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Hawkins Mayor Charged with Official Oppression

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:05 am

Rogers__William.1406577983QUITMAN — According to the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the mayor of Hawkins was arrested Monday afternoon. Officials tell KETK Mayor William Rogers was booked into the Wood County Jail on a single count of official oppression. Details on the accusation against Rogers weren’t immediately available. Rogers was released on $1,000 bond. Read more …

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Murder Indictment Returned in Smith County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:04 am

Kelly GageTYLER – An East Texas man who had been charged with assaulting his wife, has now been indicted for her murder. The indictment was returned Monday against Kelly Gage, 52, of Gun Barrell City. He remains in the Smith County Jail, where he has been held on the assault of a family member complaint. The incident occurred in November, 2011. His wife, Patti McHugh Gage, later died from her injuries, which her son Nicholas claimed were caused by his dad. Later, Patti Gage’s son, Nicholas McHugh, and his younger brother, Caden, both took out protective orders against Gage. At the time, Nicholas told KETK, “I’m really scared of any type of retaliation. He’s really nuts and he’s threatened my life and my grandmother’s life particularly in the past.”

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Body Found in Gregg County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:03 am

Gregg County Sheriffs Office patchLONGVIEW – Two people out for an evening walk have found a body just north of Longview. The body was found Monday night outside a home on Rebecca Circle. The name of the man, said to be in his late 30s, has not been released, pending notification of relatives. The body has been sent to a Tyler lab for autopsy.

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Pair Arrested for $200K Equipment Theft

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:13 am

thumb_Harrison-County-Sheriffs-DepartmentMARSHALL — Deputies have arrested two people accused of stealing more than $200,000 in equipment in Louisiana and East Texas. According to KETK, Harrison County Lt. Jay Webb says the sheriff announced the arrests Monday morning. James Robert Arnold, 47, and Michael Stephanie Arnold, 35, were booked into the Harrison County Jail on separate charges. Sheriff Tom McCool said his department recovered a $90,000 backhoe, $10,000 goose neck trailer, $5,000 flatbed trailer, $75,000 mini track hoe and three golf carts worth $24,000 from a Longview business off Highway 259. Property was taken from Harrison County, Van Zandt County, Longview, and Lincoln Parish. Authorities are also looking into two missing tractors from DeSoto Parish. Read more …

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Mother Arrested for DWI with 4 Children in Car

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:01 am

sarahbrunsmugLONGVIEW — An East Texas woman is behind bars after troopers say she was driving while intoxicated with children in the car. According to KETK, the Texas Department of Public Safety says Sarah Veronica Bruns, 36, was arrested around 10:00 Sunday night on U.S. Highway 259. She reportedly had four children in the car with her at the time of her arrest. Bruns was charged with DWI and four counts of child endangerment. She remains in the Gregg County Jail on $25,000 bond.

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Man Wanted in Vegas Arrested in Rusk County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 3:00 am

HENDEDRSON – A man wanted on fraud charges in Las Vegas has been arrested in Rusk County. William Joseph Chrissikopoulos, 43, of Las Vegas was arrested Sunday at the Sexton City Trade Days. In April, a grand jury indicted Chrissikopoulos on 15 counts. He has been accused of mortgage lending fraud, “multiple transactions involving fraud and deceit in the course of enterprise or occupation and two counts of preventing or dissuading victim, person acting on behalf of victim, or witness from reporting crime, commencing prosecution or causing arrest. He will remain in the Rusk County jail until turned over to Nevada authorities.

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Louisiana Woman Allegedly Kicks E. Texas Deputy in Throat

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:59 am

thumb_sheriff-ruskcountyHENDERSON — A Louisiana woman was arrested last week after she allegedly kicked a Rusk County deputy in the throat. According to Chief Deputy Charles Helton, at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, a woman was taken into custody for DWI in the Walmart parking lot off Highway 79. While the suspect, Amanda Kluth, 27, of Youngsville, Louisiana, was being placed into the patrol car, she allegedly kicked a deputy in the throat. At this time, she was pepper sprayed, according to KETK. Authorities took Kluth to a local hospital where she was checked and released. Deputies then transferred her to the county jail. She was charged with DWI, resisting arrest, and assault on a peace officer. She has since been released on bond.

