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5 Cowboys Players Who Need To Step Up Against Denver

Brian Martin

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5 Cowboys Players Who Need To Step Up Against Denver 4

The Dallas Cowboys put together a pretty impressive four quarters against the New York Giants last Sunday night. They now need to carry that momentum on the road for this week's matchup against the Denver Broncos. This will mark the first road trip of the 2017 season, so we will find out pretty soon how well this team travels.

I think we can all agree that the Denver Broncos are much more talented team than the New York Giants. So, every single Dallas Cowboys player is going have to step up their game in order to put another W in the win column. I don't really like to  single out individual players, because this is ultimately a team sport. But, I think there are 5 Cowboys who need to step up their game this week if Dallas wants to get to the 2-0 mark.

Continue to read below to see who I believe needs to step up just a little bit this week against the Broncos. As always, use the comment section at the end of the article to express any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant didn't have a terrible game against the New York Giants, but as a fan we always want more. The Giants defense did an excellent job of shifting an extra defender in his direction pretty much every time he was on the field to make it even more difficult for him to get involved. Janoris Jenkins also made it difficult to get Bryant the ball with his sticky/grabby coverage Sunday night. But, there is no doubt that Bryant needs to be more involved on offense.

This is probably less about Dez Bryant needing to step up as it is with Scott Linehan finding a way to get their best playmaker the ball. Denver has a pair of good CBs in Chris Harris Jr and Aqib Talib, so it could be tough going for Bryant once again. However, if Linehan would move him around the formation more to create favorable matchups, it should help improve the chances of Bryant having a big game against the Broncos.

Chidobe Awuzie

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Chidobe Awuzie

Chidobe Awuzie could possibly be looking at earning his first start in the NFL against the Denver Broncos if Orlando Scandrick has to sit out this contest. I would imagine that Nolan Carroll will start at the opposite outside CB position with Anthony Brown in the slot, leaving Awuzie as a next likely option.

Awuzie should feel right at home in the Mile High City, since he played his college ball at Colorado. The atmosphere shouldn't be too much for him and he should be ready to step up and make his presence felt on the field.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli usually doesn't have his CBs shadow any particular receiver, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Awuzie covering Demaryius Thomas more times than not. He has the size and athletic ability to match up well with the talented WR.

RT La'el Collins

RT La'el Collins

La'el Collins

La'el Collins in my eyes has already proven to be an upgrade at the right tackle position for the Dallas Cowboys. I'll admit that I was a little worried how he would stand up against Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, but he held his own and won the battle more times than not. Unfortunately, neither Vernon or JPP come close to Von Miller's abilities, so Collins will have to keep on his toes so to speak.

Von Miller's a different animal than Collins has faced as a pass rusher. Miller's able to play with strength, speed, and agility and you can bet he will be looking for a favorable matchup against the Cowboys. That could mean that Collins could be seeing Miller more than he would like to and he will have to be on the top of his game to keep the talented pass rusher at bay. The Cowboys may wait and see if Collins can hold his own, but it wouldn't hurt to get him a little help from time to time.

Dak Prescott

I'm hoping that last week was just a rarity we can chalk it up to early-season jitters, but Dak Prescott didn't quite look like himself early in the contest against the New York Giants. He was uncharacteristically inaccurate with a lot of his passes and missed a few chances for what should've been a sure fire touchdowns.

Prescott can't afford to miss those throws against the Broncos talented secondary. He is going to have to be at the top of his game, especially when he gets down the red zone. Walking away with a field-goal instead of a touchdown this week could cost the Cowboys the game. Fortunately, I think he will rebound after getting the first game of the season under his belt.

Cowboys' pass rushers

In all honesty, the Dallas Cowboys pass rush was pretty impressive against the New York Giants Sunday night. They continued to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and fluster QB Eli Manning the entire game, but everybody needs to step up their game this week against the Broncos.

The Denver Broncos have a better offensive line than what the New York Giants have patch worked together. It probably won't be easy for DeMarcus Lawrence and the rest of Rod Marinelli's "rush men" to get home this week. They are all going to have to dig deep and be relentless in their attack in order to hopefully force Trevor Siemian to a mistake or two.

Who do you think needs to step up against the Denver Broncos?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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29 Comments
  • Fatfan

    Speaking of pass rushers…will Charles Tapper’s sickle cell trait prohibit him from playing in Denver?

