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Cowboys news: CeeDee Lamb moves to famed #88 jersey, Cowboys mull moving defenders to new positions

CeeDee Lamb will have big shoes to fill now that he will wear 88. While Lamb moves numbers, Chido and Jaylon may be moving positions.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

CeeDee Lamb to wear historic '88' jersey, expectations have been set -

The Cowboys have a new player to wear No. 88 as owner Jerry Jones requested rookie CeeDee Lamb pay homage to an old friend.

Lamb, who wore No. 2 in college, has officially been given No. 88 – something Jerry Jones had speculated about last weekend.

In fact, Jones mentioned that his dear friend Jerry Lamb, who wore No. 88 as a teammate at the University of Arkansas, recently passed away and figured it would be a great honor for CeeDee Lamb to don the jersey. But make no mistake, Jones also mentioned that Lamb would fit into the strong tradition of Cowboys receivers who have worn that number as well.

“I said in honor of my great friend who just passed this year that we’re going to have his namesake come on here and wear old number 88. Just like Michael and Dez and those guys,” Jones said. “And we’ve got us a wide receiver. And let me tell you one thing, if he’s got the competes and heart of that Jerry Lamb, he’ll be bad to the bone.”

It looks like CeeDee Lamb will be wearing number 88 with the Dallas Cowboys - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Wearing #88 is a very important legacy in Cowboys WR history, a new player takes up the challenge.

Obviously the number 88 is of extreme significance in Dallas Cowboys history. Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin wore it on teams that won Super Bowls. If voters would properly honor Pearson it would belong to two Pro Football Hall of Famers. The number has an elite history.

That doesn’t even take into account that Dez Bryant wore number 88 during his nine-year career with the Cowboys. Bryant is, of course, the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns so his spot in franchise history is of elite status as well. Again, the number is significant.

Expectations are certainly high for CeeDee Lamb’s career with the Cowboys and for what the team can do during the early part of it. Whatever ultimately happens it appears that he will be carrying the weight of many great receivers that came before him on his chest and on his back.

There is a new 88 in town.

Former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant reacts to CeeDee Lamb wearing No. 88, his old digs - Clint Buckley, 247Sports
The former '88', Dez Bryant, offers nothing but love for the new '88' CeeDee Lamb.

Former Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, the last to don the jersey number, reacted to the news.

“I can’t feel no way but be supportive of lamb and the rest of these young stars that’s entering the league. I believe it’s my job to help them succeed as much on and off the field,” Bryant tweeted.

Former Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin is perhaps the most notable Dallas Cowboy to wear the number, as he won three Super Bowls with the team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Another former receiver, Drew Pearson, wore the number as well. He won one Super Bowl and is regarded as one of the most notable Hall of Fame snubs right now. And of course, Bryant (2010-2017) wore the jersey number in his time with the franchise.

Roster Churn: Cowboys release LB Covington, DB White following draft, UDFA haul - K.D. Drummond, CowboysWire
Cowboys cut a former sixth-round pick and special teams LB Chris Covington.

Covington, from Indiana, played just 56 total snaps in 2019; 29 on special teams and 26 on defense. His release seems to be less about a numbers game as Dallas didn’t draft one and only signed Utah’s Frances Bernard in the UDFA period.

White though, is clearly caught up in a position with an influx in new talent. Dallas drafted Trevon Diggs (Alabama) in the second round and Reggie Robinson II (Tulsa) in the fourth. They then signed free agent Daryl Worley (Oakland) a few days later, on the heels of adding Maurice Canady and Saivion Smith in free agency to replace Byron Jones (Miami) and Donovan Olumba (Cleveland).

Cowboys take the cake and will be a force on offense in 2020 - Matt Harmon, YahooSports

With the NFL draft in the books, Matt Harmon hands out a grade for every team's offense for the 2020 season, with the Cowboys looking like a force to be reckoned with.

Grade: A

As long as Dak Prescott is in the fold, this is clearly one of the best offenses in the NFL. Adding CeeDee Lamb at the 17th overall selection in April was an outright coup. He’ll join a unit that already featured a pair of receivers who both cleared 1,100 yards last year in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Ezekiel Elliott is still one of the better backs in the league and now has an explosive change-of-pace mate with Tony Pollard on the roster. Mike McCarthy claims to have learned many lessons in his year away from football after he let the Packers offense go stale. If that’s true, this team will be so fun to watch.

