The Cowboys passing game has been a popular discussion topic this offseason but such is the case when one area receives such a huge face lift. Only four players at both tight end and receiver can say they have caught a pass in the regular season from Dak Prescott. Those lucky few are Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Geoff Swaim, and Noah Brown. Four pass catchers out of the 20 on the roster? To say this roster has seen some turnover would be an “understatement of the year” candidate.
All these new faces is exciting for Dak because he’s just going to trust his reads and throw to the open man. He’s been trying to build a bond between he and his pass catchers, telling the media that he plans to take them on a trip before training camp begins:
“Prescott said such trips are about “being a family, not just being a team. The moment we walk in here we’re a team. So it’s about being more than that, finding when and where we can get that camaraderie in the right way. ...Doing those things like going to Key West and the trip me and the receivers and the backs will make will only help us grow and be better.”
Everyone has already started hedging their bets on who will emerge as Prescott’s most trusted pass catchers. Prescott already has a nice rapport built with Cole Beasley but the rest of the NFL is well aware of that, too. There’s been a lot of buzz about Tavon Austin, who Dak referred to as “a steal” of a find for the Cowboys. In the last practice of minicamp, Dak connected with new Cowboy receiver Allen Hurns for a much-needed highlight in a three-day rough patch for the offense:
Standout play of Day 3? Wait for it.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) June 14, 2018
A back shoulder fade from Dak to Allen Hurns. Ball was well-placed, Hurns boxed out Byron Jones and toe-touched just outside the pylon. Put the first-team offense right on the goal line. #cowboyswire
Though all three of those guys will be integral parts of the offense going forward, they haven’t been Prescott’s most comfortable targets. Both Bryan Broaddus and David Helman of the Mothership were asked who Prescott’s early favorites were. Three names you may not expect were mentioned:
Broaddus: The guys that come to mind for me are Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin. Those guys have found ways to generate space and have been reliable catching the ball when it’s thrown in their direction.
Helman: I have no idea if it will help him make the team, but there is no denying the rapport that Dak has built with Lance Lenoir. The two have been working together throughout the offseason, and it showed up in these spring practices. Lenoir has his work cut out for him in training camp, but he is building trust where it counts.
In years past, Cowboys fans have been spoiled by the content that the fine folks at the Mothership have produced. So much so that the Cowboys tweaked their practice guidelines for the media. Broaddus and Helman have also put the kibosh on their daily videos of practices. Without the ability to see for ourselves, we have to trust the opinions of those closest to the action. There’s no more trusted sources than these two men in Cowboys Nation.
If you scroll through the social media timeline of these practices, you tend to see Gallup mentioned quite often. Even though he’s a rookie, he plays with the confidence of a pro’s pro and manages to remain an open target for Dak. He’s had a drop or two but more often then not, he’s getting that ball. Lance Lenoir is an interesting second-year player that spent his first year on the practice squad. He was a beacon of inconsistency last preseason but the potential after the catch makes him a good threat to have in your back pocket. Lenoir’s biggest fan just so happens to be Will McClay but it seems as though Dak is taking notice.
The tight end position is much harder to figure out when the vested veteran Geoff Swaim has a total of nine NFL receptions, less than 100 yards, and zero touchdowns. It’s not his fault he had to play behind a potential first-ballot Hall of Famer. With that said, Blake Jarwin has the athleticism and is a gifted receiver down the seam. We at least know they loved him enough to promote him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster to avoid him getting poached by the rival Eagles. Jarwin was one of four second-year players we discussed as having the most to gain during OTA’s and training camp. So far, it would seem as though he’s off to a great start.
The beauty in having such a young and unheralded stable of pass catchers is that you just never know who’s going to be the guy that seizes the moment on any given day. It can quite literally be any one at any time. Which seems to be the whole point of this new “spread the ball” campaign the Cowboys are implementing. There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment but it’s not always a negative thing. Sometimes the unknown breeds incredible opportunities, just ask former Cowboy Miles Austin. If it’s worked before, it most definitely can work in their favor again.