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Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 2

The Dallas Cowboys are one step closer to the 2017 season, having completed their OTAs and minicamp from The Star. Throughout these early summer weeks, the Cowboys' rookies have had a chance to get acclimated to America's Team. As has been the case throughout his initial draft process, 28th overall pick DE Taco Charlton has generated little to no buzz - although the pads have yet to come on for physical defenders like him to really shine.

There is little question that Taco Charlton is going to face a learning curve as he tries to take the next step as a pass rusher in the NFL - all young defensive ends do.

However, as expected, Charlton has reportedly made most of his flashes from his natural LDE position after being set up as the "answer at RDE" by Dallas' brass following his selection.

Bryan Broaddus has been doing a terrific job as always of highlighting exactly what he's seen from Taco so far at DallasCowboys.com, having this to say about his positional flexibility:

"Charlton had nice power battles with Tyron Smith on several snaps. Charlton was able to get his hand inside knocking Smith back, but the next play he wasn’t so lucky. Smith punched him with his left hand, which shocked Charlton, knocking him to the ground. When he was moved inside, Charlton’s best move was the spin, which caught the guards by surprise freeing him up on the rush and allowing him to get home." - Bryan Broaddus

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 3

I don't think it will be long into training camp - if at all - until we see the Cowboys commit Charlton to the LDE position fully. Yes, there is the fact that any right rusher work he's gotten so far has come against the best LT in the NFL in a healthy Tyron Smith, but upgrading the strong side end position with a talented rookie is far from a worst case scenario for Dallas.

Broaddus added this about the differences in Taco Charlton's game at both DE spots:

"The last two days at left end, he just looks more natural and comfortable in the way he rushes."

Cowboys Nation may collectively be disappointed at the very fact that the first round pick we all demanded be used on a pass rusher went to a player that will excel in less of a pass rushing spot, but this team is actually set up better than years past when it comes to Rod Marinelli's rotation on the right side - especially if Charlton draws enough attention on the opposite edge.

Benson Mayowa

To start, there is last year's sack leader and second-year player Benson Mayowa. With six sacks in his first season in the silver and blue, Mayowa certainly faced the challenge of adjusting to his new role as he was inactive for three weeks in the middle of the season before finishing strong.

The Cowboys will be looking for Mayowa to be an even bigger part of their DE rotation now, signing him to a three-year deal last season - clearly seeing some long-term development potential with the former Seahawk and Raider.

Of course, Marinelli's patented rotation needs to have more than two capable bodies with fresh legs pressuring the pocket. Red-shirted in his rookie season with a back injury, Charles Tapper is ready to bring his speed and freaky athleticism to the Cowboys' defensive line as well.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp 3

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Realistically, getting any valuable snaps out of Tapper at RDE to change up the looks opposing left tackles will see in dealing with Dallas pass rushers would be an invaluable addition to this defensive front in 2017.

Damontre Moore is also a new addition at the DE position, an "orphan" that's bounced around the league as the Giants' third round pick of 2013. Moore has fully embraced the opportunity to find a new home and fresh start with the Cowboys so far, fitting right in as a relentless rusher that chases down plays all across the field.

Lastly, there is always DeMarcus Lawrence - although his time could be running out with the Cowboys very soon. To debate whether or not Lawrence fits best at LDE or RDE has become relatively unimportant now, as the Cowboys just need to see Lawrence line up for 16 games and get into form. Toeing the line as another potential second round bust, Lawrence at his best is more than capable of producing off the right edge.

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 1

No, the Dallas Cowboys shouldn't force rookie Taco Charlton to play a position where he has little chance of making an impact in his first season. A steady LDE does indeed improve this team's pass rush, even if Charlton was incorrectly sold to us as the commitment at RDE the Cowboys have been - and continue to - put off.

As for actually generating pressure on the quarterback from the right side, the Cowboys seem to have an intriguing core of DEs eager to prove themselves as the RDE position as soon as training camp gets underway in Oxnard. When paired with a strong group of defensive tackles and a first round talent at one DE spot, this scrappy defensive line might not take the world by storm this season but should certainly show noticeable improvements.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

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.

Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

Dallas Cowboys LBs Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee

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.

Tell me what you think about "What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

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.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

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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