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Cowboys news: Dallas linebacker depth doesn’t look like the problem it once was

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NFL: AUG 15 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dan Quinn’s text to Clark, Overshown: “I feel their energy, speed’ - Staff,

There’s probably nothing better than receiving a positive text from Dan Quinn.

Quinn offered a lot of rightful praise for all, especially Clark and Overshown, who are both performing well in their first-ever NFL training camp.

“In a lot of ways, I’ve been really proud of Damone Clark,” said Quinn as training camp closed shop in Oxnard. “He didn’t have a training camp to go through last year. To see the two of them together — I texted them last week that I felt their energy, I felt their speed on the field in the game. And I think that’s another cool thing.”

Clark, a former fifth-round pick in 2022, underwent spinal fusion surgery ahead of his respective NFL draft and was not cleared to participate in football activities until midseason.

He’d step in and help to save the day at the position in the wake of injury to Anthony Barr, but with a full offseason and training camp now under his belt, he appears back to his LSU form — if not improved.

3 things to watch for in Cowboys-Seahawks: TCU-ex gets look at tight end and more - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News

Here are some things to monitor as the game kicks off for the Dallas Cowboys.

Receiver moves to tight end

The Cowboys continue to develop solid tight ends. Last season, it was fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson and undrafted free agent Peyton Hendershot. Now it seems undrafted John Stephens, a converted wide receiver, is getting strong looks to challenge for the 53-man roster. He spent three seasons at TCU before transferring to Louisiana. He played in 27 games during those two seasons, catching seven touchdown passes. Stephens has the size (6-6, 245 pounds) to play tight end. He’s a big target with his receiver background. Stephens’ biggest flaw is blocking, and that’s an area where he’s improving. The next step is proving he can develop into a reliable blocker and someone who might contribute on special teams. “If you look at his skill set, we talked about him in the spring,” McCarthy said. “I know we’re only in helmets then. But he definitely brings a lot to the table. He’s just young and he needs the work.”

Linebacker depth improving

Do you remember Damone Clark? The 2022 fifth-round pick from LSU fell on draft boards due to a herniated disk that eventually required spinal fusion surgery. Clark played 10 games last season after missing training camp due to his recovery. He’s getting plenty of work in camp this year and morphing into a solid contributor. The linebacker crops was thought to be a weakness, but the re-emergence of Jabril Cox, rookie DeMarvion Overshown, Devin Harper and Malik Jefferson paired with veteran Leighton Vander Esch is making this group strong. Clark has tremendous upside.

Dallas Cowboys mailbag: Peyton Hendershot’s job could be in trouble, offensive line musical chairs and more - John Owning, Pro Football Focus

Could there be a few surprises on the final roster cuts?


This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe Peyton Hendershot is more at risk of losing his job to John Stephens Jr. than Sean McKeon. Given the limited nature of NFL rosters, McKeon’s ability to align and contribute in multiple roles — as a traditional tight end or in a fullback role as a lead blocker — puts him in a bit of a different category than Hendershot, who only contributes in traditional tight end roles.

Moreover, while McKeon has drawn praise from new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, in particular, many in attendance at the Cowboys’ training camp have lamented Hendershot’s inability to stand out.

You know who has stood out, though?

John Stephens Jr., who not only has consistently flashed throughout the Cowboys’ camp but also finished with a team-high five receptions (from seven targets) for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Baldinger: ‘You have to be impressed by Deuce Vaughn in Dallas’ - Ryan Gilbert,

More love for Deuce Vaughn.

NFL Insider Brian Baldinger of Audacy’s original podcast “In The Huddle” was one of the many people who came away from the Cowboys’ preseason opener with high praise for Vaughn.

“You have to be impressed by Deuce Vaughn in Dallas,” Baldinger said (12:45 in player above). “He did this at Kansas State for three years. The guy can just find daylight.”

Vaughn ran for nearly 3,000 yards with 27 touchdowns in 27 games over the course of his last two seasons at Kansas State. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his college career while also being used as a weapon in the passing game.

“His feet are as quick – you want to compare him to Barry Sanders, fine, he’s not Barry Sanders but he’s got tremendous feet,” Baldinger continued. “He can find daylight on the move. He’s always going forward.

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