Finally, we are closing on actual football. After what has felt like a very long offseason, in just a few days the Dallas Cowboys will head west for Oxnard, CA as training camp 2023 will commence. The optimism surrounding this year's team is not unfounded. The Cowboys have put a roster together that should be on par with many of the others that are discussed among the upper echelon in the league.
However, as talented as this team looks to be, they are not without their own questions as well. The Cowboys will have a month and a half, plus three preseason games, to sort it all out in hopes of finally lifting the Lombardi trophy for the first time in over a quarter-century.
Let’s take a look at three storylines that are worthy of our attention as camp gets ready to start.
Does Dak Prescott take a leap?
When discussing the Dallas Cowboys, it has to start at the top with Dak Prescott. It came out earlier this month that the league-wide feeling is Dak is securely inside the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. While the show of respect is a nice acknowledgment, Cowboys Nation, and surely even Dak himself, understand it ultimately doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t come with playoff success. We have seen Dak look great at times, and while the pros vastly outweigh the cons when it comes to the quarterback, we are looking for the combination of talent and mistake-free football on the offensive side of the ball that can live in harmony together for this Cowboys offense.
Dak would be the first to tell you as a leader that he “needs to be better” but film study, and even just your eyes, tell you that the scheme and help around him has let him, and this group, down at times. Dak is certainly not blameless in this and that's why we lead off with his play being the biggest storyline we will be monitoring at the start of camp. With an emphasis on adding more offensive talent, and a new offensive staff calling the plays, there is intrigue and a belief that Dak, and this offense, will be much cleaner and be more consistently efficient in their pursuit of finally getting over the divisional round hump.
Offensive line configuration and health
We know who the best five are on the Cowboys offensive line, but what we don’t know is the health of some, and where a couple of them will end up lining up as a result. It’s easy to identify that Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and Terence Steele are the five men for the job, but what is up in the air is the health of Steele and just what impact that will have on the group as a whole heading into camp. The Cowboys have talent and there is some hope this could be a good group, but there are so many variables at the position as we approach the season.
Where Tyler Smith will line up is a main point of focus as all this gets sorted out. Some feel he should be kept at left tackle no matter what, putting Tyron either on the right side or on the bench. But should the Cowboys leave a future Hall of Fame left tackle on the bench if healthy? Some feel as if Tyler should just be penciled in at left guard securing the interior of the group at least for 2023. There is a lot to be sorted out and most of it is going to fall after we know the status of Steele and his availability.
There are some intriguing names to consider in the mix as well, like Matt Waletzko, the rookie Asim Richards, and even Matt Farniok, but just how and where is still very much still a question as we head into camp, The Cowboys cannot afford to let the big men upfront be the reason this team does not reach it’s goals in a promising season.
Who is going to be this team's kicker?
Brandon Aubrey and Tristan Vizcaino have the opportunity of a lifetime in front of them as they battle it out to be the kicker of the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the two of them inline to duke it out, the feeling around the team is that the biggest question mark on the Cowboys' roster may still very well be at the kicker position. Neither guy on the roster right now has much of a pedigree, and there is some understood skepticism at the spot heading into camp, especially with some veterans such as Mason Crosby and Robbie Gould still out there unsigned.
We have seen what shaky kicker play has looked like in the past and with a team as loaded as this one is; it would be heartbreaking to have the season cut short by poor special teams play. Much like last season, just because these two are here now does not mean that they will be the guys come week one, and they will need to approach everyday like their jobs are on the line while they have the chance.