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Texas Deputy on Admin Leave after Fatal Shooting

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:58 am

Texas Rangers BadgeLINDEN — According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he was involved in a fatal shooting Sunday morning. KETK reports that Deputy Johnny Bailey was involved in the incident around 11 a.m. Sunday off Cass County Road 4915 south of Bloomburg. Officials say Bailey was attempting to serve felony warrants stemming from Ward County on Charles Alver Jones, Jr., 33, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a family member and impeding breath. Bailey was placed on administrative leave per departmental policy. An investigation is being conducted by the Texas Rangers, and no further information was immediately released.

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Great Texas Balloon Race Gets Underway; Safety Tips Issued

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:57 am

ContentHandler.ashxLONGVIEW — The Great Texas Balloon Race got underway Monday, with activities continuing in Longview and the surrounding area through Sunday. Meanwhile, local police want to make sure that everyone enjoys the activities safely, and they’ve issued a set of safety tips, which you can read below. A practice flight was held Monday morning, and competitive flights begin Tuesday. The Great Texas Balloon Race Festival, with a variety of family-friendly activities, gets underway Friday. According to the event website, the Balloon Race is “a world class event attracting the very best competitive pilots from across the United States and the world.” The website also highlights Friday and Saturday night’s popular Balloon Glows, which “entertain crowds with an awesome display of color and excitement.” Read more …

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Cruz Ends Hold on Nominees Over FAA Flight Ban

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:55 am

Ted Cruz3WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer blocking confirmation of a series of ambassadorial and other diplomatic nominees over the Federal Aviation Administration’s 36-hour ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel. Cruz said in a statement Monday that he received a briefing from FAA officials, who responded to his questions about the prohibition. The FAA banned flights after a rocket landed about a mile from the Tel Aviv airport. Cruz accused President Barack Obama of imposing an economic boycott of Israel while it is fighting the militant group Hamas in Gaza. The State Department had described Cruz’ comments as offensive and ridiculous. Cruz said he hoped the administration would not repeat its actions.

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Obama Considers Large-Scale Move on Immigration

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:53 am

white houseWASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials are making plans to act before November’s midterm elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants in this country illegally. The move could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama. Advocates and lawmakers who’ve been in touch with the administration say officials are weighing a range of options including changes in the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country. That might include parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children, which could be around 3.8 million people, or parents of immigrants brought here illegally as kids who’ve already received executive relief from Obama. That could be an additional 500,000 to 1 million people.

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Lawmakers Scrutinize Costs of Beefed up Border

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:52 am

State Capitol4AUSTIN (AP) — A legislative committee is scrutinizing the more-than-$5 million a week Texas spends on beefed-up security along the Mexican border amid a surge of unaccompanied immigrant children. The special Texas House committee on border operations meets today after the state announced it was spending an extra $1.2 million per week on border security. That “operational surge” means more helicopters, armed boats and police troopers, but exactly how it’s being spent hasn’t been made public. Meanwhile, Governor Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the border at a weekly cost of $4 million. More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have poured into the U.S. illegally since October. Perry says crime has spiked as federal immigration authorities have been overwhelmed. Critics, though, say that claim is dubious.

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Texas Doctor’s Family Under 21-Day Fever Watch

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:50 am

Kent BrantlyFORT WORTH (AP) — State health officials say the family of an American doctor infected with the Ebola virus is under a 21-day fever watch, but it’s believed they had no contact with anyone with the deadly disease. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday the agency interviewed Amber Brantly and her two children, ages 3 and 5, in the past couple of days and determined they hadn’t been exposed to an infected person. Carrie Williams said “there is no need for isolation at this point” for them. Amber Brantly’s husband, Dr. Kent Brantly, is in a Liberian hospital receiving treatment. Williams stressed that people aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, and the doctor’s family left Liberia days before he got sick.

