The offseason is flying by. Training camp begins on Wednesday for the Dallas Cowboys, and the team will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Like any Cowboys training camp, there is no shortage of interesting storylines to follow. Dak Prescott and his recovery, an intriguing competition on the offensive side of the ball, and the entire defense are all worth keeping a close eye on once training camp kicks off in Oxnard this week.
It will be interesting to see what methods Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore implement to take the offense to another level. Seeing how Dan Quinn addresses the biggest question marks on the other side of the ball is mightily intriguing as well.
Here are three storylines that Cowboys fans need to keep track of during training camp.
DAK PRESCOTT RECOVERY
Dak Prescott is set to return to the football field in game action in week one after suffering a gruesome injury that ended his 2020 season prematurely. The Cowboys are sold on Prescott and showed their commitment to him by inking the quarterback to a big contract earlier this offseason.
Prescott participated in OTA’s in the spring, but training camp will give us a better look at the Cowboys quarterback as the season approaches. How far along is Prescott in his recovery? Signs are pointing in the direction of Prescott being ahead of schedule, but it is still something worth monitoring.
Seeing Prescott back on the field will also give us a glimpse of what the offense will bring in 2021.
A fully healthy Dak Prescott undoubtedly puts the Dallas Cowboys in the driver’s seat to win the NFC East this upcoming season.
TIGHT END BATTLE
Blake Jarwin entered last season with high expectations. Jarwin had flashed potential earlier in his career, and he looked to be set to put together a productive campaign in 2020. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck early.
Jarwin went down with a torn ACL early in the first game of the 2020 season against the Los Angeles Rams. It was a blow to the Cowboys, and questions emerged about who would step up at tight end for Dallas.
That question was quickly answered by Dalton Schultz. Schultz had not shown a ton entering the 2020 season, but he took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him last year. The 2018 fourth-rounder put together a big performance the very next week, grabbing nine passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in a come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Even without Prescott throwing the ball, Schultz demonstrated the ability to be a factor at tight end. He finished the 2020 season with 63 catches, 615 yards, and four touchdowns — while catching passes from four different quarterbacks and sharing targets with a plethora of weapons.
The position battle at tight end should be a ton of fun to watch.
DEFENSE AS A WHOLE
The Dallas Cowboys defense as a whole needs to improve in dramatic fashion. McCarthy opted to replace Mike Nolan with Dan Quinn at defensive coordinator after a disaster of a season in 2020. Quinn arrives to Dallas with legit credentials and there is a lot to be excited about.
Make no mistake: Dan Quinn will have his hands full, though. The Cowboys defense is not exactly loaded with talent and there are question marks at every level of the unit.
Finding a big body in the middle of the defensive line would help. The additions of free agent Brent Urban and 2021 draft pick Quinton Bohanon are two players with some potential to make an impact in the interior alongside Neville Gallimore and company.
Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence provide optimism at defensive end. The linebackers should certainly be better with the additions of Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, and Keanu Neal. Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson bring some reason for excitement in an otherwise weak-on-paper secondary.
Scheme, position battles, and the way that the roster responds to Quinn’s coaching are key things to keep an eye on regarding the defensive side of the ball during training camp.
Featured image via AP Photo/Derik Hamilton