News and Notes: Cowboys swing-tackle shuffle, Gifford’s time to shine, fans named among worst in sports

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They say the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on any team. But in Dallas, the backup offensive tackle is always right at the top of everybody’s mind, too. With the injuries that have beset the Cowboys line in recent years, the club will look carefully at who fills the all-important swing role in 2022. Thankfully, they have several options.

Meanwhile, a defensive lineman departs, a former Cowboys pass rusher may be on the trading block, and an undrafted safety has seen his time with the team come to an abrupt end. We’re waiting for a popular project player to finally step into the spotlight, a rookie recognizes the honor of a jersey number, and the home of the Cowboys may be welcoming a different kind of football on the world stage. All that, plus changes coming to Monday Night Football, exploring whether the Cowboys’ crypto deal is really a good thing for the casual fan, and one list puts Cowboys Nation in rather infamous company. That’s all ahead in News and Notes.

Problem Spots: Deciding on a swing tackle :: The Mothership

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In a perfect world, a team’s swing tackle doesn’t matter much, because both starters are healthy. But in Dallas, it’s become a key role in recent years; Tyron Smith, for example, hasn’t played a full season since 2015. The Cowboys think rookie Matt Waletzko has the skills to play either side, but he could need some developmental time. Isaac Alarcon and Aviante Collins spent time on the practice squad last year, but Josh Ball has had a year in the system and could ultimately own the inside edge.

Cowboys DT Brent Urban signs new deal with Baltimore :: Cowboys Wire

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The veteran appeared in just six games as a Cowboy before a triceps injury put him on IR. Then surgery ended his 2021 season. Now he’ll return to the team that drafted him in the fourth round back in 2014. The writing was on the wall for the free agent; Dallas had already issued his No. 95 jersey to rookie nose tackle John Ridgeway.

Will LB Luke Gifford become more than a special teams workhorse? :: Inside the Star

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The fourth-year project actually led the Cowboys special teams in snaps and had one of the year’s highlights with his blocked punt and recovery versus New England. But with a thin linebacking corps heading into 2022, Dallas would love to get more out of Gifford on the defensive side of the ball. After an intriguing rookie preseason back in 2019, it’s time for him to step up.

Does Bears’ Robert Quinn want out of Chicago? :: Bears Wire

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If the Cowboys are still looking for stray pieces to plug in to their defense, they might want to make a phone call to The Windy City. Defensive end Robert Quinn reportedly “wants out of Chicago,” and the team may warm to dealing him before the trade deadline. The just-turned-32-year-old posted stout numbers during in his one year in Dallas, recording 11.5 sacks in 2019. Last year, he broke the Bears’ single-season record (no small feat, considering that franchise’s history on defense) with 18.5, showing he still has the goods.

Cowboys rookie TE Jake Ferguson aims to live up to Daryl Johnston's legacy by wearing No. 48 :: NFL.com

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His number may look odd on a tight end, but the Wisconsin rookie understands the significance of No. 48 in Dallas. “Some guys are like, ‘Oh, he’s [wearing] 48.’ I’m like, ‘You guys don’t know who wore 48.'” Ferguson says his grandfather, legendary college coach Barry Alvarez, was quick to remind him of the legacy of ’90s fullback Daryl “Moose” Johnston. “He actually texted me and was like, ‘You better not be throwing shade on 48,'” Ferguson laughed.

Released from Cowboys, here's what TCU safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt had to offer :: Cowboys Wire

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The safety was released by the team on Friday. Needing to improve dramatically in both coverage skills and physicality, Van Zandt seemed a long shot to make the Cowboys roster, even on special teams. Despite being a three-year starter for the Horned Frogs, he’ll have to look for an opportunity elsewhere if he wants to play on Sundays.

Schefter: Changes coming to MNF in 2023 :: Football Outsiders

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ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that MNF will look a bit different in 2023, Troy Aikman’s second year in the booth. Flex scheduling will finally come to Monday night games after Week 14 to ensure quality matchups, and the network will kick off the work week with no fewer than three doubleheaders over the course of the season.

The 10 worst fan bases in sports: If you're on this list, congratulations, you're the worst. :: USA Today

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Ouch. Looking at all sports, across both the college and pro levels, the Cowboys faithful come in second most-hated on this list, more loathed than Notre Dame football fans, Boston Red Sox fans, New England Patriots fans, and even the notoriously-embarrassing Philadelphia Eagles fans.

Weighing whether cryptocurrency, sports and fans are a good combination :: The Athletic

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Jerry Jones called the Cowboys’ deal with Blockchain.com “as significant a relationship as I’ve been a part of with the Dallas Cowboys” when the first-of-its-kind sponsorship was announced last month. But at least one industry expert calls such partnerships “shameless,” lumping crypto into the same category as gambling commercials and implying they encourage fans to invest in a risky, unregulated market. Just last week, MLB’s Washington Nationals saw Terra, a $38 million cryptocurrency sponsor, crash and wipe out roughly $1 trillion of value, including some investors’ life savings.

FIFA plans to announce 2026 World Cup sites on June 16 :: Dallas Morning News

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AT&T Stadium could be hosting the other kind of futbol in a few years. Seventeen U.S. stadiums have been revealed as finalists for the first 48-team World Cup in 2026, including the Cowboys’ home in Arlington. FIFA plans to announce the World Cup sites on June 16.

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