Just as the Cowboys appear ready to welcome back several injured players to reach full strength, legal trouble could impact a promising rookie before Monday’s wild card game. We have the latest on Sam Williams and the misdemeanor warrant out for him.
Ahead of Dallas’s showdown with Tampa Bay, we’re looking at how the playoff quarterbacks stack up, how the Bucs are looking at Tom Brady’s postseason legacy, and how to fix Dak Prescott’s recent struggles. Leighton Vander Esch is seeing everything right now, Johnathan Hankins is ready to return, and Xavier Rhodes is making quite an impression on his coaches. Micah Parsons has thoughts on the first-ever Players’ All-Pro Team, James Washington has a new team, Mike Evans sums up what he sees in the Cowboys, and Kellen Moore has a suitor. All that, plus a surprising verdict in the grass-versus-turf debate, Damar Hamlin reaches out to a former teammate now wearing the star, and two Cowboys legends are set to be featured as part of the most exclusive club in all of football. That’s all up in News and Notes.
Arrest warrant issued for Cowboys rookie Sam Williams after violent crash :: New York Post
The defensive lineman has been instructed to turn himself in to have his bond set by a judge. Williams was cited for reckless driving in the Dec. 22 crash that totaled his newly-purchased Corvette. Plano police have no plan to “find and arrest” Williams, but if he is stopped by police before he turns himself in, “he would be arrested then.” It’s unclear how the misdemeanor warrant will impact the rookie’s availability for Monday.
Cowboys activate practice window for Johnathan Hankins ahead of wild card round :: Cowboys Wire
The big tackle helped Dallas hold Dalvin Cook, Jonathan Taylor, and Dameon Pierce to 72, 82, and 78 rushing yards, respectively, in his last three outings before suffering a pectoral injury. He says he’s ready to go now and could be active against Tampa Bay, who has struggled running the ball all season.
Ranking the 2023 NFL playoff QBs: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes headline list of 14 signal-callers :: CBS Sports
Despite a career resume that suggests a placement closer to the top five, Dak Prescott comes in 11th out of 14 in this power ranking of postseason passers. That’s mostly due to his boom-or-bust play since returning in late October and lack of a defining big-game win. He’s ahead of Skylar Thompson, Geno Smith, and Daniel Jones… but below Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence, and Brock Purdy.
How Dak Prescott can overcome the worst stretch of his career for the playoffs :: Touchdown Wire
There’s something in Prescott’s head that has him delaying throws. It could be that he’s trying too hard to be perfect and create explosive plays. He’s also having trouble lately in deciphering defenses that shift from one look to another as a play develops. A return to play-action passes would likely pay dividends… and help him flush the recent bad performances from his memory banks.
Cowboys' playoff run: Home-field advantage, grass or turf, is a real thing :: Cowboys Wire
The EPA numbers show that Dallas’s defense is second best in the NFL on turf but only ranks No. 20 on grass. But it’s more than that when a team has to travel to play on an unfamiliar surface. It’s not really a Cowboys-centric weakness so much as a homefield advantage thing that helps explain why sometimes the better team really does lose.
Todd Bowles isn’t thinking about the possibility that Tom Brady may be retiring :: ProFootballTalk
If the Cowboys defeat Tampa Bay on Monday, would Brady’s 48th postseason game be his last ever? “I didn’t think about that in 2020, I didn’t think about that in 2021, and I’m not thinking about that this year,” the Bucs coach told reporters on Wednesday. “Right now, we need to worry about the Cowboys.”
Xavier Rhodes blowing Cowboys away at cornerback :: Cowboys Wire
Dan Quinn says he’s been “blown away” by the team’s recently-added cornerback and even hinted at Rhodes being part of some new personnel combinations for the postseason. Rhodes is certifiably past his prime, but his most important contributions could come in the form of veteran leadership, following a path already set this season by Anthony Barr, Jason Peters, and T.Y. Hilton.
Leighton Vander Esch is back. So is ‘huge piece’ of Cowboys’ defense vs. Buccaneers. :: Dallas Morning News
For Dan Quinn and the Cowboys, giving Vander Esch the green dot that identifies him as the defensive signal-caller was an easy choice. “He’s one of those guys that can call out some things before they happen,” Dorance Armstrong said. “When you can give that information, it helps other players make plays.” A good example was his stop of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on a goal-line sneak attempt on Thanksgiving. Vander Esch made the play based on something he had seen Jones do on tape five weeks earlier.
NFLPA's first-ever Players' All-Pro Team includes 2 Cowboys, 1 glaring omission :: Cowboys Wire
In a vote exclusive to current players, Zack Martin and KaVontae Turpin were selected for the inaugural Players’ All-Pro Team. Surprisingly, though, Micah Parsons was left out. The linebacker took to social media to with a colorful reminder that he has bigger concerns at the moment, with the Cowboys’ postseason about to get underway.
Bucs’ coach believes team is healthiest they’ve been since OTAs :: Heavy.com
Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich remarked Wednesday to reporters how healthy the team had been coming in to the season opener at Dallas on Sept. 11. “You cut the tape on and you realize we lost ‘Donny’ [offensive lineman Donovan Smith] in that game and you’re like, ‘Man, it started in Week 1, really.’ Then [guard Aaron] Stinnie [in preseason] – all those things happened right around each other.” The Bucs won that Week 1 game, 19-3. “We were banged up in OTAs. It’s good to have our guys out there,” Leftwich added.
Cowboys could move up all-time list with win vs Tampa Bay :: Fox Sports (Twitter)
Bucs receiver Mike Evans delivers ‘simple’ truth about Cowboys :: Tampa Bay Times
The Texas native said of the Cowboys, “They don’t run anything really exotic defensively. And offensively, they’re just a really talented team, and they’re just going to play straight-up and see if you can beat them. So we’ve got to come with our best.” Evans said he expects to be matched up at least part of the time against All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Carolina requests interview with Cowboys OC Kellen Moore for Panthers HC job :: Cowboys Wire
Moore was a hot prospect twelve months ago, interviewing with the Jaguars, Broncos, Dolphins, and Vikings. Now Carolina wants to talk to the ex-quarterback about its current opening. The Panthers are clearly leaning toward Moore’s side of the ball; nearly every known candidate is either an offensively-minded ex-coach or a current offensive coordinator.
Giants sign former Cowboys WR James Washington to practice squad ahead of Super Wild Card Weekend :: CBS Sports
James Washington is heading to the playoffs after all, just with a different team than he expected. The wide receiver signed with the Giants and could be called up from the practice squad in time to face the Vikings in Big Blue’s wild-card game this weekend.
Cowboys RB Qadree Ollison details ‘special’ text exchange with Bills’ Damar Hamlin :: Dallas Morning News
Ollison heard from his former college teammate before he was released from the hospital. “He’s obviously trending in the right direction,” the running back said of Hamlin. “He’s healthy and he’s getting back to himself. I’m ecstatic for him.” The first response he got via text? One word that sums it all up: “He just said ‘love.'”
Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett to be featured in Super Bowl Week special :: NFL Films