The NFL's rule change to a single cut down date at the end of the preseason has created one of the most eventful days on the league calendar. Teams around the league will be scrambling to process the replenished list of free agents that can help a roster before week one.
The Dallas Cowboys have already been active in this process, with Stephen Jones telling Cowboys Nation to prepare for additions on the offensive line as well as at safety. Dallas has already traded Cornerback Charvarius Ward to the Chiefs for former fourth round pick Parker Ehinger, a guard out of Cincinnati.
Update [12:31 PM CDT]:
The #49ers are releasing former first-round pick G Jonathan Cooper, source said.
The team's additions to the offensive line may not stop here, with the Cowboys laboring through their final two preseason games without Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick. The Cowboys deficiencies up front made it hard to truly evaluate some fringe players on offense, which will make today's roster decisions even harder.
@49ers' veteran guard Jonathan Cooper on the bubble as cuts loom (via @MaioccoNBCS) https://t.co/9zlzrlFAMt
One decision that could make sense is bringing back the services of veteran guard Jonathan Cooper, who is reportedly on the bubble with the San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys allowed Cooper to depart in free agency this offseason, after he started 13 games for them at left guard in 2017.
With plenty of reasons to feel good about Cooper's replacement -- 50th overall pick Connor Williams -- the Cowboys should be solid at guard with Martin also expected to return to the starting lineup against the Panthers.
Cooper played 92 snaps this preseason for the 49ers, including a game high 60 in the team's preseason finale - an oddity for any hopeful starters or experienced players. Recovering from surgery on a knee injury suffered against the Eagles in week 17 last year, Cooper could use the reps to potentially impress a new team for 2018.
If released by the 49ers, Cooper will of course want to sign on for a starting position elsewhere. The Cowboys did offer the former first round pick the most stability he's found in his five years of professional football though. Cooper's 13 starts in the silver and blue were the most he's ever had in a season, starting a combined 14 games for the Cardinals and Browns between 2014-16.
Should this past loyalty be enough for Cooper to consider rejoining the Cowboys, the team will have to seriously consider the investment in quality depth over current interior options like Jacob Alsadek, Damien Mama, and Kadeem Edwards.
As I wrote in my Sean's Scout review of the Texans game, all three players had their struggles executing any of the blocks the Cowboys ask of their athletic linemen.
This was a strength of Cooper's game at left guard for the Cowboys, playing well in space and creating movement in the running game.
For the second year in a row, the Cowboys initial free agent acquisitions seem underwhelming in the total impact they'll have on the season. Former 49ers Guard Marcus Martin was placed on IR, and Defensive End Kony Ealy was released yesterday.
In order to get value out of Wide Receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, and to avoid a disastrous situation for Quarterback Dak Prescott in pass protection again, the Cowboys must continue upgrading their offensive line before the regular season begins.
Doing so with high value signings will be critical, and it won't get much better than welcoming back Jonathan Cooper at a reduced price as insurance for Williams, Martin, and even Travis Frederick - as Cooper did get some work at center in his first practices with the Cowboys last summer.
Report: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Could Only Miss One Game
The Dallas Cowboys might not be without their rising star at free safety as long as they originally thought. According to DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus, Xavier Woods could only miss this Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.
They gave him a physical and didn't sign so that tells me a little something. Xavier Woods is not going to be out 4-6 weeks. Might miss one game... https://t.co/EFcpjlZnPH
Woods suffered a high ankle sprain this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins that was supposed to keep him out 4-6 weeks. If he is only out one game that would be amazing news for the Cowboys with the toughest part of their schedule coming up. Safety Darian Thompson is set to start this Sunday opposite Jeff Heath in place of Woods, with rookie Donovan Wilson and Kavon Frazier also their for insurance. Will Xavier Woods be back against the New Orleans Saints next week? Something to keep an eye on. More details to come.
Devin Smith Has Opportunity to Shine in Michael Gallup’s Absence
In the wake of today's news that Michael Gallup will miss the next 2-4 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to trim the meniscus in his left knee. Gallup was having another solid game for the Dallas Cowboys when he suffered the injury. It's an unfortunate setback for Gallup was emerging as a go-to player for Dak Prescott in the passing offense.
With Gallup's absence comes an opportunity for other wide receivers on the depth chart. The player most likely to benefit the most is former second-round pick and first-year Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Devin Smith.
