before he was moved along to Minnesota for one final NFL year.

    RB Marcus Allen, Raiders to Chiefs: Allen and Raiders owner Al Davis had one of the all-time feuds, with Davis banishing the future Hall of Famer to the bench (Allen had less than 70 carries in three of his last four Raiders seasons). Allen went to the Chiefs and had five good seasons there, with 44 rushing touchdowns for Kansas City.

    Mike Shanahan, Raiders to Broncos; Bill Parcells, Patriots to Jets; Bill Belichick, Jets to Patriots: Sometimes, coaches make the switch. Shanahan was fired by Al Davis and went on to torture the Raiders, going 21-7 against the team that canned him. Parcells left New England after Super Bowl XXXI to go to the rival Jets, and took the Jets to the AFC title game once. Belichick took the opposite route, after spending all of one day as Jets coach, stepping down and then going to the Patriots in a controversial move. New England had to send a first-round pick to the Jets for hiring Belichick, which turned out to be a small price.

    WR Irving Fryar, Patriots to Dolphins: The Patriots traded for the former first overall pick to Miami when he was 31 years old. Fryar responded by having more than 3,000 yards in three seasons with Dan Marino throwing him the ball.

    DE Julius Peppers, Chicago to Green Bay; DE Jared Allen, Minnesota to Chicago; CB Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets to New England: A trio of high-profile defensive players will be going against familiar faces in 2014. Peppers was cut by Chicago, and moved up north to Green Bay. Allen was on the market for a couple weeks before a deal quickly came together to move to Chicago. And while Revis isn’t coming directly from the Jets to the Patriots, Jets fans will still remember him very well despite his one year in Tampa Bay.

    LB James Harrison, Steelers to Bengals: Harrison won a defensive player of the year award and a Super Bowl with the Steelers, but Pittsburgh cut him in 2013. Harrison went to the Bengals and although Cincinnati won the AFC North, Harrison had a quiet season with just two sacks. The Bengals cut him, and now Harrison reportedly wants to come back to Pittsburgh.

    CB Deion Sanders, Falcons to 49ers: Remember, the Falcons and 49ers used to be NFC West rivals. And Sanders went from Atlanta to San Francisco, had a fistfight with Andre Rison and a pick-six in his return to Atlanta ("This is MY HOUSE!" he exclaimed afterward), and won a defensive player of the year award and Super Bowl in his lone 49ers season.

    QB Kurt Warner, Rams to Cardinals: There was a weird season with the Giants in between, but Warner went from a hero and MVP in St. Louis to Arizona, although that move was made with little fanfare at the time. Warner was expected to just mentor Matt Leinart in Arizona, but ended up starting for the Cardinals and taking the team to the Super Bowl. The Rams haven't approached the level of success they had with Warner.

    QB Brett Favre, Packers to Vikings: Even though there was a one-year trip to the Jets in between, this is probably the most famous example of a player orchestrating a move to a division rival out of spite. Favre wasn’t happy he wasn’t welcomed with open arms in Green Bay after un-retiring, and after a year in New York he figured out a way to maneuver to the Vikings. Favre had one great season with the Vikings, including a couple wins against Green Bay, but lost in the NFC title game that season before the wheels came off in Year Two. The Packers ended up just fine too, with a guy named Aaron Rodgers and a Super Bowl championship.

    More DeSean Jackson coverage on Yahoo Sports:

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Nineteen quarterbacks were invited to the NFL scouting combine in February. Wyoming’s Brett Smith wasn’t one of them, despite throwing for 3,375 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushing for another 573 yards and four scores. The three-year starter for the Cowboys lacks ideal measurables at 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, and he doesn’t have the resumé of some of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft.

    But Smith believes he should be considered in the same company as many of them. He declared for the draft after his junior season, ignoring the advice from some to stay in school another year. Smith is used to going against the grain and proving people wrong after being largely ignored by the bigger schools during high school recruiting. He’s out to prove he can bring his gun-slinging, athletic style to the NFL and his work at the EXOS facility (with NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer mentoring him) and a strong pro day performance in front of 19 NFL teams might help him do that.

