The Dallas Cowboys’ three-game preseason schedule has been released, as the NFL inches to the start of the regular season.
Of course, the preseason doesn’t have the same juice as the regular season. But it still serves an important purpose.
It’s a time for coaches to evaluate players and sort through who makes the 53-man roster and who packs their bags and heads home.
Rookies especially are closely watched during these games. Here are the new Cowboys to watch for Dallas:
Offensive lineman Tyler Smith was Dallas’ first round selection. A left tackle from Tulsa, Smith is expected to get run at left guard to fine-tune his skills before kicking out to the end of the offensive line down the road in his career. He’s been getting reps at tackle during OTAs, so don’t be shocked to see him there in the preseason.
Defensive end Sam Williams was tied for the fifth-most sacks in college football last season. Williams stands at 6’4, 265-pounds, allowing him to power past offensive linemen. The Alabama native also ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. His combination of size and speed is sure to make for some entertaining highlights this season.
Wide receiver Jalen Tolbert will get the chance to climb the depth chart if he can make an impact in the preseason. Currently, he’s battling for the number three spot with veteran James Washington. These three games will be indicators as to which wideout will start the season behind CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
Tight end Jake Ferguson’s play will not only dictate his playing time. It could also impact how the Cowboys negotiate a new contract with fifth-year tight end Dalton Schultz. If Ferguson shines, owner and GM Jerry Jones will likely be less inclined to offer Schultz a long-term deal, forcing him to play on the franchise tag.
Here’s who the Cowboys will square off with this preseason:
Week 1: at Denver Broncos
This promises to be the Cowboys most exciting preseason matchup. Well, it’ll be as exciting as a preseason game can be.
Since hall of fame QB Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset following a Super Bowl win in the 2015 season, the Broncos haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement. It’s unrealistic to expect someone to step in and fill the shoes of the man who set the single-season passing yards record in 2013. But 11 different starting QBs in six seasons isn’t a winning formula.
But this season is different. Denver traded two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth round pick, tight end Noah Fant, quarterback Drew Lock and defensive end Shelby Harris to the Seattle Seahawks for nine-time pro bowl QB Russell Wilson.
After 10 seasons, Wilson leaves Seattle as the best QB in franchise history.
But after missing time and playing through a major finger injury in 2021, Wilson may not even see the field in preseason. Sorry to rain on the parade.
Week 2: at Los Angeles Chargers
In head coach Brandon Staley’s first season, he fell only one win short of a playoff berth after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18.
The Chargers’ biggest deficiency was defense, allowing the fourth-most points per game at 27. But LA was aggressive this offseason, trading for three-time All Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
Dallas will see how its defense matches up with the NFL’s fifth highest-scoring offense from 2021, led by pro bowl QB Justin Herbert.
Week 3: vs Seattle Seahawks
The Cowboys finally return home after a couple games on the West Coast. But this bout won’t have as much star power on the opposing sideline as weeks one and two.
With Wilson in the Mile High City, it’ll be a rather sad quarterback battle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock to see who takes the starting job.
Defensively, Seattle lost a staple at linebacker with the release of Bobby Wagner. The eight-time pro bowler and six-time All Pro has since taken his talents to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Seahawks are far from the days of Marshawn Lynch and the legion of boom physically imposing their will against opponents.