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Cowboys news: Cowboys’ first-round pick Tyler Smith learning from NFL’s best offensive linemen

Your Wednesday edition of news on America’s Team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys’ Tyler Smith honing his technique, learning from NFL’s best offensive linemen - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

The rookie has some good teachers.

The rookie began learning from those greats in May and June. During this off-period before training camp, he learns still. Smith spent several hours last weekend at OL Masterminds, a summit where offensive linemen — most of them active in the NFL but others retired or in college — congregated to share trade insights. There was no better place for a first-round talent focused on honing his technique.

Starting center Tyler Biadasz and backup center/guard Matt Farniok were among the other young Cowboys blockers attending the two-day seminar, held at Sports Academy at The Star. Dallas-based offensive line coach Duke Manyweather and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson founded the series.

At this fifth-annual summit, Tyler Smith built on past player-to-player conversations with Martin and Tyron Smith. As one example, in the spring, he asked Martin how he avoids being fooled when a defender gives a head fake.

Martin told him he focuses on the defender’s armpit. “That just helps focus and train my eyes,” Tyler Smith said Saturday. “Like Duke was saying [at OL Masterminds], your eyes are a huge part of blocking. Keeping everything in sync and coordinated is huge for me. Zack really helped me with that a lot. I’ll be focused with my eyes. And with Tyron, I was like, ‘How do you not underset or overset?’ He said, ‘Just get to your spot as fast as possible… and use your hands in conjunction with that.’

Why Cowboys shouldn’t extend Tony Pollard’s contract before 2022 season - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys

It’s very likely 2022 is Tony Pollard’s last season as a Cowboy.

Pollard is in the last year of his rookie contract, meaning he’ll hit free agency next offseason. Additionally, $18.2 million of Elliott’s remaining $30 million guaranteed money is off the books after the 2022 season, meaning the Cowboys will have a potential out in his contract. All this is to say, the Cowboys will have a tough decision next year when it comes to the direction they want to go at running back. The team won’t be able to afford both, so which will it be, continue to roll with Elliott, or hand the keys to Pollard?

Recently, Pollard has been identified as a potential breakout player for the 2022 season. The fourth-round pick from 2019 is coming off a career year in yards (719) and yards per carry (5.5). He saw a 31% uptick in total touches last year and that turned out to be a good thing as his total yards from scrimmage increased from 628 to 1,056 yards (68%). Word out of camp is that more touches for Pollard are coming in 2022. This could mean an even bigger year for the team’s young running back.

There’s a case to be made for moving on from Elliott and going with Pollard for the future. Pollard has been the more efficient running back on a per touch basis and he only has one-fifth the mileage on him compared to Zeke. Not only that, but Pollard’s price tag should be far cheaper than what Elliott would command going forward as Zeke’s base salaries over the subsequent four years are $10.9 million (2023), $10 million (2024), $15.4 million (2025), and $16.6 million (2026).

10) What Should Tony Pollard's Role Look Like? - Staff, DallasCowboys.com

If the Cowboys want to be successful on offense, they need to get Tony Pollard more involved.

10) What Should Tony Pollard's Role Look Like?

Kyle Youmans: Pollard has made this question easy to answer over the last two seasons. When he's been given more responsibility, he's provided more results. So, give him a bigger role in the offense this season and see if he can keep delivering more results. He tallied 130 carries in 2021 after having 101 a year prior. He rewarded Dallas by upping his total from 435 rushing yards to 719 in just one year and his receiving yards from 193 to 337. The ideal role would be if Kellen Moore pushed a significant increase to between 150-175 carries, which would open his ability as a receiver as well.

Rob Phillips: More touches. He's earned it and the Cowboys need it from him. That's no knock against Ezekiel Elliott, who's still the starter and the most complete running back on the team, pass protection (which does matter) included. But this is the right time for Pollard to be more involved in the offense, meaning a moderate uptick in touches per game as a rusher and receiver. In past years, yeah, I agree there was only one ball for Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Jason Witten and Dalton Schultz. Times have changed. Cooper and Witten are no longer here. Gallup is coming back from a significant knee injury and quite possibly won't be ready for the start of the season. And Pollard took a step forward with a career season in 2021. His versatility isn't a luxury for the offense anymore – it's a necessity.

Cowboys 2022 Training Camp Preview: Defensive Tackles - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

Defensive tackle is one question mark on the defense.

Starting in 2019 when Trysten Hill was drafted in the 2nd Round, Dallas has used a Day 2 pick in each of the last three drafts at defensive tackle. We’ve also seen later-round picks at DT and some veteran free agents brought in.

A few months before Hill was drafted we watched the Cowboys get run over in their playoff loss to the Rams. Los Angeles rushed for a whopping 273 yards as they handed Dallas another 2nd-round exit from the postseason. Things got even worse in 2020 when the Cowboys had one of the worst defensive seasons in franchise history. They allowed over 2,500 rushing yards as the second-worst run defense in the NFL. While they did improve that ranking to 16th in 2021, there’s obviously still plenty of room for improvement.

Stopping the run isn’t just on the defensive tackles, of course, but analysis shows they’ve been the biggest issue. The linebackers can only do so much when opposing runners are getting easy initial bursts past the line of scrimmage. And DE DeMarcus Lawrence has graded out as one of the top run defenders in football the last few years; he can’t do it all on his own.

Breaking down Bleacher Report's Cowboys hot takes for 2022 - Lauren Barash, The Landry Hat

Taking a look at some hot takes.

“Dak Prescott Doesn’t Lose A Step”. There is a large portion of Cowboys fans who love to hate Dak Prescott. But the reality is that he is a top 10 quarterback in this league. After spending an entire offseason recovering from a brutal ankle injury, the Cowboys QB came back to pass for 4,449 and break Tony Romo’s single-season touchdown record. He did this all with limited mobility and a calf strain.

Now that he’s fully healthy and the coaching staff is ready to let him be the more versatile quarterback we saw in his first three years, it’s absolutely possible that Prescott can have another great year in 2022. In order to do so, he needs to prove he can lead his team further in the playoffs. The lack of playoff success is still frustrating, sure. But Prescott showed in 2021 that he is capable of getting the team to the postseason and showcased a new level of command of the offense.

Now he’s going to have to do what all quarterbacks do when their big contracts start to kick in. He’s going to have to continue to be elite with a worse supporting cast. Prescott did lose Amari Cooper, but with CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and eventually Michael Gallup at his disposable (plus increased rushing plays), he should be much improved this season.

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