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Cowboys News: First official depth chart of 2018 released; Cole Beasley says receivers “will shock people.”

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Plus, six Cowboys veterans who have stepped up their game in camp

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Cowboys depth chart released: Rookie starter, Rico Gathers third-string, Kony Ealy second-string - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The scoop of the day comes from Ochoa, who posted the first article on the first official Cowboys depth chart of 2018, which offers up a few surprises:

Unsurprisingly Connor Williams is starting at left guard for the Cowboys. Darius Jackson did get the nod over Bo Scarbrough which will likely shock some people, but the truth is Darius is a better option as of now.

Many have suspected that Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are the favorites at tight end and this first depth chart corroborates that idea. Rico Gathers is listed third so rookie Dalton Schultz still has some work to do apparently.

Also a little surprising: Kony Ealy is listed as a second-stringer ahead of both Dorance Armstrong and Charles Tapper.

Here’s what the full depth chart currently looks like, with returning players marked in green, rookies marked in yellow, and trade/free agent additions marked in orange:

OFFENSE
POS First Second Third Fourth
WR1 Allen Hurns Michael Gallup Noah Brown Ricky Jeune
LT Tyron Smith Cameron Fleming Bryce Johnson
LG Connor Williams Kadeem Edwards Dustin Stanton
C Travis Frederick Joe Looney Marcus Martin
RG Zack Martin Marcus Martin Damien Mama
RT La’el Collins Chaz Green Jake Campos Korren Kirven
TE Geoff Swaim Blake Jarwin Rico Gathers Dalton Schultz, David Wells
SR Cole Beasley Tavon Austin Deonte Thompson Marchie Murdock
WR2 Terrance Williams Lance Lenoir K.D. Cannon Mekale McKay
QB Dak Prescott Cooper Rush Mike White Dalton Sturm
RB Ezekiel Elliott Rod Smith Darius Jackson Bo Scarbrough, Jordan Chunn
FB Jamaze Olawale
DEFENSE
POS First Second Third Fourth
DE Tyrone Crawford Taco Charlton Charles Tapper Austin Larkin
DT Datone Jones Brian Price Richard Ash
DT Jihad Ward Daniel Ross Antwaun Woods Lewis Neal
DE DeMarcus Lawrence Kony Ealy Dorance Armstrong Joby Saint Fleur
SLB Damien Wilson Justin March-Lillard Chris Covington Eric Pinkins
MLB Jaylon Smith Leighton Vander Esch Tre’von Johnson Joel Lanning
WLB Sean Lee Joe Thomas Kyle Queiro
CB Byron Jones Jourdan Lewis Marquez White Donovan Olumba
CB Anthony Brown Jourdan Lewis Duke Thomas
CB Chidobe Awuzie Duke Thomas Charvarius Ward
SS Jeff Heath Kavon Frazier Jameill Showers
FS Xavier Woods Marqueston Huff Tyree Robinson Kam Kelly
SPECIAL TEAMS
POS First Second Third Fourth
P Chris Jones Brett Maher
K Dan Bailey Brett Maher
LS L. P. Ladouceur Scott Daly
H Chris Jones
KOR Jourdan Lewis Duke Thomas Darius Jackson
PR Duke Thomas Lance Lenoir Jourdan Lewis

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers eager to log game experience in ‘18 - Logan Reardon, NFL.com
Rico Gathers’ transition from a college basketball star to an NFL tight end has seen plenty of bumps along the way, but the third-year player seems ready to make it on the field in the regular season.

“I’m a smart football player, I have to learn the game,” Gathers said. “For me, I always have to assess before I go into a play rather than a player who has done this their whole life. They basically go up there on the line and know where they got to be. I say to myself, well ‘shoot, we got this, I got to do this.’”

Gathers isn’t alone in his switch from college basketball to pro football. Some of the best tight ends in NFL history -- including Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham -- played basketball in college. There is a clear correlation between the two sports that benefits certain tight ends.

Six Dallas Cowboys veterans who have stepped their game up in camp - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Ryle looks at six players who are making some noise in camp after struggling some in 2017. Byron Jones, Terrance Williams, Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, and Rico Gathers make Ryle’s list, but perhaps the biggest surprise on this list is Chaz Green.

After the dismal job he did a year ago, it would not have been a surprise if the team had released him. But they didn’t, and Green spent a lot of time working on his game in the offseason.

After some rough early days in camp (including having to leave practice for the hydration issues he always seems to be fighting), he has started to show up in a better way, winning some reps. It was thought that Cameron Fleming was going to walk in and just take Green’s spot on the roster, but that is not looking nearly so certain, as Fleming has not been as consistent as he should. There has been some discussion of whether Fleming is better at the RT spot, with Green maybe having an edge at LT. That could throw a curve at the staff, forcing them to keep nine O linemen.

