IRVING, Texas – 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 answers if the Cowboys have done enough to address their depth.
7) Have the Cowboys added enough depth to overcome injuries?
Rowan Kavner: That's one thing the Cowboys have definitely done this offseason. Their backup situation at most positions is better than it's been in a while, and it makes sense that that's what they focused on after going into the last month of the season the past couple years with severely depleted rosters. There are going to be a lot of questions about this Cowboys team entering the season, but they shouldn't center on the team's depth. The fate of this team's season will depend much more on how their starters perform than what's going on behind those starters. With the exception of linebacker, which took a shot after Sean Lee went down, and wide receiver, which will be a major concern if Dez Bryant is out, the Cowboys should be able to deal with injuries fairly well now.
David Helman:Nope. Granted, there are a couple of positions where this team might be able to handle some setbacks – offensive line and running back come to mind. But for the most part, the Cowboys are in trouble if they're faced with a rash of injuries like 2012 and 2013. The linebacker corps is already in trouble without Sean Lee, and the actual contact hasn't even started yet. We have no idea how effective this defensive line can be, and that's operating under the assumption Henry Melton will be healthy. Do the Cowboys have a receiver who could step in for Dez Bryant if he went down? Does anyone feel good about Brandon Weeden or Kyle Orton starting a significant number of games if Tony Romo's back issues flare up again? The safety spot is already a question mark – how much worse does it become if Barry Church goes down? The Cowboys have talent, but it will be a long season if they have to fight another injury bug. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: In some areas, we've seen a lot more depth. Obviously, if they lose any more key guys like they did with Sean Lee it's going to be tough. Any team in the NFL would struggle if they lost their star players. But for instance, when DeMarcus Ware went down and then Jason Hatcher missed the Saints game, the defense was downright awful. I think this year, losing one or two guys from that line won't be as tough to replace because of the depth. I think this team has good cornerback depth and even guys like Leary, Bernadeau – and maybe newly-signed Uche Nwaneri – should help the depth on the line. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are still two players that need to be in the lineup. I think Tyron Smith and Barry Church are also pretty irreplaceable. Don't forget, the Cowboys have taken some low-risk chances this offseason on talented players like Weeden, Amobi Okoye, Ryan Williams, Rolando McClain and Nwaneri in hopes some of them will pay off.
Bryan Broaddus:Call me a greedy personnel man but you can never add too much depth. There is a reason with the team heading to training camp in 11 short days that this front office is still trying to add players to the roster and will continue to do so. As you look through the entire roster, there are two spot that I believe that they will keep an eye on during training camp - linebacker and quite possibly a blocking tight end. Those are two spots that if a player pops up on the waiver wire, we could see a move. We have seen in the past that any team can survive injuries, but it's when it happens at one position you see a front office struggle. Jerry Jones and Will McClay have done a nice job of protecting themselves for the most part across the board.