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Cowboys Defensive Rookies Are Key In 2014

Bryson Treece



Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Defensive Rookies Are Key In 2014

It never ceases to amaze me how Cowboys fans can go from chiding the team for being too old to clamoring for a veteran signing when someone like Sean Lee goes down.

To be fair, I haven’t seen too many fans with an outlet filling their blogs with talk of bringing in a new vet to fill the void. It’s been mostly fans commenting on blogs and Facebook statuses and tweets regurgitating the tired ploys of those “geniuses” at ESPN. It’s simple math – ESPN is a ratings whore and only does what gets ratings. So it's easy to understand why they’d say the ‘Boys are interested in Jonathan Vilma or Brian Urlacher.

Blair Smith rightly claimed last week that the Cowboys had rebuilt right before our eyes, and without all the dirty team-in-rebuilding-mode talk we’re accustomed to.

As far as starting vets we've got the faces of the franchise Tony Romo and Jason Witten leading the Over 10-Years Club. Kyle Orton is up there as well as L.P. Ladouceur but the former is headed for retirement sans respect for his commitments and the latter is just a long snapper. After those four players with a decade or more in the league you’re down to eight years experience with Justin Durant, Doug free and Anthony Spencer. Then there’s 35 players with a year or less in the NFL.

So the talking heads at ESPN started on about recruiting the ever aging abilities of Urlacher and Vilma last week to replace Sean Lee, or at the very least, offer some veteran leadership and experience at one of the key positions on the Dallas defense.

It just wreaks of Zach Thomas and Keith Brooking to me. Throw in T.O. and Drew Bledsoe to boot.

The Cowboys apparently looked at both players but came away from the review unimpressed with their current abilities. Don’t get me wrong, these are two players who, in their prime, were on every team’s wish-list. Neither player is anywhere near their prime any longer so I ask, why would we even consider this?

Signing guys past their prime is a tried and failed experiment in Dallas that none of us want to see repeated. We get the big name, big ego and low talent to polarize this team with enough wins to think we’re on track without actually ever accomplishing anything.

Truth be told, Justin Durant is the most experienced player vying for Lee’s spot and he’s treacherously close to a never-was with eight seasons under his mostly unknown belt.

The likes of rookie Anthony Hitchens and others as well as Bruce Carter and DeVonte Holloman in that line are basically cause for even the most die-hard Cowboys fan to tremble with anxiety.

After last season’s dismal Cowboys defensive effort, this team needs something just short of a miracle to compete this year. Various injuries aside, the non-rookie candidates have only shown us in practice and camp what they can do, but we all know game-time is what matters. Carter has shown some promise in games.

Regardless of what I think of the choices we have, they’re the best bet for this team to put a smack down on our strengthening division in 2014. Sean Lee with a headset and clipboard will only help.

The offense got better via the draft with what should be the kind of line Romo needs protecting him. Yeah he’s a gunslinger but in spite of his successes on the run, he’s even better inside the pocket. It still remains to be seen how this newly upgraded and youthful line will help DeMarco Murray on the ground, and I stand firm that we’ll continue losing games, titles and championships as long as Murray gets stuffed at the line.

It’s time for the Dallas defense to step into the light of mediocrity, at least. These guys have got to get smarter before and after the snap. They've got to execute. If they can’t do those things then even mediocrity is going to be a struggle for them.

Of the 31 rookies in Dallas right now, 16 are defensive rookies and mostly safeties and linemen – the two areas we need the most improvement over last season. Here’s to youth and education, because we’re .500 again without them.

Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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