Sports Outside the Beltway

Isaiah Stanback Finally Practices

The Dallas Cowboys finally get to see what former Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback can do, now that he’s finally healed from a foot injury and shin splints.

Isaiah Stanback First Dallas Cowboys Practice Photo Isaiah Stanback practiced for the first time since being drafted by the Cowboys in April. Isaiah Stanback, the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick (103rd overall) in April’s draft, finally practiced Saturday for the first real time since he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury Oct. 17, 2006, as a senior at Washington.

A quarterback in college, the Cowboys thought Stanback could be a versatile playmaker in the NFL and planned to move the 6-2, 208-pounder to receiver from the start, in the mold of Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El or their own Patrick Crayton. “We’re going to start him at receiver and see what he can do,” head coach Wade Phillips said. “I think he can do a lot of things. We’re still going to look at him at returns. He’s really a gifted athlete.”

The team also knew Stanback’s recovery from foot surgery would take all off-season to heal, but figured the value of getting a potential open-field dynamo on the second day of the draft offset the time he would miss while rehabbing.


Stanback said although he kept up with the mental aspects of the game and the new playbook while watching from the sidelines, the injuries have impeded his transition to receiver because he hasn’t had on-field training in the techniques of the position.

“He came up to me today and said, ‘Wow it’s a lot different when you’re out here running routes,’” wide receivers coach Ray Sherman said after Saturday’s sun-baked practice. “I told him it’s different than anything you’ve ever done. He said he would be all right, but all of a sudden today he said, ‘Coach, you were right.’”

Stanback has played receiver before, but not since his freshman year with the Huskies in 2003, and even then he played only sparingly, catching 10 balls for 143 yards. So the 22-year-old has a little something to fall back on, but not much. “It’s different,” Stanback said. “When the play comes in and you hear it and let it go through your mind before you go out there and run it, and now it’s just boom, go.”

In comparison, when the Cowboys transitioned Crayton from quarterback to receiver his rookie year, things came easier for the Northwestern Oklahoma State product because he only played quarterback as a senior, spending his three previous years catching passes. Stanback doesn’t have that luxury.

“He’s going to come along,” Crayton said. “He’s never had to play the position so that’s his transition. It’s just a total flip-flop of everything. While he was rehabbing he had to do everything mentally, and now he can get in there and get the physical part and get the look of everything at game speed. Because it’s different.”


While that may take some time, Stanback’s return to practice has already convoluted the roster picture at receiver. Because of his draft status and potential, Stanback would seem to be a virtual lock to make the team. But his inexperience means the Cowboys may need to keep an extra receiver. Sam Hurd and Miles Austin are likely to earn spots behind Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Crayton. Stanback would make six – the number of wideouts the Cowboys kept last year. Does the hard-charging Jerheme Urban, one of the biggest preseason standouts, get a spot too? Keeping seven wide receivers might be a tad much.

Frankly, the Cowboys should keep the best 54 athletes, period. Keeping two kickers, mediocre backup nose tackles, barely ready for prime time fullbacks, and the like on the roster is just a waste. Keep all the tight ends, linebackers, and wide receivers who have a chance to be special and then figure out how to cover thin spots with the great athletes.

That’s especially true, I think, at wide receiver. Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are both 33 years old. This could well be the last season for one or both and there’s certainly no guarantee they won’t lose some playing time to injury. The Cowboys need to figure out what they’ve got talent wise at the position sooner rather than later so they know what they need to do in free agency and the draft next year.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.