Preseason football is finally upon us as the Dallas Cowboys will take on their historic rival from the 1980s and 90s, the San Francisco 49ers. Though it's only preseason week one, because of the long wait that Cowboys Nation has had to endure from the divisional round of the playoffs until now, there's a lot of buzz surrounding this game.
It's the next step to figuring out what this team's 53-man roster will look like a month from now. While there are a ton of players who are unlikely to see action Saturday night against the 49ers, there are a quite a few that are playing for jobs with each of these preseason snaps.
This is a huge training camp and preseason for Taco Charlton. A player that looked to be a lock on the 53-man roster has seen Kerry Hyder and Dorance Armstrong shoot past him on the depth chart putting his position on the roster in serious doubt just two seasons into his NFL career. His potential to make the roster just got new life with the suspension to Robert Quinn for the first two weeks of the regular season.
In his first two seasons, Taco Charlton has had solid stretches but hasn't been able to put together a complete season. He has some skill and talent that can translate to the NFL, he just hasn't been able to find the consistency in his game yet. In order to stand out, he's going to have to start stringing good practices and games together.
The problem is that Charlton hasn't yet shown much more than being a depth player for the Cowboys. If there are players that are out-performing him during the preseason, Joe Jackson, Daniel Wise, and Jalen Jelks come to mind, then Taco could be looking for work in September.
It would be a hard pill to swallow for the Cowboys who spent their 2017 first-round pick on Taco Charlton only to release him a little more than two years later. If he's unable to outperform the competition this training camp and preseason, they'll make a move to trade him or release him.
The wide receiver competition at the bottom of the depth chart is heating up, but unfortunately for Cedrick Wilson, he's not the player that's been standing out among the guys that are competing for the fifth and sixth wide receiver spots.
Jon'vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton, two undrafted free agents, along with Reggie Davis are the players that have been standing out through the first two weeks of training camp. That's not to say that Wilson hasn't had his moments, but Johnson has been so good that in the Blue-White Scrimmage held last Sunday night, he got a lot of work with the first-team offense.
Wilson is a player that has a lot of potential to be a solid down-roster option for the Cowboys, but the competition thus far could potentially have him on the outside looking in. What Wilson has going for him is that he has practice squad eligibility because he spent his rookie season on the IR.
The second-year wide receiver out of Boise State has an excellent opportunity to make the team with Noah Brown still working to get back in and Allen Hurns recently released. However, in order to beat out Johnson and Guyton, he'll need to start performing and that opportunity comes on Saturday night.
There isn't a question of whether rookie Running Back Tony Pollard is going to make the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster when the team trims the roster. The thing that Tony Pollard has to prove is that he's a running back who can split out wide and play wide receiver, not the other way around.
If you've been following the Dallas Cowboys since the draft, you've heard people call Pollard "Alvin Kamara-lite." The insinuation is that Pollard has the ability to be a dual-threat player for the Dallas Cowboys and with what he showed at Memphis, there's no reason to believe that he can't be. Unfortunately, without playing a snap in the NFL, many seem to think that Pollard is really only a wide receiver because he didn't receive a ton of work as a running back behind former starter and now Rams running back Darrell Henderson.
Though Pollard did a lot of his work at Memphis as a wide receiver, he averaged more than seven yards per carry in the running game. He has the size at 6-0 and 205 pounds to be an effective running back in the NFL. If Phillip Lindsay can rush for 1,000 on 5.4 yards per carry, I don't see why Pollard can't be as effective with more height and weight to his frame.
While Ezekiel Elliott sits out of training camp hoping to get a contract extension, Pollard is the man that benefits the most. He gets the opportunity to show the Dallas Cowboys what he's capable as a potential lead back with the first-team offense. How Pollard performs in the preseason could have huge implications to the Dallas Cowboys' negotiations with Elliott.
The team hopes Pollard and the rest of the running back room has an excellent preseason in order to put pressure on Elliott and his representation to get a deal done. If Pollard and the running back group struggle to run the ball, primarily with the first team, then the pressure shifts to the front office.
Either way, despite his security on the 53-man roster, Pollard has a lot to play for this preseason.
The Dallas Cowboys didn't really make a big move at the safety position but instead added veteran safety George Iloka. Iloka's been slated to compete with Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Donovan Wilson for the strong safety role while providing some help at free safety as well.
With Xavier Woods ascension and the play of Darian Thompson during training camp, the Cowboys could go into the season with that duo at free safety. At strong safety, the Cowboys still like Jeff Heath, despite some of his inadequacies, they invested a sixth-round pick in Donovan Wilson out of Texas A&M, and Kavon Frazier is a valuable special teams player.
With the depth and performance of that depth in training camp thus far, there may not be much room on the team for Iloka out of training camp.
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The training camp battles begin to heat up this week as the Dallas Cowboys play their first preseason game. It may not be a game that has significance in the standings, but to the players and the coaching staff, it carries a lot of weight. These games help to confirm the things they're seeing in practice. These games separate those who will be on the team from those who will be looking for a team.
Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays
There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.
Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.
But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.
Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.
Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.
Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.
Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.
With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.
I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.
Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.
Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.
I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.
It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.
Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.
The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!
What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?
Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings
When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.
In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.
Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.
That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.
Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.
Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.
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