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Most days, Lee Park is just a park, a quiet preserve of 15 acres in Oak Lawn shaded by mature live oaks scattered around a broad hill of deep-green grass with wide paths and blooming gardens just away from the noise and bustle of the city beyond.
These aren’t most days. These are times of turmoil about the country’s past, its present and its future. And the park anchored by a massive statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee finds itself in the glare of Dallas’ attempt to come to grips with the days of change.
And so now, people who use the park every day, who’ve grown up near it and consider it part of their personal lives, must see it as something other than a park. It is no sanctuary from the outside world, from the anger and outrage whipsawing the country. It is today a heavy symbol of the trouble.
As she does every morning, Libby Barnes recently took a walk with her black and white 8-year-old shih tzu, Spike, along the paths of Lee Park. She has lived in Dallas all of her 70 years and today lives just across the street from the park.
“I walk here every day, three times a day,” she said, beaming and bright in a floral-pattern blouse on a steamy, overcast morning. “It’s very pretty, and it’s close to my apartment. I love the park.”
So does Dorothy Pullen, 63, who was walking her dog, Jersey. When she first moved here four years ago, Pullen quickly made friends with a group of people who would meet up most mornings, drink coffee and walk their dogs. “I felt welcome and right at home.”
As if on cue, she smiled at a familiar dog coming down the path. “Look, Jersey,” she said. “It’s Maggie.”
Matthew Chavez, 2, walks by as his mother, Miranda Taddei (in floral headwear), is readied before starting her marriage ceremony to Matthew Chavez near a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Robert E. Lee Park in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.
Dorothy and Libby are among the regulars at Lee Park, located along Turtle Creek Boulevard. They come for a stroll or to take a break from work in one of the nearby high-rises.
Few come specifically to visit Lee’s statue, but some do, and it has its admirers. But events of the last week have changed the sense of the statue’s place in the park.
A week ago, clashes broke out in Charlottesville, Va. after white nationalists held a rally opposing the removal of a statue of Lee. The event simmered with violence but turned deadly when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. The alleged driver, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was charged with second-degree murder.
Injured people receive first aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. A vehicle plowed into a crowd of people Saturday at a Virginia rally where violence erupted between white supremacist demonstrators and counterprotesters, witnesses said. One person was killed.
Dallas has not seen such violence around its Confederate memorials. Mayor Mike Rawlings, as well as other elected officials, have said the time has come for Dallas’ statues to go.
It’s a call that raises mixed feelings at Lee Park.
Pausing on her walk, Barnes said she doesn’t think the statue should come down. “It’s part of history,’ she said, an opinion shared by several regulars interviewed in Lee Park. “It’s a celebration,” she added, then paused as if searching for a better word, “a remembrance.”
But others feel conflicted. They’ve come to see the park and statue as one piece.
“From an artistic and historical perspective, I think it should stay,” said Keith Head, a 61-year-old Oak Lawn resident, who was walking Maggie. “It also commemorates those who died,” said Head, who counts among his ancestors both Confederate and Union soldiers.
But he also understood the reasons of those who want the statues removed: “that it represents racism and a time when people were treated very badly,” he said. “I just think it would be sad to see the statue go because it’s just beautiful.”
For Pullen, standing with Jersey under an oak’s shade, having to confront tough questions about an old neighbor — in this case, the statue — is not easy.
“Does it celebrate a time that shouldn’t be celebrated? Probably,” she said. “But there’s a difference between celebrating and memorializing, right?”
“Maybe it celebrates, and maybe it should go,” she said.
The Lee statue
Lee’s statue in Dallas is an 18-foot bronze affair with the general perched astride his cantering horse, Traveller, his boots in the stirrups, his hat in his right hand, a sword dangling from his left hip. Next to Lee is a young soldier, also on horseback, who represents all the young men inspired to fight under the general’s command.
It faces outward at the front of the park. Lee is frozen in motion as if he and Traveller are about to step into the intersection of Turtle Creek Boulevard and North Hall Street.
A view of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Robert E. Lee Park in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas on Wednesday. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings called for a task force to study the issue of whether or not to remove the city’s Confederate monuments in Lee Park and Pioneer Plaza. The task force has 90 days to report their findings. The statue was unveiled by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 12, 1936.
Crafted by the artist A. Phimister Proctor in the midst of the Depression at a cost of some $40,000, the sculpture sits atop a thick granite base. It is approached by a flight of steps. A granite bench wraps around the back.
