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Cowboys news: Texans game cancelled, ending preseason for Dallas

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Cowboys also get more good news on injury front, plus all the rest of the headlines and updates you need.

Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys
Sad for the reasons why, but the players still appreciate not having to play another meaningless game.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Texans, Cowboys Preseason Game Cancelled « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth staff
Priorities.

“The Houston Texans have made the decision to travel back to Houston after local authorities have now found a safe route for the team to drive home today. The fourth preseason game scheduled for Thursday night in Dallas will be cancelled. At this time, the priority of our organization is getting our players, coaches, and staff back home to be reunited with their families, many of whom have been evacuated from their homes and are currently sheltered. The team feels it is imperative to get back home to help the Houston community recover from the devestation of Hurricane Harvey."

Hall of Fame Game turns into good thing for Cowboys - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
The extra preseason game for the Dallas Cowboys wound up being beneficial.

When the schedule was released, perhaps many associated with the team did not want a fifth preseason game. But with Jerry Jones’ induction it was a foregone conclusion the Cowboys would play in Canton, Ohio.

Even with the cancellation of Thursday’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans, the Cowboys were able to play four preseason games and give themselves ample time to make evaluations on players at the bottom of the roster.

Here's everything athletes and teams are doing to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston - James Dator, SBNation.com
This is just a partial list of what is going on, but if you need your faith in humanity boosted, this is worth your time.

Houston needs our help.

The Cowboys had their annual kickoff luncheon on Wednesday, and Michael Irvin was absolutely inspirational. If you’ve got a few minutes, it is worth your time.

Annual award winners for the team were announced.

Cowboys Get Positive News Regarding Hitchens; LB Still Expected To Miss Time | Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
After fears Anthony HItchens might miss the entire season, the outlook has steadily improved. Now he may not even go on IR.

While the big news surfacing around the Cowboys on Wednesday centered on the cancellation of Thursday’s game with the Texans, the club did get some positive news in terms of a key defensive starter.

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who suffered a knee injury in last week’s game with the Raiders, will not need surgery. MRI results did not show any ligament damage, meaning it’s unlikely the team will place him on an eight-week IR list.

The initial diagnosis of a tibia plateau fracture and expected recovery of eight weeks hasn’t changed. As it stands, the Cowboys could be hopeful to get Hitchens back on the field even before the Oct. 15 bye in Week 6. That's a much better scenario than immediately following the Aug. 26 game when the Cowboys feared a possible season-ending ACL injury.

Justin Durant On Filling In For Injured Hitchens: “I’ll Be Ready To Go” | Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
When the Cowboys brought back veteran Justin Durant, it was seen as an insurance move to provide linebacker depth. Now they team is ready to cash that policy in, even though he wound up not playing in any of the preseason games.

“We just decided that we were going to be kind of slow in working in because I getting up there in age and I didn’t participate in the offseason program,” he said. “We were just going to take things slow from the start. Initially it was to play some last week, but we just came to the decision that it wasn’t really something that we wanted to do, so we didn’t do it. I’ve been ready to play. I’ll be ready to go when the time comes.”

The Cowboys know what Durant can do. He has played all three linebacker positions during his previous stops in Dallas and will likely absorb some of Hitchens’ snaps at middle linebacker.

Scout's Notebook: Defense Shines In Final Practice Of Training Camp | Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Among his always interesting observations, Broaddus gives a nice rationale for how the Cowboys can use their personnel to cover things at the MIKE linebacker spot.

When Jerry Jones spoke on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan, he talked about Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant as one player while filling in for Anthony Hitchens. I believe that we're going to see Smith on early downs and Durant on passing or nickel situations. At this moment, Durant is a better cover man than Smith -- and by that I am talking about awareness. Durant has a feel for where he needs to be in coverage and a great example of that was when he was waiting on Noah Brown on a crossing route. Durant had an idea that he was going to get Brown underneath by the bunch formation the offense was in. Once Brown crossed, all Durant had to do was step up and knock the pass from Cooper Rush away. It's these types of plays that lead me to believe this is going to be how they play the Mike linebacker spot.

Sturm: I loved what I saw from the Cowboys' new blue-chip player | Bob Sturm, SportsDay
During the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, there were a lot of people expressing concern about La'el Collins drawing three penalties in short order. But Sturm looked at his entire game, including a lot of work against last year's defensive player of the year Khalil Mack, and came away with a much more optimistic take.

All in all, I loved what I saw. I saw competence and excellence from a player who is figuring things out but also has already been paid handsomely because the Cowboys know he is going to be something, too.

