The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is typically mentioned as one of the, if not the, premiere offensive lines in the National football League. They also get some attention as being among the best position groups in the game. Now NFL.com writer Bucky Brooks goes even farther. He calls the unit the best position group in the game today.
"With the team expected to show a renewed commitment to the running game, given Ezekiel Elliott's addition to the backfield, the football world will fully appreciate the Cowboys' O-line in 2016." - Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
With the above mentioned intent to pound the rock and a passing attack that features Tony Romo. Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten scary just might turn into the word used for the entire offense, but everything starts up front. Looks like Bucky might have gotten this one right.
As much as Greg Hardy may have been a bad influence on certain members of the defensive line last season, Leon Lett intends to have a positive impact this year. Coach Lett, whose own experiences include running afoul of the NFL's substance abuse policy, will be attempting to provide his rushmen with the guidance needed to not wind up travelling further down the road that the coach took during his own career.
"Sometimes, guys are so talented they don't know how they make certain plays, they just do it," Lett said. "So they don't always have the most confidence. I've been where Randy is. He can't take all that stuff on the field with him, he just needs to play. He might need to reach inside himself and pull out his inner Charles Haley and just get angry and take it out on the other team."
Did you hear that, Eli?
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression," a quote, attributed at times to both Will Rogers and Oscar Wilde, sums up what OTAs are all about for those down roster guys that are fighting to earn themselves a spot on the Cowboys 2016 roster. The staff over at the Mothership takes a closer look at the impression a few players are making as the second week of OTAs fade into history.
Bryan Broaddus and his cohorts share with us their impressions of players who might leave a mark on this year's team. Here's David Helman's take on an under-the-radar linebacker:
You’ve undoubtedly heard his name, given that he was a 2015 draft pick. But I think it’s safe to say Mark Nzeocha qualifies as an under-the-radar prospect on this roster. His ACL injury kept Nzoecha off the field until the final month of last season, but he’s fully healthy now and benefiting from the increased reps while Sean Lee and Rolando McClain sit out.
Now, it might be a bit much to declare that Nzeocha is going to win a starting job. That’ll be a tough task, especially considering how much time the Cowboys spend in their nickel defense -- but I expect him to make the most of the opportunities he gets. Given his versatility and athleticism, I think he’ll push for a roster spot as a special teamer and a reserve at all the linebacker spots.
Another one of the Cowboys defensive linemen has been facing a different challenge this off-season. Jack Crawford, a native of London, has to go through the process of getting a work visa every off-season. This year there was a delay in getting him the necessary authorizations and the versatile defensive lineman was forced to miss the opening week of organized team activities.
"There’s no way around it for each party, so I had to go back in order to become a lawful resident," Crawford said of getting a visa. "You have to go over there and schedule an interview over there once you have all your paperwork ready and then you go to the U.S. Embassy, and it’s pretty straightforward to be honest."
A green card would make Crawford’s life less complicated. Until he obtains one, every time he signs a new deal he must return to England and get a new visa.
"It forces us to miss time and work. Obviously we don’t want to do that -- it’s not good for the team, it’s not good for us," Crawford said. "I think that’s a real issue, and I just don’t know if there’s a way around it or what could be done. But it’s definitely part of the system, being an international player in the NFL, that there’s no way around it."
All's well that ends well, and Crawford is back in Dallas and ready to earn the $1.6 million dollar contract that he signed after last season.
Usually I don't link two stories together, but in this case they revolve around the same topic. Both Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers are fighting it out for on job. You know that Dallas is going to keep Dak Prescott around after spending a fourth round selection on the rookie quarterback, and you know that there is no way they can keep four passers on the roster. The handwriting is on the wall for the two men stuck between Romo and the rookie out of Mississippi.
This should be a fun battle to watch as the Cowboys head toward Oxnard later this summer.
With all the running backs on the roster each man is going to be competing for touches. You have a rookie first round draft pick who was brought in to be the workhorse and a pair of multi-time 1,000 yard rushers in the mix to carry the load. Throw in a jitterbug like Lance Dunbar and there are not enough snaps to go around.
Free agent Alfred Morris is looking for ways to increase his chances, and he is looking to do so by becoming more of a target out of the backfield.
"I want to be a complete back. That's something I'd not been able to do in the previous four or five years. Just get more involved in the passing game. I feel like there's a unique opportunity to build that trust and faith with the coaches and quarterbacks." - Alfred Morris
If Morris can be successful the Cowboys should be well pleased. Not only do they like throwing the ball to the man out of the backfield, it would also give them an opportunity to free up a slot filled by the oft-injured Dunbar. With rosters capped at 53 men, having a back who can fill multiple roles and do it well is a clear asset to have. Morris is striving to make sure Coach Linehan has that.
A look at Jason Garrett through they eyes of the men who go to battle for him on Sunday
"He ripped us a new one," [Alfred] Morris said. "He has a standard and I love that. ... 'This is the standard, don't go below this. Go higher, but don't go below it.' I love that."
"The standard from coach Garrett is excellence," Ezekiel Elliott said. "You're the Dallas Cowboys, you're expected to compete for a Super Bowl every year, so that's nothing but excellence. The standard he has for us is the same standard we hold each other by."
Jerry Jones is a showman. The Cowboys have the league's only co-ed hip-hop dance team, and that unit is needing additions just the same as the football squad. Auditions were held recently, and the folks at the mothership give us a look at what it takes to become a part of the show that surrounds the show on Sundays.