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Cowboys Training Camp: Who Will be the Most Exciting Rookie?

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Training Camp: Who Will be the Most Exciting Rookie?

The Dallas Cowboys training camp should be particularly exciting this year. There is an influx of new faces joining the team this season and quite a lot of unknown about who fits where. But, that's what training camp is for and one of the reasons why it's so important before heading into the season.

Today, I want to shine a light on the Dallas Cowboys 2018 rookie class. There are several rookies in this year's draft class who could play significant roles this season, which is just one of the many reasons why we will all be following them closely throughout the remainder of the offseason. But, who will end up being the most exciting rookie to watch at training camp?

Of course, not all of the rookies will be given the same kind of opportunities or practice time in these practices or in preseason for some reason or another. For instance, Defensive End Dorrance Armstrong and Quarterback Mike White may see very limited practice repetitions due to the depth ahead of them.

Instead of focusing on the rookies who may not see a lot of practice time or don't play a very glamorous position (Offensive Guard Connor Williams), I want to focus on the players who should garner more attention. For me, I think there are five logical candidates, whom of which I will rank in descending order.

CANDIDATE #5: TE, Dalton Schultz

Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

With Jason Witten now gone and the Tight End competition wide-open, Dalton Schultz should receive a lot of practice repetitions in order for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to find out whether or not he is their best option as the next starting TE. The Cowboys TE competition alone makes Schultz an exciting player to watch, but he's got his work cut out for him.

Unfortunately, he's not quite as athletically gifted as some of the other TEs on the roster, so he may struggle to show up in the passing game. But, it should be really interesting to see how he holds up as a blocker. In college he showed a willingness and tenacity while blocking in the running game, which will hopefully show up throughout the Cowboys training camp.

CANDIDATE #4: RB, Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough

Dallas Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough's mere size alone should cause your eyes to gravitate toward him throughout the Cowboys training camp. He will definitely stand out amongst the running backs on the roster, but it his downhill/punishing running style that should make him exciting to watch once the pads are on.


However, Scarbrough may see limited practice time because of the numbers/depth at the RB position. Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and maybe even Darius Jackson will probably receive the majority of practice reps, which means Scarbrough might be stuck with what's left over. If he can show up as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield, he may have a chance to climb the depth chart, but I don't think he will be the most exciting to watch.

CANDIDATE #3: WR, Cedrick Wilson

Cedrick Wilson

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson

Cedrick Wilson may be considered a long shot to make the final 53-man roster right now, but that doesn't mean he won't be one of the most exciting rookies to watch when the Cowboys training camp gets underway. He supposedly already performed above expectations in earlier offseason practices, so there's no reason to believe why that shouldn't carry over into training camp.

Wilson, reminds me of former Cowboys WR Brice Butler. He has a similar build as Butler, but I think Wilson is already a better receiver at this point in his career. The only thing Butler has that Wilson doesn't is straight-line speed. But, I think the rookie can create just as much separation with his route running ability. That should make him one of the more exciting rookies to watch.

CANDIDATE #2: LB, Leighton Vander Esch

Leighton Vander Esch

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

There will be no shortage of eyes on Leighton Vander Esch as the Dallas Cowboys 2018 first-round draft pick. As of right now, he has an undefined role heading into training camp, but that doesn't mean there aren't high expectations for the rookie LB. He is a big smooth moving LB and he should compete to become the starting middle linebacker from day one.

I started to make Vander Esch the most exciting rookie to watch on this list, but I just don't think he is going to show up as much in these training camp practices. It's a little more difficult to shine as a defensive player when you're asked to hold back a little in practice to help prevent against unnecessary injuries. We may not get a good glimpse at what kind of player he can be until preseason.

CANDIDATE #1: WR, Michael Gallup

WR Michael Gallup and CB Chidobe Awuzie

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

It may not be that big of a surprise, but I think Michael Gallup will be the most exciting rookie to watch throughout the Cowboys training camp. I doubt I'm alone here, but I'm expecting huge things from the rookie WR this season. He has all the tools to succeed, but the only thing that might hold him back is the step up in competition and adjustment into the NFL.

