Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had played just two snaps in Kris Richard's defense through the first four weeks of this season, but was able to step up against the Texans on 33 snaps - defending the slot once Anthony Brown moved out wide to replace Chidobe Awuzie.
It had been Brown's high level of play that's kept Lewis off the field, and this remained the case when both cornerbacks were lined up together last week. Brown and Lewis combined for the Cowboys first turnover of the game, as Anthony forced a fumble that Lewis recovered.
Even as a rookie, Lewis was able to provide a spark to the Cowboys secondary. The team kindled this by adding the fiery Kris Richard as Passing Game Coordinator for this season. The Cowboys early returns on their investment into Richard leading a young secondary into the future have been inconsistent so far - a fault of both Brown and Lewis' play at different times through these five weeks.
Moving Byron Jones to cornerback is easily the best move Richard has made this season, while exiling Lewis to the bench (in hindsight) looks like a questionable decision. Give Lewis a ton of credit for coming out ready to play, after being beat against the Lions in the only opportunity he saw.
Though he lacks the length to play as a true prototype in Richard's system, Lewis has always made up for physical limitations with masterful technique and a toughness that made him a coveted prospect out of Michigan.
Watch Lewis covering the slot on this next play. It is a great example of Lewis' best trait, his patience to not bite on any moves at the stem from his receiver. This allows Lewis to remain sticky in coverage, as he can turn and run with any receiver.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Whether or not Lewis can remain a part of the Cowboys game plan will be determined by the team's faith in Chidobe Awuzie. Also learning that Brown needs to stay on the field at all times against the Texans, the Cowboys are getting closer to deploying their ideal secondary.
For the first time since his own rookie campaign in 2016, Brown was able to translate his slot cover skills to the boundary without issue.
Faced with the thankless task of carrying a hapless Cowboys offense, Richard's defense must build on the turnovers they forced in Houston. Both Brown's and Lewis' ball skills can help the Cowboys do just this, though getting Awuzie back to form should remain a priority.
Much more of that Richard "prototype", the Cowboys have not been rewarded with the plays on the ball that Awuzie is capable of making.
Just as Richard was the architect for the Seattle Seahawks' "Legion of Boom", Lewis was a foundation piece for the Cowboys roster turn at cornerback. Having him play at a high level as the Cowboys continue to build a young core on defense is a great sign of things to come.
When the Cowboys offense takes the field on Sunday, they'll be doing so against one of the most intimidating secondaries in the league. Thanks to the play of Lewis, Brown, and Jones, the same thought might be going through Blake Bortles' head when the Jaguars offense is going up against this Dallas defense.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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