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Cowboys Cornerbacks Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie Receive High Praise from PFF

Sean Martin

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Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

On a national level, it may be a while until the Dallas Cowboys young secondary gets the credit it deserves. This relatively unknown unit was a consistent bright spot through a rough 2017 season, seeing rookie Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis contribute right away. Now, with Awuzie being joined by Byron Jones as the projected outside starters for Dallas, the pair of lengthy cornerbacks in Kris Richard's defense have earned honors from Pro Football Focus.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Chidobe Awuzie allowed the fewest yards per reception last season!

In grading yards allowed per reception last season, Awuzie led the league at just seven yards a catch. When on the field, the rookie out of Colorado did everything to make Cowboys Nation forget about his nagging early-season injuries.

If Awuzie is truly able to put his six missed game from 2017 behind him and take another step forward, the sky is the limit for the CB in defending this prestigious title. Rarely giving his opposing receiver a clean release at the line, Awuzie plays with ideal physicality and ball skills. This is a second-year player with all of the traits to be a star for years to come in Dallas.

PFF DAL Cowboys on Twitter

Byron Jones is one the top eight slot cornerbacks heading into the 2018 season! #CowboysNation https://t.co/w9skqeqsFN

Where things get significantly more interesting in PFF's analysis is with their grade for Byron Jones. The 2018 season will be the first since Jones' rookie year that he officially plays as a cornerback full time. This didn't stop PFF from using his snaps as a cover CB from 2017 to grade him as one of their top slot corners.

Where Byron Jones has earned this prestige is in his work covering opposing tight ends. Exactly how much he'll be doing this moving forward remains to be seen. If purely playing to his strengths, the Cowboys could find themselves in a log jam at the inside CB position.

Second-year Cornerback Jourdan Lewis should have the fast track to start inside after doing so brilliantly at Michigan. Playing with the same technique on the outside for the Cowboys in 2017, Lewis shouldn't be coming off the field much, but has seen 2016 draft pick Anthony Brown cut into his opportunities.

Struggling through much of his second season, Brown has his work cut out for him to not become an afterthought for this secondary. Even without factoring him into the equation, a pairing of Awuzie and Jones on the outside is as exciting as it gets. Not only are the Cowboys prepared to play to both defenders strengths in locking down passing games for years to come, but the depth elsewhere on the roster will allow match ups to be dictated all over the field.

The Cowboys best kept secret may very well still be Kris Richard, who inherits two league-leading starters right off the bat for a Dallas team also featuring Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and Kavon Frazier at safety along with Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, and Leighton Vander Esch as linebacker.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Cornerbacks Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie Receive High Praise from PFF" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Report: Center Travis Frederick Undergoing Shoulder Evaluation

Kevin Brady

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Travis Frederick

After missing the team's walkthrough this morning, it is being reported that Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated due to multiple stingers. According to reports, Frederick has been dealing with stingers all training camp, and the Cowboys are unsure what is wrong with his shoulder.

Frederick rarely misses any practice time at all, and has not missed a start since he entered the league in 2013. He's the catalyst of this offensive line, and will be greatly missed if his injury is severe enough to make him miss regular season game time.

David Helman on Twitter

Jason Garrett says Travis Frederick is getting his shoulder looked at in Los Angeles. He's been dealing with stingers. No update behind that #cowboyswire

Joe Looney has been tasked with replacing Frederick for the time being, taking first team center reps during today's walk through and practice.

Given how meaningless Saturday's game is, I'd expect Looney to start at center against the Bengals this weekend as well. Hopefully the evaluation reveals that Frederick's issues are not serious and he will be ready for game one, but consistent stingers will always make fans fear for the worst.



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Cowboys G Marcus Martin Needs Surgery; Impact on 53-Man Roster

Jess Haynie

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Marcus Martin
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Martin, the veteran guard Dallas signed as a free agent last March, suffered a potential season-ending injury in the team's preseason opener last Thursday night. Just how long he'll be out is still be determined, but it still should impact the Cowboys' final 53-man roster this season.

