A self-described perfectionist, Ellis' continued unhappiness is rooted in being confused, uncomfortable and challenged by the position switch and the unknowns that come along with it.
Ellis also acknowledges that the light has come on in his mind.
He sees the vision behind coach Bill Parcells' decision to move him away from something he had been doing his entire career and make him do things he had never done on the field.
Ellis sees it in the increased size of the defense with his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame at linebacker in the Cowboys' 3-4 defense rather than end in the former 4-3 alignment.
"That's where that guy [my size] usually plays in this defense," Ellis said.
Ellis sees it during pass rush drills against the tight ends and running backs, where Ellis' size creates a mismatch for blockers.
"I don't like that," chuckles Ellis, when asked about his destruction of rookie tight end Anthony Fasano in a drill.
"It's taking advantage. But that's why Bill feels it will be an advantage for [outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware] and myself," Ellis said. "We get to go against tight ends, running backs, fullbacks. It should work into our advantage and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
"You can clearly see what the plan is. I've just got to pick up enough of it to be able to do it in the game. That's the challenge for me."
Here is a portion of Our visit with Greg Ellis …
And then, Here is a thread about his visit with us so you can see how he gets grilled by the fans anytime he opens his mouth…
The Boys discuss the preseason opener …
I think it’s fair to assume the Cowboys will sputter some this Saturday. Bill Parcells has given his teams the most elemental game plans in each of his three preseason openers and I don’t expect any thing more against Seattle.
Parcells has used the games to evaluate players. Consequently, he relies very little on scheme, forcing his guys to show athleticism. When Dallas’ opponents choose to open up their playbooks, as Arizona did last year, the results can be dreadful.
On the other hand, Seattle may take a similar approach, keeping the offensive and defensive schemes basic to better evaluate man-on-man matchups. They’re the defending NFC champs, so they know they’re good. If that’s the case, we could see an enjoyable game, and get plenty of opportunities to assess key players.
Seattle should offer a great chance to evaluate Greg Ellis’ conversion to OLB. The West Coast offense throws heavily to backs and tight ends and tests a linebacker’s coverage skills to the utmost. Mike Holmgren and Parcells are friends and some fans on the practice fence yesterday wondered aloud if Parcells might not call Holmgren and ask him to throw at his guy. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened.
T.O. still loves me some me …
“It was my little kickoff for the Tour de T.O. comeback," Owens said. "Just trying to have a little fun."
Owens said he wanted to wear a yellow jersey but couldn't find one.
"Right now, they don't have an official winner for the Tour de France, so I thought maybe I might try to get in it next year, so I thought I'd get a head start," Owens said.
Owens has missed the past 11 practices. He will also skip Saturday's exhibition opener at Seattle.
Asked if he would return to practice Monday, Owens said: "It's day-to-day. A hamstring injury is not something you just jump right back into because you are feeling better. There is a healing process it has to go through."
Owner Jerry Jones, who spoke to the media for the first time since returning from the owners meeting in Chicago, said he doesn't have a problem with Owens' slow recovery.
"There is no doubt in my mind he is dealing as best as he can with his injury. None," Jones said.
Mike Heika writes of dead money …it is a good read, but here are the final counts for the local teams…
PIERRE TURGEON – $3.04 million, payable in salary for 2005-06.
BILL GUERIN – $4.4 million, payable in salaries of $2.2 million in 2006-07 and $2.2 million in 2008-09.
More money: Turgeon signed a two-year deal with Colorado for $1.5 million a season in 2005. Guerin signed a one-year deal with St. Louis for $2 million this summer.
Moving forward: Niko Kapanen took a lot of Turgeon's minutes and had the best season of his career, posting 14 goals among 35 points. Turgeon had 46 points with Colorado, up from the 40 points he had with Dallas in 2003-04.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ – $67 million, payable in salaries of $6 million per season plus $24 million in deferred money to be paid in installments before 2025.
JUAN GONZALEZ – $10.5 million, payable in salaries of almost $2 million per season (including interest) for six seasons.
