Cowboys Training Camp Capsule
DALLAS COWBOYS (11-7)
OPEN CAMP: July 27, Oxnard, California.
LAST YEAR: Made playoffs for second time in three seasons with QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. Dynamic young pair got big boost from midseason trade for WR Amari Cooper. Dallas went 7-1 in second half to surge to NFC East title, won wild-card game against Seattle, lost to LA Rams in divisional round. Defense found two emerging star LBs in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to go with pass-rushing standout DeMarcus Lawrence, who just signed big contract.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: TE Jason Witten, WR Randall Cobb, DT Trysten Hill, S George Iloka, OL Connor McGovern, RB Tony Pollard.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR Cole Beasley, TE Geoff Swaim, DL David Irving, LB Damien Wilson.
CAMP NEEDS: Pecking order behind two-time NFL rushing champ Elliott will be priority. Most intriguing option is speedy fourth-round pick Pollard. Travis Frederick returns after missing last season with nerve disorder, so tracking four-time Pro Bowl center’s progress during camp will be important. Cowboys didn’t do much in offseason to change outlook at safety, so perceived weak link in defense will be under scrutiny.
EXPECTATIONS: Super Bowl or bust? Proud franchise hasn’t been since winning fifth championship nearly 25 years ago, and owner Jerry Jones badly wants to get back. Coach Jason Garrett enters final year of contract signed after 2014 season, when Dallas won just second playoff game since Super Bowl title following 1995 season. Garrett might need to lead Cowboys to first NFC championship game since then to survive, and even that might not be enough.