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Dallas Cowboy Positional Breakdown Part 1

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The Dallas Cowboys 2009 version of training Camp is now only two weeks away, and there is no better time than now to try and get a head start on some of the positional battles that we need to keep an eye on.

It has been awhile since my last post, I have been in a little bit of a slump, so I would like to apologize ahead of time for a poorly done post!

The Cowboys currently have 82 players on the roster, but do not expect it to stay that way long!

The first position I would like to take a look at is the one containing the most applicants. No big surprise it’s the Linebacker position!

Now I can speculate all day long on how many backers the Cowboys will keep and odds are good I still would not get it right, and since I have next to zero insider information, we'll take it for what its worth!

Here are this years nominees to fill the Linebacker corps:

  1. DeMarcus Ware
  2. Bradie James
  3. Anthony Spencer
  4. Keith Brooking
  5. Bobby Carpenter
  6. Steve Octavien
  7. Justin Rogers
  8. Matt Stewart
  9. Victor Butler
  10. Jason Williams
  11. Brandon Williams
  12. Stephen Hodge

The Top four of this group are essentially locked in as your starters, from here though is where the water gets awfully murky!

Let’s take a look at the guys vying for position at the inside linebacker spots and keep in mind, last year the team kept only four!

Through the OTA’s we must assume (after all the praise handed down) that Stephen Hodge is going to get a serious look at taking over the nickel position vacated by Kevin Burnett.

Bobby (Barbie) Carpenter also gave the coaches something to think about during the work outs. We are all well aware that Barbie practices like a first round pick, but he has yet to play like one.

Jason Williams was the Cowboys first selection in this years draft, and by all accounts is going to need some time to develop, but has some serious athletic ability! And we cannot forget about Victor Butler as he will be in this group of inside guys trying to secure a spot on the roster.

Last but not least Steve Octavien, who spent most of last year bouncing from practice squad to practice squad, does have some ability as a special teams player.

We have five players battling for two spots, who do you think is in? And who is on the outside looking in?

In my opinion Stephen Hodge and Jason Williams are my leading candidates heading into camp, followed closely by Victor Butler and Bobby Carpenter.

The Cowboys do not want to face the fact that the Carpenter selection was one of the worst first round draft selections on record! That is what has kept him on this team, but the coaching staff can no longer afford to carry his dead weight. So he has more to prove than any of the rookies, and I personally do not believe he will hold up to the pressure.

There is one aspect of this that we need to look at. If the Coaching staff decides to cut ties with Carpenter they will be left with only rookies and we know that one of those rookies is a “project” player. So would they at that point decide to carry an extra guy? Quite possible and they may be thinking that way already!

ILB Leading Candidates                                     ILB Outside Looking In

1. Stephen Hodge                                                       1. Victor Butler

2. Jason Williams                                                     2. BobbyCarpenter

3. Steve Octavien

Now let’s take a look at the Outside spots! First let’s meet the contestants!

For those of you who live under rocks the starters are DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. These are the starters and there is only one player who could possibly change this.

Brandon Williams has been the talk of the town around Valley Ranch, not only among the coaches but his teammates as well. The time is now however for Anthony Spencer and he will get the first crack at being the starter opposite Ware, but he better get a grip on it quick because the longer he lets Williams hang around the more opportunity Williams will have at proving he should be the man!

Matt Stewart and Justin Rogers will be battling each other for one available spot, with Ware and Spencer as the starters and Brandon Williams having a tight grip on the 3rd spot, it will be down to these two guys to state their claim to the 4th and final OLB spot.

There is one other very distinct possibility that could occur here! It is very possible that the Cowboys could decide to keep neither Stewart nor Rogers and keep an extra inside guy!

The more I have contemplated the scenarios I would not be one bit surprised to see the Cowboys hold on to Victor Butler and use him as a “swing” player, giving them the ability to keep an extra secondary person.

Victor Butler was an undersized OLB at the University of Oregon State, and while they would rather use him inside in an emergency situation he could fill in outside.

Who knows how this will ultimately work out but I believe the Cowboys will stick with eight!

Here is my final eight leaving camp!

1. DeMarcus Ware

2. Bradie James

3. Keith Brooking

4. Anthony Spencer

5. Brandon Williams

6. Stephen Hodge

7. Jason Williams

8. Victor Butler

Who are the eight that you would want to start the season with?



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3 Comments
  • Jonathan

    Good post. Just one thing: I believe Victor Butler is slotted as an OLB along with Brandon William’s. Though, I’d imagine, as far as the LB’s go, things will remain pretty fluid until the final 53 is decided.

    • bags030404

      What I have heard on Victor is that they “were thinking of having him bulk up and move outside” outside is where he played in college but he is the ultimate “Tweener”. He is too small to be an NFL outside guy, and a little too slow laterally to be an inside guy, so it just seems to me that they may decide to use him in an either or manner.

  • John Buchanan

    Butler played DE at Oregon and was a leader or co-leader in sacks in his division, so I think the tweener scenario is between the line and playing stand up in the 3 4.

Game Notes

SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Williams, Seahawks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.

Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.

The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.

Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.

Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.

Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?

Other Notes

  • While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
  • Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
  • Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
  • Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
  • Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
  • Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
  • Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
  • Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
  • The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
  • Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.



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Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.



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Player News

Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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