Having said all that though, I believe Michael Gallup is going to put on a show when these practices get underway. I believe he is the most talented WR on the Cowboys roster right now and that he's going to have some highlight reel worthy catches. He has a tremendous catching radius and is excellent at going up and catching the ball at the highest point. But, what makes me most excited about watching him is his ability to pick up yards after the catch.

Which rookie will be the most exciting to watch at the Cowboys training camp?


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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Cowboys 2019 Playoff Scenarios: Week 11 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott Needs to Channel His Inner Forrest Gump 1

With all NFL teams now having just six or seven games left in their 2019 schedules, this seems a fine time to start looking at the potential playoff seeding. The Dallas Cowboys are barely hanging on to a winning record and control of the NFC East right now, adding plenty of intrigue to the happenings around the conference and likely through the end of the regular season.

If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (8-1)
  2. Green Bay Packers (8-2)
  3. New Orleans Saints (7-2)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-2)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (7-3)
    ----------------------------------
  7. Los Angeles Rams (5-4)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
  9. Carolina Panthers (5-4)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Cowboys currently hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles. They play again Week 16 in Philadelphia.
  • The Rams (3-3) are ahead of the Eagles (3-4) and Panthers (2-4) based on a superior record against NFC opponents.
  • The Eagles are ahead of the Panthers based on a superior record against NFC opponents.

This weekly feature will focus on teams with winning records or those who are clear contenders in division or wild card races. So while a team like the Chicago Bears may be 4-5 and still capable of going on a run, we won't worry about them until they start to rise in the standings.

Here are this week's games involving the current NFC playoff contenders. The Packers and Seahawks are on bye.

Dallas Cowboys @ Detroit Lions

The Cowboys badly need this win for all sorts of reasons. Creating some distance with the Eagles, picking up a win against an NFC opponent, and just general morale boosting after an ugly loss to Minnesota; this is a must-win game on many levels.

Detroit isn't a contender in their own right and that may actually serve Dallas will this week. Matthew Stafford missed last week's game with a back injury and was held out of practice yesterday. If the Lions don't believe they can be a factor in the 2019 postseason, they may get extra conservative with their franchise QB and sit him again against the Cowboys.

New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' remaining schedule is more favorable than the Cowboys so this is a critical game for Philly to lose. Really, there is no scenario the rest of the way where an Eagles win could help Dallas.


Obviously, winning the NFC East is the best road for Dallas to take into the playoffs as it provides home field advantage in the first round. And realistically, given their overall record and head-to-head losses to the Packers, Saints, and Vikings already this year, the Cowboys would have hard time getting a Wild Card spot. They just need to take the division and then hope to get hot in January, and every Eagles loss helps toward that goal.

Denver Broncos @ Minnesota Vikings

Still in striking distance of Green Bay in the NFC North and two wins ahead of the Wild Card outsiders, Minnesota has a solid playoff position right now. They just need to keep handling their business throughout the season, which certainly included a home win against the lowly Broncos, to control their destiny and make the tournament.

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Saints just suffered a shocking loss to Atlanta and fell out of one of the top two spots in the NFC playoffs. They are about to hit Tampa like a hurricane, and the 3-6 Bucs may not be able to put up much of a fight. New Orleans should pick up another win here and pull even again with Green Bay.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

The Falcons, despite being mostly out of the race, just upset the Saints and could be looking for another stunner over Carolina. The Panthers have remarkably hung on to their season despite losing Cam Newton,; can Kyle Allen keep them afloat to the point of claiming a Wild Card spot?

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are going to be angry after their first loss of the year, making this a predictable one-sided affair against one of the league's worst teams. Crazy things can happen in division rivalry games, but this is setting up to be a major blowout as the 49ers keep building their lead over the conference.

Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams

The Rams' 5-4 record this year may be an even bigger surprise/disappointment than the Cowboys'. They get a great chance to pick up a win, and another critical NFC victory, this week as they host the Bears.

While Chicago is still mathematically alive they feel like dead men walking. They have one of the worst QB situations in football and it won't get any better this year. However, their strong defense gives them the ability to play a spoiler any given week. Tacking another loss to the Rams here could help Dallas in any potential Wild Card scenario.


