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Cowboys news: Ezekiel Elliott for NFC East MVP in 2018?

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There are lots of good players in the NFC East but which one will be the division’s MVP?

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

NFC East Q&A: Who will be the division MVP? - ESPN
Writers on the NFC East beat are torn between Eagles QB Carson Wentz and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Jordan Raanan, ESPN New York Giants reporter: Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott averaged the most rushing yards per game in the NFL last season (98.8) by a wide margin. What held him back was that self-induced six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. If Elliott can stay out of trouble and on the field and run behind that Cowboys offensive line for a full 16 games, he’ll make a run at 2,000 yards. He’s that good. Dallas’ offensive line is that good, especially if second-round pick Connor Williams slides in seamlessly at left guard. Elliott, with his 27 touches per game, will be in line not only for the division’s MVP, but for the NFL’s MVP. My backup choice would be Carson Wentz (who would have won the NFL MVP if he hadn’t hurt his knee last season). He’s the best player in the division, except that it may take time for him to return to his previous form. So Elliott is my selection.

MVP titles generally favor quarterbacks over running backs, and as it turns out, Dallas also has a quarterback.

Brady-like passing offense for Cowboys? - SportsDay Staff
Rick Gosselin recently went on KTCK 1310 AM and talked about his expectations for Dak Prescott in the 2018 Cowboys offense. An excerpt:

[Prescott's] going to get into a pass offense like Tom Brady has, where there is no lead receiver. You go to the open guy. Maybe it's [Danny] Amendola, maybe Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan. He's won five Super Bowls without a Pro Bowl receiver. And that's what you're going to see.

When you pay a quarterback that kind of money, you've got to cut corners elsewhere. And I think the corners are gonna be cut at wide receiver. You've got all the money in this team sunk into your offensive line, your quarterback and soon enough your running back. So if you have to cut somewhere, it's going to be wide receiver. They're gonna be a receiver by committee group going forward I think.

Tony Romo isn't worried about the Cowboys' receiving corps, and Miles Austin is why - Jared Dubin,
Amid all the do-they-or-don't they discussion about the Cowboys having a No. 1 wide receiver, Dubin points out that in the end it will all hinge on Dak Prescott.

Prescott was a bit better last season than it appears on the surface (he was fantastic for the first eight games of the year before Tyron Smith got injured and Ezekiel Elliott got suspended; and his receivers did him no favors with drops and tipped balls that led to interceptions), but he certainly has to make improvements in order to take the next step. Dallas isn't exactly putting him in the best possible position to succeed on that front, but perhaps he can overcome his circumstances and transcend the talent around him.

But what would be even better for the Cowboys is if one of the more unheralded receivers on the roster like Hurns or Gallup turns out to have the talent of a No. 1, or close to it. The Cowboys lucked out when Austin turned into a No. 1 for Romo some years back, and it sure would help if they found lightning in a bottle once again for their young QB.

NFL offensive line rankings: All 32 team's units entering 2018 - Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus
PFF's 32-team NFL offensive line rankings have the Cowboys coming in second behind only the Eagles.

The great NFC East debate rages on with the Cowboys once again playing second fiddle. The three All-Pros aren’t enough to fill the two holes at left guard and right tackle – although those could be getting sealed this season. Rookie second-round pick Connor Williams should slate in nicely at left guard as we had a first-round grade for the Texas product even at tackle. At right tackle, La’el Collins rebounded after some early season struggles to at least flash some competent play down the stretch. If he can improve on his 51 total pressures allowed in 2017, they’re well on their way to earning back that No. 1 spot.

Ranking NFL's best, worst offensive arsenals, weapons - Bill Barnwell, ESPN
Not everyone is high on the Cowboys offensive firepower. Barnwell believes the Cowboys are pretty low on offensive talent.

30. Dallas Cowboys

When you remove that dominant offensive line and quarterback Dak Prescott from the equation, the Cowboys are left with one excellent running back in Ezekiel Elliott and what must surely be the worst receiving corps in football. The four tight ends vying to replace Jason Witten have 94 combined career receiving yards, all of which come from Geoff Swaim. The team’s best wideout is Allen Hurns, who had one impressive season in four years with the Jaguars and hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the past two seasons. The team is excited about third-round pick Michael Gallup, which is a reflection on the power of hope, but even Tavon Austin has to believe that the organizational plan to give the former Rams wideout 12 to 24 touches per game on offense is too much Tavon Austin.

Defensive line has an identity for first time since days of DeMarcus Ware - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
The DMN continues its position-by-position breakdown, and hits a high note with the defensive line.

After years of waiting for a true pass rusher to emerge, voila! 2017 happened. DeMarcus Lawrence earned his first Pro Bowl honor in his fourth season, ranking second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks and leading the team with a career-best 52 quarterback pressures. David Irving finished second on the team with a career-high seven sacks, but was only available for eight games. Veteran Tyrone Crawford was second in quarterback pressures with 26. The Cowboys compiled 38 sacks in all, their best mark since 2011. Dallas continued to be strong against the run, ranking eighth in the league (104.0 yards per game). The strides gave the line the beginnings of a true identity for the first time since the days of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer earlier this decade.

Mailbag: Competition For Tyrone Crawford At RE? - Bryan Broaddus & David Helman,
Tyrone Crawford doesn’t get a lot of respect in Dallas, at least not from parts of the fan base.

