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NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties

The NFC East position group outlook is coming to a close. Each and every position group in the NFC East has been discussed so far, besides one, the safeties. Sure, safeties and cornerbacks are normally combined into one “grouping” called the secondary, but I decided to split them up and discuss them separately. Without any more delay, let’s take a look at the free and strong safeties this division has to offer. Dallas Cowboys Cowboys safety play over the past few seasons has been inconsistent, to say the least.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: S Barry Church 1

The NFC East position group outlook is coming to a close. Each and every position group in the NFC East has been discussed so far, besides one, the safeties. Sure, safeties and cornerbacks are normally combined into one "grouping" called the secondary, but I decided to split them up and discuss them separately.

Without any more delay, let's take a look at the free and strong safeties this division has to offer.

Dallas Cowboys - Byron Jones, #31

Cowboys safety play over the past few seasons has been inconsistent, to say the least.

Barry Church and JJ Wilcox have become notorious for their poor tackling angles and coverage breakdowns, even though I would argue that it hasn't been all bad.

I still think Church has a lot to offer this defense, even if it is from more of a leadership role than anything else. No, he isn't an elite NFL safety, but he has been the stronger of the starting duo since 2014.

Cowboys faithful are excited about this group due to the emergence of now second year player Byron Jones.

Jones spent most of his rookie year at safety, but was forced to bounce around to cornerback at times as well. He will finally have some stability in his week-to-week life and will be the Cowboys' starting free safety week one.

And he is going to be great, make no mistake about it.

Fan-favorite Jeff Heath also returns after signing a four year deal this offseason, and will provide solid special teams play, as he did a year ago. When called on to play safety last year, he actually led the Cowboys in interceptions with two.

Yeah, that's all it took to lead the team, two.

The Cowboys added another safety during the draft when they selected Central Michigan Chippewas' Kavon Frazier in the sixth round.

Philadelphia EaglesCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties

The Eagles certainly made the biggest splash at the safety position this offseason by signing safety Rodney McLeod to a five year deal worth $37 million.

The former Rams safety finished the 2015 season with 81 tackles, 5 pass deflections, and one interception. At only 26 years old, he is a solid addition and a clear upgrade for the Eagles.

Adding McLeod allows the Eagles to give Malcolm Jenkins some help. Jenkins was the best safety in the division last season, finishing with 2 interceptions and 104 tackles.

Together, this could be a dangerous combination for opposing offenses to try to test.

New York Giants

Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 1

Joseph E. Amaturo

The Giants traded up in the 2015 NFL draft in hopes of securing a long-term answer at safety in Alabama's Landon Collins.

Collins' rookie year can best be described as a roller coaster, with ups and downs and twists and turns, leaving most evaluators to just chalk up the inconsistencies to it being just his first professional season.

His final numbers did look solid, with over 100 tackles and an interception, but the Giants have to be hoping for more consistency out of Collins in 2016.

Playing alongside Collins will most likely be Cooper Taylor, who tallied just 11 tackles in very limited time last season. That is, of course, if rookie Darian Thompson is unable to grab the reigns and earn himself a starting position. My money is on Thompson to start alongside Collins for much of 2016.

Washington RedskinsCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 2

Similar to the New York Giants, Washington goes into training camp with a ton of questions surrounding their safety positions. Veteran DeAngelo Hall will likely be one of the starters, as he has transitioned from cornerback to safety nicely with age.

The question then becomes, who's next?

Will Blackmon and Duke Ihenacho are the other veterans who could possibly start at safety in 2016. Blackmon won't be needed as a cornerback, and if he can transition smoothly to the starting spot, he may very well be the week one answer.

USC rookie Su'a Cravens may also get a shot to prove himself as a safety this summer.

Who's the best?

In my mind, this group was clearly a two-team race.

The Redskins and the Giants have way too many question marks and inconsistencies at safety for me to even consider them here. That leaves the Eagles and the Cowboys.

Malcolm Jenkins was the best safety in the NFC East in 2015, so he would clearly give the Eagles some type of advantage over the Cowboys' group.

Dallas, however, has my favorite new full-time starter in the division in Byron Jones. And, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we consider Jones the best safety in the NFC East going into 2017.

Rodney McLeod is good, not great. Barry Church is good, not great.

Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 3

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys didn't force enough turnovers in 2015, but that doesn't mean Jones and company won't improve in this department come 2016.

It is a really close call, but I have to give the edge to the Eagles.

I hate that I have to do it, but I think McLeod and Jenkins form the best starting tandem on paper at this time. Things certainly can and will change as we move further along this season.



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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Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases

This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".

The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu

Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.

Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.

A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.

In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.

With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.

Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.

For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dallas Cowboys' defense is still dominant without Sean Lee on the field. For many years, Lee's injuries have shown us the worst of this defense but finally that's not the case. Thanks to Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys should feel just fine without #50 wearing pads on gameday.

As the Cowboys get ready to play the Washington Redskins on the road in their quest for a winning record, Sean Lee is expected to return to the field. He was a full participant on practice on both Thursday and Friday and should make his way back to the field today.

But how much will he play?

