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Mon., Feb. 26, 2018 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM CST
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Sullivan: Random Thoughts Include Prescott, Claiborne & Running Game
Some of the thoughts that run through an oversized, bald head: Read
- Yes, yes, we are well aware. It’s the driving range, and who hasn’t hit their last 10 balls straight and then headed for the first tee full of confidence only to shank, hook or slice that opening drive? Who hasn’t fielded every ground ball in batting practice cleanly only to boot the first one in the game? Still, this is fun to watch, not only the emergence of rookie quarterback sensation Dak Prescott, but the entire team is making the case that, yeah, whatever that was last year, that mess of a train wreck, well, forgettaboutit.
- I’m usually not a big preseason guy in terms of what we are seeing has some direct correlation to when it matters for real. These two games have been different, though, and really camp itself. Prescott is already better than any backup since Jon Kitna in 2010. To me, that’s a fact. He has a whole bunch to learn. He’s even going to throw an interception at some point. Ideally, Tony Romo stays healthy, and Prescott takes some fourth-quarter snaps in games that are already decided this season. That’s the home-run scenario.
- But Prescott is going to start in this league. And he’s going to win games. Never mind what he’s doing on the field, where he has been the best quarterback in the league through two weeks – not the best rookie quarterback, the best quarterback, period – he’s a leader, his teammates respond to him, and this last week he kept grinding. There was no, well, I have this figured out, let’s watch some Netflix after practice.
- Don’t let anyone tell you differently, there’s still some luck involved with drafting players. Prescott was the eighth quarterback taken, and yeah, the Cowboys liked him, but if they loved him, they would have found a way to take him higher than No. 135. His numbers last year at Mississippi State were ridiculous, and that’s the SEC, too.
- After watching the first three practices of training camp, I wrote about how Alfred Morris wasn’t the third-string back like many of us thought. No, no, that was never the case. We just assumed that because Darren McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2015. Morris is in fact the 1b, to Zeke Elliott’s 1a.
- Also, there’s this: Elliott and Morris fit Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme. In fact, as much if not more so than any draft pick and free-agent signing since he became the head coach, Garrett was vocal about these two players. For him and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to run their ideal offense, even a more dominant version of 2014, this duo was the answer. At this point, I even think they have a chance to become the sixth pair of running backs in NFL history to each rush for 1,000 yards on the same team in the same season.
- Have no idea why Romo played two drives in the second preseason game. Garrett is a lot smarter than me, especially when it comes to football, but this just doesn’t make sense. He should be right where the majority of established starting quarterbacks were this past week on game day, standing next to the offensive coordinator. I would not play him this week at Seattle. Would play Prescott every single snap.
- Next time anyone is wondering why the XFL didn’t work out, or any of these rival professional leagues over the last 40 or so years going back to the World Football League, just replay them the fourth quarter of that Dolphins-Cowboys game. Those are the players those leagues end up with. Not so much on the entertainment.
- The scouting department seems to have a knack for finding off-the-grid defensive linemen, going back to George Selvie. The latest is rookie tackle Shaneil Jenkins, who has a sack in each preseason game and forced a fumble against Miami. This kid played at Shepherd University, which until 12 seconds ago, I had never heard of.
- This defense is going to play at a higher level than just about anyone realizes. All that nonsense about Tyrone Crawford’s back, they were just being super cautious with him early in camp, and there’s absolutely zero reason to think this isn’t his monster breakout campaign that we’ve been waiting for. Kyle Wilber has never played anywhere near the level he did against the Dolphins, either. Lot of reasons for optimism.
- Not a believer in jinxes and the such, so I’m just going to say it: Been the healthiest three-week stretch of camp and preseason in a long, long time. Just one more preseason game, too, as that fourth contest will feature almost none of the starters and second-stringers. Someday we will live in a beautiful world where there are just two preseason games. This needs to become a reality.
- Brice Butler is going to have a really nice season. Been talking since the spring about how the coaches think he could end up starting at some point, and who knows, that point could end up being September.
- Morris Claiborne looks different, more confidence, more attitude, some of which we saw last season. He’s still just 26 years old, and there’s no reason he couldn’t end up being one of the better players from that 2012 draft class, maybe taking the Terence Newman career path where he seemingly improved in each of his first eight or nine seasons in the league.
Check out Jeff Sullivan’s column each week in Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. Find out more at DallasCowboys.com/star. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.