The Dallas Cowboys will head off to Oxnard, California to start training camp on July 24th. There are many questions to be asked about who will be on the starting lineup for their week one matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Many things are uncertain heading into camp but one thing is for sure: the Cowboys will have some very important and intriguing positional battles in training camp this year.
We’ll start with the most wide open position battle at middle linebacker. This battle is a revolving door, as there are four serious contenders for the starting job.
Veteran linebacker Justin Durant is the projected first linebacker on the depth chart. His position is nowhere near secure as he has lots of competition in his rear-view. DeVonte Holloman, Anthony Hitchens, and Rolando McClain will all be battling for that spot.
Holloman will be in his second year this season. He started at middle linebacker in the season finale last year against the Eagles. He racked up 11 tackles and 2 sacks in that game.
Anthony Hitchens was the 4th round pick for the Cowboys in this year’s draft from Iowa. He was a captain of the defense and recorded 270 tackles in his career at Iowa.
The last linebacker in the competition is Rolando McClain, newly acquired linebacker from a trade with Baltimore. The troubled linebacker has come out of retirement to compete for the starting job in Dallas. Maybe he knows his chance of playing is a lot more likely in Dallas with the talent level not so potent.
Maybe defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can bring out some extra motivation to play hard that McClain never seemed to have. But those are BIG maybes.
This whole battle for starting linebacker could have been avoided with a healthy Sean Lee for training camp. The Cowboys must deal with the punches.
Another intriguing position battle will be the fight over the 3rd receiver spot. This is another position with lots of possible suitors for the job. Either veteran Dwayne Harris or Cole Beasley are favorites to snag this position, but rookie wideout Devin Street is also in the mix.
Here’s a look at what Devin Street brings to the team: Why Devin Street was the Cowboys’ best pick
Cole Beasley’s role has continued to increase over his tenure in Dallas. He has a knack for getting open on short routes and being an effective third down player. I expect him to win this job and be fairly successful. However, don’t count out Dwayne Harris, he’s a very athletic and shifty player when in space. I still feel he should be used more his returning abilities.
The last of the three most intriguing position battles is between Jeremy Mincey and DeMarcus Lawrence for the right end spot. Mincey was signed in free agency this offseason after spending time with the Jaguars. He hasn’t been much of a success in the NFL with just 20 sacks in seven career seasons.
DeMarcus Lawrence, on the other hand, is the anticipated rookie from Boise State who the Cowboys traded their fourth round pick for. Lawrence is a passing rushing specialist expected to be the replacement for another DeMarcus with a history of getting to the quarterback for the Cowboys. The winner of this position will likely be the player who has the most chemistry with Rod Marinelli.
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