We’re exactly one month away from the Dallas Cowboys’ first training camp practice that will take place, as always, in Oxnard, California. It’s an exciting time all around the league. For fans, hope springs eternal in July. Practices start to get “real” as the preseason gets closer and closer every day.
For a team as intriguing as the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, there’s many things that Cowboys Nation should be on the look out for. With many doubts in my mind, I couldn’t resist the urge to put together some wishes for this upcoming training camp. Welcome to this special edition of Cowboys Wishlist!
Don’t forget to share your personal wishes in the comments section below or tweet them to me @PepoR99!
Wish #1: Some Pass-Catchers Emerge as Clear-Cut Starters
The Cowboys’ wide receiver and tight end position will look very different than they did last season. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will be out of the picture, not to mention Terrance Williams might be fighting for a spot on the roster, even though he’s a team veteran.
New faces like Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Tavon Austin, among others will not only be fighting to make the team, but to earn starting roles on the offense. Also on the positional battle will be young, unproven players such as Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir.
It’s an interesting situation, since we’re not only talking about wide receivers. The tight end position will be intense with Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers and Dalton Schultz in the mix. As Staff Writer Jess Haynie recently pointed out, these players aren’t bad, but unproven.
It’s nice to have tons of depth at these positions, but what Dak Prescott’s offense needs is starters. Hopefully, clear-cut starters emerge during training camp. Once the regular season comes around, the Cowboys would be better off by knowing who their guys are, rather than having open competitions in week 1.
Wish #2: Connor Williams Fits Right In
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Connor Williams could define the 2018 season for Dallas. We’re talking about the player who could return the offensive line to its 2016 form, perhaps even better.
Williams will have a lot to learn during training camp, once the pads come on and things get physical in the trenches.
The Dallas Cowboys are hoping to forget what they suffered on the offensive line between Tyron Smith’s injury and the left guard position in 2017. If the rookie out of Texas proves to be what we all think he is, Dak Prescott will have more time to throw and Ezekiel Elliott more holes to run through.
Wish #3: Dak Prescott Improves His Game
We all know how important this year is for Dak Prescott. If he puts on a show this year, a juicy extension might be waiting for him at the end of the season. If he struggles and his level of play is questioned, his future becomes very uncertain.
Hidden behind a painful, 9-7 season, Dak showed some improvements as a passer, leader and signal-caller.
Hopefully, 2018 serves as proof that last season was nothing but a learning curve and Prescott turns out to be a franchise quarterback. Training camp will be huge for the young quarterback. Hopefully he’s able to prove what he’s all about.
Wish #4: Jaylon Smith Hype Proves to be Real
Man, Jaylon Smith’s career has had tons of ups and downs. But this time, with his knee brace out of the picture, it really does seem like it will be his breakout year. If the Cowboys’ 2016 second-round pick ends up playing like he did in Notre Dame, the wait will definitely be worth it.
Hopefully, the Jaylon Smith we see when the team starts playing in training camp is the Jaylon we’ve all been waiting for.
He played well in 2017 but never was able to show his full potential. This might be it for one of the hardest-working guys on the team. We are all rooting for you, Jaylon.
Wish #5: No Injuries, Please
In the NFL, injuries are unavoidable. It’s a beautiful, yet violent, sport. But few things are worse than watching key players get injured before the season even begins. With the Cowboys trying to get to the Super Bowl in 2018, having guys like Sean Lee or Tyron Smith go down would certainly feel terrible.
Having said that, the Cowboys need to prove they can actually execute the “next man up” philosophy that’s preached all around the league.
Is that too much to ask for? The Cowboys really have what it takes to bounce back this season. It’s an important year for Dallas, with coaches on the hot seat and tons of players with a lot to prove on the field.
Training camp will go a long way in defining the success of a team that has many question marks heading into the season and hopefully, for the sake of the Dallas Cowboys, these wishes come true.