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Cowboys News: Sean Lee to play vs 49ers; Randy Gregory reinstatement coming?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens will play together for the first time all season; DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 8.5 sacks; more.

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Entering sixth game, why Cowboys' run defense is poised for big improvement - Brandon George, SportsDay
Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens will play together for the first time all season.

Hitchens will start at middle linebacker against the 49ers, with Sean Lee back after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury and ready to run the show again on the weak side.

The Cowboys are hopeful that reuniting Lee and Hitchens will tighten up their porous run defense.

Lee's and Hitchens' play alongside each other a year ago was a big reason the Cowboys finished with the league's No. 1 run defense, holding opponents to 83.5 rushing yards a game. Five games into this season, the Cowboys rank 22nd in the NFL in run defense (118 yards per game).

"We're excited about having ... our full complement of linebackers back," Eberflus said. "Are we pleased with where we are defensively? No. We're certainly working to get better, and I think that having guys healthy and having guys in the right spots and really just running the stuff the right way and executing is going to look the right way."

Cowboys @ 49ers: Final injury report rules in Sean Lee, rules out Chidobe Awuzie - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys get their general back on defense.

The Dallas Cowboys got a pretty favorable injury report heading into Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers. The big thing they needed was the return of Sean Lee and that is going to happen. Lee has been participating in practice this week and is not on the injury report. That’s huge, the Cowboys defense was suffering without him.

On the other end of the spectrum for hamstrings, Chidobe Awuzie continues to be plagued by the injury and will not suit up for the Cowboys on Sunday.

Scout’s Eye: Getting Dez Involved, the 53rd spot - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus offers a handful of pre-game thoughts, here are two of them.

Scott Linehan has made a real effort to try and create more space for Dez Bryant in these games. Linehan has used him in different alignments and even some motion to free him up. With the bye week now in the past, I expect we will see more creative ways to get Bryant the ball. Rashard Robinson is a good cornerback and I don’t believe Linehan wants Bryant to have to fight him for a bunch of 50-50 balls. The receivers played a big part in their victory last season against the 49ers -- and that was without Bryant. Even with Robinson in coverage, I expect Bryant to play a major role in the game plan.

I’ve gone back and forth on the Saturday call up for the open roster spot that the club currently has. I was leaning toward Richard Ash, but as we’ve progressed through the week, Lewis Neal appears to be the choice. Here’s something else to think about: they might play light this week being that whomever they sign would be inactive. With that being said, I have heard nothing but good things about Neal and how he’s preformed on the scout team playing guys like Aaron Donald and Mike Daniels. There were snaps during those training camp practices where he was a handful for Zack Martin, so that in itself gives me some hope that if given the chance on the active roster, he could do some good things.

Scout’s Eye: Scoring Chances Will Dictate Sunday's Game - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
A strong offense is the best defense.

Where the Cowboys have been outstanding through five games is their ability to not only score touchdowns but score them inside the 30-yard line, as well as when they reach the opponent’s red zone. The Cowboys are hitting 63 percent of those opportunities inside the opponents 30 and 66 percent of the time when traveling inside the 20.

If the Cowboys win this game, it is going to come down to points -- even with a rookie quarterback starting for the 49ers. I know that C.J. Beathard is not Aaron Rodgers or Jared Goff, but forcing him to have to score right along with you will put a strain on him. If they continue to be good inside the 30 and then down inside 20 -- they win this game.

Week 7 NFL predictions: Scores for every game - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer predicts a Cowboys win in a high.scoring game.

The Cowboys have a 20-9 record after a bye week but are just 12-7 on the road in their first game back from a one-week break. Their two previous opponents, the Rams and Packers, used 10-day breaks to their advantage in beating the Cowboys. For the 10th time since Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1989, the Cowboys are 2-3 after five games. They have made the playoffs just once after such a start. A loss to the winless Niners would not end the Cowboys' season, but it would be debilitating, particularly if running back Ezekiel Elliott has to serve his six-game suspension at some point this season. Quarterback Dak Prescott has not been two games under .500 in his short career. Cowboys 31, 49ers 26


DeMarcus Lawrence isn’t concerned about contract talk - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Five games into the 2017 season, DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 8.5 sacks.

