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Cowboys news: Ezekiel Elliott case to be heard Thursday

Plus injury updates and an in-depth Sean Lee film analysis.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys a force in NFC with or without Ezekiel Elliott - - Jeffri Chadiha
All the continuous drama swirling around Ezekiel Elliott has overshadowed something that is pretty noteworthy in its own right: The Dallas Cowboys really have gotten their act together.

The Cowboys may not like what is happening to Elliott, but they'll have to weigh the costs of losing him sooner than later. This team currently is playing well enough to win at least three of the games he'd have to miss. The question is whether they're comfortable doing that now or if they want to risk not having him for a potential playoff game. At this stage, the latter choice seems like too big a gamble to accept.

Yes, Elliott is an indisputable star. He's also one of the team's emotional leaders, a guy who can energize a room simply by walking into it. However, these Cowboys are still a young team learning some valuable things about themselves. The biggest lesson so far is that there's more to their current success than just having their best player on the field.

Tyron Smith of Dallas Cowboys uncertain vs. Atlanta Falcons with groin injury | ESPN - Todd Archer
The Cowboys are uncertain about the status of Tyron Smith for Sunday's game against the Falcons. The left tackle has been dealing with a groin injury that sidelined him for part of Dallas' win over Kansas City.

Smith has not practiced on a Wednesday over the past month because of the back tightness that has crept up occasionally since training camp. He was also dealing with a hip strain. He missed two games last season with a back injury that Garrett has said is not related to the tightness he has dealt with since the summer.

If Smith can't play, the Cowboys could go with Chaz Green, who played the final six snaps against the Chiefs, or Byron Bell at left tackle.

Brian Price Headed For Knee Surgery As Cowboys Consider Help At DT | Dallas Cowboys - Rob Phillips
Brian Price needs knee surgery, which has the Cowboys looking for a replacement.

His injury is another blow to the team’s defensive tackle depth. Starter Stephea Paea chose to retire in October, citing a chronic knee condition, and the Cowboys signed 320-pounder Richard Ash off the practice squad to replace him.

Lewis Neal, a rookie out of LSU, is the only defensive lineman currently on the practice squad.

Scout’s Notebook: The Defense’s Winning Game Plan, Witten’s Hidden Plays; More | Dallas Cowboys - Bryan Broaddus
Broaddus offers a take on La'el Collins.

I can’t say enough about the job that this Cowboys offensive line did -- especially La’el Collins. There is nothing easy about facing Justin Houston and the problems that he can cause. For Collins to basically keep him off the stat sheet is a credit to the way he played. Where we tend to worry about Collins is with his technique -- which was poor last week against the Redskins, but not in this game. He was patient with his hands and set. He didn’t allow Houston to break him down like Ryan Kerrigan had.

Does Dak Prescott have best TD-INT of all time? Here's the rarefied air Cowboys QB breathes | SportsDay - Bob Sturm
No sophomore slump for Dakota.

Dak Prescott was assured that his second swim through the NFL would bring him to his knees. A sophomore slump was around the corner. And, I suppose, these are the types of fun, "yeah, but" conversations that fuel this league every week from. But seriously, through 24 games, he has generated 49 touchdowns for the Cowboys against just eight interceptions. If you are wondering what that TD/INT ratio of 6.1 does on an all-time level, according to my friends at STATS, it is the best of all time. In fact, nobody else is over 3.9 (Tyrod Taylor) in the history of the league.

Film Room | How Sean Lee Has Cowboys Defense Playing At High Level - Fanrag - John Owning
The Dallas Cowboys-Kansas City Chiefs game was billed as a race to 40; however, Sean Lee and the Cowboys' defense...

The ability to stack and shed blocks at the point of attack is becoming a lost art for linebackers in the NFL. With the rise of smaller, more athletic second-level defenders, the run-and-chase LB has become en vogue. Instead of defeating blocks, linebackers try to use their athleticism to beat blockers to their spot, which has its positives and negatives.

The negative is that when linebackers are forced to deal with much bigger blockers at the point of attack, they tend to struggle.

While Lee has the ability to run and chase as well as any LB in the league, he’s one of the few who is also comfortable taking on and defeating blocks. This was on display repeatedly against Kansas City.

Chidobe Awuzie Returns To Cowboys Practice - Fanrag - Jesse Borek
Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is expected to return to practice this week and could potentially suit up for the teams.

Awuzie’s return would be a welcome site as the team travels to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to take on the Falcons, who have seen their offense sputter in its first season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. The team still boasts the league’s reigning MVP in Matt Ryan and his high-octane wide receiver options like Julio Jones.

If Awuzie is unable to return in time for the Falcons, he’ll have an extra week to get ready for the showdown against the first-place Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 19.

Tony Romo called his first Dallas Cowboys game since retiring | - Richard Deitsch
CBS had quite a bit of faith in Tony Romo before his return to Dallas to cover Chiefs-Cowboys.

At the start of the second quarter, I thought the broadcast did something very smart—they went to a booth shot of Romo and Nantz and addressed the elephant in the room about homerism.

Nantz: “I didn’t know what it was going to be like for your return but through one quarter no 'us,' 'we’s' or 'them’s' so far.”

Romo: “Yeah, honestly I thought it was going to be tough. I played so many years here that when Kanas City has the ball I want to say, 'we.' But, no, my producer and you always say, 'Hey, it's not “we” this week, it’s the game and you are calling it.' Obviously, you loved playing for your team but I play it straight up the middle and you just watch the game and call what is happening.”

Week 9: The Dallas Juggernaut - Blogging The Boys - ivanrose
Dallas had all the answers Sunday at home against Kansas City. The Chiefs were 6-2 coming in, an upper echelon team in the AFC; but they were no match for the Cowboys.

This was the best game for the defense this year. A more formidable test than the 49ers, one would expect the Kansas Chiefs playing in the ideal dome conditions in Dallas to put up more than 17 points, but they were lucky to even get that on the board. The Dallas defense was stifling the entire game. Hounding Alex Smith were David Irving and Demarcus Lawrence, even Taco Charlton got himself a sack at crunch time.

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