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Cowboys news: Keanu Neal has been impressive in his short time as a Cowboy

Plus other Cowboys news and analyst from around the team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: LB Keanu Neal looking like the steal of the offseason - Reid Hanson, SportDFW

Keanu Neal has stepped into a new role for the Cowboys and has been a positive addition to the defense.

When the Dallas Cowboys signed Keanu Neal in March of this year, it was met with wild indifference from fans. Neal, a former first round pick and pedigreed player, came with extensive injury history (ACL, MCL, Acillies) which clouded his value. Those injuries and some coverage deficiencies when playing deep made him a square peg in a round hole during much of his time in Atlanta.

Pro Football Focus only graded Neal as the 33rd rated safety last year (the highest rating he had since his rookie season) yet the newly hired defensive coordinator Dan Quinn vouched for him, making him the highest paid outside free agent signing of the Cowboys. He did so with a plan in place: Keanu Neal would play WILL linebacker and not strong safety.

In other words, Keanu Neal would finally get to be the square peg for a square hole.

In Atlanta, Keanu Neal was a hitter to be feared. Similar to Dallas’ own, Roy Williams, Neal had an innate ability to blow people up. But for as good as he was laying the wood, he was a liability in many of his coverage assignments as a safety.

Mailbag: Could Rosen Add Backup QB Competition? -

Backup quarterback has been a question mark all offseason. Adding more competition may help to upgrade the position.

Any chance the Cowboys might be interested in quarterback Josh Rosen, just waived by the 49ers? I know that he has had a very disappointing career, but still, a guy with the talent to be a first-round pick has a significant amount of ability. –KENT HOEFFNER / WACO, TX

Nick:I get it that sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way we think it will. Rosen had the talent to be high first-round pick. But so far, none of the team he’s been on thought he could play for them. And it’s not like it was a one-time thing, but four teams. I think if he’s going to show it, he would’ve shown it. And it’s not like Rosen has been cut as the starter, these teams don’t think he’s good enough to be the backup? So why would it work in Dallas? The only way I see the Cowboys doing this is if they’ve decided they’re going to keep three QBs on the roster and someone like Rosen is the third guy who can learn the offense and have enough time to possibly compete with Gilbert.

David: I liked Josh Rosen more than several of the quarterbacks that came out in 2018, including Josh Allen. So I promise I’m not happy to say this. But I just feel like Rosen would have shown something by now if this was meant to be. He has been with four teams and thrown 502 career passes, so there have been opportunities. Combine that with the fact that Garrett Gilbert has been here for a year and has a huge head start on understanding this offense, and I just don’t see it. I know Rosen was a first-round pick, but I don’t think he’s an upgrade over what’s already here.

Amari Cooper Close to 100 Percent, Hopes to Play vs Texans - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

Amari Cooper fresh off PUP and ready to get into some game action.

Amari Cooper is coming off of one of his best seasons in the NFL in 2020. Despite Dak Prescott missing 11 games and the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys putting 13 different combinations on the field, Cooper set a career-high with 92 receptions and had his fifth 1,000-yard campaign in six seasons.

Cooper had a cleanup procedure done in January to fix a lingering ankle issue. It kept him out of OTAs and minicamp. However, he was taken off of the PUP list last week and returned to the practice field. His health is right on par to be ready for the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it appears Cooper will get to test the waters this Saturday in the “dress rehearsal” game against the Houston Texans.

“Yeah, I want to play for sure,” Cooper said on Tuesday. “I got word that I was playing.”

Cowboys release punter Hunter Niswander to make room for new kicker - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys bring in a fresh leg to finish off the preseason as Greg Zuerlein works his way off PUP.

The writing was on the wall in Dallas for punter Hunter Niswander. Now it’s been turned into an official press release.

Former CFL All-Star kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, brought in for a workout on Wednesday and then formally signed by the team on Thursday, will be handling all preseason kicking and field goal duties starting this Saturday night versus Houston.

Punter Hunter Niswander, kicking (for the first time) throughout camp, was placed on the waived/injured list in order to make room on the roster. Niswander has been dealing with a back ailment, according to the Cowboys. If he clears waivers, he reverts to the team’s injured reserve list.

McCarthy On Dak’s Most Important Relationship -

It was important to Coach McCarthy to keep Dak and Kellen Moore together with hopes to get the most out of QB1.

FRISCO, Texas – Mike McCarthy made a big change when he became the ninth head coach in Cowboys history a year and a half ago.

For the vast majority of his 13 seasons as Packers head coach (2006-18), McCarthy called the offensive plays. He voluntarily gave up that responsibility when he took the Cowboys job in January 2020. Not only did he keep Kellen Moore on staff as offensive coordinator, he wanted the 32-year-old former quarterback to continue calling plays after one year on the job.

That obviously represents faith in Moore as a bright young assistant coach. But McCarthy’s decision also was, and still is, about precious system continuity for quarterback Dak Prescott.

“It was a very conscious decision that I made, and I phrased it as, ‘If I’m going to call it, I need to install it.’ And Kellen’s calling it, and he’s installing it, and it needs to be his offense. I’ve been very cognizant of that,” McCarthy said Thursday during a visit with the local media. “He knows exactly what I’m looking for. He knows exactly how I feel about — just like anything in this business, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, training room, strength and conditioning, there’s usually two really good ways of doing, maybe a third. You’ve just got to decide which one you’re going to do. That’s been my experience.

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