During a normal Dallas Cowboys training camp, we would already be analyzing players performances during practices. The Cowboys would actually be getting ready to play their first preseason game in Canton, Ohio against the Pittsburgh Steelers if things were normal.
However, due to COVID-19 that game along with all preseason games were cancelled so the first time we will see the team on a football field playing in a game will be September 13th against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night football.
The Cowboys are planning to hold their annual Blue-White scrimmage on August 30th. Details remain limited on how that is going to go down.
Randy Gregory expressed some frustration with the reinstatement process on Twitter Wednesday. As we know, Gregory has been out of the league since February 2019 but he is trying his hardest to get back on the field and feels that the NFL is dragging their feet with the process. “Ive been ready to play and test for months but still have gotten little to no help to resolve my reinstatement.” For me personally, I am hoping this statement creates some urgency on the NFLs part to resolve this situation. Antonio Brown made a similar statement on Twitter a couple weeks ago and within 7-10 days, he was handed an 8 game suspension.
The Cowboys released kicker Kai Forbath on Saturday. Of course, the Cowboys signed kicker Greg Zuerlein to a three year, $7.5 million deal earlier in the offseason so Forbath being released isn’t a complete surprise. If you follow the money, it makes sense. But what does surprise me is the timing. I was expecting the two kickers to have a competition and a decision to be made later in camp after Forbath went 10-10 down the stretch in 2019.
Cowboys have had three players opt out of the 2020 season thus far. Those names are cornerback Maurice Canady, wide receiver Stephen Guidry and fullback Jamize Olawale. The deadline for players to opt out is Thursday afternoon at 4pm ET.
With those opt outs in mind, I have three positions to keep an eye on during training camp as these are positions that could cost the Cowboys a playoff spot in 2020.
With the passing league the NFL has turned into, having guys that can catch and cover have become essential. Byron Jones was the Cowboys best corner in 2019 and now that he is in Miami, the Cowboys need guys to step up and play in roles they haven’t to because of Jones. Entering camp, I would say that this is the position group with the most questions on the team.
Cornerbacks on the roster
Chidobe Awuzie – After an offseason of speculation, it does appear that Awuzie will start off camp at cornerback. If that is the case, it would be disappointing if he wasn’t one of the starters to open the season. This season will go a long way into determining on where Chidos career goes as he’s in a contract year in 2020.
Jourdan Lewis – With coaches that appear to only care about getting the best players on the field, Lewis should have new life. Being in contract year doesn’t hurt either. Lewis will be in competition with Brown for the starting slot but I could also see him competing for an outside spot as well.
Trevon Diggs – The Cowboys were reportedly open to taking Diggs at 17 in the draft if other targets were off the board so getting him at 50 has me really excited for him. He will be competing for a starting role during camp and I would expect him to be one the starting corners at the start of the season.
Anthony Brown – Since his 2016 rookie season, I have been disappointed with Brown so I am hoping new voices on the coaching staff will help him regain his 2016 form.
Other cornerbacks expected to be on the roster: Reggie Robinson II, Daryl Worley and C.J. Goodwin.
Robert Quinn was a monster on the opposite side of Demarcus Lawrence last season compiling 11.5 sacks. With Quinn in Chicago, the Cowboys will need another guy to step up to take some of the pressure off of Lawrence again in 2020. I have questions about if that guy is currently on the roster which is why I am hoping we get an answer on Gregory sooner rather than later. I have also advocated for the team to bring Clowney in on a short term deal.
Candidates to replace Quinn
Aldon Smith – It would be amazing if Smith could step in and be that guy after 4 years away from football but I have my doubts. Smith accumulated 42.5 of his 47.5 career sacks in his first three seasons in the NFL.
Tyrone Crawford – This is the mostly likely starter opposite Lawrence to begin the season with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe taking over inside. Crawford only played 4 games in 2019.
Other defensive ends expected to be on the roster: Bradlee Anae, Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson.
The Cowboys have long been considered the best offensive line in football. I don’t believe that is the case anymore. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of talent on the line anymore because Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins still exist, but left guard and center are question marks to start training camp. With the lack of game reps and limited training camp snaps, these two positions could be positions we talk about all season.
Center competition – Joe Looney vs. Tyler Biadasz
Joe Looney – Looney filled in for Travis Frederick in 2018 when Frederick was forced to sit out. If things work out the way the Cowboys want, Looney will be in a backup role in 2020.
Tyler Biadasz – The Cowboys traded up in the 4th round to draft Biadasz so I expect him to win the competition with Looney.
Left Guard position – Connor Williams vs. Connor McGovern
Connor Williams – Coming into camp bigger and bulkier didn’t translate to on the field production for Williams in 2019. He enters camp in 2020 needing to have a great camp to win the starting job. He played in just 11 games in 2019 after tearing his ACL.
Connor McGovern – I was excited to have McGovern when he was drafted in the third round during the 2019 draft. We never saw him on the field due to a partially torn pectoral muscle. I expect him to win the starting left guard position, but if Williams is able to beat him out, McGovern can also slide to center depending on how that battle goes.
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