First, my final 53 based off of my observations thus far.
QB - Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee (though, it would be nice if we could tuck McGee away on the practice squad, to save room for additional personnel on defense)
HB - Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice
WR - Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, Kevin Ogletree (I'd prefer Ogletree or Austin handle Kick Returns over Felix Jones)
TE - Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips
FB - Deon Anderson
LT - Flozell Adams, Doug Free
LG - Kyle Kosier, Montrae Holland
C - Andre Gurode, Duke Preston (finally someone who can replace Proctor's ability to be interchangeable at guard and center; Duke Preston was a starter at both position's for Buffalo last season, and actually did very well, despite their pedestrian finish)
RG - Leonard Davis, Duke Preston
RT - Marc Columbo, Pat McQuistan
I feel pretty comfortable with the above offense. I'd say the offensive line could afford injuries at the center and guard position, but we our an injured OT away from our offensive line being a turnstile. Outside of that, we have decent depth. Considering that since Stephen McGee's debut against the Raiders, we haven't seen much of him, I would not be suprised if the Cowboy's organization isn't trying to make the league forget about him, so they can sneak him past waivers, but we will know more if that's their strategy this coming Friday night against the Vikings. If we see more of Jon Kitna and Rudy Carpenter, that's exactly what the Cowboy's are trying to do.
RE - Igor Olshansky, Stephen Bowen (if we could get McGee to accept a practice squad spot, I might consider keeping Marcus Dixon here)
DT - Jay Ratliff, Junior Siavii
LE - Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher
ROLB - Demarcus Ware, Steve Octavien, Victor Butler
MLB - Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Bobby Carpenter, Stephen Hodge
LOLB - Anthony Spencer, Jason Williams (I actually had hoped Jason William's would be converted to this position from the beginning; with the season-ending injury to Brandon William's, he may be the most ideal replacement)
CB - Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Mike Jenkins, Alan Ball, Mike Mickens (we will be watching the waiver wire very closely for this position; Mike Mickens is another who could use some time on the practice squad)
FS - Ken Hamlin, DeAngelo Smith (again, we will be watching the waiver wire for both Safety positions, as DeAngelo Smith and Michael Hamlin are not ready for pro football and could use some time on the practice squad)
SS - Gerald Sensabaugh, Pat Wakins, Michael Hamlin
I am more concerned about our defense, than our offense, particularly in the Seconary. First and foremost, corner is my most significant concern. Terence Newman has been an injury waiting to happen the last few seasons, and behind Scandrick and Jenkins, the options are dismal. Next on my list of concerns is Safety. Ken Hamlin has been solid, but behind him is a whole lot of inexperience. Sensabaugh, has been solid in coverage, but not as good as advertised against the run, taking poor angles and not wrapping up on potential tackles (not to mention the two major penalties levied against him in the last two games). Behind him, once again, the options are pretty weak. Linebacker is actually the least of my concerns. Bobbie Carpenter has done quite a bit to regain some of my confidence thus far. Granted, when he is headlining the second and third string defense his production is pretty weak, but I think if he is surrounded by good players, he in turn will play well, as would be the case should an injury demand he step up.
K - Nick Folk, David Buehler
P - Matt McBriar
LS - L.P. Ladouceur
I would have liked to have seen Buehler have more opportunities to kick field goals. I love the clutch performances Nick Folk has given us, but if David can be solid in this area, it would be nice to have an extra position to offer a corner, safety, linebacker, or even receiver if we would like to see a little more of Isaiah Stanback. The same goes for L.P. Ladouceur: Once again, he has been solid, but if Matt Stewart can perform the position, the additional linebacker/special teams contributor would be nice. On the other hand, unless the coaching staff is absolutely certain in regards to Buehler and Stewart taking over for Folk and Ladouceur, it certainly is not worth a gamble.
Robert Brewster - Torn pectorial muscle
Brandon Williams - Torn ACL
Matt Stewart, Marcus Dixon, Jonas Seawright, Derreck Robinson, Keon Lattimore, Julius Crosslin, Asaph Schwapp, Rudy Carpenter, Manuel Johnson, Isaiah Stanback, Jesse Holley, Travis Bright, Ryan Gibbons, Cory Proctor, Greg Isdaner, Andre Douglas, Mike Jefferson, and Julian Hawkins.
The bolded players represent guys I would like to see make the practice squad. I would have bolded Stanback, but I don't think he is eligible.
For all the emphasis placed on playing perfect, you would think we would see improvement in the penalty area. 3 preseason games down and the Cowboys are the most penalized team in the NFL. But it's not just the penalties that are bothering me, as much as, when they are happening. On the offense, their favorite time to a draw a penalty is to negate a 1st down or a score. The defense loves to commit penalties when the opposing offenses will have to punt or go for it on fourth down without the penalty that otherwise offers them a 1st down on a silver platter. The Cowboy's organization has also been telling us that they have focused on creating more turnover's via the secondary and thus far the Cowboy's only have 1. In defense of the defense, the Titan's and 49ers utilize ball control offenses, running the ball, working the flats and zone is predominantly how they move the ball limiting the number of opportunities to create turnovers via interception.
