With three preseason games yet to play, the Dallas Cowboys certainly have some unanswered questions. At lot depends on how those last three games go. Cornerback and safety depth are real concerns with few hints as to how things may work out after the rather dismal jobs done by most of the third- and fourth-stringers against the 49ers. The performance of Mike White will have an influence on whether he makes the 53 or the team tries to get him on the practice squad (the latter option is more viable than most think). But other things are already starting to shape up, like the strong case that Lance Lenoir has made for himself. Here are five things that are not as evident as Lenoir’s showing, but that seem to be shaping up.
This is the end of the Chaz Green era.
There were a couple of days leading up to the preseason opener when Green looked to have found his footing, both figuratively and literally. But in live action, he was just about as woeful as that disastrous game against the Atlanta Falcons last season. While Cameron Fleming has not been superlative, he has been serviceable. After 2017, that is a definite upgrade. If the Cowboys should opt to go another way than Fleming, it would be to sign someone during waivers rather than try Green again. At least if they are sane.
I don’t write things like that with glee, by the way. I feel badly for Green, who has become something of a punching bag or punchline. His NFL dream is on life support, and there is a hand on the plug ready to jerk it out. It must be hard on a man to be in that position. But I have always wondered about his constant problem with hydration. He may just have something that is not quite right that has limited him. In any case, it just looks like a foregone conclusion the team cannot afford to retain a player that has repeatedly been so unreliable.
The Rico Gathers experiment is likely drawing to a close as well.
Yeah, his fans got stirred up again by his impressive one-handed catch in practice. But even he acknowledged that you shouldn’t read too much into that.
Rico Gathers on making the one-handed catch and how it could help him get on the Cowboys' roster: "You can make that catch one day then, shoot, and you don’t make no more catches for two weeks later like that. Coach doesn’t like flash players."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 13, 2018
The key thing to keep in mind is that Gathers did not get on the field last Thursday until very late, and only David Wells saw fewer snaps among the tight ends. (Wells also got a couple of special teams reps, for what it’s worth.) That seems to signal where he is in the pecking order, and doesn’t bode well. If he does not get more opportunities in the second and third preseason games, then it becomes extremely doubtful that he will make the team. The door is not quite shut and locked on Gathers - but it is moving that way.
It might getting close to time to add Kony Ealy to the nearly gone category.
Ealy has not fared well so far. He is probably now seventh on the DE depth chart, and it seems all but impossible for the team to keep that many ends. However, the staff seems to be trying to find a job for him.
Free agent signee Kony Ealy, who has not impressed at defensive end, will get a longer look at defensive tackle in practice as the Cowboys continue to search to search for a place for him to stick.— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 12, 2018
This may be a decent idea, given the current absence of Maliek Collins and David Irving. Still, with players like Datone Jones, Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, and Brian Price having put in a good showing against the ‘Niners, he is still going to have to prove himself. Even if he does make the roster that way, it could well be as the guy that gets released when Irving comes off suspension.
Bo Scarbrough is getting a push.
Again, the order of appearance in the first game is a big signal, where Scarbrough came in after Rod Smith got his touches. He made the most of things, with the longest run of the night and the only rushing touchdown. Just as crucial, he was on the field for a lot of special teams work, 46% of the ST plays. The staff is giving him every opportunity to earn a spot on the roster. And it seems to be paying off.
That brings up a side issue that continues to irritate. I saw a discussion of his chances that included how he had to make a contribution on STs to win a job. Not only did it not mention the heavy workload he got doing just that, it seemed to ignore what he is on record saying.
Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough said he played on every special teams unit at Alabama at some point. Said playing special teams isn't a problem for him with the Cowboys.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 12, 2018
Just had to get that off my chest.
That safety thing is a real concern, and the team may be ready to take some immediate steps.
The depth at safety may be the most concerning one at this point. This is a pretty big clue.
Players Cowboys worked out today:— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 13, 2018
Darren Carrington, WR
Jacob Alsadek, OL
Daronte Bouldin, OL
Dominick Sanders, S
Ryan Murphy, S
Deron Washington, S
Of course, working players out doesn’t mean they will sign one. But if they do add a safety or two, they will likely have to cut some to make room. This is something to keep an eye on.
It also raises the ever-present Earl Thomas question. Nothing seems imminent, and everything depends on the Seahawks at this point. But the problems the secondary had in the San Francisco game did nothing to lessen the appeal of adding Thomas to the Cowboys.
These are issues where the winds seem to be blowing in certain directions, at least for now. There is still time for all this to change - but it grows shorter every day.