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Who’s Bound for the Practice Squad in 2017?

John Williams

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Scouting Newly-Signed Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir 2

Only 53 roster spots are available for the 90 players that will be going to training camp. After the 53 roster spots are handed out, a player’s best hope then lies with the 10 practice squad slots.

Jeanna Thomas from SB Nation put together the practice squad rules in September of last year. Here’s the gist of who can be on the practice squad.

  • Each team can keep 10 players on its practice squad.
  • Up to four of those 10 players can have two accrued NFL seasons. So, was a player on the 53-man roster for at least six games of two NFL seasons? Sorry, they’re out of luck.
  • It used to be that three weeks of an NFL season spent on a practice squad counted as one full season of practice squad eligibility. Now, that number has been increased to six weeks, which expands some players’ eligibility.
  • A player can spend no more than three seasons on any practice squad.

Jeanna Thomas, SB Nation

So with that, who are the 10 players most likely to be on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad?

Could Noah Brown Have A Big Role As A Rookie?

1. Noah Brown, Wide Receiver

Let me start off by saying that I love the potential that Noah Brown brings to the table. I think his blocking in the run game gives him an outside shot to make the roster week one.

With Dez-like athletic ability and that blocking technique, he will have a future in the NFL. He would be the best bet to be called up during the season if a player like Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, or Brice Butler gets hurt as he can fill that outside receiver role.

The Dallas Cowboys are already pretty deep at wide receiver, it makes sense to me that Brown would start the season on the Practice Squad.

2. Cooper Rush, Quarterback

The Dallas Cowboys love to keep a developmental quarterback on the practice squad just to see what they have. We saw them do this with Jameill Showers before moving him to safety.

It’s unlikely that Cooper Rush will be a backup on the active roster, so he makes a lot of sense for the practice squad.

3. Jordan Carrell, Defensive Tackle

Defensive tackle on the Cowboys roster is actually fairly deep. With Cedric Thornton and Stephen Paea in front of him at the 1-technique, and Maliek Collins able to help out there too, it leaves little room for rookie Jordan Carrell.

Carrell is a prospect that the team is excited about, but the numbers game will leave him out of the mix for a roster spot.

4. Joey Ivie, Defensive Tackle

Like Carrell, Joey Ivie will likely be squeezed off the active roster and onto the practice squad because of the depth on the defensive line and the versatility of players like Tyrone Crawford and David Irving, who can play both inside and outside.

Ivie was productive in his limited role at Florida, but may need some more seasoning. What better way to grow than to go against the Dallas offensive line as a scout team player.

Cowboys Draft: Scouting 6th Round CB Marquez White 1

5. Marquez White, Cornerback

A sixth round draft pick in 2017 out of Florida State, any other year in the last decade, White might have had a chance to compete for a roster spot. The 2017 Cowboys cornerback group is insanely deep.

There are five guys who could start on the inside or outside for this team in 2017. When was the last time we said that?

White has great athletic ability and will be a player in this game, but may need some time to marinate with the practice squad before being thrown in against NFL caliber wide receivers.

6. Andy Jones, Wide Receiver

Many were intrigued by the ability of Andy Jones during training camp of 2016. Early on he was making plays and had been a favorite target of Tony Romo.

He faded in the preseason games and down the stretch of training camp. Likely to be pushed off the roster because of the depth at his position, Jones will make for a solid practice squad stash again in 2017.

7. Lance Lenoir, Wide Receiver

Already making some noise in OTAs, undrafted rookie free agent, Lance Lenoir is a long shot to make the active roster. He will probably be a training camp darling like Andy Jones was last year, but there won’t be enough room for him with the depth that the Cowboys have at wide receiver.

8. Nate Theaker, Guard

The team’s bread and butter right now is up front on the offensive line, so Dallas will keep offensive lineman on the practice squad to develop.

Theaker played at a small school, but has enough ability that the Cowboys will bring him to camp. He’s unlikely to break into a backup role on the 53 man roster, but like most practice squad players, he has some potential. He’ll have to show enough during the preseason games to warrant keeping him on the practice squad.

9. Dan Skipper, Tackle

Dan Skipper is the tallest player in the NFL. Size does matter, but at what point is it too much size? With Skipper the Cowboys will find out.

Skipper’s experience at both tackle spots makes him an intriguing prospect as a future swing tackle. However, like with Theaker, the team’s depth on the offensive line is going to push Skipper off the roster.

10. Lucas Wacha, Linebacker

Lucas Wacha, the rookie out of Wyoming, made some noise at the rookie minicamp.

From Bryan Broaddus’ notes.

“Wyoming linebacker Lucas Wacha was super active on tape this past season. I would keep an eye on him as a possible weakside nickel linebacker in this scheme. His coverage skill and awareness give him a shot to play a couple of different roles, which might help him make this team undrafted.”

Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com

He may have a shot to make the team, but to me it’s a long shot.

~~~

The depth of this team is going to make it highly unlikely for any of the undrafted free agents to make the team. Even a couple of the draft picks in Brown and White are going to have an uphill battle.

There’s certainly a long way to go to get to September when the practice squad is announced, but as we look at players during training camp, it’s important to have a realistic view of where they will end up with the team.

Questions still need to be answered at several positions on the team, but the one thing that is evident is that the 2017 Dallas Cowboys are deep.

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I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

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9 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    I think this is a pretty good hack at this but I would be surprised if Noah Brown makes it to the PS. With his size, blocking prowess, and pedigree someone who pick him up. I think another guy to watch will be Joe Jones, the LB out of Northwestern. Also, one of my dark horse candidates to make the 53 is Ivie. I know the deck is stacked against him but I love everything about the guy.

    • John Williams

      Yeah. Noah Brown was my pick to be the 5th wide receiver a few months ago, but have since mad him probably the 6th wide receiver on the depth chart.

      If he has a strong preseason, i could see them going long at WR to be able to fit Dez, TWill, Bease, Switz, and Brown.

      I also love what Brown will bring to the table.

      Ivie seems to have some ability, but again with he and Carrell more the 1-tech role, they would have to flat outplay Thornton and Paea to make the roster. The team is just deep at DT.

      With the news about Wilson coming out today, LB is a place where there is a little space now. Jones or Wacha may have a shot to fill that spot, and if Jaylon isn’t ready, there may be two spots available.

  • Jess Haynie

    Good list, John. I think you have one-too-many WRs on it, though. Even if none of those guys make the active roster, three WRs seems like a lot on the practice squad. I think I’d dump one of them for rookie RB Jahad Thomas, or some other RB. I project Dallas will have just Zeke, McFadden, and Rod Smith on the 53 so at least one RB on the practice squad seems like a necessity.

    • John Williams

      Yeah, I see your point there. In writing this, I considered Thomas, but think he sneaks onto the Active roster as the 53rd guy.

      • John Williams

        Maybe my next projection will include guys who would practice squad considerations that I think will make the roster.

  • Kevin Black

    Yeah, Brown won’t be on the Practice Squad. He’d never make it through waivers. He’ll be the 53rd man most likely.

    • John Williams

      Then it becomes the question. Are you keeping six WRs, cause you are going to have to.

      • Kevin Black

        On my hypothetical 53, I’m keeping 6. I’m also keeping 4 safeties and 6 corners.

        • John Williams

          I could see all of that happening. With Awuzie and Lewis having some experience at Safety, you could go that route in a pinch.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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