The statue’s dedication on June 12, 1936, attracted no less than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, already here for the state centennial.
In brief remarks that day, Roosevelt hailed Lee as one of the greatest figures in the nation’s history, a recounting of history that has come under scrutiny in the ensuing years.
“All over the United States, we regard him as a great leader of men and a great general,” Roosevelt said. He also described Lee as “one of the greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen,” according to the account in The Dallas Morning News.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (back seat, left), with Texas Gov. James Allred and other state officials, parades down Exposition Street in Dallas. He visited the Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park on June 12, 1936, and spoke to a huge crowd in the Cotton Bowl. Texas, he told his audience, was "100 years young." He also dedicated the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Park that day. (Photo from The Collections of the Dallas Historical Society)
Jesse H. Jones, a Texas financier and Roosevelt appointee, explained Lee’s appeal to those gathered, repeating an old and questioned legend about the rebel general that was told for generations after the Civil War. Though Lee could have led the Union forces for the North, “he would not draw the sword against his native Virginia,” Jones said. “He had no other course.”
Up the hill from Lee’s statue sits Arlington Hall, built in the late 1930s as a replica of his pre-Civil War, Greek Revival home in Virginia.
Over the years, Lee Park has played a central role in shaping the identity of Oak Lawn. Along with annual events like Easter in the Park and the Pooch Parade, it’s also become a desired location for weddings, engagements and graduation photos. The grounds are looked after by the nonprofit Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy.
But the park is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago, the word “SHAME” was spray-painted in white capital letters across the base of the statue.
The vandalism occurred two weeks after a small group of protesters held an “un-dedication” at the park and a month after nine people were killed in a racially motivated attack at a church in Charleston, S.C.
Deep Texas roots
Daniel Shipman lives near Lee Park and comes at least once a week to sit and talk to people. He describes himself as a full-blooded, sixth-generation Texan, from Dumas, near Amarillo. And the 44-year-old computer programmer dresses the part. Today, he’s wearing a cowboy hat, Western shirt, pressed jeans and a pair of polished black boots.
He believes the statue should remain but completely rejects the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville.
“Oh, God, no!” he said. “White supremacists are an evil scourge.”
“I’m not African-American and it would be presumptive of me to say what they’re thinking,” he said. “But I hope they recognize that this country has been in a long transition to rightfully bring people of all different backgrounds completely into the promise of America. And they’ve been left out for a long time.”
But you can’t erase history by removing the statues, he said.
A conversation about history
Around noon, Shipman walked over to the front of the statue and started talking to two African-American women who had stopped by during a break at work.
There were no Tiki torches, shouted slogans or scrawled protest signs. Just three people sitting on the steps of the statue and talking.
From left: Daniel Shipman, Adria Green and Crystal Sentell, all of Dallas, have a conversation about race, racism and Civil War history near a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Lee Park in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas on Wednesday.
Adria Green said she came to the park with an open mind. “I can’t tell you honestly why I came and sat on the steps. But Daniel came around and said, ‘I just want to ask you how you feel about this statue,’ ” she said.
Green told him, “It’s history and you can’t erase history.” But she said it was also unfair for the statue’s supporters to ignore that slavery was a pivotal part of the cause Lee fought for.
So Green and her friend Crystal listened to Shipman as he explained why he thought the statue should remain. They agreed on one thing. They worried about violence if rallies for or against the statue are held in Dallas.
“I just really wanted to have a conversation and just listen to what they think and how they feel, instead of just drawing my own conclusions based on what I’m seeing in the media,” Green said.
As they stood up to leave, the three of them hugged. “I appreciate this, Mr. Shipman,” Green said, smiling. “We appreciate you.”
Shipman suggested they stay away from protests scheduled on Saturday in Pioneer Plaza. “For real,” he said. “I’m staying away.”
Similar conversations took place later in the day, including one between two men, one white and one black, arguing over whether the Lee statue served a historical purpose.
“Do we put up statues of other people’s leaders after we defeat them?” asked Darrius Gates, a 29-year-old African American who works in Dallas and goes home to Houston on the weekends. “How can we glorify him? It doesn’t make sense.”
As he debated with Gates, Charles Foy, 47, of Plano, lamented how the country had become so polarized over this and other issues. “I don’t think there’s common ground for reconciliation.”
