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Cowboys News: Why New-Look Secondary Gives Cowboys A Playmaking Defense

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys banking on quick turnaround from secondary; Cowboys go 'Dak friendly' on offense; DeMarcus Ware working out Tyrone Crawford.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys banking on quick turnaround from secondary in 2017 - Todd Archer, ESPN
After a draft that saw them pick four defensive backs, the Cowboys are confident the secondary will improve over the 2016 version.

What else would you expect Jones to say? He acknowledged that there will have to be proof when the season starts, but there is synergy in the secondary for the first time since the Cowboys moved to the 4-3 scheme in 2013 and Rod Marinelli took over as coordinator in 2014.

"These players, the way they play, were signed to fit where Rod wants them," Jones said. "We are now with our defensive philosophy. They fit the pistol right now. They're not [as if it were] Rod coming in, and they're players that fit another pistol. Rod has evolved some, but this secondary -- and, frankly, even the makeup of the defensive line -- we've got, fit the philosophy."

"We've got to have this group come together fast," Secondary coach Joe Baker said. "The nice thing about how well that group played last year is that a lot of them had been here for a long time. So they had a lot of experience in the system, they were smart guys, believed in what we were doing, and they came together well. So we've got to try to get this group to come together quickly as well."

Position Battles: Cornerback Shaping Up As Cowboys’ Most Competitive Spot - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
When Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne left in free agency, a tsunami of hot takes about the seemingly non-existent secondary flooded Cowboys Nation. A few weeks later, Phillip explains, cornerback seems like arguably the deepest and most wide-open spot on the roster.

- Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are top talents who can play multiple spots, outside and inside.

- Last year’s sixth-round pick, Anthony Brown, showed promise in nine starts last year and also made a successful transition to the slot when needed.

- Free agent signing Nolan Carroll (54 career starts) and 10th-year veteran Orlando Scandrick have the most experience.

Brand New Secondary Will Test The Chicken-Or-Egg Theory - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Sisemore explains how the Cowboys have rebuilt their entire secondary in one offseason into a playmaking unit.

The Cowboys did upgrade their pass rush with the selection of Taco Charlton, but they put in a lot more work in the secondary. Of nine picks, seven were defensive players, of that seven, four were defensive backs. The media questioned how the Cowboys could ever replace the losses of Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and J.J. Wilcox. Will McClay and Co. basically proceeded to do just that.

With that said, these guys have the football pedigrees to give the Cowboys something they haven’t had in a while and that’s a playmaking defense. In one offseason, the Cowboys gave themselves a shot at mightily upgrading a unit with versatility, production, and most importantly, playmaking ability.

Cowboys DB coach Joe Baker: Cowboys drafted bunch of 'alphas' who will make names for themselves - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Baker said he believes all four of the defensive backs they drafted have a chance to compete for a starting spot.

Baker called the defensive backs they drafted "alphas."

"They're going to come in do what they do," he added, "and they'll find a way to contribute."

Is being an "alpha" a must for defensive backs?

"Not necessarily a must trait," Baker said. "They certainly have to have confidence. And when I say 'alpha,' like in [Awuzie's] case, he's a leader. He knows the whole defense. He'll push guys. Not everybody does that that way.

"But 'alpha' in the sense that these guys are really confident, right? They know that they can play. They'll come in and they'll make a name for themselves."

Weak Spot On The Roster? - Dallas Cowboys Staff
In response to a reader question about weak spots on the team, David Helman taps the brakes on the euphoria about the Cowboys secondary.

I know I just spent the last four day praising this draft class, but we’ve still got to see them deliver on the expectations. For that reason, I’d still have to say the secondary is the most troubling area of this team. We know the offense should be fine, with its seven Pro Bowlers. The defensive line at least has experienced players. No matter how you cut it, the secondary is going to be relying on rookies and guys who aren’t used to being full-time starters. Hopefully they’re up to the challenge.

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Which Dallas Cowboys rookies have the best chance to start? - Todd Archer, ESPN
In response to a reader question, Archer explains which rookies he thinks could start in Week 1.

If I had to peg the starting defensive ends today, without the benefit of seeing a rookie minicamp, I would go with Lawrence on the left and Charlton on the right.

The naming of Chidobe Awuzie, the second-round pick, as a starter could be a technicality. The third cornerback plays more snaps than the starting strong-side linebacker. If Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll are penciled in as starters, then Awuzie would be the third corner, with Scandrick moving to the slot.

Sixth-rounder Xavier Woods has the next-best chance to start, mostly because of the uncertainty at safety.

In Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Cowboys go 'Dak friendly' - Todd Archer, ESPN
In rookie Ryan Switzer, Dallas sees a player similar to incumbent slot receiver Cole Beasley, creating a lot of fun possibilities for the offense.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones called Switzer a "Dak-friendly pick," which is perhaps the first time he swung the tag from "Romo-friendly," to "Dak-friendly."

The NFL is becoming -- or has become -- a "space player" game. Beasley is one of the more effective space players in the league. The New England Patriots operate one of the best offenses in the NFL without a narrowly defined No. 1 receiver by having space players like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

It is possible Switzer, who played running back in high school, can do some of the things in space the Cowboys asked Lance Dunbar and Lucky Whitehead to do the past few seasons, creating mismatches in the screen game or with jet sweeps.

Undrafted Series: Temple RB Among Rookie Free Agents Expected To Sign - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
RB Jahad Temple has caught the imagination of many Cowboys fans, even if the UDFA hasn't even officially signed with the Cowboys yet. Here's what Broaddus has to write about Thomas.

