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5 players to track at Cowboys training camp

These guys could make big moves in either direction depending on how the next month goes.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

There are many stories and players to follow as the Dallas Cowboys get into the meat of their 2023 training camp. Today we’re going to look at five guys whose performance could significantly impact the eventual roster; major swing factors that could affect the job security of others.

None of these players are guaranteed Week 1 starters. In fact, only one is probable for a first-team role. But these players have a lot of room to move up or down their depth charts and are worth tracking over the coming weeks.

TE Jake Ferguson

If Ferguson didn’t already have the edge in the battle for starting tight end, now Luke Schoonmaker has started camp on the Non-Football Injury list and is missing precious time. This clearly makes TE1 now Ferguson’s job to lose.

There’s no denying that Schoonmaker, Dallas’ second-round pick last April, is the superior athlete. But being one of Dak Prescott’s security blankets has much more to do with chemistry and scheme familiarity. Ferguson already had those advantages and will only enhance them now with Dalton Schultz gone and Schoonmaker currently unable to compete.

That said, Ferguson still has to deliver. Can he lock himself in as the starter in 2023 or will he leave the door open for Schoonmaker to get starter reps when he’s activated? With perhaps a significant share of targets in the passing game on the line, this is one guy all eyes should be on during camp.

DE Sam Williams

Last year’s second-rounder may not threaten Micah Parsons or DeMarcus Lawrence but he could become a key part of the pass-rushing rotation. Flashing his potential in limited work last year, can Williams take the next step and become one of the Cowboys’ top defensive role players?

Williams’ potential ascension is big for veterans Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler. While all three certainly could make the 53-man roster, Armstrong or Fowler could be made expendable or trade bait. The Cowboys may prefer to keep a younger prospect like rookie Villami Fehoko than stash either of them at the bottom of the depth chart.

CB Kelvin Joseph

Keeping this former second-round pick thing going, Joseph enters his third season on about the thinnest ice possible. But if he can somehow tap into the things that made him the 44th pick in 2021, Joseph could still put himself in line for a roster spot. With Jourdan Lewis starting camp on PUP and now Israel Mukuamu dealing with a hamstring injury, Joseph should get more opportunities.

Special teams is another area to watch; Joseph was getting work last year as a gunner and has more to offer on defense than C.J. Goodwin. He could be a factor in finally knocking the longtime special teams leader off of the roster.

LB Jabril Cox

After a rookie season that came with plenty of fanfare before it was cut short, Cox struggled last season to return from injury and find his rhythm. With opportunity galore at linebacker this year, can Cox get back on his 2021 track or will he keep fading away?

While Damone Clark and DeMarvion Overshown will make it a competition, Cox has more experience overall. The Cowboys need more big plays from their off-ball linebackers and Cox showed potential in that regard as a rookie. If he starts flashing again this summer, he could wind up with a major role in Dan Quinn’s defense.

OL Josh Ball

With Zack Martin holding out to start camp, it’s surprisingly Ball who’s getting work as the starting right guard. Few would’ve thought Ball would even make the team this year, but perhaps the coaches still place higher stock in the third-year prospect than outsiders.

If Ball does impress, it gives him some critical value as a backup with guard and tackle experience. That could be trouble for any one of Chuma Edoga, Asim Richards, or Matt Waletzko as they make their own cases for jobs.

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