How a scheme change should help Cowboys defensive backs get more interceptions - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The scheme may not have been ideal in previous years for the Cowboys.

It seems clear that the Cowboys were married to this scheme for the majority of the careers for the secondary players drafted in 2017 (Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods). It has been most of what they have known during their time in the NFL.

With new secondary coaches Maurice Linguist and Al Harris, they are emphasizing attacking the ball.

“Obviously the ball is going to be of great emphasis as we build our entire package, our entire scheme. In order for us to do what we came here to do, a big piece of that is our ability to be disruptive at the point of attack and getting the ball back. So it’s something we’re not only make an emphasis, but you’re going to have to drill, it has to consume you, you have to be obsessed with it. So that’s going to be a big piece on how we build our unit on the back end.”

There will also likely be more blitzing and varied coverages in Mike Nolan’s scheme, including some exotic combination coverages. This could lead to more turnovers.

Chidobe Awuzie could be among Cowboys position changes -Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk
The rumblings around the Dallas Cowboys is that some players on defense could be in for a position change.

When the Cowboys drafted a pair of cornerbacks and signed a third, it seemed to signal a position change for Chidobe Awuzie.

And he might not be the only one.

According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys coaches are considering moving Awuzie from cornerback to safety, and may also change linebacker Jaylon Smith‘s role as well.

Adjusting Awuzie’s role seems natural, after they used a second-round pick on cornerback Trevon Diggs and a fourth on cornerback Reggie Robinson II, then signed veteran corner Daryl Worley.

Could Chidobe Awuzie play safety and is it really the right move for Cowboys - Staff, The Mothership
Speculation has arisen with recent comments by Coach McCarthy about having an existing player who could fill the safety need. Is Chidobe Awuzie on the move?

Nick: I can’t see that scenario right now. He’s really the best cornerback you’ve got. Then again, if Diggs impresses early and Anthony Brown returns to form, maybe it’s something to consider. But I just can’t see that happening. This is a big year for Chido and I would imagine he’ll be ready to step in as the No. 1 cornerback.

David: It makes sense to me. He’s got the frame to play safety, he did it in college, and he’s only got one year left on his deal - so the coaches are probably less worried about messing with his development. Me personally, I don’t like the idea of reducing depth at cornerback. But I can understand why they might want to move him.

Cowboys seem to be toying with idea of moving LB Jaylon Smith's position - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys are considering moving Jaylon Smith to a different role in 2020.

The 2016 second-round pick from Notre Dame wore the defense’s in-helmet speaker in 2019, relaying play calls from Kris Richard on the sideline to teammates on the field. Smith confused the zone coverage when communicating a call to linebacker Malcolm Smith on a long reception that set up a score in Philadelphia. That was just one play, of course. But overall, despite his first Pro Bowl appearance, Smith’s season was considered a step back from 2018.

The Cowboys have considered a possible move for Smith, according to the people with knowledge of the discussions.

It would involve him bumping from middle linebacker to an outside spot with Leighton Vander Esch a candidate to replace him inside. In the Cowboys’ scheme, Smith would blitz more if not playing middle linebacker. He generated 12 quarterback pressures, including 21/2 sacks, on 75 pass rushes in 2019. Three pressures came on a season-high 12 pass-rush attempts in Week 5 against the Packers.

A more fluid, wait-and-see approach can be taken with Smith’s position next season.

If Jaylon Smith moves outside, it's clear the Cowboys want him to rush the passer - John Williams, Inside The Star
It looks like the Cowboys have a pass rush plan that will include Jaylon Smith as a standup rusher.

If the move to outside linebacker happens, which would shift Leighton Vander Esch to the middle, Jaylon Smith would make an excellent fifth rusher as an outside linebacker. In their base 4-3, they could line him up outside of DeMarcus Lawrence‘s left defensive end spot or move him around to send him through different gaps. It’s a similar role that Bruce Irvin played for the Seattle Seahawks that was very effective during the Legion of Boom era.

What we do know is that Mike Nolan wants to play a lot of press-man coverage and blitz a lot. Moving Jaylon Smith to outside linebacker or making him the designated rusher in the scheme will help them to be a more aggressive defense as they utilize his pass-rushing ability. In 2020, we might see the best Jaylon Smith yet.

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