Cowboys Nation, you may get your wish and finally see Tight End Rico Gathers more involved in the Dallas Cowboys game plan this week against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Injuries at the wide receiver and tight end position may give the coaching staff no other choice than to get Gathers more involved, even though they've been reluctant to do so up to this point.
The injury to WR Allen Hurns grabbed the majority the headlines last week in the Wild Card round against the Seattle Seahawks, and rightfully so. It was one of the more gruesome injuries to witness in recent memory and the stomach-turning nature of it won't be soon forgotten. But, Hurns wasn't the only Cowboys player to sustain an injury in the win over the Seahawks.
If not for Hurns horrific injury, Cole Beasley and Blake Jarwin might be a bigger storyline this week. Both players unfortunately sustained an ankle injury against the Seahawks, although nowhere near as serious as Hurns'. But, both players have yet to practice this week putting their availability for the Divisional Round up in the air.
Not having Cole Beasley in the lineup would seem like the bigger blow to the Cowboys offense because he's been the more productive player, but at least Dallas has more depth to lessen the blow. If Blake Jarwin is unable to play, the lack of depth at TE might finally come back to bite the Cowboys in the butt.
If Jarwin is indeed out against the Rams, the Cowboys would have to turn to Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers as their primary tight ends. One is a rookie and the other is in his third year, but neither has much experience in the NFL or production. Unfortunately, that's the current state of Dallas' TE position.
Dalton Schultz would likely take over as a starter. Both he and Jarwin have been receiving most of the playing time at TE after Geoff Swaim sustained a wrist injury and was lost for the season, so it's the most logical move. But, I wouldn't count out Rico Gathers just yet.
Rico Gathers has been a fan favorite for a lot of people around Cowboys Nation since entering the league in 2016. Yes, that's the same draft class that brought Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Anthony Brown, Dak Prescott, and Kavon Frazier to Dallas. But unlike his fellow 2016 draftees, he hasn't really received a chance to prove himself on the field.
Jarwin's injury could be the opportunity Rico Gathers has been waiting for. Even if Dalton Schultz is named the starter, Gathers will without a doubt see his playing time increase. Luckily, I believe he's up to the task and is more than ready to prove what he can do.
His receiving ability in the passing game has never been in question. It's his ability as a blocker that has kept him off the field. But, he's shown vast improvements in this area of his game which has earned him more playing time this season. He should be good to go, at least that's what we are all hoping anyway.
Do you think Rico Gathers will have an expanded role against the LA Rams?
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
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