Whelp. This it. This fourth preseason game is always intriguing to me. This is the absolute final call for guys that are on the bubble to make that last-minute push onto the active 53. While I think most coaching staffs around the league have already decided who is going to stick and who isn't - you seem to always have at least 1 player that goes out swinging in that final preseason game. So let's do this, shall we?
Defense (26 players)
Safety (4): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon, Free Agent
Jakar Hamilton has been suspended for the first 4 games of the season, forcing me to make a change. When I originally typed up this week's projection I had Hamilton in and Dixon on the practice squad. I think Dixon really has put himself in a hole here, but he may be the one player who can earn himself a spot on the roster tonight. But I could easily see them trying to sneak Dixon onto the practice squad and signing a low-rent veteran safety from another team's scrap-heap, or even a free agent off the streets to fill in (someone like Eric Frampton in the past).
Cornerback (5): Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, Terrance Mitchell, Sterling Moore
I had resisted the urge up until last week against the Dolphins, but Tyler Patmon will be on the active 53. He deserves it. That pick-6 was a thing of beauty! While it was a horrible play by Matt Moore, I went back and watched the play over and over again. Patmon saw that play coming a mile away and broke on the ball long before Moore even released it. After the game he credited that to film study. So you have to like that. And color me shocked that they cut B.W. Webb today. I actually thought he was showing improvement.
Outside Linebacker (3): Bruce Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kyle Wilber
With the unfortunate news about DeVonte Holloman coming down - it opened up a spot for Cameron Lawrence, who will make the team on his special teams ability alone.
Inside Linebacker (3): Justin Durant, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens
It's been the same 3 guys all along. But what's interesting now is we have no idea who the starter is going to be. Dallas surprised us all last week by starting Hitchens at MLB, Carter at SLB, and Durant at WLB. The only thing I "think" I can say for sure is that Carter and Durant are going to be starters. We just don't know where they are going to line up. Just get the 3 best players on the field please.
Defensive Line (11): Henry Melton DT, Terrell McClain DT, Davon Coleman DT, DeMarcus Lawrence DE, George Selvie DE, Jeremy Mincey DE, Tyrone Crawford DE/DT, Dartwan Bush DE, Ken Bishop DT, Anthony Spencer DE, Nick Hayden
Need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.
Offense (24 Players)
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
Dustin Vaughan is not making the 53. No way. I know some fellow writers here disagree but I'm fine with that. He has shown nothing to be deserving of a roster spot. Practice squad? Yes. Absolutely. I have no fears of another team snatching him up to add to their 53.
Running Back (5): DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Tyler Clutts
If Ryan Williams doesn't make this team then I will legitimately be pissed off. You can knock his pass protection and his lack of special teams prowess if you like, but he's just too good of a runner to cut loose. If you consider that Murray is in the last year of his contract and that he, as well as Dunbar, hasn't exactly been the most durable guy over his career, then to me it's case closed for Williams to make the team. And as much as I fought it, I went ahead and added FB Tyler Clutts. He's done nothing to really impress me but this offense will need a FB/Blocking TE at some point in the season. He may not be on the team at the end of season, but I think he makes the initial 53.
All off-season I was set on keeping 5 WRs. About halfway through camp I was forced to pay attention to guys like Jamar Newsome and LaRon Byrd. These two guys have treated the preseason like professional boxers - exchanging blow for blow. IF they keep 6 - and that's a huge if - I have to give the spot to Byrd at this point. Byrd is just in better physical condition right now to contribute on special teams. And that's what a 6th WR must do.
Tight End (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna
These 3 are on the team. The only question is whether or not they'll decide to add a 4th guy from another roster.
Same 8 guys. I think John Wetzel has made a case for himself but not enough of a case to take a roster spot on this team or any other team. I think he safely lands on the practice squad.
Special Teams (3 Players)
Dan MFN Baily K
LP French Canadian Daddy LS
Chris Jones P
Practice Squad (10 Players)
Zach Minter DT
Will Smith LB
Jamar Newsome WR
Jemea Thomas DB
Caesar Rayford DE/DT
Kenneth Boatright DE
Dustin Vaughan QB
Darrion Weems OT
Ronald Patrick C/G
John Wetzel G/T
I love the fact that they expanded the practice squad to 10 players. Every one of these guys deserves it.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
Week 6 Own by nfl
Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next
Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.
The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.
However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.
As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.
Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.
The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.
The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.
The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.
Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.
If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.
Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.
Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.
Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.
I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.
In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.
Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.
Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.
In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.
If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.
If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.
What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?
Game Notes5 days ago
Cowboys Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch May Be New Starter at SAM
Player News3 days ago
Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler
Game Notes3 days ago
Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants
Player News1 week ago
Cowboys Sign G Xavier Su’a-Filo; Impact on Connor Williams?
Game Notes1 week ago
CAR 16, DAL 8: Cowboys Open Flat, Fall Short to Panthers
Game Notes2 weeks ago
Why Cowboys Rookie DE Dorance Armstrong is the Pass Rusher to Watch in Carolina
Game Notes3 days ago
3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the New York Giants
Game Notes1 week ago
3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Week 1 Loss to the Carolina Panthers