Cowboys News: Prescott’s legs, Lawrence’s foot, rugby technique pushing run game

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Dak Prescott torched the Washington Football Team on Sunday, racking up passing stats good enough to earn him yet another weekly award and move him higher in the Top 10 of quarterbacks leaguewide. But it may actually be his legs that prove to be the missing piece to the offensive puzzle this season.

Elsewhere, we look at Wednesday’s practice for status updates on Tyron Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence, plus several Cowboys players get roster upgrades as the Cardinals come to town. The math calls for a close game, and the locker room leaders are calling on their teammates to play it smart and safe this time of year as the stakes get ever higher. We’re looking at the rugby technique that is helping push the Dallas run game in short-yardage situations, debating whether the special teams’ punt block-for-TD should count (and for whom) in the players’ popular bet, and examining Dan Quinn’s reported decline of the offer to interview before the end of the season in Jacksonville. All that, plus mock drafting in the Sooner State. Here’s the News and Notes.

'I felt fast': What Dak Prescott using his legs could mean for the Cowboys :: ESPN

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For all his passing pyrotechnics Sunday night, it may have been Prescott’s four rushes for 21 yards (picking up first downs on two of those carries) that truly marked the quarterback’s- and offense’s- return to elite status. He was decisive when he pulled the ball down and ran, bringing an element to his game that opens up everything else. “The calf injury has been behind me for weeks now,” Prescott said. “You guys can continue to talk about it if you want, as I said, I hadn’t played my best ball, but I promise you it’s not because of my calf.”

Cowboys activate Malik Hooker, Trysten Hill off COVID list; sign new LB to practice squad :: Cowboys Wire

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Hooker and Hill were back at practice Wednesday after coming off the COVID watchlist; JaQuan Hardy and Brandon Smith also came off and are back on the practice squad. They’ll help welcome new linebacker Devante Bond, signed Wednesday after prior stints with Tampa Bay and Chicago. Noah Brown started his 21-day window toward reactivation, and left tackle Tyron Smith participated in individual drills.

Updates: D-Law limited as Cowboys prep for Cards :: The Mothership

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Lawrence was limited in Wednesday’s practice, being held out of certain portions of the work session as he continues to deal with lingering foot soreness after the fracture that caused him to miss 10 games earlier in the season. He looked to be in fine form last week, picking off a Taylor Heinicke pass and returning it 40 yards for his first touchdown. The lightened load at practice, then, is likely nothing more than veteran rest.

Report: Cowboys DC Dan Quinn to decline Jaguars interview for now :: Cowboys Wire

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The Cowboys defensive coordinator says he’s focused on the job at hand. So focused, apparently, that he reportedly won’t interview for the Jacksonville job during the current two-week window, according to Adam Schefter, citing a source. That’s not to say he won’t do so after the regular season is complete.

NFL QB Index, Week 17: Joe Burrow and Josh Allen hit top five, while Kyler Murray tumbles :: NFL.com

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“Some of his throws on the run in both directions were sensational. His footwork is as good as any quarterback, and he made sure all his receivers ate during an unconscious 19-for-20 start,” Gregg Rosenthal writes of Prescott’s play in Week 16. But without much movement above him, the Cowboys QB climbs just one spot to No. 9 in the weekly quarterback index. And, as Rosenthal points out, “the soft part of the Cowboys’ schedule is over.”

Cowboys' Dak Prescott named NFC Offensive Player of the Week :: Cowboys Wire

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He may not have liked the word “slump” to describe his recent play, but the Cowboys passer pulled himself out of whatever it was he’d been in on Sunday. His 330 air yards and four touchdowns (in just two and a half quarters!) were enough to earn him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Kellen Moore adding rugby’s ‘rolling maul’ to the Cowboys playbook :: Sport DFW

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The Cowboys, like many other teams this year, have added a wrinkle from rugby to their playsheet. The “rolling maul” happens when the ball carrier is held up by the tangle of players at the line of scrimmage, and then extra linemen rush in behind and push the entire pile forward for additional yards. It may have been accidental the first time or two, but now replays show it to be an intentional strategy that is completely within the rules… and, so far, surprisingly effective.

4 Takeaways: How early Amari opens up Cowboys offense :: Cowboys Wire

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While the 56-14 beatdown of Washington provided tons of fun moments, there are a few keys that should significantly hep them moving forward. Dak Prescott found his confidence at home, so getting at least one playoff matchup in Arlington will be huge. Dan Quinn’s defense might be the best in the league… and surging right when a Super Bowl run is definitely possible. Amari Cooper got what he wanted in additional targets, and the entire Cowboys offense was the beneficiary, so look for him to remain busy. And John Fassel has made the Cowboys special teams truly special, capable of turning a game at any moment.

Cowboys can’t afford to let COVID-19 ruin their chance to make this season special :: Dallas Morning News

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The leaders of the locker room are stressing to their teammates the importance of not jeopardizing what could be a special season. “Obviously, you can’t control what everybody does,” said tight end Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys’ player-elected union rep. “Just being safe. Make smart decisions. Don’t go out and do stupid [expletive]. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary risks, whether that be COVID or anything else that comes with New Year’s Eve. We’ve got the right guys in the locker room to take that to heart.”

Week 17 win probabilities, score projections | Game Theory :: NFL.com

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The Cowboys need the Week 17 game to keep their hopes of a No. 1 seed alive, but Cynthia Frelund’s math isn’t cooperating. The NFL Network’s models give Arizona a 51% probability of walking out of AT&T Stadium with a win, with a projected score of 25-24. Dallas is a 5.5-point favorite; the Cardinals have a 56% probability of covering the spread in the game that has an over/under of 51 points.

Heated debate over how punt block TD counts in Cowboys' bet :: Dallas Cowboys (Twitter)

Nik Bonitto mocked to the Dallas Cowboys in Pro Football Network's 2-round mock :: Sooners Wire

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The Cowboys like the Sooner State in this latest mock draft. Pro Football Network has Dallas selecting Oklahoma-born safety Dax Hill from Michigan in the first round and Sooners edge rusher Nik Bonitto in the second round. Bonitto posted the second-highest pass-rush grade in PFF history since 2019, behind only Chase Young. In the mix with DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, and former Oklahoma star Neville Gallimore, it would be the foundations of a lethal pass rush.

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