Earning a roster spot in the NFL isn't easy, and keeping that roster spot is even harder.
Year in and year out, players are fighting for their NFL lives and they all know that their job security is teetering, knowing that the slightest tip of the scale can end their professional careers. Rookies are just hoping to begin their careers, while some veterans are coming to the end of theirs.
For those players that enter the league as undrafted free agents, this is especially true. They have to fight harder than anybody to prove themselves and hope they get a chance to catch the attention of the coaches.
Well, that is exactly what Lucky Whitehead had to do after he went undrafted in 2015.
The hope was that Whitehead could step in and fill the void left by Dwayne Harris' departure to the division rival New York Giants.
It hasn't been that long ago, but in case you've forgotten Harris was one of the better special teams players for the Cowboys, both as a return man and on coverage units. He never really earned a definitive role as a receiver, but seemed to make plays when it mattered most.
Now, earning the trust of the coaching staff is sometimes difficult for rookies to do and it looks as if that is exactly what happened in Whitehead's case in 2015. The coaching staff was reluctant to use them regularly in the return game until later in the season, but the fact that they did start using him more should provide a little bit of evidence of what kind of an expanded role he can have in his second year.
If you take a good hard look at his statistics from 2015 you can kind of determine for yourself the way he may be used in the upcoming season.
Were you aware that Whitehead had more rushing attempts then receptions? I wasn't until I looked at the statistics.
Okay, are you ready for my bold prediction and the expanded role I think the Cowboys might have for Whitehead in 2016?
Like I mentioned earlier, the hope was that Whitehead would come in and fill the void of Harris' departure, but I think he will actually fill the void of often injured Lance Dunbar.
Dunbar always seems to get injured when he's finally starting to prove that he can be a difference maker on offense, but it's those injuries that might just force Cowboys to go a different direction if someone can prove they can step up.
I know what you're probably thinking, Dunbar is a running back and Whitehead is a wide receiver, so how could a WR take over for a RB?
Well, Dunbar mostly made his impact as a receiver out of the backfield and I think that's how the Cowboys would choose to use Whitehead, but he could possibly be used on gimmicky plays as well.
Dunbar (5'9", 195) and Whitehead (5'8", 183) are roughly about the same size, and both players can be explosive with the ball their hands. They work best in space and that is how they can both hurt opposing defenses.
Whitehead played the majority of the 2015 season somewhere between 170 and 175 pounds, but has put in the work this off-season to add muscle to his frame.
Training harder then ever to be better then I was a year ago!!!
I really think that his hard work might just pay off for him in 2016 and that he can prove to the coaching staff that he is worthy of an expanded role. Maybe that hard work will keep him off of the injury report and he can remain healthy and available for all 16 games.
If I was Lance Dunbar I think I would be doing everything in my power to make sure that I am ready as soon as possible, because he knows that no one's job is set in stone when it comes to the NFL.
So, do you think Lucky Whitehead deserves an expanded role in 2016? Do you think he could be a possible replacement for the often injured Dunbar?
Use the comment section below so that we can further discuss this topic.
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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