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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Special Teams

Jess Haynie

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Brett Maher, Chris Jones

For years, the Dallas Cowboys enjoyed comfortable stability in their special teams groups. But 2019 has a big question mark at kicker, and how the Cowboys handle that spot could have a major impact on game outcomes. What does that mean for the 2019 training camp?

Before we get to kicker, let's get the two simpler spots out of the way. Dallas brings back Punter Chris Jones and Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur as bedrocks on special teams. Jones has been with the Cowboys since 2011, and Ladouceur has been here since 2005.

Kasey Redfern is also here right now, presumably as just an extra leg for training camp and preseason. He's listed as a punter on the roster but has also done some work at kicker this summer. Dallas also has Drew Scott as a backup long snapper, again just to give their veteran some rest when needed.

It is worth nothing that 2018 was a down year for Chris Jones. He wasn't bad, but his averages and directional kicking weren't as strong as in previous seasons. He counts over $2 million against the Cowboys' salary cap the next three years, so continued decline could mean an early end to his contract.

But it'd be a bad gamble to bet on either Jones or Ladouceur getting bumped out by younger players in 2019. Chris is also the holder on field goals and extra points, and the Cowboys want as much stability as possible in these other areas to give Kicker Brett Maher his best chance at success.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

While Maher pushed Dan Bailey out of Dallas last season, he didn't do enough to alleviate future concerns. The long-distance kicks and Special Teams Player of the Week awards were great, but Maher's total field-goal accuracy of 80.6% was near the bottom of the league.

The Cowboys have yet to bring in another kicker to compete with Maher. Many, including me, have pushed the idea that Dallas should sign veteran free agent Matt Bryant. He likely remains unsigned waiting for training camps, and I expect he will be on someone's roster by the end of next week.


If Bryant is as good as he's been throughout a stellar career, even up to last year, he is a far superior kicker to Maher. He may not have the same record-breaking distance but he's very accurate from beyond 50 yards, and he's close to perfect from shorter distances.

If nothing else, I would bring a guy like Bryant in just to put some pressure on Maher. You can't simulate game-time anxiety in July or August, but anything you can do to make your kicker sweat helps evaluate him for the regular season.

It's understandable that Dallas wants Maher to be their guy. He has a unique talent with his range and he's proven himself on game-winning kicks. If the rest of his game comes around this year, Brett will be one of the elite kickers in all the NFL.

But a 35-yard field goal is worth the same three points as one from 60, and missing one of those at the end of a game could be the difference in winning the division or even making the playoffs. The Cowboys had better be sure about Brett Maher, because their season could swing on his development.

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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS


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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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out Until Week 1

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.


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Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith

Kevin Brady

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

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.

Todd Archer on Twitter

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.


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Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List

John Williams

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Auto Draft 6

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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