What a week it has been for the Dallas Cowboys, as they touched down in Oxnard, California for their 2016 training camp yesterday, looking to bring their team back into a positive light. Randy Gregory, and most recently Rolando McClain, have made this task more difficult than needed - but not here on Tweet Break!
In this week's edition here on Inside The Star, I've decided to spotlight the hard working players that are ready to prepare in the intense summer heat for a successful 2016 campaign.
Cowboys team plane has landed in California https://t.co/XtfOPblInd
I stay ready! https://t.co/2aLyzJLVh6
CuTTWork Getting ready for my first training camp. I ont know what to expect. I'm not worried... https://t.co/Ivor0VmNUr
Perhaps no player at Cowboys' training camp will face more of an uphill battle than Rico Gathers, who will simply be trying to reacquaint himself with the game of football after being drafted by Dallas out of Baylor University as a basketball player.
Gathers is looking forward to facing this challenge by working with a future Hall of Fame tight end in Jason Witten, but his roster spot will be challenged heavily by the likes of James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, and Geoff Swaim.
#Cowboys 88 Club talking football at Valley Ranch last month. I could sit there and listen to them for days.
Spooky. Valley Ranch is almost just a memory #allaboutthestar #ghosttown #everythingchanges https://t.co/T6DRj4tp7N
While it is not directly related to training camp preparations, Dez Bryant is certainly in store to have a big summer, and it was awesome to see him hanging out with Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson at Valley Ranch.
Of course, the Cowboys' Valley Ranch facilities won't play a role in this year's training camp, as the team will be ready to move into The Star once returning home from California. Brad Sham, the radio play-by-play voice of the Dallas Cowboys, shares one of the closing images from the iconic facility in his above tweet.
Training camp time @DezBryant hold me accountable!! All in
Speaking of Dez Bryant, the fiery wide receiver is ready to prove that he means a lot more to his team outside of Tony Romo and the offense. Elevating the play of others around you is truly a mark of a great player, and an expectation that Morris Claiborne will have for Bryant.
If this match up plays out, it should be a fascinating one, as Claiborne will be looking to build off of his 2015 success - which earned him a new one year contract with the Cowboys in 2016.
My brothers & I just killed the conditioning test! Ready to fly out for @dallascowboys camp tomorrow & get this season on the way! #Rushmen
When it comes to differing personalities found on the Cowboys' roster, you may not find a better example then Lucky Whitehead and Ryan Russell. The always outspoken and energetic Whitehead took to Twitter to share his excitement for camp following his conditioning test, as did defensive end Ryan Russell, who is certainly an unknown player in the eyes of many fans and coaches.
Both players will be called upon to potentially fill big roles throughout training camp and into the regular season, as Whitehead will likely serve as the team's primary kick and punt returner, and Russell will be looking to make the team feel a little better about the overall situation at defensive end.
I know you're in a tough place @RandyGregory_4 ignore the words of those who dont undstnd your struggle. I got your back. Get better, man.
To conclude this edition of Tweet Break, I wanted to include this impressive tweet from Byron Jones. Not only will Jones be a player to watch closely at free safety this summer, but his tweet here shows the poise of a veteran for just a second year player.
Staff Writer RJ Ochoa wrote recently about the Cowboys failures when it comes to drafting players in the second round, Randy Gregory being one such example. At least Byron Jones, the team's first round pick in 2015, can make Cowboys Nation feel good about some of our young defensive talent.
Thanks for checking out Tweet Break here at Inside The Star! By this time next week, the Twitter world will be full of awesome Dallas Cowboys 2016 training camp content! To send in some of your favorite tweets to be featured here, just tag me in them @ShoreSportsNJ or email links to Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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