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Will Rod Smith Be The Surprise Ezekiel Elliott Replacement?

Brian Martin

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Should Rod Smith Start In Ezekiel Elliott's Absence?

News broke yesterday that the Dallas Cowboys will be without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott against the Atlanta Falcons this week. The on-again/off-again suspension saga has put the Cowboys at a disadvantage, but you won't hear them crying over spilt milk. They will now have to turn to Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, and Darren McFadden to carry the running game in Elliott's absence, but who exactly is the top dog among the three?

Alfred Morris certainly looks as if he will get the first shot to try to replace Ezekiel Elliott's production for the Cowboys. Morris has already had a few impressive runs this year while Elliott took a breather. In fact, he is averaging an impressive 8.3 yards per carry and is playing with a renewed energy/burst that we haven't seen from him since coming to Dallas. And believe it or not, he has the longest run of the year (70 yards), not Ezekiel Elliott (30 yards).

If Morris can continue to have that kind of success, it's unlikely Rod Smith or Darren McFadden see very many carries. But, I believe Rod Smith is the running back who will emerge among the three and eventually receive more carries than Alfred Morris. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who believes this way.

Jeff Sullivan on Twitter

If the Zeke suspension holds, I'm not sure what the legal options are, I think we're going to see a lot more of Rod Smith than anyone realizes. Think he'll have more touches than Alfred Morris over the six games.

For those of you who don't know Jeff Sullivan, he is a featured Staff Writer for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the lucky few who know a little bit more about what's going on behind the scene than us casual fans. But, him saying that Rod Smith will have more touches than Alfred Morris doesn't surprise me all that much.

RB Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith (45) runs during a 2017 NFL week 3 regular season game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 in Glendale, Ariz. The Cowboys defeated the Cardinals, 28-17. (James D. Smith via AP)

Back in August I wrote about Rod Smith and how I believed he would emerge as Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Please feel free to read my reasons as to why I feel this way. It may surprise you, but I still feel this way today, even several months later.

Now, there is no way of knowing if he will eventually see more touches than Alfred Morris or even Darren McFadden for that matter. Rod Smith first has to be given the opportunity to prove himself, but I think that's all he needs.

Rod Smith is the unknown that everybody wants to see more of. He brings unique size and speed to the position, but possesses the skill set to be a three-down back in the NFL. But, what I like the most about him is the attitude he brings to the table.

I like both Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. I really do. But, they just don't run with the same kind of violence Rod Smith does. I think it's that kind of attitude the Cowboys offense will feed off of, much like they do when Ezekiel Elliott runs the ball.

I'm sure the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will ride the hot hand during Elliott's absence. They can't afford not to. But, when all is said and done, I think it's going to be Rod Smith that rises to the top. Remember, you heard it here first.

Should Rod Smith start in Zeke's absence?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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8 Comments
  • Hobbes49

    I think you may be right Brian. The little bit he has played, he has shown that nasty side to gain the extra yard or two. His burst seems good, and he runs with good balance. I think our running game is going to be fine. It is truly annoying to listen the talking heads talk about how we are toast now. They make it sound like we pulled guys of the sidewalk to play RB for us. We have two accomplished runners, and one very intriguing less experienced RB, and arguably the best O-line in the NFL. Be fun to hear people explain how they knew we would be alright along after we run over Atlanta on Sunday.

    • Brian Martin

      The running game will be a little bit less dynamic without Zeke, but you’re right, they will be just fine. I personally really like Rod Smith and I think he might be better than Morris or McFadden if given the chance. We will have to wait and see how things play out though.

      • Hobbes49

        I think I am drinking the Kool Aid a bit here, but I am feeling like we are seeing the development of a championship team. The offense is great, the defense is coming along nicely. It feels like we have a sustainable championship contender growing. I had a friend who is a Marine tell me, the Cowboys will improvise, adapt, and overcome, and they will win even without Zeke. I am going with that.

        • Brian Martin

          You’re not the only one drinking the Kool-Aid. I’m right there with you. Although, I would like to see the refs actually throw some flags against the teams the Cowboys are playing. I know it may sound like a conspiracy theory, but it looks like the entire NFL is out to get the Cowboys.

          • Hobbes49

            It does feel that way at times. We will see how Sunday goes. I am thinking we may get a crazy running game out of this weekend because I expect the Falcons to scheme us differently early at least, not as much 8 in the box.

          • Brian Martin

            I’m kind of leaning the other way. I think defenses will continue to stack the box and force Prescott to beat them with his arm.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I definitely want to see what these 3 RBs have. We have been teased and assured, but on Sunday we will see who these guys are. Totally agree that Rod Smith may come out on top and we will be a more rounded team with greater options as a result. We are going to have some bumps in the road, some rough spots. Objectively, we have been blessed. Our injuries have been minimal when compared to other teams. As Tyron sits, we have Chaz to let him rest for Philly. Nugent has filled in nicely for Bailey. Sean Lee and Hitch came back just in time. Zeke isn’t an injury, but it hurts not having him. We all thought Zeke would be back by now, but he is just starting and so are these 3 running backs. Looking forward to Sunday.

    • Brian Martin

      I think everyone is somewhat anxiously awaiting to see what the running game looks like without Zeke in the lineup. The coaching staff has been pretty adamant things won’t be much different, but Elliott is such a special talent it’s hard not to think the offense will take a step back. Hopefully the coaching staff is right though. And, I completely agree with you about injuries. The Cowboys have been pretty fortunate in that area.

