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Cowboys news: Cowboys toughest stretch of 2018 schedule starts in November

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If the Cowboys can get through week 10 -14, they may be on their way.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports names hardest stretch of Dallas Cowboys schedule - Sam Quinn, 247Sports
What will be the hardest stretch of games for the Cowboys to overcome in 2018? CBS pinpoints exactly where the Cowboys will face steep competition.

That stretch of the schedule, from Week 10 through Week 14, starts and ends with the Eagles, but also includes the Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. In the stretch of five weeks, the Cowboys play a Super Bowl champion twice, a Super Bowl loser once, a division winner once, and the easy game in that stretch is a battle with Alex Smith, who made the playoffs last season.

Pro Football Focus ranks Cowboys with 8th best roster in the NFL - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Are you surprised at such a high ranking? The Cowboys are getting some love from the PFF crew.

What if you found out the Dallas Cowboys had the eighth-best roster in the NFL? That’s exactly what Pro Football Focus is proposing. Let’s quickly dispense with the caveat that PFF rankings are all in the eye of the beholder. If they support your argument, they’re golden. If they support the counter-argument, they’re trash. So your mileage may vary.

Anyway, with all the talk of the Cowboys losing Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and their youth up and down the roster, you would probably expect the Cowboys roster to rank somewhere in the teens at best. PFF would disagree.

To give you some context, let’s see who ranks above the Cowboys in the pecking order. Philadelphia is first, and coming off a Super Bowl win that would be expected. Then immediately things go not as planned. The Falcons rank second, the Saints are third, then you find the AFC juggernaut Patriots at fourth. Maybe PFF is saying that it’s Bill Belichick’s coaching and Tom Brady’s brilliance that keeps them at the top of the heap year after year.

At fifth are the Vikings, followed by the sixth-place Chargers (another surprise), and finally the Steelers come in seventh. That leads to position number eight held by the Cowboys.

MMQB’s Albert Breer praises Cowboys for “rebuilding on the fly, without bottoming out” - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys have done what most teams in transition wish they could do.

The Cowboys didn’t plan a lot of the circumstances they came face-to-face with in the last few years but they deserve credit for how they overcame unforeseen events. They didn’t mourn their losses but instead built around the best players they had. As Breer points out, it’s quite remarkable that the Cowboys have been able to rebuild their team without having to be cellar-dwellers in the NFL:

“Dallas has effectively rebuilt its roster on the fly, without really ever bottoming out, and now it looks like they’re a few things breaking right—young DBs developing; Prescott rebounding; a young receiver, like Michael Gallup, emerging—from being set up nicely for some time to come. Which isn’t bad when you consider half of the eight Pro Bowlers from the 12-4 team of 2014 are gone.”

Last season wasn’t dazzling for fans as the Cowboys missed the playoffs but 9-7 is not exactly the worst possible outcome. For a team that rebuilt almost their entire secondary in one offseason, while having their best player miss six games, and suffering through injuries to some of their very best players, 9-7 is quite good.


Why Sean Lee's health could be more vital than ever for the Cowboys in 2018 - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
The General may be more important than ever before.

2018 outlook: As the only offensive or defensive player over 30, Sean Lee is the veteran. No more Jason Witten patrolling the offense while Lee rules the defense. No more Anthony Hitchens to lead linebackers if Lee goes down. The Cowboys will count on Lee, in his ninth season, as a locker room voice even more. And on the field, they'll hope to see the Lee, who owns 667 career tackles and 13 interceptions more than the Lee who's missed 24 games the last four seasons. Should he stay healthy, Lee will continue quarterbacking Dallas' D from the weakside linebacker alongside rookie Leighton Vander Esch at middle and Jaylon Smith at strongside. The more Lee stays healthy, the more quickly Vander Esch will learn and Smith will grow. The trio's potential is high.

Cowboys expect Dan Bailey to rebound from uncharacteristic season – ProFootballTalk
Can Bailey rebound from a sub-par 2017 season?

He went only 7-of-12 in the final month, missing from 23 yards (wide left) and 34 yards (wide right). He also missed two extra points, the first two PAT misses in his career.

Bailey was a full participant in the offseason program, his groin now fully healed.

“I feel really good,” Bailey said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “As far as the weight room and all that stuff, the offseason training, I’ve actually improved in a lot of areas. I feel healthy; I feel good. Just looking forward to get going come training camp.”

Coaches may not see it this way, but here’s the Cowboys’ biggest concern going into training camp - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Tim Cowlishaw lays out the Cowboys largest question they need answered when they go to training camp in July.

Cowlishaw: I don’t think the coaches see it this way, but the lack of a dynamic player on offense beyond Ezekiel Elliott is a huge one. Do they have anyone at all who even concerns an opposing defensive coordinator the way Jason Witten did up until a couple years ago? Bill Belichick used to think the most important thing to do against Dallas was take Witten out of the offense. Do they have anyone who even duplicates what Dez did while healthy the past couple of seasons? I’m not talking about 2014 Dez -- we know they don’t have that. If the answer to these questions is no, then I don’t see how Elliott gets back to being the kind of game-controlling back he was in 2016 because defenses just won’t have to worry about anything besides him.

Position Battles: Questions Surround DE Spot - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys feel confident they can count on DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford but after them it's going to be a heated battle with potential for lots of twists and turns.

Don’t Forget About:

The Cowboys haven’t forgotten about Randy Gregory and they’re hoping the NFL doesn’t as well. Currently, he has not been reinstated by the NFL after his year-long suspension for repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. However, commissioner Roger Goodell has the information and is expected to rule on the matter. The Cowboys are hoping that decision comes sooner than later. If he is reinstated, he will be able to return to the field and compete for a roster spot.

Mailbag: Is Randy Gregory eligible for the practice squad? Bryan Broaddus & David Helman, DallasCowboys.com
The mailbag tackles a curious reader question:

Q: Would No. 94 still be eligible for the practice squad (assuming reinstatement)? Would that be considered if he is?

Bryan: That’s an interesting question and after asking around I was informed that the answer is no. Gregory would not be eligible if they needed to go that route.

David: Even if Gregory were eligible, I don’t think it would matter. Despite his troubles, I think a guy with his skill set would be claimed after getting released.


Ranking the Cowboys' roster, Nos. 20-11: Here's who will lead Dallas in interceptions - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota continues his ranking of the Cowboys roster from top to bottom. In numbers 20-11, he explains who he believe will lead the Cowboys defensive backs in picks this season.

13.) Chidobe Awuzie, CB-- A nagging hamstring injury forced him to miss six games of his rookie season. The second-round pick is now expected to start opposite of Byron Jones at outside corner. Awuzie has the size and ability to be the defense’s top playmaker on the back end. He’s my pick to lead the team in interceptions in 2018.

19) Could A Rookie Back Up Dak Again?- DallasCowboys.com Staff
The Mothership's annual 20 questions offseason series continues with looking at the potential backup QB battle between incumbent Cooper Rush and draft pick Mike White.

Bryan Broaddus: If Rush doesn’t play as well as he did last year and it’s a dead heat between him and White, would the coaches go with the rookie? There is more of an investment in White than there is with Rush, so to get him that experience could be in their plans going forward. What I have noticed in the OTAs and minicamps is that Rush hasn’t been as accurate with his throws, so maybe Rush is feeling a little pressure? I thought White had some good practices early but by the time they got to the final minicamp, he was having some accuracy issues as well. I am going to give the early nod to Cooper Rush for two reasons: He appears to be a gamer, which is why he won the job last season, and he has a year of experience under his belt.