Zack Martin

Cowboys’ Zack Martin, Cam Erving To Miss Time

More bad news for the 3-8 Cowboys. On Friday, head coach Mike McCarthy announced that offensive linemen Zack Martin (calf) and Cam Erving (knee) will miss multiple weeks. 

Both players were injured during the Cowboys’ blowout loss to the Washington Football Team on Thursday. Martin has been playing through the calf injury for weeks and aggravated it while on the field. Erving, meanwhile, was forced out on the Cowboys’ first drive of the game.

Even in the woeful NFC East, the Cowboys aren’t likely to see the playoffs this year. Even if the linemen can return before the year is through, the Cowboys might keep them off the field as a precaution. Terence Steele took over for Martin while Brandon Knight subbed in for Erving — they’ll likely be first-string for the time being.

On paper, the Cowboys were set to return one of the league’s very best offensive lines. Unfortunately, injuries to left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle La’el Collins, and center Tyler Biadasz have decimated the unit. Biadasz may come off of IR in a few weeks but, similar to Martin and Erving, the Cowboys will have to weigh the risk vs. the limited reward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Start Zack Martin At RT

The Cowboys’ offensive line has been hit hard by injury this year, which is one of the many reasons why the team has limped to a 2-7 start. Fans and pundits alike have called for Dallas to kick stud right guard Zack Martin out to right tackle to help stabilize the unit, and head coach Mike McCarthy has finally seen the light.

As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network was first to report, Martin will start at RT today for the Cowboys’ matchup with the Vikings (Twitter link). That will force rookie Terence Steele, who has started all nine games for the club this year, to the bench. Though it might be expected for a first-year UDFA, Steele has appeared to be in over his head, and Pro Football Focus ranks him as the worst offensive tackle out of 78 qualified players this season.

So, as Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets, the team will line up Cameron Erving at LT, Connor Williams at LG, Joe Looney at C, and Connor McGovern at RG. This will mark McGovern’s second start of his career.

Despite the Cowboys’ poor record, the club still has a shot to win the incredible-as-it-is-inept NFC East. Backup QB Andy Dalton, who has dealt with a concussion and COVID-19 in the past few weeks, will return to the field this afternoon in a must-win contest, and McCarthy — three weeks after dismissing a Martin move to RT as “fantasy football nonsense” (Twitter link via Machota) — will shake up Dalton’s protection.

As Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News observes, this will be the first time since December 2013 — Martin’s senior season at Notre Dame — that Martin will get a start at tackle (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Activate Sean Lee, Joe Looney

Ben DiNucci will have more help up front than he did upon being thrust into action last week. In addition to Zack Martin returning from concussion protocol, Joe Looney is back on the Cowboys’ active roster.

The Cowboys activated Looney and Sean Lee from IR Saturday, though ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes rookie Tyler Biadasz is expected to make another start at center. Looney has missed the past three games because of an MCL injury.

Dallas used Looney as its full-time starter in 2018, when Travis Frederick missed the season, and re-signed him this offseason after Frederick retired. Looney started the team’s first four games before his knee injury. He went down on the first play of the Cowboys’ Week 4 loss to the Browns. Pro Football Focus grades his 2020 work better than Biadasz’s thus far, with the latter ranking near the bottom of the advanced metrics site’s center hierarchy.

Lee will make his 2020 debut. The Cowboys placed the veteran linebacker on IR prior to the season starting, carrying him onto their 53-man roster so they could activate him at some point. Lee underwent pelvis surgery, forcing his latest injury-induced absence. The Cowboys re-signed Lee on a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason. This will be as healthy as Dallas’ linebackers have been all season, with Leighton Vander Esch also now back after missing early-season games.

The Cowboys also promoted cornerback Saivion Smith from their practice squad. Smith will help a cornerback corps that will be without Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys enter Week 8 ranking 30th in defensive DVOA. They jettisoned three veterans — Everson Griffen, Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley — this week.

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Cowboys Notes: Coaches, Knight, Martin

After getting blown out by the Cardinals last night and falling to 2-4, it sounds like some of the players are starting to point fingers at the coaching staff. Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets that “discontent is leaking out” of the Cowboys locker room, with one player stating that the coaches “just aren’t good at their jobs”

“Totally unprepared,” another player said of the coaching staff. “They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.”

Meanwhile, head coach Mike McCarthy indicated to reporters that instead of leaking these qualms to the media, he’d rather keep those types of conversations in house.

