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Cowboys Training Camp: 5 Fringe Players Fans Should Follow

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Training Camp: 5 Fringe Players Fans Should Follow
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys training camp has been officially underway for a few days now, which means we finally have some football related news in our lives. A lot of us have been waiting for this event to see how some of our favorite players have progressed, but we often overlook the fringe players who could have a big role in 2017.

Today, I thought I would avoid some of the players who are grabbing all of the headlines, and instead focus on some of the fringe players fans should be following throughout the Cowboys training camp.

Fringe players don't typically receive a lot of attention, but these are the players that are a step away from becoming starters if someone goes down with an injury. For that reason alone, I thought I would share with you my top five fringe players fans should follow throughout the Dallas Cowboys training camp.

S Kavon Frazier

(James D. Smith via AP)

Kavon Frazier, S

Kavon Frazier's name hasn't been mentioned very much in regards to the safety position, but I wouldn't count him out of having an important role with the Cowboys in 2017. Unfortunately, he seems to be buried on the depth chart right now, which makes him one of the fringe player to even make the roster.

Frazier is at his best when he is around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, so we could hear his name tossed around a little more once pads come on. He is going to have to be much more consistent and assignment sound throughout the Cowboys training camp if he wants to stick around, but I'm predicting he will be much improved in his second year in the NFL.

WR Andy Jones

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Jones, WR

Andy Jones was a player who received quite a bit and notoriety last year at this time at the Cowboys training camp, but looks to be even further buried on the depth chart then he was a year ago. The word is he has improved in his second year, but he is still going to have a hard time making the final roster.

Unfortunately for Jones, he could be on the outside looking in. This is especially true considering the fact the Cowboys drafted two rookie WRs and Brice Butler has looked pretty good so far in off-season practices. But, if Jones is more consistent this season, he could claim one of the final WR roster spots.

RB Rod Smith

(Paul Spinelli via AP)

Rod Smith, RB

The Dallas Cowboys seem to be set with their top two RBs with Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden, but there doesn't seem to be a clear choice to back up those two so far. Rod Smith doesn't receive the same type of attention his brother Jaylon Smith does, but he could play an important role with the Cowboys  in 2017.

Smith has the versatility to play RB, FB, and can contribute on the majority of special teams units. It's that versatility that could cause the Cowboys to keep him over someone like Alfred Morris. Of course, he is also going to have to prove he can be relied upon as a RB, which is why everyone should follow his progress throughout training camp and preseason.

TE Rico GathersRico Gathers, TE

I know that a lot of you will disagree with me here, but I believe Rico Gathers is one of the fringe players who could be on the outside looking in when the team starts making roster cuts. Gathers has the potential to play tight end in the NFL, but he still has a long ways to go until he can be relied upon.

As of right now, I have Gathers as the fourth best TE on the Cowboys roster. Word is Geoff Swaim and James Hanna are close to getting back on the field. This is great news for the depth of the TE position, but bad news for Gathers. How he performs throughout training camp will determine if he is worthy of a roster spot.

DE Damontre MooreDamontre Moore, DE

I don't know about you, but I'm really excited to see how Damontre Moore performs throughout the Cowboys training camp. He has already made an impression on the Cowboys coaching staff in previous off-season practices, but those were unpadded practices.

Moore could possibly help improve the Cowboys pass rush in 2017, but he is going to have to prove himself once the pads finally come on. I will be really interested in seeing how he performs against Tyron Smith. If he can hold his own against Smith, he could have a big role on defense as a pass rusher this season.

What fringe players will you be watching?



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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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

Matthew Lenix

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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.

If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.

The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.

This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.

Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.



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CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.

While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.

I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.

Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.

So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.

"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola

Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.

It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.

And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.



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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

Matthew Lenix

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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.

The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.

Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.

2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.

Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.

He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.

If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.

He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.



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