Web Posted: 08/23/2009 12:00 CDT Cowboys lose another rookie for year
By Tom Orsborn - Express-News
IRVING — Fourth-round pick Brandon Williams faces season-ending surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Saturday.
Williams limped off the field after covering a punt in the Cowboys' 30-10 preseason victory over Tennessee on Friday.
The Cowboys were counting on the former Texas Tech star to back up strongside outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, bolster the situational pass rush and contribute on special teams.
Williams is the second of the team's 12 picks to go down with a season-ending injury. Third-round offensive lineman Robert Brewster tore a pectoral muscle in the offseason.
But while Brewster could use a season to firm up his physique and learn the pro game, Phillips can't find a silver lining in Williams' injury.
“Brandon Williams has some pass-rush ability we really liked,” Phillips said. “He had a chance to play. I don't think Brewster was quite to that point.”
Another outside linebacker, Justin Rogers, reinjured his knee and could miss at least a week. The injuries leave Dallas with only two healthy backups at outside linebacker: fourth-round pick Victor Butler and Steve Octavien, a Nebraska alum signed off Washington's practice squad last year.
Phillips said Butler would slide from the weak side, where he helped Octavien back up DeMarcus Ware, to the strong side. Octavien, who finished with three tackles and a pass deflection, will stay on the weak side.
“We thought we were really strong depth-wise with three young players, counting Octavien,” Phillips said. “I don't think people really counted Octavien before, but I did. The guy is relentless and hard to block.”
Phillips said Butler showed considerable improvement after a shaky performance against Oakland last week.
“That shows me he's smart and pays attention in meetings,” Phillips said.
Phillips said there is no timetable for the return of rookie quarterback Stephen McGee, who sprained a knee while throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Phillips also indicated he's given up on Felix Jones returning punts this season. Jones hasn't handled the chore since high school and apparently is having trouble with it.
“I just don't know if he is going to be ready to return punts this year,” Phillips said. “I don't know if he has the confidence or we have the confidence yet that he can be clean with the football every time.”
Notebook: Phillips isn't worried that Nick Folk, who is coming off offseason hip surgery, has missed both of his field goal attempts. “He needs to get his rhythm down and get 100 percent (well),” Phillips said. ... Video showed San Antonio's Sam Hurd was blocked into a Titans player on the opening kickoff and shouldn't have been called for holding, Phillips said. Cowboys lose another rookie for year