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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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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room

Sean Martin

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line

The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.

Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.

Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp

What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.

The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.

Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.

To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.

Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.

If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.

Tell us what you think about "Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room" 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 LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles

Jess Haynie

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Leighton Vander Esch
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX

This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.

The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.

A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.

If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.



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Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.

Mark Lane on Twitter

Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.

Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.

As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are  many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.

Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.

Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.

It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.

Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.



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