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Sunday Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons

Mauricio Rodriguez

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For Dallas Cowboys' fans, this is a good day. Every Cowboys Nation member by now is sick of hearing about the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, and we all want to get back to see this team play football.

This isn't the first time, and certainly won't be the last, that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys face adversity.

I'm counting on the Cowboys to get through it. Yeah, it will be hard. But not even close to being impossible. The Zeke-less stretch starts this Sunday at Atlanta as the Cowboys prepare to face the defending NFC Champions.

I'm calling the Cowboys to walk away with the win today, and maybe make a wish or two from this list come true.

As every Sunday, here is this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!

Wish #1: Dak Prescott Scores Three Touchdowns

We've talked about it all of the offseason. We've talked about it all season. We've argued about it. We've deeply discussed the situation. And now, it's time to get some answers.

Will Dak Prescott lead this offense to win without his superstar running back? Dak has surely been impressive this season, and should be in the MVP conversation. With 21 out, he has a unique chance to prove it.

3 Reasons Why QB Dak Prescott Will Thrive In 2017

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

There's more than one reason as to why this is on my wish list. Obviously, I want the Cowboys to put up points on the board and get a W, and I want Prescott to prove how good he is.

But also, Dak is the third QB with the most total TDs this season (20), only behind Deshaun Watson (21), and Carson Wentz (23).

Three TDs by Dak would tie him for most in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles' QB just before they match up in next week's Sunday Night Football.

NFC East football is always fun, and with the two QBs on the race for the MVP, that'd make for an interesting story to watch. But first, Dak needs to score three touchdowns versus the Falcons.

Wish #2: Rod Smith Gets More Than 10 Carries

Will Rod Smith Receive More Work Than Alfred Morris?

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith (James D. Smith via AP)

Today, the Cowboys' backfield will feature three capable running backs. The guy who's been RB2 all season long and has relieved Zeke when he's needed it has been Alfred Morris. Naturally, he is expected to be the starting running back this week.

However it seems as if Cowboys fans are looking at somebody else. And it's not Darren McFadden.

His name is Rod Smith.

Smith was a beast in preseason and showed a lot of flashes. Some would argue he deserves the job and he'll probably make a case for it.

I wish Dallas at least gives him the chance and gets him a minimum of ten carries during the ballgame. The kid is legit.

Wish #3: First Multi-INT Game for Cowboys' Defense

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

CBs Jourdan Lewis  Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The Cowboys have accounted for four interceptions in the season. The number isn't ideal, but this is a young secondary with a lot of work to do.

Today, we might see Chidobe Awuzie return to the field. Although he's listed as questionable, he was a full participant in practice all week.

In the last few weeks, this defense has accomplished a lot of good, epic things. A multi-interception game would be a nice addition to the list.

Matt Ryan might be testing the Cowboys' secondary quite a bit today, and with a secondary that's getting better by the week, it'd be nice to see them have more than one interception in a single game.

Wish #4: Hold Falcons' Rushing Attack Under 100 Yards

It doesn't matter if they're currently at 4-4, when you go against the Matt Ryan-led Atlanta Falcons, you are afraid of the passing game. However, with Julio Jones dealing with an injury, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see this Atlanta team run a lot more.

Anthony Hitchens 1

Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In the year, only two teams have held the Falcon's rushing attack under 100 yards.

This defense has been pulling off some incredible feats, or at least incredible for a defense that was supposed to be mediocre.

Having said that, I think the linebackers have been doing a great job and I wish they hold the Falcon's backfield under 100 yards. Yet another confidence boost for this Cowboys' defense.

Wish #5: Cowboys Walk Away Healthy

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 2

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith  (AP Photo/James D Smith)

Last week's victory over the Kansas City Chiefs was more than awesome. A quality win versus a quality opponent right when the Cowboys needed it.

However, it came at an expensive cost. Dez Bryant, Brian Price, Terrance Williams and Tyron Smith all suffered injuries during the game. Fortunately, Williams turned out to be okay. But the rest weren't so lucky.

Now the Cowboys are not only missing Elliott, but will miss Tyron and probably Dez. Both are important contributors and it will hurt to not see them playing.

It will be a big challenge for the Cowboys to win this game, but if they do, I sincerely wish they do so without more injuries, This team doesn't need that at all right now.

Tell me what you think about "Sunday Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are halfway through their 2018 preseason. Given the injuries they're left to deal with to Zack Martin, Xavier Woods, and Jameill Showers, the Cowboys were happy to see their first home game of the season come to an end when it did. Despite the 21-13 loss, the Cowboys starters made another strong impression before exiting for backups that once again failed to hold the lead.

This is a game I'm looking forward to getting another look at on film, but for now here are a few thoughts the first time through.

  • Rookie Connor Williams is still a work in progress at guard, as he'll get himself in trouble trying to catch rushers too often. 

