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How James Hanna’s Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - How James Hanna's Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna is eligible to return against the Philadelphia Eagles at home on October 30th. The team will be off this Sunday for their bye week, and then they will have a decision to make on Hanna.

If the blocking-specialist tight end is ready to practice and play, he can begin working his way back into Scott Linehan's offense. If not, Hanna will have until the end of Week 11 to begin practicing before being forced to the injured reserve. Once practicing, the Cowboys will have three weeks to activate Hanna, or he will again have to be placed on the injured reserve list or released.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/cowboys-james-hanna-having-knee-surgery/

Hanna was signed to a new three year deal this off season, so not only is his status on the Cowboys safe, but the element he brings to this offense will be welcomed. Shining in 2014 as part of Dallas' rushing attack, led by DeMarco Murray, Hanna was found consistently steering defenders off the edge to allow Murray to turn the corner.

Emerging at the tight end position to help in this aspect with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has been second-year player Geoff Swaim. While Swaim is not nearly the blocker that Hanna is, he has helped with the Cowboys' versatility on offense as a more complete tight end. I expect Swaim to still find snaps when Hanna does return to the field along with Jason Witten.

Another tight end could be on his way out in Dallas though. A roster spot would need to be cleared to bring in Hanna, and moving on from Gavin Escobar in his final season under contract makes the most sense. Escobar has never fit in offensively with the Cowboys, but did bounce back from a late 2015 Achilles tear to show flashes in training camp - ahead of schedule with his rehab.

Even still, the athletic former second round pick has not caught a pass all season for the Cowboys. Moving on from him will merely be an admission that his draft pick was wasted, and the Cowboys can then move on with the best possible depth chart at tight end.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott: "I have yet to show the dominance at the second level...Once that starts happening, it's going to be kind of scary.

The Cowboys running game has fueled their success once again in 2016, and the hungry rookie in Ezekiel Elliott still sees room for improvement. With James Hanna back on the field as one of his blockers, Elliott will get to the second level even easier and with more speed, allowing him to continue to eat opposing defenses.

Inside The Star will keep you updated on Hanna's practice status along with any roster moves that occur in eventually activating him.

What are you expecting from James Hanna when he is back on the field? Let us know! Comment below with your thoughts, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com!

Tell us what you think about "How James Hanna’s Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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4 Comments
  • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

    I disagree that Swaim is a “more complete” tight end than Hanna. We’ve seen that Hanna can be a good receiver in the past. He’s just been stuck behind the failed Gavin Escobar project.

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Swaim looks more comfortable as a route-runner, has a better down field element in the passing game. Can only remember Hanna getting check down throws that were wide open after Romo bought time in the pocket. Those are still valuable, but it doesn’t make him that complete player that Swaim could be.

  • M. Dion Douglas

    James Hanna just hasn’t had the donwfield opportunities that have been afforded Swam. He is one of the fastest players on the teamand came out of OU as a receiving TE.
    It is his meteoric rise as a blocker that has limited his receiving role.

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Swaim is just the better receiving option right now. They’ll find a way to keep him on the field some. But you’re spot on when it comes to Hanna’s value as a blocker, and with this team built around the run, he is going to have a much more important role than Swaim. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Jason Witten’s Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

Sean Martin

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Cowboys 2016 Draft Class: Who Will Be The Stand Out In 2017?
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

When Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten retired from the NFL last month, he left behind an unproven group of tight ends for the Cowboys to field as Witten moves on to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth. This is not a TE group short of potential, although that's nothing new for the laundry list of players that have failed at the position behind the Hall of Fame bound Witten.

Headlining this group of potential heirs to Witten has to be 2016 draft pick Rico Gathers. Not yet given the same opportunities that Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are receiving through the Cowboys ongoing mini camp, Gathers has been criticized for his commitment to his team.

Looking to make the transition from the basketball court at Baylor to the football field, Gathers' journey began at Witten's soon-to-be home forever. Playing his first organized football game since middle school, Gathers and Witten were teammates in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio in 2017.

