There is certainly no shortage of players to watch this year at the Dallas Cowboys training camp, but some are more intriguing than others. Today, I want to share with you five players in particular I will be keeping a close eye on.
All five of these players really have an undefined role right now, but they could all make a huge impact on the Cowboys 2018 season. I also tried to stray away from picking the obvious players. Everyone will surely be watching the Cowboys 2018 draft class, and rightfully so, but I wanted to shine the light on a few others who I personally find a little more intriguing.
Continue reading below to see the five most intriguing players I will be watching at this year's Dallas Cowboys training camp.
DE, Randy Gregory
The Dallas Cowboys recently reinstated Defensive End is arguably the most intriguing player at this year's training camp. No one really knows what to expect when he is able to finally put the pads back on considering all the time he's been away from the game while serving his suspensions, but his talent is undeniable.
It will be really interesting to find out what kind of shape Gregory is in. Has he been able to put in the time in the weight room during his time away? How is his conditioning? Can he earn a defensive role in 2018, maybe challenge for the starting job? All of these unanswered questions is why I personally believe he might just be the most intriguing Cowboys player to watch throughout training camp and in preseason games.
WR/RB, Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin is another one of the Dallas Cowboys players who I find most intriguing heading into training camp. It's not often the Cowboys trade for a player, but that's exactly what they did to acquire the diminutive weapon.
I for one will be watching how the Cowboys plan to utilize Austin. Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has already described Austin as a "web-back", but nobody really knows what that is. Austin will probably be utilized as both a running back and wide receiver on offense, but will likely see time as a return specialist as well.
I believe Austin can be a really good weapon if utilized correctly in 2018. But, "if used correctly" is the key here. Linehan hasn't been able to utilize the weapons at his disposal to the best of their abilities in the past in my opinion. Hopefully that changes this year.
TE, Blake Jarwin
You can pretty much pick any Tight End on the Dallas Cowboys roster to watch throughout training camp, but for me I'm going to be paying extra close attention to Blake Jarwin. He has already supposedly caught the attention of the Cowboys coaching staff during earlier offseason practices, so I expect that to carry over into training camp and preseason.
I fully understand it's a huge jump to go from Undrafted Free Agent (UFA) to potential starter, but from everything I hear about Jarwin, he may be able to do just that. Of course, he's going to have to outshine the other TEs on the Cowboys roster. But, that's why I find him to be one of the most intriguing players to watch.
DT, Jihad Ward
Like Tavon Austin, Jihad Ward is another player the Dallas Cowboys decided to trade for earlier this offseason. But unlike Austin, Ward isn't receiving the same kind of fanfare, but probably should be. Ward could end up being the more important of the two acquisitions when all is said and done.
Jihad Ward is another player who has been spoken pretty highly of by the coaching staff and his teammates already since joining the Cowboys. He is likely going to step in as a starting 3-technique for David Irving while he once again misses the first four games of the season while serving his suspension. I'm personally looking forward to seeing how he performs against Zack Martin and the rest of the Cowboys talented OL in training camp.
S, Xavier Woods
Out of all of the players going to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, I think I'm most excited to see how Xavier Woods looks now that he is expected to be in the running as a potential starting safety. I think his potential is one of the reasons the Cowboys haven't added another veteran safety (Earl Thomas), but that could all change if they don't like what they see from the young defensive back.
Personally, I'm willing to roll the dice on Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath as the starting safeties heading into the 2018 season, with Kavon Frazier substituting in in certain situations. I think Woods for one showed enough promise last season get the benefit of the doubt, especially since he should be even better with a year the system and an offseason in the Cowboys strength and conditioning program.
Which players do you find the most intriguing to watch at the Dallas Cowboys training camp?
Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense
For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.
Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.
He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.
During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.
Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.
With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.
Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.
#INDvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
For once, the Cowboys are not playing what feels like a do-or-die game on Sunday, needing just 1 win over their final 3 to win the NFC East. This week the 8-5 Cowboys go on the road to face the 7-6 Colts, with each times vying for playoff spots in their respective conferences.
Both the Cowboys and Colts have turned around what looked like dead seasons, but there is no doubt the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do to keep pace for the 6th seed in the AFC.
Cowboys +3, O/U 47 points.
The once 3-5 Cowboys are now head and shoulders above the rest of their division, after winning their fifth straight in thrilling fashion over the Eagles last Sunday. The team which seemed so disjointed and inconsistent through 8 games has found their identity, and is playing complete team football as of late.
Dak Prescott is coming off a career-best game in terms of yardage, and despite some poor turnovers is still playing some of the best football of his career. This is due in large part to two stars in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, who have shouldered the production load of this offense the last 5 weeks.
And, of course, there is the defense which continues to make life a living hell for opposing offenses. Randy Gregory is coming into his own as a pass rusher, getting another sack last week and getting flagged for what should have been his second sack of the day.
Dallas is playing the brand of football they told us they would before the season, and are beginning to make their front office and decision makers look very smart in the process.
At 7-6 and fighting for the final AFC playoff spot, the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do. Getting shut out by the lowly Jaguars two weeks ago may ultimately keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but a win this Sunday and a little help elsewhere could set them up nicely down the stretch.
Indy has quietly one of the best passing offenses in all of the NFL, with star quarterback Andrew Luck playing his best football in quite some time. Luck is healthy and looks like himself again, and the selection of Quenton Nelson to sure-up the offensive line has gone a long way to improving this offense as well.
Defensively the Colts have been even more impressive lately. Though they have a roster comprised of no-names nationally, the Colts defense is 11th in DVOA. Darius Leonard has been a revelation for the Colts at linebacker, and their young defense seems to be improving by the week.
The Colts are coming off of a big road victory over the Houston Texans a week ago, and will look to defeat the Texans' in-state rivals on Sunday to improve to 8-6.
- The Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread their last 5 games, and have won all 5 straight up.
- The score total has hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
- But the score total has gone under 4 of the Colts' last 5 games.
- The Colts are 4-1 straight up their last 5 home games.
- Dallas is 6-3 their last 9 games against the Colts.
The Cowboys' winning streak has to end at some point, right?
Well, unlike Vegas, I don't expect that ending to happen on Sunday. The Cowboys have been playing desperate football over the last 5 games and they are well aware what a win over Indianapolis would mean.
A victory would clinch them a division title for the third time in five years, and just as they did in 2014, I expect the Cowboys to get that clinching victory over the Colts. Give me the Cowboys and the points this week.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
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