The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff continues the series focusing on a veteran player who needs a strong training camp performance to either win a starting job or perhaps even a roster spot.
No. 9) Which Veteran Needs A Strong Training Camp Performance?
Bryan Broaddus: Kellen Moore. I am not sure that he can go through these practices / preseason games and just be okay. There might not be questions from the coaching staff but I just don't have the feeling that the scouts are totally on board quite yet. Moore did turn some heads with his effort in that final game of the regular season – so give him some credit for tha,t but I feel that he will need to do more. He has to prove that if given the job, he can in fact go win games if something were to happen to Tony Romo. Moore needs to prove that without a doubt that he is the right man for the job and put those questions about his lack of his physical ability to bed. A strong camp would do just that.
Rob Phillips: To best answer this question, I think you have to look at two things: opportunity and competition. At running back, Alfred Morris has both. Darren McFadden is expected to miss part of training camp recovering from elbow surgery. That means more reps for Morris, a four-year veteran who signed a two-year deal with Dallas in late March. On the other hand, first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott should be considered the clear favorite to earn the starting job, and sixth-round pick Darius Jackson will attempt to push for a roster spot in preseason. Could special teams be a deciding factor for the depth chart? Don't forget about Lance Dunbar, too, who's still working his way back from last year's knee injury. Morris says he's accustomed to competition from his days in Washington, and I think there's room for both him and McFadden backing up Elliott, but there's no question he needs to perform well in practice and preseason games.
Nick Eatman: How about Rolando McClain? Here's a guy who is facing a 10-game suspension, marking the second straight year he will be at camp but not able to start the season because of a league suspension. Unlike last year, McClain is supposed to be healthy and should be able to practice. It'll be tricky considering he needs reps like everyone else but the Cowboys will also need to get someone else ready to play – and play a lot. So McClain needs to show the coaching staff just why he's so important to keep on this roster. I've said it before, the Cowboys should probably cut ties here but this team obviously sees it differently. Still, I believe McClain needs to prove to his teammates and coaches and even the fans who seem fed up with him as well, that he's going to be worth keeping around until November. If not McClain, I would've gone with Alfred Morris has my next answer. I just think he needs to show his value as well, especially since he doesn't play special teams, he's not a pass-catcher or a great blocker and they just drafted a younger, better version to do the things Morris does well.
David Helman: His roster spot obviously isn't in any danger, but I think it's critical for Dez Bryant to get back to his dominant ways at training camp this year. As you'll recall, Bryant barely practiced last summer, as he suffered a hamstring injury shortly after reporting to camp – and prior to that he sat out of the offseason program during his contract negotiations. Shortly thereafter, he broke his foot and missed seven weeks, and he never regained his All-Pro form. Bryant once again sat out of the offseason program this year while he recovered from offseason surgery – but he worked diligently with the team's athletic trainers and paced himself to be on track for training camp. He's expected to be full-go when camp opens, and it's easy to forget that it's been roughly 18 months since he went through a fully-healthy practice routine with the team. If he's going to rebound in 2016, he needs to start in Oxnard.