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Cowboys news: Trevon Diggs out, Chidobe Awuzie should be back in

Catch up on the Cowboys news you missed from yesterday

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Sources: Dallas Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs out 4-6 weeks with broken foot - Todd Archer, ESPN

Trevon Diggs has been one of the few bright spots for the Dallas defense this year, as the rookie has gotten better and better each week. Now, his inaugural season in the NFL may very well be over with a broken foot.

“I don’t know the prognosis in terms of long he’ll be out,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 FM The Fan. “I do know that he’s got the issue with his foot.”

Diggs, a second-round pick, has started every game this season and leads the Cowboys in interceptions with two. His two takeaways came against Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 8. Diggs became the first Cowboys rookie with two interceptions in the same game since Sean Lee in 2010 and the first Cowboys rookie cornerback with multiple picks in the same game since Terence Newman in 2003.

Diggs gave up a number of plays, but the Cowboys have liked his competitiveness, which was on display in Week 3 when he tracked down DK Metcalf and forced a fumble at the goal line, negating what would have been a touchdown.

Chidobe Awuzie Activated From Reserve/Injured - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

Trevon Diggs’ injury is a huge blow to this secondary, but the Cowboys could be getting help at the perfect time. Veteran Chidobe Awuzie, who hasn’t played since the second game of the year, was moved off the injured reserve list.

Some good news to balance the bad news of Trevon Diggs’ foot fracture: the Cowboys have activated cornerback Chidobe Awuzie from the Reserve/Injured list.

Awuzie started the first two games before injuring his hamstring on special teams against the Falcons in Week 2. The Cowboys placed Awuzie on IR Sept. 25 and started his 21-day IR practice window on Oct. 22.

The Cowboys are on their bye this week and don’t play again until Nov. 22 at Minnesota.

Garrett Gilbert, Cowboys offense had Pittsburgh on the ropes: Decoding Kellen - Bob Sturm, The Athletic

No one expected the Cowboys to play as well as they did against the Steelers, and they nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the year. A lot of it was due to the offense looking dramatically better with Garrett Gilbert under center.

What a difference having a legitimate passer available does for your playbook. As you can see, they actually had a productive 11 personnel grouping, and 6.73 yards per play can win games.

I did find it odd they stuck with 12 and 13 personnel so much, though, given how unproductive that was. Tony Romo was working on this brief lesson in offense during the game, but let me try to fill in gaps.

If you are Kellen Moore, your personnel decisions determine what you face on defense because Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler is watching your sub-packages and which one runs onto the field before countering with his own plan. Three wide receivers get one defense; two tight ends get another one. Basically, for every tight end you bring on — especially the Dallas tight ends, none of whom is a “wide receiver in bigger clothes” these days — you are going to face another big Steelers defender in the box. Running the ball becomes an active decision. Do you want to spread the defense and run into fewer defenders over the ball, or do you want more blockers and, thus, more defenders, running your RB right into a massive meat grinder?

Gallimore “Physical & Impactful” in Breakout Game - Johnny Auping, DallasCowboys.com

Neville Gallimore has gradually been carving out a bigger role on this defense ever since Dontari Poe fell out of favor with the coaching staff, and on Sunday against the Steelers he officially had his coming out party.

Gallimore finished with three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit. But it’s also not hyperbole to suggest that the consistent push into the backfield that he was generating played a large part in the massive upset the Cowboys nearly took from the Steelers. A dominant rushing attack was an element in the Steelers 7-0 season coming into last Sunday, but they managed only 46 rushing yards against Dallas. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan claimed that the success of the Cowboys’ run defense “forced [the Steelers] to go into a different type of offense.”

After the game, Gallimore sounded like a player who just got his best taste of NFL football and felt comfortable with his chances going forward. “I think the only thing about being a rookie is the adjustment,” Gallimore suggested. “Every play is going against a great player. So getting the opportunity to get more than just my feet wet in the middle of the game---[I got to] get better and see where I can grow.”

Coming into this season, the assumption was that the practice field would be Gallimore’s primary space to shine. According to Nolan, Gallimore has been a consistently terrific practice player all season. “He’s improved every week,” Nolan said. “He’s continued to work extremely hard in practice and it showed yesterday.”

Cowboys Defense Trending in Right Direction Under Mike Nolan - John Williams, Inside the Star

It wasn’t too long ago that the Cowboys were on track to field the worst defense in NFL history, but they’ve looked like a completely different unit - in the best way - the last two weeks. Embattled defensive coordinator Mike Nolan may be onto something.

