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2016 Cowboys Camp: Best Position Battle



Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys Camp: Best Position Battle?

The Dallas Cowboys 2016 Training Camp begins the end of this week!

We're as excited as you are! To whet our appetites even more for the return of football, our Inside The Star team worked together to compose a six-part Camp Preview Series.

To kick things off, we each shared what our most anticipated position battle will be for this 2016 camp:

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Breakout Candidates: Brice Butler 1Brian Martin ( @bmart0204 ) I’m really interested to see how the wide receiver position shakes out, but let's be honest, starters are pretty much set.

I think the best position battle will end up being the cornerback position. I think Orlando Scandrick will start on the left side and Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will compete to see who starts on the right side.

Scandrick’s return makes this position battle really interesting.

Bryson Treece ( @BrysonTreece ) - Wide Receiver. Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Lucky Whitehead... who lands where will have a huge impact on the season. The guy lining up opposite Dez Bryant will have opportunities to change the outcome of games.

Ian Koplowitz ( @BleedingTheStar ) - While the wide receiver situations seem far from set for both Terrance Williams and Lucky Whitehead, I can't help but to think that the battle for defensive end, on both sides, will be heated.

What people think is that the battle is between guys like Mayowa, Russell, Irving, Crawford, and Tapper, but you can't take Randy Gregory out of the conversation. Just because he's sitting out the first four games, doesn't mean he can't be beaten out when he gets back. He wants that starting job when he gets back, and he'll have to fight for it in Oxnard.

Jess Haynie ( @CowboysAddicts ) - It has to be Brice Butler and Terrance Williams, right? Not only is a starting job on the line but both guys are free agents after this year. Fighting for pride and playing time are great, but history has proven that money is what pushes guys to new heights. Will one of them crack under the pressure?

Kevin Brady ( @KevinBrady88 ) - The most intriguing position battle to me is at wide receiver. I expect the Cowboys to keep five receivers, and with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley already just about locked into the roster, there are only two spots left with three guys competing.

Lucky Whitehead is going to be hard to cut given his versatility, and Brice Butler will be hard to pass on given his length and promising attributes. That leaves Devin Street, whose time in Dallas may be up come training camp.

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016 2RJ Ochoa ( @RJOchoa ) - Among the saddest things in Cowboys lore (Danny White's inability to reach the Super Bowl, the 1994 NFC Championship Game, the 2015 season, etc.) resides the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Middle Linebacker competition.

Sean Lee is there, sweet action, but that means he's in line for some serious wear and tear. Rolando McClain isn't there, but he is... so hip, hip, hooray. It's going to be very interesting to see who comes out on top between Justin Durant, Damien Wilson, Mark Nzeocha, and the rest of that fun bunch.

Sean Martin ( @ShoreSportsNJ ) - I'm going to be keeping the closest eye on the battle between Brice Butler and Terrance Williams. While having Dez along with Romo and Ezekiel Elliott is a great start, this offense is not going to be elite without a consistent play maker at WR2.

For Williams, the problem has been falling off the map entirely, and that is something that will need to change throughout camp. Butler, of course, does not have the same chemistry but could be a guy that benefits greatly from working with Romo. If Kellen Moore was able to get the ball into his hands at the end of 2015 (with some explosive results), watch out for what a healthy Romo can do for Butler.

At the same time, I really do expect Terrance Williams to make this competition interesting. Williams has the upper-hand over Butler if he is even close to productive - knowing how much this coaching staff values continuity.

~ ~ ~

Here are the categories still to come this week...

Biggest Name to be Cut - Tues
Strongest Position
- Wed
Weakest Position
- Thurs
Favorite Dark Horse
- Fri
Most Likely Starting Job Change
- Sat

All of this, and much more, as Inside The Star helps get you ready for another season of Dallas Cowboys football!

This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense

The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.

Cowboys Have a Championship Defense

Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.

The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.

The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.

Offensive Line Woes Are Gone

The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.

Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.

It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?

Dak Prescott Continues To Be Money In Clutch Si

Dak Prescott: Clutch QB

Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.

With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.

Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.

Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Player News

Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?

John Williams



Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim Quietly Exceeding Expectations? 1

Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.

David Helman on Twitter

Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire

In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.

But in reality, is there?

For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.

The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.

First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.

The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.

Film Review: What's Up with Allen Hurns?

In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.

Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?

Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.

That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.

Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.

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Player News

Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support

Jess Haynie



Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.

According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.

A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:

“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.

As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:

“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”

While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.

The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.

Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.

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