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SS Barry Church Returns; CB Morris Claiborne May Be Soon

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Morris Claiborne Calls for Dallas to Draft Jalen Ramsey on Twitter

With the Cowboys' pass defense now ranked 31st in yards allowed per game, any good news is welcome. The return of a starting safety and positive news about a starting cornerback certainly qualify.

Barry Church is set to start this Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings. He has been out with a broken forearm since the Cowboys' Week 8 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He will play with a brace on his lower arm.

Church's return is timely as J.J. Wilcox, who has started in his absence, could miss a game or two with a thigh injury suffered last week. Jeff Heath will now be the primary backup at safety.

Morris Claiborne injured his groin in the same Eagles game and has been out since. His return timetable has been more vaguem, but Jerry Jones provided an update this morning.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas he expects Morris Claiborne (groin) to return at some point in regular season.

With only five weeks left in the regular season, that means Claiborne's return could be fairly soon. On the other hand, if the Cowboys keep winning then they may elect to give Claiborne some extra time to heal up and wait for the playoffs.

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Cornerback Morris Claiborne

CB Morris Claiborne

Some of the passing yardage that the Cowboys' defense has allowed has been strategic. They've been content to let team chew up the field while protecting the endzone. It's hard to find fault given their 10-1 record and winning streak.

Once Claiborne returns, it will be interesting to see how Dallas manages the snaps among their cornerbacks. Rookie Anthony Brown has played well and will be tough to take off the field.

Getting Church and Claiborne back will allow Dallas to get more aggressive up front, trusting their starters to hold up better in coverage. This will be invaluable in the playoffs, but even now as they look to secure home field advantage over the final five weeks.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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9 Comments
  • Sean

    How does MO’s great start to the season + another lengthy injury affect his next contract?

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      Great question, Sean! I think it’s going to work well in Dallas’ favor. Claiborne wants to remain a Cowboy and now has lost a lot of leverage. I think we’ll be able to sign him to a very modest 2-3 year deal.

  • Mike Young

    Can’t wait to get healthy in the back end. Getting healthy Claiborne would terrific!

  • http://twitter.com/Russ_Te Russ_Te (@Russ_Te)

    Raw yards surrendered can be deceptive of course. Teams have been behind Dallas all year, sometimes by a lot – so more passing yardage and fewer running plays.

    I like what Wilcox and Brown did while filling in. That big-hit dimension that Wilcox brings is something any defense is looking for. If he can close the gap with Church on the rest of the SS job, I think he can win the starter role (if he doesn’t leave for another team).

    Brown got burned last week by Deshawn Jackson when he was single up on a 3rd & 1, but that is to be expected. You always need a S over the top for Jackson. The guy has man-coverage skills, and to get that in the 6th round is a very good pick.

    Remember for years it was doubtful if Sean Lee would ever stay healthy. Now he is, for the last 2 seasons. Maybe the same for Claibourne as he goes along. He is the most talented DB on the team, along with Byron Jones at FS.

    Since the Cowboys solved QB and RB in one draft, they can go heavy on defense now. If this team adds a premiere RDE and a premiere CB, it will rule the league for years.

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      Very good observations! I think you’ll definitely see a defensive focus for the next couple of drafts. Outside of another WR and maybe a new RT, Dallas is set on offense for a while.

      • Russ_Te

        Thanks. Ideally change out Doug Free for a better pass blocker, but he is a road grader in the run game. Will probably lose Leary next year / always take an OL who looks good, for depth & to keep the engine driving this train going.

        You can make an injury case against Dez, but otherwise he will be a top WR for a few years still. The other 4 receivers fit into their roles really well. Butler is the possible rising commodity – remember how Miles Austin came out of nowhere to be a top WR for a few years.

        I keep retiring Witten and he keeps defying it. If Escobar looks better down the stretch this year as a blocker, he may be the heir at TE, otherwise that job is coming open at some point fairly soon.

        • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

          Last night was a good example of why this needs to be Free’s last year. He was the culprit on Dak getting strip sacked and some killer penalties. He is great in run blocking, but he doesn’t play guard. They can do better.

          The problem with our other WRs is that none of them are able to really step into the WR1 role when Dez is hurt. Beasley can get numbers but we need one more guy who can take on a team’s top corner if needed.

          I think Witten has another year at least. Escobar will walk in FA and we’ll have Hanna, Swaim, and hopefully Gathers on the depth chart next year.

          Really appreciate your comments. Hope you’ll become a regular!

          • Russ_Te

            Thanks very much. I created the board forum Cowboy Saloon in 2006, closed it down the next year due to infighting amongst members. I bounce around now with this pseudonym. This site has a good look definitely.

            Free showed the flaw in his game last night, beatable by a quick DE or LB. At least it is not Dak’s blind side. But it cost a turnover. I think Gathers got on the practice squad, it’s apparently a long way for him from a camp where he didn’t show much. I would get a strong TE prospect if / when available, but the main 2 pickups are probably RDE and CB. Impact players added there would be gigantic.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    I’ve always been a big fan of Barry Church. He’s not Ed Reed, but he’s solid. Given the others missing from this defense, I’ll feel much better having him back there with Byron Jones than JJ Wilcox. Small improvement, but a significant one.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" 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 DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" 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 & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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