DALLAS — In training camp, the eyes usually search out the best players or the top rookie draft picks. For the Dallas Cowboys, that’s no exception. Early in camp, some of the finest Cowboys have stood out.
Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Randy Gregory, Trevon Diggs, and rookie Micah Parsons are among the players that have starred. None of those names should be surprising since they are among the best and most exciting that the Cowboys have to offer.
However, there are lesser-known players standing out to camp observers. One of the names at the top of that list is cornerback Maurice Canady.
You may have forgotten about Canady after the Cowboys signed him last offseason as he never played in a game for Dallas in 2020. Canady chose to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns and the team retained his rights for the 2021 season.
Thus far, the veteran CB has made quite an impression in Oxnard.
Canady’s play might be a surprise to many, but he did have a solid season in 2019 with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. In his last year of active competition, Canady allowed just 26 catches for 244 yards, while picking off one pass and having five pass break-ups in 13 games. Another season like that would be welcomed by a secondary that could use improvement and has depth questions to solve.
The Cowboys came into the offseason with a need for CB help and went about adding talent. The team selected Kelvin Joseph in the second round, and Nahshon Wright in the third round of the draft, while also re-signing veteran Jourdan Lewis.
Currently the depth chart shows Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown as the starters, with the rookies Joseph and Wright behind them respectively. Lewis will likely stay as the slot corner. Second-year man Reggie Robinson and veteran C.J. Goodwin are also listed above Canady, but that looks like it could change.
The chart that was penciled in before camp might not be the one we see to open the season as Canady’s three interceptions are making it difficult to ignore his play. Lewis’ absence has allowed Canady to get more snaps and he’s taking advantage.
For a defense that is trying to create more turnovers, new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and the coaching staff are surely noticing what Canady is accomplishing thus far in camp.
If the rookies aren’t ready for primetime yet, Canady’s presence is a big help. Lewis fits best as a slot corner, but can be used all over, so he’s competing with Canady for playing time as well.
All offseason there were rumors about the Cowboys signing a prominent free agent CB, namely Richard Sherman, but considering recent events in Sherman’s life – coupled with Canady’s play in practice – has probably closed that door for now. Canady has been impressive enough to get a longer look and could push to move up the depth chart.
The Cowboys have one of the youngest CB groups in the league and the expected starters of Diggs, and eventually Joseph, have under two years of playing time under their belts. Another rookie, Wright, is hoping to earn playing time, while Robinson is fighting to earn a spot in the rotation in his sophomore campaign.
That leaves Brown, Canady, Goodwin and Lewis as the experienced corners, but none are guaranteed to be around when the team breaks camp. Goodwin’s special teams prowess makes him a virtual lock to make the roster, which is another area where Canady can help.
It’s early in camp, and preseason action is yet to come for Dallas, but Canady has a chance to back up his strong start this summer once the games begin. Once an afterthought, Maurice Canady has played his way into serious contention for not only a roster spot, but to make an impact on the Dallas defense.
Do you think Maurice Canady will be able to help elevate the secondary for the Cowboys this season? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.