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A Look Around The NFC East: Week 1

Kevin Brady

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Could Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?

Each year the NFC East seems like a crapshoot. A seemingly always competitive division that has not had a repeat winner in over a decade, most actually expect the NFC East to be a one-team show in 2018.

That team, of course, is the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles went 5-1 in the division a year ago, with their only loss being a meaningless one to the Cowboys to close out the regular season.

Now all four teams enter the season hoping to build on offseasons each feel confident about. Let's look around the division and see what the Cowboys' biggest rivals will be up to on Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

Well, speaking of the Eagles, they're already off to a 1-0 start after an opening night home victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta did their best to ruin ring-night for the champions, but could not execute in the red zone whatsoever. While they seemed to tally a lot of yards and move the ball between the 20's effectively, they were only able to net 12 points in the loss.

Philly now sits atop the division one game in, looking down at the rest of their competition as they did a year ago. Next week, the Eagles will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers, and a 2-0 start feels likely for Philadelphia.

New York Giants

Unlike the Eagles, the Giants will be in action on Sunday. New York opens up the season at home against one of the AFC's elite in the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After drafting Saqoun Barkley and signing Odell Beckham to a massive contract, many expect the Giants offense to look as explosive as ever. Their offensive line is still a massive question mark, however, as is their defense.

The Giants don't have much of a pass rush on defense, and feature some suspect linebackers. Outside of Janoris Jenkins it's tough to feel confident in their cornerback group either. Jacksonville is favored in this game by 3 points despite being on the road, as the Giants are receiving a lack of respect from Vegas.

And, to be honest, this line feels deserved.

Washington Redskins

Outside of the Dallas Cowboys, no team in the NFC East had as much change to their offense than did the Washington Redskins. Allowing Kirk Cousins to walk to Minnesota in free agency, Washington decided to trade for former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to replace him.

Smith has had a ton of regular season success throughout his career, but has fallen short in the playoffs every time. It's possible that a new look in Washington will help him, but he won't have nearly the offensive firepower he did in Kansas City.

The Redskins open up the 2018 season on the road Sunday, taking on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have one of the lowest over/under win totals in the entire league (5.5 wins), and are expected be one of the bottom teams in the NFL.

Despite this, Washington is actually the underdog on the road this week, with their betting line placed at +1.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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WR Tavon Austin Named Veteran “Most Likely To Be Cut”

Kevin Brady

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Who Will be Cowboys' Main Punt Returner in 2019, Tavon Austin?

The Dallas Cowboys spent the 2019 offseason looking to add new dimensions to their offense.

They went out and signed Randall Cobb, the veteran receiver who made his name in the slot for the Green Bay Packers. They then drafted Memphis running back Tony Pollard in the fourth round to add a versatile weapon to their offensive backfield.

They also promoted quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator, hoping he can bring a fresh perspective to an offense many labeled stale over the course of 2018.

All of these changes could leave members of that "stale" 2018 offense in the dust, and Todd Archer believes wide receiver Tavon Austin could be one of those casualties.

Veterans who could be cut by each of the NFL's 32 teams

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Richie Incognito are new to their teams, but will they still be there on opening day? Can Pittsburgh Steelers corner Artie Burns stay out of the doghouse and fight his way back up the depth chart?

Archer named Tavon Austin the veteran most likely to be cut by the Cowboys, and roster math does somewhat point to this prediction coming true. If the Cowboys were to only take 5 receivers, as ESPN is suggesting in their latest roster projection, then it's hard to see a perfect spot for Austin.

Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are complete locks. Randall Cobb is about as close to a lock as you can imagine. That leaves two spots for a lot of talented players, including Austin, Noah Brown, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, and Cedrick Wilson.

It's certainly possible, and more than likely, that the Cowboys go with more than just 5 receivers however. This way they can keep a young hopeful like Wilson around while still maintaining the explosiveness that Tavon Austin can bring them in 2019.

Of course, the Cowboys are not afraid to cut veterans. Just last year we saw Dan Bailey get the axe after training camp, and Dez Bryant get released prior to any offseason activity even began. Tavon Austin is still of cheap value to Dallas, however, and when healthy he was an impressive weapon both on offense and special teams in 2018.

I actually do expect Tavon Austin to survive final cuts in Dallas, mostly because I anticipate they keep more than just 5 receivers on the roster.



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Cowboys Twitter Tuesday: Addressing the 2019 53-Man Roster

John Williams

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

For the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL, and the NFL fanbase, the waiting game for the start of training camp has begun. As Tom Petty says, "the waiting is the hardest part." The Dallas Cowboys go open training camp in about five weeks. The first preseason game is 53 days away and week one is less than three months away at this point. It's so close we can taste it.

Each week, I'll gather questions from you the Cowboys Nation community. Each week, we'll hone in on a specific topic based on your questions. So whether it's roster related, salary cap focused, or you have a fantasy football question, don't hesitate to send it to me on Twitter.

This week, we're going to take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster.

jesus flores on Twitter

@john9williams Who contributed to last year's team that won't make this year's team?

