Mike McCarthy states shocking player could make Cowboys 53-man roster

Mike McCarthy's dark-horse to make the 53-man roster will shock Cowboys fans.
Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys / Tom Pennington/GettyImages

Training camp is all about getting veterans back up to speed in preparation of the regular season. For the rest of the roster -- the Dallas Cowboys included -- it's all about young players proving they belong on the team, whether it be as a starter, role player, or practice squad stash.

Luckily, this isn't Mike McCarthy's first rodeo navigating a loaded roster.

With talent up and down the roster, McCarthy and company will be forced into several tough decisions by the time camp is over. For several players, having the ability to contribute on special teams could determine their chances of making the 53-man roster.

KaVontae Turpin is an extreme example as a Pro Bowl return specialist, but gunners, blockers and rushers are just as vital to team success.

The importance of special teams isn't lost on McCarthy, who named a shocking player as a dark-horse to make Dallas' 53-man roster.

Mike McCarthy loves Juanyeh Thomas' chances of making the Cowboys 53-man roster

Juanyeh Thomas. Anyone see that coming?

A former three-star prospect, Thomas signed with the Cowboys last offseason as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech. He didn't make any regular season appearances in 2022, but it speaks volumes about how the coaching staff rates him that he stuck on the practice squad for the entire season.

Before getting relegated to the practice squad, though, Thomas had a signature moment in the Cowboys' final preseason game when he notched a game-sealing interception against the Seahawks.

With safeties Donovan Wilson (calf) and Israel Mukuamu (hamstring) facing multi-week absences, Thomas -- now No. 30 after rocking No. 40 in year one -- has taken first-team reps in the early stages of camp. He's dropped into the box on occasion and played some coverage, so he's showing off some of that versatility that made him a standout on Georgia Tech's defense.

At full-strength, it's hard to envision Thomas getting meaningful (if any) reps at safety, but Mickey Spagnola of dallascowboys.com believes the second-year DB is in contention for the personal protector job on special teams -- which was held by Noah Brown last season.

"According to [special teams coach John] Fassel, no one else on this 90-man roster has extensive PP experience."

"Currently, it's Thomas, first-year safety Tyler Coyle, fourth-year veteran defensive back Sheldrick Redwine, rookie running back Deuce Vaughn and rookie free agent wide receiver David Durden."

Even if Thomas comes up short in that competition, the departure of core special teamer Luke Gifford, who signed with the Titans, should create plenty of opportunities for Thomas and other roster bubble players.

Whatever happens, McCarthy's comments suggest it's time for Cowboys fans to become a little more familiar with Thomas' game.

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