The Cowboys have yet to make a move even with Dak Prescott hurting.
The recent injury to Dak, fortunately not considered serious, reminds us that the “one play away” theory is so true. But isn’t it smarter to stand pat with the current three backups and allow us time to evaluate their play in practice and in the upcoming preseason games? And then depending how they do, we can explore the waiver wire as the preseason winds down for possible upgrades, if need be? — JOHN WALKER / AUSTIN, TX
Nick: Yes. And that is pretty much what every team does at every position. You sign players in the offseason and teach them the scheme. They go out and practice and in most cases, get to play in the preseason games. If at that point, you don’t think the position is good enough to enter the season, you go on the outside and look for help. At quarterback, this injury to Dak will give Gilbert and Rush and even DiNucci more reps to show the staff what they’ve got. So that is a silver lining because it’s not a major setback but enough to give us a better idea for the No. 2 spot.
David: I think that’s a good point. These three guys who have been here all offseason have a better understanding of the offense and what the coaching staff wants. At the same time, you can’t replicate NFL experience, and a guy like Blake Bortles has a lot more of it than any of the backups in this camp. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a huge issue either way. But I’d love to feel a bit more confident in the backup situation.
Roster projections will be a thing as we head into preseason games.
Defense Depth Chart (26)
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence, Tarell Basham, Chauncey Golston
DT: Brent Urban, Osa Odighizuwa, Quinton Bohanna
DT: Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill
DE: Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong
LB: Jaylon Smith, Jabril Cox
LB: Micah Parsons, Luke Gifford
LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal
CB: Trevon Diggs, Maurice Canady, Jourdan Lewis
CB: Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright
S: Damontae Kazee, Israel Mukuamu
S: Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse
It’s really hard to narrow some of these groups down given how many players we have to pick from. Hopefully more practices and preseason games will help clarify matters.
You may be groaning at the sight of Dorance Armstrong’s name but we have no reason to put Bradlee Anae, Ron’Dell Carter, or anyone else above him right now. And with talk that Dallas will be using 3-4 looks in 2021, Armstrong may be the most ideally suited to work out of the edge in some formations than any other backup.
Then again, if Micah Parsons is going to be rushing the passer then Dallas may not even need a fifth DE this year.
McCarthy is looking for players to step up.
McCarthy confirmed that this season’s council has 14 players, chosen by the coaching staff. We know that Randy Gregory is one of those players, which is a symbolic victory for his career and its ups and downs.
The leadership council can be a liaison between players and coaches, but McCarthy said that his collaboration with leadership councils has always depended on the personalities of the players.
“I’ve done this for a few years and I’ve done it in different ways,” McCarthy said. “Going back to the word ‘organic.’ I don’t use the leadership council to deliver messages for me or push certain things. They have to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize the council and the council can be a two-way street.”
The members of the council should have a good idea of whether the players want more messaging from their coaching staff or if they have heard plenty from their coaches during required practices and meetings. His involvement will differ based on those factors.
“I’ve done it where I met with those guys a lot, and I’ve done it where I hardly met with them at all,” McCarthy recalled. “Really, the individuals on your council will drive how much they do and how much is needed. It’s different for every team. It’s different every year.”
Hooker hopes he found a home.
New Cowboys safety Malik Hooker’s curve seems to be adhering more to the latter. He’s only been a member of the ‘Boys franchise for a few days, but he’s already taken a keen liking to his new surroundings.
“I feel like this is the perfect place for me for my decision. I felt like this is where home was at...it’s just about getting out there and having fun and playing the game. Anybody that watched me play, anytime I played and I was healthy, I made an impact on the games I played.
For me, it ain’t about what I got to prove. It’s about me staying available and healthy at this point.’’
Hooker has already begun the familiarization process with Dallas, and was seen participating in several workouts, as well as conversing with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in his first week at Oxnard.
Quinn’s defensive scheme is a system that Hooker feels suits him well, given the experience he’s had in similar regimes. And Quinn has expressed an excitement that mirrors the 25-year-old Ohio State product’s emotion.
Dallas’ D is fully aware of the skillset they’ve just been blessed with, and Hooker’s own assessment of himself is fair and accurate.
