The Dallas Cowboys practice and exhibition with the Denver Broncos is what the starters will look like at first glance. Still weeks away from the start of the season, the majority of starters won’t play in the preseason. The exhibition game was a good litmus test to see where they are this close to the start.
Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons. These are just a few of the small number of players who looked good in the scrimmage. Just like back on November 7th, the Broncos hit the Cowboys in the mouth.
It’s already expected that many areas on the Cowboys that are in question would be exposed. Despite some key starters standing out, even more positions than previously thought were underwhelming.
Preseason game number one is here. These are the key places to keep your eyes on from now until the final week of the preseason.
QB2: Rush vs Grier
Cooper Rush has come in as the presumed QB2, after outperforming Garrett Gilbert in 2021 and Rush outperformed him in the actual games. Early into OTA’s and bleeding into training camp, the former third-round pick is closing the gap. Grier is matching, if not exceeding Rush throw for throw.
Rush hasn’t had as productive or impressive a camp, but his victory against the Vikings last season definitely has him as the presumed QB2. However, a really good outing in preseason could see the Cowboys go for a new backup QB yet again.
The winner of this job is also likely to be helped based on the performance of our next group.
Wide Receivers NOT Named CeeDee Lamb
The competition for the final WR spots are up in the air. There might not be a more tightly competitive position group playing, and for more spots.
After Lamb and Gallup (who’ll miss the start of the season), it’s a lot of unknowns. We know Jalen Tolbert will make the team, and both Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko are having great off-seasons.
Can one of these unknowns make a push like Brandon Smith who had a solid preseason in 2021? Or possibly a ‘splash’ player like KaVontae Turpin or TJ Vasher. Dennis Houston is practicing with the first-team, but that doesn’t make him a lock.
With how lackadaisical the front office addressed the depth at the WR position, someone needs to step up to lighten the mood.
Offensive Line Depth
Offensive line has been a concern since the playoff loss to San Francisco. Tyron Smith is getting older and hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Despite being an elite-level OT when on the field. Zack Martin continues to be elite, but it stops with him.
There’s questions with Tyler Biadasz and Terence Steele in their developments. Connor McGovern is getting first-team reps over rookie Tyler Smith, the presumed starter. Behind these six, it only gets worse.
The loss of Matt Waletzko has opened the door for second-year OL Josh Ball to step up, but is only stepping in it.
Ball had a bad performance vs Denver and now only faces competition from Aviante Collins and Isaac Alarcon for the swing tackle. The interior depth isn’t any better.
If none of these linemen step up, the only positive is it could be the much-needed awakening the Dallas Cowboys need to address it.
This year’s defensive line will feature a heavy rotation along all four spots. Rather than four three-down players. DeMarcus Lawrence is the best player up front, but there’s a lot to be excited about with some of these younger players.
Osa Odighizuwa and Neville Gallimore are the current starting tackles. The best overall DT’s on the team, playing 3-tech and nose tackle, respectively. Players like John Ridgeway, Trysten Hill and Chauncey Goslton all making noise. Even rookie Sam Williams is showing his power and versatility on the edges and inside as Golston does.
It’s unclear how much, if any, Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong play. They’re the Dallas Cowboys combined replacements for Randy Gregory. With the assumption both will factor a large amount on the right side.
Players like Quinton Bohanna and Carlos Watkins are both competing for roster spots on the line, adding to the quality depth and potential of this group. Though without many big names at the moment.
The altitude in Denver can make just about any kicker in the league look like Jason Elam or Justin Tucker. Lirim Hajrullahu and Brett Maher will get that advantage in their kicking power with each getting a shot at the job.
It won’t be a totally fair indication of who’s ahead in the job, as Maher has a naturally stronger leg. Having made multiple 55+ yard field goals in his career. The accuracy, which slightly favor Hajrullahu, will be the true deciding factor.
The Dallas Cowboys have afforded themselves missing 50+ yard kicks over the years since Dan Bailey. Whichever kicker can consistently make from 49 yards and under, is the likely winner. With their power getting some extra juice from the elements.
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