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Cowboys News: Elliott returns, O-Line finds its form, Beasley's ghost action

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Elliott's return sparks teammates; O-line ranked No. 1; Beasley's role in the run game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

'I think everyone is excited': How Ezekiel Elliott's return provided emotional lift for the Cowboys - Brandon George, SportsDay
Sean Lee explains the impact Elliott's return to practice had on the team.

"Anytime he's out there, the way he runs, us as a defense watching him, we feed off the type of intensity he plays with," Lee said. "We'll definitely feed off of that [against the Chiefs]."

"It's great to have him back," Lee said. "He's an unbelievable player. We love playing with him.

"Any time he's on the field the way he practices and then in the locker room with the type of personality he has he's infectious. So having him back is huge."

Elliott returns, but Cowboys will need more playmakers against Chiefs - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Big plays and turnovers will likely be the key to game with the Chiefs.

The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points in four consecutive games. Kansas City can score, too. And they can score fast.

Turnovers will likely decide the game. The Chiefs are among the best at taking the ball away with 13 so far, and their offense has protected the ball well, giving it away only three times. The Cowboys have similar success in protecting the ball, and the defense has turned a corner in the takeaway department, with three in each of the past two games. Not surprisingly, they’ve won the past two games.

Cowboys want to put lots of pressure on quarterback Alex Smith, Chiefs - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys face a big task in creating pressure on Alex Smith.

The Cowboys have 25 sacks through their first seven games.

The Chiefs are loaded with playmakers on offense, but getting to Smith early and often might be the equalizer.

Schwartz is one of the highest-paid right tackles in the game, and Lawrence is looking to be one of the highest-paid pass rushers, already with a league-leading 10.5 sacks. This will be a battle all day between two former second-round picks who have excelled this season. Lawrence is one sack away from becoming the fourth player in NFL history to record a sack in his team’s first eight games since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.


NFL Week 9: Cowboys O-Line Finds Its Form - Andy Benoit, SI.com
Benoit shares an interesting observation about Cole Beasley's role in the run game.

They also have Cole Beasley. The sixth-year slot receiver has been a sneakily important piece of the ground game lately because of how he’s used on ghost action. Dallas’s best runs against San Francisco and Washington were when the ball flowed one way and Beasley went the other way. That’s a great tactic against a matchup coverage defense like Kansas City’s, where a defender is more likely to run with Beasley. And it’s a Chiefs run defense that’s allowing 4.9 yards a carry—third worst in the NFL.

Cole Beasley clears concussion protocol, ready to play Sunday vs. Chiefs - Brandon George, SportsDay
Beasley worked through the concussion protocol this week, but was a full participant in practice on Friday. He's officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley said Friday he will play Sunday against Kansas City after clearing his final test in the league's concussion protocol.

Beasley said that while he never suffered any serious concussion symptoms, he did feel some side effects from his helmet hitting the ground when the Cowboys tested him on the sideline during the game.

"It wasn't crazy," Beasley said. "It was just kind of some dizziness when I hit the ground and it only lasted for a little while. I was able to pass most of the concussion test stuff, but some of the stuff we did, it started making me kind of nauseous and made feel like I was going to throw up, and they held me out."

Byron Jones knows Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will be a test - Todd Archer, ESPN
Jones may have one of the toughest assignments in today's game, as he'll be asked to cover Travis Kelce.

Travis Kelce enters the game tied for the most catches by a tight end in the NFL with 44. His 556 yards are the most by a tight end. He also has four touchdowns.

“He’s just his own beast,” safety Byron Jones said of Kelce.

The Cowboys will mix up their looks against Kelce. Sometimes they will use Jones in man coverage. Other times they will use zone to limit him. They could throw linebackers Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens on him at different times, too.

“Just play ball,” Jones said. “We’re going to have some calls where we’re going to put the best matchup on him. That’s what it is going to come down to: winning a rep.”

Chiefs activate Tamba Hali from PUP list, paving way to make season debut - Jared Dubin, CBSSports.com
With their starting pass-rushers both injured, the Chiefs are looking to Hali to provide some help against the Cowboys.

