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Cowboys news: Tyron Smith and La’el Collins practice; Dak remains confident in turning things around

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys injury update vs. Eagles: Tyron Smith, La’El Collins return to practice, Amari Cooper remains doubtful - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Is is possible that the Cowboys will have one of their starting offensive tackles on the field this Sunday in a critical matchup versus the Eagles? Thursday was a big step in the direction of that happening.

Both Tyron Smith and La’El Collins were absent in the disappointing 24-22 loss to the New York Jets, and Dak Prescott felt it in a big way. Seemingly more often than not, Prescott found himself getting up after a big hit from a pass rusher, and it marked yet another outing in which the Cowboys had trouble stopping opposing players from putting hands on their franchise quarterback. That may change soon, though, because both Smith and Collins returned to practice after not participating on Wednesday or in any the week prior -- with this being the first time Smith was listed as anything other than “Did Not Participate” since suffering his high ankle sprain against the New Orleans Saints.

Both were limited on Thursday, but that’s still a big step in the direction of potentially taking the field on Sunday. The team will continue to monitor both closely and Friday will be key in determining their chances against the Eagles, with the expectation they’ll both be listed as questionable and likely go on to be game-time decisions.

If one or both can play, it increases the Cowboys chances of winning greatly, but especially if that one is Smith -- a perennial All-Pro.

Why Dak Prescott believes losing three games now works to Dallas Cowboys’ advantage - Stefan Stevenson, The Star-Telegram

Is a three-game losing streak a major reason for concern? Not in Dak Prescott’s eyes.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t thrilled with his team’s three-game losing streak, of course, but he has an admittedly “weird way of looking at things.”

If his team was going to lose three in a row, this is the part of the season to do it.

“I’d rather right now than any time ever,” Prescott said after Thursday’s practice. “We won three, felt good about ourselves, we know the team that we have. And then to basically lose three to three different types of teams. And really by getting in our own way. I’ll take that.”

Prescott’s view is this: He’d rather do it now when there’s still plenty of time to fix what’s wrong with the team than late in the season.

Will Dallas Rebound? Dak: ‘We’re Right There’ - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

Dak believes this team is “right there” in terms of turning this thing around.

But Prescott still believes he’s part of a great team that has a chance to prove it Sunday night at home against division rival Philadelphia (3-3), with first place in the NFC East on the line.

“We’re right there,” Prescott said. “We’re not being a great team right now and making those plays and getting out of our own way. We’re a good team that hasn’t been getting it done.

“Get out of our own way, and we’re going to make that step. And I know we have all the people, coaches and players to do it.”

Carson Wentz, take note: Dak Prescott calls out Cowboys teammates as Eagles loom, Marcus Hayes, Philly Inquirer

Dak is taking a leadership chance — per usual — with the Cowboys welcoming the Eagles into town.

Leaders send messages. The Cowboys’ quarterback had a clear message for his teammates Thursday.

Work harder.

Like me.

Dak Prescott told them on the field, he said, and then he told us, in the locker room. His team in a tailspin, his offense sputtering, Prescott abandoned discretion when asked why they’d fallen from 3-0 to 3-3.

“I think it’s a mental thing. I think it’s some ways guys are preparing. Maybe they need to prepare a little bit more, here and there,” Prescott said.

This is the sort of leadership, pointed and steely, that championship football demands. When players hold each other accountable they thrive. It was so for the Eagles in 2017, and they’ve struggled to match that level of accountability since.

1st-down balance doesn’t translate to success for Kellen Moore, Cowboys - C. Joseph Wright, Cowboys Wire

What is wrong with the Cowboys and first down?

Three things stick out.

First, Moore is still trying to mix up the run/pass on first downs (seven runs, five passes). His proclivity for running on first down is not as acute as many fans believe.

Second, the Cowboys were ineffective running the ball on first down in the first half. Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot had one rush for 12 yards, but if you eliminate that carry, they gained just 10 yards on six carries (1.6 yards a carry).

Third, the Cowboys offense was not overly successful throwing the ball on first down. Prescott completed four of his five pass attempts for 23 yards (4.6 yards per attempt).

The Cowboys gained 45 yards on 12 first-down plays in the first half (3.75 yard per first down play).

If an offense is averaging 3.75 yards a play on first down, it may not matter so much whether the offensive coordinator is calling runs or passes.

Kellen Moore explains why the Dallas Cowboys’ have used less play-action pass in losses - The Star Telegram (VIDEO)

The Cowboys OC explained why the Cowboys have lessened the amount of play-action in losses.

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said the offense has used fewer play-action pass looks because the team has been playing from behind during the three-game losing streak.

Rams, Cowboys look to stop the rot - Rob Woollard, Yahoo! Sports

Sunday provides a chance for the Cowboys to get its season back on track.

The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams will attempt to get their faltering seasons back on track on Sunday after a run of defeats that has left each franchise flirting with full-blown crisis.

The Cowboys started their campaign looking like potential Super Bowl contenders, with a smoothly functioning offense powering them to wins over New York, Washington and Miami.

But back-to-back defeats against the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers followed by a shock loss to the hapless New York Jets last Sunday have delivered a stinging reality check to head coach Jason Garrett’s side.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, there is still plenty of time to halt the slide as they prepare to host the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Sunday.

After six rounds, the Cowboys and the Eagles remain level at the top of the NFC East with three wins and three losses each.

Eagles’ Brandon Graham’s plan to contain Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott: Steak, dumplings, and determination - Erin McCarthy, Philly Inquirer

How will the Eagles limit Ezekiel Elliott? Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox give some insight.

“Just make sure [the first 30-plus-yard run] don’t happen to us,” Graham said. “We just got to make sure we stop the run, get tough up front. We got to make sure we rally to him, because he’s not going down on the first tackle.”


Regardless of whether one or both of those players return, Graham said the defense must get to Elliott.

“You just got to make sure you rally to the ball. I mean, he’s not going down easy,” Graham said. “Most of the time, the way they set up their blocks, they’re getting one-on-one with the [defensive backs] and you don’t want that.”

“At the end of the day, I think it’s going to come down to our guys getting to the football and getting him on the ground,” Cox added.

Amari Cooper Hoping To Practice On Friday - David Helman, The Mothership

Stretching the field will make the Eagles’ plan of stopping Zeke that much harder. If the Cowboys want to have success through the air, Amari Cooper playing would certainly help. Coop intends to play on Sunday night.

“You know it’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a dogfight for us,” Cooper said. “It’s a divisional game, and it’s always a dogfight.”

Whether he’s part of the matchup is the big question. Cooper said he intends to practice Friday and see how he feels. He has played through foot and ankle injuries at times this season, and he played through a similar quad contusion as a rookie – so he’s no stranger to dealing with pain.

In this case, all that’s left is to wait and see how well he can manage.

“We’ll see. It’s feeling a little bit better every day,” he said.

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