The Cowboys have made their cuts to get down to 53 players. Nothing too surprising on this list, although there is at least one interesting takeaway. The Cowboys cut three running backs, leaving Alfred Morris and Tony Pollard as the only two currently with the team. That’s a strong indicator that the team is expecting Ezekiel Elliott back before Week 1.
Receiver Devin Smith also made the roster as their final receiver, which is a nice feel-good story. Drafted by the Jets 37th overall back in 2015, multiple ACL tears derailed his promising career. Smith has had brutal injury luck and hasn’t appeared in a game since 2016, so this is nice to see.
OL Jake Campos
RB Jordan Chunn
WR Reggie Davis
WR Jalen Guyton
LB Nate Hall
OL Mitch Hyatt
TE Marcus Lucas
CB Donovan Olumba
LB Kyle Quiero
LS Drew Scott
DT Shakir Soto
DE Ricky Walker
RB Mike Weber
QB Mike White
DE Daniel Wise
WR Noah Brown
DE Jalen Jelks
WR Jon’Vea Johnson
DT Daniel Ross
CB Chris Westry
Jay Gruden studied this year’s quarterback class extensively, watching every throw each of the high- and mid-tier prospects made. The sixth-year Redskins coach said he did more work on this year’s QB class than he had in any draft since 2011, when the Bengals, Gruden’s employer at the time, selected Andy Dalton. In addition to Dwayne Haskins‘ arm strength, Gruden said the one-year Ohio State starter’s presence reminded him of Cam Newton.
“They’re all pretty confident kids, bright-eyed. I was impressed with the entire class,” Gruden said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “But (Haskins) has a demeanor and aura about him, kind of similar to Cam Newton coming out, just an aura of confidence. There’s something about him. When you’re around him, you feel like he’s got it, everything’s going to be OK — that he’s going to be successful, because he believes it.”
Haskins and Case Keenum will split the Redskins’ first-team reps, with Colt McCoy still out because of his fractured fibula injury. However, McCoy is expected to participate partially in Washington’s minicamp and be ready for training camp, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While Gruden said Haskins is no lock to play this year, nearly every recent first-round passer chosen becoming a first-season starter points to the newcomer taking the reins early.
Here is the latest from the NFC East, shifting to news out of Dallas:
- The Cowboys will not have Taco Charlton in action for a bit. The former first-round pick underwent ankle surgery recently, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. While Watkins describes this as a minor procedure, Charlton will likely miss Dallas’ offseason activities. He is expected to be ready for camp. This marks the second operation Charlton has undergone this offseason. Shortly after the Cowboys’ 2018 season concluded, the 24-year-old defensive end had shoulder surgery.
- One of Charlton’s defensive line mates may have to face the prospect of missing regular-season time. Tyrone Crawford was popped with a misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly related to the March incident at a Florida bar, Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com writes. An affidavit indicates Crawford, after being removed from the bar, threw punches at multiple security officers and hit at least one of them. This seems likely to produce a suspension for the veteran defensive lineman.
- Cowboys seventh-round running back Mike Weber injured his knee over the weekend, but it appears he avoided a serious setback. Weber went through an MRI but was back on the practice field Sunday, per Breer. Weber is expected to compete for time behind Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-round pick Tony Pollard, with Weber profiling as more of a traditional back compared to the versatile Pollard. The Cowboys lost previous Elliott backup Rod Smith to the Giants in free agency.
- Mike Remmers will not have a free pass to the Giants’ starting lineup. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter named incumbent Chad Wheeler the first-string right tackle last week, but that was before Remmers was signed. “It is up to (Wheeler) to hold that position,” Hunter said, via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. “It is up to everyone else to beat him out.” Remmers’ contract (one year, $2.5MM), history (64 starts) and connections to Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur would point to him having the upper hand. Wheeler took over for Ereck Flowers early last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ third-worst full-time tackle. The Giants were connected to multiple free agent right tackles this offseason.
The Cowboys have most of their draft signings out of the way. Everyone in Dallas’ draft class has agreed to, or signed, their rookie deals, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter), save for third-round guard Connor McGovern.