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Texas Agencies to Crack Down on Illegal Water Use

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:49 am

AUSTIN (AP) — Increased enforcement efforts will soon begin to prevent people from illegally drawing water from Central Texas lakes and the lower Colorado River. Law enforcement officers for the Lower Colorado River Authority and other agencies will increase patrols beginning Friday. They’ll look for property owners along the chain of lakes that include Buchanan and Travis who are illegally drawing water for domestic uses such as watering lawns. LCRA spokeswoman Clara Tuma said Monday the authority has spent the last few years reminding lakeside property owners that they must have a contract to pump lake water for their use. There were fewer than 60 contracts with the authority in 2009 and now there’s more than 3,700. Increased patrols also will be conducted along the Colorado River between Lake Travis and Matagorda Bay.

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Texas Regents Meet to Pick Chancellor Finalist

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:47 am

U-T SystemAUSTIN (AP) — University of Texas System regents are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to possibly name a finalist in their search for a new chancellor to oversee the 15-campus system. If the regents name a finalist, the candidate must wait 21 days before being officially confirmed for the job. The chancellor oversees the system’s nine academic and six health campuses. Current Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced in February he would step down to return full time to his job as a transplant surgeon. Cigarroa’s tenure was notable for the creation of the new Rio Grande Valley university and the creation of two new medical schools. But it was also marked by clashes with Austin campus President Bill Powers and efforts by some regents to fire Powers, who is stepping down next year.

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FBI: Man Sent Hundreds of Hoax Letters with Powder

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:45 am

FBI SealDALLAS (AP) — Federal authorities have arrested a Texas man accused of sending more than 500 hoax letters that contained a white powder to schools, U.S. government offices and other locations around the world. Hong Minh Truong made his initial appearance in Dallas federal court on Monday following his arrest earlier in the day. The 66-year-old is charged with false information and hoaxes. Federal authorities say none of the letters Truong is accused of sending since 2008 contained toxins or poisons. A judge ordered that Truong be held in custody until a detention hearing on August 4. Diego Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, says dealing with the letters cost taxpayer dollars and diverted first responder resources.

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Former CPS Supervisor Arrested on Tampering Charge

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:40 am

ABILENE (AP) — West Texas police say a former supervisor for state Child Protective Services has been arrested for tampering with evidence as police investigated the 2012 starvation death of a 22-month-old girl. Abilene police Chief Stan Standridge said Monday that Martha Kiel Whitaker, 58, turned herself in on the felony charge. She posted $1,000 bond and was released. Standridge says detectives had “grave concerns” about a lack of cooperation by CPS supervisors as police investigated the death of Tamryn Klapheke. The child was found dead in her crib inside a squalid home while her father was on an Air Force deployment. Tamryn’s mother, Tiffany Klapheke, was convicted of her death and sentenced in February to 30 years in prison.

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Texas Teen Convicted of Killing Police Officer

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:40 am

Juan Antonio Gonzalez-El PasoEL PASO (AP) — A Texas jury has convicted a teenager in the beating death of an El Paso police officer. The jury deliberated for about five hours Monday before finding Juan Antonio Gonzalez, 19, guilty of murder in the 2012 death of Officer Jonathan Molina. He faces between five and 99 years in prison. Molina was off duty when he confronted Gonzales and two others who were vandalizing his personal car and told them he was an officer. Prosecutors say Gonzalez punched him and pulled his legs out from under him. They say Gonzalez punched Molina again after he fell. Molina died nine days later of a severe brain injury. Gonzalez’s attorney says the teenager was acting in self-defense because he thought his friend was in danger.

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Jurors Resumes Deliberation in Officer’s Killing

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:38 am

Harlem Harold Lewis IIIHOUSTON (AP) — Jurors deliberate for a second day between death by lethal injection and life imprisonment without parole in the slaying of a Houston-area police officer and an auto body shop owner. Deliberations resume today after jurors deliberated about six hours Monday on the sentence for Harlem Lewis III, 23. Then, the Harris County jury was sequestered. The jury found Lewis guilty last week of capital murder in the Christmas Eve killings two years ago of Bellaire police Officer Jimmie Norman and auto body shop owner Terry Taylor. Prosecutors appealed Monday for the death penalty, but defense attorneys warned jurors that, as attorney Tyronne Moncriffe said, “killing puts a stain on you.” He told jurors, “You don’t have to put that stain on yourself.”

