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Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp

The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, but there is another important event kicking off today that should have all Dallas Cowboys fans at least a little bit excited, rookie minicamp. This will be our first glimpse of all the incoming rookies (both drafted and undrafted), plus a few veterans who are allowed to participate.

Rookie minicamp runs all through the weekend and closes out Sunday afternoon. This will be the first chance for many of these players to make a good first impression and show the coaching staff exactly what they have to offer to the team.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the deepest rosters they have had in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean there are not a few roster spots open for the taking. Several of these participants will be vying for some of these starting positions, which makes this weekend all the more important for them.

Below are the top five players I will be paying extra close attention to throughout the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp.

WR Ryan Switzer 5. Ryan Switzer, WR

The first player I will personally be paying close attention to is the former North Carolina Tar Heel’s wide receiver, Ryan Switzer.

At 5’10”, Switzer is one of the smaller receivers on the Cowboys roster and has already been compared to fan favorite, Cole Beasley. Fitting right, since he is another small/shifty (white) WR?

Switzer was somewhat of a head scratching draft pick by the Cowboys, but they clearly have an idea of how to get him involved early in his rookie season in the NFL. He will most likely become the Cowboys main return man on special teams, but it wouldn’t completely be out of the question to see him heavily involved on offense as well.

Switzer is an explosive player with the ball in his hands, which made him one of the best return men in the 2017 draft class. I’m sure he will get plenty of work fielding punts and kickoffs this weekend, but I will also be interested in seeing if he lines up strictly in the slot or if he gets work on the outside as well.

CB Chidobe Awuzie4. Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Out of all of the players on this list to watch this weekend at the Cowboys rookie minicamp, Chidobe Awuzie probably has the best chance to earn a starting role on defense in 2017.

Now, Awuzie will miss the first day of minicamp so that he can attend his graduation at Colorado, but that’s all the more reason to follow his progress the rest of the weekend.

Awuzie’s versatility will allow the Cowboys to utilize his skill set at any position in the secondary, but I expect him to lock down one of the starting cornerback positions in 2017. He has the size and length to play on the outside and is a fearless tackler in the run game.

There is a lot of influx of youth in the Cowboys secondary, which is why I will be paying close attention to how the coaching staff employs Awuzie and the other rookie CBs this weekend. That could possibly indicate who fits where.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how he matches up against Ryan Switzer and hopefully Rico Gathers. That will be something to see.

Taco Charlton

3. Taco Charlton, DE

More than likely you either loved or hated the Dallas Cowboys selection of Taco Charlton with their first-round draft pick. I personally like Charlton’s game film, but I’m anxious to see how the coaching staff plans to use him in 2017.

Charlton’s size and length would suggest that he would be a better fit as a left side defensive end, but that’s a spot DeMarcus Lawrence currently holds down. Of course, the Cowboys could line him up at several positions, much like he was used during his time at Michigan.

He played up and down the defensive line at Michigan and it’s that kind of versatility defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves in his players. It doesn’t really matter where he lines up, because there are already high expectations for him to come in and help improve the pass rush for the Cowboys defense.

I’m really anxious to see what kind of first impression he can make this weekend and if he will be one of the standouts during the entirety of rookie minicamp. That may be a little difficult to do without pads on, but first impressions can go a long way quieting his doubters.

Charles Tapper

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

2. Charles Tapper DE

Charles Tapper’s rookie season was wiped out after being diagnosed with a pars defect  condition in his back during training camp. Since his first year in the NFL qualified as a “redshirt” season, he is eligible to participate in this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

You may have forgotten, but Tapper was the first of the Cowboys fourth-round draft picks, the other being QB Dak Prescott. Tapper may never live up to what Prescott has already achieved the NFL, but he should be able to become a valuable piece on the defensive side of the ball.

I nearly put him as the top player I will be watching this weekend because I thought he would compete for the starting RDE position last season, but I have tempered my expectation due to his back injury.

