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Cowboys news: Dallas adds much needed depth at linebacker

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NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Former Syracuse LB Mikel Jones, OL Justin Pugh sign to NFL practice squads (report) - Chris Carlson,

After losing Devin Harper to waivers, the Dallas Cowboys needed to make a move.

The Cowboys move was reported on social media by’s Todd Archer, while the Giants move was reported by the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and confirmed by Pugh.

Archer reported that Jones worked out with Dallas on Tuesday. He fills a spot at linebacker that was created when Dallas released Devin Harper, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State who had been playing primarily on special teams.

Jones was a three-time All-ACC player with Syracuse, led the Orange in tackles twice and was a two-time captain at SU. He started in 38 games over his four seasons and ranks 17th on SU’s all-time tackles list with 301. His playmaking was central to the team’s successful transition to a 3-3-5 defense under head coach Dino Babers and defensive coordinator Tony White.

Jones played four seasons for Syracuse, turning pro with one year of eligibility remaining and going undrafted. He left after helping Syracuse qualify for a bowl game last year, something he said was a goal of his with the Orange.

Jerry Jones sees no reason Cowboys can’t beat Super Bowl-favorite 49ers - Angelina Martin, NBC Sports

The Cowboys owner has complete confidence in his team.

Jerry Jones knows exactly what his team is up against when they face the 49ers this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

But despite calling San Francisco the favorite to win Super Bowl LX on Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager feels good about the matchup.

“I look at it as we know they’re one of, if not the, teams who are playing the best right now,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan’s “Shand and RJ” show. “They’re solid in their personnel, so they’re one of the best teams. A win against them would be inspiring, and it would be substantive. It’s what it is, and we are going to have to go by them beginning Sunday and if we have aspirations, I think we’ll have to go by them later in the year.”

Jones doesn’t view the upcoming Week 5 clash as a test or a measure of where Dallas stands talent-wise, but defeating San Francisco less than a year after they eliminated his team from the playoffs for a second straight season certainly would give the Cowboys a clue of how their postseason aspirations measure up.

While quarterback Dak Prescott flinched this week at the mention of the Cowboys’ divisional-round loss to the 49ers last season, noting they use the defeat as motivation “every day,” Jones believes Dallas should focus on themselves as a rematch approaches.

Why the Cowboys aren’t overly concerned about red zone struggles - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If the Cowboys want to beat the 49ers, they'll probably need to make better use of their red zone opportunities.

“We are going to get better in the red zone. I’ll assure you we will be better,” Jones said. “The skeptic says that doesn’t take much but facts are we can get better. This week would be a good place to start.” Jones said it’s an execution issue not a scheme problem is slowing the Cowboys down. The biggest reason why the Cowboys are not overly concerned is because of the way they are moving ball.

“No. 1, we feel like we’re playing really well between the 20s,’’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “There’s no question about that . . . The struggles in the red zone, you look, man, we’re struggling there but we’re doing great on third down. So now the emphasis is red zone but you don’t want to take away from third down.“

“That’s a little bit of a balancing act. That would be the first thing. The control and the command that Dak (Prescott) has of our third down attack is pretty cool. The ball is getting spread around to different people.’’

Can the Cowboys' Run-Heavy Approach Take Down San Francisco? - Dan Morse, D Magazine

Does the ground game give the Cowboys the best chance against the 49ers?

Dak Prescott didn’t test the Patriots deep too often, but he did put together his second outing with a completion percentage above 80 percent. The more interesting note, however, isn’t how efficient the offense was. No, the interesting part was that this was the second straight week that Dallas called a pass on about 60 percent of its plays after passing on only half of its plays in each of the first two games. Don’t be fooled, though—the NFL average pass rate this season is also right around 60 percent.

Relative to the rest of the NFL, Dallas is throwing the ball about 6 percentage points of the time less than average for the second consecutive year. McCarthy really is trying to run the damn ball!

The Rams have come the closest to beating the 49ers, which in a way bodes well for the new-look Dallas offense. With the run-first approach the Cowboys have adopted, they could replicate (or even surpass) what the Rams did, which should put them in a decent position to hand the 49ers their first loss of the year.

Brian Schottenheimer: Cowboys will ask Trey Lance for information to prepare for 49ers - Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk

The Cowboys will try to learn from former-49ers QB Trey Lance

Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer says third-string quarterback Trey Lance, who spent the last two years in San Francisco, will be a resource for Dallas as it prepares for Sunday night’s showdown against the 49ers.

Trey knows a little bit about what they’re doing,” Schottenheimer said, via “The cool thing is, like I said, the [Cowboys] know them well, I know them well from being in Seattle, Trey knows them well.”

Still, Schottenheimer downplayed how useful that kind of information is. Schottenheimer noted that last week, there was talk of former Cowboys Will Grier and Ezekiel Elliott helping the Patriots to get rid of the Cowboys. It obviously wasn’t much help, as the Cowboys beat the Patriots 38-3.

“Like last week, it’s kind of in good fun and humor. We all use pieces that we have in place, but we don’t go too far into it. We can know exactly what they’re going to do, because they don’t do too much, and they’re still really, really tough to go against just because they’re so talented,” Schottenheimer said. “We’ll definitely talk to Trey. He knows a lot of the pieces going against them in practice, but it doesn’t always help, as we learned [Sunday against the Cowboys].”

Cowboys all-in on trying to send message vs. 49ers - Patrik Walker,

The team has seemingly been waiting all year for this moment.

As the Cowboys try to strike this year’s first blow against their current Boogeyman, much like they did against Tom Brady in January and to Bill Belichick last weekend, everyone in the building is champing at the bit to get to work for the trip to Santa Clara.

Mike McCarthy, HC: ”It’s an important game. You understand the history. There’s obviously a lot of tradition with this game, and that’s a part of it. You live to play in these kinds of games. You dream about it. You don’t want to make it bigger than it is, but the reality is it’s not just another game. The important thing is for us to learn [from Week 4] and take things we can improve on. Watching [the 49ers] tape and getting into it, and they’re playing well. I’m impressed from what I’ve seen. We’re just keeping our eye on the target.”

Dak Prescott, QB: ”Now it’s about turning the page and studying the hell out of these [49ers] — understanding who they’ve been and what this matchup has been the past couple of years. I’ve played them in the playoffs and we understand it’s a team that if we get to where we want to get, we have to play them again, come playoffs. I look forward to the matchup and turning the page … and coming up with a great gameplan.”

Tony Pollard, RB: ”We’re always ready. It doesn’t matter who we have coming up next week. Anybody they put up against us, we’ll be ready. … We definitely have a bad taste in our mouth from the two times we played them. But it’s a new year, we’ll start from scratch and we’re ready to go. That’s every week for us. Every week that’s how we look at it.”

Dan Quinn, DC: “The formula for San Francisco, you see the effectiveness of their starts, not just in the run game but also scoring and finishing. Certainly, [Christian McCaffrey] has been at the top of that list, for sure. We’ll have our work cut out for us … but it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

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