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Cowboys news: Titans/Cowboys preview - Amari Cooper’s impact, players to watch, and a tribute for Witten?

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Oakland Raiders v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

How to watch Dallas vs. Tennessee: NFL live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds - Staff, CBS Sports
The Cowboys are favored by 5.5 points in their matchup against the Titans. CBS Sports provides a quick breakdown of the basics for what you need to know for this contest.

Dallas is a solid favorite in this one, with an expected 5.5-point point margin of victory. After a dominant victory in their game three weeks ago, Dallas was humbled two weeks ago. It was close but no cigar as they fell 20-17 to Washington. A silver lining for Dallas was the play of Dak Prescott, who accumulated 273 passing yards and picked up 33 yards on the ground on 6 carries. If you haven’t heard Prescott’s name lately, then you haven’t been paying much attention: he has loomed large in their past six games.

Meanwhile, Tennessee has been struggling to pick up a win, with their match against the Chargers making it three winless games in a row. Tennessee and the Chargers were almost perfectly matched up, but Tennessee suffered an agonizing 20-19 loss. Having both suffered close losses, both of these teams will no doubt be fighting for every inch to win this one. We’ll see which team satisfies their hunger and which team leaves with an empty stomach.

Well, the MRI results are back and it doesn’t appear that David Irving will be playing on Monday night.

It is unclear how much time he could miss.

Here is the final practice report for each team:

The Cowboys game will be on ESPN Monday night for the whole world to see, but what about Sunday’s action? 506 Sports hooks us up with a TV schedule map to let us know what games will be on in our area.

Amari Cooper will start, play a significant role - Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
The time we have all been waiting for is almost here. Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has played catch up since arriving in Dallas last week.

Despite the fact that he will have only five practices, Cooper will start Monday night, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Friday. Not only will Cooper start, but he will play a significant role.

Cooper spent his off week in California, gathering his belongings. It worked out perfectly with Cowboys receivers coach Sanjay Lal also in Northern California. The two met at a park in Dublin a couple of hours each day. Cooper also spent time on the phone with quarterback Dak Prescott.

Amari Cooper’s Dallas Cowboys debut expected to bring instant impact - Jori Epstein, USA Today
The Cowboys will finally be able to show off their new offensive toy and quarterback Dak Prescott can’t stop raving about his new weapon.

“The quick twitch,” Prescott said of his new receiver, whom Dallas traded its first-round 2019 pick to Oakland for last week. “The quick twitch and then that transition to the explosiveness he has. He’s a guy on the line, his releases, you just kind of shake your head like, ‘Dang.’

“He’s a quick-twitch guy who has a lot to offer.”

Cooper’s quick twitch, football intelligence and quick grasp of Dallas’ offense the last 11 days have impressed teammates and coaches ahead of his debut in a Dallas uniform Monday night against the Tennesee Titans. Cooper is expected to start at receiver and play most if not all snaps that include a receiver in the scheme.

2019 NFL Draft WRs: Another Down Year for Receivers in the NFL Draft - Kalyn Kahler,
An explanation of how the weak 2019 daft class at wide receiver was behind the trade for Amari Cooper.

Sending their 2019 first-round pick for the talented yet inconsistent Cooper is a sign that the Cowboys are taking a win-now approach in the wide-open NFC East. But it could also signal that Dallas doesn’t see a receiver in next spring’s draft whom they’d rather have than Cooper.

The MMQB polled five team scouts who all agreed that there isn’t a stud receiver in the 2019 class, a second straight down year at the position. One evaluator (who doesn’t work for the Cowboys) believes the trade made sense because none of the draft’s receivers measure up to Cooper.

This Cowboys defense is no 'one-year-wonder,' and here's why - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
Sherrington ties the Cooper trade to the emergence of a strong defense in Dallas.

Is the Cowboys defensive success sustainable, or will this be a one-year-wonder for the unit?

Sherrington: I don't know why it wouldn't be sustainable. They're not doing it with smoke and mirrors. It's all about talent in the NFL, and they've got a lot on defense. Premium pass rusher in Lawrence, who they have to sign to a big deal. If they could ever get David Irving focused on football instead of all the problems he encounters in a reality-TV life, he'd be a big-time force. The CBs are young and very talented. The LBs may be the best group they've had since the '70s. I'd argue that they still need another safety, but the group is growing in stature.

What's happened with the Cowboys is that they've flipped the script: the defense is now the more talented, consistent group. It's why I think the Cowboys could still be a playoff team. They just need to get the offense to a level approaching what it was before. Wouldn't take much. A big reason for the Amari Cooper acquisition.

Five things we’re looking for in the Cowboys’ Monday night clash with the Titans - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
While Cooper is the shiny new toy, don’t be surprised if his addition brings about increased production from a rascally old veteran.

Cole Beasley and Amari Cooper helping each other Prescott spent his Friday afternoon talking with reporters about how Amari Cooper helps Cole Beasley. In Friday’s practice, the Cowboys attempted five deep passes to Cooper in a statement that they will stretch defenses. “(Defenses) got to scout for him,” Prescott said of Cooper. When that happens with Cooper, not only will it help the run game and Elliott, but Beasley might also get free to make more plays from the slot.

Beasley is the Cowboys’ leading receiver and has made the majority of those plays from the slot. Prescott loves to find Beasley late in the game when he’s trailing because it gives the Cowboys opportunities to get the ball downfield quicker. If Cooper is getting a safety shaded his direction, expect Beasley to get free more often. He’s so good at getting open from the slot on the slants, and if the Cowboys move Cooper to the slot, it creates more chances.

