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Mick Shots: Winning at home to celebrating Ware


FRISCO, Texas – Bye-bye bye.

Now back to serious work for the Dallas Cowboys here at The Star on Wednesday. First full practice since the Saturday practice before taking off for Los Angeles and the Monday night Chargers game. And Thursday will be the first padded practice since prior to that 20-17 victory.

No matter it rained for a portion of the 90-minute practice Wednesday, head coach Mike McCarthy was all business. What's a little rain, right? Back to work. Plus, the Cowboys need to shake off the cobwebs following their bye week, Thursday's practice becoming their first padded one in 14 days.

So, a lot of little shots to pull together after all this time.

  • Streaking On: The Cowboy own the NFL's longest current home winning streak at 10 straight, and really need to push that streak to 11 on Sunday against the 3-4 LA Rams. "It's huge. It's going to be huge, the numbers show that," veteran safety Jayron Kearse said of extending the 10-game winning streak with no easy reason why for this streak. "We've been a better team at home, and it's time to put the numbers to test. … I can't really speak on it. Maybe it's the fans, maybe it's just being really comfortable at home. I can't really pinpoint what it is, but like I said, the numbers show it." And here is exactly what the numbers show. The Cowboys, at 4-2, have won their only two home games so far in 2023. Then, going back to the 2022 season, they won their final eight home games, last losing at AT&T Stadium in last year's season opener to Tampa Bay, 19-3. And this would be a darn good trend to follow since five of their next seven games are at home. An 11th consecutive win would tie the Cowboys' longest streak since the 1991-92 seasons.
  • Healthy Outlook: Since placing three players on injured reserve prior to the Chargers game – Peyton Hendershot, Leighton Vander Esch and C.J. Goodwin, all three having to miss at least the next three games – the Cowboys are as healthy as could be expected going into Week 8. Only one player showed up on Wednesday's injury report, that being rookie Juanyeh Thomas, who missed the Chargers game with a hamstring strain. And even at that, Thomas was listed as fully practicing on Wednesday. That's a good, because without Goodwin available for special teams, currently going into the Rams game Thomas is listed as the team's leader in special teams coach John Fassel's point system. Bet McCarthy is knocking on some good wood over this. "That we have a full roster to practice shows you the benefits of the bye week," McCarthy did say.
  • Nacua Who? That's rookie receiver Puka Nacua, only the Rams' fifth-round draft choice this year, but more importantly and probably unexpectedly playing on a team with Pro Bowl wide receiver Cooper Kupp, leading the NFL with 58 receptions for 752 yards, that ranking third in the NFL after seven games, averaging 13 yards a catch. His 752 yards receiving are the most in this year's rookie class. And this isn't just of late. In his rookie debut in Week 1, Nacua had 10 receptions for 119 yards, the most catches by a Rams rookie in an NFL debut. In fact, his 10 receptions in the opener against Seattle is the most by a rookie receiver in an NFL debut since 1948. My advice to the Cowboys defense? Better get tons of pressure on Matthew Stafford, the former Highland Park High School quarterback in this sort of homecoming game. And Rams QBs have been sacked 18 times for minus-136 yards.
  • Dak Attack: So much is being made of Dak Prescott's performance in the 20-17 victory over the Chargers, finishing with a 109.3 QB rating. Funny thing, though, Dak racked up 100-plus QB ratings in three of the first six games, yet so much was being made of the three interceptions in the loss to San Francisco. This gives Dak 53 games with a 100-plus QB rating, ranking second in Cowboys history to just Tony Romo's 67. Never a bad thing when your name appears higher on a list than the likes of Troy Aikman (44), Roger Staubach (37) and Danny White (33).
  • Trick Or Trade: That's the question when the trade deadline hits on Halloween Tuesday. But for those who grow irritated when the Cowboys sit still, which position would be your trade priority? Tough question, right? Veteran backup on the offensive line? But who really has excess on the O-Line to part with without asking for a king's ransom. Veteran backup running back? Maybe, but at what cost and on the salary cap, too, even if you can afford to trade compensation. Linebacker? But isn't that why the Cowboys took a chance on signing veteran linebacker Rashaan Evans to the practice squad, and we're about to find out if he's ready to come off his couch. Might need one more ramp-up week.
  • To Punt Or Kick: This week brings into light the Cowboys decision to punt place-kicker Brett Maher after last year's amazing season but flameout in the playoffs. They decided to hang their shingle on raw rookie Brandon Aubrey in the end, who has a career-opening streak of 16 consecutive made field goals. As for Maher, he was just released by the Rams after missing field goals of 51 and 53 yards, plus an extra point, in their 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh this past Sunday, bringing his season total to 17-of-23 on field goals. The Rams are the second team Maher has been with this 2023 season. Give some credit to the Cowboys' pro scouting staff and special teams coach John Fassel for having good eyes on these kickers.
  • Shorties: Let's keep an eye on tight end Eric Saubert, signed to the Cowboys practice squad, since this is the seventh team he's been on, either a 53-man roster or practice squad. So at least has been in the league for seven years … The Cowboys have used up their three allotted practice-squad elevations on linebacker Malik Jefferson, and even though they signed rookie 'backer Tyrus Wheat to the 53-man roster prior to the Chargers game, if needing to elevate another linebacker for this Sunday, especially for special teams purposes, might it be recently signed to the practice squad Buddy Johnson or possibly even Evans if he's ready … Sound the air-raid siren for the Cowboys defense on Sunday, since Stafford has completed 17 passes for 20-plus yards this season, third most in the NFL, while the Cowboys have yielded only seven such big passing plays so far in six games, third fewest in the NFL.

And this week's last word goes to Cowboys Hall of Fame owner Jerry Jones, just in case you have forgotten exactly what he had to say when surprisingly announcing DeMarcus Ware's planned induction into the Cowboys' fabled Ring of Honor back in late August during a season kickoff affair at Ford Center.

That induction will take place this Sunday during the Cowboys-Rams game at AT&T Stadium, Ware also having been inducted this year into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"He's had a big year, being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame," Jones began. "It's a very distinguished statement as a player you have made, and a good chance you will make going forward, that will be a lasting positive impact for this franchise.

"That's why you're in the Ring of Honor."

Ware becoming just the second inductee into the Ring in the past 12 years, the other being the now late Gil Brandt back in 2018. Not that Jerry asked my advice, though did see every one of his 141 games played for the Cowboys (140 starts) and every one of his franchise-leading 117 sacks.

Well deserved.

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