Position battles to watch before Cowboys open training camp

position battles to watch before cowboys open training camp

Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyler Guyton.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the NFL’s most talented teams, but there will still be some roster spots will be up for grabs in 2024. Here’s three positions to watch when the team opens training camp.

Quarterback

Projected starter: Dak Prescott

Players to watch: Trey Lance and Cooper Rush

Rush may not be the league’s most athletic quarterback, but he’s 4-1 in five career starts with the Cowboys. He has 1,619 yards and eight touchdowns in 26 appearances with a passer rating of 83.6 since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

Lance is athletic and became the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after the 49ers traded three first-round picks and a third-round pick to get him. But after a lackluster start to his NFL career, Lance lost his job to Brock Purdy in 2023, enabling Dallas to get him for a fourth-round pick in 2024.

While most consider Lance a bust, others aren’t so sure.

“The jury is still out on Lance right now,” team insider Nick Eatman said on the team’s website recently. “He just hasn’t had a lot of opportunities and there is a reason for that as well. If Lance doesn’t play well in the preseason, then you obviously keep Rush where he is. If Lance does light it up, the Cowboys might be looking to trade Rush or even Lance, depending on what they can.”

Keep in mind that Prescott remains unsigned beyond 2024, which means this year’s backup could easily become the team’s next starting quarterback.

Left tackle

Projected starters: Tyler Guyton

Player to watch: Tyler Smith

Can Guyton play left tackle at the NFL level? If not, Smith will have to move over from left guard, something he’d rather not do. Smith earned his first Pro Bowl nomination at guard while former Cowboy and new Jet Tyron Smith held down the left tackle spot last season.

Guyton has experience protecting a quarterback’s blindside but most of it came at right tackle for left-handed Dillon Gabriel at Oklahoma. Per Pro Football Focus, Guyton played 70 snaps at left tackle in college but only one came in 2023.

Meanwhile, Tyler Smith played 17 games at left tackle when Tyron Smith suffered a leg injury in 2022. At 6-foot-7 and 327 pounds, Guyton has ideal size for the position but if he struggles, Smith could easily start the season at tackle.

Wide receiver

Projected starters: Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb

Players to watch: Jalen Brooks, Jalen Tolbert

While Lamb was absent from recent OTA practices, Brooks and Tolbert took advantage of extra repetitions, each making a case to be the team’s No. 3 receiver.

Tolbert came to Dallas as a third-round pick in 2022 but had just two catches for 12 yards as a rookie. He had 22 catches for 268 yards and two scores last year and during minicamp, Cooks spoke highly of his young teammate.

"He's ready to go," said Cooks, via the team's website. "Whatever the expectations are for him out there, I'm telling you he's gonna crush it. He's ready. I look forward to him being able to get that opportunity. It's the way that he goes to work. And I think that time is now for him."

Brooks had six catches in seven games as a rookie last season but primarily worked on special teams. He may lack experience but as long as Lamb holds out, he’ll continue to get No. 3 reps.

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