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Cowboys news: Debating whether Dak Prescott and other starters should play preseason

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Mailbag: Should starters play in the preseason? - Staff,

Is the risk worth the reward?

Last year the Cowboys didn’t play Dak Prescott during the preseason, and several other starters saw very little time... do you think the first-string offense should play in the preseason to work out the kinks before the regular season starts? – Paul Albright/Pflugerville, TX

Nick Eatman: I’ve changed my tune over the years on this subject. In the past, I think I just wanted to see the starters, mainly because I wanted too see them play. When you watch guys for the entire training camp, you just want to see them in a real game. But to me, when Tony Romo was crunched over in Seattle back in 2016, that weird play just changed his entire season and career. Now, it worked out for the Cowboys because Dak Prescott was ready to take over. But it was hard to know that at the time. All we saw was the starting quarterback get hurt and miss several games. That can happen at any moment. As great as it might feel to watch the starters go up and down and the field and score on a possession or two in the preseason, the sick feeling of losing a starter in a game that doesn’t matter outweighs that leaps and bounds. Getting some work is nice, but not at that cost of losing someone.

Kurt: On our Hangin’ With The Boys’ podcast, Nate Newton has said several times that because the starters don’t play in the preseason, it takes four regular-season games before the offense is firing on all cylinders. They are still, as you said, working out the kinks. Just consider last year. Eleven teams completely rested their starting quarterbacks as well as a few key veterans in the preseason and they promptly went a combined 3-8 in Week One of the regular season. That included the Cowboys, who converted only 20 percent of third downs, totaled 244 yards of offense and had a whopping 10 penalties in a 19-3 loss at home to the Buccaneers. So yes, I do wish the starters, including Dak Prescott, would see at least some preseason action. How else can anyone prepare for the true speed of the game unless they’re actually, you know, in the speed of the game? Of course there is the risk of injury, but by making sure Prescott is healthy in August, is he put at greater risk come September when he’s challenged with facing some guys who have already experienced the frenzied pace of real play and the hitting that comes with it? It’s a difficult balance for sure (especially if Zack Martin is out), but I would think at least a handful of snaps in the preseason would provide a greater overall benefit to both the player and team.

On Cowboys defense with star power, Leighton Vander Esch ‘most important piece’ - Todd Archer, ESPN

Under-the-radar key for the defense, the play of LVE.

But ask any of those on the defense the importance of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, the former first-round pick in 2018 who has signed one- and two-year deals the last two offseasons, they all have the same feelings.

“He’s the most important piece,” Parsons said. “That’s one person I was super excited to have back. You talk about someone that knows and commands the defense inside out, making sure everyone is lined up, attention to detail. What he puts into the game can’t be replicated. I mean, he got a chance to work with Sean Lee and I can feel like Sean Lee rubbed off on him. Every bit of his game just reminds me of (it), how he runs to the ball, his aggressiveness, how he just asserts everyone, gets everyone lined up, his willingness to move around.”

Said Lawrence, “He’s a dynamic piece to this puzzle.”

Vander Esch wears the “green dot” on his helmet, with the calls getting relayed to him. It is his responsibility to make sure everybody is lined up correctly. It is nothing to see Vander Esch push a defensive tackle to the left or right to fill the proper gap, then point to a fellow linebacker or safety to make another command all on the same play.

He doesn’t know just his job; he knows everybody’s job. Five years of experience and hours and hours of preparation have led him to where he can see things others do not.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones not surprised by lack of progress in Zack Martin holdout - Kevin Patra,

Jerry Jones speaks about the Zack Martin holdout.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked Monday whether he was surprised sides couldn’t find common ground.

“Not really. Not really. Surprise is really not the word there. It’s very costly and so that’s, that’s where we are. Huge, significant ramifications ... by anybody’s math,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

With two years remaining on his contract, Martin wants a boost from his current $14 million-per-year average, which currently sits eighth among all guards. The Falcons’ Chris Lindstrom ($20.5 million per year) and the Colts’ Quenton Nelson ($20 million) are the top two in average salary for guards.

Jones’ comments continue the Cowboys’ trend of standing firm with the eight-time Pro Bowler and rock of the offensive line. Last month, the owner noted other young players needed new contracts before considering Martin’s situation.

Updates: Pollard expected back in Oxnard Tuesday - Staff,

RB1 should be back and ready to go by next practice.

Newly minted first-team running back Tony Pollard was notably absent from practice on Monday, and head coach Mike McCarthy said that he is not in Oxnard for personal reasons but is set to back it back to camp tonight.

“I’ll let Tony speak on his personal business and him not being here,” McCarthy said. “He gets back in town tonight. We’ll obviously work tomorrow in the mock game and he’ll practice Thursday.”

Pollard’s absence on Monday allowed the depth of the running back room to get full first-team reps as Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle especially excelled. That duo along with Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke will get the same opportunity on Tuesday, but without Ronald Jones who is still nursing a groin injury.

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