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Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Rams

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Each week seems to be a new challenge, with a new set of storylines. While this first game is certainly unique as the entire NFL, and the rest of the world, try to navigate through the obstacles presented by COVID-19.

But despite all of that, here we are, as scheduled, getting ready for the Week 1 matchup between the Rams and Cowboys.

Here are some of the key storylines for each team.

Rams

  • The Rams and Cowboys will play the first-ever game at the brand-new SoFi Stadium, which is also the home of the LA Chargers. With no preseason games, this of course, will be the first time any teams have been on the field for a game of any kind. The state-of-the-art stadium sits on nearly 300 acres of the former Hollywood Park and is considered a unique entertainment complex filled with restaurants, suites, bars, lounges and unique locker rooms that immediately makes this stadium one of the most attractive venues in all of sports. Capacity is about 72,000 but SoFi has the ability to seat nearly 30,000 more spectators for larger events such as the Super Bowl and Wrestlemania, which have already been scheduled.
  • The Rams decided to part ways with Todd Gurley in the offseason but don't expect just one guy to try and replace his production this season. IN fact, Rams head coach Sean McVay hinted at a possible three-back rotation this week against the Cowboys, especially if Darrell Henderson returns from a hamstring injury. The Rams will also likely use Malcom Brown and Cam Akers in the backfield.
  • Injuries have hurt the linebacker position for the Rams, who were forced to claim Justin Hollins off waivers this week from the Broncos. He should give them versatility to play inside and outside. The Rams suffered a couple of injuries to the positon two weeks ago to Terrell Lewis and Travin Howard. Hollins reunites with defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who was Hollins' LB coach in Denver.
  • It's not just the Cowboys who have been working on contract deals this offseason. While Dallas can no longer negotiate with Dak Prescott until the season is over because of his franchise tag status, the Rams are trying to get long-term deals in place with both cornerback Jalen Ramsey and wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Both players are in the final seasons of their rookie contracts.
  • The Rams are coming off a 9-7 season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in three years. However, had the NFL changed its playoff format a year earlier, Los Angeles would've been the seventh team in the NFC picture. Despite losing to the Cowboys in December, the Rams had a better record than Dallas' 8-8 mark and would've been the third wild card team.

Cowboys

  • This will be the first game for head coach Mike McCarthy, who was named to the position back in January. McCarthy is the ninth head coach in Cowboys history but just the second to enter the position with a Super Bowl title under his belt. McCarthy won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in the 2010 season, beating Pittsburgh at AT&T Stadium.
  • The Cowboys placed three veterans on IR-Return earlier this week. But the big news centers on right tackle La'el Collins, who will now be out three weeks. He only missed one game in the last three years but will miss three because of a lingering hip injury. The Cowboys also placed Sean Lee and Ventell Bryant on the same list. Lee played 16 games last season for the first time in his career but was expected to rotate with starters Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.
  • Lots of turnover this year for the Cowboys, especially on defense. Some of the new faces on the field will be defensive ends Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith, defensive tackle Dontari Poe and rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs. The biggest addition on offense is first-round pick CeeDee Lamb, who creates quite a trio at receiver with Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper.
  • The special teams were a big problem for the Cowboys last year, forcing a change in leadership. New special teams coordinator John Fassel has plenty of experience and knows this Rams team rather well, having spent the last seven years coaching LA's special teams. Fassel said he's excited about both punter Chris Jones and kicker Greg Zeurlein, who was with him with the Rams before. Both players are healthy once again and should be much improved from 2019, according to Fassel.
  • One of the bigger storylines of the week won't really affect the team much until next month. But Randy Gregory was conditionally reinstated by the NFL this week. He can rejoin the team but can't practice until early October and won't be able to play until seventh game of the season. The Cowboys also reportedly gave him a 1-year contract extension that should keep him under contract through the 2021 season.

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