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Lions’ Pass Catchers Will Provide Big Test for Cowboys’ Defense

John Williams

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Lions Pass Catchers Will Provide Big Test for Cowboys' Defense

The Dallas Cowboys week 11 opponent is reeling a bit after a 2-0-1 start with wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions have lost five of their last six and now sit in last place in the NFC North at 2-5-1. It's been a weird season for the Lions and now may play the Dallas Cowboys this week without Matthew Stafford who's been playing some of the best football of his career in 2019.

Though Stafford may not be available, the Lions have a plethora of targets for backup quarterback Jeff Driskell to throw to.

Wide Receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Tight End T.J. Hockenson, and Running Back J.D. McKissic provide Detroit with a bounty of players who will challenge the Cowboys secondary in the passing game.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Pos G Tgt
Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
19 Kenny Golladay WR 9 71 38 697 18.3 8 66 4.2 77.4 53.5% 9.8
11 Marvin Jones WR 9 63 47 612 13.0 6 47 5.2 68.0 74.6% 9.7
80 Danny Amendola wr 8 52 35 405 11.6 1 47 4.4 50.6 67.3% 7.8
88 T.J. Hockenson TE 9 44 25 343 13.7 2 39 2.8 38.1 56.8% 7.8
41 J.D. McKissic rb 9 24 19 134 7.1 1 26 2.1 14.9 79.2% 5.6
Team Total 9 327 214 2768 12.9 20 66 23.8 307.6 65.4%
Opp Total 9 205 2452 12.0 19 22.8 272.4
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2019.

Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are one of the more underrated receiving tandems in the NFL. The Lions are just one of four teams that have two players with at least 600 receiving yards on the season.

Receiving Table
Rk Player Tm Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Ctch% Yds
Y/R TD R/G Y/G Fmb
2 Mike Evans TAM 26 WR 9 9 89 54 60.7% 924 17.1 7 6.0 102.7 0
4 Chris Godwin TAM 23 WR 9 9 84 60 71.4% 840 14.0 6 6.7 93.3 0
7 Julio Jones ATL 30 WR 9 9 83 53 63.9% 791 14.9 4 5.9 87.9 1
11 Kenny Golladay DET 26 WR 9 9 71 38 53.5% 697 18.3 8 4.2 77.4 1
18 Jarvis Landry CLE 27 WR 9 9 77 45 58.4% 652 14.5 2 5.0 72.4 0
19 Odell Beckham CLE 27 WR 9 9 79 44 55.7% 632 14.4 1 4.9 70.2 1
21 Marvin Jones DET 29 WR 9 8 63 47 74.6% 612 13.0 6 5.2 68.0 0
22 Austin Hooper ATL 25 TE 9 8 67 56 83.6% 608 10.9 6 6.2 67.6 0
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2019.

Golladay and Jones have been excellent this season. Both have made big plays in the passing game and if you along with Hockenson, Amendola, and McKissic, the Lions have a deep group of pass catchers that could give the Cowboys fits this Sunday.

The Cowboys defense has been up and down this season in both the run and pass game. They've been hit for big plays on both sides of the field and by a variety of positional players through the first nine games of the season. The linebackers have struggled with play-action and in the screen game. Chidobe Awuzie has had difficulty finding the ball and giving up big plays. Byron Jones, who is generally one of the better cover corners in the NFL, but had difficulty with Stefon Diggs last week.


The fact that the Lions have so many good players to throw to means they can avoid throwing to Byron Jones' side of the field and target Awuzie, the Cowboys' biggest weakness in pass defense. The Lions will be able to mix and match their receiver alignments to put the Cowboys in difficult positions with their scheme. From front to back, everyone will have to stay disciplined in their man and zone coverages to not get beat for any big plays.

The Cowboys may want to scheme some extra help to Chidobe Awuize's side of the field as he's struggled to find the ball in 50-50 situations, where Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones excel. The other key will be for Jourdan Lewis, who will likely end up in coverage against Amendola most of the time. He and the linebackers will need to tackle Amendola and McKissic better than they did Dalvin Cook in the open field as Driskell will likely be forced to dump it off quickly to avoid being affected by the pass rush.

11 of Driskel's 27 completions against the Chicago Bears were at or behind the line of scrimmage and 48% of his passing yardage came after the catch. For comparison, in week 10 against the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins completed eight of his 23 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage and an insane 65% of his yards came after the catch.

