5.) DeMarco Murray
Murray’s injury deprived Cowboy fans of some real electricity coming out of the backfield. The screen game is just as dangerous as the diverse running game and all facets of how Murray is utilized could prove to be dynamic and explosive in 2012. I admit I have never seen a back that appears to never lift his feet off the turf when he runs but the results are all that matters. The record setter against the Rams may not be such an anomaly. Perhaps as momma says, there will be more days like these.
4.) Morris Claiborne
Mo, Young MC, Mo 24 or Claiborne’s Corner all could vie for the title of the NFL’s newest shutdown corner. In the first half of the 2012 season, he faces Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Brandon Marshall. He is sure to see his share of highlights on the NFL Network and I hope and suspect that many of them will capture his best side. There is only one prime time but there is room for another island.
3.) Sean Lee
This should be fun. The game and all its complexity has slowed down for Lee. He will play 16 games of chess this year. Whether he is Kasporov or Karpov, I expect checkmate at least 10 games this season which places the Cowboys in the playoffs. He is brilliant in the drop game and reads QBs as well as any middle LB not named Lewis. He has become more physical in the hole each year and is much more proficient at stack and shedding guards to find the ball. If he adds a bit more physicality at the point of attack, he climbs onto the Pat Willis platform and takes his place among the elite in the game.
2.) Tony Romo
I don’t mean to sound like I’m pumping Dos Equis but he makes plays inside of plays. He has extraordinary vision and anticipation and throws a great long ball. He is reading defenses at a Super Bowl level and gets another offseason to sync up with Bryant and Murray. This year will be a show and barring injury, I expect by the last Sunday tally to have watched 35-40 TD passes and a handful of Houdini acts within the pocket. If you tell me Romo plays 16 games this year, then it’s a lock that the offense finishes the year in the top 5.
1.) Dez Bryant
There will be fireworks for sure. He either will be the face of wasted potential or a Madden cover candidate. Megatron, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are the current standard but they could be joined by Dez. He is his own toughest defender (other than Patrick Peterson) but good health and another year with the playbook could be what unleash the explosive potential that flares up every few Sundays. Garrett and Romo play a part on game days in keeping Dez focused for 60 minutes. If they can, then the opposition is going to get an up close look at a terror behind the shades.