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Is Safety George Iloka the Cowboys’ Next Bargain Bin Bust?

Jess Haynie

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George Iloka

For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys have tried to fill a need with a cheap veteran option in free agency. They have had a string of disappointments with these moves and, though it's still early, there are concerns that Safety George Iloka may be the latest failed free agent signing.

When Iloka was signed last March, it was generally perceived that he was here to push for a starting job or, at worst, be a highly-experienced backup with position flexibility. George has 79 career starts, which is more than Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods combined, and he has intriguing physical traits at 6'4" and the athleticism to play either free or strong safety.

But so far through the spring and summer practice reports, Iloka hasn't been standing out. There's no indication he's pushing Heath for a starting job, and fourth-year prospect Darian Thompson is the reserve player making noise.

If George Iloka doesn't start separating himself soon, he may wind up not even making this roster.

The ideal mix at safety, and most other positions, is to have your starters, a solid backup, and then a developmental player. So far, Darian Thompson is distinguishing himself as a potential backup. Kavon Frazier and rookie Donovan Wilson are also in the mix, offering youth and upside that Iloka, at 29, no longer can.

There is still a whole preseason, and plenty more practices, for Iloka to change perceptions. But the silence around him right now is troubling.


Cowboys Headlines - "We Hate Them" Ex-Eagle DT Cedric Thornton Speaks On Former Team

Former Dallas Cowboys DT Cedric Thornton

Bad Free Agent History

It's concerning that the Cowboys aren't hitting on their free agent gambles. This trend started in 2016 with Cedric Thornton, who was brought in to upgrade defensive tackle but then couldn't even crack the starting lineup. He hung around as backup that year, but then was released at final cuts in 2017.

Also in 2017, Nolan Carroll was signed to replace exiting starters at cornerback. He wasn't impressive in the summer and still managed to start, but then got hurt in the second game of the season. Dallas didn't even bother keeping him at that point, releasing Carroll in October of that same year.

Last year, Allen Hurns was supposed to come in and fill the WR1 void left by Dez Bryant. But Hurns never established himself in the offense, prompting Dallas to eventually trade for Amari Cooper. Hurns fell down the depth chart, not evening beating Michael Gallup for the #2 spot, and wound up getting released just a few weeks ago.

To be fair, these players were available and cheap for some of the same reasons they didn't work out. They were risks, and unfortunately Dallas is on a bad run of busting on these gambles.

Will George Iloka be the next failed attempt to add a bargain player? We can't say that for sure just yet, but right now there are some concering signs.

Hopefully, for the team's sake and the player's, things turn around soon.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Game Notes

Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.

However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.

Taco Charlton

That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.


With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.

One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.

Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.

Tell me what you think about "Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3" 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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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys’ Taryn Christion Gets Time at QB; More Coming?

Jess Haynie

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Taryn Christion

Last night was the first time we've seen Taryn Christion, the Dallas Cowboys' fourth quarterback on the current depth chart, actually playing the position in preseason. Could we see more of Christion at QB in this Thursday's finale, and at what point should Mike White be worried?

Signed just a few days before training camp began, Christion has been tried at running back, receiver, and various special teams units while the Cowboys were in Oxnard. But last week he started getting more time at quarterback, and last night's win over the Houston Texans saw him playing a few drives at QB to close the game out.

Sure, Taryn came in fourth behind White in the rotation. But that Dallas thought to give him reps in that game, the critical dress rehearsal game, is telling.

Jason Garrett doesn't get cute with rotations and playing time. He's old school, and there's meaning in every decision he makes about when and how guys get time in preseason.

Ironically, the decision came following Mike White's best preseason game this year. He went 6-of-9 for 56 yards and a touchdown, plus avoided any sacks or turnovers.


Rather than let White keep building on that, though, Dallas pulled him for Taryn Christion in the 4th quarter. It seemed as if the Cowboys were determined to get him some time at QB.

An even better showcase will come this Thursday night. The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game; we know Dak Prescott won't be playing, and the team may even protect Cooper Rush with limited time on the field.

Dallas likely intends to give Christion some significant playing time on Thursday. And to help make that easier, they played him last night to get some of those butterflies out of his system.

No, Taryn Christion probably isn't going to make the 53-man roster. Neither is Mike White, for that matter. It feels like the battle for the number-three QB is more about the practice squad now.

But whatever the case, the battle seems to be heating up. Dallas appears more invested in Christion now as a quarterback than at any other point since he arrived; some added intrigue for Thursday's final preseason game.


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Game Notes

HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game

Matthew Lenix

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HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game 1

The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.

The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.

Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.

The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.

Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.


Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.

Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.

Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.


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