The Dallas Cowboys are gearing up for the first test of the 2022 preseason. Starting on Wednesday with the joint practice and subsequent preseason game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday night.
Despite all the good coming from these practices like the return of Dak’s mobility and the defensive dominance, the negatives outweigh the positives. Unfortunately, there are more negatives than ownership is willing to admit.
Two weeks in and the glaring holes still remain on this team. Ironically, their first test will be against the very team that started the downward trajectory of last season.
Meaning that the remaining weaknesses, are likely only going to showcase themselves even wider.
Despite not seeing very many, if any, starters in the game, the practices are going to be the more eye-opening things to watch. With the likelihood of seeing both teams best, available players. Going into this week, these are the positions we know to keep a close watch on.
Lirim Hajrullahu has a slight early lead over rookie Jonathan Garibay, but neither really have a firm grasp on the position. Both continue to miss and make kicks from equal distance, re-creating the same inconsistencies from the days of Greg Zuerlein and Brett Maher.
Jerry Jones doesn’t seem too worried. Opting to wait to “see them in the calmness of the stadium. Hitting those 32 yarders which happens to be the extra point.”
If these kicking issues progress from both, the Dallas Cowboys will be forced to either suck it up with who’s on the team, or who’s available.
Not-So Wide at Receiver
The uncertainty of when Michael Gallup and James Washington will be ready to play put the Cowboys in a weird situation. It’s top-heavy with CeeDee Lamb and Jalen Tolbert, with a number of promising young talented players.
However, only Lamb and Noah Brown have played any significant amount of time in the league.
Even with Simi Fehoko, Dennis Houston and KaVontae Turpin showing abilities and skills that could lead to a roster spot, is it enough to avoid needing to look elsewhere for better depth?
The ‘Right’ Tackle(s)
In this case, both the starting and backup jobs are in question. The only starting job locked down is Tyron Smith. Terence Steele is having a rough camp, having been blown up often by DeMarcus Lawrence or Micah Parsons (which other tackles have as well). Steele’s job might be safe considering the depth behind them for swing tackle.
With Matt Waltezko out for an undetermined amount of time, it leaves the swing tackle down to only Josh Ball and Aviante Collins. Ownership is clear they won’t seek outside veteran help as a backup option.
Even with Waletzko’s eventual return, neither of him or Ball have played an NFL snap yet. Collins is the most experienced of the three, but hasn’t taken a snap since December 29, 2019 for the Minnesota Vikings.
We’ll see how long they opt for the ‘in-house’ option before considering outside forces.
Following Their Nose
The only true weakness of the defense comes in middle at the 1-technique spot. At 3-tech, the Dallas Cowboys are stocked with players like Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston and possibly even Trysten Hill.
At nose, however, the Cowboys have players to fill the role, but it’s possible only one or none of them make the team.
Carlos Watkins is the best pure nose tackle, but the team has a track record of letting veterans go in favor of younger options. Quinton Bohanna displayed promise last preseason, but will need to show growth come game-time. John Ridgeway has promise as an eventual run-stuffing nose, but is still early in development.
At the moment, Gallimore is taking the majority of the snaps with the 1’s next to Osa Odighizuwa. The Cowboys two best defensive tackles. It makes sense if these are the starting tackles, but there is a serious deficit behind Gallimore.
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports