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Eatman: Backup WR, RB spots all but locked up now 


SEATTLE - The number one goal for a preseason game was not accomplished. Just too many injuries to check off that box.

Somewhere on the preseason checklist is winning the game, and that didn't happen either.

But in between potentially losing some key players for an extended period of time, and losing to the Seahawks 22-14, there were some things that occurred that are top priorities for the preseason.

Once again, individual players stood out, to the point where offensive spots are getting solidified left and right.

Don't look now, but the skill positions on offense are all but locked up, thanks to four players who shined bright enough in their limited roles.

Ok let's break some news here - but Deuce Vaughn is on the team. We knew that last week but if there was any doubt, it's over now. In fact, there might be some serious talks about getting him on the second unit because it's been two games and he's scored two touchdowns. All he does is pro-deuce when he's out there. I know I'm not alone when I say we all want to see even more from him.

However, I would imagine his preseason is probably over, at least on offense. If the Cowboys want him to get some special teams reps and maybe more returns, that's fine. I think they've seen what they need to see as a running back - and it's superb.

Problem with him being the No. 2 back is that Rico Dowdle might have something to say about it. In fact, he was speaking rather loudly Saturday night in Seattle, making a strong case for him to back up Tony Pollard at running back.

Ok, it's not just that he also scored a touchdown like Vaughn did. But what Dowdle did that was so impressive was his ability to push the pile with his first-down runs. Everyone is wondering how they're going to replace Ezekiel Elliott's power and hard-nosed running style but the way Dowdle was able to hit the hole and have some pile-moving carries, should give the Cowboys plenty of confidence using him throughout a game. If you combine that with his quick bursts and ability to make open-field plays, Dowdle is showing the definition of a backup running back.

And here's one more point to this. If the Cowboys are going to use Vaughn in the games, usually the third back has a prominent role on special teams. Right now, it's unclear if he will get those reps but because Dowdle has special teams experience, he could take over some of that from the RB2 spot. That was a factor in the decision not to bring in a veteran running back as a backup because it would force the No. 3 back to play special teams. This way makes more sense for everyone.

Ok, let's shift to receivers. Seems like we've got five guys now that are on the squad for sure, especially the way Jalen Tolbert and KaVontae Turpin played in Seattle.

I think we all knew Tolbert was going to make the team, regardless how he played in these games. A third-round investment is too much to let go after two seasons. But fortunately for the Cowboys, Tolbert is earning his spot, to the point where he's making a strong case to make the game-day roster of 48 players each week. Tolbert looks like a more confident receiver for one, especially down the field when the ball is in the air. Two weeks in a row that he's made a nice play on the ball, this time they didn't negate with a penalty.

But he played into the third quarter on special teams, another facet of his game that should help him get on the field even more as the fourth receiver.

If Tolbert isn't the fourth receiver, it'd be Turpin, who needed a bounce-back game this week after a few rough moments in the first preseason games. Turpin was solid in his receiver play, catching a couple of clutch passes to move the sticks. We know he can by dynamic as a return specialist but an expanded role for him includes more plays on offense. If he can be a reliable target like he was Saturday, there's no reason to think he wouldn't be someone who can contribute each week again.

Again, nothing earth shattering to say these four guys have probably made the team. But they're all looking like game-day players as well.

With that in mind, time is running out for any other receiver or runner to land a roster spot, even if one more preseason game to play.

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