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Maliek Collins: Minor Setback, Major Comeback?

A few weeks ago, I explored how the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line could still create pressure and wreak havoc even without the presence of a big time pass-rushing end. My plan focused on the interior of the defensive line shrinking the pocket and getting into the face of the quarterback. This would eliminate any chance of stepping up in the pocket, and would force either a quick throw or a failed escape attempt. Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, and Terrell McClain would be featured in a fearsome interior rotation that would bring hope to an otherwise questionable defensive line. It all seemed so perfect.

Kevin Brady

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A few weeks ago, I explored how the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line could still create pressure and wreak havoc even without the presence of a big time pass-rushing end.

My plan focused on the interior of the defensive line shrinking the pocket and getting into the face of the quarterback. This would eliminate any chance of stepping up in the pocket, and would force either a quick throw or a failed escape attempt.

//insidethestar.com/sacks-coming-cowboys-look-to-interior-rushmen/

Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, and Terrell McClain would be featured in a fearsome interior rotation that would bring hope to an otherwise questionable defensive line.

It all seemed so perfect.

Of course, things don't always work out how you planned.

This week, rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins suffered a broken foot during OTA's, which could force him to miss upwards of 10-12 weeks.Cowboys Draft - Draft Film Review: Maliek Collins

While I, as well as all of Cowboys Nation, feels terribly for Collins, the show must go on until he can return.

Not that any time for an injury is a "good" time, but if Collins' foot break would've occurred any further along the offseason process, it would have had a much bigger impact on both Collins and the Cowboys.

With still just under 100 days to go until the season opener against the New York Giants, there is little doubt that Maliek Collins' foot will be healed in time for the regular season.

The real questions which must be asked are about where his conditioning and "professional-readiness" will be after being sidelined for such a long period of time.

It is no easy task for a rookie, especially a third round defensive lineman, to be physically and mentally ready for the season opener with a full offseason and training camp to work with. So, imagine how difficult it will be without that offseason?

If Collins was to miss most of or all of training camp and/or some preseason games, he may not be ready to make an impact come week 1 like we thought he would be able to prior to the injury.

A sort of secondary impact Collins' injury will make comes with how we view the 2016 draft class as a whole.

Going into the draft, just about everyone thought that Dallas would focus their draft on defensive help, with the exception of taking a quarterback or a running back at some point. While they did add three straight defensive players from rounds 2-4, and then two more defensive backs in the 6th, there is a strong possibility only two or three of those players will be on the roster and ready to play come week 1 of this season.

After all the speculation about adding a potential defensive stud like Jalen Ramsey, Dallas may be left with a 4th rounder and 2 6th rounders as their only healthy rookies defensively.

Down the line, Maliek Collins will certainly be fine and Jaylon Smith may be as well, but if you're looking for immediately impactful defensive rookies, you might have come to the wrong place.

I am not suggesting the Cowboys drafted, or should have drafted, with only 2016 in mind. The draft is a tricky business where you try to add players who will produce as soon as possible, while also "building for the future." But I definitely don't believe that, as fans, we expected only three late round defensive picks to be healthy contributors week 1 of this season.

With all of that being said, let's not overreact too much here.

We all thought Collins would be a player for the Cowboys, and he still will be. A broken foot during the early days of June is not going to change that.

It is a minor setback for Collins, but once he is healthy and comfortable in the system, he will be absolutely fine.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room

Sean Martin

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line

The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.

Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.

Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp

What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.

The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.

Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.

To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.

Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.

If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.

Tell us what you think about "Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles

Jess Haynie

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Leighton Vander Esch
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX

This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.

The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.

A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.

If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.



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Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.

Mark Lane on Twitter

Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.

Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.

As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are  many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.

Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.

Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.

It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.

Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.



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