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2016 Preseason: Cowboys Projected Week 1 Depth Chart

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Dak Prescott & The Rarity of QB Investment in Dallas 1

Earlier this week the Cowboys' website updated the team's depth chart. While interesting, it's also inexact as it doesn't reflect players who are currently out with injuries.

Using that chart and all of the latest information on players' statuses, here is a projected depth chart for tonight's preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Sophomores: QB Jameill Showers 1Quarterback

  1. Dak Prescott
  2. Jameil Showers

Tony Romo is going to sit this one out. It appears that Dallas will give Prescott the first half and probably switch to Showers. However, Prescott is their priority and could get more than 30 minutes.

Running Back

  1. Alfred Morris
  2. Darius Jackson
  3. Rod Smith

Fans will have to wait at least one more week to see Ezekiel Elliott in action. He is expected to be held out tonight as he nurses a hamstring injury. The veteran Morris will get the start but the majority of carries should go to sixth-round rookie Darius Jackson.

Remember, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar are still on the NFI and PUP lists. They have yet to practice with the team but both could return within the next few weeks.

Fullback

  1. Rod Smith
  2. Keith Smith

Rod Smith will likely serve as the fullback in the first half and then it will switch to Keith in the second. Rod will be needed as the third running back due to injuries there.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Vs Seattle Injury Report: Will The Cowboys Throw Up The X

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Wide Receiver

  1. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams
  2. Cole Beasley, Brice Butler
  3. Lucky Whitehead, Devin Street
  4. Andy Jones, Vince Mayle
  5. Chris Brown, Rodney Smith

The two question marks here are Bryant and Street. If Dallas lets Dez play at all, it will likely only be one or two series. They could still hold him out to be precautionary with his foot issue.

Street suffered a back injury late last week but returned to practice a few days ago. He also had Andy Jones, an undrafted rookie, breathing down his neck. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones get a majority of the reps at WR in this game.

Tight End

  1. Gavin Escobar
  2. Geoff Swaim
  3. Rico Gathers

James Hanna is still on PUP and will not play. Witten will get veteran treatment and Escobar still has lingering concerns with his Achilles injury. That likely means we'll see a lot of Swaim, who's had excellent training camp per reports, and the raw rookie Gathers.

Cowboys Headlines - Where Does Chaz Green Fit in Offensive Line? 1Offensive Tackle

  1. Doug Free, Chaz Green
  2. Cam Bradfield
  3. Ryan Mack, Bryan Witzmann
  4. Darryl Baldwin

Tyron Smith is sitting out and Free will only get a series or two, if any. We will likely see Bradfield and Green for the majority of the game.

Dallas still has to figure out who their swing tackle will be this year. Bradfield was signed just before camp as veteran insurance, but you know they're rooting for Green to take the job. A third-round pick in 2015, Green has been inconsistent so far in camp and needs to earn their confidence.

Guard

  1. Zack Martin, La'el Collins
  2. Ronald Leary, Jared Smith
  3. Boston Stiverson

We will probably see a lot of Smith and Stiverson tonight. Dallas knows what it has in the top three guys. The only reason to play Leary is if you're trying to showcase him for a trade. Otherwise, Dallas needs to see what the young guys have.

Center

  1. Travis Frederick
  2. Joe Looney
  3. Jake Brendel

We could see Looney playing some guard so that Brendel gets some extra work at center. If they do end up trading Leary, they're going to want the best combination of interior linemen going forward.

Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David IrvingDefensive End

  1. DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving
  2. Ryan Russell, Charles Tapper
  3. Lawrence Okoye, Mike McAdoo
  4. Shaneil Jenkins

Tapper's status for tonight is uncertain. He sat out of the last practice with back soreness. Dallas certainly wants to give the rookie some reps if he can go, but they will play it safe if needed.

Though he will start, Irving could get more the reps the other first-team defensive players. He is part of the large evaluation process as Dallas tries to figure out regular season starters during the suspensions of Lawrence and Randy Gregory.

Benson Mayowa will be in that conversation, but is still out on the PUP list.  He is expected back within the next few weeks.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain
  2. Cedric Thornton, Jack Crawford
  3. Rodney Coe, Zach Wood
  4. Gerald Dixon Jr.

Although they paid Thornton starter money to come over in free agency, it appears the Cowboys will still defer to Terrell McClain for now. We will likely see Thornton in nickel packages and McClain in the base defense. Given the health issues that McClain and Tyrone Crawford have had, a three-man rotation is prudent.