“I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I’ve always stated that…it’s important to handle things as men,” McCarthy said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “I mean, if you do have something to say publicly that is of most important, I think it’s important to say it to the individual, or particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. I mean, that’s all part of the development our program, of the system that we’ve got going here. I think that’s just part of our flight right now. We don’t like the way we played last night. We had some areas that we struggled strong in. It’s definitely not what we’re looking for.”

Some more notes out of Dallas:

  • McCarthy also told reporters that left tackle Brandon Knight suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News on Twitter). The lineman is expected to miss the next few games. Knight found himself with a starting gig following a season-ending injury to Tyron Smith, and he’s started four of the Cowboys’ six games. While a replacement hasn’t been named, Gehlken notes that Cameron Erving, who is sitting on IR, could be an option.
  • ESPN’s Todd Archer tweets that Zack Martin suffered a concussion and is questionable for Sunday. The team isn’t expected to receive any clarity on the veteran until the end of the week. Martin has only missed a pair of regular season games since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014.
  • McCarthy doesn’t believe his team has improved much through the first six weeks of the season. “Have we improved?” McCarthy asked (via Gehlken on Twitter). “From an analytical standpoint, when I look at trend lines and some of the things that we’re focused on…. no, our trend line is not pointing in the right direction” Sorry, Cowboys fans.

Cowboys Rework Zack Martin’s Deal

The Cowboys carved out additional cap space with some help from Zack Martin. Martin has agreed to push some dollars into future seasons, giving the Cowboys an extra $8MM to spend in 2020 (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

[RELATED: Cowboys To Extend Randy Gregory]

Martin has spent his entire career with the Cowboys and has earned Pro Bowl nods in each one of his six seasons. Last year, he also notched a First-Team All-Pro selection, giving him four in total. He’s started in every game he’s played while only missing a pair of contests.

The Cowboys rewarded their star guard with a six-year, $84MM deal ($40MM guaranteed) in 2018 to make him the league’s highest-paid player at his position. Today, his $14MM average annual value slots him third, behind new leader Brandon Scherff ($15.03MM/year) and Brandon Brooks ($14.05MM).

Always a team player, Martin has made it possible for the Cowboys to make some upgrades this fall and/or take care of teammates. Now armed with upwards of $20MM in available dollars, the Cowboys may look to extend a few select players, as they recently did with edge rusher Randy Gregory.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell May Be Traded In 2020

The trade deadline has come and gone, and Jamal Adams is still a member of the Jets. That’s largely because New York’s asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders for its star safety was too rich for rival clubs, but before the Jets started asking for draft picks, they asked for players.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, when the Cowboys called the Jets to discuss an Adams trade, New York GM Joe Douglas asked about the availability of Dallas guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Dallas made it clear that neither offensive lineman was available, and the Cowboys’ best offer ended up being a first-round pick and backup corner Anthony Brown. However, as Rapoport observes, Douglas’ initial ask is suggestive of how he plans to construct his roster going forward: from the inside out.

Dallas’ and Baltimore’s interest in Adams was previously reported, though Rapoport says the Jets received double-digit phone calls on the 24-year-old. RapSheet adds that a third team actually put forth the strongest offer, though who that team is and the details of the offer are presently unknown.

But the fact that Adams will be with Gang Green for the rest of the year does not mean that he will be with the club in 2020. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Douglas will end up dealing Adams prior to the 2020 draft, and Cimini cites Adams’ “overreaction” to the trade rumors as one of the primary reasons for his prediction.

Adams’ post-deadline public comments in which he voiced his frustration and surprise that the Jets would even think about trading him are emblematic of what Cimini deems a me-first mentality that Adams has begun to display, a mentality which also manifested itself in a locker room blowup during halftime of last week’s loss to the Jaguars. Whether one agrees with Cimini’s characterization of these incidents or not, it seems true enough that Adams’ tenure with the Jets could be drawing to a close (especially given that he will be extension-eligible for the first time after this season).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Adams could be dealt in 2020, and JLC’s sources suggest that Adams and Le’Veon Bell may be traded at next year’s combine. La Canfora adds that the Jets were eager to move Bell and cornerback Trumaine Johnson at the deadline, but there was little interest in them because of their salaries. And while the Jets will surely not find any takers for Johnson in 2020, other clubs may be willing to take the plunge on Bell, and Adams will remain a hot commodity.

