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Cowboys news: Dallas has the second-easiest schedule remaining in the NFL

The Cowboys news, for you.

NFL: OCT 11 Giants at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cowboys and Raiders have easiest remaining strength of schedule of all 32 NFL teams entering Week 6 - John Breech, CBS Sports

The advantages of playing in the NFC East.

With 12 weeks still left on the NFL calendar, the biggest winners right now are the Las Vegas Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys, who have the two easiest remaining schedules based on the current records of each NFL team.

As for the Cowboys, a big reason why their schedule cracked the top-two on the easiest list is because they play in the NFC East. Besides Dallas, no team in the division has more than one win and the Cowboys still have five divisional games left. Overall, the Cowboys 11 remaining opponents have combined record of 19-32-3, which puts their strength of schedule at .380. Besides their NFC East opponents, the Cowboys also still have games left against the Vikings and Bengals, which is a game that suddenly got a lot more intriguing now that Andy Dalton is the starter in Dallas.

Basically, even with Dak Prescott out, the Cowboys could still sneak into the playoffs thanks to their schedule.

With Dak Injured, Cowboys Plan To ‘Fight For Him’ - Staff, The Mothership

The Cowboys are determined to compete this season for Dak Prescott, their fallen QB.

#4Dak.

It’s not just a hashtag. It’s a promise.

Wednesday, Cowboys players created a video with messages of support for Prescott as he begins his recovery from surgery to repair a right-ankle compound fracture and dislocation.

“We know how much this game means to him and we know how much the team means to him,” cornerback Anthony Brown said. “So we want to fight for him.”

The fight continues Monday night against AT&T Stadium against the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals. With an extra day to prepare, the Cowboys (2-3) returned to practice Thursday using their normal Wednesday schedule.

They had a special visitor at The Star: Prescott, who was scheduled for a checkup on his ankle for the first time since undergoing surgery Sunday night following the Cowboys’ 37-34 comeback win over the Giants.

“You just see the reaction everybody has that he’s here,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I just think that speaks volumes about him as a man and just the electricity that he brings to our football team.”

Jason Garrett: Dak Prescott is as tough as they come - Charean Williams, PFT

Dak’s former coach still has massive respect for #4

The lasting image of Dak Prescott from Sunday is of Mike McCarthy and Jason Garrett, side by side, leaning over the Cowboys quarterback. Garrett coached Prescott for his first four seasons. McCarthy is Prescott’s head coach now.

The concern of Prescott’s former head coach and Giants players during the game, and the outpouring from the NFL community afterward, shows the respect Prescott has earned.

“Obviously, very sad that he had the injury,” Garrett said Thursday in his first media session since the loss to his former team. “One thing I know about him, he’s as tough as they come. His mentally tough; he’s physically tough. Surgery seemed to have gone well. Our communication over the last few days have been positive. It seems like he is in good spirits. Wish him nothing but the best. He’s a special guy.”

Stephen Jones Says Dak Prescott’s Injury Doesn’t Affect His Contract Negotiation - Albert Breer, SI.com

Stephen Jones, like his dad Jerry, continues to say nothing has changed about their intentions of getting a deal done with Dak this offseason.

Instead, Jones told me the team’s approach to Prescott won’t be shaken, even a little.

“Doesn’t change anything,” he said. “We’re all in on trying to get it done. Doesn’t change a thing.”

Then, I raised another tag—which would cost $37.7 million—and the point was driven home.

“Like I said, nothing changes,” he said “There is zero change in his contract negotiation status, how much we want to get him signed. Nothing changes. He didn’t lose value. Nothing. It’s a continually work in progress. Obviously, it’s been a challenge for us, in that we haven’t gotten it done, especially with how bad I know he wants to be a Cowboy.

“And I know how bad we want him to be the leader of this team for the next 10, 12 years.”

So in case you were wondering where the Cowboys stand, there it is.

DeMarcus Ware says Andy Dalton can ‘get the job done’ for Cowboys as their ‘new leader’ - Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

EX-Cowboys player DeMarcus Ware gives his opinion on Andy Dalton.

The Dallas Cowboys may have lost their MVP in Week 5, when quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury. But if you ask one team legend, they’re about as well positioned as can be with Andy Dalton set to take over under center. Longtime Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware joined Will Brinson and “Fantasy Football Today” for a special Twitch watch party during Dallas’ win over the New York Giants, and the future Hall of Famer wasted no time touting Dalton’s upside.

“He was a beast,” Ware said of Dalton, recalling his days playing the former Cincinnati Bengals QB. “He’s one of those guys where ... somebody’s gotten hurt and that second-string guy goes in and balls out ... We wish (Dak) well, you’re praying for him, but now you’ve got another guy who can still get the job done in Andy Dalton.”

Outside of 2019 in Cincinnati, when he was relegated to backup duties, Dalton has always been a starter rather than an emergency No. 1 off the bench. But Ware said he views the Cowboys’ new starter as the kind of veteran who can follow in the footsteps of other successful backup-turned-starter stories like Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady and Tony Romo.

“He’s gonna be throwing that football,” Ware said. “Andy Dalton has to be the new leader.”

Stephen Jones Says “Defense is Coming Around” - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

It may be baby steps, but the Cowboys defense is trying to go in the right direction.

“I do think this defense is coming around,” [Stephen] Jones said. “I felt like we made some strides last week. We did better against the run. We started off slow but we dialed it in, and held them to less than four yards a carry, which is always a goal.”

Jones continues to point out the turnovers. The Cowboys are tied for last in the NFL with a -11 turnover margin.

“One of the things we just have to do is quit putting our defense in a bad spot,” Jones said. “We had a couple of turnovers on our side of the field, which makes it very difficult for our defense. One of them was actually a pick-six.”

The Cowboys face the Cardinals on Monday night. Kyler Murray leads an offense ranked 10th in the NFL, averaging just under 400 yards per game. But after that, the team faces two of the worst defenses in the league in Washington (ranked 32nd) and Philadelphia (ranked 28th)

Jones said the team is still sticking behind veteran defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who made a change last week to move from the coaching booth to the sideline in an effort to help communication.

“It is a new system under Coach Nolan. I think our guys are grasping it,” he said. “I think we’re only getting better as the season goes, on top of the fact that we’re going to get Leighton Vander Esch back, hopefully this week. I think he’s got a great opportunity to work his way back.”

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory was ‘lights out’ during Thursday’s practice - Michael Gehlken, DMN

One way for the defense to get better is the return of some key players, like Randy Gregory,

Ezekiel Elliott has been used in pass protection more than any other NFL running back this season.

And it’s not close.

In the first five games, the Cowboys running back was assigned to pass block on 46 snaps. The Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh Jacobs and Miami DolphinsMyles Gaskin are tied for the second-most with 30, according to Pro Football Focus. Elliott’s workload dwarfs the field by more than 50%.

So, he is uniquely qualified to evaluate how Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is progressing in practice.

“Randy was lights out, out there today,” Elliott said on Thursday. “It was really tough to block him. I’m excited to get Randy back. He’s got those fresh legs. He just looks better than I’ve ever seen him. I’m excited to see him back.”

Gregory has not appeared in a game since Jan. 12, 2019. Evidently, he is getting close. The 2015 second-round pick was conditionally reinstated from suspension in September, began practicing on Oct. 7 and is first eligible to play a game on Oct. 25 at Washington.

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