Cowboys Longshot Could Emerge as Week 1 Starter, Says Analyst

Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys WR Dennis Houston could emerge as a starter.

An undrafted free agent could surprisingly emerge as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys.

Amid the Cowboys’ injuries at the wide receiver position, Dallas is looking for a new starter to replace injured veteran James Washington. Washington suffered a Jones fracture last week and could be sidelined through the month of October. According to AidanDavis of SB Nation’s Blogging the Boys, Dennis Houston could emerge as a Week 1 starter versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“No one would blame you if you were unaware of Dennis Houston before training camp,” says AidanDavis. “The undrafted rookie out of Western Illinois was flying under the radar until two weeks ago. But over the last thirteen practices, Houston has made a case that he could actually start for this team in week one.”

How Houston Can Emerge as Cowboys Starter

As noted by AidanDavis, starting receiver Michael Gallup is also still recovering from his ACL injury at the end of last season. Gallup has ruled himself out for the season opener, meaning the Cowboys are looking for receivers to step up other than No. 1 wideout CeeDee Lamb.

While rookie Jalen Tolbert is expected to line up as the No. 2 receiver, that leaves one more starting spot open for grabs. Veteran Noah Brown — the only healthy receiver outside of Lamb to catch a pass from Dak Prescott — is competing for that spot against Houston.

AidanDavis stresses how Houston’s quick chemistry with Prescott in training camp could lead to the former emerging as a starter.

“The three names listed above were expected to be the names competing with Brown for the WR3 position,” says AidanDavis. “But Houston is firmly in that mix now. Dak Prescott seems to be a fan of the new receiver, as the quarterback has reportedly formed a quick connection with Houston. While it is still unlikely, don’t be surprised if the three starting receivers in week one are Lamb, Tolbert, and Houston.”

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If Houston Beats Out Brown, He Likely Starts Week 1

Brown has been a member of the Cowboys for five seasons, but he’s specialized as a special teams player. He’s never caught a touchdown pass and he posted a career-best season last year with just 16 receptions and 184 receiving yards. In other words, while Brown will receive first dibs at lining up as a starter due to his experience in the system, we already know what we have in the 26-year-old receiver.

Outside of Brown and Houston are T.J. Vasher, Simi Fehoko and KaVontae Turpin, none of whom have any career catches. In the case of Turpin, he figures more in a returner role due to his lack of size (5-foot-7, 158 pounds).

With Houston, there’s some untapped potential considering he’s a rookie. The Western Illinois product posted 90 catches for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns — including a 237-yard performance against Ball State — during his senior season.

The Cowboys will play their first preseason game versus the Denver Broncos this weekend. We’ll see whether Houston or Brown cement their cases for who deserves the third receiver spot.

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