As the Dallas Cowboys get ready to square off against the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football, Rod Marinelli's defense will se quite a bit of changes. With star linebacker Sean Lee expected to miss three games, it won't be an easy stretch for a Cowboys defensive squad that was looking surprisingly good before last week.
But the linebacker corp won't be the only part of the defense that'll see changes. The secondary will have to switch things up with Jeff Heath unlikely to play this Sunday.
Cowboys S Jeff Heath (concussion) is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, but he won't play. He hasn't even been cleared to practice. That means rookie Xavier Woods will make his first start at safety against the Eagles.
No fan should be happy about any injury, no matter who the player is. However, it's fair to point out that this might be one of those injuries in which the injured guy never gets his job back, and someone else takes his place by stepping up and performing.
Rookie safety Xavier Woods has been playing very well all season long, and will be starting for the first time in the biggest game of the season for Dallas.
Since the moment he was drafted, it was a common belief that Woods was a complete steal and that he'd be starting at some point in the season. Well, that time is now, and he better take advantage of the opportunity.
Looking at the tape, Woods has made the most out of every snap he's played and has flashed a lot as a play-maker. I'd be surprised if Heath still has his job once he's cleared to return.
But 25 isn't the only rookie defensive back that we'll see more tomorrow night.
After practicing for two weeks in a row, second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie is expected to make his return to action in the NFL. We've all been waiting for this moment for a long time now, and what better time to return but against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Awuzie is a guy who we expected to make an instant impact on this defense but his availability's been a big issue. Basically, he's played only in the season opener. In case you're wondering, here are his snaps on defense, per Pro Football Reference.
- 39 vs NY Giants.
- 5 @ DEN Broncos.
- 9 vs GB Packers.
Now in week 11, all members of Cowboys Nation are intrigued by how the rookie will perform. He's fully practiced for two weeks in a row, so there's enough reason to be optimistic about it.
Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli said today that if S Jeff Heath (concussion) isn't cleared to play Sunday that rookie Xavier Woods would start in his place. Also, 2nd-round pick Chidobe Awuzie will also see some time at safety Sunday vs. the Eagles.
One thing to keep an eye on is how the Cowboys use Chidobe Awuzie as they try to get him back into action. We all know that Chido is a versatile player and he'll more than likely see playing time as a cornerback and as a safety.
With a season that's been anything but easy, and with lots of adversity surrounding the team, an impressive performance by these two rookies could be a difference maker in the Cowboys' biggest game of the season.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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