Tapper might just be the most athletically gifted DE the Cowboys currently have on the roster, but he will have to prove he can be depended on, despite his problematic back. This weekend marks the first chance he has to catch the coaching staff’s eye before the rest the team gets together at training camp.

He already has the advantage of knowing the defensive scheme, so he should look like the best player out of all of the participants this weekend at the Cowboys rookie minicamp.

Rico Gathers

Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News

1. Rico Gathers TE

It may not be all that surprising, but tight end Rico Gathers is the player I’m most looking forward to watching this weekend at the Cowboys rookie minicamp.

Gathers spent his rookie season on the Cowboys practice, but word is he quickly became Tony Romo‘s favorite target and together they gave the starting defense more than they could handle.

Gathers will have to prove he has developed to the point he is worthy of claiming a roster spot, but a year on the practice squad was probably invaluable. Like Charles Tapper, he has the advantage of a year in the Cowboys playbook and should look like a man among boys this weekend, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

With Jason Witten’s career likely winding down, all eyes will be on Rico Gathers to see if he is the future starting TE for the Dallas Cowboys. This weekend could be an indication of what we can expect from Gathers in 2017 and for years to come.

Which players will you be focusing on at the Cowboys rookie minicamp?

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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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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Thomas Williams

    May 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    and I can not wait….Im looking for Tapper and Rico to dominate ! this year period long with the NEW Rookies…YESSS SIRRRR……COWBOYS 4 LIFE!!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Thomas, I can feel your excitement and I’m right there with you!

  2. Travis Diggs

    May 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Mark my words Chidobe Awuzie will be the best of this draft class This kid is special. He’s the player I’m watching

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 12, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      I really liked his game film. I hope he does turn out to be the best in the 2017 draft class.

  3. EverybodyTalks

    May 13, 2017 at 12:46 am

    Rico has a great underdog story. If the draft is like Christmas, then I really think Tony Romo dropped off a gift, at the Practice Squad, before he left. From the reports, he worked Rico and probably had a lot of fun doing it. When Will McClay said our 1st string defense couldn’t stop him, I wondered if that was another reason for letting go of some of those guys and keeping Gathers…lol.
    Charles Tapper is the mystery gift. He is another one I’m rooting for. I see him as another underdog, overlooked in many earlier articles about the Dallas “D”. I’m just a fan, but my gut says “watch this guy!”
    So, even though I haven’t mentioned any of our new draftees, I’m curious about these two players, Actually, three. Jaylon is my 3rd underdog…nuffsed on that one.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 13, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I’m really hoping Gathers and Tapper can be contributors this season, especially Tapper on defense. I really think his athletic ability can help the pass rush. The same can be said about Jaylon Smith, but both players need to prove that they are healthy enough to be relied upon.

  4. John Williams

    John Williams

    May 15, 2017 at 2:33 am

    There’s about 10 players I’m looking forward to seeing in training camp. I’m impressed that you could keep it to 5.

    1. Jaylon
    2. Rico
    3. Tapper
    4. Woods
    5. Switzer
    6. Taco
    7. Lewis
    8. Awuzie
    9. Brown
    10. Jahad Thomas

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

      I’m interested in seeing how the entire 2017 rookie class performs, but I tried to narrow down just to my top five. Writing about everybody would’ve made too long of an article to read LOL

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Star Blog

Is 3-3 Without Ezekiel Elliott A Win For Dallas?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly perception can change in the NFL.

A little over two weeks ago, the sky was falling on the Dallas Cowboys. They had just been blown out three straight times, twice at home and twice against direct NFC playoff competitors. Cowboys Nation wanted firings – whether that meant head coach Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, or all of the above.

Dak Prescott couldn’t survive without Ezekiel Elliott, and all of the change made to the defense was beginning to be called a failure by the masses.

Fast forward to this week. The Cowboys have now been the deliverers of butt-kickings the last two weeks, and now sit at 7-6 with an outside chance at a playoff spot. And while the team looked like a complete mess without Elliott previously, a win Sunday would put them at 3-3 over the course of the Pro Bowl running back’s suspension.

