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ESPN: Clayton Blog 10-24


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The Cowboys had no choice but to cut kicker Jose Cortez, whom coach Bill Parcells called "too erratic," on Monday. Parcells released Cortez and promoted Shaun Suisham from the practice squad. Cortez missed a 29-yard field goal and had a kickoff sail out of bounds in key moments of Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Seahawks. He was a 75-percent kicker in an 80-percent league and 3 for 6 between the 40- and 49-yard lines, showing his limitations on longer kicks. Parcells thought Cortez was not kicking well in recent practices and said Cortez didn't look good in warm-ups Sunday. What Parcells doesn't know is whether Suisham is going to improve the position, but he had no choice but to make a change.

Bledsoe should have pulled back: The puzzling part of Drew Bledsoe's game-changing interception that cost the Cowboys in the final seconds is, why be so aggressive in trying to make a play? After the holding penalty called on Rob Petitti, the Cowboys had a second-and-14 at their 37 with 19 seconds left. In that short amount of time, Bledsoe should have gone into more of a defensive mold. Cortez's field-goal yardage range is in the low 40s. That would mean he would have had to take the offense inside the Seahawks 35, meaning two intermediate completions against a four-deep zone. But there was no guarantee Cortez could make that kick. Jordan Babineaux intercepted the pass and set up a 50-yard game-winning field goal by Josh Brown.

Deep end of the ocean: Mike Shanahan explained the reason why he deactivated wide receiver Darius Watts -- the Broncos didn't have him on any of their special teams. Watts was the third receiver behind Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and Charlie Adams, but now he's the fourth. Todd Devoe had more value on special teams and took over the third-receiver role. While it's nice to get some help for the special teams, it's not benefiting the passing offense all that much. Lelie has 19 catches and Adams has 10. After seven games, the Broncos (5-2) need more than four passes a game combined for wide receivers other than Rod Smith. After all, they've completed only 12 passes to tight ends.

For Vikings, 10-4 on the 3-4: Mike Tice sounded as if the Vikings will stay with the 3-4 defense the rest of the season. He gave a game ball to nose tackle Pat Williams after Sunday's last-second 23-20 victory over the Packers. Tice said the 3-4 is a faster defense than the 4-3. The Vikings have fast linebackers, and Tice liked how Williams and some of the faster player have been penetrating opponents' backfields.

For Redskins, 4-3 best way to go: The Redskins face an interesting decision involving their 3-4. With two defensive tackles injured and others playing at around 50 percent, Joe Gibbs tried the 3-4 against a woeful 49ers team and won 52-17. LaVar Arrington ran around from the 3-4 and had a big game (nine tackles), reviving his career to a certain degree. Figuring their next game is a key NFC East matchup against the Giants, though, the Redskins would be better served to stay with the 4-3 look that's gotten them off to a 4-2 start. The Giants aren't the 49ers.

Cheery Garcia when out of shotgun: Now that Jeff Garcia is taking over as the Lions' quarterback, coach Steve Mariucci plans to install more shotgun formations. Garcia prefers the shotgun in passing situations, and considering the blocking problems of the Lions line, it's not a bad idea. Harrington has thrown only 19 passes out of the shotgun, completing nine.

Westbrook better get used to balance: Eagles coach Andy Reid vows to create a better balance between the run and the pass. We'll see. The Eagles have only 102 rushing attempts in 383 total offensive plays, the worst run-to-pass ratio in football. Brian Westbrook is growing tired of not being a true running back. He has 65 carries for 256 yards in six games but he has 35 catches for 367 yards.

Changes coming in Cleveland? Romeo Crennel isn't making any changes to his offense now, but it's not out of the question for that to happen later this week. Trent Dilfer is rapidly dropping down the passing efficiency ratings; his three-interception performance against Detroit dropped his quarterback rating from 84.6 to 75.6. He's still completing 63.1 percent of his passes, but his interception count grew to eight.

Columbo discovery, but no deal yet: The Cowboys looked at former Bears offensive tackle Marc Columbo last week. On Tuesday, he will visit the Minnesota Vikings. Columbo is atop most lists as one of the best offensive tackles available and should be added to a roster soon.

Halloween won't be Ravens' night: The Ravens may need more than an extra day to prepare for the Steelers on next week's edition of Monday Night Football. Free safety Ed Reed is expected to miss the game because of the high-ankle sprain that sidelined him Sunday against the Bears. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis is also a longshot to play. He was bothered by a hamstring problem that was too high on the leg to treat last week. During Baltimore's loss to the Bears, he injured a lower area of the hamstring. The good news is that it's more treatable. The bad news is that it could be bad enough to keep him out of the game on Halloween.

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