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Cowboys Sign Guard Jonathan Cooper

Jess Haynie

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Jonathan Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys clearly believe you can never have too many first-round talents on your offensive line. They added one more today.

Guard Jonathan Cooper, the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 draft, was signed by the Cowboys after a workout yesterday. Dallas will be his fourth team since entering the NFL and battling several injury issues.

Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals, ChargersOriginally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, Cooper broke his lower leg in preseason of his rookie year and was placed on Injured Reserve. He struggled to find his footing after that, starting just two games in 2014 and nine in 2015. Ongoing injury problems cost him practice time and eventually his starting job.

Cooper was traded to the Patriots last March as part of the deal for defensive star Chandler Jones. Foot issues hampered Cooper’s ability to compete during training camp and he eventually lost out to younger prospects for the starting jobs. New England released him in October and he was claimed by the Cleveland Browns.

After starting in two games for Cleveland, Cooper was released to make room for the return of Alvin Bailey from a suspension. He cleared waivers and was a free agent before drawing interest from the Cowboys.

The Cowboys’ interest in Jonathan Cooper is twofold. They have some immediate concerns with Ronald Leary battling some back pain and La’el Collins working his way back from the IR list. Cooper has starting experience and could rival Joe Looney as the primary backup at guard. He should certainly be an upgrade over Ryan Seymour, who was signed from the practice squad last week.

Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals, Carson Palmer

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Dallas’ interest likely extends beyond just the next few games. Just a few years ago, Cooper was the highest-drafted guard of the last three decades. Just check out what his former Arizona QB, Carson Palmer, said about him after Cooper was traded to the Patriots.

“I hated seeing him go. (He’s) extremely talented.”

That alone is nice to hear from a veteran like Palmer, but Carson didn’t stop there. This description of Cooper’s playing style should really get Cowboys fans intrigued.

“To see him move, especially on the screens and inside, he’s so athletic for how big he is,” Palmer said. “He’s not really tall, but he uses it to his advantage, because he gets low, and he plays with great leverage. He’s really long, so he doesn’t get reached. I really, really liked having the chance to play with him for a little bit.”

(Read more at: http://nesn.com/2016/09/what-can-patriots-expect-from-jonathan-cooper-carson-palmer-explains/)

Not only does Cooper have talent but his style fits very well with what Dallas asks of its offensive guards. If he can finally stay healthy, Cooper has a chance to find a long-term role on the Cowboys depth chart.

The idea of first-round reclamation projects, particularly offensive linemen, is no foreign concept in Dallas. Several years ago, Marc Colombo seemed like an injury-plagued bust for the Chicago Bears. Like Cooper, Colombo found himself as a free agent in the middle of the season.

Dallas brought in Colombo late in 2005, helped him rehab, and he wound up starting 72 games at right tackle from 2006-2010. Now the Assistant Offensive Line Coach for the Cowboys, Colombo will likely have some good advice for Jonathan Cooper as he similarly tries to restore his career.

To make room for Cooper, Dallas will likely release the aforementioned Ryan Seymour.

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond!

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WR Brice Butler Ruled Out for Raiders Game, Won’t Face Former Team

Sean Martin

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Linehan: "Butler Has Had a Good Camp", But Will He Stay?

Still dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of last week’s win at the Giants, Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler will be out for his second straight game as he will miss the Cowboys’ prime time match up against his former Raiders squad.

Expected by some to have a breakout season in his third with the Cowboys, Butler has caught just 13 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns on this 2017 season – his last under contract with the team.

SportsDay Cowboys on Twitter

Just in: WR Brice Butler has been downgraded from questionable to out vs. Raiders. He will not be traveling with the team to Oakland.

Butler’s absence in Oakland will take one more offensive threat away from the Cowboys in their final game of this season without RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Rookie WR Noah Brown, who has already exceeded expectations as a seventh round pick, should expect to see more snaps with Brice Butler out tomorrow night.

Tell us what you think about “WR Brice Butler Ruled Out for Raiders Game, Won’t Face Former Team” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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WATCH: Jason Witten Talks Career With Cowboys At Players’ Tribune

Sean Martin

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WATCH: Jason Witten Talks Career With Cowboys At Players' Tribune

“Gold Jack Witt” carries a presence with him around the Dallas Cowboys, a 14 year veteran that has been a model of consistency on the field and a role model for so many off of it. Jason Witten spoke with the media and fans to the Players’ Tribune recently, discussing everything from his early career to plans for life after America’s Team.

The Players’ Tribune on Twitter

Vet tight end @JasonWitten joins @Citibank to reflect on his career with the @DallasCowboys as he prepares for the next stage of his life. For now, it’s all about pursuing the Lombardi Trophy. https://t.co/OKQk3KWT55

“It seemed like you had the USA, America, and then Texas” – Jason Witten on being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys back in 2003.

The 2012 winner of the Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award (which Cowboys C Travis Frederick is nominated for this season), Witten also discussed his ‘Jason Witten Collegiate Man Of The Year Award‘ – an honor that will be given out at the college level for the first time at the end of this season.

This Witten award will be granted to a player, “who has demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field”.

Also from Jason Witten’s own website, we learn that, “the award honors the type of exemplary character and commitment to community, family and teammates demonstrated by Jason Witten”.

As you hear at the end of the video, Witten’s current focus remains clear-cut. Bringing an elusive sixth championship to Dallas is still a goal he is chasing strong, as the Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives following a 13-3 season a year ago.

If in need of a lesson on how to handle adversity and always look forward, the Cowboys won’t have to look much further than their tight end #82 though.

Tell us what you think about “WATCH: Jason Witten Talks Career With Cowboys At Players’ Tribune” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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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

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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