    Smith took some time to talk to Shutdown Corner about a number of topics, including his combine snub, losing at Wyoming, where he belongs in the draft, cowboy boots, country music and rodeos.

    SDC: I like the classical music in lieu of a ringtone on your phone there. Makes you seem quite cultured.

    Smith: [laughs] Oh, man. It has been that way since I was a young kid when I first got my phone. I can’t change it.

    SDC: So you’re not cultured?

    Smith: Absolutely not. I can’t stand it.

    SDC: Fair enough. So I know you had family go to University of Oregon, including your father, who played football there. You grew up pretty close to the campus. Were you a little disappointed that the Ducks didn’t show you more recruiting attention?

    Smith: I was extremely disappointed. They were about an hour down the road, and I wanted to be the hero who goes to the home-state school and have a successful career at Oregon or Oregon State. But that didn’t happen. As far as the recruiting process, I just wasn’t getting any love. At that point I was just hoping to have a spot anywhere, and thank god Wyoming offered.

    SDC: Was there any thought about trying to go somewhere you could stick it to those teams for not recruiting you harder?

    Smith: I wasn’t trying to stick it to Oregon, no. Playing at either one would have been a dream.

    SDC: Did you go to camps there? Did you visit those schools frequently?

    Smith: I had been at the Northwest Elite camp at Oregon State, and I was talking to them up to that point. After that camp, they stopped talking to me.

    With Oregon, I went to a bowl game practice, and I met Coach [Chip] Kelly, and I ended up seeing on the Internet that they offered another kid my age. There were a couple of times where I tried to call, but nobody responded.

    SDC: Did those two experiences dismay you at all?

    Smith:
    I understood it. They offered somebody else at that point. But the Oregon State one was a little more disappointing because they had been on me a lot more than Oregon. They just never really interacted with me after that.

    SDC: How, then, did you end up at Wyoming? It had to be a little bit of an adjustment there.

    Smith: It was a little bit of a whirlwind, but I was very focused. I was not only not really recruited by the home-state schools, but some of the Washington schools I thought I could have a shot at didn’t really call either. They were offering other quarterbacks. The other Pac-12 schools called and said I probably should consider D-II or D-III, so it was definitely tough. Toward the end of [football season] I started trying to find a school — any school — at the D-I level where I could prove to myself that I could still do it.

    I actually ended up graduating high school early, so that was definitely different. All my friends were still in high school, and here I am in college in the state of Wyoming. It gets freezing here. It was like negative-48 with the wind chill one day after I got there. It was a climate shock for me.

    SDC: You won the starting job your freshman year, and you end up completing 50 more passes than you even attempted your senior year of high school. What was that like to get thrown in so quickly?

    Smith: I felt great. I was motivated and focused, and I believed I was capable of doing those things. We had a good year, won eight games and went to a bowl game, and I was extremely optimistic just because I had been told I wasn’t even supposed to be able to play on the D-I level. You let that doubt creep in. Are they right?

    I just had to believe that I could do it, and I stepped into a situations where I had a great cast and teammates that were right there with me, even as a freshman quarterback. It was a special year for us. We did a great job and exceeded some expectations.

    SDC: Your numbers went up the next two seasons, and you score a bunch of points, but the team suffers through two tough seasons. Overall, what happened? What prevented you from building on 2011 these past two seasons?

    Smith: You know, I can’t really put my finger on it. It was hard. Just a big disappointment, especially this past season. We started off strong and … we had a tough schedule. Fresno State, Derek Carr. Nebraska. We lost a couple of heartbreakers. Boise State had a great defense. Utah State was a really good team. We played them all almost back to back. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. We just couldn’t string together an entire game of executing well. I wish I could give you a better answer than that. I just can’t put my finger on it.