But Green is putting up a real fight to be the swing tackle, something that seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago. If he earns it, then some of us (raises hand) may have to eat a lot of crow.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott said Cole Beasley has earned his trust - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Hill offers up some impressions from yesterday's activities in Oxnard.

It was interesting listening to Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner interview Prescott along with Irvin on the NFL Network. He wondered if Prescott had anyone he trusted yet to go to on 3rd and 6 when he needed a first down as he often did to Witten and Bryant in the past.

Surprisingly, Prescott listed receiver Cole Beasley as the person he would trust to target in those situations right now based on their past success.

Prescott’s ability to throw the deep ball has been questioned since his rookie season. It remains a question now. He said on the NFL Network that he is excited about the deep speed of Tavon Austin and Deonte Thompson and has fun airing it out them in practice. But he also acknowledged they have yet to make consistent connections if any, and it remains a work in progress.

Coach Jason Garrett followed up with the media, saying that Prescott is a good deep ball throwing and has made some big connections down the field in his career. He said something that Prescott has to continue to work on. But Garrett also pointed out that you don’t need a big arm to be a good deep ball thrower. He said the average distance in the air of a straight go route in the NFL was 42 yards. He said the key is reading the defense, throwing with anticipation and having a guy who can catch it on the other end.

Cole Beasley: Cowboys receivers will shock people - NFL.com
The Dallas Cowboys' patchwork receiving corps has caught plenty of criticism from pundits, but Cole Beasley thinks the naysayers are going to be shocked with what rolls out this season.

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of Inside Training Camp Live, NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin relayed a message from the team's veteran slot receiver.

"Cole Beasley told me to tell everybody," Irvin relayed. "He said, Michael, I know everybody is wondering what we will be doing at the wide-receiver position. But I guarantee you we will shock people."

The most intriguing wild cards in Prescott's motley crew are Gallup and Jarwin. If this aerial attack is truly going to send shockwaves through the NFL, Gallup must emerge as an impact threat on the outside while Jarwin pulls off a convincing Witten impression between the numbers.

Even in a disappointing 2017 campaign, the Cowboys fell just shy of the playoffs at 9-7. If the receivers back Beasley's boast throughout the season, they can count on playing for higher stakes when January rolls around.


This is what you should be watching for in the Cowboys’ first preseason game - Jean-Jacques Taylor, DMN
The Cowboys are finally taking the field again on Thursday for their first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. The starters probably won’t do too much, but here’s what to look for.

The answer has to be the secondary. It would be real easy to say Dak and the passing game, but we all know they’re only going to play 1-2 series at the most. The secondary, though, has a lot of guys I’d like see whether it’s Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown or whether it’s undrafted free agents like Kam Kelly, Donovan Olumba and Charvarius Ward, all of whom have played well at various times during training camp. Passing game coordinator Kris Richard has done a nice job of coaching and getting this unit to believe in themselves. Now, we can see them against some other players.

The five under-the-radar Cowboys you’ll want to watch in preseason opener vs. 49ers - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota lists five players who have been quietly turning heads in camp, The list includes Lance Lenoir, Dorance Armstrong, Antwaun Woods, and Marquez White, but is topped by Charvarius Ward

1) Charvarius Ward, CB | 6-1, 200

Ward has been modest about his performance so far, calling it only "pretty decent." But in terms of turning in flash plays, he's had one of the best camps of any player on the roster. The undrafted rookie free agent out of Middle Tennessee State has routinely gotten his hands on passes in both team and one-on-one periods.

He provided one of the top defensive highlights of camp on Saturday when he intercepted a Dak Prescott deep ball intended for Michael Gallup in one-on-one drills. Ward stayed step-for-step with Gallup, caught the ball over his shoulder, pushed Gallup to the ground and then cut back up field.

"That helped boost my confidence a lot," Ward said of the play. "I feel like I have a lot of potential. I can make a lot of plays on the ball, create a lot of turnovers."

Depending on how many corners the Cowboys keep - either five or six - Ward could be battling Marquez White, another player on this list, for one of the final roster spots.


Scout’s Notebook: Solid Showing in the Secondary - Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com
Resident Cowboys scout/analyst Bryan Broaddus’ breakdown of the last padded practice on Monday highlights the promise coaches and fans are seeing from the secondary.

Charvarius Ward once again had another solid day of practice. Ward has shown an ability to defend balls down the field at various points. Today he was able to knock down a pass intended for Lance Lenoir on a curl route. As Lenoir began to come back to the ball, Ward was in his hip pocket knocking the ball away with his left hand.