But Gates and Foy shook hands and said there should be more such conversations. “We’re having a dialogue and trying to understand each other’s perspective,” Gates said. “Instead of violence, we have two people talking to each other.”
A different vibe
In the evening, the park’s vibe picked up as people came to exercise. The dog walkers shared the paths with joggers and bicycle riders. Two different “boot camp” workout groups showed up at the park.
At one end, near Turtle Creek Boulevard, Camp Gladiator included about two dozen people of different ages and races, a microcosm of the current Dallas population. As they started doing squats and other warm-up exercises, their trainer, Colin Felch, was asked for his thoughts about the Lee statue.
“Honestly,” Felch says, glancing over at the figure of Lee a few yards away, “I never really gave it a second thought.”
This Story is About…
Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) is pictured during Cowboys NFL football playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, January 15, 2017. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)
LOS ANGELES–The NFL has found itself in the middle of another domestic violence mess, and, once again, outrage is spreading across the land. Only this time, it is a different, unsettling kind of outrage.
Ezekiel Elliott, the marquee running back for football’s marquee Dallas Cowboys, has been suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy amid allegations of domestic violence.
There was never an arrest or criminal prosecution, but there were photos of alleged abusive incidents with a former girlfriend in July 2016. There was never any video, but there were reams of testimony supported by medical experts.
There was no legal proof of anything, but the league’s investigative team compiled more than 100 exhibits in a report that exceeded 160 pages and came to the conclusion that Elliott had clearly violated the league’s broad personal conduct policy.
"There is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that (Elliott) engaged in physical violence," it said in a letter that the league sent to Elliott.
Shame on Elliott, right? Nope. The narrative across the sports landscape Friday afternoon was, shame on the NFL. The majority of talk was not about NFL players’ continued pattern of violence toward women, but about how the NFL drastically reshaped the season for those poor Dallas Cowboys.
How could they suspend a player when he wasn’t even charged with a crime? How can they suspend Giants kicker Josh Brown for one game for admittedly hitting his wife or suspend Greg Hardy four games after he was found guilty of assaulting a female, and yet dock Zeke six games for being convicted of nothing?
How could the NFL simply believe the word of former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson instead of Elliott? How could he miss more than one-third of the season — and some say potentially hurt the Cowboys’ title chances — simply because he loses a battle of "he said, she said?"
All of these questions, while pertinent to the values of the American justice system, are not relevant to the NFL. The NFL is not a public courtroom, it is a private business. The NFL makes decisions based not on any judge’s gavel, but in the best interests of its business.
Roger Goodell, the much-criticized NFL commissioner, made the right call here. Working from behind a battered NFL shield, he made a bold move to strengthen it.
Goodell saw billows of smoke and correctly determined fire. He didn’t need formal charges to show him Thompson’s cellphone photos of the alleged abuse. He didn’t need a subpoena to hear medical experts validate the nature of Thompson’s photos and testimony. And he certainly didn’t need some law to tell him of the absolute ridiculousness of Elliott’s defense.
His representatives said Thompson might have fallen down some stairs or, better yet, bumped into table while she was working as a restaurant server. Seriously? Are we still allowing our beloved athletes to skate on such excuses?
"There is a eyewitness here. The eyewitness is Tiffany Thompson herself. She is a victim and a survivor," said Peter Harvey, the former attorney general for New Jersey who helped work the league’s year-long investigation.
It isn’t like Goodell made the easy call here. This decision is like a jab to the league’s midsection. No team drives the TV ratings like the Cowboys. No owner has been more responsible for the league’s billion-dollar success than Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, who is surely steaming mad. And few players have captured the league’s imagination like Elliott, who led the league in rushing last season with 1,631 yards and scoring 15 rushing touchdowns.
For years, the NFL was accused of covering up or ignoring off-field violence — witness the Ray Rice debacle. This same league should now be applauded by risking serious dollars to bring these issues to light.
There is precedent for suspension without legal support. Remember back in 2010 when Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended four games just for being a bad guy? Heck, remember last fall when New England quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games because Goodell thought he had cheated.
Goodell spent the season feeling the backlash of the Brady suspension, culminating when he awkwardly handed the Patriots the Lombardi Trophy after their stirring Super Bowl comeback victory.
