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Orlando Scandrick Has to Lead Despite Offseason Uncertainty

Jess Haynie

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Orlando Scandrick

With Brandon Carr's departure in free agency, Orlando Scandrick is now the elder statesman in the Cowboys secondary. Even though this offseason came with a little rift between Scandrick and the Cowboys front office, he is still going to be relied upon as a starter and leader in 2017.

Scandrick is all that remains from the Cowboys cornerback core for the last several seasons.  Carr and Morris Claiborne are both gone; in their place are veteran free agent Nolan Carroll, second-year stud Anthony Brown, and rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.

Orlando Scandrick

CB Orlando Scandrick

Between the drafting of Awuzie in the second round and Lewis in the third, rumors started flying that Orlando Scandrick was on the trade block.  The rumor started with Ian Rapaport, giving it some added weight, as did the fact that Awuzie scouted as a very similar player to Scandrick.

When Dallas took another cornerback with their next pick, that made the notion of unloading Orlando even more believable. The rumor picked up steam so quickly that, the next day, Jerry Jones had to step in and make it clear that the Cowboys had no intention of trading Scandrick.

Still, it didn't stop there. Just a couple of days after Jerry's response, Orlando tweeted the following from his personal account:

Orlando Scandrick on Twitter

Orlando Scandrick on Twitter

https://t.co/VDhlg2M7i5

Who this message was directed at is hard to say. Was it a shot at Rapaport and other media who started the fire, or was it at Jerry for the denial?

This wouldn't be the first time that a Cowboys cornerback had some worries following the draft. In 2012, Mike Jenkins asked for a trade after Dallas signed Brandon Carr in free agency and then spent a first-round pick on Morris Claiborne. His request was not granted; Jenkins played out the year as the fourth corner behind those two and Orlando Scandrick.

Did observing that situation give Orlando a little concern after this year's draft?  We'll probably never know for certain. Thankfully, so far there's been no sign of lingering turmoil. Last month, after spending the summer working as a starting corner on defense, Scandrick sounded fully on board with the Cowboys and the 2017 campaign.

"My time is now, and I ain't looking over my shoulder, wondering what's going to happen."

The Cowboys certainly don't want Orlando looking behind him. They not only need him to be focused on his major role in this year's defense, but also on leading their very young defensive backfield. If Anthony Brown starts as most expect, Dallas' next-oldest starter in the secondary will be Jeff Heath.  He is a veteran at 26, but still would be in his first year with the first-team defense.

Orlando Scandrick

CB Orlando Scandrick

Scandrick's veteran presence will be even more critical early this season. Nolan Carroll will likely be facing a two-game suspension for his DWI incident a few months ago. The most likely scenario during his absence is that Chidobe Awuzie will be used in the slot, the role that Scandrick has occupied for many seasons. Orlando will be a vital asset in helping the rookie prepare for significant playing time.

With the 2017 Cowboys looking to push through to a championship, they need all hands on deck. This will especially critical in Week One with Carroll, David Irving, Damien Wilson, and potentially other defenders missing while the New York Giants come to town. Scandrick not only has to lead in the secondary but, along with guys like Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford, be the veteran stabilizers for the entire defense.

Hopefully Orlando's health and his mental outlook will both work in the Cowboys favor. Despite whatever rumors may have suggested a few months ago, Scandrick is very much needed in 2017.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Dallas Cowboys

WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Randall Cobb

NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.

Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.

Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:

Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.

If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.

The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.

Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.

If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.

If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.



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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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