These Cowboys went from afterthoughts to franchise cornerstones.
Before Amari Cooper wore #19, Miles Austin made it famous
Miles Austin was not a lock to make the roster back in 2006. However, he did what any intelligent young player eager to earn playing time would do. Austin used his talents on special teams and made an impact in a big way. Most undrafted players out of Monmouth University find it challenging to grab one of those musical chairs that we commonly dub a roster spot.
After a couple of seasons of making a name for himself doing kick returns, he earned his chance at one of the wide receiver roles. Subsequently after Terrell Owens exited stage right, there was a noticeable verbal void along with a statistical one. Austin embraced the opportunity of filling the stat sheet.
He turned his chance into the Cowboys’ single-game receiving record (10 catches for 250 yards) against the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the seven years with Dallas, Miles Austin racked up 301 receptions and 4481 receiving yards. The 35 touchdowns were the cherries on top. He was one of Tony Romo’s go-to receivers and scratched out 2 Pro Bowls in the process. There are many feel-good stories across the NFL but Miles Austin’s stack right up there with them.
Patrick Crayton was the epitome of a slot receiver for Tony Romo
Patrick Crayton was a 7th-round draft pick in 2004 from Northwestern Oklahoma State. I’ve never watched them play a down of football. With that, Dallas snagged another player who developed into one of the better route runners the NFL offered. Crayton had to overcome injuries and beat out players that were technically more talented than he was. He fought through a crowded receiver room with Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Antonio Bryant.
Bringing in Terrell Owens and Roy Williams, and with the emergence of Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton stood his ground and continued to produce. While he left the team with no pro bowls nods or All-Pro selections, he locked on to 196 receptions for 2888 yards in 6 seasons. From where he started to how it ended, the unexpected rise to a starting role should allow Crayton to sleep easy.
Undrafted hopeful Jalen Moreno-Cropper looks to race past the competition to find a spot on the roster.
How He Got Here: A native of Clovis, Calif., wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper turned down over double-digit Power Five offers when he became the fifth-highest rated recruit to ever sign with Fresno State as a four-star prospect in 2019. In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Moreno-Cropper was arguably the most productive pass-catcher in the entire Mountain West, accumulating 220 receptions for 2,701 yards and 21 touchdowns. Despite being a late sleeper during the draft process after shining at the East-West Shrine Bowl, Moreno-Cropper shockingly went undrafted and was swiftly picked up by Dallas as an undrafted free agent.
What’s Next: The receiver room is firm up top with CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup, but the depth behind that three-headed monster remains largely up for grabs. That doesn’t exclude Moreno-Cropper who possesses 4.4 speed and elite separation with his deep route tree. There is a clear opportunity for the Fresno State product to make an impact as early as training camp in order to earn a roster spot going into the season. His high-level production and run-after-catch ability will give him an advantage that not many on the roster possess. One area that will need to improve for Moreno-Cropper to reach his full potential will be adding strength and muscle to his 5-foot-11, 172-pound frame. With more strength in route running and body control, Moreno-Cropper could become a steal for the Cowboys down the line.
In case there was any questions about the character of Dak Prescott, look no further than somebody who knows him very well. Former offensive Kellen Moore offers glowing praise of his former player/teammate.
Former QB and former Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, spoke to The Season with Peter Schrager. As it turns out, he immediately saw how important Prescott would be for the organization simply by looking at his work ethic. Prescott is exactly the type of leader who arrives first and leaves the premises after everyone else has. That dedication is what makes players great, and Dak is well aware of that.
Dak Prescott’s incredible work ethic
Moore was also a quarterback when Dak Prescott arrived but he suffered an injury that forced his early retirement. He was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator until 2022, when Los Angeles Chargers grabbed him for the same position. This is what Moore said: “I was still getting a lot of reps as the No. 2 at the time. I have a freak deal at training camp in Oxnard, the fourth day: an offensive lineman gets pushed back and falls back on my leg, I break my ankle. So I went back to Dallas and got surgery. Sitting there on the couch, I just remember watching, because Tony was feeling some, kind of, maintenance stuff at that point already with his back.
“So Dak was taking a ton of reps in practice, basically 1s, 2s, and 3s. They played that first game against the Rams in the preseason, the first season in the L.A. Coliseum. And he goes out there and just is dealing. It was incredible. The next week is at Seattle, and that’s where Tony’s back goes out. Dak rolls out there and deals again. Certainly in the back of your mind as a competitor, you’re like, ‘Man, there was a chance here, and I missed the boat.
Cowboys not interested in bringing Ezekiel Elliott back according to reports-Jess Haynie, Blogging the Boys
Contrary to what was initially speculated, a reunion with Ezekiel Elliott isn’t likely to happen at this time.
In comments earlier this week with the NFL Network, reporter Jane Slater shared her findings from sources in the Cowboys’ front office. Here are some of the key quotes from her report:
”Quite frankly, they’re just not talking about it.”
“It would require an injury to one of their running backs.”
“As much as I know a lot of guys in the locker room would love Ezekiel Elliott to come back, it just doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of smoke here.”
Elliott was cut a few months ago as a salary cap casualty after the worst season of his NFL career. Zeke’s per-carry average dropped below four yards for the first time in seven seasons and his overall effectiveness was clearly down. While Elliott was still a solid contributor in certain situations, Dallas could no longer justify paying him as an every-down franchise back.
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