    • Brian Martin

      I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Charles Tapper has a sickle cell trait problem. He does have a pars defect in his back, maybe that’s what you were thinking about.

      • shane loshek

        he does have sct..and i was concerned about the same thing..i remember the announcers mentioning it when dallas drafted him and said “well at least i dont think he’ll be playing at mile high this year” do to the lack of oxygen

        • Brian Martin

          I’m sure that it’s something the Dallas Cowboys are aware of then. I’m sure they will have a plan for him to ensure his safety.

  • TreFKennedy88

    Hit the nail right on the head, I think Dez gets 100+ yards and we get the W, same way we feed zeke you gotta feed Dez

    • Brian Martin

      Getting Dez more involved just opens up things in the running game for Elliott and vice versa. Really need to get 88 more involved to keep opposing defenses honest and from stacking the box to stop the run.

      • TreFKennedy88

        Exactly Brian and would you believe the talking heads are trying to say Dez has “fell off” like they don’t know since Dez has been with us he’s never had a 100 yard game to start the season, Dez starts off slow to start the season. It really Erks my nerves but I’m just like wait, because by the end of the season X will have 90+ catches 1200-1500 yards and 12-18 touchdowns and even then they’ll still try to dismiss Dez. Matter fact it seems like any good player on our team “they” try to dismiss smh

        • Brian Martin

          The Dallas Cowboys have a popular brand, so anytime anybody gets a chance to link them to a story it makes it bigger. I’m not worried about Bryant. Defenses are going to pay him extra attention and that’s exactly what the Giants did. Janoris Jenkins didn’t limit Bryant alone. They always had a linebacker or safety shading in his direction

  • Hobbes49

    I agree with the things you said. I would say that the improved play we need to see from Dez and Dak go hand in hand. Dak gets that throw to Dez properly in the end zone against the Giants and both men’s stat’s look much improved. I would really like to see Dez run more crossing patterns in games, get him into some open space and let him go to work. I think Dak will be much more himself with the Giants monkey off his back. More relaxed, and I think back to what we saw last year and in the preseason this year. I thinks Lael’s tenacity will help carry him this week, although I am not averse to seeing James Hanna lining up on his side to help out at times. The improved play of the d-line I think is coming from the push we are seeing from Paea and Collins, freeing up some space for the edge rushers. D-Law is also primed for a huge season, which is nice to see. I expect the pressure to keep coming on Sunday. Chidobe is just going to continue to improve, but this is a tough matchup, hopefully he hangs in.

    • Brian Martin

      Hobbes49, I agree with everything you said. I would really like to see Dez Bryant get some of those crossing patterns that were successful for Terrance Williams last week. I think we all tend to forget how dangerous Bryant can be with the ball in his hands since we haven’t seen that from him in a few years.

    • TreFKennedy88

      Truth and as much as I like love Dez I really wish he’d work with Aj green or a route running guru to work on the routes he’s not really good at. On a scale of 1- jordy Nelson route running wise Dez is like 6-7 and we need him at 9-10 because his blocking is great, still a beast at jump balls but he needs to work on routes he’s not comfortable with.

  • bearlamberth

    How did Collins do against Miller in SEC competion

    • Brian Martin

      I believe Von Miller was before Collins’ time at LSU. I don’t think the two have ever squared off against one another before.

  • DevilDog58

    Another good article, Brian. I’m becoming a fan of yours. Denver’s a tough place to play and they have a good team. If we can pressure their QB I think we can force him into some turnovers, which might make the difference.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s always great to get positive feedback. I don’t even mind the negative feedback most of the time LOL. Yes, Denver is a tough place to play, but I think the Cowboys are a better team than the Chargers and they gave Denver all they could handle. I think it’ll be a close game, but I think the Cowboys will come out on top in the end.

      • DevilDog58

        I also think it will be a close game and although through many years (54 yrs as a fan, so yeah, I’m an old man) I’ve learned that I shouldn’t make predictions, of course I hope Dallas prevails. It’s a team sport but we haven’t had a leader at the QB position like Prescott since Aikman, so I like our chances.

        • Brian Martin

          I’m going to have to disagree with you a little bit here. It depends on what type of leader you’re talking about. Tony Romo was more of a leader behind the scenes/ leader by example. Prescott I think is a same way, but has found a way to get his team to rally behind him. I think Prescott will get better at it with time though.

