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Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys’ Ed Block Courage Award Winner

Sean Martin

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Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner 1

On January 1st, 2016, then Notre Dame star linebacker Jaylon Smith played in what many thought would be his last ever football game - suffering a gruesome knee injury in a bowl game against Ezekiel Elliott's Ohio State Buckeyes. Now teammates with Elliott, Jaylon appeared in his first game with the Dallas Cowboys on September 10th of this year, never looking back to defy all odds and lead this team in tackles through 14 games.

For his resilience, courage, and uplifting play, Jaylon Smith was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award by his Cowboys' teammates yesterday.

David Helman on Twitter

Here's a cool story. The Cowboys have voted Jaylon Smith as their 2017 Ed Block Courage Award winner. Very well deserved, given that Smith rebounded from one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory to lead the team in tackles, with 96 this season.

Smith will get the opportunity to represent the team that not only took a chance on him with the 34th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, but an organization that has fully supported him through his entire rehabilitation process at the Ed Block Courage Awards in February.

At times, the Cowboys' support of Jaylon Smith felt almost "fake". The fact that he was working - admirably hard - to return to the field certainly wasn't, but believing what the team was selling on Smith being a cornerstone to the franchise after effectively red-shirting his rookie season was understandably difficult.

Jaylon Smith on Twitter

I'm honored and humbled to be selected by my teammates and coaches for such a prestigious award. #ClearEyeView https://t.co/s5qjbrfrOP

While he may not be that franchise player just yet, Jaylon Smith is on track to accomplish everything he set out to as a top prospect. If healthy entering the draft, the price the Cowboys would have had to pay for Smith was the fourth overall pick they instead used on Ezekiel Elliott.

Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner

Should the Cowboys miss the playoffs this season, which is beyond their control, there will still be plenty of positives to take from a season that could have gone differently for many reasons.

Jaylon Smith is both of these things. The Cowboys have been ineffective (to say the least) defensively without their leader in Sean Lee, but Dallas can feel much better about their outlook at LB with Smith in their plans at the MIKE position for the foreseeable future.

Regardless the size of the impact Jaylon Smith made on the field for the Cowboys this season, the fact that he is a healthy football player once again is enough for his teammates and coaches to feel rewarded for their ongoing support.

This is why Smith was chosen as America's Team's nominee for the Ed Block Courage Award for 2017.

Tell us what you think about "Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys’ Ed Block Courage Award Winner" 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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1 Comment
  • Russ_Te

    Smith has certainly earned it. Imagine how hard is it to be stuck in a 1.5 year rehab program while teammates get to go out and play. Rico Gathers is in the throes of 2 years out, although it was practice squad last year and concussion precautions this year.

    But if you build a dynasty, it’s always with a franchise QB and also players down the draft who turn into pro-bowlers. That means you roll dice on project players like Gathers – even Dak – and take chances on gifted players with injury like Smith, or sometimes with trouble following them from college (Gregory).

    If you take average, safe players down the draft you will not build a dynasty. Where available you take your chances on a talented player who fell, and the Cowboys subscribe to that. I was surprised how fast Smith got his speed back this year. There was a play around Week 5 maybe, where the opponent had a long gain down the field and Smith was flying in pursuit.That made me believe a full recovery is in progress. And he might be great as a spy LB against a fast QB like Russell Wilson, or the way Kaepernick was.

    The Seahawks are getting no betting respect after being routed by the Rams, and are 5 point underdogs tomorrow. I think they may be ready to fold up the season if Dallas gets a big first half lead. You have to believe the Cowboys frame of mind is totally opposite, they get Elliott back and I think will get it going early / 31-17 final.

    Btw Sean, if the Cowboys make the playoffs it might be time to get Gregory out of mothballs… ;^)

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Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary

Sean Martin

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Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary 1

The Dallas Cowboys best move of the offseason may very well be hiring Kris Richard as their new passing game coordinator. Despite not signing any free agents or drafting added talent for Richard to work with in the secondary, the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel great about their current starters - along with an intriguing class of UDFAs.

The prospects of Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones, and Xavier Woods working with Richard to sharpen their skills with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" fabricator is as good as it gets. In a very short period of time, the cornerback position has turned into one of the hardest spots for fringe players to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.

Don't tell this to San Diego State's Kameron Kelly. Neither Richard or Kelly may be household names around the NFL, but San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman certainly is. Sherman also happens to be the player the Cowboys are looking for Kelly -- an undrafted free agent that didn't receive a single college offer from "power five" schools -- to emulate.

Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary

Dallas Cowboys Passing Game Cooridinator Kris Richard with Richard Sherman

Given all that Sherman meant to Richard's defenses since being drafted by his Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, these feel like impossible expectations for Kelly to live up to.

The 6015 (6' 1 5/8") defender didn't even play the same position as Sherman until his final collegiate season, slowly making the transition from WR to DB at SDSU by starting as a Sophomore and Junior at safety.

Now just another player in a blue jersey with white numbers at The Star, Kelly is looking to earn the star on a team that may look to remain young, deep, and most importantly versatile in the secondary by keeping one or more UDFAs.

That is, if any of these long shot players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster. Kelly already has an edge on this field, blessed with the length and daunting frame that allows Richard and the Cowboys to dream of featuring their own Richard Sherman.

"I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something". - Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Kameron Kelly

Kris Richard is going to coach everybody he comes across hard. He knows no other way. Kam Kelly is already embracing this, seeing the Cowboys vision for him and not backing down from the challenge.

Turn on the tape for this "diamond in the rough" prospect, and you'll see a player that carries this same competitive toughness onto the field.

Mike Mayock on Twitter

Will a DB compete / tackle ? Top of screen- flat footed read on bubble- trusts eyes and goes ! Just checking boxes- I see you, kameron Kelly of SDSU.... https://t.co/fJM4s16Eq1

Kelly joins Charvarius Ward, Donovan Olumba, and Tyree Robinson as the Cowboys class of UDFAs at both cornerback and safety. An athletic DB out of Oregon, Robinson has made a strong initial impression with several plays on the ball in drills so far.

However, it was Kam Kelly that set up an interception for Jameill Showers in yesterday's practice by getting in the face of rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.

Projecting anything that resembles a starting lineup for the Cowboys defense in the last week of May is silly. So too is realistically expecting Kelly, Ward, Olumba, or Robinson to ever crack this lineup.

Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary 2

Dallas Cowboys CB Kameron Kelly

The Cowboys could find themselves without enough practice snaps to go around for starting caliber players like Awuzie, Lewis, Jones, Anthony Brown, and even Marquez White. This does not bode well for Kam Kelly, who is only going to continue generating buzz from fans and the Dallas media.

For now, Kelly is getting his chance though. The Cowboys are ever-so-slowly getting back into form for 2018 - doing so with many familiar faces no longer on the roster. This team is going to look different on both sides of the ball come September, and Cowboys Nation can only hope it's for the better given the impressive amount of depth all over the field.

Kam Kelly won't back down from the depth the Cowboys have at CB, expecting to impress his new coach Kris Richard in the mold of three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Rico Gathers’ Absence in 2018 Wasn’t About Health

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Rico Gathers, Rams

A sixth-round pick out of Baylor University, Rico Gathers was supposed to be one hell of a football story. A basketball superstar, Gathers hadn't played college football at all, but the traits he had were enough for the Dallas Cowboys to take a chance on him during the final day of the 2016 NFL Draft to find a potential heir to Jason Witten.

After spending his entire rookie season developing in the practice squad, it felt like Gathers would have his chance in 2017. However, after suffering a concussion in the preseason, he never saw the field during the regular season. Despite initially making the 53-man roster, he was quickly placed on injured reserve.

Cowboys Nation hoped to see him back after the mandatory eight weeks in IR, but the much-anticipated comeback never took place.

The narrative was that the concussion was more serious than previously thought and that there was also a jaw injury involved. And through it all, there were some whispers about Gathers' absence being more coaching related than health related.

Last Wednesday, the former Baylor basketball star talked to the media about his situation and brought some very interesting responses to the table.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers said he was cleared from his concussion after Week 7 last year to return to practice. "But I could just tell by the drift of the season and the drift of the coaching staff that I probably wasn't going to play this last year anyway.

If his comments are true, it really confirms that the fact that Gathers didn't get any playing time at all last season wasn't only concussion-related. If he was truly ready to go since week 8, then him not being on the field shows how the Cowboys coaching staff isn't sold on the player like the fans are.

Sure, it'd be one hell of a story. And of course, he seemed to make a statement during the preseason. However, it's not like Dallas had very special backup tight ends behind Jason Witten. As much as it hates to admit it, maybe Gathers simply isn't as good as some thought he was.

This was not the only interesting comment from Rico as he also said that the jaw injury never happened, claiming that was something media-related. This obviously brings up an even more interesting question: Was the team lying about Gathers' health to keep him on IR and avoid having to get him on the practice squad and risking him being pouched by another team?

