We are just four Sundays away, people. Four Sundays separate us from the greatest experience of our lives… Dallas Cowboys football.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most storied franchises throughout the entire NFL. Their players grace the pages of Pro Football History and are regarded as some of the best to ever suit up.
As we continue our Countdown To Kickoff series we look at a player who helped shape both Dallas Cowboys and NFL History during the days that he hit the field. Follow along as we unveil the Greatest 28 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 28 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
When Dave Campo took a scouting trip to Arizona State University in 1992 he spotted what he would later recount as, “a linebacker who looked like a safety in waiting.” This little nugget of information would come in handy during the draft that year, when in the second round the Dallas Cowboys selected someone who would become a cornerstone player on one of the most elite dynasties ever assembled in NFL History.
The former ASU outside linebacker who was regarded as too small for his position became larger than life at his new one – safety.
Woodson spent the majority of his rookie season in the NFL mostly in on nickel defense and special teams (he actually led the special teams in tackles with 19).
Adjusting to life in the NFL can be tough for a rookie. The game is played at a much higher speed than at the collegiate level, and the toughest position to translate over to has long been considered the cornerback spot. While Darren was only in on certain situations his rookie year he dove in head first during his sophomore season when he became the starting strong safety.
Already coming off of a Super Bowl victory his rookie year, Darren Woodson flourished in the starting role as he and the Cowboys repeated as Champions of the World. The star on Woodson’s helmet shined a little brighter than most as he set a Cowboys franchise record for tackles by a defensive back with 155.
Watch Out For Woody
By 1994 Darren Woodson, aka Woody, was a household name. For starters, he was a Dallas Cowboy. Beyond that Darren was a critical element to the best team in the NFL, and on top of that he was quickly becoming regarded as the best safety in the league.
Darren wasn’t just the best safety in the NFL; he was the best defensive back period. He could stop the run the way that you need your strong safety to, he could drop back into coverage like a stud free safety, but most impressively… Darren would line up in the slot in nickel packages on third downs and cover receivers inside.
There are players who spend their entire NFL careers, and actually their whole lives, trying to become even decent at just one of these positions. Darren Woodson's perfect permeability was the ultimate weapon as he could be lethal from so many different angles.
You know how on those mornings after a particularly great Cowboys victory you feel like a truck hit you? That’s literally how anyone who was ever tackled by Darren Woodson feels all the time.
Darren Woodson laid the wood. Hard.
Since he joined the NFL in 1992 Woodson was immediately recognized as one of the hardest hitting trucks, I mean safeties, in the league. He would just level guys - decimating all of their hopes, dreams, and nervous systems.
Tackle after tackle, victim after victim, Darren’s tackle total grew. One by one the hits were heard around the bowels of Texas Stadium.
The legend of Darren Woodson and his hard hits grew. On October 27th, 2002 – in a game where Emmitt Smith became the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher – Darren Woodson joined the record books himself.
Darren Woodson became the Dallas Cowboys All-Time Leader in Tackles.
This is an incredible record as it speaks to many qualities about the individual that holds it. To be a franchise’s leader in tackles obviously requires an incredible amount of skill at the game of football, but it requires levels of sacrifice and durability that only a player of Darren Woodson’s caliber could give.
Woodson would add to his tackle tally and retired with 1,350 – the most in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History.
#28: Darren Woodson - Ring Of Honor Class Of 2015
The career of Darren Woodson is so incredible that it must be honored in proper fashion. Jerry Jones and Co. decided on August 4th, 2015 that Darren Woodson would join the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
The honor is a long time coming for a player with the career resume of Woodson:
- 5 Pro Bowl Selections (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998)
- 3 First-Team All-Pro Selections (1994, 1995, 1996)
- 3 Super Bowl Victories (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
- 1,350 career tackles… the most in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History
The legend of Darren Woodson will live on forever as future generations of fans will surely still hear the crack of shoulder pads from Woody leveling somebody. The Dallas Cowboys Dynasty of the 90s was built on the offense of the Triplets, but the defensive intensity that Woodson brought each and every play set the tone for that side of the ball.
Football fans can still enjoy Darren Woodson bringing his best to the game. He currently serves as an analyst on ESPN and most recently made an appearance at this year's NFL draft when he announced our second round pick, Randy Gregory out of Nebraska.
We will all celebrate on November 1st when Darren Woodson’s name finally does join the illustrious Ring of Honor. Today, with 28 days until the 2015 season, let us all celebrate the Greatest 28 in Dallas Cowboys History – Darren Woodson.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 27 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?
For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.
Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?
As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.
Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.
Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.
But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.
Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.
Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.
After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.
It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
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