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Reel Talk: Ezekiel Elliott’s 2 Touchdowns Prove He’s the RB the Cowboys OL Deserves

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Reel Talk: Ezekiel Elliott's 2 Touchdowns Prove He's the RB the Cowboys OL Deserves

The Dallas Cowboys didn't just draft a running back with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. With needs elsewhere (particularly on defense), the selection of Ezekiel Elliott received some national scrutiny, simply because of his position.

Zeke is more than a running back though, but rather an athletic freak, and a player that is capable of perfectly executing the runs and receptions for Scott Linehan's offense that play to the strengths of the league's best offensive line.

As if a line of Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free could look any better, the full dominance they put on in the trenches is now being brought to life like never before thanks to the rookie Elliott.

Elliott is the engine to the 8-1 Cowboys, and he drove for two long touchdowns in Dallas' most recent win over the Steelers - the second of which won the game.

How did those plays happen? Let's find out with some Reel Talk:

First Quarter: Ezekiel Elliott 83-yard Screen Pass to the House!

The longest touchdown of Elliott's career came at a great time, late in the first quarter with the Cowboys trailing 12-3. Catching a screen pass from Prescott, #21 turned up field and was escorted by the Space Cowboys all the way into the end zone.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Pre-snap on @EzekielElliott's 83-yard screen pass TD.

With 18 yards to go for a first down, you see the Steelers showing some pressure off the right edge before the snap - which they would back out of into coverage.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Steelers dropped everyone you saw on the line pre-snap. A lot of attention going to @ninjafast22. Meanwhile, @EzekielElliott and his convoy:

Luckily for the Cowboys, they had the perfect play called, as the often-used fake jet sweep to Lucky Whitehead drew plenty of attention from the Steelers' defenders in short or intermediate zones. Before this ball is ever close to being in the hands of Elliott, you see the play developing with green grass in front of Zeke and this offensive line.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Not a defense in this universe that's stopping this TD from happening at this point. Not with this line, and not with Zeke Elliott.

All five linemen simply put a "hat on a hat", including center Travis Frederick swinging out to take on defenders in the second and third level. At full speed, Elliott picked up his final key block from Terrance Williams, and the rest was history.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

WEEEEEE https://t.co/8Qv5zJM1zL

Fourth Quarter: Ezekiel Elliott's 32-yard run to victory!

Elliott's long touchdown would spark the Cowboys for the rest of this game, as they fought back multiple times - only to see the lead change three times in the final two minutes, with Pittsburgh going up 30-29 with just 42 seconds to play.

With three timeouts at their disposal, the Cowboys felt comfortable handing the ball to Elliott from 38 yards out with time running down. Thankfully, his offensive line assured that it would be the last play call Dallas needed to escape on the road with their eighth straight win.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

@EzekielElliott doesn't even have the football yet, but find me a Steelers defender in a good position to make a play.

The Steelers defensive front was absolutely absorbed on this play, as Travis Frederick came through with his signature reach block on the one technique defensive tackle. Next to him at left guard, Ronald Leary drove his man to the ground, leaving only a desperate Anthony Chickillo - who was faced with the impossible task of trying to slide into the gap and beat Tyron Smith - in the way of Ezekiel Elliott.

 

Zeke scored, the Cowboys won, and our amazing rookies found yet another way to amaze us on this journey that has been the 2016 season through 10 weeks.


Ezekiel Elliott is truly something special. The Cowboys offensive line is in their prime, now getting the golden opportunity to block for a youthful back that is simply just getting started - leading the league in rushing at 21 years old.

Elliott has been so good, that he's essentially forced the Cowboys to keep arguably their greatest QB of all time in Tony Romo on the bench, because the connection he has going with Dak Prescott is just that good.

I don't know if I'll be able to sleep for a long time tonight after taking a closer look at this film, but when I finally do, I'll rest easy knowing that the 8-1 Cowboys will feature Ezekiel Elliott in their backfield for a long, long time.

What did you see on Ezekiel Elliott's two touchdowns against the Steelers? Leave a comment below the article to discuss, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com!

Tell us what you think about "Reel Talk: Ezekiel Elliott’s 2 Touchdowns Prove He’s the RB the Cowboys OL Deserves" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Randall Cobb

NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.

Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.

Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:

Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.

If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.

The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.

Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.

If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.

If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.



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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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