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Dallas Cowboys Mini-Camp News, Notes & Observations


Regardless of Jerry Jones’ candor when admitting that Terrell Owens is “a friend” and welcomes a call any time, from the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, in order to talk shop. It is not likely that the Cowboys will pursue T.O. or any other free agent veteran receivers for the available number three wide receiver position.

This was a topic bounced around during last mini-camp session at Valley Ranch. Barring a severe injury to more than one of the young receivers on the team the Cowboys apparently are content with allowing the young guns at the position battle it out. In order not to beat a dead horse let’s start off our mini-camp observations and notes with the defensive side of the ball and while a surprise to some not such a surprise to others.

Adrian Hamilton broke the Southwestern Athletic Conference single-season sack record with 20.5 as a defensive end lining up with a hand on the ground. The sack record which was previously held by Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis was surpassed by Hamilton in his final year at Prairie View A&M along with six forced fumbles by Hamilton. Hamilton continues to show very good rushing agility and the ability to get pressure up field. Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com admits that Hamilton has a chance to make the 53 man roster and looks very comfortable when dropping into coverage when the defense called requires him to do so. Everything on Adrian Hamilton coming out of Valley Ranch is that the defensive end, being moved to outside linebacker, is taking full advantage of every opportunity he is getting and delivering nothing but positive end results with those opportunities.

If Hamilton comes along at a much more accelerated rate than originally anticipated and Victor Butler who is having a great offseason so far as well, the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t think twice about Anthony Spencer walk following the 2012 season.

Anthony Spencer sat out the last two days of mini-camp due to a sore hyper-extended knee strictly on a precautionary basis. Let’s not fool ourselves here; both Spencer and DeMarcus Ware are the starters at outside linebacker. Yet with the competition heating up at outside linebacker behind starters Ware and Spencer recently signed rookie Kyle Wilbur or Alex Albright could find themselves on the bubble come time for final roster cuts.

Bruce Carter tweaked a hamstring during the first day of mini-camp before team drills. With Carter out Orie Lemon is getting the call during first team reps next to Sean Lee. Lee seems to taking hold of the vacant leadership role that Jason Hatcher, who is quietly having a nice offseason at defensive end, voiced concerns about earlier in the offseason. Lee can be heard barking commands, lining up the defense and getting right the wrongs during defensive mishaps. Sean Lee intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for John Phillips on camp’s final day.

Jason Hatcher’s performance this offseason has been labeled nothing short of “outstanding”. Hatcher will come into his first year as the entrenched starting at defensive end.

Brandon Carr’s press man ability seems to be deserving alone of the fifty million dollars the Cowboys signed the former Kansas City Chief via free agency. Carr’s ability is the talk of the Valley Ranch onlookers and while Mike Jenkins and Maurice Claiborne have yet to get on the field fellow defensive back and last years nickel corner, Orlando Scandrick, finally seems to be coming into his own this offseason. Scandrick is also being commended for blanketing receivers, giving up very littel seperation and creating much needed pass break-ups.

Cole Beasley has been working some on the outside when Austin is in the slot which equates to the UDFA running with the first team offense but Andre Holmes still seems to be the odds on favorite from the Valley Ranch media to take over the 3rd wide receiving spot. Beasley seems to be learning both the slot and outside position along with continuing to make catches on the move and adjusts to the ball well while in the air. On the third day of camp Beasley was also seen fielding punts which could be another way the 5′ 9″ wide receiver makes the team. Beasley also beat safety Justin Taplin-Ross up the seam for what would have been a hefty gain during third day team drills. Could the former SMU mustang be this years Danny Amendola or Danny Woodhead? Beasley is battling Kevin Ogletree, Raymond Radway, Tim Benford, and Dwayne Harris for the 5th wide receiver position.

Dwayne Harris has been asked by the Cowboys to drop his weight to under 200 pounds. The second year player currently weighs in at 205 pounds.

Will it be David Arkin or Ron Leary at right guard handling Justin Tuck and the one and three techniques of the New York Giants on September 5th? Arkin is a good athlete, has tenaciousness about him and demonstrates excellent strength but doesn’t seem to be making up ground on Mackenzy Bernadeau the free agent guard acquisition that is sidelined with a hip injury. Undrafted free agent Ronald Leary seems more NFL ready at this point in the off season which is slowing beginning to speak volumes about Arkin with the Valley Ranch staff.

