When I was a kid, I was never engrossed in preseason football games. And during my first several years as an adult, I wasn’t that much more interested as the only thing that appealed to me was when the starters were in the game. That left a relatively small sample size of enjoyment during the exhibition weeks. But those days are long gone. Preseason action is a kick in the pants for me now. As I have become more and more involved in the offseason happenings of the team, my interest has elevated to a new level.
Every year brings some new toys to the club. Whether it is a brand spanking new rookie, a veteran free agent who is new to the team, or a fan favorite that is making a return from injury - the anticipation of watching a new Cowboys player is invigorating. It brings the hope and excitement that someone new can add some flair to this football team.
While preseason games are still a few months away, I am still anxiously awaiting the opportunity to watch some of the new guys in action. Here are three I can’t wait to see on the field in August.
I can’t remember being more excited for a Cowboys rookie than I am for Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys first-round draft pick will get his chances this preseason, but when it comes to taking the lion’s share of the carries – that responsibility could go to the other rookie. Last year, we were subjected to scrubbies like Gus "Bus" Johnson and Ben "Funky Cold" Medina. While we all tried to muster up some love for these guys, they just weren’t very good. The Eastern Michigan product could be a different story. Jackson tore it up during his pro day and his athleticism flies off the chart. While he’s not likely to make a push for any real playing time in Dallas, the preseason will be his stage. He won’t have the luxury of running behind the stars of the Cowboys offensive line, but he’s got great lateral quickness and should work himself in space. He’ll get a chance to play against third- and fourth-string players, which could open the door for some big runs. It would be a nice feeling to know the Cowboys have a talented reserve in their back pocket should they ever need to call upon him.
We all know Tony Romo won’t get to play much in the preseason. The coaching staff will have their franchise quarterback cased in bubble wrap for most of these games. That leaves a lot of snaps for the other guys. Last year, these other guys consisted of Brandon Weeden and Dustin Vaughan. Many fans didn’t care to see much of Weeden and it didn’t take long for them to be calling for Vaughan. They got their wish, but it didn’t turn out like they were hoping as they quickly realized he wasn’t the answer.
This preseason, we’ll get to do it all over again with two new candidates.
Kellen Moore is now the "veteran" QB who we’ve gotten a taste of and Dak Prescott is the new kid on the block. If any one of these quarterbacks show signs of playmaking ability, it’s going to create quite the buzz. Expect the stock of these two backups to bounce around from play to play, but there is one thing that could separate the two. Both should get their chances to make big plays, but it could be the plays they don’t make that impresses the coaches the most. Protecting the ball will be key and Prescott may show the ability to make better decisions. A game-managing QB is not something fans can get too excited about, but one who also possesses the skills to find the end zone is a different story. If Prescott can do both of these things, fans are going to be very happy.
Despite being suspended for the beginning of the season, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory will be in action during the preseason to give fans something to look forward to. The Cowboys will need to rely on some other edge rushers to get them through the first part of the season so the auditions will be in full swing. It just feels like there’s going to be one under-the-radar edge rusher this season that’s going to get fans worked up. We’ve seen Rod Marinelli coach up players like George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey to where they outperform expectations so we know its possibility. The Cowboys have a slew of possible candidates, so it’s just a matter of which one emerges. Maybe it’s the rookie, Charles Tapper? Maybe David Irving improves on a solid debut last season? Or maybe last year’s fifth round-project, Ryan Russell, finally shows people what he can do when he’s utilized correctly.
I like all those options, however my favorite is Benson Mayowa. The Cowboys pulled him away from the Oakland Raiders with a three-year, $8.55 million deal. The front office doesn’t like to just throw money around recklessly, so they must see something in Mayowa to bring him over. He has great get-off and plays with enormous intensity, which are traits that are indicative of a Marinelli defensive end. Mayowa possesses good speed and balance to get after the quarterback, but just hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to this point. He will get his shot in Dallas.
Mayowa is a wild card player for sure, but his upside is something that has a lot of fans fascinated.
Those are three players I can’t wait to see on the field. Who are you looking forward to seeing in preseason games?