Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Stock Report: Michael Gallup a star; still waiting for George Iloka’s impact

The Cowboys play face the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener on Saturday.

But don’t look for quarterback Dak Prescott and the starters to play long, if at all. Many veterans with injuries will sit out completely, including linebacker Sean Lee, receiver Amari Cooper and guard Zack Martin.

Tight end Jason Witten doesn’t know if he is going to play.

Coach Jason Garrett says the team is not close to being ready for the season opener.

It’s a good thing they have some time before the Sept. 8 battle against the New York Giants.

Save for the holdout of running back Ezekiel Elliott, the truth is there has been more good than bad for the Cowboys so far in Oxnard.

STOCK UP

Cornerback Jourdan Lewis

There was a time when Lewis, who stands 5-foot-10, was considered too small for secondary coach Kris Richard. He is not tall, long or lean like Richard likes his DBs. He got buried on the depth chart last year. But Lewis kept his head up and made plays when called on. He has continued to work in camp. No cornerback has been better. He has been rewarded with the nod as the starter on the right side over Anthony Brown in place of the injured Byron Jones.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins

Collins’ biggest issue since coming to Dallas in 2016 has been an inability to stay healthy. He’s twice suffered a broken foot. This is the first time he has come into camp healthy and ready to go and it is showing. Yes, Collins is in a contract year and the Cowboys drafted Trysten Hill to replace him. But this is about Collins finally being healthy and showing what he can do on a daily basis.

Receiver Michael Gallup

Players usually have their biggest jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and Gallup is living proof. No Cowboys player is having a better training camp than Gallup, who is so much more comfortable and confident than he was a rookie. He has been on the field with quarterback Dak Prescott every day and is taking advantage of every rep. He has proven reliable and explosive.

Center Travis Frederick

That Frederick has made it through the first two weeks with no setbacks or challenges is a huge step forward after missing all of last season with Guillain-Barre syndrome. He even took part in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills on Wednesday. Everything feels normal for him again. He is simply being evaluated as a football player and ready to regain his status as the game’s center.

STOCK DOWN

Safety George Iloka

The Cowboys signed Iloka to compete with Jeff Heath for the starting job at strong safety. But he has worked exclusively with the third team through the first two weeks of camp. Iloka was supposed to make a move once the pads came on. He has not been able to unseat special-teamer Kavon Frazier with the second team. There is little chance he survived final cuts as a backup. There is no chance for him as a third-teamer.

Kicker Brett Maher

Brett Maher mesmerized Cowboys nation last season with six field goals of over 50 yards. But his struggles on shorter kicks were equally frustrating. He was only 7 for 11 on kicks between 40-49 yards. He was 6 for 8 on kicks between 30-39 yards. It is still a problem in camp. He missed from 42 and 32 yards in two minute situations Sunday and Tuesday. Maher, 29, is not a young kicker. It’s a growing concern.

QBs Cooper Rush/Mike White

Cooper Rush and Mike White are supposed to be in competition for the backup quarterback job. Neither has differentiated themselves. Neither has seized the job. There is a huge question of whether the backup quarterback is on the roster. The Cowboys are comforted by Prescott’s durability. But there is little evidence either Rush or White could win games if called upon.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.
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