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Cowboys DL David Irving Returns Today; Who’s Out?

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

One of the most intriguing players on the Cowboys roster, defensive lineman David Irving, will rejoin the team today after serving his four-game suspension for PED use. Irving will make his 2017 debut this Sunday as the Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers in a critical Week 5 matchup, with the difference between 3-2 or 2-3 on the line.

Because suspended players don't count against your 53-man roster limit, Irving's return means the Cowboys will have to lose somebody to make room. There has been a lot of speculation about who will hit the discard pile. Here's my take.

Kellen Moore

QB Kellen Moore

The question of who should be released is an easy one for me.  Backup quarterback Kellen Moore, who got outclassed during the preseason by rookie Cooper Rush, could probably be put on the street and remain a free agent. He also still has practice squad eligibility, meaning Dallas could keep him associated with the team to assist the other QBs and coaches in game preparation. I would pull that trigger without hesitation.

The fact that Moore is still here, though, suggests the team doesn't want to make that play. Therefore, we have to look elsewhere for our roster limit casualty. After being inactive for the first four weeks of 2017, running back Darren McFadden could make sense.  Alfred Morris is the clear number-two RB now and Rod Smith brings too much on special teams. McFadden is the odd man out.

However, Ezekiel Elliott's ongoing legal status is why Dallas may not want to part with McFadden just yet. Until they have complete certainty that Elliott will play the entire season, the Cowboys will likely hang on to McFadden as he would probably find work if he hit the open market. Nothing in the NFL emulates fantasy football more than the RB position, where teams are scouring the waiver wire all year to deal with injuries.

Charles Tapper

DE Charles Tapper

Since David Irving is a defensive lineman, some might assume that's where the cut will come from. Second-year DE Charles Tapper has been targeted by some as he's been inactive the last few weeks. Irving is also able to play inside tackle, so Brian Price has also been discussed.

Right now the Cowboys only have nine defensive linemen, so adding Irving as a tenth would not create an unusual surplus. My gut feeling is that they don't want to lose any of their DL pieces this early in the year and with so much time for injuries to take a toll.

That same logic could be said about cornerback, where Dallas has six guys right now. Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie were out last week with injuries, allowing veteran Bene Benwikere to be active. Awuzie is expected back this week, though, to join Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis at the top of the depth chart.

If the Cowboys are going to have those CBs active, and Carroll waiting in the wings, I think Benwikere is the easiest cut they can make. He doesn't do you any good in street clothes. If a future need arises at CB, Dallas might call up Marquez White from the practice squad or could potentially re-sign Benwikere from free agency.

There are plenty of options but these are the most likely routes that the Cowboys will take. We should find out pretty soon.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Dan

    October 3, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Taco

  2. George_Johnson

    October 3, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Jess Haynie: You along with many others continue to under estimate K Moore. For some reason you also don’t trust the coaches overall assessments and evaluations of K Moore and who they believe is more likely to be successful than C Rush, if something happened to D Prescott. The coaches OBVIOUSLY don’t feel C Rush is ready or tested enough to be the 2nd team backup even though he has shown great promise in preseason. They see these two QBs every day in practice so should be the best people to make a judgement about which QB would be the most successful all things considered. I am glad you are not coaching based on your definitive comments about K Moore and what you would do if you were coach. The 2nd team QB position is a key position on the team and the risk to the starting QB is great, therefore every team needs a 2nd team QB that can come into the game and be able to move the offense and have some success. There is plenty of evidence for the coaches to have more faith in K Moore vs C Rush such as 1) K Moore has had some success in the NFL both in preseason and season games. C Rush has played about six quarters in preseason at mostly 3rd team QB., 2) K Moore has more experience and has been in the NFL for going on six years and has played for two teams, 3) K Moore knows the offense/playbook/Linehan game plans annd thi

    • Ervinlang318

      October 3, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      If any of this was the case he would have remained #2

      • George_Johnson

        October 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

        He did remain # 2. Did something change since the last game?

  3. Travis Diggs

    October 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

    They aint getting rid of 9 live kellen moore. He’s the only Nfl player besides Mark Sanchez that i know who gets rewarded for poor play But you cant tell cowboys fans anything. I got called a racist for stating that Jeff Heath wasnt athletic enough to be our starting safety ?? 4 weeks in and theirs a article on here calling for his job. Im a cowboys fan but cant stand the logic of some fans You know why we havent been to a super bowl in 22 years?? Because we accept mediocre players and make up excuses for them, case and point, Kellen Moore and Jeff Heath

    • George_Johnson

      October 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

      A few points. K Moore is not playing and not likely to play as Dak is young, big, strong and athletic and not likely to get hurt. If K Moore had to play this whole issue would come to a head fast. K Moore would either play okay or not. The coaching would also be brought into question if K Moore played lousy which most fans think he would. Again as I said above the coaches are not fools. Their careers can be on the line. They see something in K Moore that the fans don’t and it is not his ability to mentor and coach D Prescott. If Dallas even now could get a better player than K Moore at 2nd team at a similar cost they would likely go for it. Again they are not fools.

  4. Russ_Te

    October 3, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    9 on the DL should be enough IMO, considering Marinelli’s propensity to drop 8 on long downs.

    The other pressing question is how to work the jigsaw puzzle of the DL. I posted last week about trying Collins at LDT since he could in theory cash in the coming double-teams on Lawrence. They did it and we didn’t get anything from it.

    But I cannot mess with the emergent Lawrence. I don’t want to flip him as he’s done in the past. Irving showed bursts last year at LDE, but I doubt can do it at RDE. I think that puts him inside for most of his 2017 reps.

    We need somebody to be a wrecking ball next to Lawrence.

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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