The Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver battle will be down one player after sixth-round rookie Cedrick Wilson suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday. As the team waits for tests results to determine what it is and how long it will take for him to get back on the football field, the Boise State product is believed to have torn his labrum in practice.
Jerry Jones on Cowboys rookie WR Cedrick Wilson: "He's going to miss some time. He had that [shoulder injury] last year. ... It's a concern. I don't know the degree, but it's the same shoulder. He popped it out and then in the same move, they hit his arm and it popped back in.
Wilson will miss some time but a timetable for a potential return is still unknown. In college, he was able to play through a shoulder injury (the same one that's injured right now) but if he did tore his labrum, surgery might be an option, according to ESPN's Todd Archer.
Even as a sixth-round draftee, Wilson's health will impact the intense battle at the WR depth chart. This year's offseason talk for the Cowboys has been all about the receivers, since the offense will be featuring tons of new faces.
So, what does the rookie's injury means for the receiver's core?
Let's talk about the bottom of the depth chart. Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley are a virtual lock for the top 3 receivers on the team, so they won't really be affected by Wilson's injury. For the sake of this post, let's consider Tavon Austin as a RB, which is how he's listed on the Cowboys' website, even though we expect him to be a pass-catcher. Due to the special "web-back" role the coaches plan to give him, it's fair to assume he has his roster spot locked up.
Prior to his training camp injury, I liked Wilson's chances of making the roster over other receivers. Although he fell to the later rounds of the Draft, he still has the talent to shine in the NFL and I like what he could bring to the offense. I even listed him as my favorite candidate to be the Cowboys' "53rd Man."
Now, with him missing practices, the other young receivers will benefit from his absence. Aside from Gallup, Hurns and Beasley, there are no clear-cut WRs to fill the position's depth chart. Noah Brown, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson and Terrance Williams (whose roster spot I wouldn't say is guaranteed) will get more snaps on training camp and plenty of opportunities to shine under the lights throughout the preseason.
Williams and Brown were on the roster last year, but Lenoir spent the year on the practice squad and could be a darkhorse on the WR battle. Deonte Thompson has turned some heads in training camp and could end up being a more important signing than we thought when he was signed back on March.
If the Cowboys decide to waive Cedrick Wilson and get him on practice squad, they'll risk losing him. Don't be surprised if they count him as one of the 53 in order to designate him to Injured Reserve, just like they did a year ago with Rico Gathers. It would be a wise decision for the team and it would give Wilson an opportunity to contribute down the road.
For now, let's hope the team avoids any other injuries. Right now, only Wilson and OL Chaz Green have been the only ones with health concerns. Injuries are tough to watch, no matter whose name is on the back of the hurt player's jersey. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you on this and all Cowboys' training camp stories.
Cowboys to Use 5th-Year Option on Ezekiel Elliott’s Contract
To nobody's surprise, the Dallas Cowboys intend to exercise the fifth-year option on star Running Back Ezekiel Elliott's contract. This will keep Zeke signed with the Cowboys through the 2020 season.
The deadline for teams to use the options years on the draft class of 2016 is Thursday, May 2nd, just a few days following the 2019 NFL Draft.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on the team eventually exercising the fifth-year option on Ezekiel Elliott's contract: "Obviously we're gonna do it.
It's appropriate that Stephen said "obviously," because there is no reason for the Cowboys not to utilize this provision. It's one of the perks of drafting a player in the first round; the option does not apply to any other rookie deals.
Right now, the 2020 option year projects to pay Elliott around $10 million. That is a bargain considering other franchise backs like Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, and David Johnson are all now averaging $13-$14 million per season.
In fact, it may be more of a discount than Zeke is willing to give. He may very well holdout if the team doesn't give him a new contact closer to his market value.
For all we know, the Cowboys have every intention of doing just that. This move is little more than a formality; a placeholder that prevents Elliott from entering unrestricted free agency in 2020 and secures his rights while a new deal is negotiated.
Connor Williams Adding Size and Strength Huge for Cowboys OL
It's no secret that heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, the book on Connor Williams coming out of Texas was that he didn't have enough length to play tackle in the NFL and didn't have enough bulk to play guard. At least not at first.
It was an issue we saw play out early in the 2018 season as he struggled with some of the more powerful defensive tackles. He struggled so much that the team went to Xavier Su'a-Filo during his injury and for a couple games after he was healthy, thinking they had a better option. After having a bit of time to sit back and watch, Williams came back into the starting lineup with a better feel for that power and was much improved over the last half of the season, including the playoffs. He never relinquished his job again.
