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Anthony Spencer’s Return and Why He’s Important

Brian Leatherman

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Earlier in the year I felt there was no way possible the Cowboys would resign Anthony Spencer. He was 30 years old and just coming off of micro-fracture surgery and honestly, I didn’t feel he would play anywhere anytime soon.

The team proved me wrong and signed Spencer to a one year deal. Well, if he plays we wouldn’t see him until the end of the season. At least that’s what I thought.

Turns out I could be wrong again. Anthony Spencer not only thinks he'll return before the midway point of the season, he believes he will return before the start of the season.

“I hope so. I hope to be back before the first game,” Spencer said. “I hope some time around there. It’s hard to say now. We’ve got time and not trying to rush things.” 

The defensive end position was a question mark before the season and that became an even bigger question when rookie DeMarcus Lawrence went down in the first week of training camp. But if Spencer can come back, even in a reserved role, this would give the defensive line a big boost.

I wasn’t always a big fan of Anthony Spencer. I didn’t think he was that good of a player. But that was before I started looking at the big picture.

I was guilty of just looking at his sack numbers and until his contract season in 2012, he had never posted double-digit sacks. How convenient right? But there was something that I wasn’t looking at, even though it should have been really obvious.

Spencer had become the best all-around player on this defense in the last four seasons. Yes, DeMarcus Ware was putting up the sack numbers, and Spencer was known more for almost getting the sacks, hence the nick name Almost Anthony. But one factor people seemed to overlook was what Spencer did do.

Spencer was constantly dropping into coverage while playing the left outside linebacker position; he was able to rush but not all game like the other players on the line of scrimmage. His job was to cover the running backs and tight ends, then rush the QB.


But where Spencer excelled was stopping the run. There wasn’t a better run-stopper on the team. Not DeMarcus Ware, not Jason Hatcher, not anybody. And when he was out last season, this team missed him dearly and it showed.

The defense was gashed in every way possible last season and Spencer not being in the lineup was one of the many reasons why this defense allowed historic type numbers. However, that was last season. No point harping on the past. So let’s take a look at what Spencer could do for the defensive line this season when he returns.

First and foremost, he will be a tremendous help stopping the opposing teams run game. As I mentioned earlier, Spencer was the best run defender on this team as an outside linebacker, and some argue he was the best run defender as an outside linebacker in the entire league.

Spencer will also help out in the pass rush.

Yes I know, he was constantly almost getting sacks in what seems like his entire career in Dallas. But think about what he could do when all the energy and focus is on one thing, and that’s getting to the QB. No more dropping into coverage chasing speedy running backs and lumbering tight ends who have the speed of some wide receivers. Those days are over; Spencer can concentrate on doing the one thing he did so well as defensive end at Purdue that made him a first round draft choice.

Something else Spencer brings to this defensive line that could be lacking - leadership. He will be the guy the rest of the defensive line will look up to, and that’s especially important when you have young defensive lineman that are going to see plenty of playing time. So what Spencer brings to the table will help this defense improve in a big way.

When It comes to injuries, micro-fracture surgery today is what an ACL tear was to a player back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Most would end a career, some would come back but never be the player they were, but then some would be beat the odds and pick up where they left off.

Seeing how far Spencer has come since having the micro-fracture surgery last fall, I wouldn’t bet against him beating odds and picking up where he left off.


Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out Until Week 1

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.

The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.

"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."


The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.

However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.


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Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith

Kevin Brady

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.

ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...

Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.


Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.

And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.


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Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List

John Williams

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Auto Draft 6

Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.

"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."

Todd Archer - ESPN.com

This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.

It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.


The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.

While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.

With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.

With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.


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