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Cowboys news: Giants sign Jaylon Smith and expect him to play this Sunday

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon Smith signs to Giants practice squad, is expected to play Sunday - Josh Alper, PFT

There could be a reunion for the Cowboys on Sunday.

The Cowboys are set for a reunion with linebacker Jaylon Smith this weekend, but he’ll be wearing a different uniform this time.

Smith signed with the Giants’ practice squad on Friday. The Giants host the Cowboys on Sunday and Ed Werder of ESPN reports that Smith is expected to play as they deal with health issues in their linebacking corps.

Smith was a 2016 second-round pick in Dallas and did not play during his rookie season because of a severe knee injury suffered in college. He remained with the Cowboys until he was released in early October, signed with the Packers a short time later and appeared in two games before they released him as well.

As NFL deals with COVID outbreaks, Dallas Cowboys have never been healthier - Stefan Stevenson, Star-Telegram

Amid Covid-19 outbreak in the NFL, the Cowboys are at the healthiest they’ve been all season (knocks on wood).

While many NFL teams are dealing with unprecedented COVID-19 outbreaks, the Dallas Cowboys have never been healthier. It wasn’t too long ago that the Cowboys were dealing with a rash of coronavirus cases, including receiver Amari Cooper missing multiple games and head coach Mike McCarthy missing a game. In fact, the Cowboys at one point led the league in missed games because of COVID. But Friday morning the Cowboys’ COVID news was good. Receiver Cedrick Wilson tested negative for the second time and is likely to be available when the Cowboys play the New York Giants at noon Sunday at MetLife Stadium in Easter Rutherford, N.J. As of Friday afternoon, the Cowboys had no players or staff on the COVID list. Wilson was able to practice Friday for the first time this week.

More than 100 players around the league will miss games this weekend after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Washington, who the Cowboys beat last week 27-20, has 20 players on the list, including both quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen. Washington was forced to sign Garrett Gilbert, who might start Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Cowboys will resume higher level COVID-19 protocols, including virtual-only meetings throughout the weekend and on Monday, McCarthy said.

“It’s a moving target,” McCarthy said of the updated league requirements. “Last year’s experience is extremely helpful. Frankly, we felt we didn’t do a good enough job [a year ago]. We’re much better prepared to do virtual, clearly.”

Film room: Two ways the Cowboys’ offense can right the ship vs. New York Giants - Nick Kehoe, Dallas Morning News

Can these two things help get the Cowboys offense back on track?

Dak should have time

The Giants defense has been a major disappointment this season, and it all starts up front. They simply don’t get to the quarterback. They’re 25th in the NFL in sacks, 28th in sack percentage and 31st in pressure percentage according to Pro Football Reference. They lack explosive pass rushers, particularly off the edge. And they might be without their best defensive lineman, Leonard Williams. That means the Cowboys should have opportunities to attack downfield.

In their Week 5 matchup, the Cowboys did whatever they wanted to on offense. The Giants didn’t play a ton of man coverage. In fact, they have been a predominant zone coverage team this season. But when they did play man, Prescott was able to consistently take advantage of 1-on-1 matchups for some big plays.

Mailbag: Trying More Screens? Signing A FA RB? - David Helman,

Could the Cowboys look to add a running back heading into the playoffs?

I just saw a clip on NFL Network featuring Frank Gore, his boxing training and his desire to return to football on a team that has a shot at the Super Bowl. He looked to be in great shape. Do you think he could help the Cowboys? — ROBERT PRINCE / MOSELEY, VA

David: I’m not convinced Gore is the answer, given that he has failed to average 4 yards per carry in five of his last six seasons. But I do wonder if there’s a free agent running back out there that could help the Cowboys handle these injury problems. I will say, there aren’t a ton of intriguing names, outside of maybe Le’Veon Bell. Maybe that guy could be Ito Smith, who just got here last week.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons could match one of Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor’s most amazing feats - Todd Archer,

How crazy (if at all), are the Micah Parsons comparisons to LT?

FRISCO, Texas — Dan Quinn was like a lot of New Jersey kids in the 1980s.

“L.T. was my favorite player, there’s no doubt about it. I had the poster on the wall, the whole thing,” said the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, who grew up in Morris Township, New Jersey. “Yeah, he was the one that if you were a young kid coming up, their defense was pretty rugged. And I certainly admired [New York Giants coach] Bill Parcells and that style and attitude that the guys played with.”

