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Dallas Cowboys: It’s Time for the Next Step

Matthew Lenix

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Dallas Cowboys: It's Time for the Next Step

Ghosts. The perfect word to describe what's been hanging over this franchises head for the last 24 years. In the '90s, the Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, establishing themselves as arguably the greatest dynasty in NFL history. The glory days of Aikman, Emmitt and Irvin have long gone and now it's time for new Cowboys excellence. The standard has to be re-established.

It's not like the Cowboys haven't had great opportunities recently. In 2007, lead by Tony Romo, the team went 13-3 and were the number one seed in the NFC. Many would argue this was their best chance to win a Super Bowl since the '90s, but it, unfortunately, ended in a divisional round loss to the eventual champion New York Giants.

2009 saw another division title and an 11-5 record. After a beatdown of the Eagles in the wild-card round, they were crushed 34-3 by the Vikings.

In 2014 they went 12-4, but it will probably go down as the most heartbreaking playoff loss in Cowboys history, the now infamous "Dez Caught It" game vs the Packers at Lambeau Field. To the team's dismay, it wasn't called a catch and the Cowboys suffered a devastating 26-21 loss.

2016 saw the arrival of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott and a 13-3 season that shocked the NFL. Having the leagues leading rusher and Offensive Rookie of the Year wasn't enough to get past Rodgers and the Packers again, ending another promising season without even one playoff win.

Why is all this important? Simple, this fan base is filled with a generation of fans that only know playoff heartbreak and disappointment. Only old videos and stories of Super Bowls past. The constant ridicule of other fans across the NFL landscape, as their teams win titles, and this team only wins headlines. No consistent history of winning in the '2000s, only the failure of unfulfilled expectations, which makes their desire to see this organization reach the top again even greater.

No longer can this fan base be satisfied with talking about the memories of teams from decades ago. They have the ingredients to compete at the highest level the NFL has to offer.

Defensively, the Cowboys finished 7th overall in 2018. They have a top 5 pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence, who has registered 25 sacks over the last two seasons, more than Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Lining up opposite him will be Robert Quinn, a former All-Pro defensive end acquired during free agency via trade. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch make up the best young linebacker duo in the NFL. Cornerback Bryon Jones is coming off a season in which he made his first Pro Bowl and received his first All-Pro selection. Chidobe Awuzie is a rising star at corner as well, and he will only rise higher once the injury bug completely goes away. Anthony Brown is a very solid nickel corner, critical in this pass-happy era of football. Lastly, there's Free Safety Xavier Woods. A headhunting specialist that can separate receivers from the ball at will, while also possessing coverage skills.

Offensively, the Cowboys are loaded as well. Dak Prescott has won more games than any quarterback not named Tom Brady since 2016. Not only that, he set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott is regarded by most as the best running back in the league. Those thoughts are supported by his two rushing titles in his first three seasons. Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper changed life for the Cowboys when he was acquired via trade in 2018. Speed, quickness, and agility, he has it all. Michael Gallup was solid his rookie year with 33 receptions for 507 yards as the second option. I see him as a breakout candidate in 2019. Randall Cobb was signed in free agency to sure up the slot receiver spot, a hole left by Cole Beasley. Fortunately for the Cowboys, he can also line up on the outside, giving new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore plenty of options in the passing game. Last but not least, there's the return of future Hall of Famer Jason Witten at tight end. This provides stability at the position and a mentor to the potential heir to the throne Blake Jarwin.

The pieces are firmly in place on both sides of the ball. The '70s and '90s are a distant memory. It's time for this era of Cowboys fans to have their moment in the sun. At some point, this organization has to get fed up with being a punchline. We're talking five Super Bowl titles here and countless Hall of Famers, a rich tradition of success, that somehow came to a standstill. Now, the focus has to be repeating as NFC East champions first and foremost. Then, get this team past the divisional round for the first time since 1995. Simply put, the NFC Championship Game should be the floor for this upcoming season, with raising the franchises sixth Lombardi Trophy being the ceiling. The next step towards restoring the glory in Dallas needs to happen in 2019.



