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Who Will Be The Cowboys 53rd Man?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Who Will Be The Cowboys 53rd Man?
James D. Smith / AP

Training camp has begun and preseason is just around the corner. After weeks of position battles during OTAs and minicamp, things are about to get real once the players put their pads on and begin showing what they're capable of in order to make the roster come cut down day.

Although it isn't exactly a "position battle," the race for the 53rd spot on the roster is always one of the most fun and intriguing stories for each team in the preseason.

The Dallas Cowboys have a ton of legitimate candidates for said spot, and the race for the final place on the roster will continue into the season with David Irving returning until the fifth week of the campaign.

Here are my top candidates for this year's 53rd spot on the roster!

DE Charles Tapper

The Dallas Cowboys' depth at defensive end is definitely an upgrade from last year's. The team added Kony Ealy in free agency and drafted Dorance Armstron in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. But the biggest news at the position is the reinstatement of Randy Gregory.

With Gregory coming back, Tapper's task to make the team did nothing but get harder. Health problems have kept the 25 year-old off the field. With just two career games under his belt, I wonder what his odds are in such a loaded defensive end room.

For him to keep his job, the Cowboys would likely need to carry seven defensive ends to start the season.

Should The Dallas Cowboys Be In The Market For Another RB? 2

Dallas Cowboys RB Darius Jackson (Andrew Dieb / Icon Sportwire)

RB Darius Jackson

Behind Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith will likely be the #2 guy at running back. It seems like Tavon Austin, despite being listed as a running back, will have a different role and will be involved as a pass-catcher and not as a runner.

So who will be behind Smith? The two names that jump out of the page are Bo Scarbrough and Darius Jackson. Just like many in Cowboys Nation, I loved the idea of having Darius in the roster in 2016. However, I'm leaning towards Scarbrough this time.

Even if Bo is on the roster, could one of the fan's favorites pet cats do enough in the preseason to justify carrying a fourth (not including Tavon Austin) running back on the roster? With one of the nation's top running backs starting, it's tough to imagine so.

TE Rico Gathers

The season is getting closer and closer and we still have no clue who will try to fill the shoes of the great Jason Witten. We know there are some candidates that will make the fight for the starting role interesting though.

Rico Gathers would make for one hell of a story, but the hype around him in 2018 isn't close to what it was a couple of years ago. Nothing has changed to make us believe that this time around, Rico will be what the Cowboys thought they could develop with his skill set.

There are many young candidates for the position. Geoff Swaim has the most experience, making him a virtual lock for the roster. The coaching staff clearly likes Blake Jarwin, they proved it by promoting him from the practice squad to the team to keep him safe from the Philadelphia Eagles. Also a potential starter down the road is fourth round rookie Dalton Schultz.

I don't think Rico Gathers is ahead any of these guys. But, if he manages to impress the staff in training camp, he might earn the roster spot. Otherwise, he'll likely be playing elsewhere.

Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary 1

CB Kam Kelly

An undrafted free agent, I like Kam Kelly's chances of making the cut. You see, the team might be set at cornerback with starters Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones and Jourdan Lewis. I expect Anthony Brown and Marquez White to be the team's backups but I won't be surprised if the team decides to carry a sixth cornerback in Kam Kelly.

Kelly is a big guy, and he looks like the CB that Kris Richard wants on his team. The main reason why I think he has a real chance to make the roster is the fact that he'd be able to play safety if needed. This will help the undrafted rookie since the team is very thin at safety.

WR Cedrick Wilson

Finally, my favorite on this list. Sixth-round draft pick Cedrick Wilson was definitely a steal by the Cowboys' front office. He might be the Cowboy with the most to gain in training camp. The Boise State product has experience playing as an "X" receiver, where he lined up last year in college.

Wilson could provide the team with an additional threat on the passing game. He's good at stretching the field and will make a good job as a vertical threat. We all know that despite the young talent the Cowboys have at wide receiver, it's one of the most uncertain positions heading into the season.

Out of everyone on this list, I like Wilson's chances the best. Although he is a sixth-round draft pick, don't be surprised if he ends up with an important role at some point in the season.

Tell me what you think about "Who Will Be The Cowboys 53rd Man?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

Star Blog

Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Brian Martin



Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Like any competitor, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Cole Beasley wants to play and be as heavily involved as possible when the lights come on and the game is on the line. He's become accustomed to to being heavily involved in the game plan, that is until WR Amari Cooper arrived in Dallas.

Since the arrival of Amari Cooper, Cole Beasley has seen his offensive role dramatically reduced. He is no longer Quarterback Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game and it even looks as if he is taken a stumble down the Cowboys WR depth chart. At best, he is their WR3 now behind Cooper and Michael Gallup.

That's quite a fall from grace for a player who was Dallas' top receiver the last few seasons and the most targeted in the first half of this year. I can almost guarantee he's not happy about not being utilized more in the passing game, but he's a team player and will do what it takes to win.

Unfortunately for Beasley, Cooper's arrival has changed the Cowboys offense. He is back to his old role of working the short intermediate routes now with Cooper and Gallup playing on the outside. Because of that his stats have taken a hit. His targets, receptions, and the chance to help his team win has dropped off significantly.

Cole Beasley

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley

In the two games before Cooper joined the team, Beasley had 16 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets. The six games since he only has 17 catches for 138 yards on 26 targets. That's a huge drop in production and has nothing to do with his performance. It's how he's being utilized.

Beasley has been forced to take a backseat in the Cowboys aerial attack. Amari Cooper has been highly targeted, and rightfully so, and Michael Gallup is seeing more passes thrown his way as well. Not to mention, Ezekiel Elliott has been used more as a receiver also.

