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5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition

The countdown for Thanksgiving is underway, and in case you didn't know or might have forgotten, the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins while the majority of us are sitting down to eat with our families.

I was thinking about Thanksgiving and some of the traditions that families share during this holiday, which led me to the idea of compiling a list of things I'm thankful for in regards to the Dallas Cowboys. Whether it is a good idea or not, has yet to be seen.

In all honesty, my family has never been one of those that go around the table and share what we are thankful for, but maybe yours is. It's always felt like it was a little bit forced to me.

I'm sure we can all agree that sending it 9-1 is something to be grateful for, but below are five other things I'm thankful for this season for the Dallas Cowboys. I hope you enjoy.

A dominant offensive line

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition 1

(AP Photo/James D Smith)

The Dallas Cowboys have The Best offensive line in the entire NFL. That's not an opinion, that is a fact.

Jerry Jones had never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft before drafting Tyron Smith, but I think we're all glad that particular trend ended.

Smith was the first, followed by Travis Frederick, and then Zack Martin. All three of these offensive lineman not only anchor the best unit in the league, but are arguably the best players at their positions.

This season they are responsible for opening up the running lanes for the league's leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott, and have also had the privilege of giving rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, all the time he needs to throw the ball.

Honestly, I don't know what more you could ask of this unit.

The 2016 draft class

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition 2Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but the Dallas Cowboys 2016 draft class is already shaping up to be one of the best the team has had in probably a decade.

Ezekiel Elliott is the league's leading rusher and has made just about everybody forget who the Cowboys could've drafted #4 overall instead.

It was pretty much pure luck the way things fell into place for Dak Prescott, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys have found their future signal caller for years to come, and in the fourth round surprisingly enough.

Cornerback Anthony Brown and defensive tackle Maliek Collins also look to be future starters for the Cowboys the way they have filled in and played so far this season.

These players alone would be reason enough to celebrate, but it looks as if Jaylon Smith is on the road to recovery. Smith probably would've been a top five pick in the draft if not for his knee injury.

Anything else they get from Charles Tapper or Kavon Frazier would be an added bonus.

Will McClay

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition 3Do you want to know why the Dallas Cowboys have been so good at putting together a competitive roster these past few seasons? Look no further than the man behind the scenes, Will McClay.

McClay might not hold the official title of general manager with the Cowboys, but he is the meticulously detailed person behind the scenes that makes sure the draft board and scouting department are on the same page when evaluating these potential prospects.

McClay's work has been noticed around the league and has already earned him job offers to become the general manager for several different organizations. Fortunately, he has turned those down to remain with the Dallas Cowboys.

It may just be a matter of time until he is offered a job he can't turn down, but you can bet that the Cowboys are thankful for the work he has put in.

Tony Romo

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition 4Tony Romo might not have played in any of the regular-season games this season, but he is still a big reason why this team is 9-1.

Romo took on a mentor role with Dak Prescott while rehabbing from his back injury and I think Prescott will be the first to tell you how much it has helped with his preparation/development.

Romo is a team first guy and did everything in his power to help Prescott prepare week in and week out, but probably helped the organization the most by not becoming a distraction and stepping aside for the rookie QB.

I don't know about you, but I am thankful with the way Romo handled this entire situation. He could have handled this an entirely different way, but decided to swallow his pride and do what's best for the entire team.

You hate to see this be the way Tony Romo's time ends with the Cowboys, but unfortunately that's just the nature of the NFL.

Rod Marinelli

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Things To Be Thankful For: Dallas Cowboys Edition 5Rod Marinelli might just be the unsung hero for the success the Dallas Cowboys are having so far this season.

Marinelli has pretty much taken a group of unknown players and turned them into a unit that has surpassed anyone expectations.

Sean Lee is the only Pro Bowl player on the defense for the Cowboys, but even he can't carry the team by himself.

To date, the Cowboys defense has yet to allow a 100 yard rusher and has only allowed one 100 yard receiver (Antonio Brown). That's an impressive feat for any defense in the NFL, especially for a group of guys that are not really household names.

I'm sure we can all be thankful for how Rod Marinelli has been able to get this defense to bend and not break so far this season. Let's just hope that he can continue getting these same kind of results from his players.

What are you thankful for?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share what you are thankful for so far this season in regards to the Dallas Cowboys.



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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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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Cedrick Wilson: Cowboys WR Could Shine After a Year Off

Matthew Lenix

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Cedrick Wilson could shine after a year off

The departure of Cole Beasley to Buffalo via free agency in March left a hole at the slot receiver position in Dallas. The team signed veteran Randall Cobb about a week later, but only to a one year deal. Names like Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns along with Cobb are looked at as the replacement for Beasley but don't forget about Cedrick Wilson.

Selected in the sixth round in 2018, Wilson was coming off an impressive and highly productive two-year career at Boise State. Tallying 139 receptions for 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 26 games.

When OTA's began last season, the rookie was already turning heads with his route running, ability to create separation and athleticism, but unfortunately, disaster happened not long afterward. Wilson would suffer a shoulder injury that placed him on injured reserve for 2018, the same shoulder he had issues with in college. A not so fairy tale beginning to an NFL career.

Although his time on the field was short-lived last summer, he definitely caught the eye of wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.

"Ced's a savvy, smart football player. He picks things up really well. He applies them to the field. In terms of technique, he's one of the best if you watch him. His stance and start is really good. He comes off the ball with low pad level. He's eating up ground and then has a nack to make a big play over the top on a big post," Lal said.

Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb make up a very formidable receiving core, and adding a healthy Wilson to that could work wonders. His experience on the outside and the slot gives offensive coordinator Kellen Moore plenty of options. Slot receivers are usually harder to bump off the line with the extra few yards of cushion they get, giving them more options route wise seeing as they can go inside or out a lot easier than outside receivers. That's where Wilson's supreme route running can come into play. Also, with his ability to separate on the outside and beat corners deep, you can play him opposite Amari Cooper and put Cobb in the slot with a combination of either Gallup, Austin or Hurns in a four-wide receiver set, the possibilities are endless.

A setback can be a blessing in disguise if approached in the right manner. Wilson hasn't let the year off derail his focus on what he's trying to do in Dallas.

"Coming back off the rehab was tough in general. But definitely a year of just seeing how everything goes, the speed is definitely slowing down. Just getting back in the playbook and learning from older guys of what I need to do and doing what the coaches expect of me," Wilson said.

The competition won't be easy for Wilson, though, as other young up and coming receivers are fighting for roster spots as well. UDFA's (Undrafted Free Agents) Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton will also be fighting for snaps during mini-camp, with the former already making waves during OTA's. Reggie Davis has also turned a few heads in the summer, a fellow UDFA himself trying to find a home after bouncing around the league between four different teams since 2017.

It's all about health for Cedrick Wilson at this point. Can his shoulder hold up enough to allow his skill set to make a contribution to the Cowboys in 2019? The talent is there, along with the praises of his position coach, now it'll be interesting to see if this potential diamond in the rough can shine under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium.



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