Keep your eyes on Coe, an undrafted rookie. His stock was low mainly for academic and behavioral issues in college, but he's very athletic. Preseason games tend to allow defensive linemen to show off as they take advantage of weak blocking. Coe could be the next in line of guys like Davon Coleman and Ben Bass who gained a lot of hype in August.

Cowboys Headlines - Are Any Of The Cowboys Defensive Players Irreplaceable? 2

AP Photo/TUSP, Jay Biggerstaff

Middle Linebacker

  1. Anthony Hitchens
  2. Brandon Hepburn
  3. James Morris

Outside Linebacker

  1. Sean Lee, Kyle Wilber
  2. Justin Durant, Mark Nzeocha
  3. Deon King, Derek Akunne
  4. Henoc Muamba

Lee will play little-to-none tonight. Hitchens may get a little extra work but not much more. I wouldn't expect to see much of Durant, either, as a veteran.

I would expect for Nzeocha to get a lot of minutes and play both middle and outside and they find what role suits him best. Dallas will be without Andrew Gachkar likely all preseason due to a thumb injury.

Damien Wilson is also still out with his offseason eye injury. He is expected back as soon as next week. Like Nzeocha, Wilson still needs to establish his role.

Cornerback

  1. Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr
  2. Deji Olatoye, Anthony Brown
  3. Josh Thomas
  4. Jeremiah McKinnon, Dax Swanson
  5. Arjen Colquhoun, Isaiah Frey

I do not expect Orlando Scandrick to play tonight. Claiborne and Carr will only get a series or two, meaning it will be a big night for Olatoye and Brown.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys on the Clock: Byron Jones, #27 Overall 2Safety

  1. Byron Jones, Barry Church
  2. J.J. Wilcox, Kavon Frazier

Jeff Heath left the team's Thursday practice with a concussion and has been ruled out for tonight. This will give Frazier, a sixth-round rookie, more opportunities to show what he can do.

We could also see Byron Jones get some extra reps as he works to make the transition to full-time safety.



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!

Game Notes

Cowboys, Seahawks Week 3 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Offense: More Hot Sauce Needed From Cole Beasley 3
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas isn't the only guy whose playing status is in question for today's game. Other key players for Seattle and the Dallas Cowboys appear on the teams' Week 3 injury reports.

The Cowboys are looking to move to 2-1 and maintain a slim lead in the NFC East. The Seahawks are still looking for their first win of 2018, and the drama around Thomas isn't helping the fear of a locker room implosion.

What players may not be out there to help their teams to victory?

Dallas Cowboys

  • C Travis Frederick (illness) - OUT
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - OUT
  • WR Cole Beasley (ankle) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable
  • S Xavier Woods (hamstring) - Questionable

Frederick remains out as he deals with his neurological disease. Dallas decided to keep him on the 53-man roster, rather than place him on injured reserve, with the hope that he could return before Week 9. There are still several weeks before we'll know if that was a good move.

Maliek Collins will be out today after a minor knee injury suffered last week against the Giants. Taking his spot will be Datone Jones, who returns from his own knee issue after missing the first two games.

You don't like seeing your quarterback's favorite receiver and your defensive leader on the same injury report. Thankfully, though, it appears both Cole Beasley and Sean Lee will be available today.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

For the #Cowboys, WR Cole Beasley (ankle) is expected to play, and LB Sean Lee (hamstring) should be good to go, as well, based on how he moved around in practice on Friday, sources say.

Finally, we come to the ever-intriguing Xavier Woods. While limited in practice all week, Woods is expected to make his season debut in Seattle. We will see if Xavier gets the start at free safety, or if Dallas will ease him back in and keep Kavon Frazier starting for now.

With all of the hype around Dallas' possible acquisition of Earl Thomas, one has to hope that Xavier won't overdo it and make matters worse with his hamstring. Between the enthusiasm just to play and the threat to his starting job, the second-year stud should be pretty amped up.

Seattle Seahawks

  • WR Doug Baldwin (knee) - OUT
  • C/G Ethan Pocic (ankle) - OUT
  • LB K.J. Wright (knee) - OUT
  • C Justin Britt (shoulder) - Questionable
  • LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle) - Questionable
  • S Earl Thomas (???) - ???

