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Cowboys news: Dallas has decided to remain cautious with Dak Prescott’s return to action

The Cowboys news you may have missed from Tuesday.

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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Mike McCarthy: Cowboys ‘being a little more conservative’ with Dak, QB won’t play in HOF Game - Nick Shook,

Dak Prescott’s shoulder strain has naturally caused a lot of concern for Cowboys fans, and the Cowboys are taking no chances with it and will remain conservative. Mike McCarthy stressed that it’s purely out of precaution.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Tuesday the team is taking a slower approach to bringing the franchise quarterback back from a shoulder strain. Prescott will not throw Tuesday or play in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, McCarthy said.

“We’re being a little more conservative with his rehab,” McCarthy said, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “We just want to make sure this doesn’t turn into something bigger.”

McCarthy was careful to specify that Prescott hadn’t suffered a setback, but that he simply isn’t on the original timetable envisioned for his return. Prescott isn’t exactly missing the Super Bowl this week, anyway, but has said he’d like to participate in the preseason at some point.

WR Amari Cooper, DE DeMarcus Lawrence nearing return for Dallas Cowboys after offseason surgeries - Todd Archer, ESPN

Two of the Cowboys’ best players, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence, have largely been spectators throughout training camp thus far, but it seems that they’ll be getting worked back into things very soon.

As the Cowboys open the preseason on Thursday at the Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lawrence and Cooper will either be spectators or remain in Oxnard, California, to continue their rehab.

“It’s up to the trainers and the doctors,” Lawrence said of when he will practice. “I feel like they got a good game plan to work me back in and whatever they need from me I’m willing and I’m there.”

Earlier in training camp, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Lawrence and Cooper would not practice until the Cowboys returned to The Star in Frisco, Texas, after the Aug. 13 preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I wouldn’t say I’m quite 100 percent yet, to be completely candid. But I’m real close. I can do everything, maybe a little better, just because I’ve been rehabbing so hard,” Cooper said. “Just trying to be the best Amari Cooper that I can be, trying to be better than I’ve ever been. I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately about how I want this year to be different than any other year that I’ve played football.”

Cowboys C Tyler Biadasz on getting in sync with Dak Prescott, playing next to Zack Martin - Dallas Morning News Staff

Tyler Biadasz ended up seeing some action in his rookie year among all of the injuries, and he even got a few starts under his belt. Now, Biadasz is being counted on as the starting center for 2021, along with all of the responsibilities that come with that.

What does it mean to be on the same page with Dak Prescott?

Biadasz: “I mean, just, you’re in sync with each other. It’s almost like, you’re you read the defense with with the same level Of knowledge AND chemistry. You know, we go out there and we make calls. And then we check calls together. And we’re usually on the same page. It’s like you’re talking to each other but you don’t have to look at each other. It’s pretty cool, though.”

What’s it like playing next to Zack Martin?

Biadasz: “I mean, he definitely helps out in a perspective of experience and how they teams play the technique and what we’re going to face each week because he’s been in league for so many years. And that’s like that with [Tyron Smith] and [La’el Collins] too. They have a good amount of years under their belt, and they’ve seen a lot of stuff and going into my second year and even having like six games like last year, that definitely helps, but you definitely want more of a perspective like, what they can do off of this, or that. So, no, it definitely helps a lot. You know, I’m always learning from him. And he’s, he’s always giving feedback, and always helping the o-line with everything.”

Put up or shut up: Five Cowboys players heading into massive ‘prove-it’ years in 2021 - Bob Sturm, The Athletic

The Cowboys have a lot to prove in 2021, especially after their poor 2020 season was largely blamed on all the injuries they sustained. But there are five specific players who individually have a lot to prove as well.

1. Ezekiel Elliott, running back

Let’s be honest, he isn’t getting cut this spring because his contract was written by his agent so that it would either be done painfully last spring or in 2022. But, you can tell that he can feel the wear and tear and he surely sees that Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell, who were his rivals a few years back, are having a hard time finding a roster spot.

