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Wandering Thoughts: Notes From Cowboys Camp

Some notes, tidbits and thoughts after close to two weeks of Cowboys Camp in the air conditioned Alamodome, San Antonio.

-          Dez Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain last Friday, and will be out for most – if not all – of the preseason action. Am I worried? No. Bryant doesn’t need to learn the intricacies of the route tree to be able to make an impact on the field. Bryant’s two best assets as a receiver: creating yards after the catch (YAC) and running from start to finish, the fade or 9-route. Getting the ball to Bryant on screens will not be difficult. The Cowboys used the screen pass to get Kevin Ogletree involved in the game plan last season, as he struggled to digest the whole playbook. Running a fade route is Bryant’s bread and butter; a perfected craft. All he has to do is run straight down the field, Romo tosses the ball up, and Bryant does the rest. Will Romo have faith in Bryant? If the number of times Romo targeted Bryant in the first week of camp is an indication of the level of trust between the two, then Romo will have no problem airing it out to Bryant.

Monster season? No.

55 receptions, 800 yards and 7 touchdowns, sounds attainable.

-          Alan Ball will have a very good season. Ball has displayed great range, speed, and ability to read-and-react to plays. But those are not the reasons – or main reasons – why he will have a good season. The main reason is, he will be playing with Pro-Bowl cornerbacks on either side of him. Ball will not have to worry about bailing his CBs out of trouble too often, as both Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman are very competent in covering receivers one-on-one. Thus, he will be able to focus more on jumping routes, reading the quarterbacks eyes, and ultimately making more plays. Which is why, I have Ball pencilled in to make five interceptions in the 2010 season.

-          The outside linebackers have been dominant throughout camp. This is a pretty easy statement to make, as DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer man the Will and Sam positions respectively. However, it is not either of them that I have been particularly impressed with – which is not say they haven’t performed well, as they have. It’s more a credit to the way Brandon Williams, Victor Butler and Curtis Johnson have performed. All three have shown a far wider range of pass rushing moves, than I, and even the coaches, thought they had. And all three are consistently displaying the type of play-making ability that will give the coaches confidence to spell either Ware or Spencer with any of the three aforementioned during games.

-          If the Cowboys release or trade Patrick Crayton, they will be making a huge mistake. Crayton is a quarterback’s best friend. Why? Because he immediately knows what to do when his signal-caller is flushed out of the pocket. Think back to the second Giants game in ’08; Romo is flushed out to his right, finds Crayton down the field. Touchdown. The game against the Falcons last season; Romo avoids four would be pass-rushers, and finds Crayton in the back of the end-zone. Touchdown. The first Redskins game last season; Romo is flushed out of the pocket to his left, finds Crayton sitting between two defenders in the end-zone. Touchdown. And there are countless other times he has found the open space, and created a big target for Tony Romo to throw to. He is a great asset to the Cowboys, and would not be easy to replace.

For more observations, thoughts, etc. follow me on Twitter @TLH_Long

Martin Long

Topics: Alan Ball, Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, NFL, Patrick Crayton

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