The principal headline in the Dallas Cowboys organization at the moment is the continued absence of Ezekiel Elliott, although owner//GM Jerry Jones would like to change the narrative. But there are other storylines regarding contract issues, and this can cause distractions.
The Los Angeles Rams took a rather nonchalant attitude on offense in last week's loss to the Oakland Raiders, and we have no real evidence that they intend to ramp up the intensity in the form of playing time for key people.
The Cowboys and Rams will clash on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, in the tail end of NFL Network's triple-header.
TV: 10 PM ET, NFL Network. LINE: Cowboys -2.5 O/U: 40.5
ABOUT THE COWBOYS: The Elliott saga continues. The star running back, who has averaged more than 100 yards a game for his career, is looking for a contract that would make him one of the top three highest-paid players at his position. The Cowboys are not very interested in doing that, and although they were not very confident that he would come into camp before the regular season opener (Tony Romo opined that it's a 50-50 chance), but Jerry Jones, who is not only the owner but also the general manager, says he isn't that concerned at all. Dallas seems ready to go with a combination of Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson and rookie Tony Pollard, who together will put together a skill set which would allow them to go forward if Elliott doesn't show. Pollard got the "starter's treatment" in the opener, seeing very limited action. With new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, the Cowboys are looking to open up their air attack, with perhaps the idea that if the team was not as dependent upon the run game, it will minimize the effect of Elliott's prospective absence. There has also been an issue reported about quarterback Dak Prescott and his contract. He indeed does want to negotiate, and he is looking for "top five" money at his position, but the demand is not at the $40 million-a-year level, as was reported by someone at NFL Network. Dallas lost 17-9 last week at San Francisco. Backup QB Cooper Rush went 16 of 26 for 142 yards.
ABOUT THE RAMS: It was a rather benign offensive effort for the Rams in a 14-3 loss to the Oakland Raiders last week. Third-team quarterback Brandon Allen went 6-of-12 for 34 yards. John Wolford did a little better, passing for 54 yards on eight attempts as he vies for the #3 job. Rookie tailback Darrell Henderson ran for 13 yards on six carries. It was drab. McVay has said that "more likely than not," he is going to hold Todd Gurley back in L.A. and not have him make the trip to Hawaii. Neither will Jared Goff. That's not a surprise. Last season he sat his starters for the entire pre-season - something that might never have been done before. But there are veterans in backup roles who are going to play, and one of them is Blake Bortles, who seems to have accepted a role as "mentor" to Goff, even though now he is a second-string QB for the first time in his career. "It’s awesome to have that relationship for me; I know Chad Henne was that guy for me," he says. One of the players who will be out in the Aloha State and needs to stand out is KhaDarel Hodge, who caught three passes for 48 yards against the Raiders and is in a battle to be the fifth receiver, with Michael Thomas and JoJo Natson being his primary competition.
1. These teams will meet up in the regular season, on December 15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
2. The Rams' outside linebackers coach is Chris Shula, the son of David Shula (former Bengals' coach) and grandson of Don Shula. He was a college teammate of Sean McVay at Miami of Ohio. And he also had been living in one of McVay's six bedrooms.
3. Sean McVay is now 4-5 ATS in pre-season. Jason Garrett of Dallas is 11-22-1 against the spread.