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Sifting For Gold…

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As an analogy, you could apply "sifting for gold" to quite a few different aspects of football. Free Agency. The building of the infamous war room draft board. Wittling the training camp roster from 80 to 53. But the one science of football that typically escapes the thoughts of most fans is how teams decide which plays they will keep in their play book and which one's are dismissed as ineffective and/or are not complementory to the talent available.

That last bit is important to understand because the Cowboy's playbook from last year and this year should be very different. It's not so much because of the lack of success experienced with those plays, as it is due to the difference in the talent set and the difference in the coaches comprehension of said talent. Obviously, with T.O. gone, the plays that take a long time to develop very well may be all but extinct. Granted, Austin possesses some ability in stretching the defense, but it's not likely they will rely on his ability to ultimately win games, as they seemed to do to a fault with T.O..

With the trio of backs and duo of TE's the Cowboy's have, a quick strike offense is likely the direction this team is headed in. Furthermore, the Cowboy's now have a better understanding of what Felix, Choice, and Bennett can offer as weapons. The Cowboy's will be looking to put together a play book that exercises each of their talents in different ways to keep opposing defenses off balance.

With that, I would like to take a moment to remind those of you who are concerned about every report indicating that Romo and company don't seem to be insync, to consider that the play's they are likely running are new to everyone, including the veterans. The idea behind these practices are to familiarize the players with different plays and, more importantly, to slowly acclimate said players conditioning to football ready

Once preseason begins, the process of sifting for gold, so-to-speak, begins, as they determine against viable opposing team defenses what play's can be effectively ran, which players can execute said plays, and which players don't fit with the final playbook they are able to construct as a result of the success and failures they experience through trial and error.



I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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10 Comments
  • http://www.footballuniversity.org Football University

    It’s important for teams to really sift through their players and see who can make things happen on the field. All too often are players overlooked and not given the opportunity to excel and show their true potential. With T.O. no longer in Dallas, it’s time for the Cowboy’s players to really step it up.

    • bags030404

      Many times with the amount of money teams spend on premiere players, many are over looked. The time is now to find who on this team can perform. Those that cannot should be shown the door!

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    You know Bags, that’s a really good point. Teams are spending so much money on players out there that the talent pool is kind of skewed. I mean look at Haynesworth – he played his ass off during two contract years in a row, but what if he slacks off now? It was a voiced concern all over the league when there were rumors that he’d be the 100 million dollar man about what a risk that was for a guy like him.

    He always comes to play, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he at least presented a good coincidence by doing so during contract years. If he slacks off now and doesn’t play like he has the past two years, even if there are other guys on the team that play better than he does, because of his contract he’ll be the one starting.

    Just as Jonathan pointed out with the playbook changing from deep and slow developing plays to shorter and quicker plays with TO gone – having TO here prevented slower guys from getting as many opportunities. Look at Crayton, the guy has great hands but isn’t a speedy receiver. Most of the time when he caught the ball it was only after Romo had waited for TO to get open and he didn’t.

  • Jonathan

    Anybody care to conduct a study measuring the productivity of players after being awarded a decent contract? I’d really be interested to see the results of that.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Yes sir Jonathan, I’d be mighty interested to see that as well.

    I’d be more interested to see Ken Hamlin do better this year though, since he’s the one guy on our team that flopped the year after getting his contract. Maybe it really was Roy Willy screwing him up. I hope.

  • Jonathan

    I’m giving Ken Hamlin the benefit of the doubt. I think I may have mentioned this in an earlier comment: 1. Our pass defense finished the year ranked 5th in the league and FS was the only position that wasn’t an injury/suspension turnstile in our secondary. 2. Ken Hamlin is the QB of the defense. That means Hamlin was responsible for ensuring that everyone was in the correct position. Considering that he was dealing with several rookies and subpar SS’s, it’s easy to see why he didn’t have his best year. 3. Most of the criticism that is being levied on Hamlin are the result of two plays in the 4th quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. If Hamlin makes those critical endgame tackles, chances are the Cowboy’s would have made the play-offs, and since the Eagles game results wouldn’t have mattered, the Cowboy’s would have probably kept several starters off the field, including Romo. So who know’s what would have happened from there, but I do know that we probably wouldn’t be hearing too much criticism of Hamlin’s play.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    I was thinking that Hamlin wasn’t performing well enough since week three or four, I forget which. The runs from Baltimore were the result of several guys out of position presnap, Hamlin just couldn’t wrap up the bigger backs.

