Dak Prescott returns... kinda.
Dak Prescott jumped on a recent videoconference to share the experience of his season-ending injury with a small group of rookies in an NFL.com roundtable discussion. He talked about the little victories in the often-grueling recovery process, of the joy in seeing his body respond and improve, even in tiny increments.
On Friday, he turned up at practice to show his Cowboys teammates some of that progress.
It’s an encouraging sign for Prescott’s rehab, and had to be a emotional lift for the team the day after the funeral for Cowboys strength and conditioning coordinator Markus Paul.
Prescott suffered a horrific ankle dislocation and compound fracture on October 11, in a Week 5 game against the Giants. Since then, he’s been working hard to be ready for the first team activities of the 2021 season. And as he told first-year pros Chase Claypool, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and teammate Trevon Diggs on the Rookie Roundtable call, his journey back has been a series of baby steps.
TE Blake Jarwin also shows up for Cowboys practice.
Jarwin (knee) was spotted working out with a team trainer on a side field at Friday’s practice, Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News reports.
According to Gehlken, Jarwin’s workout marked his first at the team facility since he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the Cowboys’ Sept. 13 season opener versus the Rams. Jarwin’s recovery from surgery has reportedly gone well thus far, and he’s on track to be ready to go in full capacity for training camp in 2021, if not OTAs. After Jarwin went down with the injury, Dalton Schultz stepped in as Dallas’ top tight, starting each of the past 10 games and churning out a 43-421-3 line.
Cowboys’ Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 13 - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
Pay attention team tank.
The 3-8 Dallas Cowboys aren’t out of the NFC East mix just yet, thanks to the underwhelming nature of the division this year. However, it’s unrealistic to think that Dallas can parlay one home playoff game into a deep postseason run.
For fans more interested in seeing the Cowboys secure a high draft pick than push for a largely meaningless playoff appearance, losses will be more valuable than wins in the coming weeks. Of course, if those fans are looking for someone to cheer for in Week 13, they will have options.
Dallas is one of six NFL teams with three wins or fewer after 12 weeks. With draft prospects who could help the Cowboys—such as Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Miami edge-rusher Gregory Rousseau—potentially available at the top of the draft, fans should hope to see Dallas jump as many of those teams in the draft order as possible.
We’ll examine who to root for here in Week 13, but first, let’s take a look at the current draft standings.
Film room: Progress report on Cowboys’ 2020 draft class, from a home-run pick to the starting center of the future - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
How has the 2020 draft class faired so far in their rookie seasons?
While Lamb has mostly thrived, second-round pick Trevon Diggs has traveled a much rockier road this season.
Currently on injured reserve with a fractured bone in his foot, Diggs was thrust into a No. 1 cornerback role immediately due to injuries in the secondary. Given his relatively raw skill set, Diggs’ performance varied wildly from game to game and snap to snap, as every good play was seemingly complemented by a bad one. This bears true when looking at the numbers.
In the nine games he was healthy, Diggs was targeted more than any other NFL corner (62) while allowing the most receiving yards (561) and touchdowns (five) and the fourth-most receptions (37). But those grotesque coverage numbers were accompanied by the second-most pass breakups (nine) and ninth-most interceptions (two) among corners.
Diggs’ biggest issue was his footwork, as he allowed receivers to create too much separation at the top of routes. He also got caught with bad eyes on a few occasions, allowing receivers to beat him deep.
Dez Bryant will return to face the Cowboys in week 13.
Surprised to see him available late in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, the Cowboys made a trade with the New England Patriots to select Bryant at No. 24 overall even though some teams might have been scared off by off-field issues.
Bryant showed off his first-round talent for Dallas. In 113 games, he hauled in 531 passes for 7,459 yards and a franchise-record 73 touchdown catches before his release after the 2017 season.
