Do you know the significance of July 28?
If not, that's the date that the Dallas Cowboys officially start training camp and what I believe to be the start of the 2016 NFL season.
We will finally get to see the new additions to the Dallas Cowboys roster in the full padded practices, thus giving us a better idea of exactly what type of players they are and how they can contribute to the team.
Unfortunately, a reoccurring theme in Oxnard, California, where the Cowboys hold training camp, is players suffering serious injuries that cause them to miss significant time, if not the entire season.
That is why I believe the coaching staff need to monitor some of their players specifically and make sure that they are not receiving too heavy of a workload.
Below are five players that need to be closely monitored in training camp and you might just notice a reoccurring theme with all of these players mentioned.
Tony Romo has been placed on a pitch count in practices before and I don't see any reason why that shouldn't continue in training camp and even into the regular season.
The Dallas Cowboys 2016 season will heavily depend on how Romo performs and how well he will be able to remain healthy. We all witnessed firsthand last season in 2015 just how much the entire team is Romo dependent and they simply can't risk losing him for any length of time if they want to be successful.
Romo knows the offense so the only real reason he needs practice repetitions is to build a chemistry once again with his offensive weapons.
Romo being placed on a pitch count does two things. It allows the coaching staff to get a better idea of the backup quarterback situation and it allows Romo to receive extra time for his body to recuperate.
Much like his quarterback, Dez Bryant had a rather disappointing 2015 season because of an early season foot injury that never quite received the adequate time to heal properly.
To his credit, Bryant played the 2015 season despite the amount of pain he must've played through in order to give his team the best chance to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
We all know that Bryant is a competitor and he gives 100% whether it's on the practice field or in a game. That is a reason why the Cowboys need to closely monitor him in training camp and probably the preseason as well.
Bryant will do everything in his power to receive as much practice reps as possible. That's just the type of person he is. He needs his repetitions in order to prepare for the season, but the Cowboys also need him to be 100% for the offense to be at its best.
Orlando Scandrick missed the entire 2015 season because of a devastating knee injury. He has yet to practice in any of the OTA's or mini-camp practices.
His return should greatly improve the secondary for the Cowboys defense with both his on the field play and the attitude that he plays with.
The coaching staff will need to closely monitor him and how his surgically repaired knee responds to practice in training camp. He might just need to be placed on a pitch count as well.
The Cowboys secondary is thin heading into the 2016 season and Scandrick's return not only helps depth wise, but allows defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to be a little more creative in how he chooses to disguise coverages with his cornerbacks.
Linebacker Sean Lee missed all of OTA's and mini-camp practices after having minor knee surgery to clear up discomfort he was having in his left knee. The same knee that caused him to miss the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL.
In all honesty, I would rather him miss time now than in the season when it really counts.
Lee seems to be an injury waiting to happen and you can bet with the current situation at the linebacker position the coaching staff will closely be monitoring his workload in training camp and in the preseason.
Lee had a fantastic 2015 season which resulted in him making his first Pro Bowl. He still managed to miss two games because of a concussion and a hamstring injury.
He knows Rod Marinelli's defense inside and out and him missing practice repetitions in training camp shouldn't be a big concern. It allows some of the younger LBs to gain a little more experience and prove to the coaching staff that they can be relied upon if needed.
Tyrone Crawford plays the all-important 3-technique in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's 4-3 defensive scheme. He is asked to make plays in the backfield in both the running and passing game, making him one of the most important pieces on the entire defense.
You may be asking yourself why Crawford is on this list, but he struggled playing through an injury in 2015 that really limited how effective he could be.
The coaching staff really needs to monitor his workload in training camp because there is a huge drop-off between Crawford and anybody that is playing behind him.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is already in a tough situation due to the suspensions to Rolando McClain, Demarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory. They simply can't afford to have one of the players they are relying on to provide a pass rush to miss any time due to injury.
Are there any other player's the coaching staff should be closely monitoring in training camp?
Please use the comment section below to provide your thoughts and opinions on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you so that we can discuss this further.
Is 2019 Wide Receiver Group Best Dak Prescott Has Worked With?
Dak Prescott will be leading the Dallas Cowboys offense for the fourth consecutive year in what has been a very unlikely career. In three seasons, he's led the Cowboys to two NFC East titles and one playoff win. He's done so with quality offenses, starting by a strong offensive line and an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott. During his career in Dallas he's had some solid receivers, but he hasn't played with a group as strong as the one he'll have in the upcoming 2019 season.
This year's starters will be headlined by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Although there's many other intriguing players to watch at the position, those three are the presumed starting three.
Despite the big debate among fans and analysts, Prescott has been able to win games for this football team. Perhaps his worst came at the beginning of last season, when the team's plan of not having a WR1 backfired terribly.
In the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, Dak averaged only 202 yards per game. In that span he threw for less than 200 yards in four games. Once the team traded for Cooper, that average rose all the way up to 274 yards per game. He threw for less than 200 yards in only one occasion since then.
Michael Gallup is poised for a breakout season after a rookie season in which he improved every week. The Cowboys' 2018 third-round pick didn't get as much playing time at the beginning of the season as he fought for snaps with Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin among others. In the postseason, Gallup caught six passes for 119 yards. He still has a long way to go, but the talent is clearly there.
As for Randall Cobb, many fans have doubts. He's coming in to replace Cole Beasley, who was such an effective slot wide receiver. Cobb's style will likely be different, and although he might not be as good at shaking defenders off as ol' #11, he'll be more of a downfield threat than Beasley.
