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Is Lucky Whitehead’s Roster Spot Secure?

A month ago, I wrote an article about whether or not an expanded role was in the future for Lucky Whitehead, and now I’m questioning if there will even be a roster spot available for Whitehead once the final cuts are made. Don’t get me wrong, Lucky Whitehead has an intriguing skill set that could be used in several different ways for an offensive coordinator as creative as Scott Linehan, but he’s facing some stiff competition at the wide receiver position. In 2015, Whitehead was mostly utilized on special teams returning punts and kickoffs. Toward the end of the season he started to get more time on offense in the Lance Dunbar type of role. They used Lucky Whitehead on jet sweeps and as a receiver out of the backfield the same way they used Dunbar before his injury.

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Is Lucky Whitehead's Roster Spot Secure?

A month ago, I wrote an article about whether or not an expanded role was in the future for Lucky Whitehead, and now I'm questioning if there will even be a roster spot available for Whitehead once the final cuts are made.

Don't get me wrong, Lucky Whitehead has an intriguing skill set that could be used in several different ways for an offensive coordinator as creative as Scott Linehan, but he's facing some stiff competition at the wide receiver position.

In 2015, Whitehead was mostly utilized on special teams returning punts and kickoffs. Toward the end of the season he started to get more time on offense in the Lance Dunbar type of role. They used Lucky Whitehead on jet sweeps and as a receiver out of the backfield the same way they used Dunbar before his injury.

If that's the same type of role Whitehead will have in the upcoming season, I have a hard time believing that he is worthy of a roster spot when they are so valuable.

Lucky Whitehead is only 5'8" and somewhere around 180 pounds, so that really limits what he can do offensively for the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that there is no way Lucky Whitehead will ever be able to beat out Cole Beasley as the Cowboys' slot receiver. Not only has Beasley developed really good chemistry with Tony Romo, but he's just a better wide receiver than Whitehead. And because of his size, Whitehead isn't really an option at outside receiver either. So can you justify one of those valuable roster spots going to a player that is mainly going to be used as a returner on special teams?

I know as I sit here right now, I can't say for certain that Lucky Whitehead will make the team after training camp. There are new rule changes on kickoffs in 2016 that will impact whether or not teams decide to carry a kick returner, and no one really knows how teams will approach that change.

Not only that, but if you've been paying attention to the news coming out of recent OTAs and the mini-camp, there are other wide receivers making plays and they might just make Lucky Whitehead expendable.

Is Vince Mayle a Threat to Lucky Whitehead?

Cowboys Headlines - Is Lucky Whitehead's Roster Spot Secure? 1

(G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

Second-year wide receiver Vince Mayle has been mentioned a time or two for making plays. At 6'2" and 224 pounds, Mayle has a size that the Cowboys seem to like in their wide receivers, and he could provide valuable depth if someone was to go down with an injury.

Vince Mayle was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, but was ultimately one of their final roster cuts when they were getting down to their final 53 man roster.

He spent nearly the entire year on the Cowboys' practice squad, but their patience with his development may very well pay off, and that could mean bad news for Lucky Whitehead.

Is Andy Jones a Threat to Lucky Whitehead?

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Andy Jones has also opened a lot of eyes during these unpadded practices. Jones has even been given the opportunity to practice with the first team unit, something that can't be discounted considering he's working with Tony Romo.

Cowboys Headlines - Is Lucky Whitehead's Roster Spot Secure? 2

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Like Mayle, Andy Jones (6'2", 214) has a size advantage over Lucky Whitehead and the fact that he's already been given reps with the first team offense doesn't really bode well for Whitehead's chances to make the team.

Jones was one of the Cowboys' 14 undrafted free agents, and received the highest signing bonus ($15,000) of any of the UFAs.

With Dez Bryant a no-brainer to make the team, along with Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and probably Brice Butler rounding out the top four wide receivers, Lucky Whitehead and the rest of the WRs are battling for that #5 spot. Personally, I don't see the Cowboys carrying more than five receivers on the 53 man roster, especially considering how thin the defensive line is to start the season.

If Lucky Whitehead wants to remain on the Cowboys roster in 2016, he is going to have to start proving to the coaching staff that he is worth keeping around. That he is able to contribute more on offense than other wide receivers.