We might never get to know the absolute truth in this case, but it's still worth noting.

Right now, Gathers' fight is all about making it to the regular season.

Brandon George on Twitter

Rico Gathers: "The biggest thing for me this year is just making it to the regular season. I have to make sure I'm healthy and make sure I'm able to be on somebody's 53-man roster.

"Somebody's 53-man roster" is the quote that sticks out from this comment. If Gathers makes it to a roster for the 2018 season, it just might not be with the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps it's for the best. The team has a chance to give Dalton Schultz an important role from day 1 and continue with Geoff Swaim's and Blake Jarwin's development going forward.

Rico Gathers may still be in the picture, for sure, but don't be surprised if he's shown the door before expected. I think every fan out there agrees that having a kid who hadn't played football since he was 13-years old turn into a quality starter in the league would've been remarkable.

But it's time to realize that that doesn't look to be the case.

Right now, Gathers is fighting for a spot on the roster. He's going to have to put up a big fight if he's to prove he's worthy of wearing the Star. Luckily for the Dallas Cowboys, with a deep TE room, they won't be desperately relying on his success to find the new starting tight end of the franchise.

Tell me what you think about "Rico Gathers’ Absence in 2018 Wasn’t About Health" 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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Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough Tabbed to “Exceed Expectations” in Rookie Season

Sean Martin

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Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough Tabbed to "Exceed Expectations" in Rookie Season

Given their rich history at the position, and current resources allocated to the running game, the addition of any running backs to the Dallas Cowboys roster is always noteworthy. Making two-time national champion Running Back Bo Scarbrough their last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys did as well as they could at 236th overall.

Naturally, a prospect that played at Alabama has garnered plenty of attention as a potential compliment to Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas. This would of course be exceptional value for the Cowboys to get out of their ninth player drafted.

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein gets much further into the draft than just the recognizable players such as Scarbrough. This is why it's noteworthy to see the rookie back land on his list of "seven late-round picks likely to exceed expectations in 2018".

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In his brief overview of the loaded backfield that Scarbrough finds himself in, Zierlein writes that:

"Ezekiel Elliott is clearly capable of handling the lion's share of duties on all three downs, but Scarbrough is a downhill runner who has the size and demeanor to help the Cowboys continue to impose their will on the ground when Elliott is resting. I can envision Scarbrough thriving in a complementary role similar to the one the Titans' Derrick Henry has played behind DeMarco Murray for much of his career. Landing Scarbrough in the seventh round could turn out to be a tremendous steal this season."

The name clearly missing from this quote is Rod Smith. Likely posing the biggest threat to Scarbrough's roster spot, Smith embodies what the Cowboys are looking for in a back that can do it all - spelling Elliott as a capable runner and receiver while also contributing on special teams.

Proving himself on just 55 carries for 232 yards this season, Smith's roster spot feels safe entering 2018. As seventh round picks should have to do in making a contending team's roster, Scarbrough will have to excel in ways he never did at Alabama in order to earn a spot behind Smith.

Should Cowboys Offer Rod Smith a Contract Extension?

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It's also interesting to see Zierlein mention former Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray in the scheme of two physical running backs coexisting.

If their better understanding of what Rod Smith can do on offense wasn't enough of an indicator, the Cowboys also traded for two backfield additions this offseason in Tavon Austin and Fullback Jamize Olawale.

There is little doubt that the Cowboys will hold true in their commitment to backfield depth again this season. The versatility and overall readiness of this unit is a direct extension of the best positional group in the league, being the Cowboys offensive line.

The idea of handing the ball to Bo Scarbrough late in games against a defense already shredded by Elliott is a great one for Cowboys Nation. It is one that many national writers will continue to mention in their discussions of how the Cowboys can return to form after a surprising 9-7 setback last year.

Unless Scarbrough is able to elevate his game on special teams or as a pass catcher, he faces an uphill battle to live up to nearly any expectations on the table for him right now. Nonetheless, the Cowboys have an exciting player to utilize this summer through the preseason in hopes of maximizing Scarbrough's upside.

In his more in-depth scouting report of Scarbrough, Zierlein sees the player similarly, giving him an overall grade of 5.50. This translates to Scarbrough having a "chance to become an NFL starter," a position happily occupied by Ezekiel Elliott for hopefully years to come in Dallas.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough Tabbed to “Exceed Expectations” in Rookie Season" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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