Though he played better, it was obvious what his number one offseason focus would be; adding size and strength. According to Dallas Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones, he's done just that.
Speaking to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon, Jones gave us some insight into how Williams is looking this offseason.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on offensive lineman Connor Williams, last year's second round pick: "My understanding is that he's taken some huge steps in terms of his strength and size. My understanding is that he's put on some really good weight.
Jones then added some lofty expectations on the second year guard from the University of Texas.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan: "I think Connor Williams is gonna be a mainstay in our offensive line for many years to come. ... I think we'll be talking about him just like we do several of the other players on our offensive line.
Connor Williams was already proving himself capable of standing up to powerful defensive lineman as late in the season and in the playoffs, but this is very encouraging to hear as we look to 2019.
Against the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams, Williams and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys interior offensive line had big challenges in front of them. Seattle's Jarran Reed and Los Angeles' Aaron Donald were two of the better defensive tackles in 2018. Donald, is considered by many, the best defensive player in the NFL because of his brute strength that is matched by his quickness.
Against both players, Williams performed well. Not perfect, but well enough to be encouraged about what Williams could bring in 2019. Per Pro Football Focus, he only allowed five total pressures during the playoffs, including one in the divisional round against the Rams. There's a reason that everyone is so high on Williams heading into his second year.
The front office included.
Stephen Jones praise is significant. The Dallas Cowboys feature three All-Pro offensive lineman. To say that "we'll be talking about him just like we do several of the other players on our offensive line" is very high praise. There aren't many teams in the NFL that boast as much talent along the offensive line as the Dallas Cowboys do in Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick. For Jones to think Williams cold be that level of player doesn't sound like generic front office speak.
With a full year under his belt, including two playoff starts, Williams should be confident heading into his second year. Adding strength and weight will help him anchor better against the strong interiors he'll face weekly in the NFL. Getting Center Travis Frederick back in the lineup will help him with the mental aspect of the game.
There's a lot to be excited about with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and the offensive line remains one of those things. How Connor Williams improves from year one to year two will be one of the major storylines throughout the offseason heading toward week one. The Cowboys offensive line remains a focal point for America's Team and all eyes will be on Williams as he looks to make the second year jump.
La’el Collins Has Surgery Ahead of Contract Year
The list of injured Dallas Cowboys players getting surgery keeps getting larger. DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will welcome La'el Collins to the "surgery recovery" group chat after Collins had a procedure to repair a torn rotator cuff. According to the report from Forth-Worth Star Telegram, Collins suffered the injury at the end of the 2018 season.
La'el Collins expects to be ready for training camp, but don't expect much from him in the upcoming offseason program.
For Collins, this is a very meaningful season. At 25 years old, he's heading into a contract year in 2019. So far, his career has been decent at best. He began playing at guard, where he showed some pretty impressive flashes before moving to right tackle, where he's started since 2017.
Even before it was reported that he would have surgery, many in Cowboys Nation have wondered about his future. The truth is, since he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015, his career hasn't lived up to the hype. Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, an off-the-field misunderstanding made every team pass on him. However, he was seen by many as a top prospect in the class and was a projected first round pick.
Although he improved when Marc Colombo took over as the OL coach, Collins has struggled during his time at right tackle. At this point, he hasn't earned a long term deal.
Right now, the Cowboys should see offensive tackle as a need in the NFL Draft. Not a priority one, but definitely one to watch out for in the later rounds. Tyron Smith is 28 years old, but his injury history doesn't look promising at all. I can definitely see this team addressing the lack of depth at the position at some point in Day 3.
This whole discussion raises yet another question. Would the Cowboys trade La'el Collins? I don't think it would happen, but it doesn't sound like a terrible idea either. At the moment, Cameron Fleming is on the roster and he isn't a bad starter. Now granted, he might be a downgrade from Collins. However, if you're able to get a good draft pick in exchange, it's worth considering. Use Fleming as a bridge player between for a younger one down the line.
Connor Williams could also move over to tackle, although I doubt they want to try experiments like this with a young player just like they did with La'el Collins. Let Williams grow as a guard and keep him there.
La'el Collins or not, the Cowboys have a need at offensive tackle and Collins' makes it even more evident. The good news is he expects to be back by training camp and doesn't seem like a huge question mark for week 1 as DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones do.
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