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Blog: Dak, Offense Make Red Zone Progress

Follow along with the very latest Cowboys updates as staff writers David Helman, Rob Phillips, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus provide in-depth news and analysis.

Dak Prescott & The Offense Make Red Zone Progress

(Dec. 23; 5 p.m.) – A week ago, for only the third time in his NFL career, quarterback Dak Prescott didn't have a carry in a game.

He didn't take long to make plays with his feet in Sunday's division-clinching win over Tampa Bay.

Prescott's 7-yard touchdown run on a read-option play gave the Cowboys an early 7-3 lead and reversed their recent troubles inside the red zone.

The Cowboys finished with two touchdowns on three trips inside the 20-yard line. They entered the game ranked 31st in red zone efficiency (44.2 percent).

One drive stalled inside the 5-yard line, however. On second-and-goal from the 3 in the third quarter, Prescott's short pass Amari Cooper went for a 7-yard loss and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.

"Obviously better than we did last week, and better than we had," said Prescott, who completed 20 of 25 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown pass. "We can start there, but we can also get a lot better. We can turn some of those couple field goal drives into touchdowns."

-Rob Phillips

Crawford Sent to Hospital With Neck Injury

Tyrone Crawford has been sent to the hospital for a neck injury he sustained on the second play of the game Sunday.

The Cowboys have officially ruled him out for the remainder of the game.

Crawford, who lined up at defensive end for that play, was hit by two Tampa Bay blockers and immediately went down to the ground.

He was there on the turf for nearly 10 minutes as the Cowboys doctors and trainers attended to him before he was carted off.

Crawford went to a nearby hospital for further tests.

Crawford has 33 tackles and entered the game second on the team in sacks with 5.5. His 25 quarterback pressures also rank second on the team.

Sean Lee Inactive; Cowboys Taking 'Careful' Approach

(Dec. 23; 11:45 a.m.) – A week after returning from a hamstring injury, linebacker Sean Lee is inactive today against the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Cowboys chief operating officer/executive vice president Stephen Jones explained Lee's status prior to kickoff.

"He played last week (against the Colts) and felt it and just didn't quite feel like he was there yet," Jones said on Cowboys' Pregame Live. "It felt about the same way, and we just want to be really careful with him because if something happens to one of these guys then we're going to need him in a big way. I think getting him another week to rest and get 100 percent is the right thing to do here with Sean. But by no means a healthy scratch."

Lee practiced on a limited basis again this week and was listed as questionable for the game on Friday. He played seven snaps against the Colts in a rotation with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.

-Rob Phillips

Anthony Brown Ruled Out Of Bucs Game

(Dec. 23; 11:30 p.m.) – Anthony Brown has been ruled out of the Cowboys' Week 16 matchup against Tampa Bay.

The third-year cornerback was downgraded during practice this week as he dealt with back spasms, and that injury will hold him out of Sunday's game. In his place, Jourdan Lewis will get a chance to show his stuff as the Cowboys' nickel back.

Brown's absence was the most notable, but the Cowboys' inactive list carried several news items this week. The team officially ruled Mike White, Tavon Austin, Brown, Sean Lee, Chris Covington, Dorance Armstrong and David Irving out of the game.

It's obviously noteworthy to see Lee on the inactives list again. The All-Pro linebacker played sparingly in last week's game against Indianapolis, but he appears to be caught in a numbers game this week. With so many healthy bodies among the linebacker corps, Lee's lack of a role on special teams prompted the coaching staff to sit him down – which presumably will allow him to stay fresh as the Cowboys inch closer to a potential playoff appearance.

Austin practiced in a limited capacity this week, but the Cowboys are still easing him back into action after a severe groin injury in October.

It's also worth mentioning that Taco Charlton will return to the lineup against the Buccaneers. Charlton was a healthy scratch in the last two games, as the coaching staff wasn't satisfied with his practice effort. Following the 23-0 loss to the Colts, though, the first-round pick is back. Rookie Dorance Armstrong will be inactive for the first time this season to make room for Charlton.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Darius Jackson will be in uniform for the first time on a Cowboys game day. The Cowboys called the third-year running back up to the active roster on Saturday after moving Geoff Swaim to injured reserve, and he is now active.

Jackson was drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 and has bounced on and off the active roster over the last two years.

-David Helman