CHAN HO PARK – $4 million, payable in salaries of $2 million in 2005 and $2 million in 2006.
More money: Rodriguez will make the full amount of his 10-year, $252 million contract (the majority of which is now paid by the Yankees). Park received the rest of his contract (approximately $10 million a year) from the Padres.
Moving forward: Michael Young moved from second base and took Rodriguez's place at shortstop. He has become one of the best overall players in the league, finishing eighth (2004) and 11th (2005) in the last two American League MVP votes. Rodriguez won the AL MVP in 2005. Young won the AL batting crown in 2005 by hitting .331. Rodriguez was second at .321.
MICHAEL FINLEY – $51.8 million, payable in salaries of $15.9 million in 2005-06, $17.3 million in 2006-07 and $18.6 million in 2007-08 (payments can be spread over 10 years).
SHAWN BRADLEY – $10 million, injury buyout payable in salaries of $4.8 million in 2005-06 and $5.2 million in 2006-07. (Payments can be deferred and insurance can help defray costs.)
DOUG CHRISTIE – $1.5 million, payable last season in injury buyout (insurance can help defray costs).
TARIQ ABDUL WAHAD – $5.58 million, injury buyout payable in salaries of $3.6 million in 2005-06 and $1.98 million in 2006-07 (payments can be deferred and insurance can help defray costs).
More money: Finley signed a $2.5 million contract with San Antonio. Christie was already getting $8.2 million in buyout money from Orlando.
Moving forward: Finley's minutes were shared among Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels, and the quartet increased its scoring by a total of 8.7 points per game. The Mavericks improved their shooting from 45.7 percent to 46.2 percent. Finley saw his points per game drop from 15.7 in 2004-05 to 10.1 in 2005-06.
Larry Allen costs $4.10 million in salary-cap hit, Keysawn Johnson $2 million, La'Roi Glover $1.2 million and Dat Nguyen $666,668.
More money: The NFL is different in that its "dead money" is not paid to the player after he leaves, but only counts against the salary cap. However, a team can spend more money by cutting a player. The Cowboys opened up $3.4 million in cap space by cutting Larry Allen.
Moving forward: Part of the money the Cowboys opened up by cutting Allen was dedicated to signing free-agent offensive lineman Kyle Kosier.
I have no idea why idiots get tattoos for their favorite football teams, but WFAA has a cool video of Cowboys fans Here …
Maurice Clarett’s last phone calls …
I asked him how he was, and he said he was growing up, taking responsibility for what he'd done. He admitted "money used to be everything'' to him and he said, "Look how cocky I used to be. Life lessons have put me on my ass.'' I'd heard this sort of rhetoric before, from almost every troubled athlete I'd ever interviewed, but then he got me. He got me when he said he wanted to dump his whole story on me, when he said "I haven't done s---. I have done nothing but f------ run a football. Don't confuse yourself. I've done nothing but run a f------ football. Don't try to make it bigger than it is.''
He started in then with his thank-yous. I had written a column in ESPN The Magazine last January, after his initial arrest on burglary charges, outlining his potential drinking problem, steroid problem and self-esteem problem. He said he'd hated that story, that he'd hated me, but he was calling now to thank me, for waking him up to reality. He said he'd been calling a lot of people that day, that he'd called Tressel -- the same coach he'd once accused of giving him cars and grades -- and thanked him, too.
Tressel had reached out to Clarett months before, having asked Buckeyes QB Troy Smith for Clarett's cell phone number. They had talked, and Tressel had offered to do all he could for him, and now -- late Tuesday night -- Clarett was saying, "Me and [Tressel] have become cool again. I was talking to Jim Tressel earlier, and said, 'Thank you for being real.' He's been real to me, and I've been real to myself. I don't run from nothing anymore.''
Over at Mavscentral.com They take a look at the adds and subtractions …
Anthony Johnson was one of 11 players last season to score 40+ points in a playoff game (against a New Jersey Nets team which held teams to 92.4 points, sixth fewest in the league last season) joining new teammate Dirk Nowitzki. Not only does he have experience but the backup point guard can score when needed.
