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#DALvsIND: 5 Cowboys Storylines To Watch In Preseason Week 2

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Who Could Be Interested In Trading For Darren McFadden?

The Dallas Cowboys have already officially played two games, but the rest of the NFL is entering preseason week 2. The Cowboys will be squaring off against the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday afternoon (August 19) and there are certainly no shortage of storylines for Cowboys Nation to watch.

There is no doubt that the Dallas Cowboys have had their ups and downs so far in their first two contests, but now that it is the third preseason game for them maybe the can find some kind of consistency. Continue reading below to see the five Cowboys storylines I will be personally paying close attention to, but that doesn't mean there aren't any others. There is a lot they need to clean up, but thankfully that's what preseason is for

Darren McFadden

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Darren McFadden vs. Alfred Morris

Odds are Ezekiel Elliott is looking at some kind of suspension. But, as of yet the number of games he will miss has yet to be determined. This makes the backup running back position for the Dallas Cowboys all that more important, which in turn means Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris' offensive role becomes more prominent.

McFadden and Morris haven't really inspired a lot of confidence with their play so for the first couple of preseason games for the Cowboys, which means they really need a good showing against the Colts. McFadden is probably the favorite to take over if Zeke is suspended, but Morris is arguably the better fit in the Cowboys zone blocking scheme.

Both players really need to step up their game, because neither is as talented as Zeke Elliott. Maybe the Cowboys will give Rod Smith a chance to work a little bit more with the first team to see what he's capable of.

Cooper Rush

QB Cooper Rush

Kellen Moore vs. Cooper Rush

After two preseason games, I don't know how anyone can claim that Kellen Moore is deserving of the title of backup QB behind Dak Prescott. He may have the advantage of knowing the offense and supposedly being "one of the best" college QBs to play the game, but his play so far leaves much to be desired.

In fact, the argument could be made that undrafted free agent Cooper Rush has played just as well, if not better than Moore. Rush hasn't performed much like a rookie QB and has looked comfortable in the pocket. He is throwing with accuracy and has shown more arm strength than expected. If he is able to put together another strong showing against the Colts, he could just earn himself a roster spot and possibly unseat Kellen Moore.

It is unlikely the Cowboys coaching staff would choose keep Cooper Rush over Kellen Moore as Prescott's backup this season, but stranger things have happened in the past. Moore really needs to step up his game and prove to everyone why he has the coaching staff's confidence.

WR Noah Brown

WR Noah Brown

Will Noah Brown continue to impress?

It's only been two preseason games for the Dallas Cowboys, but their seventh round draft pick Noah Brown has showed up in both as a wide receiver. He has only had three catches for 41 yards, but he has also drawn a pass interference call.

Noah Brown hasn't gotten as many chances as I would like in the passing game, but he has done a lot of dirty work that goes unnoticed. He is an excellent blocker and can be used in that capacity as a split WR and as a situational tight end. Brown could possibly be the best blocking WR currently on the roster.

Noah Brown has already shown enough through two games for the Cowboys to consider keeping him around, but he still needs time to refine his skill set. These next two preseason games could help determine if he makes the active roster or if the Cowboys are willing to try to slip through waivers and add him to the practice squad.

DT Lewis Neal

DT Lewis Neal

Can Lewis Neal continue to be disruptive?

I don't know about you, but I've been paying a lot of attention to the Dallas Cowboys defensive line play through these first two preseason contests. There really hasn't been very much to inspire a lot of confidence or excitement, but undrafted free agent Lewis Neal is the one player who has seemed to continuously make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

In this preseason week 2 contest against the Indianapolis Colts, Lewis Neal really needs to continue to be disruptive if he wants to gain more playing time and earn himself a defensive role in 2017. Right now I think he could be the favorite to backup Maliek Collins at the 3-technique, but he will have to continue to show up.

If Lewis Neal can put together another impressive/disruptive performance against the Colts, he could go from an unknown undrafted free agent, to a key role player this season.

LB Jaylon Smith

LB Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith & Jourdan Lewis' NFL debut

The Dallas Cowboys have two players that will be making their NFL debut against the Indianapolis Colts in preseason week 2, Jaylon Smith and Jourdan Lewis. Both players are expected to be key contributors in 2017 and Saturday will be the first chance the majority of us will have to see them in action.

Jaylon Smith's NFL debut might be just the most anticipated debut for an NFL player in the history of the league. There are endless amounts of fans who want to see the talented linebacker back on the field to finally see how he has progressed from his knee injury. We may not get to see a lot of him, but any playing time he does receive is encouraging for not only his future, but for the Cowboys defense.

Jourdan Lewis' NFL debut won't receive as much hype as Smith's, but that doesn't mean it's not nearly as important. Lewis is one of the defensive backs brought in to make over the Cowboys secondary and could possibly have a huge role on defense in 2017. He is a little bit undersized, which could regulate him to the slot, but he possesses undeniable talent.

