Now that the 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, we can finally start looking forward to the actual 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys finished off their 2017 campaign rather disappointingly, leading most fans to believe this is a do-or-die year for many people within the organization.
While things may seem dire to some, and the Cowboys certainly have their roster holes, I do believe there are reasons to remain optimistic about how good this team can be in 2018.
So, why not list four of said reasons?
The Running Game Is Back
By using their second round pick on offensive lineman Connor Williams the Cowboys made a statement: it's time to get back to what they do. Too often last season this running game didn't look like we all know it can, and whether it was due to injury or suspension, those problems are hopefully behind them.
The Cowboys will get their All-World running back Ezekiel Elliott for all 16 games (barring injury), and post arguably the best group of five offensive linemen in the entire league.
While there are questions about the Cowboys' receiving corps and tight end group, there should be no doubt what the identity of this team will be. And that identity in itself is cause for optimism.
Kris Richard And The New-Looked Secondary
Last offseason the Cowboys front office made changes in their secondary that many doubted, but one year in they are looking like forward-thinking geniuses because of those moves. Allowing veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, as well as safeties JJ Wilcox and Barry Church, to walk in free agency was step one in revamping and rebuilding the Cowboys defense.
Now, as rookies Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods enter year two the Cowboys should see more tangible success on the field. All three had successful rookie seasons, but with extra experience and comfortability they should be improved in 2018.
Former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard will have his hands all over this secondary, and we should be excited about what they'll look like going forward.
Year Three Dak Prescott
Much of Cowboys Nation is down on Dak Prescott after a shaky end to the 2017 season, but I believe we should be optimistic about his development heading into year 3.
Prescott did things his rookie season that we have rarely ever seen, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, a division crown, and going toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. Now, Prescott gets his running back for all 16 games and an improved offensive line in front of him. Dallas has also added receivers that will hopefully better fit Prescott's skill set in Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns.
We all saw what Dak looks like when things around him are clean, and they should be as clean as ever in 2018.
Last but certainly not least, we should all be excited about what this Cowboys pass rush can be.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence returns after his career year, and now playing under the franchise tag, he still has something to prove. Lawrence was on another level in 2017, and as long as he remains healthy, he should be incredibly productive this year.
David Irving has begun to come along as a downright beast, aiding this pass rush from the interior. Hopefully Taco Charlton will take another step forward and continue to add to his pass rushing repertoire as well.
And, of course, there is still the hope that Randy Gregory can return and be the explosive edge rusher the team is still looking for.
If all goes right, this pass rush has the chance to be among the league's best.
Maliek Collins Activated From PUP, Cowboys’ Front 7 Looking Great
There are tons of reasons to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys' defense with the regular season less than a month away. The most recent one is Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is coming off the PUP list after passing his physical and is now activated and practicing.
After suffering another foot injury in May, Collins had to undergo surgery and his return to the roster before the season began was questionable. But things are looking good now as the Cowboys expect him to be ready for week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers.
On the same day he was taken off PUP, Maliek Collins is participating in pre-practice walkthrough. Not sure what that means for his practice regimen, but that's a positive sign #cowboyswire
Collins missed quite some time, so one has to wonder how fast he will be reincorporated to the defense and whether or not he'll get back his starting role or not. The defensive tackle room seems to be loaded with various talent that should be capable of at least giving #96 a tough competition before he can reclaim his spot as if he hadn't been missing any practices.
David Irving may not be a factor on the roster until he comes back from suspension prior to week 5's match-up against the Houston Texans, but there are other young players Collins should be expecting to fight for the starting role.
Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, Brian Price and Datone Jones will provide this team with an interesting debate going forward. But even if not one DT emerges as a clear-cut starter above the rest, the Cowboys have serious depth at the position.
To be honest, the entire front seven is very exciting. Not only do the Cowboys count with good DTs, but just take a look at the defensive end room. Led by 2017 second-team All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence, there is also a deep group of DEs.
Randy Gregory is coming back after a long comeback journey and should earn a lot more snaps as the season progressing. Taco Charlton has made a ton of progress and fourth-round rookie Dorance Armstrong isn't far behind. Not to mention captain Tyrone Crawford, who despite being criticized by many due to his huge contract, is a more than decent DE.
Now, let's talk about the linebackers for a moment here. Before the 2018 NFL Draft, this was seen as one of the weakest units on the team. Fast forward to mid-August and this should be one of the most exciting groups on the team.
Sean Lee will be playing alongside a Jaylon Smith that we've never seen before. Smith is doing things that he wouldn't been able to do a season ago. What he's shown in training camp and through one preseason game should have any Cowboys' fan eager to watch him play in a regular season game. The Jaylon Smith the front office envisioned when taking a risk on him in the 2016 NFL Draft has arrived.
Also in the mix is first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. We haven't been able to watch a lot of playing time from him but we'll sure do pretty soon. He's a week 1 contributor who will play behind what could be one of the best LB duos in the entire NFL.
And just like in the defensive line, the depth seems to be great. Joe Thomas and Damien Wilson have shown what they're capable of and they could be more than special team bodies when needed.
The Dallas Cowboys shouldn't be very concerned about their front seven going forward. It's loaded with talent and even if they rotate their players a lot, this seems like a group that will give any offense a big headache.
Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard
The Dallas Cowboys have signed another one of the six players worked out on Monday in Oxnard, adding to their already deep group of wide receivers. Most recently with Utah, Pac-12 Wide Receiver Darren Carrington has signed with the team.
Carrington began his college career at Oregon, where he was on track to make it to the NFL before being dismissed from the Ducks for a DUI. This led Carrington to Utah, where he played as a graduate transfer and put up a team high 908 yards and six touchdowns on 70 receptions last season.
Cowboys signing former Utah WR Darren Carrington, per source.
At 6021 (6' 2 1/8") and 199 pounds, Carrington is yet another athletic target with long speed for the Cowboys to work into their new-look offense. He joins Ricky Jeune as the second receiver added to the team in training camp, bringing the number of WRs on the roster to 11.
Marchie Murdock, who had two catches for the Cowboys in their preseason opener, was waived (with an injury designation) prior to these roster moves.
Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek
The Dallas Cowboys did not receive good news on first-year offensive lineman Marcus Martin, as his injury suffered in San Francisco will likely require season-ending surgery. Martin was signed this offseason as a backup guard/center, and without him the Cowboys have a need for further depth up front. Working out six players at positions of need today, the team has signed former Arizona lineman Jacob Alsadek.
Congratulations to #TeamDEC client @jacobalsadek on signing with @dallascowboys
This is Alsadek's second stop in the NFL, as he spent most of May with the Green Bay Packers before being released. Alsadek was the cut when the Packers signed former Cowboys Tackle Byron Bell.
Players Cowboys worked out today: Darren Carrington, WR Jacob Alsadek, OL Daronte Bouldin, OL Dominick Sanders, S Ryan Murphy, S Deron Washington, S
The 6'7", 312 pound guard went undrafted in this year's AT&T Stadium hosted draft. He was set to play in the Alliance of American Football League, with an inaugural season scheduled for February.
Now, he's a member of America's Team with a real chance to compete for a backup spot on the best offensive line in the league.
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