Cowboys camp preview: Dallas’ biggest strength
By Tyrone Starr
With the 2015 training camp now less than one week away, the excitement of another Dallas Cowboys season seems more real than ever.
The main portion of that excitement is derived from last year’s, better than expected, 12-4 finish and the first playoff appearance and win since 2009. Another part is the ability to finally move on from the disappointment of last year’s controversial playoff finish. Lastly, there is just the fact that everything really matters now.
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As a fan of the Cowboys, there is a lot to be excited about. Clearly, a team that played as well as Dallas did last year has a lot of positive things in its favor.
For once, it seems that quarterback Tony Romo is starting to get his just desserts. No longer is he the punch line to some annoying joke. No longer is he looked at as the beacon of underachievement. Some people even think the Cowboys have one of the ten best players in all of professional football playing the most important position in the game.
Dynamic wide receiver Dez Bryant is back and happy after signing a new long-term deal that will make him a Cowboy for the next five years to the tune of $45 million guaranteed. Now he can focus on attempting to increase his touchdown total for a ridiculous sixth straight season. Having one of the best receivers, if not the best in all of football is a huge bonus.
There is also the five guys in front of Romo who just happen to be the best offensive line in the entire NFL. Three of them, all under the age of 25, have already been named All-Pro’s.
Those are all huge strengths… but none are the team’s biggest one.
Heading in camp, the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength is the overall depth of the team.
Think about this tidbit. After one of the most heralded draft classes that this team has amassed since Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells had a hand in adding talent, not one of these rookies is currently expected to be a starter.
After reading this article by ESPN’s top Cowboys writer Todd Archer, he believes that cornerback Byron Jones, pass rusher Randy Gregory and offensive lineman La’el Collins will all be backups in 2015.
Surely, they will all be key contributors during the year but for none to be a projected starter means that coach Jason Garrett has finally been able to successfully model his program after those teams he once was also a backup on when the championship cup ran over in Big D.
Even if Archer is wrong and one or more of those rookies ends up winning a starting job, that means that someone in trio of cornerback Brandon Carr, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and guard Ronald Leary will be a backup. Those three collectively started 47 of a possible 48 games last season for a team that won 12 games.
That’s impressive depth.
If that doesn’t do it for you, realize that it isn’t just those three positions that will have competitive battles to be waged to determine who takes the majority of the snaps this season.
Aside from Mincey and Gregory, there is also second year man Demarcus Lawrence and superstar sack artist Greg Hardy all vying for just two spots. While Hardy will likely miss the first four games, he’s all but assured to be moved into the starting lineup beginning Week 5.
Speaking of suspensions, one player who could easily have been considered one of the MVP’s of last season may be in jeopardy of returning in 2015. Linebacker Rolando McClain needs to show some dedication in camp and prove that last year was no fluke. If he does not, guys like Jasper Brinkley, Anthony Hitchens and the return of Sean Lee can all make McClain more expendable if he continues to not be dependable.
At cornerback, a guy like Morris Claiborne who was once drafted sixth overall just three years ago faces the real possibility of being the fourth cornerback at best or maybe even on the bubble of keeping a roster spot. If the newly added Corey White can turn some heads in camp or last year’s surprise in Tyler Patmon continues his progress, Claiborne could be the odd man out.
These are all very nice problems to have obviously. The game of professional football is often a war of attrition. Injuries are certainly a part of the game so having quality depth at multiple areas is a key component to a Super Bowl run.
It is due to this depth that Cowboys fans cannot wait for July 30th. Let’s all sit back and enjoy watching these battles play themselves out.
Next: Dallas Cowboys: My grandmother could run behind this offensive line