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Will DT Stephen Paea Becomes This Year’s Cedric Thornton?

Sean Martin

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In early March, the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran defensive tackle Stephen Paea - seemingly replacing the starting 1T DT from 2016 in a finally healthy Terrell McClain. McClain's 40 tackles and 2.5 sacks with the Cowboys earned him a new contract with the rival Redskins, and also made last year's free agent signing of the Eagles' Cedric Thornton seemingly pointless.

Thornton had his flashes, but the converted 3-4 defensive lineman that is under contract through 2019 saw just 27.5% of the team's defensive snaps on the season over 13 games played.

The production from the interior of Rod Marinelli's defensive front still remained a strength for the Cowboys thanks to a rookie 3T in Maliek Collins, McClain, and the freak-of-nature David Irving. Now, the pressure is on this unit to produce with Thornton potentially having to assume a larger and unearned role - or with a 29-year-old Stephen Paea.

Stephen Paea Brings Tenacity, Run Defense to the Cowboys [Film Review]

As you'll see in my scouting report on Paea above, there are certainly things for Cowboys Nation to be excited about should he rightfully take Cedric Thornton off the field and play the majority of the snaps for Marinelli as a "space eater" alongside Maliek Collins. This was Stephen's role back in 2011 under Rod's Chicago Bears - coming up with a career high six sacks.

There are plenty of potential downsides to what Stephen Paea will ultimately become for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 though, as Cedric Thornton could further his adjustment into this new scheme and essentially mitigate the role of a similar player behind him, exactly as McClain did to Thornton this season.

Fellow Staff Writer Kevin Brady looked at the potential for Dallas' defensive line moving forward should Thornton regain his Philadelphia form right here, and it can be exciting when matching a statement like this to the memorable (albeit rare) plays Thornton made in 2016:

If he can re-gain his Philadelphia form, and fellow defensive lineman David Irving can become more consistent in his own play, this defensive line can become a strength on the defense.

On paper, it appears that the Cowboys have more questions than answers when it comes to their 2017 starter at the 1T DT position, despite signing a clear replacement to their previous starter here.

The intensity of training camp will make the sorting out of the Cowboys' depth chart a lot more clear - and fun - as Cedric Thornton should be pushed to cut into Stephen Paea's playing time by all means necessary. If this becomes a good problem for Jason Garrett to deal with, than we'll surely see a refreshed Paea playing on early running downs and being disruptive.

Will DT Stephen Paea Becomes This Year's Cedric Thornton?

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Cedric Thornton (92) celebrates in front of Minnesota Vikings center Nick Easton, right, after a sack during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

If not, I'll be keeping a very close eye on these two players through the summer. The 1T DT on the Cowboys may not be the piece that puts them over the top for a Super Bowl run this year, but it is a critically important component to a defensive line that needs all of the assured and consistent play making ability it can find.

Neither Paea nor Thornton have made enough plays consistent with where the Cowboys defense wants to be in 2017 to confidently project as a starter right now, but finding roles for either both players or just the right one is going to be something to sort out very soon.

Tell us what you think about "Will DT Stephen Paea Becomes This Year’s Cedric Thornton?" 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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Star Blog

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Schedule Predictions Ahead Of Wednesday’s Release

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Wednesday night the official 2019 NFL schedule will be released, and we will know the exact times and dates of each of the Cowboys' upcoming games.

We already know the opponents, however, and we know how the NFL typically likes to schedule games week to week. Based on both prior history and future opponents, here are 3 predictions for tonight's schedule release.

1. Cowboys Open Up With The Giants

I didn't say the predictions would be bold, did I?

The NFL loves to have the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants, and I see that being the case here again. Dallas/New York will always bring about solid ratings, but scheduling this game before the Giants (likely) fall out of contention is a smart move as well.

This game will be in Dallas at 4:25 eastern time, occupying that "America's Game of the Week" slot during the opening weekend. Because as much as everyone says they hate watching these NFC East games, the numbers bear out a different story.

2. Cowboys Play @ Saints Thursday After Thanksgiving

We know the Cowboys will play in an extra Thursday or Saturday night game this season. They always do.

Lately the league has liked to schedule them as the Thursday night game following Thanksgiving, and I don't see them breaking  that trend this season. Dallas has played the Vikings, Redskins, and Saints in this game the last three years, with the Cowboys/Saints game being one of the best of last year's Thursday slate.

Why not run it back at the Superdome this November?

3. Cowboys Close The Season With A Brutal December

This is broad prediction, so let's narrow it down a bit. I think the Cowboys will play three critical NFC games in December, at the very least. These games will include NFC East battles with the Washington Redskins (week 17) and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a game at Chicago to face the Bears.

It's likely the Cowboys, Bears, and Eagles will be fighting for playoff positioning (or playoff births) down the stretch in December. Plus, anytime a combination of these three teams play, ratings will be drawn. I think they'll have Prescott battle Mitchell Trubisky and Carson Wentz this December, as he and the Cowboys look to clinch a consecutive playoff birth.



