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Cowboys Nation Position Breakdown – Safety

Bryson Treece

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Since I believe the biggest need this off-season for the Cowboys is at safety, I'm going to offer my breakdown of the players we currently have on the roster.

Roy Williams -
I know, obvious first pick, but Williams is coming off his seventh year in the league and deserves first mention. After all, he has been a safety on the Cowboys roster longer than any other safety here.

Sad to say though, that after Woodson retired, Williams has done little else to warrant first mention, anywhere.

He missed most of 2008 after breaking his forearm not once, but twice, and landed on IR. Many will still agree now, as we did then, that him being injured actually solved the problem of how to limit his liability on the field in coverage.

I think he still has talent, but he doesn't seem to keep his head in a game and loses focus, which leads to mistakes in all aspects of his game. If Campo, having a full season and two off-seasons to get Williams thinking like a football player again, then I say he stays. But he'd have to really wow the coaches and Jerry Jones in order to justify his salary for the year.

If he takes a pay cut, I say he stays here, but only if he takes a pay cut. I don't see him giving up enough money for the Cowboys to keep him. Personally, I'd like to see him take a shot at middle linebacker, especially if Thomas and/or Burnett leave. If his biggest weakness is coverage, then put him in a position with less coverage duties. Might work, worth a shot at least.

But overall, I don't see Roy Williams having a big future on the Dallas defense.

Keith Davis -
What can you say about this guy? He's got heart, and he's about as tough as they come; fighting through a third degree sprain in his knee to at least try to play the season finale. He did get hurt in that game, but it took more than a down or series to bring him out.

Coming back from the Dolphins in 2008, he was immediately named a team captain, a role he had assumed before. His drive exceeds his ability in many ways, but it all seems to level out on the playing field. As a safety he isn't the best we could get, he might not even be the best we have, but on special teams he is a monster and should be retained.

The Cowboys will get Davis resigned, and he should be willing now after seeing how loyal this team is to him.

Ken Hamlin -
In 2007, everyone was ready to dub this guy the next great safety for the Cowboys, and if not for his lacking leadership skills and a couple of missed plays, he might have been. Instead, Jerry gave him the big contract he wanted anyway, and since we haven't seen the same level of play from him.

He's good at getting to the ball, and he isn't easily fooled, of course it's hard to say that after the miss he had in the Baltimore game, but the guy is a good safety when he is playing his best. I don't think age or ability is slowing him down.

He needs to get himself back on track for the 2009 season, to refocus himself on his goals, and the teams goals. If he can get ready to play, I see him making a big impact next year. And if not, there are guys waiting in line behind him for a chance.


Having watched it happen to Williams over two seasons now, he knows that the coaches will make him a two down player if he doesn't improve, and fast.

Tra Battle -
Not a lot of info out there on this guy. He's been signed to practice squads and active rosters a lot, but none of it really stuck.

Thanks to an injury riddled season on defense, we got to see him play and from what I saw, he's got good enough skills to keep him around. I was particularly impressed when he was signed during the week, then on the opening kickoff he makes a very solid tackle on the returner. It caught my eye right away that #35 didn't waste time doing his job.

He looked at times like he could use a little more training, which is why it's good he's in Dallas with Phillips. The system is similar to what he's dealt with at all in his young career, and a full off-season with the team should do him good.

With the issues of depth and performance at safety on this team, I look to see #35 back in blue and silver come training camp.

Pat Watkins -
There isn't much to say about Pat, except that someone needs to show him how to protect himself better. These nagging injuries, while minor, have cost him valuable playing time recently. No doubt a missed opportunity considering the need at safety this year.

He will be back in 2009. He has displayed great upside when healthy, it's just a matter of keeping him healthy for a whole season.

Courtney Brown -
He has also had some injury problems, but nothing too major. He's displayed good quickness when he has played, which has been limited.

Maybe it's because he was a cornerback in college and drafted as such, but the transition to safety hasn't been a smooth one for him. He's a seventh round pick and has offered seventh round production thus far.

Cowboys will likely keep him due to depth concerns at the position, but look mostly to continue grooming him.

And that's it. We head into free agency and the draft with big concerns for the safety positions on this team, concerns that will have to be addresses, especially if Roy Williams is released as many expect.

