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With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note

Sean Martin

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With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note 2

The Dallas Cowboys have concluded their OTAs in preparation for the 2018 season. Moving into mini camp next week, we've already learned a lot about the team's thinking for players both new and old. Somewhere in the middle of this is Linebacker Jaylon Smith. Despite taking significant strides at the end of last season, the Cowboys were not prepared to enter this year with only Smith and Sean Lee as "reliable" options.

Adding 19th overall pick Leighton Vander Esch to the mix, the Cowboys were up front about their need to add depth and play making ability at linebacker. This isn't to say that anything they get out of a surging Jaylon Smith won't be deeply appreciated. Using Smith as a pass rusher and SAM linebacker through practices thus far, the Notre Dame product was all over the field in the Cowboys final OTA practice, stepping up admirably in the absence of both Vander Esch and Lee.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Cowboys' rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch did not take part in Wednesday's OTA because of a sprained ankle. It's not anything serious but there was no need to make it worse through an OTA. The other players not practicing today were: Sean Lee,... https://t.co/jwJlmmTf8y

All three players are on course to be on the field together again soon, but the confidence Smith can gain from being "the guy" for a day is immense. Just how prepared the Cowboys are to deal with the potential loss of Sean Lee shouldn't fall entirely on the shoulders of their rookie out of Boise State.

The same is of course said about fringe players like Justin March-Lillard, who also had a strong practice performance in taking advantage of the injuries above him.

Even with Vander Esch potentially getting the nod over Smith at MIKE linebacker in Nickel situations, a healthy Jaylon Smith will do everything to make his impact felt. Where LVE is more of a finesse player with above average pass covering traits, Smith can excel as the Cowboys enforcer against the run.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jaylon Smith was flying around today. Was making so many stops in the run game that RB coach Gary Brown was jokingly telling him to chill out

It was September 10th, 2017 that the Cowboys unwavering commitment to Jaylon Smith was rewarded. Their second round pick from the previous year's draft suited up for his first game against the New York Giants.

Smith went on to play a remarkable 16 game season, getting noticeably stronger as the games went by.

With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, LB Jaylon Smith

There likely wasn't a Cowboys coach or trainer not taken back slightly by seeing Smith continue his journey to live up to every expectation Dallas has put on him yesterday. If they never thought he was good enough (a consensus first round talent before his injury), the Cowboys wouldn't have praised Smith all through his rehab to get on the field for America's Team - something he's doing now at a standout level.

Unless there is legitimate concern that the Cowboys deep stable of running backs, lead again by Ezekiel Elliott, are actually under performing than Wednesday afternoon was a fantastic day at The Star for Jaylon Smith.

https://twitter.com/thejaylonsmith/status/1004549417968521221

Tell us what you think about "With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note" 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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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka

Jess Haynie

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George Iloka

The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.

He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc

This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.

However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.

Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.

We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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