Elliott has lost weight and seems rejuvenated, but I am not certain the coaching staff and front office know what to think about his ability to be explosive and to be a clear offensive weapon. He must start by demonstrating he is clearly a better option than Tony Pollard. But, make no mistake, another year like last season — which the odds were definitely stacked against him with everyone else hurt — would make his post-2022 exit nearly a certainty. A few weeks after his 26th birthday, he can still change that narrative with a big season.

2. Michael Gallup, wide receiver

We have written plenty about this situation so there is no massive reason to belabor it, but Gallup has a range of outcomes that can go from him playing for a massive contract in excess of the contract Kenny Golladay signed with the Giants (four years for $72 million) to a more reasonably priced version like the ones Robby Anderson signed in Carolina (two years for $20 million) or Nelson Agholor in New England (two years, $22 million). Gallup’s quality is very high but that still might make him the third-best wide receiver in Dallas, so he might need to go elsewhere to reach his maximum earning potential. However, with a good enough year, the Cowboys might look for an Amari Cooper exit strategy and slide that money over to Gallup this spring.

Iron Sharpens Iron: CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs Battle Highlighting Cowboys Training Camp - Matthew Lenix, Inside the Star

One of the rare bright spots for the Cowboys last year was their rookie class, most notably CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs. With both expected to take a big step forward this year, the two have also been facing off against each other a lot in training camp thus far, and it seems like they’re only making each other better.

Lamb and Diggs arrived in Oxnard, California looking to build off of their rookie campaigns and start the road to significant year two jumps in their performance. Both of these talented players see several different opponents in team drills as well as one-on-one action. Although those battles are important in their development as well, it’s the matchup between the two that has set the competitive tone for the entire team in training camp.

In what has seemed like an everyday thing in practice, the Cowboy’s two most prized draft picks from a year ago have been seen going back and forth making plays against each other. Lamb has used his incredible burst off of the line of scrimmage, excellent route running, and ability to high point the ball to beat Diggs. On the other hand, Diggs has relied on his size, ability to play press-man coverage, and his anticipation skills to win reps against Lamb.

It’s truly been an iron sharpening iron situation between Lamb and Diggs. In the videos below, you see both players making plays against the other. Their reps against each other have been intense and this type of competition from two of your young leaders can have a trickle-down effect on the entire team.

Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb, Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy among wide receivers set for Year 2 breakout in 2021 - Nate Burleson,

CeeDee Lamb made plenty of impressive plays and nearly hit 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie season despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks. Now that he’s got a full offseason and Dak Prescott is returning, Lamb’s expectations are sky high.

Lamb was knocking on the door of 1,000 yards last season and that was without star quarterback Dak Prescott under center for the majority of the year. Putting up so much production catching balls from a hodpodge of QBs has to excite Cowboys fans. Lamb was great at adjusting to the ball when was in the air and showed flashes of polished route running.

Imagine what Lamb can do with a year under his belt and Dak (presumably) back on the field. This offense has a lot of confidence in Lamb and no disrespect to Amari Cooper, who started camp on the PUP list after having ankle surgery, but the young playmaker will be the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver before too long.

Ranking every NFL offense from 1 to 32 going into the 2021 season - Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic

In 2019, the Cowboys finished second in offensive efficiency, and they were in the top five before Dak Prescott’s injury in 2020. While they ended up finishing near the bottom with all of their injuries, this unit is largely expected to have a big bounce back in 2021.

7. Dallas Cowboys

Last year: 24th

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that Dak Prescott’s shoulder injury is not a major issue that affects him during the regular season. It’s pretty easy to explain away the Cowboys’ offensive issues from last year. Prescott missed 11 games, and Dallas had the second-most injured offensive line according to Football Outsiders. In 2019, with the same play-caller (Kellen Moore), the Cowboys ranked second in offensive efficiency.

They’re loaded at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. And Prescott is a top-10 quarterback. Barring another bout of bad injury luck, this should be a high-ceiling group that gets back on track.

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