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Cowboys news: Panthers run defense could force the Cowboys into a game plan similar to week one

The Cowboys will have to take advantage of the Panthers’ defense through the air, Carolina will be without several starters, a discussion on Micah Parson’s usage, and more.

NFL: SEP 09 Cowboys at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cowboys Offense Vs. Panthers Could Resemble Pass-Heavy Opener at Bucs- Sean Martin, Inside The Star

Kellen Moore has proved he knows how to exploit a defense's weakness. In the upcoming matchup against the Carolina Panthers, the game plan will revolve around the passing game.

Dak Prescott matched his career high with 58 attempts in the season opening loss at Tampa Bay, and may be in for another week of airing it out against Carolina. The Cowboys have won back to back games against the Chargers and Eagles with 29 carries for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in Los Angeles and 28 more on Monday night. Where the Chargers looked to slow the game down to limit the Cowboys possessions, their rushing output against the Eagles can be attributed to playing from ahead most of the game.

Playing against Tom Brady and the Bucs was a challenge unlike the Cowboys have faced again in the early going of 2021 – and they won’t this week against Sam Darnold. Needing to throw the ball and score quickly was the goal, and the Cowboys did so to take the lead late in the fourth. Though Darnold won his last start against Dallas with the Jets in 2019, it’s the Panthers stout run defense that could force the Cowboys hand Sunday.

Randy Gregory is questionable for Sunday- Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk

The final practice report does not come with many surprises for the Cowboys.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Friday morning he expects defensive end Randy Gregory to play Sunday. Officially, though, the Cowboys list Gregory as questionable.

The Cowboys added him to the injury report Thursday as a non-participant, and he returned to a limited practice Friday.

Gregory played 38 defensive snaps Monday night against the Eagles after returning from a COVID-19 absence that kept him out in Week 2.

Gregory has one tackle and one fumble recovery in two games.

Running back Tony Pollard, who missed Thursday’s session for personal reasons, had a full practice Friday and has no designation.

Defensive end Dorance Armstrong (ankle), offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (illness), defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (knee) and safety Donovan Wilson (groin) will not play. The Cowboys ruled out all four for Sunday’s game.

Dallas Cowboys IR Update: 4 players to return, expected dates, and impact- Reid Hanson, Sport DFW

The Cowboys have dealt with their fair share of injuries through the beginning of the season, but a few of the projected starters are set to return soon.

Kelvin Joseph, CB

Expected Role: Eventual CB2

The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2021 NFL Draft with the plan to draft a starting CB to play alongside Trevon Diggs. Dallas was/is extremely thin at boundary options (hence the reason Anthony Brown is currently starting) and knew they couldn’t be legit contenders unless they addressed it early.

Plan A was to draft one of the top-2 CBs expected to be there at Pick 10. Turns out they were scooped up just before Dallas went on the clock. Dallas shifted to plan B and that was Kelvin Joseph in the second round.

The pressure is on for this pick to work out. The Cowboys are having issues at CB2 again this season and desperately need someone to fill the void. The uber-raw Joseph is hopefully that man.

In the preseason finale, “Bossman Fat” injured his hamstring/groin pretty significantly. Mike McCarthy has singled him out as being still a couple weeks away so there’s a good chance Joseph doesn’t get back to practice until the latter part of October. Keep in mind, he still has to win a job.

Christian McCaffrey out, Yetur Gross-Matos doubtful for Panthers- Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk

The Panthers' final practice report reveals that Carolina will be without a few of their starters on Sunday.

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will miss a few weeks as he recovers from a hamstring strain. The team, though, did not place him on injured reserve as they hope he recovers sooner than later.

McCaffrey won’t play this week, with the Panthers officially ruling him out Friday.

Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) is doubtful on the final injury report. He practiced on a limited basis this week, after injuring an ankle in Week 2 against the Saints.

Right guard John Miller is questionable with a shoulder injury, and he was limited Friday.

Receiver Shi Smith was added to the report Friday for personal reasons.

Receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (thumb), cornerback CJ Henderson (groin), left tackle Cameron Erving (knee) and linebacker Shaq Thompson (back) were full participants Friday and do not have a designation.

Mailbag: Should Micah Parsons Play DE Full Time?- Nick Eatman & David Helman,

Despite being drafted as a linebacker, Parsons has proved he is one of the most versatile players in this year’s rookie class. Helman and Eatman discuss the Cowboys’ new weapon and their options for La’el Collins’ return.

Nick: What’s wrong with just letting him be a guy that can do both? Who have we seen that can be a dynamic pass-rusher and linebacker in his first three games of his career? Now, what we haven’t seen yet is a team that decides to run the ball at him when he’s at end. We haven’t really seen him rush the passer against a team that is at full strength at tackle. And when D-Law comes back, then it’ll probably make more sense to keep him at linebacker. But I’m fine with him lining up all over the place and forcing QBs to locate him pre-snap.

David: I’m at a loss for why people want to put the guy into a box so quickly. It’s amazing that he’s playing so well as an edge rusher. But if I’ve learned anything about Micah Parsons, it’s that he’s got the type of insane athleticism that will let him do damn near anything he wants to. That can help him as an edge rusher. It can help him blitz. It can also help him drop in coverage and make plays in the passing game. If Parsons keeps proving that he can do everything, why do you want to limit him? Football is all about matchups, and a guy with this type of versatility gives you an edge all over the field. I want to see it all.

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper talks impressive starts to the season for Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore- SportsDay Staff, DMN

Amari Cooper opens up about the explosive start to the season for the Cowboys’ offense, his route running, and the game plan against the Panthers.

On offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s start this season...

Cooper: “I think this is a tribute to his hard work, for real. He puts in so much time here in the building studying our opponent, and then on a lot of these plays, they’re working out exactly like how we practiced them because he understands the looks that these defenses are going to run in a certain down and distance or certain area on the field. ... He understands the tendencies of these coordinators and these defenses. You have to study to understand those things. So, it’s really a tribute to his hard work, because that’s how they package their plays in the game plan. ... He’s just watching a whole bunch of film and the tendencies that go from there.”

Do you think Dallas will be able to throw more this week vs. Carolina?

Cooper: “They play more man-to-man than the two teams we previously played. They play a lot of man on third down, but they do a good job of mixing up their coverages. But I would expect the receivers would have more opportunity in the pass game, yeah.”

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