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Cowboys News: Can Denver's run defense stop “Daylight Runner” Ezekiel Elliott?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Can Ezekiel Elliott exploit a weak Denver run defense? 15 sacks for Demarcus Lawrence? More.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

3 key matchups for Cowboys-Broncos: Can Ezekiel Elliott exploit a weak Denver run defense? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota identifies the Cowboys' ability to run the ball as a key to tonight's game.

The Broncos had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last season, allowing 130 yards per game on the ground. It looked like more of the same for Denver on the first running play Monday night. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon ran off left guard for 21 yards. But the Broncos clamped down, allowing only 43 yards on the final 21 carries.

Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' offensive line will be a much tougher challenge. Elliott also has to be accounted for in the passing game. He caught a career-high five passes last weekend.

"We call him a daylight runner," Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "He has great vision. He just runs to the daylight. He finds the hole. It's going to have to be a team defensive effort just in terms of gang-tackling and guys staying in their gaps to control him in the run game."

Dak Prescott: 'Taking care of the ball means a lot to me, yes' - David Moore, SportsDay
Here's how Prescott prepares to play mistake-free football.

"As I said, my main focus is taking care of the ball, keeping the ball in our team's hands. I mean, whatever the stat is really doesn't mean anything. You've just got to go out there and take care of the ball week in and week out."

"I think I prepare really hard to do that, to know what the defense is going to give me," Prescott said. "I measure out my risk and rewards throughout practice and know the throws I can make chances on in the game to try and eliminate 50-50 interceptions and things like that."

"That's what it means to me, that I'm playing winning football, I'm not turning it over," Prescott said. "Having the record doesn't mean anything.

"Taking care of the ball means a lot to me, yes."

15 sacks for Demarcus Lawrence? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
In a recent chat, Machota talked about expectations for some Cowboys pass rushers.

Q: When he's back, you do you think David Irving will be a better pass rusher than DeMarcus Lawrence?

Jon Machota: I don't. Irving has the tools to be an NFL starter but I don't know that he will ever become a Pro Bowler. I think Lawrence has that ability. Yes, his huge game Sunday night came against Bobby Hart and a below average Giants offensive line, but Lawrence has the talent to get to 14 or 15 sacks in a season. If he does that, he'll not only make the Pro Bowl but he'll get paid like one of the better pass rushers in the game.I don't know that Irving will ever become that caliber of player.

Punter Chris Jones unheralded star of Cowboys’ opening win - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Chris Jones had four punts inside the 15-yard line Sunday night against the New York Giants and was critical in the Cowboys winning the field position battle. But his kicks were not the product of simple chance.

Jones, 28, has perfected his pooch punt, or as he calls it a “flip-flop kick,” over the years. Jones punts the ball from the “nose up,” which makes it rotate more along the lines of a kickoff and betters the odds of it bouncing backwards or sideways.

“That’s something I’ve really worked on since I’ve been here,” Jones said. “Doing those flip-flop kicks is usually how I start my day, getting loose.”

Jones has perfected it to the point where he doesn’t have to try and take something off his kick. He knows the angle to drop it, which allows him to kick it as hard as he wants with it only getting a certain amount of distance.

“Now it’s just instincts, and your body takes over because you know what it’s supposed to feel like,” Jones said.

NFL ratings down for Week 1 - Frank Schwab, Yahoo Sports
There are no presidential debates to provide a convenient excuse for the NFL television ratings drop this time, but that just means that more agenda-driven nonsense will be offered up as explanations for the drop.

We already knew the ratings for the Thursday night opener were down. The Kansas City Chiefs’ upset over the New England Patriots drew a 14.6 rating, down 11.5 percent from last season.

Then on Sunday, CBS’ regional games were down 17 percent, Fox’s regional games were down 28 percent, and the Fox’s Sunday afternoon national game dipped 17 percent, according to Yahoo Finance.

The first and second games of the “Monday Night Football” doubleheader were down 12.5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

According to NBC Sports, ratings for the Cowboys-Giants game was up 5 percent over last season’s Sunday night opener. It drew a monster audience of 24.2 million viewers.

If I were an NFL owner, I'd have some serious questions for the commissioner about why the heck ratings are dropping for the second straight year, and perhaps wonder if Marc Cuban was right after all: this is entirely a home-made problem.

"Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule No. 1 of business."

Cuban was specifically referring to the NFL's recently expanding its television package. He considers it a poor business decision for the NFL, which consistently dominates TV ratings, to play games on days other than Sunday and Monday.

Cuban said the NFL is making a mistake by valuing television money over the convenience of fans who are used to planning for their NFL teams to play on Sundays with occasional Monday night games. He compared it to the decline in popularity of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" after the game show expanded to air five days a week.

"They put it on every night," Cuban said. "Not 100 percent analogous, but they handled it the same. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."

NFLPA responds to NFL filing on RB Ezekiel Elliott - ESPN Staff
The NFL's response to the NFL's latest nuisance suit is simple: There is no irreparable harm to NFL if Ezekiel Elliott plays during the legal battle.

The filing is the latest in the back and forth between the NFL and its players' union over the Elliott suspension and its larger impact on league discipline.

On Friday, the NFL asked the appeals court to overrule the Texas federal judge who granted a preliminary injunction of Elliott's suspension. The league is seeking a decision as early as Tuesday and as late as Sept. 26.

The NFL ultimately wants to get the case moved from Texas to the Southern District of New York. That was the venue for the league's successful appeal after a federal judge had overturned New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension in the Deflategate case.


The Cowboys traveled to Denver yesterday, and as is often the case, the team published pictures of their players boarding the plane to Denver. These pictures typically have captions like “All smiles to Denver!”, “Focus.”, or “Big guys ready for the big matchup!”.

Our own Landon McCool decided to spice things up a bit and re-captioned some of yesterday's player pictures: