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Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles

The Dallas Cowboys are not your typical 4-12 team. The majority of their starting positions are locked in and because of that, the organization will have some difficult decisions to make when they start to figure out their final 53 man roster. Fortunately, they still have an entire training camp and four preseason games to keep a close watchful eye over all of their players. They have plenty of time to figure out who’s in and who’s out. Now, they won’t be calling me to ask for my personal opinion, but I will be keeping an eye on some of the position battles taking place to determine for myself who makes the final cut.

The Dallas Cowboys are not your typical 4-12 team. The majority of their starting positions are locked in and because of that, the organization will have some difficult decisions to make when they start to figure out their final 53 man roster.

Fortunately, they still have an entire training camp and four preseason games to keep a close watchful eye over all of their players. They have plenty of time to figure out who’s in and who’s out.

Now, they won’t be calling me to ask for my personal opinion, but I will be keeping an eye on some of the position battles taking place to determine for myself who makes the final cut.

Here are some of the position battles that I’ll be focusing on once training camp finally kicks off on July 28:

Backup Quarterback

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 6

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

This might just be the most interesting position battle to keep track of when practices begin in Oxnard, California on July 30.

We all witnessed the deplorable play from the backup QBs in 2015, and heaven forbid the Dallas Cowboys put themselves in the same situation for 2016 if Tony Romo were to go down with an injury.

The word is that Kellen Moore is the backup QB as of now, but I – for one – would like to see more evidence that he is ready to step up if needed. I’m not completely convinced that he is a better option than Jameill Showers, or if he could beat him outright if they were competing on an equal field.

I just have this gut feeling that Showers has something to his game and, if given the opportunity, he could be a really good backup QB for the Cowboys.

Of course, let’s not forget Dak Prescott. Prescott has an intriguing skill set. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could see the benefits of using him in a read option type offense if Romo is injured.

The position battle for backup QB on the roster could be a really interesting story line to keep track of throughout training camp and preseason.

Running Back

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 2

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, we all know that Ezekiel Elliott was drafted to be the Dallas Cowboys’ featured running back for years to come, and even without ever playing a single down in the NFL, he is still the most talented RB on the roster. So, no one is challenging him for that #1 spot, but the backup spots seem to be wide open. It will be a closely watched battle to see who emerges to back up Ezekiel Elliott.

Darren McFadden’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. It is expected that he will miss the majority of training camp and that gives an opportunity to Alfred Morris to establish himself as Elliott’s main backup.

McFadden’s injury doesn’t just provide an opportunity for Morris, but Darius Jackson as well.

Jackson will now receive more practice repetitions and those extra reps could possibly end up costing McFadden his job. Once McFadden returns from injury, he’ll be fighting for his job, but it may be a little too late if Morris and Jackson have anything to say about it.

Wide Receiver

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 7As I see it now, I have the Dallas Cowboys only carrying five wide receivers on their final 53 man roster.

I have Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Brice Butler locked in as the top four WRs. So, that leaves one spot up for grabs, and several talented receivers battling it out to make the team.

Lucky Whitehead is probably the favorite to win the last open spot if the Cowboys do decide to only carry five wide receivers, but don’t overlook undrafted rookie Andy Jones.

Jones received an opportunity to run with the first team offense in mini-camp and didn’t do anything to hurt his case of making the team.

The Dallas Cowboys could have a really tough decision to make if it comes down to choosing between Lucky Whitehead and Andy Jones. Each player would bring something different to the team and that’s why this position battle will be worth keeping an eye on.

Cornerback

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 4Like it or not, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Orlando Scandrick are your top three cornerbacks heading into the 2016 NFL season.

I personally think that the Dallas Cowboys only carry five CBs on the final 53 man roster, so that leaves two open roster spots remaining at cornerback.

As it stands right now, I have Anthony Brown and Deji Olatoye claiming those final two spots, but it’s no secret that the organization has tried to solidify the defensive back position from the outside.

