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Cowboys News: Can the defense step up against the Cardinals?

All of the latest news and links heading into the Cowboys’ game with the Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon Smith: No mental hurdle returning to site of severe knee injury - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram

Jaylon Smith is ready to go. Great news for both he and the Dallas Cowboys.

But Smith has returned and finds himself as the starting middle linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys heading into Monday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. He’s focused on that rather than the venue.

“I don’t focus on the past and things like that,” Smith said. “We’re looking for a great opportunity to play against a great team in the Arizona Cardinals, looking forward to going out there and getting their all.”

So there’s no mental hurdle?

“No, no, no. None whatsoever,” Smith said. “From the start, God got me. You know what I mean? So I don’t go out there worrying about anything of that nature.”

DeMarcus Lawrence has been good, but Cowboys need more - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram

Davison writes on three key match ups for the Cowboys as they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

Arizona offensive tackle Jared Veldheer vs. Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence: Lawrence is healthy and looking to cash in during his contract year. He’ll have to continue his productivity this week against a Cardinals team that likes to throw deep passes with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer. Lawrence must win his match-up vs. Veldheer and make Palmer uncomfortable in the pocket.

Cowboys @ Cardinals: “Nothing has hurt as much as Carson Palmer just hasn’t been good.” - Dave Haplrin, Blogging The Boys

Dave Halprin talked with Revenge of the Birds to gain more knowledge about the Cardinals ahead of Monday’s game.

Blogging The Boys: With David Johnson out, how have the Cardinals tried to compensate? Who is getting the playing time and how have they done?

Revenge of the Birds: There is no one way, it has truly been a committee. Kerwynn Williams got the first crack and didn’t do much, finishing with just over 2 yards per carry on nine carries. Which gave an opening to Chris Johnson who took it, winning out with 11 carries for 44 yards. It looks like Johnson will get the bulk of the work early, with Andre Ellington being the receiving back. Ellington played the most snaps, 30, but only had two carries and three catches. If you are looking for fantasy advice… don’t play a Cardinals running back. If you are looking for who to watch for, it really will depend on the hot hand. Ellington is the receiving, third down back, but Williams and Johnson will be a wait and see type each week. Arians will go with who is working… And by working I mean who is getting over three yards per carry.

Can Cowboys’ defense limit Cardinals’ big-play ability? Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys

The Cowboys defense, without Chidobe Awuzie and Nolan Carroll, need to prevent any big plays from the Cardinals offense, without David Johnson, on Monday Night Football.

That will be the key for the Cowboys’s defense is to keep them behind the chains. They can’t allow Arizona to have any semblance of a running game because that’s what gashed them against the Broncos. After only allowing 35 rushing yards to the Giants in week one, Denver opened up deep cuts with 34 rushes for 164 yards and 4.82 yards-per-carry.

Dallas was the best run defense in the league a year ago, never allowing a single 100-yard rusher in 16 games. They allowed C.J. Anderson to rack up 118 yards in week two. That cannot happen against the Cardinals or they are in big trouble. Not having David Johnson tote the rock is a big break for this Cowboys’ defense. With that said, we need to see this defense complete the tackle and plug the holes. Dallas has been run on 51 times for 4.2 yards per clip though last week’s game is weighing heavily on that stat line.

Even if they’re able to stop the run, keep in mind that J.J. Nelson is ninth in receiving yards with 163, has a 16.3 yards per catch, and a touchdown in each game. Fitzgerald is still making plays too as he moves all over the formation. The Cowboys will be tested by these receivers and a veteran quarterback.

Elliott’s hustle, energy level will be watched closely against Cardinals - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram

After all the talk about him “quitting” last week, the Cowboys star running back will have a little more attention on him on Monday. Davison also writes on five other storylines to watch, including Dak bouncing back.

Ezekiel Elliott’s lack of effort on some plays against the Denver Broncos last week trumped his suspension battle with the NFL during the rest of the week.

At least for one week, his play on the field was more of a concern than his legal battle.

Zeke’s effort

Ezekiel Elliott is still involved in the well-documented legal fight with the NFL and created a stir over his “lack of effort” on a couple Broncos interceptions last Sunday in Denver. Elliott owned up to it and said he has to do a better job in those situations. Let’s see him back it up against the Cardinals.

How will Dak respond?

Dak’s response

Dak Prescott acknowledged that the loss in Denver was the most “humbling” experience of his young career. He was flustered by the Broncos defense, and couldn’t rally the Cowboys. He’s confident he’ll bounce back against the Cardinals, and must do so to quiet the critics ready to paint him as a “bus driver” and “game manager.”

Are the Dallas Cowboys enabling RB Ezekiel Elliott? - SportsDay

Tim Cowlishaw joins Rich Eisen to discuss various topics including Ezekiel Elliott and who the best team in the NFC East is.

Let's go straight to the money question, are the Cowboys enabling Ezekiel Elliott in some shape, way or form?

Cowlishaw: Yeah, I mean, I think Jerry Jones, he is the great enabler. He not only signed Greg Hardy, he made all kinds of excuses for Greg Hardy as that season went along and Hardy didn't produce. So this isn't new for him to defend players he thinks can really help the team, to make every excuse he can for them.

Now, there's a line somewhere between the natural support of a teammate and enabling, and there's also kind of a frustrating thing here for everyone that the evidence against Zeke that got him a six-game suspension is probably, at best, a little shaky given what the investigator said. And given the texts from the woman that everybody had seen. So, it's not nearly as cut and dry as the Greg Hardy thing was.

This is an odd situation. But, yeah, there's no question Jerry is doing the enabling. Now I think, behind closed doors, Jason Garrett ... is trying to knock some sense into [Zeke]. I don't know if it will pay off.

WHOOP! Tony Romo making waves in the booth again with his best Chris Berman impression - SportsDay

The SportsDay team gathered some clips of Tony Romo’s performance in the booth during the Packers-Bengals game on Sunday. Here’s a few:

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