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Cowboys 2016 Practice Squad: What Can Be Learned About The Future?

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - What Does 2016 Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad Say About The Future?

Congratulations. It's football season. We made it.

We've begun Game Week here at Inside The Star, and we're thrilled that you're a part of it. Consider this a collective group hug. Hands in, let's go "4" on three.

1... 2... 3...

4!

4 means Dak Prescott which means great football things. Our star QuarterDAK is one of 53 gentlemen who are a part of the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, but there are an additional 10 who are also a part of the club.

The Cowboys have been making changes to their roster since 53-Man Rosters were due last Saturday. On Sunday they signed seven players to their practice squad, and will likely add more in the next few days:

  • Andy Jones, WR
  • Austin Traylor, TE
  • Deon King, LB
  • Jake Brendel, C
  • Rico Gathers, TE
  • Ryan Russell, DE
  • Vince Mayle, WR

The Cowboys Practice Squad is built similarly to their actual team... a strong emphasis on offense and a sprinkle of defense out of necessity.

Jake Brendel is a fine player, but as this team boasts the best offensive line in the NFL (the "Space Cowboys" as I call them) he is unlikely to ever seriously contribute. Ryan Russell has a shot considering this team's embarrassingly low lack of depth at the position. I mean, if I showed up at The Star tomorrow and said I was a pass rusher... I'd have to at least get a shot, right? We're that in need.

Deon King captured a lot of Cowboys Nation loyalists with his outstanding preseason, and while the Linebacker depth isn't necessarily great it's a few ticks better than the pass rush which means we can relax in that regard.

What really caught my eye in terms of this squad was that there are two tight ends AND receivers? Why's that? I'm glad you asked!

Andy Jones And Vince Mayle

Cowboys Headlines - What Does 2016 Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad Say About The Future? 2

Here's a fact that is going to be relevant six months from now that we should discuss - both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are entering contract years. Hey-O.

Why is that important? These are receivers of upper-echelon talent, and as teams are always looking for those it is unlikely that Dallas will retain both come the 2017 Offseason (Week 1 of 2016 and I'm talking 2017 Offseason... Apologies!). Brice Butler or Terrance Williams... one will be a Cowboy after this season and one will not. Who will replace the one that isn't? Andy or Vince!

The Cowboys are clearly trying to retain depth as they prepare for any and all circumstances down the line. Both of the receivers they've stashed on the Practice Squad were players that people loved all Training Camp and Preseason... they'll get their serious shot next year.

Rico Gathers And Austin Traylor

Cowboys Headlines - What Does 2016 Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad Say About The Future? 1

Do you know who else is entering the last year of their contract with the Dallas Cowboys? You probably don't since the Coaching Staff refuses to use him - Gavin Escobar. Womp womp.

Escobar is one of many Tight Ends who have had their individual talents left on the bench while Jason Witten refuses to age or slow down. Come next season the same will ring true and he'll likely be looking for work elsewhere (For what it's worth he'll probably find it and excel.).

The Cowboys are also showing that they're preparing for this with their Practice Squad additions. We all raised our eyebrows in April when they drafted Baylor's Rico Gathers, who then had zero college football experience, and they seem to like how he's progressed. Come 2017 the Cowboys will have Witten, newly re-signed James Hanna (who's injured now and actually leaves room for Traylor to play this season), and Geoff Swaim for sure. At that point they'll call up Rico Gathers or Austin Traylor and all will continue as it has over Jason Witten's career.

~~~

With the Cowboys playing a game that actually counts on Sunday it makes complete and total sense for that to be the primary focus. What's interesting is that if we read into some of the moves that they've made, it seems like we can discern their intentions farther down the road (assuming none of their Practice Squad players are poached by other teams). The good news is that we have a whole season of Cowboys football between now and then when we find out for real.

What do the Practice Squad players suggest to you about the future? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys 2016 Practice Squad: What Can Be Learned About The Future?" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

Dallas Cowboys

Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?

Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.

Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.

With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.

But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.

Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.

Maliek Collins

Dallas Cowboys DT Maliek Collins

Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.

But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.

Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.

How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.

There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.

But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.

For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall

That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.



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BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out 1

The Dallas Cowboys are back in offseason mode, concluding their OTAs and minicamp from The Star. With a hiatus until training camp, it was important for several high-profile players to make a strong first impression on the 2018 season. From the start of mini camp, these impressions were left mostly by Rod Marinelli's defense and -- more specifically -- Kris Richard's young group of cornerbacks.

Still working through significant change on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys did rally on day three under Quarterback Dak Prescott to put out a better performance. The Cowboys coaching staff should love their lasting memories of both FA acquisition Wide Receiver Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup.

There is a strong chance that these two receivers will be the Cowboys starters in Oxnard for training camp. We have heard a lot about the impact new WR Coach Sanjay Lal has had on his group, slowing the game down to focus on route running. This will give the team's rotation of unproven receivers a chance with Prescott, as he can focus on throwing to a 'spot' more often.

One spot that Prescott has struggled to hit in two seasons as the starter in Dallas is the back of the end zone for fade routes. A red zone go-to under Scott Linehan, free agent WR Dez Bryant was often the intended target on these missed passes.

Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns

Less of a route running technician and closer to the mold of a physical player like Bryant, Allen Hurns emerging as the Cowboys #1 option would solve a lot of uncertainty at the WR position. In yesterday's practice, Hurns was able to haul in a perfect ball from Prescott on the fade as he beat Byron Jones.

It's going to take some time for Jones to readjust to playing cornerback, but the vision for Kris Richard of him and Chidobe Awuzie starting on the outside is a great one. In a battle of proven players, Hurns got the best of Jones to spark the Cowboys offense at the right time.

Overall, there should be no reason to panic about (well, really anything from mini camp) the Cowboys offense right now, and plenty of reasons to be excited about what this defense will develop into.

Once the pads come on at training camp, the players the Cowboys are paying to play at an elite level will start to shine, including their newly re-signed Guard Zack Martin -- the highest paid guard in the league now. There are no doubts that the bread and butter for this offense will be handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott behind this wall of an offensive line.

From this increase in competition in the trenches, we'll also get more meaningful battles along the defensive line. In shorts and helmets for now, the Cowboys secondary was given their chance at mini camp, and came out solid early.

Another player they've struggled to truly corral though is Michael Gallup. Perhaps pressing a bit thanks to his limited opportunities thus far, Jourdan Lewis was taken across the field by Gallup on a misfire from Cooper Rush.

This is nothing new for Gallup however, who's been ahead of the curve on creating the desired separation as a "violent" receiver on the outside.

A steal with the 81st overall pick in this year's draft, Gallup has a long way to go in beating out the likes of Terrance Williams, Cedrick Wilson (limited through this portion of the offseason with injuries), and even Cole Beasley, who's received some reps on the outside.

With both Hurns and Gallup making plays on the Cowboys final practice until late July, it's easy to let the mind wander with possibilities of the Cowboys offense playing at full strength against a defense that might be up for the challenge better than ever compared to year's past.

As always, the practice fields of Oxnard will serve as a battle ground for a young but deep Cowboys team to earn their spots on the 53-man roster, one that surely won't have room for all of the wide receiver hopefuls seen this week in mini camp.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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