Dallas Cowboys 2022 Training Camp Preview: Three Major Storylines
Football season is in the air, which means another year of lofty expectations for America’s Team – the Dallas Cowboys. Scheduled to open training camp on July 26 in Oxnard, California, there is no shortage of storylines as Dallas prepares for the upcoming campaign.
With some familiar faces no longer wearing the coveted Star and young talent looking to fill the void, the Cowboys enter camp full of promise but with questions to be answered.
Here’s what tops my watchlist as Big D takes the field.
Cowboys’ Next Great 88?
Following the surprising offseason trade of Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb enters 2022 as the clear-cut No. 1 option in the Cowboys’ passing game. While Lamb has been solid his first two NFL seasons, he is expected to take a massive step forward in year three. The 23-year-old will be under intense media scrutiny and receiving even greater attention from opposing defenses. How Lamb embraces his new role will undoubtedly be a topic of interest throughout camp.
Lamb, Gallup, and…
With Michael Gallup firmly entrenched behind Lamb on the Cowboys’ depth chart when healthy, free agent signee James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert are set to battle it out for WR3 duties.
Washington showed flashes during his time in Pittsburgh, leading the Steelers in receiving in 2019 (735 yards). However, he fell out of favor with head coach Mike Tomlin and struggled to get on the field the past two seasons. That said, the change of scenery should do wonders, and Washington could be a valuable contributor if he can manage to hold off the rookie.
Meanwhile, Tolbert was widely viewed as one of the steals of the 2022 NFL Draft; Dallas selected the 23-year-old with the 88th pick overall in the third round. Tolbert enjoyed a highly productive college career at South Alabama, setting single-season school records in catches (82) and yards (1,474) in 2021. With Washington inking just a one-year deal, the Cowboys coaching staff won’t hesitate to entrust Tolbert with a meaningful role should he outplay the former in practice.
Note: Gallup (ACL) remains questionable for the start of the regular season, leaving open the possibility that both Washington and Tolbert see starting roles in Week 1.
Who Will Replace Randy Gregory?
The Cowboys lost an essential piece of last season’s much-improved defense, as defensive end Randy Gregory left Big D to join the Denver Broncos as a free agent this offseason. That leaves Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr., and rookie Sam Williams as potential options for one of the club’s starting D-end positions.
The most recognizable name of that bunch is Fowler Jr, who signed a one-year deal with the ‘Boys this past March. The former third overall pick has failed to live up to his draft pedigree. After signing a lucrative free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons, he’s coming off two disappointing campaigns. However, Fowler did produce a career-best 11.5 sacks in 2019, playing alongside Los Angeles Rams superstar Aaron Donald. Assuming he wins the starting job, the potential is there for Fowler to enjoy a productive season, as he will see plenty of favorable one-on-one matchups sharing the field with All-Pros Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.
As for Armstrong, the 25-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, notching five sacks in 13 appearances. Perhaps more impressive is that Armstrong’s sack total fell one shy of Gregory’s six while playing fewer snaps. Dallas rewarded the pass rusher with a two-year extension in the offseason and likes Armstrong’s upside.
Facing the biggest uphill climb is 2022 second-rounder Sam Williams. The former basketball-turned-football player is raw but possesses superb athleticism, evidenced by his 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine. Having defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to show him the ropes can only help Williams’s development. It will be fascinating to see how he progresses throughout training camp and into the regular season.
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