He will feel the same heat here. Fans who despise domestic violence will rip him for benching their favorite player simply because that domestic violence is only in photos and not in a verdict. Fans who would never attempt to solve a problem with anger will criticize him for penalizing an alleged pattern of solving problems with anger.
Everybody needs to just chill. Elliott will be temporarily gone, but the Cowboys aren’t going anywhere. Their offensive line is so powerful, you could run behind it for six games. Dak Prescott is still the quarterback? And this is still a quarterback league? If the Patriots can lose Brady for a month and win a Super Bowl, the Cowboys can lose Elliott for six weeks and be just fine.
Relax. Your fantasy league will survive, while the real league just got stronger.
The girl sat sullen-faced in the art room at Dallas County’s juvenile detention. She crossed her arms on the table and lay her head down.
You should take advantage of this one time you’ll get free art supplies, the teacher, local artist Dawn Waters Baker, told her. The girl picked up a paintbrush.
"She ended up being the most incredible student I had," Baker said Friday night, as she looked at one of the girl’s oil paintings of a sunset over a lake, streaked in shades of orange and purple.
The painting hangs in Dallas Love Field Airport’s art gallery, part of an exhibit of pieces created by youths locked up in Dallas County in recent years. Through October, travelers in the secure area of the terminal can peruse the juveniles’ paintings and drawings in the airport’s gallery, which is located beside Dunkin’ Donuts.
At Love Field Airport, hangs an oil painting of a sunset done by a girl at Dallas County Juvenile Detention who started off skeptical about art. It’s part of an exhibit that runs through October at the airport.
In the three months the exhibit is up, the airport will see about 3.5 million travelers pass through, said Guy Bruggeman, art coordinator at the city’s aviation department. The exhibit came about after Bruggeman and Terry Smith, the juvenile detention director, met last year and she suggested the kids’ art be shown if the gallery had an opening.
"Their lives have disruption and chaos but when they draw it’s the beauty that shows," Smith said at a reception at the airport Friday. "Their sense of accomplishment and all the kudos they get — it’s like a light’s been turned on in their head."
The art program started in 2009 and has since taken off, said program director Cynthia Wallace. The three local artists who teach — Janet Reynolds, Danielle Kent and Baker — are all volunteers. The program gets supplies through grants and donations by jurors of their $6 daily stipend.
Many of the youths have never painted before, Baker said. She’s seen lots of benefits the juveniles get from art, since they often leave happier and more relaxed. When they like a piece they created, it builds confidence too, she said.
And it’s therapeutic, said County Judge Clay Jenkins.
"A lot of the kids who act out have a lot of difficult things going on at home and they don’t have a healthy outlet to get those emotions out," Jenkins said. "These kids may not become professional artists, but it’s a really good thing when kids can learn a constructive way to express themselves."
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Friday looks at paintings done by juveniles at Dallas County lockups hanging at Love Field Airport.
Lawrence Luby, a volunteer who teaches a 10-week course for kids with drug issues on life skills and spirituality, said the most common problem he sees among the kids is that their fathers aren’t involved in their lives. He said about 90 percent of the boys that go through his course don’t have any relationship with their fathers.
"Their mothers who are trying their best to raise the kids and work," Luby said. "But they lack a positive male influence."
Though the kids’ work hangs in the airport, many of them have likely never ridden on an airplane, said Terry Lynn Crenshaw, a chef who teaches girls, in lockup culinary skills. Many of the girls have been involved with prostitution, she said. Besides cooking, Crenshaw said she tries to hammer on the importance of two goals for the girls: going to college and traveling.
"I tell them all they need to get a passport," Crenshaw said. "It melts my heart when the girls say ‘This is my first time making cookies.’ They’ve been on the run so much they haven’t had a chance."
At the reception Friday night, Baker smiled as she recalled the girl who did the sunset oil painting, and her reaction after she completed it.
"Miss, I can’t believe I did that," Baker recalled the girl saying. "When I get out, I’m going to use my money to buy art supplies."
Could this young defensive end prospect be the Dallas Cowboys next great undrafted rookie free agent find and earn himself a place on the active roster?
Lost in the spotlighted play of Dallas Cowboys rookies like quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott last season was the performance turned in by their 2016 third round selection, Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
Despite missing a majority of offseason training during his rookie campaign due to a broken foot, Collins was still arguably the Cowboys most consistent defender in the trenches last season. The now 22-year old recorded 23 tackles in 2016 and was second on the team in sacks with 5.0.
