The Dallas Cowboys will be returning to training camp in Oxnard, California next Wednesday. The team is scheduled to practice at 3:45 Pacific time the following day on the July 24.
The Cowboys parted ways with Kyle Orton and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Brandon Weeden will handle the back up job for now, and we hope, as always, that Tony Romo will be able to play in all 16 regular season games.
The running backs will be a very interesting position to watch. DeMarco Murray will be the number one guy, followed by Lance Dunbar and who ever wins that prized third spot, being it Ryan Williams, Joseph Randle or rookie Ben Malena.
I also expect the team will keep a full back this season, unless they fill that spot with newly added tight end Dallas Walker. Rookie fullback J.C. Copeland, whom I expect to make the squad, would be good addition to the running game, especially in the red zone.
The tight end position is loaded with Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, and James Hanna. Hanna may find him self the odd man out here.
The wide receivers are also loaded with Dez, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley returning for the first three spots. The competition is going to be fun to watch for the next available spots. Dwayne Harris will hold on to his spot because of his great play on special teams. LaRon Byrd, rookies Devin Street, L’Damian Washington and Chris Boyd will be competing for any remaining spots and this group could produce one very good player. Tim Benford will likely be on the outside looking in.
Tyron Smith, Travis Fredrick, Doug Free, rookie right guard Zack Martin, will anchor the offensive line along with whoever wins the left guard position between incumbent Ronald Leary and veteran Mackenzy Bernadeau. This year, the team has good depth on the offensive line. After these guys, the other backs up spots are up for grabs.
Rod Marinelli will be the new defensive coordinator and the defense will be a new look group with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher choosing to move on to different teams.
That does not necessarily mean they will be worse up front. The addition of Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, and rookie DeMarcus Lawrence will add some excitement to this deep group of defensive linemen. Watch for Tyrone Crawford and rookies Ben Gardner and Ken Bishop to add their talents in the new “wave” mentality Marinelli will implement this season. Ben Bass, Martez Wilson, George Selvie, Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Cesar Rayford, Davon Coleman, Dartwan Bush, Amobi Okoye and Chris Whaley will all have a chance to shine in this style of defense. Anthony Spencer may be the wild card, as he is reported to be closer to returning than earlier reports indicated.
Bruce Carter will lead the linebackers. Kyle Wilbur holds the other outside job for now. No one is sure who will win the “mike” position. As it stands right now, I expect Rolando McClain to have every opportunity to win this position. He has the sturdy frame to play this position, but he has to improve his pass rushing abilities. Justin Durant also has a shot, but he needs to improve his cover skills. This may well be a position manned by committee. Do not count out DeVonte Holloman chances to win a spot, just not Bruce Carter’s spot. Rookie Anthony Hitchens remains a huge question mark IMO. Rookie Will Smith will turn some heads with his hitting ability. Even without Sean Lee, Matt Eberflus has a solid group to work with here.
The safeties will be led by Barry Church. J.J. Wilcox will have the inside track on other safety spot, and it will be his job to lose. Rookies Keith Smith and Ahmad Dixon will press Wilcox. Jakar Hamilton looked really good in mini camp and will have to maintain that level of play to hang on to a roster spot. Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson may be left without a job.
Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick will lead the cornerbacks. Strong showings from rookies Terrance Mitchell and Tyler Patmon will put Maurice Claiborne on notice, stay on the field or someone will take your job away this season. Sterling Moore and rookie Dashaun Phillips will compete for back up jobs and special team duties. IMO B.W. Webb will have a difficult time making the team.
This is all speculation until the pads come on and the fittest survive training camp and preseason. Keep you eyes and ears open fans, this is going to be an exciting season and it all begins in less than one week.
360Cowboys.com writer Whitebear560 – whitebear560 Twitter – 360Cowboys Twitter – Sports-Kings.com/DownAndDistance contributor Whitebear560