The Dallas Cowboys have seen major contributions from their 2021 draft class so far, and now have a better idea of when second round pick Kelvin Joseph may be able to join Dan Quinn's defense. Joseph practiced for the first time since training camp on Wednesday, along with TE Sean McKeon. This designates both players to return from IR within 21 days, able to join the active roster at any point.
On Wednesday, the @dallascowboys placed CB Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky) and TE Sean McKeon (Michigan) on Designated for Return from Reserve/Injured.
The Cowboys bye week falls conveniently in this window, as it's doubtful Joseph or McKeon will be ready to play at the Patriots on Sunday. The week eight game at the Vikings off the bye is a much more realistic time to look for either player to make their debut.
In Joseph's absence, the Cowboys have seen second-year CB Trevon Diggs emerge as a star. Diggs has at least one interception in each game this season, daring teams to throw opposite of him at current starter Anthony Brown. Opposing quarterbacks have done plenty of both in their attempts to match the Cowboys offense, and while Brown has given up his share of plays he also has two interceptions with a pick six against the Giants last week.
Joseph is a raw player that will need all the practice time he can get before challenging Brown for full starting reps. If Quinn has proved anything in his first year as defensive coordinator though, it's that playing time is earned on the Dallas defense, with fourth round pick Jabril Cox and FA signing Jayron Kearse making veteran Jaylon Smith expendable. Finding a role for Joseph will depend on how quickly he adjusts to significant time away from any real football activity.
McKeon faces a similar challenge staring up at a crowded TE depth chart. Kellen Moore has used both Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin in a balanced passing attack, while Jeremy Sprinkle has filled the third spot playing 13 snaps against the Giants and a season high 14 the week before vs. the Panthers. Sprinkle has also contributed on nearly half of the Cowboys special teams snaps in each game this season.
Where Sprinkle played four years in Washington never living up to some pre-draft hype, becoming a bargain signing for Dallas, McKeon is a young player the Cowboys showed some commitment to last season. Claiming the TE3 job when Jarwin was lost for the season, McKeon also has special teams value and played well in the preseason before his injury.
The Cowboys are expecting WR Michael Gallup to return in the coming weeks, which could mean less snaps overall for all of their tight ends.
Kelvin Joseph and Sean McKeon returning to practice is just the start of the Cowboys turning their early-season injury fortune around, with key players like Gallup, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Donovan Wilson also working their way back for the NFC East leaders.