More importantly, according to Next Gen Stats, Collins lead the league in fastest average time from snap to sack among rookie interior defensive linemen. He averaged a blazing 4.28 seconds as a defensive tackle, which placed him fifth among all interior pass rushers in the NFL.
The point being, Collins was one of the fastest players along the defensive line last season. And according to Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, there is an undrafted rookie free agent currently in camp that has the same kind of quickness.
“[Neal’s] got some of that Maliek suddenness,” Marinelli told the Dallas Morning News. “That’s what we kind of liked about him. He’ll fill out and get bigger as he goes. I don’t worry about that.”
The old ball coach is referring to former LSU standout Lewis Neal. Undersized as a defensive end, the 6-foot-2, 272 pound prospect actually led the Tigers in sacks his junior year posting 8.0. And he was known for coming up big in big games.
Although Neal investigated the possibility of leaving for the NFL early, he ultimately decided to go back to LSU for his senior season. But a switch to the 3-4 defense didn’t help his professional cause, as he recorded 60 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2016.
Lewis signed with the Cowboys following April’s NFL Draft, which appears to be fortunate for the undrafted free agent. Dallas has suffered a slew of suspensions at defensive end, with pass rushers Randy Gregory, David Irving and Damontre Moore all serving multiple game bans.
This opens the door for a player like Lewis Neal to be able to earn an active roster spot and prove he belongs on this Dallas Cowboys team. So far, it appears the 22-year old undrafted free agent is making the most of his opportunity.
Sofas, mattresses, crumpled tents and the stench of urine were most of what remained of yet another homeless encampment city officials pushed to close Tuesday.
Residents of the tent city between 2nd and 3rd Avenues under Interstate 30 were told earlier this month that they had to clear out by Wednesday.
A few lingered Tuesday, packing up their belongings, but most others had already left, many moving to other grassy spots under highway overpasses.
The clearing out and cleaning up of homeless encampments has become commonplace in Dallas.
The 2nd Avenue homeless village, near the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds, was once home to about 70 people and is the fourth major encampment closed in the past year.
The trend started last May when city officials shuttered Tent City, a sprawling encampment under Interstate 45 near downtown. It had been home to 300 people, many of whom simply dragged their tents under a different overpass.
City crews regularly clean up smaller encampments scattered throughout the city, and social workers visit those living outside to encourage them to go to a shelter.
Like many of the other smaller tent cities since the Tent City, there were familiar faces at the 2nd Avenue encampment.
Social workers say those living on the streets and in encampments are often the hardest to bring inside. Many battle addictions and struggle with mental illnesses.
But more and more people from the tent cities are accepting help, said Dave Hogan, manager of the Dallas Police Department’s crisis intervention unit.
“Out of each closure, we get some people” to move inside, he said.
Smaller encampments with just a handful of residents are still peppered throughout the city. And another tent city under Interstate 45 at Harwood Avenue has steadily grown for a year. Its population appeared to swell Tuesday.
Though the problem continues, homeless services have learned how to handle tent cities and talk to people who aren’t ready to move inside, said Daniel Roby, executive director of Austin Street Center.
“Before the large tent encampment that we had last year, we didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Now we have a better idea of what to do. That doesn’t mean it will eliminate the problem, but it will help the problem.”
Though the shelter was prepared to take in people from the latest closed encampment, many declined the offer, Roby said.
Many staying in shelters have a difficult time moving out because of limited affordable housing options in Dallas.
“We don’t really have a mixed income anything in the city of Dallas,” said Mike Koprowski, executive director of Opportunity Dallas.
Koprowski said that the city needs to develop a comprehensive housing policy, which could increase affordable housing for the city’s poorest and homeless.
In the meantime, crews will patch fences at other former homeless encampments this week to ensure people don’t move back to their old homes.
“No Trespassing” signs are installed under most overpasses now. Anyone who moves in will be told to leave.
On Wednesday, hazardous materials crews will finish cleaning debris left over from the homes people built at the the 2nd Avenue encampment.
The Cowboys head to training camp in less than a week, but that doesn’t mean everything is quiet in Dallas. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the news stories from just this week:
There was an incident involving Ezekiel Elliott in a bar.
A wannabe rapper stole and returned Lucky Whitehead’s dog after posting several videos on Instagram.
Terrance Williams was racing outside of a strip club after a dispute.
