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Tyler Police Need Your Help in Identifying Suspect

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 9:35 am

image003TYLER — Tyler Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect. On Thursday, officers responded to Dairy Queen and Family Dollar, located on Gentry Parkway, in reference to a female suspect passing counterfeit $50.00 dollar bills. If you can identify this suspect please contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1032, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833). Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspects in this case or any felony case.

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Body Found in Gregg County Identified

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

Gregg County Sheriffs Office patchLONGVIEW – Gregg County Deputies are investigating the death of a Longview Man. Donald Merrills, 40, was found dead just after 6:00 Monday evening. His body was outside a residence on Rebecca Circle near his home in Longview. The Sheriff’s Department says Merrills is known to have mental issues. He was found wearing multiple layers of clothing and a fleece lined coat. Foul play is not suspected, but his body was sent for an autopsy.

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Hawkins Mayor Charged with Official Oppression

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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.

According to the Texas Penal Code Section 39.03, Official Oppression is:

(A) A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:

Intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful.
Intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful.
Intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.

(B) For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of his office or employment if he acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of such actual or purported capacity.

(C) In this section, “sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a term or condition of a person’s exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.

(D) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

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Murder Indictment Returned in Smith County

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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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Pair Arrested for $200K Equipment Theft

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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.

McCool said the couple was successful in their burglaries because of James Arnold’s connections within the oilfield industry. James Arnold is charged with theft of property and possession of a controlled substance. His bail was set at $65,000 total. Michael Arnold faces one count of hindering apprehension and prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. Her bail totals $35,000.

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Mother Arrested for DWI with 4 Children in Car

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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 7:46 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 8:22 am

Amanda KluthHENDERSON — 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 7:46 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 7:46 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.”

Now, those safety tips for this week, issued by Longview police:

1. Don’t stop in the roadway or obstruct traffic to look at the balloons overhead.
2. Please don’t attempt to take photos of the balloons while you are operating a moving vehicle.
3. Balloons will be landing around the area in lots of different spots. If you see one landing in a field, parking lot, etc. don’t assume it has crash landed. Look around for the crew that is usually very nearby.
4. If you do see a balloon that has crash-landed, is in power lines, on fire, etc., call 9-1-1 immediately and give the location (as best you can) of that hot air balloon and any details you may have.
5. Most importantly, enjoy the balloon sightings this week, but do it safely.

You can go to for complete information on the balloon race.

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Cruz Ends Hold on Nominees Over FAA Flight Ban

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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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2 Texas Men Get Prison in Food Stamp Fraud Case

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 am

DALLAS (AP) – The owner of a Dallas convenience store and the business manager must go to federal prison and repay nearly $2 million in a food stamp scam. Kamardeen Ogunleye of Arlington was sentenced to five years in prison. Robert Gordon of Balch Springs received a 27-month term. Ogunleye and Gordon in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. Prosecutors in Dallas say Ogunleye also pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the case involving a KSO Dollar Mart. Investigators say the men paid cash for food stamps at a rate of about a dollar for every $2 worth of benefits. The men then redeemed the full amount of the benefits. Ogunleye and Gordon, who were sentenced last week, must report to prison in September.

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New San Antonio Mayor Pulls Support for Streetcars

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 am

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The new mayor of San Antonio says $32 million in city money pledged for a streetcar system should be diverted to other projects. Mayor Ivy Taylor on Monday said any future streetcar or rail plans should be voted on by the public. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also announced he’s pulled his support for the VIA Metropolitan Transit proposal. VIA has funding to build part of a nearly 6-mile downtown system projected to open in 2017. VIA and the Texas Department of Transportation each pledged $92 million. An anti-streetcar coalition has gathered signatures for a charter amendment against the proposal. Fellow city council members last week chose Taylor to replace Mayor Julian Castro, who was sworn in Monday to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Obama Considers Large-Scale Move on Immigration