Phil Costa seems to be making progress from where he left off last season. Will that be enough to call defenses properly and keep the shotgun snaps from missing Tony Romo’s out stretched hands? Kevin Kowlaski was expected to get some snaps at center but that plan had been deterred due to an injury that has kept Kowalski from participating in mini-camp.

Virginia Tech rookie Danny Coale had his protective boot removed eleven days ago and spent his mini-camp time rehabbing and catching passes from a team trainer. The fourth round draft selection should be back to 100% in time forOxnard.

Miles Austin is reported to be in excellent shape. The lack thereof being somethingAustin attributed to be the reason behind a lackluster 2011 season.Austin has been running very crisp routes and essentially snatching every pass, thrown his way, out of the air and seen dropping almost nil.

Along with Miles Austin being crisp with his route running, on the other side of the offense Dez Bryant has been putting on a show with the way the third year wide receiver has been catching the football. Several one handed catches during the three day mini-camp. Bryant is reported to be looking extremely sharp this off season and finally seems to be getting “it”. However like our counterparts at DCfanaticsblog we are not ready to annoint Bryant as the team’s new number one receiving option just yet. The young and seemingly determined Dez Bryant has managed to stay the course when referencing the right and wrong ways to conduct oneself during the NFL offseason but Bryant still needs to prove that he can be a formidable and dependable presence in the fourth quarter of critical games.

Mike Jenkins made the mandatory mini-camp saving himself $60,000 in fines and as expected spent his time rehabbing his injured shoulder. During mini-camp Stephen Jones let it be known that due to the severity of Jenkins’ shoulder injury the 5th cornerback could open up training camp on the PUP list. Jenkins would then have to pass a physical before being cleared to practice. The Cowboys would then be left with the decision of whether or not to activate Jenkins or to place him on reserve/PUP, which would keep Jenkins out of the first six games. The Cowboys decision on Jenkins would have to be prior to September 5th.

The Cowboys third round pick, Tyrone Crawford, inked a rookie deal during mini-camp but was held out for precautionary reasons due to a calf injury. Outside linebacker Kyle Wilbur, still recovering from offseason index finger surgery, also came to terms with the Cowboys during mini-camp.

Rookie Matt Johnson did not attend the first two days of mini-camp as Eastern Washington classes did not let out until Thursday but did show up to Valley Ranch for the final day at camp. Johnson the rookie safety also reached a four year deal with the Dallas Cowboys leaving only Maurice Claiborne as the team’s only two unsigned draft picks. Johnson looked at home at Valley Ranch practice considering this was the rookie safety’s very first practice other than the mandatory rookie camp. Johnson actually lined up and played as a true free safety through a couple of the team drills looking very comfortable with reads and attcking down hill.

With Felix Jones limited to sideline rehab work the past few weeks due to a shoulder injury. Phillip Tanner has been running with the second team offense and at times lining up in the backfield along with DeMarco Murray. Murray has been seen releasing out into the flat while Tanner stays home in blocking protection. DeMarco Murray has been catching a lot of passes out of the backfield for you fantasy football maniacs out there. After denoting the injury history of both Murray and Jones it’s really a no brainer that we have Tanner as a Cowboys breakout player candidate. While not as fast as the aforementioned two, Tanner is a tenacious runner with a propensity for the tough yards.

Sixth and seventh round picks, tight end, James Hanna, inside linebacker Caleb McSurdy and Matt Johnson are the only draft picks to actually participate in mini-camp and McSurdy actual has been given a couple opportunities to line-up with the first team red zone defense.

Rookie James Hanna makes some tough borderline extraordinary catches but yet seems to allow the simplest most routine passes fall to the ground. Apparently this is the dilemma that has plagued the rookie tight-end during his time at Oklahoma.

Last but certainly not least America’s team quarterback Tony Romo looks to be sharp and on his way to yet another statistically top 5 season now if that translates to a playoff deserving record will remain to be seen. However with a much improved and scheme comfortable defense we believe it will.

Stoic head coach Jason Garrett has admitted to the Cowboys having a great offseason and yet in the same breathe admitting that the team has light years to go. Let’s hope that the head coach has some sort of warp speed plan to get this team to Cowboys Stadium ready to win on September 5th.