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Cowboys news: Amari Cooper wants to be among the elite at his position

Check out today’s latest and greatest news surrounding America’s team!

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Cooper wants to be the best WR in the NFL: ‘Even when I’m covered, I’m not covered.’ - Clarence E. Hill, Jr., Star-Telegram
Amari Cooper has been one of, if not the best, WR in the NFL over the last six games. He thinks he could be the best wide receiver in the NFL.

But the laid-back Cooper is seeking greater validation as the top receiver in the league alongside the likes of Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, Atlanta’s Julio Jones, New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr., or Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown.

“It is important for me to go out and earn that right,” Cooper said. “It feels great. I feel like that I what I am here for. I feel like I am capable of being that. I feel like that is who I am. It’s about showing it every week. The confidence is there. I always felt like I could be the best receiver in the league or amongst the best. It’s just about going out there and showing them.”

Cooper is certainly showing them.

And while many people always knew he had the talent, the surprise is that he is doing it so quickly in Dallas and with so much aplomb after being largely average for the first six weeks of the season with the Raiders.

Michael Irvin says Jerry Jones should get Exec of the Year consideration - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Irvin looks to be in an early holiday mood.

Irvin said he believes Jerry Jones deserves consideration for NFL Executive of the Year for making moves that he says could change the franchise for the next decade -- the trade for Cooper, even though it required giving up the 2019 first-round draft pick, and for drafting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round.

”I really do believe,” Irvin said, “that when you take a guy like Vander Esch in the draft and then you make a move like Jerry made for Amari Cooper -- when everybody said ‘Oh no, don’t do that. You overpaid’ -- has to be considered for executive of the year. When you make those kinds of moves to improve your football team for one year that could help your team improve for the next 10 years, you got to start giving consideration for that.”

It’s ok to admit Raiders trading Amari Cooper to Cowboys was good for all parties - Levi Damien, Silver And Black Pride
An interesting look at the Raider side of thing post-trade.

When the Raiders traded Coop to the Cowboys just before midseason, I came out and said immediately that it was a good trade for the Raiders. When Coop had a touchdown in his first quarter of play with the Cowboys — matching his entire season total with the Raiders — and I pointed that out, rage was the response. And I don’t even know how the fans thought that was supposed to be a slight against the Raiders. It was merely an interesting stat that could just as easily speak poorly on Coop as it could the Raiders. But regardless; rage.

When Coop broke out for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns in his fourth game in Dallas, and I mentioned it, the response was that he would disappear again. So, in other words; rage.

Last week when Coop showed he wasn’t disappearing, and put up a career high 217 yards and 3 touchdowns, and I mentioned it; rage. I was called a hater. More than once, actually. Despite there being nothing negative in my words, because I DARED give credit to Amari Cooper and fans couldn’t gloat that he was going to tank with the Cowboys, I was a hater.

Do yourself a favor, and lighten up. Be happy for Coop. Accept that this is one of those trades that should have been made because it was just good for all parties. And that’s ok.

Dak Prescott nearly set NFL record, and no one noticed – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Odd choice for an article title, but interesting observation nevertheless about Dak Prescott's recent MVP-esque play:

While Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys defense have gotten most of the credit during the Cowboys’ five-game winning streak, Prescott quietly has played MVP-esque. His 75.1 completion percentage over the past five weeks leads the league, and he has passed for 1,471 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 106.8.

“Just a whole lot more comfortable,” Prescott said. “It’s as simple as that. Trusting everything that I am seeing. If I see it, I like it, letting it rip, not hesitating on anything. That is something I put in my head earlier in the season when I realized I wasn’t as comfortable as I wanted to be. Just trying to get back to that. It started in practice.”

When will Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and WR Michael Gallup finally connect on the deep ball? ‘When we need it most’ - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie-wide receiver Michael Gallup have “just missed” on deep balls three weeks in a row. Hairopoulos writes what all of us are wondering.

There is more going on than just Prescott’s reappearing inaccuracy. At other times, Gallup said he has a tendency of looking back too soon. That’s a no-no for receivers.

”I have a problem with that, I look too early,” he said this week. “You’re not supposed to look until at least 20, 25 yards down field. I need to look up. ...That’s the hardest thing, once you get past your defender, you’re just supposed to dig.”

Gallup, who has 27 catches for 404 yards and a touchdown, said he’s seen improvement from earlier in the season and believes he’s earned Prescott’s trust to try to get him the ball.

”I want it so bad, it’s definitely going to come,” Gallup said.

Said Prescott: “We’re going to get there. Honestly maybe [need] just a tad bit of air from me. It’s not much, and that’s how close it is. We’ve talked about it, we’ve said before, we’re getting close just keep going. It’s going to hit when we need it most. ...We’ll connect.”

Scott Linehan says Dak Prescott has the ‘it’ factor in the clutch, calls him a closer - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
Prescott was unbelievable in the fourth quarter and in overtime against Philadelphia last week, but that wasn’t just a one-hit wonder.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan credits Prescott’s mental toughness for his abilities as a closer and having the “it” factor in the defining moments of games.

“I think it’s the only way to describe it,” Linehan said. “I don’t know, it’s just an intangible quality of mental toughness and perseverance and a relentless state of mind. I don’t know what it is, it’s something. It is used a lot. It’s something. I don’t know what they call it.”

Whatever they call it, Prescott has shown it and been about it throughout his career with the Cowboys. It was most recently displayed in last week’s 29-23 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles extending their winning streak to five games. The Cowboys are going into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts one win away from clinching the NFC East title for second time since he replaced Tony Romo as starting quarterback in 2016.

It marked the 13th time that Prescott has led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, which ties Detroit’s Matt Stafford for first in the NFL.

