It's getting to that time in the preseason where guys are starting to separate themselves. I think my roster reflects the guys that have done so. This is not an easy task folks. I used to think it was. But it is very difficult once you get down to around 60 players.
You have to consider so much - numbers at each position, if you cut a guy will he make it through waivers to your practice squad, do you cut a veteran for the week 1 game with the intent of bringing him back week 2 so that his salary isn't fully guaranteed... and I haven't even gotten into injuries to guys like Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence that you know will be back eventually, but you probably won't have the first few weeks of the season. Not to mention the suspension of Orlando Scandrick which just throws a wrench into everything.
So we've established the difficulty of a roster projection. Below is my best effort. And yes. If you do the math, I realize there are 54 players listed. Simply because of Scandrick's suspension. He will be on the team for the first 4 weeks but will not count against the roster during that time.
In keeping with the running roster projections by the staff during preseason, players added to this roster are denoted in red below.
Defense (28 players)
Safety – 5
Church and Wilcox are cemented as the starters. Jeff Heath is the coaching staff's pet cat and the new Danny McCray of the special teams unit. Ahmad Dixon put enough bulldozing hits on the Chargers that I don't think they can risk trying to get him to the practice squad. I'm sliding Jakar Hamilton in because, of all the safeties we have, I think he might be the best when it comes to pass coverage. There was a reason early in camp that he was dropping down and covering the slot. He's the only true single high safety we have on the roster.
Cornerback – 6
Same 6 as last week but I could definitely see it changing before San Fran. Webb was better in coverage against Baltimore but I just don't know if he has the physical toughness to play this type of defense. Rod has always had tough CBs that weren't afraid to hit, and I noticed a couple of times against the Ravens where Webb had a chance to get rough and make a play or two but flat-out avoided the contact instead. To B.W. Webb I say, "Sir, you are no Deion Sanders". He cannot afford to make business decisions. Tyler Patmon played very well last night and the coaches really seem to like him. You're on notice, Webb.
Outside Linebacker – 3
While I'm keeping the same guys here - this is starting to get a little tricky. First off, the neck injury that Holloman suffered this week could be serious. As I type this, no reports have surfaced yet on the seriousness of the injury. But it's the same injury that kept him out of 7 games last year. When you start to have multiple injuries to the same body part, there is a problem. When that body part is the neck then it's a HUGE problem. We will have to keep a close eye on this.
Also, while I know Bruce Carter is a lock to make the team - I'm not quite so sure that he is a lock to start on the weak-side anymore. While he definitely played better in coverage this week, he still missed a couple of assignments against the run-game and struggled to get off blocks that led to some big runs. It pains me to type this because Bruce is my man. I mean MY MAIN MAN. But if Rolando McClain continues to play as well as he did Saturday night, I could easily see a starting trio of McClain at MLB, Durant at WLB, and Wilber at SLB. It's all about getting the best 3 players on the field.
Inside Linebacker – 3
While nothing changes here, I sure do feel a lot better about this group than I did last week. Rolando McClain led the team in tackles against the Ravens and had a forced-fumble that rolled out of bounds. Most importantly he seemed to be having fun. Justin Durant also looked a lot better this week. Reports from camp have been that he's really playing well. But that didn't translate at all into the Chargers game. Well it did this week. He seemed to be exactly where he was supposed to be during his time on the field with the 1st team defense, which held the Ravens 1st string offense to 10 points.
Defensive Line – 11
Henry Melton DT
Nick Hayden DT
Terrell McClain DT
Davon Coleman DT
DeMarcus Lawrence DE
George Selvie DE
Jeremy Mincey DE
Tyrone Crawford DE/DT
Dartwan Bush DE
Ken Bishop DT
Anthony Spencer DE
Defensive Tackles: No, I did not forget about this weeks Flash Player of The Week Zach Minter. He was outstanding in the 4th quarter. But I have to see it more than once to justify putting him on the 53. I think the rest of the guys you see listed are pretty much locks. Devon Coleman shined once again against the Ravens. I think it's safe to say he has made the 53.