          • DevilDog58

            Don’t get me wrong; I loved Tony as a player and later, as a leader. But Tony didn’t become the leader he finished as until he’d been our QB for a few seasons. If you think back earlier in his career, he didn’t audible out of a lot of the plays he ran. Once he started doing that was when he really showed he was the team leader. This was as he got older. He and Witten struck me as more of a “leadership by example” type players. Witten was also not a “rah rah” type of guy. But as he’s aged as a player and a person I think he’s also become more vocal. I wanted Tony to win a SB just because of what he did for Dallas and the brutal beatings he took behind some poor O Lines. It’s hard to put in words but Dak is a special, special player. He just has that “it” as they say about movie stars. Talented, great work ethic and intangibles plus a good person. He reminds me of my teenage idol, Roger Staubach. Sorry my posts are so long, Bro.

          • Brian Martin

            I’ll agree with you there. It took a while for Romo to become the kind of leader Prescott is right now. There are so many intangibles to think about why one may have taken charge earlier than the other, but that would certainly be an interesting debate. And, don’t worry about your comments being too long. That’s what the comment section is for

          • E Deplorabus Unum

            Honestly, I think the locker room rallied around Dak so much because the expectations were they would have another 4-12 season without Romo. And then Dak not only played well but none of it was too much for him. You have to be proud of the guy and if he’s a teammate, he’s a hero to you as everyone had great stats last year. A bad QB makes every player on the team look poor often.

          • Brian Martin

            Prescott was definitely thrust into a leadership role. How he performed his rookie season I think pretty much shocked everyone including his teammates, which brought everybody together. They rallied around him and believed in him. If Tony Romo wouldn’t have handled things like he did, it probably would’ve split the locker room. I give a lot of credit to Romo and Prescott for they seamlessly way that things went down between the two.

          • DevilDog58

            Yeah, I agree with you there, E. I had serious doubts whether Tony would have made it through the season. I think the only person who believed he would was Jerry. Of course, Jerry is loyal to a fault (and sometimes to the detriment of the team). Too bad he couldn’t figure out a way to keep DeMarcus Ware, which I think he wanted to do badly. But I digress; QB is the most important position on the Offense, if not the team. He’s the only person who touches the ball on basically every play. So many people blamed Romo for various loses through the years but they fail to realize that without him we never would have even been in those games to begin with. I’m definitely optimistic for our future. As the Joneses and our coaches and player personnel people continue to build a great roster, I believe Dakota Prescott and the Offense will excel.

        • E Deplorabus Unum

          The day Romo beat the snot out of the 49ers with broken ribs, and I think he played injured vs the Jets that year too? I think it was 2011 and from that moment, I never had issues with Romo. The last 5 years of his career (where he actually played) were phenomenal.

          • Brian Martin

            The Dallas Cowboys never really gave a lot of help to Tony Romo during his career as a Cowboy. I have always been a big fan of his and I think he will probably always be underrated for what he did for the organization.

          • TreFKennedy88

            Jerry wasted his career Brian, when the o line literally collapsed against the Vikings in the divisional round of the 09-2010 playoffs we should have started rebuilding it than. I’ve never seen an oline literally lose like 2-3 pieces in one game, to think Romo did everything within his power to get us back to glory yet his biggest part in helping us required his career pretty much to ignite the spark for the next generation of cowboys.

  • Colston Ballew

    The chargers had 4 sacks and denver’s o line got banged up last game. I see the D line having a big game again.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys DL was certainly impressive against the Giants last week. I’m hoping they can carry that momentum into this week against the Broncos. It will certainly help the entire defense, but hopefully also cause the QB to make a mistake or two.

  • Javier Enrique Zetina Pinelo

    definitivamente debe presionar la linea defensiva si desean el triunfo y del lado ofensivo es preocupante la baja de juego y la perdida de dominar el juego de dez brayant convirtiendose en un receptor mas del monton

  • Rodney Simpson

    Hello Brian that was great read and I agree on all points anyway I have a question. I think this game will come down to coaching and we have a edge. But I would like to know what is Mike McCoy’s record against a Rod Marinelli defense ? This is going to be a big part of what Trevor will be able to do in this game.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue

The fallout from Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday remains to be seen. Whether or not it costs him a roster spot is hard to say, but a suspension is likely. Whatever the case, veteran Deonte Thompson stands to be the biggest beneficiary of Terrance's issues.

Signed last March to a minimal one-year, $1.8 million contract, Thompson is a 29-year-old late bloomer who only last season got some notice in Buffalo. Given the limitations of the Bills' passing game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Dallas clearly hopes that Deonte could do more with a more traditional offense and passer.

