Training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is officially over and everyone has left Oxnard, California to return home for the second preseason game tonight against the Miami Dolphins.
Per usual, training camp practices where packed full of positives and negatives, which leaves all of us Cowboys fans a little in the dark as to what the team will look like once the NFL season finally kicks off. Fortunately though, I'm one of those people that looks at the glass half full and tends to focus more on the positives rather than the negatives.
One of the reoccurring storylines that caught my attention coming out of training camp practices was how well Morris Claiborne has been playing. That really got me wondering whether or not he can carry that over into the 2016 season.
I don't know what it is that has seemed to inspire Claiborne, but I absolutely LOVE what I am hearing.
This new attitude or renewed focus seemed to start right before training camp when he took to twitter and asked his fellow teammate, Dez Bryant, to hold him accountable.
Training camp time @DezBryant hold me accountable!! All in
I don't know if it's just me or if I'm trying to read too much into it, but this one single tweet seemed to build a stronger bond between Claiborne and Bryant. That bond really seems to have brought out the competitiveness in both players and it was the battle that ensued between the two that had all eyes on them throughout their time in Oxnard.
Morris Claiborne shared with all of us an example of that mutual respect and bond once again via twitter.
I don't know about you, but I think both Morris Claiborne and Dez Bryant will perform better in 2016 because they mutually decided to hold each other accountable in training camp and challenged one another each and every day throughout these practices.
Claiborne has faced a lot of scrutiny throughout his first four years in the NFL, and rightfully so considering that he was drafted so highly and has struggled to remain healthy. But it looks as if things are finally starting to come full circle and he's ready to live up to his full potential.
Injuries have been a large part of his struggles, but he hasn't suffered any bumps or bruises (knock on wood) so far and that could be a big reason why he's performing so well.
In fact, he's even gotten the better of Dez Bryant several times and that's something that can't be overlooked when you consider the fact that Bryant is one of the more dominant wide receivers in the entire NFL.
If you don't believe me, maybe you'll take Morris Claiborne's word for it.
Last day of camp 3weeks of s**t talking and competing with 88 have definitely made me better
I find these series of tweets from Morris Claiborne encouraging. Again, I may be reading too much into it, but I really think he has a renewed focus and attitude that we will see carry over into the 2016 season.
Of course, I wasn't there personally to witness how he was performing. I have to rely on the people that are actually witnessing these practices firsthand. The Staff Writers for the Dallas Cowboys have been there through it all and put together a list of the top 10 standouts in training camp.
I bet you can't guess where Morris Claiborne landed on that list?
"1. Morris Claiborne -This probably comes down to expectations. But don't forget, not many people even expected Claiborne to be a training camp with the Cowboys after last year. Not only did he sign a new deal for the season, but he showed up every day. Three words to best describe Claiborne for this camp would be consistent, healthy and confident. We knew he had the talent all along but adding those other three factors made him a steady force at the cornerback position during camp. His battles with Dez were some of the most entertaining aspects of camp."
To be identified as a top standout in training camp with a team that is as talented as the Dallas Cowboys should at the very least suggest that we might see a different Morris Claiborne in 2016.
I know that I'm starting to buy in, but I will just let Claiborne speak for himself.
It looks to me that he has Eye Of The (LSU) Tiger. Too corny?
Do you think Morris Claiborne's renewed focus will pay off in 2016?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to provide your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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