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Falcons 2017 schedule: A fresh chance at a rejuvenated Cowboys team

The Falcons may have their hands full with the refreshed Dallas Cowboys this season.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cowboys have been pretty good over the past decade, but in recent years, they seemed to be dealing with a deficit of talent and cap space, and Tony Romo was getting older and more and more injured.

Things turned around quickly, primarily thanks to the additions of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the best young quarterback and running back duo in the NFL already. The Cowboys may be due for some regression—they still have legitimate holes, despite their real strengths—but those two, Dez Bryant, and a solid defense will get you a very long way. They won’t be easy for Atlanta this season.

This is the team’s first home game in three weeks, after a brutal run that pits the Falcons against the Patriots and Panthers, along with the Jets, who I guess are less brutal than brutally bad.

To run down the Cowboys offseason, warmly welcome Blogging the Boys.

Dallas Cowboys

Notable free agent additions: DT Stephen Paea, CB Nolan Carroll, DE Damontre Moore, G Jonathan Cooper, OT Byron Bell, S Robert Blanton

Notable free agent departures: CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, S Barry Church, S J.J. WIlcox, OG Ron Leary, OT Doug Free, DT Terrell McClain, DE Jack Crawford


Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:

Round 1: Taco Charlton - The Cowboys hope the defensive end out of Michigan will help them create a pass rush, something the defense has been missing since DeMarcus Ware left.

Round 2: Chidobe Awuzie - A versatile defensive back, he could play corner, safety or some hybrid of both. The Cowboys are revamping their secondary.

Round 3: Jourdan Lewis - A cover corner out of Michigan, he could play the slot or outside in the Cowboys new secondary.

Round 4: Ryan Switzer - A slot receiver with punt return skills, he adds another weapon for Dak Prescott.

Round 6: Xavier Woods - A ball-hawking safety who the Cowboys hope can create turnovers in the secondary.

Biggest offseason addition: The top draft picks, the Cowboys didn’t spend much in free agency.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Besides everyone wondering about a sophomore slump for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys are desperately trying to upgrade their back seven on defense. They are hoping that last year’s second-round pick, Jaylon Smith, has overcome his injury and can be a key piece of their defense at linebacker with Sean Lee. They let go of four players who played significant snaps in the secondary and are counting on a group of young guys and rookies to take over. The Cowboys secondary has done a poor job of getting interceptions and making splash plays, they need playmkers on the field. The offense is stacked, the defense needs to improve.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: The Cowboys are shuffling their offensive line, guard Ron Leary left in free agency and right tackle Doug Free retired. They think they have a good player to plug in at right tackle, La’el Collins, but there is an open competition at left guard. The Cowboys identity is built around their elite offensive line, so it’s a little bit of a gamble this offseason as they re-tool a bit.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: Jaylon Smith is trying to recover from his catastrophic injury in his college bowl game. He spent a year rehabbing, now we get to see if his knee has recovered enough to play effectively. DeMarcus Lawrence is getting over back surgery. Cole Beasley has hamstring issues.