Frisco, Texas – Not only will it be a competition where the Cowboys face a laundry list of adversities to overcome as they try to avoid a frightening 0-2 start to their 2022 season, but adding insult to injury literal will be the fact that there are two very familiar faces looking to help the Bengals take advantage of the absence of Dak Prescott and others – namely Correct handling of La’el Collins and safety of Chidobe Awuzie.
Both Collins and Ozzy are former Cowboys novices who no doubt pass on their knowledge to the Bengals coaching staff for the upcoming battle in Week 2, but DeMarcus Lawrence and Pro Bowl wideout CeeDee Lamb are all too familiar with the two-time Pro Bowl. them and their skills.
And on Sunday, someone will lose in the battle of his former compatriots.
For Lawrence, seeing Collins again means something both personally and professionally — following the Cowboys’ decision to release the starting tackle in March.
“It would be great to see Lyle,” Lawrence said after Thursday’s training. “I haven’t seen him since he left to go to Cincinnati. It would be nice to meet him – check him out and see how he does… He’s a good player.”
The two spent seven seasons together in Dallas, which also means that they have repeatedly faced each other in practice for over half a decade. Collins is off to an unpleasant start with the Bengals against TJ Watt, however, and Lawrence is fully up to date trying to win the job against his friend and former teammate to help lead the Cowboys to the 1-1 record by two games.
This includes deploying Micah Parsons’ weapon against Collins as well.
“He struggled with (Watt) this past weekend, so I’m going to send Mika over there,” Lawrence said. “I’ll be there regardless.”
Another must-watch match is Lamb against Awuzie, a former Cowboys second-round player who signed a three-year, $21.75 million deal with Cincinnati a year ago. Last season, Awuzie posted two career highs and has another pick against Super Bowl MVP Matthew Stafford in the Bengals’ title game loss.
Lamb and Awuzie were teammates during Lamb’s rookie season in 2020.
“Great dude,” Lamb said. “He is a great athlete. Very athletic. Very strong. The point of his ability to attack to impose his will on the opponent is fantastic.”
Lamb and offense will be looking for a rebound after the Cowboys scored three points in their first week against Tampa Bay, their lowest since October 25, 2020 against Washington.
Lamb had shot twice for 29 yards on 11 targets last Sunday, and as the new No. 1 receiver — replacing previous starter Amari Cooper — he wasn’t surprised that the larger floodlights come with more potential outside scrutiny.
“No,” he said, “because I abide by that standard.” “Everyone has their own opinions and you are qualified for that. Obviously after the first week everyone will have something to say. It’s week 1. You have to understand that we have 16 more.”
Lamb and Prescott have always had a good relationship — with the Pro Bowl season in 2021, Lamb scored the second-most receiving yard by a Cowboys player in his first two NFL seasons (2037) — but his last 100-yard receiver was actually the game’s last feast. Halloween vs. Minnesota, and the last time Cooper Rush ran a backup of injured Prescott.
Now, without Prescott in the lineup perhaps next month, and veteran receivers Michael Gallup and James Washington also still on the way back from injury, Lamb knows everyone has to up their game again.
“I feel like we’re in the position we’re in, you always have to step up,” he said. “In the reception room, I feel I have to step up, now I’m losing QB1, the situation doesn’t change. The chance is much bigger and then we have to play for our brothers.
“Obviously we’ve lost a lot of players and we’re going to bring them back to the back half of the season. So until then, we have to play and play the same way we know the ball we know how to play. I have a lot of faith in (chief) coach (Mike) McCarthy and ( Attack Coordinator) Kellen (Moore) to get this thing done.”
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