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Report: Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp

John Williams

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Cowboys Center Travis Frederick Still Hoping to "Be a Rock" for Teammates Despite GBS Syndrome

With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.

It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.

Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.

There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.

While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.

Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.

It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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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

The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of draft picks the last few years to build up their cornerbacks group. There is a lot of potential heading into 2019, but Dallas needs these young players to take the next step if they want to compete for a championship. This weekend's start to training camp will be an important part of the process.

Dallas' best move to help the cornerback position was switching Byron Jones back there in 2018 after a few seasons at safety. Jones went to his first Pro Bowl and has positioned himself for a big contract extension.

Byron is currently set to play 2019 on his fifth-year option of $6.27 million, which is a steal for a CB of his caliber. Whether or not the Cowboys allow him to enter unrestricted free agency next year, or get a new deal signed, will be something to watch for throughout the upcoming season.

Jones' future may be in question, but we at least know he'll be the team's top corner this season. None of the other Dallas CBs can enjoy that same certainty in 2019, as depth chart positioning and job security are all in flux right now.

Here is the current CB depth chart headed into training camp:

  1. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie
  2. Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis
  3. Michael Jackson, Donovan Olumba
  4. C.J. Goodwin, Chris Westry
  5. Treston Decoud

Will this list hold as is, or will we some shifting over the five weeks of training camp and preseason?

The battle for snaps between Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis will be an intriguing ongoing storyline. Awuzie was the starter last year, and will hopefully make a big developmental leap in his third year.

But Anthony Brown has proven himself a capable player despite being just a 6th-round pick in 2016. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Brown will certainly be pushing for a significant role this season to hopefully help his free agent marketability in 2020.

Jourdan Lewis

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis

If things go like they did last year, both Awuzie and Brown will get plenty of playing time. The true enigma of this bunch is Jourdan Lewis, who is hoping to be more than just the number-four CB in 2019.

Though he was drafted a round later than Awuzie in 2017, Lewis was generally considered the superior talent by most draft analysts. He fell due to a domestic violence accusation a month before the draft for which he was eventually found not guilty.

Jourdan was looking good at the end of his rookie season, but the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach last year seemed to cause a regression. Lewis only got in on a little over 18% of the total defensive snaps in 2018, while the top three all had 67% or higher.

Despite his few opportunities, Lewis still had one of the biggest plays of the year with his interception that sealed Dallas' stunning upset over the New Orleans Saints. His potential has been noted, with Coach Richard even calling him an "exception" to his general preference for bigger, stronger cornerbacks.

But even if the team likes Jourdan, can he beat Awuzie or Brown? Could he perhaps have more value in a trade, with two years left on that rookie deal, to a team in greater need at CB?

Michael Jackson

CB Michael Jackson

The idea of moving Lewis, which existed prior to the draft, gained steam when Dallas used a 5th-round pick this year acquire CB Michael Jackson out of Miami. He fits that prototypical build at corner, and perhaps the Cowboys are hoping he can show enough early to provide an adequate replacement if they want to trade Jourdan.

If not Jackson, prospect Donovan Olumba is another option. He nearly made the 53 last year but got squeezed out when Dallas only kept four cornerbacks. After a year on the practice squad, Olumba is back and could be ready for a roster spot.

Veteran C.J. Goodwin has bounced around the NFL since 2014 but has some real-game experience. If the young guys aren't in a position to be game-day active, perhaps he would be the best option. Dallas added him in the middle of the 2018 season and he was helping on special teams and as a reserve corner at the end of the year.

Undrafted rookie Chris Westry, listed at 6'4", is another intriguing player to watch in camp. That rare size is something you can't teach, and hopefully Richard can develop Westry enough to get something out of the physical gifts.

This should be a fun 2019 training camp at cornerback, with competition potentially at every spot on the depth chart except the very top. And while secure at number-one, even Byron Jones has his own question marks around his long-term future in Dallas.

We'll start getting some answers in just four more days!

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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS



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Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP

Jess Haynie

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DeMarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.

Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.

Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw

Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.

With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff.  It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.

No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.



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