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Cowboys Minicamp: Day-2 First Team OL Features J. Cooper at LG

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Minicamp: Day-2 First Team OL Features J. Cooper at LG 2

The Dallas Cowboys took a big step towards putting their perceived best five offensive linemen on the field at Wednesday’s second day of minicamp, as 2016 free agent acquisition Jonathan Cooper was finally given the start at left guard.

The Cowboys are entering their first season since 2009 without Doug Free as their starting right tackle, which prompted them to move projected LG La’el Collins to Free’s RT spot. This has left Chaz Green (once the leading candidate to replace Free and allow Collins to start again at guard), Joe Looney, OT Emmett Cleary, and Jonathan Cooper as Dallas’ depth to find an answer at LG.

Jon Machota on Twitter

First-team offensive line on Day 2 of minicamp: LT-Tyron Smith, LG-Jonathan Cooper, C-Travis Frederick, RG-Zack Martin, RT-La’el Collins

Jonathan Cooper is by far the sexiest name on this list, as the former first round pick could resurrect his career by playing in between first round selections and Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.

Cooper has obviously not lived up to his draft status as the Cardinals’ seventh overall pick in 2013, breaking his fibula in his first preseason to start his NFL career. Injuries would be the story for Jonathan Cooper with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Patriots and later released.

Cowboys Minicamp: Day-2 First Team OL Features J. Cooper at LG

Most recently, Cooper was seen starting three games for the Browns in 2016 before being released in December and signed the next month by the Cowboys. Our Staff Writer Kevin Brady picked up with evaluating Cooper’s tape in Cleveland and found plenty of positives.

There is little doubt that Dallas presents the best chance for Cooper to turn around his pro football career, re-signed this season initially for depth but now working as a starter – a move that feels long overdue at this point in the offseason for Cowboys Nation.

Cleary had his limited flashes at LT in 2016, and Green has reportedly looked solid at a brand new position inside, but Cooper is a natural scheme fit to block in space at LG and propel the Cowboys’ running game to an entirely new level with Ezekiel Elliott in 2017.

Bryan Broaddus reviewed Jonathan Cooper in his first minicamp practice at LG – having previously seen him at center during OTAs – and had this to say:

“Jonathan Cooper took the majority of snaps at left guard with the first offense. I didn’t notice any major problems technique-wise…”

Since the Space Cowboys have come together as the consensus best offensive line in the NFL, this current offseason has likely brought the most uncertainty to the unit with changes at two positions. Assuming for a second the Cowboys feel certain about La’el Collins returning to his college position of tackle, Jonathan Cooper should get his shot to be a part of this special group as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting left guard – a spot that now belongs to him as of the start of minicamp.

Cowboys Minicamp: Day-2 First Team OL Features J. Cooper at LG 1

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys offensive line coming out of this reshuffling as their best ever incarnation for this young and loaded offense to take advantage of? This is a very real possibility, and one that opposing defensive coordinators around the league should already be losing sleep over.

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Minicamp: Day-2 First Team OL Features J. Cooper at LG” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Comments
  • Kevin Black

    I have to be honest, I’m both thrilled and concerned about Cooper playing LG. There have been discussions about his injuries robbing him of his mobility. While playing guard doesn’t exactly give you visions of nimble athletes, Dallas likes to employ pulls with their line, especially their guards. If Cooper is unable to move well in space, something that WAS a part of his game when he was drafted, it will cause some creative work on Linehan’s part to solve his pulling game.

    I’ll be quite interested in watching Cooper play in the preseason to try and tell if he’s able to handle all the duties the Cowboys expect of him.

    • ThePsychodad69

      Hard to look through a window and know what’s going on inside, so far the scoutscoaches have done a hell of a job with what they have in front of them.
      Just like real life, piss in one hand and wish in the other, which one fills up first. And let’s all enjoy what we have not what we hope for.

      • ThePsychodad69

        Marinelli has been making silk purses out of sows ears since he got here, give him some silk and let’s see what he does with it.

        If Garrett built the Oline in his image in 3yrs what makes you think it’s going to stop, I’m a fan of the ‘RHG’ and it took a while, but when I finally saw the ‘Process in writing it made sense, 3yrs to 5yrs and can’t wait to see the next 10. Garrett could be Jerry’s fadora for another decade.

        All hail the red headed genius known as (‘RHG’) ftom here on.

        Saw him speak at Princeton his 1st year as Coach, he is a motivator. And his Process is working.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

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Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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Cowboys’ DE DeMarcus Lawrence Fed Up With NFL Officiating

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Crossroads: Is This a Short-Term or Long-Term Team? 2

The Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with a 30-10 victory over the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in what was described as a must-win situation in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Typically, when these two teams square off against one another there are sure to be some kind of fireworks in the ballgame, but the final volley of explosions didn’t go off until after the completion of the game during an interview with DeMarcus Lawrence.

DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t hold back in his post game interview, especially in regard to the NFL officiating. He let his frustrations known that he is fed up and that he’s not going to take it anymore. At least not quietly that is.

Lawrence, the NFL’s sack leader, ripped the officiating crew after the Giants game Sunday afternoon for not calling any holding penalties. There was actually one holding penalty called against the Giants, but the point Lawrence was trying to make still rings true.

Joe Trahan on Twitter

Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence goes on an explosive rant about officiating, in particular, a lack of holding calls by linemen against him. And yes, Lawrence realizes he a fine is coming, whether he’s got a point, or not. And yes, he probably does. https://t.co/UU51xQi05p

DeMarcus Lawrence certainly has a right to be mad and I don’t blame him at all for voicing his frustrations about the lack of holding calls against opposing offensive lineman. This actually adds more fuel to the fire that there is indeed an officiating conspiracy against the Cowboys.

In fact, you may or may not be surprised to learn that there have only been two holding penalties called on Cowboys’ opponents in the last 10 games, including the one against the Giants Sunday afternoon. For comparison sake, the Cowboys offensive line have been flagged 18 times during that time span.

It’s gotta be a coincidence, right? Maybe, maybe not. But, one thing is for sure… DeMarcus Lawrence has had enough!

Of course, Lawrence’s outburst will surely earn him a fine from the NFL, but it may be worth it if it draws more attention to the poor officiating the Cowboys have been receiving. I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad #90 will not “go gentle into that good night“.

Do you think DeMarcus Lawrence’s frustration is justified?

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