In the first week of the 2016 NFL regular season, the New York Giants travel to Dallas to take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have had a touch time against the Cowboys over the past few years, winning just one out of the last six contests.
Key Free Agent Signings:
The Cowboys have made few significant additions to their roster this offseason. Some of the key free agent signings include Cedric Thornton, Alfred Morris, Joe Looney, and Benson Mayowa. Thornton will likely be a starter at defensive tackle where he can help stop the run. Morris had a down-year in 2015 for the Washington Redskins, but if he is able to play like he did from 2012-2014 as a 1,000-yard running back, he could provide to what is already a very depth running back core. Looney and Mayowa will serve as depth players, but with veteran experience, the Cowboys can rely upon them as backups.
Key Free Agent Departures:
Much alike the situation with their acquisitions, the Cowboys had very few significant free agent departures. In fact, there is really no one significant that left the team. So, a player who I would say “departed”, is linebacker Rolando McClain. Though McClain re-signed with the team, he recently was given a 10 game suspension, and the Cowboys have said they hope to release him. McClain is a very solid starting linebacker, and will be a huge loss for the Cowboys defense.
Top 3 Impact Rookies:
First of all, running back Ezekiel Elliott who the Cowboys drafted fourth overall is clearly likely to have the biggest impact this season. Elliott was simply unstoppable at Ohio St, and behind the best offensive line in the NFL, Elliott has endless potential. He is very quick, especially laterally, and will also be a key part of the Cowboys passing game. Secondly, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has a chance to not only benefit the Cowboys defense, but he has a slim chance to be a starter. For the majority, Collins will serve as a run-stopper for the Cowboys. Lastly, quarterback Dak Prescott will definitely be an important piece to the Cowboys this year. Last season, Tony Romo struggled with injuries year long, so having a reliable backup in Prescott will be very important to the Cowboys.
Biggest Offseason Addition:
Without question, the Cowboys biggest offseason addition is defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. Thornton has started every game he played for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2013. Amounting for 100 total tackles since 2013, Thornton will be a ley part of the Cowboys defensive line. Entering his sixth NFL season, Thornton has experience as a run-stopper, which will help the Cowboys significantly this upcoming season.
Most Intriguing Storyline Heading Into Training Camp:
Dez Bryant’s injury process is definitely the most intriguing storyline heading into training camp. Bryant said he is fully healthy, but coming off of a very poor 2015 season, Bryant will need to re-gain the trust of Cowboys fans. Not only was the wide receiver unable to stay on the field for the majority of the season, but also he dropped many passes and showed his frustration towards the several backup quarterbacks who were throwing to him throughout the season. It will be interesting to see how Bryant does in training camp compared to his poor 2015 regular season performance.
Under-The-Radar Storyline Heading Into Training Camp:
Byron Jones transition to free safety is another key storyline to watch during training camp. Jones has served as a cornerback to the Cowboys over the past few years, but with the depth the Cowboys have at the cornerback spot, Jones is converting to free safety. Jones played safety during his first two years in college, so he already has experience at the position. Many questions are roaming around questioning whether Jones switching to safety is the best move for the Cowboys, so training camp will put all of those questions to rest.
Key Injuries Heading Into Training Camp:
Darren McFadden is the first player that comes to mind when thinking about the Cowboys injuries. McFadden had made up a story involving dropping his phone that caused him to break his elbow, but the real story was recently released saying he slipped on wet cement. Nevertheless, McFadden will have a much more limited role this season compared to last season considering the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott and acquired Alfred Morris this offseason. Maliek Collins injury is not very serious, but it is worth watching his injured foot during training camp as he had been limited this offseason. Benson Mayowa’s injury isn’t too serious also, but is worth watching as training camp progresses. Orlando Scandrick, Doug Free, Tyrone Crawford, and Dez Bryant are all key players coming off of injuries. All four players are expected to be ready for training camp, but it is still worth keeping an eye on their level of involvement. Lastly, rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith is likely out for the entire season, but it will be interesting to see if he does any drills on his own during training camp.
Overall, the Giants know what to expect from the Cowboys as very few changes have been made to the roster from last season. As for the Cowboys, it will be key for their injured players to be healthy come the start of the 2016 regular season.