The Cowboys officially open up the “season” tonight in San Francisco against Jimmy G (who might get 2 snaps) and the 49ers. (Preseason) FOOTBALL IS BACK!!
The Cowboys have been grinding away in Oxnard, California. And, like every other team in the league (Except maybe the Browns and Andy Dalton’s Bengals) have Super Bowl dreams.
Camp and the preseason is where the guys you might not know.. Make names for themselves. Where young no names may beat out an old vet for a spot on the 53. It’s drama.. It’s intriguing, and that’s why we love Hard Knocks.
Closer to the season look for my complete Cowboys preview. But, before tonight’s game here are my five position battles and players to watch the rest of camp and preseason.
Top 5 Preseason Position Battles:
1. DL: The Cowboys DL has the potential to be very deep and talented. However they had one setback with big play David Irving being suspended (again.) He will not be at camp. They have last year’s sack leader Demarcus “Tank” Lawerence back on the franchise tag. Last year’s first round pick Taco Charlton. Malik Collins stated camp on PUP. They also have inside/outside rusher Tryrone Crawford and Randy Gregory (re-instated) almost guarantees to make the team. The big battles are between recently traded for Jihad Ward, Richard Asch, Brian Price, Lewis Neal, Antuwan Woods and can Charles Tapper get healthy? Also keep an eye on “big name” Kony Ealy who was a FA add. It has been said he has been out of shape… Will he even make the team?
2. WR: Last season was a down year across the board for the Cowboys WR. Starter Terrance Williams didn’t even have one TD. Everyone knows the team cut All-Time TD reception leader Dez Bryant this offseason. They have rebuilt the unit completely. Returning are starters Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams. Also returning is second year player Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir. The Cowboys added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson through Free Agency, traded for Tavon Austin, and drafted Michael Gallup in the 3rd round. I am really interested to see Gallup battle it out for a starting spot. My top 5 to make the team would be: Hurns, Beasley, Gallup, Austin, Brown.
3. TE: Another big time Cowboy is gone. The GOAT Jason Witten. He played basically 100% of the offensive snaps. How will they fill his productivity. They have Geoff Swain and Blake Jarwin returning, who they like. Also drafted Dalton Schultz out of Stanford who’s a great blocker and sneaky good pass catcher. Name to watch: Rico Gathers. The former college basketball star turned heads last preseason before having a season ending concussion. The 3rd year TE is turning heads again, he’s big, fast and physical. Very exciting potential for the position.
4. OL: The main core is back. Fredrick, Collins, Z. Martin and Smith. The first question is who will be the other starting guard opposite Zack Martin. They are hoping 2nd round pick Connor Williams can step in and be an opening day starter. However, free agent pickups Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming may have something to say about that. Then there is Tyron Smith’s back.. When he was out last year it was a disaster. Chad Green gave up 100 sacks in one game and Byron Bell wasn’t much better. Green is back battling for a spot on the team but who will win that backup tackle/swing tackle spot. Going to be a fun battle to watch in the trenches.
5. QB: Finally, because everything in the NFL revolves around the QB. No, not the starting spot. Beyond and injury or some crazy underperformance that job is Dak’s. However who will he his backup. The Cowboys did not bring in a veteran for camp so they are rolling with the young guys. Former backup Kellen Moore is now the QB coach. So it’s down to last year’s backup, second year player Cooper Rush and rookie Mike White. Dak turned heads two preseasons ago, Rush did it last year.. Is Mike White up to the challenge this year?
Honorable Mention: S: The defensive backfield was rebuilt completely last year. The young corners played well and continue to develop. But, this season who will start at Saftey? They love second year player Xavier Woods, and so do I. Who will he opposite of him… Jeff Heath, Kevon Frazier or even QB turned Saftey Jameill Showers?
…Also #29 is still sitting out there. Earl Thomas is holding out of Seahwaks camp and isn’t budging. The Texas native went up to Jason Garrett after last year’s game and said “Come and get me” hey Cowboys.. Do it.
You can obviously talk about battles at every position at an NFL camp. I could have easily thrown in LB for the Cowboys with what Jaylon Smith will be and first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. But, that’s what makes this time of year so much fun. We love competition… And that’s all training camp and preseason is… Competition for players careers.
Enjoy and Go Cowboys!
-Kevin “That Guy