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Cowboys News: Rams on high alert for unblockable Demarcus Lawrence

Latest Cowboys headlines: Rams say Lawrence is a “scary player”; Sean Lee questionable; keys to victory.

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Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Final Thoughts: Looking For Chunk Plays On Offense; More - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus looks at two specific areas where the Cowboys might be able to take advantage of a Rams weakness.

When you play a team like the Rams, that has some really good pass rushers, you have to do things to try and help your teammates. Quarterbacks have to be careful not to get in a rhythm, which allows those rushers to get a jump off the ball. The film shows the Rams are an anxious group when it comes to getting off the ball. Quarterbacks like to play with the snap count, especially at home. Dak Prescott is smart enough to realize that if he can steal a free five yards or take a shot on a free play that he needs to try. He has a veteran offensive line and tight ends, so it is something worth considering.

It has been a strange start to the season for the Rams defensively. Success against them has come in a couple of different ways. They’re allowing an alarming rate of big plays. Through three games they’ve allowed 15 plays of 20-plus yards -- and that hasn’t mattered whether it’s on the ground or through the air. To make matters worse, they’re near the bottom of the league when it comes to red zone scoring. Exactly 66 percent of their opponents’ trips have resulted in touchdowns and this can be traced to their inability to tackle well as a unit. They’re last in the league when it comes to allowing yards after the catch. The Cowboys have the personnel to make them pay if they continue this trend.

Week 4 NFL predictions: Scores for every game - ESPN
The beat writers for each team give their picks for Week 4, and there's no difference in opinion about the outcome of the Rams @ Cowboys game.

Alden Gonzalez: This will be the Rams' biggest test of the year -- on the road against a Cowboys team that won 13 games last season. Dallas' offense hasn't hit full throttle yet, but it should soon. The Rams' defense is better than it has shown the past two weeks while allowing a combined 806 yards to the Redskins and 49ers. But the Cowboys will be a little too much to handle here. Cowboys 31, Rams 21

Todd Archer: The Cowboys are coming off a short week. The Rams are coming off a 10-day break. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would like to make a statement against the team that fired him in the middle of the 2010 season. Jared Goff spent last year hearing how the Rams should have selected Dak Prescott. This game will be another grind-it-out affair but one in which we see Ezekiel Elliott finally look the way he did a year ago since he’s facing the 29th-ranked run defense. Cowboys 23, Rams 20

Scout's Eye: Pressuring Goff, Neutralizing Rams' DL Are Keys to Game - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus offers two keys to the game.

For the Cowboys to win this game, they’re going to need to make Jared Goff play fast. When he gets behind in the down and distance, that’s when you see his liabilities as a quarterback. The Cowboys have done a nice job of creating pressure in passing situations throughout games. They’re second in the league in sacks by quarter, so if they can get Goff off schedule, they can limit his effectiveness.

Like the Cowboys, the Rams can create pressure with their front. They’re near the top when it comes to sacks, but because of yardage allowed on first down -- not to mention yards allowed after the catch – they have struggled.

Big plays have led to opponents scoring big in the previous two games. If the Cowboys are able to block this Rams defensive front, especially in the passing game, then their secondary could be in big trouble.


Ezekiel Elliott back on Track, Unblockable DeMarcus Lawrence - Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com
Prisco shares 10 interesting things to watch in Week 4, two of which are Cowboys-related.

Ezekiel Elliott looks to get on track

Elliott has just 192 yards and is averaging 3.5 yards per attempt. That's not good enough. But he did have 80 yards on 22 carries last week against the Cardinals. The Rams have allowed the fourth most rushing yards in the league so far, so there could be an opportunity for a big game for Elliott.

Can anybody block Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence?

He leads the NFL in sacks with 6.5 after getting three last week against the Cardinals. He has emerged as a force for a Cowboys defense that needed it in the worst way. He will be matched up a bunch against Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein. That could be the matchup that decides the game.

Rams on alert for Cowboys' fearsome pass rusher Lawrence - USA Today
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay is saying that it will take a comprehensive effort to limit Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

"Just flip on the tape and he's a scary player," McVay said. "He can wreck a game if you're not careful."

That challenge will come down to how right tackle Rob Havenstein performs against the pass rusher in critical moments.

