Competition flares up at Cowboys’ training camp
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Battles are raging on in Dallas Cowboys’ training camp. While the rosters are nearly set at the top, many important positions and some starting jobs are still undecided.
The current 90-man roster will be cut down to 53 before the start of the regular season. The competition is heated as young players try to fulfill their NFL dreams and veterans fight for their livelihood.
Nowhere is the competition more heated than for the third receiver spot. Dallas is solid with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin returning as the starting wide outs, but the slot receiver is an important position and possibly Dallas’ most important question heading into camp despite many issues on the interior offensive line.
The Cowboys’ first preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders Monday night likely helped the Dallas coaching staff start to make some of these decisions.
The receiver battle was on full display, and the 6 foot 4 inches Andre Holmes was the winner Monday night.
While the game was a stinker from the standpoint of both offenses, Holmes was a bright spot.
However, the competition is still open to other receivers such as veteran Kevin Ogletree and SMU’s own Cole Beasley.
Holmes led all Dallas receivers with three catches for 40 yards, flashing his athleticism and size. He might be the reason free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress has not been worked out by the Cowboys this offseason.
Another position battle under scrutiny has been the one for the middle linebacker spot opposite of last year’s breakout player Sean Lee.
The competition is between second-year player Bruce Carter and veteran Dan Connor who was acquired from Carolina this offseason.
Little can be said about either player separating from one another Monday night, but the competition between the more experienced Connor and the more athletic Carter will be interesting to watch as the season approaches.
Dallas’ questions about the interior offensive line are still completely unanswered. Injuries to likely starters Phil Costa and Mackenzie Bernadeau kept them off the field Monday night and the line was mixed up as a result. The only thing clear now is that second-year player Tyron Smith has made the expected move to left tackle while Doug Free rotates back to his natural role at right tackle. With sixth-overall pick Morris Claiborne and former first-round pick Mike Jenkins out with injuries, the Cowboys’s regular season secondary was not on the field against the Raiders.
One positive from the secondary is Barry Church who made an impression in training camp. Church supplanted himself as the starting strong safety and made Dallas comfortable enough to cut Brodney Pool. Church had a nice couple hits coming up from coverage Monday night.
Despite the positives from the offseason, Dallas will need to get healthier and lock down key positions throughout the team if they want to compete for a playoff spot in the competitive NFC East this season.