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What’s Next for Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys en Español: El Futuro de David Irving y DeMarcus Lawrence
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

DeMarcus Lawrence was among the leagues best pass rushers a season ago for the Dallas Cowboys, producing 14.5 sacks to finish third in the league to Chandler Jones and Calais Campbell. With Campbell's career output coming in his tenth season and Jones leading the league in sacks as a six-year veteran, Lawrence's outburst in the final year of his rookie contract provides plenty of optimism for his future in Dallas -- despite it being long-awaited from the Cowboys.

Lawrence will play under the franchise tag in 2018. The Cowboys are optimistic that a long-term deal will get done with their top pass rusher, but are more so asking Lawrence to prove that last season was no oddity before backing up the Brinks truck.

Feeling that he can only earn more money with a continued effort to put injuries behind him and live up to his draft status as the 34th overall pick, Lawrence can become the first Cowboys defender since 2010-11 to record double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons.

Of course, this sampling of future Hall of Fame Defensive End DeMarcus Ware's career with the Cowboys is nothing too out of the ordinary. His rookie year being the only exception, Ware had at least 10 sacks every year in Dallas from 2006-2012. Ware lost this streak in 2013 in just 13 games for the Cowboys, signing with the Denver Broncos next season.

Just how well the Cowboys are going to handle high expectations with a very young roster seems to be this season's most pressing question. The answer is both simple and helplessly complex. The Cowboys will be relying on any proven players to continue in their progression, most of which working with new position coaches.

DeMarcus Lawrence has to top this list for the Cowboys, as the rest of their talented defensive line will only fall into place should Lawrence be a consistent force from the strong side.

A complete player in 2017, Lawrence was a stunningly efficient pass rusher with elite technique to beat opposing right tackles with ease and get to the quarterback. These massive strides for a healthy Tank Lawrence are the biggest reason Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys can expect to field a stout defense in support of a patented ball control offense.

Covering the changes the Cowboys have made on offense is well beyond the scope of this article, but not lost to Lawrence and his camp seeking a new contract are the corresponding changes around Lawrence at both defensive tackle and end.

What's Next for Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018?

Lawrence himself spoke to the importance of the Cowboys 3T-DT position last season, a starting spot that belonged to Maliek Collins at the time. Seemingly long gone are these days though, as Collins finished the season as the Cowboys one technique and opened the door for David Irving to start alongside Lawrence.

With the Cowboys now preparing for Oxnard, they'll be without Collins in any capacity for a while, as he deals with a second broken foot in three years. Irving is also starting 2018 with another four game suspension, turning the Cowboys depth at DT from a strength to an overall team weakness.

This cannot be an excuse for DeMarcus Lawrence, nor would he want it to be. There's a reason the Cowboys have been noncommittal to Irving (with Collins still on his rookie contract), while already laying the groundwork for Lawrence to earn a lucrative deal next summer -- at the latest.

As mentioned, the Cowboys sweeping changes across their coaching staff has already had a positive impact on the growth of several key players. With Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli specializing in DL play however, this is a group that remains unchanged from a coaching perspective.

Marinelli's patented rotation with his front four has all the numbers it needs to deploy one of the best units the Cowboys have fielded in years. One player that shouldn't be coming off the field much is DeMarcus Lawrence.

Whether or not this is a sack artist just getting started in the silver and blue or one that will reach his peak at an inopportune time is a defining question for the Cowboys in 2018. Missing the playoffs at 9-7 to effectively "waste" Lawrence's dominant 2017 stretch could be all the fuel Tank needs to push on into another contract year, or yet another example of the Cowboys never quite putting it all together.

There were just three edge rushers drafted before DeMarcus Lawrence in 2014. Only fifth overall pick Khalil Mack has put up a better season that Lawrence's 2017, following up 15 sacks in 2015 with 11 the following year and 10.5 last season.

The Cowboys drafting well is nothing new, and all indications is that they're patience with Lawrence is about to be an example of this for year's to come.

Tell us what you think about "What’s Next for Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018?" 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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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room

Sean Martin

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line

The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.

Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.

Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp

What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.

The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.

Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.

To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.

Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.

If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.

Tell us what you think about "Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles

Jess Haynie

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Leighton Vander Esch
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX

This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.

The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.

A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.

If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.



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Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.

Mark Lane on Twitter

Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.

Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.

As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are  many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.

Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.

Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.

It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.

Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.



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