Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL preseason round-up: Anthony Barr, Ezekiel Elliott, Micah Parsons…
The Cowboys added an experienced veteran to their defense - linebacker Anthony Barr signed a one-year, $3 million deal with Dallas.
Cowboys sign LB Anthony Barr to one-year deal
The former Viking has joined Dallas on a one-year, $3 million contract to add yet more experience to the Cowboys defense. Anthony Barr joined the Minnesota Vikings as the ninth overall pick in 2014 and has been there until now. With the Vikings, he made it to the Pro Bowl every year fro, 2015-2018 and has averaged around 70 tackles per season. He joins Dan Quinn’s group of defensive threats Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jabril Cox.
Why won’t Ezekiel Elliott play preseason games?
The Cowboys’ number one running back won’t be playing in the preseason games at all as he reveals his Emmitt Smith-style plan for preseason. The first preseason game for the Cowboys will be on August 13 against the Denver Broncos and we won’t be seeing Zeke on the field just yet.
“I’ve been playing football 20 years,” Elliott said. “This is my seventh year in the NFL. I’ve seen a lot of football. I don’t think I need a preseason game, especially with the joint practices.”
When Emmitt Smith played for the Cowboys, he almost never played in the preseason games, and he is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Elliott had a partially torn PCL last season, and will rely on training camp and game one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get back into shape again. Zeke’s fellow RB Tony Pollard has not said what his plans are for preseason, so perhaps we will see him on the field instead.
Expect more versatile use of Micah Parsons again this year
“I’m sure you probably heard he’s working with the running backs with (position coach) Skip Peete, wide receivers, kicking…”
That’s what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said to the media at Cowboys training camp about All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons. Of course, he was joking, but only kind of. Parsons is the most versatile player on the team, able to play as a pass-rusher and defensive end.
Last year, the Cowboys weren’t planning to use Parsons at defensive end, although Quinn said he knew that Parsons was capable. But when DE Randy Gregory was out with covid-19 at the same time that DE DeMarcus Lawrence was out with an injury, it was Parsons who stepped up and killed it. Since then, Parsons has split his time between linebacker and defensive end.
“Every day, trying to make sure I’m not losing anything in either,” Parsons said. “I’m just enhancing my knowledge of the game.”
“He is a rare competitor - that is his superpower,” Quinn said. “If he doesn’t have something quite down, he is going to get it down. And he’ll work hard to get it right because he does not like to not be able to do something.
So we can expect more of that this year as Parsons keeps opponents’ O-lines on their toes. Without Gregory for good this year, the Cowboys have veteran pass rusher Dante Fowler, Dorance Armstrong, and Sam Williams - plus, they can add Parsons to that mix.
Rookie Tyler Smith dominating training camp
The no. 24 overall pick in the draft this year, Tyler Smith, is expected to start at left guard for the Cowboys. The biggest criticism of the rookie wasn’t his playing abilities, but his knack for getting penalties called on him. In his last season at Tulsa, he had 16 penalties, 12 of which were holding calls. If he can get that under control, the Cowboys don’t seem like they have much else to worry about where Smith is concerned. He has already been applying that bully mentality in training camp, dominating in padded practices.
“Dude is strong,” said teammate Ezekiel Elliott. “If you just watch some of the plays and when he just punches a guy - he’s lifted a couple of guys off of their feet just by punching. When he gets his hands on guys, they’re not getting away from him. You can definitely tell he’s a skilled cat, and he’s gonna be good for us.”
Cowboys kicker options walking on thin ice
The kicker competition at Cowboys training camp continues, but now neither one is standing out as a choice they feel confident about. Greg Zuerlein was released after a disappointing last season from the kicker, and now they are looking to Lirim Hajrullahu, a 32-year-old kicker from the CFL and Jonathan Garibay, an undrafted rookie. Though Hajrullahu had a good start, he and Garibay have both been struggling to make kicks in the wind. Head coach Mike McCarthy made his concerns clear after Hajrullahu made just three of eight attempts and four back-to-back misses from 43, 48, 48, and 52 yards.
“I was kidding somebody, I just want to see them make extra points and kicks from the 20 and the 30,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “We’ll worry about that far out stuff later, I just don’t want to head into the year missing extra points and short field goals.”
The Cowboys could consider bringing in a free agent if neither of these two can get it together, as there are still some on the market. The other option would be to make some trades. Either way, something’s gotta give.