Friday, July 25, 2008

Dallas Dedicated's Ultimate Guide To The Cowboy's Training Camp

The 'Boys open training camp Friday in Oxnard, California after a year hiatus of camp in San Antonio. If the hype of the position battles (Cornerback, Safety, and Running Back notably), Terrell Owens, Jerry Jones and Pacman "Adam" Jones aren't enough to entice you, don't forget about the fleet of cameras documenting every moment for the new HBO reality show Hard Knocks. Yes, this training camp has much to offer. We will break it all down for you, and give you the inside scoop on what the organization is thinking.

Key Losses:

RB Julius Jones (Seahawks)
S Kieth Davis (Dolphins)
CB Jacques Reeves (Texans)
RB Tyson Thompson (FA)
LB Akin Ayodele (Dolphins)
TE Anthony Fasano (Dolphins)

Key Acquisitions:

CB Pacman "Adam" Jones (Titans/Suspension)
LB Zach Thomas (Dolphins)

Big Position Battles:

-Running Back
Marion Barber obviously has the starting job, so no controversy here. However, the backup/3rd down back is up for grabs. First round pick Felix Jones has the upper hand, but don't count out fellow draftee Tashard "Hopefully the Right" Choice.
Choice is an interesting story. He was the heir-apparent to Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma, but decided to transfer to Georgia Tech to be close to his mother who was injured and could no longer work. He shined his junior season, to the point he was mentioned in some preseason Heisman trophy lists. His senior year, though, ended in a knee injury, which, as Mel Kiper put it, was the reason he "didn't go higher" in the draft. He runs with a bruising style, and is an effective pass blocker.

Much of the cornerback debate hinges on two points: 1) the reinstatement of Adam "Strip Club" Jones and 2) the positioning of Anthony Henry. Henry has been practicing at safety, but this training camp will determine where he will play. Terrence Newman and Adam "I didn't shoot anyone" Jones will nab the starting spots, with the third corner spot getting some serious competition. Assuming Henry stays at CB, he, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick will all be viable options. Jenkins and Scandrick are both rookies, but have tremendous talent...who could be closer in skill level than many think. Mel Kiper, the NFL's personal genius, had Scandrick going in the 2nd round, but dropped to the 5th. Lucky for us. Hopeful Tyler Everett is probably next in line. He will most likely be rooting for a Henry move to safety to keep him off the practice squad.

Again, this all hinges on Anthony Henry. Should he replace the struggling Roy Williams? Ken Hamlin is now the feature safety. Henry or Williams? Wade Phillips will spend much time pondering this. With all the talent in the secondary, Henry could conceivably be without a starting job on opening day--a big deal for the team leader in interceptions last season. On the other hand, if he replaces Williams, the Cowboys now have a pro-bowler on the bench. Too much talent is a good problem to have, but a very tricky one.

Probably the most stacked position, and if you don't agree, listen to the following names: DaMarcus Ware, Zach Thomas, Greg Ellis, Bradie James and Anthony Spencer. All five of these players are easily starters on most NFL teams. It would prove useless to lure Zach Thomas over to have him on the bench and DaMarcus "every" Ware is one of the best in the League, meaning that, along with fellow starters Greg Ellis and Bradie James, Dallas will have one of the most unstoppable LB corps in the League. Thomas is a great addition to the 3-4 defense and now will make opposing teams fear throwing over the middle.

Predicting The Roster:

QB (3): Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Richard Bartel
RB (3): Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice
FB (1): Deon Anderson
WR (6): Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd, Miles Austin, Isiah Stanback
TE (3): Jason Witten, Martellus Bennet, Tony Curtis
C (2): Andre Gurode, Cory Proctor
OT (4): Flozell Adams, Marc Colombo, James Marten, Doug Free
G (3): Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Joe Berger

DT (3): Tank Johnson, Remi Ayodele, Junior Siavii
DE (4): Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Stephen Bowen
LB (9): DaMarcus Ware, Zach Thomas, Greg Ellis, Bradie James, Anthony Spencer, Bobby Carpenter, Kevin Burnett, Eric Walden, Justin Rogers
CB (5): Terrence Newman, Adam Jones, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Tyler Everett
S (4): Ken Hamlin, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Pat Watkins

K (1): Nick Folk
P (1): Mat McBriar
LS (1): LP Ladouceur

Other Big Stories to Follow:

-Will Pacman be reinstated? Hopefully the answer is yes.

-Will Terry Glenn and Jerry Jones move on amicably? Hopefully the answer is yes. (UPDATE: Terry Glenn has been waived. Wide Receiver position now very thin...pray Hurd, Miles and Stanback have substantially improved or Jones can bring in a solid #2.)

-Will Hard Knocks distract the team? Hopefully the answer is no.

-Is it possible that we have entered the age of T.O no longer being a distraction? He has been nothing but a good teammate (see: Defending his teammate....with tears) that truly wants nothing more than to win. LZ Granderson writes a great article about him and his undeserved rep.

-Can Romo stay out of the gossip column? It's not all his fault--being the QB of America's team somewhat thrusts one into the limelight--but he has an inkling towards the high profile woman.

-What is the over/under on the amount of anti-aging operations Jerry Jones will undergo? I say 3 is a safe number. And botox counts!

In other news...
-Josh Childress is the latest--and most high profile--to take his NBA game to choice. If this becomes a trend, there are scary implications.

-No one likes hurricanes, but if Dolly had to hit somewhere, San Antonio wasn't a bad choice.

-Vicente Padilla on the trade block? Sources say yes. GM Jon Daniels will listen to anything that "makes sense" it Padilla, Millwood, Blalock or Byrd.

-Mark Cuban is one of the three finalists in the bidding for the Chicago Cubbies. The estimated value of the club is projected at more than $660 million, which was the previous record for purchasing of the Boston Red Sox and 2002. The bidding is expected to be anywhere between $700 and $900 million.

-A nice feature on Felix "the cat" Jones. He's a really humble guy, and a great addition to the team.


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