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West Texas Teenager Arrested in Fatal Stabbing

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:36 am

ABILENE (AP) — West Texas police say an 18-year-old man has been arrested in a stabbing death near Abilene Christian University. D’Angelo Bell is charged with capital murder in the death of Kaleb Cory, 19, on Sunday at a housing complex near the university. He’s also been charged with assault of a public servant. Bell was arrested and placed in a patrol car, where police say he kicked out a window and injured an officer. Bell is being held in jail on bonds totaling $290,000. The Taylor County jail says records don’t show an attorney for him. Police say Bell fought with Cory after the victim confronted him about stealing several items from the apartment’s owner. Authorities say Cory was stabbed several times and was taken to a hospital where he later died.

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2 Women Found Dead in San Antonio Home

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:34 am

crimescene-2SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio police say two women have been found shot to death at a house in an apparent murder-suicide. Police spokeswoman Romana Lopez on Monday did not immediately release names of the women, ages 37 and 61, or further details on them. Autopsies were ordered. Police were called Sunday by a man who had not heard from or seen the women for several days, noticed their vehicles in the driveway and became concerned. Officials discovered the front door was boarded shut from the inside. A window air conditioner was removed so a firefighter could crawl into the residence. Investigators believe the older woman fatally shot the younger woman, and then killed herself. Both bodies were in a bedroom. A pistol was nearby. Police are investigating a possible motive for the shootings.

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Woman Dead at Houston Warehouse Was Assaulted

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:32 am

Houston Police patchHOUSTON (AP) — Houston police say a 35-year-old woman whose body was found at an abandoned warehouse was assaulted and died of her injuries. Police on Monday identified the victim as Lakeisha Perkins. Nobody has been arrested. The woman’s body was discovered last Tuesday after police received a tip. Investigators did not immediately say how Perkins was assaulted. Police are asking anyone with information on the slaying to contact authorities.

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Fort Hood Soldier from Wisconsin Dies in Texas

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:31 am

FORT HOOD (AP) — A Fort Hood soldier from Wisconsin has died from an illness suffered during his deployment to Afghanistan. The Defense Department says Pfc. Donnell Antwain Hamilton Jr., 20, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, died at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. DOD officials say Hamilton died of an illness suffered while he was in the Ghazni Province. Military officials did not release further details on the illness. Hamilton joined the Army in October 2012. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. Hamilton was deployed July 2013 to March 2014.

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FAA Proposes to Fine Southwest Airlines $12M

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:30 am

thumb_southwest-airlines-logo-2WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is proposing a $12 million civil fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply in three separate cases with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that beginning in 2006 Southwest made “extreme makeover” alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The FAA said an investigation determined that Southwest’s contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage as well as other work on the planes. The agency said all of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest Airlines. The statement said Southwest returned the planes to service when they were not in compliance with regulations. Southwest has 30 days to reply to the proposed fine.

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School Board Orders $2M in Repairs on $60M Stadium

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:30 am

Allen Football Stadium2ALLEN (AP) — A suburban Dallas school board has approved $2 million in funding for repairs to flaws that closed its $60 million high school football stadium. The Allen school board approved two resolutions that allocate the money and authorize the school district superintendent to pursue a repair contract. The board says it doesn’t expect to use the money but allocated it in case the stadium architects and builders can’t settle who is liable for the flaws. Structural cracks and other problems prompted district officials last month to close Eagle Stadium less than two years after it opened. Forensic engineers reported finding extensive design flaws, which Superintendent Lance Hindt called “engineering failures.” The major concerns were in the concourse framing, retaining walls, press box, single-story structures, main scoreboard and durability of the stadium.

