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Cowboys News: Dak Prescott is balling in year two as Dallas enters a critical stretch

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The Cowboys’ offense appears to have its groove back just in time to take it to Washington.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Decoding Linehan: Cowboys offense is as strong as it can be - Bob Sturm, DMN

Sturm’s weekly Decoding Linehan piece is required reading. Click through to see the clips at the end. Watch the downfield blocking on Zeke’s 72-yard screen TD, where Brice Butler runs all the way across the field to keep his cornerback from stopping Zeke short of the goal line. Brice didn’t catch any passes, but he drew a 17-yard interference penalty, and made this block.

In other words, the Cowboys destroyed San Francisco in such a way that there is very little story to tell. They did whatever they wanted to do offensively, made very few noteworthy mistakes, and really had a full play-sheet to choose which strategy they would use next to knock the 49ers another 7-8 yards off the ball. It reminded me of the Bengals destruction of last season in Arlington where every component seemed to be working in concert with the other members of the offense and the final score was a matter of how interested they were in exposing valuable pieces to potential injury. Literally nothing else was at stake after the Cowboys scored their third touchdown early in the second quarter. The 49ers weren't beating anyone on Sunday - especially a team that has its offensive groove back.

Dallas Cowboys to sign kicker Mike Nugent with Dan Bailey hurt - Todd Archer, ESPN

The Cowboys have new kicker. They signed the one with the most experience.

Nugent, 34, lost a training-camp competition with Aldrick Rosas to be the New York Giants kicker this summer. In his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets, he has made 236 of 292 career field goal attempts.

"You want a guy who is reliable. It's really important at that position you have a guy you can trust and count on. You want that throughout your whole team at every position but that's a very valuable position," Garrett said on Monday.

ESPN Stats and Info

Believe it or not, Dak Prescott is putting up MVP-caliber numbers - Cole Patterson, BtB

Speaking of Dak, check out Cole’s article on Dak’s outstanding performance.

However, the Cowboys also have a quarterback that is putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season. Dak Prescott has been on absolute fire these past few weeks. Dak has accounted for eight touchdowns in the last two games (six through the air, two on the ground) and eleven scores in the last three. After putting together a historically great rookie campaign and taking home NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, the 135th pick of the ‘16 draft has been even better this season.

With more playing time, Taco Charlton closer to sack breakthrough - Todd Archer, ESPN

The Cowboys cut Damontre Moore, so there’s one less competitor for DE snaps.

Charlton did not record a sack, but he had two quarterback pressures and a pass breakup, according to the coaches’ breakdown.

“He needs to play more,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But he fought well, he competed well, he was around the ball. Made his presence known a little bit at the line of scrimmage knocking the ball down. So he’s getting there. He’s going about it the right way in practice. It’s a good opportunity for him to play a lot of snaps in that game. He’ll grow from that experience.”

Charlton is aware of the talk about him, but he said is driven more by his expectations.

No anthem conspiracy here: Cutting Damontre' Moore was strictly a football decision - David Moore, DMN

Speaking of Moore, here’s one take on why he was cut. I would have cut Kellen Moore and Ben Benwikere (before his conditional pick kicked in) ahead of him. But this was also a low-cost cut.

Moore was credited with seven tackles and four hurries in his brief time with the Cowboys. Has he been more productive than rookie Taco Charlton?

The answer is yes. But did anyone think the club would cut its first-round pick to make temporary room for a journeyman kicker?

The Cowboys looked at their numbers in the defensive line, factored in that Charles Tapper should return from the injured list before the season is over and came down to this: release Moore or defensive end Benson Mayowa to make room for Nugent?

The club has a larger financial investment in Mayowa. Moore lost out on yet another argument on why to keep him.

Coming up with a road map for Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence's future - Todd Archer, ESPN

Speaking of defensive ends, count me among those who feel Dallas will re-sign Lawrence to a long-term deal this offseason, and not try the franchise tag. Frankly, they just have to. One of Archer’s Five Wonders.

The Dallas Cowboys will face an interesting decision on DeMarcus Lawrence next offseason. He is second in the NFL in sacks with 9.5 in just six games. He has already set a career high. He is just 25. He would be one of the most sought-after free agents if he hits the open market. The Cowboys have been looking for a pass-rusher since releasing DeMarcus Ware. They can’t be cavalier in this decision. But they have to be prudent, as well. Lawrence has had two back surgeries, so there has to be caution. I wonder if the Cowboys will do with Lawrence what they did with Anthony Spencer a few years ago. They placed the franchise tag on Spencer in back-to-back years, paying him roughly $21 million for two seasons instead of locking him up with a long-term deal. The tag for defensive ends in 2017 was roughly $17 million. Maybe the transition tag would be more palatable, but then the Cowboys would have a right of first refusal only if Lawrence signed with another team.

Dallas Cowboys' season will be defined over the next four weeks - Todd Archer, ESPN

The Cowboys are entering a critical stretch. If Zeke gets another reprieve, can the Cowboys possibly sweep these four games? They won 11 in a row last year.

How the Cowboys fare in their next four games should determine the success of their season.

This Sunday, the Cowboys are at the Redskins. On Nov. 5 they host the Kansas City Chiefs and close out the stretch at the Atlanta Falcons (Nov. 12) and at home against the NFC East-leading Eagles (Nov. 19).

Washington's injury situation is so bad that their practice will be limited ahead of Cowboys game - AP, DMN

One of the biggest takeaways from the Monday night brawl between Washington and Philadelphia is how many players got banged up. The Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks for the season (both of whom have hurt Dallas in the past), while Washington’s offensive line got beat up.

With another pivotal NFC East matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Redskins won't practice again until Thursday because their injured players could use the rest. Just along the starting offensive line, tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, right guard Brandon Scherff and center Spencer Long are battling injuries that will at the very least limit their effectiveness if they're even able to get on the field.

Randy Gregory expected to apply for reinstatement for 2018 season - Charean Wiliams, PFT

It may still be a long shot with Roger Goodell making the call, but if Randy Gregory can stay clean, there is no reason he shouldn’t be reinstated by the NFL. The key takeaway here is Jerry Jones’ comment at the end, hinting that Randy Gregory never should have been suspended in the first place, as marijuana use is not performance enhancing and the NFL is the harshest of the major sports in testing and punishing for it.

Randy Gregory becomes eligible to apply for reinstatement Nov. 6, which is 60 days before his suspension ends. But the Cowboys defensive end isn’t expected to reapply until the offseason, sources said.

Since the NFL rarely renders a decision within the 60-day period, and given the regular season ends before the one-year anniversary of Gregory’s Jan. 6 suspension, seeking reinstatement for 2018 makes sense.

“Given the sensitivity of this matter, confidentiality of the program and Randy’s privacy, I am unable to comment,” his attorney, Daniel B. Moskowitz, said. “However, I will confirm Randy has every intention of getting back on the football field.”

“I wouldn’t get into what we’re going to do there, and what he’s going to do there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on DFW’s 105.3 The Fan. “But I do know that as we move forward with the league relative to how we handle a situation like Randy Gregory, his opportunity to play will get better and better. He’s, I think, the classic case of potentially what we ought to consider when we’re looking at some of our substance issues.

Imagine if the Cowboys had Randy Gregory on the field this season to pair with DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Tyrone Crawford, and Maliek Collins? He would give them the speed around the edge to go with the power guys. They would rival any line in football.