But for what it’s worth, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes the Jets should build around Adams, Bell, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams and not subject the club’s fanbase to another teardown. As many have said about the division-rival Dolphins’ rebuild — draft picks are great, but a rebuilding outfit needs core players too — the Jets should not blindly pursue premium draft capital at the expense of their foundational pieces.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Zeke, Cooper, Martin

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remains optimistic that his team will be able to get star RB Ezekiel Elliott back in camp, but he is not willing to capitulate to Elliott’s demands, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News writes. Zeke, of course, is holding out of training camp and is working out in Mexico. He is under club control for two more seasons, and while Jones obviously wants him back, it will have to be on Dallas’ terms (which makes sense, given all of the other contract situations the team needs to address).

Now for more from the Cowboys:

  • Executive VP Stephen Jones said he had no update on the Elliott situation or on Amari Cooper‘s contract talks (Twitter link via Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Jones indicated that there has not been much dialogue with Cooper’s camp about a possible extension. Cooper is presently dealing with a bruised heel that started bothering him Friday, so he may not see much action for the next few days, as Hill notes in a separate tweet.
  • Cowboys guard Zack Martin recently underwent an MRI on his back, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The club is encouraged by the results, but Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports that Martin has some irritation to a disc and could miss at least a week (Twitter link). It does not sound like there is any reason to panic at this point, but Martin will not be rushed back, and this could become a situation to keep an eye on.
  • Dallas could use some depth at guard — especially with Martin’s absence — and at cornerback, and Stephen Jones said the team is looking to sign a player or two at both positions (Twitter link via Hill).
  • Tony Pollard may not have entered the league with the same hype that accompanied Elliott a few years ago, but the fourth-round rookie has been very impressive in camp. Stephen Jones did not hesitate when naming Pollard as the young player who has stood out the most, per Hill (via Twitter).

Extra Points: Packers, Martin, Draft, Raiders

Bashaud Breeland‘s workout parade concluded in Green Bay, but his Packers contract is nearly its expiration. The veteran cornerback would re-enter the market in a better position, doing so a year after a golf cart-related injury harpooned his value. But Breeland, who said many teams would not medically clear him after his foot injury, would be interested if the Packers approached him about staying before he hit the market. Although, he said the Packers have not discussed an extension with him yet.

If I have the opportunity, I would,” Breeland said, via Ryan Wood of Packersnews.com, of a possible extension or offseason Packers re-signing. “At this point in time, the Green Bay Packers have first dibs because I’m here. They can make it happen at any moment.”

The Packers are not known as extravagant spenders but are keen on locking up their own talent. Breeland has only played in four Packers games, but on Sunday, the former Redskins starter recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a score. Both Tramon Williams and Davon House‘s contacts expire at season’s end as well, but the Packers still have recent high draft picks Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Kevin King locked up long-term. Next year’s cornerback market may include the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Ronald Darby, Bradley Roby and Bryce Callahan while also housing veterans Morris Claiborne, Kareem Jackson and Brent Grimes.

Here is the latest from around the league as Week 14 winds down.

  • Zack Martin re-aggravated his MCL sprain during the fourth quarter of the Cowboys‘ overtime win over the Eagles on Sunday, and Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes the All-Pro guard will likely be limited in practice this week. Martin has never missed a start in his five-year career, but MCL sprains are often multi-week injuries. The possibility Martin misses multiple games in order to right himself for an expected playoff game is on the table, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. If Martin does sit against the Colts, Connor Williams would start at right guard, per Archer.
  • So far, the prevailing word surrounding possible top-five pick Justin Herbert is another year in Eugene, Ore. But longtime evaluator Gil Brandt, now with NFL.com, tweets he would make substantial bet that the Oregon quarterback declares for the 2019 draft and becomes a top-five selection. Teams like the Giants, Jaguars and Buccaneers would likely be interested if Herbert left early.
  • Texas Tech wide receiver Antoine Wesley will depart school early. Responsible for 1,410 yards this season — third-most in Red Raiders history behind Michael Crabtree and Keke Coutee — Wesley announced Monday (on Twitter) he will leave Lubbock and head to the NFL.
  • Scot McCloughan could be a name to watch in the Raiders‘ GM or de facto GM search, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The former Redskins and 49ers GM interviewed with the Raiders for a position under Reggie McKenzie after the 2014 season, but Tafur notes McCloughan wanted personnel control. He then took Washington’s GM job before an ugly divorce. Jon Gruden and McCloughan’s tenures in Green Bay briefly overlapped in the mid-1990s, and Tafur notes McCloughan got along well with Jay Gruden in Washington.
  • The Broncos worked out 15 players on Monday. Defensive linemen Winston Craig, Jon Cunningham, Marcus Hardison and Christian Lacouture took part in the group audition, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Defensive backs Jude Adjei-Barimah, Sojourn Shelton and Henre’ Toliver joined linebacker Greer Martini in working out in Denver, per Klis.