I did not see a "rough go", but in Silva's defense (and others) 3 penalties is 3 penalties anyway you rationalize it. Clean that up and the Cowboys have another blue-chip potential player at right tackle. Doug Free was very good for a decade, but penalties and athletic mismatches caught up to him. Collins will not face many athletic mismatches. He is going to be very good very soon, in my estimation.

Cowboys' offensive line not worried, even without continuity - Todd Archer Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
One ongoing concern through the preseason has been the lack of snaps taken by the projected starting offensive line group, whether the left guard position is eventually manned by Jonathan Cooper or Chaz Green. But they don't seem to be worried.

And Travis Frederick, the All-Pro center, knows there is a bit of hypocrisy involved in the continuity talk.

"I'm going to talk out both sides of my mouth here," Frederick said, "and tell you continuity is awesome and that the more time you spend with guys, the better you understand them and can play with them. But also the way that this system is built is that everyone is taught to fit into the system so that the parts are interchangeable. So it shouldn't be a drop-off when you go from a starter to a backup, as far as what the techniques are."

In other words, continuity only matters until it doesn't.

2017 NFL OL Outlook: Top Two Offensive Lines in Football - Brandon Thorn, Inside The Pylon
Some may take a bit of umbrage at this article ranking the Cowboys' O line second in the league (behind the Oakland Raiders), but a little perspective comes from this take putting the two teams as the total membership of what the author considers elite units.

The Cowboys have the three best OL in the league at their positions entering the 2017 season (LT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick, and RG Zack Martin) and as a whole were easily the best OL of the 2016 season. Each of these players are just 26-years-old, entering the prime of their careers. Having a single dominant player on the OL is rare in the NFL, let alone three, but Dallas has done an absolutely brilliant job acquiring each player through the draft, all first-round home runs.

What made the Cowboys OL so great and difficult to prepare for in 2016 derives from their mastery of technique, leverage, and angles combined with a wide variety of blocking concepts to draw from. This made them an unpredictable and difficult unit to prepare for mentally as well as physically.

Which Teams Have NFL's Best Offensive Lines? - Gary Horton, FanRagSports
In one of those frequent coincidence, this writer also put up his list of elite offensive lines, which totals five teams. He disagrees about number one (he has the Pittsburgh Steelers there, with the Raiders at 3), but comes to a similar conclusion for his number two spot.

2. Dallas Cowboys – They are the most talented line in the NFL. The Cowboys established elite production up front by drafting guys high and letting them grow and improve. They have been a run-heavy group with Ezekiel Elliott, and even with him suspended for six games that will likely not change. They can man or zone block, but they really excel when they can pull and trap and win one-on-one battles. They do not have quite the depth that we have seen, but they are smart and well-coached by Frank Pollack. Remember, Bill Callahan (elite line coach now at Washington) coached these guys when they came into the league and he knows how to develop linemen as well as any coach in the NFL.

2017 NFC Preseason Power Rankings - BenGrimaldi, SportsTalkLine
Here is a preseason power ranking that has Dallas second in the NFC. Steven Van Over has this pithy comment about their chances.

The Cowboys O is very good. It's D is getting overlooked. Big mistake.

Dak Prescott, Anthony Hitchens, Cooper Rush among Cowboys camp stories - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
The somewhat confusing and abrupt end to the preseason and therefore training camp made things a bit anticlimactic for the Cowboys. But some definite stories emerged, and in the long run, this may be the biggest takeaway for Dallas.

Best player, offense: If this award was coming out of their time in Oxnard, then right guard Zack Martin would have gotten the honor. It's not that he fell off at all when the team got back to Frisco. His work has been almost flawless, but given his position, Dak Prescott gets the award. In the padded practices, Prescott completed 213 of 296 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills with six interceptions over the life of camp. He was accurate. He was decisive. He looks ready for the season.

Why Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal is lasting for three days - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
The hearing for Elliott apparently involves more than originally thought.

Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal of his six-game suspension will last until Thursday as new witnesses are added to the list of those testifying. The initial impression was that the appeal would take place in a single day, this past Tuesday. But now, after spilling into Wednesday it has been confirmed that it will continue into Thursday.

There was brief discussion of possible interest from the Cowboys in recently released CB Joe Haden. That didn’t last long.

Report: Tony Romo 'considered' signing with Jets before retiring - Partrik Walker, 247 Sports
Tony Romo is soon to debut in the CBS broadcast booth, but he may have narrowly avoided a really bad situation in going that direction.

The Cowboys and Romo agreed on an amicable release this past spring, and he's now home with his family and newborn son as he gears up for his CBS Sports' broadcast debut this September; but the ending to this story was scathingly close to veering in a different direction earlier this year.

According to Neil Best of NewsDay Sports, Romo now admits he actually considered joining the New York Jets before he made the final call to take his talents to booth.