Anyone have anything to add?


Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard Should See More Work with Injuries at Wide Receiver

John Williams

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Tony Pollard Should See More Work with Injuries at Wide Receiver

After making it through the preseason relatively unscathed on the injury front to the team's starters and primary role players, the Dallas Cowboys have caught a case of the injury bug in the last week. Already it's been announced that Xavier Woods is going to miss some time with an ankle sprain and Antwaun Woods is dealing with an MCL sprain. Injuries at any point in the season will test a team's depth and the Dallas Cowboys are about to be tested at the wide receiver position with Michael Gallup out for up to a month and Tavon Austin still in the concussion protocol.

Heading into the Cowboys week three matchup with the Miami Dolphins, the team currently only has four healthy wide receivers on the roster; Amari Cooper, Devin Smith, Randall Cobb, and Cedrick Wilson. It's certainly plausible that the team could look at a veteran player, perhaps even one that's been with the team in the past, or they could call up one of their practice squad players like a Jon'vea Johnson or Ventrell Bryant.

The player the Dallas Cowboys should look to incorporate into the passing game, either in week three or beyond, is Running Back Tony Pollard.

Tony Pollard came to the NFL with the reputation of being mostly a receiving threat. In three seasons at Memphis, he caught nearly as many passes (104) as he had rushing attempts (139). In 2018, he had 1,000 yards from scrimmage with nearly half of those yards coming in the passing game. As a pass catcher, Pollard averaged more than 12 yards per reception for his career at Memphis and could be a dynamic weapon for the Cowboys to deploy in the passing game.


Rushing & Receiving Table
Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece Rece Scri Scri Scri Scri
Year School Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Memphis FR WR 0 0 0
*2016 Memphis FR WR 13 31 159 5.1 1 29 298 10.3 2 60 457 7.6 3
*2017 Memphis SO RB 13 30 230 7.7 2 36 536 14.9 4 66 766 11.6 6
*2018 Memphis JR WR 14 78 552 7.1 6 39 458 11.7 3 117 1010 8.6 9
Career Memphis 139 941 6.8 9 104 1292 12.4 9 243 2233 9.2 18
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2019.

We've already seen how Pollard can be an effective runner for the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday he averaged 5.5 yards per carry on his four attempts and had a touchdown brought back due to a penalty.

The Cowboys love to use jet motion, throw bubble screens, and traditional screen passes, and Pollard can be an effective weapon in addition to his ability as a running back. Now it's not likely that the team will want to put a lot on his plate early in the season or give opposing teams film of how they might use Tony Pollard in the passing game, but if they need to get some snaps at the receiver position from a player they trust, Pollard's your guy.

They showed a lot of faith in Pollard during the preseason, running him exclusively with the first-team offense and giving him a vast majority of the workload. The team's raved about his ability to pick up the playbook and execute the things they're asking him to do. Unleashing his receiving skills will be a difference-maker for the Cowboys and could be huge while Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin are out of action.

The Dallas Cowboys have a weapon that the rest of the NFL is unfamiliar with and it's only a matter of time until Kellen Moore calls his number in a way we haven't seen yet. With only four healthy wide receivers on the roster currently and for the foreseeable future, Tony Pollard could find those opportunities rather soon. Despite the injuries to Gallup and Austin, the depth of playmakers the Cowboys have is very exciting. It's only a matter of time until Tony Pollard creates a little excitement of his own.

 


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Report: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Could Only Miss One Game

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Could Only Miss One Game

The Dallas Cowboys might not be without their rising star at free safety as long as they originally thought. According to DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus, Xavier Woods could only miss this Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.


BryanBroaddus on Twitter

They gave him a physical and didn't sign so that tells me a little something. Xavier Woods is not going to be out 4-6 weeks. Might miss one game... https://t.co/EFcpjlZnPH

Woods suffered a high ankle sprain this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins that was supposed to keep him out 4-6 weeks. If he is only out one game that would be amazing news for the Cowboys with the toughest part of their schedule coming up. Safety Darian Thompson is set to start this Sunday opposite Jeff Heath in place of Woods, with rookie Donovan Wilson and Kavon Frazier also their for insurance. Will Xavier Woods be back against the New Orleans Saints next week? Something to keep an eye on. More details to come.


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Cowboys Have to Remain Focused the Next two Weeks, Avoid any Letdowns

Matthew Lenix

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Cowboys Have to Remain Focused the Next two Weeks, Avoid any Letdowns

It's been seen in the NFL too many times before and it'll be seen again. A superior team letting an inferior team catch them by surprise and the next thing you know an unforeseen loss occurs, and sometimes that can spark a downward spiral. Coming into the 2019 season the Dallas Cowboys knew they had two division games for starters, against teams they were better than on paper. That makes it easy for a letdown or an underwhelming performance to occur, however, the Cowboys showed they have a single-minded focus that needs to continue in the next two weeks.

The New York Giants came out on fire on their first possession week one that was sparked by a 59-yard run from Saquon Barkley that set up an early 7-0 lead, but almost simultaneously, the magic ended after the score. The Giants would score just 3 more points until a late garbage-time touchdown made the final score a little more respectable at 35-17.

Although the Giants had 25 first downs and almost 500 yards of offense they were only 2 of 11 on third down and failed to reach 20 points. Meanwhile, Quarterback Dak Prescott had arguably the best game of his career with 405 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. They took the Giants best shot early and didn't flinch, just the kind of focus you like to see.

The Washington Redskins were up next in a big early-season NFC East road game. Just like the week before, the Cowboys offense started off slow in finding their groove and they fell behind 7-0 early in the second quarter, and then the flood gates opened. Dak Prescott once again was spectacular going 26 of 30 (ended the game with 18 straight completions, 14 of 14 in the second half) for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Cowboys scored on five consecutive possessions and at one time lead 31-14 before eventually winning 31-21. Falling behind on the road to a division opponent can be tough to overcome regardless if they are a good team or not. The Cowboys showed great poise and cut the head off the snake so to speak when they smelled blood and improved to 2-0.

This Sunday the Miami Dolphins come to town in your classic "Trap Game". On paper, this matchup isn't even close considering the Dolphins have been outscored 102-10 and have given up 391 rushing yards in the first two games. Smart money says the Cowboys should steamroll this team, but people shouldn't be so confident. Riding a wave of momentum like the Cowboys are currently on into a home game with an inferior opponent has all the ingredients of a letdown if they're not careful.


The defense needs to assert it's dominance this week. They have been excellent only allowing 19 points per game and stopping 16 out of 20 third-down situations. However, they have given up 44 first downs and allowed touchdowns on 5 of 7 red zone opportunities. Plenty of room for improvement and playing a bad offense should help the defense immensely. Offensively, keep riding the Dak-Zeke wave. Prescott is off to his best career start and Ezekiel Elliott is fresh off a 100-yard performance. The defense they are facing is allowing 51 points per game, attack early and often.

After that, the Cowboys travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in a game that was looked at as a premiere regular-season matchup when the schedule was released in April. Unfortunately, at least for the Saints, Drew Brees will miss the next six weeks with ligament damage to the thumb on his throwing hand. Also, the Saints defense is giving up 27.5 points per game so far in 2019.

What the Cowboys don't want is a bad performance in a game they should win on paper just like the Saints did last season, ironically against Dallas. The Saints were on a 10 game winning streak when they rolled into Arlington in week 13. Arguably the NFL's top offense was shut down as the Cowboys won a tough 13-10 battle. Let your defense pin it's ears back and make life miserable for backup Teddy Bridgewater, who while talented, can't operate the offense on the level of Drew Brees. Give Prescott, Elliott, and this high powered offense short fields all night and put points on the board early and quiet what should be a loud crowd down in Cajun Country.

The Cowboys have home games against the Packers and Eagles as well as a road game against the Giants in the month that follows the next few weeks. It's imperative for them to take care of business the next two games with the meat and potatoes of their schedule coming up. They will have to overcome the injury bug, though, as several players went down this past Sunday.

Wide Receiver Michael Gallup is out 2-4 weeks with a meniscus tear, Xavier Woods is out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, Antwaun Woods is day-to-day with an MCL sprain and Tyrone Crawford is being monitored as he deals with a hip issue. Nonetheless, the Cowboys still have more than enough to beat these two wounded dogs, but that's easier said than done. Will they keep their focus? Only time will tell.


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