Emmitt Smith not ready to anoint new 'Triplets'


ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Dallas Cowboys have a new set of "Triplets" with quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper, and all three earned a trip to the Pro Bowl following a productive 2018 campaign.

Still, one Hall of Fame running back, a member of the Cowboys' original "Triples," doesn't agree that the categorization applies to the modern version residing in Dallas.

"There are no 'Triplets,'" Emmitt Smith told NFL.com. "You got to build up to 'The Triplets.' You just can't anoint somebody to the 'Triplets' just because you got a wide receiver, a running back and a quarterback. Performance dictates whether or not you're a 'Triplet.'"

Smith has a point, of course, especially when considering the NFL's all-time leading rusher along with quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin earned the legendary title in Dallas by consistently producing at an elite level en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The original trio also contributed to three Super Bowl championships in 1992, 1993 and 1995, and helped the Cowboys make the playoffs eight times from 1990 to 1999.

Given the high rate of success, Smith's opinion on the title he and his former teammates shared carries weight and even Prescott agreed.

"When a guy who was part of the 'Triplets' says something like that, it's obviously humbling," Prescott told NFL.com following Friday's NFC practice. "Of my favorite Cowboys growing up, I enjoyed watching him.

"But for him to say that, he's right. It's too early. Not only to say we're too early, we want to be ourselves. We want to set a standard and expectation among the three of us."

Prescott, Elliott and Cooper certainly have the potential to put together a special run given their individual skill sets and youth.

Prescott comes off a season where he passed for 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions, adding 305 yards rushing and six touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and the NFC East title.

Elliott led the league in rushing with 1,434 yards, but is a dual-threat running back out of the backfield as evidenced by a career-high 567 yards receiving on 77 catches. Cooper helped energize the passing game upon his arrival via trade during the season, and finished the year with his third career 1,000-yard receiving split between the Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.

And given the individual production from the 2018 season, Smith conceded that a day will come soon when Prescott, Elliott and Cooper will be worthy to carry on a new legacy with the title that he, Aikman and Irvin made famous.

"They're on their way," Smith said. "They got a tremendous foundation. They have somewhere to start and they just got to build on it, and consistency comes over time, not just in one year. They have to be consistent year in and year out."