*With training camp right around the corner, DallasCowboys.com is taking a look at the outlook of each position group for the home team in a seven-part series, continuing Wednesday with the wide receiver position. *
Big Issue: This has certainly changed in the last few days. It would've been the third wide receiver position by itself, but now it seems the Cowboys' No. 3 receiver could have other duties depending on the Dez Bryant situation. After Bryant's arrest on Monday for domestic family violence stemming from an alleged incident with his mother, the Cowboys are now unsure of the ramifications, which could include a possible suspension from the NFL or the team, or possibly both. The facts of the incident are still being sorted out and neither side has made many comments on the matter. But the realization is the Cowboys must at least prepare as if Bryant could miss some time. That being said, the competition for the backup spots now has even greater importance. A jumbled pack of players including Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Raymond Radway, Danny Coale and Cole Beasley will garner even more attention than before.
Scouting Department:In my scouting mind, I have Andre Holmes as the third receiver, but I am sure if Bryant misses games and the club does not add an extra veteran, Ogletree will most likely make the start because of his experience. Even then, head coach Jason Garrett can use Jason Witten to work around the loss of Bryant. Before this situation with Bryant, I really believed that he was turning the corner in his preparation and attitude toward his craft. He looked like a different player physically, but more importantly mentally. His routes were better and they were run with a purpose. There surely was progress being made. If nothing happens to Bryant in terms of a suspension, Ogletree is going to have to fight hard for his spot over Beasley, Harris and Radway.*
Rookie Watch: All eyes will be on Cole and Coale in terms of rookie receivers. The fifth-round pick Danny Coale, who missed most of the summer after breaking his foot in the first OTA practice, and likely won't be cleared for the start of training camp. In fact, there is a chance Coale could start camp on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) and might not even be ready for the start of the regular season. As for Cole Beasley, an undrafted rookie from SMU who probably took advantage of Coale's injury, he'll likely get a shot to prove himself with a few first-team snaps. Rumblings around Valley Ranch are the Cowboys have been overly impressed by Beasley's route-running, solid hands and ability to find openings in the zone and want to see if he can handle himself once the pads come on and things get more physical.
Don't Forget About …How about the starter? With all this talk about the No. 3 position and now what's going on with Bryant, the top receiver Miles Austin has been somewhat overlooked. Are the Cowboys worried about him performing at a high level? No, certainly not. But everyone should be a little concerned by last year's performance which saw Austin miss six total games with two separate hamstring injuries. He missed nearly all of the preseason and training camp as well. Imagine if that were to reoccur this year, with so many question marks behind him. So while the focus isn't on Austin, the Cowboys definitely need him to be at his very best, from start to finish.
Miles Austin – Pressure on him to stay healthy and be the tone-setter for a young receiving group that needs to grow up fast.
Dez Bryant – Recent arrest has clouded his situation with a possible fine and/or suspension looming. The Cowboys need him to get past this and be the superstar player they're hoping for.
Kevin Ogletree – Enters his fourth season and still hasn't been a major factor for this team. Time is running out, but the Dez incident might help him, considering he's one of three receivers who has caught an NFL pass.
Andre Holmes – A lot of eggs are in his basket. The Cowboys have high hopes for Holmes, who spent most of last year on the practice squad. Size and speed are on his side, but he's lacking experience.
Dwayne Harris – Probably affected by the lockout more than any other receiver because he needed those reps and learning how to be an NFL receiver. Made huge strides this year and his return ability gives him a chance to be a factor.
Raymond Radway – Suffered an unfortunate leg injury at the end of the preseason last year, costing him a spot on the roster. He still seems to be working himself back from that injury. Remember, he was a raw player from a small college, before the injury. It's still an uphill battle.
Danny Coale – His foot injury probably helped his chances of making the team more than it hurt. Even if he doesn't start camp on time or even misses all of the preseason, the Cowboys likely won't give up on him without seeing his potential.
Cole Beasley – He's taken full advantage of his opportunities this summer. A good route-runner with a nice understanding for the passing game. The question is, can he take the physical pounding being a smaller receiver. But he'll definitely get the chance to prove himself.
Donovan Kemp – Hasn't stood out much at all in the summer practices. Overshadowed by Beasley and even Benford, Kemp has an uphill battle in front of him. The practice squad seems like a realistic goal at this point.
Tim Benford – This was the undrafted receiver the Cowboys thought would be making the push that Beasley is. But Benford has been pretty good as well. He'll get some snaps late in preseason games and needs to take full advantage.
Saalim Hakim – The brother of former Rams receiver Az Hakim might be faster than his brother, but his hands haven't been as good. Hakim had one bad practice where he dropped a handful of passes but seemed to improve mightily during the last minicamp.