Position Battles: Questions Surround DE Spot  

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FRISCO, Texas - The last stretch of the offseason is upon us. The next time the Cowboys get together, it will be time for training camp.

The roster is nearly full and that should mean a healthy dose of competition – at all positions. In the coming weeks, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will focus on each position to find the most intriguing battles as we get ready for training camp.

Today, we continue the series with defensive end.

Battle To Watch: 

This is an intriguing position because while it looks rather clear in 2018, who knows what the future holds here with DeMarcus Lawrence playing on a franchise tag and Tyrone Crawford's contract to climb over $10 million per season next year. So yes, Crawford and Lawrence will be the starters but the third and fourth ends in the rotation will get plenty of playing time. And it looks like three strong candidates will be vying for that time: Taco Charlton, Kony Ealy and fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong. All of them should factor into the mix but they all bring something different to the table. It's possible Ealy could slide some into defensive tackle and that would free up some room. Armstrong is the wild card here because he has some pass-rush ability but he's still raw. Charlton has added muscle and could be ready to take off here in Year 2.

Don't Forget About: 

The Cowboys haven't forgotten about Randy Gregory and they're hoping the NFL doesn't as well. Currently, he has not been reinstated by the NFL after his year-long suspension for repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policy. However, commissioner Roger Goodell has the information and is expected to rule on the matter. The Cowboys are hoping that decision comes sooner than later. If he is reinstated, he will be able to return to the field and compete for a roster spot.

Bubble Watch: 

Here's another candidate for Don't Forget About, but Charles Tapper hasn't been able to stay on the field in two years. Still he was a fourth-round pick for a reason. Don't forget he was actually drafted ahead of Dak Prescott in the 2016 draft in that fourth round. But we haven't even seen much from Tapper because of injuries. Still, if you ask his teammates about athletic freaks, they always mention Tapper, who was clocked at a 4.5 in the 40 during his draft workouts. If he can stay healthy, which would be a big "if" at this point, Tapper will likely figure into the mix somehow.

Locks:

DeMarcus Lawrence - Tyrone Crawford - Taco Charlton - Dorance Armstrong

Contenders:

Kony Ealy - Charles Tapper - Randy Gregory - Datone Jones

Long Shots:

Austin Larkin - James Hearns

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