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Cowboys news: Will Lance Lenoir make the 53-man squad?

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Fighting for a roster spot, Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir says he’s ‘ready to beat the odds’ - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Lance Lenoir is hungry to make the roster, and he is taking advantage of every opportunity so that he can make the jump from practice squad to active roster.

Over the last three weeks of training camp, receiver Lance Lenoir making acrobatic catches has become a regular occurrence.

That hasn’t taken the fun out of it. And each grab matters, since Lenoir is likely fighting for one of the final available roster spots at receiver. The Cowboys signed Lenoir as an undrafted free agent out of Western Illinois in 2017. He spent last season on the practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster before the final game.

“Came in and made a play,” Lenoir said. “I had a spin for faking a dig [route] and bringing it back out, selling it good, making the DB turn his hips and just made a nice catch. Coach always tells me catch the ball and feel the sideline. I knew I was close to the sideline, so I just felt it and dragged my toes.”

We’re officially at the point where Lance Lenoir needs to make the 53-man roster - RJ Ochoa, BTB
Ochoa believes that Lenoir is a lock to make the squad. What say you?

Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, and Terrance Williams are all virtual locks to make the team. Tavon Austin will definitely be on the squad however you want to label him (RB vs. WR), but it makes sense to do so as a receiver and that makes five.

Deonte Thompson is a sixth name who seems very likely to make the team partly because the Cowboys liked him enough to sign him in free agency, and that he’s played well through camp so far when healthy. Lenoir would make seven and while that’s a lot, it’s hard to find a name to cut.

As noted there have been players like Miles Austin and Cole Beasley that took the undrafted route all the way to America’s Team, and Lenoir is seemingly on the precipice of doing so as well. If he does it would make three different receivers that failed to get drafted, signed with the Cowboys, initially wore number 14, and ultimately made the team.

Biggest winners and losers from the Dallas Cowboys’ first preseason game vs. 49ers - SportsDay
Machota and the DMN crew discuss the biggest winners and losers of the opening preseason game and which positional battles are the most intriguing.

Jon Machota: Winner: Dak Prescott. You really couldn’t ask for a better series if you’re only expected to get one. He used his feet to convert on third down and then threw a beautiful TD ball to Michael Gallup. We haven’t seen that combo click down the field like that much out here so far. That was obviously a great sign for Prescott and the offense. Loser: Kony Ealy. The gamebook had him down for 12 snaps and I really don’t remember seeing him on the field. On top of that, rookie pass rusher Dorance Armstrong seemed to make the most of his 30 snaps. I thought Ealy was a lock to make the team entering camp. Right now, I’m not so sure. The team’s top four ends are currently DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton and Armstrong. Thought when they signed Ealy in April he’d be in that group at this time.

He does not believe Dallas keeps seven receivers, for what it is worth.

Jon Machota: Wide receiver, cornerback and tight end. Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Terrance Williams all seem like pretty good bets to make the 53. That leaves Deonte Thompson, Lance Lenoir and Noah Brown competing for the final spot. Now, the Cowboys could always keep seven. I doubt it, but it’s not impossible. The upcoming weeks could go a long way in determining the final spot.

LB Joe Thomas makes PFF's Preseason Week 1 NFL Team of the Week - Pro Football Focus
Cowboys fans must be pleased about Thomas' performance against the 49ers.

Joe Thomas, Dallas Cowboys – 92.9

Thomas was all over the field on his 22 snaps Thursday night. He earned three stops in coverage and only allowed one catch for seven yards on two targets. Thomas added an interception for good measure for a 90.0 coverage grade.

Zack Martin on the education of rookie OL Connor Williams - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Rookie Connor Williams gave up a sack on the opening drive against the 49ers. Apparently, it's all part of the process.

Williams recovered over 33 offensive snaps and held his own. He's been spending more time working with the veterans this week.

"He's asking a lot of good questions, he's getting better," Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin said. "He wants to learn. ...

