Finally, football season is back. It’s back for the Giants and Bills, who squared off in Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game. It’s back for college teams across the nation who have commenced their fall practices. And it’s back for the Dallas Cowboys, who reported to training camp ten days ago in Oxnard, Calif.
While I’ve already written about my earliest impressions of camp, we’ve now had sufficient time to truly draw some conclusions based on camp performance. Of course, by writing about the ‘biggest winners’ of camp, I won’t necessarily be touching on the top performers. DeMarco Murray, for instance, has had a solid camp, but he’s expected to. He’s the starter. Winners have something to gain–be it a starting job or just a spot on the roster.
I’ll also avoid mentioning guys I wrote about last week. Here then are my biggest winners out of Cowboys training camp so far:
Ever since the DeMarcus Lawrence injury, the Cowboys have been looking for a motivated performer to take hold of his backup right defensive end spot during his recovery. Behind the veteran Jeremy Mincey, Wilson has been showing all camp that he can be that guy.
He really made an impression during Sunday’s Blue and White scrimmage by stripping quarterback Brandon Weeden and returning the fumble for a touchdown. This beleaguered Cowboys line can use all the playmakers it can get, so Wilson has all but secured himself a roster spot.
DT Davon Coleman
Staying with the defensive line, Coleman could be the UDFA steal of the offseason. A strong, versatile player who was overshadowed by teammate Will Sutton at Arizona State, Coleman had writers raving about his potential and early camp performances. He has taken snaps behind Henry Melton at the 3-technique but can also play the 1-tech and even outside if need be. Chances are he will share the occasional snap with Melton and look to cement his place as a Dallas D-line fixture not only this year but for years to come.
Dallas has had some notable UDFAs over the past several seasons. Coleman is trying to become the latest, and has shown that he has the potential to do so.
WR Cole Beasley
There were some who speculated that Beasley could see a diminished role in his third season as the Dallas receiving corps grew and competed for his slot position, especially considering his diminutive size (5-8, 180 lbs.). But Beasley has been a big winner at training camp, not so much because of his performance (though his performance has been excellent so far) but because the coaching staff has shown that it’s committed to keeping Beasley on the field.
New playcaller Scott Linehan is looking for new ways to create mismatches with Dez Bryant, and a great way to do that will be to use him from the slot. Beasley conventionally would never see snaps on the outside in 11 personnel, instead giving way to Dwayne Harris or another Cowboys receiver. But in practice he has been moved occasionally outside and looked comfortable there. Expect the Cowboys to experiment with Beasley and Bryant during the preseason, even as Beasley is targeted more often from his normal role in the slot.
As the Cowboys gear up for their first preseason game this Thursday in San Diego, remember to keep checking our team page for all your news and analysis.