DALLAS — No team is complete in late July, and the Dallas Cowboys will be no different when they open training camp on July 27 at River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard, Calif.
Throughout the offseason, the Cowboys have had some problems taking care of themselves when it comes to their pass rush, and they have invested resources into other areas.
According to Brendan Walker from NFL.com, one of the three biggest storylines for the Cowboys during training camp in their defensive line depth.
"The Cowboys will need to improve along the front seven if they want their defense to step into elite territory," Walker wrote. "The team had a slightly above-average performance last season, recording 41 sacks (tied for 13th) and giving up 1,918 rushing yards (16th). The Cowboys essentially replaced the free agency loss of defensive end Randy Gregory with pass-rusher Dante Fowler. Second-round pick Sam Williams will get some time in the rotation at defensive end, as well. But there is work to be done before this group can be considered among the top 10 in the NFL."
Even if defensive coordinator Dan Quinn doesn't see Williams as a replacement for Gregory, who left in free agency for the Denver Broncos, spectators will view the Ole Miss product as such. Gregory produced 6.0 sacks, four tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles through 12 games.
Williams has kept his focus on being the best version of himself throughout offseason workouts.
“I just came in trying to be the best version of me," Williams told reporters on May 13 during rookie minicamp. "The only person that can beat me is me. That’s all I can say. Every day I am going to attack greatness. Everything else will take care of itself.”
If Williams isn't able to approach Gregory's numbers, defensive end Dorance Armstrong will have to make a run at them, especially since the Cowboys brought their former 2018 fourth-round pick back on a one-year deal. With 5.0 sacks, three tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits through 13 games, Dallas is hopeful Armstrong will be able to take another step in his fifth season.
Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters on June 16 that he was optimistic about what Williams and Armstrong could bring to the pass rush.
"He’s a mess with his speed and combination of his size," Jones said of Williams. "He can really be an effective pressure player for us, and if we have that on top of retaining Armstrong, which at risk, Armstrong, who so far has had great days, plus have Williams be their for us as to expectations, you do that and we basically — I like what we’ve done relative to our outside rush, although I know that we’ve had some people concerned because Gregory got out of here. But I feel good about where we are.”
The goal is for the Cowboys to feel like their pass rush is in a good place by the end of training camp. So far, the question remains unanswered.
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