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Cooper vs. Tate: NFC East might hinge on which trade was better – Dallas Cowboys Blog

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In the span of a week in late October, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles made trades they hoped would salvage seasons that were teetering on the brink of failure.

The Cowboys were 3-4 after their Oct. 21 loss to the Washington Redskins when they decided to send a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper. The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles were 4-4 after beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Oct. 28 when they decided to send a 2019 third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Golden Tate.

On Sunday at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys and Eagles meet with first place in the NFC East on the line.

A Dallas victory and the Cowboys could effectively close out the division with three games to play, depending on how the Redskins and New York Giants fare. A Philadelphia win and the East will be up for grabs in the final three weeks.

Cooper and Tate will have a big say in how the seasons will play out. NFL Nation reporters Tim McManus and Todd Archer take a look at how the trades have worked out for both teams so far:

What impact has each made?

Tim McManus: Tate’s time in Philly got off to a rocky start. The offense actually regressed initially, scoring 27 points total in his first two games in an Eagles uniform — both losses. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh acknowledged that it was a challenge integrating him into the system. Part of the issue is that the Eagles have three receivers in Tate, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews whose natural position is the slot. Figuring out who to deploy, and where, has been a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Some of Tate’s involvement felt forced early on, while other receivers’ production — most notably Alshon Jeffery‘s — dropped off. Concern in Philadelphia was growing that this trade was a bust, but Tate broke out against the Redskins on Monday night, finishing with 85 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion in a 28-13 victory. The chemistry between him and Carson Wentz has clearly improved — they improvised for a key 19-yard gain that required both to be on the same page against Washington — and the offense has looked better the past two weeks than it had for most of the season. Tate is finally starting to have the desired impact.

Todd Archer: Cooper’s impact can’t be overstated. He has changed the Cowboys’ passing game because he has given Dak Prescott an option on the outside. In each of the five games with Cooper, Prescott has thrown for at least 208 yards. He did that just three times in the first seven games without Cooper. Projecting Cooper’s numbers over a 16-game season, he is on pace for 96 receptions, 1,357 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s the work of a No. 1 receiver. Cooper’s presence has helped Ezekiel Elliott as well. While opposing defenses still focus on stopping the Cowboys’ running back, they at least have to pay attention to the outside with Cooper because he has shown the ability to win on his route running and his running after catch (see the 40- and 90-yard touchdowns against Washington). Of the 40 times he has been targeted by Prescott, he has 30 catches. Eight of his 10 third-down catches have gone for first downs. The production is there. So are the results. The Cowboys are 4-1 since the Cooper trade. That Jerry Jones and the front office were willing to give up such a valuable asset was a sign to the players that they were not giving up on the 2018 season when a lot of people thought it was over.

What does the future hold?

McManus: That’s still very much up in the air. The Eagles gave up a third-round pick for Tate even though his contract is up at the end of the season. While they are likely to recoup a solid compensatory pick if Tate walks in free agency, this was a rental that needs to pay some significant dividends over the final quarter of the season for this to be considered a good deal. He was brought in to put a jolt into the offense and assist in a playoff push. Anything less will be considered a disappointment. Whether he stays with the Eagles beyond this season will depend in part on what the market for his services looks like. It’s hard to picture the 30-year-old Tate being signed to a lucrative contract in Philadelphia, but if the price tag is relatively modest, there should be interest. Agholor’s fate with the team seems to hang in the balance. The Eagles have picked up Agholor’s fifth-year option, so he’s under contract next season, but it seems unlikely they’d keep both players beyond this season.

Archer: The Cowboys were willing to give up the first-rounder only because Cooper is 24. He doesn’t turn 25 until June. The Cowboys did not have an interest in trading for a receiver like Tate, while productive, because he turns 31 in August. The Cowboys wanted a young receiver to add to a core of young talent they believe they have throughout the roster. As the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Raiders, the Cowboys hold the fifth-year option on Cooper for 2019 at close to $14 million, but the hope is to work out a long-term extension at some point in the offseason. The Cowboys worked similarly with Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin last offseason, locking him up through 2025. The last time the Cowboys paid their top receiver came in 2015, when Dez Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million deal minutes before Bryant was set to play that season on the franchise tag. The Cowboys will have other decisions to make on players, like DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Elliott and Prescott, but they have made it known that Cooper is a priority to keep as well.

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As season’s end nears, no surprise by league’s top rookie – NFL Nation

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We’re almost to the end of the regular season, with multiple teams jockeying for playoff position. Many of those teams will rely on rookies in major roles. That includes the Los Angeles Chargers and top rookie Derwin James.

From game analysis and discussions with personnel evaluators, here’s a look at the top 10 rookies so far this season.

Top 10 (stats are Weeks 1-15 combined)

Stats: 93 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 INTs

Previous ranking: 1

As the Chargers make a push for home-field advantage in the AFC — the team has won 10 of its past 11 games — James continues to be the most versatile option defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can move anywhere in the formation. Some opposing offensive coaches have tracked him at five different positions as they prepared to play the Chargers.

Stats: 146 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 INT

Previous ranking: 2

He was credited with 11 tackles, including one for loss, and knocked down passes in the Colts’ 23-0 win over the Dallas Cowboys — the first time the Cowboys had been shut out since 2003. The guy has sacked the quarterback once in every four times he has rushed, and he added a recovery of a blocked field goal to his résumé in the win over the Cowboys.

Stats: 51 tackles, 12 sacks, 2 FF

Previous ranking: 3

The Broncos have asked Chubb to hold the edge in the run game, and he has dropped into coverage from time to time as well. He has usually been assignment-sound in all he has been told to do, and he continues to impact things in the rush. He needs 2.5 sacks in the last two games to tie Jevon Kearse’s rookie record set in 1999.

4. QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Stats: 3,065 yards passing, 21 TDs, 11 INTs

Previous ranking: 4

The Browns are clinging to wafer-thin playoff chances with four wins in the past five games, including Saturday night, when the Broncos held Mayfield to 18-of-31 passing. But Mayfield went 4-of-4 for 39 yards and a touchdown on what turned out to be the game-winning drive early in the fourth quarter.

Stats: 1,155 yards rushing, 13 total TDs

Previous ranking: 5

Barkley was held to 31 yards rushing by the Titans this past Sunday — his second-lowest rushing total of the season — but his 170 yards rushing on just 14 carries in Week 14 were a season best.

Stats: 108 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT

Previous ranking: 9

Rare athleticism and savvy have been consistently on display in a Bears defense that locked down the Rams in Week 14 and is now among the league’s top four in scoring defense, total defense, sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions. Khalil Mack gets much of the attention, but Smith has had a huge role in Chicago’s run to the divisional title.

Stats: 117 tackles, 7 PD, 2 INTs

Previous ranking: 7

Vander Esch has already set the team’s record for tackles by a rookie, and the Cowboys will now try to work Sean Lee back into the lineup (Lee’s hamstring injury forced Vander Esch into a starting role). Lee played seven snaps against the Colts on Sunday — his first game since Nov. 5 — but Vander Esch has been key in the Cowboys’ push to win the NFC East.

Stats: 991 yards rushing, 10 total TDs

Previous ranking: 6

In back-to-back Broncos losses, Lindsay was held to 30 and 24 yards rushing, but the body of work remains top-shelf this season. He’s fifth in the league in rushing, and his 5.4 yards per carry average is second in the league among qualifying backs.

Stats: No sacks allowed in six games

Previous ranking: 10

Nelson continues to draw raves from personnel executives around the league for his ability to finish. He has had some flags — nine penalties this season — but his awareness in and out of double-teams to go with his power at the point of attack is a rare combination.

10. CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

Stats: 48 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 INTs

Previous ranking: 8

Ward missed the past two games and most of a third with a concussion. Browns interim coach Gregg Williams said Monday that Ward remains in the league’s concussion protocol.

Close but not quite (totals are for 15 weeks)

49ers RT Mike McGlinchey (no holding penalties in 14 starts); Bengals S Jessie Bates (98 tackles, 3 INTs); Browns RB Nick Chubb (860 yards rushing, 5.2 yards per carry, 10 total TDs); Panthers CB Donte Jackson (62 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 sack); Texans S Justin Reid (75 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 TD); Packers CB Jaire Alexander (62 tackles, 1 INT, 11 PD); Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds (98 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 FF); 49ers LB Fred Warner (105 tackles, 1 FF); Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (56 catches, 699 yards, 8 TDs); Steelers S Terrell Edmunds (68 tackles, 4 PD); Giants DT B.J. Hill (45 tackles, 5 sacks); Titans LB Rashaan Evans (44 tackles, 2 TFL); Dolphins S Minkah Fitzpatrick (73 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 TD); Ravens T Orlando Brown Jr. (just three penalties); Titans LB Harold Landry (37 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.5 sacks).

Kickers need love, too

Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson, who was waived by the Vikings after missing three kicks in Week 2, continues to make the most of his second act. Carlson missed his second field goal attempt with the Raiders — a 45-yard attempt that hit the right upright in a Week 9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers — but he hasn’t missed since. He was 3-of-3 this past Sunday.

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Devin Bush of Michigan Wolverines to miss Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, enter NFL draft

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Michigan linebacker Devin Bush announced Wednesday that he will miss the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl because of a hip injury and is forgoing his senior season to enter April’s NFL draft.

Bush is ranked as the No. 8 prospect available for the draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and the No. 10 prospect by Todd McShay.

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had separate stress fracture in back found his freshman year

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PHILADELPHIA – Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had a separate stress fracture in his back that was discovered his freshman year at North Dakota State, according to a league source.

The injury was from his adolescence and was completely healed by the time he was in college, and is unrelated to Wentz’s current injury, the source said.

Wentz’s medical report, given to teams at the NFL Scouting Combine prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, referred to a healed stress fracture in his back, the Philadelphia Daily News first reported. While it was discovered in college, a league source clarified that the stress fracture had occurred prior to his playing days at North Dakota State. Wentz was a redshirt freshman when the fracture was discovered and it did not impact him on the collegiate level.

It also did not affect his draft stock, as he was selected No. 2 overall by the Eagles.

The current stress fracture was discovered following a CT scan last Tuesday, according to Eagles coach Doug Pederson. Wentz sat out last week’s game at the Los Angeles Rams and it appears he’ll be sidelined again Sunday, as Pederson has named Nick Foles the starter for the Eagles’ upcoming game against the Houston Texans.

“He’ll be listed as week-to-week. We will not put him on [injured reserve],” Pederson said of Wentz. “Obviously when he’s healthy, he’s our quarterback and we’ll go from there.”

Wentz was first listed on the injury report with a back issue in late October. He was feeling better symptom-wise as the season progressed, evidence of a healing process already underway, a source said.

Pederson noted the recovery period could be about three months, though that is not set in stone. Optimism remains that Wentz, who is coming off multiligament knee surgery, will not be hampered by the back issue long-term.

“The fact that he doesn’t need surgery on this, I mean, is the best news that you could possibly have on anybody that has a stress fracture or a stress injury in this case,” Pederson said last week. “As long as we take the proper steps to make sure that all our players are 100 percent, then [there is no long-term concern].”

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