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Availability a Cause of Concern for Cowboys’ New-Look Secondary

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Availability a Cause of Concern for Cowboys' New-Look Secondary

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.

Jon Machota on Twitter

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.

David Helman on Twitter

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.

Jon Machota on Twitter

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!

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Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @connorx147 !

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2 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    Yes, but with the Giants WR corps dealing with injuries to OBJ and Brandon Marshall sustained in last pre season game that might “soften up” that group but our CB rookie inability to practice is a huge concern esp with injury to Anthony brown

  • dallas1966

    When the lights come on, Jaylon Smith and Company, will be ready to show the nation, that the Cowboys defense will be on a mission this season.

Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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