Veteran CB Brandon Boykin worked out for the Cowboys not too long ago, but hasn’t been signed as of yet. That could all change once the Cowboys get into training camp and get a better idea of how this position battle will shake out.

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys address the situation considering Morris Claiborne has an injury history and Orlando Scandrick is coming back after a major knee injury.

Defensive End

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 5This position battle is mostly due to the fact that both DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory will miss the first four games of the season due to their suspensions. I think nearly everybody will be paying very close attention to see who can possibly step up and fill in while Lawrence and Gregory are out.

Ryan Russell, Charles Tapper, David Irving, Jack Crawford, and Benson Mayowa are all going to need to step up their game and prove to the coaching staff that they can contribute on a regular basis.

The Dallas Cowboys defense absolutely has to find a way to improve their pass rush, and the fact that both Lawrence and Gregory will miss the first month of the season doesn’t help matters.

What position battles will you be paying close attention to once training camp kicks off for the Dallas Cowboys?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you so that we can discuss this topic further.

Brian Martin

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.

12 Comments
  • Ronald Dulaney

    Brian, Thanks for the insight. You may be right about Showers, but I think Kellen Moore will surprise you in the preseason. I hope you're not making the same mistake a lot of folks made by lumping him in with Weeden/Cassel. 2+ games is way too small a sample to judge by. Remember, Tony threw 3 interceptions his first game also; and Troy Aikman, I think, threw at least 8 ints and no TDs in his first three starts, as did another lefty, Steve Young at Tampa Bay. As for all the blather about his "physical limitations", he's the same size and throws with the same velocity, 51mph, as Drew Brees, who struggled his first few YEARS in the NFL. (Relax, Cowboy faithful, I'm not comparing him to Drew or Tony or whoever in quarterback acumen. I'm just pointing out that Moore's sample size is still much too insufficient for a reasonable observer to make a valid judgement. Yeah, Kellen made some boneheaded rookie mistakes but the big difference I saw between him and the Dumpitoff Duo is: they played scared and he played fearless. Just ask his WRs. Thank again.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for commenting Ronald. I'm not discounting Kellen Moore at all. I would just like to see what he can do with more playing time first before I feel comfortable naming him the backup QB. That's why I'm going to be keeping a close eye on him in training camp and preseason.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Ronald: Did you seriously just compare Kellen Moore to Troy Aikman and Steve Young??? How can anyone take your argument seriously with such gaping chasms in that argument? Moore is a backup. 32 teams have decided that over 4 years. What the hell did this guy do to earn such loyalty from fans? He's nice, a Cinderella story if he ever took the starting job, but he's not a starter. He's a backup. Check the depth chart of his team every year he's been in the league; he's a backup. Forgive my frustration, but wow. The NFL coaches and executives know a bit more than any of us and have made it clear time and time again, Kellen Moore is a backup and will compete for his spot on the team. No excuses. No buts. It's fact. So why keep saying the same things over and over again? Why? Do you know him? Are you related to him? Did he win you big money betting on college games? I don't get it. A lot of us don't get it. Maybe you can explain this to us (without further exaggeration of who or what Moore is, PLEASE). Thanks.

