The start of the 2016 season comes with a lot of questions about how certain players will be utilized. Debates over named starters and workload distributions abound, and only the actual games will tell us the full story.
However, the team's posted depth chart does share some interesting nuggets about where the Cowboys are leaning regarding certain players and positions. For today, let's look at their list and see what it tells.
|WR||D. Bryant||B. Butler|
|TE||J. Witten||G. Swaim||G. Escobar|
|LG||L. Collins||R. Leary|
|C||T. Frederick||J. Looney|
|RT||D. Free||C. Green|
|WR||T. Williams||C. Beasley||L. Whitehead|
|QB||D. Prescott||M. Sanchez|
|FB||R. Smith||K. Smith|
|HB||E. Elliott||A. Morris||L. Dunbar||D. Jackson|
Going down the list, the first noteworthy item is Geoff Swaim being above Gavin Escobar at tight end. During the offseason I assumed that James Hanna, based on his new contract, had leapfrogged Escobar as the second tight end thanks to his blocking ability. It appears that Swaim has taken up the mantle while Hanna is on the PUP list, leaving Escobar buried in what is likely his final year as a Cowboy.
At quarterback, Tony Romo wasn't even put on depth chart. That tells you just how "out" he is for the moment. Perhaps they felt it was be an indignity to put him anywhere but QB1, but also didn't want to create any confusion about his availability.
Rod Smith is currently the starter at fullback over Keith Smith, which is a surprise as Keith appeared to have the better preseason. This could indicate that Dallas intends to use the fullback more as an offensive weapon than a traditional blocker, which would work in Rod's interests more so than Keith.
Everything else is what you'd expect. So, let's move on to the defense
|LDE||J. Crawford||D. Irving|
|LDT||T. Crawford||M. Collins|
|RDT||T. McClain||C. Thornton|
|RDE||B. Mayowa||C. Tapper|
|WLB||S. Lee||J. Durant|
|MLB||A. Hitchens||M. Nzeocha|
|SLB||A. Gachkar||K. Wilber||D. Wilson|
|CB||M. Claiborne||D. Swanson|
|CB||O. Scandrick||A. Brown|
|SS||B. Church||J. Wilcox||K. Frazier|
|FS||B. Jones||J. Heath|
Benson Mayowa is no surprise as a starting defensive end. He was signed to nearly $3 million in average salary as a free agent, indicating that Dallas saw him in a significant role. Jack Crawford gets the nod over David Irving for now while DeMarcus Lawrence is suspended.
Dallas' biggest 2016 free agent signing, defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, is listed below Terrell McClain in the base defense. This is more of a technicality than anything; Thornton will get plenty of reps and may even see more total playing time as one of the nickel tackles. However, after two years of waiting for McClain to be healthy, Dallas is probably anxious to finally get their money's worth.
At linebacker, Andrew Gachkar is listed as a starter over Kyle Wilber or Justin Durant. This is a surprise to me, especially in regards to Wilber. While Gachkar had a good season in 2015, Wilber seems more like the prototypical strong side linebacker. Like with McClain and Thornton at DT, I expect a healthy rotation and shared duties.
Dallas made a point to list Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne all as "starters." Yesterday, Rod Marinelli said that the base starters would be Scandrick and Carr. This caused a good bit of complaint among fans and followers. Personally, I think it's a temporary issue.
Dallas is showing veteran deference to Carr right now, a locker room leader who hasn't missed a game since signing here. The job is Claiborne's to take if he can stay healthy and finally carry his Oxnard and preseason hype into September. It's just another carrot for Claiborne in an all-important reclamation season.
|PR||L. Whitehead||C. Beasley|
|KR||L. Whitehead||M. Claiborne||D. Jackson|
The only notable items here are in the return game. I'm still flabbergasted by seeing Morris Claiborne's name anywhere on these lists. I can't fathom how a guy with his injury history would ever be allowed to return kickoffs. It will be interesting to see if, should Lucky Whitehead have an issue, they're truly ready to put him in.
It's also surprising to not see Dax Swanson's name on either list. His return ability was clear during the preseason and seemed to be a reason he made the team. That he's not in the mix as a returner likely says that Dallas doesn't plan to dress him for games at this time.
~ ~ ~
These charts certainly don't tell us the full story, but they do give us some early indications of how the team perceives certain players. There will be plenty of room for change, of course, over the next four months of football.
Who will move up the depth chart? Who will keep jobs and who will lose them?
Maybe we'll start getting some answers this Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should the Cowboys Restructure LB Sean Lee’s Contract?
NFL Draft1 week ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog6 days ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Familiar Faces Remain in the Fold for Cowboys Mock Drafts
Star Blog1 week ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?