With CeeDee Lamb now the presumed WR1, the Cowboys are officially on the hunt for a new punt returner.
Sure, talent acquisition is 365 days a year, as the Cowboys’ front office likes to say. But with the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, the roster that’s about to work through OTAs is the one that will open the season in September, with perhaps one or two exceptions.
That’s an interesting thought, because there are several roles within this team that don’t look settled – at least not yet.
Today, let’s take a look at the returner positions, which Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy himself referred to as “something we’ve got to get answered.”
What’s The Issue: The duo of CeeDee Lamb and Cedrick Wilson have handled punt returns for the Cowboys for two years. Wilson is obviously off to Miami on a new contract, and Lamb has now stepped into the No. 1 receiver role created by the trade of Amari Cooper to Cleveland.
Simply put, the Cowboys likely don’t want to continue using Lamb in that role – at least not as much as they had been. Without him, there aren’t many players on the roster who have done the job in an NFL game.
Who Can Fix It: Let’s start with the handful of experienced options. Tony Pollard has been one of the Cowboys’ primary kick returners since his rookie year, with mixed results. He has also taken practice snaps at punt returner at various times over the years. The two jobs aren’t the same, but it’s at least conceivable that the Cowboys could give Pollard the extra work during the spring and summer with an eye on having him ready for the season. Something similar could be said for Rico Dowdle, who is returning from a hip injury and has kick return experience.
As training camp creeps closer and closer, we know the time and dates of the Dallas Cowboys joint practices.
The Cowboys’ first two preseason games are Aug. 13 at Denver and Aug. 20 at LA during camp, which is held annually in Oxnard, Calif. The full camp schedule has not yet been announced, but the Cowboys are expected to practice one day in Denver and two practices with the Chargers in Los Angeles.
Head coach Mike McCarthy scheduled one joint practice with the Rams last August in Oxnard and was pleased with the results. He described it as a “professional thud” format in terms of physicality, not a full-contact practice.
In the past, the Cowboys have practiced against the Chargers in San Diego for a few days in 2012 and also split some practices with the Broncos in 2008 in Denver.
“These practices give you an opportunity to get a lot of quality work done and lower the risk that you obviously have to go through to play in preseason games,” McCarthy said then.
The Cowboys played the Chargers and Broncos last year in the regular season, beating LA on a last-second field goal in Week 2 and falling to Denver, 30-16, in Week 9 – easily the most lopsided loss of the season.
Athlete to athlete.
Even Philadelphia Eagles fans respect Micah Parsons and his game.
Mike Trout is a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan. He grew up fairly close to the city and has even been seen at their games. So when he got the chance to sign a bat for a Dallas Cowboys star, he made sure to include a message on the Eagles’ behalf.
Trout met Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons on Wednesday while the Los Angeles Angels were visiting the Texas Rangers. Trout even hooked Parsons up with a game-used bat and posed for a picture. Parsons shared that picture and added he was going to try to convert Trout to Cowboys fandom.
On Thursday, Jon Machota of The Athletic shared the message Trout wrote on the bat: “Take it easy on my Birds!”
As the Cowboys begin to ramp it up here soon, take a look at the 2022 Dallas Cowboys.
The trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper and release of right tackle La’el Collins remain head-scratching moves, while losing defensive end Randy Gregory amidst a contract snag was an embarrassment for all parties involved. That’s a look back at what’s transpired, but as the Cowboys are about to hit their practice portion of the offseason, here’s a look at where the team stands before OTAs kick-off.
Practice plans almost set
The Cowboys held their rookie minicamp last week, which gave the team a first look at this season’s newbies. However, the initial team OTA session is on May 24-25, followed by OTAs on June 1-2, June 6-7 and June 9-10. The Cowboys did lose an OTA practice because of a rules violation during OTAs last year.
Dallas will then hold their mandatory minicamp June 14 through June 16, taking a break before training camp starts in late July. The expectation is the Cowboys will be back in Oxnard, California for this year’s camp, but that has yet to be determined. The exact dates of camp are also TBD.
However, the team did announce they will hold joint practices in training camp this summer with west-coast teams.
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