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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.

Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Player News

Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury

Sean Martin

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Should Cowboys Start Negotiating a Contract Extension With Rod Smith?

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.

https://twitter.com/thejaylonsmith/status/964606764619624453

This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.

It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.

The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.

He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.

Tell us what you think about "Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott

2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.

But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?

Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.

A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.

According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.

Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.

Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.

Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.

It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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