Report: Cowboys internally discussing possibility of bringing back Barry Church - Staff, SportsDay
Barry Church was released by the Jaguars yesterday.

NFL Network's Jane Slater reported via Twitter that the Cowboys are discussing the possibility of bringing ex-safety Barry Church back to Dallas.

If Church clears waivers with no team claiming him within 24 hours from his release, the Cowboys could then negotiate with him.

Throughout the Cowboys' five-game win streak, their stingy defense has become their identity. Still, it doesn't hurt to have more depth heading into the playoffs.

Four Must-See Matchups in the NFL Week 15 - Kevin Clark, The Ringer
On Sunday against the Colts, we’ll see whether Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott can be effective against a primarily zone defense.

It’s hard to learn much about teams that become relevant in the second half of the season. The Cowboys are unquestionably good, but they’ve been so for only five games, a small sample size, so you have to be careful about drawing too many conclusions. But there are lessons to be be learned during this winning streak.

Last week’s game against the Eagles suggested that Amari Cooper is apparently a better play-caller than offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Late in the game, Cooper signaled a change in the play call to quarterback Dak Prescott, which resulted in a 75-yard score.

Two weeks ago, the Cowboys showed they have enough defensive talent to shut down an elite offense like the Saints.

On Sunday against the Colts, we’ll see whether Cooper and Prescott can be effective against a primarily zone defense. According to Sports Info Solutions, “Though [Prescott] has an 80 percent completion percentage versus zones, it’s almost entirely short-pass based. He has no touchdowns and two interceptions on 91 attempts.”

Cowboys vs. Colts: Previewing the Indianapolis defense - David Howman, BloggingTheBoys
Want to know the ins and outs of the Colts defense? Take a look at BTB’s own David Howman’s breakdown.

This stellar run defense can be attributed primarily to three players: Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, and Clayton Geathers. These three lead the team in tackles and have been pivotal in many of the stops the defense has made against the run. Leonard is a second-round rookie who has been the starter and heart and soul of this unit, and his 135 tackles leads every defender in the league; he also has 11 tackles for loss. Walker was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017 and has come up big alongside Leonard with 97 tackles of his own, while Geathers, the starting strong safety, frequently plays in the box as if he were another linebacker and has come up with 79 tackles.

Scout’s Eye: How To Handle Colts’ Pressure - Bryan Broaddus,
Matt Eberflus’ defense has been making a ton of noise recently. Bryan Broaddus of the mothership breaks down how the Cowboys OL can handle the Colts pressure.

Eberflus’ scheme, in principle, is as same as the one Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard use -- but the noticeable difference is in the way he uses his blitz packages. With my own eyes, you can see the way Eberflus uses his defensive backs as weapons to attack opposing offenses. With Marinelli you would see an occasional slot blitz as part of the pressure package, but with Eberflus it’s not only cornerbacks rushing, but you will get a safety as well.

Eberflus is gambling that he can get his rush home before your quarterback can get the ball off. For the Colts to win this game, Eberflus is going to have to force this offensive line, tight ends and running backs to be solid in pass protection. He has defenders that can rush the passer, but his ace in the hole is these extra defensive backs he uses as blitzers.

If the Cowboys struggle to handle those extra rushers, then it could be a long day attempting to throw the ball in key situations.

Cowboys Defense Can’t Be Caught Off Guard by Colts’ Quietly High-Powered Offense - Vincent Velotta, 12Up

Trap game? Let’s hope not. The Colts offense is better than advertised, and the Cowboys better be prepared.

Quietly but surely, the Colts have been the league’s eighth-best offense in terms of both yards gained and points scored. This has largely been due to the outstanding play of Luck, who has thrown for over 3,700 yards with 34 TDs and 13 INTs. Combined with outstanding pass protection (Luck has only been sacked 16 times) and a trio of capable running backs, Indianapolis matches up well with just about anyone offensively.

Dallas can feel the same way about their defense. Ranked second in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed, the Cowboys have a tremendous defense that stacks up well against both the pass and the run. Something’s got to give during this matchup.

Zack Martin won’t play Sunday; Sean Lee questionable - Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Who’s in and who’s out for Cowboys @ Colts?

Cowboys right guard Zack Martin has never missed a game in his five seasons. But his 77-game starts streak will end Sunday.

Martin no longer can play through his sprained MCL, needing at least a week of rest.

He left Sunday’s game after 66 snaps, missing the final 33 in the Cowboys’ overtime victory over the Eagles.

With the NFC East all but clinched, the Cowboys are afforded the luxury of resting Martin longer if need be to get him healthier for the postseason.

Rookie Connor Williams will start in Martin’s place.

The Cowboys also ruled out tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist) and defensive lineman David Irving (ankle).

Receiver Tavon Austin (groin), defensive end Randy Gregory (not injury related), linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), receiver Lance Lenoir (illness) and left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) are questionable.

Will Cowboys DE Randy Gregory play against the Colts Sunday after missing practices? - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
Randy Gregory was absent from practice on Thursday and Friday dealing with a personal issue unrelated to his substance abuse issues.

Gregory is expected to return to Dallas on Friday and travel with the team to Indianapolis for Sunday’s crucial game against the Colts.

Garrett says he sees no problem with Gregory playing on Sunday and reiterated that his absence had nothing to do his ongoing recovery from substance abuse issues. He missed the entire 2017 season under NFL suspension before being reinstated prior to this season.

He has missed practice a couple of times to meet with the director of the NFL substance program in Chicago. But that has nothing to do with absences the past two days.

The Cowboys will need Gregory against the Colts, who have given up the fewest sacks in the league.

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