As we move closer to summer and the days get hotter, we are slowly but surely crawling closer to the start of the 2022 NFL season. Officially under 90 days until opening night, but before we get to all that the Cowboys will begin their mandatory minicamp practices on June 14th. The Cowboys will be on field for three days through June 16th and with a lot to be sorted out, coach Mike McCarthy and staff are surely ready to get out there and put the team through its paces.
Outside of Dalton Schultz sitting out jockeying for a new contract, and some injured and rehabbing players, the Cowboys have had outstanding attendance for their voluntary work. However, this week will surely crank the level up a notch as this will be the last time the coaches get on field work with the players until training camp kicks off July 22nd.
Here are three things we will be watching for during this weeks mandatory practices:
1. Dak Prescott and his new weapons.
One thing is for certain and that’s this year’s wide receiver unit is going to look different than last year. You can say that about most seasons because turnover on NFL rosters is an every year thing, however when you trade your number one receiver, promote your third-year wide out to the main guy, and draft a young receiver in Jalen Tolbert with a top 100 pick, there is going to be some intrigue at the position.
With the addition of James Washington through free agency, and the rehab of Michael Gallup that could hold him out for the first games of the season, it is going to be important for Dak and the boys to gel on the field, and quickly. The Cowboys will look for second-year wide out Simi Fehoko to take a leap in his sophomore season, hope to get more from Noah Brown in the passing game, and continue the progression of this year’s most talked about developmental guy in T.J. Vasher as he looks to snatch a job from a veteran teammate.
It’s not unrealistic to think that the Cowboys may not be done adding to the position as they work through talent evaluations and injury situations, but what is there now can use all the reps they can get. Look for the offensive staff and Dak to really be working this unit as this position groups success will be vital to this teams success in 2022.
2. Will they continue with the Tony Pollard creativity?
It’s not easy to get most everybody to agree on something, but the one thing that all Cowboys fans can agree on is the need to see Tony Pollard more involved. Rumor has it that once again the Cowboys have been trying to get creative with Pollard being out wide running routes.
Any way you slice it, Pollard needs to see the ball more and the onus is on offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to make it happen. We heard rumors this time last year that the Cowboys were planning to deploy Pollard similarly to what we hear now, however the main difference this time around is that time is running out. This is the final year of Pollard’s deal, and there is no guarantee that Pollard is a Cowboy this time next season. There is no guarantee that either Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott will be Cowboys next year. Couple that with the fact that the Cowboys will be looking to replace some production lost last season, the time is now to get Tony Pollard more involved.
3. This offensive line needs Tyler Smith to develop, and fast.
On a roster full of question marks, none are bigger than the ones they have on the offensive line. La’el Collins is gone, Tyron Smith isn’t getting any younger and his health always remains a question. Is Tyler Biadasz the man for the job at center, and finally, did the Cowboys get a good one in Tyler Smith?
The answer needs to be yes to that last question and it needs to be a resounding yes for the team to hit the goals they have set for themselves. This Cowboys team has always been better when the offensive line is healthy and playing at a high level. It seems so obvious to say but it’s clear that the running game is better, Dak is better, all around the offense is just better when the boys upfront handle their business consistently at an elite level. Look for Tyler Smith to get a lot of attention from Joe Philbin and staff as they look to get him ready to lock down the open left guard spot as well as be ready to slide out and play tackle if need be. It’s a tall task for a rookie offensive lineman, but if the Cowboys want to be successful this year, they will need Tyler Smith to be successful as well, and in a hurry.