Cowboys release Blade, Whalen
05:07 PM CDT on Monday, July 26, 2004
By MATT MOSLEY / DallasNews.com and JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – The Cowboys have released defensive tackle Willie Blade, who was one of the surprises of last year's training camp.
Blade started 15 games at nose tackle last season, but the improvement of defensive tackles Leo Carson, Daleroy Stewart and Jermaine Brooks apparently made him expendable.
Blade had 16 tackles (5 solo) and one sack last season. He looked strong early in the season, but his playing time diminished as players such as Carson and Stewart emerged.
The Cowboys drafted Blade in the third round of the 2001 draft. They ended up releasing him before the start of the 2002 season because of constant weight problems. The Texans picked up Blade in 2002, but eventually released him during the season.
After the Cowboys re-signed Blade, coach Bill Parcells met with Blade’s family. He told them that he could salvage Blade’s career if he would improve his work ethic.
Blade lost about 35 pounds to get to his playing weight of 315 pounds last season.
Backup tight end Whalen released
Five days before the team's first training camp practice in California, the Cowboys on Monday waived backup tight end James Whalen, who was injured most of last season and did not catch a pass in seven games.
The Cowboys are well-stocked at tight end with Jason Witten, Dan Campbell, rookie Sean Ryan and free-agent rookie Landon Trusty.
In four seasons with Dallas, Whalen caught 17 passes for 152 yards -- all during the 2002 season. He did not score a touchdown.
Woodson surgery set
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Monday that veteran safety Darren Woodson would have back surgery Tuesday and would likely miss six to eight weeks, including the opener at Minnesota.
Jones said he would not shut the door on any roster moves, but the team was prepared to start the season with Tony Dixon at safety.
“We’ll see how Tony Dixon takes advantage of this opportunity,” Jones said. “This is a great opportunity for him.”
Jones also said Keith Davis would have a strong look at the position in training camp.
Cowboys sign another pick
Also Monday, Jones said the team reached contract terms with Patrick Crayton, a seventh-round draft pick. Terms of the deal with the receiver were not disclosed.
Crayton had 1,518 receiving yards, 1,717 rushing yards and 1,967 yards passing at Northwestern Oklahoma.