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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 7:46 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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Texan Gets 35 Years in Infant Daughter’s Death

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 am

GALVESTON (AP) – A Southeast Texas man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the death of his 2-month-old daughter after he shook her and fell on her. Christopher Morgan Benson of League City pleaded guilty to murder in a plea deal Monday in Galveston. Lola Glover died in 2012. Benson was charged with injury to a child. The count was later upgraded to murder. The Galveston County Daily News reports the 28-year-old father told police that Lola was crying as he played video games. An affidavit says Benson shook the baby for about 10 minutes, panicked when she became unresponsive and “fell” on her with his full weight. The mother discovered the injured baby after returning from work. Lola was taken to a hospital and died a week later.

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Texas Doctor’s Family Under 21-Day Fever Watch

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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 Regents Meet to Pick Chancellor Finalist

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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 7:46 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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Texas Teen Convicted of Killing Police Officer

Posted/updated on: July 29, 2014 at 7:46 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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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.

Amid a rising perception that the owners trounced the players during the latest, Hunter-led labor negotiations, from July through December 2011, sources told Stein some agents were rankled that the NBPA’s memo also outlined plans for a post-vote party Monday night at a nightclub in Vegas, as opposed to focusing on the serious nature of the task at hand.

In an interview with USA Today published Monday, union secretary-treasurer James Jones of the Cleveland Cavaliers dismissed suggestions that the field of finalists was hastily assembled and told the newspaper the union contacted 300 potential candidates to replace Hunter and interviewed 70.

But questions about that effort, led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, were raised around the league Friday night when word began to spread that he was abruptly cutting ties with the union.

According to union bylaws, one of the three finalists needs a two-thirds majority from the NBPA’s executive committee and team player representatives — 25 votes total — to be installed as the new executive director. It was unclear, as of 9 p.m. ET Monday, whether the vote scheduled for 11 p.m. would actually take place.

If the vote is delayed further, it would be the second significant interruption to the process in the past six months. The NBPA presented two finalists — David White of the Screen Actors Guild and Roberts — at All-Star Weekend in February in New Orleans but restarted the search process and brought in Johnson to lead the effort after numerous players and agents voiced concerns then.

“We heard their requests to slow the process down, make it more inclusive, hear what players and agents had to say, retired players as well, and enlist the help of qualified professionals to get different perspectives,” Jones told USA Today. “Here we stand months later with candidates who the search committee has provided us and who we all feel good and excited about it.”

Longtime NBPA attorney Ron Klempner, known for his collective bargaining agreement expertise, has served as the union’s acting executive director since Hunter’s ouster at the 2013 All-Star Game in Houston.

Roberts, who made a presentation to the players in February over All-Star Weekend, is a well-respected litigation specialist. Garfield is the CEO of a technology company and has held high-ranking positions at the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America. Ussery, who also has a law degree, is the longtime president of the Mavericks after a career as an executive with Nike.

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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.”

It’s a challenge that Beasley embraces.

“I’d just say [I am] more confident after being in the last two seasons and getting some time to actually play,” Beasley said. “Knowing I can do it and knowing how good I can be, that really excites me. I wouldn’t say I’m a different player. I’d just say with more opportunities, I’ll get better and better.”

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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.

Those are also the reasons the Cowboys were able to get McClain, whose most notable stats since leaving Alabama are two retirements and three arrests, for next to nothing. “An excellent signing,” Jones called it.

“We have such a need with our linebacker and here you got a guy that has shown up enough to be drafted in the first round and has shown he was certainly a top college player and he’s shown flashes of that while he’s been in the pros,” Jones said. “That’s good opportunity when you’re in this business to be able to go get a guy that has that kind of skill and those kinds of issues. You don’t get them if they’re free of issues.”

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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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You Tell Me Texas by Paul Gleiser


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The VA is a microcosm of a national health care system and Obamacare is nothing but a precursor to national health care. Read More | Visit The You Tell Me Texas Blog

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