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The Dallas Cowboys Are On The Way To “Becoming The Hunted”

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Becoming the Hunted

Tony Casillas, the second overall pick in the 1986 draft, was featured on Cowboys Cast yesterday with Bobby Belt. The former Sooner spent part of his Memorial Day Weekend walking down memory lane and giving us his insights on the 2015 version of the Dallas Cowboys.

There’s a lot that’s been said about how our stout offensive line (I think teams are starting to draft robots to play defense because that’s what it’s going to take) and how it compares to the former Great Wall of Dallas. There’s Tony Romo, this generation’s Troy Aikman. There’s Dez Bryant, The Playmaker reincarnated. Terrance Williams has shown that he is to Dez as Alvin Harper was to Irvin.

Who is the modern-day Tony Casillas?

Bobby talked to Casillas about how when he was traded to the Cowboys from the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, he found himself as the veteran leader of a young group of defensive linemen at the age of 27. Casillas remembers players like Leon Lett, Jim Jeffcoat, Tony Tolbert and the brotherhood that they developed among each other. Their defensive line was bolstered by Russell Maryland, the 1991 first overall pick, and Charles Haley, acquired in a trade from the San Francisco 49ers in 1992, and these guys are all starting to reappear. They were at the time, in Casilla’s own words, “unknown.”

Cowboys Blog - Becoming the HuntedThe team saw a wave of success that began in Casillas’ first season with the team in 1991.

They won a playoff game in the wildcard round at Chicago and traveled to Detroit for the divisional round. Losing handily to the Lions, 38-6, the Cowboys vowed to never suffer such a defeat again.

[quote_regular name="" icon_quote="no"]“We don’t want to be embarrassed, we want to be the hunted. We don’t want to go out and hunt the other team... If you’re being hunted that means that people respect you and know that you’re for real.”[/quote_regular]

The World Champion 1992 Dallas Cowboys had the league’s number one defense in terms of yards allowed and it was Tony Casillas who helped anchor that unit. Now it’s becoming reincarnated.

The 2014 Dallas Cowboys saw their own wave of success.

Their win in the playoffs against the Detroit Lions (ironic, huh?) was one of the more thrilling games of the entire season. It was outdone, however, in a showdown at Lambeau Field where Dez Bryant made one of the most spectacular catches that was overruled in a Cowboys loss. The Cowboys tasted playoff success, much like in 1991, and have vowed to never suffer such a defeat again.

Jeremy Mincey has become the leader on the defensive front. He’s the savvy veteran, much like Casillas was, leading the charge. Tyrone Crawford is developing into the Jimmie Jones of our time. Much has been said about Greg Hardy’s similar path to that of Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley. And Randy Gregory is our newly drafted high-profile pass rusher, much like Russell Maryland. DeMarcus Lawrence has shown the same promise that Jeffcoat did, but more than anything, this new band of brothers is relatively unknown.

The Cowboys of the 90s built a tough offense and were able to run the football, but it wasn’t until the solidification of Dave Wannstedt’s defense (and Butch Davis’ front line) that they became a complete team.

Tony says of the 2015 Cowboys mirroring the 1991-1992 teams, “They want to beat you up in the fourth quarter.”

The Cowboys have spent some considerable time, energy, money, and draft picks to turn the defensive front around and it’s starting to look more and more like Casillas and Co. running around out there.

While the new defensive line is chasing quarterbacks, the 2015 Cowboys are on the precipice of achieving what Casillas’ Cowboys did in the early 90s...

Becoming the hunted.

You can follow Tony Casillas at @tccasillas, Cowboys Cast at @CowboysCast, and Bobby Belt at @SportsByDallas

Tell us what you think about "The Dallas Cowboys Are On The Way To “Becoming The Hunted”" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

WR Tavon Austin Named Veteran “Most Likely To Be Cut”

Kevin Brady

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Who Will be Cowboys' Main Punt Returner in 2019, Tavon Austin?

The Dallas Cowboys spent the 2019 offseason looking to add new dimensions to their offense.

They went out and signed Randall Cobb, the veteran receiver who made his name in the slot for the Green Bay Packers. They then drafted Memphis running back Tony Pollard in the fourth round to add a versatile weapon to their offensive backfield.

They also promoted quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator, hoping he can bring a fresh perspective to an offense many labeled stale over the course of 2018.

All of these changes could leave members of that "stale" 2018 offense in the dust, and Todd Archer believes wide receiver Tavon Austin could be one of those casualties.

Veterans who could be cut by each of the NFL's 32 teams

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Richie Incognito are new to their teams, but will they still be there on opening day? Can Pittsburgh Steelers corner Artie Burns stay out of the doghouse and fight his way back up the depth chart?

Archer named Tavon Austin the veteran most likely to be cut by the Cowboys, and roster math does somewhat point to this prediction coming true. If the Cowboys were to only take 5 receivers, as ESPN is suggesting in their latest roster projection, then it's hard to see a perfect spot for Austin.

Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are complete locks. Randall Cobb is about as close to a lock as you can imagine. That leaves two spots for a lot of talented players, including Austin, Noah Brown, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, and Cedrick Wilson.

It's certainly possible, and more than likely, that the Cowboys go with more than just 5 receivers however. This way they can keep a young hopeful like Wilson around while still maintaining the explosiveness that Tavon Austin can bring them in 2019.

Of course, the Cowboys are not afraid to cut veterans. Just last year we saw Dan Bailey get the axe after training camp, and Dez Bryant get released prior to any offseason activity even began. Tavon Austin is still of cheap value to Dallas, however, and when healthy he was an impressive weapon both on offense and special teams in 2018.

I actually do expect Tavon Austin to survive final cuts in Dallas, mostly because I anticipate they keep more than just 5 receivers on the roster.



