Excitement in the preseason?! Of course the anticipation of week one plants us in front of whatever smart TV or streaming device we use. However, that excitement dreadfully dies off once halftime hits. The mark everyone has on their calendar is week four (including the HOF game), because instead of one drive by the starters, fans get to see three. As for the Cowboys, and the direction more teams seem to be headed in, do not expect many starters to receive a significant amount of time on the field if any. It should be the moment for the bubble-type players on the roster. Who can handle the pressure of the environment to a Sunday-like game? Furthermore with the new final 53-man roster rule, that teams now only have one cut day (Sept.1), snaps have never been more crucial for some of these players. It’s the week to impress, and for some, it will be the week that even one mistake could result in an empty locker.
Most to Lose
Since when has so much commentary revolved around a Dallas Cowboys practice squad player? The debate between potential and tape. It blankets players all the way from high school recruiting to the NFL draft, and Rico Gathers is on the front end of it. Now in his third season with the Cowboys, patience continues to grow weary with fans on exactly when the coaches will break him completely loose and utilize his athleticism. A reasonable element of Rico that would draw you into him as a player, but the game calls for so much more than that.
Being fresh to the game of football in general, Gathers has been welcomed into the Cowboys under a slow approach to getting him acclimated in the mental aspect. Learning the playbook, routes, the speed & physicality of the game, but the application by Gathers has been underwhelming. Already behind Geoff Swaim & Blake Jarwin, his test was to beat out rookie Dalton Schultz, however, his favor is leaning towards the waiver wire. Rico should see a lot of snaps come Sunday, and could maybe even make a case that Dallas opens up to carrying 4 tight-ends?
The narrative for the Cowboys upcoming situation at the defensive end position has actually been….good. From Demarcus Lawrence to an improving Taco Charlton to the immediate display of dominance from rookie Dorance Armstrong, when was the last time Dallas had so much potential? Continuing on, a proven vet in Tyrone Crawford coupled with the return of Randy Gregory, the overall talent could deliver top five numbers as a group by the end of the season. Plus, the offseason acquisition of Kony Ealy surely seemed as a move that would put someone else’s job in question. However, and truthfully, it has been an utter disappointment for the former second-round pick.
From practice to the first two games, Ealy has been incognito on putting anyone on notice. Known for his stellar performance in Super Bowl 50, that might just be his ceiling moment for his career. Not only being severely outplayed by his teammates, it has reached the point that Dallas is seeing what he could bring at defensive tackle.
Jason Garrett saying Kony Ealy will get more #Cowboys interior work tells me his battle is lost at DE, and now he must beat out a player like Jihad Ward for a spot.
I don't have Ealy on my 53, btw.
— Patrik Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) August 21, 2018
Expecting that Dallas carries 10 DL for the final 53-man roster, Ealy has a steep uphill battle to climb, and he may be just a little too late.
Most to Gain
Lance Lenoir has probably gained the most steam out of anyone on this roster, to be on this roster. Ever since the Cowboys were in just shorts and helmets for OTAs, Lenoir consistently finds himself on the front of social media timelines. A very well-rounded route-runner, Lenoir also has the quickness in and out of his brakes to create separation. Granite, wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Noah Brown have dealt with injuries, sidelining them throughout camp, you can not fault him for making the most of his chances.
Now with Thompson back in pads, Lenoir must keep making progress. Although Thompson has not done much, he still has the experience in the league and on the field, plus the speed over Lenoir. A tough decision for Cowboys’ coaches, additionally, Brown has proven himself valuable to this team in different instances, mainly as a blocker. Another week of highlight catches in practices and a career-like game could make Lenoir’s case almost undeniable for the 6th spot in this WR rotation. He already has the first half of that statement under his bag:
Dak, one more time from 40 yards. Lance Lenoir goes up over Donovan Olumba for a fantastic leaping TD #cowboyswire
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 23, 2018
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Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir looking good in 1-on-1 individual drills here after a strong practice Tuesday that caught coach Jason Garrett's attention. He's closing in fast on that No. 6 WR job on the final roster.
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 23, 2018
Lance Lenoir making some highlight reel catches in today’s practice. #CowboysCamp
— Taylor Stern (@TayStern) August 23, 2018
Regarding the safety position for Dallas, one spot always seemed to be open as the consensus was that they would head into the season with a total of 4. Now with FS Xavier Woods on the fence of playing week one, it’s the biggest concern on the team. Kavon Frazier and Jeff Heath will be the starters, but depth is necessary, and it has brought an influx of FA signings to the Cowboys.
The name is unfamiliar to most Cowboys fans. Undrafted out of the University of Oregon, Tyree Robinson was referenced to nothing more than a camp body. Standing at 6’3 and weighing 200 pounds, he’s near the perfect size to be on the backend of an NFL defense. Noted to be someone who is willing to and can make the play in the open field, he often finds himself taking bad angles. A versatile athlete with range, Robinson has performed his way into the front of this group.
Cowboys starting safeties in practice today are Kavon Frazier and undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Jeff Heath isn't practicing today.
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 24, 2018
Having a repeat performance like last week would have Robinson making an appearance as early as September 9th. Another young DB that could just add more dynamics to an already explosive secondary, pay attention to the name.
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