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13 positions that raise 13 burning questions for the Cowboys

There is still a lot to figure out on the Cowboys football team.

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

Preseason game number one is in the books for the Dallas Cowboys and now it’s time to turn the page to game number two. We got to see just enough action last Saturday against the Denver Broncos to get us thinking, and boy do we love to think. With that, we’ve offered up one burning question for each of 13 different positions as we continue to search for answers about this Cowboys roster.


QB - Can Will Grier take the backup QB job from Cooper Rush?

Will Rush have a bounce-back game? Probably. He’s shown he can make plays in the past so it would be strange if he suddenly lost his mojo. If he doesn’t though, the team still has Grier in their pocket as a potential option. Grier missed last week’s game with a groin injury, but we should get a good look at him now.

RB - Is Malik Davis better than Rico Dowdle?

It’s easy to be enamored by the new shiny running back toy, which is what most of us are doing after seeing former Florida running back impress last Saturday. Davis had a nice little wiggle to his game, allowing the lanes to open before showing his burst. Was that just one game or is the UDFA rookie the real deal? Can Dowdle assert himself as the team’s clear no. 3 RB?

TE - Will Jake Ferguson make Dalton Schultz expendable in 2023?

The rookie looked like a seasoned veteran in his first-ever preseason game and that was a little surprising considering it usually takes the Cowboys' young tight ends a while to get acclimated. It’s super, super early, but this quick start is exactly what the front office would love to see if they believe Ferguson could replicate Schultz’s production for a fraction of the cost.

WR - Is Dennis Houston good enough to make the team?

The quality of quarterback play last Saturday, as well as the lack of offense in general, did nothing to validate all the great camp buzz we have been hearing about UDFA WR Dennis Houston. We didn’t see much, but he looked sharp. A mentally sound player who has already earned the trust of the starting QB is a great way to punch your ticket onto the roster.

OT - Will there be an improvement at tackle?

The Cowboys' overwhelming confidence in their backup tackles was not confirmed on the football field last Saturday. Josh Ball struggled quite a bit and Aviante Collins was just dreadful. The team is not panicking as they didn’t sign a veteran free agent this week, so all we can do is cross our fingers and hope this position group magically gets better.

OG - Should we expect Tyler Smith to be ready?

The team’s first-round rookie put some great reps on tape and it’s easy to feel excited about his future, but what about his now? There are some mental parts that still need work. It’s fun to see him work through this in preseason action, but come the regular season, those mistakes can’t be happening so frequently. Will this high-upside rookie get to where he needs to be by the start of the season or will they have to lay it up safe and go with Connor McGovern at left guard?


DE - Is Tarell Basham on the verge of being cut?

Last year, Basham was the only outside free agent the Cowboys signed that wasn’t on a one-year deal. Basham’s deal was two years; however, it’s structured in a way where the team can release him and save $1.75 million this year. There’s a log jam on the defensive line with several younger players having juniority. Couple that with the dashes of talent displayed by fellow veteran edge rusher Dante Fowler and Basham’s job security is now in question.

DT - Can Quinton Bohanna be the team’s starting nose tackle?

The Kentucky big man never offered much as a pass rusher which is why he dropped in last year’s draft, but he’s putting all his positive traits on display. His power, his length, and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good are all visible. Bohanna is showing signs of taking a nice step forward and being a real force for the Cowboys' interior defensive line.

LB - Which one of the new linebackers can sneak on the roster?

With the addition of Anthony Barr, the Cowboys have a solid linebacker group that features Barr, Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and eventually Jabril Cox (and then even more eventually, Damone Clark). Luke Gifford was out of action last week as he recovers from a groin injury and that leaves the door slightly open for rookie Devin Harper or free agent signee Malik Jefferson to earn a roster spot. And don’t sleep on UDFA rookie Storey Jackson as he was making as many plays as the next guy. I don’t know if you have a favorite from this group, but this battle should be fun to watch over the final two preseason games.

CB - Can last year’s draft picks save face?

It’s disappointing to see last year’s Day 2 cornerback selections, Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, not playing to the level we’d hope. Both got plenty of action last Saturday and both surrendered a touchdown catch. The good news is this year’s rookie corner DaRon Bland has looked pretty good in his first game action, but it would really be nice if one of these other guys play well.

S - Four players fighting for two spots, who gets it?

Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker (how many Malik’s do they have on this team?) hold down the starting safety jobs, but then what? Donovan Wilson, Israel Mukuamu, Markquese Bell, and Tyler Coyle are all fighting for one of the backup spots. Each of them has their own unique ability and it’s anyone’s guess how this position group will shake out.


K - Who will win the kicking job?

Hajrullahu and Maher. Maher and Hajrullahu. We haven’t been this befuddled about an NFL kicker since Finkle and Einhorn. And just like then, this remains a huge mystery and all we can do is wait for the big reveal come final roster cuts.

KR - Is KaVonte Turpin fast enough to make a difference?

We were a little disappointed that the reigning USFL MVP didn’t get loose on Saturday. I guess everyone in the NFL is fast. Turpin wasn’t able to find enough space to showcase his outstanding speed, but he’ll get more opportunities. The question is, can he make them count?

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