It might feel like the dog days of summer for football fans, but the 2017 campaign is rapidly coming down the pike. With training camps opening later this month, Around The NFL‘s Conor Orr, Kevin Patra and Marc Sessler are examining the key issues for each team in this division-by-division series. Here’s the NFC East camp primer:
Training camp report dates: rookies (July 19) and veterans (July 22).
Location: Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California.
Most important position battle: Cole Beasley vs. Ryan Switzer. The development of Switzer’s role as a rookie receiver has been interesting to watch this offseason. Theoretically, he plays a similar position to Beasley, and in owner Jerry Jones’ mind, that could mean one of two things. The first: With, as ESPN.com pointed out, Dak Prescott clearly favoring the veteran Beasley by targeting him a team-high 98 times last season, having two Beasleys is better than having one. The second: Switzer could end up being an evolved version of Beasley, like Julian Edelman was compared to Wes Welker. As a writer for the team’s official site noted, Switzer is already pumping out routes “perfectly” from the slot, and he will serve as a special teams threat of sorts. Will we see two on the field at once, or are both competing for similar roles?
Newcomer to watch: DE Taco Charlton. Jones’ ballyhooed search for a “War Daddy” pass rusher this offseason culminated with the selection of the Michigan defensive end in the first round. Outside of some less-than-clever endorsement deals, Charlton has been known for some daily non-padded battles against All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. Jones, always a subscriber to the iron sharpens iron theory, is likely hoping that once the pads come on in late July, Charlton gets a graduate-level education in how to beat back some of the game’s best pass blockers.
Looming camp question: Do the Cowboys evolve? Dallas was able to shove its running game down the throats of opponents last year, rushing more than 60 percent of the time in first-and-10 situations. The Cowboys will absolutely have the capability to put up similar numbers, but which added wrinkles will separate the team from 2016? There has been talk about Ezekiel Elliott being more involved in the passing game. We mentioned the addition of Switzer above. What makes them harder to stop now that everyone has the requisite tape on Prescott and Elliott to…