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Stephen Jones: Jaylon Smith “Could Play”, Debut Possible At Rams

Sean Martin

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Stephen Jones: Jaylon Smith "Could Play", Debut Possible At Rams

On Thursday, the Cowboys played their first game of the 2017 season, defeating the Cardinals in the Hall of Fame game. This kicked off a weekend of celebration for Jerry Jones, who was inducted in epic fashion to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Now, it is back to business for the Cowboys as they prepare for their second of five preseason games - visiting the Rams on Saturday with LB Jaylon Smith potentially making his Dallas Cowboys debut.

The Cowboys were back to business yesterday from Oxnard, California after remaining in Canton for Jerry's enshrinement, and Stephen Jones wasted no time dropping the biggest team news of the summer regarding Jaylon Smith.

"...he could play, it's just getting him in that football shape and doing things the right way." - Stephen Jones from Cowboys camp on Monday

The stance from the Cowboys, and particularly the Jones' family since he was selected with the 34th overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2016, has always been that Jaylon Smith is the Jason Garrett patented "right kind of guy" to one-day become a cornerstone piece to this team's defense.

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Not only did Stephen reinforce this immense belief in Jaylon, but he did so while finally adding the all-important designation that #54 is ready to help this team on the field Monday. 

"I think Jaylon's going to be around here the next 10 years. We don't want to do anything that's not taking care of Jaylon. So we got to protect Jaylon, at the end of the day, from Jaylon."

Before Jaylon Smith can be with the Cowboys for a decade, he needed to be here for a rookie season that was unsurprisingly red shirted due to the leg injury he suffered in his final collegiate game at Notre Dame against Ezekiel Elliott and Ohio State. The prototypical NFL middle linebacker will now enter a second season that appears on track for him to greatly help along a defense with many new faces on all three levels.

Protecting Jaylon from Jaylon has not really been a concern for Dallas, as he's been a participant in five of the seven fully padded practices the Cowboys have held so far. Looking better by the day, "Jaylon watch" has been in full effect.

Along this lengthy road towards a full recovery, Smith has taken to Twitter consistently to share his gratefulness for the opportunity America's Team presented him.

Jaylon Smith on Twitter

The Sky's the Limit~

Simple tweets like these have been put under the microscope by Cowboys Nation in a search for clarity that the team has never truly provided until today regarding Jaylon Smith and his NFL debut. Any signs of optimism were always met with some retracted statement telling us to collectively pump the brakes on Smith being a real game changer in 2017.

With the Cowboys just four days away from returning to the stadium that began their magical 2016 run - the same LA Coliseum that put Dak Prescott under the lights for the first time - the time is now for the Cowboys to go full speed ahead with Jaylon Smith as their potential starting MIKE linebacker come week one.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jaylon Smith didn't play Thursday night, but it was his first game in a Dallas Cowboys uniform

If Saturday's game against the Rams is Jaylon Smith's Cowboys' debut, it is going to be a long-awaited moment for so many involved - and a sign of relief for Jerry Jones who took the risk on Smith.

There's a reason they gave that man a gold jacket and permanent home in Canton, Ohio this weekend, and it is because of Jerry's return on risks similar to that of Jaylon Smith's throughout his career.

Tell us what you think about "Stephen Jones: Jaylon Smith “Could Play”, Debut Possible At Rams" 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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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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