After the first couple of weeks of organized team activities at Valley Ranch a few interesting exigent storylines have emerged regarding matters on both sides of the ball, for the Dallas Cowboys, worthy of being chronicled.
The Cowboys, a team that finished with an 8-8 record at the end of last season, embarked upon the first of a nine day formulation for players and coaches this last Tuesday at Cowboys headquarters. Valley Ranch media members were allowed to view Wednesdays procedures as they will once again be allowed to once again sit in this Wednesday to witness as America’s team begins it’s annual trek toward this year’s New Orleans Super Bowl destination site and the ever elusive Lombardi Trophy.
The team’s mandatory mini-camp kick starts next week and until then let us review five things we’ve learned from the last couple weeks of OTA’s. The Dallas Cowboys gear-up to begin this off season and make their way toward the official preseason and let us begin by begging the question, where has the offseason gone?
- Tony Romo the second highest rated quarterback in NFL history was reported as looking in mid-season form. During one media attended practice Romo completed 8-11 passes in both team and 7 on 7 drills, showing great velocity, and having only one dropped pass by back-up tight end John Phillips. Romo never disappoints statistically speaking and that in itself is a major factor behind his all-time number two QB rating but for all intents and purposes the Dallas QB will need to step his game up from a more mental aspect. Critical thinking and decision making is one area Tony Romo will need to be flawless in during the 2012 campaign.
- Thanks to some extensive research by Landry Hat reader Californy, during the Cowboys Super Bowl run, the Dallas starting offensive line consisted of Nate Newton an undrafted free agent playing, John Gesek a 4th round pick ,Kevin Gogan drafted in the 8th round, Frank Cornish selected in the 6th. Reserves serving in back-up roles during this same time frame were Dale Helltrae in the 4th, Mark Stepnoski 3rd, Mark Tunei Undrafted, David Dixon 9th rd, Eric William 3rd, Ray Donaldson 2nd, and Larry Allen 2nd. The Cowboys would do well getting many of the offensive linemen currently on the roster to perform consistently on the NFL level. The money tied up in the offensive line, after the restructuring of Doug Free’s contract back in March, pales in comparison to other NFL team’s offensive line numbers. Adding the youthful transition the Cowboys have made along the offensive line can only be attributive to a staff well aware of keeping Tony Romo upright well into his next contract extension which should happen sometime prior to or before the end of the 2013 NFL season. Apparently whether it’s Phil Costa or Bill Nagy lining up at center the exchange between quarterback and center of the offensive line is still falling to the ground. Let’s hope that this gets resolved before seasons beginning. David Arkin, last year’s 4th round pick is being pushed with the first team offensive line but his football strength is really coming into question after constantly being pushed around during OTA’s. If free agent guard acquisition Mackenzy Bernadeau wouldn’t have sustained a recent hip injury Arkin’s time in Dallas could have quickly been coming to an end.
- Jerry Jones has recently went on record stating that cornerback Mike Jenkins will be a valuable part of this season’s team and with the likes of NFC East opponent’s receiving corps we believe Mr. Jones. Orlando Scandrick could end up losing snaps as the nickel corner to Jenkins due to recent editions of Brandon Carr and rookie Mo Claiborne. John Clayton of ESPN opines that if Jenkins is traded it will not be until training camp when teams lose critical cogs to injury. Up to the point Dallas likely has not received offers better than a fourth round pick for Jenkins. If that is the case the Cowboys are better off standing pat with Jenkins and his salary for the season for the simple fact that the Cowboys will likely receive fourth round compensation for Jenkins in the form of a compensatory draft pick when the former first round draft pick bolts via free agency next season. Compensation could end up as high as a third round pick which all is based of a formula involving free agent players signed versus those lost along with playing time by Jenkins. Mike Jenkins’ agent Drew Rosenhaus has confirmed that the disgruntled media painted cornerback will be at the upcoming mandatory mini-camp.
- The Cowboy’s are loaded with youth at the wide receiver position but up to this point through OTA’s it looks as if no one person is head and shoulders above the rest and emerging as the heir apparent to a vacated number three wide out spot left by the departure of Laurent Robinson. Kevin Ogletree was resigned to a one year deal and is essentially being handed the spot but with that being said the competition has been so less than stellar up to this point so much so UDFA’s Tim Benford a Cole Beasley have began to garner recognition at voluntary team activities. Many expected this year’s fifth round pick Danny Coale’s skill set would place the former Virginia Tech team captain into a great position to exceed all expectations landing the young wide out the call when the Cowboys line up in three wide receiver sets. However a foot injury has curtailed Coale’s progress yet if the competition for the number three spot remains as stagnant as it has up to this point then Danny Coale could come into training camp a sight for the sore eyes of wide receivers/assistant head coach Jimmy Robinson. Who will replace Laurent Robinson’s eleven touchdowns last season is still anyone’s guess.
- The Dallas Cowboys are plaing it safe it middle linebacker Dan Connor so Bruce Carter is getting the majority of the work alongside Sean Lee. Regarding the rest of the defensive side of the ball the Cowboys showed an emphasis during this years draft yet many of those rookies drafted have been unable to attend the team’s activities due to either injuries or college requirements keeping them from doing so. The brightest spots and news worthy notes taking place on the defensive side of the ball have to be the play of undrafted and the nation’s sack leader last season, Adrian Hamilton. Many reports coming out of Valley Ranch have many observers impressed with how well the former Prairie View A&M star has acclimated himself to the game up to this point. Along with Hamilton’s performance a couple of Cowboys who could stand to have break out seasons are Jason Hatcher and Victor Butler. Both players have been reported to be showing up in the offensive backfield on a consistent basis which doesn’t bode well for a young and still learning offensive line.