Some thoughts from the final day of Cowboys mini camp:
It looks likedefensive line will be much better with Sean Lissemore, Clifton Geathers, Tyrone Crawford, Josh Brent and Robert Callaway as backup players. There actually looks like there is good depth at the position. Jason Hatcher has been outstanding the last three weeks and needs to carry that to Oxnard but overall Geathers, Brent and Callaway got better.
Jermey Parnell, Ronald Leary and David Arkin need to play at least two quarters of every preseason game. Pat McQuistan will bridge to the other young tackles but the three that I mentioned need all the work they can get working on their run blocking and pass protection. Someone out of that group is going to have to play during the regular season, you need to find out who is ready to do that.
This is not going to be a walk-in-the-park for Phillip Tanner to make this team but he had better be ready for a challenge from Lance Dunbar and Darrell Scott. If you asked me who was better between Dunbar and Scott my nod goes to Dunbar. This staff will do everything in their power to get Tanner ready but watch Dunbar. He might be short but he does bring an interesting skill set to the game.
All the talk has centered around who the third receiver is going to be on this team. I am not just looking at that but who is going to be the fourth, fifth and maybe sixth guy? I believe this third receiver is going to take care of itself in my view it's the other spots that are up for grabs that will make this front office some sleepless nights. My favorite for the third job will be Andre Holmes who worked outside in the three wide package with Austin and Bryant. Now comes the trick of who wants the other jobs? Kevin Ogletree is the vet but Jason Garrett spoke today about how time is short for players to prove their worth. In my view, Ogletree is on life support. We haven't seen Danny Coale except during rookie camp, but I believe that he will make the team because he can plays inside and out. Dwayne Harris looks like a different player with his conditioning and the way he has made plays. I don't see the same magic from Raymond Radway that we saw in training camp in 2011. He is going to have to have that same kind of camp to get a spot. Now brings us to Cole Beasley and Tim Benford. I have been a fan of both of these players for the way that they have taken advantage of the opportunities given to them. Both catch the ball well and find ways to get open on routes. Beasley did see work on the outside and has been used as a punt returner. I will be very interested if both of these players can carry this type of play over to Oxnard and will either of them put Ogletree or Radway on the street? There is a chance that happens.
Summer time shopping list . . .maybe a blocking tight end in the mix? There is no doubt of the athletic ability of Witten and Hanna. Phillips has been moving much better but as a group, there is no one in this group that is going to hammer you off the line. Nice position blockers but that really is it. Tackle Pat McQuistan was used as a blocker in New Orleans but I think the club would want to bring in a player that normally lines up at tight end if they could.
Rookie Matt Johnson, practiced for the first time today and moved around well. Didn't look out of place or have any major busts in the defense. Saw something that I saw in film when I studied Brodney Pool in New York was his lack of range. Ball went vertical to Bryant against Carr but Pool couldn't get over to make the play or at least try to defend the ball. Somebody is going to have to step up out of Church and Johnson to play that spot opposite Sensabaugh. I know these coaches have faith in Pool but they won't have much if he doesn't show some better range.
There is going to be a battle between Bruce Carter and Dan Connor for that inside linebacker job next to Sean Lee. There is no doubt in my mind that it is going to happen and it's not because Carter got hurt but Connor is just as capable of making plays. Carter has been better the last couple of weeks and there are some good things to build on but I believe that he is going to have to put together a bunch of great days to win this job. Connor on the other hand will need to be at his best too. I see this as a good problem if you are Rob Ryan because last season his inside linebackers other than Sean Lee were a mess. The first Eagles' game was all you needed to see with the situation at linebacker. Now he has athletes that can play off blocks and get to the ball. This will be an outstanding battle.