We’re within a week of the Dallas Cowboys officially beginning training camp out in Oxnard, California. This is such an exciting time of year.
Soon enough, we’ll be debating how one player deserves that final roster spot over a different one as well as exuding over highlights from various pet cats. A lot of it is predictable, really. If you’ve been through a handful of Cowboys training camps then you know that certain trends pop up on an annual basis.
Of course, such is the nature of football really. So much of what’s happening is what happens every year. 90 players are vying for 53 spots, some are determined and others are up for grabs. Very little changes barring something dramatic, but the things that stay the same can be somewhat counted on. I discussed this on the latest episode of The Ocho with NFL Network’s Bobby Belt.
You can almost set your watch by particular narratives that manage to rise up every year. Here are five training camp cliches that you can absolutely count on seeing starting next week.
A member of the coaching staff will captivate everyone
Entering training camp a year ago all eyes were fixed on then-new Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard. He completely delivered.
Richard brought a tenacity to the staff many felt had been absent for too long. That disposition seemed to carry through the regular season and beyond just the secondary down through the entire defense.
There’s a prime candidate for a captivating coach for this particular training camp.
With the offense of a year ago drastically needing to improve, you can almost guarantee that people will be seeing what they want to see with Kellen Moore, if that makes sense. If he’s unable to revive the side of the ball that scores points then things are going to get bad quickly, as a result people will be looking for that spark.
One of the skill players will be regarded as a potentially serious new weapon
Two years ago Ryan Switzer was thought to be the weapon that was going to take the Dallas Cowboys offense to entirely new levels. That... didn’t happen.
A lot of this mystique is likely attributable to the fact that Switzer was a rookie, we saw the same sort of thing with Michael Gallup a year ago. Obviously the hope with rookies is that the Cowboys have drafted one of the league’s more promising new players that can really help their team, offensive playmakers are a great way for that idea to be fulfilled.
This idea sort of piggybacks off of Kellen Moore’s offense shining, but there’s a name that’s likely on the tip of your brain with this idea when it comes to players. Tony Pollard has all the makings of someone who will show off during practice and raise your blood pressure.
An older player will look [insert number of your choice here] years younger
Jason Witten is returning to the Cowboys after a year away in the Monday Night Football booth, but despite the advancements of makeup techniques and the like he did not rewind the clock on his age. He’s one of the more savvy veterans on the squad if you catch my drift.
I’ll be out in Oxnard myself for a week (July 27th through August 2nd, hit me up if you’ll be there) and I can tell you that the sunshine certainly feels better in July there than it does where I live in San Antonio. It relaxes you and sometimes that makes you see things.
We’ll all be seeing Jason Witten “look” a lot younger. It will happen. Give it time. No pun intended.
Field goals and extra points will be counted
This isn’t exactly a Cowboys-specific cliche as far as recent history is concerned, but it happens a lot across all NFL training camps. Kickers are going to be put under the microscope.
If you rewound 365 days you wouldn’t find a single person who thought that Dan Bailey’s job was in jeopardy yet when the final roster was announced he wasn’t on it. The saga wouldn’t have exactly had another chapter save for the fact that Brett Maher was shaky while replacing Bailey in 2018.
Considering so many games for Dallas finished with a margin of one score (12) last season, people are going to want a reliable kicker. If Maher can’t be that guy then there will be a lot of noise for the team to go find him. If he makes all of his kicks during camp though, well, the noise will be a lot less loud.
An undrafted free agent wide receiver will be everybody’s darling
Death, taxes, and Cowboys fans falling in love with an undrafted free agent during training camp.
There is zero doubt that one of this year’s UDFAs are going to make some noise in the receiver room. Training camp open threads will be filled with people planting their flag for various players, it’s a tale as old as time.
Interestingly, watch me do it myself, this year could be the one where an UDFA stands a legitimate shot at making the team. The only spots at receiver that seem undeniably set belong to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb so there is room for someone to impress. Get ready for it.