The author of “America’s Team: The Official History of the Dallas Cowboys,” Sullivan also writes a new column in each issue of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click here.
Seems like forever ago we were talking about DeMarcus Ware and Johnny Manziel. It's been pretty boring since the NFL Draft, outside of the devastating
We're now less than a week from the start of training camp. Finally. The majority don't realize how long the offseason really is, especially for non-playoff teams, because the league, and the Cowboys in particular, still appear in more or less every news cycle. Think about this, though: It's been exactly 200 days since the Cowboys played a game. That's kind of a long time. And we're still seven-plus weeks away from the season opener and San Francisco.
So what are we watching for in Oxnard? Not worried about
There are some pressing issues, though. Here are three to watch during the first few weeks of camp:
Defensive leadership: The leaders of this group the last three years have been Jason Hatcher, Ware and Lee. No one can dispute that. The word leadership is thrown around when talking about professional sports like those airport dudes tossing luggage – without much thought. Leadership is not saying you’re a leader. It's not yelling and screaming or leading pregame pep talks. It's about ownership, accountability, leading by example. The best players are doing extra reps at practice or in the weight room, that means the majority will follow. Watching film, talking with coaches, living and breathing football, picking up teammates, asking questions, practicing with intensity and purpose. And even that's just a small portion of what goes into being a leader.
There are candidates, some quite promising. This is going to be
Also going to need someone up front, each of the positions (line, linebackers, secondary) needs its own leader. Not much experience with the ends and tackles outside of
For me, this is issue No. 1 at camp.
This isn't to say
It's going to be a fun offense to watch with options in every direction and a strong line. And Escobar is going to play a huge role.
Rookies: This is not one of those rookie classes that can contribute here and there on special teams and develop. At least not if Jason Garrett and the coaching staff are hoping for long-term job security. This group has to make an impact, likely two starters in
Lots of questions with this group: Is Martin ready from day one at guard? Can Lawrence be this team's top pass rusher, which he almost has to be? Does
There are 31 rookies currently on the roster. Am guessing about 10 are still around the first week of September, maybe a few more including the practice squad. Always fun to see who stands out the first few weeks of camp.
Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.