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Cowboys Camp: 5 Bold Predictions to Start Training Camp

John Williams

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Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee

The Dallas Cowboys have welcomed their rookies to training camp which began July 19th, inside The Star in Frisco, Texas. This means we're not far off from opening ceremonies of training camp 2017 which starts on July 24th.

With the preseason nigh upon us, that means we can begin the "process" of predicting how the 2017 NFL Season is going to turn out.

With that, here are five bold predictions for the Dallas Cowboys 2017 training camp.

Could The Cowboys Keep Six Wide Receivers? 2

Ohio State Buckeyes Wide Receiver Noah Brown #80 (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

1. Noah Brown is the WR Darling of Training Camp

Whether it was Andy Jones in 2016 or Devin Street in 2014 and 2015, the story is the same every year.

Some unknown wide receiver makes a lot of plays against second and third team players (who aren't going to be on the roster) and Twitter and Cowboys sites go ablaze predicting their future stardom.

You can read Sean Martin's post-draft scouting report on Noah Brown.

This year it's going to be Noah Brown. While Brown arguably has an outside shot to make the 53 man roster out of training camp, it's likely as the 6th wide receiver and will be more of a result of his blocking ability than his receiving ability. Cause let's be honest. Who on the depth chart is Brown going to displace?

Not Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, or Ryan Switzer. He might have a shot to knock Brice Butler off the roster, but it's likely that Dallas brought Butler back for quarterback Dak Prescott. Don't forget how important continuity is.

Brown has ability and can make plays. Just check the highlights from Ohio State's game against Oklahoma last year -- sad face. He was unreal. There was a reason, though, that he was drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has some things to work on.

Going against 2nd and 3rd team players are going to give Cowboys fans a lot of excitement.

2. Kellen Moore Silences His Critics

You may have noticed a trend here at Inside The Star. We don't like the Cowboys prospects if any meaningful games need to be played by Kellen Moore.

I really don't think a successful preseason will cement #KelMo's status as the career backup to Dak Prescott, but it will definitely silence people like me.

See what I wrote about Kellen Moore when I asked Who's Already Locked Up a Spot on the 53 Man Roster?

I don't think he's good enough to play in the NFL.

I've said as much several times.

That said, he will probably play well enough in the preseason against backups to maintain his hold on the depth chart. He'll get a chance to throw to Ryan Switzer, Brice Butler, and Noah Brown and behind a decent offensive line too.

If he is ever going to show that he belongs in the NFL, now is the time to do it. The Dallas Cowboys need to solidify their backup quarterback position and with Kellen's age, he can likely be that guy for the next decade.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp 4

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Rico Gathers #80 (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

3. Rico Gathers is Ready to Roll

Since the Cowboys made Rico Gathers their 6th round pick in 2016, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the former Baylor basketball standout.

With the size of a defensive end and the hands and athleticism to play tight end, Cowboys Nation has been eager and excited to see what the big man has to offer.

With depth at tight end a question mark, now is as good a time as any to realize that potential that has everyone dreaming of Rico in the red zone.

Blocking will be the biggest key to Gathers making the roster and having an impact during games. Now with a full offseason in the Dallas Cowboys program, and having spent much of last year working with Tony Romo on the scout team, Gathers should be ready to make an impact.

He isn't going to supplant Jason Witten on the depth chart. That just isn't going to happen, but he could provide the stability that has been lacking with injuries to James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.

Get ready, because this preseason will be the one we all look back on and say, "that's when Rico became Rico."

4. Jaylon Smith Starts Season on the PUP List

As excited as we all are about the prospects of former All-American linebacker Jaylon Smith making an impact on the defense, the reality is he's a valuable resource that the team shouldn't rush onto the field.

Brian Martin talked about the progress that Smith has made this offseason and the new brace that he's wearing.

Like Marcus Mosher--from Locked on Cowboys and Bleacher Report--tweeted the other day, there's no reason to rush him to the field if he isn't 100%. Let him continue to improve and get healthier before bringing him back.

Getting Jaylon at 100% come playoff time will be a huge lift to the defense.

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: RB #46 Alfred Morris 1

Dallas Cowboys Running Back Alfred Morris #46 (James D Smith via AP)

5. Alfred Morris is a Cut-Down Day Casualty

As excited as we all were about Alfred Morris' signing last offseason, it's been met with an equal amount of disappointment. Outside of the first game or two when Ezekiel Elliott seemed to be trying to find his NFL legs, Morris was pretty underwhelming in his first season in Dallas.

Every statistical category was a career low for Morris; carries, yards, touchdowns, and receptions were all disappointing. The category that is the most troubling, however, is his yards per carry. 3.1 represented a career low for the now six-year pro.

Behind what is considered, at the very least, a top-five offensive line in the NFL that featured the league leader in rushing yards, Morris should have been better.

If no suspension befalls Ezekiel Elliott, I could see the Cowboys going in a different direction with their third running back. Someone like Rod Smith offers more athleticism and versatility, while also playing special teams.

As much as we all wanted Morris to be the guy that ran for over 1,000 yards his rookie season, he just hasn't been that guy. To me the writing's on the wall.

Do you expect anything surprising from Dallas' preseason?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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9 Comments
  • Willie Rogers

    Hopefully nothing happens to Prescott because 2017 will be like 2015.K.Moore already showed he is garbage that need’s to be dumped out already, cowboys get real and get a #2 guy behind Prescott.