[Andy] Reid mentioned that Dee Ford will miss the game against the Cowboys after not practicing all week due to a back injury, and the Chiefs listed Justin Houston as questionable after he sat out Friday's practice entirely following limited sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

We don't yet know how much Hali will get onto the field in his first game, but his presence is already important for a Chiefs team that suddenly looks like it's going to need him to play a big role.


Dallas’ David Irving says time with Chiefs ‘changed my life’ - Pete Grathoff, The Kansas City Star
Irving is grateful the Chiefs gave him his first shot after he went undrafted in 2015.

In 2015, Irving told The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff that his agent and high school football coach arranged a one-man Pro Day at San Jacinto High in California after he left Iowa State. Seven teams were on hand as Irving ran a 4.84-second 40-yard dash and had a 38-inch vertical leap.

Irving was not drafted but signed with the Chiefs and took part in training camp before he eventually landed on their practice squad.

“In college you have a couple of star players,” Irving told The Star in 2015. “In the NFL, the starters are stars. The backups are stars. The threes are stars. Everyone is big, strong and fast. And I learned quickly then I couldn’t do things my way. Coaches changed my stance, my steps and told me that was the way it had to be done.”

Those tips from the Chiefs obviously paid off, because he was poached by the Cowboys just weeks after the start of the 2015 season.

“I look back all the time. It’s crazy how it turns out,” Irving told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I never thought I’d be in the NFL regardless once I left Iowa State. It’s been crazy, man. It’s changed my life. And, again, if the Chiefs hadn’t have called me, I wouldn’t even be here right now. I don’t know where I would be.

“It changed my life and I’m grateful for that. Now I’m here and I’m grateful for this opportunity. I look back on it all the time, man. It’s life changing.”

Stephen Jones: Cowboys, Elliott at 'end of the rope' in deciding whether to serve suspension this season or not - Staff, SportsDay
Stephen Jones talked about Elliott's suspension earlier this week on 105.3-FM.

With each week being a new battle with Ezekiel Elliott's potential suspension, as the six-week mark nears the postseason, is it time for a definite decision on if/when he'll miss time?

Jones: A fair question. Who's to say - should he be out against the Chiefs (this week) or against the Raiders (in Week 15, seven weeks from now)? I do think we're at the end of the rope in the line where there's going to have to be a decision made whether ... it's going to be time to serve the suspension, or it's going to roll into a longer, drawn-out process that wouldn't involve him being suspended this year. I do think that's coming to an end here more than likely next week.

So, I think the bigger decision is do you serve it now? We've talked about it internally, what gives you the best chance to win three in a row and give your team a lot of momentum?

Really felt like we're good with Zeke playing this game. [It was] certainly talked about, but [we're] ready to go and think that if we can win this game and get on a three game winning streak and beat the Chiefs, then that's a big positive for this football team as we head into the second half of this season.


Podcast: NFL Week 9 Preview & Trade Deadline Recap - Cynthia Frelund and Matt "Money" Smith, Game Theory & Money
Cynthia Frelund and Matt "Money" Smith look back at some big trades that happened in the NFL before the trading deadline and then use predictive analytics to preview all of the Week 9 matchups.

Chiefs-Cowboys is their game of the week, and while they did the pod before Zeke was unsuspended, there is still a lot of interesting useful information as part of the game preview (which starts at 11:28) ...

  • The KC defense gives up the most big plays (10+ yd runs, 20+ yd passes) per game (8.9) in the league
  • KC defense is allowing a 54% red zone conversion on defense
  • Dallas isn't much better, giving up the 8th most big plays per game (6.6) and a red zone conversion rate of 57%
  • The Cowboys have been able to protect Dak, allowing the 2nd fewest sacks in the league (9) and the 6th fewest QB hits (4.3 per game)
  • Alex Smith has been incredible, with a passer rating over 140 on deep passes.

Before factoring in the return of Zeke Elliot, Cynthia's analytics predicted a 24-21 win for the Kansas City Chiefs. After adding Zeke back in, she is predicting a 27-26 win for the Chiefs.

Here's a 1-minute teaser video teaser for the podcast from NFL.com.

Redskins fall to Cowboys 33-19 via The Lone Ranger gifs. - jrhoo, Hogs Haven
Hilarious effort from Hogs Haven in this post, which tells the story of last week's game entirely with Lone Ranger gifs. A sample:

Dallas answers back far too easily. The defense is treating Elliot like...