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Cowboys 2018 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 1

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys 2018 Roster Projec

The Cowboys finally played their first preseason game last night. With what we saw from that game, plus two weeks of training camp reports, it's a good time to update the 53-man roster projection for 2018.

The last projection came out just before camp started and we've had some developments since then. Thankfully, none of those have involved a major injury. All of our changes will be based on performance.

The danger here is getting too hung up on stuff that happened in last night's game. Those limited reps against limited competition don't wipe out everything the coaches have observed in training camp.

They do matter, of course. A strong performance can do a lot to help a guy's stock. But it would be foolish to assume that a quiet night negates everything a player might've done so far in Oxnard.

So, with that being said, let's get to it.

Cooper Rush

Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush

Quarterback (3)

Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Mike White

Changes: None

The pecking order is only more firmly established after last night. Dak had a perfect showing in his one series, leading a touchdown drive and having zero incompletions. Cooper Rush was next up and looked solid, completing 65% of his passes and having few errors despite some protection issues.

Mike White didn't get a chance to show much, playing with the bottom rung of receivers and getting even worse blocking than Rush had. It will be interesting to see if he gets a shot at being QB2 in any of the remaining games.

More than likely, though, this trio will remain as is the rest of the season. The only real potential for change was if Rush struggled and allowed the rookie to move up the depth chart, which could put Cooper's roster spot in jeopardy.

But last night, plus everything we've heard from Oxnard, indicates that Cooper Rush is entrenched as the backup QB for 2018.

Running Back (4)

Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, Bo Scarbrough,
Jamize Olawale (FB)

Changes: Moved Tavon Austin to WR

Zeke sat out last night, allowing Rod Smith to run with the starters. He showed the same mix of power and athleticism we saw last year, even thought the stat sheet was nothing eye-catching.

Bo Scarbrough got to punch one into the endzone, capping a solid debut. We already knew he wouldn't get to flash much behind backup linemen, needing holes and lanes to show off as a downhill runner. He did get off one 28-yard run when he could find some daylight, plus had two catches for 19 yards.

Don't worry, Tavon Austin fans. He's still on the roster, but now being listed at receiver. He may still be a RB on the team's website roster, but the Cowboys' first official depth chart showed him at WR and all his snaps last night came from that position.

Darius Jackson got some run last night and flashed a few things, but not enough to knock anybody else off the roster.

4 Underrated Cowboys Players Who Could Shine at Training Camp

Dallas Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Receiver (6)

Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup,
Deonte Thompson, Tavon Austin, Lance Lenoir

Changes: Added Austin and Lenoir, Removed Terrance Williams and Noah Brown

It may be early and even foolish, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that Terrance Williams won't make the team this year. I alluded to this two weeks ago and last night only gave me more reason to stick to the theory.

Michael Gallup will need to keep making plays with the first-team offense to make this happen, but last night was a good sign. Lance Lenoir's good night and strong camp also puts pressure from the other end of the depth chart.

I could be way off. Maybe it's veteran Deonte Thompson who loses his spot over Williams.

But Terrance Williams doesn't give you special teams value, and now his role as a receiver is being threatened. The Cowboys can eat his contract if they want to, and they're getting more reasons.

Noah Brown was a tough cut, but he hasn't made the kind of noise in camp that we'd hoped for. Still plenty of time for him to get back on the radar, though.

Tight End (4)

Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz,
Rico Gathers

Changes: Added Jarwin

We saw Blake Jarwin playing with the starters last night, and word is that he might even push Geoff Swaim for the starting job. If nothing else, it seems impossible to leave him off the 53 at this point.

Rico Gathers is still in this fight, perhaps forcing the team to dump someone at another position. But like Noah Brown, he's another guy who hasn't built on last year's hype yet.

I'm giving him the roster spot for now, hoping we get to see more as preseason continues. He still has that great upside as a receiver, and his blocking has reportedly improved. But at this point Rico's still on the bubble.

Chaz Green

Dallas Cowboys OL Chaz Green

Offensive Tackle (3)

Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Cam Fleming,

Changes: Removed Chaz Green

I tried to be a nice guy with my last projection, but Green looked bad last night. Some guys just can't handle the bright lights and Chaz may simply be a dude who folds under game-time pressure, no matter what he shows in practice.

Green was more of a versatile G/T option anyway, which was nice for the bottom of the depth chart for not if he still struggles this much. He could still be put on the practice squad, having just one accrued season so far in his career.

Dallas will likely just go with their starters and Cam Fleming as the swing tackle.

Guard/Center (5)

Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Connor Williams,
Joe Looney, Marcus Martin

Changes: Added Joe Looney

With Chaz gone, that opens up a spot for Joe Looney to be retained. The Cowboys could go with some younger prospect, but until one emerges then Looney is reliable depth at both guard and center.

The guy who might push Looney or Marcus Martin out is Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second team last night and is a former fifth-round pick. Injuries derailed his early career in Tampa Bay, but Edwards has a chance to get back on track in Dallas.

