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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.

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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

Sean Martin

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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon's Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

It's Sunday morning and the Cleveland Browns are expected to make a questionable decision by tomorrow, which is far from news for a Dallas Cowboys team waiting around for a crucial Sunday Night Football home game tonight. With Cleveland expected to part ways with troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon though, the Cowboys have understandably been linked to Gordon, even more so now with the talented pass catcher stating his own interest in America's Team.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

As teams discuss potentially trading for outgoing #Browns WR Josh Gordon, I'm told he's got his eye on two in particular: The #Cowboys and the #49ers.

Before looking into this any further, it's necessary to point out an all-important missing detail. Without any reports of the Cowboys own interest in Gordon, the soon-to-be free agent is simply the latest player to say he'd like to play for the Cowboys - hardly anything new for the Jones.

The Cowboys need for a player like Gordon has never been more evident though. Heavily criticized throughout the offseason for how they handled their wide receivers, the Cowboys passing game was a non-factor in the team's 16-8 week one loss.

Signing or trading for Gordon could do little to fix this, but the risk may also prove worthwhile for Dallas. The Baylor Bears product did put up 1,646 yards in 2013 with minimal talent around him, and has a career 17.3 yards per reception.

His ability to take the top off a defense is something the Cowboys are sorely missing. What they won't miss from not acquiring Gordon is the off-field trouble, taking on a player that missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension.

Last season,  Gordon was reinstated for the Browns final five games.

The NFL is, at least cautiously, easing their policy on players suspended for marijuana usage. Look no further than the Cowboys own Randy Gregory to prove this, as Gregory has already become a success story for the league by being with the Cowboys this season.

Whether or not Gregory plays on Sunday night (officially listed as DOUBTFUL) after suffering a concussion in his long-awaited return last week is yet to be determined. So too is Josh Gordon's future as the latest player on his way out of Cleveland.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @gmfb Weekend: The #Browns plan to release Josh Gordon after he showed up late, injured his hamstring during a photo shoot, and in general completely lost their trust. https://t.co/cX2HGZPBXi

I'm of the belief that Gordon won't last long on the open market, meaning this won't be the latest Cowboys story/non-story to drag through the presses. Any fan looking to pass time between now and kickoff against the Giants could probably find me saying the same about free agent WR Dez Bryant however.

Thanks to Bryant still being a free agent along with former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the team has looked smarter than expected in the long-term on moves like these.

If there's a smart way to bring on Josh Gordon, Dallas should be considering that too.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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