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Rico Gathers: Concussion Creates Roster Uncertainty

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Rico Gathers, Rams

If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, you have a ton of reasons to be excited for the 2017 NFL season. Jason Garrett's team looks to defend their NFC East title, Dak Prescott will do nothing but improve during his sophomore season, Jaylon Smith will be on the field and... well, you get the idea.

Among all of these reasons to be excited, the possibility of Tight End Rico Gathers making the roster is one of the main ones. After spending all of 2016 with the practice squad and after impressing in the first two preseason games this year, the former basketball player seemed to have locked a roster spot.

Unfortunately, things have changed for Gathers. Since he suffered a concussion in practice prior to the Indianapolis Colts game, we haven't seen anything from him. This sure sounds like the concussion is more serious than originally thought by Cowboys Nation.

Two weeks later, as the Cowboys get ready to face the Houston Texans for the last game of the Cowboys' preseason, Rico won't be practicing or playing.

This means that more likely than not, Rico Gathers won't be making the 53 man roster to start the season.

What Does This Mean for the Team?

So what if the Cowboys decide to not use a roster spot on him? Does this mean he will be cut? Will the Cowboys ship him back to the practice squad? Is the Rico Gathers era over without even beginning? No, of course not.

David Moore on Twitter

TE Rico Gathers remains in concussion protocol. Won't practice or play this week. Opening season on IR a possibility.

If Rico Gathers doesn't make the roster, opening the season on Injured Reserve is not out of the question. This would naturally mean he won't be able to practice with the team during the first six weeks of the season and he will be out for the first eight weeks, at least. 

Could Offensive Tackle Be Rico Gathers Best Position With Dallas?

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Rico Gathers #80

The Cowboys will already use an IR spot on recently injured Anthony Hitchens but NFL teams are allowed to designate two players for return. Rico may join Hitchens in this category if he is sent to IR, and we just might get to see him play as the Cowboys try to run for a Super Bowl title.

This is not what you want when the project your team has been working for more than a year looks to be ready. But this situation would actually have a positive aspect to it.

This roster is so deep that making the final cuts will not be easy for the organization. Players like Lenny Jones, Lewis Neal, Noah Brown, Andy Jones, Duke Thomas and more are all fighting for a place on the team and some of them might get a chance with Gathers' spot up for grabs. Specially if the Cowboys decide to keep both Cooper Rush and Kellen Moore.

These young players are not the only thing the Cowboys have to keep in mind, but rather how many tight ends will they carry?

Personally, I wouldn't mind if they go with just three. Jason Witten, Geoff Swaim and James Hanna will probably be the three guys the Cowboys open the season with and they are not a bad group at all. Don't forget that Swaim was playing very good before going down injured last season. The roster is so deep, these questions are harder than usual.

The Rico Gathers story continues to be an intriguing one, and it will probably remain that way for some time.

As for now, here at Inside The Star, we wish Rico a quick recovery and hope to see him on the field wearing the Star soon.

Tell me what you think about "Rico Gathers: Concussion Creates Roster Uncertainty" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Fatfan

    August 29, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Tough to wish him to be on the field soon, and, at the same time, prefer to see him on IR (short term). I like the 3 TE’s you mentioned; but none of them have the upside in the passing game that Gather’s has. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gathers play, AND learn from Gold Jacket Witten at the same time.
    Hanna and Swaim bring more to the blocking game, with none of the TEs bringing as much as Hanna has (pre-injury)

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      August 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Yeah, it is a tough situation. Luckily, this doesn’t mean Gathers will be cut, so that upside in the passing game you mentioned will be there eventually. For now, we should be good with our TEs. Specially since our offense is so loaded.

  2. dallas1966

    August 30, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I think Rico will have a roster spot and be involved with the scheme of things by the end of the month of September.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      August 30, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      Let’s hope so! Thanks for reading

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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