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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Preview: Part Two

The defense may be a little meaner and the offense a little more disciplined. The turnovers have to stop, and Romo can’t throw his customary one interception a game just to get it out of his system.

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In part one of this two-part series, I discussed how the departure of Greg Ellis, Terrell Owens, and Zach Thomas will affect the team going forward.

There are a ton of questions facing the Cowboys, as with any offseason, but this seems to be a make-or-break year for a team that is expected to make a Super Bowl run every season.

Part two of the series discusses how the Cowboys will fare in the "NFC Beast" this season, and addresses those pesky rumors about Garrett and Bum Phillips’ son.


With the departure of Plaxico in New York, the Eagles spurning Dawkins and allowing him to walk to Denver, and an owner in Washington who has no confidence in his quarterback, how will the Cowboys fare in the NFC East?

For the first time in a long time, the Cowboys seem to be one of the most stable teams in NFC East. Terrell is gone and the focus has shifted to Romo, but the circus atmosphere that surrounded the ‘Boys the past few years isn’t as prevalent this season.

The New York Giants running attack will be strong, but not as potent without Derrick Ward. Sack machine Osi Umenyiora will be back from a knee injury, but the offense will be without its lightning rod, Plaxico Burress.

While I believe that the Giants will having a winning record and make a run at the playoffs, I don’t see another improbable Super Bowl run like a couple years ago.

Heading south to D.C., the Redskins have a huge question mark at quarterback. I’m not questioning the skills of former Auburn man Jason Campbell, but his owner seems to have lost all confidence in the kid.

Campbell was left out to dry when the team unsuccessfully tried to trade for quarterback Jay Cutler and then attempted to draft former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The team may not have much faith in Jason, but from all accounts, he still thinks that he can get the job done.

Washington’s only hope at the playoffs this year may be the mental stability of its “star” quarterback. If Campbell can hold steady and Clinton Portis remains healthy, an 8-8 season isn’t that far out of reach.

Over in "Illadelphia," Donovan McNabb has a new contract, Brian Dawkins is now a Bronco, and blitzing defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is out indefinitely due to a battle with cancer.

As much as I disdain the Eagles, the team seems to be poised for another playoff run as their skill position players are still in place.

The battle for 1-2-3 in the NFC East will be between the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles. The Cowboys ran away with the division in 2007, and they have the chance to do so again this year.

The ‘Boys have a dastardly tough schedule to end the year with road games against the Giants, Redskins, and Saints. Like last season, the team will face off against the Eagles in the last game of the year, but this time it will be in Texas.

History will be the judge of the future in this case, and I can’t defer from where the ‘Boys have finished the last few years. Their schedule in December is daunting, and the team hasn’t had a winning record during that part of year in over a decade.

Look for the Cowboys to finish second in the NFC East to the Giants or Eagles, but make a serious playoff run in January.


Will this be Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett’s last season in Dallas?

Wade Phillips is entering his third season as head coach in Dallas, and I’m not sure if Jerry will continue to make excuses for Phillips.

As many were calling for Wade’s dismissal after last season’s debacle, Jerry stood by his head coach. Instead of feeding him to the wolves, Jerry decided to give Bum’s son another shot.

If Tony Romo has taken the reigns of the team, the same must be said for Wade Phillips. After last season’s shootout against the Eagles early in the year, which ended with the cowboys winning 41-37, Phillips defended his defense by saying the Eagles were just receiving good breaks and capitalizing off of a few turnovers.

That type of explanation will not fly this season. Wade either has to lead this team deep in the playoffs or to a Super Bowl birth in order to keep his job. His defense has to stand up in the latter months of the season against teams like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

A few years ago, when Jerry brought back former back-up quarterback Jason Garrett to serve as offensive coordinator, it seemed a match made in Heaven as Romo flourished under Garrett’s tutelage.

Last season, though, Romo floundered a little under Garrett’s system and seemed to criticize Jason’s play calling.

Garrett probably has a longer leash than Phillips, simply because he isn’t the head coach.

Heading into training camp, Phillips may have a little sense of urgency because the Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game this decade.

The defense may be a little meaner and the offense a little more disciplined. The turnovers have to stop, and Romo can’t throw his customary one interception a game just to get it out of his system.

If Phillips and Garrett are to remain in Valley Ranch, they both must turn the Cowboys into a more streamlined outfit.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most talent-filled rosters in the league. Of course T.O. is gone, and so is Greg Ellis, but the team is still poised to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.

I predicted that the Cowboys will finish second in their division this season, but that could bode well for them. Flying under the radar isn’t something they're accustomed to doing, and this season just may be the one where they do so.

Overall, I think the team will finish 11-5 with losses against the Giants and Eagles in the division. But, we have to get past training camp to enter into a total season preview.

-JH



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Tight End

Jess Haynie

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Jason Witten
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The shocking return of Jason Witten is a feelgood story for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, but will it really mean on the field? How will Witten's big presence impact the tight end position during the upcoming training camp and beyond?

Before we ever knew Jason would come back from retirement, Blake Jarwin was stirring up excitement as the new starting TE this year. His huge three-touchdown game in Week 17 last year, while an extreme example, showed the kind of receiving threat he might be going forward.

