Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Rod Smith have all had their moments in practices and these first three preseason games, but no one has really set themselves apart to become Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup in 2017. McFadden and Morris are the two most experienced and talked about to claim the job, but Smith might just be emerging as a real threat to become Elliott's primary backup.
With all of the uncertainty about Elliott's potential suspension, the backup RB situation becomes all the more important. Unfortunately, Elliott is so talented that whoever has to fill in for him if suspended will be a downgrade. But, the good news is they do have capable options available.
If I'm being completely honest, I think that Rod Smith has arguably looked the better of the three RBs so far. He just seems to be running with a different kind of energy and attitude than either McFadden or Morris. But, that doesn't necessarily mean he is climbing the depth chart yet.
Darren McFadden has the trust of the coaching staff and has already proven he is capable of handling the workload as a starter. It wasn't that long ago that he ran for over 1,000 rushing yards behind the Cowboys talented offensive line, but Ezekiel Elliott he is not.
Alfred Morris is another proven veteran who has found success in the NFL, albeit for the Cowboys division rival, the Washington Redskins. The word is that he has shown improvement in practices, but has only shown flashes in the preseason games. I don't know if it's enough to actually trust him with an expanded role.
The one RB though who has caught the attention of a lot of Cowboys fans, including myself, is Rod Smith.
Rod Smith is the older brother of Jaylon Smith, but doesn't receive the same type of publicity or notoriety of his younger brother. He has been on and off the Cowboys roster the past few seasons, but has shown enough to keep sticking around.
Smith was in a competition with Keith Smith (no relation) last season to become the Cowboy starting fullback, but eventually lost out. He was eventually released to make room for an injury replacement at another position, but was re-signed to the Cowboys practice squad after he cleared waivers.
His journey certainly hasn't been a smooth one, but the hardship he has been put through might just be why he is doing everything in its power to make sure he's not going unnoticed. I don't think he is under the radar any longer, in fact he might be the second best RB currently on the Cowboys roster.
At 6'3", 240, Rod Smith is the biggest RB currently on the Cowboys roster. But, don't let his size fool you. He has looked more elusive than either McFadden or Morris and it could earn him more playing time these next two preseason games.
I don't know if the Cowboys coaching staff view Smith as a legitimate contender to become Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup or fill in for him if he's suspended, but I for one would love to see him get an opportunity with the first team offense. I think he at least deserves that in order to see what he's actually capable of.
Rod Smith can do it all. He plays on nearly every special-teams unit. He is a capable receiver out of the backfield. He has shown that he has a little bit more wiggle to this game than his size would suggest. He can pick up the "dirty" yards in short yardage situations. And, he is a good pass protector. What more could you ask?
I don't know about you, but I would like to see more of Rod Smith. I really think he could be just as good as Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris if given the opportunity. Hopefully he will receive that opportunity these next two preseason games.
Could Rod Smith be Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup?
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
Player News2 weeks ago
Leighton Vander Esch Graded Best Rookie Linebacker Since 2014
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Way-too-early 2019 Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection
Star Blog2 weeks ago
QB Dak Prescott Already Impressing New Offensive Coaches
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Despite Perception, Dallas Cowboys had an Excellent Offseason
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Why Cowboys Should Make Signing RB Jay Ajayi a Top Priority
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Depth Chart, Pre-Training Camp