The Rams spent much of the offseason experimenting with right guard Jamon Brown moving to tackle and Havenstein sliding inside before reversing course midway through training camp.

VIDEO: Cowboys DT Maliek Collins wants to be the sack leader when the season ends - FOX Sports
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line is in a fierce sack competition and DT Maliek Collins is determined to beat DeMarcus Lawrence by the end of the season. And if the Rams focus too much on Lawrence on Sunday, perhaps Collins can start closing the gap.

DeMarcus Ware on Cowboys' DeMarcus Lawrence: 'I thought I saw a flash of myself' - Todd Archer, ESPN
Lawrence leads the NFL with 6.5 sacks and is turning a lot of heads.

"I thought I saw a flash of myself," Ware said after the Cowboys' win over the Giants. "He played well. He's coming along and you can see how much he has matured. He's maturing to the point where he's not a DeMarcus Ware lookalike, it's DeMarcus Lawrence. He's becoming his own man."

"The key is my back is feeling good," Lawrence said. "And I'm paying more attention to details. It's slowing the game down a lot for me. Plus, my coaches and my players are helping me get in the right position to make plays."

"The attention can only go so far when you've got a dominant 3-technique, and I feel like Maliek is that guy," Lawrence said. "He's going to be able to take a lot of pressure off of me."

"It's a contract year, so what?" Lawrence said. "I want to be here forever. This year don't define me as a player. Y'all might say it's because it's a contract year, but the first year I was balling. My second year I was balling. My third year I had trouble with my back, so it didn't seem like I was there. This year doesn't define me."

Ezekiel Elliott believes there will be gains after the growing pains - Todd Archer, ESPN
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is still looking to match last season's success, but he says it'll come.

“We’ve had a little bit of growing pains in the first couple of games, but we’re getting there,” Elliott said. “We’re getting into our rhythm.”

“We’ve just got to do a better job of executing on first and second down,” Elliott said. “That’s kind of where we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot. We’ve had a lot of penalties early so we find ourselves behind the chains and that’s to the defense’s advantage, and we’re used to being more comfortable when we get 3, 4 yards on first down then another 4 or 5 on second down so we can convert on shorter third-downs rather than being in third-and-long.”

More than half of the Cowboys’ third-down chances so far (13-of-25) have been 10 yards or longer. They have converted just once.

“The only way these guys are going to get better is to go out and play these games,” Linehan said. “We felt like there’s marked improvement last week from the previous weeks and that’s certainly from Week 2. It’s going to be a growing pains, work in progress over the year, and we feel like that’s going to be something with the expectations will continue to grow and get better with these guys playing new positions for us.”


Sean Lee will be game-time decision vs. Rams - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Lee is battling a hamstring injury and hasn’t practiced all week. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Rams.

“He’s a great football player and undoubtedly the leader of our defense, but it goes beyond that,” Garrett said. “He just makes a ton of plays. I think he makes everybody around him better, but injuries are a part of the game. If he’s able to play, obviously we’d love to have him. But, if he’s not, put somebody else in there and we’ll keep rolling.”

If Lee isn’t able to go, Justin Durant would start at weak-side linebacker with Smith in the middle and Damien Wilson at strong-side. Durant saw his snaps increase last week against the Arizona Cardinals. He played 32 snaps compared to just three in the first two games.

The Cowboys would likely carry just four linebackers on the active roster if Lee can’t go. Jaylon Smith, Durant, Wilson and Kyle Wilber would be the four, and fullback Keith Smith would serve as an emergency linebacker for the team.


Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence to appeal fines - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys defensive ends were fined after celebrating a third-quarter sack by pretending to shoot a gun toward the stadium's roof.

The players were fined $12,154 apiece after celebrating Lawrence’s third-quarter sack of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Television replays show Crawford and Lawrence appearing to shoot a gun toward the roof of University of Phoenix Stadium.


NFL Draft order after three weeks - Chris Trapasso, CBSSports.com
Looks like the Giants may now have the draft capital to finally get an NFL-quality quarterback.

1. Cleveland Browns (0-3)

2. San Francisco 49ers (0-3)

3. Los Angeles Chargers (0-3)

4. New York Giants (0-3)

...

29. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

30. New England Patriots (2-1)

31. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)

32. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs (3-0)