And is that really all that bad?

Heading into the suspension, most fans probably would’ve taken 3-3 without Elliott and 8-6 overall. Most fans would’ve though that would put the Cowboys right in the thick of the things in the NFC playoff hunt. And most would’ve assumed we’d be happy with an 8-6 Cowboys team.

Unfortunately, 8-6 most likely won’t be good enough in this year’s playoff race. Especially considering the return of Aaron Rodgers and previous losses to both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, the entire NFC South has been fantastic this season (besides Tampa Bay) and two teams from the West look legit as well.

So maybe this just isn’t the Cowboys’ year. But, the success of other teams in the conference shouldn’t cloud our perception of what the Cowboys have done this season if they were to win Sunday night. A win over the Raiders this week would qualify the team’s handling of the Elliott suspension as a “success” of sorts (in terms of on the field, at least) in my opinion.

They would have kept themselves alive in a deep NFC playoff race, discovered a legitimate offensive weapon in Rod Smith, maintained a solid rushing attack over the majority of the six games, and allowed for some real growth from their young quarterback Dak Prescott.

I know the first three games of the suspension were awful, and a team with the talent of the Cowboys shouldn’t be losing that way three times in a row, or three times in a season at all. But, something should be said about how the team has weathered that storm, and kept themselves above water in this competitive conference.

But, of course, the result Sunday night could change all of this if the Cowboys come out and lay an egg in Oakland, effectively ending their season before Zeke even gets back. In that case we will more vividly remember the three horrific losses in which the team was out-coached and embarrassed. But, still those games should be remembered regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

So maybe success is a bit of a strong word.

This week’s game is not only a huge one in terms of the 2017 playoff race, but also may be an important one for determining what the 2018 Cowboys will look like.

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Star Blog

Do We Know What The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Are Capable Of?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Training Camp Begins

For the Dallas Cowboys, the playoffs have begun a bit earlier. After putting themselves in a tough position, they need to win out in order to have a shot at playing in January… and even then, they need a ton of outside help to make it.

Less than a year ago, we saw the Cowboys become the #1 seed in the conference with a 13-3 record under rookie QB Dak Prescott. So naturally, it’s fair to say that the fact that after 14 weeks the record of this football team is 7-6 is very disappointing.

Some have even questioned, are they even worthy of being a playoffs team? 

Despite suffering from some key injuries and well… suspensions, the Cowboys shouldn’t be left off the hook. Players and coaches should be blamed. But even still, it’s hard to believe that Dallas wouldn’t have win at least one more game with Tyron Smith, Sean Lee or Ezekiel Elliott available.

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

I’m convinced that if Zeke hadn’t been suspended, the Cowboys would at least have one more win. If that were the case, we probably wouldn’t be suffering thinking about what combinations would get our favorite team in the postseason.

All of this makes me wonder… Do we know what this team is capable of? 

I think not. Let’s take a quick look at the games Dallas has lost this year.

  • @ DEN Broncos 
  • vs LA Rams (No Sean Lee, Cowboys’ defense allowed 35 points)
  • vs GB Packers (No Sean Lee, Cowboys’ defense allowed 28 points)
  • @ ATL Falcons (No Tyron Smith, no Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored seven points)
  • vs PHI Eagles (No Tyron Smith, no Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored nine points)
  • vs LA Chargers (No Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored six points)

I believe in the “next man up” mentality. But not when you’re talking about going from Tyron Smith, who is arguably the best LT in the league to Chaz Green and Byron Bell. Sure, the coaching staff should’ve made a change earlier when Green was getting Dak killed, but Bell wasn’t much better.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make excuses for this football team at all. In fact, it’s the same thing when you take a look at wins. Through 14 weeks, the Cowboys have just been able to beat one NFL team with a winning record: The Kansas City Chiefs. The thing is, despite being 7-6, the Chiefs are 2-8 since week 6. I’m not sure I’d qualify that as a winning team.

