The Dallas Cowboys are just a few weeks away from returning to football activities at training camp in Oxnard, CA. By way of winning twelve games and reaching the playoffs in consecutive seasons, it’s been a quieter than usual time in between OTAs and training camp for the Cowboys, something typical of teams firmly expected to be contenders late in the season.
The foundation for a Super Bowl contending team can be built in training camp and through the preseason as the final roster takes shape, so feel free to bookmark this page as we try to get ahead on some stories that could play out in late July through September.
Deuce Vaughn staking claim as Cowboys’ RB2
Vaughn has already made a few splash plays in OTAs that have him off to a hot start as Dallas’ latest rookie back. If Vaughn was able to stir up some attention without the benefit of social media video or highlights, the added benefit of fans seeing him making plays for the first time will really give the Kansas State product a chance to shine.
The Cowboys defense may be a stout test all throughout camp for the offense, but there are plenty of drills designed to give a huge advantage to the offensive player when it comes to space. Getting Vaughn in these individual matchups may be just the start of how the Cowboys plan on using him in real game action.
Tyler Smith leading the pack in left guard competition
It’s well documented that the Cowboys have built their offensive line in recent years with a contingency for veteran Tyron Smith, who is still a top player at tackle when available - something he hasn’t been for a full season since Dak Prescott took over as the starting QB.
Last year’s predictable injury for Smith happened at the inopportune time of training camp, forcing the Cowboys to adjust their plan for rookie Tyler Smith earlier than expected. Luckily, the college left tackle was able to hold down the position and far exceed expectations as the starter in year one.
With Tyron again ready for camp, Tyler Smith could be getting the first crack at left guard, a position he only played in short spurts in 2022. The vision for Smith to be the latest converted tackle that thrives at guard for the Cowboys was there in these spurts though, and Dallas hasn’t done much to add legitimate competition for a player like Tyler if he does start at left guard.
The Cowboys will still need a player like Matt Farniok, Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko, or even Asim Richards to establish themselves to make all of these musical chairs fall in place up front, but as soon as the pads come on and the long wait for trench players to start hitting again comes, Tyler Smith should have his chance to establish himself at guard.
Micah Parsons still a jack-of-all-trades player in Dan Quinn’s defense
This was sort of already a headline we got out of OTAs, when Quinn poured some water on the fire that Parsons was making a true position change to full-time defensive end. With most of the offseason program so far being dedicated to installing a new offense under Mike McCarthy though, the defense has patiently waited it’s turn to make a splash.
Seeing Parsons in full 11-on-11 drills will be the best indicator of where he’ll be lining up this season, and as the Cowboys want to manage snaps for their mix of young linebackers like Jabril Cox, Damone Clark, and rookie Demarvion Overshown, Parsons will likely still see snaps all over the field.
Reestablishing Parsons as more than just a pass rusher early on in training camp is an important part of the Cowboys keeping him fresh for a long season, and not giving opposing teams any help when it comes to preparing for how Parsons can wreck games from any spot in the front seven.
Michael Gallup making strides in first full training camp since ACL injury
Similar to the Parsons headline above, this is somewhat of an extension of the type of headlines we see during the earlier parts of the offseason. Players reporting to OTAs and minicamps are always in the best shapes of their lives, but with the toned down nature of these practices we rarely find out how true any of this is until deeper into training camp.
Michael Gallup is a significant player to monitor from a health perspective though, entering the all-important second year off an ACL tear. Gallup’s name goes under the radar in the national media when talking about the Cowboys weapons, as CeeDee Lamb and the newly acquired Brandin Cooks are more established names. The Cowboys have had a need for a consistent third receiver for a while though, and if Gallup can thrive in McCarthy’s offense the potential for Prescott to put up a MVP caliber season skyrockets.
The most significant loss this offseason for the Cowboys offense was tight end Dalton Schultz, whose presence was felt most in the red zone. At his best, the “springy” Gallup can be a red zone target that ends drives with touchdowns for this Cowboys offense.