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Star Blog

Cowboys Twitter Tuesday: Addressing the 2019 53-Man Roster

John Williams

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

For the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL, and the NFL fanbase, the waiting game for the start of training camp has begun. As Tom Petty says, "the waiting is the hardest part." The Dallas Cowboys go open training camp in about five weeks. The first preseason game is 53 days away and week one is less than three months away at this point. It's so close we can taste it.

Each week, I'll gather questions from you the Cowboys Nation community. Each week, we'll hone in on a specific topic based on your questions. So whether it's roster related, salary cap focused, or you have a fantasy football question, don't hesitate to send it to me on Twitter.

This week, we're going to take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster.

jesus flores on Twitter

@john9williams Who contributed to last year's team that won't make this year's team?

The 53-man roster will be one of the more debated topics over the next couple of months as the Dallas Cowboys get ready for training camp and the preseason. Every year there are surprises and we should expect the same this year. The Dallas Cowboys have incredible depth through the roster and so there will be at least one name that doesn't make the final 53-man roster who had an impact in 2018.

To answer Jesus' question, I think the easy answer is one of the wide receivers be it Noah Brown, Allen Hurns, or Tavon Austin. This might be a hot take, but I'm going to go a different direction and say guard Xavier Su'a-Filo.

In 2018, Su'a-Filo started eight games for the Dallas Cowboys and though he started out strong for them midseason, his play tailed off before he was injured allowing Connor Williams to regain his starting spot at left guard. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff loves position flexibility, especially along the offensive line. Su'a-Filo, though he's a solid backup guard option, doesn't have the ability to play multiple positions along the line like his teammates.

Connor Williams can play guard and tackle. Connor McGovern will get snaps at guard and center, and to hear him talk, he can play tackle as well, though that's probably a bit of a stretch. Joe Looney, the Dallas Cowboys starting center for 2018, has the ability to flex out to guard if you need him to.

Because the Dallas Cowboys will have difficult decisions to make at wide receiver and defensive line, they can afford to go light along the offensive line because of the flexibility of players like Williams, Looney, and McGovern.

Tommy on Twitter

@john9williams #CowboysQuestions do we extend Dak before game #1? How many WRs on 53?

I'm gonna leave the Dak Prescott question for another day and address the wide receiver question as several people asked about that position group in particular.

The wide receiver group is a really deep group. With Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Allen Hurns, it features three guys who've had at least one 1,000 yard season in their career. Michael Gallup is an ascending player. Tavon Austin is a really nice punt returner and offensive puzzle piece that can take the top off the defense with his downfield speed. I think four of those five are locks to make the roster.

According to Jeff Cavanaugh from 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, the team really likes Allen Hurns and his ability to play inside and outside in the formation. He's solid veteran depth at a low cost.

Then if you include Noah Brown's ability as a receiver and as a blocker, I think you have a very versatile and dangerous group in the passing game. Though the coaches really like Brown's ability to block in the run game, if they don't use him in the passing game, it tips their hand to the defense that the team is going to run. If they're going to keep him on the roster, they have to use him. It's a waste otherwise.

Brown and Hurns to me are on the roster bubble at wide receiver. Talented players like Cedric Wilson, Devin Smith, Jon'vea Johnson, Jalen Guyton, and Reggie Davis have all stood out at one point in time or another during OTAs and minicamp and will make the decision difficult for the coaching staff.

In my most recent roster projection, I had the Dallas Cowboys keeping six wide receivers; Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Being a team on the verge of contending for a Super Bowl, I think they go with veterans who can help them win now.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

That'll do it for this week's edition. Make sure to get your questions in via Twitter, or you can leave them in the comment section for next week's post. Also, don't forget to check out Inside The Star's newest podcast, Cowboys Weekly featuring Managing Editor Bryson Treece and Senior Writer Jess Haynie.



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Star Blog

Does Darius Jackson Have A “Puncher’s Chance” Of Landing On Final Roster?

Kevin Brady

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Darius Jackson, Bengals

Remember Darius Jackson?

The sixth round running back was an instant fan favorite of Cowboys Nation, as the fanbase hoped Dallas had found the explosive RB2 behind Ezekiel Elliott they needed in the very same draft. Jackson, however, had an up-and-down preseason in 2016 and ended up being waived from the team to make room for Darren McFadden later in the year.

Jackson has bounced around the league a bit since then, joining both the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers at different points. He's back with the Cowboys, however, looking to fight his way onto the team's final roster.

But does the fourth year running back have more than a puncher's chance to do so?

The Cowboys spent much of the 2019 NFL Draft rebuilding their running back depth. First, they drafted Memphis back Tony Pollard hoping to find a versatile and dynamic threat to compliment the workhorse that is Ezekiel Elliott. Then, in the seventh round, Dallas took another Ohio State running back in Mike Weber who fits more of the "traditional" running back form.

So with two new touted rookies behind the veteran Elliott, and fullback Jamize Olawale more than likely having a roster spot as well, there doesn't seem to be room for Darius Jackson on the Dallas Cowboys.

That didn't stop him from competing at OTAs, however. DallasCowboys.com named Darius Jackson one of their top ten "head turners" from the OTA practices, and considering that Mike Weber is banged up at the moment, Jackson will certainly have his opportunities to fight for that spot.

Still, the odds suggest that Darius Jackson will not be with the Cowboys come the Fall of 2019. Though he entered the league with some fanfare for a day three pick, his production has been more fitting of his draft grade than of his fan hype.

Jackson hasn't been the explosive player/receiving back that they're hoping Tony Pollard will be, nor has he been the every-down type backup runner that they seem to hope Mike Weber will be.

In the end, the Cowboys-Darius Jackson story is likely to close during this year's training camp.



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