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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott’s ascent, and the young stars powering the defense

The latest news surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

CeeDee Lamb Predicts Cowboys’ DaRon Bland Isn’t Done After Setting NFL Pick-Six Record - Jeff Smith, Sports Illustrated

The Cowboys’ leader in TD catches this year doesn’t think the player with the second most is slowing down.

Cowboys defensive back DaRon Bland etched his name in the NFL history books after tallying his record-breaking fifth pick-six of the NFL season in Week 12 against the Commanders. Bland has been a force in the Dallas secondary, as well as a headache for opposing quarterbacks, and teammate CeeDee Lamb believes he’s not done yet.

When addressing Bland’s incredible accomplishment, Lamb predicted that it’s “not going to stop,” as opposing quarterbacks keep testing him.

“It’s insane. … Just being a competitor that he is and always looking to be better, I’m sure it’s not going to stop. They keep trying him, he’ll get another one,” Lamb said, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota.

“He pick it, he’s looking to score six.”

Bland has been targeted 59 times this season and it’s resulted in a quarterback rating three points worse than if opposing signal-callers had just thrown the ball into the ground instead of attempting to target him, according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

It’s an insane stat for a player producing at an incredible level. It’ll be fun to watch if he can build on his new record over the season’s final weeks.

Dak Prescott: ‘What I Say to Myself Is, I Haven’t Done S—t’ amid Cowboys’ Success - Doric Sam, Bleacher Report

An MVP-caliber season is not Dak Prescott’s ultimate goal.

Dak Prescott helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to a third straight blowout victory on Thanksgiving Day, but he isn’t ready to enjoy the fruits of success just yet.

While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Prescott said that he understands there’s a larger goal for him to chase, so, “What I say to myself is, I haven’t done s—t.”

Prescott and the Cowboys have been defeating opponents by an average of 30 points during their current win streak. Dallas leads the NFL with 31.5 points per game this season.

However, the Cowboys still have yet to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs since they last won the Super Bowl in 1995. Dallas is surely hoping to break through that threshold this season, but it won’t be easy with teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers standing in its way.

The Cowboys (8-3) will look to make it four straight wins when they host the Seattle Seahawks (6-5) this week on Thursday Night Football.

Nick at Nite: Bell, Clark brotherhood powering LB group - Nick Harris, DallasCowboys.com

Two unlikely stars are shining in the middle of the Cowboys’ defense.

When Damone Clark was drafted in the fifth round of the 2022 draft, he was fresh off a spinal fusion surgery that put the longevity of his football career in question. Despite that, the Dallas Cowboys trusted in their training staff and trusted in their scouting department enough to take the chance on the LSU product, and man has it paid off.

Not only was Clark able to bounce back and play in 10 games in 2022 as a rookie, but he’s stepped into a starting role as a second-year player and has taken on challenge after challenge and continues to exceed expectations.

Since the season-ending injury to Leighton Vander Esch, Clark has been tasked with taking on more communication with the defense and being the experience in the linebacking corps. While his play has allowed the defense around him to thrive, even after arguably the best game of his second season with nine tackles on Thanksgiving, you won’t be able to pull any ego out of the man who once wore the esteemed No. 18 at LSU for being a humble teammate.

Clark isn’t the only one. When Markquese Bell was brought in as an undrafted free agent out of Florida A&M, he had come off an interesting and well-traveled college career. Originally a prized four-star recruit in the class of 2017 that chose to attend Maryland over Ohio State, Clemson and others, Bell’s time as a Terrapin was cut short when he was suspended from the team in 2018 before ever playing a game.

His journey led him to Coffeyville Community College in 2018 where he quickly rose as one of junior college’s top defensive backs which led him to the opportunity to finish his career at Florida A&M from 2018-2021.

In his time as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, exceeding expectations has also been a key theme. Brought in as a safety with the idea of excelling on special teams early on and rotating in defensively, Bell did just that in his rookie year when he was elevated off the practice squad and onto the active roster to finish the final five games of the regular season.

In 2023, Bell has been asked to step in and play directly alongside Damone Clark in the second level following the season-ending injury to Leighton Vander Esch, and he has shown up as one of the league’s top pass-defending linebackers through 11 games with his 90.2 pass coverage grade ranking second among all NFL linebackers this season.

How Dak Prescott and the Cowboys built the NFL’s best passing game - Doug Farrar, USA Today

Offseason work is finally paying off for the Cowboys’ offense after a slow start to the season.

Before the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 7 bye, Dak Prescott had completed 132 of 190 passes for 1,333 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 91.0.

Since the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 7 bye, Dak Prescott has completed 127 of 180 passes for 1,602 yards, 17 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 124.8. Prescott’s completion rate has risen from 69.5% to 70.6%, and that’s especially impressive because he’s been throwing completing so many deep balls of late — before the bye, he attempted 19 passes of 20 or more air yards, completing eight for 194 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 92.9. Since the bye, Prescott has completed 20 of his 33 deep throws for 565 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 144.3. When you’re just about perfect on the game’s toughest throws, you are indeed playing with house money.

After a 45-10 Thanksgiving Day win over the Washington Commanders in which Prescott completed 22 of 32 passes for 331 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 142.1 (and got Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio fired along the way), head coach Mike McCarthy talked about why it’s working so well on that side of the ball.

“We’re rolling through our menus. We’re not a ‘create the wheel’ system approach. I don’t believe in that. I mean, we don’t chase new ideas and concepts. If there’s a wrinkle that we feel helps us, it’s a variation of what we’ve already done. We have so many invested reps in the spring and training camp and that’s the foundation of who we are. Because it takes time to get the timing and efficiency where you want it each and every year and the fact of the matter is you have less time together. That’s why I give all these NFL players in today’s game an incredible amount of respect for what they do away from the building and that five weeks off a summer. That’s a critical time now in development of an offensive passing game. Which you were able to get that done in the past in the spring and training camp.

Aaron Rodgers on Dak Prescott: ‘He’s become one of my favorite QBs to watch’ - FoxSports.com

The QB known for being the Cowboys’ kryptonite provides high praise for Dallas’ QB1.

“Dak Prescott has become one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch,” Rodgers told Pat McAfee on “The Pat McAfee show Tuesday.

“I’ve watched more football this year than any other year,” he explained, “because in normal years, you’re getting ready for games, you’re never watching football. You might see some scores on your phone, every now and then, see a Sunday night game, and you might get part of Monday or Thursday, but you’re just not watching a lot of games. But this year I’ve watched a lot more games than usual.”

Rodgers emphasized that Prescott’s play has been among the best in the league.

“Tom Brady had some comments about some of the mediocrity in the game, and I just want to say Dak is not who he is talking about, for a number of reasons. I just love that he’s really playing the position. What I mean by that is, I’m watching him make Ringo calls – that’s protection adjustments against these crazy looks, and picking things up.

“I’m watching him bring the tight end back in against zero pressure – and old concept we used to run – and throw a TD to CeeDee Lamb in the back of the end zone. I’m watching him use his cadence beautifully and get into this rhythmic ‘here we go’ … using it as a dummy sometimes, into other cadences. The last three or four weeks I’ve gotten to see more of their games, and I just want to say, he’s playing the position in a really impressive way.”

Here is the Cowboys’ final injury report ahead of their Week 13 game against Seattle.

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