The Cowboys acquisition of Thompson was quickly overshadowed after they picked up Allen Hurns just a few weeks later. Deonte was actually signed just a couple of days after Hurns' release from Jacksonville, so it's fair to question if Dallas would have even signed him if they'd already picked up Hurns.

Even with Dez Bryant's release, the depth chart still didn't look good for Thompson. He was clearly behind Hurns and Cole Beasley and was likely battling with Terrance Williams for targets. Once the team drafted Michael Gallup in the third round, things looked even worse for the veteran.

Deonte Thompson

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson

But now, if Williams is going to miss time or be gone completely, Deonte Thompson could find himself with a big role to start the year.

While Gallup is exciting, he's also a rookie. Thompson has been a starter the last few years and played in a few different systems. Dallas may lean on his experience early if Terrance is gone either temporarily or permanently.

One reason the Cowboys brought Deonte in was for speed, and that value doesn't change regardless of who else is on the roster. Essentially, Thompson is the new Brice Butler; intriguing qualities but just no consistent production at other stops.

If Deonte can do more with what Dallas throws him than Butler did, he might carve out a steady role. Brice always seemed to follow up his big plays with blunders, never gaining any real momentum during his time as a Cowboy.

Before Williams' arrest, there was a legitimate question as to whether or not Thompson would even make the 2018 roster. If younger prospects like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir made noise, perhaps Dallas would've just let the 29-year-old walk.

But with Terrance's availability now the big question, Thompson's experience becomes vastly more important. It could mean a big early role in 2018.

Depending on what he does with his opportunity, Deonte Thompson could've gone from an offseason afterthought to a major part of the team's success.


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Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?

Sean Martin

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Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?

This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.

Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.

Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.

It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.

Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.

New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.

Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.

As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.

Tell us what you think about "Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams Arrest: Salary Cap Impact if Released

Jess Haynie

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3 Current Starters Cowboys' Fans Hate, But Shouldn't 1

The news of Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday sent a shockwave through an otherwise quiet mid-May news cycle. Many fans are wondering what the team might do, and what effect the decision could have on Dallas' salary cap.

Unfortunately, moving on from Terrance won't bring the team any cap relief. But given their current cap space and where we are in the offseason, the Cowboys should have the freedom to cut the receiver if they choose to.

Depending on who you ask (OverTheCap, Spotrac), the Cowboys have somewhere between $5-$9 million in current cap room. If they release Williams before June 1st, his cap hit accelerates from $4.75 million to $7.25 million in dead money. That means he counts $2.5 million more off the team than on it.

If Terrance is cut on June 1st on later, the 2018 dead money is $4.75 million for a net-zero wash. That extra $2.5 million counts against 2019.

While that may sound cost-prohibitive on the surface, you have to remember where we are in the offseason.  May is very different from March when you're talking about cap space.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Free agency is essentially over. The Cowboys don't need to worry too much about their 2018 cap room at this point, so they can absorb Williams' dead money if they want to cut him loose.

Helping matters should be the eventual new contracts for Guard Zack Martin and Defense End DeMarcus Lawrence.

Martin's 2018 cap hit is currently around $9 million. Once he signs his new long-term deal, which is almost sure to come before training camp, that number should go down significantly. Dallas can do an immediate Year One restructure and potentially create around $6 million in cap space.

That alone would facilitate cutting Terrance Williams, but then they also have the hopeful new deal for Lawrence. The $17 million that Lawrence currently counts as a franchised player will go way down with a long-term contract. If Dallas can get that done, they may not have to touch Martin's deal.

The point here is that while cutting Williams is not a financially beneficial move, the money shouldn't stop the Cowboys if they don't want him around anymore.

If Terrance has proven anything during his five years in Dallas, it's that he doesn't have the talent to step into a primary role. With new arrival Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley both showing they can produce at a high level at times, plus exciting rookie Michael Gallup now in the mix, the Cowboys' season hardly relies on Williams' presence.

Of course, the Cowboys have a history of sticking by their guys during times of personal problems. Josh Brent did way worse than Terrance and remained supported by the organization.

But each situation and player are different, and the coaches may have already soured on Williams after a lackluster 2017. They may have only kept him because of those cap numbers we discussed before.

Terrance's latest dropped ball may have been the final straw, though. If so, the salary cap shouldn't stop Dallas from cutting him.


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