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Cowboys news: Zack Martin undergoes MRI and misses Friday’s practice

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Plus, some Zeke news.

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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys’ Zack Martin gets MRI on lower back after complaining about soreness - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram

The Cowboys have gone through a week of training camp, which means some players may be dealing with injuries here or there. All-Pro guard Zack Martin will have an MRI done after complaining about some back pain.

Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin was held out of practice Friday after complaining about a sore back. The perennial Pro Bowler was advised to have an MRI exam by the team’s athletic trainers, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Garrett said that Martin is “moving around” fine. It is always best to be careful when handling a star player’s injury, though.

“I am not the person to ask that,” Garrett said when asked if the injury happened in practice Thursday. “I know its bothering him now. The trainers felt this was the best thing to do. He is moving around fine but we just want to look into it.”

Xavier Sua’Filo filled in for Martin during Friday’s practice.

What went wrong with the Cowboys’ offense, what went right and how two men might fix it - Bob Sturm, The Athletic

Sturm writes on how Kellen Moore and Jon Kitna can potentially fix what went wrong with the offense and take the unit to the next level.

There is unquestionably a buzz about what is new and what will be done more or less often to try to jump-start this offense, find more explosive plays and thus generate more scoring. The coaches are going to talk publicly, and in the end, that will offer some insight – but only some. What we really will be looking for is the actual design of plays, drives and the overall approach to the game. Not just in tactics, but in disposition and aggression.

And most of that might be undetectable until Week 1.

In many ways, it is the story of the season. But we certainly must understand that there is a development process for everyone to figure out how this mix works best. As we head towards this weekend’s scrimmage and next week’s preseason opener, there is great anticipation to see what we can notice that will make this offense different and, hopefully, much better.

Jerry Jones not worried about signing his offensive stars, but who should be top priority? - Jon Machota, The Athletic

If the offense is going to be good in 2019, it certainly needs Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper on the field. Machota posed the question of who should be the priority for the Cowboys in negotiations.

1.) Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott’s deal would seem to be the easiest because there’s much more of a consensus on where he ranks at his position. Is Cooper a top-five receiver? Is he top-10? Is Prescott a top-10 quarterback, or is he somewhere closer to the middle of the pack?

If Elliott isn’t the NFL’s best running back, he’s not far off.

At the scouting combine in February, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones specifically mentioned Todd Gurley’s four-year, $60 million deal with $45 million guaranteed while talking about Elliott. It’s the largest contract ever given to a running back.

“He’s right there at the top of the best in the business, if not the best,” Stephen Jones said of Elliott in February. “We certainly saw what Gurley got paid, and we know that’s probably where it starts, and we’ll go from there.”

So the parameters are already set.

Latest Jerry Jones statement says Cowboys will hold firm even if Ezekiel Elliott hold out runs into the season - Dave Halprin, BTB

But, as Dave Halprin points out, Jerry Jones appears to be ready to hold firm against Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout.

That’s Jones saying he’s ready to go into the season without Zeke. Is he really? Hard to say but they are certainly doing everything they can to persuade Zeke’s camp that they are ready to do that. He wasn’t finished. While the above statement hints at the money Zeke will lose if the holdout continues for a long period of time, Jones is clear he doesn’t want that to happen, but at the same time he says the Cowboys are not going to blow up their long-term financial plan.

The Jones men are trying to play hardball. Is it just posturing, or are they serious about not giving in even if it means Zeke misses some/all of the season?

August 6th will be an important date. It will give us an indication of where Zeke’s thoughts are in all of this. Once that point is passed, both sides will really be showing their cards. The question will be - who is holding the losing hand?

Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins Says Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Is NFL’s Best Contact RB - Kyle Newport, Bleacher Report

Rival safety Malcom Jenkins of the Eagles had some praise for Zeke, calling him the best contact running back in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott may not be the fastest running back in the NFL, but his physical style of play has allowed him to lead the league in rushing in two of his first three seasons.

“I’d say Ezekiel Elliott is probably the No. 1 contact back in the league right now. He’s looking to punish guys. He’s not trying to juke you. He’ll jump over you every now and then if you keep trying to go low, but he’s fine with just punishing the defender at the end of it.”

Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown breaks down the running backs in camp without Zeke Elliott - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram (VIDEO)

While Zeke is in Cabo, Gary Brown discussed the running backs in Oxnard. Brown had this to say about rookie Tony Pollard.

“Tony Pollard is a young guy that is getting better everyday. He’s a three-down guy that can do a lot of things in a lot of different spots.

That whole gadget thing is a misnomer. He can do it all. He’s going to be a running back in the NFL.”

Ezekiel Elliott holdout: How we got here, what the future holds and what it means for Cowboys, Fantasy, gambling - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Walker covers everything to know about Elliott’s holdout, including where things stand now and what happens next.

Where things go from here

Patience is the name of the game in any NFL negotiation, and this one is no different.

Sources close to the situation tell me both sides remain calm and optimistic about the talks, and things are moving in the right direction. While nothing is imminent just yet, there have been no stalls or outright fractures in the process, but there are still things to hammer out with guaranteed money, average annual salary and general language in the contract. There’s a date many are justifiably keying in on, which is Aug. 6, because Elliott will lose an accrued season toward free agency if he doesn’t report to camp in Oxnard (Calif.) before that NFL deadline. For Elliott, however, it could be of no consequence as he seeks to land a new deal before the expiration of his fifth-year option anyway.

To put it plainly, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t qualify for unrestricted free agency in 2021 if he’s signed to a new deal in 2019 or 2020. Although the Cowboys weren’t expecting to ink Elliott until the spring of 2020 at the earliest, they’ve since changed gears to honor his value and proposals have been exchanged by both sides with talks ongoing. The preseason plan for Elliott remains unchanged from 2017 and 2018 -- wherein he didn’t take a single snap in August -- so missing those four games for the Cowboys is of no consequence to either side.

As long as things are settled and he shows up before the season opener against the Giants, there will more or less be no harm and no foul, and the current temperature from both sides lean heavily toward that being the case.

Barring an unexpected U-turn, this is a deal that should get done soon.

Observations from Oxnard: He’s back! TE Jason Witten makes incredible one-handed TD catch in Cowboys’ Friday practice - SportsDay

SportsDay has you covered with everything that happened during Friday’s practice.

The Cowboys have officially started training camp, and everyone -- well, except Ezekiel Elliott -- is gathered in Oxnard preparing for the 2019 NFL season.

The big story of the day? The large number of players not participating (for various reasons). Here’s the list:

And Witten made a fantastic play:

Quarterback Dak Prescott connected with wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup numerous times, but Friday’s top highlight came from good ‘ol, reliable No. 82 Jason Witten.

Watch as the Cowboys’ TE lays out for an impressive, one-handed TD catch in the back corner of the endzone:

Watkins also had this to say about practice six: