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Dallas Cowboys

5 Under-The-Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge In 2016



Cowboys Headlines - 7 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016

While the Cowboys have gotten a ton of flack for their lack of free agent additions, there are several current members of the team that can really help them in 2016. And while new players help, player development is key for year to year improvement.

There are 2 key components to getting the most out of these players:

  1. Figuring out a player’s role so that you can maximize what you get out of them
  2. The player putting in the necessary work both mentally and physically to come back better than they were before

Some of these players will be thrust into bigger roles and others may just need to be given a chance.

Wide Receiver, Brice Butler

Cowboys Headlines - 7 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016 1

Brice Butler needs to develop a rapport with Tony Romo, but if he does I think he can be a huge piece of the offense in 2016, possibly pushing Terrance Williams down the ranks

When the Cowboys traded for Butler a lot of people were wondering who the player was.

Butler is a freak athlete with the kind of size necessary to play outside wide receiver. He also brings a speed element that this team is so desperate for.

He battled injury after coming to the Cowboys, but when healthy he really flashed in an offense that lacked flash in a big way when led by Matt Cassel.

The intriguing thing is that Butler screams of a guy that Tony Romo can turn into something special. Like Romo did for guys like Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson, Butler seems like a guy who I can see becoming the key number 2 wide receiver for this team.

Seeing Butler work with Romo is one of the things I am most looking forward to for next season.

Defensive Tackle, David Irving

Cowboys Headlines - 7 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016 4

David Irving has the tools to really develop. You can’t teach his combination of size and athleticism

This one can also be huge for the Cowboys and unlike Ryan Russell, we have actually seen flashes from him in games during the 2015 season. The Cowboys poached Irving off of the Chiefs practice squad after their week 3 game versus the Atlanta Falcons.

Irving flashed several times throughout the season by being a real nuisance for opposing teams when on the field. His size and athleticism are particularly noteworthy as he stands 6’7″ tall and ran a 4.84 40-yard-dash with a 1.69 10-yard-split, which is really good.

David Irving didn’t play a single game at Iowa State during the 2014 season prior to being drafted. Irving was dismissed from the team after committing fifth-degree theft, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief. He was also suspended for a game in 2013 for domestic assault, charges that were later dismissed.

Irving’s off the field concerns are what led to him going undrafted. The one critique of him from a football standpoint was that he lacked the bulk to play as an interior defensive lineman. In his time with the Cowboys he has used his length and athleticism to make plays both as an interior defensive lineman and off the edge.

Defensive End, Ryan Russell

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Ryan Russell hopes to return to his 2012 form and if you believe him, he says on Twitter he can’t wait to show how much he’s developed

Perhaps the most important player on this list, Russell will have to play a much bigger role in 2016 than he did in 2015.

It is no secret that the Cowboys value Russell’s talent. Throughout training camp Rod Marinelli really ripped into Russell. It became obvious that Marinelli was being extremely hard on him and you have to think that is because he really sees something there.

Russell flashed in college when used as a 4-3 defensive end. When they changed schemes at Purdue that is where Russell’s stock fell, but not far enough for him to last past the fifth round where the Cowboys took him.

When watching 2012 Purdue film several scouts noted how Russell caught their attention while watching Kawann Short and Ryan Kerrigan on that same line who are now stars on the NFL level.

If Rod Marinelli can get Russell back to his form from 2012, back at defensive end, he can play a major role at the thinnest position on the Cowboys roster.

Wide Receiver/Returner, Lucky Whitehead

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016 1

The Cowboys need to find a bigger role for Lucky Whitehead. Plain and simple. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands

It took a while for the Cowboys to completely trust Whitehead to return punts. Once he was given the chance he made a real impact back there. He was also used a lot more on offense in a role similar to how Dwayne Harris was used. Whitehead was used primarily for jet sweeps, sometimes taking the ball on a hand off and other times just as a decoy.