Bryant’s path back to the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens was an arduous one because of an Achilles tendon tear in his first practice with the New Orleans Saints in 2018. But the 32-year-old will get a chance at redemption against his former team when the Cowboys (3-8) play at Baltimore (6-5) on Tuesday (8:05 p.m. ET, Fox).
“It goes without saying the respect Jerry [Jones] and I have for Dez Bryant,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He came in here, his story’s well documented against all odds in terms of the things he had to overcome as a young man and had the type of success ... he’ll go down as one of the great receivers in Cowboys history. Just a tremendous competitor. Fiery, passionate. Helped us win a lot of games.”
Will Lamar suit up on Tuesday night?
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, along with several other teammates who tested positive for COVID-19, could return in time to face the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night.
NFL protocols dictate players who test positive can return in as few as 10 days after self-quarantining, as long as they are asymptomatic and continue to test negative.
Jackson reportedly tested positive on Thanksgiving. Tuesday would mark 12 days since that test.
Coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t comment on whether he expected Jackson to be cleared over the weekend, potentially get in a practice or play against the Cowboys. The coach simply noted all decisions on clearing Ravens players would be medical, not football decisions.
“They all have their different days when they’re possibly allowed to come back, but those are medical decisions, in the end, not coaching decisions,” Harbaugh said Thursday, via the Baltimore Sun. “So when the doctors clear them to practice, that’s when we’ll have them.”
Pushed specifically about Jackson, Harbaugh remained tight-lipped.
“I think I already answered that,” he said.
The Ravens game is a huge test for Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys staff - Tom Ryle, Blogging the Boys
The Cowboys coaching staff needs to win this football team a game.
It is not really about winning or losing, but how they play the game. Lamar Jackson is eligible to return for that game after testing positive for COVID-19, and his presence could be a real difference maker. However, there is doubt that he could be ready to go, and the Ravens might elect to keep him on the sidelines. Depending on when Jackson actually entered the protocol, which is not quite clear, he would either have one day of practice and preparation after his enforced absence from the team facilities, or would have to take the field the day he comes off with no practice at all. Still, with the injury Robert Griffin III suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the staff may feel it is necessary to get Jackson back on the field.
Other Ravens from their staggering COVID list should be available as well. Given the decimated state of the Dallas roster, it might just be too much to overcome. Had Baltimore not had the outbreak, they would be the better team by a wide margin. That may still be true, depending on just who is available to them, and how they have come through their time since entering the protocol.
What is important for the Cowboys is how they play, and how the staff handles the game. It was clear that many of the players were just not putting their best performance on the field against the Football Team, including Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and the entire run defense. While a lot of that obviously falls on the individuals, there was the factor of the recent tragic demise of coach Markus Paul. Part of the task facing the staff is to help the team get through the grieving process. The funeral Thursday, which the entire team attended virtually, may be a big help. But it still remains a responsibility of McCarthy and his coaches to assist them in getting their heads straight.
Put some respect on Tank and Randy’s name.
When you can get after the quarterback it can dramatically help your defense, that’s a given. Well, the Dallas Cowboys have a few guys on their defensive line that can do just that. DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are considered by many to be the Cowboys’ two most talented pass rushers and their stories in the NFL started almost simultaneously.
Lawrence was drafted 34th overall in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Boise State. A fractured foot in training camp forced him to not see any game action until Week 9 and he finished with only nine tackles and zero sacks. A year later he’d finish with a team-high eight sacks before suffering a four-game suspension in 2016 which saw his production drop to one sack in only nine games. He would bounce back by registering consecutive double-digit sack campaigns which included a second-team All-Pro nod in 2017.
Gregory similarly entered the NFL as the 60th overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Nebraska. A high ankle sprain derailed his development as a rookie and he finished with only 11 tackles and no sacks. He missed 14 games in 2016 due to multiple suspensions for violating the league’s old substance abuse policy but did register his first career sack in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Gregory wouldn’t make an appearance on the field in 2017 or 2019 due to suspensions as well, however, he would make his name known in between those lost seasons.