A game rarely leaving fans with a lasting memories, Gathers immediately flashed potential in the passing game, hauling in three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Gathers would go on to spend the season on IR after a concussion suffered in practice, recovering from it in time to return but never seeing the field.

This leaves Gathers' prospects of putting it all together in year three at a difficult crossroads. It will be hard to question Gathers' commitment moving forward, as the message from his former teammate Jason Witten still lives with him.

Jason Witten's Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

If Witten truly sees a "bright future" for Rico Gathers, who Head Coach Jason Garrett says needs work in the running game, there is no reason the Cowboys can't find a role for him this season. With an entirely unproven group of wide receivers, Gathers could be the reliable mismatch for Dak Prescott to target in the middle of the field.

Prescott was the ninth worst quarterback in the league last season in red zone completion percentage, surely something the 6'6" TE Gathers could help improve.

Gathers may be a long way off from becoming Prescott's version of Witten to Tony Romo, but there is still hope for the 2016 draft pick, according to now football analyst Jason Witten.

Tell us what you think about "Jason Witten’s Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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David Irving to be Present at Dallas Cowboys Minicamp

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving

David Irving has been a notable name throughout the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys, for both on the field and off the field headlines. First, his RFA tender had fans and analysts wondering just what the Cowboys would do with him. Many, myself included, thought placing anything lower than a first-round tender on the stud defensive tackle would mean he was collecting sacks for someone else in 2018.

Thankfully, the Dallas Cowboys' gamble paid off and they were able to save some money by only having the second-round tender applied to 2018.

Then came the accusation of domestic violence from his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, catching us off-guard just before OTAs began in May. Which was then retracted not long after the initial report.

After all of that had quieted down, most of the talk revolved around David Irving not being in shape for OTAs. Not having been around for much of the offseason work the last several weeks before OTAs would keep Irving from working out.

He's had a lot going on in his life lately away from the game of football, and understandably so. As a father to a young child, I can see how you'd get distracted from your job when family stuff comes into play that affects the well-being of your child.

On the football side of things, at least, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Today, it's being reported that David Irving will in fact be present for this week's mandatory minicamp.

Brandon George on Twitter

Also, the Cowboys expect DL David Irving to participate in the 3-day mandatory minicamp that begins today at The Star, a source said. The Cowboys could have both Irving and RG Zack Martin back on the practice field if Martin's contract extension gets finalized this morning.

You may be asking yourself, "what's the big deal? Irving isn't Aaron Donald."

Well, you're mostly right.

Perhaps next to Donald, David Irving was the most disruptive interior player in the NFL last season. David Irving had seven sacks in the eight games he played in.

Read that again. Seven sacks in eight games. That would be 14 sacks over the course of the season if that pace were to continue to play out.

Aaron Donald had 11 sacks in 2017.

Pro Football Focus rated David Irving as its third best pass rusher among interior defensive linemen.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Dominant interior defenders.

To go along with Irving's seven sacks in eight games -- every time I read that I'm floored -- he recorded six passes defended. That was good for second in the NFL at the defensive tackle position and was second on the Dallas Cowboys.

Again, in only eight games played.

Even if you were to pace out his tackle numbers over 16 games, they aren't very spectacular -- 26 solo and 18 assisted -- but he'd still finish in the top 30 among defensive tackles.

Only two other players in the NFL had seven or more sacks and six or more pass breakups; New Orleans Saints Defensive End Cameron Jordan and Cincinnati Bengals Defensive End Carlos Dunlap. Both of those guys played in all 16 games and, while I hate to keep bringing this up, Irving only played in eight.

He's an elite interior defender who has only gotten better since joining Rod Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys.

If he's able to get his personal life in order -- and that most assuredly comes first -- he's going to be a wrecking ball for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line.

Getting Zack Martin's contract extension completed was probably the most important task of the summer, but getting David Irving back into the practice fold is a close second.

With him and DeMarcus Lawrence coming off a tremendous 2017, the sky is the limit for those two in 2018.

With all the improvement that was made on the defensive side of the ball, I can't help but think of the sign that Greg Hardy paid for several years ago.

"Sacks Comin'."



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