The Dallas Cowboys kicked off their mini-camp practices yesterday and the good news is that they nearly had perfect attendance, including a couple of players that decided to skip organized team activities (OTA's) earlier this off-season.
Disgruntled offensive guard Ronald Leary asked for a trade from the Cowboys earlier in the off-season after learning that he will most likely be regulated to backup duties in 2016, but despite his trade request he was in attendance for the mandatory mini-camp.
Linebacker Rolando McClain also made an appearance for the kickoff of these mini-camp practices after he decided to skip OTA's in order to deal with some family issues back in Alabama.
The attendance of these two players is encouraging because despite their status on the team, both players are valuable to the organization whether as a backup or as a starter.
Unfortunately, it seems every time there is some good news, there is some bad news to accompany it.
Cowboys RB Darren McFadden suffered a broken elbow in a home accident & will have surgery today. Should be back by the end of training camp
This could possibly be really bad news for Darren McFadden and his chances to stick with the Cowboys for the upcoming 2016 season.
The end of training camp is a long ways away and that is still a lot of time to miss in hopes of being ready for the start of the season. Of course, that's if there aren't any setbacks with his recovery.
It gives other players the to chance to step up and prove their worth, and it puts McFadden at a disadvantage of not being able to practice and get into football shape for the upcoming season.
The Cowboys truly value McFadden's veteran experience and his leadership qualities. He has already taken rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott under his wing and tried to show him the ropes.
McFadden can still offer up his knowledge to Elliott, but it will have to be from the sidelines instead of on the actual field.
McFadden's injury opens the door for former Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris and sixth round draft pick Darius Jackson to prove that they are better options then McFadden and that they are worth keeping around.
The Dallas Cowboys knew that when they signed McFadden that he had his fair share of injuries throughout his NFL career, but this particular injury had absolutely zero to do with football. It was just a freak accident, but an accident that could be extremely costly for both McFadden and the Cowboys.
Cowboys RBs coach Gary Brown said Darren McFadden fell Memorial Day weekend on his right elbow trying to keep from dropping his cell phone.
Really? I can't really fathom how McFadden managed to break his elbow because he was trying to keep his cell phone from dropping.
I mean, was he on a second story balcony and jumped off landing directly on his elbow?
No matter how it happened, McFadden's job may now be in jeopardy if the other running backs can distance themselves from him.
The fact the matter is, that McFadden was never really the best fit in the Cowboys zone blocking scheme, but he still managed to finished fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1089 rushing yards.
Now, you can contribute that to the Cowboys impressive offensive line or you can just try to give credit where credit is due and say that McFadden had a really good season. Of course, it could be a little bit of both.
I've said all along that I think it will ultimately come down to either Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden when it comes to final roster cuts. I just can't really see a scenario where the Cowboys can afford the luxury of keeping two veteran running backs, especially when neither one of them contribute on special teams.
Unfortunately, that means that the writing may just be on the wall and that McFadden's time with the Cowboys maybe coming to an end.
Do you think Darren McFadden's job is in jeopardy due to his latest injury?
Please for free to use the comment section below to add your thoughts and opinions so that we can discuss this topic further.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
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