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Cowboys Training Camp: 3 Under The Radar Players To Watch

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Training Camp: 3 Under The Radar Players To  Watch
Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys don’t report to training camp for a few more weeks, which means we still have time to discuss and identify players that we will all personally be keeping track of. Most of us already have our “pet cats” identified or the position battles we will be closely watching, but I decided to go a different direction and identify some of the under the radar players fans should watch at the Cowboys training camp.

To clarify, I classify these under the radar players as those who are still a long shot to make the final 53-man roster for the Dallas Cowboys, but still could surprise us in practices. You know, those players that seem to come out of nowhere and start catching the eye of the coaching staff and those lucky few that are able to attend these practices in person.

I narrowed it down to just three players that I think Cowboys’ fans should watch once training camp gets underway. All of these players may still be under the radar, but I still think they have a chance to earn a roster spot when all is said and done.

#86 Connor Hamlett, TE

TE Connor HamlettI’m of the opinion that the Dallas Cowboys tight end position is a mess right now. Jason Witten is the only sure thing and both Geoff Swaim and James Hanna have yet to see any off-season work while they continue to rehab from their injuries.

Cowboys’ fans have a lot of hope that Rico Gathers can step in and contribute in 2017, but I’m a realist and don’t see him far enough along in his development to be reliable. That leaves some roster spots possibly open for a worthy candidate, and I think that’s where Connor Hamlett fits in.

Hamlett has the size for an NFL TE (6’7″, 259) and already has a little bit of experience in the league. He started two games for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 before being waived to make room for Jamie Collins. He had just one catch with the Browns that went for 17 yards, but it did result in a touchdown.

Hamlett has supposedly looked better than Rico Gathers so far in off-season practices. But, he will really have to outshine someone the Cowboys have invested so much time developing if he wants to earn a roster spot. It’s not out of the question, which is why he is one of the the under the radar candidates I think fans should watch during the Cowboys training camp.

#47 John Lotulelei

LB John LotuleleiNearly all Dallas Cowboys fans will be watching the linebacker position in training camp, but that mostly has to do with Jaylon Smith’s return to the field. How Smith is able to handle training camp will go a long ways in determining what the team has depth wise at the LB position, but someone else is going to have to step up regardless.

The Cowboys linebacker position is even cloudier when you take into account that Damien Wilson is looking at a suspension and possibly jail time after his recent arrest, so depth is definitely a concern. But, one under the radar player that could prove valuable is John Lotulelei.

John Lotulelei has already caught the eye of the Cowboys coaching staff in OTA’s, but if he wants a shot to make the final 53-man roster, he is going to have to show up when the pads come on. This will be his fourth team since entering the league in 2013, but he has a chance to stick if he can continue to impress because of the lack of depth.

#65 Nate Theaker

OL Nate TheakerAs things stand right now, it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys just have one open roster spot along the offensive line. It looks as if La’el Collins is going to be the starting right tackle in 2017 and replace the retired Doug Free. But, the left guard position is up for grabs.

I think the Cowboys coaching staff is going to do their due diligence in order to find just the right starting left guard. There are some veterans in line who are already the favorites, but I think Nate Theaker could sneak into the conversation if he performs well during the Cowboys training camp.

Theaker has a size of an offensive guard in the NFL (6’5″, 315), but it’s a big step up in competition from what he’s used to facing at Wayne State. He has a chance to show the coaches what he can do, but is still longshot to make the team. That is why he is one of my under the radar players to watch throughout training camp.

Who are you anxious to watch at the Cowboys training camp?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Don

    Brian I pretty much agree on most all that but see a larger need at the TE spot. Witten needs a complimentary partner and one that can take the reins and grow in to that guy when he retires. I like Swaim over Hanna but we’ve seen them both injury prone and and at some point you have to cut ties and move on. I haven’t seen reason to keep Rico yet but obviously they see something that tweaks their interest. If Hamlet presses hard enough he could very well push someone out and at worse end up on the practice squad. I know Rico came from a basketball back ground but he’s been here long enough to grasp what they want in my book and should be further along..

    • Brian Martin

      Don, I couldn’t agree more with just about everything you said, especially about Gathers. I honestly think that they should give him a look at offensive tackle. His size and frame seems much more suited to play OT in the NFL. He’s very similar in size to Tyron Smith. Swaim and Hanna are the ultimate wildcards right now. If they return 100%, I think the TE position is okay. But, I don’t see anyone on the Cowboys current roster who is capable of taking over for Jason Witten when he finally calls it quits.