There are just too many mouths to feed and unfortunately Cole Beasley is the odd man out. The sad thing is, that might not change anytime soon with the way the Cowboys offense is playing right now. It's one of the reasons why they currently have the league's best winning streak going for them.

It's to hard make an argument for Beasley receiving more looks in the passing game with the way the offense is playing, with the exception of in the red zone, but I do believe he needs to be more involved. After all, he is still one of the Cowboys best WRs and can't be covered by anyone in the league one-on-one.

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping things will circle back around and he will once again be more involved in the passing game. His ability to get open is uncanny and it's a shame to not take advantage of that God-given gift.

What do you think, should Cole Beasley start being utilized more?

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Star Blog

Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?

Brian Martin



Will RB Darius Jackson Stick With Cowboys Second Time Around?

I hate to say it because I really like Rod Smith, but I think it may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to reevaluate the running back position as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Smith just hasn't been good this year, which is why I think it may be time to see what Darius Jackson can do if given the opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the Dallas Cowboys move on from Rod Smith or demote him right now, but I would promote Darius Jackson from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance in case something were to happen to Zeke. It just seems the right time to make that move after #21's injury scare Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You may have forgotten, but Ezekiel Elliott had to spend some time in the medical tent Sunday against the Eagles. He was luckily able to return to the game not long after, but it did shine a spotlight on Rod Smith and the lack of depth behind him.

Despite how much I like Rod Smith, and I do, he just hasn't been the same player this season as he was last year as Zeke's fill-in. He is just not running with any kind of authority and has been too apt to run east and west instead of north and south. I think it's one of the reasons why the Cowboys have continued to give Zeke such a heavy workload, despite him being banged up.

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

Now, Rod Smith did look a little better against the Eagles, but I still believe it would be wise for the Cowboys to promote Darius Jackson to the active roster. Having more depth at such a physically demanding position is just smart football.

With the Dallas Cowboys playoff spot all but secured, it might be time to start thinking about lightening Ezekiel Elliott's workload just a little bit. Whether it's Rod Smith or Darius Jackson, the Cowboys have to find someone who can step in and be productive.

Rod Smith has had his opportunities this year, but hasn't really been able to capitalize like we believed he could. It might be time to turn to Darius Jackson, a fan favorite, who unfortunately just hasn't been able to prove what he can do as of yet in a meaningful game. I think it's time we change that.

As much as I like Rod Smith, I might like Darius Jackson just a little bit more. I think he is kind of like a poor man's Ezekiel Elliott. He is just as athletically gifted and can be a threat as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.

There's really no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong about this, but I believe he is worthy of a roster spot on game day if nothing else. I'd rather have him and not need him then need him and not have him.

Do you think it's time to see what Darius Jackson can do?

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Star Blog

Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse



Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

Well don’t look now but the Dallas Cowboys are in control of their division and anything short of a catastrophic collapse will see them hosting the first round of the playoffs. Dallas strengthened their grip on the NFC East by knocking off a divisional rival and the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles.

Those who have a favorite online sportsbook and wagered on the Cowboys were ecstatic to see Dak Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime, thus covering the 3 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung on Dallas.

The Cowboys have now won five consecutive games, with three of those over divisional opponents Philadelphia (twice) and Washington. But before we celebrate, we must consider that there's still a mathematical possibility of either Philadelphia or Washington stealing the division crown away from the Cowboys.

The Giants' only hope is an outside shot at a wildcard berth if they win outright but they've been eliminated from contending for a division title due to their 1-4 record against NFC East teams.

Essentially, all the Cowboys must do is win one of their three remaining games in order to celebrate a division crown. If Philadelphia or Washington loses any of their three games they will be out due to tie breakers that go in the Cowboys’ favor.

As of this moment, the Redskins are a disaster with no one under center to captain their rudderless ship, and the Eagles must defeat the Rams in LA, which would be considered a stunning upset seeing as any reputable online sportsbook is offering the Rams as 9 ½ point favorites as of this writing; then they must win at home against Houston and on the road against the Redskins.

Of course, the Cowboys are counting only on themselves to reel in the division title and with games at Indianapolis, home against the Bucs, and wrapping their season in New Jersey against the Giants, at least one win seems likely.

The addition of Amari Cooper to the Dallas offensive arsenal has been a game-changer as the former Oakland Raider hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner last Sunday against Philadelphia. He was the top-tier receiver Prescott had been lacking and his presence on the field improves both the passing game and running game by virtue of his dynamic playmaking abilities. Ezekiel Elliott has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in four of the six games since Cooper has been on the Cowboys roster.

Furthermore, Dallas has averaged 24.4 points per game over their last five wins with Cooper in the lineup, which is more than five points improved from where they were prior to their winning streak without him in a Dallas uniform.

In addition, Prescott has morphed from a game manager at 202 passing yards per game to a game breaker as evidenced by his 285.7 passing yard average in six games with his new target at his disposal.

Ultimately, the Cowboys will be tasked with turning all of this good mojo into a deep run into the postseason. We can now confidently say that there is one other team to consider besides the Rams, Bears, and Saints as this year’s NFC entrant into the Super Bowl. However, Dak Prescott will need to eliminate turnovers and interceptions if Dallas is truly going to contend against the powerhouses they will face in the playoffs.

Last Sunday, Prescott caught fire in the fourth quarter and ended with 455 yards passing, connecting on 42 of 54 passes with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions were converted into nine points by Philadelphia. As we move forward, Prescott will need to lead right from the get-go and understand that one poor decision can cost his team what is now a realistic shot at a championship season.

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