Dallas’ concerning depth at two key positions has been discussed at length on the Silver and Blue Podcast. Now, less than a week into camp, that depth is already taking hits with injuries to Matt Waletzko and James Washington.
After showing La’el Collins and Amari Cooper the door this offseason, the Cowboys again bet on the bargain bin. To replace Collins, Dallas made Terence Steele the new starting right tackle, and Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko (zero combined career snaps) would compete for the swing tackle job. To replace Amari Cooper, Dallas drafted Jalen Tolbert in the 3rd round and signed James Washington.
Less than a week into training camp and it appears that this plan might have already gone awry. It was reported today that Waletzko was going to need shoulder surgery after he left last Thursday’s practice with an injury. It is an issue that dates back to his time at North Dakota, per Michael Gehlken. Mike McCarthy provided an update as well:
OT Matt Waletzko (shoulder) will not practice this week, according to Mike McCarthy. Cowboys still evaluating the injury and seems like surgery is more of when not if at this point. The hope is he could perhaps play with the injury before taking care of it later.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 1, 2022
McCarthy has also already voiced his praise for what he has seen from Ball, but Ball is unproven. Things were rather thin at offensive tackle before the Waletzko injury. It looks to be even thinner. It would not be shocking to Dallas surveyed the veteran free agent market for another tackle. At this point, a significant injury to Tyron Smith or Steele would be borderline disastrous.
There are plenty of veteran offensive tackles still available. None of them are going to come in and be Pro Bowlers, but all have plenty of experience and you can survive with them as a depth tackle. Some names include: Eric Fisher, Daryl Williams, Duane Brown, Bobby Massie, or Jason Peters. This is something to monitor as camp progresses
Dallas’ concerning wide receiver depth appears to have taken a significant hit as well. James Washington was carted off the field today during practice with an apparent foot injury. It is now being reported that the injury is feared to be significant.
Cowboys are concerned that veteran WR James Washington suffered a Jones fracture in his foot today, per source. Washington was carted off and is undergoing additional testing.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2022
Here is the video of when Washington went down:
Cowboys WR James Washington is injured, not putting weight on right leg after play. pic.twitter.com/KN7kUXi12y
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 1, 2022
As currently constructed, here is the status of the Dallas wide receiver room behind CeeDee Lamb:
- Michael Gallup: will miss beginning of season (recovering from ACL tear suffered in January)
- James Washington: carted off the field at practice today with what appears to be a significant injury
- Jalen Tolbert
- Noah Brown
- Simi Fehoko
- T.J. Vasher
- Kavontae Turpin
There is a lot to like about Tolbert, and I think he will be a good player in time, but that is asking a 3rd-round rookie to do a ton. He is certainly going to go through a “baptism by fire” in his rookie season. TJ Vasher has been impressive in camp (especially with this ridiculous catch), but is unproven. Brown has been a decent down-roster wideout for Dallas but has never had more than 184 yards in a season and is primarily used as a blocker and on special teams. Fehoko and Turpin have no NFL experience, as Fehoko saw almost no game action in 2021 while Turpin was just signed from the USFL (in which he won the MVP of the league).
Like offensive tackle, there are plenty of veteran names available on the free agent market. There are no game-changers left at this point in the year, but some experienced veterans who have been productive recently are available. T.Y. Hilton, Will Fuller, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, Odell Beckham Jr., Adam Humphries, and Willie Snead are just some of the veterans still available. There was some reported interest in Hilton earlier in the offseason (see this clip from The Pat McAfee Show), but there hasn’t been much other noise.
Dallas could be in the market for a veteran offensive tackle or wide receiver soon. It might behoove Dallas to improve its depth at these important positions, as things have already gotten a bit difficult less than a week into training camp.
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