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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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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Jon Machota on Twitter

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.

2014 NFL: Week 6 Cowboys vs. Seahawks highlights

Week 6 Own by nfl

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

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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.



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Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?

Brian Martin

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Taco Tuesday: DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

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.

Taco Charlton Eli Manning sack

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.

Taco Charlton covering Odell Beckham Jr

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?



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