      • Don

        OL somewhere doesn’t sound out of the realm with his size. I’m just wondering if he’s having problems retaining what he’s learned studying plays. He has the size but doesn’t run good routes or show to have good ball handling ability but does block semi good.Now I base that off last year since I’ve not been able to see what he’s done in OTAs just from what I’ve read.

        • Brian Martin

          From what I hear he’s still making mental mistakes and still has quite a ways to go to improve as a route runner. That really shouldn’t be a problem after an entire year in the system. I have a hard time ever seeing being a reliable contributor.

  • Travis Diggs

    I got a player for yall who’s hasnt got a lot of attention since his release, Gary Barnidge. A TE who was solid in Cleveland who could come in a start immediately. He recently said he waiting on a call from Baltimore but are offense is way better and I’m definently concerned about depth behind J Witt

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, I would love to see the Cowboys bring in Barnidge. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think they like their TE situation, but there are definitely concerns.

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott's Future?

It’s funny how quickly some players are able to establish themselves as professional athletes and grow their fan base. That is exactly what Ezekiel Elliott has done in just a little over a years time since becoming a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, given his current situation, it’s that fan base that might be starting to turn on him a little and doubt his long-term future in the NFL.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are fully aware of the six-game suspension the NFL slapped Ezekiel Elliott with based on nothing more than accusations of possible domestic violence. Right or wrong, guilty or innocent, it happened and there is no taking it back. But unfortunately, because of the suspension Elliott will now have to walk the straight and narrow if he wants to have any kind of career in the NFL.

I honestly don’t think Ezekiel Elliott is a bad guy, but the slightest slip up will more than likely put his career in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction, the NFL has already decided they are going to make an example of him.

RB Ezekiel ElliottFrom here on out, Elliott is going to have to live like he is under a magnifying glass. Any kind of slip up, big or small, will likely cause the league to suspend him an entire season. This unfortunately has been weighing on the minds of a lot of Cowboys Nation and has to be at least a little bit concerning for the Cowboys organization.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys have Elliott under contract for at least three more years after this season. He has already proven how important he is to the offense and how much production dips without him in the lineup. They absolutely want him on the field because he makes them better. But, any kind of slip up would pretty much erase one of those three years. Look no further than what has happened with Randy Gregory.

I’ve heard many fans voicing their concerns about Ezekiel Elliott’s long-term availability with the Cowboys. They are afraid Elliott’s immaturity will end up getting the best of him and Zeke unfortunately has done nothing to ease those concerns so far.

I for one am not all that concerned about Zeke’s future in the NFL. I think his six-game suspension has served as an eye-opening experience and that he will do better from here on out to put himself in better situations and surround himself with better/more trustworthy people.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel ElliottYou can see anytime Zeke is on the field his passion for the game and how much he enjoys it. I don’t think he’s going to put something he cares so much about in jeopardy. But unfortunately, he already has a bull’s-eye on his back and can’t afford to take a misstep. That will without a doubt put his future career in jeopardy.

I personally can’t wait to see how #21 responds when he is able to suit up once again next week against the Seattle Seahawks. I think he is going to play with a chip on his shoulder and run angry. That is the best way he can stick it to the league for suspending him based on accusations and another reason why I’m not concerned about his future in the NFL.

I know if it was me, my mindset would be to turn myself into the best player possible and once again become one of the more popular athletes in the league. That is about the only way he can say “F U” to the league, and I think that’s exactly what he will do.

Are you concerned about Ezekiel Elliott long-term?

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Star Blog

A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted

Mauricio Rodriguez

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A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can't Be Taken For Granted 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming from a bounce-back win versus the Washington Redskins in which they blew out their divisional rivals 38-14. The New York Giants are coming from a week in which Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese were fired. The former is 6-6, and the latter is 2-10. You tell me which organization is getting the W this Sunday.

Easy, right? Well, no. Not really.

All week long, most of Cowboys Nation has been taking this win for granted. Understandably so, since New York is only a two-win team. However, this is certainly one of those games with a “trap game” feel to it.

It wouldn’t be the first time we see a football team being led by a new coach to a surprise victory. Hell, we saw a very similar situation when Jason Garrett debuted as the Cowboys interim head coach in 2010… against the Giants. 

 Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, New York Giants QB Eli Manning  Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On top of that, you have Eli Manning back at the wheel after he was benched for Geno Smith a week ago. Even though the guy who made that decision is out of the picture, you have to imagine the veteran quarterback will go out to play with a chip on his shoulder.

And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, this Cowboys’ team still has a lot to prove. Let’s not forget the fact that they lost three consecutive weeks. That’s why we´re trying to find which NFC teams need to lose certain games. Because the Dallas Cowboys put themselves in this position.

