OTAs are mostly just fun for football junkies, and if you are reading this, there is a good chance that description applies to you - like it does to me. We watch social media for every shred of information about what the Dallas Cowboys are doing as they get in the only practices they will have before the long drought leading up to training camp. Some things were pretty predictable coming in, such as the nervous watching of everything Jaylon Smith does, and the flair rookie Ryan Switzer has already demonstrated.
But there are a lot of other things that may develop. Here are a few suggestions for some stories that would be fun to see.
A new battle for the backup quarterback job.
Last year, a lot of us were eager to see Dak Prescott challenge Kellen Moore for the QB2 job. Well, that panned out a wee bit differently than we all imagined. None of us are complaining, but once again, the Cowboys seem to be moving forward with the intent of Moore as the backup to the starter.
This year, there is a possible new challenger in town, UDFA Cooper Rush. From scouting reports, he seems to have a very similar skill set to Moore’s, but in a bigger, more NFL sized package (6’ 3”, as compared to Moore’s 6’ 0”).
And there have already been a couple of good moments that may be catching the eyes of the coaching staff, as reported by Bryan Broaddus in his article on day 2 of OTAs.
After fumbling two straight snaps with Jonathan Cooper, Austin Appleby was replaced by Cooper Rush -- who was able to secure it and successfully run the play.
Undrafted rookie free agent Brian Brown had a really nice catch of a deep ball thrown by Cooper Rush -- who hung it up there for him to grab.
As for Moore . . .
Cowboys' OTA practice ended today with veteran safety Robert Blanton intercepting Kellen Moore in team drills— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 25, 2017
Speaking of Moores, can Damontre find a role on the team?
The Cowboys signed Damontre Moore as a free agent in hopes of him realizing the potential he had coming out of college. Derailed by problems both on and off the field, he may now be mature enough to take advantage of the opportunity. He is very athletic. Dallas certainly is looking for help getting to the passer wherever it can find it. The defensive line room is very crowded at the Star, but David Irving’s possible suspension may open up a spot for Moore to make the initial 53-man roster and prove himself in game action.
He’s got a lot he has to do to have a shot, but if he does work out, it would be a great find for the team.
What can Brown do for you?
The Cowboys have what seems to be an unusually high number of duplicate last names on the roster this year. In addition to the two Moores, they have four Joneses, two McFaddens, four Smiths, two Thomases, a Wood and a Woods - and three Browns, two of which are wide receivers vying to make the team. Noah Brown was a seventh-round draft pick, and Brian Brown signed as a UDFA. While the diminutive Switzer has been turning heads, the two Browns are more prototypical outside receivers, very similar in size to Dez Bryant. They are both likely vying with Brice Butler and Andy Jones for the fifth wide receiver position, or trying to force the team to carry a sixth wideout.
The emergence of one or more relatively unheralded wide receivers is an almost yearly occurrence for the Cowboys in training camp, and the OTAs are a time when they can get a head start on trying to do so. There are also places on the practice squad for them to serve as a ready reserve, as Andy Jones did last season. Noah has an advantage in having been drafted, and the Cowboys like to see those selections pay off, even when they are taken in the last round.
Can Jahad Thomas break through at running back?
The Cowboys are notably light at running back, with only four currently on the roster (plus Keith Smith and Rod Smith at fullback). One of them is UDFA Jahad Thomas, who looks to be a possible challenger to veteran Alfred Morris. Morris was unimpressive in his limited touches last season. Of course, when you have the best runner in the league starting, the backups might not seem so important, and Darren McFadden seems to have a good grip on the RB2 job. But the team carried four backs and a fullback most of last season, and they let Darius Jackson slip through their fingers when they activated McFadden late in the year. (Let us have a moment of silence for that loss.) Now that Lance Dunbar is gone, there may be a spot available for Thomas if he can show more on the field than Morris. And we know that the Cowboys like to get younger whenever they can.
There are four storylines that could be interesting and a bit of fun. How about you? Do you have some unexpected camp battles you would like to see emerge? Let us know in the comments.