    SDC: What was the experience of watching Coach Christiansen get fired? He was the guy who put a lot of trust in you.

    Smith: I was just wondering who the next coach would be. That’s the worst position for a quarterback, because you’re in an offense that you had been in for the last three years and then you don’t know the direction of the program or whatever.

    I was actually looking forward to a new coach when I found out we had one. Coach [Craig] Bohl was a great guy. Even though Coach Christiansen was the one who recruited me, I saw [assistant] coaches roll through there frequently. It’s just a part of the business.

    From the outside perspective, people say, ‘It must be such a bad deal.’ But you see coaches get fired all the time. It’s just something you get used to, and you have to continue to move on. I was just trying to be there for my team and try to talk guys out of making rash decisions about transferring or whatever. Just wait it out, be smart.

    SDC: And yet a few weeks after Coach Craig Bohl from North Dakota State was hired to replace him, you declared for the draft.

    Smith: Yeah, wow. Like I said, my head coach got fired, so … it was going to be a different environment regardless. The prior staff was wiped out as well. But it wasn’t so much that; it was more so the fact of wondering what it was going to be like at the next level.

    SDC: Did you look at the other quarterbacks who were eligible and who were declaring?

    Smith: Yeah, looking at it, I knew there were going to be some good players. Researching it, there are going to be seven or eight quarterbacks taken in the first five rounds. So what I was thinking was, I love my teammates, I really love the new coaching staff, but my dream — my absolute No. 1 dream — is to be an NFL quarterback. And this year, it just made the most sense to try to pursue that.

    My goal is to try to crack the top eight [quarterbacks] and get drafted in the first five rounds. So that’s what I was doing. I think it was the right decision. I am just hoping a team agrees and gives me the right opportunity.

    SDC: You were not happy to not be invited to the NFL combine. Did you watch it on TV at all? And if so, what was your reaction to some of the top guys being invited but not even throwing or doing all the drills?

    Smith: Well, to answer your question, I didn’t watch much — I watched like maybe 15 minutes of it. I had to turn off the TV. I had to leave because it was so … I just couldn’t watch it. It just … it hurt a little bit. I just focused on myself and chose not to watch it. After 10 minutes or whatever, I was done.

    About guys who don’t do the whole thing, yeah, I don’t really agree with that. Look, I know I am not going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. But at the same time, even if I was, I would go to the combine and do everything. I would approach it as, I am not afraid of hurting my stock. I would want to do it to raise my stock.

    All the top quarterbacks are there. I’d want to see how I stacked up against all of them. Every single throw and drill. That’s just how I approach it. When I saw guys not doing everything, I felt like the spots should have been given to guys who are going to do everything. Otherwise, it’s pointless to do it.

    SDC: If you had one game in your career to show scouts and say, “This is Brett Smith,” which one would it be?

    Smith: I would probably say the Air Force game this past year. That was a big rivalry game for us, always has, and every year we played them, there was a lot of chirping going on. [laughs] A lot of penalties in those games. It’s an intense game.

    It was just an overall great game [a 56-23 Wyoming win] by us. By everybody. The offense came together like we never had before. It was just great execution and planning. The receivers and I watched tape and knew every single thing that they were going to do. Every third down, every short-yardage [situation] we knew what they were going to do. We had their first- and second-down schemes read perfectly, too. We were just so ready for that game and executed beautifully.

    SDC: That just happened to be the game I watched right before you called. There weren’t too many passes that hit the ground that day. [Smith was 35-of-41 passing for 373 yards and four touchdowns passing, and he also rushed 16 times for 138 yards and a score.]

    Smith: The offensive line didn’t allow hardly any pressure. We were able to hit them with the run and pass. I was able to run it a little bit, and keep them guessing. We were moving the chains all day. It was overall the best game we played while I was there.

    SDC: You had a big pro day performance. Did that make up for the combine letdown?

    Smith: Even when I was watching the combine, I felt I could do it. I just want a team to know that despite [not getting invited to the combine] and all the talk of me not being considered a top-round pick, I just believe that I can play quarterback at the next level and that one day I will put myself in a position to play and start.