Jaylon Smith is not wearing an AFO brace, despite it being widely reported that he has been. Instead, he’s wearing a more flexible brace that will allow him to get on the field at some point in 2017.
With the season less than two months away, it’s time to shift the focus away from the everyday news of the Cowboys, to the on-the-field stories. It’s one of my favorite times of the year as every team and fan’s hopes are high. Sometimes the hype and hope are warranted, other times it’s not. Without further ado, here are eight over/under predictions regarding the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.
Over 9.5 Touchdowns for Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is a touchdown-machine. Anytime he is on the field, he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. However, he hasn’t scored double digit touchdowns in a season since 2014. So what makes me optimistic that he can do it again at age 28? There are two big reasons as to why you should expect a big season from Bryant in 2017.
The first reason being that Bryant is finally healthy. For the past two seasons, he has suffered injuries that have dramatically limited his explosiveness. In 2015, it was a fracture of his fifth metatarsal that forced him to miss six straight games (seven total). When he returned from the injury, Bryant just didn’t look like the same player. It was clear he returned too quickly from the injury and it significantly hampered him for the entire season.
In 2016, Bryant fractured his knee, causing him to miss three games in the middle of the season. However, when he returned, he looked like the same dominant receiver that we saw in 2014. In the team’s final 11 games (including Week 17 where he played only a handful of snaps and the playoff game), Bryant scored 10 total touchdowns as he caught fire in the second half of the season.
What allowed Bryant to become a dominant receiver again was his connection with rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. The two struggled to get on the same page early in the season as Bryant caught just 15 passes on 37 targets in his four games with the rookie. But as they played more together, the two developed much better chemistry.
I expect Prescott and Bryant to pick up where they left off in the playoffs last year. As long as Bryant is healthy, the two should be able to connect for at least 10 touchdowns in 2017. We’ve seen that Bryant has the potential to do that and more as he has three seasons of 12 touchdowns or more in his career. I expect a big bounce-back year for Bryant this season.
Over 7.5 Rookies Make the Cowboys Roster
The Cowboys had a large draft in 2017, selecting nine players in April. But what are the odds that eight or more of those rookies actually make the 53-man roster? The answer might be surprising. Dallas used their nine picks primarily on defense (only two offensive players selected) and at positions that needed a lot of depth. For that reason, it’s hard to imagine that at the very least, seven rookies will make the roster.
Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Ryan Switzer are all essential locks to make the roster as they were all chosen within the first four rounds. Not too often do you see high picks cut before their rookie season begins. That leaves Xavier Woods, Marquez White, Joey Ivie, Noah Brown and Jordan Carrell all competing for spots in training camp.
Of those five, Woods probably has the best chance to make the roster as Dallas lacks safety depth behind starters Byron Jones and Jeff Heath. It also doesn’t hurt that Dallas traded a future pick to go up and grab Woods. He’ll likely compete with Kavon Frazier to be the team’s third safety on game days.
White will compete for the fifth cornerback on the roster while Ivie and Carrell may each be able to grab a spot on the roster as well. Brown probably has the steepest hill to climb as he’s the team’s seventh receiver on the depth chart. All four should be able to land on the practice squad if they don’t make the 53-man roster.
I also expect one or two undrafted rookie free agents to grab a job as it always seems like Dallas will find a few that deserve a chance to play on Sundays in training camp. In previous seasons, Lucky Whitehead, Keith Smith and Ronald Leary have earned starting jobs as undrafted rookie free agents.
Overall, this is a deep rookie class that could potentially have as many as 10 players make the opening day roster for the Dallas Cowboys.
Under 400 Snaps Played for Jaylon Smith
A few days ago, I wrote about why Anthony Hitchens and Jaylon Smith will be competing in one of the biggest camp battles of training camp. One of the reasons why it’s so important for these two players is that the loser of the battle likely won’t play much in 2017 as Dallas rarely uses a third linebacker in the defensive packages.
In 2016, only two linebackers played more than 300 snaps on defense for the Cowboys; Sean Lee and Hitchens. Both players return this season and with Hitchens’ improved coverage ability, there are even fewer snaps to go around for the other Cowboys’ linebackers.
We will know how healthy Smith is in the next few weeks, but if he doesn’t practice in pads or participate in live tackling drills, the writing could be on the wall for this season. Smith will probably get on the field at some point this season but expect it to be in a part-time role as Hitchens’ backup. Expect Dallas to be cautious with Smith and limit his snaps in practice and during the games all season long.