The following Cowboys rookies are now in the fold:
- 2-58: Trysten Hill, DT (Central Florida)
- 4-128: Tony Pollard, RB (Memphis)
- 5-158: Michael Jackson, CB (Miami)
- 5-165: Joe Jackson, DE (Miami)
- 6-213: Donovan Wilson, S (Texas A&M)
- 7-218: Mike Weber, RB (Ohio State)
- 7-241: Jalen Jelks, DE (Oregon)
Hill, a 6’2″, 315 pound defensive tackle, left UCF on a sour note and openly complained about his lack of playing time in the team’s Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU. Throughout the year, Hill clashed with coaches and started only once in the team’s eleven regular season games. Still, the Cowboys see big potential in this supersized lineman.
Pollard, meanwhile, offers upside as a runner and as a receiver. Last year, he saw 78 carries out of the backfield and averaged 7.1 yards per try. He also caught 39 passes for 458 yards, showing that he is a multi-talented threat.
Cam Newton will not play in the Panthers‘ final two games, and Monday night was the tipping point. The eighth-year quarterback complained of shoulder pain in the fourth quarter of recent games, but Albert Breer of SI.com notes Newton was dealing with soreness in the third stanza of Carolina’s 12-9 loss to New Orleans. This, and the short week going into the Panthers’ Sunday game, prompted Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney to bring the idea of shutting the starter down to owner David Tepper. The rookie owner concurred with the coach and GM and then informed Newton of the plan, Breer adds. It’s unclear if Newton is dealing with anything beyond shoulder soreness, but he has not looked the same for weeks. And a national audience observed the former MVP’s throwing issues Monday.
Newton underwent shoulder surgery last year, sidelining him for much of the offseason. Two years remain on the 29-year-old QB’s contract, and how he recovers from this latest shoulder problem may determine the timetable the Panthers set for discussing another extension.
Here’s the latest from around the league going into Week 16:
- Carson Wentz is set to join Newton in ending his season early, with back trouble shelving the Eagles‘ franchise passer. This, however, is not the first back issue Wentz has dealt with in his career. Wentz discovered a stress fracture in his back during his redshirt year at North Dakota State, Tim McManus of ESPN.com reports. This injury, suffered prior to his North Dakota State tenure, healed fairly soon and is not related to his current setback, per McManus. Still, this may be something for the Eagles to monitor as they determine how to proceed with Nick Foles or a possible replacement backup this coming offseason.
- On the subject of NFC injuries, Todd Gurley has yet to resume running after he experienced knee inflammation, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. The fourth-year Rams running back returned to Sunday’s game but has not practiced this week. He does not plan to do so the rest of this week but does expect to play against the Cardinals. With the Rams facing two bottom-end teams during the final two weeks of this season (the Cards and 49ers), and being effectively down two games to the Saints in the home-field advantage race, it would not be a surprise if Sean McVay rested Gurley until the playoffs. McVay rested Gurley and other starters in Week 17 of last season, even though the Rams were not locked into a seed. The Rams, who have not held a first-round bye since 2003, are one game up on the Bears for this year’s No. 2 seed.
- Ohio State running back Mike Weber has taken a backseat to J.K. Dobbins during the past two seasons, but the first of the Buckeyes’ post-Ezekiel Elliott starters will declare for the 2019 draft. A redshirt junior, Weber announced his decision on Twitter. Weber finished his career with 2,580 yards, 5.9 per carry, and 24 rushing touchdowns. He did not make much of an impact in the passing game but may be a mid-round prospect come April.
- The Lions worked out quarterback Joe Callahan and hosted three CFL tryouts — for wide receivers Bryant Mitchell, D’haquille Williams and Jordan Williams–Lambert — on Thursday, NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets.
- With reserve/futures decisions for non-playoff teams due soon (the first day such deals can be agreed to is New Year’s Eve), the Browns also worked out a CFL-to-NFL hopeful. Linebacker Sam Eguavoen auditioned for the Browns on Thursday, per Balzer (on Twitter).