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Cowboys News: Ezekiel Elliott responds to critiques of his play

Plus, time is running out for a deal with Dak Prescott

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott takes issue with NFL coach’s comment - Brad Crawford, 247 Sports

Ezekiel Elliott has been the most consistent running back in the last four years, which is why he’s now handsomely paid. But an anonymous NFL coach recently ranked Zeke outside of the top ten running backs in the league, prompting a response from the star rusher.

The coach told ESPN’s Marcus Mosher that Elliott is a shell of his former self and “doesn’t look as strong anymore”, pointing to his lack of chunk plays.

Elliott scolded the notion Thursday morning on Twitter, writing, “Whoever that is, is faded lol” while retweeting the article. Before the start of the 2019 season, Elliott agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $90 million over its entirety — including $50 million guaranteed — to become the league’s highest-paid ballcarrier.

Elliott, whose 25th birthday is July 22, is entering the prime of his NFL career after rushing for 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He also caught 54 passes for 420 yards and two scores.

Current Cowboys offer for more years than Dak Prescott desires - Grant Gordon,

The record-setting contract extension for Patrick Mahomes put Dak Prescott’s current contract situation under even more scrutiny, and with a fast approaching deadline to get a deal done, it seems the two sides are still hung up on the length of the contract.

July 15 stands as the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term extensions.

Prescott signed his tender on June 22 so no training camp holdout is on the horizon. The two-time Pro Bowler is coming off a huge season statistically in which his career-high 4,902 yards passing were second in the NFL and second all-time in franchise chronicle. His 30 touchdowns were also a career-best in his four-season tenure.

Turning 27 before the month is done, Prescott is due to make $31.4 million this season on the tag. Of the eight quarterbacks who have been franchise tagged in NFL history, only two have played the ensuing season on the tag — Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins — and each of them eventually signed with a new team, per NFL Research.

For now, though, there’s still a week for Prescott and the Cowboys to work out a long-term stay and as Pelissero said, this “always seemed destined to go down to wire.”

AFC exec says Cowboys’ Dak Prescott is ‘not top 5’ among NFL QBs and is ‘marginal top 10’ - Demetrio Teniente, Dallas Morning News

While Dak Prescott is angling to get a significant pay raise after turning in a career-best performance, one anonymous AFC executive doesn’t think he’s a top five quarterback and barely makes it inside his top ten list.

“He’ll get paid as one of the best, but he’s certainly not top five and marginal top 10,” the AFC exec said. “That great rookie season set the stage for him to hit another level that he never really was going to hit. The bar got set high, and I don’t know if he can reach it. Hasn’t thrown it as well since [2016].”

Even though the Cowboys went 8-8, Prescott is coming off arguably his best season after having set career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30) in 2019.

Of course, this AFC exec’s opinion wasn’t shared by everyone. One AFC assistant coach said Prescott’s evolution “is great.”

“People said coming out he wasn’t the most gifted rhythmic passer on timing, but he’s really grown in that building,” the assistant coach said. “He’s a pure pocket guy now with the ability to win with athleticism, and a lot of quarterbacks out there are not.”

Will Jeff Heath’s Departure Mean a New Cowboys Team Captain in 2020? - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

Jeff Heath may not have been the most productive player on the field in Dallas, but his impact was felt in the locker room. With the long time team captain now gone, who might step up in his place?

Giving Heath’s captaincy to a new player is completely up to Dallas. They could make it another special teams leader, such as longtime veteran L.P. Ladouceur or a coverage specialist like C.J. Goodwin.

Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford have both been captains in the past and have big locker room presences. Either of them would make sense from a leadership role.

While he’s new to the roster, DT Gerald McCoy has been one of the biggest names in the NFL for many years now. Making him a captain would show deference to his accomplishments and further legitimize him as a new leader with teammates.

Mailbag: Al Harris’ Impact On The Cornerbacks? - David Helman and Nick Eatman,

Al Harris was an incredibly productive cornerback during his playing days, and now he’ll be coaching the cornerbacks for the Cowboys. The idea seems to be that he’ll bring a more physical and aggressive approach, much like he did as a player.

David: I would like to think we’ll see a more aggressive style of play. After all, Al Harris had 21 interceptions and 140 pass breakups during his 14-year career. One of the main things we heard the Cowboys’ defensive coaches talk about prior to the pandemic was the need to create more takeaways. It’s been a problem for this team for years. It might lead to more big plays, but coaching your defensive backs to go after the ball more aggressively is probably the best way to do that.

Nick: That’s the idea - to have Al Harris coach these guys to play the way he did. He was aggressive and took chances. That will lead to more picks and more deep balls against them as well. But you’re right in thinking the corners always had their head turned around. I’m hoping to see Harris make a big impact in their technique.

Hitman, Contract Killer: La’el Collins is Cowboys best OT; who saw that coming? - KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire

La’el Collins is a particularly unique story, starting with the bizarre circumstances that led to him going undrafted and extending out to his somewhat surprising ascension to being one of the NFL’s best offensive tackles.

Up until his under-the-radar extension talks leading into September 2019, there was plenty of talk in these parts that Collins second contract would expire, and the Cowboys would be considering in-house options to hold the edge down. He was rewarded with financial security, and then turned around and rewarded Dak Prescott with one of the best offensive tackle performances in the league.

Collins finished the year as Pro Football Focus’ fifth-highest graded tackle and third-highest in run blocking. He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, but should have, as he finally fulfilled the promise shown back in his early years when he was bulldozing defenders.

Rank’ Em: Best OU Sooners in Cowboys History - Johnny Auping,

The Cowboys have quite a few former Oklahoma Sooners on their roster now, highlighted by top rookie selection CeeDee Lamb. But they’ve also had plenty of other Sooners in the past, enough for a full ranking of them all.

Lamb joining the Cowboys was perhaps the splashiest selection in the entire draft. But the Cowboys also used their third round pick on Neville Gallimore a four-year defensive tackle at Oklahoma who Dallas will likely expect to grow into a starting role in his first few years. But he’ll get to learn from a six-time Pro Bowler in Gerald McCoy, who was signed in free agency. Of course, McCoy was a star standout at Oklahoma before being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Bucs.

Dallas also added one of Oklahoma’s most intriguing players from last decade in free agency in tight end Blake Bell. A converted quarterback, Bell threw, caught, and rushed for touchdowns during his career at Oklahoma. Bell’s immediate role with the Cowboys will be as a tight end, but Sooner fans are likely eager to see him utilized in a variety of different packages among McCarthy’s system.

Perhaps these four acquisitions simply represent a series of coincidences, but Oklahoma is a nearby program that knows something about sustained success, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cowboys are looking at players that developed about 200 miles to the north.

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