Saturday was an eventful day for the Dallas Cowboys. The team had its annual Blue and White scrimmage, an extended public practice broadcast on the team’s website. Additionally, the team had two of their franchise’s elite enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. DeMarcus Ware and Chuck Howley were the 16th and 17th Dallas Cowboys to receive the honor. A little-known fact: two of those Cowboys Hall of Famers were undrafted (Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris).
With hard work and opportunity, there’s no telling where you may end up. Today’s undrafted stars are two players making the most of that opportunity and featured for the second time in this series.
Juanyeh Thomas, Safety
Days featured on the series: 2
The Cowboys certainly have a surplus at safety. A thought that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. For a time, the team didn’t place a noticeable emphasis on safeties. That is until Dan Quinn became defensive coordinator. Carving out a role as safety for Dallas is hard now with guys like Malik Hooker, Jayron Kearse and Donovan Wilson topping the depth chart..
That hasn’t stopped Juanyeh Thomas from trying by having a solid camp. The team has sustained injuries at safety, and Thomas has stepped right in to make an impression. Thomas fits the prototype of safety that Quinn utilizes in his defense. He’s a big safety that can play down in the box and is athletic enough to cover underneath patterns, like Jayron Kearse.
Throughout training camp, Thomas has habitually been in the right place at the right time. Every practice, he manages to get his hands on the football. On Saturday, Thomas made another play, almost hauling a pass in for an interception. Thomas was dropping in coverage in the middle of the field, and he did a great job of reading Dak Prescott’s eyes to break on the pass for a near interception. Thomas was visibly disappointed with himself but a terrific play, nonetheless.
John Stephens, Tight end
Days featured on the series: 2
John Stephens is making a big adjustment to start his NFL career. Once a big-bodied receiver that played outside the numbers in college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Stephens is now transitioning to NFL tight end and playing in the middle of the field. So far, Stephens has handled the change very well and appears to improve with each practice in Oxnard. Thanks to his background as a wide receiver, Stephens has an advantage in creating favorable mismatches due in part to his nimble feet and physical attributes.
Stephens is taking advantage of opportunities. Luke Schoonmaker has been missing time with a foot injury and that has opened up opportunities for others. Stephens has stepped right into the void by stacking good practices together.
Once preseason begins, Stephens could see the field and demonstrate to the coaches he can handle the nuances of playing tight end, such as run and pass blocking. At Saturday’s practice, Stephens made the highlight reels, pulling off a leaping grab for a score, and is proving why he won’t go quietly in his fight for a roster spot.