Plays with vision and balance. Will see the hole, make a cut and plow forward for yards. Has some shake in the open field. Will use a spin move at the line to buy him space. Not an explosive player. Doesn’t have the extended speed to finish long runs. You will see him get in the open and then get walked down. The wider that he goes the more trouble he has. Limited upper/lower body strength. Not the type to run through a bunch of tackles. Gets brought down easily. Really works hard to compete and finish but just doesn’t have the power. Will use a stiff arm when he gets in the open field. Best trait is his ability to catch passes. Does a really nice job of adjusting to the ball. Catches it in his hands. Can throw the ball low or high and he’s going to make the catch. Can get wide in the pattern or up the field equally as well. Used as an option downfield. Will need work as a pass blocker. Technique is poor. Tends to cut instead of staying square. Needs to develop better awareness when helping across the pocket. There were snaps where he got in the quarterback’s way. Nothing flashy about his game – steady and productive. Was used as a punt returner his final season.

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DeMarcus Ware is working out with Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford, Coppell alum Solomon Thomas - SportsDay Staff
Ware tweeted out some pictures on Thursday of him working out with Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford along with 49ers rookie Solomon Thomas.

At his retirement press conference in Frisco in April, the franchise's all-time sacks leader discussed the possibility of mentoring the next generation of defensive linemen in the post-playing career.

"I think one thing I like to do is teach and mentor the guys," Ware said. "I think I'll always be able to do that. I know I'll always be welcome here. You will see me out there, if Jason (Garrett) wants me to do it and Jerry (Jones) wants me to do it, coaching the guys. Some of them won't like it and it's OK. I'm always out to make sure the guys are doing what they need to do and mentoring them."

Rico Gathers' upside is too great for Cowboys to just stash away on practice squad again - Jon Machota, SportsDay
In a recent chat, Machota predicted Gathers will open the season on the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys will keep four TEs and I see it being Witten, Rico, Hanna and Swaim. Not sure what Rico will be able to do, but his upside is too great to try stashing him on the practice squad for another season. I would think at the least he could be used to create mismatches in red-zone situations.

Who's left on 2017 NFL free-agent market, and where could they sign? - Dan Graziano, ESPN
Grazanio runs though potential landing spots for 12 free agents, including the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, and Jason McCourty. The remarkable thing about this article? Not a single mention of the Dallas Cowboys.

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Drew Pearson's speech should be wake-up call to Hall voters - Clark Judge, Talk Of Fame Radio
Drew Pearson shook up the draft with his introduction of a Cowboys' pick ... and maybe, just maybe, Hall-of-Fame voters who had forgotten him.

Drew Pearson is one of only two first-team position players from all-decade teams of the 1970s, 80s and 90s (former Bears’ tackle Jimbo Covert is the other) never to be discussed.

You heard me. Never. The two not only haven’t been finalists; they’ve never been semifinalists … and that’s more than inexplicable. It’s downright wrong. You know it. I know it. And Drew Pearson knows it.

It’s about time we started talking about Drew Pearson, and that’s precisely what football fans everywhere were doing on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, you name it, following his performance at the NFL draft.

Now, maybe, just maybe, we can start talking about his career, too, because it deserves nothing less.

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Cowboys' Jerry, Stephen Jones just took NFL a big step forward in marijuana conversation - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore offers an interesting perspective on what both Jerry and Stephen's recent comments on Marijuana in the NFL mean.

Every team in the league has been reluctant to step out and become the face of this issue. The Cowboys' willingness to do so now, one week after commissioner Roger Goodell touted a more regressive stance, underscores a significant development:

Jerry Jones has taken the temperature of his fellow owners and is confident support exists. A deal maker as shrewd as Jones would never leave himself, the franchise and his brand exposed otherwise.

Ask yourself this: Would the Cowboys crawl out on this limb publicly if it had no idea whether other owners would be there to catch them? Jerry Jones didn't broach this subject in a closed session at the annual meetings in March only to come away with no idea of which way the wind is blowing.

Still America’s Team: Dallas Cowboys dominate jersey sales - Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal
Based on sales between March 2016 and February 2017, the Cowboys had three of the top four players when it came to officially licensed NFL player merchandise sales last year, and five of the top 15, according to the NFLPA.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was first followed by quarterback Dak Prescott. They were both rookies. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was third and Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was fourth. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was No. 12 and now retired Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was No. 15.

Conference USA eyeing new Cowboys practice facility as possible home for hoops tournaments - Ed Miller, The Virginian Pilot
According to sources, Conference USA is considering the Cowboys' practice complex in Frisco as a possible site to move its men's and women's basketball tournaments.

In true Dallas Cowboys style, "The Star in Frisco" is 91 acres of spare-no-expense opulence – a $1.5 billion complex that contains the team’s corporate headquarters, two practice fields, a 12,000-seat indoor football stadium with interior and exterior video boards and an entertainment district with restaurants, shops and a hotel.

Could it be the site of the 2018 Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments? A vote by athletic directors later this month will decide.

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Adjusting Passer Rating for Era - Case Stuart, FootballPerspective
Stuart calculated era-adjusted passer ratings for 185 NFL QBs. With Jay Cutler's move into the broadcasting booth announced yesterday, it's interesting to note that Cutler's era-adjusted passer rating ranks him 101st on this list, just a hair above average. Exactly average? That's Matt Stafford at 105. And just a hair below average for his entire career? Eli Manning at 118.