But the Dallas Cowboys top pass rusher isn’t concerned on his contract status. At least not publicly.

“We'll talk about that when the time comes," Lawrence said on Thursday. “I'm just going to keep racking up my numbers, and we've just got to get the job done as a team. If the team wins, we all win. That's the main thing.”

Lawrence, 25, said that he would “love to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life.” But it remains to be seen whether that will ultimately happen.

ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis among top 10 rookies: 'He's sticky in coverage' - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Kiper's "Rookie Big Board" ranks Lewis eighth overall among the top 30 players from the 2017 class.

"Lewis had a slow start getting on the field because of a hamstring injury, but I like what I've seen since he missed the season opener," Kiper wrote. "The Cowboys have had injury issues, thrusting Lewis into a role quickly. But he's sticky in coverage and doesn't allow many yards after the catch."

Kiper also said that Lewis -- who has an interception, five pass deflections (three breakups) and 22 tackles already -- is undersized at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds but "plays bigger."

Lewis was Kiper's sixth-ranked cornerback in the class before April's draft. Kiper now ranks Lewis' performance third among rookie corners, after the Bills' Tre'Davious White and the Saints' Marshon Lattimore.

White and Lattimore were both first-round picks, 27 and 11 overall respectively. The Cowboys took Lewis 92nd overall.

Mailbag: Randy Gregory Update? - Bryan Broaddus & David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Encouraging news from a player many fans have given up on.

Alan Gransee: Will we see Randy Gregory in a Dallas uniform or any other uniform after his suspension is served?

Bryan Broaddus: Gregory can ask for reinstatement on Nov. 6th of this season. I have been told that the front office is keeping tabs on his situation. I have also been told that he has made some serious life-changing decisions for the good. I don’t know if he’ll ever end up back with the club or in the NFL, but it sounded like he’s trying.

David Helman: It still feels pretty early to speculate about Randy’s future. We know he can apply for reinstatement soon, but he can’t come back to the organization until January at the earliest. The biggest thing for me is that he’s not costing you a roster spot and you don’t have to pay him right now. Hopefully, he can turn things around. But it’s not hurting the Cowboys to hold on to that hope.


Yes, NFL Parity Is Greater Than Ever (At Least Through 6 Weeks) - Chase Stuart, Footballperspective.com
The NFL is intrinsically designed to be a parity-driven league; the draft, revenue sharing, the salary cap, compensatory draft picks, all the way through the schedule; everything about the NFL is designed so that every team from every market has a legitimate opportunity to compete year-in and year-out. And boy, is it working.

Through six weeks, the 49ers and Browns were both 0-6, while the Giants were 1-5. That’s bad, but it’s notable because those were the only three teams in the NFL with a record that was worse than 2-4. And on the flip side, only two teams — the 5-1 Chiefs and 5-1 Eagles — had a record that was better than 4-2. In other words, 27 of the 32 teams in the NFL were within two games of .500; or thought of differently, 84% of the NFL teams had a winning percentage between 0.333 and 0.667.

That… is… unusual. 2017 has set a new mark for parity.


NFL files request to move up Ezekiel Elliott's hearing for preliminary injunction - Mike Jones, USA Today
The hearing on Ezekiel Elliott's motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Oct. 30, but the NFL doesn’t want to wait that long and seems to be under the impression it can dictate timings to a judge.

Elliott, who is engaged in a legal battle to overturn the six-game suspension he received for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, this week received a restraining order to block the NFL from being able to carry out its punishment. That order enables him to continue playing until the Oct. 30th hearing. He is eligible to play in this Sunday's game at San Francisco and would be able to play at Washington the following week.

However, confident in the validity of the arbitrator's decision to uphold the suspension, the NFL wants the hearing to take place as soon as possible. The league wants the hearing and decision to take place prior to the Cowboys’ game at Washington on Oct. 29.

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