Cowboys WR injuries create opportunities for these young players

Aug 4, 2022; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (18) makes a catch during training camp at River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard, California. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2022; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (18) makes a catch during training camp at River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard, California. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes an unfortunate situation allows us to grow and emerge better than before. While injuries are often frowned upon, and rightfully so, they have created opportunities for younger players on the Dallas Cowboys roster.

In a year where the team lost arguably their best receiver, it seemed as if the Cowboys couldn’t afford any injuries. We knew about Michael Gallup missing time due to rehabbing from an ACL tear. He had surgery in February and will likely miss the start of the 2022 season.

In an attempt to minimize that early-season loss, owner Jerry Jones signed James Washington, who had a 700-yard season just three years ago. That plan crashed when he fractured his foot in training camp. He is now expected to miss six to 10 weeks.

The wide receiver room had been in question for the first time in a while. That was true before the injury to Washington. The leading cause of that was trading away star-wideout Amari Cooper.

With training camp underway, the Cowboys must establish how to make up for their losses. While some say a free agent signing is required, owner Jerry Jones made it known, and rightfully so, that the coaches should give the opportunities to the youngsters already on the team.

Any free agent available now will likely continue to be available come the start of the regular season. In the meantime, during the preseason, the young wideouts need snaps for the team to figure out what they have. Only after analyzing their youth should they look to sign a veteran.

Which Cowboys players are getting opportunities in light of the James Washington and Michael Gallup injuries?

In the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, America’s team drafted a Cooper-like wide receiver in Jalen Tolbert. The smooth route-runner will be the center of attention, especially considering he will likely suit up as the team’s WR2 to start the season.

Tolbert is not the only young gun to watch, as 2021 fifth-rounder Simi Fehoko and his freakish athleticism and size have been a talking point since he got drafted. While the Stanford product did not catch one pass last season, a depleted depth chart and an impressive camp mean more opportunities.

And it’s not just the drafted players. It’s not often you see undrafted free agents make an immediate impact, but Dennis Houston and KaVontae Turpin will have their chances. Turpin was the USFL’s MVP and is an electric special teams returner. Houston balled out with Western Illinois and is turning heads at camp.

Perhaps Dallas should give even more attention to a wide receiver-turned-running back. Tony Pollard has been one of the more efficient players in the NFL, and the Cowboys coaching staff made it known they plan to use him in different ways, including the passing game.

Of everyone, Pollard will stand to gain the most from these injuries. This is the season for him to solidify his spot in Dallas’ future and a chance to overtake RB1 Ezekiel Elliott officially. We will see him deployed similarly to Alvin Kamara, splitting time as a running back and receiver.

Right behind Pollard is Fehoko. His 6-foot-3 height compiled with his 34.5-inch verticle makes him a big red zone target for quarterback Dak Prescott. He is also much faster and more agile than most players his size.

The extra snaps and opportunities will enable the Salt Lake native to prove he deserves targets down the stretch and is a reliable depth option. The physical traits are there. We need to see Fehoko produce on the field now.

A sport like football requires reliable depth players due to injuries. While Dallas has a tough start to the season and having the top talent available would be helpful, the depth should make the most of their opportunities. It adds versatility to the offense and insurance for the playoffs.

Look to see these young guys who may not have otherwise gotten playing time be called upon for some serious reps at the beginning of the year.

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