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National Medal of Arts Awarded to Houston Favorite

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:28 am

James TurrellHOUSTON (AP) — James Turrell, whose art works have become a familiar part of Houston’s visual arts scene, has received the 2013 National Medical of Arts. President Barack Obama presented Turrell with one of the 12 arts awards bestowed in a ceremony Monday in the East Room of the White House. Ten National Humanities Medals also were awarded. The Houston Chronicle reports the Flagstaff, Arizona artist has more public installations in Houston than in any other U.S. city. His “The Light Inside,” a neon-lit underground passage, is a signature feature of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Chronicle reports the award presented to Turrell on Monday recognizes his visual art, which manipulates light and space in ways that force viewers to question the reality.

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Odessa Getting $400K Horseman, Cattle Sculpture

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 2:27 am

Terrell O'BrienODESSA (AP) — A West Texas city’s tribute to the ranching way of life will feature a $400,000 sculpture of a cowboy on horseback and five steers. Crews on Monday began installing the piece called “The Stragglers” in a project by the Odessa Council for the Arts & Humanities. The work by artist Terrell O’Brien is 70 feet long and about 13 feet tall. Council executive director Randy Ham says the sculpture should be set up by Thursday at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus. Ham says the official unveiling will come in early August. The Odessa American reports the arts council was eligible to receive some funds from Odessa’s hotel/motel tax. The Odessa City Council provided $262,000. Private donations made up the rest.

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Darvish earns 10th victory in Rangers’ win over Yankees

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Yu Darvish struck out eight in seven innings for his 10th victory and J.P. Arencibia had a tiebreaking two-run single for the Texas Rangers in a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night.

Darvish (10-6) shouted out and pumped his fist after his final strikeout, when Brian McCann swung and missed to end the seventh with two runners on base.

Brett Gardner homered twice and Derek Jeter had three hits — to pass Carl Yastrzemski on the hits list — off the All-Star right-hander, who threw 80 of his 108 pitches for strikes five days after losing a rain-shortened game in New York.

David Phelps (5-5) lost for the first time in nine starts, allowing four runs and eight hits over six innings. The right-hander, like Darvish, was credited with a complete game last Wednesday in the 2-1 Yankees victory that didn’t resume after rain in the bottom of the fifth inning.

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Sources: Agents protesting NBPA head vote

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm

By Brian Windhorst, Ramona Shelburne, Marc Stein |

LAS VEGAS — Even as the National Basketball Players Association is holding a meeting to elect a new executive director, top agents are urging their clients not to vote and pushing for other candidates to be considered, multiple sources told

The players gathered at a hotel Monday to hear presentations from three finalists: Washington attorneys Michele Roberts and Dean Garfield and veteran Dallas Mavericks executive Terdema Ussery. The three were selected through an exhaustive process that has stretched on nearly 18 months after the firing of former union head Billy Hunter. But earlier in the day, prominent agents held a conference call in which they expressed their displeasure with the choices to the players’ executive committee and urged that the finalist pool be expanded.

One agent told the situation is “a joke.” Another said “none of these candidates are the right candidate.”

Many veteran agents, sources say, are concerned that the group of three finalists includes two lawyers (Roberts and Garfield) with no institutional knowledge of the NBA’s inner workings and a third (Ussery) who has a longstanding relationship with former NBA commissioner David Stern from working in the Mavericks’ front office for nearly two decades.

In a memo last week to players throughout the league, which was obtained by’s Marc Stein, NBPA officials outlined the 45-minute presentations scheduled for Monday afternoon in Las Vegas for each of the three finalists, with a formal vote to be conducted by the American Arbitration Association some 90 minutes after the last presentation.

But sources briefed on Monday’s behind-closed-doors discussions told that some of the players gathered were, in consultation with their agents, urging union leaders Monday night to delay the vote and broaden the search again, despite that the NBPA already has gone so long without a replacement for the ousted Hunter. Read more …

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Cowboys hope Beasley can help out Bryant

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm

By Tim MacMahon |

Follow reporter Todd Archer’s live updates from training camp in Oxnard, California.
Preseason Live
The Cowboys plan to give Beasley every opportunity to prove he can make plays as an outside receiver. It’s not just about expanding the role of a receiver who emerged as a significant contributor in his second NFL season, catching 39 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. If Beasley can do more than just play in the slot, it opens up possibilities for the Cowboys coaches to create mismatches with their most dangerous weapon.