Seattle remains without Baldwin, their leading receiver from 2014-2017, and it shows in their offensive play. QB Russell Wilson is currently at career lows in completion percentage and passer rating, plus has already thrown three interceptions in just two games.

The Seahawks have issues up front as well. Starting left guard Ethan Pocic will also miss today's game. With right guard D.J. Fluker returning this week after missing the first two, that will allow backup J.R. Sweezy to flip over to the other side.

If that wasn't enough, starting center Justin Britt missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder issue. He has not been ruled out, though. Regardless, those are a lot of red flags on your offensive line with the Cowboys' emerging defense coming to town.

Also out today will be Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. That means we could see Mychal Kendricks, who was just recently booted from Cleveland after being charged with insider trading, playing a major role today. Kendricks knows the Cowboys well, having played with the Eagles from 2012-2017.

And lastly, Earl Thomas.

No health or injury-related reason has been given for why Thomas missed practices on Wednesday and Friday. "Personal reasons" is all you're getting from Seattle, fueling rampant speculation that a trade is in the works. Whether or not that trade is with the Dallas Cowboys is pure conjecture at this point.

What we do know is that Seattle is 0-2 and trending down this year. Holding onto Thomas and his expiring contract, only to lose him for nothing next year in free agency, would be foolish.

We'll see if Earl plays at all today. If he doesn't, the trade talk is going to explode.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Center Travis Frederick Still Hoping to "Be a Rock" for Teammates Despite GBS Syndrome

It's week 3 of the 2018 NFL season and this match-up already feels like one of the most important ones the Dallas Cowboys will play in the season. The reason why is they need to prove they're good enough to win consistently and that they won't have another year that feels like a roller coaster of wins and losses like 2017 did. As they travel to Seattle to face the 0-2 Seahawks, the 1-1 Cowboys can't miss a perfect opportunity versus one of the weakest units in football: the Seahawks' offensive line.

As every gameday, here is my Cowboys Wishlist for this week's action. As always, I encourage you to share your wishes with me in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Meet Brett Maher, the Cowboys Kicker Replacing Dan Bailey for 2018

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher (Shanna Lockwood / USA TODAY Sports)

Wish #1: Brett Maher Kicks a 50+ yard FG.

Dan Bailey recently signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cowboys Nation will experience a very odd feeling when they see their former kicker wear purple. If there's something that can make fans feel better is watching the guy who replaced Bailey nail a long field goal in Seattle.

Brett Maher showed he could kick a 47-yard FG in preseason, but we want to see him pull it off in a kick that will actually go down in the books. The decision to release Dan Bailey won't leave our minds until we see Maher do his job.

Wish #2: Rico Gathers Scores His First Career TD.

It felt like forever, but tight end Rico Gathers was activated for the first time in his career last Sunday. Rico didn't get his first catch even though he was targeted twice by Dak Prescott. The most notable moment was when Gathers seemed to be open in the endzone but Dak missed him.

Although Prescott's pass could've been better, Gathers did stumble a little bit and wasn't where he should've been to catch that touchdown. No worries, Rico's career is only beginning. I wish his first touchdown ever finally comes this week.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth)

Wish #3: Defense Gets Its First Interception of the Year.

Through two weeks of NFL action, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been one of the most impressive units. Ranking as the third best in total points in the league, the Cowboys' defense might begin being the team's best side of the ball. At least, it has been for the first two weeks.

Last week, they limited Odell Beckham Jr. to only 51 yards. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have played pretty well so far, but I wish they're able to get their first interception of the year. Dallas has one takeaway from week 1 versus the Panthers, but it came in form of a fumble.

Let's get that interception from Russell Wilson, who will be pressured most of the day by a very productive Cowboys' front seven.

Wish #4: 20+ Point Performance

Despite a very exciting first drive versus the Giants last week, the Cowboys' offense still needs to prove it can be successful enough to win games. Scott Linehan's unit had some good drives but it also failed to maintain a consistent attack all game. That may seem okay, but the Cowboys will have to win against some pretty tough defenses.

Seahawks will present the team with a very interesting challenge and one that I wish they pass. As good as the defense is playing, the offense needs to show up in order to win later games.

Wish #5: Contain Russell Wilson

Wilson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. His agility might be the best among every other signal caller in the game, becoming a very tough guy to defend. He can hurt you with his arms and legs and can throw on the run pretty well. All week we've been talking about how sacking the Seahawks' QB is a key to the victory, but it's more than that.