L.T. is Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who played 13 seasons for the Giants after being drafted No. 2 overall in 1981. Forty years later, Quinn’s star student, Micah Parsons, is trying to become the first rookie to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award since Taylor did it.

“Boy, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I guess we have four more weeks to figure it out,” Quinn said when asked whether Parsons could win DPOY as Taylor did. “But anytime you talk about a guy who changed the game so much it’s a cool thing. For Micah, we just want him to be the best version of himself.”

Parsons’ trek to potentially matching Taylor continues Sunday against Taylor’s former team, the Giants, at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, Fox). In the first meeting at AT&T Stadium this season against the Giants, Parsons was credited with nine tackles and three quarterback pressures.

In the eight games since that meeting in Week 5, Parsons has 9.5 sacks, which matched what Taylor had in 1981 when sacks weren’t an official NFL stat.

Dallas Cowboys: Why Dak Prescott must find his groove this week - Cole Patterson, A to Z Dallas

It’s time for Dak to get back on track.

The Dallas Cowboys are set to hit the road for a divisional matchup with the New York Giants on Sunday. Dallas has a chance to create even more separation in the NFC East while continuing its playoff push.

While a win is important, Dak Prescott is the most important storyline for the Cowboys in week 15. Prescott has been off his game over the last few weeks, and the Cowboys desperately need him to get back on track.

Prescott looked the part of an MVP candidate until suffering a calf strain injury in the final play of the win over the Patriots this season. Since then, Prescott has missed one game and has looked like a shell of himself.

The struggles are not all on Prescott, to be fair. There has been some musical chairs along the offensive line. The run game has been nonexistent outside of one big run by Tony Pollard against the Saints. The wide receivers has been very inconsistent, and the play-calling has been strange.

Dallas needs to find a way to get Prescott back to being comfortable. A matchup against the Giants defense presents the Cowboys an opportunity to work out its offensive kinks. Kellen Moore must put Dak Prescott in positions to succeed on Sunday.

Cowboys at Giants game preview: 5 things to watch - Tony Catalina, Blogging the Boys

Five things to watch!

3. Who will be the left guard on Sunday?

For the past month the left guard spot has been manned by Connor McGovern, as he took over for the often flagged Connor Williams, to try and upgrade the position. McGovern’s future is still bright and he has learned a lot during his time out there, but at this time Connor Williams is the better player and the word around the team is that a change back to Williams is in the works, although nothing has been confirmed officially. The entire team understands that December is where the rubber meets the road in the NFL. With everything they want still in front of them they need to do a real self-reflection of all aspects of this team and make a move where the deem is best for this team moving forward, and this change may be just that.

Jerry Jones Doesn’t Want Cowboys to be Another Playoff Team Lacking “Variety” - Sean Martin, Inside the Star

What does Owner/GM Jerry Jones want to see in the playoffs?

Cowboys Owner and GM Jerry Jones isn’t one to back down from opportunity to be an optimist when it comes to his football team. This was certainly the case after the team’s win at Washington, where the Cowboys offense once again struggled but the team added to their commanding NFC East lead nonetheless.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy is holding back talk of the playoffs until the Cowboys reach ten wins, which they can do at the Giants this Sunday. New York is a fitting opponent to frame Jones’ point about variety in the playbook though, as he jumped straight to talk of how prepared this offense will be in the postseason.

In his weekly hit on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones admitted he’s been a part of “teams that’ve been criticized for not having enough variety when you get to the playoffs,” and for doing the “same-old same-old” when they get there.

The Giants moved on from OC Jason Garrett mid-season, who previously coached Cowboys teams criticized for these same reasons. While the move has done little to spark an offense dealing with injuries and lack of depth, the Cowboys have the personnel and a healthy QB to play much more efficiently on this side of the ball.

Jones said the Cowboys have practiced intensely how to put in new looks for later in the season. Starting this week, all but one of the Cowboys remaining opponents will be teams they’re seeing for the second time as division games. It shouldn’t take long to find out if Jones is giving Kellen Moore too much credit here, or if the Dallas offense remains a point of concern through December.

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