The offseason is a long, grueling period of time that makes life mediocre at best. Seriously, we’ve entered a period of time in which football is all we care about. Well, no need to fret as yesterday marked the start of training camp for the Dallas Cowboys.
I spent time watching Jason Garrett’s press conference because I think that the most accurate news can come from the guy with the best seat in the house. I’ve taken some notes on what stood out to me:
- Jason Garrett’s first item of note was the highly documented story of Felix Jones, Brodney Pool, and Andre Holmes failing their conditioning test. These players will not be able to practice until they are able to complete the 10 sets of 60 yards sprints in 8-second time limits. (Skill position time limits) Garrett seemed to be disappointed, especially in Felix Jones. I think this has been handled correctly and I expect to see Felix back sooner than later but make no mistake about it, Felix Jones missing this conditioning test will not sit well with Garrett.
- Garrett seemed to be pleased with Morris Claiborne’s ability. Claiborne hasn’t been a “standout” in his practices so far but there seems to be a thought he is showing excellent physical talent and instincts. Garrett says he see’s some rust but they have every reason to believe that he’ll be a great player going forward
- There was the typical blubbering about Tony Romo that you expect this time of the season. While I know Tony will be fine, the best part of the press conference happened right after the Romo discussion. Garrett seemed to pour about the development of 3rd year linebacker Sean Lee. Sean Lee is coming off a breakout season and seems to be building a reputation for being a diligent, hard worker who is setting a great example for his teammates. On if Sean lee is ready to take up a big role as QB of the defense “He was ready last year […] he’s healthy and he’s the kind of guy you want playing that position. Linebackers are like the QB of the defense. He knows the game inside and out.” On his diligence “he’s off the charts, he has such determination in everything he does, everyday. Just watch him. Watch him in meetings if you ever get a chance to do that. I mean this guy is locked in and focused.” The thought is that Sean Lee is one of the biggest pieces of the Cowboys moving forward and he’ll be key to a Super Bowl run. This is good news about a young levelheaded guy.
Training Camp Notes and Headlines
- Ronald Leary is getting first team snaps at right guard for the Cowboys with Mackenzy Bernadeau out. Leary has tremendous upside and I know you have all heard it before, but I’m not sure you understand exactly. If Leary wasn’t injured he’d likely be a 2nd round pick. He has a great combination of speed, size, and strength that makes him very reliable at the guard position. While he won’t be an instant superstar it’s worth noting his progress because he could easily have a significant future on this roster.
- There was thought that Claiborne would be lining up with the 2nd team, however, he got all 1st team reps today. Claiborne could be seen talking to Miles Austin about ways to improve his technique. Claiborne was worked by Dez today but you have to expect that at the beginning of camp. No need for any negativity, the guy is out there learning. Maybe the most important in rookie news today though is that rookie safety Matt Johnson was removed from the PUP list. Johnson, who was a surprise draft pick, has the talent to win the starting job. From the way Garret was speaking about him as his press conference, it seems that I’m not the only one who thinks the guy who can be a competitor.
- While most of us have written off Mike Jenkins I’d hold off. Jenkins seems to be ready to commit himself to the season and maybe even further. Jerry Jones said he doesn’t mind cutting a check for good players and Mike Jenkins is just that. While he won’t beat out Claiborne and Carr for the future CB of the Dallas Cowboy’s competition, if he’s willing he could get locked up this offseason and really be a staple in a premiere defensive backfield.
- Bruce Carter seems to be with the 1st team but I don’t think that limit’s Dan Connor’s impact at all. Connor will rotate with Lee and Carter while also subbing in on a package that offers three inside linebackers. The Cowboys are expected to go heavy with linebackers as they have some decent talent. One of the things the “reserves” are working on is being versatile enough to play all the linebacker positions. If the Cowboys are able to manage this properly, the Cowboys might have there own version of a dominant defensive rotation ala the New York Giants.
Day 1 Around the NFC East
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, noted that there is some serious concern about the offensive line of the Redskins. Lichetensteiger had surgery, Jammal Brown has a hip problem, and they lack any real significant depth. This could be a HUGE problem for a team that is expecting a rookie quarterback to be the savior of its franchise. They’ll have to save him from being knocked out first in this very tough NFC East.
It’s worth noting the Redskins seem to be a team of slightly above average players who aren’t sure where they fit at the skill positions. The runningback situation seems a mess, Helu is the most talented but Royster is explosive and oft-injured Hightower seems to have the loyalty of the coaches. Additionally, the WR corps is really no better. Garcon is a legitimate receiver but Moss and Morgan aren’t #2 receivers and Hankerson has a lot to prove before he can be considered a legitimate threat.
New York Giants:
The big news today is that starting cornerback Terrell Thomas reinjured his surgically repaired right ACL. This is huge for a Giants team who was expected to have improved depth at a position that crippled them a little last year. This will make their pass defense significantly more porous and it’s worth monitoring the development of their young cornerbacks.
Victor Cruz is reported as looking excellent. Some “experts” expected Cruz to take a step back this season with the drafting of Rueben Randle and David Wilson, who were expected to offer new explosive weapons to the team. It doesn’t look like Cruz will surprise teams anymore but it might not matter, the guy is deadly and the Cowboys will have to keep an eye on how to contain him.
4th WR Riley Cooper, Jason Babin, and Jason Peters (offseason injury) seem to highlight some fairly newsworthy injuries to a tough team who’ve seen little negatives this offseason. Watching the offensive tackle position is important because if Vick can’t stay upright, he wont’ make it through the season.
Brandon Graham is making the most of his opportunities with Babin missing a little bit of time. Graham was a first round pick of the Eagles, who was expected to be an instant playmaker. The Eagles already have a dominant defensive line, add the possible emergence of Brandon Graham, this years first round pick Fletcher Cox, and DE/OLB Vinny Curry and Philly’s defense got significantly more scary