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Cowboys news: Multiple key players could miss second straight game

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Updates: 2 doubtful, 2 questionable vs. NY Jets - Staff,

Cowboys may need to rely on depth in a few areas on Sunday.

Of the four players in question to play Sunday against the Jets, two are listed as doubtful on Friday’s final injury report.

For the second straight game, both Tyler Smith (hamstring) and safety Donovan Wilson (calf) are listed as doubtful. Neither of them played in the Week 1 win over the Giants.

However, wide receiver Brandin Cooks (knee) and guard Zack Martin (groin) were both listed as questionable to play against the Jets. Cooks was not a participant in Friday’s walk-through but Martin was limited for the second straight day.

If Cooks doesn’t play, Jalen Brooks would likely be active and Jalen Tolbert should have a larger role. Without Martin, rookie T.J. Bass would likely be the starter at right guard.

How Micah Parsons opens pass rush lanes for his Cowboys teammates - Calvin Watkins, DMN

When defenders focus on the Cowboys' star linebacker it opens the path for other players to sack the quarterback.

In the season-opening victory over the Giants, the Cowboys compiled seven sacks. Parsons beat a double-team to get the first. He was not on the field for two others, but on plays resulting in sacks by DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and twice by Osa Odighizuwa, Parsons drew double-teams that allowed his teammates to take advantage of one-on-one matchups.

“It helps a lot,” Odighizuwa said of Parsons opening things up. “It’s part of being a team and rushing as a unit. Sometimes they’re going to double Micah and a lot of times they’re going to slide his way, they’re going to try and chip him and throw extra blockers at him. Sometimes I’m catching a double and it’s three one-on-ones with others guys. That’s just part of rushing as a unit. I hope I get a couple more of those. If I get a couple of freebies, [I’ll] be in a good place come the end of the season.”

As the Cowboys prepared for the home opener against the Jets on Sunday afternoon, this stat from the coaches resonated: The Cowboys finished the Giants game with a 75% pressure rate, highest since Dan Quinn became the defensive coordinator in 2021.

This is the game the Cowboys finally get to unleash their new Texas coast offense - Clarence Hill, Star Telegram

You know you've been waiting for it.

The plan was muted in the season opener because of a driving rain storm and because of the need to be conservative after building a 26-0 halftime lead in a 40-0 victory against the Giants.

The conditions will be pristine on Sunday against the Jets inside AT&T Stadium. And while the Jets defense poses a huge threat because they have play makers on every level, the Cowboys can’t wait to play their new toys.

“Yeah, excited,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. ”Just playing indoors, knowing it’s going to be better conditions, being able to get the passing game going, lot of excitement. We’ve worked hard on this to get to where we are, to get as comfortable as we are as a full unit. Yeah, plan for a lot of it to come to fruition.”

Said receiver CeeDee Lamb: “You want to make big plays, you want to score all of the touchdowns. Just being out there with the guys and making a routine plays, things we’ve been practicing and preaching since camp, to see it come to fruition, that’s probably the best feeling. That’s probably what we’re looking forward to.”

“The rain did what the rain does. Unfortunately, it sucks. But now we’re home in a dome so it can rain if it wants.”

Dak Prescott on Cowboys ‘Texas Coast Offense’: ‘Tricks in the Bag vs. Jets - Adam Schultz, Sports Illustrated

Prescott breaks down the Cowboys’ new philosophy on offense.

With McCarthy’s Texas version of the West Coast Offense against the Giants, Prescott wasted no time getting the ball out of his hand with a 2.11-second trigger from snap to pass - by far the quickest of his career.

It turns out, that wasn’t a fluke, but rather all about McCarthy’s design.

“Texas Coast,” a smiling Prescott said. “It (neutralizes) a pass rush. Just being able to get the ball out of my hands quick says a lot about the receivers flying off of the ball and getting into their spacing, getting into their timing, getting to where they need to be, feeling comfortable in my reads, the communication we put it during the week about what I’m going to see and what I’m getting at … there’s a lot that goes into that.’’

With a Jets defense fresh off destroying the Buffalo Bills’ night on Monday, getting the ball out quickly to slow a pass rush that sacked Josh Allen five times is crucial.

Winners, losers of Jets' win vs. Bills - Nate Davis, USA Today

Aaron Rodgers' injury might have turned the Jets' season upside-down, but the Jets have issues beyond that.

