With Organized Team Activities kicking off Tuesday for the next three weeks, I thought I would take a few moments to give you some of my thoughts:
- Despite all the questions that will be asked of Tony Romo on Tuesday about the comments made by Jerry Jones during the offseason, I honestly believe that nothing will change in his approach to how he gets ready to play these games and his interactions with Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan. Starting quarterbacks around the league have input to the type of plays that the club is going to run each week. When Brett Favre was a first year starter for us in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren would go through each play that week and ask Brett what he felt comfortable with. Favre was not a veteran quarterback, but Holmgren never wanted to call a play that Brett felt great about running. Tony Romo has always been a hard worker in his preparation and knowledge of what the plan was going into the game. I can speak from experience in visiting with him after games and being amazed with his ability to recall play by play, read by read of what happened to him in a game. You don't do this by accident, you have this ability because you are really locked into what is happening on the field but also what the coaches are trying to do and this will never change.
- Two weeks ago, these rookies got a big taste of what will be expected of them each day they step on the practice field under this coaching staff. In my years in the NFL, I have always been a huge fan of bringing in the rookies early before the veterans just for this reason. Let the rookies get that feel of the pace and let them make mistakes that can be corrected then and there. In training camp coaches are teaching with the thought of getting ready to play games and don't always have the time to go back and make major corrections. In these OTAs and mini camps, it's easier to take a step back and coach these rookies using the examples of these veteran players as examples. Terrance Williams didn't have the best start to his rookie camp but now he can study how Dez Bryant and Miles Austin run their routes and with that mental picture it can help him get a better understand of what he is going to have to do to be successful going forward.
- Injuries made things very difficult for this squad last season. In this first OTA practice, there will be a few players that will not take part in the action, but guys like Sean Lee, Barry Church, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff and Matt Johnson will be in the mix. These camps will be especially important for a guy like Johnson who lost his entire rookie season to a hamstring problem that never healed. When this camp opens it will be Johnson and Church at safeties to start. Kyle Wilber is another player like Johnson that will also be looking for a second chance to show better at defensive end. Players that will be limited in the camp will be DeMarcus Ware, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Danny Coale, who will have his hands full in an attempt to make this squad at wide receiver.
- It was this time last year where I noticed several players that appeared to make that jump from one season to another. Dez Bryant physically looked in better shape and his routes were run with purpose. Dwayne Harris played with better quickness and Barry Church stepped up and begun his quest to win the starting job. Players that I am going to keep an eye on that could possibly make that jump are: Jermey Parnell, Tyrone Crawford, Ronald Leary and James Hanna. Of these four players, Crawford has the most experience and he was only a rookie. Parnell will be given every opportunity to start over Doug Free. I feel like Leary is most likely a year away but Hanna is very intriguing to me. Just watching him play during training camp and then going back and talking to folks about how he practiced each week gives me a great deal of hope that he could develop into something special. I like what I am hearing about using this "12" personnel group but my gut tells me that Hanna will be the one that takes advantage of the situation to work with Witten. I do like Gavin Escobar a great deal but he doesn't move up the field like James Hanna does. Keep an eye on these four players and see who makes that jump in 2013. [embedded_ad]
- I will be very interested to see how much progress that cornerback B.W. Webb is going to make the next three weeks. He was clearly the best corner on the field during the rookie mini-camp and with the veterans in the mix will he be able to carry that over now that they are here? Webb did play mainly on the right side and on the depth chart as it sits, he is behind Mo Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. He will not start ahead of Claiborne but can he show enough ability to work ahead of Scandrick not only on the depth chart but in the role of the nickel corner. Webb has the talent to put pressure on Scandrick but he doesn't have the experience. I see this competition as a good thing because last season it just wasn't there and Scandrick knew that but with Webb on the squad, it's going to make him have to elevate his level of play to keep his job.