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Scott’s Projected 53-man squad for the Cowboys in 2014

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Cowboys Blog - Scott's Projected 53-man squad for the Cowboys in 2014

The Cowboys will go light on Linebackers in favor of keeping more defensive backs and defensive lineman. Also, if McClain comes on strong, he may replace Durant at the MIKE linebacker, allowing Durant (a former 2nd round pick in his own right) to slide over and replace former 2nd round pick Bruce Carter at the WILL linebacker spot. But I think the Cowboys will put 2 linebackers on their Practice Squad in case of injury to one of their top 6 players.

Matt Johnson gets a roster spot based on the coaches’ opinion of his talent, but he is on very thin ice. Ahmad Dixon is waiting on the Practice Squad to replace him. Also, his roster spot is shaky due to all the defensive players the Cowboys have who will start the year on Reserve Lists, but will return some time later in the season. Johnson gets a spot primarily because there aren’t more talented linebackers and linemen on the team. If he wants to keep his roster spot, he’s going to have to move ahead of Hamilton on the depth chart before the beginning of October.

Claiborne wins the starting RCB position by default due to Scandrick’s 4-game suspension. And I believe the Cowboys go heavy at cornerback. B.W. Webb is in danger of being cut once Scandrick returns from his suspension. The Cowboys traded for Green, but his roster spot is not secure. And Mitchell is still eligible for the Practice Squad. Moore starts the year as the 3rd CB, and will stick with the team due to his versatility.

A couple of late off-season free agents, Ken Boatright and Zach Minter have made a case to make the team at the Defensive End positions, and former 3rd round draft pick Martez Wilson has been disappointing. But both of those players are really stop-gap solutions. The Cowboys will be looking forward to replacing both of them with Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence when they return later in the season.

If former TOP 10 pick Amobi Okoye can regain his football conditioning after his devastating illness, look for Nick Hayden or Ken Bishop to be on the chopping block. Bishop is still eligible for the Practice Squad, but Hayden could be traded or cut if Okoye returns.

With so many defensive players on the reserve lists, I believe the Practice Squad will be imbalanced in favor of the offensive players. The Cowboys will want to keep some players in reserve in case of injury to the front-line offensive players. Also, my opening day 53-man squad is already tilted toward the defense, so the Cowboys will need to keep more offensive reserves on the Practice Squad.

There is guaranteed to be a lot of continuing churn in the roster, so don’t get too attached to the borderline players. The key for a lot of the borderline players will be how well they contribute to special teams, so keep an eye on those players on the kicking and coverage units. Having said all that, here is my initial 53-man roster.

Offense – 23 players
• QB – Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
• RB – DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams
• TE – Jason Witten, James Hanna
• TE - Gavin Escobar
• WR1 – Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Devin Street
• WR2 – Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris
• LOT – Tyron Smith, Jermey Parnell
• LOG – Ron Leary, Mackenzy Bernadeau
• OC – Travis Frederick
• ROG – Zack Martin, Uche Nwaneri
• ROT – Doug Free, Darrion Weems

Defense – 27 players
• LCB – Brandon Carr, Sterling Moore, Terrance Mitchell
• RCB – Morris Claiborne, Justin Green, B.W. Webb
• FS – Barry Church, Jakar Hamilton, Matt Johnson
• SS – J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath
• WLB – Bruce Carter, Anthony Hitchens
• MLB – Justin Durant, Rolando McClain
• SLB – Kyle Wilbur, Ernie Sims
• LDE – George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford
• RDE – Jeremy Mincey, Zach Minter, Ken Boatright
• 3DT – Henry Melton, Davon Coleman
• 1DT – Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Ken Bishop

Special Teams – 3 players
• LS – L.P. Ladouceur
• PK – Dan Bailey
• P – Chris Jones

Author's Note: The Cardinals released Sims. But since he's played for the Cowboys the last two seasons, I think he is the logical short-term replacement for Holloman. Jones has said the Cowboys are in the market for a veteran to replace Holloman. I think Sims will be that guy.

The NFL has expanded the Practice Squad Roster to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Here are my predictions for the Cowboys' initial Practice Squad Members, which includes two of the Cowboys five 7th round draft picks from May. It also includes a backup Center, and a Fullback. If the Cowboys are able to trade Ryan Williams or Joseph Randle prior to the start of the season, then perhaps Copeland will make the 53 man squad, or perhaps the Cowboys will keep a 4th tight end. But for now, I expect Copeland to be on the Practice Squad. He just has not shown enough to make the team.

