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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Who Will Play Middle Linebacker For Cowboys?

Happy 4th of July!


Check the tape: Best position fit for Dallas Cowboys Justin Durant - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Things are very much in flux at the middle linebacker spot heading into camp, but it looks like Justin Durant is the early favorite.

"The great thing about Justin is he can play all positions," linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. "I don’t know if that’s his strongest position, but I don’t know that it’s not his strongest position."

"I think that’s a real good fit for him," Eberflus said. "He’s an intelligent young man. He plays the game in a smart way and he’s able to communicate and make the calls. The more he’s in there, the better off he feels and he’s making progress."

Position Battle: Durant Should Have Company At MLB Spot
Broaddus believes Justin Durant could have issues in coverage, and expects Rolando McClain to challenge him for playing time in camp.

From what I was able to see from McClain in his games with the Raiders, that coverage was not a problem for him. He showed a keen awareness in zone but moved well enough to handle those assignments in man. Plus his power at the point of attack was impressive as well playing the run. The plan appears to start with McClain on the inside at Mike but also work him some as the Sam which makes sense because that is all these linebackers have taken a shot at different roles in all these roles.

McClain of course has not even passed a conditioning test at this point.

NFL personnel evaluator: I absolutely believe the Dallas Cowboys will not win big with Tony Romo | Jon Machota, DMN
Machota had the option of using one of two quotes from his article for his headline.

  • One GM called Romo "one of the top 10 starters in the league."
  • One pro personnel evaluator said "I absolutely believe they will not win big with him".

You have three tries to guess which headline he went with.

Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray among 30 big-time players heading for contract crossroads -
Joel Corry writes that this season will be pivotal for Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray as both are entering contract years.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: The 2010 first-round pick is in a select group of wide receivers (A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas) whose rookie deals expire at the end of the 2014 or 2015 season that should top the five-year, $60 million contract (includes $30 million in guarantees) Mike Wallace received from the Dolphins last year as a free agent.

Bryant, who had 93 receptions for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013, is the only wide receiver in Cowboys history with consecutive seasons of at least 90 catches and 1,200 receiving yards. [Emphasis added]

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Even if Murray has a career year by rushing for more than 1,128 rushing yards, he'll likely have a hard time getting a deal in Dallas comparable to the six-year, $45 million contract Marion Barber signed with the team in 2008 because of the devaluing of running backs.

Work vs. Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith sped up DeMarcus Lawrence learning - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Seems like working against Tyron Smith, even without pads, has been beneficial for Lawrence.

Lawrence’s hands were considered his biggest strength when the Cowboys picked him, but he believes the work with Marinelli and Leon Lett has made him a better player before he has even put on pads in the NFL.

"Just with my hand movements, my outside moves," Lawrence said. "Instead of going against a tackle head up, I’m just playing half a man and I’m really using my speed to my best interests."

Cole Beasley working for more chances - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas
For Beasley, working for more chances isn't about getting ready to take outside snaps, it's also about becoming even more versatile in the slot. "

You don’t have as much space because the sideline is there," Beasley said. "In the slot you kind of have a two-way go on a defender. You can’t just get way out or way in. Outside [the cornerback] can kind of use the sideline as his friend. You don’t want to get too close to that sideline because there’s no throw. It’s just a little different as far as releases go and stuff like that."

"Even just being a slot guy you can still have more routes," Beasley said. "To me, it’s all about opportunities. I didn’t have much opportunity to run that many different routes and they’re doing a good job of giving me more stuff just to see what I can do, what I can handle, what I can’t handle. I’ve just got to prove to them I can do the stuff. I believe I can, so it’s all a matter of showing them."

Emmitt Smith: Drafting Zack Martin was a positive step, but Cowboys have to be committed to the run game | Jon Machota, DMN
I was stunned - no, shocked - to read that Emmitt Smith believes that what "will put our team in the right direction" is staying committed to the running game.

Brad Sham: Why Kyle Orton picked wrong time to test the Cowboys' resolve | DMN
Brad Sham answered questions in a DMN chat yesterday, including one on Kyle Orton.

Orton picked the wrong time. The club feels Jay Ratliff jobbed them and there won't be any more free money handed out. My thoughts are, at this point, I would not cut him. If he wants to retire, write me that check for the 3 million bonus money and file your papers. Otherwise, if he shows up in Oxnard, he can be the third qb this year and never dress. Those are MY thoughts. I'm fine with Brandon Weeden as the backup.

2013 Rushing Success by Number of Backs - Football Outsiders
According to Football Outsiders, the Cowboys averaged 4.7 yards per carry in one-back sets and 4.6 yards per carry in two-back sets. The former ranks fourth in the league, the latter ranks seventh.

How the NFL’s Top Receivers’ Stats Would Change If They Played With Average QBs | FiveThirtyEight
Nate Silver discounts the receiving yards of the receivers for the quality of QBs throwing to them. Interesting exercise, which shows that tight ends may be especially dependent on having good QBs.

Along with slot receivers like Welker (it might be best to think of tight ends like Graham as being analogous to slot receivers), they tend to rely on routes based on precision and timing rather than beating their man downfield. Running those routes — and catching passes in traffic — requires a lot of skill. But the quarterback’s impact may be proportionately higher. That may be part of why NFL teams do not pay the best tight ends as well as the best wideouts.

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