Comparing this starting group to the ones from prior years, it really seems like the best Dak Prescott has worked with. During his first couple of years in the league, Dak played with a Dez Bryant that (like it or not) wasn't anywhere close to his peak. 2016-2017 Dez wasn't on last year's Amari Cooper's level. Williams had his moments, but wasn't consistent and was well-known as a body-catcher.
This year's group has its question marks, that's for sure. Randall Cobb hasn't played a full season since 2015 due to injuries and Michael Gallup doesn't have a ton of experience and is yet to breakout. Even still, it seems like Prescott will have a great group of pass-catchers to help him lead the Cowboys to another NFC East title. It'll be an interesting fourth year for the young Cowboys quarterback. It's definitely good to see he'll have help.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be bringing back the same key trip of players at offensive tackle from last year. But with talk that 2019 could be La'el Collins' last season in Dallas, will we see signs that the Cowboys are preparing for future changes in how they handle the position in this year's training camp?
With Tyron Smith as an All-Pro fixture at left tackle, and Cameron Fleming re-signed this offseason to be the swing tackle, the intrigue swirls around Collins and his impending free agency in 2020. If the Cowboys have no intention of paying La'el what he can command on the open market, what might they do now to lay the groundwork for Collins' exit?
Here's a quick look at the projected OT depth chart for 2019 camp:
- Tyron Smith, La'el Collins
- Cam Fleming, Jake Campos
- Mitch Hyatt, Derrick Puni, Brandon Knight
As was just said, the returning top three are locked in to those spots. Campos is a carryover from last year's practice squad, so that experience gives him a potential edge over the three undrafted rookies.
Back to the top, though, and this situation with La'el Collins. If Dallas had Collins locked up for years to come, they would likely only keep the two starters and Fleming as a backup. A fourth OT is unlikely to be active on game days, and they have Guard Connor Williams' college experience as a tackle in case of an emergency.
If the Cowboys are truly thinking that La'el won't be back in 2020, perhaps they use a roster spot now to hang on to a player who they value for depth next year.
This is where undrafted rookie Mitch Hyatt becomes an intriguing figure in this 2019 camp. He comes from a championship college program at Clemson and was projected as a late-round pick this year. Dallas made him a priority free agent signing after the draft.
Of course, Campos, Knight, or Puni have the potential to make some noise as well. But Hyatt would seem to have the most upside of the group, and Dallas might be willing to consider him as a 2020 swing tackle option if he can hit the ground running in camp this year.
Cam Fleming is also going to need to have a strong camp to help the Cowboys' in their strategy. Letting Collins go would be predicated on their comfort level with Fleming as the right tackle next year. If he struggles now, then doesn't get much playing time in the regular season, that would likely shake their confidence.
The final result of all this talk could be that La'el Collins and Dallas actually do figure out a way to continue their relationship. But when the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round of this last draft it felt like a future-pointed move, with Collins' projected departure the likely impetus for the investment.
What we may wind up seeing is McGovern taking over at left guard and allowing Connor Williams to replace Collins at tackle. But that's a discussion better saved for next offseason.
You can read more about La'el Collins impending free agency in this recent article by our own Kevin Brady. A few weeks back, I also discussed the idea that Dallas should trade Collins now rather than lose him as a free agent next year.
For now, the offensive tackles in 2019 should have continuity and stability. But if we really pay attention in this training camp and preseason, we may see signs of what the Cowboys are planning to do at the position in the coming years.
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Randall Cobb Will Be a Different Slot WR for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys signing Randall Cobb might just be the most underrated move of their offseason. For less than five million dollars, they got an experienced wide receiver who is only 28 years old. The former Green Bay Packer has had a solid career wearing green and yellow and now gets the chance to play with the Cowboys' colors. But what can we expect from the veteran wideout?
There are some players who are absolute locks to make the 53-man roster and Cobb is one of them. That much is clear. On the depth chart, he probably sits behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, who will likely be the number one and number two receivers, respectively.
With Cole Beasley departing to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, Cobb is expected to take his place as the offense's starting slot receiver. Cowboys Nation knows very well just how good Beasley was at playing in the slot. His ability to shake defenders off was really impressive and his hands were reliable. However, we might see something different from Cobb.
Yes, it all points toward him playing the same position, but don't expect him to be a Beasley 2.0. This is of course, not a bad thing. Something fans consistently complained about Scott Linehan's offense were the short routes receivers had to run. In Cobb's short time with the Cowboys, we're seeing deeper routes even out of the slot position.
Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com wrote: "the ball to Cobb even playing out of the slot is further down the field. We hadn’t seen that from Cole Beasley and visually it looks different."
This should be exciting for Cowboys fans, specially considering all the positive reviews on new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. What we see from Randall Cobb in 2019 could be very different from what we had seen from Beasley in prior years.
It's also worth mentioning that word is Cobb has quickly developed an important chemistry with his new quarterback, Dak Prescott. Beasley was very important in Prescott's rookie season, when he averaged 52.1 yards per game and accounted for five touchdowns.
While Beasley was an important receiver for Cowboys, he wasn't really known as a team leader. Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper wrote about Cobb's leadership skills will carry on to the team whether he's doing it intentionally or not. It's always good to have such presences out there on the training field to spark the team.
Randall Cobb won't be this team's #1 guy or anything like that, but he will surely contribute every week. When we look back to this offseason, I believe this signing will look like a great move by the Cowboys' front office.
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