Q: If Tyrone Crawford is not the starter in camp does he make the team? He would be a $9 million rotation player.

Bryan: Trying to get rid of Crawford? If that’s the case, I hate to be bearer of bad news, but he’s going to be your starter at right end. He’s has remade his body for the position but more importantly the coaches completely trust him.

David: I’d be a lot more willing to entertain this question if I thought there was any chance Crawford wasn’t going to be the starter. Barring injury, though, he’s going to be the guy. He’s smart, he’s experienced and he’s dependable – which gives him a huge leg up on basically every other right end on the roster. He’s not going anywhere.

Will RT La'el Collins show he's worth further investment from Cowboys down the road? Jori Epstein, SportsDay
La'el Collins became one of the better right tackles in football last season and is an unsung hero for the Cowboys.

2018 outlook: The Cowboys have made clear they want their five best offensive linemen starting and will position them accordingly. They’ve locked down Pro Bowl talents in left tackle Tyron Smith, right guard Zack Martin and center Travis Frederick to ensure a solid foundation. Collins and rookie left guard Connor Williams are expected to round out the line. Can Collins show the Cowboys he deserves long-term investment like they’ve given his fellow linemen? Staying at right tackle, rather than switching back to left guard as coaches considered, should help his development. Collins made clear to coaches he preferred to stay at tackle though “at the end of the day,” he said, “I’m here to help the football team.” Backup offensive line depth includes free agent acquisitions Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin.

2018 NFL forecast: Best-case/worst-case for 11 defensive rookies - Bucky Brooks,
Brooks reveals his forecast for 11 notable defensive rookies, one of which is Leighton Vander Esch.

Best-case scenario: LVE joins Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith on the second level to give the 'Boys an explosive trio at linebacker. The 6-4, 256-pounder has the size, length and athleticism to thrive as the "deep-middle runner" in their Tampa-2 scheme. In addition, he displays the sideline-to-sideline quickness to create problems for opponents attempting to run the ball to the edges.

Worst-case scenario: The NFL's trend toward passing out of "10" (1 RB and 4 WRs) and "11" (1 RB, 1 TE and 3 WRs) personnel groupings could force the Cowboys to keep No. 55 on the sideline in obvious passing situations, unless he wins a job in the team's nickel package. While it's very likely LVE lands on one of the Cowboys' sub-packages, the NFL's pass-happy nature might prevent the team from putting its "best 11" on the field in key moments.

Projected stats: 55 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defensed, two sacks and a forced fumble.

The latest sign that Earl Thomas wants to play for the Cowboys - Kenneth Arthur, Field Gulls
The Seahawks SB Nation blog offers a prediction on Thomas' future.

My prediction is that Thomas won’t receive a new contract, won’t be traded, and will end his holdout because prolonging it for an extended period of time will only make it harder on himself to ever leave Seattle or get a new contract. He needs to play in order to be a free agent in 2019. As I wrote previously, the Cowboys don’t even make very much sense as a trade partner. (Spoiler: I think the Houston Texans do make sense.) So what options does he even have?

He either plays or he retires. I could be wrong, but I think those are the only two paths for Earl.

Earl Thomas continues stoking flames by following the Dallas Cowboys on Instagram - RJ Ocoa, Blogging The Boys
Earl Thomas is relentless.

This is past a point where it’s casual coincidence. These seem to be calculated and conscious decisions to some degree.

This could be Earl trying to force his way out, or it could be Earl trying to get the Seahawks to realize just how badly he wants out so that they offer him the new contract he desires. Whatever the case, there’s clearly an objective here.

It’s no secret that Thomas wants to play for the Cowboys. Interest is certainly there in Dallas, but what remains to be seen is if an agreement with the Seattle Seahawks can be met.

NFL Hall of Fame mailing T.O. his gold jacket - Joshua Simelton, Sporting News
This whole thing is getting more awkward by the day.

There will not be any mention of Terrell Owens during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in August.

Owens will have to wait a little longer to get his gold jacket as well. Players typically receive their gold jackets at Friday's Gold Jacket dinner that will happen Aug. 3, but the Hall of Fame will instead mail Owens' gold jacket to him the following day.

Cowboys star joins Tony Romo as co-owner of fantasy football convention in Fort Worth - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
Tony Romo isn’t the sole proprietor of the NFFC anymore as current Cowboy Ezekiel Elliott get’s involved.

In keeping with that theme, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is not just the headlining attraction of the 2018 National Fantasy Football Convention, he’s also a part owner of this ultimate football fan showcase which will bring more than 200 players and personalities to the Will Rogers Memorial Center Saturday and Sunday.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo remains a part owner, along with Elliott, Executive Director Andy Alberth and business partner Mark Hulme, but he is no longer the face of the convention.

Mick Shots: Camping Out Right Around The Corner- Mickey Spagnola
In just a few short weeks, the Cowboys will be in California and we’ll be closer to getting some answers about the 2018 group.

Training camp is right around the corner. Equipment is starting to get loaded. Travel plans are being circulated. Time to start packing this weekend.

But most of all, the players, who are not required to be back here until the July 24 charter departure for Los Angeles or the first team meeting in Oxnard, Calif., are starting to trickle back in on their own to resume working out. How sensible is that, since you work hard from early April to mid-June to get in shape before the five-and-a-half week break prior to the official start of camp.

Plus, the players know the conditioning test will be administered the day after they get to camp. Need to be ready to take your best shot once getting there.