Obviously, this is the top story:
McClain Suspended 4 Games For Violating Substance Abuse Policy - David Helman, The Mothership
Ro-Mac has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Tiny Jim reports:
This is McClain’s second problem with failed drug tests during 2015, as he was faced with a four-game fine for a failed test back in February. At the time of that report, McClain faced a four-game suspension if he failed another test – which appears to be what has happened.
Cowboys Announce Rolando McClain Suspended For Four Games - Tom Ryle, BTB
Here's The Honorable Ryle's take on things:
The investment in linebackers this offseason indicate that the Cowboys knew this was probably coming. Jasper Brinkley and Anthony Hitchens are the two top contenders for the starting middle linebacker spot, since the team indicates that they are committed to keeping Sean Lee on the outside.
Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended 4 games: 3 things to know - John Breech, CBSSports.com
Breech offers up three "things to know" about the McClain suspension. Here's the third of these:
3. Who will fill-in for McClain? Although McClain was arguably the best linebacker the Cowboys had in 2014, his suspension shouldn't cause anyone in Dallas to panic. The Cowboys signed veteran linebacker Jasper Brinkley in March and there's a good chance that Brinkley will be the guy who fills-in for McClain. Brinkley has started 29 games over the past three seasons while playing for both the Vikings (2012, 2014) and Cardinals (2013).
Horn: How Cowboys will try to deal with Rolando McClain's 4-game suspension - Barry Horn, DMN
Horn offers some alternatives to Brinkley, should he not pan out:
If not Brinkley, Sean Lee, the starting middle linebacker who missed the 2014 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and was expected to play outside this season, could fill in. Another candidate would be Anthony Hitchens, a third-year pro who backed up McClain last season and was expected to battle Kyle Wilber for the linebacker spot on the other side of McClain.
Suspensions could affect Dallas Cowboys' postseason chances - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Given how tight playoff races can be, Archer asserts, having both Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy miss at least four conference games - and two division games - could end up affecting the Cowboys’ postseason chances.
Time to seriously consider cutting Cowboys LB Rolando McClain - Babe Laufenberg, DMN
Babe was asked about the latest McClain news, specifically whether he thinks Number 55 will return to the Cowboys after his four-game suspension or whether he might return or be cut:
Do not know if anyone can really answer that. I think he is always one day away from retiring. If I am in charge, I would be giving serious consideration to severing ties. As Don Shula once said, "We will tolerate you until we can replace you." The time may have come that the Cowboys, like two previous teams, can no longer tolerate him.
20 Questions: Will O-Line Production Change With Pollack Taking Over? - The Mothership
The guys over at the Mothership play pre-camp question and answer, and this time its about the drop-off between Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack. Nick Eatman gets the answer:
With no disrespect to Callahan, I think the offensive line will be just fine, if not better. And it’s not about Callahan and not really about Pollack, either. This line is great because it was supposed to be great. If you take three first-round picks and surround them with other talented players, you’re going to have a good line, if not great. Two years ago, you could argue Pollack spent more time with this group and was responsible for the turnaround in 2013. Pollack is a no-nonsense guy who relates to this group well. I think the line will continue to be dominant with Pollack running the show.
20 Questions: Who Emerges As This Year’s Surprise Camp Standout? - The Mothership
The pre-camp Q&A continues, with a query about this year's camp standout. Here's Tiny Jim's response:
David Helman: A lot of readers should be happy to hear me say this, because he’s become a bit of a fan favorite: I think Ben Gardner is going to turn some heads in Oxnard. His shoulder injury derailed his rookie camp before it even got going, but it’s worth remembering that he was an all-conference player for Stanford back in college. When OTAs and minicamp kicked off, he certainly looked like a guy who had spent the offseason in the weight room. We haven’t seen him play a real down of football to this point, but I really like his chances to earn some snaps at left end.
Position series: Why Cowboys appear thin at safety, but opponents should fear the hits - Jon Machota, DMN
With Church and Wilcox, Machota writes, the Cowboys have two traditional "in the box" safeties - the kind that are flying to the ball and delivering hits, according to their position coach:
"The thing that you know when you play the Dallas Cowboys is those safeties will hit you," Henderson said. "We like having that feeling. We like having those sure tacklers there. I think both of them have ball skills. Obviously we want more interceptions, but we want more interceptions at corner, we want more at safety, we want more at linebacker, we just want more."
Henderson is all like:
Rookie Watch: Texas Native Harwell Hopes To Catch On At Receiver - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
The Mothership's series on down-roster Cowboys continues with a look at the UDFA wideout. After some preliminary biographical material, Phillips shares Broaddus's scouting notes on the former Miami, OH product:
Short stepper with initial quickness. Can play out of the slot. Catches the ball in his hands. Quick on the out cut, able to work the sideline with his feet. Nice job of catching the ball in space. More quickness than speed. Can make some incredible adjusting catches. Aware of the situation and where he is on the field. Nice job of tracking the ball down the field.
Hmmm...it seems that everyone of obsessing about how to catch up to the division champs...
NFC East Q&A: Did the Eagles close the QB gap with Sam Bradford? - Phil Sheridan, ESPN
By trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, ESPN Eagles blogger Sheridan asks, did the Philadelphia Eagles close the gap at quarterback with the other teams in the division? Our own Todd Archer responds from the Cowboys point of view:
I don’t believe the Eagles have closed the gap at quarterback in the division by bringing in Bradford. It’s based on his history. He’s been hurt too much. Is he skilled? Absolutely. But he hasn’t played at a high level. His best year in St. Louis did not match what Foles did in Philadelphia in 2013. Now did Bradford have the best talent around him with the Rams? Probably not. He’ll have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in his backfield, which is a plus, but he will need to have some receivers come through for him. Chip Kelly’s system can make it easy on quarterbacks, so that should help Bradford, but to me the move from Foles to Bradford is mostly a wash. Can I reserve the right to change my mind as we see him play?
Go get 'em, Todd.
Washington Redskins: How to beat the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 - Tolly Taylor, 247sports
Taylor shares a few thoughts about what the Redskins will need to do to beat the Cowboys in 2015. Here's a little something to aid your digestion:
To beat Dallas, Washington’s entire roster will have to step up, as they did in Week 8 last season. Here’s where the Redskins have advantages: at running back (Alfred Morris) and wide receiver (Jackson and Garcon). If those skill positions have big games, as they did in the game Washington won last year, the team can overcome average quarterback play.
They do realize that the Redskins won because Jim Haslett called defenses from his playsheet at random, right?