Let’s revisit each question with the same countdown format.
With Ryan Switzer having missed both pre-season games with lingering hamstring issues, the return game was entrusted to Lance Lenoir, who will not make the roster. So the answer for now is that we’re still waiting for a glimpse of Switzer in action.
Todd Archer’s article from yesterday - “Nothing wrong with the Dak Prescott-to-Dez Bryant connection” - provides a strong sign that Dez is ready to rumble this year. So the preliminary answer to this question is a solid YES. That may be even more true if Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is upheld and the Cowboys end up having to rely more on their passing attack during that time.
The “underachievers” identified in this article were a number of defensive linemen who didn’t really bring it last year consistently — DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Cedric Thornton, Benson Mayowa, Stephen Paea, and Damontre Moore. So far in camp, several have been noted for their contributions. Lawrence has often been called the best edge guy in camp, Paea is back doing what he does best, penetrating in a 4-3 rather than two-gapping in a 3-4, and Moore has been disruptive in the pre-season games. The jury will remain out until we see them in action that counts, but so far things look positive.
We still haven’t seen Ryan Switzer, but Rico Gathers has been a revelation. Here was my piece on him already being the most explosive tight end on the Cowboys roster. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Bob Sturm’s take after the second preseason game, where Rico had another long touchdown that looked super easy.
This is either the start of something big, or we can look back at August 2017 as the time we lost our minds about a project basketball player who showed his ability for one shining moment.
But, man, he is looking like a real piece to have on the chess board moving forward. And since I had to look, the number of times Martellus Bennett caught a 25-yard (or more) touchdown as a Dallas Cowboy? Twice. Both in 2008. Once from Brad Johnson at the end of a blowout loss in St. Louis and just one from Tony Romo (in 4 years) in Washington that same rookie year. Gathers has 2 in 2 weeks, albeit both in exhibitions.
Here’s another question we can’t answer until the season starts. But against the Rams, the defense forced fumble after fumble. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a great job of recovering them, so they weren’t technically turnovers, but it looks like a good start!
The Cowboys got a scare when Tyrone Crawford rolled up his ankle the other day in practice, as he’d been having a strong camp anchoring that left end slot. Fortunately, he sounds like he will be ready for the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Taco Charlton got his first sack. We’re still waiting to see Maliek Collins in action, who may be the Cowboys most disruptive lineman. The jury is out, but other than the suspensions to Irving and Moore to start the season, things are looking okay. Not dominant, but okay.
La’el Collins appears to be doing his part out at right tackle. The team has given him a good number of preseason game reps because it’s a new position for him, and he’s done well.
Left guard is another matter. Jonathan Cooper has played in both games, but he hasn’t commanded the left guard position, as the Cowboys continue rotating in Chaz Green and Byron Bell. This remains the most uncertain job on the offense.
Here’s another good question, but one that cannot be answered in the preseason, because the Cowboys won’t get much opportunity against opponents’ best passing attacks. We’ve seen some flashes by the new kids - Xavier Woods had a nice game last week, and Chidobe Awuzie almost grabbed a pick-six against the Cardinals. But mostly the new cornerbacks have been sidelined with various ailments, so it’s too early to tell what impact they might have.
Dak Prescott appears to be upping his game, though we haven’t seen him in any game action yet. That is going to change this week against the Colts.
But Ezekiel Elliott is now fighting a six-game suspension. He cannot have any involvement with the team once that suspension starts. How long will it take him to get up to speed when he returns? This is going to be a serious blow, though one can expect him to be raring to go when he can return.
We don’t know yet, but we’re going to get our first glimpse of him in game action this week against the Colts! It’s only preseason, but I expect we’ll all tune in to see it. Based on what we’ve seen in training camp, it should be exciting.