Each Sunday I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. I'm planning my first Final 53, plus I discuss Gavin Escobar, Stephen Tulloch and forgotten facts about Roger Staubach in this edition of First and 10.
1. it's been a rough few days here in Dallas and we all know why. So, for the purposes of First and 10 this week, I'm just gonna keep it to football. Consider it your short break from reality. But if you need a link to our coverage, just click right here for Mark Lane's comprehensive summary of how Cowboys players reacted.
2. One of the things I'm working on is my first Final 53 going into training camp. The scenarios are more interesting this year because the Cowboys have three players that will miss at least the first four games due to suspension and at least three players that could be on the physically unable to perform list to start the season — running back Lance Dunbar, tight end Gavin Escobar and defensive tackle Maliek Collins. That's six potential jobs up for grabs for the season's first month. Why? Because while all six players should eventually be on the active roster, none of them count against the 53-man roster on final cut day because the Cowboys will move them to the appropriate designation list instead (suspended, PUP, etc…).
It does mean, however, that there are up to six players that will likely find themselves out of work at some point, because when those six aforementioned players come back, the Cowboys will need to open roster spots. That Week 5 could be especially hurtful to two players, as Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence are scheduled to come back.
3. Speaking of Gavin Escobar, my guess is the Cowboys will bring him back on a one-year, veteran-minimum deal in 2017. Why? He knows the offense, the Cowboys can get him cheap and the search for Jason Witten's heir apparent is still on. I don't think Escobar is the guy and I'd take a bet that the Cowboys use a draft pick on the position next spring. But when you can get a guy that knows your offense for cheap, you make that deal. Escobar's Achilles injury makes him, to be honest, irrelevant for most of this season, in my opinion. I would be stunned if he played eight games.
4. I saw some chatter about Stephen Tulloch and whether the recently-released Lions linebacker might be a fit in Dallas. The 10-year vet started his career slowly in Tennessee, but finally became a full-time starter in 2008 and has been a durable player since, only missing 13 games in 2014 due to an injury. You may recall that injury. Tulloch tore his ACL celebrating a sack. Tulloch led the Lions in tackles in 2015 with 107. Those are solid numbers for a middle linebacker. The Lions told him five months ago that he would not be a part of their plans in 2016, but were waiting for Tulloch to pass a physical, as a result of ankle surgery. Why? The Lions would have owed Tulloch a $1.1 million injury settlement otherwise. They instead gave him a $500,000 guaranteed roster bonus. Classy.
At 230 pounds he's the right type of player for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's defense. He's productive and he's a strong veteran influence. Plus, it doesn't look like he's ever been suspended, so he has that going for him. He may be a liability on passing downs, as the Lions took him off the field last year on those plays. But this late in the game a player like Tulloch is certainly worth considering, given that you'll be without Rolando McClain for 10 games.
The Cowboys have the cap space to maneuver to make this sort of signing, in case you're wondering.
5. Our Mike Fisher took a break kicking just about everyone's butt on Mavs free agency coverage to file a quick story on the Cowboys this week. His question? Do the Dallas Cowboys have any "secret sauce?" It's a great premium piece from Fish, with plenty of quotes from the Cowboys' Stephen Jones, and it's available with a subscription to CowboysHQ.com, which is just $5.99 a month. Along with great premium stories there is access to our premium message boards, which feature like-minded Cowboys fans talking about the team year-around. It's a great place to get knowledge and interact with fans of America's Team. And it costs the same as a large Starbuck's coffee, which lasts — what — an hour? CowboysHQ.com's premium subscription lasts all month — and you don't have to stand in line.
6. As you might know, I'm also the editor-in-chief for College Football America Yearbook, which will be out soon. We're making our final proofs now and that led me to confirm some information on New Mexico Military, a junior college in Roswell, N.M. Doing that led me to the NJCAA web site where I found a story on former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach receiving the Dick Enberg Award. The award is sponsored by CoSIDA (the professional organization for sports information directors) and is presented annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. Staubach is, amazingly enough, the first former NJCAA athlete to receive the award.
Oh, you didn't know Staubach went to a junior college before he went to Navy? I think I knew that at one time but apparently I forgot because I found this piece of information in the press release kind of staggering:
Prior to his arrival at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1961, Staubach spent one year as a three-sport star at New Mexico Military. The Cincinnati-native was an NJCAA All-America selection in football and baseball with the Broncos, while earning All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference honors in basketball.
Yeah, Staubach was at least all-conference in three sports in one year of junior college. Amazing.
7. If you missed last week's CowboysCast, you can get it right here. It features good information on Rolando McClain's suspension and an interview with Cowboys sixth-round pick Darius Jackson.
8. Ricardo Lockette, the former Seattle wide receiver, wrote a piece in the Players' Tribune about the hit he took from Cowboys safety Jeff Heath. It's worth a read, if for no other reason than to go inside the head of an NFL player after sustaining a hit that can threaten your life.
9. It's our Tweet of the Week:
Cowboys fans will never get enough of this. Ever.
10. This week's Great Moments in Headline Porn? "Michael Irvin thinks it's J.J. Watt's fault the Houston Texas haven't wont a title" from profootballtalk.com.
Sorry, Mike. Can't agree with you there. The NFL is all about quarterback play and the Texans have never invested properly in the position. That's the biggest reason why they've never won a title. But PFT appreciates the click-bait.