Player News

Cowboys TE James Hanna Retiring

Jess Haynie

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James Hanna

In an unexpected bit of pre-draft news, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end James Hanna will be retiring after six seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The news of Hanna's retirement was first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer:

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list as the tight end could not get over a serious knee condition that troubled him for most of the last two seasons, according to sources. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team's... https://t.co/45BAZ2avSC

Hanna, who turns 29 in July, missed all of 2016 with that knee issue and has had two surgeries. He was active for all 16 games last season but wasn't used much on offense, only having four catches. James did catch his first and only NFL touchdown in the team's Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Many thought Hanna would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, but a retirement has the same effect on the cap. The Cowboys now save $2.75 million off his scheduled $3.5 mullion cap hit in 2018.

James Hanna has stuck around this long thanks to being a proficient blocker and one of the standout players on special teams. Geoff Swaim, entering the final year of his rookie deal, will likely be trusted to fill those roles.

That said, tight end was already a targeted position for the Cowboys in next week's draft. Losing Hanna only give the team more incentive to add more talent.


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Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles
Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

Good news are coming to Dallas just in time. Less than a week from now, the NFL Draft will be held in the Cowboys' home, the AT&T Stadium. But the team may count with a defensive talent many in Cowboys Nation have tried to forget for a while now. Randy Gregory's comeback may just happen.

There's a lot of positions in the roster that need more help than the defensive end one, but after finding the "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has always wanted in DeMarcus Lawrence, finding a RDE this offseason would be a dream scenario.

Sure, there's a lot of young talent in this football team and they'll be coming off a season that put a chip on their shoulders. Even so, they'll need all the help they can get.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, some help could come in form of a very talented pass rusher. Randy Gregory is reportedly applying for reinstatement very soon and according to Mike Fisher and Bobby Belt, there are positive reports around the situation.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

Randy Gregory update: I'm told there is real momentum building. He is expected to apply for reinstatement in the week or two following next week's NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation last saw the second round pick back in 2016, but his potential shouldn't be forgotten. Of course, the Cowboys shouldn't be considering Gregory for their 2018 plans, simply because there's risk of him not being available.

Even still, Dallas may get lucky at defensive end. After DeMarcus Lawrence has a breakout season in 2017, imagine the defensive line with Randy Gregory reinstated and rehabilitated to exploit his talent in the NFL.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

UPDATE: We're told Randy Gregory camp is ready to present to NFL the fact the #Cowboys DE has passed a large number of drug tests, hasn't failed one since July 2016. https://t.co/Hjgu2CqRtC

Despite some TMZ "reports", it looks like Gregory has been clean for a while. It sure should make Cowboys' fans happy and not only form a football perspective. A comeback would definitely be something amazing. He has a chance to write a unique story for himself.

Everyone likes second-chance stories. Gregory is a guy who had his share of problems. By coming back to the NFL, he's showing players and fans that change is possible. This wouldn't just be epic for Dallas Cowboys fans but NFL fans in general.

If Dallas is fortunate enough to see Gregory reinstated by the NFL, their fight in the trenches might see a big upgrade next season. Randy still has a lot to work on and he might not even be a starter right away, but the potential is right there.

The Cowboys could become a team capable of dominating the line of scrimmage both on offense and on defense.

Hopefully, Gregory is able to come back and shine as a professional player. He, and NFL fans deserve a story like that.

Tell me what you think about "Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Player News

BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving Reports to Voluntary Workouts

John Williams

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Could Any of These 3 Cowboys Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017?

2018 gets better by the day as the NFL takes another step closer to the regular season with the beginning of team voluntary workouts. The Dallas Cowboys have their first voluntary workout today at The Star.

Clarence Hill Jr. is reporting that Dallas Cowboys' restricted free agent Defensive Tackle David Irving has shown up for the first day of workouts.

Clarence Hill Jr on Twitter

Cowboys DT David Irving has yet to sign his rfa tender but he did show up for first day offseason program, per source, for those questioning his commitment

Irving who was second on the team in sacks for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 with seven, while only playing in 8 games, hasn't yet signed his restricted free agent tender.

Todd Archer from ESPN is reporting that David Irving expects to sign his RFA tender after today's workout guaranteeing him the second round tender figure of $2.91 million for 2018.

Todd Archer on Twitter

David Irving is expected to sign his restricted free agent tender today after the first workouts of the Cowboys' offseason program. Irving, who had seven sacks in eight games last season, will make $2.91 million. He is scheduled to become an... https://t.co/2EcPJ71OOe

As someone with as much production as Irving has had in the last couple of years, it's a bit surprising that teams around the NFL haven't jumped on that kind of interior presence. Teams looking for a player of Irving's caliber can still extend an offer sheet for the defensive tackle's services, but would have to give Dallas their 2018 second round pick.

The Dallas Cowboys would have the option of matching any offer sheet that David Irving signs. Perhaps they've indicated their intention to do so, given Irving's presence at the first day of practice.

It was quite a gamble, as many around Cowboys Nation believed that a team would quickly exchange a second round pick for Irving, but no one has offered him a contract to sign him away from the Cowboys.

David Irving has received criticism for his consistency after the 2016 season, but really found a stride in 2017 until a concussion derailed him toward the end of the season.

It's a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys that he's shown up ready to work for the 2018 season. David Irving is absolutely an ascending player and the sky is the limit for this defense with him as a part of it.


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