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Cowboys Nation Mailbag: Rico Gathers Future, Bigger Veteran Addition?

John Williams

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Who Will Be The Cowboys 53rd Man?

Heading into training camp, the Dallas Cowboys will have a lot of difficult questions to answer regarding their 53-man roster. In a good way. They have so much depth on this squad that players that the team thinks highly of may not find themselves on the opening week 53-man roster come week one.

Through the draft and some solid offseason acquisitions, the Cowboys have one of the better teams in the NFL, on paper, and should contend for the NFC East and be a threat to make it to the Super Bowl.

I repeat. Should. 

It's hard not to be optimistic about this squad because of the talent and depth they have on both sides of the football. Though they have difficult questions to answer, it's one of those good problems to have.

Let's answer some mailbag questions.

Unfortunately, I think time is running out on the Rico Gathers project. He's a very intriguing prospect and has had some really good moments in the preseason. Heading into 2019, I think he gets squeezed by the depth that the Dallas Cowboys have at other positions like the defensive line, wide receiver, and offensive line.

Jason Witten's return might have sealed the deal for Gathers in 2019. Had Witten not come out of retirement, there's a strong possibility that the Dallas Cowboys head into 2019 with Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and Rico Gathers as their tight end group. With the draft being strong at the position, however, it's also possible that the Cowboys added a tight end, which would have made it increasingly difficult for the Cowboys to carry Rico into the regular season.

The one thing that he's got going for him, is the suspension. Now, I know what you're thinking, how does a suspension help Rico make the roster? It means the Cowboys don't have to make a decision on him until week two of the regular season. An injury at the tight end position, or at another position where the Cowboys are planning to carry more than usual, like the defensive line, could provide Rico with an outside shot to make the roster.


Rico has some skills that could still translate to professional football. He still has some things to work on. If Rico Gathers ever makes an impact on an NFL roster, it'll probably be somewhere else.

This is such a great question and I'm really excited to see both of these guys with a star on their helmet this fall. Both Randall Cobb and Robert Quinn will have significant impacts to the Dallas Cowboys on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The bigger impact will be made by Robert Quinn.

No disrespect to Randall Cobb, but Quinn is a former All-Pro who once had a 19 sack season in the NFL. He's one of the more respected pass rushers in the league and his presence immediately makes everyone on the defensive line that much better.

Not only does he have a positive impact on the rest of the guys on the defense, but he also benefits from a player like DeMarcus Lawrence on the other side of the line for the first time in his career. No longer will Quinn be the focal point of opposing offensive gameplans. Instead, he'll get far more one-on-one blocks than he ever has. When teams decide to send extra help his way, Quinn will open things up for the rest of the guys on the defensive line.

Randall Cobb will have a tremendous impact on the offense, but he benefits mostly from Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. Dak Prescott will benefit from Cobb's ability to make plays after the catch, but his impact won't be near as significant as that of Robert Quinn's.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

If you have a question you'd like to see featured in our weekly mailbag, leave it in the comments, reply to the Inside The Star Facebook page, or send it to John via Twitter


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Robert Quinn’s Return Important For Struggling Cowboys Pass Rush

Kevin Brady

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Breaking News: Robert Quinn Suffers Fractured Hand

Cowboys Nation spent much of the offseason praising the depth of their team as a whole. In particular, though, everyone felt good about what the Cowboys had across their defensive front.

By drafting well in recent years, and acquiring some lesser known players who have turned into solid contributors on the defensive line, the Cowboys have put together a really good group on paper. Despite this perceived depth, however, Dallas' defensive line has not created the pressure through their pass rush which was expected of them through the first two weeks.

After two games the Cowboys have just two sacks, bringing down each opposing quarterback once in each victory. Of course, each sack came at a big moment, as Tyrone Crawford got to Case Keenum on third down early in Sunday's win and DeMarcus Lawrence stripped Eli Manning on a red zone attempt during the season opener. Still, though, the lack of sack production is concerning. Especially considering how often the Cowboys have played with leads so far in 2019.

Star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has shouldered much of the criticism from fans the past two weeks, despite playing the best of any of the pass rushers on the team. Lawrence created a couple key pressures against Washington, and is also fresh off recovering from serious injury. He'll be fine.

The major reason for Lawrence's lack of eye-popping sack production, though, is the lack of help he's received from the rest of his rush-mates. For the most part, Crawford has looked like a guy who missed an entire preseason, and while Dorance Armstrong and Joe Jackson are promising young players, they can't be completely counted on just yet.


Insert Robert Quinn.

The former Pro Bowl defensive end could not be returning at a better time for the Cowboys. Not only should Quinn help to alleviate some of the pressure from Lawrence right away, but he gives the team a rusher who can beat one-on-one blocking more consistently than the rest of the ends currently on this roster.

Robert Quinn's return is also perfect due to the opponent. Quinn came to Dallas via trade from the Miami Dolphins this offseason, and he should be motivated to get after the tanking Dolphins this Sunday.

We should be fair in our expectations of Robert Quinn this week, but don't be surprised if this Cowboys pass rush wakes up quickly Sunday, as he provides a spark on the opposite end of DeMarcus Lawrence.


