The Dallas Cowboys moved Center Travis Frederick and Wide Receiver Terrance Williams to injured reserve on Saturday. Despite needing only one roster spot freed up to activate Defensive Tackle David Irving, who will not make his season debut in Houston on Sunday, both moves are not a surprise. While Williams' injury is a last-minute addition to this week's injury report, allowing the Cowboys to make their desired move with the sixth year WR, Frederick continues to battle GSB and has no timetable to return.
The earliest possible return date for Frederick is the Cowboys week 15 game at the Indianapolis Colts. Until then, and very plausibly beyond this point through the regular season, the Cowboys starting center will continue to be veteran Joe Looney.
The Cowboys allowing Frederick to focus on his recovery without the pressure of possibly returning with each passing week is a nod to Looney's admiral performance through four games this season. It should also serve as a point of reassurance for the entire Cowboys offense, inspired by OL play, that the team can properly evaluate depth players across the line to maintain their status as the league's best front.
Looney was signed in 2016 as insurance at both guard and center, playing his way onto the field in Jumbo packages as an extra tight end. "Jumbo Joe" took on a persona of his own, mainly as a player here to stay, particularly when he showed up to practice in Ezekiel Elliott's #21 jersey - pulling off the crop top look at 315 pounds.
Joe Looney dressed as Ezekiel Elliott before today's practice (photo credit: @VBdmnphoto)
Looney will not make four Pro Bowls. He will likely never be a first team All-Pro selection. When asked to block some of the best defensive tackles in the game this season though, the Cowboys have not experienced a noticeable drop from Looney's level of play to Frederick's.
Elliott still leads the league in rushing, and rookie Left Guard Connor Williams has been able to develop as planned despite not starting between Tyron Smith and Frederick. Thinking all the way back to draft night, I asked Williams about the importance of learning from two perennial All-Pros. As expected, he responded with some general thoughts on his excitement to play with all of the Cowboys linemen - Looney included.
No, Williams didn't specifically mention Joe Looney at the time, but he's become as much a part of the Cowboys culture on offense as any other blocker.
Having already dealt with Kawann Short of the Panthers (11 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QB hits this season) and Damon Harrison of the Giants (19 tackles, 1 QB hit) this season, Looney faces another stout test on Sunday night in Texans nose tackle D.J. Reader.
Expect the center that pulled his best Frederick impression by blocking in space on Elliott's 38-yard screen pass for a touchdown a week ago -- motivated by some imaginary Krispy Kreme donuts in the end zone - to hold up just fine once again.
Cowboys C Joe Looney on his down-field block near goal line on Ezekiel Elliott's 38-yard TD on screen: "Everybody was just so surprised about how fast I was running & I told them, there was a little @krispykreme box down there that I saw & I had to go down there and get me one.
The Cowboys need not look past Looney when dispelling the myth that their offensive line play has regressed. More importantly, nobody in Paul Alexander's room would buy into this in the slightest, especially a confident starter like Looney that now has the full trust of his teammates and coaching staff.
Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline
This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".
The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu
Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.
Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.
A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.
In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.
With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.
Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.
For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension
Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately, for his public intoxication arrest last May.
Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.
Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.
However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.
In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.
Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.
The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.
Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.
Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.
But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.
Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.
Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.
For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.
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