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
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'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 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
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
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?
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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