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Cowboys News: Rico Gathers and Cooper Rush fever spreads in Dallas

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All of the latest Cowboys news and links for your Monday morning.

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rico Gathers scores flashy TDs, but he found another significant way to contribute against Rams - Jon Machota, SportsDay

While all of the hype flooding social media surrounding Rico Gathers is about his touchdown grabs and physical prowess, Gathers says the coaching staff has been coaching him to “finish”. Machota explains how Gathers is working on the little things to make an impact on the football field.

"The flash plays, they stand out, but it's all about the little things," Gathers said. "The little things is what's going to make you elite."

Late in the third quarter, Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown caught a short pass and turned it into a 19-yard gain. But near the end of the run, Brown fumbled.

Gathers hustled down the field and was able to recover the ball. Two plays later, he caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Rush.

"It showed up really and truly with that fumble recovery," Gathers said. "If I would've never ran all the way down, that ball could have very easily been for the Rams and that touchdown could've never been set up for us."

Rico Gathers Grabs Another Jump-Ball TD: “It’s My Ball; It’s Like A Rebound” - Rod Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

The former Baylor Bears hoops star has shown off his ability to box out a defender and his leaping ability on more than one occasion. “It’s my ball”, the Cowboys tight end proclaims.

“We talked about it before the game and we already knew if that play came up, what to look for,” Gathers said. “My job was to get open and his job was just to put it up there.”

Sort of like an alley-oop to the former Baylor power forward. Or simply grabbing a basketball off the glass.

“It’s my ball,” he said. “It’s like a rebound.”

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers makes case for roster spot - Tyler Horka, NFL.com

Horka writes that his performance so far gives the former basketball player a great chance of making the 53-man roster come September.

If a ball is up for grabs, odds are Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers will grasp it.

When basketballs flung off the rim during his time at Baylor, Gathers snatched them effortlessly. He averaged 10.3 rebounds per game during his final two seasons as a forward for the Bears.

When footballs fly toward him on the field, he seizes them just as easily. The former basketball player caught his second touchdown in as many weeks In front of 62,888 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

"You put it up there, I'm going to definitely make a play on the ball to go get it," Gathers said after the Cowboys lost to the Rams, 13-10. "Nine-point-nine times out of 10, I'm going to come down with it."

Let’s put Rico Gathers and his ever-growing hype into proper perspective - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys

Despite all of the (expected) hype and excitement about the Cowboys’ freakish tight end, BTB’s RJ Ochoa makes sure to put everything into perspective. While he will likely be on the active roster, Rico Gathers is still likely behind Geoff Swaim and James Hanna. Why? Well, because they are better blockers for Dallas at this stage.

There are a lot of great elements to Rico Gathers’ game. He’s so fast considering his size, he has incredible hands for someone so new at this, and oh yea his size is literally larger than practically anyone on earth. Does this mean that we’re ready to trot him out as the primary tight end after Witten, remembering that he is still new at this, when things really matter?

Both Geoff Swaim and James Hanna have shown great production where it matters for the Dallas Cowboys - the run game. Swaim and Hanna contribute significantly as blocking tight ends, and considering this is the bread and butter of the Cowboys... that element wins out right now. Both Swaim and Hanna have not just more but actual experience at this level while Rico doesn’t have any at any level.

It’s silly to say that simply because Rico Gathers is not the veteran that Swaim or Hanna are that he’s below them on the depth chart, and that’s not what we’re doing here. The perspective here is that what Swaim and Hanna provide overall are to be heavily weighed against what Rico adds - a dynamic weapon in the pass game.


Cooper Rush fever spreads after latest outing with Cowboys - Peter Wallner, Bay City Times, Michigan
The Michigan papers are keeping a close eye on former Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush.

Cooper Rush turned in another strong preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys and, just like that, there's talk of him becoming the team's No. 2 quarterback.

That's still unlikely but he was the best news coming from the Cowboys after their 13-10 loss Saturday to the Los Angeles Rams.

Rush fared much better than his competition. Kellen Moore, the projected backup, went 8 of 17 for 69 yards, while Luke McCown went 6 of 13 for 31 yards and fumbled twice.

That ignited further talk about how far Rush can go this preseason. He also played well in the preseason opener.

Cooper Rush Shines On Lackluster Night For Cowboys' Quarterbacks - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

As you know by now, undrafted rookie Cooper Rush was one of the bright spots from the Cowboys’ second preseason game. Helman writes on the performance and Rush’s push to climb up the depth chart.

