The Cowboys had their first challenge in the preseason, and there are a lot of news and rumors about the Cowboys as they approach the second half and the end of training camp. Even though there is a long way to go for the team for Dallas until the season begins, we can already draw some conclusions. Here are seven things we have learned about the team.
7. Rico Gathers Makes Progress
Rico Gathers was selected in the sixth round from Baylor in the last year’s draft, but he didn’t have a significant role in 2016. The Dallas Cowboys released him, so he spent the entire year with the practicing squad, but now, his progress is clearly visible. In his first preseason game, he caught three passes for 59 yards, and he has already had more playing time now than in the previous season.
Rico Gathers still needs to improve, but he is already a far better player than he was. However, he is the fourth tight end on the roster, and we will not see a lot of him, but this can easily change at some point in the season. Hopefully, Gathers will have a bigger role in the years to come.
6. Rod Smith – The 3rd RB?
Rod Smith could challenge Alfred Morris for the role of the third running back on the roster. ESPN’s Todd Archer said that he is already a third RB, but Smith showed that he has potential and he might even attack Darren McFadden who is the first replacement of Elliott. In the game, Smith had 21 touches and ran 89 yards, plus he played the receiver role a couple of times, and his versatility and size make him a good option. We will definitely keep an eye on Smith in the future.
5. Taco Charlton is a Rookie
Charlton played his first game as a Cowboy but was on the field only for 16 snaps in the first half and none on the second. He registered zero pressure and no tackles. Charlton is still a rookie, and we cannot expect him to shine in his first game because he is still learning how to use his outstanding physical abilities. This season will not be a breakout year for him, but hopefully, he will show us his potential in the upcoming preseason games.
4. Jaylon Smith is Healthy
Linebacker Jaylon Smith still has to prove himself, but the important thing is that he is healthy. Smith participated in back-to-back practices, and he was a part of team’s padded practices including goal-line drills. He still uses a brace to help lift his foot, but he could come back to 100 percent within the next year, says NFL Network’s Jane Slater. The good thing is that he is making progress and he will be at a high level sooner rather than later.
3. Brice Butler Stands Out
Brice Butler lost some weight to prepare better for the upcoming season. Wide receiver coach Derek Dooley said that Butler “had a very good offseason.” Butler had a good game on Thursday when he caught two passes for 78 years, and he showed his ability to catch the ball. He is 27, but he may have a breakout season now that he has improved. It is not too late.
2. The Lack of Pass Rush
Dallas struggles with the defensive line, and three defensive linemen have already been suspended: David Irving, Randy Gregory, and Damonte Moore. Also, they are mostly younger players, who are still developing and Charles Tapper hasn’t played a down in the NFL, for instance. Perhaps veteran DeMarcus Lawrence could lead the squad, but he had a one-sack season last year and a second off-season back injury. The defensive line could be a major issue for the Cowboys, and it showed in the first preseason game.
1. La’el Collins as the Right Tackle
Veteran Doug Free retired, and it was rumored that La’el Collins could be moved to right tackle. We found out that was true after the NFL Draft and the Cowboys tried to hide this for some reason. During the Hall of Fame game, Collins took every snap from right tackle, and it became evident that he will be the right tackle in 2017. We cannot wait to see him in this position once the season starts.