  • Jonathan

    The significant difference, statistically speaking, from 07 to 08 is interceptions (2007 – 5/2008 – 1). In term’s of overall tackles and solo tackles he actually improved. I think the dip in interceptions might be due to teams not needing to go deep on the Cowboy’s considering the 10 yard cushion our CB’s were giving WR’s. In fact, only 7 passes for the entire season went above 40 yards, which ties for 6th place in the league. There were 37 passes that went beyond 20 yards in 08 and the Cowboys were tied for 3rd in the league.

    What specifically about his play do you feel declined from 07 to 08? To me, in many cases, he was a bright spot on defense, laying the proverbial wood on quite a few players if my memory serves me correctly. Though, admittedly, my specific memories of games and his play in particular is fading with the advance of the new season.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    And that’s where I’m at on it too, they are fading and most have faded out.

    I remember seeing him a little late getting to plays and being out of position a couple of times. But as Bags has pointed out to me a few times now, Hamlin had to compensate for poor SS play a lot more in 08 than in 07.

    So I’m not sure if he slacked off or if he just wasn’t in as good of a position to stand out. I just hope we find out this year because Sensabaugh should be able to hold his own quite well, compared to Roy Willy and Keith Davis.

  • Jonathan

    I can’t wait to see the results. I think it’s a safe assumption that we can expect quite a few more interceptions for the Cowboy’s defense. Of course, that isn’t saying much.

Dallas Cowboys

5 Winners from Dallas Cowboys OTAs and Minicamp

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Caras Nuevas, ¿Tenemos Cornerbacks?, Adiós Ware
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have completed the offseason part of their practices and are now eyeing the start of training camp in Oxnard, California on July 26th. The offseason stuff doesn't necessarily show what a team thinks about a player near as much as training camp, so I won't look at any losers because these practices have varying personnel at times.

That being said, there certainly were some winners during the offseason.

1. Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

Every day removed from his injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl is another day closer to potentially seeing the All-American linebacker that would have been a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

With the knee injury, there's always been some doubt about Jaylon returning to that level of play, but as offseason practices wore on it was becoming clear that he's much healthier and much more mobile than he was in 2017.

Both of those things are strong signs in the right direction for the third year pro.

After sitting out his rookie season to rehab and then having some good moments and some really bad moments in 2017, it sounds like he's making progress to be a difference maker in 2018.

During OTAs and minicamp sessions that were open to the media, Jaylon was seen running with the first-team defense every time they took the field. Now, some of that is due to the Cowboys limiting the snaps of veteran All-Pro Sean Lee and rookie first round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who came up with a sprained ankle, but the fact that Smith's snaps weren't limited should only be seen as a good sign.

We still have a long way to go until the Dallas Cowboys strap it on for their week one matchup with the Carolina Panthers, but Jaylon Smith is on an excellent trajectory.

Anyone with a Clear, Eye, View can see that.

2. Anthony Brown, Cornerback

One of the bigger surprises during the offseason practices so far has to be Anthony Brown, and not Jourdan Lewis, running with the first team nickel defense.

Jourdan Lewis proved he was a really good corner in his rookie year, both in the slot and on the outside, while Anthony Brown struggled at times. Knowing that new Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard prefers his corners to be tall, long, and strong has led to some speculation that Lewis may not be a fit in Richard's scheme.

That's certainly a possibility. The more realistic possibility is that Brown, with more seniority, was getting the opportunities first as is often the case with Jason Garrett coached teams during the offseason.

While Brown is a pretty good slot cornerback in his own right, this might only be temporary.

Understanding Cowboys Remaining Offseason "To-Do List"

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

3. Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver

As I read reports from OTAs and minicamp practices, one thing that stood out is that Michael Gallup was winning and winning a lot.

When asked in a mailbag who had been building the best rapport with Quarterback Dak Prescott, Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com had this to say:

"Bryan: That’s a great question. The guys that come to mind for this [sic] me are Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin. Those guys have found ways to generate space and have been reliable catching the ball when it’s thrown in their direction."

Bryan Broaddus - DallasCowboys.com

Just a few days earlier Broaddus stated that Cole Beasley and Gallup were the only ones getting open with any consistency.

