By Archie Nino III
With the offseason beginning to get in the swing of things. Here's a quick look into some of the upcoming position battles that should make training camp at The Star in Frisco Texas and Oxnard California interesting. The retirement of RT Doug Free has an opening on the offensive line, the Middle LineBacker position is shaping up to be fun. Quite possibly, my favorite position battle to watch out for, is going to be at DB where the Cowboys lost 4 starters this past off season.
The Dallas Cowboys boast 1 of the top offensive lines position by position. A strong blend of Guards, and Tackles present mismatches at the second levels of defenses creating holes for Ezekiel Elliott and allowing enough pass protection that Dak Prescott can take phone calls before having to throw the football. This offseason saw the retirement of longtime OL Doug Free who started 5 of the last 6 seasons at right tackle. A veteran who anchored the position will be missed but the Cowboys have a battle on their hands. La'el Collins vs Chaz Green. Collins has seemingly been the shoe in as he has been working at RT through early portions of workouts. Although a toe injury that kept him sidelined a few games last season it should keep him on the move between LT and RT. Chaz Green a 3rd round 2015 draft pick might have been the heir apparent to Free. However subsequent injuries of hip surgery, and a foot injury has cut his two seasons in the league short. The position is up for grabs and worth eyes watching.
The Cowboys linebacker corps is loaded with talent. Sean Lee is a perennial all pro when healthy and a crew of talent surrounds him. Where this position can get an upgrade is at MLB which has a battle potentially brewing between Anthony Hitchens and Notre Dame standout Jaylon Smith.
Hitchens provided a solid season at middle linebacker last season and hopes to remain in the driver seat. Jaylon Smith a dominant defender was stricken by a devastating knee injury his final year in college. The Cowboys drafted him early in the 2016 2nd rd and took the gamble knowing he would not be available early on. It is too early to tell where or how long Jaylon will play but it is worth noting that Cowboys officials are raving about his training and his work regimen to getting healty enough to take the field and return to form.
Possibly the most entertaining battle throughout camp will be at the defensive back position. Losing 4 starters in the early portions of FA had DAL scrambling to fill the void during the 2017 draft. The veteran presences of Orlando Scandrick and free agent acquisition Nolan Carroll provides a good balance of veteran vs rookie. Draft selections Chidobe Awuize and Jourdan Lewis played both outside corners and slot corner in their collegiate careers. Anthony Brown showed tremendous promise in his starts last season. The 2016 draft selection played in 9 games for injured former Cowboy Morris Claiborne and provided solid play and also had success lined up in the slot. Look for this to be a hotly contested, intense and verbal matchup the duration of camp when lined up against the Dallas recievers.
These are just a handful of battles throughout the mini camps that will set up the Dallas Cowboys on a potential repeat run as NFC EAST champs. The Hall of Fame game is a few months away and the Dallas Cowboys have plenty of depth at positions to make things interesting during the camp process and OTAS. May the best players win and secure their spot. Above all else. Stay healthy. 'Til next time #CowboysNation.
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