Wilson is good in the pocket, but when he starts scrambling or running out of the pocket only to throw the ball once the defense is out of position, he becomes a pretty painful headache. The Cowboys need to put him on the ground, but they also need to contain him all day long. He's basically his team's entire offense.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks" 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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Game Notes

Kris Richard’s Impact for Cowboys Goes Beyond the Defense in Seattle

Sean Martin

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Kris Richard's Impact for Cowboys Goes Beyond Defense in Meeting at Seattle 1

Through just two games, the Dallas Cowboys addition of Kris Richard to their revamped coaching staff appears to be the team's best move of the offseason. Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli revealed that Richard is calling the team's plays on defense, which explains their attacking style of play so far.

It was the Cowboys blitzes that disrupted the Giants offense enough for Dallas to earn their first win a week ago. With the schedule set up favorably for the Cowboys to build off this win, Richard must lead his defense past his old team in Seattle for Sunday's week three match up.

On paper, the Cowboys defense should be able to limit the Seahawks thanks to their strong pass rush and lengthy secondary. Welcoming back Xavier Woods at safety, the Cowboys are getting even better in the back end against the Seahawks, allowing Richard to throw even more looks at Seattle with his front seven.

Starting wide receiver Doug Baldwin and guard Ethan Pocic will both miss this game for the Seahawks.

With an offense still trying to find its footing though, Richard' profound impact on the Cowboys staff has extended past the defensive side of the ball this week. Perhaps the most criticized Cowboys coach this season, Offensive Coordiator Scott Linehan has sat down with Richard to study the Seahawks defense - coordinated by Richard against the Cowboys specifically.

Kate Hairopoulos on Twitter

Scott Linehan and Kris Richard have been spending a good chunk of time together this week dissecting Seattle's approach. Richard obviously knows Seahawks well. Linehan said Richard has great recall, taking him through each play of teams' previous games.

At 1-1, the Cowboys are still looking to put a complete game on the field and prove they deserve to sit atop the NFC East. The defense being their strongest unit through an ugly loss in Carolina and grind-it-out win against the Giants, Linehan's offense creating some explosive plays against the Seahawks could be all the Cowboys need to exit CenturyLink field as winners on Sunday.

Since Linehan officially took over as the Cowboys OC, he is 0-2 against Seahawks defenses coordinated by Richard. When Kris left Seattle, it was believed that he got out at the right time, with the Seahawks defense declining in talent ever since 2015 (his first year as DC).

The NFL's top scoring defense in 2015, the Seahawks were a full point per game worse in 2016, and nearly 2.5 points worse than that in 2017. So far this season, the Seahawks have allowed 27 points to Case Keenum's Broncos and 24 to the Mitch Trubisky lead Chicago Bears.

Kris Richard's Impact for Cowboys Goes Beyond Defense in Meeting at Seattle

The Cowboys biggest problem against Richard's defenses had been finishing drives, something they improved on against the Giants last week. Both Cowboys losses coming at home, the Seahawks kept Dallas out of the end zone in both week eight of 2015 and week 17 a year ago.

Last year's loss to the Seahawks should still sting those at The Star who saw a desperate push for the playoffs hit a wall against Seattle's defense - holding the Cowboys to 282 yards in Ezekiel Elliott's return from suspension.

Not having to rely solely on motivation for revenge while sitting back and trusting Elliott to carry them, Richard could be the key to the Cowboys passing game finding some rhythm. After all, his official title beyond "offseason steal" is Passing Game Coordinator - a position occupied previously by Linehan himself back in 2014.

With a win, similarly to 2014 when the Cowboys came out of Seattle victorious, Dallas would go a long way in earning respect around the league.

This goes for both the offense, where the Cowboys will remain a work in progress regardless of result, and on defense where Dallas can expect Maliek Collins (knee) and David Irving (suspension) to return in the coming weeks.

Kris Richard's focus has been on bettering the Cowboys since they added him to the organization with a clear path up the ranks. Just how far Richard ascends, and how quickly, will depend on the Cowboys performance - expecting to be more than ready for the challenge ahead this week thanks to the coach responsible for building the "Legion of Boom".

The Cowboys kickoff in Seattle being FOX's game of the week, this team has never been one to back away from the spotlight, and winning under it with Richard on the sideline would give the Cowboys all the momentum they need returning home for week four.

Tell us what you think about "Kris Richard’s Impact for Cowboys Goes Beyond the Defense in Seattle" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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