Lance Lenoir Jr. has had a great offseason. He's consistently shown off at training camp and has a very real chance of making the 53-man roster after spending last season on the team's practice squad. During the Cowboys' preseason opener in Santa Clara, he helped his case with a very impressive touchdown catch that included great route-running and toe-tapping.
Lance Lenoir: "I'm a tough receiver. I got nice hands. I got quick feet. I can block. I can basically do anything you ask me to. I'm maybe not the ideal size but I'm a big lion, I got a big heart. That's what I bring to the table."
We should always be wary of preseason overreactions but the truth is, from what we've seen and heard from training camp, Lance Lenoir is making a huge statement. For this football team, nailing the wide receiver position is an essential task to help QB Dak Prescott in his third year in the NFL.
The Cowboys are dealing with an overhaul at the position that has led to an interesting debate at the bottom of the depth chart. There are many young players that may deserve a roster spot but we're bound to be disappointed since the team can't carry all of them. Seven wide receivers should be the most guys they'd keep.
The top four receivers are all locks to make the team. Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin will not be a part of the cut-down day conversation the coaches and front office will undergo prior to the start of the regular season.
Note: Tavon Austin is listed as a RB on the DallasCowboys.com roster. However, from what we've seen in training camp, preseason and the depth chart published on the team's site in August 9th, we're considering him a wide receiver here.
If Lance Lenoir is to make the team, he's fighting for the last two - maybe even three - roster spots on the team. It's safe to assume that if the Cowboys do carry a seventh WR, Lenoir is in the 53. He's young and has proven he can be a solid receiver that can get open and has great hands.
But if the WR room consists of six players, he's got competition. At least two of these receivers will make the roster:
- Terrance Williams
- Noah Brown
- Lance Lenoir
- Deonte Thompson
Williams has the most experience but, will he be able to justify a roster spot? He's had the chance to prove he can be a WR1 and failed more than once. Deonte Thompson has also had a good training camp and could have a more important role than expected. Noah Brown was on the roster last year and although his snaps were limited, his blocking skills alone may get him a spot. He hasn't been as much on the field at training camp though, which has clearly hurt his case.
They all have their pros and cons. It really will be a hard decision for the front office and carrying a seventh wide receiver shouldn't be out of the question. Getting excited about lots of players in preseason is inevitable and leads us to hundreds of "He's definitely making the roster!" but it isn't until you see the whole picture that you stop being so sure about it.
Having said that, I bet Lenoir makes the roster before Thompson and Brown do. I also believe Terrance Williams could be released before any of the other two guys. He's had a decent career in Dallas, but he's failed to prove he can be more than what he already is. The fact that he is in this discussion rather than in the "starting wide receivers" one says a lot.
Lenoir has proven to be too good to let his talent and potential for Terrance Williams or for 29-year old Deonte Thompson. They should all be capable of having a good season under Dak's command but in terms of upside, Lance Lenoir seems to be way ahead of them.
There's still a lot of time in the preseason and the outlook could change a lot before cutdown day. For now, you'd have a hard time making a case against Lance Lenoir. He's proving his worth out there. Hopefully he keeps it up and translates it into the regular season.
Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense
For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.
Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.
He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.
During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.
Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.
With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.
Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.
#INDvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
For once, the Cowboys are not playing what feels like a do-or-die game on Sunday, needing just 1 win over their final 3 to win the NFC East. This week the 8-5 Cowboys go on the road to face the 7-6 Colts, with each times vying for playoff spots in their respective conferences.
Both the Cowboys and Colts have turned around what looked like dead seasons, but there is no doubt the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do to keep pace for the 6th seed in the AFC.
Cowboys +3, O/U 47 points.
The once 3-5 Cowboys are now head and shoulders above the rest of their division, after winning their fifth straight in thrilling fashion over the Eagles last Sunday. The team which seemed so disjointed and inconsistent through 8 games has found their identity, and is playing complete team football as of late.
Dak Prescott is coming off a career-best game in terms of yardage, and despite some poor turnovers is still playing some of the best football of his career. This is due in large part to two stars in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, who have shouldered the production load of this offense the last 5 weeks.
And, of course, there is the defense which continues to make life a living hell for opposing offenses. Randy Gregory is coming into his own as a pass rusher, getting another sack last week and getting flagged for what should have been his second sack of the day.
Dallas is playing the brand of football they told us they would before the season, and are beginning to make their front office and decision makers look very smart in the process.
At 7-6 and fighting for the final AFC playoff spot, the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do. Getting shut out by the lowly Jaguars two weeks ago may ultimately keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but a win this Sunday and a little help elsewhere could set them up nicely down the stretch.
Indy has quietly one of the best passing offenses in all of the NFL, with star quarterback Andrew Luck playing his best football in quite some time. Luck is healthy and looks like himself again, and the selection of Quenton Nelson to sure-up the offensive line has gone a long way to improving this offense as well.
Defensively the Colts have been even more impressive lately. Though they have a roster comprised of no-names nationally, the Colts defense is 11th in DVOA. Darius Leonard has been a revelation for the Colts at linebacker, and their young defense seems to be improving by the week.
The Colts are coming off of a big road victory over the Houston Texans a week ago, and will look to defeat the Texans' in-state rivals on Sunday to improve to 8-6.
- The Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread their last 5 games, and have won all 5 straight up.
- The score total has hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
- But the score total has gone under 4 of the Colts' last 5 games.
- The Colts are 4-1 straight up their last 5 home games.
- Dallas is 6-3 their last 9 games against the Colts.
The Cowboys' winning streak has to end at some point, right?
Well, unlike Vegas, I don't expect that ending to happen on Sunday. The Cowboys have been playing desperate football over the last 5 games and they are well aware what a win over Indianapolis would mean.
A victory would clinch them a division title for the third time in five years, and just as they did in 2014, I expect the Cowboys to get that clinching victory over the Colts. Give me the Cowboys and the points this week.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
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