      • George Johnson

        Bryson Treece: I will let Ronald speak for himself. I am a big K Moore fan and have followed him his whole career and have read everything said about him. K Moore was not drafted because of his physical limitations. Most draft experts questioned whether he could even play in the NFL with these physical limitations. I will just point out a few facts/information since most people look and watch K Moore and conclude he cannot play in the NFL because he does not look like an NFL QB and doesn't have the strongest arm. First of all he was one of the greatest all time pocket passers in college history. He came close to setting several new records and did set two. His college coach who is not known to be outspoken said and I quote, " he is the best pocket passer I have ever seen." Pretty strong statement by a respected and major college coach. I have never heard that statement by any college coach concerning their QB. He has improve each year in the NFL. In 2013 he subbed for Hill at the 2nd team QB against New England in preseason and had a high QB rating, two touchdowns, no interceptions and won the game. Some sports writers at that time said he proved he could play in the NFL with this game. In 2014 he had a 108 QB rating for the preseason and threw three touchdowns and had no interceptions but mostly at 3rd team. The Detroit fans nicknamed him "Mr August" because of his outstanding preseason play. Caldwell the Detroit head coach said he is very accurate and plays with composure, consistency and moxie. He was impressed and allowed K Moore to compete for the 2nd team QB position in 2015 but did not make him 2nd team QB in 2014, even though he outplayed Orlovsky because K Moore hadn't taken the 2nd team reps. In 2015, K Moore had one bad game at 2nd team QB. I believe this was the first bad half of game in his career starting with his sophomore year in high school. Orlovksy played well in preseason and K Moore was not really given any more chances at 2nd team. Detroit decided to only keep two QB but liked K Moore and wanted to sign him to the practice squad but he signed with Dallas instead. You know the rest. Even though K Moore did not win any games in 2015, he was actually close to being pretty effective except for a few mistakes that he can probably improve with more experience/reps and considering it was his first time playing against a first team defense. I would like to see him compared to starting QBs in the NFL their first time playing and I bet he did pretty well. The Dallas coaches recognize this and therefore have made him the 2nd team QB for 2016 with the idea it is his to lose. He will likely be the 2nd team QB for Dallas in 2016. I have not written him off yet that 2nd team QB is his ceiling as you have said. He has always played way better than anyone thinks he can play. If he keeps improving which seems to be in his DNA he could be a starter some day in the NFL. He won't be a franchise or elite QB because of his physical limitations. However, he just may surprise many people, that he can play in the NFL and be effective. S Linehan based on his recent comments seems to think K Moore can throw the ball well enough to make most of the throws. He has said he makes up for his lack of a strong arm with his accuracy and uncanny anticipation. He has also said he doesn't need to chance the game plan much with K Moore in to replace T Romo. This also implies to me that he thinks he can make most of the throws. He also said many people don't think K Moore can throw longer passes that well but in the Washington game K Moore had more 20 yards or longer passes then the previous ten games. I don't think I am just some crazy, unrealistic fan as I think I am objective, reasonable and realistic. Time will tell whether K Moore can play or start in the NFL. I don't really care much for the so called draft experts evaluation of K Moore because they seem to overweight his physical limitations and underweight his other outstanding pocket passing skills/abilities such as the cerebral aspects of being a pocket passer.

  • George Johnson

    Brian Martin: I am sure you are trying to write an interesting article but to me the QB section seems to be a slam of Kellen Moore. You basically said you thought Showers could possibly earn the 2nd team QB position if a fair competition was done. That is a crazy statement in my opinion and for lack of my understanding of anything else, reflects a dislike of Kellen Moore and definitely a lack of understanding of what K Moore can do on a football field. Showers is a glorified rookie, was not a big college star and I am sure has lots of learning and development to do. K Moore on the other hand is in his fifth year in the NFL, has improved each year in the NFL, was a big college star/one of the best pocket passers of all time, knows the Dallas offense/playbook well, has worked with S Linehan for two plus years, has some starting experience in the Dallas offense and has done enough to gain the confidence of the coaches and FO. If he can't do the job in TC and preseason they will look outside for a veteran. Showers and Prescott have essentially zero chance IMO and there will be little competition between K Moore and Showers/Prescott. As you know I believe K Moore will do well especially in preseason games and will earn the 2nd team QB position. I also believe if T Romo goes down, K Moore will be able to step in and win some games and have good QB stats.

    • Brian Martin

      George, I wasn't slamming Kellen Moore at all. What I was doing was endorsing Jameill Showers because of my belief in what he could do if he ever got the chance. Now, you call me out and say I have a lack of understanding of what Kellen Moore can do on the football field, which I find a ridiculous statement. What exactly has Moore done to prove to anybody that he's ready for the backup QB position. He is entering his fifth year in the NFL and has barely sniffed the field. You say that he's improved each season, but again not enough to earn any starts or gain any interest from teams around the league, even as a backup. If he's cut, will another team pick him up? I find it unlikely and you've even stated that it might be a longshot. I have never outwardly bashed Kellen Moore and I have openly stated over and over again that I want to see what he looks like in training camp and preseason before I feel comfortable with him as the backup QB. Now, do I think Showers could possibly win the competition on an even playing field? Absolutely! I could care less if he was a star QB in college. There have been several successful QB's that weren't stars in college that have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL. Also, there have been a lot of star QB's in college that have completely bombed in the NFL. Showers is entering his second year in the NFL and has a year in Scott Linehan's offense. That's one less than Kellen Moore. Showers has shown a poise in the pocket that is rarely seen in an undrafted rookie QB last season in the preseason. He possesses the mobility to extend plays and has the arm strength to make every throw in the NFL. So, stating that Showers is nothing more than a glorified rookie shows a lack of understanding on your part, right? He entering his second year. I can debate this topic all day long, but the simple fact is until I see Kellen Moore doing a better job of commanding the Cowboys offense I will continue to be a skeptic.

  • George Johnson

    With the risk of not knowing that much about Showers and his progress, I still state if Showers can beat out K Moore then K Moore does not belong in the NFL and can never be a 2nd team backup, etc. K Moore should be at an optimum point to take over the 2nd team QB position. K Moore despite your skepticism is on the verge of being a solid NFL pocket passer. He is known for his QB smarts/instincts, ability to get better, consistency, knowing how to play, knowing what to do, following the game play, minimizing mistakes, finding the open receiver, managing the game, etc. These are all skills/abilities that will bode well for him as a pocket passer.

    • Brian Martin

      George, don't get me wrong. I'm not just skeptic of Kellen Moore, but all of the current QB's on the Cowboys roster. They're all virtually unproven and that's why this position battle will be closely followed by nearly everyone that's concerned about the backup QB situation. Kellen Moore has the leg up on the competition right now and if the season was to start today he would be the backup QB, but I still want to see more consistency from him and more practice repetition should help. I don't think he has done anything yet to prove that he is without a doubt the best person to backup Tony Romo and that's why I think training camp/preseason is going to be so important for him.

      • George Johnson

        Brian: I agree K Moore has little season game experience and is not completely proven. His lack of season game experience was the main reason he didn't get to be the 2nd team QB in Detroit. One of the Dallas coaches said you have to start somewhere and every QB in the NFL at one point had zero season game experience. If you could never be the 2nd team QB without season game experience then you could never play in the NFL at 2nd team unless you started out at 1st team. As far as Prescott and Showers, they are a rookie and a sophomore with limited TC and preseason experience. Neither one has played in a season game where K Moore has played in ten and one half quarters and did fairly well based on what the coaches have said plus he has four seasons of preseason game experience. I beg to differ but I don't believe they can compete with K Moore in 2016. Also don't get me wrong as they both can run faster than K Moore and can probably throw the ball harder than K Moore and also may earn the 2nd team QB over K Moore in future years, just not 2016.

        • Brian Martin

          George, I don't disagree with anything you said and that's why this is going to be a fun position battle to keep track of. I'm not discounting Kellen Moore as the backup in 2016, but we pretty much know what he is as a prospect. I think both Prescott and Showers could possibly have more upside, but that's just my opinion. I'm personally really interested to see how this all shakes out. As always, thanks for commenting.

  • Bill

    Kellen reminds me a lot of another Cowboys quarterback a few years ago. Not hugely physically impressive, a bit short, average arm, but tremendous football smarts, accutate passer, excellent leadership abilities, a fellow named Jason Garrett.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for commenting Bill. Personally, I don't see it, but I would love to be proven wrong. Maybe Kellen Moore is the answer as Cowboys backup QB, but I think they would be better served finding someone else.

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