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3 & Out: Dak, Pollard Have Something In Common


FRISCO, Texas – Three topics for Cowboys Nation as Zeke Watch *might* be entering its final stages:

  • Two deserving contract extensions
  • Two sleeper fourth-round draft picks
  • The Kellen Moore OC era

I Know…
like Jaylon Smith two weeks ago, La'el Collins' new deal is a result of patience.

At his contract press conference, Smith turned to Jerry and Stephen Jones and said, "You took a risk … had I never been able to play again. So, me understanding that, it was my duty for them to get the return on their investment."

Smith indeed has overcome the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final college game. Remember, La'el Collins' path to lifetime financial security wasn't exactly smooth, either.

Collins was a first-round talent who fell completely out of the 2015 NFL Draft based on unprecedented circumstances. Though he was never considered a suspect or person of interest, news broke before the draft that Baton Rouge police wanted to speak with him as part of a local murder investigation.

He signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent the following month, and two years later, the team rewarded him with a two-year extension. Now, another two years later, he has reached a deal for a reported $50 million after showing steady progress as the team's right tackle.

Collins said Monday, "Honestly, I think this is one of the best things to happen to me, coming here. For me, it prolonged my career in the way of just the coaching that I've been able to get since I've been here. … I'm excited to be where I am in my career right now."

The Cowboys are, too.

I Think…
Tony Pollard and Dak Prescott have a little something in common, too.

Pollard's role Sunday against the Giants could be significant even if Ezekiel Elliott is back and ready to play by then. Elliott's absence from camp created more opportunity for Pollard, but make no mistake, the rookie has earned the coaches' confidence. Not only has he quickly picked up assignments, he has shown traditional-back traits that weren't really part of his offensive role in college.

Pollard is quickly shedding the "gadget guy" label that followed him from Memphis, where he nearly had as many catches (114) as carries (139) in three seasons. He's willing to make tough runs between the tackles. He carries a bigger frame than his 6-0, 215-pound listing suggests. The comparisons to Lance Dunbar, the former change-of-pace back here, just aren't accurate. Two different players.

Prescott, same thing. He, too, was a fourth-round pick and considered a mid-round prospect based partly on his college role. Was he too much like Tim Tebow? Could he adapt to pro-style offensive principles, having rarely taken snaps from center?

We all know the answer to that by now. Pollard is already answering questions, too.

I Have No Idea…
how Kellen Moore's regular-season debut as an NFL play-caller will go, but Jason Garrett's was pretty good.

Just happened to come across this nugget as I was researching past Cowboys-Giants duels. Garrett, you might remember, called his first game as an NFL offensive coordinator in the 2007 season opener at Texas Stadium against the Giants.

The Cowboys won, 45-35. Tony Romo threw for a career-high 345 yards with four touchdown passes. And the 80 combined points were the most ever for a Cowboys-Giants game.

Monday, Garrett downplayed the idea that Moore will have an edge Sunday because there's no book on his tendencies. "I just think that's probably what it is around the league," he said. "Most offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators don't really show what they're going to do in the regular season all throughout the preseason. That's just one of the challenges everybody has going into Week 1 and Week 2 and even into Week 3, there's just not a lot out there."

But Garrett unquestionably had a strong debut 12 years ago at age 41. Could the 30-year-old Moore do the same?