Over 3.5 Interceptions for Byron Jones
After playing in all 32 games in his first two seasons in the NFL, safety Byron Jones has recorded just one interception; the one you see above on a Hail Mary pass against Tampa Bay. So why should we expect a big jump in his interception total in his third season? There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Jones this season.
The biggest being that he’s now entering his third season in the NFL and his second full season at the safety position. As a rookie, Dallas tried him at both corner and safety. In 2016, they decided to make him a full-time safety and he was just inches away from creating a number turnovers last year. With added experience and insane athleticism, I expect him to convert on those missed opportunities this year.
Another reason to expect more interceptions for Jones is that the team plans on using more zone coverage this year. After ditching Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in free agency, Dallas now has the personnel to play more zone coverage and that likely means more turnovers in the secondary. When defenders are watching the quarterback rather than a receiver, the chance of picking off a pass should increase.
I expect Jones to not only reach four interceptions this season, but I also expect him to make his first Pro Bowl. Look for Jones to take a massive step in his third season in the NFL and become Dallas’ best defensive back.
Under 5 Sacks for Taco Charlton
Over the past decade, we have seen more pass rushers who were selected outside of the top-10 in the draft find success in their rookie seasons. While it’s certainly possible that Taco Charlton could put up an eight-sack season like rookie Yannick Ngakoue’s season last year, don’t expect him to be that effective.
Charlton will have the advantage of likely starting for the Cowboys in 2017, but Dallas loves to rotate their defensive linemen, meaning that he won’t see the necessary snaps to be that effective. Charlton is also a very raw player who may contribute more in the run game than as a pass rusher right away.
For those reasons, look for Charlton to hover around the four sack mark, rather than approaching double digit sacks. Charlton will get every opportunity to have a big year in Dallas, but it’s asking a lot of a rookie to be the team’s top edge rusher.
Under 1.5 Punt Return Touchdowns for Ryan Switzer
In college, Ryan Switzer returned seven punts for touchdowns in his career while averaging 10.9 yards per return. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Cowboys to compete with Lucky Whitehead for the punt returner job. However, that doesn’t mean you should expect fireworks in his first season in the NFL as a returner.
Since 2006, only four rookies have returned two or more punts for touchdowns in their first season. That list includes Patrick Peterson, Devin Hester, Tyreek Hill and Dez Bryant. While Switzer is a dynamic returner, he’s not the elite athlete that those four are. Switzer is a shifty player who relies on his quickness more than elite speed (4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine).
Instead, look for Switzer to be a reliable returner who boosts the Cowboys’ punt return average rather than their touchdown totals. In time, Switzer could become one of the more dangerous returners in the league, but expecting him to score two or more touchdowns in his rookie year is somewhat far-fetched.
Under 1200 Rushing Yards for Ezekiel Elliott
It was quite a weekend for Ezekiel Elliott. On Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Cowboys and Elliott were bracing for a short suspension stemming from an alleged domestic dispute in 2016 before he was drafted. Later that day, Elliott was appealing a conviction for speeding in Dallas after going 100 mph on a Dallas’ highway.
Late on Sunday night, Elliott was involved in a bar incident in which a DJ was punched in the nose. The police issued a statement that they were dispatched to the bar and that a victim was physically assaulted. Elliott has not been charged with any crime, but there does seem to be a general sense that Elliott was involved in some way.
All in all, it’s been a rough offseason for Elliott. He’s been in the news multiple times and for that reason alone, don’t expect him to match his 1,631 rushing yards from 2016. It seems very likely that Elliott will miss some time this season, but the amount of games is unclear. Expect the Cowboys to be without Elliott for a number of games in 2017.
Under 9.5 Wins for the Dallas Cowboys
Winning double digit games in back to back seasons is always tough. It’s especially tough to do so when you play in the NFC East, one of the toughest divisions in football. There are no perennial bottom dwellers in this division, so every game inside the division is a battle.
For the Cowboys to win the division and get back into the playoffs, Dallas will probably need to win at least 10 games in 2017. According to SportsBook.com, the Cowboys’ season wins total over/under sits at 9.5. While Vegas thinks Dallas will likely win 10 games, I’m not as optimistic.