Now, it's still early and it's padless practice, but that's an encouraging sign for the third round pick out of Colorado State.

Typically it takes a year for wide receivers to adjust to the NFL game, especially with how much press coverage is played by NFL defensive backs. One of the byproducts of Kris Richard's existence as the defensive backs coach is that they're playing more press coverage. He's teaching his DB's to be more aggressive and more physical at the line of scrimmage.

For Gallup and the rest of the wide receiver group, that can only help them as they get ready to face opposing defenses. One way to disrupt timing-based routes or an offense that relies on separation and yards after the catch is to disrupt the receiver at the snap. Every practice, these guys are working to beat the press.

As a rookie wide receiver, this can only benefit Gallup -- in particular -- as that will be a big transition from college where defenses are playing off the line of scrimmage against the countless number of spread offenses that exist.

The fact that he's already winning reps during practices against some pretty good corners is a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys.

He may not be a starter in this offense right away, but I doubt it takes long before he's cemented himself in three and four wide receiver personnel groupings.

4. Chaz Green, Guard

I'm sure you aren't a fan of seeing Chaz Green's name anywhere near a "winners" list. As bad as the Atlanta Falcons game was for him, we can't ignore the fact that Green got a lot of first team repetitions during OTAs and minicamp while Zack Martin negotiated his contract extension.

Either that means the Dallas Cowboys haven't given up on their third round pick from 2015 or they're trying to get as many practice snaps out of him as possible to be able to make a clearer decision regarding his future with the team.

Getting to play with the ones is encouraging, but he still has a lot to prove during training camp to keep a spot on the roster. Green's going to get a long leash as a former premium draft pick. We'll see if he takes advantage of it.

5. Jihad Ward, Defensive Tackle

Maliek Collins hurt his foot -- again -- and David Irving was dealing with off the field stuff -- again -- leaving Jihad Ward with a lot of opportunities to play against the first team offensive line as the three-technique defensive tackle.

On June 4th, I asked Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com who his biggest surprises on offense and defense were during OTAs:

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Cedrick Wilson and Jihad Ward https://t.co/kgcgJkTj3U

If Broaddus is encouraged by Ward's progress, I am too.

He's going to have a lot of opportunity to get a strangle hold on the 3T defensive tackle spot with Maliek Collins not set to be back until late in training camp, and David Irving suspended the first four games of the 2018 season.

The Dallas Cowboys liked Ward coming out of college and had him just behind Maliek Collins on their 2016 NFL Draft Big Board.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

There's still a lot of practice reps that have yet to take place, but the Dallas Cowboys have gotten some encouraging contributions from these players. As we look to training camp, who will you be watching to see if the stand-out and can make the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster?



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the “Best” Players on the Bubble?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble? 1

It may still seem very far away, but the days of NFL clubs holding 90 players on their roster are numbered. By September 1st, each team will cut down to 53 players, thinning the roster following training camp. For the Dallas Cowboys, this is surely going to leave some talented players off the 2018 squad, as the team is once again entering Oxnard with a deep group.

We all have our "pet cats" that we'll root for to make the roster however possible. Be it a wide receiver like Noah Brown, now stuck behind a wave of new pass catchers, or a cornerback like Marquez White, the roster crunch for the Cowboys will come at a cost to some.

Forecasting exactly where the team will "go long" and where they'll be short on numbers is hard to predict without the team back on the field, but here is my initial look at some players that Cowboys Nation may have to move on from.

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble? 2

Dallas Cowboys CB Marquez White

Cornerback Marquez White

Previously in this offseason, I wrote about how Cornerback Anthony Brown may be one of the Cowboys better all-around players to miss this year's cut. With a strong showing in front of new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard at OTAs and mini camp, Brown feels well on his way to earning a spot with the Cowboys, leaving Marquez White in a precarious situation.

White spent his rookie season in Dallas on the practice squad, a sixth round pick out of Florida State. Sliding in the draft because of his rawness as a prospect, White has the ideal size and length to play anywhere in Richard's defense if given the chance.

Getting this chance may come difficult to White though, as Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are slotted to start on the boundary for the Cowboys at cornerback. Not as well suited to compete in the slot against both Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and Duke Thomas, White's time with the Cowboys could be limited.

Moving on from White would be an important vote of confidence in the rest of the secondary for the Cowboys. Teams around the league would waste no time recalling their initial draft grades on White to potentially add the CB to their roster.