Defensive End: The new addition to the d-line this week is Mr. Dartwan Bush. Much like WR Jamar Newsome, he has combined a good training camp with good games as well. After re-watching the game, he was just everywhere. The strip sack that Minter got was in large part because Bush forced the QB right into his arms. He's earned his spot. That bumped Kenneth Boatright down to the practice squad. Boatright had back-to-back splash plays against the Chargers, but he really had zero impact Saturday and, while I'm not reporting live from training camp, I haven't read anything to suggest he is doing anything special. So shame on me for getting caught up in his flash plays last week.
Offense (23 Players)
Quarterback – 2
No changes here. Romo is obviously fine and while Weeden wasn't as sharp as he was against the Chargers - It's important to note that he was playing with the Cowboys 2's against the Ravens 1's. Despite Hanie looking much better than he did against the Chargers, I just can't fathom a way for the Cowboys to keep 3 QBs.
Running Back – 4
Last week I stated that Murray and Dunbar were the only locks. Well I think it's safe to say Randle can be added to that list after a great showing against the Chargers, and then backing that up with 5.9 YPC against the Ravens. The new addition this week is Ryan Williams. That means the exit of fullback Tyler Clutts. Neither Clutts nor J.C. Copeland have done anything to earn a spot on the 53 man roster. Ryan Williams has done the exact opposite. In both preseason games he has taken advantage of his opportunities. Jason Garrett has kept 4 RBs more than once (including last year), and as it stands right now, I think he does it again.
The first 5 - Bryant, Williams, Beasley, Harris, and Street - have been locks from day one. And if you would have asked me last week, or any week during training camp, I would have told you there was no way the Cowboys can keep 6 WRs. But Jamar Newsome has done exactly what an UDFA has to do to make a team. He's had a great training camp and now he's starting to carry that over into the actual games. He's going to make it very difficult for the coaches to cut him. So I decided to call him up from the Practice Squad.
Tight End – 3
No Changes here. The only thing that comes to my mind is if someone comes up on the waiver wire that can actually run-block. While Escobar and Hanna have both improved on their blocking - neither one of them make me feel all giggly inside when it comes to pushing people back in the run game.
The only change here this week is removing Darrion Weems and adding Uche Nwaneri. Simply put, I have to see you play. And I haven't seen Weems play. He's been injured and as old Parcells used to say, "You can't make the team on the trainers table." Nwaneri, on the other hand, has played. And he's played well enough to keep him on the 53 for extra depth. Also, as much junk as Parnell has taken - and rightfully so - he actually played pretty well against the Ravens. Every one will point to the one play where he almost got Weeden killed but, outside of that, he had a very solid night in both pass and run blocking. At one point, he pulled and was the lead man that led Joseph Randle to a 19-yard gain around the left side. And quite frankly, he's all we've got as a backup swing tackle.
Special Teams – 3
Dan MFN Baily K
LP French Canadian Daddy LS
Chris Jones P
Practice Squad – 8
Tyler Patmon CB
Will Smith LB
Caesar Rayford DE/DT
Kenneth Boatright DE
Dustin Vaughn QB
Chris Boyd WR
Ronald Patrick C/G
John Wetzel G/T
A few changes here. Ben Gardner was moved to IR. Jamar Newsome and Dartwan Bush were called up to the 53 which pushed Caesar Rayford and Kenneth Boatright down. I think the Cowboys risk losing both of these to other teams. They could both easily shine enough in these last 2 preseason games to force me into finding a way to get at least one of them back on the 53.
So there you have it. It's what I think is the best 53 players to take into week 1. Good God, I can't even imagine having to figure out which 46 to make active.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
Week 6 Own by nfl
Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next
Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.
The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.
However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.
As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.
Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.
The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.
The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.
The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.
Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.
If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.
Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.
Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.
Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.
I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.
In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.
Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.
Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.
In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.
If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.
If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.
What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?
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