The Dallas Cowboys play their first preseason game tonight, and although most starters aren't expected to see a lot of snaps, we should still get a feel for this team's new-look offense. Regardless of who is on the field, I'll be looking at the formations and looks the Cowboys have for all of their running backs and wide receivers.
One receiver that's taken on a noticeably larger role in training camp is veteran Cole Beasley. A favorite target of Quarterback Dak Prescott in his rookie season of 2016, Beasley's decline in production last season led to frustration on offense for a team that finished outside the playoffs at 9-7.
Dak Prescott on @nflnetwork asked about his go-to receiver: "It's Cole Beasley. ... He can stretch the defense, so it's about moving him around, making the defense respect that he can beat you over the top. Once we open that up, he's hard to cover underneath. That's his game.
There were a number of factors that led to Beasley being less effective in 2017, and even more ways the Cowboys are looking to change this for 2018.
Even with Dez Bryant on the field, opposing defenses were scheming to take Beasley away as Prescott's first option. Now without Bryant, the Cowboys are hoping their rotation of pass catchers can keep defenses honest and allow Beasley to be featured again.
So far in Oxnard, we've seen Cole regain his status as one of the hardest covers in one-on-one drills. New WR Coach Sanjay Lal has used Beasley on the outside and in the slot.
Establishing Beasley as an "over the top" target, as Prescott calls him, would be a huge step for the Cowboys offense. Prescott has struggled to find his touch on deep passes in training camp. With receivers capable of stretching the field in Deonte Thompson, Lance Lenoir, and Michael Gallup, big plays from Beasley feel like the most certain way for the Cowboys to balance their passing offense.
In tonight's preseason game, look for the depth behind Beasley to fill in his role. Tavon Austin, Ricky Jeune, and Lenoir are all capable of replicating his route running ability to uncover all over the field. If they're able to get going with Cooper Rush and Mike White at quarterback, it will be a great sign for Prescott and Beasley.
It took up until the Cowboys first real game of 2018 for Prescott to admit that he does have a top receiver, though the answer should surprise nobody. After tonight, the team will return to Oxnard and continue working in their other young receivers - all imperative to the success that Beasley finds in his seventh season.
Maliek Collins Activated From PUP, Cowboys’ Front 7 Looking Great
There are tons of reasons to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys' defense with the regular season less than a month away. The most recent one is Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is coming off the PUP list after passing his physical and is now activated and practicing.
After suffering another foot injury in May, Collins had to undergo surgery and his return to the roster before the season began was questionable. But things are looking good now as the Cowboys expect him to be ready for week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers.
On the same day he was taken off PUP, Maliek Collins is participating in pre-practice walkthrough. Not sure what that means for his practice regimen, but that's a positive sign #cowboyswire
Collins missed quite some time, so one has to wonder how fast he will be reincorporated to the defense and whether or not he'll get back his starting role or not. The defensive tackle room seems to be loaded with various talent that should be capable of at least giving #96 a tough competition before he can reclaim his spot as if he hadn't been missing any practices.
David Irving may not be a factor on the roster until he comes back from suspension prior to week 5's match-up against the Houston Texans, but there are other young players Collins should be expecting to fight for the starting role.
Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, Brian Price and Datone Jones will provide this team with an interesting debate going forward. But even if not one DT emerges as a clear-cut starter above the rest, the Cowboys have serious depth at the position.
To be honest, the entire front seven is very exciting. Not only do the Cowboys count with good DTs, but just take a look at the defensive end room. Led by 2017 second-team All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence, there is also a deep group of DEs.
Randy Gregory is coming back after a long comeback journey and should earn a lot more snaps as the season progressing. Taco Charlton has made a ton of progress and fourth-round rookie Dorance Armstrong isn't far behind. Not to mention captain Tyrone Crawford, who despite being criticized by many due to his huge contract, is a more than decent DE.
Now, let's talk about the linebackers for a moment here. Before the 2018 NFL Draft, this was seen as one of the weakest units on the team. Fast forward to mid-August and this should be one of the most exciting groups on the team.
Sean Lee will be playing alongside a Jaylon Smith that we've never seen before. Smith is doing things that he wouldn't been able to do a season ago. What he's shown in training camp and through one preseason game should have any Cowboys' fan eager to watch him play in a regular season game. The Jaylon Smith the front office envisioned when taking a risk on him in the 2016 NFL Draft has arrived.
Also in the mix is first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. We haven't been able to watch a lot of playing time from him but we'll sure do pretty soon. He's a week 1 contributor who will play behind what could be one of the best LB duos in the entire NFL.
And just like in the defensive line, the depth seems to be great. Joe Thomas and Damien Wilson have shown what they're capable of and they could be more than special team bodies when needed.
The Dallas Cowboys shouldn't be very concerned about their front seven going forward. It's loaded with talent and even if they rotate their players a lot, this seems like a group that will give any offense a big headache.
Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard
The Dallas Cowboys have signed another one of the six players worked out on Monday in Oxnard, adding to their already deep group of wide receivers. Most recently with Utah, Pac-12 Wide Receiver Darren Carrington has signed with the team.
Carrington began his college career at Oregon, where he was on track to make it to the NFL before being dismissed from the Ducks for a DUI. This led Carrington to Utah, where he played as a graduate transfer and put up a team high 908 yards and six touchdowns on 70 receptions last season.
Cowboys signing former Utah WR Darren Carrington, per source.
At 6021 (6' 2 1/8") and 199 pounds, Carrington is yet another athletic target with long speed for the Cowboys to work into their new-look offense. He joins Ricky Jeune as the second receiver added to the team in training camp, bringing the number of WRs on the roster to 11.
Marchie Murdock, who had two catches for the Cowboys in their preseason opener, was waived (with an injury designation) prior to these roster moves.
Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek
The Dallas Cowboys did not receive good news on first-year offensive lineman Marcus Martin, as his injury suffered in San Francisco will likely require season-ending surgery. Martin was signed this offseason as a backup guard/center, and without him the Cowboys have a need for further depth up front. Working out six players at positions of need today, the team has signed former Arizona lineman Jacob Alsadek.
Congratulations to #TeamDEC client @jacobalsadek on signing with @dallascowboys
This is Alsadek's second stop in the NFL, as he spent most of May with the Green Bay Packers before being released. Alsadek was the cut when the Packers signed former Cowboys Tackle Byron Bell.
Players Cowboys worked out today: Darren Carrington, WR Jacob Alsadek, OL Daronte Bouldin, OL Dominick Sanders, S Ryan Murphy, S Deron Washington, S
The 6'7", 312 pound guard went undrafted in this year's AT&T Stadium hosted draft. He was set to play in the Alliance of American Football League, with an inaugural season scheduled for February.
Now, he's a member of America's Team with a real chance to compete for a backup spot on the best offensive line in the league.
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