The Dallas Cowboys are back in their home state, preparing for a preseason game later tonight against the Miami Dolphins. This means that another year of intense training camp practices from Oxnard, California, has concluded - as the Cowboys will move into The Star following tonight's home opener.
Training camp out West gave us plenty of news - both good and bad - along with rumors, analysis, and some memorable editions of Tweet Break.
Here's hoping this week's edition can live up to the hype. Away we go!
Dez Bryant and Morris Claiborne - Iron Sharpens Iron
Emotions still running high https://t.co/jFxZToZ5dU
Last day of camp 3weeks of s**t talking and competing with 88 have definitely made me better
One of the most memorable things to come out of training camp thus far for the Cowboys has been the battles between WR Dez Bryant and CB Morris Claiborne. Both players have something to prove in 2016, as Claiborne will be looking to show a team willing to give him a one year "prove it" deal that he can stay on the field and perform at a high level.
Dez Bryant has already performed in this league at a high level, and has used every second of training camp to make sure that even his fellow teammates haven't lost sight of that, thanks to his injuries a year ago.
Video of Dez Bryant telling all the Cowboys DBs they can't guard him. Each one. https://t.co/2C9kshVmOa
Sign it's last day? Dez Bryant wearing Mo Claiborne's jersey.
Dan Bailey - A Model of Consistency
As mentioned, not many training camps go by for the Dallas Cowboys without a different feeling surrounding the coaches, players, and fans by the end of it. The 2016 camp has been all about redemption - and Dan Bailey quietly continuing to make every single kick.
He's a good football player. Let Inside The Pylon explain why:
What makes some kickers so much better? @ITP_ChuckZ looks at @dallascowboys K Dan Bailey https://t.co/trFcvWn7jZ https://t.co/Wdj7FNcZMT
Camp Injuries and "Next Man Up"
An unfortunate part of camp each year is losing players to injury, something the Cowboys know far too much about after going 4-12 in 2015. While they have escaped the first portion of training camp without any major injuries, WR hopeful Chris Brown was cut yesterday, after the UDFA out of Notre Dame suffered a foot injury.
His replacement, while he may just be a camp body for now, is former Alabama wide receiver Richard Mullaney.
Cowboys signed former Texans wide receiver Richard Mullaney today. At Alabama, he was nicknamed "Slottie Pippen
If nicknames decided the depth chart for the Cowboys, Mullaney would threaten to take snaps away from Dez Bryant. Unfortunately for Slottie, Bryant is here and as motivated as ever, and the spots behind him seem pretty set as well.
Leaving California, and Jared Goff, Behind
Also staying in the Sunshine State, despite the Cowboys' departure, is Los Angeles Rams rookie QB Jared Goff. The top pick in the 2016 draft was last seen trying to figure out where the sun rises...
He then got just as confused staring at the Dallas defense in his debut, where he completed just four passes and threw an interception to Mark Nzeocha.
Now, as the Cowboys prepare for a season with their confident rookie, Ezekiel Elliott, they can also look back at Goff using training camp to learn how to put his knuckle in another player's asshole.
Did I mention that we'll get to see Tony Romo tonight?
Stephen Jones told me on @NBCSportsRadio that @tonyromo will play a series or two vs. @MiamiDolphins but @EzekielElliott won't. @NBCDFW
With that, another edition of Tweet Break has come and gone here at Inside The Star. Continue to follow along with us on Twitter for more updates, starting with tonight's game - where you can find me tweeting analysis and commentary: @ShoreSportsNJ.
If you have any tweets that need to be included in a future edition of this article, you can also email them to me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
With that, I'll leave you with a peak at the Cowboys' new home fields in Frisco, courtesy of NBC5's Pat Doney.
the new home of the @dallascowboys is sweet... @nbcdfw
3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018
Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.
Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.
Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.
Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit
The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.
When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.
Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.
What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.
Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.
Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together
Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.
With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.
Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.
Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.
Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay
Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.
Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.
Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright
If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.
Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.
And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.
Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.
Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.
In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.
Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.
Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.
The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.
If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!
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