Defensive End Charles Tapper

The Cowboys have very much so built their roster with a "what have you done for me lately?" type approach, and for Charles Tapper this answer is disappointing. Constantly dealing with injuries since entering the league in 2016, Tapper has appeared in two games and recorded one sack.

Tapper couldn't escape this year's offseason program without another setback, suffering a concussion that kept him out of workouts. Even without assuming that the Cowboys add a reinstated Randy Gregory to their roster, the team is prepared with more proven options at right defensive end.

Rookie Dorance Armstrong, FA signing Kony Ealy, and last year's first-round pick Taco Charlton are all capable of playing this spot. Doing so with more availability than Tapper may be all this group needs to earn their spot over the third-year draft pick out of Oklahoma.

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble?

Guard Marcus Martin

Yesterday here at Inside The Star, I wrote about how the Cowboys potentially keeping more offensive linemen compared to recent years could be bad news for the team's tight ends. Logically, this also means that some of the Cowboys embarrassment of riches on the OL will be looking for a new job.

With starting experience as a member of the 49ers, Marcus Martin was brought in as insurance for the departed Jonathan Cooper, prior to the Cowboys drafting Connor Williams. With Williams expected to start immediately at left guard, Martin has a long way to go in holding his spot over the likes of Kadeem Edwards and Damien Mama.

The Cowboys value Edward's swing ability, although Martin is capable of lining up at center along with guard. At any interior position, he may have more experience and skill than Mama, but if the Cowboys feel certain about their five starters they can afford to keep a cheaper player like Mama compared to Martin.

A free agent signing like Martin not making the Cowboys roster would only solidify the team's status as the best OL in the game, with Offensive Tackle Cam Fleming being their other veteran FA signing.

Running Back Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough and the Dallas Cowboys is a fun concept, but it may be just that as the roster trims in Dallas. The star running back out of Alabama fell all the way to the Cowboys final pick in the seventh round at this year's draft, joining Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and now Darius Jackson in a loaded backfield.

Scarbrough stands out as a back with true power and finishing ability, but he'll have to do so on special teams to justify a roster spot. Simply playing as a short yardage back won't be enough for Scarbrough to survive in a RB room full of complete play makers, yet still reliant on a true workhorse back.

Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson

When the Cowboys drafted both Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson, they created a logjam at wide receiver. Through competition, the team is hoping their best five/six receivers for Dak Prescott to throw to will reshape this offense.

The latest signing as an outside receiver with over-the-top speed, Deonte Thompson was brought in by the Cowboys in free agency via the Buffalo Bills.

Thompson's ability to impact a game with this speed is enough for him to secure a spot in Scott Linehan's offense. Without a strong showing in camp and the preseason though, its realistic to see Thompson losing out on this spot. The Cowboys have already seen what players like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir can do, which fills up their depth chart at WR when adding Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

By taking a look at where the Cowboys have depth to spare -- prior to any actual roster battles taking place next month -- it's easier to understand the types of decisions that lie ahead for this team.

All of the players listed above will have their opportunity to prove me wrong and earn their spot with the team, capable of helping in a big way. Regardless of how this list was constructed, going from 90 players down to 53 will be as difficult as ever for Dallas in 2018.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Roster: Who Are the “Best” Players on the Bubble?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Report: QB Dak Prescott Signs Multi-Year Deal With Campbell’s Chunky Soup

Kevin Brady

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Jekyll or Hyde: Year 3 "Prove It" Season For Dak Prescott? 1

Being the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback comes with its challenges, but it certainly comes with its perks as well. One of those perks is the opportunity for endorsement deals, and income outside of his football salary.

Dak Prescott is embracing those perks now, reportedly signing a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. Prescott will continue to endorse Chunky MAXX, Campbell's protein soup line.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has re-signed a new multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. This is the first QB multi-year deal for Chunky Soup since Donovan McNabb in 2001. He'll continue to promote Chunky MAXX, the protein-packed line of soups, this year, per Edelman

Campbell's Soup has had some legendary football related commercials throughout the years, none more memorable than those with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and his mother.

In fact, Dak Prescott is the first NFL quarterback to sign a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup since those McNabb commercials.

Hopefully, Dak Prescott can continue to "prove it" on the field and still be the Cowboys starting quarterback throughout this entire Campbell's deal.



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