    That’s why I was excited to show my competitiveness on every drill. I didn’t even know what the 60-yard shuttle was. I hadn’t even have heard of that, but I did that as well. I did every single drill just to show them that I am ready to compete in everything.

    I thought I tested well. I thought everyone at the pro day tested well. We threw it well. Overall it was a great day.

    SDC: You worked with Jordan Palmer, Carson’s brother, leading up to the pro day. Did he give you any advice about how to approach it?

    Smith: He’s the best. He’s seriously the best. We’ve talked a lot. He said, ‘Always stay relaxed. You have to remember that this is your day.’ I was pretty nervous before pro day. But when he said those words, and he reminded me what we had been working up to with it — three months of preparing for that day — I had a new perspective on that. It was my day. I had been prepared. I was ready. I calmed down a lot after we talked.

    It can be a little intimidating seeing a bunch of scouts just standing around watching you. But I had run through this workout for three months, and he [Palmer] got me ready. He also made me relax and just run through it again. That was huge.

    SDC: OK, are you ready for a few fun ones, rapid fire?

    Smith: Definitely.

    SDC: You played at Texas and at Nebraska, two old rivals. So whose fans are louder?

    Smith: Nebraska.

    SDC: Who was the biggest freak athlete you worked out with at EXOS? Who made your eyes pop out of your head there?

    Smith: Geez, I probably would say … probably [Penn State guard] John Urschel.

    SDC: Interesting you picked an offensive guard.

    Smith: He benched a lot. And for how big a guy he was, he moves really well. Also, I probably would say [Saginaw Valley State wide receiver] Jeff Janis. He’s a specimen. He’s the most jacked guy I ever met.

    SDC: Dude is like 6-3, 215 and runs a 4.4. I mean, that’s pretty good.

    Smith: Yeah, Janis is a freak. I never have seen a guy squat as much as he did. I forgot how much he put up, but it was over [600 pounds].

    SDC: What’s your best squat one-rep max?

    Smith: I think 440 was my best.

    SDC: Testing your football trivia knowledge: Who was the only Wyoming quarterback to get drafted?

    Smith: Casey Bramlett, I believe.

    SDC: Well done. Who was the best or most dominant defensive player you faced the past in college?

    Smith: I’d probably see Tank Carder from TCU. He knocked me out of the game [in 2011], and I don’t come out of games unless I can’t get up. So that should tell you how hard he hit me. I thought [Texas safety] Kenny Vaccaro overall was a really good player. And I thought [defensive end] Demarcus Lawrence from Boise State was really good as well.

    SDC: What video game are you unstoppable at?

    Smith: NHL 14. Without even a question.

    SDC: What team do you play with?

    Smith: Boston Bruins.

    SDC: God bless you. You’re being interviewed right now by a Bruins fan. Did you know that ahead of time?

    Smith: [laughs] No, I had no idea. But that’s funny. I am a big hockey fan. Hockey might even be my favorite sport. Even my dad plays it. Zdeno Chara is a monster on that game, so I use him a lot.

    SDC: Twitter, Instagram or Facebook?

    Smith: I have Twitter. I don’t have Facebook. I hate Facebook. I don’t even like Twitter that much.

    SDC: Pro tip: Don’t get started. OK, so we are going to go through every Wyoming stereotype we can right now. Do you like country music?

    Smith: [laughs] I do. Country music is probably my favorite. I grew up listening to country and rock.

    SDC: What’s the difference between good and bad country music?

    Smith: I’d probably say the good is the 1980s and ’90s stuff. George Strait is my all-time favorite. Anything by him. I saw him while I was in California. Merle Haggard, that’s the good stuff.

    SDC: Where does Blake Shelton fall on that line? I have no idea about this stuff.

    Smith: I actually like Blake Shelton a lot. Dierks Bentley I like a lot, Easton Corbin I just saw. Those guys are all good. It’s just the modern-day stuff that sounds like pop that I can’t listen to.

