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The Pressure is Rising for Cowboys FS Byron Jones

Yesterday, fellow writer Sean Martin wrote a good piece on reasons for optimism for the entire Cowboys secondary. I’m not quite as excited about the cornerback situation as he is, and because of that I wanted to go a little deeper on second-year man Byron Jones. Despite his youth and inexperience, I think he is still paramount to the Cowboys’ defensive success in 2016. All indication is that Jones, who shifted between cornerback and safety as a rookie, will be locked in as the free safety this year. His athleticism and skill set make him prototypical for the rangy, ballhawking “center fielder” that the Cowboys haven’t had since…

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Pressure Rising for Byron Jones

Yesterday, fellow writer Sean Martin wrote a good piece on reasons for optimism for the entire Cowboys secondary. I'm not quite as excited about the cornerback situation as he is, and because of that I wanted to dig a little deeper into second-year man Byron Jones. Despite his youth and inexperience, I think he is still paramount to the Cowboys' defensive success in 2016.

 

 - Byron Jones, #31

 

All indication is that Jones, who shifted between cornerback and safety as a rookie, will be locked in as the free safety this year. His athleticism and skill set make him prototypical for the rangy, ball-hawking "center fielder" that the Cowboys haven't had since... ummm... ever?

The terms "free" and "strong" safety haven't meant a lot in Dallas for a while. Whether it was Barry Church or Gerald Sensabaugh, the Cowboys' top safety has had to move all around the field in various formations. Despite being ideally sized and skilled for playing down in the box, both Church and Sensabaugh have also been the best coverage players at safety and have had to play out in coverage more than you'd really want them to.

While Byron Jones will certainly be used on the occasional blitz, and Church may drop back into coverage to confuse quarterbacks, it appears they will bring back the more traditional roles of the starting safeties. This puts tremendous pressure on Jones, in just his sophomore season and first year as a full-time safety, to deliver as the last line of the Cowboys defense.

As mentioned earlier, I'm not as optimistic about the Cowboys' cornerbacks as others. Orlando Scandrick is coming back from a major injury and, frankly, has always been a little overrated. He's certainly a solid starter and appears to be a strong locker room guy. Still, I think his value has been overestimated because he's been the best of an otherwise weak position group.

Even if Scandrick comes back completely unhindered, he's not a Pro Bowl corner.

Scandrick's inflated value trickles through the rest of the group. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, who have barely been worthy starters in Dallas, will battle for the number-two job. They appear locked into the top three, barring a surprising third-year surge by Deji Olatoye.

Sadly, we've seen worse cornerback groups in Dallas. Still, this crop is going to have issues and it's going to force Byron Jones to clean up those mistakes.

If that wasn't concerning enough, it appears the Cowboys will have another year of pass-rushing issues. Suspensions to their two best talents at defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, will force unproven youngsters and journeyman veterans into starting roles early in the year. Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton could emerge as a great duo at the tackle spots but still have to prove it.

Of course, this means more time for opposing quarterbacks and receivers to let routes develop. It means the field getting stretched further and decisions having to be made on which guy to cover. And who does that impact more than anybody else on the field?

 

Cowboys Blog - Are Dallas Cowboys 1st Rounders Getting Coaches New Jobs?

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

 

Byron Jones could be the next Ed Reed, but Ed Reed wouldn't have been Ed Reed without the rest of that great Baltimore Ravens defense in front of him. Even if Jones is playing at the highest level, will his teammates give him a chance to show it?

Thankfully, Byron Jones gives the Cowboys more potential and talent at safety than they've had since at least Roy Williams. If he can make a few big plays early in the year, Jones could give opponents something new to worry about if they test him. It's been a long time since any of Dallas' safeties weren't liabilities in coverage, let alone a threat to the other team.

It's a lot to ask from a second-year player, even if he was a late first-round pick. We can only hope that Byron Jones is ready for the challenge.



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

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

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

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Player News

Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges

Jess Haynie

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Marquez White

Player news this time of year is often not the good kind, and such is true of a new development with Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White. The second-year CB is facing aggravated assault charges for an incident last October.

According to the report, White displayed a legally owned firearm during a "road rage" incident.

Marquez,  a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys last season, has made his side of the story public. The following account was released by White to The Dothan Eagle, his hometown newspaper:

Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges

Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges 1

Naturally, we're in a wait-and-see situation as to how this case unfolds and impacts White's availability to the Cowboys in 2018. He is one of several players hoping to catch on at the bottom of the CB depth chart, having spent his rookie season on the practice squad.

This latest legal issue is especially unwelcome news after other Cowboys' recent problems. The team has seen David Irving get suspended four games for illegal substances and Terrance Williams' get arrested for public intoxication in the last two months.

Last year, Linebacker Damien Wilson was charged for aggravated assault in a somewhat similar situation to that of Marquez White. Those charges were eventually dropped.

What happens in White's case remains to be seen.



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Deadline for DeMarcus Lawrence Contract Extension Nearing

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Crossroads: Is This a Short-Term or Long-Term Team? 2

NFL teams have until July 16 to work out a long-term extension with any players currently under the franchise tag, which means the Dallas Cowboys have about a week to work something out with Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. If deals are not signed and approved by the league by 4 P.M. ET July 16, the sides cannot agree to new contracts until after the 2018 season ends.

Along with the Lawrence, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, Detroit Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, and Los Angeles Rams S Lamarcus Joyner have franchise tags slapped on them. All of them would love the long-term security a contract extension would provide, but they are all going to have to wait and see what the upcoming week has in store for them.

So, what will the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with DeMarcus Lawrence? Can they come to terms on a long-term contract extension before the deadline on July 16?

Luckily for Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys seem open about hearing what he believes his market value is. That doesn't mean he will get his asking price, but the talks have to begin somewhere.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Rumors are already circulating that Lawrence is seeking a five-year extension and wants to make more money than Danielle Hunter, who the Vikings just signed to a five-year $72 million contract. That's probably more money than the Cowboys have in mind at this time. They may prefer to wait and see if he can replicate what he accomplished in 2017.

Last season DeMarcus Lawrence turned into the "War Daddy" Owner Jerry Jones has been seeking for the defense. He accumulated a career-high 14.5 quarterback sacks and finally played an entire 16 game season. But, even that may not be worth the money he is rumored to be seeking right now.

Hunter's five-your $72 million contract extension is the going price right now for someone of Lawrence's caliber, but there are other players in line for a big payday as well. Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney are all in the same boat as Lawrence. What kind of extensions they receive could change the going rate, which could cause some hesitance on the Cowboys part.

Fortunately, I kind of doubt DeMarcus Lawrence is going to complain much if he has to play the 2018 season under the franchise tag. He will make a little over $17 million for one year and has a chance to cash in big time if he can replicate what he did a season ago.

Would you sign DeMarcus Lawrence to an extension before the July 16 deadline?



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