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This underrated special teams stat could go a long way in determining Cowboys final roster spots

The Cowboys can always count on splash plays on special teams under John Fassel.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a football cliché as old as time, but with training camp right around the corner, it won’t be long until fans are reminded about the importance of special teams when it comes to down the roster players making the final cut. On a Cowboys roster that’s deep at several positions, that also translate to special teams. Some defensive backs, wide receivers, and linebackers that make splash plays on offense and defense will also have to show up for John Fassel’s special teams unit.

Fassel has brought his patented emphasis on this third phase of the game since his first year with the Cowboys in 2020, with plays like the watermelon onside kick to steal a game against the Falcons, and the development of USFL signee Kavontae Turpin as one of the game’s most dangerous return men.

The Cowboys have no shortage of fresh faces that can help keep Fassel’s special teams near the top of the league, and they can do so in one important statistical category they led the NFL in a year ago.

With Fassel’s special teams and Dan Quinn’s defense playing in support of an offense that went through it’s stretches of inconsistency, creating short fields with pressure on punts is immeasurably valuable.

Luke Gifford, C.J. Goodwin, and Kelvin Joseph were the Cowboys snap leaders on special teams last year. Goodwin has been a special teams ace with limited run on defense, and Joseph’s value here helps push him closer to making the roster even with the stiff competition ahead at cornerback. Joseph has struggled at cornerback compared to later-round picks like Daron Bland. With Gifford leaving in free agency, rising linebackers like Damone Clark, Jabril Cox, and rookie DeMarvion Overshown may need to help on special teams.

If players like rookie sixth-round pick Eric Scott Jr. and UDFA defensive end/linebacker hybrid Isaiah Land can follow in a similar mold, the Cowboys are setting themselves up to have one of the deepest rosters for years to come which spills over into special teams. They do so by getting the most out of their traits on special teams, which can turn a game at any moment and could be a missing element in Dallas’ pursuit of passing the Eagles atop the NFC East.

With the changes to how roster cutdowns work creating a mad dash to 53 players near the end of the preseason, it’s easy for players that make a splash early in camp to be forgotten about and end up on the market. When it comes to Dallas, these players may be safer than it seems if Fassel gets his hands on them to be core special teams players.

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