6 Offensive Players to Practice Squad
• FB - J.C. Copeland
• OG - Ronald Patrick
• QB - Dustin Vaughan
• TE - Asa Watson
• WR- Jamar Newsome
• WR – Chris Boyd

4 Defensive Players to Practice Squad
• SS – Ahmad Dixon
• LB – Cameron Lawrence
• LB – Will Smith
• DT – Dartwan Bush

The Cowboys will likely have 7 defensive players on some type of Reserve List to start the year. Of those 7 players, 4 will be eligible to return at some point in the year. Only Sean Lee, Chris Whaley and Ben Gardner are definitely out for the season. Scandrick can return after 4 weeks, which puts the roster spots of several cornerbacks in jeopardy.

Spencer must sit out the first 6 weeks on the PUP list, and Lawrence will have to sit out the first 8 weeks if the Cowboys choose to put him on IR. Okoye has started to practice, and since he is on the NFI list, he can return at any time once the Cowboys deem him healthy enough to play. As a result of the players who are eligible to return to the team, expect a lot of turnover from the opening day roster on defense as the season progresses.

1 Defensive Player on NFL Suspension List
• CB – Orlando Scandrick

1 Defensive Player on PUP List
• DE – Anthony Spencer

2 Defensive Players on Non-Football Injury/Illness (NFI) List
• DE – Chris Whaley
• DT – Amobi Okoye

3 Defensive Players on Injured Reserve
• LB – Sean Lee
• DE – Ben Gardner
• DE – DeMarcus Lawrence (eligible to return after 8 games)

Wildcard – Tyler Clutts could make the opening day roster if Scott Linehan insists on having a fullback on the team. One of the defensive players (most likely B.W. Webb or Matt Johnson) would likely be cut if that is the case. But in my opinion, neither Clutts, nor Copeland has played to the level necessary to make the team. However, Clutts is also known as a very good special teams player, which may sway the coaches’ decision when it comes to the final cuts.



Engineer, writer and private NFL analyst, he began developing his own statistical analysis program in 1998 to measure and predict the performance of NFL teams. Scott is also a self-taught expert on the NFL salary CAP, analyzing how Cowboys contracts affect the team this year and in future seasons. Mr. Harris' skill lies in digging inside the numbers to explain which statistical measurements matter, and which do not. Mr. Harris developed his skill at writing for his college newspaper, and had his own politically oriented blog for several years. A passionate fan of the Cowboys, Scott uses his skill with numbers and writing to provide a unique viewpoint of the Cowboys and the NFL as a whole. He is a native of the DFW metroplex and currently resides in Golden, Colorado designing environmental controls systems for data centers, high rise buildings, college campuses, and government bases.

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.

Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.

A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.

Rob Demovsky on Twitter

Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.

Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.

Josh Jones, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers S Josh Jones

It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.

I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.

Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?

In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.

Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.

Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?



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How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.

The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.

For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.

The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.

Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.

The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.

Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense

Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) returns an interception against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.

You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.

This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.

In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?



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Will It Be The Cowboys, Or Another Team, Who Pays Byron Jones After 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines -  81

After having his fifth year option exercised for the 2019 season, cornerback Byron Jones enters a contract year this Fall.

Jones inarguably had the best year of his career in 2018: earning not only his first Pro Bowl selection but also Second Team All Pro honors for his performance. Doing it all without an impressive stat sheet, Jones was able to let his film speak for itself throughout most of the year, and he became the number one cornerback we'd all hoped he could be when the Cowboys decided to take the freakishly athletic defensive back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

This contract year is quite unique for Byron Jones, however. Next offseason the Cowboys will be forced to re-sign and extend just about all of their key contributors on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence already got his contract, but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others still await their deals. Deals which the front office has all-but explicitly promised will come.

This leaves Jones, the former first round pick and now former All Pro, generally considered to be the odd man out. So while 2019 is a contract year for Byron Jones, he may be earning himself a contract from a completely different team.

Jones has had an interesting road to this contract season. One which would be a shame for the Cowboys to waste. Moving between cornerback and safety during the first three years of his career, Jones fell out of the coaches' good graces while playing out of his most natural position. Under Kris Richard's new regime, though, Jones had his best season to date. He looked to finally be comfortable in his role, and was now playing for a coach who believed he could be a special player.

Now that Byron Jones has found his place in the Cowboys defense, and has earned his way into conversations with the league's top cornerbacks, he's likely priced himself out of the Cowboys' future plans.

It's funny how that works out. Of course, Jones should go get paid, and I'd never fault a guy for maximizing his value on the market. But there's a good chance the Cowboys make the mistake of allowing a premier cornerback to walk out of their building next offseason. But if they want to retain players like Elliott and Cooper, they may not have any other choice.



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