In a little over a month away as the Cowboys will be packing their bags, and heading to Oxnard, California. There will be many battles for positions all across the board. And there will be as many as 90 players fighting for 53 spots on the 2012 roster.
Positions like the Offensive line, especially at center and the two guard spots will be wide open for competition. The cornerbacks will have the best competition in some time, the inside linebackers will be fighting for a starting role, along with two depth spots. Even the #3 quarterback spot will be up for grabs. And of course, who will be the backups to tight end Jason Witten this season ? There will be alot of strong competition as training camp begins. But my eyes will be on a certain position in general, Wide Receiver.
The Cowboys just couldn’t match what Jacksonville was offering to 2011 number three wideout, Laurent Robinson. Now Dallas has to go the extra step of not only finding his replacement, but that can also match his production as well.
Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett didn’t seem to be concerned when they ignored the options that was sitting out there in free agency. They did however resign Kevin Ogletree to a 1 year deal, so in my honest opinion, they are giving him one chance to either earn the spot, or possibly become a roster cut before the season starts.
With a full offseason, and a solid training camp, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin should be in much better shape, unlike last season, where Miles Austin alone missed 6 games due to hamstring injuries in both knees. Most critics blamed the lockout and poor conditioning for his hampered season. If both stay healthy on all cylinders through 16 games, there is no doubt they will be the #1 and #2 respective receivers.
Along with Austin, Bryant, and Ogletree, the bottom of the depth chart will be filled with youth and untested players. 2011′s 6th round draft choice Dwayne Harris was only active for 7 games last season, spending the rest of the season on the practice squad. He is yet to make his first NFL regular season catch.
Jerry Jones’ hopeful Andre Holmes is another one of those raw talents that is yet to make an NFL regular season catch. When the Minnesota Vikings cut him on the final cuts of the 2011 preseason, Dallas was quick to sign him to the practice squad, where he spent the season, until he was signed to the 53 man roster with one game to go. It has been said that he was signed so another team wouldn’t snatch him away from the Boys.
At 6′-5″ 210 lbs. with excellent breakaway speed, along with very soft hands, Coaches and the front office visualize Holmes as a future star, and possibly becoming the #3 receiver as early as this season.
2011 Rookie free agent Raymond Radway was having a breakout training camp, and showing sensational flashes in preseason games, when on the last play of the preseason game in Miami, Radway broke his ankle in a bizarre jump for the ball in the end zone, that costed him season ending surgery, and a trip to injury reserve. He along with Harris and Holmes, is still yet to make that first regular season catch.
The Cowboys however did use their 2012 5th round selection on Virginia Tech star, Danny Coale. Unfortunately for Dallas and Coale, he broke his foot during OTA drills on May 22nd, and had surgery on May 24th. Coale is now expected to miss at least the beginning of training camp, and possibly the full preseason, putting him further behind the rest of the competition.
Other notable players that will be competing is rookie free agents SMU’s Cole Beasley, Tennessee Tech’s Tim Benford, UTEP’s Donavon Kemp, and Tarleton State’s Saalim Hakim. Hakim happens to have a better story in life, than a football career. But Hakim runs a 4.31 in the 40, and has alot of potential. He is also the brother of former St. Louis Rams, Az, who was the slot receiver during the ” best show on turf ” days.
So as training camp begins in late July, you can pick your poison on which position to focus on. But as far as wide receiver, there will be 5-6 of these players making the roster. Bryant and Austin will be shoe ins, but after that, you have Ogletree with 25 catches for just under 300 yards in 3 years as your only other experienced player in the group. The competition will be tight, and possibly one of these raw talents will succeed and leave the others in the dust. Or possibly, the Cowboys may be on the search for the next Laurent Robinson in the waiver wire once all the final cuts have been made.