    SDC: Do you wear a cowboy hat?

    Smith: No. I can’t pull it off. I do wear cowboy boots, though.

    SDC: Ever been on a mechanical bull?

    Smith: I have! [laughs] It was a lot harder than I thought. One of the movies I grew up watching a lot with my dad was “Urban Cowboy,” with John Travolta. He makes it look easy. I got on there and couldn’t even stay up. My buddy [Wyoming defensive tackle] Chase Appleby and I tried it, and I stayed up longer than he did.

    SDC: Anything cliché I forget? Ever been to a rodeo?

    Smith: Yeah, so Chase and I were in Dallas to see Easton Corbin and we went to Billy Bob’s, and they had an indoor rodeo there. And every year in Oregon about 10-15 minutes from my house, there’s the St. Paul Rodeo in town. I always go to that. And there were a few in Wyoming I went to.

    SDC: Do you hunt or fish?

    Smith: Big fisherman when I get the chance. There are some good places near home, like John Day, Oregon. The John Day River is great. I also own a shotgun, so one of these days I’ll get around to shooting some things.

    SDC: You need to get drafted by the Chicago Bears. Not only would you be working with Marc Trestman, the quarterback whisperer, but you also could go hunting and fishing with Jared Allen.

    Smith: Yeah, I have seen videos of him shooting things with a bow and arrow. That’s crazy.

    SDC: What kind of car do you drive?

    Smith: My F-250 isn’t running currently. Right now, it’s not in good shape. We got it for about two grand. It’s on its last legs right now. Now I am driving a Nissan Sentra.

    SDC: Where’s the one place you want to visit the most?

    Smith: I think somewhere tropical, like Hawaii or the Caribbean. I have never been anywhere like that. Maybe the Bahamas.

    SDC: Do you have a secret talent? Any cool party tricks you bust out in front of the ladies?

    Smith: I am big into music, as we were talking about. I sing a little. I am not great, but I am OK. I also swing dance. Two step. When I was in Dallas, two-stepping and swing dancing basically the whole time.

    SDC: I am going straight to Youtube to find video of you singing and/or dancing.

    Smith: You won’t find it. [laughs] I am smart enough not to be taped by anyone.

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    Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of those must-watch players on an NFL field, largely because you don't know what kind of ridiculous play he'll pull out of thin air. For the Cowboys, he's must-watch off the field, too, because Bryant has run into trouble when left to his own devices.

    Two years ago, Bryant and the Cowboys established a set of "Dez Rules" to help Bryant get past a rough offseason. Those rules, according to ESPN, included the following:

    • A midnight curfew.

    • No alcohol.

    • No strip clubs, and night clubs only with team approval and a security team in place.

    • Twice-weekly counseling sessions.

    • At least one member of a rotating security team must be with Bryant at all times, and will drive him to practices, games, and other team events.

    On Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated that the rules were still in effect. "He doesn't need to drop his guard," Jones said. "In some respect, none of us do."

    Apparently Bryant doesn't quite see it that way. On Twitter, he went after Calvin Watkins, the ESPN writer who penned the piece. In a since-deleted tweet, Bryant wrote, "I lost all respect for you writing a bull[censored] story that is no longer true...don't bring your ass by my locker."

    Bryant arrived in the NFL with what one scout termed "the worst background I'd ever seen." This past season, he drew heat for both his sideline inspirational raging and his decision to walk off the field with more than a minute left in a bitter loss to Green Bay. (Then again, he performed random acts of kindness, like buying everyone in line at a Wal-Mart a new PS4.)

    Bryant has set himself up as one of a long line of love-me-or-hate-me wide receivers, players who screw up or make mistakes, then profess surprise and indignation when others criticize or don't trust them. Yes, the Dez Rules are childish, borderline offensive for a grown man ... but Bryant has it in his control to make them no longer necessary.

    ____
    Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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