IRVING, Texas – While the Cowboys already have technically started training camp with three days of workouts at Valley Ranch, the real thing actually begins this weekend.
That’s when the Cowboys as a team depart for Oxnard, Calif. – arriving on Saturday before Monday’s first official practice.
And that’s when we will get our first real look at the 2012 Cowboys and see if all of these changes will actually produce better results on the field. There are questions to answer, position battles to settle and much more to be done before the Cowboys play the defending champion New York Giants in the regular-season opener on Sept. 5.
But that’s what training camp is for. To get you even more prepared, here is what DallasCowboys.com writers Bryan Broaddus, Josh Ellis and Nick Eatman will be watching closely as training camp gets underway.
Bryan: The offensive line. I think this wide receiver and inside linebacker situation will take care of itself. There are a lot of moving parts here. You are switching tackles and have new guards and a center that, at times, gives you no confidence. Bill Callahan is one of the best offensive line coaches in the league and he is outstanding at making adjustments, but it will test every bit of skill that he has to bring this group together against some of the best fronts in the NFL that this group will face.
Josh: I think this team has a lot of things to sort out between now and September, but so does the rest of the league. Usually, a good training camp is one when the team escapes without too many players being banged up. That’s why I’m taking team health as the biggest story of these next three and a half weeks. The more bumps and bruises and long-term injuries the Cowboys can avoid in Oxnard, the better they’ll be when the season starts.
Most Intriguing Battle:
Nick: Since I’m already saying the receiver position is the biggest issue, I’ll focus on the safety spot. I’ve said all along that
Bryan: Inside linebacker. Its
Josh: The right guard spot still seems very much in flux to me, with
Nick: Not sure this would be a huge surprise to everyone else considering it has been brought up, but I’d still be surprised if
Bryan: I think it’s going to be one of the veteran defensive ends, Coleman or Spears. There are three good young defensive ends on this roster with Lissemore, Crawford and Geathers. The front office might decide to go long at this spot if they only keep two quarterbacks. It’s hard to find defensive linemen on the street but depending on other positions, a cut might have to come from this group.
Josh: One thing we know about the Cowboys under Jason Garrett – he’s not afraid of axing a draft pick or three. I think fourth-rounder Matt Johnson is probably safe despite falling behind this summer when he wasn’t able to practice, but fifth-round receiver
Nick: The late addition of running back Ed Wesley is interesting, but I still think the Cowboys really like another rookie,
Bryan: The surprise keep for me is
Josh: As much as folks have written him off since he signed, I really do think the Cowboys will keep safety Brodney Pool whether or not he beats out Barry Church for a starting job. Church will still be an unproven commodity, and there’s nobody ready to start, in my opinion, behind
Nick: Maybe this isn’t a major surprise, but I have high expectations for Sean Lissemore this year. He’ll definitely be in the rotation and will play a lot in 2012, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up starting. So far, his career is very reminiscent to
Bryan: Has to be Lissemore for me. Maybe it’s the scout in me but I always cheer for guys like this - Hard-nosed, tough, relentless guys who play with desire and technique. I love the fact that he can play inside or out. There are a lot of positive traits in his game. He will push very hard for a starting job here.
Josh: I’ll go with Leary. The Cowboys have guaranteed half his base salary for this year, sign enough that he’s making the team, and they had such a high grade on him (aside from the knee concerns) that it leads me to believe they feel he’s as talented as anyone they have on the interior of the line. If the long-term stability of that knee is a worry, the Cowboys might feel obliged to try to get their money’s worth while they can.