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.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
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.