It's no secret that the Cowboys have a completely revamped secondary. After signing Nolan Carroll to a three-year contract in free agency and spending four of their nine draft picks on secondary players, the team was ready to show off its new look secondary.
It didn't start off all that well; Nolan Carroll was arrested for a DWI just days before mini-camp. Even with the DWI arrest there was still plenty to look forward to with rookies: Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods, and Marquez White. Then when you add in second year player Anthony Brown to the mix, Cowboys Nation had a lot to be excited about.
One problem, we have yet to see much from any of these guys in practice or games.
Jerry Jones: "Ability is availability." Doesn't matter how talented you are, if you're not on the field, you're not helping us
A famous quote that both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett both use a lot is, "Ability is Availability". Availability is something the Cowboys secondary is lacking plenty of heading into the third week of the preseason.
- Rookie Chidobe Awuzie started off camp on a high note, but hasn't practiced the last two weeks and missed the last two preseason games.
- Same goes for Anthony Brown, who has been very limited in practice this week and hasn't received any game reps since the Hall of Fame game three weeks ago.
- We haven't seen anything from Jourdan Lewis who injured his hamstring the day he showed up to training camp. Lewis has been sidelined ever since.
- After a great game against the LA Rams, Xavier Woods also suffered a hamstring injury that has held him out of all practices and games since being graded as a top defender by PFF in week one of the preseason.
- And last but not least, Marquez White is also dealing with a hamstring injury that has limited him in practice and held him out of last weeks preseason game.
While I am a fan of all of these players, the practice and game reps these guys are missing worries me more the closer we get to September 10th.
Full list of absentees today: Keith Smith, Rico Gathers, Leon McFadden, Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis, Justin Durant, Tyrone Crawford.
** Chidobe Awuzie was also held out of practice this day as well.
In a little over two weeks, the Cowboys will be preparing for the New York Giants. A team many believe have a fair shot at taking the division title away from the reigning NFC East champs. The Giants offense is a tricky one to defend, and the Cowboys need all hands on deck in order to have a fighting chance.
The Giants offense is mainly run in three, four, and even five receiver sets. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Evan Engram will all be featured on the field come opening night and the Cowboys must be prepared to defend it.
The ideal scenario is that Nolan Carroll and Orlando Scandrick will settle in as the team's starting corners, with Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis getting a lot of work splitting time on the outside and even in the slot. The only issue is that neither Awuzie or Lewis are back at practice yet.
Chidobe Awuzie is closer to returning than Jourdan Lewis. Both have hamstring injuries. Lewis isn't expected to do anything this week
So as it stands now the Cowboys have just two healthy corners who are slated to make the 53 man roster, veteran Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll. For a team that doesn't have many veterans at cornerback, the lack of participation from almost all of these new faces is raising the question, is there concern surrounding the Cowboys new look secondary?
I would have to say yes, and these guys need to get back to practice and get some preseason work in before I feel any better about the secondary situation.
With Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard in the Cowboys' near future these young corners need to get back into practice and receive some game work to knock any rust off before the season opener.
Are you worried about the Cowboys secondary depth chart heading into week three of the preseason? Let me know below!
Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue
The fallout from Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday remains to be seen. Whether or not it costs him a roster spot is hard to say, but a suspension is likely. Whatever the case, veteran Deonte Thompson stands to be the biggest beneficiary of Terrance's issues.
Signed last March to a minimal one-year, $1.8 million contract, Thompson is a 29-year-old late bloomer who only last season got some notice in Buffalo. Given the limitations of the Bills' passing game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Dallas clearly hopes that Deonte could do more with a more traditional offense and passer.
The Cowboys acquisition of Thompson was quickly overshadowed after they picked up Allen Hurns just a few weeks later. Deonte was actually signed just a couple of days after Hurns' release from Jacksonville, so it's fair to question if Dallas would have even signed him if they'd already picked up Hurns.
Even with Dez Bryant's release, the depth chart still didn't look good for Thompson. He was clearly behind Hurns and Cole Beasley and was likely battling with Terrance Williams for targets. Once the team drafted Michael Gallup in the third round, things looked even worse for the veteran.
But now, if Williams is going to miss time or be gone completely, Deonte Thompson could find himself with a big role to start the year.
While Gallup is exciting, he's also a rookie. Thompson has been a starter the last few years and played in a few different systems. Dallas may lean on his experience early if Terrance is gone either temporarily or permanently.
One reason the Cowboys brought Deonte in was for speed, and that value doesn't change regardless of who else is on the roster. Essentially, Thompson is the new Brice Butler; intriguing qualities but just no consistent production at other stops.
If Deonte can do more with what Dallas throws him than Butler did, he might carve out a steady role. Brice always seemed to follow up his big plays with blunders, never gaining any real momentum during his time as a Cowboy.
Before Williams' arrest, there was a legitimate question as to whether or not Thompson would even make the 2018 roster. If younger prospects like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir made noise, perhaps Dallas would've just let the 29-year-old walk.
But with Terrance's availability now the big question, Thompson's experience becomes vastly more important. It could mean a big early role in 2018.
Depending on what he does with his opportunity, Deonte Thompson could've gone from an offseason afterthought to a major part of the team's success.
Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?
This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.
Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.
Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.
It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.
Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.
New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.
Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.
As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.
Terrance Williams Arrest: Salary Cap Impact if Released
The news of Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday sent a shockwave through an otherwise quiet mid-May news cycle. Many fans are wondering what the team might do, and what effect the decision could have on Dallas' salary cap.
Unfortunately, moving on from Terrance won't bring the team any cap relief. But given their current cap space and where we are in the offseason, the Cowboys should have the freedom to cut the receiver if they choose to.
Depending on who you ask (OverTheCap, Spotrac), the Cowboys have somewhere between $5-$9 million in current cap room. If they release Williams before June 1st, his cap hit accelerates from $4.75 million to $7.25 million in dead money. That means he counts $2.5 million more off the team than on it.
If Terrance is cut on June 1st on later, the 2018 dead money is $4.75 million for a net-zero wash. That extra $2.5 million counts against 2019.
While that may sound cost-prohibitive on the surface, you have to remember where we are in the offseason. May is very different from March when you're talking about cap space.
Free agency is essentially over. The Cowboys don't need to worry too much about their 2018 cap room at this point, so they can absorb Williams' dead money if they want to cut him loose.
Martin's 2018 cap hit is currently around $9 million. Once he signs his new long-term deal, which is almost sure to come before training camp, that number should go down significantly. Dallas can do an immediate Year One restructure and potentially create around $6 million in cap space.
That alone would facilitate cutting Terrance Williams, but then they also have the hopeful new deal for Lawrence. The $17 million that Lawrence currently counts as a franchised player will go way down with a long-term contract. If Dallas can get that done, they may not have to touch Martin's deal.
The point here is that while cutting Williams is not a financially beneficial move, the money shouldn't stop the Cowboys if they don't want him around anymore.
If Terrance has proven anything during his five years in Dallas, it's that he doesn't have the talent to step into a primary role. With new arrival Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley both showing they can produce at a high level at times, plus exciting rookie Michael Gallup now in the mix, the Cowboys' season hardly relies on Williams' presence.
Of course, the Cowboys have a history of sticking by their guys during times of personal problems. Josh Brent did way worse than Terrance and remained supported by the organization.
But each situation and player are different, and the coaches may have already soured on Williams after a lackluster 2017. They may have only kept him because of those cap numbers we discussed before.
Terrance's latest dropped ball may have been the final straw, though. If so, the salary cap shouldn't stop Dallas from cutting him.
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