Martin tore ligaments in his right big toe against the 49ers. However, as of yesterday, it was not decided if he would pursue surgery.

Brandon George on Twitter

The Cowboys don't expect backup OG Marcus Martin to play this season after he tore ligaments in his big toe in the preseason opener, but he's seeking a 2nd opinion before deciding whether to have surgery. Martin signed a 1-year deal with Dallas as a free agent this offseason.

A former third-round pick in 2014, the 24-year-old was brought in as a potential reserve at both guard at center. He was still in competition with Joe Looney and others for a roster spot, though, and his minimal one-year contract suggested nothing was guaranteed.

Even if Martin doesn't have surgery, he is almost sure to miss the start of the season. Dallas would likely place him on injured reserve, but still have the option to recall him after Week 8.

Marcus' absence all but guarantees that Looney will return in 2018. This will be his third year in the system and his ability to play center is critical.

In my 53-man roster projection last week, I had both Looney and Martin making the team. So if I had that right, that means a spot has opened up for probably fifth-year veteran Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second unit in the preseason opener.

The notorious Chaz Green, who has played guard at times, could also be the beneficiary of the open roster spot.

Damien Mama, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who Dallas added this offseason, is the only other guard currently on the roster. We should get to see more of him as the preseason continues.

Marcus Martin's availability, or lack thereof, and how it ultimately impacts the roster will be determined in the coming weeks.



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LB Jaylon Smith 100% Healthy Entering 2018 Season

Brian Martin

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#DALvsIND: 5 Cowboys Storylines To Watch In Preseason Week 2 1

If you need any more reason to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys upcoming 2018 season, then look no further than their 2016 second-round draft pick, Jaylon Smith. His comeback story from the devastating knee injury he sustained in his last collegiate game at Notre Dame has been well-documented, but recent news suggests his journey has finally come full circle.

Once considered a top-five pick, Smith saw his draft stock plummet due to concerns he may never be able to step foot on the field ever again. Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were willing to gamble he would be able to make a full recovery and once again become the player he was with the Fighting Irish.

The long and grueling rehab process couldn't have been easy to endure. Jaylon Smith was forced to pretty much redshirt his rookie season and played on a pitch count Year 2 while he continued to rehab, waiting for nerve regeneration that may never fully heal.

Luckily for him, he joined a team with a really good support system both on and off the field. A support system that just so happened to include his brother, Running Back Rod Smith. It's that support system that could have made a huge difference in his approach to rehab. An approach that may have finally paid off.

Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LBs Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith

All reports indicate Jaylon Smith is 100% healthy once again, or as close to it as possible. Rod Smith, his brother, said Jaylon is back to being as good as he was at Notre Dame. Jaylon however said he is even better than he was. But, they are not the only ones weighing in on Smith's health.

Scouting Director Will McClay went on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio Monday morning and declared LB Jaylon 100 percent healthy from the injury he suffered in college that kept him out his rookie season in 2016 and had him on a pitch count in 2017.

Will McClay isn't the only one that has noticed a difference in Jaylon Smith. Head Coach Jason Garrett has said Smith has grown leaps and bounds from last year and are treating him like a player with no limitations.

"Again, he worked hard in his rehab. Coming into this off-season he was able to take that brace off. I think that's freed him up a little bit," Garrett said.

"And he just looks much more natural. So again, you'll have to ask him that very question, but from our point of view, he looks like he's moving around really well, changing direction really well, making a lot of plays. I think he's gaining more confidence with each day. We really don't have a plan for him right now. He's full-go and ready to practice every day with no limitation."

All of these accounts certainly make it sound like Jaylon Smith's arrow is trending upwards and that he is as healthy as he has been since joining the Dallas Cowboys.

Luckily, we don't have long to see him in action. I don't know about you, but Thursday night when the Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Week 1 of the NFL Preseason can't get here soon enough.

Are you excited to see a 100% healthy Jaylon Smith this season?



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