We haven’t seen this team face a strong, winning opponent and actually beat them. The Cowboys have one more game to win without Zeke, and then they’ll be on to face the Seattle Seahawks. If Dallas gets to that game with an 8-6 record, the outcome of the Seattle game could define the Cowboys’ 2017 season.

With Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith all ready to go, it’d be the first time this year we see the Cowboys go against a quality opponent with all of their star players. Will this defining game come too late? Perhaps. It’s no secret that the Cowboys need a ton of outside help in order to get into the playoffs with 10-6 record.

Dallas Cowboys Wishlist At Denver Broncos 1

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten #82, QB Dak Prescott #4. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

But at least, it’d be nice to see our team at least doing the job they can control and winning out. Even if it’d be painful to see them go 10-6 and still miss the playoffs… as fans, we probably want to see them doing their job.

For now though, it’s all about the Oakland Raiders. One more week without Ezekiel Elliott. After surviving a trap game against the Giants, the Cowboys must do the same again as they prepare to face a football team that has also been disappointing this season but still has dangerous play-makers, such as Derek Carr.

And then, we might find out just how good the 2017 Dallas Cowboys really are.

Tell me what you think about “Do We Know What The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Are Capable Of?” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott's Future?

It’s funny how quickly some players are able to establish themselves as professional athletes and grow their fan base. That is exactly what Ezekiel Elliott has done in just a little over a years time since becoming a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, given his current situation, it’s that fan base that might be starting to turn on him a little and doubt his long-term future in the NFL.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are fully aware of the six-game suspension the NFL slapped Ezekiel Elliott with based on nothing more than accusations of possible domestic violence. Right or wrong, guilty or innocent, it happened and there is no taking it back. But unfortunately, because of the suspension Elliott will now have to walk the straight and narrow if he wants to have any kind of career in the NFL.

I honestly don’t think Ezekiel Elliott is a bad guy, but the slightest slip up will more than likely put his career in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction, the NFL has already decided they are going to make an example of him.

RB Ezekiel ElliottFrom here on out, Elliott is going to have to live like he is under a magnifying glass. Any kind of slip up, big or small, will likely cause the league to suspend him an entire season. This unfortunately has been weighing on the minds of a lot of Cowboys Nation and has to be at least a little bit concerning for the Cowboys organization.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys have Elliott under contract for at least three more years after this season. He has already proven how important he is to the offense and how much production dips without him in the lineup. They absolutely want him on the field because he makes them better. But, any kind of slip up would pretty much erase one of those three years. Look no further than what has happened with Randy Gregory.

I’ve heard many fans voicing their concerns about Ezekiel Elliott’s long-term availability with the Cowboys. They are afraid Elliott’s immaturity will end up getting the best of him and Zeke unfortunately has done nothing to ease those concerns so far.

I for one am not all that concerned about Zeke’s future in the NFL. I think his six-game suspension has served as an eye-opening experience and that he will do better from here on out to put himself in better situations and surround himself with better/more trustworthy people.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel ElliottYou can see anytime Zeke is on the field his passion for the game and how much he enjoys it. I don’t think he’s going to put something he cares so much about in jeopardy. But unfortunately, he already has a bull’s-eye on his back and can’t afford to take a misstep. That will without a doubt put his future career in jeopardy.

I personally can’t wait to see how #21 responds when he is able to suit up once again next week against the Seattle Seahawks. I think he is going to play with a chip on his shoulder and run angry. That is the best way he can stick it to the league for suspending him based on accusations and another reason why I’m not concerned about his future in the NFL.

I know if it was me, my mindset would be to turn myself into the best player possible and once again become one of the more popular athletes in the league. That is about the only way he can say “F U” to the league, and I think that’s exactly what he will do.

Are you concerned about Ezekiel Elliott long-term?

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