The Dallas Cowboys are barely one week into training camp and if you have been paying any kind of attention, you probably would've noticed that there certainly hasn't been any shortage of news. Unfortunately, the majority of it has been of the negative nature.
Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his leg, which now puts the backup position behind Tony Romo in question. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford is suffering through a back injury and although it doesn't sound serious, it's still a concern none the less. Of course, we can't forget about Ezekiel Elliott now that he will miss practice for about a week with a sore hamstring.
Let's just hope and pray that this is the worst of it and the rest of training camp goes off without any more problems.
Fortunately for all of you, I'm the type of person that doesn't like to dwell on the negative. I prefer to look at the positive things that are going on and focus on them.
I'm not fortunate enough to see these practices in person, but I do try my best to stay tuned in with everything that's going on. So, I decided to share with you some players that I have heard are turning heads in training camp.
Nearly everyone has that player they love to hate, and for a lot of you that player is cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Claiborne's NFL career can mostly be defined by his history of injuries, but he's hoping to put that behind him in 2016. He wants to finally live up to not only his, but everyone else's expectations.
If you don't believe me, check out his tweet he sent to teammate Dez Bryant before training camp kicked off.
Training camp time @DezBryant hold me accountable!! All in
Right now, his confidence is high and it's showing in his play on the field. His technique has been sound and he is blanketing every receiver he has been covering so far in training camp.
In fact, he is so confident right now that he has wanted to get even more involved and asked to return kickoffs.
Let's just all hope that he can keep it up for the entire 2016 season.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Alfred Morris knowing all too well the type of player they were getting having gone up against him twice a year as a member of the Washington Redskins.
Morris has been impressive in practice and continues to make it to the second level of the defense before being slowed down or even touched. That's pretty impressive you ask me.
It wasn't crystal clear where he was at on the depth chart amongst the running backs, but in the small sample size of training camp practices it looks as if he has solidified himself as Zeke Elliott's backup.
Due to Elliott's sore hamstring, Morris will get plenty of work over the next week or so and I fully expect him to take full advantage of each and every repetition.
I don't know if there's a player on the Cowboys roster that I'm looking forward to seeing in a game situation more than Darius Jackson. In fact, you can read exactly how good I think Jackson can be by clicking here.
Jackson has shown good burst and vision in practices. He is shooting through the running lanes and has shown to have quick feet to stop on a dime and change directions.
I already thought that he would receive plenty of work during preseason, but like Alfred Morris, he too will be asked to practice more with Elliott out with a sore hamstring.
By the time Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar are finally healthy and able to practice, it may be a little bit too late because Jackson is going to make it really hard for the coaching staff to keep off of the final 53 man roster.
First off, I'm just amazed that Gavin Escobar was ready enough to practice after suffering an Achilles injury back in December in week 15 of the 2015 season. Not only is he practicing, although on a limited basis, word is he's looking fantastic doing it.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the year the coaches will finally get Escobar involved more on offense and use his unique skill set to create mismatches.
I won't be holding my breath or anything, but I'm really hoping offensive coordinator Scott Linehan can find a way to utilize Escobar more on offense. The fact they haven't been able to do so during the first three years of Escobar's NFL career doesn't really give me much hope though.
If the Cowboys don't believe Gavin Escobar is in their future plans, I think they should showcase his skills during preseason and see if they can get anything for him via trade.
It's no secret that the Cowboys could use as much help from their pass rushers as possible without DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Fortunately, it looks as if second-year player Ryan Russell is ready to step up and contribute.
Russell has been playing defensive end on both the right and left side and he looks like an entirely different player in year two.
His matchups with the Cowboys Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, have been a battle worth watching. Even though Smith gets the best of him the majority of the time, it's encouraging to see that Russell is holding his own.
Russell is trying to do his best to lay claim to one of those DE spots and I think he will only continue to get more comfortable with more practice time before being named the starter. That is at least for the first four games until DeMarcus Lawrence returns from his suspension.
