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By: Darreck Kirby
The Cowboys sophomore receiver is drawing motivation from the Hall of Fame weekend.
CeeDee Lamb has been one of the most-talked-about stars out in Oxnard at Cowboys training camp, and for good reason. The former Sooner set a Cowboys rookie receiving record with 74 grabs last season for 935 reception yards and has continued to dazzle in his first full training camp. While Lamb didn’t play in Dallas’ 16-3 Hall of Fame Game loss last Thursday, he did take in the sights and spectacle of one of the NFL’s great traditions which included the inductions of Cowboy greats Drew Pearson, the original 88 with whom he shares a jersey number, and Jimmy Johnson, the architect responsible for the 90s dynasty. Cowboys safety Cliff Harris was also inducted.
It’s not uncommon for a young receiver to enter the league riding a wave of hype amid proclamations of greatness, but Lamb’s talent and the offense in which he plays provides a strong opportunity for a fast start toward that greatness. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a member of America’s Team, meaning the spotlight will always be bright.
Were it not for Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury in just the fifth game of the season last year, Lamb’s production likely would have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, placing him in the top 25 rookie receiving yard seasons all time. Incidentally, that would have placed him in the company of teammate Amari Cooper, who sits 13th on that list with the 1,070 yards he logged as a rookie with the Raiders in 2015. For those curious, Bill Groman holds the record with 1,473 yards in 1960 as a member of the Houston Oilers.
While it would obviously be premature to project Lamb as Canton-bound, it is fair to say he’s the most promising wide receiver the Cowboys have drafted since Dez Bryant in 2010.
Similar to Bryant, Lamb has an innate ability to go get the ball, showing not just great hands but frequently producing big plays. Unlike Bryant, however, Lamb’s route-running ability is second to perhaps only Cooper on the team, allowing him to operate just as efficiently out wide or from the slot. He’s an absolute terror to opposing defenses when out in space and, similar to Bryant’s early days in Dallas, will look to impact the game as a punt returner who can flip the field or take one to the house.
In Dallas’s scrimmage with the Los Angeles Rams this past week, Lamb torched the L.A. secondary, breaking defensive backs’ ankles and turning them in circles before creating easy targets for backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert to hit in stride. The result was multiple big plays and touchdowns that set Cowboys Twitter into a frenzy of excitement. Best yet, Cooper’s impending return will only serve to create more favorable match-ups for Lamb, and Michael Gallup, making the promise of three separate 1,000-yard receivers a real possibility for the Cowboys offense, if only a year later than first teased.
Regardless, Lamb is keeping his sights set on getting better, day-by-day and year-by-year, as he works toward football immortality.
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb on experiencing the Hall of Fame over the weekend: “I was smiling. Being there just thinking and kind of fantasizing if you will of what if. All it takes is work. I approach every day like it’s my last because you never know when it is. Until I get one of them (gold jackets), I’m working.”