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The Curious Case Of Rolando McClain

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Cowboys Blog - The Curious Case Of Rolando McClain

Rolando McClain.

Did a strong opinion immediately come to your mind upon reading his name? Did you shake your head? Did you think of his intimidating presence on the field? Did you think of his still untapped potential?

Whatever your initial reaction, it is hard to doubt that Rolando is a lightning road for conversation; both positive and negative. Before the Cowboys traded for the then retired McClain prior to the 2014 season his reputation throughout the league was extremely damaged.

He had a major incident with the Oakland Raiders who selected him 4th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, where his mental makeup became heavily questioned. Which quickly found him suspended by his former team. On April 5th, 2013 the Raiders officially waived McClain after a disappointing tenure in Oakland. He was quickly signed by the defending Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens on April 10th, hoping he could resurrect his career and hope to fill the shoes of the retiring Ray Lewis.

That surely did not come to pass.

McClain was arrested for his third time in hometown in less than two years. He had only been apart of the Ravens for a little over a week and his stay would not last much longer. He would retire a few weeks later in mid-May, only to make his return and retire for a second time in April 2014.

McClain would find another chance after Sean Lee tore his ACL during organized team activities (OTAs) the following month, a heartbreaking event for the team and Cowboys fans everywhere. The Cowboys had a huge void to fill at Mike Linebacker (Middle Linebacker); thus leading to the trade for the troubled, twice retired Rolando McClain.

The trade worked out in the Cowboys favor. While studying film last year, it was easy to see the player McClain could be when he put his mind to it.

The 6'4, 250 plus Linebacker has the build of a player that could play either Defensive End position. When playing down and filling holes in the run game he showed to be what I call a "Striker" who does not just get the Running Back to the ground, but delivers a solid strike that will not be forgotten. He also had a knack for making impact plays such as his Interception against Seattle to seal the game in the 4th quarter.

While he has his struggles tackling in the open field, can get out of position, and is not the best in coverage, his physical nature against the run made a huge difference, which was seen when he was not in the lineup last season.

However, the critique on his mental state did not go away last season. As many questioned his willingness to practice, believing he may not be the "Right Kind Of Guy" that Coach Garrett often mentions. McClain addressed the situation almost a month ago, defending the missed practices.

Despite the questions, the Cowboys re-signed McClain this spring to a one-year deal, but the questions of his health remain with him having knee arthroscopy (scope) performed in early May by reports from Coach Garrett. After stating McClain had the surgery early in the Press Conference in his immediate answer he stated, "We believe in practice, we believe in the offseason program." in a response regarding Dez Bryant and his holdout.

Very interesting and may give some insight to Coach Garrett's feelings surrounding the situation with McClain. Which has become even more frustrating as typical belief is that a player can return to mild activity after six weeks following the procedure. McClain missed all of OTAs and has been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list since the beginning of Training Camp.

While the exact date of the surgery is not known, it has been well past the six weeks and there is still no timetable for his return to the practice field. While not everyone has the same recovery speed, there is still reason for concern. The offseason drama with Rolando did not stop there; he was suspended 4 games for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy in early July. Which is significant to his injury concerns as per Article 3.2.1 of the policy, a suspended player cannot partake in any practices with the team.

Bottom line?

If Rolando does not return to the practice field during the Preseason, he will not be eligible to do so until the start of the 5th week of the Regular Season. Which could easily lead to him missing several other games from not being in game shape. And so this is the Curious Case Of Rolando McClain the Dallas Cowboys are faced with.

Talkin Cowboys co-host, 6 time Pro Bowler, and 3 time Super Bowl Champion Nate Newton has questioned whether McClain has the desire to be on the practice field recently, while Cowboys Break co-host and former Super Bowl winning Scout Bryan Broaddus has reiterated that there is no timetable for McClain and there is not much else to say on the player at the moment.

Hopefully, we will have answers on Rolando McClain soon. If everything works out well he will become a solid contributor for the defense this season. The likelihood of that happening is the same as his practice status the rest of camp...