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Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Be Rid of all Rust

Matthew Lenix

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Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

The Dallas Cowboys were engaged in a very eventful and sometimes nauseating holdout with All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott this summer. After all the speculation and jabs through the media, the two sides finally agreed on a six-year 90 million dollar extension with 50 million in guarantees just prior to the season opener. With his financial future secured it was time for Elliott to get whatever fieldwork he could before playing the New York Giants. With limited practice time, Elliott had a slow start to the season with a 53-yard performance on 13 carries. However, after watching the Cowboys win against the Redskins it's clear that he's slowly but surely getting back to form.

Elliott came into Sunday's game averaging just under 89 yards per game on the road against the Redskins, including one of his best career rushing performances in 2017 with 150 yards. His 484 yards and 6 touchdowns against Washington prior to Sunday's game were both career highs for Elliott versus a single opponent.

This wouldn't be your typical Elliott game of consistent ten-yard runs and leaping over would-be defenders. Instead, it was a steady dose of Elliott as his workload from week one increased from 14 touches to 25. By halftime, he had 48 yards on 11 carries as the Cowboys held a 14-7 lead.

Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

The Cowboys held a 24-14 lead late in the second half until Elliott capped off a ten-play 54-yard drive that put them up 17, and the game essentially out of reach. In the second half, he had just 36 yards on 11 carries until a 27-yard run late in the fourth quarter gave him 111 yards on 23 carries for the game. Now, Elliott averages 94.3 yards a game on the road for his career against the Redskins, and an amazing 99.2 yards overall.


Going into week three Elliott has almost 40 real game carries under his belt. What this means is now he's gotten the necessary reps and taken the necessary hits needed to get him in football shape, which is something he couldn't fully simulate working out in Cabo. Even with a reduced role in the season opener Elliott is currently on a 1,300-yard 16 touchdown pace as we speak. Those are the kind of numbers that get you the NFL's highest paycheck for running backs, an honor Elliott took over recently, and rightfully so.

Elliott himself can feel things coming back to form with a couple of games out of the way. He spoke about where he was postgame after this past Sunday's win over the Redskins.

“I think slowly and surely, I’m getting back in my rhythm, knocking that rust off,” Elliott told Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “I feel good about the game. I feel good about where I am right now. I feel good about everything going forward.”

The Cowboys are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2015, and more importantly, they have their All-Pro running back in football shape and fully confident coming off a 100-yard performance. Next up is the Miami Dolphins at home who have a defense that has given up 102 points and 391 yards rushing in the first two weeks. Another opportunity for Elliott to get his legs under him even more and produce at a high level as the Cowboys look for their first 3-0 start since 2008.


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Dak Prescott not Only one to Roast CB Josh Norman on Sunday

Brian Martin

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Dak Prescott not Only one Roasting CB Josh Norman on Sunday

Thanks to Cornerback Josh Norman the Dallas Cowboys 31-21 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday was a little extra sweet for Quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott's goal of course entering this Week 2 matchup was to seal the win for the Cowboys, but doing that and being able to make Norman eat his words had to make the moment a little extra special for him.

You may have forgotten, but Josh Norman pretty much said he wasn't all that impressed with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys performance in the season opener against the New York Giants. Prescott of course had a career day completing 25 and 32 passes 405 yards and four touchdowns, but to that Norman replied "anybody can do that".

Josh Norman has since said those comments about Prescott were misconstrued and taken out of context, but that could just be him crawfishing and trying to save face after the Cowboys QB roasted him on more than one occasion Sunday afternoon.

Almost fittingly, some of Prescott's best plays against the Redskins were to Josh Norman's side of the field. The first was the 51 yard bomb to WR Devin Smith that resulted in a touchdown. And then Dak was able to get a little physical with a stiff arm to No. 24's face on his long run. It could have even been a little worse for Norman if Michael Gallup could've corralled the deep pass down the sideline from his QB. Anyway you slice it though the Redskins mouthy CB got roasted.

As much as I liked Dak Prescott's roasting of Josh Norman, it fails in comparison to how he's getting slammed on social media. It's downright demoralizing, but comical at the same time.

Here are a few examples:


Not Robert Griffin on Twitter

Can you find Josh Norman?

TOAST! LOL Food humor for the win! @Pseudo_RGIII wasn't the only one roasting Josh Norman on social media though.

Dov Kleiman on Twitter

What type of coverage does Josh Norman calls this? https://t.co/P74jkY3ut5

Someone got caught looking in the backfield. That's gotta be embarrassing. That's not all though, there's more…

https://twitter.com/Jaton336/status/1173329971626094592

Had enough yet!? No… How about one more just from the beautiful Jane Slater for fun?

Jane Slater on Twitter

Dak with a stiff arm to Josh Norman and a 42 yard run. Michael Gallup helping block. Think he heard Norman say "anybody can do that" https://t.co/3JARYX5cII

Out of the numerous tweets I went through roasting Josh Norman, Jane Slater's is probably my favorite. That is exactly the kind of face I made on Prescott's long run that ended in him stiff arming Norman.

It's not a very day you get the opportunity to make someone eat their words, but I'm truly happy Dak Prescott was able to make Josh Norman eat his.  The social media roasting was just icing on the cake. All in all, Norman probably got what he deserved and made think twice about what he says when he opens his mouth in the future.


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