Still, before Witten announce his return to football, some wanted the Cowboys to invest more in the position. Whether it came in the form of a veteran free agent like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert, or a high draft pick, there was the thought that Dallas needed to guard themselves against Jarwin being a flash in the pan.

But once we heard that Jason was back, we knew that there wouldn't be any big moves at TE this offseason. The Cowboys are hoping that some combination of Witten's actual return to the field, or his mentoring of their young prospects, will elevate the position from last year.

Here is our projected TE depth chart for the 2019 training camp:

  1. Jason Witten
  2. Blake Jarwin
  3. Dalton Schultz
  4. Rico Gathers
  5. Codey McElroy

While Jarwin may wind up having the most snaps and targets of any TE this season, it's a safe bet that Witten will get some deference as a Cowboys legend. That's why we're making him the starter right now, even with a year away.

The balancing between Blake and Jason as the top two will be something we watch all season. Not only does it impact the 2019 offense, but we want to know if Dallas has a TE of the future in house or will need to make a big move next year to solidify the position.

Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

2018 4th-round pick Dalton Schultz may have something to say about the presumed top two. If he's made some strides in his sophomore season, Schultz could force a full-blown committee approach at tight end.

From a financial standpoint, Dallas would love for Schultz to take over the position in 2020.  He is signed through 2021 on a cheap rookie contract, while Jarwin will be a restricted free agent next year.

Predicting who emerges between Jarwin and Schultz is hard to say, but what isn't hard to imagine is that these may be Rico Gathers' last few weeks as a Cowboy.

Now entering his fourth season, the basketball-to-football transformation project has not been able to break through. He has expressed frustration with the TE depth chart during the offseason, and a one-game suspension to start 2019 isn't going to help matters.

Dallas may just be keeping three tight ends this year. They have WR Noah Brown and FB Jamize Olawale who are built to do play like smallish TEs. If they only keep three, it won't matter how much Rico has progressed.

If the Cowboys go with four tight ends that last guy may not be Gathers. They signed prospect Codey McElroy this offseason, who spent last year as an undrafted rookie with the Rams. McElroy may be their new developmental project.

Dallas' 2019 camp will offer plenty of new insights into the TE position. How do they split the workload between Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz? Can Rico Gathers do anything to fight his way into the conversation, or will he lose his spot to Codey McElroy?

We look forward to getting some more answers in the coming weeks.

~ ~ ~

OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS



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Dallas Cowboys

Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Travis Frederick’s Health Still a Concern?

Brian Martin

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Concerns About Travis Frederick's Health Still Justifiable
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It's been nearly a year since Dallas Cowboys Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease. And although all signs are pointing towards him making a full recovery and regaining his starting job, there are still some lingering concerns about his health.

Travis Frederick didn't miss a start in his previous five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before being diagnosed with GBS. He was an Ironman and was the anchor for the Cowboys talented offensive line. But battling injuries and an autoimmune disease in which there is a lot of unknown about still are two different animals. It's the unknown here that still carries some concern.

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its own nerves, specifically the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. This can result in a wide range the nerve-related symptoms, including tingling, prickling, or pins and needles sensations; muscle weakness; difficulty walking, talking, chewing, or swallowing; pain; and, in severe cases paralysis, which can become life-threatening if breathing is affected.

As with many autoimmune diseases, experts don't fully understand what causes GBS. There is still a lot of unknown about this disease, and that includes how to treat it and recover from it. However, when diagnosed early, like in Frederick's case, the chances of stabilizing sooner rather than later are pretty good. Although, the recovery process can be a slow one, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Cure and Recovery Time?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for GBS at this current time. There are a couple of treatments which has shown some success, although patients respond differently which makes determining a person's recovery time nearly impossible.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most people recover within 6 to 12 months. However, about 30% of people still experience lingering weakness three years after a diagnosis, reports the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and about 15% continue to have weakness long after that. Hence, the lingering concern about Travis Frederick and his future health.

Travis Frederick's Optimism

Despite all the unknown with GBS and how it's affected Travis Frederick's life, he sounds pretty optimistic his health is trending in the right direction.

"I feel really good about where I am at. Both in recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome and the offseason surgeries that I had done. We are just starting to get to the end of the shoulder rehab. That will start to free up a little bit of my activities. But as far as (Guillain-Barre syndrome) goes, I feel really, really good. It's gonna be hard to tell whether I'm back exactly 100 percent until I can go against another player at full speed in full pads. I don't think we're actually going to know until training camp. But all signs are currently pointing to really good things."

As if we didn't already have enough to keep an eye on once the Dallas Cowboys start training, Travis Frederick certainly jumps to the top of the list. How he is able to respond in some "live-action" practices should help determine where he's at healthwise. Hopefully for his sake, and the sake of the Cowboys, he's back to 100% or as close to it as possible.

Are you concerned about Travis Frederick's health heading into 2019?



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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to count $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 against the salary cap. His salary for 2019 is only $3.8 million. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/16/2019 10:42 am.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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