Our 2019 Training Camp Preview series comes to an end with the defensive ends. With four news faces and a former 1st-round pick fighting to save his career, it should be a lively and competitive camp for these Cowboys DEs.
We already know that DeMarcus Lawrence will be missing as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. That probably would've been the case even without the delay from his contract negotiations, but the wait for the new deal ensured that Tank would be out for camp and likely the preseason as well.
Being without Lawrence adds an interesting wrinkle; who gets those first-team reps in his absence?
Here is our projected depth chart for the defensive ends in this 2019 training camp:
- Robert Quinn, Taco Charlton
- Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong
- Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks
Veteran Robert Quinn seemed an obvious pick here. The Cowboys took on an $8 million cap hit to add Quinn this offseason, suggesting that they intend him to be a major figure on the defensive line.
Despite his struggles last year, Taco Charlton should get a chance to sink or swim in this pivotal third season. He may never live up to his draft capital, but Taco could still be a key rotation piece and more if something happens to a starter. What he does the next few weeks will go a long way to determining his future in Dallas.
If Charlton doesn't show well, veteran free agent Kerry Hyder could quickly steal his spot. Dallas took a risk on Hyder due to his eight sacks in 2016, hoping he can bounce back from a 2017 injury and being miscast in 2018 in Detroit's switch to the 3-4 defense. Kerry was a standout performer in the spring practices and appears ready to get back to his former self.
Thought not listed on our depth chart, the potential return of Randy Gregory hangs over this position. If the NFL awards his reinstatement request, Gregory would likely walk in to a prominent role like he had in 2018.
Randy's return would be great news for the team but bad for the other DE prospects. He would likely knock Charlton and Hyder back down the ladder while also potentially pushing other guys off the 53-man roster.
One prospect who should be safe either way is Dorance Armstrong. A 4th-round pick in 2018, Armstrong has flashed some natural pass rushing skills and still has three years left on his rookie deal. The Cowboys aren't going to part with an asset like that so quickly.
But the situation isn't so good for rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. Even with a 5th-round pick spent on him this year, Jackson is going to struggle to make the roster if both Lawrence and Gregory are back for Week One. His best hope is that Dallas decides to move on from Taco Charlton.
Just a 7th-round pick, Jelks will have an especially tough road to the roster. His best bet may actually be converting to linebacker and challenging Chris Covington for the backup SAM role.
~ ~ ~
OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
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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