Cowboys Bench Offers Plenty of Preseason Intrigue ⋆
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Cowboys Bench Offers Plenty of Preseason Intrigue

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp

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Cowboys Bench Offers Plenty of Preseason Intrigue

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

Cowboys Bench Offers Plenty of Preseason Intrigue

Some fans don’t need a reason to watch preseason football.  It’s football, after all, and you’ve been waiting six months for just a taste. For two fortunate fanbases, tonight’s Hall of Fame Game gives Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals followers an earlier fix than the rest.

To be sure, you won’t see much of your favorite players tonight. We already have one list of players who did not make the trip to Canton with the team, so obviously won’t be playing:

Jon Machota on Twitter

Players not traveling to HOF game: Maliek Collins, Ryan Switzer, Justin Durant, Jourdan Lewis, David Irving

You can also add Jaylon Smith, perhaps the team’s most intriguing player right now, as he is reportedly not playing tonight. While seeing guys like Smith, Switzer and Lewis would’ve greatly sweetened tonight’s game, there is still plenty for Cowboys fans to be interested in. The first-team players should get at least one or two series, but the intrigue won’t stop when the game gets turned over to the backups.

On offense, many wonder what quarterback Kellen Moore is going to look like after a long time away with an ankle injury. The Cowboys seem to have handed him the backup QB job; is he ready to perform if needed during the regular season? It will also be interesting to see if veteran Luke McCown, who was just signed last Friday, can push Moore at all for the number-two spot.

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Waive RB Rod Smith 1

RB Rod Smith (Paul Spinelli via AP)

At running back, Rod Smith has been making noise during camp and could be on the way to earning a spot on the 53-man roster. There’s also the recently-signed Ronnie Hillman, whose quickness give the Cowboys a unique options compared to the other backs. Both players pose major threats to the job security of veteran Alfred Morris.

Even without Ryan Switzer, there’s still plenty to see at receiver. Veteran Brice Butler is trying to fight off rookie Noah Brown and prospect Andy Jones. Switzer’s absence also impacts the kick and punt return jobs, were rookies Javontee Herndon and Lance Lenoir may get some looks. Neither can likely earn a roster spot, but solid returning could gets them closer to the practice squad or perhaps a shot with another team.

Who isn’t interested in the tight end position right now? Rico Gathers is a player everyone wants to see; has the former power forward developed into a football player over the last year? It will also be nice to see the returns of Geoff Swaim and James Hanna from their injuries. Who will emerge as Jason Witten’s primary backup this year?

Don’t sleep on the offensive line. Will Emmett Cleary continue to work his way to ward the swing tackle job? How will veteran Byron Bell fit in? What will massive rookie Dan Skipper, all 6’10” of him, look like on the field?

Taco Charlton

DE Taco Charlton

The offense has nothing on the defense in terms of intrigue. What fan doesn’t want to see the first-round pick in action? Taco Charlton should take the field tonight and get some soft assignments against backup tackles. We’re also curious about Charles Tapper, who missed his rookie year with a back issue, and should debut tonight. These two young defensive ends should get plenty of work.

Defensive tackle also offers some fresh faces. Seventh-round rookies Joey Ivie and Jordan Carrell should get a lot of work. Undrafted rookie Lewis Neal, who has been earning some praise and even Maliek Collins comparisons in camp, is also worth watching.

While no Jaylon Smith is a huge disappointment, linebacker still has players you’ll want to pay attention to. Mark Nzeocha was one of the stars of the 2016 preseason and may be a significant reserve player this year. John Lotulelei was a standout during the early summer practices and is on the roster bubble.

Chidobe Awuzie

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie stands out among the corners and perhaps the entire defense tonight for intrigue. He’s been making plays in camp and may have to play big snaps early in the regular season if Nolan Carroll gets suspended. Fellow rookie Marquez White doesn’t have nearly the same job security, but any drafted player should be on our radar.

We won’t get to see much of Jeff Heath as a new starting safety, if any, but the backups are also exciting. Kavon Frazier was buried behind veterans last year but once considered the same quality of prospect as breakout corner Anthony Brown. Also, rookie Xavier Woods had a lot of hype coming out of the draft as a potential late-round steal.

~ ~ ~

You can’t blame the Cowboys for being cautious with their players in this extra preseason game. Many would like to see the preseason reduced, so you can imagine how having to play five games goes over with some organizations. Still, important and intriguing roleplayers for the 2017 team will take the field tonight in Canton.

Football is back… kind of!

Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

4 Comments
  • ThePsychodad69

    I wanna see Rico be the #1, all game.
    I wanna see the draft and the potential.
    Just give me the best 1st team defense, I may not see till week 6 for 2-3 snaps.

    The pool is deep with talent, these kids have room to thrive, I like homegrown.

    • ThePsychodad69

      Wanna see Tapper and the 2nd 3rd years
      And Paea and the udfa LB Wacha give Smith a play, pick a down.
      I wanna see GarrettLinehanMarinelli just go win games…NextManUp , true street race mentality.

  • Russ_Te

    5 PS games, Dak & Zeke sit tonight on my team. No upside to them taking any snaps.

    Larger ? for this preseason: Does Dak play any more snaps than Rodgers or Brady will? He is not in need of extra PS reps IMO after 17 NFL starts. Nor is Zeke. I play them in PS as normal established veterans. I get Moore & McCown most of the snaps at QB.

  • Russ_Te

    So if Moore is 100% recovered, this PS will be loaded with reps for him, and he knows the offense extremely well. I figure he kicks the door in with his chance for promotion to NFL backup.

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