Instead of playing a fourth place schedule like they did in 2016, Dallas will now play a first-place schedule. To make matters worse, Dallas plays the tough AFC West and the NFC West this season. Not only will they have to make do with a first place schedule, they also have the league’s toughest schedule, according to Football Outsiders and ESPN.
On top of a tougher schedule, Dallas could be without Ezekiel Elliott for an extended period of time as I’ve mentioned before. Without Elliott, more of the offensive load would be put on Dak Prescott’s shoulders. While it’s not impossible that they could survive with Zeke, it will be a difficult task to stay afloat without him.
Dallas will also have the task of replacing numerous veterans who were lost this season in free agency, such as Ronald Leary, Terrell McClain, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. That’s a lot of veterans to lose in one offseason.
Dallas will be forced to rely on a lot of rookies and young players, especially on defense. And with a tougher schedule, Dallas seems like a pretty good bet to not reach double-digit wins in 2017. Vegas still believes the Cowboys will make the playoffs (-200), but it’s likely going to be a struggle for them to do so.
DALLAS (AP) — Dallas police say a standoff has ended peacefully with nobody found inside an apartment where someone earlier shot through a front door at officers serving a warrant.
Maj. Jimmy Vaughan says a man believed to have been in the apartment, who exited with several other individuals after the shot was fired Thursday morning, has been detained. Vaughan had no immediate information on charges.
Nobody was hurt.
Dallas police say the incident began as officers tried to serve an aggravated assault warrant around 6 a.m. Thursday and someone shot through a door.
Vaughan says police did not return fire. Several people then came out of the apartment.
Officers treated the situation as a barricaded person until tactical officers, after about 5½ hours, entered the unit and found it unoccupied.
Dallas is an amazing city in the great state of Texas. There are many fun and entertaining activities you can enjoy when you live in or visit the city. No matter what type of things you enjoy, you can find it in Dallas and enjoy your time there. Continue reading to learn more about Dallas and what some of the great things to do in the city are.
First of all, shopping is abundant in Dallas. No matter what you enjoy shopping for or what you need in your life, you are likely to find it in Dallas. There are several different malls in the city and they all have a nice variety of stores. Along with the malls, there are many other options for shopping in Dallas.
Also, Dallas has just about every type of restaurant you can imagine. Whether you are looking for some Texas barbecue, Asian cuisine, Italian fare, or something else, you can find great foods in Dallas that will allow you to enjoy each and every meal.
Do you love the great outdoors? If so, you will love Dallas. There are many beautiful and fun things to do outdoors in the city and you can enjoy yourself there. You can swim, hike, birdwatch, and so much more in Dallas.
As you can see, there are many different things you can enjoy in Dallas. You can find great shopping venues where you can purchase just about anything that you desire. You can find amazing places to eat where you can find just about any dish that you desire. And, you can find amazing outdoor activities in the great city of Dallas. Whether you live in the area or want to visit, Dallas is a nice place that has so much to offer.
DALLAS (AP) — A former Texas businessman was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $4 million in an insurance scam targeting a British company.
Federal prosecutors say 66-year-old Wesley Michael Woodyard was sentenced Friday in Dallas. Investigators say the 66-year-old defrauded ACE European Insurance Company of London from 2002 through 2013.
An indictment alleges Woodyard stole money meant to buy annuities for beneficiaries of ACE European Insurance policies, including United Nations employees hurt or killed in connection with their jobs.
Woodyard owned an insurance company and acted an agent to sell annuities. Prosecutors say Woodyard fraudulently induced ACE European Insurance to send funds to bank accounts he controlled.
Woodyard was arrested in Minnesota last year. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Roland Lamah scored two goals to lead FC Dallas to a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday, knocking the Canadian club out of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Maximiliano Urruti added a goal and an assist for Dallas (7-3-7). Dallas continued its home dominance of Toronto, having never lost in nine meetings.
Toronto (10-3-5) dropped into second place behind Chicago, a 4-0 winner over Vancouver on Saturday.
Lamah, who has six goals in the first MLS season, took a short pass from the left side by Urruti for a close-in goal in the fifth minute. Lamah made it 2-0 in the 21st off a through ball from Mauro Diaz.
After Toronto cut the deficit in the 56th on Marco Delgado’s tap-in off a deflection, Urruti took a through ball and easily beating goalkeeper Alexander Bono in the 78th for his 10th goal of the season.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.