Anthony Brown is not about to give up his position to Jourdan Lewis, despite what fans want. Brown continues to do things that won’t give the coaches any reason to take him off the field. His interception of Cooper Rush during Blitz Period was a well-executed play. Brown positioned himself perfectly underneath Michael Gallup so when the ball came down, all he had to do was extend his hands and the ball fell right into them. This was back-to-back days where Brown had come up with an interception.

VIDEO: Taco Charlton beats La’el Collins with impressive spin move - @jonmachota
Some fans were disappointed by the rookie year of Taco Charlton, but the defensive end has been turning heads in training camp so far. He literally turned La’el Collins’ head with this spin move.

VIDEO: La’el Collins puts DeMarcus Lawrence on the ground - @jonmachota
In case Charlton’s spin move made you worried about Collins as a pass blocker, here’s another video where Collins goes up against DeMarcus Lawrence and drives him into the ground, simply dominating the star pass rusher.


Terrance Williams rebounding well from injury - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com
Receiver Terrance Williams seemed to stand to gain the most from Dez Bryant’s departure, but an injury and an arrest put his future in doubt. However, Williams has been doing his part to prove himself in training camp.

For starters, the Cowboys’ veteran receiver is practicing after having to watch from the sidelines. Williams required surgery on a foot injury back in the offseason, and he missed the entirety of OTAs and minicamp. It wasn’t until this past week that the Cowboys began to ease him into the full flow of practice.

”I feel like I can do a lot of stuff that I couldn’t do before, but it’s still a work in progress,” Williams said on Sunday. “I’m trying not to push it just yet.”

As they typically do with players returning from injury, the Cowboys have been slow with Williams. He didn’t practice at the start of camp, and he has gradually increased his workload. Williams said he is still managing the pain from the injury, but it hasn’t limited his ability to make plays in practice.

Things are working in Lance Lenoir’s favor so far throughout training camp - RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys
Speaking of the wide receiver competition, Lance Lenoir has seemingly been the talk of the (training camp) town. Once considered a camp body, this pet cat has seen his stock rise considerably for several reasons.

The door has been swung wide open for a popular pet cat of many BTBers, Lance Lenoir.

Lance has been working his tail off this offseason (we caught up with him in Oxnard and he explained), and he’s played well so far in camp. To make an NFL roster sometimes you have to do more than play well, you have to catch some breaks. Lance seems to have done that.

With Wilson sidelined permanently and Brown trying to round into form from injury, Lance has absorbed all the extra reps. Considering Allen Hurns has been afforded some rest days himself and that the Cowboys are taking things slow with Terrance Williams in his own recovery, Lance has had plenty of chances to shine, and he has.

Source: Cowboys DL David Irving’s absence from training camp won’t affect his free agency status this offseason - Brandon George, SportsDay
David Irving has been absent from training camp so far, and that was the plan as he focuses on some off-field issues that haunted his offseason. There were questions about how this might impact his contract status for free agency, but it won’t.

Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving’s absence from training camp won’t affect his ability to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, a source said.

Irving didn’t report to training camp with the Cowboys two weeks ago while he works through off-the-field problems that include substance abuse. He continues to work out at a gym near Los Angeles.

A rule in the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement states that “a player shall not receive an accrued season for any league year in which the player is under contract to a club and in which he failed to report to such club at least 30 days prior to the first regular-season game.”

The Cowboys’ season opener is Sept. 9 at Carolina, so Irving was approaching the 30-day mark.

But because Irving has an excused absence from the Cowboys and an agreement is in place with the club, the source said, the rule won’t be applied to Irving.


From the FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there’s a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

Why Jason Garrett is NOT on the hot seat in 2018 - VAfan, Blogging the Boys FanPost

As the start of the NFL season approaches, one of the discussion topics that becomes more popular is which coaches are on the hot seat. Many national media outlets have listed Jason Garrett among those in danger, but BTB’er VAfan thinks otherwise.

People think that if the Cowboys don’t win, that Jason Garrett will ultimately be at fault. But this assumes that Garrett is primarily responsible for play calling on the field. He is not. He plays a role there, but the offensive and defensive coordinators are the ones making the game plans and calling the plays.

Where Jason Garrett has value for the Cowboys is that he’s a major part of a four-person leadership group that is responsible for the Dallas Cowboys roster. Those four people are:

Jerry Jones

Stephen Jones

Will McClay

Jason Garrett

Of those four, Jason Garrett is a critical player. He may not find the players, or evaluate them. That’s more Will McClay’s job. He certainly doesn’t sign them or negotiate their contracts. That’s Stephen’s and Jerry’s job.

But what he does do is serve a huge role in deciding what the team needs to do to build and tweak its roster from year to year.