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Cowboys News: Ezekiel Elliott avoids suspension

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Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will not face suspension - Kevin Patra, NFL.com

Fans have been waiting to find out if Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended for an incident that occurred in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, Elliott published an apology after meeting with Roger Goodell, and on Wednesday the league office announced that no further action would take place.

Despite not being arrested or charged with a crime in the Las Vegas incident, the NFL could have taken action against Elliott for violation of the personal conduct policy as a repeat offender. Zeke was suspended six games in 2017 for violating the policy.

In this incident, Commissioner Goodell determined no further action was warranted.

The Cowboys hope the only noise they hear about Elliott in the future is regarding his on-field exploits when training camp opens July 26.

Top 10 RBs in NFL: NFC East stars Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott lead the way - Jared Dubin, CBS Sports

Speaking of Ezekiel Elliott, his value to the Cowboys cannot be overstated. According to Jared Dubin of CBS Sports, Elliott is the second best running back in the NFL. While he ranked Saquon Barkley ahead of Zeke, he had high praise for him while also knocking him for his off-field troubles.

Elliott has been in the NFL for three seasons. He has led the league in rushing yards twice (2016, 2018); and the year that he didn’t, he still led the league in rush yards per game. Elliott finally broke through as a major contributor in the passing game in Year 3, catching a team-high 77 passes from Dak Prescott. When Zeke is on the field, he’s spectacular. There are very few players quite like him.

Zeke continues to have issues off the field, and the Cowboys should probably be having second thoughts about their willingness to commit major money to Elliott on a long-term, guaranteed deal. (He might only be 23 years old until later this month, and he might be a nearly-unmatched runner in terms of efficiency and volume, but he’s also over 1,000 touches already in three seasons, he plays the position that has the shortest shelf life of any in the league, he has not proven himself reliable off the field, and Dallas has so many other top options to pay.) But that’s not what these rankings are about. Elliott is the fulcrum of Dallas’ offense, and will presumably continue to be under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. We should expect another monster season.

VIDEO: DeMarcus Ware hints at reunion with Cowboys as staffer - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports

DeMarcus Ware is one of the best pass rushers in franchise history, and reports earlier this summer indicated that Ware was interested in joining the Cowboys as a pass rush consultant, a role he previously held with the Denver Broncos. On Wednesday, Ware posted a video of himself at The Star, sparking intrigue on whether or not he’ll be around more often in 2019.

Ware’s been seen in the past on the practice field helping instruct players like defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and it feels like all roads will eventually lead to him rejoining the club in some capacity that doesn’t include strapping on a helmet. After all, look at the home-sweet-home smile on his face as a member of the staff goes through a debriefing of some sort in the background.

Could this video be a hint that something has already been agreed to?

It’s possible.

How the NFC East will shake out with the Dallas Cowboys on top for a second straight year - Kristi Scales, SportsDay Dallas

How will the Cowboys fare in an NFC East that seemed to get stronger over the offseason? Kristi Scales, sideline reporter for Cowboys radio network, gave her own predictions on how the season will turn out and which game is the biggest one for Dallas.

The Cowboys play the Saints in New Orleans in Week 4 and host the Rams at AT&T Stadium in Week 15. Which is a bigger game? If I had to choose between the two games, I would say that it is always important to protect your home turf, so beating the Rams at home would be huge. It would be harder to defeat a team like the Saints on the road, so the Saints would presumably be favored in that game. Also, when it comes to Cowboys-Rams, there’s the underlying storyline (more for fans than players) about avenging last year’s playoff loss in Los Angeles.

The Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles both finish 10-6, but Cowboys get the nod on tie-breakers and win the division. The Cowboys play a more difficult first-place schedule in 2019, that’s why I have them with only 10 wins. As for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, who cares? But let’s go with 5-11 for the Giants and 4-12 for the Redskins who will have growing pains with a rookie QB (Dwayne Haskins).

Dak Prescott Is the NFL’s Ultimate Rorschach Test - Danny Heifetz, The Ringer

Dak Prescott’s looming contract extension has been the subject of plenty of discussion, with some thinking he deserves a huge pay increase and others not so sure. Whether or not Prescott deserves such a big deal may not even be the biggest question, though.

Like Russell Wilson’s, Prescott’s supporting cast for the first four years of his career may be the best he ever gets. In Seattle, Wilson’s cheap deal as a mid-round pick enabled the Seahawks to keep a load of talented veterans, but extending him eventually forced out other star players. Prescott’s deal alone is not enough to eat Dallas’s budget. The salary cap is far too malleable to be constrained by any one player.

But combined with a likely extension for Amari Cooper, which could surpass $20 million and possibly make him the highest-paid receiver in NFL history, the belt will be tight. Factor in that Jerry Jones wants to extend running back Ezekiel Elliott, who would likely become the highest-paid running back in NFL history. Dallas could soon be as deeply invested in skill positions as they were in the offensive line a few years ago, giving them their modern version of Aikman, Smith, and Michael Irvin.

Amari Cooper: Some routes he wanted ‘weren’t a part of the game plan’ - Brian Mayer, Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys certainly saw a drastic improvement after the Amari Cooper trade, but an underrated aspect is that Cooper’s own performance saw just as big a change. The star receiver has admitted that his time in Oakland wasn’t going well and he may have needed the Cowboys as much as they needed him.

Working to establish himself in new coach Jon Gruden’s offense and later finding himself in the concussion protocol following a loss the Seattle in Week 6, Cooper admitted a change of scenery was really necessary.

“There are things that I wanted to do out there on the field during the games, certain plays that I wanted to be called and certain routes that I wanted to run that just weren’t a part of the game plan.”

Looking ahead to a full offseason under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and a chance to build a stronger rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott, the wide receiver spoke on Prescott’s leadership.

“As soon as I got here, he seemed to have that leadership role down pat. He was really doing a good job with the guys, motivating us, giving us those talks before the games to get us going.”

Dallas Cowboys: Underrated Jaylon Smith is an elite NFL linebacker - Nathan Jones, Inside the Star

As the Cowboys’ defense rose to an elite level last year, their linebackers were seen as a big reason why. Naturally, rookie Leighton Vander Esch earned a ton of attention for such spectacular play so early in his career. However, Jaylon Smith is possibly better, and he’s been overlooked in favor of the Wolf Hunter.

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys defense was the strength of the team, led by defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who very well could be the most well rounded defensive end in the NFL. But Jaylon Smith was a big factor in the unit’s success as well.

In 2018, Smith was ranked as the 10th most impactful defensive player in the league, according to defensive playmaking EPA analytics. The two right below him were Carolina Panthers linebacker, Luke Kuechly, and Denver Broncos outside linebacker, Von Miller.

Sometimes it seems as if statistics contradict what you see on the field, but this is not the case. Smith had many big plays that either stalled drives or ended them altogether. Remember when Smith chased Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and thumped him right before the goal line on fourth down?

6 Cowboys players who could make the big jump in 2019 - Ben Grimaldi, Cowboys Wire

Seemingly every year brings with it new players who rise up to have a huge impact. Who could it be this year? Dorance Armstrong Jr., among others, could be poised to make a big jump.

In his first training camp, Armstrong flashed some potential. However, when the regular season came along, Armstrong only mustered 0.5 sacks. It looks like Armstrong has already begun to turn the corner in his second season.

We only have a short sample and it’s only OTAs, but that’s the type of jump the Cowboys would love from Armstrong. The team has DeMarcus Lawrence coming off of shoulder surgery, are not sure when Randy Gregory will return and traded for Robert Quinn, but it would be a huge boost to have another pass rusher. Armstrong making strides in year two would be huge for the Dallas defense.