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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.

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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!

Dallas Cowboys

Can Cowboys Trust Guard Jonathan Cooper in 2018?

Jess Haynie

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Jonathan Cooper

One of the big decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 offseason is at left guard. Veteran Jonathan Cooper started 13 games last year and is now a free agent. Should Dallas bring Cooper back, or should they look elsewhere for next season’s starter?

With a lot of money already being spent on the rest of the starting offensive line, the Cowboys need a bargain at left guard. They didn’t re-sign Ronald Leary in 2017 for that very reason, hoping Cooper or Chaz Green would be able to handle the job for a fraction of what Leary got from the Denver Broncos.

Cooper took over for Green in Week 4 and held the job the rest of the season. The Cowboys rushing attack remained one of the league’s best, even performing well later in the year when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. It looked like Jonathan could become part of future plans.

However, in Week 17, Cooper went out of the game with a knee injury. It thankfully wasn’t serious and he is expected to be ready for 2018. However, it was a reminder of the injury-plagued past that has caused the former first-round pick so much trouble.

Jonathan Cooper

Dallas Cowboys Guard Jonathan Cooper

Taken seventh overall in 2013 by the Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Cooper was one of the true blue-chip guard prospects in recent draft history. He seemed like a can’t-miss pick, and interior linemen don’t often go that high in the draft. The Cowboys have even said they coveted Cooper in that class.

But constant battles with injuries caused Cooper to be traded, released, and discarded by the Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns over his first four seasons. While 2017 was looking like a turning point for him, Jonathan’s injury in the season finale was a sobering reminder of why he’s become a bargain-bin player.

Still, at just 28-years-old, Cooper has good years left and will now have another offseason for continuity and chemistry development with the Cowboys.

Dallas should have to pay more than a few million to keep Cooper on the roster.

If Dallas is leery (no pun intended) of Cooper, they will have options. La’el Collins could move back to the guard position, allowing the Cowboys to go find either the best guard or tackle who would fit with their existing group.

Given so many other considerations this offseason, Dallas will likely try to simplify things by giving Jonathan Cooper another chance. His history is a red flag, but sometimes you have to take those gambles and save salary cap space to handle other needs.

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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