Dallas Cowboys: WR3 & O-line Among Camp Battles to Watch

The Dallas Cowboys opened training camp Wednesday in Oxnard, California. With Dallas moving on from several players on last year’s roster, the competition is intense to earn meaningful snaps. Along those lines, this article will highlight key position battles on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s start with what shapes up to be a heated battle at wide receiver.

Third Wide Receiver

With Michael Gallup questionable for the start of the regular season, rookie Jalen Tolbert and veteran James Washington could be thrust into starting roles alongside WR1 CeeDee Lamb. However, it’s anyone’s guess who will hold down the WR3 slot once Gallup returns to full health. Tolbert would appear to have the inside track after Washington missed most of the offseason with a foot injury.

However, the latter has proven capable when given the opportunity, leading the Steelers in receiving during the 2019 season before falling out of favor with head coach Mike Tomlin. Whoever wins the job will be expected to produce, given the Cowboys’ preference to throw the rock, making it one of Dallas’ more intriguing competitions.

Starting Left Guard

The departure of Connor Williams paved the way for 2022 first-round draft pick Tyler Smith and fourth-year pro Connor McGovern to compete for the team’s starting left guard position. Both players have split snaps with the first-team offense to open training camp, a surprise given McGovern received most of the reps during OTAs and minicamp. Smith reportedly looked solid, and this battle should only heat up once the pads come on.

Backup Tight End

Much to his chagrin, Dalton Schultz will play 2022 on the franchise tag, meaning this could very well be his final season in Big D. Alas, not only is the backup tight end spot up for grabs but a potential starting role in 2023 as well. 

Competing for the job of TE2 are 2022 fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson, third-year pro Sean McKeon, and undrafted rookie Peyton Hendershot. Jeremy Sprinkle is also on the roster but has primarily been a blocking tight end throughout his career.

With Schultz being a fourth-round selection himself, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for Dallas to try and mold Ferguson into its TE1 of the future – especially if Jerry Jones remains unwilling to ink the former to a long-term extension. However, tight end is one of the most notoriously tricky positions to transition upon entering the NFL, making McKeon’s experience a valuable asset. Meanwhile, despite going undrafted, Hendershot had a record-breaking career at Indiana University, and his progression will be worth watching throughout camp. 

Kicker

Looking for more stability in the kicking game, the Cowboys released veteran Greg Zuerlein in March following a highly-inconsistent 2021 season. With camp underway, Dallas hopes that one of either rookie Jonathan Garibay of Texas Tech or last year’s practice squad player Lirim Hajrullahu will emerge as a viable option.