Speaking of Lawrence, it looks as if he is ready to pick up where he left off last year. He has been giving Tyron Smith all he can handle when they face off against one another in practice.
Does any of this sound encouraging?
Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions so we can discuss this topic further.
Report: Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp
With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.
It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.
Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.
Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.
There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.
While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.
Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.
It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of draft picks the last few years to build up their cornerbacks group. There is a lot of potential heading into 2019, but Dallas needs these young players to take the next step if they want to compete for a championship. This weekend's start to training camp will be an important part of the process.
Dallas' best move to help the cornerback position was switching Byron Jones back there in 2018 after a few seasons at safety. Jones went to his first Pro Bowl and has positioned himself for a big contract extension.
Byron is currently set to play 2019 on his fifth-year option of $6.27 million, which is a steal for a CB of his caliber. Whether or not the Cowboys allow him to enter unrestricted free agency next year, or get a new deal signed, will be something to watch for throughout the upcoming season.
Jones' future may be in question, but we at least know he'll be the team's top corner this season. None of the other Dallas CBs can enjoy that same certainty in 2019, as depth chart positioning and job security are all in flux right now.
Here is the current CB depth chart headed into training camp:
- Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie
- Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis
- Michael Jackson, Donovan Olumba
- C.J. Goodwin, Chris Westry
- Treston Decoud
Will this list hold as is, or will we some shifting over the five weeks of training camp and preseason?
The battle for snaps between Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis will be an intriguing ongoing storyline. Awuzie was the starter last year, and will hopefully make a big developmental leap in his third year.
But Anthony Brown has proven himself a capable player despite being just a 6th-round pick in 2016. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Brown will certainly be pushing for a significant role this season to hopefully help his free agent marketability in 2020.
If things go like they did last year, both Awuzie and Brown will get plenty of playing time. The true enigma of this bunch is Jourdan Lewis, who is hoping to be more than just the number-four CB in 2019.
Though he was drafted a round later than Awuzie in 2017, Lewis was generally considered the superior talent by most draft analysts. He fell due to a domestic violence accusation a month before the draft for which he was eventually found not guilty.
Jourdan was looking good at the end of his rookie season, but the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach last year seemed to cause a regression. Lewis only got in on a little over 18% of the total defensive snaps in 2018, while the top three all had 67% or higher.
Despite his few opportunities, Lewis still had one of the biggest plays of the year with his interception that sealed Dallas' stunning upset over the New Orleans Saints. His potential has been noted, with Coach Richard even calling him an "exception" to his general preference for bigger, stronger cornerbacks.
But even if the team likes Jourdan, can he beat Awuzie or Brown? Could he perhaps have more value in a trade, with two years left on that rookie deal, to a team in greater need at CB?
The idea of moving Lewis, which existed prior to the draft, gained steam when Dallas used a 5th-round pick this year acquire CB Michael Jackson out of Miami. He fits that prototypical build at corner, and perhaps the Cowboys are hoping he can show enough early to provide an adequate replacement if they want to trade Jourdan.
If not Jackson, prospect Donovan Olumba is another option. He nearly made the 53 last year but got squeezed out when Dallas only kept four cornerbacks. After a year on the practice squad, Olumba is back and could be ready for a roster spot.
Veteran C.J. Goodwin has bounced around the NFL since 2014 but has some real-game experience. If the young guys aren't in a position to be game-day active, perhaps he would be the best option. Dallas added him in the middle of the 2018 season and he was helping on special teams and as a reserve corner at the end of the year.
Undrafted rookie Chris Westry, listed at 6'4", is another intriguing player to watch in camp. That rare size is something you can't teach, and hopefully Richard can develop Westry enough to get something out of the physical gifts.
This should be a fun 2019 training camp at cornerback, with competition potentially at every spot on the depth chart except the very top. And while secure at number-one, even Byron Jones has his own question marks around his long-term future in Dallas.
We'll start getting some answers in just four more days!
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
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