The 53-man roster will be one of the more debated topics over the next couple of months as the Dallas Cowboys get ready for training camp and the preseason. Every year there are surprises and we should expect the same this year. The Dallas Cowboys have incredible depth through the roster and so there will be at least one name that doesn't make the final 53-man roster who had an impact in 2018.

To answer Jesus' question, I think the easy answer is one of the wide receivers be it Noah Brown, Allen Hurns, or Tavon Austin. This might be a hot take, but I'm going to go a different direction and say guard Xavier Su'a-Filo.

In 2018, Su'a-Filo started eight games for the Dallas Cowboys and though he started out strong for them midseason, his play tailed off before he was injured allowing Connor Williams to regain his starting spot at left guard. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff loves position flexibility, especially along the offensive line. Su'a-Filo, though he's a solid backup guard option, doesn't have the ability to play multiple positions along the line like his teammates.

Connor Williams can play guard and tackle. Connor McGovern will get snaps at guard and center, and to hear him talk, he can play tackle as well, though that's probably a bit of a stretch. Joe Looney, the Dallas Cowboys starting center for 2018, has the ability to flex out to guard if you need him to.

Because the Dallas Cowboys will have difficult decisions to make at wide receiver and defensive line, they can afford to go light along the offensive line because of the flexibility of players like Williams, Looney, and McGovern.

Tommy on Twitter

@john9williams #CowboysQuestions do we extend Dak before game #1? How many WRs on 53?

I'm gonna leave the Dak Prescott question for another day and address the wide receiver question as several people asked about that position group in particular.

The wide receiver group is a really deep group. With Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Allen Hurns, it features three guys who've had at least one 1,000 yard season in their career. Michael Gallup is an ascending player. Tavon Austin is a really nice punt returner and offensive puzzle piece that can take the top off the defense with his downfield speed. I think four of those five are locks to make the roster.

According to Jeff Cavanaugh from 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, the team really likes Allen Hurns and his ability to play inside and outside in the formation. He's solid veteran depth at a low cost.

Then if you include Noah Brown's ability as a receiver and as a blocker, I think you have a very versatile and dangerous group in the passing game. Though the coaches really like Brown's ability to block in the run game, if they don't use him in the passing game, it tips their hand to the defense that the team is going to run. If they're going to keep him on the roster, they have to use him. It's a waste otherwise.

Brown and Hurns to me are on the roster bubble at wide receiver. Talented players like Cedric Wilson, Devin Smith, Jon'vea Johnson, Jalen Guyton, and Reggie Davis have all stood out at one point in time or another during OTAs and minicamp and will make the decision difficult for the coaching staff.

In my most recent roster projection, I had the Dallas Cowboys keeping six wide receivers; Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Being a team on the verge of contending for a Super Bowl, I think they go with veterans who can help them win now.

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That'll do it for this week's edition. Make sure to get your questions in via Twitter, or you can leave them in the comment section for next week's post. Also, don't forget to check out Inside The Star's newest podcast, Cowboys Weekly featuring Managing Editor Bryson Treece and Senior Writer Jess Haynie.



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Does Darius Jackson Have A “Puncher’s Chance” Of Landing On Final Roster?

Kevin Brady

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Darius Jackson, Bengals

Remember Darius Jackson?

The sixth round running back was an instant fan favorite of Cowboys Nation, as the fanbase hoped Dallas had found the explosive RB2 behind Ezekiel Elliott they needed in the very same draft. Jackson, however, had an up-and-down preseason in 2016 and ended up being waived from the team to make room for Darren McFadden later in the year.

Jackson has bounced around the league a bit since then, joining both the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers at different points. He's back with the Cowboys, however, looking to fight his way onto the team's final roster.

But does the fourth year running back have more than a puncher's chance to do so?

The Cowboys spent much of the 2019 NFL Draft rebuilding their running back depth. First, they drafted Memphis back Tony Pollard hoping to find a versatile and dynamic threat to compliment the workhorse that is Ezekiel Elliott. Then, in the seventh round, Dallas took another Ohio State running back in Mike Weber who fits more of the "traditional" running back form.

So with two new touted rookies behind the veteran Elliott, and fullback Jamize Olawale more than likely having a roster spot as well, there doesn't seem to be room for Darius Jackson on the Dallas Cowboys.

That didn't stop him from competing at OTAs, however. DallasCowboys.com named Darius Jackson one of their top ten "head turners" from the OTA practices, and considering that Mike Weber is banged up at the moment, Jackson will certainly have his opportunities to fight for that spot.

Still, the odds suggest that Darius Jackson will not be with the Cowboys come the Fall of 2019. Though he entered the league with some fanfare for a day three pick, his production has been more fitting of his draft grade than of his fan hype.

Jackson hasn't been the explosive player/receiving back that they're hoping Tony Pollard will be, nor has he been the every-down type backup runner that they seem to hope Mike Weber will be.

In the end, the Cowboys-Darius Jackson story is likely to close during this year's training camp.



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