The Dallas Cowboys have all but sent a search party to find a No. 3 receiver to put on the outside opposite Dez Bryant and next to Miles Austin for the 2012 NFL season. Dallas has nine receivers on its current roster than have never recorded a reception at the professional level and no newly-signed veterans to teach/push them. However, two of those youngsters proved they belong on the NFL stage in the Cowboys’ 3-0 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders, including Andre Holmes.
Cole Beasley, a rookie from SMU, started in the slot with the Cowboys’ first-team offense against the Raiders and was targeted only once, albeit by starting quarterback Tony Romo on Dallas’ fourth offensive play from scrimmage. Beasley ran a seam route, running straight down the middle of the field and was interfered with by Raiders safety Michael Huff while trying to make the catch, but no flag was thrown.
The thing about Beasley is he’s a slot receiver and the Cowboys use Austin in the slot a lot of the time. In fact, almost half (44 percent) the snaps he played in 2011 were in the slot and almost two-third (62.5 percent) of his targets came from the slot. In this case, Beasley will make a tremendous backup slot receiver considering Austin is so injury-prone.
That means the man who will likely win the No. 3 receiver job is Holmes, who led the Cowboys in targets (5) and receptions (3) against the Raiders. He played the latter part of the second quarter and the first part of the third, showing superior ball skills while creating impressive space between himself and the Oakland defenders covering him.
What make Holmes an even more ideal candidate for the No. 3 receiver job in Dallas is his size; he’s 6’5″ and weighs 210 lbs. That’s the big target you want on the outside opposite Bryant with Austin in the slot. Holmes used that size effectively against the Raiders, going up to catch the ball at the highest point. Not only that, but Holmes attacked the ball, snatching it out of the air instead of waiting for it to hit his hands high in the air. That makes a huge difference when trying to win a roster spot in the NFL.
If the Cowboys only had one preseason game, then Holmes would be the No. 3 receiver and Beasley would be the fourth option, primarily backing up Austin in the slot. Consider the fact that rookie tight end James Hanna, a sixth-round draft pick, also played extremely well and Dallas doesn’t appear to be in bad shape in the receiver department. However, there are three more preseason games for the other young receivers to each stake their claim on a roster spot. Stay tuned.