In preparation for their first preseason game, the Dallas Cowboys like to have an annual Blue and White Scrimmage to feel the full intensity of competition. First-, second- and third-string teams will get a chance to compete against each other in a practice that can influence the playing time allotted in the preseason. For some, the Blue and White Scrimmage is the perfect opportunity to snag the coaches attention. Here are a few guys that will be looking to solidify their status in camp status.
5. OG- La'el Collins
There hasn't been much of a battle as previously expected between Ronald Leary and Collins. Leary has done nothing to relinquish his stranglehold on the starting left guard position. Collins has strung together a few good practices and has earned the right at a few reps with the ones. It will be interesting to see if the coaches will give him the opportunity on Sunday. The Cowboys' defense has a lot of versatile linemen and if Collins can hold his own against any of them, it will be a huge victory for him. Where Leary is an absolute mauler with strength to overpower the opponent, Collins has to focus more of his athletic ability and technique. There hasn't been a true battle yet, but maybe Collins can turn up the heat a little.
4. CB- Morris Claiborne
Speaking of guys who have been having some nice practices, that's Mo' in a nutshell right now. He's been able to show some playmaking ability that got him drafted sixth overall in 2012. Last week he had a diving interception off Romo that was spectacular to see and almost had another one in the very same drill. After a long rehab process, Claiborne understands that he's fighting for position on the depth chart. With that said, Mo' has been getting reps with all three squads and has been taking the right approach to his opportunity. If he is able to continue his good work in the scrimmage, it will help in building his confidence for 2015. One of the most important tools for a corner in this league is the confidence factor. It's been one of the biggest obstacles in Claiborne's way because without it, he finds himself blowing assignments and not being physical enough. Claiborne has a bright road ahead if he can continue on his current path.
3. RB- Joseph Randle
It's been the Randle show since landing in Oxnard and it doesn't look to change anytime soon. Both Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden are banged up which means more work for Lache Seastrunk and Gus Johnson. Garrett said in his press conference today that McFadden won't get back on the field until after the first preseason game. Randle hasn't been challenged much at all in camp and could likely be pretty far ahead by the time any of these injured backs return. Randle has impeccable vision and runs with an elusive one-cut style that is perfect for the Cowboys' zone-blocking scheme. Thus far, Randle has had some really nice practices and is confident that he can take on the same type of role that DeMarco Murray filled. The Cowboys would love to try a stable of running backs but the issue is health. Once again, it looks as though the lead back approach will take shape. Right now the only person that can do that is the guy that's playing; Joseph Randle.
2. CB- Byron Jones
The unfortunate news of Brandon Carr's broken hand will mean an increased load for first-round pick Jones. Byron has been getting tested early and often in this camp and has had some good battles with Dez Bryant. Jones has the versatility to play free safety as well but the Cowboys have kept him mainly at corner, where he was drafted. He has such good athleticism for the position and plays very tight to his man but with discipline to not get grabby. The defensive backs have struggled at times in this camp with the offense's elite pass catchers but they continue to battle back. Though Carr is the veteran, Jones has a huge opportunity to separate himself from his competition for the right corner spot. It is worth noting that the injury Carr suffered was the same Murray had last year and played through. Carr is a competitor, so he'll likely not want to stay out long. However, Jones has all the leverage at the moment.
1. CB-Tyler Patmon
It's been all defensive backs today but Patmon has had by far the best camp of all of them. Despite his overblown scuffle with Dez Bryant, Patmon has shown that he's a relentless competitor. He can get beat but he bounces right back in the thick of it. Patmon played at Oklahoma State, a school known for their great defensive back coaching. Patmon is rarely out of position and he can make plays on the ball. The once tryout-guy has the opportunity to take his game to newer heights in 2015 and may find himself a role before too long. Garrett always says the best players will play, it's hard to argue that anyone has been better than Patmon this early into training camp. Every time he's been placed on the field, he finds a way to make really good plays. There is always room for a guy of his capabilities.