Again, I have nothing against Lucky Whitehead, but with the receiver position as deep as it has been in recent memory, it's going to be an interesting position to keep track of once training camp gets underway.

Do you think Lucky Whitehead remains a Cowboy in 2016?

Please use the comment section below, because I would love to hear your feedback and discuss this topic further.



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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Aerdna Smailliw

    June 21, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Sure, I sew Whitehead making the final roster. Despite what the article states , Lucky has put on 12 lbs of muscle and has been working on the outside WR spots. It is Beasley who is limited due to his diminutive size of 5'8. 176 lbs, not Whitehead. Lucky is also extremely fast and sure handed as evidenced by his performance after Beasley struggled catching and fumbling kicks. Whitehead did not have a turnover in 2015. All he needs is more opportunies, let's not make the same mistake we made in allowing Dwayne Harris to walk.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 21, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      I'm going to respectfully disagree. I don't think Whitehead is close to being as good as Cole Beasley as a receiver. Beasley has arguably the best hands on the team with the exception of Bryant. I'm not saying that I don't think Whitehead can't make the team, but I think he's in a battle for that fifth WR spot. I don't know if the Cowboys can afford to carry six wide receivers with the defensive line so thin.

  2. Jeff Anderson

    June 22, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I think he definitely makes the roster while Lance Dunbar recovers fully. I think his biggest battle may be with Dunbar and not the other receivers because of their similar abilities. I don't see any of our taller receivers being able to match his skill set.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 22, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Jeff, everything you say is true. I even wrote an article about how Lucky Whitehead and Lance Dunbar have a similar skill set about a month ago. Personally, I'm actually kind of hoping that Darius Jackson can fill that Dunbar type role. Jackson actually has an opportunity to prove himself while Darren McFadden is out. There are definitely some position battles that will be really interesting to keep track of throughout training camp.

  3. Jeff Cook

    June 22, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    The only WR that would shock me more than Lucky to see make the 53 would be Street

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      I don't see any scenario where Street makes the team. He's had his chances and unfortunately hasn't been able to prove he's worth keeping around.

  4. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    June 25, 2016 at 10:28 am

    I talked about this on Cowboys Cast a couple of weeks ago, but I have a tangent type theory on why Lucky is safe.

    Look at how engrained he is in the team's image. He's one of the faces of the franchise. He's allowed to do things like run their Snapchat account and he got to compete in Dirk's celebrity softball game… Not everyone is on that status level.

    Do these things have ANYTHING to do with his football skills? Of course not. But I think they're indicative that he's valued to a legitimate degree. To the point made in here you don't see Devin Street being given those opportunities.

    Sent from my iPhone using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

  5. Brian Martin

    Brian Martin

    June 25, 2016 at 11:38 am

    RJ, I can't argue with any of that. I was mostly judging him based on his football performance. Whitehead has quickly become a fan favorite, but he is limited to what he can do offensively and I'm not sure he is worth keeping around as a return specialist due to the changes to the new kickoff rules. I like Whitehead, but as a receiver I think I will always want more than what he can offer. I think Andy Jones and Ed Eagan could possibly give him a run for his money if the Cowboys decide to keep just five WRs on the 53 man roster. Training camp can't get here quick enough to hopefully start sorting some of these position battles out.

  6. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    June 25, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Agreed Brian!

    Sent from my iPhone using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

  7. MB

    August 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Whitehead sucks. If they keep him just add another blunder to the list of management fumbles. His hair and mouth piece alone are enough reason to cut him. Plenty of other recievers 10x more talented.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      August 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      MB, I appreciate you taking the time to comment about Lucky Whitehead. I agree partly with what you said. I wouldn't personally go as far as saying Whitehead sucks. I think he is very limited in what he can do as a WR, mostly because of his size. I think if he does make the final 53 man roster again it will be because of his special teams ability. I really think it will ultimately come down between Whitehead and Lance Dunbar. We saw a small sample size of Whitehead filling in that role that Lance Dunbar did prior to his knee injury and I think the Cowboys really like that kind of offensive threat. I do agree with you that I think there are some better WRs competing for that roster spot with Whitehead. I personally like Ed Eagan and Andy Jones Moore is a receiver. Unfortunately, we won't get an answer until the final roster cuts.

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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/1085291591399546880?s=21

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" 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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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

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Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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