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Which Cowboys Rookies Should Receive More Playing Time?

Brian Martin

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Which Cowboys Rookies Should Receive More Playing Time?

The Dallas Cowboys 2017 rookies have some pretty big shoes to fill after what the 2016 draft class was able to accomplish a season ago. It will be a little bit more difficult for them, because there are very few of them that are expected to start or see a significant role this season, but you never know what will happen.

We have already seen injuries become a problem, which has forced a few of the Cowboy’s rookies into a more prominent role already this season. Fortunately, the majority of them have performed well and a few of them have exceeded expectations so much that they might have just earned themselves more playing time. These are the rookies I want to focus on in this article.

Now, before I get started I want to clarify that I don’t think the Dallas Cowboys first two draft picks have done anything yet to see an increased workload. I think Taco Charlton has done well, but is probably best in a situation role until he develops more. Unfortunately, Chidobe Awuzie continues to battle the injury bug and hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to prove himself.

Keeping all of that in mind, continue to read below to see the Dallas Cowboys rookies that I believe could possibly see more playing time based on the way they have played so far this season.

CB Jourdan Lewis

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jourdan Lewis

Dallas Cowboys rookie Jordan Lewis’ off-season mostly consisted of a pending domestic domestic violence case and injuries. Those two things have kept him off the practice field and hindered his development. Fortunately though, he made his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos and ended up having to play quite a bit as an injury replacement.

In Lewis’ first career game in the NFL, he was able to make six tackles, and pick off QB Trevor Siemian, returning it for 25 yards. Unfortunately, it didn’t have much of an impact in the game, but it was a positive sign of the player he can become.

Jourdan Lewis was once again thrust into action in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals due to injuries and followed up his impressive performance from the week prior. He was sticky in coverage the entire game against the Cardinals WRs and made some key open field tackles.

Lewis’ performance over these first two games have likely earned him more playing time and possibly a starting position. At the worst, he could be the slot CB when the Cowboys defense plays nickel. Regardless of where he plays, there is no doubt that he has earned the right to be on the field more often.

WR Ryan Switzer

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Switzer

Cowboys Nation have been chomping at the bit to see the Cowboys rookie WR Ryan Switzer see more of a role on offense. Unfortunately, that has yet to happen and he has only seen a few snaps on the offensive side of the ball. But, after seeing him have some success in the return game, you can see why an increased role on offense could be in the cards rather soon.

Switzer will no doubt be compared to Cole Beasley because of their similar size, but #10 is just a little bit bigger and more explosive with the ball in his hands. We did see him involved on offense a little bit against the Cardinals when he lined up in the backfield and was on the receiving end of a quick toss, but it only left us wanting more.

With so many mouths to feed on the offensive side of the ball, it’s going to be difficult to increase Switzer’s role. But, I can foresee where offensive coordinator Scott Linehan gets him more involved and has specific packages in place just for Switzer. Hopefully, it sooner rather than later.

DB Xavier Woods

DB Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys rookie Xavier Woods is kind of a do it all defensive back. He can play safety, cornerback, and can play in the slot as well. It’s that versatility that has gotten hbm on the field already, and he has done nothing to dissuade me from thinking he deserves more playing time. In fact, I would pound the table for it if I was on the coaching staff.

Jeff Heath hasn’t really done anything wrong, but he hasn’t been overly impressive either. Xavier Woods however is more athletic and could possibly be an upgrade when paired next to Byron Jones. Now, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon, but it is something to keep in mind.

I do however believe Xavier Woods needs to be on the field more often. His versatility to play any position in the secondary allows defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to get really creative with his coverages, something we saw against the Cardinals Monday night. There were several instances where he had six defensive backs on the field and just three down lineman. It’s something we could see more of as the season progresses.

WR Noah Brown

WR Noah Brown

Noah Brown

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Noah Brown’s dating back before the draft. I was personally ecstatic to see him drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round, because I personally had a fourth-round grade on him.

Brown is still raw as a WR, but the skill set he has right now could be extremely valuable on offense for the Cowboys. After being inactive the first week of the season, the coaching staff decided to add them to the active roster the last two weeks. And, if you were watching him like I was, you probably noticed why.

Brown’s ability to block in the running and passing game is a tremendous asset. The Cowboys have been lining him up in the slot and having him crash down and seal off the linebacker on outside zone plays and tosses. He may be a WR, but he blocks like a TE. I believe this particular skill set will get him on the field more often and help the offense. And, that’s not been mentioning that he is another surehanded WR in the passing game.

Which Cowboys rookies do think deserve more playing time?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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2 Comments
  • Anthony Ceniccola

    hard to disagree with your choices here, im hoping Cheeto’s leg allows him to get to 100% and i think with time Taco will be fine

    • Brian Martin

      I’m really anxious to see what #33 can do once he can finally get back on the field and stay healthy. I really think he would be a starter by now if not for his injury problems. Taco still has a ways to go, but there is something to work with there.

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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

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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

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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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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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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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