Being a Cowboys running back not-named Ezekiel Elliott in 2018, you aren't going to get many opportunities to carry the football. Back during the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cowboys made the choice to employ a "workhorse" back, someone who will take the bulk of the touches and be their most dynamic offensive weapon.
Still, the Cowboys are expected to carry three running backs this season. Behind Elliott will almost certainly be Rod Smith, who saw his value grow with increased playing time during Zeke's 2017 suspension.
Smith is a dynamic running back who showed he can be a receiving threat as well. He's a solid pass blocker, and is the most seasoned running back on the roster outside of Elliott.
With Zeke and Smith just about locked into their roles, the battle for the Cowboys' third running back has begun. And so far during camp, each of these three backs has made their case to why it should be them.
Probably the biggest "star" of these three running backs, Bo Scarbrough has a good shot at being a Dallas Cowboy come September. The former Alabama back was taken in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and brings with him much fanfare and hype.
Of course, as a late day three pick, Scarbrough is easily dispensable for the Cowboys. They don't need to keep him around whatsoever, given their heavy investment in Elliott and their lack of investment in Scarbrough.
Still, much of Cowboys Nation is pulling for the Alabama running back. Due to his size and physicality, many hope that Scarbrough could bring some short yardage toughness to the Cowboys offense. Plus, adding Scarbrough to Elliott and Smith might give Dallas the biggest running back group in all of football.
Ah, old Darius Jackson is back in Dallas.
The former sixth round pick instantly became a fan favorite back in 2016, with fans believing that Jackson could be the perfect change of pace back to compliment Ezekiel Elliott. Jackson fits the zone running scheme well, and displayed big play ability during his college days.
Still, his rookie preseason action with the Cowboys was a bit disappointing and left both fans and coaches wanting more. Jackson was released by the Cowboys once Darren McFadden was healthy enough to be activated, and I think there's a better chance than not he will be cut once again.
The real darkhorse of this group is former Texas A&M running back Trey Williams. During his short NFL career, Williams has bounced around a lot. After signing with the Washington Redskins as an UDFA in 2015, Williams moved around the league quite frequently.
He now finds himself in Dallas with a chance to win the RB3 job behind Smith and Elliott, though it will be an uphill battle.
Where Williams has the advantage over Scarbrough and Jackson, however, is on special teams. Williams has already been getting punt return reps at practice, and can be a dynamic returner in the right situation.
With Zeke and Smith already eating up most of the touches, who can contribute most on special teams will most likely decide this RB3 battle.
And considering Scarbrough got almost no experience in this area at Alabama, and that Darius Jackson wasn't able to make much of an impact on special teams with the Cowboys in 2016, maybe Trey Williams can sneak onto the 53 man roster.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract
It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.
In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.
While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.
"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.
Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.
There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.
"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.
Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.
The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.
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