Questionable.



Avid Cowboys fan that will provide analytical analysis to the Draft, Film, and everything related to the team. You can find me @TheRealSmoothG on twitter.

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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to count $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 against the salary cap. His salary for 2019 is only $3.8 million. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/16/2019 10:42 am.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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Can Xavier Woods Take the Next Step into Dallas Cowboys Stardom?

John Williams

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Xavier Woods' Ascension Will Make Everyone Forget About Earl Thomas 1

The Dallas Cowboys have always been a team that has had lots of star power. Even in their down years in the early 2000s or the 8-8 teams of this decade, the Cowboys have always had names that struck a chord with NFL observers. Heading into the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys have household names on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football, but there are several players who can still take the leap to join that list of stars for America's Team. The staff over at DallasCowboys.com discussed who they thought could be an emerging star for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019.

Surprisingly, none of them mentioned Xavier Woods.

Along with Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, Xavier Woods helped to solidify the Dallas Cowboys secondary that helped the team become one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2018. Woods became a physical playmaking free safety for the team last year and gave the front office and coaching staff enough reason to not make a significant upgrade at the position.

After what the Cowboys didn't do in the offseason, it's obvious that they are confident that Woods will continue to take steps toward being the free safety they've been longing to find since Darren Woodson retired. They felt good enough about Xavier Woods that they opted not to pursue any of the big name free agents in Eart Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Landon Collins, or Tre Boston. In the draft, with pre-draft visitors Juan Thornhill and Taylor Rapp staring them in the face, the Cowboys instead drafted Trysten Hill to be their 3-tech defensive tackle for now and the future.

Per Pro Football Focus, among safeties that played at least 352 snaps in coverage, Xavier Woods finished tied for sixth in the NFL with a passer rating allowed of 62.8. He was seventh in the NFL among safeties in yards allowed per coverage snap, 10th  in snaps per target, and 12th in snaps per reception allowed at 31.1. Woods allowed the 12th fewest receptions and the seventh-fewest yards in the NFL among safeties. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions on the season to go along with his nine pass deflections, which finished third on the team.

What doesn't show up in the boxscore are the bone-jarring hits that he put on receivers coming over the middle of the field. Several times during the 2018 season did Woods lower the shoulder on a player to separate him from the ball after the reception was made.

Xavier Woods physicality combined with his ability to make plays on the football is something the Dallas Cowboys haven't had in years. If Woods can take another step forward in his play in 2019, there's no reason to think he can't contend for a Pro Bowl spot and be the next player to join the Dallas Cowboys group of stars.



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REPORT: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory to Request Reinstatement on Monday

Jess Haynie

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Randy Gregory

Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan is reporting that Randy Gregory, the Dallas Cowboys' defensive end currently under indefinite suspension, will request a full reinstatement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this coming Monday. Gregory hopes to rejoin the team and be a full participant in Dallas' 2019 Training Camp and preseason.

Last February, Gregory was hit with the suspension after another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. It is unknown what sort of violation occurred; Randy's probationary status means several different possibilities for what triggered the suspension.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: Cowboys Gregory To Appeal For Reinstatement To NFL On Monday With Specific Proposed Plan https://t.co/qSx2nf5IQl

The Cowboys have expressed confidence throughout this offseason that Gregory would be able to return for the 2019 season. This may due to the league's softening stance on marijuana use, or their belief in Randy's genuine efforts to confront his issues.

According to Fisher's report:

"The application will include an update on Gregory's process as a result of his in-depth treatment in behavioral and substance-abuse clinics and will feature a continuing "personal responsibility'' plan that will likely have him living with family members in DFW."

If it works out for him, Randy Gregory will return to a much more crowded defensive end position than last year.

The Cowboys have loaded up at DE this offseason. They added veterans Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder, then drafted Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. These four join DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, and Dorance Armstrong as returning players.

Gregory has the talent to be factor regardless of who else is around. Hopefully he's done enough to earn his way back onto the team and avoid future suspensions.



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