Extra Points: Panthers, Rivera, Martin, Cowboys, Kaepernick

A lot of high profile coaches have been rumored to be on the hot seat this year, and while Ron Rivera’s name has certainly been mentioned, his job status has mostly flown under-the-radar. There was a report last week that new Panthers owner David Tepper could consider making “major changes” after the season, but other than that it’s been pretty quiet. Rivera let a couple of his assistant coaches go last week in an effort to help stabilize the crumbling defense, but his own job could very well be in danger.

The Panthers started the season 6-2 and were the toast of the league for a while, but have since lost five straight games. While Tepper is patient and has a good relationship with Rivera, if the losing streak continues Rivera very well may be fired after eight years with the team, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. The team lost to the Browns today, and Cam Newton‘s play has declined sharply after a hot start. Reports this week have indicated he’s been dealing with lingering shoulder pain, which has undoubtedly contributed to the team’s struggles.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Cowboys guard Zack Martin suffered a scary looking knee injury in their overtime win over the Eagles, but it looks like he escaped major injury. Owner Jerry Jones said after the game that the team is “concerned” about the injury but that there doesn’t “appear to be any structural damage.” While it’s good news that his ligaments are alright, it sounds like he could still miss some games. Being without Martin for any period of time would be a major blow for Dallas, as Martin is one of the league’s best guards.
  • Colin Kaepernick would be very interested in joining the Redskins, sources told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Kaepernick has been working out and the sources told Robinson that he’s in the “best shape of his life.” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said the team “discussed” Kaepernick, but wanted someone with more experience in their system. After Mark Sanchez melted down today and the team had to insert Josh Johnson it’s possible they reconsider, but still very unlikely.
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens could move on from John Harbaugh even if Baltimore makes the playoffs.

 

Injury Updates: Tannehill, Allen, Cowboys, Jaguars, Raiders

As expected, Ryan Tannehill is out again this week. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Dolphins quarterback will sit out Thursday’s game against the Texans. Brock Osweiler will once again slide into the starting lineup.

We heard recently that Tannehill’s injured shoulder wasn’t expected to sideline for an extended amount of time. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe echoes that sentiment, tweeting that the quarterback could begin throwing sometime this week.

In five games this season, Tannehill has thrown for 972 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions. Osweiler has been solid in his place, throwing for 654 yards, six scores and two picks.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Bills quarterback Josh Allen is out again this weekend, reports ESPN’s Mike Rodak (via Twitter). Derek Anderson will slide back into the starting lineup one week after having thrown three interceptions in a loss to the Colts. Allen hadn’t looked a whole lot better through his first six NFL games, as he completed only 54-percent of his passes for 832 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions.
  • After having dealt with discomfort through the early part of the season, Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee today, reports ESPN’s Todd Archer (via Twitter). Fortunately, the 25-year-old is expected to be ready for his team’s next game against the Titans on November 5th. Gregory has compiled 10 tackles and one sack in six games this season. Meanwhile, Archer notes that right guard Zack Martin and tight end Geoff Swaim suffered sprained MCL’s this weekend, and there’s optimism that the pair will be back following the bye week.
  • Cowboys C.J. Goodwin broke his forearm during Sunday’s loss to the Redskins and will miss the rest of the season, reports ProFootballTalk.com (via Twitter). The 28-year-old journeyman has collected a single tackle in two games this season. The Cowboys could be seeking some cornerback reinforcement for the bench behind Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis.
  • Jaguars linebacker Donald Payne suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain during Sunday’s loss to the Texans, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The 24-year-old is set to miss the next three to four weeks, although the team’s upcoming bye week could reduce the number of games missed. In seven games this season, the second-year pro has compiled a single tackle. During Payne’s absence, Blair Brown or Lerentee McCray could see some snaps behind starting middle linebacker Myles Jack.
  • Raiders defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is practicing with the team this week, reports ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez (via Twitter). Since the former third-rounder is on the PUP, he’ll have to be activated or placed on the injured reserve within the next three weeks. The UCLA product compiled 18 tackles in 16 games (13 starts) last season.