Taco Charlton, Rams

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

Defensive End (6)

DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton
Charles Tapper, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong

Changes: Added Crawford and Tapper, Removed Kony Ealy

With Crawford being listed as a starting DE on the official depth chart, and having played there last night, I think it's time to make the switch. Tyrone even looked leaner as if he's been working on his body to do more work on the edge.

After reports that veteran free agent Kony Ealy hasn't shown much in camp, and no signs of life last night, I'm cutting him loose. Dallas has too many younger options with upside.

Keeping Tapper and Gregory may be a bit much, but it really is indicative of the versatility and style of the defensive line. Guys like Crawford, Tapper, and even Lawrence or Taco could play inside on some passing downs. What you need are as many athletes who can get to the quarterback as possible.

Defensive Tackle (4)

Jihad Ward, Datone Jones, Brian Price,
Antwaun Woods

Changes: Moved Tyrone Crawford to DE, Added Woods
Removed Richard Ash

Antwaun Woods is the big mover, going from obscurity to being one of the most hyped defensive linemen in camp right now. He didn't have big game last night, but he's been pushing for a starting job based on his play in Oxnard.

I don't have Maliek Collins listed because he's on PUP now, and I expect will remain there to start the season. David Irving is missing due to his four-game suspension to start 2018.

Hopefully we will get to see more of Jihad Ward in the next few preseason games. He should be starting at least in September, and perhaps beyond depending on how he performs.

Justin March-Lillard, 49ers

Dallas Cowboys LB Justin March-Lillard

Linebacker (6)

Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch,
Damien Wilson, Joe Thomas, Justin March-Lillard

Changes: None

Last night only confirmed what we already assumed about this group. Jaylon flashed in his limited playing time, Vander Esch had a strong night, and the veteran backups stood out.

Joe Thomas got an interception off a tipped ball. Justin March-Lillard showed his versatility with a big QB hit off a blitz, plus a pass deflection. It was a great night to further establish the quality depth that these two veterans offer.

Damien Wilson started the game, but Sean Lee was out. It will be interesting to see who starts between Wilson and Vander Esch when the captain is active.

Cornerback (5)

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones,
Anthony Brown, Charvarious Ward

Changes: Added Ward, Removed Kameron Kelly and Duke Thomas

Our top four is locked in, so it all comes down to the bottom of the depth chart. Based on training camp over last night's game, Charvarious Ward has been the standout player and is my current pick for the roster.

I dumped two corners to add a fourth safety, which I didn't have in the last projection. Duke Thomas did have a pick last night but it was more a bad throw and tipped ball that landed in his lap.

But really, between Thomas, Ward, Kam Kelly, and Marquez White, I could be flip-flopping a lot on these last one or two corners between now and final cuts. In the end, the decision will probably come down to things I didn't get to see in training camp and practice.

Cowboys 2018 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 1

Dallas Cowboys S Marqueston Huff (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

Safety (4)

Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier,
Marqueston Huff

Changes: Added Huff

With a pass breakup and a nice special teams play in punt coverage last night, Huff drew eyes last night. I was already intrigued by the former fourth-round pick, and he didn't disappoint.

Of course, Marqueston's spot could be going to Earl Thomas if that deal ever gets done. But for now, Huff is a potential backup with 41 career games under his belt.

I still think Dallas could easily go with just three safeties and keep a sixth corner, and special teams will play heavily into that decision. If Huff keeps making plays like he did last night he will make a great case to stick on the roster.

Special Teams (3)

Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur

Changes: None

As always, we end things with this boringly consistent trio. For the positions they play, though, there is no greater compliment.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Schedule: Reaction and Analysis

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

The full NFL 2019 regular season schedule was released last night. Here is my reaction to the Dallas Cowboys' schedule and analysis of how what I think it means for them next season.

Of course, a schedule can have a very different feel come September-December than it does in April. The teams don't change, but their circumstances can be wildly altered by the time they actually have to take the field.

Just ask the Cowboys' opponents from the 2015 season. Nobody was looking forward to playing that Dallas team coming off its 12-4 playoff run the year before. But all it took was a Tony Romo injury in the preseason to suddenly make the Cowboys a cupcake.

But for now, we can only react to what we know. Before we dive in, here's a quick reminder of the complete 2019 regular season schedule for the Dallas Cowboys.

    • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints (SNF)
    • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys (SNF)
    • Week 8: BYE
    • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants  (SNF)
    • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys (MNF)
    • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys (T'giving)
    • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
    • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys

We already knew this wasn't going to be an easy slate. The Cowboys won the NFC East last year, meaning they were guaranteed to play against four division winners this season; Bears, Patriots, Rams, and Saints. They also get the regular two games against the Eagles, who were a Wild Card team last year.

Let's just talk about those six games for a minute. New England is still New England; Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will ensure that it's one of the toughest games of the year, and especially on the road. The Patriots have won 12-straight home games going back to 2017.

