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Cowboys News & Notes: Cowboys Rank As Second Most Injured NFL Team

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Sean Lee ruled out for Sunday because of concussion; Darren McFadden stepping up; Tony Romo's return near as Cowboys try to end skid without him; It's time to demand Better from Big Sports Media.

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Ranking NFL teams most hurt by injuries - Kevin Seifert, ESPN
Just three weeks ago, ESPN ranked the Cowboys a ridiculously low No. 8 on their list of most banged-up teams. In this week's tally, the Cowboys ascend to their rightful place on these rankings, coming in at No. 2 behind only the Steelers.

The Cowboys have played most of the season without their two most important offensive players, and their defense has taken enough hits to leave it unable to compensate. The result: The Cowboys are alone at the bottom of the NFC East instead of at the top where most of us thought they would be.

Sean Lee ruled out for Sunday because of concussion - Todd Archer, ESPN
Lee will not play Sunday vs. the Buccaneers, but he isn't the only linebacker dealing with an injury.

Rolando McClain did not practice Friday because of foot and hand injuries and is listed as questionable. So is Anthony Hitchens, because of an ankle injury, however, he went through a limited portion of practice for the first time this week.

With Lee out, Andrew Gachkar should move into the starting lineup and could see considerable action in the sub-package defense.

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Darren McFadden stepping up - Jon Machota, Dallas Morning News
In his weekly Ranch Roundup, Machota highlights McFadden's recent performance.

How good has Darren McFadden been the last three weeks? Well, he's one of only three players to have over 300 rushing yards during that three-game stretch.

Todd Gurley: 63 carries, 350 yards.

Darren McFadden: 76 carries, 333 yards.

Adrian Peterson: 68 carries, 326 yards.

"He certainly represents everything we want at the running back position," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan's Ben and Skin show [KRLD-FM]. "And up to this point, he's done anything and everything we've asked of him, including being a leader on this team at this point."

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It's Time to Demand Better from Big Sports Media - Zac Fields, Inside The Star
Fields goes on a righteous rant.

The only thing worthy of discussion here is how major sports media outlets like PFT and ESPN have gotten out of control, and it’s time the players and fans demand better. We deserve better than unscrupulous "journalists" like Mike Florio, Jean-Jacques Taylor, and all those who seek to emulate their clickbait tactics.

There are some awesome places to get your sports news, folks. Lots of great independent blogs out there that will wait until a story has fully developed before reporting on it, and will do the research to make sure they get the facts right the first time.

Let’s make a point to seek those sources out and give them our loyal readership.

Moore: All the details on how Dez's tirade started, escalated (see the video) - David Moore, Dallas Morning News
Moore explains that Bryant's rant was more comical than threatening, but this blow-by-blow account once again shows that context is everything. It also shows that all the premature condemnations of Bryant are nothing more than bad journalism - even if it is correct that Bryant could have handled the situation(s) in a better manner.

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant rant great teaching/learning opportunity for Cowboys - David Moore, SportsDay
Garrett addressed Bryant's outburst in his press conference.

"Well, to me, it's a great teaching opportunity for us as coaches and a great learning opportunity for Dez and really for our whole football team,'' Garrett said. "That's what we've tried to do is use it as an opportunity to get better.

"We didn't handle that situation the right way. Dez didn't handle that situation the right way. We have to understand the world that we live in, and we've tried to make that abundantly clear to him and to our football team."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones responds to Dez Bryant's locker room outburst - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Jerry Jones wasn't in the locker room when Bryant became upset with reporters, but the Cowboys' Chief Enabling Officer said in an interview on Friday that he understands why Bryant responded the way he did.

"I have a lot of experience with Dez, real close in," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan's G-Bag Nation show [KRLD-FM]. "I probably have a tolerance for the way he expresses himself that you can't expect people that don't know him in a real up-close and personal way would. Not that mine is the right thing to be, maybe you can be too close to something sometimes.

"But because I am close and because I've spent a lot of time with him, then I understand his responses."

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Jerry Jones says his Cowboys still 'have a chance' for playoff berth - Rainer Sabin, SportsDay
Speaking on KRLD-FM (105.3) on Friday, the Cowboys' Chief Entertainment Officer wasn't sure the Cowboys needed a win in Tampa to remain in contention for a playoff spot.

"I don't know," he responded, when asked if this game is a must-win.

In Jones' eyes, a playoff berth remains a possibility.

"We have a chance, but the room to get it is narrow, narrow, and narrow," he said. "Now, this is sports and nobody knows what can happen."

Cowboys: Do Or Die In Tampa Bay Against Bucs - Christian Blood, SportDFW.com
Blood offfers up some free remedial playoff bracketology for Jones the elder.

