The Dallas Cowboys currently have two players competing for one spot on their defense. They are third-year Cornerback Anthony Brown and second-year Cornerback Jourdan Lewis, both looking to earn the starting position in the slot.
What makes this a tough, looming decision for the Cowboys is the development of both players. Brown and Lewis have both appeared to play well beyond their years at times. For Lewis, this was last year's rookie campaign, and for Brown you have to go back to his first season in 2016.
The progression of Brown and Lewis is a reflection of why the Cowboys should be so excited about the addition of Kris Richard. Great coaches need equally talented players to truly be successful, as the Cowboys building a top secondary has been in the works for years.
To discredit Brown's role in this turnover because of Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones' presence on the outside would be unfair to not only him, but a Cowboys coaching staff criticized for not knowing how to utlize their players best. Once Brown was moved to the slot last year, he was able to regain the form that made him a sixth round steal back in 2016.
Two-straight days with a pick for Anthony Brown. Just cut in front of a comeback route to intercept Cooper Rush #cowboyswire
Brown is coming into his own out in Oxnard. From "the player keeping Jourdan Lewis off the field" to the cornerback Richard and the Cowboys want out there, both young players are hungry to prove themselves further.
It may very well be Lewis' physical limitations that are keeping him from getting the same opportunity that Brown has earned. The ball skills and awareness that Brown displayed in his first year were rare to Dallas at the time, but not anymore thanks in large part to Lewis.
Even with a culture built on competition firmly in place before adding Richard, the Cowboys new passing game coordinator has found a way to bring his trademark passion and intensity to coaching this defense. A player that's always needed confidence instilled in him, Brown is thriving under Richard while Lewis should be expected to not trail too far behind.
Wearing his third-round draft status as a chip on his shoulder (I'm choosing to forget that Brown has a literal tattoo of a chip on his shoulder), Lewis was an exuberantly confident player a year ago. As far as anyone can tell, this hasn't changed at training camp.
Having too much depth at cornerback is rare in today's NFL. Only when considering long shots like Donovan Olumba, Kam Kelly, and Charvarius Ward does this become the case for the Cowboys. I expect both Brown and Lewis to make this team's roster and contribute in 2018.
In their short time with the team, both defenders have dealt with injuries that make depth in the slot more important. It's also possible that Brown and Lewis will be on the field at the same time together in Dime packages.
Animated Kris Richard coaching up Anthony Brown. https://t.co/B8mRhDahB8
Still pretty early into training camp, Brown's resurgence is a great problem for the Cowboys to have. It could be the key to getting the absolute most out of this secondary, given Brown's experience paired with the young talent around him.
Such talent was absent during Brown's best season yet, meaning the best may be still to come for the Purdue product that's been tough to beat all summer on the practice fields. If this holds up in game action, like the Cowboys will see Thursday at the 49ers, the Cowboys defense is going to live up to their hype and then some.
Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline
This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".
The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu
Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.
Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.
A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.
In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.
With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.
Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.
For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension
Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately, for his public intoxication arrest last May.
Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.
Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.
However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.
In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.
Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.
The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.
Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.
Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.
But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.
Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.
Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.
For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.
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