Smith exploded on offense for the Cowboys in week two against the Washington Redskins. He had three receptions on three targets for 74 yards and a 51-yard touchdown reception that was the first score of the game for the Dallas Cowboys. After Gallup went down with the injury, Smith was the immediate beneficiary of snaps, catching his other two passes on the drive after Gallup's injury, including one that picked up the first down.
Devin Smith will take on a larger role with Michael Gallup out. This catch yesterday by Smith was his first TD since 2015. He has battled back from two significant knee injuries.
Devin Smith played 26% of the offensive snaps on Sunday and was dynamic and effective in the passing game. Afte the Gallup injury, any time the offense was in 11 personnel (3 wide receivers) Devin Smith was the next man up.
They used Smith on play-action twice and on an RPO signifying their belief in his ability to make plays in the passing game. The former second-round pick from Ohio State has excellent speed and showed out throughout the preseason and training camp to earn his spot on the 53-man roster out of training camp.
In fact, the team felt so good about Smith coming into the season that they were willing to subject both Cedrick Wilson and Jon'vea Johnson to waivers before placing them on the practice squad.
If Michael Gallup does have to sit out for four weeks, then Smith has an excellent opportunity to cement himself within the Dallas Cowboys receiving hierarchy and potentially audition for his next job in 2020, either with the Dallas Cowboys or someone else around the NFL. Smith had likely earned the opportunity to play ahead of Tavon Austin in the offense -- whenever Austin is back -- and how the next two to four weeks go could have a huge impact on the Dallas Cowboys and his own future.
With the emergence of Michael Gallup toward the end of 2018 and to start the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys offense has been much healthier and balanced. It hasn't had to rely on one player to carry the offense and the passing game in particular.
When the Dallas Cowboys have several receiving threats it makes life easier for everyone on offense and much more challenging for opposing defenses. With Devin Smith coming into the lineup, teams are going to have to respect his downfield speed, which could open things up in the short to intermediate areas for the rest of the offense. After his 51 yard touchdown on Sunday, opposing defenses will have to pay attention to Smith.
In week three against at tanking Miami Dolphins squad, Smith may have another big game. In week one, the Miami Dolphins allowed Baltimore Ravens rookie Wide Receiver Marquise Brown to go off for four catches, 147 yards, and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns were on receptions of 47 and 83 yards.
The Dallas Cowboys need Devin Smith to be an effective player in order to keep the balance they've had in their target distribution. Teams will shade coverage toward Amari Cooper with Gallup out and Devin Smith will have to take advantage. Over the last few months, Smith has shown flashes of the ability that once made him a second-round pick. Now he's got a huge opportunity ahead of him and the Dallas Cowboys need him to take advantage of it to have the same level of success they've experienced in the first two weeks of the season.
REPORT: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Out 4-6 Weeks With Ankle Injury
Another tough injury coming out of last week's game against Washington; Cowboys starting Safety Xavier Woods is now expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain injury.
This comes just a day after Dallas lost WR Michael Gallup for 2-4 weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Cowboys FS Xavier Woods is expected to miss four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, source said. A blow to the secondary with #Saints, #Packers among upcoming opponents.
The next man up at safety appears to be Darian Thompson, who has been with the Cowboys since midway through the 2018 season. He was re-signed as a free agent last March and is one of the key reasons that Dallas chose not to keep veteran George Iloka at final cuts.
Cowboys S Darian Thompson will make his first start Sunday since joining team in 2018, source said. S Xavier Woods is sidelined with high ankle sprain.
Earlier this morning, it was reported that Dallas is working out free agent safety Josh Jones. He was a 2nd-Round pick of the Packers in 2017 who was released last month after falling down the depth chart and demanding a trade.
Dallas still has Kavon Frazier and Donovan Wilson on the roster for safety depth. While many fans would love to see Wilson get the start this week, Darian Thompson's game and athleticism are more suited to play the free safety role.
Thompson also has experience, having started 17 games from 2016-2017 with the New York Giants. He was their 3rd-Round pick in 2016.
Thankfully, this Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins gives the Cowboys a soft opponent with which to make these adjustments. But missing Xavier Woods is going to hurt; he is a rising star on defense and easily their top player at safety.
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