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What Stood Out from Dallas Cowboys 1st Training Camp Press Conference

Sean Martin

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What Stood Out from Dallas Cowboys 1st Training Camp Press Conference

The Dallas Cowboys will be on the field today for their first official practice of this year's training camp. To set the stage for 2018 in Oxnard, Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett fielded questions for over 45 minutes at the Cowboys opening press conference yesterday.

While this is truly just the start of being able to discuss what stands out from the team each day, here are some initial highlights of the Cowboys first press conference.

Coaching Improvements

Though the three Cowboys representatives on the podium yesterday were far from new faces, the team will feature plenty of these on the field this season.

Six new positional coaches and a new ST Coordinator in Keith O'Quinn will work under Jason Garrett, who calls himself a "work in progress" along with the rest of his team.

Entering his eighth full season, many members of the media feel that Garrett's Cowboys must progress into the playoffs for him to continue as the head coach in Dallas, but Jerry Jones firmly assured this isn't the case.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Is this a playoff-or-bust year for Jason Garrett? Jerry Jones: "No.

Doubling down on this confidence in Garrett by calling him a, "better coach than he was a year ago", Jones is "excited" for Jason to lead this team once again. Hopefully part of that excitement stems from the amount of young players that are not already embedded on Garrett's message, giving him a clean start with so many key starters.

Of course, this exact same thinking applies even more so to the Cowboys new assistants, making up a coaching staff that is Jerry's, "number one reason for excitement this year".

Missing Pieces on Defense, But Still Deep

It wouldn't be a welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp without talking about the players that aren't here in Oxnard. David Irving is the only notable name on this list (and for good reason), although Garrett did inform the media that Randy Gregory didn't participate in the team's conditioning test yesterday.

Garrett does not expect Gregory -- who the Cowboys say is preparing to play at a current weight of 242 pounds -- to do much early in camp. Just having him with the team is a morale boost for the Cowboys. Part of Gregory's extensive reinstatement effort were letters to Commissioner Goodell by Sean Lee, Jeff Heath, and Tyrone Crawford.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jerry Jones says the team is proud that Randy Gregory is here at camp now that his suspension has been lifted. #cowboyswire

A steady program that gets Gregory back on the field when the games matter is best for all parties involved here.

This includes a very patient Jerry Jones, who already deemed the Cowboys front seven on defense as "exciting" on "the first day of training camp". Mentioning both Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, it's hard to argue with this being the case for a Dallas team at full strength.

A front seven that welcomes back Irving and Sean Lee along with Jaylon Smith and first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch is as promising a group as Rod Marinelli has had in four years as the Cowboys defensive coordinator.

No Progress on Earl Thomas

The Seattle Seahawks hold their training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, located in Renton, Washington. This puts a Seattle team without Earl Thomas (holding out) some 1,140 miles from the Cowboys contingency in Oxnard, and this is still the closest the two sides have been to a blockbuster trade involving the All-Pro safety since the NFL Draft.

If given the choice again, I firmly believe the Cowboys would still pick Connor Williams over Earl Thomas, which is exactly what they did when choosing to stick with the 50th overall pick. The rookie out of Texas will get the first crack at a starting left guard job abandoned by Jonathan Cooper in free agency.

As mentioned, there will annually be an obsession with players that aren't with the Cowboys around this time, and Thomas' constant pleas to leave the Seahawks and join the Cowboys is more than enough fuel to keep this fire burning well after training camp.

If the Cowboys leave Oxnard with any added buzz at the safety position though, it's far more likely it comes from Xavier Woods. Giving Thomas' former secondary coach Kris Richard a chance to work with Woods and the rest of the Cowboys safeties would be the smart approach.

Even Stephen Jones, who did not speak much during this press conference, said that "we all know Xavier Woods did a lot of impressive things last year". I'd love to follow up with Stephen and ask who's included in "we" here.

Calls for the Cowboys to do whatever it takes to land Thomas are going nowhere, but so too is the needle on any drastic changes anywhere on this Cowboys roster. They feel great about the state of this young roster, and as previously mentioned the coaching staff too.

That leaves little margin for the Cowboys to match the Seahawks level of desperation in shipping away Thomas for more young pieces of their own, with the safety's holdout being noteworthy only for the team responsible for keeping Dallas out of the playoffs a year ago.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys are running blood tests on S Kavon Frazier for a potential disorder that impacts clotting. Those tests will help determine if the condition can be managed by medication.

To a fault, the Cowboys have been overconfident in their own players before, and the need for experience at safety was only heightened hours after this press conference with the news that Kavon Frazier was placed on the NFI list while being examined for a blood clotting disorder.

Earl Thomas is far from the type of player they'll need to target if back in the market for a safety soon, and its hard for anyone close to Kris Richard to not propel the same optimism he has for every member of the Cowboys secondary already suiting up today.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Lastly, if I may for a moment -- this will be my fourth training camp covering the Cowboys here at Inside The Star. Simply writing that out leaves me speechless, although that won't be the case on these pages over the coming weeks and straight into the 2018 season.

To all of you that make it possible for me to do what I love, a sincere thank you is in order simply for triumphing through another offseason. We can celebrate the return of football together, which I am honored to do annually with the responsibility given to me by our amazing staff.

The Cowboys begin their first practice at 6 PM CT tonight, with a Jason Garrett press conference scheduled for 2 PM.

Tell us what you think about "What Stood Out from Dallas Cowboys 1st Training Camp Press Conference" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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