Depleted Dallas will give young WRs ‘opportunity’
- Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
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OXNARD, Calif. — In the aftermath of losing James Washington to a fractured right foot, the Dallas Cowboys will not pursue any veteran wide receivers available in free agency, like Odell Beckham Jr. or Emmanuel Sanders, or look to add one through a potential trade.
At least for the moment.
“Let’s give these young guys the incentive, our young receivers,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “We thought highly of them when we came out. We’ll get [Washington] rehabbed … But it doesn’t create an urgency for us to add a veteran receiver. We like these young guys.”
Washington, who had surgery Tuesday, is scheduled to miss 6-10 weeks, according to multiple sources. Michael Gallup is continuing to rehab from a torn left ACL suffered last January and is set to miss at least the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown are the only wide receivers to have caught a pass from Dak Prescott in a regular-season game. While Lamb had a 1,000-yard season and was named to the Pro Bowl last season, Brown has 39 catches in four seasons. Lamb is the only receiver with a touchdown catch.
“We talk about growth, we talk about draft and develop, here it is,” coach Mike McCarthy said “This is what it’s all about. Each and every team that I’ve ever been the head coach of, there’s always some level of projection and growth that has to occur, so the only way to get there is through these training camp practices. So you don’t wait until the preseason games to start that process. You don’t wait to give them opportunities really in the season. So this is what it looks like. It’s unfortunate that James was injured, but it’s really opportunity for these young players to step up.”
Beyond Lamb and Brown, the Cowboys have 2022 third-round pick Jalen Tolbert, 2021 fifth-round pick Simi Fehoko and undrafted free agents from the past two years: Dennis Houston, Jaquarii Roberson, Ty Fryfogle, T.J. Vasher, Dontario Drummond and Brandon Smith. Last week, the Cowboys signed KaVontae Turpin, who led the USFL in receiving yards in the spring.
“I mean I’m not opposed to having another vet in here,” Lamb said. “I’m never against having help, but I like my young guys here now. I want to see what they can do in the heat of battle, and then we got Tampa in September. There’s only one way to find out.”
Lamb said he has already told the younger receivers that chances like the one that is presented to them now do not happen often.
“The door is open for opportunity,” Lamb said. “I feel like the younger guys are taking that opportunity and trying to do something.”
The lack of urgency in adding a more proven receiver than the ones already in camp is somewhat reminiscent of 2016, when the Cowboys lost then-backup quarterback Kellen Moore to a broken ankle one week into camp. Instead of adding a veteran, the Cowboys went with fourth-round pick Prescott and Jameill Showers behind Tony Romo. After Romo suffered a back injury in a preseason game, Prescott became the starter, and he has held the job ever since.
“We like these young guys,” Jones said. “We’d already been looking ahead, and we were going to have some trouble cutting our numbers at receiver because we’ve liked the way some of these guys are starting to show. But we’ve got a lot of work still to do.”
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