"I think first game action you kind of get a little taste. You're going against the same guys for three weeks and get used to different guys' moves and all of a sudden there's a big D-tackle with all these different moves. So, it happens to the best of us. He bounced back and ended up doing a pretty nice job.

"But it's not a bad thing that it happened early."

Why Jerry Jones now feels completely justified for drafting LB Jaylon Smith in the second round - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Jerry Jones calls Smith a future cornerstone of the Cowboys.

Jaylon Smith has been one of the Cowboys' camp standouts. Many questioned if he was worth the second round pick Dallas spent on him in 2016 despite the severe knee injury he suffered at Notre Dame. Jones believes he now has the answer.

"What I'm seeing right here, right now, what I've seen so far, what I saw in the offseason, completely justifies our drafting him in the second round," Jones said. "Completely. He's really not only got a chance to really help us on the field, he's one of our potential cornerstones. In every way, leadership as well as player."

Jerry Jones: I expect DE Randy Gregory to be ready for season opener against Panthers - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Wishful thinking, or is Jerry Jones just repeating what the coaches told him?

Jones said he expects Gregory to be ready to contribute Week 1 when Dallas opens the season at Carolina.

"Everybody here is rooting for him," Jones said. "He doesn't want any slack but I know he sees the care that everybody has for him. I did notice some of his trademark skill out there on a couple of snaps that he took out there [Sunday]. You could see that sleekness. He's just got the ability to create some pressure."

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott expects to stick to preseason plan, hardly see the field unless it counts - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Zeke probably will not see the field until the Cowboys play the Panthers, which is the smart move.

Ezekiel Elliott has barely played in the preseason during his young career, and the star running back doesn’t expect that to change this summer.

But injuries around the league, such as Washington running back Derrius Guice suffering a torn ACL in the Redskins’ preseason opener Thursday night, haven’t caused Elliott to want to sit out the exhibition season all together.

He expects to follow the same blueprint as the last two preseasons.

“I think we have a pretty good plan,” he said after Sunday’s walk-through session. “That’s up to the coaches, mostly. I think this year will be a lot like last year, I’ll play a little bit in that third game, probably play the first series. It’s football, there are going to be injuries. Every time you strap up and go out there between those white lines that’s going to be a risk you’re going to get hurt.”

Zeke excited to show he can ‘do more’ with pass game - ESPN (VIDEO)
More Zeke in the pass game? Yes, please.

Ezekiel Elliott says a more pronounced role in the pass game gives him an opportunity to showcase and elevate his game.

‘Stay woke’: Cowboys’ Tank Lawrence feeling Aaron Rodgers’ franchise tag complaints - Mac Engel, The Star-Telegram
While Aaron Rodgers disagrees with the method of the franchise tag, Cowboys star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence understands the NFL is a business.

Tank doesn’t sound quite aligned with Rodgers’ thought process, mostly because he gets that the NFL is a nasty business.

“It’s a good topic to bring up, but if we can’t make a change it in the next 48 hours, I really don’t care. I’m stuck with it,” Tank told me after Sunday morning’s walk through practice. “It is what it is.

“At the end of the day, we all know it’s a business. They are going to do whatever they can to protect their assets. Say I did go out and get those 14 1/2 sacks, and they did give me a big contract, and then I’m not performing the way I’m supposed to ... it’s what it is.”

Cowboys reserve OG Marcus Martin expected to miss rest of season with injured right big toe - Brandon George, SportsDay
In other news, the Cowboys are down an offensive guard.

The Cowboys expect backup offensive guard Marcus Martin to miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his right big toe.

Martin suffered the injury Thursday in the preseason opener at San Francisco. Martin is seeking a second opinion from another doctor before deciding whether or not to have surgery. Regardless if he has the surgery or not, he’s still expected to miss all of the 2018 season.

The Cowboys signed Martin to a one-year deal in free agency this offseason to give them more depth along the offensive line. The Cowboys had been concerned with his conditioning early in training camp and had him working on the side during some of the early practices.

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