This "catch blocking" is not uncommon for young offensive linemen, particularly ones learning a new position in preparation to start on the league's best front. On the Cowboys second drive of the game, Williams was caught back in his stance dealing with a twist from the Bengals with Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

The result of the play was an incomplete pass on third down from Dak Prescott. With Williams' footwork being as consistent as it has, I wouldn't worry too much about his upper body technique and strength improving greatly before week one of the regular season. Perhaps most importantly, Williams has looked smooth playing in space, something the Cowboys are prepared to ask the second round pick to do plenty of.

  • With Randy Gregory back in the lineup, the Cowboys potential to have a great rotation of defensive ends was on full display. 

The play that stands out is a tackle for loss by Safety Jeff Heath. On the play, Defensive End Tyrone Crawford did a great job setting the edge against the run, allowing Heath to come down and make the aggressive play.

Crawford created penetration against a tight end, staying disciplined in his rush lane from the right defensive end position to force the run outside.

On the Bengals' offensive series prior to this play by Heath, the Cowboys forced a punt following a missed Andy Dalton throw to A.J. Green. Despite not being tight in coverage on third down, Randy Gregory looked sharp coming off the edge to rush Dalton slightly.

With Taco Charlton also looking strong against the run, and rookie Dorance Armstrong continuing to develop as a weak side pass rusher, the possible match ups the Cowboys can create up front are seemingly endless.

Almost all of them will include last year's sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence, who was also disruptive on nearly every snap in this game.

  • Give credit to Joe Looney for handling the reps he did at center, but the backup interior lineman left a lot to be desired from this position. 

It should come as no surprise that Looney is a better guard than center, or that the Cowboys would look significantly worse at center without Travis Frederick in the lineup.

Overall, this was a disappointing game for the Cowboys thin offensive line depth. Paul Alexander's unit was unable to give quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Mike White a fair chance to settle into the game.

Looney's contact balance was suspect throughout the evening. Not the most powerful player, it's important for Looney to play with leverage and balance, which he did inconsistently last night.

Awaiting news on Zack Martin's first quarter injury still, the Cowboys should have already been concerned about their backups at tackle, with the guard position becoming a late concern now.

  • This is becoming the standard for Jaylon Smith, but I did not see one Bengals blocker effectively slow him down.

The power that Smith is playing with is an outstanding sign for continued success. Not only is Smith physically up for the challenge of starting at MIKE for the Cowboys, but he's physically dominating opponents with strength, speed, and range.

Whether he was running laterally and avoiding blocks with great awareness, or attacking the pocket, Smith's path to the ball was rarely impeded against the Bengals.

No matter who the Cowboys lined up in their front seven, the group did a great job setting a strong tone. Antwaun Woods was once again impressive at the one technique position inside, and Brian Price made a flash play from this position late in the game as well.

Thanks to Smith's gap shooting ability, and the Cowboys willingness so far this preseason to be creative with the Notre Dame product, the team's defensive tackles don't have to be asked to do too much. Holding their spots while drawing blockers will be more than enough to free Smith and the rest of the Cowboys linebackers to make plays.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CBs Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

  • Chidobe Awuzie's interception in the second quarter is a reminder of just how high the second-year cornerback's potential is. 

Sure, Awuzie's length put him at an advantage to take a leap into year two once Kris Richard arrived as the Cowboys passing game coordinator.

Being productive on the ball, as Awuzie was here, is a testament to just how athletic he is as a boundary cornerback though. A beat late recognizing the ball coming his way, Awuzie remained in perfect position to get a hand on this pass.

Doing so with an explosive leap off the ground and full extension, Awuzie snagged the ball with one hand before bringing it into his body to secure another turnover for the Cowboys first team defense.

The Cowboys cornerback depth proved suspect beyond Awuzie and Byron Jones in this game, but being as good as they already are on the boundary is a huge step in the right direction for Rod Marinelli's defense.

I also thought that UDFA Tyree Robinson did a great job answering the bell at safety, showing up a number of times in run support with the Cowboys in desperate need of depth at his position.

It's in the slot, where Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis continue to feel the pressure of competition, that the Cowboys are struggling to find the right starter - even trying Lewis on the outside well into the fourth quarter of this game.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will remain in their home state to conclude their training camp and preseason. Needing to see more out of their second and third team, practices will resume at The Star on Monday before another preseason game at AT&T Stadium.

This time, it will be the Arizona Cardinals coming in for a Sunday Night Football tune up. The Cowboys starters could very well see even more playing time than they have through the first two weeks, giving them a better chance of sustaining success and coming away with a preseason win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Bengals

The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.

Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.

Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.

The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.

Other Notes

  • There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
  • Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
  • Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
  • Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
  • Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
  • We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
  • Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
  • Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.



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Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?

Kevin Brady

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Lance Lenoir

Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.

But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.

After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.

Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.

Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.

During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.

This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.

Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.



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