One year after Dak Prescott’s coming out party in a preseason loss to the Rams, it was hard not to think about it when Cooper Rush took the field in the same situation.

Alright, maybe it’s not the same situation. Prescott is now firmly entrenched as the Cowboys’ starter – so much so that he didn’t even play on Saturday night. And Kellen Moore, whose injury opened the door for Prescott last summer, is in command of the backup job.

But still, after watching Moore and the first-team offense sputter to 69 first-half passing yards, it felt like a revelation to watch the undrafted rookie take the field in the third quarter.

Cooper Rush impresses on down night for Cowboys QBs - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram

Rush’s outing caught the attention of quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. Wilson was impressed and said the former Central Michigan star’s throw to Rico Gathers was “fantastic”.

“I was really impressed with Cooper,” quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. “He was seeing the field extremely well, making good decisions, throwing the ball accurately. He’s had an ability to step his game up into games over what he does in practice, which is a good trait.”

The most impressive throw by Rush happened in the third quarter when he hit tight end Rico Gathers down the left seam for a 25-yard touchdown. That was the only TD on the night for the Cowboys.

“It was fantastic,” Wilson said. “And the best thing about it was his eye discipline. He got the safety to move away from Rico, looked him off, and then made a perfect throw to Rico.”

Cooper Rush needs to be the Dallas Cowboys primary backup quarterback - Cole Patterson, Blogging The Boys

I wrote after the game that Dallas Cowboys need to replace Kellen Moore with rookie Cooper Rush as the second guy on the QB depth chart. Moore simply doesn’t have what it takes. I noted that the Cowboys simply look different with Rush in at quarterback.

Against the Rams, Rush gave the Cowboys life. After a sluggish performance with Kellen Moore in the game, the Cowboys looked to have a jump in their step with number 7 behind center. The confident undrafted rookie completed nine of his eleven passes — hitting his first eight before his first incompletion — for over 100 yards and a score. He marched the Cowboys down the field and hit freakishly athletic tight end Rico Gathers for six on a beautiful dime from 25-yards out.

I also wrote that the season is likely over if Dak goes out for any extended period of time, but that the rookie out of Central Michigan at least seems to give the ‘Boys a better chance than with Moore running the offense.

The undrafted quarterback has impressed in both contests this August. He had an impressive career on the collegiate level and is an older, mature rookie. Through the first two games, it has been blatantly obvious that Rush has a higher ceiling than Kellen Moore. While the season may be over if Dak goes down for an extended period of time, Rush at the very least looks to give the Cowboys a better chance of winning than Moore does.


Scout's Notebook: Xavier Woods' Big Night; Other Defensive Standouts - Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com

What about the defense, though? While Rico and Coop stole the show in LA, the defense had some great play, too. Bryan Broaddus writes what caught his attention on the defensive side. He liked how Woods played.

The coaching staff has to be pleased with the way that Xavier Woods played. Woods received an extensive look early in the contest and held up well throughout. I had some questions about his ability to play as a down safety in the box, but he showed me that any concerns that I had were unnecessary. Woods is a highly intelligent player -- but more importantly, he showed a physical side as well with some big hits.

Here is one of the key plays that Woods made against the Rams:

Helman referenced watching the game film with Broaddus and notes that Woods “was one of the biggest bright spots”.

Another player that Broaddus came away impressed with was first-round selection Taco Charlton. He notes Taco’s improvement from the first game to the second.

Better game from Taco Charlton. He played on the Rams’ side of the ball, which was different than what I saw last week against the Cardinals. He was more active and by playing that way, it put him in better position to make plays -- which he was able to do. His technique wasn't poor and his conditioning looked improved. Keep an eye out for him playing some nickel tackle, working with DeMarcus Lawrence in the future to create some pressure on opponents.

Which undrafted free agent on the defensive side has the best chance of making the team? Broaddus believes it’s former LSU d-lineman Lewis Neal.

If you ask me which undrafted free agent has the best chance to make the squad right now, Lewis Neal would be my guy. He doesn't have the ideal height, but he makes the most of his traits in the way he plays. The Rams inside three had a difficult time handling him. Early in the game, it appeared that each time the Rams snapped the ball he was in their backfield. Neal has a nice feel for how to shoot the gap and play with that leverage to finish the play.

