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Sean’s Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition

For the second straight season, the Cowboys have a new "starter" at the 3T DT position. After Maliek Collins' dominant play as a rookie forced veteran Tyrone Crawford out to DE, Collins now finds himself transitioning to the 1T spot as David Irving wrecks games at DT alongside him.

The 3T position is the most important spot in Rod Marinelli's defense, and Maliek Collins was projected to have a very productive season there in 2017. Stephen Paea's retirement and Brian Price's season ending injury have caused a need for bodies at the 1T position though - where Collins has filled in admirably with his unique skill set.

In this edition of Sean's Scout, we will take a closer look at how Collins has performed in this new role, and what it means for the rest of the Dallas Cowboys defense.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

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The primary role of the 1T DT is to hold the line of scrimmage, eat up blockers, and stuff lanes in the running game. More athletic than most playing the position around the league, Collins has found ways to work up field as he would playing the three while still being an effective one technique.

On this first play, Collins' initial push with leverage against the center causes the right guard to hesitate coming over to block Sean Lee. This disruption also allows David Irving to scrape his way to the running back, getting in on the tackle with Lee as Jeff Heath also came down to play the rush lane well.

I wrote in my Monday morning Sean's Scout that the Cowboys' defensive tackles deserve a ton of credit for the overall play of this front seven, as they're ability to control the game inside and generate push has led to not only stellar defensive line play but great play behind them at linebacker too.

When studying this game against the Chiefs, there was such a noticeable difference between any DL pairings that featured the duo of David Irving and Maliek Collins inside compared to the snaps that Richard Ash or Price got there.

For his size and frame, Collins has the rare ability to win with his hands in tight and free himself to rush the quarterback. These strong and quick hands have also helped him hold the point of attack at his new 1T spot.

Maliek Collins' most polished rush move is his swim or counter. Opposing linemen trying to block Collins are well aware of this counter move that often frees Collins up to dip and pressure the quarterback in his face, making it even easier for Maliek to steer blockers and free up other defenders with it as well.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

On this play, the Chiefs actually do a pretty good job handling the inside twist game from Collins and Irving, as they get Irving up the field on this delayed give to Kareem Hunt. As Hunt avoids Tyrone Crawford flying down the line from the RDE spot, he is forced to cut right into the face of Sean Lee due to Collins recovering nicely and using his pad level to push the guard back.

Collins' pad level also stood out on film, as there were several plays where he was able to either work under his blocker and play with his hands above his eyes or keep them away with his hands and use his lower body strength to anchor.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This last play I'll show is a fantastic example of everything that is going right for the Dallas defense right now. Collins being able to play the 1T has not only allowed Irving to thrive at 3T with DeMarcus Lawrence doing his thing at LDE, but it has surprisingly put Tyrone Crawford in a position that suits him well at RDE.

As is, this defensive front is imposing against the run, and plays like the one above show off why. Off the snap, the only player on the Cowboys' front that doesn't end up being blocked by two Chiefs is DeMarcus Lawrence. Lined up in one of his tighter 1T stances, Collins bursts into the block of both the center and guard to free up Lawrence on the inside move.

Lawrence doesn't make the stop in the backfield, but his pursuit of Hunt allows Sean Lee (who else?) to once again make the stop.

The best thing the Cowboys have going for them in the front seven right now is their strength in numbers. With enough bodies to keep this front line fresh, Irving and Collins playing inside cohesively has meant so much to this team. Some players in Collins' position would be displeased when asked to come off of the 3T spot, where sacks and tangible stats can be had, to play the less "glamorous" 1T position. Seeing Lawrence, Irving, and Crawford make plays thanks to his efforts is all Collins needs though, as this Cowboys defense should only improve up front the more these defensive tackles work together to blow up game plans they way they did against the Chiefs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition" 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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Dallas Cowboys

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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