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Cowboys en Español: Lawrence Extendido, ¿Sigue Prescott?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It's Not So Easy To Move On

La saga más importante en este offseason de los Dallas Cowboys llegó a su fin la semana pasada cuando DeMarcus Lawrence por fin firmó su extensión. Tras semanas de estar en un "punto muerto" en las negociaciones, se reportó que ambas partes habían retomado las pláticas el viernes pasado y el mismo día se anunció el trato.

El ala defensiva de 27 años consiguió un contrato de cinco años y 105 millones de dólares. Esto convierte a Lawrence en el tercer defensivo mejor pagado de la liga en promedio por año, detrás solo de Khalil Mack y Aaron Donald. Con 21 millones anuales, muchos no están de acuerdo con pagarle esta cantidad de dinero a un defensivo como D-Law.

Es entendible, dado que nunca es fácil hacer a un jugador uno de los mejores pagados en la liga. Sin embargo, DeMarcus Lawrence lo vale. Pidió dinero del calibre de Von Miller y otros defensivos elite porque ha producido a ese nivel.

DeMarcus Lawrence Has the Leverage in Cowboys Contract Talks

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

No sólo eso, sino que realmente se ha perfilado como el mejor en su posición contra el juego terrestre. El valor que aporta al equipo logra justificar lo que se le pagará. Además, la estructura del contrato realmente ata al equipo solo por tres años a Lawrence. Esto es una victoria para la administración de los Jones.

¿Quién Sigue? Dak Prescott.

Como bien sabemos, DeMarcus Lawrence no era el único jugador que necesitaba recibir una extensión. Pero ahora que está fuera de los quehaceres, Dak Prescott es el centro de atención en Dallas.

En sus primeros tres años en la NFL, los Cowboys han ganado dos veces el título de la NFC East. Ha demostrado ser un líder capaz de dirigir al equipo y ganar en los momentos importantes. De hecho, Prescott es el quarterback con más series ganadoras desde el 2016, cuando entró a la liga. Por si fuera poco, ningún mariscal de campo ha conseguido tantas series así en sus primeras tres temporadas.

NFL Research on Twitter

DallasCowboys QB Dak Prescott * Most game-winning drives (14) since 2016 * Most game-winning drives in first 3 seasons (14) of any QB since 1950 @dallascowboys @dak

Y no hay que confundirnos. La pregunta no es si lo van a extender o no. La pregunta es: ¿Cuánto le van a pagar al quarterback de 25 años? Sabemos que la administración confía plenamente en Dak para ser el futuro. Le van a pagar. Para darnos una idea, veamos los mejores pagados actualmente según Over The Cap (en promedio por año):

  • Aaron Rodgers - $33.5M
  • Matt Ryan - $30M
  • Kirk Cousins - $28M
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - $27.5M
  • Matt Stafford - $27M

Muchos ven a Dak como un jugador que merece menos de 25 millones al año, pero no es así como funciona el mercado. A mi parecer, el contrato no bajará de 25 y se acercará a los 30 al año. ¿Mucho? Quizá. Pero en esta liga, si te quieres quedar con un mariscal franquicia, tienes que pagarle bastante para evitar que llegue a la agencia libre.

Y sí, Prescott sigue bajo contrato en 2019 pero la extensión seguramente vendrá antes. El valor por un QB sube cada año al igual que todas las posiciones y con un jugador como Patrick Mahomes en la AFC, habrá un brinco considerable el próximo offseason.

Cuando Prescott firme una extensión, habrá mucha división entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Personalmente, veo a Dak como un jugador franquicia. Por ahora, estemos contentos porque Lawrence se queda en casa.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Lawrence Extendido, ¿Sigue Prescott?" 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!



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Cowboys Come Out In Full Force To Support Dirk Nowitzki In His Final Home Game

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Come Out In Full Force To Support Dirk Nowitzki In His Final Game

Last night was a major one in the NBA, with two legends and future Hall of Famers playing in their last respective home games. Of course, the legend which means the most to Dallas-area sports fans is Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki, who gave a teary-eyed farewell to the Dallas faithful on Tuesday night, finally admitting "it's time."

It's no secret that Nowitzki has been supportive of all DFW teams while apart of the Mavs organization, and last night the Cowboys returned the favor, showing up in full force to support Nowitzki in his final game.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Dallas Cowboys at tonight's Mavericks game: Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Jeff Heath, Travis Frederick, La'el Collins, Randall Cobb, Allen Hurns, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Tavon Austin https://t.co/546B30dqPY

A collection of players, including Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Sean Lee joined head coach Jason Garrett in a luxury box to enjoy the game and show their support of the Mavs legend.

Dirk Nowitzki put up 30 points and 8 rebounds in the Mavericks 120-109 win, an excellent way for the future Hall of Famer and fan favorite to go out in front of his home fans.



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