Xavier Woods is looking like the newest Dallas Cowboys diamond - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys

Xavier Woods not only impressed Bryan Broaddus, Ochoa was also impressed by the Louisiana Tech product. Ochoa believes the Cowboys may have just found their next diamond.

Dallas let a lot of players from their secondary walk in free agency, and right now it might be fair to say that the most-missed is Barry Church. His fellow safety JJ.. Wilcox though, well people have been trying to get rid of him for years... until he played eh-kind-of-somewhat well recently.

Xavier Woods has, for the moment (it’s a very small sample size), made us all forget about J.J. Wilcox. He’s a younger, cheaper, more-understanding-of-basic-angles carbon copy of J.J.

During the preseason game in Los Angeles, Xavier jarred a fumble out that Kavon Frazier recovered. The play would be reviewed and deemed an incomplete catch, but the epic nature of the moment was something that could not be overturned. He laid the wood so to speak (I hate myself for taking the lay-up pun), which is something he did frequently during his days at Louisiana Tech.


Could Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott play vs. Giants in Week 1 with legal Hail Mary? - James Kratch, NJ.com

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will appeal the NFL’s decision to suspend him for six games. Could he delay his suspension? James Kratch writes that if Zeke takes the matter to court, there is a possibility that he can be on the field for week one.

Elliott's appeal will be heard before the Giants' season opener in Dallas against the Cowboys on Sept. 10. Elliott is likely to lose that appeal outright, though, with a minimal chance for a suspension reduction. Even if the ban is reduced, he would still miss the Giants game.

However, if Elliott were to lose his NFL appeal, he could decide to take the league to court like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after his Deflategate suspension.

Elliott would be a heavy underdog to ultimately prevail if there is a legal battle, according to Sports Illustrated's legal expert Michael McCann. The running back may be able to delay the suspension with a court injunction, though, which could put him on the field in Week 1.

Jason Garrett not sure Ezekiel Elliott will play in preseason - Todd Archer, ESPN

Will Zeke see the field during the preseason? Jason Garrett isn’t sure yet, Archer reports.

After the Dallas Cowboys' 13-10 loss Saturday to the Los Angeles Rams, coach Jason Garrett said there have been no discussions about Elliott’s status for the final three preseason games.

“If he were to play, I think he would play probably in a similar fashion as he did last year,” Garrett said.

Elliott played in just one preseason game as a rookie, gaining 48 yards in seven carries against the Seattle Seahawks. He was limited through most of training camp with a hamstring strain last summer, which led to him not playing in the first two preseason games. Along with the rest of the starters, he did not play in the final preseason game.

Even without Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys have faith in run game - Todd Archer, ESPN

While the Cowboys wait during the appeal process, the team is forced to plan for life without Zeke for the first six games of the 2017 season. The Cowboys are confident in who they have in the backfield.

“Obviously you lose a guy who’s very talented, but we’ve got a lot of guys who can run the football and run it very successfully in this league,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “We’re excited for those guys to get some touches, and I think they’ll be ready for the load.”

McFadden had five 100-yard games and two with more than 90 yards after taking over for Joseph Randle in 2015, and he did it with uneven quarterback play. Tony Romo started and finished just one game during McFadden’s spell as starter.

“My body still feels good,” McFadden said. “I feel great, just getting out there running, just getting carries and getting warmed up. I’m definitely going to be able to handle a load.”

He might not have to. Since joining the Cowboys as offensive coordinator in 2014, Scott Linehan has relied heavily on one back. In 2014, DeMarco Murray had 392 carries for a league-leading 1,845 yards. McFadden had 239 carries in 2015 with Randle coming in second with 76. Elliott had 322 carries last season, with Morris coming in second with 69.

McFadden: “I Don’t Feel Like I’ve Missed A Beat” From 1,000-Yard Season In 2015 - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

One back the team will rely on during Zeke’s absent is veteran Darren McFadden. McFadden believes that he is ready to carry the load.

McFadden now has the opportunity to seize the starting role he held for most of the 2015 season, prior to the club selecting Elliott fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. He rushed for 1,089 yards that year and believes he’s ready to step in as needed.

“For me, it starts with practice,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of practice reps and I feel like I’ve been going out there, just going out there and getting back in sync, going out there and doing it. Just trying to carry it over to the field on Sundays.

“I don’t feel like I’ve missed a beat from (2015) even though I didn’t play much last year. But I feel like I definitely get back to that status.”