When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff makes their prediction on which player will be the surprise standout at training camp.
*15) Who's going to be this year's surprise training camp standout? *
Rowan Kavner: I immediately turn to the defense on this list. With so many positions up for grabs, it'll take camp and preseason studs to win those spots. But I also look at a player in desperate need of a bounce back year who has proven he's got the physical capabilities to thrive, and that's Bruce Carter. Despite a down year, he was still the third leading tackler last season as he made the adjustment to the 4-3, and the Cowboys need to count on him being the star veteran in the absence of Sean Lee. Physically, I think he can handle it. He has the speed and strength anyone would want at his position. It's just a matter of putting it all together, making quick decisions and understanding depth in coverage. I have a feeling we'll see him thinking less and making a ton of plays in camp as the lone linebacker people can pencil in as a Week 1 starter. Maybe a somewhat disappointing 2013 will light the fuse.
David Helman: As a rookie, J.J. Wilcox was on the way to an impressive training camp when his mother died and he had to go home. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones even said the team was planning to name him their starter the day Wilcox left. With a full pro season under his belt, not to mention some valuable on and off-field experience, I'm expecting the young gun to step up and ball out. I don't think there will be any doubt he's the starter alongside Barry Church when training camp ends. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: For some reason, it seems like we're already writing off Joseph Randle as a "surprise cut." I'm not seeing it that way at all. Everyone loves to point out the obvious saying about players improving the most from their first year to the second, and that's why Gavin Escobar and J.J. Wilcox and even Terrance Williams are going to be so much better. Well, then why not Randle? He was a little light last year as a rookie but if you've seen him this year, his body doesn't really look the same. I think he's going to be a better player this year and while most people are wondering if he'll get beat out by Ryan Williams, I'm thinking Randle will be pushing the guys ahead of him just as much. I see him being very quick, very strong and if he can prove to be a better blocker against the blitz, I foresee us talking about him getting more carries once the season starts. Bryan Broaddus: Since I first laid eyes on the tape of Terrell McClain while he was playing with the Texans, I was a fan of the player. Even playing out of position as a nose tackle for Wade Phillips and not getting many snaps, he had those traits of movement, leverage and quickness that you look for in a defensive linemen. In these OTAs and minicamps, he lined up as the three and was disruptive in the way he went about his job. With Melton back in the mix, I could see McClain back into his more natural position of the one and being just as productive. In our training camp preview for Star Magazine, I wrote to keep an eye on the battle between him and Nick Hayden to see who wins that job. McClain has the ability to be one of those players that is too talented to keep off the field.