The Dallas Cowboys finished with a losing record of 4-12 in 2015, and I think we can all agree that the main reason the season ended so badly was because of the rash of injuries that befell some of the key contributors on both offense and defense.
The injuries to quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant received most of the publicity, and rightfully so, but there are other members in the Cowboys roster that impacted the overall performance as well.
Did you know that cornerback Brandon Carr played the majority of the season with a shoulder injury?
How about the fact that defensive end Jeremy Mincey had an elbow injury that kept him from being able to fully straighten his arm?
Also, did you know defensive end Tyrone Crawford battled through a shoulder injury the majority of the season that impacted his effectiveness?
In Crawford's case the injury required off-season surgery, but according to Twitter it sounds as if his shoulder is already twice as strong as it was during the 2015 season.
Tyrone Crawford said at the end of last season he couldn't bench 225 pounds because of his shoulder injury. Now, he's maxing at 450
Crawford at 100% should greatly benefit the Cowboys defensive line and boost the pass rush, but there is one player's return that I am greatly anticipating, Orlando Scandrick.
Orlando Scandrick was lost for the entire 2015 season when he was injured in practice on August 25. Scandrick went to the ground when he was trying to cover wide receiver Lucky Whitehead and ended up tearing both his ACL and MCL in his knee.
I know we can probably argue back and forth about who might be more important to the defense in 2016 between Tyrone Crawford and Orlando Scandrick, but I fully believe that Scandrick's return is more beneficial.
It's the chicken and the egg argument all over again. The better the pass rush, the better the secondary will perform. And then there is the opposing argument that the longer the secondary can cover the receivers, the more time the pass rush has to get to the quarterback.
Since we know there is an uncertainty about who exactly will start at defensive end and rush the passer for the beginning of the season due to Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence's four-game suspension, the more time the fill ins have to get to the QB, the better. This is where Scandrick's return will probably help the most.
Depending on who you talk to, #32 is the Cowboys best cornerback. He may not be the most physically gifted, but he makes up for it in feistiness.
Scandrick is a student of the game and it really shows through his play on the field. He has been regulated to playing out of the slot the majority of his career, but he's just as capable of playing outside as well. In fact, you may remember that he beat out Morris Claiborne back in 2014 to win the starting spot opposite Brandon Carr.
Personally, I'm hoping that his return can inject some attitude into not only the secondary, but the entire defense.
The Cowboys defense doesn't really have that emotional leader, and I think that something #32 will provide once he returns. His presence should help everyone in the secondary and I think this will be especially true for Byron Jones who is hoping to avoid a sophomore slump.
He has always played with a chip on his shoulder, probably having something to do with being drafted in the fifth round, but it's that chip that has made him the player he is today.
I'm personally expecting really good things from the defense in 2016. I think they proved to us in 2015 that they can keep the score close enough to win games, despite not getting much help from the offense.
Scandrick's return should only help solidify an already solid defensive unit and hopefully he is able to inject some of that attitude he's been carrying around for a while now.
So, let's just all hope that the injuries that decimated the Cowboys in 2015 don't rear their ugly head once again.
It's time to get things back on track and I think the return of Orlando Scandrick is just one of the stepping stones that can be used to put the team back into contention.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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