What Cowboys storylines will you be watching in preseason week 2?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Ethan Chazin

    August 18, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Brian, oh my goodness. Do you not see ALL of the typos in this article??? Please…SPELL check.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 18, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Thanks for the head’s up. Sometimes spell check doesn’t pick up all of those errors. I guess I didn’t do as good of a job in proofreading as I thought. I apologize. I’m usually better than that.

  2. George_Johnson

    August 18, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Brian Martin: Lets look at the facts concerning K Moore VS C Rush. K Moore has received all the 2nd team reps in practice and 2nd team playing time in preseason games. C Rush has received the 3rd team reps in practice and 3rd team playing time. There is a big difference. K Moore is playing against mostly players who will make the 53 man rosters and C Rush is playing against mostly players who will be working at the Hardware store in a month. All indications are K Moore has outplayed C Rush in training camp. K Moore played as well or better in the first preseason game. In the 2nd preseason game K Moore did not look so good and C Rush looked outstanding. However, remember who each one is playing against. Also how much of K Moore constantly checking down had to do with the defense? I have not seen any comments by the coaches so I don’t know what they think about K Moore’s play in this game. K Moore is likely to improve a lot in the next three preseason games.

    Secondly, K Moore is the veteran, knows the offense/playbook intimately, should be very ready, has the coaches confidence, has an outstanding short to intermediate passing game by all accounts, and is a game manager type QB who can either help move the ball or hold field position. C Rush is a rookie learning through a fire hose. C Rush might be able to compete for 2nd team QB in 2018 but will not be able to or likely be given the chance in 2017.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 18, 2017 at 10:44 am

      The point I was trying to make is that Kellen Moore needs to step up his game, because right now it looks like Cooper Rush is playing just as well. I know it’s hard to evaluate both QBs because they’re not playing against the same defense/players, but I personally expect Kellen Moore to perform better than he has. He hasn’t looked overly sharp or decisive for someone who knows the often so well and has had too many passes knocked down at the scrimmage. He does need to play better plain and simple.

  3. nick

    August 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Is lewis really going to play this Saturday? I didn’t notice him practicing this week on the field anyway. I seen him on the sideline rehabbing and doing some running. I hope your right though. I’m most excited about jaylon of course but almost just as excited about lewis, he can really help us. His coverage skills at Michigan were off the charts and I thought were the best in the draft as far as just coverage goes. If he had no DV case going on he would have been a late 1st or early 2nd round pick all day everyday. Him awuzie and jaylon could raelly have this defense looking solid around mid season with the vets.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

      I haven’t seen anything saying that he’s not going to play, but the Cowboys have been cautious with their players regarding any kind of injuries. I’m hoping he plays because he could really use the repetitions

  4. Ethan Chazin

    August 18, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I am not as interested in the back up QB battle b/c I believe linnehan will stick with Moore no matter what. I want to see l’ael at rt and Chaz at lt with other ol 1st starters. I want to see taco, Tapper, Switzer

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

      I think you’re right about the backup QB, but I expected a lot more from Kellen Moore considering he has been in Linehan’s offensive scheme so long. I’m also interested in watching the RT and LG positions.

  5. nick

    August 18, 2017 at 10:50 am

    And I agree if cooper keeps playing like he has he should be the QB2. I’m also excited and hoping for him to keep it going saturday.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

      He has definitely been better than anyone could have expected, but I don’t know if the coaching staff would rely on him as the QB2.

    • George_Johnson

      August 18, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      If I understand this correctly, K Moore receives the 2nd team reps in practice and 2nd team playing time in preseason games. C Rush receives the 3rd team reps in practices and 3rd team playing time in preseason games. It is hard to compare QBs because they are both playing with and against different players. In order for C Rush to be considered for 2nd team QB he would need to get some of the 2nd team reps in practice and some of the 2nd team playing time in preseason games. This would then mean a competition was going on between K Moore and C Rush. As far as I know the coaches are not considering this. Therefore K Moore will be the 2nd team QB no matter how well C Rush plays. The coaches will only consider alternatives at 2nd team if K Moore starts screwing up big time, which he hasn’t to date and is highly unlikely to. The alternatives may not include C Rush as the 2nd team QB. C Rush may be setting himself up with his outstanding play for a third QB on the 53 man roster or if on the practice squad he may get a chance to move on to another team if he wants to.

      • nick

        August 18, 2017 at 11:19 pm

        He hasn’t screwed up bad, but he hasn’t done anything productive on the field either, what he won 1 game for us in 2015 ? I know coach linehan seems to love him but if he cooper keeps playing like this and kellen keeps playing like he always has, then maybe kellen should be qb3 and continue to help coach up the young qbs. The best players should get the job if it’s all about the team the team the team. Kellen is extremely smart and knows the whole playbook but that don’t help us if he can’t perform in the game if something happens to dak. Its whole lot different from looking good in practice. The eyes dont lie either you got it or you dont and kellen never had it since entering the NFL, Cooper looks like he’s got it.

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2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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