The Bears and Rams are both rising teams that shouldn't suffer any drop off next year. Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky is entering his third year and LA's Jared Goff will be in his fourth season, but only third in Sean McVay's offense. Both have starting QBs with rookie contacts, which means having the resources to load up on talent elsewhere on the roster.

Much like the Patriots, the Saints still have their franchise QB and coach and should remain a top team. They will also be out for blood after the Cowboys humiliated them last season, as will their fans, and that could make for a very tough road game in New Orleans.

Then, of course, there are the Eagles.

Eagles vs Redskins Tonight; What Outcome is Best for Cowboys?

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

The NFC East appears to be a two-horse race in 2019. The Giants are arguably the worst team in the NFL right now and the Redskins are dealing with major QB problems. It should be Dallas and Philadelphia once again battling for the top spot.

The Cowboys and Eagles should both get some cushy wins against their fellow division opponents. It could come down to their games against each other, and so far Dallas has dominated Philly when Carson Wentz is playing QB. With Nick Foles gone, how will that impact the Eagles going forward?

As for the rest of the schedule, the only other game that seems easy on paper is against the Miami Dolphins. Teams like the Bills, Jets, and Lions could go either way. The Packers and Vikings should both be tough opponents.

The teams aside, the general layout of the schedule isn't bad. The Week 8 bye is nice for a break right in the middle of the season. Dallas only has to play back-to-back road games one time, Weeks 11 and 12 against the Lions and Patriots.

The first three games against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins give Dallas a great opportunity to start the year right and build momentum. They will definitely need to go into December with some cushion, because that stretch against the Bears, Rams, and Eagles could be very difficult.

Overall it's a solid schedule. It's got some tough spots because of the Cowboys' performance last year, but that means they were a good team then and they stand to be even better now. There's nothing here that prevents Dallas from building on the success of 2018 and making then an ever better season.



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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia

Although we're still months away from the 2019 NFL season, we finally know how the Dallas Cowboys' games will line up this year. The entire league schedule was just released. I know just how much you want to know who the Cowboys will be playing each week so don't let me keep you.

Here's the full 2019 Dallas Cowboys schedule and a few notes at the end. Enjoy!

  • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Sep 8th, 3:25p
  • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Sun, Sep 15th, 12:00p
  • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Sun, Sep 22nd, 12:00p
  • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints
    • Sunday Night Football
    • Sep, 29th, 7:20p
  • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 6th, 3:25p
  • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Sun, Oct 13th, 3:25p
  • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 20th, 7:20p
  • Week 8: Bye
  • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants 
    • Monday Night Football
    • Mon, Nov 4th, 7:15p
  • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Nov 10th, 7:20p
  • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Sun, Nov 17th, 12:00p
  • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Sun, Nov 24th, 3:25p
  • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys
    • Thanksgiving Day
    • Thu, Nov 28th, 3:30p
  • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears
    • Thursday Night Football
    • Thu, Dec 4th, 7:20p
  • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 15th, 3:25p
  • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Sun, Dec 22nd, 3:25p
  • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 29th, 12:00p

A few notes and thoughts...

  • It feels like the Cowboys play the Giants on week 1 just about every year. In 2018 it was the Carolina Panthers, but now we're back to watching this divisional matchup early on.
  • I love that the Cowboys and Saints will matchup against each other on primetime on week 3. Last season's Thursday Night game between the two was one of the best games of the season.
  • Having a bye week right in the middle of the season is pretty ideal, and the Cowboys have been lucky in this regard lately. This time they'll rest on the eight week of the season.
  • Overall, this seems like a tougher calendar than last year's. This only makes sense given that the Cowboys are the current NFC East champions and are bound to face tougher opponents.
  • A particularly tough stretch might take place from week 12 to week 17. The Patriots, Bears and Rams will be on the list as well as two divisional rivals in the Eagles and Redskins.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Cowboys to Use 5th-Year Option on Ezekiel Elliott’s Contract

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Rams

To nobody's surprise, the Dallas Cowboys intend to exercise the fifth-year option on star Running Back Ezekiel Elliott's contract. This will keep Zeke signed with the Cowboys through the 2020 season.

The deadline for teams to use the options years on the draft class of 2016 is Thursday, May 2nd, just a few days following the 2019 NFL Draft.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on the team eventually exercising the fifth-year option on Ezekiel Elliott's contract: "Obviously we're gonna do it.

It's appropriate that Stephen said "obviously," because there is no reason for the Cowboys not to utilize this provision. It's one of the perks of drafting a player in the first round; the option does not apply to any other rookie deals.

Right now, the 2020 option year projects to pay Elliott around $10 million. That is a bargain considering other franchise backs like Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, and David Johnson are all now averaging $13-$14 million per season.

In fact, it may be more of a discount than Zeke is willing to give. He may very well holdout if the team doesn't give him a new contact closer to his market value.

For all we know, the Cowboys have every intention of doing just that. This move is little more than a formality; a placeholder that prevents Elliott from entering unrestricted free agency in 2020 and secures his rights while a new deal is negotiated.



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