Have injuries started to catch up with Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith? - Newy Scruggs, SportsDay
While the debut of Cooper has caught everyone’s attention, the performance of the offensive line still weighs heavy on people’s mind. Will the coaching change come to the rescue or are there problems that go much deeper? Scruggs singles out one player who just hasn’t been the same this season.

Who is the one Cowboys player that has surprised you in 2018?

Scruggs: I am surprised that Tyron Smith has not played as well in 2018. I wonder if all the injuries have started to catch up with him. He is still a very good left tackle but this season he has not played at HIS standard. Watching games with former Dallas Cowboys player and former NFL defensive coordinator, Dennis Thurman, is great because he sees so much. He told me early in the season Smith is not the same player. He pointed out how he was getting beat. Thurman thinks speed guys are now a problem for Smith. The five time Pro Bowler has dealt with back issues since 2016. I wanted to talk with him after the Washington loss but he turned down interviews after the loss. I won’t put this on fired offensive line coach Paul Alexander but let’s see if the promotion of Marc Columbo helps Smith and the rest of the line improve.

Colombo Wants “Nasty Attitude” From O-Line - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
New offensive line coach Marc Colombo is going to back to what’s worked in the past as he tries to bring some nastiness back.

Marc Colombo laid out his message as the Cowboys’ new offensive line coach the only way he knows how: Blunt and intense. “We’ve got to get back to our roots the past few years here, which has been a nasty attitude,” he told reporters Friday.

Colombo said he’ll re-introduce some of the concepts the veteran linemen are more familiar with that also happen to be part of his own background as a coach and former player.

Colombo with a very honest evaluation of his group.

Titans-Cowboys: 3 Titans players to watch Monday - Crissy Froyd, Titans Wire
After the departure of former Cowboy DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry hasn’t grabbed the bull by the horns like many expected. Can he turn things around in the second half of the season?

After talking about stepping up all season long, running back Derrick Henry was finally able to make an impact in the Titans’ last game against the Los Angeles Chargers, with two receptions for 32 yards and 12 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown. Between the apparent rebound of the offensive line and the addition of fullback Jalston Fowler, Henry could finally in good shape to bounce back on Monday.

Where can Titans offense take advantage of the Cowboys defense? - Jimmy Morris, Music City Miracles
Our sister site recognizes how good the Cowboys defense is playing, but was able to identify a potential hole that can be exploited.

The Cowboys are really good on defense. They rank 3rd in total yards per game allowed, 3rd in passing yards per game allowed, 9th in rushing yards per game allowed and 2nd in points allowed. Those are pretty daunting numbers*. There doesn’t appear to be any weakness there. I had no idea they had been that good until I started looking at the match-up this week.

There are a couple of areas where the Cowboys defense can be exploited. They rank 22nd against the tight end and 24th against the running back in the passing game. They have up 14 catches and 80 yards to Saquon Barkley and 8 catches and 73 yards to Alfred Blue(!). Hello Dion Lewis! I would love to see Lewis get 6-8 targets in this game.

Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Dallas Cowboys - Jim Wyatt,
The Titans base camp provides their game preview, including what their head coach thinks about the Cowboys defense.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel on what jumps out on film when watching the Cowboys:

“Well, they’re No. (3) in defense. They’ve got a great defensive line. They’ve got guys that are long on the edges that are active. They’ve got a unique three-technique, who is very long. He’s not a big, powerful guy per se, from a 320-pounder, like some of the guys that we’ve played. But, he’s got great length, he spins, he’s a unique skillset in (Tyrone) Crawford. (David) Irving is tough to handle. Woodsy (Antwaun Woods) is playing good for them, he’s playing tough in there. Taco Charlton, and obviously Demarcus Lawrence, he’s great. They’ve got great linebackers, good scheme, sound scheme, so it’s going to be a challenge. They’re second in the league in defense, and scoring, and they’re really good in the red zone.”

Gut Feeling: Predictions For Cowboys-Titans - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
The writing staff over at the Mothership provide their predictions for this weeks game. Everyone is feeling good about the Cowboys chances this week.

Nick Eatman: There are lots of reasons why picking the Cowboys make sense. I like the fact they are coming off a bye week. I know the Titans are as well, but for the Cowboys, the off week has given them time to make some necessary changes that will help. I think Cooper will make just a slight help this week, but that might be enough. Another thing helping this team will be the offensive line change. Can Colombo help in one week? Yes, in this case, I think he can. This offensive line has been challenged. Paul Alexander just got fired because this group is playing below standards. The players can say all they want to that it’s the scheme, or technique, or just poor communication with their coach. All of that might be true, but let’s not forget those five guys aren’t playing their best football, at least not together. So they’ll have something to prove as well, and they’ll want to play well for Colombo. My prediction is the first play of the game will have everyone chuckling about the O-Line not looking better at all – maybe a sack, or tackle for loss or even a penalty. And then after that, they will come close to dominating the game. Big week for Zeke, maybe 150 total yards and I think the Cowboys win this one somewhat comfortably, 27-16.

Jason Witten hears the noise ahead of his ‘homecoming’ Cowboys broadcast. Here’s what he has to say to his critics. - Brad Townsend, SportsDay
An old friend is coming home.

The game will pit Witten’s native-state Titans against the franchise for which he set records for games played (239), receptions (1,152) and receiving yards (12,448), in the North Texas region where Witten and wife Michelle are still raising their four children. “A little bit of a homecoming, and it’ll certainly be emotional for me,” Witten said. “Why wouldn’t it be, after 15 years and so many relationships inside that building, with fans and teammates and management and coaches and all that stuff?”

Last year Jason Witten narrated the Tony Romo tribute video at AT&T Stadium for Romo’s broadcast of a Cowboys game. Will Tony return the favor on Monday night when Witten returns to Dallas for his first Cowboys broadcast?

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