For the first few seasons of his NFL career, the Cowboys featured Dez Bryant solely as the X receiver, keeping his role as simple as possible. They moved him around some last season, and he’s mentally prepared for much more of that entering his fifth year, often working out of the slot in three-receiver sets with Beasley outside.

“I think there’s really no limit on what we can do with him, and I believe that,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “We started moving him around last year, and that’s the only way to continue to get him the production that he needs to get because defensive coordinators are too good. If they know where he’s going to be, it’s going to be a long Sunday.

“So the sky’s the limit. It’s a matter of repping. To your point, moving him into the slot, we’ve got to figure out what Cole’s role is, so that’s what we’re working through right now.” Read more …

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McClain shows stuff at Cowboys camp

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm

By Tim MacMahon |

OXNARD, Calif. — Linebacker Rolando McClain got thrown right into the fire in his return from retirement.

There was no acclimation period for McClain, the 25-year-old former eighth overall pick who sat out last season and missed the first two practices of the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp to attend his trial on two misdemeanor charges in Alabama. He put on the pads Saturday afternoon and got to thumping.

In fact, McClain hit a little too hard on his first rep of team drills, tackling running back Lance Dunbar to the ground, something that isn’t supposed to happen in practice.

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound McClain worked as the second-team middle linebacker but will have every opportunity to win the starting job with Sean Lee out for the season. McClain displayed the talent on that snap that made the Cowboys decide he’s worth the risk despite his red flags. He shed a block by tight end James Hanna and stuffed Dunbar for a short loss.

“I was glad to see him,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “I was impressed that they put him right in. I really thought they might ease him in, might need to since he hadn’t had OTAs, hadn’t had the kind of drills. The deal with him, and because of the issue retiring, what you want to see is what you were seeing when he wasn’t in the drill. He was back over there, his body language was great.”

Nobody has ever questioned McClain’s ability. He’s big, athletic and has great “functional intelligence,” as linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. It’s his commitment, or lack thereof, and off-field behavior that has derailed his career to this point. Read more …

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Carter leads Astros homer-happy win over Athletics

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Marc Krauss and Matt Dominguez each hit a home run as the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Carter hit a monstrous three-run shot to center field in the third to give the Astros a lead, and Castro and Krauss went back-to-back in the sixth, with Castro’s homer a two-run shot.

Krauss’ homer found the upper deck in right field and chased A’s starter Jesse Chavez (8-7). Two batters later, Dominguez sent a drive onto the railroad tracks in left field off reliever Dan Otero.

The last time Houston hit three home runs in an inning was June 5, 2013, against Baltimore.

Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (3-7) won for the first time since May 30, giving up three runs on eight hits with two strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

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Jason Garrett gets under Dez Bryant’s skin

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

By Tim MacMahon |

OXNARD, Calif. — Head coach Jason Garrett pretty much guaranteed an elite performance by Dez Bryant during Sunday’s practice.

Garrett made sure to get under Bryant’s skin the previous afternoon, throwing another log on the Pro Bowl receiver’s competitive fire. The head coach loudly provided some intentionally inaccurate color commentary after Bryant got wide open but was overthrown on a pass during 1-on-1s, barking that cornerback Orlando Scandrick had kicked Bryant’s butt on the rep.

“I had my reasons for saying what I said, and so, Dez Bryant’s going to be ready to go today,” Garrett said before Sunday’s practice. “Trust me.”

Not exactly a bold prediction, but it proved to be true.

Bryant actually got off to a bit of a slow start in 1-on-1s, as cornerback Morris Claiborne had pass breakups on their first two reps. Claiborne would have been called for holding on a curl route, but he made a nice play to bat away a deep ball on the second throw.

That didn’t sit well with Bryant, who responded in spectacular fashion, torching Claiborne on a slant-and-go the next time they matched up.

Claiborne was toast as soon as Bryant made the double move, having bitten hard on the slant. Claiborne was at least 15 yards behind Bryant as he caught the pass and sprinted into the end zone.

In team drills later in the practice, Bryant put another highlight on the reel at Claiborne’s expense, burning him on a go route for what would have been another long score.

