The Dallas Cowboys shook up their opening 2021 roster on both Tuesday and Wednesday. After the cuts to the 53, the club reacquired many of their released players by adding them to the practice squad while seeing a couple others move to new teams.
A couple of the players lost could come back to bite them, specifically a quarterback and defensive end that could make Dallas look away later this year when thinking about the decision. The Cowboys made their move to add another quarterback, signing former Panther Will Grier to compete with Cooper Rush for the backup spot in 2021. The question still arises with rumors around the NFL: Could Dallas entertain the idea of quarterback Cam Newton as their backup?
After some concern about the running back room, Dallas added Corey Clement to give insurance if either running backs Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard miss any time during the season. Elliott is poised for a big season and Year 6 has been the lucky number for veteran backs.
Defensive tackle Brent Urban discussed his potential impact this season and how good the defense can really be after spending time around all the young guys on the roster. Here are the latest news and notes.
2021 Award and Stat Predictions: Living in Patrick Mahomes' World :: Football Outsiders
Link A myriad of statistical predictions for 2021, that features the Cowboys pretty prominently. QB Dak Prescott ranks second in odds to win the passing title, sixth for passing TDs. He comes in eighth for MVP odds and of course ranks first in Comeback Player of the Year odds. Meanwhile Ezekiel Elliott ranks seventh in odds for the rushing title and rushing TD crown. Both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are in the top 20 odds for most receiving yards. Head coach Mike McCarthy has sixth-best odds to be the first coach fired. DeMarcus Lawrence comes in 14th with defensive player of the year odds while Micah Parsons ranks tops in defensive rookie of the year odds. -- KD
Cowboys claim ex-Panthers QB Will Grier off waivers :: Cowboys Wire
Link After releasing Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci on Tuesday, the Cowboys claimed quarterback Will Grier off of Carolina's waivers. The 2019 third-round pick played under Cowboys quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier in 2015 at the University of Florida where he was 105 for 160 for 1,202 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in six games of action. -ML
Mailbag: Would Cam Newton Be A Backup QB? :: The Mothership
Link There had been been plenty of talk the Cowboys should sign veteran quarterback Cam Newton to backup Dak Prescott after his release from the New England Patriots on Tuesday. Nick Eatman and David Helman discuss the possibly of the move. Neither saw it as a likely move, and Helman feels Newton being unvaccinated is a major risk to Prescott. -ML
Interview: DL Brent Urban to play huge role on and off the field for the Cowboys in 2021 :: Blogging The Boys
Link Brent Urban was signed in the offseason as a run stuffer at the defensive tackle position who can also rush from the edge. In an interview with Talkin' The Star, Urban discusses how the 2021 season is one of his first shots to be a veteran leader with his age and experience and pass his knowledge down to younger players. -ML
The stat that says Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is poised for a big year :: Blogging The Boys
Link Elliott had his worst season in the NFL in 2020 averaging a career-low 4.0 yards per carry. However, as he enters Year 6, history shows that it's a good time for veteran running backs. Going back to 1990, running backs with over 100 carries tend to see an increase in their yards per carry in their sixth year. -ML
Darian Thompson among several Cowboys cuts named to practice squad :: Cowboys Wire
Link Along with the several decisions the Cowboys had to make with roster cuts, a multitude of released players made it back to the practice squad. Dallas will use this season as a way to work on these players' game and potentially earn them a spot on the active roster. --CB
Fantasy Football Rankings & Tiers: Running Back Handcuffs :: Pro Football Focus
Link Tony Pollard is the top ranked handcuff option, based on how the Cowboys treated him in the offseason, his yards after contact and a stunningly low ADP.
These four backs have a lot in common that unites them at the top of the list. First and foremost, they would be every-down backs with little to no competition if the starter suffered an injury. The four teams treated these backs like starters in the preseason, playing a combined 27 offensive snaps and never beyond the first quarter. The Cowboys didn’t even have a third back on their initial 53-man roster, while the other three teams either have special teams players or running backs in whom they haven’t invested much at third string...
Pollard leads the group with 4.0 yards after contact per carry over the last two seasons — he’s tied with Derrick Henry for the league lead. Dillon isn’t far behind at 3.6. The third-year Cowboy has maintained an incredible 4.0 yards per carry even when facing eight or more men in the box, which he’s done on 88 career rushing attempts.
Cowboys Hard Knocks Episode 4 Breakdown: Show has new fatal flaw thanks to league schedule :: Cowboys Wire
Link In the penultimate episode of Hard Knocks, the Cowboys saw players competing for roster spots and the return of quarterback Dak Prescott to the spotlight. Our KD Drummond breaks down the best moments from this installment of the series. --CB
Cowboys add former Eagles RB Corey Clement as No. 3 back for 2021 :: Cowboys Wire
Link Since the injury to running back Rico Dowdle, the Cowboys have been in need of a No. 3 RB. Dallas signed former Eagle Corey Clement, who brings experience and success on the special teams unit to the roster. Dallas could still look to find another back but Clement gives insurance to a running back room in desperate need of it. --CB
2 roster decisions that may haunt Cowboys in future :: Cowboys Wire
Link With the roster cuts that came down on Tuesday, some of them came with questions. KD Drummond explains what the loss of a quarterback and defensive end could mean for the roster and why Dallas could be grimacing at the moves later in the season. --CB
Cowboys updated 53-man roster plus practice squad for 2021 :: Cowboys Wire
Link As per usual with roster cuts to the 53, there has been a lot of shakeup and surprises about who made the final roster, for now. Click the link to see the updated full list of the roster, including the players currently on the practice squad after they were released. --CB
Predicting potential surprises for all 32 NFL teams :: ESPN+ (Paywall)
Don't be surprised if ... Ezekiel Elliott bounces back.
What I'm hearing: Yeah, it's easy to roll your eyes when you hear the same old "He's in much better shape" stuff. I get it. But by all accounts inside the Cowboys' building, Elliott is motivated to put last season behind him and should benefit from a healthier offensive line than he had. (Elliott rushed for just 979 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.0 yards per carry.)
The team must believe that left tackle Tyron Smith, in particular, is healthier than he has been in years as a result of procedures he had done this offseason to address long-lingering injuries. Especially as Dak Prescott shakes off the rust, count on Elliott to look like the Zeke of old.