I love hockey. One of my favorite things the NHL does at the conclusion of every hockey game is to name the three stars of the game. It’s a way of highlighting who were the biggest contributors to the outcome of the game. Sometimes, even a player from the losing team finds himself on the night’s 3 Stars.
The NFL and the Dallas Cowboys are no different. Outcomes of a game are determined by several players. It’s as much of a team game as we have in the world of sports, making it difficult to name a single “player of the game.” So, every week during the regular season, I’ll bring you the 3 Stars from each Dallas Cowboys contest.
To kick it off, I wanted to highlight the players who were the stars of the preseason.
Randy Gregory, Defensive End
Perhaps aside from Jaylon Smith, there wasn’t a player participation more anticipated than Randy Gregory.
After playing sporadically since being drafted in 2015, Gregory fought through the struggles that kept him off the field and earned his reinstatement. He participated in most of training camp and has been impressive.
Every step of the way Gregory’s earned more and more opportunities and looks like he’ll be a major contributor to the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. What the numbers look like will be dependent on his snap count and pass rush opportunities, but you can guarantee that he’s going to be a disruptive pressure player when he gets the opportunities.
His presence will help draw attention away from DeMarcus Lawrence, which should only help last year’s Dallas Cowboys sack leader continue his excellent play.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
All offseason, we’ve clamored for every bit of Jaylon Smith news we could get our hands on. With each positive report, we, the Dallas Cowboys fan base, got more and more excited for what Smith could add to this defense.
He’s been everything we hoped he could be. Jaylon has played the run and pass well and been the first team MIKE linebacker since day one. He’s looking more fluid, more mobile, and more the All-American that the Dallas Cowboys thought they were getting in the 2016 NFL Draft.
His 10.5 run stop percentage was second on the team only to Leighton Vander Esch.
There was a lot of talk about 2018 first round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch coming in and competing for snaps at middle linebacker, but Jaylon Smith has dispelled that notion. Smith’s play and Vander Esch’s injury woes since the 49ers game have allowed Jaylon to seize the opportunity at middle linebacker.
If his Clear, Eye, View continues, we might be seeing the best linebacker group the Dallas Cowboys have had since they made the switch to the 4-3.
Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys have made a lot of adjustments to their secondary over the last couple of years. The overhaul began last year with Chidobe Awuzie being drafted in the second round.
Though limited for much of his rookie season, Awuzie showed a tenacity and penchant for being around the ball. Something that had been missing on the outside for some time.
Throughout the offseason, he’s made his fair share of plays and looks to be ready to take a step forward in his second season. Now starting for the Dallas Cowboys, it seems Awuzie is around the ball all the time and doesn’t allow anything easy.
The times in camp where a receiver got the best of him was typically because the receiver made an unbelievable catch.
Awuzie, in his own right, has made some spectacular plays himself.
Incredible interception from Chidobe Awuzie https://t.co/oK6VEtehwx
If Awuzie can continue to make plays on the ball like this, then the Dallas Cowboys are going to be a force in the NFC. Even with their, at times, elite offense, the thing that’s been missing for years is field flipping turnovers.
Awuzie brings that to the table.
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There were a lot of guys who stood out throughout training camp and the preseason, but these three were the stars of camp. They are some of the reasons that I’m truly hyped about what this defense could accomplish in 2018. If they live up to the hype, we could be talking about a defense that could carry the Dallas Cowboys; instead of being along for the ride like they have been for years.
Who were your 3 Stars of Dallas Cowboys training camp? Let us know in the comment section.