The time has come for Dallas fans to get what they want, Cowboys football! After what seems like an eternity, the Cowboys will begin their preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
To some spectators these preseason games feel like a waste of time, but there are plenty of players that make a name for themselves during these exhibitions. The jump from playing college ball to professional football is night and day different. Learning the playbook and knowing their assignments isn’t just something anyone can pick up overnight. While OTAs, training camp, and the rest of the offseason is used to prepare the team, there’s just another level of help when you can play a game against another opponent. This is a way to ease the younger players into the regular season where everyone is playing at their best.
What should you be looking for? Who is someone to keep an eye on? Where will the team’s focus be during the game?
All great questions that will be answered in due time. For now, we’ll focus on what players to be on vigilant on since the majority of the starters won’t be on the field.
Jalen Tolbert pic.twitter.com/JMyog7iyeF
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 8, 2023
An extra eye needs to be kept on second year receiver, Jalen Tolbert. While the Cowboys did add Brandin Cooks to the team, Dallas still has high hopes for Jalen to fill that fourth receiver role. During his rookie year, Tolbert had more than a few moments where it didn’t seem to click for him. However, being in the league for a full year now has shown in camp to be an enormous help. Tolbert says his comfort level is “day and night” compared to how he felt his rookie season. New offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, has also praised Jalen throughout camp. All arrows seem to be pointing in the right direction, now we can see a glimpse of what is to come.
Deuce Vaughn pic.twitter.com/vHEkrWcEaj
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 1, 2023
No Zeke means it’s time for Tony Pollard to step in and show what he’s capable of as the backfield’s leader. Yet, in this game Pollard won’t be a factor for the team. Instead Dallas will be looking towards Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, and Deuce Vaughn. Of the three, Deuce, is the one drawing the most attention from fans. Standing at 5’5 ironically helps his stand out, but not in the way you’d expect. Many fans have already began calling him the new Darren Sproles, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. In fact, Deuce has been in contact with Darren since his early college days. In this game we’ll get a chance to see Deuce take snaps as both a running back and on special teams. His versatility could make him a dangerous weapon for this team’s offense.
Cowboys NT Mazi Smith’s strength translates to the NFL. pic.twitter.com/H7e1tVQHdb
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 5, 2023
Look no further than the Cowboys’ 2023 first round pick, Mazi Smith. Throughout the offseason the coaching staff has raved about Mazi’s strength and toughness. Now fans can finally see him in combat as Jerry Jones said it. Currently Smith will be battling the run stopping specialist, Jonathan Hankins, for playing time. However, after watching training camp, it doesn’t look like Mazi will be a backup for long. The physicality that Mazi brings is one that changes the tone of a defense. In his own words, “I don’t even like football, I like hitting people”.
Cowboys end today’s practice on a DeMarvion Overshown interception pic.twitter.com/7H4ESMTEfU
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 5, 2023
One of the more fun positions to watch on a defense are the linebackers. This has also been a questionable position for Dallas over the past few seasons. This year the Cowboys addressed it when they selected DeMarvion Overshown. As a Texas native, it was always a dream of his to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and now he can live it. On top of being a feel good story, DeMarvion is also very talented. He’s shown the ability to play sideline to sideline on every play, while also hammering down runners. Dan Quinn has said that Overshown’s speed is closer to a DB’s than to a linebacker. Having said that, these games will be crucial to his development. If he can get his ducks in a row, pairing him next to Vander-Esch could prove to being an excellent duo.
There are many other players to be on the lookout for, but these four are a good start. Their possibilities are endless, and their journeys begin Saturday. Regardless of the final score, watching each player improve is what will make this game worth it.
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