4 Cowboys whose jobs are in danger after the 2023 preseason opener

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys
Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys sat 20 projected starters for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which had plenty to do with it resulting in a 28-23 loss. 

The absence of the top of the depth chart provided an opportunity for young players to make their case for a roster spot. 

But not everyone took advantage. 

Here are four players who moved closer to the cut line. 

Hunter Luepke

The rookie out of North Dakota State was the least explosive of the four running backs, which isn’t surprising. Luepke profiles as a between-the-tackles runner even though the Cowboys called a couple runs that didn’t display that skill. 

Reasonably, Luepke could provide an answer to Dallas’ perceived need for a short-yardage and goal line back. But the running back room is already crowded with coveted skills, and Deuce Vaughn having a massive impact in the second half didn’t do Luepke any favors. 

Luepke wasn’t the only running back whose position on the roster was affected by Vaughn’s impressive showing. 

Vaughn and Malik Davis have similar skill sets, and while Davis was a focal point in the passing game, he didn’t show the same explosion Vaughn or Rico Dowdle displayed. 

Ronald Jones? He should have already been cut. 

Simi Fehoko

On the box score, it looks like Fehoko made a decent impact, catching four passes for 27 yards. 

Here’s the rub: Three of those receptions were on quick throws at the line of scrimmage, and while Fehoko gained positive yards on each one, he didn’t break any tackles. 

Dallas clearly wanted to give Fehoko easy opportunities to make a bigger difference in the game, and he didn’t. This performance coupled with a quiet training camp and Jalen Tolbert's strong camp and now preseason continues to put Fehoko on the chopping block.

Malik Jefferson

Will the Cowboys keep more than five linebackers? It seems unlikely. 

Even with Micah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch sitting, Damone Clark, Jabril Cox and DeMarvion Overshown had bigger moments than Jefferson. Those three are roster locks, so don't read into Jefferson seeing the field Saturday before Cox.

Going down with an untimely foot injury didn’t help Jefferson’s case and he was absolutely bamboozled on a Jaguars two-point conversion attempt.

Israel Mukuamu

Mukuamu didn’t do anything terrible to end up on this list. But he didn’t do anything outstanding, either. 

The Cowboys could keep five safeties on the initial roster and three of those spots are spoken for by Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker. 

That puts Mukuamu in a battle with Markquese Bell and Juanyeh Thomas for the final two spots. Bell is a valued special teams player, giving him a leg up on a roster spot and he compiled four run stops against the Jags, good for the most on the defense, according to Pro Football Focus.

With all due respect to Sheldrick Redwine and Tyler Coyle, that pits Thomas and Mukuamu against each other for the final safety spot available. 

Thomas has been a standout in training camp and had a first quarter interception of Trevor Lawrence that had the Cowboys’ raving early.

Mukuamu can play in this league. It just may not be with a star on his helmet.

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