Dak Prescott is the future for this franchise, and despite having some tough games this year, I still believe he’s the guy. However, as Staff Writer Kevin Brady recently wrote here at Inside The Star, Dak Prescott must overcome his struggles when facing the Giants:

“Prescott played his worst game of that spectacular rookie season when he traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey as the Cowboys prolific offense was only able to score 7 points during their key loss.”

Although they have a 2-10 record, the Giants’ defense shouldn’t be underestimated. They still have personnel that can give the Cowboys’ offense a bit of trouble, especially without Ezekiel Elliott running the ball.

Sean Lee should be ready to go this week, and while many discuss whether or not the coaching staff should give him an extra week of rest, the truth is that’s something the Cowboys can’t risk to do. At the end of the day, lose one game and forget about playing in January.

You need 50 on the field. If at some point in the second half they manage to get a big-lead, securing a win, then let’s hope they take him off the field and let the guy rest. But until then, Sean Lee should be playing.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Dallas is expected to start three rookies at cornerback. Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Wood could be the guys who line up to start the game in New York. Naturally, this is the case because they’ve proven to be solid players.

But it’s inevitable to be a bit scared of this situation when you’re facing Eli Manning. Say what you want about him, but you never know what might happen when a player like that is on the other side of the field.

I’m picking the Cowboys to win this football games for at least a touchdown. But let’s not think of this game as if it were the Browns. If this ends up being a trap game and the Cowboys manage to get their seventh loss of the year, it’s over.

We’re 14 weeks into the season and it feels like we don’t know what this team is capable of doing with Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott starting at the same time. But this week will prove a lot of things about the Cowboys and their quest for the Playoffs.

Tell me what you think about “A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Week 14 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Still In Striking Distance

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Dak Prescott #14 Según los Jugadores, ¿Realmente Lo Es? 1

The Cowboys are one of three 6-6 teams still hoping to find a way into the NFC playoffs. Even if they win out and get to 10-6, they will need help based on tiebreakers and the superior records of the teams ahead of them.

Last night, Dallas’ hopes took a kick in the teeth when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta not only moved to 8-5 but also holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, making them a major threat in the Wild Card race. The Falcons need to start losing, fast, for Dallas to have a shot at overtaking them.

Atlanta’s not the only team that Dallas should be concerned about, though. Here are the current NFC playoff standings, including last night’s result:

  1. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (9-3)
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-4)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
  6. Carolina Panthers (8-4)
    ————————————–
  7. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
  8. Detroit Lions (6-6)
  9. Green Bay Packers (6-6)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Vikings are ahead of the Eagles thanks to the common game tiebreaker, since they are both 8-1 against NFC opponents.
  • Seattle (6-3) is ahead of Carolina (4-4) thanks to a better record in NFC games.
  • Detroit has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers and a common games tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
  • Green Bay has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

With the Falcons’ win over New Orleans already in the books, here are the other playoff-relevant games for the NFC in Week 14.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

This is the easiest game let on Dallas’ schedule (assuming Philly doesn’t rest starters in Week 17). The Giants will have a new coach and have changed back to Eli Manning as the starting QB. Will they be galvanized by these changes or only in even greater disarray? We certainly hope for the latter.

Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns

At 6-6 and with Aaron Rodgers potentially returning next week, the Packers are looming as a real threat. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas from a win earlier this year. The hapless Browns winning this one is certainly faint hope, but it’s still Brett Hundley out there at QB instead of one of the league’s MVPs.

Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The other team in the 6-6 tie, Detroit needs to go away. The Bucs are 4-8 and a non-factor now, so we can root for the pirate people without hesitation.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are another key target for us in the Wild Card race. Minnesota should run away with the NFC North, so they’re a non-factor for Dallas’ concerns. A Carolina loss is clearly better for Dallas, dropping the Panthers to 8-5 and within reasonable range with three weeks left to go.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

Last week, Dallas fans were put in the unfortunate position of having to root for the Eagles against the Seahawks to help our playoff chances. We’re back in that same boat this week as a Rams’s loss would be more damaging for the Cowboys than Philly losing.

Because L.A. has a head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, our best bet is for them to win the NFC West and stay out of our way. We have a much better shot at catching the Seahawks, especially since we get to play them in Week 16 when Ezekiel Elliott returns.

Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars

So yeah, as just said, the Seahawks are one of the teams we have the best chance of beating out for a playoff spot. Last week’s win over Philly hurt, but a road loss against the 8-4 Jaguars is certainly possible and would go a long way to helping our cause.

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