Usually, we would be talking about this defense being desperate for his help. He's been rushed back to the field on many occasions simply because the team's linebackers weren't doing enough without him. This year though, the narrative is different.

Even before he got injured in week 3 playing against the Seattle Seahawks, Lee had been struggling. Now granted, he wasn't looking bad, but we were watching him miss a few tackles here and there which simply isn't something you'd expect from a player such as himself.

The rookie out of Boise State has made a really good job justifying why the front office decided to invest a first round pick on him. So far, Leighton Vander Esch has accounted for 49 tackles, 40 of which have been solo. The kid can play, period. He's done nothing but get better and better by the week and the snaps he's gotten replacing Lee have helped him a ton.

With the veteran returning, what's in store for this linebacker rotation?

Honestly, with the bye week so close, I think this will depend a lot on how this game starts off. If it comes to a point in which the Cowboys are comfortably leading and have no concerns of losing the match, why not rest Lee as much as possible?

It's clear that the defense is far from desperate for having #50 back on the field and it's also clear that Lee is a player who could get injured at any given time.

Thanks to Smith's and Vander Esch's play, the Cowboys can afford to limit Lee's snaps versus the Redskins today. Rest him as much as possible and throw him on just a few plays out there. Lee has suffered injuries on both hamstrings, which is another reason to take it slow with his return.

If they're able to limit him today and then take advantage of the upcoming bye week it could pay Lee big dividends down the road. Dallas needs to realize they're in a very comfortable position regarding Sean Lee. They have the option to take things slow.

Not only that but once he's healthy, he doesn't have to be on the field every single snap. It might be hard getting used to watching Lee slowly become a "situational" player because he's so good to be only played on specific situations but that might be the way to make his availability improve.

It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation starting today as Lee is slated to play football against an NFC East rival.

Tell me what you think about "How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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 Wishlist: Big Return on Special Teams?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

The last time the Dallas Cowboys played a football game, they made many of their fans' dreams come true. This happened by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 in a dominant performance against a top NFL defense. Can they make our wishes come true in back-to-back weeks? I don't know about walking away with another 33-point win, but we're obviously putting up a Cowboys Wishlist as every gameday.

Let's hope they come true. As always, I hope you enjoy this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!

Wish #1: First Road Win of the Season

I mean, we obviously are wishing for a win. But this one right here would be a very important one, so I'm including it as a wish. The Cowboys haven't won any game on the road this year and doing so in Washington against a hated NFC East rival like the Redskins will be huge for this 3-3 Dallas Cowboys team.

Last Sunday's victory over the Jaguars might have been the moment when the Cowboys "turned the corner" to become a winning team in 2018. It's time to go on the road and beat a 3-2 divisional foe to prove that is the case.

Wish #2: Beasley Keeps It Up

The Cowboys' MVP last weekend was Cole Beasley. He was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch, ending his day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of the best performances in his career yet.

The Cowboys need a WR to step up. Other than Cole, no one else is stepping up in the passing game. Beasley did so last Sunday but, can he consistently perform well enough to keep the offense going throughout the year? It remains to be seen.

For the long term, it might be better to have an outside, taller receiver be your #1 guy, but in the meantime, Beasley is the guy Dak Prescott should be targeting the most.

Lookout Deshaun Watson, QB Sack Leader DeMarcus Lawrence is Coming!

Wish #3: The Sack Hat Trick

Ok, I might be asking for too much here. But hear me out. The Dallas Cowboys defensive line is getting stronger and stronger. Just last week, David Irving returned to the field and got limited playing time. Although he didn't get a sack, his impact was felt since his first snap on the field.

Randy Gregory also saw limited playing time but was able to sack Blake Bortles once. And well, DeMarcus Lawrence is still playing at an elite level this year. How epic would it be for each of these three great pass rushers walk away with a sack?

Three headhunters, three sacks. Let's go!

Wish #4: Keep Redskins Under 10 Points

The Cowboys' defense is no joke. They're allowing 17.2 points per game, which is second best in the entire NFL right now. They're ready to face a Redskins' team that is ranked as the 25th offense in scoring. On top of that, the Redskins' receivers are pretty banged up.

Jon Machota on Twitter

3 of Washington's top 4 receivers (Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder) not expected to play vs. Cowboys https://t.co/9uOkA7Pzhv

This could end up being the second consecutive big win for the Cowboys, specially because the defense should have a very good day.

Wish #5: Big Return on Special Teams

The last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Washington Redskins, Ryan Switzer returned a punt 83 yards into the end zone in what will remain his biggest highlight from his short career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys Wishlist at Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

We haven't seen much excitement on special teams this year. Switzer is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, so Tavon Austin has gotten most of the punt returns. However, that's bound to change after he sustained an unfortunate injury. Deonte Thompson has taken care of the kick returns but nothing special has happened either.

I wish that changes today. With Austin out, I wonder if it'll be Cole Beasley or someone else fielding punts for Dallas but whoever it is, things will be spiced up. Through 6 weeks, the Cowboys longest punt return has been for 22 yards and the longest kick return for 35.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Big Return on Special Teams?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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