Much of the success the Cowboys have had has come after inserting Neville Gallimore into the lineup in the wake of the Dontari Poe release and getting a bit healthier at other positions. Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee returned. Randy Gregory also began his comeback. With the compliment of players that the defensive coaches were expecting at the beginning of the season now available, this defense is looking much better than they did in the first seven weeks of the season.

After the Cowboys allowed an average of 216 rushing yards per game weeks four through seven and 178 rushing yards per game on the season, the Cowboys have allowed just 82.5 yards per game on the ground the last two weeks. That includes holding the Steelers to just 46 rushing yards on Sunday.

Though Steelers’ Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty good game statistically, the Cowboys defense wasn’t allowing them to get anything easy. They played as well as they have all season through the first three and a half quarters of that game.

Mailbag: Trying Out Some Younger LBs? - Rob Phillips and David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

The Cowboys defense has been improving, but their linebacker position is an obvious point of weakness. Jaylon Smith has continued to regress, while Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee have continued to struggle with injuries. Could that lead to some playing time for young players like Luke Gifford and Francis Bernard?

Rob: I wouldn’t rule it out later in the season depending on how things play out in the NFC East. Right now they’re focused on getting Sean Lee back in the rotation. He had four snaps against the Eagles and 13 on Sunday, rotating with Jaylon Smith. Yes, we’ve seen the coaches turn to young defensive players at spots where they haven’t gotten production. That seems to be paying off. But at linebacker, Lee gives them the best chance to be successful. They’re in the business of trying to win games and stay in this division, no matter what the record says right now.

David: This is going to be a dividing line between fans and the team, there’s no way around it. Fans want to focus on the future and turn over every stone for next season. Coaches and players want to do everything in their power to climb back into the division race. Y’all don’t want to hear it, but it is what it is. If the playoffs are obviously a lost cause a month from now, then I think we’ll see some young guys get auditions in the last few games. But for the time being, they’re going to stick with the veterans who give them the best chance to win.

Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster attempted Terrell Owens celebration vs. Cowboys is shut down by Antwaun Woods - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

George Teague earned himself a place in the heart of every Cowboys fan when he confronted Terrell Owens after the flashy receiver tried to celebrate a touchdown on the Cowboys’ centerfield logo. On Sunday, Antwaun Woods had a similar moment with JuJu Smith-Schuster, albeit a bit less exciting.

Quiet for much of the game, the flashy Pro Bowl wide receiver grabbed a pass from Ben Roethlisberger at the start of the final session and maneuvered his way past two defenders to score his lone touchdown on the day and shrink the Steelers deficit to just four points. He’d then pop up immediately and make a beeline to midfield, having plans to mimic the well-known Terrell Owens celebration in 2000 — when Owens ran to the Star logo and posed before being leveled by safety George Teague — but Smith-Schuster’s plan was interrupted when defensive end Randy Gregory slapped the ball out of his hands.

Still determined, the Smith-Schuster picked up the ball and began sprinting to midfield anyway, only to see defensive lineman Antwaun Woods patrolling, waiting for him to give it a shot. A former teammate of Woods at USC, Smith-Schuster ultimately decided against his original plan — having admitted after the game that mirroring Owens is exactly what he was setting up to do.

Having seen Smith-Schuster sneak away to do a pre-game Tik Tok dance on the Star at midfield, before the Cowboys took the field, Woods was on red alert for the celebration attempt during the game.

“I saw a video before the game that had him on the star,” Woods told media following the game. “He’s always doing stuff on TikTok. I knew with him being my college teammate that was something he might do. I was going to make sure he didn’t get there. We have zero tolerance for that.”

Special teams coordinator John Fassel’s creativity shines through yet again for Cowboys vs. Steelers - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys’ almost-victory over the Steelers on Sunday was spectacular for many reasons, but the stellar play of their special teams played a big role. John Fassel, in his first year as the Cowboys’ special teams coordinator, has certainly set a tone with his creative play-calling.

“I definitely feel that the special teams, particularly the last four outings, has been played at a very high level,” McCarthy said. “John Fassel does a tremendous job. Our guys, you’re seeing the continuity that is so important in this game. That’s the one part of our team that has been able to play consistent with similar lineups week in and week out.

“Obviously, I feel really good about what they did today. But this past month, I feel like they’ve really come on strong.”

Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson handled more work at punt returner.

At first Sunday, that seemed curious, given wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has been the Cowboys’ primary returner in most situations. But Fassel’s thinking became clear once he tapped into Wilson’s throwing ability. The former high school quarterback connected across the field with Goodwin, catching the Steelers off-guard.

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