Positions of interest on the waiver wire in order of need.
Corner - Newman has been an injury waiting to happen the last two seasons. Behind Scandrick and Jenkins (and Jenkins is still not what I consider solid) the pickings are slim. Alan Ball, Courtney Brown and Mike Mickens are on the bubble, and were not for the lack of option's, Ball would likely be the only one considered worthy of a roster spot.
Safety - I know many think linebacker should be 1st and foremost if not, at least, second. But as I said above, I am much more comfortable with our second stringers at linebacker than I am at Safety.
Offensive Tackle - The position of this concern is debatable. OT could even be considered a chief concern. But for all the penalties and mistakes, the QB's have actually had a pretty clean pocket throughout the first 3 games; though, they haven't exactly played defensive powerhouses either. We will know more about this offensive line once the regular season begins, playing our first two games against the Bucs and the Giants.
Linebacker - This probably wouldn't make my list, though, I know Wade will be keeping his eye's pealed for linebackers, because they are so crucial to the success of a 3-4. But ultimately, I've been moderately happy with the play from our 1st stringers down to our rookies.
Being the preseason, it's difficult to really gauge how much my confidence has changed prior to the season beginning. I knew the offense would be a match-up nightmare and could be much more balanced than they have been since Jason Garrett took over. I even said this team was built to dink and dunk; but I would have liked to see Romo take some more chances down field (minus that duck he threw intended forOgletree), to open the intermediate game up more, as the 49ers did have a tendency to sit on routes expecting the short game. I don't think using the go route to back a defense up, show's too much of your offenses hand.
On defense, the Cowboy's can be dominating. But I've noticed, the face of their intensity changes once a defender commits a series continuing penalty. It is as if they really want these younger players to feel the sting of their mistakes, by pretty much allowing the opposing offense to do what ever it want's from that point forward. I really don't believe that's the strategy; I'm just saying, that is what it seems like.
All in all, I feel pretty confident this team is capable of having a 10 and 6 win/loss ratio by season end. But the bigger question is if that's going to be enough in a very tough NFCE.
What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?
Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.
With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.
At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.
But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.
Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.
Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.
I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc
With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?
In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.
I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.
This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.
Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice
Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.
Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.
With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.
Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.
Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.
When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.
Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.
La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.
We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.
If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.
For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.
Undrafted WR Jon’Vea Johnson Turning Heads at Cowboys OTAs
Former Toledo Wide Receiver didn't receive an invite to the 2019 NFL Combine or hear his name called in any of the seven rounds at this year's NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean he doesn't possess the talent to make someone's roster in the league. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, he's hoping he's found that team and his forever home.
The journey for Jon'Vea Johnson to earn one of those coveted final 53-man roster spots with the Dallas Cowboys is going to be a long one. This year's roster is deep from top to bottom, which means making it as an undrafted free agent is going to be extremely difficult. But, luckily for him he is already starting to turn a few heads at the Cowboys OTAs.
Here's what Cowboys Wide Receiver Coach Sanjay Lal recently had to say about Jon'Vea:
"Not a surprise, because we loved his film, but Jon'Vea the last two days, his speed and athleticism and how smooth he is has shown up here – almost a little bit earlier than we thought it would. Because we think he's going to process. Most young guys are thinking a lot, but he's done a good job of learning his plays and coming out and showing what he can do."
Considering coaches typically try their hardest not to single out any one player in these OTA practices, that's pretty high praise from Sanjay Lal.
It's important to remember the Dallas Cowboys had Jon'Vea Johnson in as one of their 30 pre-draft visitors, so you know they had a draftable grade on him already. Getting him as an undrafted free agent probably felt like a win for them, and more so now that he's off to a good start.
Johnson actually has a few things going for him that may set him apart from other WRs currently on the Cowboys roster. He has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot, but it's his speed that really makes him stand out from the rest.
At his Pro Day, Jon'Vea ran an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash. That would've ranked among the best to run the 40 at this year's Scouting Combine. But that's not all… he tested pretty well in other areas as well: 35" vertical and a 10'8" broad jump. Not bad for a 5'10", 190 pound undrafted wide receiver.
As good as all of this sounds, Johnson still has a long ways to go in order to lock down a roster spot. The Cowboys have some pretty talented WRs on the roster and he's going to have to clearly outperform quite a few of them to earn his way onto the final 53-man roster. But, it's encouraging he's already off to a good start.
We've seen players stand out in these kind of unpadded practices before, so I'd probably hold off on anointing him just yet. For his sake though, it's always a good thing to catch the eye of your coaches in a positive way.
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