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Preseason Watch List: NFC East

A detailed look at the key questions facing each team in the preseason

DALLAS COWBOYS

The Cowboys looked dead in the water after Tony Romo and Kellen Moore got hurt in the preseason, but rookie Dak Prescott did his best Russell Wilson impersonation and delivered a Pro Bowl performance while leading the Cowboys to a Top 5 offensive ranking and an NFC East title. Prescott didn't do it alone; he benefitted from fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott's powerful running not to mention the league's best offensive line. With all the key pieces returning, the Cowboys goal in camp is keeping everyone healthy and building off last year's success. Defensively the Cowboys shocked the world by fielding the league's stingiest rushing defense last season but were exploited in the passing game. A new look secondary will emphasize youth and will require excellent coaching from Rod Marinelli and his staff. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/19 (Rookies) / 7/22 (Veterans)
  • Where: Marriott Residence Inn (Oxnard, CA)
  • Open to Public: Limited (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 3 -- (HOF Game) Arizona 8:00 pm EDT
  • Aug 12 -- @Los Angeles Rams 9:00 pm
  • Aug 19 -- Indianapolis 7:00 pm
  • Aug 26 -- Oakland 8:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- @Houston 8:00 pm

What We're Watching:

  • What can Dak Prescott do for an encore? -- Prescott completed 68% of his passes, threw 23 touchdowns against four interceptions, and had a 104.9 passer rating, as a rookie. Cowboys fans are understandably excited about what Prescott can do with an entire offseason as the unquestioned team leader.
  • Clarity on Ezekiel Elliott's legal situation -- Rumors continue to swirl about Ezekiel Elliott possibly facing league discipline in relation to his off-the-field issues including a domestic violence accusation from a former girlfriend. There's no point in speculating, but a suspension would vault Darren McFadden or Albert Morris to short-term fantasy relevance. 
  • Is Dez Bryant healthy? -- Bryant is legitimately on par with Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. when healthy, but the 29-year old hasn't been healthy since 2014. Does Bryant have a 90-catch, 1,300-yard season left in him? 
  • Getting the new starters on the offensive line established -- The Cowboys offensive line has been the envy of the league for years but lost Ron Leary (free agency) and Doug Free (retirement) in the offseason. Dallas was prepared for Free's departure and will slide La'el Collins into the starting lineup. Chaz Green will be given the first shot at replacing Leary, but he'll have to earn the role with a strong preseason. 
  • Rebuilding the secondary -- For a unit that gave up 4,167 passing yards (26th) and forced just nine interceptions (27th), the rest of the league thought highly of Dallas' personnel. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox all found free agent riches elsewhere, so Dallas is essentially starting over in the defensive backfield. Dallas used four draft picks on the secondary including three cornerbacks, and signed veteran Nolan Carroll to stabilize the position. 

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