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Cowboys news: Wide receiver depth tested already with James Washington injury

The Cowboys are suffering at receiver just two weeks into training camp.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys James Washington suffers foot fracture, out at least 2 months -Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys

Washington had yet to make his mark on the Cowboys offense, and now they’ll be without him for at least two months.

The Cowboys situation at wide receiver has been a topic all offseason after they traded away Amari Cooper and lost Cedrick Wilson in free agency. CeeDee Lamb is their WR1, but after him there is a lot of uncertainty. Washington was brought in as a free agent veteran who could help stabilize the depth chart until Michael Gallup gets back, but now that plan is in danger.

The Cowboys may have to go outside the organization and bring in another veteran wide receiver depending on what the final diagnosis for Washington turns out to be. This is definitely one of the worst position groups for the Cowboys to lose a player.

6.5 WRs Cowboys could look to sign to replace injured James Washington - KD Drummond, The Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys may need to look outside for receiver help.

DeSean Jackson, 35 | 5-foot-10, 175 pounds

Jackson may be long in the tooth, and he hasn’t accrued over 400 snaps in a season since 2017, but it would almost make perfect sense for him to join Dallas under these circumstances. In April he said he’d consider coming back in 2022 for the right fit, and the constant Cowboys killer donning the star seems like poetic justice. His only game over 100 receiving yards last season came against Dallas. He loves showing off in AT&T Stadium.

Washington was going to be a deep threat for this club, who will have more well-rounded receivers in CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Tolbert and eventually Michael Gallup. Jackson as a deep threat who probably still can’t be overthrown at his advanced age would fit well with Dallas’ apparent depth-by-role attack, with T.J. Vasher as the red-zone threat and Kavontae Turpin as the gadget-play guy.

What Deebo Samuel’s Extension Means for CeeDee Lamb - Nick Coppola, Inside The Star

CeeDee Lamb is primed for a huge season, and a big pay day to match the exploding WR market.

On Sunday, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver agreed to a 3-year, $71.6 million contract extension. It’s the latest in a plethora of sizeable contract extensions for wide receivers, as Samuel is the 11th receiver to sign an extension worth $20 million or more per year.

Two of Dallas’ division rivals are a part of this trend, as the CommandersTerry McLaurin and the Eagles’ A.J. Brown are included in that list.

With Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb’s rookie contract reaching its third year, what do these extensions mean for him?

Well, it means a hefty bag of cash is in his future.

If Lamb continues his upward trend, he will get paid just as much as Samuel. Last season, Lamb made his first Pro Bowl after recording 79 catches for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns. He did that as a secondary option, which Lamb won’t be this season.

Cowboys Notebook: CeeDee Lamb dominates, Prescott looks sharp in first padded practice - Bobby Belt, 105.3 The Fan

Tyler Smith is off to a strong start with the pads on, and the Cowboys kicking competition is still wide open.

*It was Connor McGovern starting team period at left guard as he has for every practice, but the performances between McGovern and Tyler Smith weren’t even close on Monday.

McGovern struggled a lot of the day, including one rep where Carlos Watkins slipped by him into the backfield to blow up a run play. Smith on the other hand had several notable moments at practice, using his power to drive Quinton Bohanna off the ball on one rep, driving Trysten Hill into the ground on another, and pulling to the right to cut off DeMarcus Lawrence and spring Tony Pollard for a big gain.

*Mike McCarthy opened practice with his eyes fixated on the kicking competition between Lirim Hajrullahu and Jonathan Garibay, something he’s kept close tabs on most days in Oxnard. Garibay went 6 for 8 during kicking, bending several kicks to the left, and Hajrullahu went 7 for 8, with his one miss coming on a kick where his plant foot slipped. Garibay has the bigger leg, but Hajrullahu has been more accurate so far this camp.

Cowboys O-Line: Tyler Smith Exclusively Left Guard; Matt Waletzko Surgery? - Richie Witt, CowboysSI.com

Even with Tyler Smith taking over at left guard, the Cowboys have depth issues on the offensive line after losing Matt Waletzko.

But before his first hit of training camp or inevitable preseason penalty, first-round draft choice Tyler Smith was doing the right things and getting solid reviews. On an offensive line that lost the likes of La’el Collins and Connor Williams from last year’s team, the rookie from Tulsa seems entrenched at left guard.

At that position and almost exclusively that position, according to coach Mike McCarthy.

Though the 6-5, 320-pounder has the agility and skillset to play tackle and hopefully be the heir to Tyron Smith on quarterback Dak Prescott’s left side, the Cowboys are scaling back his future flexibility to focus on the present.

“I probably played him too much at tackle than guard during OTAs,” McCarthy said before Dallas’ first padded practice of the Summer. “We’re going to give him the most reps at left guard ... so he can build some continuity and comfort there.”

Also on the offensive line, rookie Matt Waletzko - the leading candidate to win the swing tackle job - won’t practice this week, according to McCarthy. His shoulder injury is serious enough that the team is considering surgery.

Cowboys’ Biggest Sleepers, Busts, Stars to Target in 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report

Do you trust Zeke in 2022?

Bust: Ezekiel Elliott, RB

With Pollard set to get a lot of work, both in the backfield and at receiver, managers should be cautious about targeting Ezekiel Elliott early. Franchise owner Jerry Jones is hoping to make Elliott the lead back but has admitted that Pollard will see a large role.

“He has to be the focal point,” Jones said on NFL Network. “There is room for Pollard while Zeke is in there.”

The other factor to consider is that Elliott hasn’t been as explosive in recent years as he was early in his career. Despite playing all 17 games last season, he totaled just 1,002 rushing yards and 287 receiving yards—though he did score 12 touchdowns.

The uncertainty of Dallas’ new-look offensive line also must be weighed.

As the 16th-ranked running back, Elliott isn’t trending as highly as he has in years past. However, that’s still high for a touchdown-dependent back who is spitting time with another capable runner and receiver. One injury or a dearth of touchdowns could easily cause Elliott to flop.

Managers should also exercise caution if targeting No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb, who is ranked sixth at his position. Lamb had 1,102 yards and six touchdowns last season and may see more opportunities with Cooper out.

However, Lamb is also likely to see more double coverage than he did with Cooper in the lineup. Lamb isn’t likely to be a total bust, but taking him over receivers like Mike Evans, Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill could be a mistake.

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