Machota: Cowboys rookie WR CeeDee Lamb living up to lofty expectations

Iamtdg

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By Jon Machota Aug 19, 2020

FRISCO, Texas — There are several noticeable changes at this year’s Cowboys training camp. A new head coach usually has that effect. Among the most obvious is that players now have their last names on the back of their practice jerseys. It’s a way for the new staff to get better acclimated to them.

A name isn’t necessary on CeeDee Lamb’s jersey. It wouldn’t take most very long to identify the Cowboys rookie wide receiver during the first four training camp practices at The Star.

“CeeDee is just so smooth,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s so abrupt in and out of cuts and getting up the field once he catches the ball. It’s been so impressive to see him. You certainly expect that too when you pick these guys first in the draft.

“There are high expectations there, but in my mind, he’s lived up to expectations up to this point.”


It’s easy to overhype a player this time of year. Only two of the practices have been in full pads. But nothing seems to be too difficult for the 17th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. He hit the ground running in his first college season, catching 46 passes for 807 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman at Oklahoma in 2017.

There’s no reason to think he can’t do the same in Dallas, where he’s already getting plenty of work alongside the team’s top two 1,000-yard wide receivers from a year ago, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

“When we drafted him, I’m thinking already, Amari went over 1,000 yards, I went over 1,000 yards. And then you pick up one of the best wide receivers in the draft coming out, that’s a three-headed monster,” Gallup said. “CeeDee, he’s a good dude. He’s smart. He’s quick. He’s ready to learn. He’s a funny guy. He’s a good person to have in the locker room, so great pick. Great pick.”

The Cowboys prefer for all of their wide receivers to line up in multiple spots, and that shouldn’t be a problem for Lamb, who did significant damage all over the field during his college career. But the expectation early on is that he will see most of his workload in the slot, filling the spot that opened up when veteran Randall Cobb signed with the Houston Texans in free agency. Cobb was targeted 83 times in 15 games last season, so there should be plenty of opportunities for the former Oklahoma Sooner in the passing game.

“Great guy, great athlete, great player,” Dak Prescott said. “Excited for everything he can bring this offense now and many, many years to come. He’s very smart, he’s very talented and he wants to learn. Whether it’s following Coop, whether it’s asking me questions, whether it’s him asking (Gallup). He’s going to be a great addition to this team.

“I think he’s going to play a huge role in our success, immediately and in the future.”

Although we’re not allowed to report on many of the specifics from practice sessions, it’s fair to say Lamb should be a significant factor in the offense from the start of the season. His elusiveness and body control are just different. Even at the NFL level, there are very few players who move around the field like the 6’2, 189-pound Lamb, making the difficult look effortless and routine.

The expectation this season should be that he will get the ball in more ways than any other player on the roster. Along with all of his targets, look for Lamb to be a factor in the running game and on special teams. His athleticism, speed and ability to break tackles are the perfect fit to turn reverses and jet sweeps into big gains, a role that has previously been filled by players like Tavon Austin and Lucky Whitehead.

Lamb is also the most likely candidate to be Dallas’ primary punt returner, something he did all three years at Oklahoma, fielding 54 punts for 475 yards over the last three seasons.


When asked Tuesday what he would like to take from Lamb’s game and add to his own, Gallup said it would be the 21-year-old’s maturity level.

“Being a first-round draft pick and coming in here,” Gallup added, “I mean, on some of the plays, it’s just like CeeDee just looks natural out here, like he’s been here for a couple of years.”

Lamb has not yet been made available to local reporters, but he did talk for a few minutes Monday with former Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin on the NFL Network.

Lamb recognized there is pressure that comes with wearing No. 88 for the Cowboys, following in the footsteps of star wide receivers like Drew Pearson, Irvin and Dez Bryant.

“You can feel it in the room,” Lamb said. “You can feel it in the air. But I feel like pressure breaks pipes, and I’m all for it. I’m excited. It’s definitely been a ride these past couple practices, just learning and getting in tune with the quarterbacks, getting the routes down, learning from Amari. There’s no better feeling, honestly.”

Cooper made headlines two weeks ago when he said the expectation for the Cowboys’ wide-receiving trio should be three 1,000-yard receivers. Lamb, who had 1,327 yards last season and 1,158 in 2018, said he thinks the goal is “very realistic.”

“That’s definitely what we’re pushing for,” he added. “That’s what we’re working for, day in and day out. We’re honestly going to hold each other accountable, especially with me being a rookie just kind of taking everything in, all the knowledge and everything they know from experience and just putting it into my game. When one eat, we all eat.”


On the first day of training camp practices, Lamb turned heads by snatching a short Prescott pass out of the air with one hand before pulling it in with the other during individual drills. The acrobatic move has been one of the top highlights of camp up to this point.

There are 11 practices remaining on the schedule before the Cowboys begin their season Sept. 13 against the Los Angeles Rams. Expect to read about more Lamb highlights. He hasn’t disappointed so far.

“He’s really electric,” Ezekiel Elliott said. “He’s going to be a great player. Another tool to our offense. We have a lot of weapons. The addition of him, I was kind of surprised that he fell that far (in the draft) and we were able to get him.”
 

Simpleton

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He was a top 7ish prospect in the draft who fell to 17 for no apparent reason, so yea, I'd expect him to pop during camp.
 

Simpleton

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I still can't believe he was there at 17. Hell, it was such a massive long shot for us to get him I didn't even consider it leading up to the draft.
Just dumb luck basically, especially since two teams took inferior WR's in front of us. Jeudy I get, that was somewhat of a tossup, but the Raiders will live to regret taking Ruggs over either Lamb or Jeudy because of their lust for speed, and 10 years from now it'll be one of those classic situations where people look back and wonder how the heck a team could've taken that guy over the other two at the same position.
 

ravidubey

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Just dumb luck basically, especially since two teams took inferior WR's in front of us. Jeudy I get, that was somewhat of a tossup, but the Raiders will live to regret taking Ruggs over either Lamb or Jeudy because of their lust for speed, and 10 years from now it'll be one of those classic situations where people look back and wonder how the heck a team could've taken that guy over the other two at the same position.
We’re mostly splitting hairs with almost all the better WRs from this amazing class, though Lamb was consistently special for sure.

A huge variable will be who gets the best opportunities and who makes the most of them at the next level. What if Carr and Ruggs develop chemistry from the start while Dak doesn’t build a similar rapport with Lamb because of his myriad other options?

It’s certainly possible. Reagor might play with a chip on his shoulder after all the Lamb talk in Philly.

Bottom line for the talent to grow you have to feed it.
 
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