Dallas could actually win out and would still finish just 10-6, a record that sometimes doesn’t even qualify for a Wild Card berth in the NFC playoffs. Having said that, 10-6 would almost certainly win the average NFC East, but anything less than 9-7 is likely to become a season killer for the Cowboys.

The best way to avoid that scenario is beat Tampa Bay at all costs. If that means flea-flickers, halfback passes – McFadden can do that – or surprise onside kicks, so be it. Sunday’s game is essentially an early playoff game for the Cowboys and it needs to a game-planned accordingly.

Romo's return near as Cowboys try to end skid without him - Shuyler Dixon, USA Today
Romo's days as the scout team QB have come to an end, even if the team will play one last game without him.

"We're anxious to get him back," tight end Jason Witten said. "He's our franchise quarterback, our leader, but our focus has been on this week of getting the win and getting ourselves back in position. We're worried about next week when we get there with him coming back."

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan says Romo looks "close to being 100 percent" in practice. And while Linehan's primary focus is the weekly work with Cassel, he's doing a little peeking ahead himself as well.

"We have a plan each day and I kept an eye on him ... just to see he looked the same and I didn't see anything that concerned or alarmed me," Linehan said. "Like riding a bike, he's going to be ready to go."

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Cowboys’ defense struggling to regain swagger for Rod Marinelli - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
The Cowboys defense went into the season with high hopes, but is ranked only 15th in overall defense this season, and the meager 14 sacks reflect the Cowboys’ lack of big plays.

"Honestly, what needs to happen with this defense, is we need to have our playmakers, including myself, make more plays," said defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, who is nursing a shoulder injury, which has hindered him from being the desired disruptive force as the three-technique tackle.

"We might need to get out of our comfort zone and do something different. We also need to run to the ball better. With that will come turnovers and just hopefully a little bit of luck in getting the ball."

Zero Picks This Season For Cowboys Cornerbacks - JoeBucsFan.com
The Cowboys' secondary isn't scaring anybody right now.

Bucs' Defense Features Some Familiar Faces | Scott Crisp, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Crisp runs down the familiar faces that will be waiting for the Cowboys in Tampa.

Three defensive players that spent last season with the Cowboys are with the Bucs now, including former second round pick, linebacker Bruce Carter, cornerback Sterling Moore and defensive tackle Henry Melton. Also on the roster are Mike Jenkins, a first round pick out of USF that led off the Cowboys’ notoriously bad 2008 Draft, and Orie Lemon.

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Cowboys Twitter mailbag: Cowboys biggest draft needs same as they were last year - Todd Archer, ESPN
In response to a Twitter question, Archer explains why he thinks the Cowboys' draft needs remain largely unchanged versus last year.

It's pretty much the same as last year: defensive line, cornerback, wide receiver, running back, quarterback, offensive line. I didn't list those in any particular order. How the Cowboys approach free agency will play a part in all of those spots with the exception probably being the offensive line. If Hardy is back, then maybe they don't go defensive line in the first two rounds. Cornerback is a need with Morris Claiborne set to be a free agent, Brandon Carr set to make $9 million and Orlando Scandrick coming off a knee injury. The quarterback question will be interesting, too. Everybody wants the Cowboys to take a quarterback but Romo isn't retiring soon. Do they go with a quarterback for the future or find somebody who can help them win in 2016?

NFL draft: Should NFL teams wait until 2017 for running backs? - Eric Edholm, Shutdown Corner - Yahoo Sports
The 2016 NFL draft running back crop looks good. But the 2017 class could be incredible, Edholm writes.

The 2016 crop of running backs could include potential bell-cow backs such as Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry, if he chooses to come out. There are other potential impact runners such as Utah’s Devontae Booker, Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise, Arkansas’ Alex Collins and UCLA’s Paul Perkins.

But the 2017 class could be an all-timer.

One reason Henry might declare after this season is because the following draft might include a who’s who of talented college backs: LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Oregon’s Royce Freeman, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Pitt’s James Conner (assuming he doesn’t come out after tearing his ACL this season), Wisconsin’s Corey Clement and others.

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Two of the 10 players with Gold Captain Patches in 2015 are Cowboys - Wikipedia.org
The golden Captain patches are awarded to players who been team captains for 5+ years. Only 10 players are wearing such patches this season. Tony Romo and Jason Witten are two of them.

What Do NFL Players Pay in Taxes? - Nick Wallace, SmartAsset.com
This may be of little interest to non-accountants, but Philip Rivers leads all NFL players with an Effective Tax Rate of 50%. No Cowboys player shows up on the list of the 25 most heavily taxed NFL players.

America’s Team is a dream destination for any football player. The ‘Boys have the largest stadium, the biggest fan base and a brand with international appeal. They also pay some of the lowest taxes. That’s because Texas has no state or local income taxes.