    • George_Johnson

      K Moore is not garbage. In 2015 it was his first time playing against 1st team defenses and he had limited reps/time to get ready to play. S Linehan who probably knows more about than you, said K Moore did a lot of good things but made too many mistakes. K Moore is a student of the game and is likely to improve his mistakes. He almost set a new NCAA record for fewest interceptions in a career (28) so the guy doesn’t have a reputation of throwing interceptions. You should at least wait until after the preseason to say K Moore is garbage. He is likely to play very well and may even play better than D Prescott. He should be very ready, know the offense/playbook intimately, knows exactly what Linehan wants in any situation, has the confidence of the team and knows the other offensive players well. K Moore is a master at pocket passing and it should show up in the preseason games.

      • Willie Rogers

        K.Moore is not the answer at backup qb, if the cowboys are to win the super bowl this year they will have to find a decent backup, Jason Garrett should know this all to well while he was riding the bench behind, Kosar,& Steve Buerlien.Get a legitimate backup and Luke McCown will definitely be a disaster.

  • George_Johnson

    Glad to see that you believe if K Moore plays well in preseason it will shut up his critics. I hope so also. I will be surprised if he doesn’t play well as he is an outstanding pocket passer. He does have physical limitations that can impact his play. He cannot make rocket throws across the field or down the field. S Linehan who should be one of the top QB experts in the world says he can play in the NFL. He says his arm is strong enough. He also says K Moore knows his limitation but is able to get the job done in his own way. Linehan also says he is very accurate, smart and uses uncanny anticipation to make the passes.

    • John Williams

      Like I’ve said before, I’m not so confident in Moore’s ability as a long term answer if Dak goes down, but if he has a solid preseason, he’ll keep his job for another year, as long as he doesn’t have to play in any meaningful games. Lol.

  • Daniel Helms

    I am not quick to jump on the Dak bandwagon. I actually believe Kellen needs to have a far shot to show what he can do and actually open the position of for competition. Considering Kellen’s opportunity was setup by first not even allowing him to practice the with the 1’s until the week after Cassel was benched. By the way they should have never assumed that Cassel would do better than Moore because of “experience.” They should have let Moore replace Weeden and so that the pressure to be the world beater from the get go would have been lessened give Moore time to adjust to the ramp up. Secondly, I believe that most of Moore Ints had little to do with arm strength but lack of practice for both and his receivers. On the same note, Dak received all the reps in practice last year since when Romo and Moore went down there was nobody else. Even fatter that, Dak had the advantage, most of his stats were either the same as Moore or worse. For example, Dak and Moore had relative good percentages of completions and almost the same average of yards per attempt and catch, on the other side Kellen had 30 more yards per and triple the ratio of 20 yard plays per game as Dak. Everybody keeps trying to highlight the 13-3 record, but in the three games Kellen played the defense was the problem. Kellen had no real WR threat. Zeke was probably the biggest difference. With Zeke, Dallas’ run production almost doubled from the year before. Let’s also forget that even with one of the easiest schedules in Dallas’ history they won most the games in very tight contest. Another issue I saw in Dak was that opponents started to figure out how to play against him half-way through the season. He had a spat 4 games of less than 200 yard games. Keep in mind that Moore’s numbers were never below 150 yards a game while played against much tougher defenses. Stats don’t lie.

    • George_Johnson

      I agree with much of what you said. However, Dak was still nothing but amazing last year, ESPECIALLY considering he was a rookie and learning from a fire hose. I think he is likely to come back down to earth this year some and could easily go through a sophomore slump or at least have less success even if he improves his play overall. I doubt K Moore will be able to displace D Prescott. D Prescott has a stronger arm, is way more athletic, has more of the prototypical size and can run like a deer. D Prescott also has some of the same skills/abilities that K Moore has such as accuracy, good game manager, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, plays smart, poised, etc. While K Moore may be ahead of D Prescott in just reps/experience/maturity/veteran/etc. he soon will not be as D Prescott gets more and more playing experience and the coaches add more to his plate.

      • Daniel Helms

        Stronger arm and still way few 20 yard plays ratio wise how is that even possible. Besides I would much rather have pure pocket passer over an option read or running QB anyday, especially as smart as Moore is. Moore to me has plenty of arm but a little accuracy we tries to force the issue. Like the pass to Wooten in the Wash game that he over threw. Once he practices more with the receivers I believe he can open up the field far more than Prescott who seems to be limited to the sidelines. This is because Moore is more familiar with being under center and not being exclusively relying on playaction or rollout plays. This maybe because Dak is still a little raw in the strict pro style system. It could also be that he has a limited accuracy problem when throwing in the middle of the field.

    • Jess Haynie

      Sorry man, but this is pure delusion.

      Dak’s completion percentage was 67.8% to just 58.7% for Kellen. He threw four picks in 16 games while Kellen threw six INTs in just three games. He had a passer rating of 104.9 to just 71.0 for Kellen.

      You were right about one thing, though. “Stats don’t lie.”

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.

By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.

In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.

Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.

While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.

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The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.

This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.

Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.

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On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!

Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before

The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.

There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.

Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.

These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.

Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.

These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.

Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott: Top 5 Moments of The 2016 Cowboys Season

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact

With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.

One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.

There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.

He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.

Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.

Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."



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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

Brian Martin

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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.

I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?

With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.

I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.

I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?

Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler

The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.

I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.

Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.

There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?

Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.

How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?



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Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.

Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.

The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.

Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.

Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.

It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.

Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.

This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.

Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.

The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.

Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.



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