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 which player will become training camp MVP next month in Oxnard.
No. 6) Who Will Be The Training Camp MVP?
Bryan Broaddus:Offensive players tend to get notice more during a training camp practice than those on defense. I am sure that my colleagues are going to take that route so I am going to focus on that defensive side of the ball. My training camp MVP will be none other than Byron Jones. I selected Jones for a couple of different reasons. There are going to be periods during these practices where he is going to be matched up with Jason Witten in coverage. This can be a double-edged sword due to the fact that Witten has made a living wearing safeties out in coverage. I believe Jones is not scared of Witten and actually welcomes the one-on-one battles. This will be his opportunity to shine and he will take full advantage of it. I also like Jones in these practices because as a true center fielder in this scheme, he will be put in position to make some plays on the ball. One of the main reasons he was switched was to do just that. This defense needs a ballhawk and steady hand on the back end and your training camp MVP will be just that. [embeddedad0]
Rob Phillips: Last year Randy Gregory as a second-round draft pick was arguably the most impressive defensive player in Oxnard. This year, Cowboys badly need someone to step up at defensive end while Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence serve four-game NFL suspensions. Although both players are eligible to participate in training camp and preseason, this year I'll pick another newcomer for this year's camp standout: Benson Mayowa. The Cowboys think he has real potential as an edge rusher – they signed him to an offer sheet in March knowing full well Oakland could've easily matched – and he could have a chance to start for at least the first month. He'll be returning from an offseason knee scope that kept him out of the team's minicamp in June, and it's no easy task facing Tyron Smith and the Cowboys' offensive line daily in practice. But if he can work his way back in quickly, I think we'll see glimpses of the talent that caught the front office's attention.
Nick Eatman:This question found a new answer last year when Dez Bryant got hurt. Before that, it was always Dez because he is the best practice player on the team. He brings so much passion and energy to the field – whether it's in Oxnard on a Tuesday morning, or a Sunday night at AT&T Stadium. Dez is Dez and I think he's the MVP of any training camp as long as he's healthy and doing Dezish things. But that's too easy. The guy I think who will have a remarkable training camp is someone who will be trying to guard him every day. My answer is Morris Claiborne. Something tells me he will have a good camp and a good season. Maybe he won't be the MVP of the entire camp but he's going to have a really good three weeks in Oxnard, making it tough on the coaching staff when it comes time to figure out a starting lineup.
David Helman:Why not throw the hype train into another gear? I'm going to say Ezekiel Elliott. The reasons are obvious. The Cowboys are about to make him their No.1 running back, and they're going to want to get him up to speed as quickly as possible. I expect Zeke to get a large amount of touches – especially while Darren McFadden sits out with his elbow injury. I expect him to get a lot of work in the passing game, and I expect him to have some fun run-ins with the defense – be it Sean Lee, Barry Church or Tyrone Crawford. If the coaching staff really expects Zeke to be their workhorse from Day 1, they're going to need to throw him in the deep end at training camp. Considering how talented he is, I expect him to handle all of this fantastically and cement himself as the go-to guy in the Dallas backfield. You don't draft a guy No. 4 overall to take a backseat to anyone else.