Claiborne had taunted Terrance Williams during 1-on-1 drills Saturday, shouting that they better bring Bryant over to compete against him.

Be careful what you wish for, especially after the head coach has been talking trash to the No. 1 receiver.

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Cowboys to be patient with Murray contract

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

By Todd Archer |

OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys have let it be known they want to sign Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith to long-term contract extensions. They don’t have the same sense of urgency with running back DeMarco Murray.

Murray is entering the final year of his rookie contract, just like Bryant. The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Smith’s deal in the spring for 2015 but want to lock him up before they get to next season.

Just because the Cowboys do not anticipate an extension for Murray does not mean he is not part of their future.

“I think we’ll see kind of how his year goes and go from there,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s the type of player we want on our team. He’s young and he had a good year last year. But I’d imagine that he’s going to have a great year too and I hope he does.”

Murray ran for 1,121 yards last year and was added to the Pro Bowl despite missing two games. He has yet to play a full season, but he is critical to the Cowboys’ success. The Cowboys are 11-0 when he receives 20 or more carries.

But he plays a position that has been de-valued in recent years. The largest free-agent contract signed in the offseason averaged $3.5 million a year. The last time the Cowboys paid a running back big money was Marion Barber, who signed a seven-year deal worth $45 million that included $16 million guaranteed in 2008. The Cowboys cut Barber after the 2010 season.

Jones said contract decisions are made on individual basis, not on how good or bad a deal worked with a player at the same position in the past.

“Running backs, that’s kind of evolved in this league,” Jones said. “It’s tough for running backs to have a lot of longevity. But there’s ones that do. DeMarco is a leader. He takes good care of himself. I think his best football is ahead of him.”

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Scandrick: This year is going to be different

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 12:52 pm

By Tim MacMahon |

OXNARD, Calif. — The No. 32 would be on cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s mind every day even if it wasn’t on his jersey.

There is no hiding the fact that the Dallas Cowboys ranked 32nd — dead last — in the league in total defense last season.

“The facts are the facts,” Scandrick said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Two-Point Conversion.” “We were the last-ranked total defense, so we can’t go anywhere but up from here, but that’s not going to change just by showing up. We’ve to have an attitude about us as a defense, and we’re going to have to play together. Playing together stops a lot of the things that happened that caused us to be the 32nd-ranked defense.”

The Cowboys lost three of their most productive defensive players from last season, releasing defensive end DeMarcus Ware, letting defensive tackle Jason Hatcher leave in free agency and seeing Sean Lee injure his knee in May.

However, Scandrick expressed confidence that the Dallas defense would be vastly improved in its second season playing a 4-3 scheme.

“I just think this year is going to be different,” Scandrick said. “I don’t know if I’m just an optimist, but I really feel that this year is going to be different. We have a different group of guys. We have some younger guys. We have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove. We have some younger guys who want to prove they can play in this league. We have some other younger guys who want to prove they can be starters in this league. I really think from the bottom of my heart that we have a chance to be a solid defense this year.”

As safety Barry Church put it, the Dallas defense “has a boulder on our shoulder,” thanks to their ranking last season.

Scandrick has had a chip on his shoulder since he slipped into the fifth round in the 2008 draft. He was once of those young guys who had to prove he could play in the NFL. In his seventh NFL season, he finally got the chance to prove he could be a full-time starter and is fighting to keep that role now.

At 27, Scandrick suddenly has the longest Dallas tenure among players in the defensive meeting room other than defensive end Anthony Spencer, who could start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

The departures of Ware and Hatcher, as well as the season-ending knee injury suffered by Lee, left a leadership void on the Dallas defense. Scandrick feels a responsibility to help fill it.

“It was tough to see those guys go,” Scandrick said. “I just think about when I came in and how those guys took me under their wing and how they looked out for me. I just think I owe it to the younger guys now to do the same thing. Like I tell them, I’m open to helping whenever I can.

“I think it’s also that I help my coaches when my coaches are trying to get a point across. Sometimes it’s easier to hear it when you hear it from a player. I’m just here to find ways to win. All I want to do is win, and all I care about is winning.”