The Lions record hasn't been able to run the ball very effectively this year, even before Kerryon Johnson. They rank 20th in the NFL in total rushing, but fifth in the NFL in passing, so the Cowboys will have to be more disciplined in coverage and have to team tackle to get off the field.

It's a huge game for the Dallas Cowboys if they want to improve their chances of making the playoffs. They don't have the luxury of dropping a game like this to a team they should absolutely beat. In a tie with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East and with only seven games left of the season, pretty much every game from here on out is a must-win game.


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Defensive Inconsistencies Hurting Cowboys Playoff Chances

Matthew Lenix

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Defensive Inconsistencies Hurting Cowboys Playoff Chances

The Dallas Cowboys have had an up and down season, to say the least. One minute they look like one of the best teams in the NFL, and the next, they look as if they just started playing football a week ago.

A lot of that can be attributed to the inconsistent play of their defense. The numbers say they have one of the best units of it's kind in the league. They rank 14th vs the run, sixth vs the pass, and seventh overall while only allowing 18.9 points per game. The problem is, their performance from game to game hasn't always matched these numbers.

In Week 5 when the Green Bay Packers came to town they had the difficult task of dealing with their biggest nemesis the last half-decade in Aaron Rodgers. His primary target Davante Adams was out because of a toe issue. The Cowboys were only allowing 14 points per game at the time, however, this game would see the scoreboard light up with regularity for the Packers.

Another Aaron would be the star of this game, Running Back Aaron Jones that is. He picked up nine of the Packers 24 first downs by himself on the ground and in the passing game. This helped the Packers control the clock for almost 37 minutes which kept the Cowboys playing a game of catch up.

He finished with 182 all-purpose yards and scored four rushing touchdowns, a record for a Cowboys opponent. What made this particular game a head-scratcher was the fact that the Packers were without their number one receiver and Rodgers failed to throw a single touchdown pass, and the Packers still scored 34 points. Not an ideal outing for the Cowboys defense.

In Week 6 the Cowboys visited Metlife Stadium to take on the New York Jets. At the time, they were 0-4 and arguably the worst team in the NFL. Also, Quarterback Sam Darnold was making his return after being out five weeks due to mononucleosis. All signs pointed to a dominant performance by the Cowboys defense. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.

If Darnold had any effects of his illness he didn't show it. He surgically dissected the Cowboys defense all game long to the tune of 338 yards (career-high) and two touchdowns. The Jets jumped out to a 21-3 lead and never looked back, holding on to win 24-22.


The most mind-blowing thing in this game was the fact that Running Back Le'Veon Bell was held to only 50 yards rushing. Even with the Jets being pretty much one dimensional all game they still managed to move the ball up and down the field. Inexcusable performance by a defense as talented as the Cowboys vs one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

Last Sunday's matchup vs the Minnesota Vikings presented a big challenge for the Cowboys defense. Not only did they have to deal with league-leading rusher Dalvin Cook but also Stefon Diggs who came into the game eighth in receiving yards.

Tight End Kyle Rudolph, who only had two touchdowns all year prior to this game, reached the end zone on back to back drives putting the Vikings up 14-0 entering the second quarter.

The star of this game, however, was the aforementioned Cook. The Cowboys had no answer for him as he gashed them continuously in the screen game as well as on the ground. Cook finished with 183 all-purpose yards (97 rushing, 86 receiving) and a touchdown on 33 touches. Yes, Cook is dynamic and the Vikings offense is formidable but the lack of discipline on assignments and poor tackling wasn't exactly a pleasant sight to see by this defense at home.

This is not to say that the Cowboys haven't had good performances defensively this season. In Week 4 they held the New Orleans Saints, albeit without Drew Brees, to just 12 points in a tough two-point loss. Three weeks ago, they held the Philadelphia Eagles to 283 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in a blowout 37-10 victory. Their second trip to Metlife Stadium was dominant as they registered five sacks and forced three turnovers in a 37-18 beat down of the New York Giants.

The inconsistency of this unit has been frustrating and downright confusing at times. There's too much talent on this defense to be so up and down. If this doesn't change, and quickly, this defense could be the reason the Cowboys find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.


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