Perhaps one of the biggest storylines of the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has been the wide receiver room. After the team decided to trade former WR1 Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and let consistent backup receiver Cedrick Wilson head to Miami in free agency, there were certainly big gaps to fill.
Instead of adding big free agent stars, the Cowboys chose to bring in former Steelers WR James Washington and third-round draft pick out of South Alabama Jalen Tolbert. With Cooper gone, Wilson gone, and Michael Gallup still recovering from ACL surgery, Washington and Tolbert know they need to step up in order to make up for the missing pieces at the start of the season.
Given the fact that Jalen Tolbert is a rookie, the team is likely leaning on Washington’s veteran experience to help boost the WR depth chart. Although he didn’t have any standout seasons in his four years with Pittsburgh, Washington said that there was “a lot of meat left on the bone” in his time with the Steelers.
We hope that’s true and that a change of scenery and return to his home state can bring something different out of the fifth-year receiver. However, injuries have already been and continue to be a problem for the 26-year-old.
Back in May, Washington was seen wearing a walking boot during OTAs to help with a foot injury. Thankfully, he didn’t begin camp on the PUP list, but some videos that surfaced are definitely causing concern. If Washington can’t remain healthy or find a rhythm with Dak Prescott, the Cowboys could be in serious trouble.
Videos from Cowboys training camp show WR James Washington struggling with injury and catching
On day one of training camp, Washington was already feeling some sort of pain while trying to connect with Dak Prescott. Mike Fisher posted a video of him walking slowly and talking to the athletic training staff after a diving-catch attempt.
In this video, we see Washington struggling to connect with Prescott. While the pass certainly wasn’t an easy one, it’s fair to argue Washington could have tracked the ball better. Fans would’ve been cheering instead of “aww” ing if he came up with this one. It certainly won’t get easier during the regular season. He also hurt his shoulder during the fall.
Michael Gehlken spoke to members of the Cowboys staff who deemed the shoulder injury “not serious,” and the receiver was back at practice Thursday morning with his teammates.
While it’s fair to argue that it’s still early and Washington has enough time to get in sync with Prescott, the reality is that this Cowboys roster has only one starter from last year set to start the season. Washington and Tolbert need to be healthy and ready to compete if the passing game has any chance until Gallup returns.