After some quality first couple seasons in the NBA (1999-00 & 2000-01), Austin Croshere’s numbers have declined in recent seasons (2001-02 through 2003-04) which saw him shooting 25.9% from three-point range in 2004-05. Croshere found his shooting touch in 2005-06, shooting 35.6% from long range. His increase of 12.7% shooting between the past two seasons was the largest in the NBA among players who averaged 0.5 three point baskets per team game. Hopefully this shooting touch continues as we have seen how many good looks big men have received in Dallas in recent years (i.e. Raef LaFrentz & Keith Van Horn).
Greg Buckner and Devean George were brought in for their defensive capabilities but they also do not turn the ball over; something Dallas has been very good at the last couple years. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, Greg Buckner’s 1.60 steals-to-turnover ratio was the highest in the NBA (minimum 150 steals). He is followed by Ben Wallace in second (1.48) and Shawn Marion in third (1.29), some pretty good company. Buckner and Devean George were also two of just seven players in the NBA last season to play in at least 60 games while their steals-to-turnover ratio and their assists-to-turnover ratio were both over 1.20. For players playing in that many games, it is nice to see someone who takes care of the ball while also playing good defense and passing the ball around.
So after looking at things for a statistical point of view, my early take is that things look good if the new guys play at the level of play they played at last season if not better.
Liverpool v. Chelsea in the Community Shield game, Sunday, 9am – Fox Soccer Channel …This exhibition game is the official starter of the English Season. It is on.
Both teams have strengthened their squads over the summer, and will give their new signings their first taste of Premiership opposition on Sunday.
Chelsea have spent nearly £50 million bringing Andriy Shevchenko, John Obi Mikel and Michael Ballack to the club, while they're also in negotiations to bring in Arsenal leftback Ashley Cole in one of the most
drawn-out transfer saga's of the summer.
Liverpool have also spent big, capturing Jermaine Pennant, Craig Bellamy, Fabio Aurelio and Gabriel Palleta for nearly £20 million. While also trying to lure Dirk Kuyt from Feyenoord in a reported £10 million deal.
Neither team have enjoyed a successful pre-season campaign, tasting defeat and failing to impress against weaker opposition.
Of the two, Liverpool will be more prepared after their 2-1 Champions League qualifier victory against Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday. While Chelsea are still struggling for fitness, with the likes of William Gallas still yet to make an appearance in pre-season.
Liverpool have proved to be Chelsea's bogey team in recent contests and Benitez remains confident of success in the tactical battle against Mourinho.
Often able to frustrate the Portuguese tactician, Benitez has ground out wins in the FA Cup and Champion's League in recent seasons, although Mourinho had the edge in the last Premiership campaign, beating the Reds 4-1 at Anfield and 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
There normally should be a reason to post a picture of Run DMC figurines, but I do not have one.
What did I do at Cowboys training camp besides going to practices and baseball games in Southern California?
Watched DVD’s. Based on the 10 point must system, here are the scores of the 4 that I saw:
Some Kind of Monster – Metallica Documentary – 8 points. Very solid doc especially if you work in tight quarters with the same guys every day on a creative project for years at a time. Great stuff.
Green Street Hooligans – 7.5 points. Very entertaining movie about life as a soccer hooligan in England. Elijah Wood actually does well.
Hollywood Shuffle – 6.5 points. Could not find the trailer. But some pretty funny stuff if you like “stupid funny” movies.
Hustle and Flow – 6 points. Very unique and original. Had some weak moments, but still worthwhile if you are interested in movies about pimps becoming rappers.
Deliverance – 5 points. If this movie did not have the reputation as a classic, I would have given it about 2 points. But, I figured it was time I see it. Like so many movies from the 1970s, I just don’t get it. Besides Star Wars and The Godfather, did that decade give us much?
I look forward to enjoying a flight tomorrow back to Dallas. Even if the Airport will be a whip. It has been too long to be away.