The Dallas Cowboys have to be pretty happy with the way things have gone through the first five weeks of the 2016 season.
They are sitting atop the NFC East division with a 4-1 winning record and have done so despite the fact they are battling through numerous injuries to key players on both sides of the ball.
It's no secret that the Cowboys have a talented roster, but there have been some unexpected players that have stepped up and filled larger roles this year. This is been a big reason why they have gained national recognition and look to be a team to be reckoned with from here on out.
I thought it would be a good idea to identify some of the individuals that are responsible for helping the Dallas Cowboys get off to such a good start so far.
Below are six of the players that have unexpectedly become individually dominating members of the team so far in 2016.
No one could've possibly predicted that Dak Prescott not only start the 2016 season as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, but perform as well as he has for the first five games of the year.
Prescott has unexpectedly led the Cowboys banged up offense to a 4-1 winning record and has done so in a dominating fashion.
#4 has yet to throw an interception and his loan turnover for the season was a fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has thrown for 1,239 passing yards and four touchdowns, rushed for three touchdowns, and has an overall passer rating of 101.5.
Dak Prescott has performed so well in fact, that a lot of people are wondering whether or not he should remain the starting QB once Tony Romo is 100% healthy.
Okay, being the fourth overall draft pick and performing up to one's draft status might not fall into the category of being unexpected. But, who could have guessed Ezekiel Elliott completely dominate defenses like he has so far?
Elliott got out to a slow start, but as become more and more dominant with each game he plays.
To date, he is the leading rusher in the NFL with 546 rushing yards on 109 carries and has scored five TDs.
FEED THE MAN!
If he can keep up this pace he should shatter all kind of records for a rookie RB and help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs.
I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to see Morris Claiborne finally playing up to his potential. I was a big fan of the selection when the Dallas Cowboys traded up to draft him, but injuries have negatively impacted his career in the NFL.
Claiborne has been one of best cornerbacks in the NFL and has pretty much shut down any wide receiver he has been asked to cover through the first five weeks of the 2016 season.
If Claiborne can remain healthy, he will not only help the backend of the Cowboys defense, but could possibly earn his first Pro Bowl appearance.
A lot of you still might not really know who Anthony Brown is, but he has not only stepped in for an injured Orlando Scandrick, but done so without the defense missing a step.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Brown in the sixth round of this year's draft. They have found a player that has unexpectedly had to step into a larger role than initially anticipated, and has been impressive doing so.
Brown has been asked to cover the opponents slot receiver and so far has been up to the task. He has done an excellent job at arguably one of the most difficult positions on defense.
I encourage you to watch #30 next time he's on the field. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Before the season started not many people even thought that Terrell McClain would even be a member of the Dallas Cowboys when the 53 man roster was finalized, but I'm sure we are all glad that wasn't the case.
McClain has earned the right to start in the middle of the Cowboys defensive line over Cedric Thornton, who was the big-money free agent signing during the off-season.
He has arguably been the most dominating/consistent player the Dallas Cowboys have on that side of the ball and he is making plays in both the passing and running game.
Injuries have limited his playing time in Dallas, but if he can stay healthy this year, he can be an impact player.
If someone would've told you before the season started that Cole Beasley would be the best Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, what would you have said?
Upon learning that Dak Prescott would be the starting QB to start the season, I predicted that Beasley would benefit the most, but I never imagined how much.
Beasley has become Prescott's go to WR and he is on pace to double his catches and receiving yards from any of his previous seasons in the NFL.
#11 may be one of the smaller wide receivers in the league, but that doesn't mean his impact on the field isn't gigantic.
What do you think?
Let me hear your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below so that we can further discuss this topic.
Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?
While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?
Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.
Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.
With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.
But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.
Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.
Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.
But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.
Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.
How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.
There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.
But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.
For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall
That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.
BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year
For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.
Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.
Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.
In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.
Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.
The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.
Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out
The Dallas Cowboys are back in offseason mode, concluding their OTAs and minicamp from The Star. With a hiatus until training camp, it was important for several high-profile players to make a strong first impression on the 2018 season. From the start of mini camp, these impressions were left mostly by Rod Marinelli's defense and -- more specifically -- Kris Richard's young group of cornerbacks.
Still working through significant change on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys did rally on day three under Quarterback Dak Prescott to put out a better performance. The Cowboys coaching staff should love their lasting memories of both FA acquisition Wide Receiver Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup.
There is a strong chance that these two receivers will be the Cowboys starters in Oxnard for training camp. We have heard a lot about the impact new WR Coach Sanjay Lal has had on his group, slowing the game down to focus on route running. This will give the team's rotation of unproven receivers a chance with Prescott, as he can focus on throwing to a 'spot' more often.
One spot that Prescott has struggled to hit in two seasons as the starter in Dallas is the back of the end zone for fade routes. A red zone go-to under Scott Linehan, free agent WR Dez Bryant was often the intended target on these missed passes.
Less of a route running technician and closer to the mold of a physical player like Bryant, Allen Hurns emerging as the Cowboys #1 option would solve a lot of uncertainty at the WR position. In yesterday's practice, Hurns was able to haul in a perfect ball from Prescott on the fade as he beat Byron Jones.
It's going to take some time for Jones to readjust to playing cornerback, but the vision for Kris Richard of him and Chidobe Awuzie starting on the outside is a great one. In a battle of proven players, Hurns got the best of Jones to spark the Cowboys offense at the right time.
Overall, there should be no reason to panic about (well, really anything from mini camp) the Cowboys offense right now, and plenty of reasons to be excited about what this defense will develop into.
Once the pads come on at training camp, the players the Cowboys are paying to play at an elite level will start to shine, including their newly re-signed Guard Zack Martin -- the highest paid guard in the league now. There are no doubts that the bread and butter for this offense will be handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott behind this wall of an offensive line.
From this increase in competition in the trenches, we'll also get more meaningful battles along the defensive line. In shorts and helmets for now, the Cowboys secondary was given their chance at mini camp, and came out solid early.
Another player they've struggled to truly corral though is Michael Gallup. Perhaps pressing a bit thanks to his limited opportunities thus far, Jourdan Lewis was taken across the field by Gallup on a misfire from Cooper Rush.
This is nothing new for Gallup however, who's been ahead of the curve on creating the desired separation as a "violent" receiver on the outside.
A steal with the 81st overall pick in this year's draft, Gallup has a long way to go in beating out the likes of Terrance Williams, Cedrick Wilson (limited through this portion of the offseason with injuries), and even Cole Beasley, who's received some reps on the outside.
With both Hurns and Gallup making plays on the Cowboys final practice until late July, it's easy to let the mind wander with possibilities of the Cowboys offense playing at full strength against a defense that might be up for the challenge better than ever compared to year's past.
As always, the practice fields of Oxnard will serve as a battle ground for a young but deep Cowboys team to earn their spots on the 53-man roster, one that surely won't have room for all of the wide receiver hopefuls seen this week in mini camp.
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