“A game-changer and an athletic ballhawk. That’s what I’ve been since I came out. Also vocally I’m a leader.’’
But as the self-proclaimed game-changer has already professed, health will be a chief concern as he starts his voyage at the Star. Since he’s entered the NFL fraternity, Hooker has dealt with a torn labrum in his hip, sports hernia, torn ACL and MCL, groin and foot injuries, another hip ailment, torn meniscus, and a most recently, a torn Achilles. It’s only been four season since he entered the league.
Zeke and Tank.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
The Cowboys’ offense was stagnant after Dak Prescott was injured last year, but Elliott struggled before that time. He had a career-low 4.0 yards per career and 65.3 rushing yards per game, failing to reach 1,000 rushing yards. Elliott lost weight in the offseason as he tries to rebound at age 26.
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys
The high-priced Lawrence didn’t prove deserving of a huge contract for the second consecutive year, providing only 6.5 sacks in 16 games in 2020. The Cowboys’ defense was one of the worst in the league, and need Lawrence to get back to the Pro Bowl level he showed in 2017 and 2018.
The hype for Micah Parsons is growing.
One observer of Cowboys training camp tells Hall of Famer Peter King in his Football Morning in America column that Parsons is “wrecking” practice, and pushing for a three-down role as a rookie.
Those sort of glowing endorsements should come as little surprise after Parsons arrived in Happy Valley as the No. 1 defensive end in his recruiting class, only to become a first-team All-American inside linebacker by his second season.
“He needs to play opening day,” Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy tells King. “You have to trust what your eyes are telling you. And when I watch him, I see a fluid and explosive player. This game’s not too big for him. Some guys run a 4.3. Some guys play 4.3. He’s the kind of guy who plays fast. He looks like he’s done this at this level before.”
Parsons, produced a career-high 109 tackles as a sophomore in 2019 prior to opting out of his junior season, along with four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles.
The heart and soul of the Nittany Lions’ defense during his two seasons, it certainly seems like Parsons has the ability to be a playmaker in the Cowboys’ front seven, and many inside the NFL believe that as far as talent goes, he’s a can’t miss prospect.
“He can be a game-changer,” a long-time NFL personnel executive told FanSided prior to the NFL Draft, on the condition of anonymity so he could speak freely on Parsons as he still consults for several teams. “Devin White, who I loved coming out of LSU, Micah is a much better prospect than him. Devin was very athletic, very fast, you see it on the NFL level.”
From oft-suspended to Dallas Cowboys leader, Randy Gregory still has a lot to prove - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Randy Gregory is wrecking Cowboys practices.
Randy Gregory’s life has the makings of a feel-good Lifetime movie at this point.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Gregory in the second round in 2015 and handed him the coveted No. 94 jersey so he could follow in the pass-rushing footsteps of Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware.
Gregory was subsequently suspended four times and his NFL career was left for dead because he couldn’t stop smoking marijuana.
He was forced to work in an Amazon warehouse making $15.50 an hour to manage his household with a wife and two children while trying to get his life and career back.
His substance abuse issues were linked to mental health problems dating to his childhood, including low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
It’s remarkable to some that Gregory is even back in the NFL.
And it seems even more remarkable that he was recently named to the Cowboys’ 14-player leadership council for this season.
Even to him.
“I wasn’t really expecting that,” Gregory said. “I think it says a lot about my journey as far as my growth. I think five years ago this would never even be a conversation.”
BTB Podcast Schedule
- Monday: Jersey Boyz with Dave Sturchio, Bret Ernst, and Keith Ernst
- Tuesday: The 75O with Tony Casillas and RJ Ochoa
- Wednesday: Talkin’ The Draft with Connor Livesay, Cole Patterson, and Dalton Miller
- Thursday: Ryled Up with Roy White and Tom Ryle
- Friday: Girls Talkin ‘Boys with Kelsey Charles and Meg Murray
- Saturday: Cowboys Hoy with Mauricio Rodriguez
We also offer daily episodes of The Ocho where we give you that day’s latest headlines so that you always stay caught up. The BTB podcast network is available on all major podcast avenues.
You can find your preferred platform right here. Make sure to subscribe, rate the feed, and leave a review! Our latest episode is available in the feed down below.