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Rod Marinelli’s love of football

Posted/updated on: July 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

By Todd Archer |

OXNARD, Calif. — Rod Marinelli never had a backup plan. He was going to be a football coach.

The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator is in his 19th season in the NFL and second with the Cowboys. He has been coaching since 1973.

What would he be doing if he wasn’t on an Oxnard, California, practice field at the end of July?

“Doing this,” Marinelli said. “Free some place.”

He turned 65 on July 13 and he inherits a defense that was last in the league. Others might blink and shy away from the opportunity, but Marinelli embraces it. He wants his players to embrace it. The last time he was a defensive coordinator he had Pro Bowlers like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, Tim Jennings and Henry Melton.

With the Cowboys the only Pro Bowler he has is Melton, who is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. There are questions at every level of the Cowboys’ defense, but nothing can take away the juice he gets from being on a field.

“I love practice,” Marinelli said. “I love the physicalness. I love the fundamentals. I love the competition. And you like to see men grow and develop. That’s as much as anything. And then the schematics of it. It’s fun. I mean it’s all good. It’s a great sport.”

He might walk slowly but it does not hinder the energy he has in practice or the feelings his players have for him. Marinelli was one of the main reasons Melton chose to sign as a free agent with the Cowboys.

“He’s got the credentials and he actually cares for you, not just as a football player but as a man,” Melton said. “Even in the offseason, not necessarily call or text about football, it would be about family. He actually cares about your success.”

Marinelli said he coaches the man first, the player second.

“Responsibility, accountability, all those things first,” Marinelli said.

Marinelli and the Cowboys hope that approach leads to results. He is in the final year of his deal with the Cowboys, but he knows he will be coaching somewhere in 2015 if he is not back with the Cowboys. Retirement is not in his mind.

“I don’t think that far,” Marinelli said. “I don’t. I like it. I can’t tell you, but I just like it. I can’t see being home, my gosh.”

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Strong offseason fueling Brandon Weeden

Posted/updated on: July 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

By Todd Archer |

IRVING, Texas – Brandon Weeden’s bid to be the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2014 got a lot easier when the club decided to release Kyle Orton.

Barring something unforeseen, Weeden, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason, will be Tony Romo’s backup. But Weeden does not look at the move as “weight off my shoulders.”

“Given the situation Kyle has been in in previous years in Dallas, he’s been the backup quarterback, so I think if he was there it would be one more obstacle I would have to kind of hurdle,” Weeden said. “But at the same time I can’t really get wrapped up in putting all of my attention on that. I need to do what I did in the [organized team activities] and continue to play well and get better. I think hopefully things will work out that way regardless.”

The Cowboys felt confident enough to jettison Orton, who skipped the entire offseason program and minicamp, in part because of what Weeden did in the spring. With Romo recovering from back surgery and being kept out of competitive drills and Orton missing, Weeden took all of the first-team snaps.

“I think the reps I got in the OTAs were kind of irreplaceable,” Weeden said. “If I was in a situation where God forbid something happened to Tony and I’m asked to play, those are the guys I’m going to battle with, so those reps I got were invaluable. I know I won’t get many of those in [training] camp, but fortunately I had 12 practices where I was able to get out with those guys. Now it’s, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I’m ready to get to California and get things rolling.”

Orton had the same benefit last year of taking all of the offseason snaps in 2013 as Romo recovered from surgery to remove a cyst from his back. When Romo hurt his back in Week 16 against the Washington Redskins, he was able to step into the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles and play well. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but a late turnover sealed the Cowboys’ loss.

“[Gavin] Escobar and [Jason] Witten are two totally different players. Dez [Bryant] and Terrance [Williams] are two totally different players,” Weeden said. “You kind of learn what certain guys’ strengths are and little nuances of what they do. That’s the thing more than anything. You kind of get a feel for what Dez likes on fades and all that stuff a certain way where Terrance might like it another way. You’ve got to learn what each guy likes. When you’re with so many new guys it takes time. You always want more time, but it’s nice to have the reps I did get there to get a head start.”

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