The Dallas Cowboys offense is expected to be a force once again in 2017 with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and of course their engine up front in the offensive line. However, some tweaks to this engine over the offseason in efforts to replace retired RT Doug Free have drawn plenty of national attention. Once expected to be Chaz Green's job on paper - until competition or injury forced a change - the Cowboys are now seemingly moving forward further with La'el Collins switching from LG to the RT spot.
Collins, who came to Dallas as yet another offensive lineman with "first round talent", (only as a UDFA due to some unfortunate circumstances) fit in perfectly as a rookie in 2015 - a mauling guard playing next to Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.
La'el Collins was at 1st-team RT in practice. Said all reps he's taking in practices are at RT. None at OG. Said that will be same in camp.
The upside La'el Collins showed at this left guard spot had most of Cowboys Nation weary about moving him to a new position, especially after a 2016 season that saw a healthy Chaz Green make four starts in place of the NFL's best left tackle - filling in admirably.
Whether or not the Cowboys offensive line would miss a beat with Collins staying at a proven position and Green seamlessly replacing Free may not be the question the Cowboys considered when lining up La'el for this move, but rather how they can be prepared for the likely event of a Green injury.
Sure, there is the free agent addition of Byron Bell along with Emmett Cleary and even UDFA Dan Skipper, but expecting any of these tackles to perform as well as Green has in a limited sample would be a massive stretch.
The depth the Cowboys have at guard, should Collins perform as a RT, is considerably more intriguing with another former first round selection in Jonathan Cooper. Cooper was re-signed for 2017 to give Dallas the option of finally tapping into his potential should they need to, as he never lived up to his draft stock in Arizona.
Playing for a contending team at arguably the easiest position in the league right now - LG for the Dallas Cowboys - could have amazing results for Cooper, and go a very long way in getting the Cowboys' five best OL on the field this season.
Emmett Cleary was at first-team left guard in practice today for Cowboys. Joe Looney and Chaz Green weren't practicing today.
Cleary has already shown the Cowboys some of his ability at LT, now also being worked at the LG spot. Joe Looney presumably will too when he is healthy, giving the Cowboys plenty of bodies to now potentially replace both La'el Collins and Doug Free's positions moving forward.
The jump from guard to tackle will not be easy for Collins, but after making so many flashes in his first year only to have 2016 taken away from him with a foot injury (thank you Ron Leary) there should be plenty of excitement to simply see him get back to work and find a way to help the rich get richer along the offensive line.
Conversely, La'el Collins could "leave" the left guard spot with a lot of growth stunted at what may be the LSU product's best position.
What we know for certain is that La'el is all-in on helping the team that gave him a shot in professional football however he can - a team now preparing to line up with first round talents from left to right this season. Look out.
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!
David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.
In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.
There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.
While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.
Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.
Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.
In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.
Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.
Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.
At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.
The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.
QB Dak Prescott Named Cowboys’ Nominee For Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award
As the quarterback of America's Team, Dak Prescott is faced with a level of criticism each week that few athletes have to deal with. He is constantly questioned for his play, and even when things are going well, Prescott must answer his critics. But one area absolutely no one can question Prescott is his leadership, both on and off the field.
Dak Prescott is the perfect role model for children and adults alike. He is constantly doing fantastic work in his communities and making sure he uses his platform for good to his best ability.
This week it was announced Dak Prescott was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and will be the Cowboys' candidate in the race.
@Dak Prescott has been announced as the #Cowboys nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year - for 'commitment to philanthropy and community impact.' DAL past winners of the NFL-wide honor: Staubach, Aikman, Witten. @1053thefan
Of course, Prescott is well-worthy of the honor, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being both a finalist and the recipient of the award this year. As mentioned by Mike Fisher in the above tweet, three Cowboys have won the award previously; Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Jason Witten. Each of which is deserving, as is Prescott.
Considering the award is given out for "commitment to philanthropy and community impact," I can't think of many more worthy players around the league than quarterback Dak Prescott. We can see this impact in the locker room and on the field as well, as Prescott was voted a captain in just his sophomore season. The Cowboys clearly respect Prescott, despite some of the flaws in his game, and seem to play hard beside him every week.
Congratulations to Dak Prescott on this nomination.
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