It’s a long ways still from the cut-down to the final 53 and putting together a practice squad. But here are some random things about the Dallas Cowboys that may come into play.
Will a UDFA make the team?
The Cowboys have had a good history of finding some real talent among the UDFAs they sign each year. Jeff Heath, Cooper Rush, Dan Bailey, and Chris Jones all came to the team that way. In looking over the reports out of Oxnard, there is one name that you may want to keep an eye on: CB Donovan Olumba. He has shown up a lot, given the relatively small number of snaps he has gotten with Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown all ahead of him at this point. But the team will likely carry at least five corners, and so far Olumba seems to have done the most among the rest. His main competition comes from Duke Thomas and Marquez White, but they have not gotten as many good reviews as him. Look for him to be on the field a lot in preseason as the team tries to find out what they have in him.
Will the Cowboys carry three QBs, or try to sneak Mike White onto the practice squad?
The conventional wisdom says that they will not risk the fifth-round draft pick on waivers. But while White has flashed some, he has not had the kind of rookie camp that Cooper Rush did to win the QB2 job last year, and Rush seems to be picking up right where he left off.
And the simple fact is that fans of a particular team often see more value in players than other teams looking through the waiver lists do. It will be interesting to see how they allocate snaps in preseason games with White. If he is not on the field as much as we might expect for a player who is really involved in a battle for the QB2 position, then the team may be trying to hide him a bit. The fourth preseason game is the one to really watch. If Rush goes most of the way, they may be prepared to chance getting White through waivers, and improving those chances by limiting the video on him. And if Dalton Sturm gets more snaps overall, that would be a real giveaway. They could also come up with a hangnail or something to IR him.
Salary cap implications.
A couple of the free agent signings this year, Kony Ealy and Marcus Martin, have not had particularly good showings so far. K.D Drummond had this to say about Ealy:
It’s early, and perhaps as a veteran he will come around, but when reading reports stemming from Oxnard, young guys such as Charles Tapper and Dorance Armstrong are certainly making more of a buzz than Ealy has been.
The Cowboys barely invested in him, signing him to a $1.25 million deal a month into free agency. With just $200,000 sunk into a signing bonus, he could need a strong final three weeks to make sure he keeps a star on his helmet.
Martin is even more expendable in cap terms, with no dead money at all from releasing him. He is going to have to prove himself to keep his job.
The team was clearly hedging its bets on the two. That may turn out to be pertinent.
There’s a reason they brought so many wide receivers to camp.
Of course, there was the overall plan to revamp the wide receiver group after the release of Dez Bryant. However, WRs are also a position group that seems to be particularly vulnerable to the injury bug. And that is already starting to have an impact in the wide receiver group for the Cowboys. Cedrick Wilson has been lost for the season, going on IR (and he is not eligible to return as a camp IR designee), and now Noah Brown and Deonte Thompson are both dealing with what are hoped to be minor problems (they were both reportedly on the field for the Saturday afternoon practice, which is good news). But sometimes those don’t clear up as rapidly as the players need to make the team. We all hate to see health concerns costing anyone their chance. That doesn’t change the fact that it almost always comes into play for some position groups.
Those are some things to keep in the back of your mind as we move forward. All things can change, of course, with a lot of practices and all four preseason games still to come. Players make their case to be on the roster - or to get cut.