Jets offensive line: It was this team’s biggest question mark throughout the offseason, its starting five together in a game setting Monday for the first time in 2023. The concerns proved more than legitimate, Rodgers pressured on all three of his dropbacks before going down on the sack that ended his night and, probably, his season. And matters didn’t improve all that much afterward, backup QB Zach Wilson often running for his life while being exposed to heavy abuse from the Buffalo defense.

How the Jets offensive scheme looks now with Zach Wilson at QB and how it will need to change - John B, Gang Green Nation

We check in with SBN’s Jets site for their take on what's happening behind the offensive line.

Factoring in scrambles, sacks, and kneel downs, the Jets run/pass ratio in Week 1 was just about 50/50. That gives them the sixth lowest rate of throwing the ball in the league which is even more striking when you consider they were behind for most of the game.

When the Jets did throw, the passes tended to be conservative. NextGen Stats calculated that Zach Wilson’s average pass went 4.3 air yards, third lowest of Week 1 ahead of only Desmond Ridder and Justin Fields.

Wilson had no passes travel more than 20 yards down the field and had just six passes go more than 10 yards. That was as many attempts as he threw behind the line of scrimmage.

The Jets are hoping to break some big run plays, but mainly they want Zach Wilson to avoid mistakes. They don’t want the other team to be handed good field position. The Jets defense is going to be very difficult to get points against on a long field. They can eventually flip the field position as long as mistakes are avoided.

Is this a viable long-term strategy? Eh.

This week a ferocious Dallas pass rush also is likely not the time to open things up. The Jets again might be better served keeping things conservative.

Still in the NFL it’s difficult to sustain an offense without explosive plays in the passing game.

Play-action, edge control among Cowboys-Jets key battlegrounds on Sunday - Reid Hanson, Cowboys Wire

Dallas will likely go to 2-0 if they can execute these key nuggets.

Dak Prescott has seen the film on what the Jets did to Josh Allen and it’s pretty safe to assume he’s adjusting accordingly.

New York played a lot of Cover 2 and Cover 4, stretching their defensive line out wide and temped runners with open gaps.

In coverage, they locked down with a mix of man and zone. They crashed to the ball and used their LBs a variety of ways. And it’s those LBs who may be key to some big plays through the air.

Quincy Williams and C.J. Mosley put on a LB clinic in Week 1. Williams, specifically, was dialed in, filling in gaps, exploding to the ball carriers, and sliding into zones coverages with shocking speed. Salah demands a lot from his LBs and they can’t afford to hesitate in their actions. This makes them great targets for play-action passing.

Does Cowboys’ Game Plan Change for Micah Parsons Without Aaron Rodgers Playing on Sunday? - Jess Nevarez, Pro Football Network

Parsons isn't letting the absence of Rodgers alter his focus.

Parsons spoke about wanting to play Aaron Rodgers in this game, expressing, “I know how great he is, and I loved the matchup last year. It left a bitter taste, and people always talk about how Rodgers dominates Dallas when he plays in Dallas. So it would’ve been nice to break that curse. But I hope he gets healthy, and, you know, I hope he comes back next year.”

But the edge rusher doesn’t expect anything different from the team despite Rodgers being out. He even credited Zach Wilson, saying he’s not a bad player and it’s his team.

Nonetheless, the “Lion” will take the same approach in studying Wilson’s pocket presence and things he likes to do, something he does for any quarterback he faces.

Despite Rodgers not playing in the game, Parsons is still expecting the power from fans attending the Cowboys’ first home game of the regular season as they “defend the land” from the Jets.

“I expect AT&T to be on another level. I expect the energy. I expect everything. With Aaron, it was a terrific team. Without Aaron, it is still a great team. So we need that same energy,” expressed Parsons.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott’s message to injured Aaron Rodgers: ‘Keep leaning on support, keep faith’ - Garrett Podell, CBS Sports

Prescott keeps proving he's the right kind of guy.

“Obviously I saw that, my heart broke for him,” Prescott said Thursday. “Honestly, in the moment I could tell by the way he went down that it was more serious than, I guess an ankle. I know he’s got a lot of support, and I just say leaning on that man, just keep faith, understand that everything happens for a reason. We don’t see it. We don’t understand why, but you just keep faith, take these small victories a lot of good and some way or another is going to come out of this.”

The Cowboys have since soared to being nine-point home favorites against the Zach Wilson-led Jets in Week 2, but Prescott isn’t downplaying the game or the matchup opposite Wilson. Yet he, like most of the football world, still would have preferred to square off against the Jets future Hall of Fame quarterback.

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