Every week we'll be looking at the Cowboys drafted rookies from 2016 and seeing what impact, if any, they had on the previous game.
Here's a summary of the performances and statuses from all nine of the Cowboys drafted rookies after the Week 13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Elliott's lowest rushing total since Week 2 was a surprise as Minnesota's run defense was only 14th in the NFL going into the game. If not for one 30-yard run late in the game, Elliott would've had just 2.9 average with 56 yards on 19 carries. He almost made matter worse with a fumble but thankfully recovered it himself.
The Vikings did an impressive job of closing off the running lanes. You can't even use the "12 three games in 12 days" excuse as Minnesota had played the same schedule. Talk of the "rookie wall" and Zeke getting worn down over the season will certainly increase after this performance, but I saw more blocking issues than any problems with Elliott.
Jaylon Smith, LB
Smith has one more week to practice before he either has to join the 53-man roster or be placed on Injured Reserve. The odds are that he will be heading to IR.
Maliek Collins, DT
Collins got his third sack of the season in addition to another QB hit and a tackle for loss. With Minnesota missing so many offensive line starters, it would've been a disappointment if the Cowboys defense couldn't make some plays behind the line of scrimmage.
That is one thing to keep in mind about Collins. His three sacks this year aren't a bad number for a rotation defensive tackle. However, two came against the league's worst team (Cleveland Browns) and this one came against one of the worst offensive lines. We're still waiting to see Collins make an impact against better competition.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper went on Injured Reserve in Week 4 due to back issues. He was inactive the three games before that, making this a redshirt season for the fourth-round pick.
Dak Prescott, QB
It wasn't a big day on the stat sheet as Prescott only had 139 yards through the air. However, Dak made crucial plays to help pull the team out of harm's way.
There was plenty of adversity to overcome. Prescott was sacked three times, the most he's been hit all year except for Week 2 against Washington. One of those sacks was a blindside hit that cause a fumble, courtesy of Doug Free's ever-declining blocking.
After the Cowboys' first three drives ended with two punts and that aforementioned fumble, Dak found Dez Bryant for a 56-yard bomb that set up a goal-line touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott. The play gave the Cowboys some much-needed momentum. Later on, Dak took advantage of a fumbled punt return by the Vikings with a touchdown throw to Bryant.
With the Vikings' pass defense stingy all day, Prescott made some critical first-down plays running the ball. He never forced things and, once again, didn't throw an interception. This game could have swung on just one more turnover, but Dak's ongoing avoidance of interceptions is a key part to this win and several others this year.
Anthony Brown, CB
Brown had a pass deflection so nice that words just can't do it justice. Ergo...
There's so much to like on just this one play. Brown doesn't even begin to bite on Charles Johnson shimmy move. Then he pivots so fast to follow the receiver up the field that Johnson doesn't gain one bit of ground. Brown closes on the receiver and the ball perfectly, without ever looking behind him, to make a penalty-free deflection.
Chris Collinsworth was raving about Anthony Brown during the broadcast and a play like this shows you why. Dallas has found a true gem in the sixth round and a guy who will likely be a starter in next year's defense.
Usually, you're desperate to get a starting CB back onto the field because of issues with backups. However, Brown's play has allowed Dallas to take it easy with Orlando Scandrick's recovery. It's been an incredible luxury this season, especially given the other injury problems with Morris Claiborne.
Kavon Frazier, S
There wasn't much playing time to be had for Frazier this week. Barry Church returned and played full-time reps. Frazier did record a single tackle.
Darius Jackson, RB
Having yet to dress this season, it appears Jackson's only shot at playing this year will be if Dallas has nothing to play for in one of the final regular season games. There is also the chance he could be released to make room for Darren McFadden.
Rico Gathers, TE
Gathers is still on the team's practice squad; the only drafted player to not make the 53-man roster this season.
Jimmy Johnson Could Be Next Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee
According to reports, former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jimmy Johnson may finally be joining the team's Ring of Honor.
Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reported this morning, per a source, that Johnson could be among the next group of inductees to the franchise's version of the Hall of Fame.
The other potential candidates mentioned were former scouting guru Gil Brandt from the Tom Landry era and Tight End Jay Novacek, who won three Super Bowls in Dallas in the 1990s.
Novacek would join Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley, and Darren Woodson as Ring of Honor members acquired during Jimmy Johnson's brief but historic run as Cowboys coach.
It is that heavy presence of Johnson's players in the Ring, not to mention the three championships that crew won from 1992-1995, that has long merited Jimmy's inclusion in the Cowboys' most exclusive club.
Jimmy was only personally on had for two of three titles, but even that ties him with Tom Landry for Super Bowl wins in Cowboys history. And as many would argue, that 1995 championship team was still running on what Johnson put together.
Jimmy's place among the Cowboys' greatest contributors is irrefutable. But whether he'd ever get into the Ring of Honor has always been questioned due to his contentious breakup with team Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones.
Johnson left the Cowboys after the 1993 championship season as he and Jones could no longer have a working relationship. Jerry's bitterness over the credit that Jimmy got for building the 90s dynasty, and Jimmy's refusal to pass any of that along to his Jones, led to Johnson's resignation as egos drove a wedge between friends.
Time appears to have healed the wounds, for the most part. As pictured above, Jimmy was in attendance for Jerry's 2017 Hall of Fame induction and public comments between them have become far more cordial in recent years.
At ages 75 and 74, respectively, Jerry and Jimmy should close this book while they still can. There is no better way to do than by Johnson taking his rightful place in the Ring of Honor.
Not only will that move bring a resolution to their story, but it will also help Jimmy in his pursuit of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be recognized on the team level.
Jimmy Johnson belongs with Troy, Emmitt, Playmaker, and the rest who he brought together. He was responsible for the most successful era of Dallas Cowboys football in the team's history. He also provided the catchphrase that has endured for almost 30 years now, "how 'bout 'dem Cowboys?"
You can't tell the story of the Dallas Cowboys without Jimmy Johnson. It's time to give his chapter a happy ending.
Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?
While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?
Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.
Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.
With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.
But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.
Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.
Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.
But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.
Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.
How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.
There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.
But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.
For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall
That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.
BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year
For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.
Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.
Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.
In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.
Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.
The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.
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