What to Watch for in Dallas Cowboys’ First Preseason Game Against the Jacksonville Jaguars

By: Anthony Miller

The Dallas Cowboys are home for the first time in 2023 as preseason action gets underway Saturday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s been two straight seasons of heartbreak for the Dallas Cowboys suffering season-ending playoff losses to the San Francisco 49ers. Now with those seasons behind them, they are focused on 2023 being the year they make the leap to the Super Bowl. Their first challenge is to find key role players in preseason that will help build depth.

The Cowboys are taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars who are also coming off a heartbreaking loss in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season. Arlington will play host to their game at AT&T Stadium Saturday at 4:00 pm CST. The game will be broadcasted on CBS 11 in Dallas/Fort Worth and can be heard on the radio on 105.3 The Fan.

Key Dallas Cowboys Storylines to Focus On

Can Deuce Vaughn Compete with Rico Dowdle for the Backup RB Job?

One of the most heartwarming stories in the offseason was Deuce Vaughn finding out he was drafted by the Cowboys by his dad, Cowboys scout Chris Vaughn, calling him that Dallas has drafted him in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Vaughn’s story is impressive as he is the shortest running back ever drafted since the NFL began tracking the combine sitting at five foot five inches.

He’s already impressing coaches to start training camp showing off his versatility playing offense and special teams. Vaughn has been able to impress with his pass-blocking abilities and make plays in the rushing and passing games.

Rico Dowdle has been sitting at number two on the team’s training camp depth chart with Malik Davis and Vaughn right behind him. Everyone knows Tony Pollard, barring any injuries, will be the starting running back to start the season. It’s all about who is going to back Pollard up.

Vaughn has had comparisons to Darren Sproles due to his size, but ability to do so much more than just run the ball. It’s a comparison Vaughn should keep to heart as he will need those skills to earn him the backup job. Saturday will be a good indication of where Vaughn’s development is since the training camp began.

Kicker Brandon Aubrey Trying to Make Good First Impression

The kicking adventures of Brett Maher in the playoffs is an unfortunate series of chaos for the Cowboys trying to make the Super Bowl. Despite having one of the best regular season kicking performances in franchise history converting over 90 percent of his kicks, four missed extra points in the Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one extra point blocked in the Divisional Round against the 49ers resulted in him not re-signing with the team in the offseason.

New blood has joined the team as the Cowboys signed Brandon Aubrey and Tristan Vizcaino to compete for the kicker job. Vizcaino was cut from the team this week leaving the door open for Aubrey to take the job and run with it.

Aubrey’s story about football is impressive as he played soccer in college and professionally. After playing college soccer at Notre Dame, he was drafted in the MLS by Toronto FC in 2017 where he never played for Toronto FC but did play in the United Soccer League for two seasons.

Where he made his mark in football was being drafted by the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL in 2022 as a kicker. Aubrey made the most of his opportunity in the USFL, converting 32 of 36 field goals as well as 57 of 59 extra points for the Stallions in two seasons. In both seasons, he played a role in helping the team win the USFL Championship.

Accuracy is a strength to Aubrey’s game which is what the Cowboys are desperately needing after their playoff appearances this past season. One question is whether he has the leg to hit over 50 yards as his longer field goal made in the USFL was 49 yards. Dallas will be hoping he can stay accurate while booting in 50-plus-yard field goals this season.

Will KaVontae Turpin Make a Bigger Impact on Offense in Preseason?

Speaking of former USFL stars, 2022 USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin made quite a splash in his first season with the Cowboys last season. Turpin played a big role on special teams returning 21 kickoffs and 29 punts for a total of 811 yards. His performance earned him a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection last season as a returner.

Turpin is back and looking to have a bigger role on offense after the team kept him as a returner last season. With the amount of football, he has played over the last couple of years, his body needed time to recover.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has already stated that Turpin will not be returning kicks and will be playing more on offense in the Jaguars game and beyond in the preseason. With his blazing speed, he could be seen more in the slot and sent out on deep passes. The Cowboys will look to find ways to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.

Turpin is on the Cowboys’ training camp depth chart as the second-string slot receiver behind CeeDee Lamb. He will have to compete with Jalen Cropper and Jose Barbon for that backup job. Some big plays on offense should get Turpin involved in the offense more this regular season.

Featured Image via AP

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