Where I think you can really get something out of Whitehead going forward is by actually using him as a receiver instead of making him strictly a gadget player.

While there is a lot you can get out of him by faking hand-offs or actually letting him run the ball, I’d like them to let him go out for passes, particularly the deep pass. Whitehead can be used for screens as well, but I think it is fairly obvious that when the ball is in his hands he can make big plays.

Linebacker, Damien Wilson

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Damien Wilson showed tons of potential in college and can develop into a higher ceiling version of the Anthony Hitchens role

We didn’t get to see much of Wilson throughout the season. He is probably most known for being the guy that was burned by C.J. Spiller in overtime against the New Orleans Saints.

However, Wilson is a really talented player that I’d love to see get a chance for some playing time.

Wilson seems most like a weak-side linebacker and Sean Lee has that locked down, but he can also play some middle linebacker if necessary.

I in no way want to see a situation where Wilson has to get a large portion of snaps, but I’d also like to see him take a step from year one to year two. If Wilson can take that step, I’d feel really good knowing behind Sean Lee at Will and Rolando McClain at Mike, I’d have Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens.

5 Cowboys With Huge Potential In 2016

With the exception of Brice Butler, these are all going to be second year players. As I have laid out before, the Cowboys of late have had a real issue drafting or developing players taken after the second-third round.

With the development of these young and talented players, these can turn into at worst good role players. With real development both from the coaching staff and the players themselves, these can be players who play major roles for this team in 2016.

David Irving and Ryan Russell may come with more expectation than the others due to the need at the position. The Cowboys may actually be counting on them to be major players in 2016 and they obviously know much more than the public about where these players are in their development.

The fact of the matter is that these are all players that have the potential to become something in this league. Will the coaching staff find a way to make it work? Will the players do what is necessary to take themselves to the next level?


I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content. I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!

Dallas Cowboys

Can Cowboys Trust Guard Jonathan Cooper in 2018?

Jess Haynie



Jonathan Cooper

One of the big decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 offseason is at left guard. Veteran Jonathan Cooper started 13 games last year and is now a free agent. Should Dallas bring Cooper back, or should they look elsewhere for next season’s starter?

With a lot of money already being spent on the rest of the starting offensive line, the Cowboys need a bargain at left guard. They didn’t re-sign Ronald Leary in 2017 for that very reason, hoping Cooper or Chaz Green would be able to handle the job for a fraction of what Leary got from the Denver Broncos.

Cooper took over for Green in Week 4 and held the job the rest of the season. The Cowboys rushing attack remained one of the league’s best, even performing well later in the year when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. It looked like Jonathan could become part of future plans.

However, in Week 17, Cooper went out of the game with a knee injury. It thankfully wasn’t serious and he is expected to be ready for 2018. However, it was a reminder of the injury-plagued past that has caused the former first-round pick so much trouble.

Jonathan Cooper

Dallas Cowboys Guard Jonathan Cooper

Taken seventh overall in 2013 by the Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Cooper was one of the true blue-chip guard prospects in recent draft history. He seemed like a can’t-miss pick, and interior linemen don’t often go that high in the draft. The Cowboys have even said they coveted Cooper in that class.

But constant battles with injuries caused Cooper to be traded, released, and discarded by the Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns over his first four seasons. While 2017 was looking like a turning point for him, Jonathan’s injury in the season finale was a sobering reminder of why he’s become a bargain-bin player.

Still, at just 28-years-old, Cooper has good years left and will now have another offseason for continuity and chemistry development with the Cowboys.

Dallas should have to pay more than a few million to keep Cooper on the roster.

If Dallas is leery (no pun intended) of Cooper, they will have options. La’el Collins could move back to the guard position, allowing the Cowboys to go find either the best guard or tackle who would fit with their existing group.

Given so many other considerations this offseason, Dallas will likely try to simplify things by giving Jonathan Cooper another chance. His history is a red flag, but sometimes you have to take those gambles and save salary cap space to handle other needs.


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Player News

Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie



Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.


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