After a few weeks of training camp, the Dallas Cowboys have a few questions to answer. What is their solution at kicker? Does the Ronald Jones suspension affect their running back room? When will Zack Martin return?
The beat reporters for the Dallas Morning News that covers the team published an article answering some of these questions.
David Moore, Calvin Watkins, and Michael Gehlken provided different perspectives from what they heard in Oxnard.
With Ronald Jones out the first two games of the regular season, should the Cowboys consider a veteran pickup (Zeke Elliott, maybe) or stick with what’s on the roster?
Calvin Watkins: I just don’t believe Ezekiel Elliott is a viable option for this football team. Maybe somewhere else, but not with the Cowboys. When it comes to finding a veteran, I’d stick with the young backs behind Tony Pollard. Ronald Jones is still getting the work in with the team so when he returns in Week 3, he should be fine. If anything, it allows the team to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster before having to make a decision on whether to bring back Jones.
Watkins brings up a great point about Jones. With the suspension carrying into the regular season, the team doesn’t have to make a final decision until Week 3 if they want to. Jones could go on the reserve/suspended list, where his roster spot does not count against the 53-man roster until activated.
Mike McCarthy adamantly talked about his appreciation for the young running backs on the roster and didn’t show conviction in the need to bring in a veteran player. The Cowboys have three preseason games to get through and should know a lot about the depth behind Tony Pollard, given the RB1 for Dallas will not see many snaps, if at all.
As far as Ezekiel Elliott being back in a Cowboys uniform for a Lombardi run, the team feels comfortable with where they are.
After observing a handful of training camp practices, do you believe Michael Gallup will become a legit No. 3 receiver?
Michael Gehlken: Mentally and physically, Gallup has come a long way since last season. He believes that. The Cowboys believe that. There is no doubt he can thrive as a No. 3 receiver with all the attention defenses figure to give Lamb and Cooks. They will help him, but Gallup also has helped himself, expanding his game this offseason to play the Z receiver spot at times, not just the X.
Gallup is often the forgotten man regarding the wide receiver conversation. With the All-Pro hype around CeeDee Lamb, the impact of Brandin Cooks, and potential of Jalen Tolbert, Gallup can be left in the shadows. That shouldn’t be the case.
The sixth-year receiver looks as healthy as ever in training camp and has been making some plays that should excite fans.
Cowboys did a “Mojo Moment” situational football period where offense had a “got to have it” fourth down. Michael Gallup separated underneath on crosser for first down. pic.twitter.com/PlnVYpbQsv— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 7, 2023
Similar to how McCarthy talks about the tight end room, there should be enough passes to go around where Lamb, Cooks, and Gallup all receive their fair share of looks. No. 13 looks confident and could be in line for a dominant year, especially if the attention of defenses turns their focus towards Lamb and Cooks.
Do you believe there’s room on the roster for Deuce Vaughn and KaVontae Turpin?
David Moore: My initial impression is to say no. How many teams in the league have one player of this size making a contribution on their roster, much less two? But Turpin is a Pro Bowl punt returner and has looked good as a receiver in this camp. Vaughn has flashed at moments in this camp and it’s clear the coaching staff spent time during the offseason installing a few plays that would give him the chance to carve a role for himself in the backfield. Will both be active for every game? Too early to say. But it’s my belief both will secure a spot on the roster.
Moore has been covering the Cowboys beat for a long time and has seen small “gadget” players come and go from Dallas. Lance Dunbar and the hype around Tavon Austin come to mind.
His initial reaction is a valid concern. Having two roster spots taken up by essentially the same player seems counterproductive. However, the discussion has changed after seeing McCarthy’s emphasis on getting Turpin involved as a wide receiver.
If Turpin couldn’t show growth as an NFL wideout and would just be used as a punt/kick returner, his roster spot could have been in jeopardy. Thus far, he has proven to work well with Dak Prescott and be another speedy receiver at the offense’s disposal.
The team has had a clear vision for Deuce Vaughn from the moment they drafted him, and the front office has shown enough track history to keep their draft picks around, no matter what round they were selected. Both players might not be active on gameday, but having both on the roster could take away having a fourth tight end or a third quarterback.