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How Do They Look?

  Two things are pretty clear about this position. First, the Cowboys have definitely made an upgrade at the backup position. Jerry Jones said on Saturday it was his top priority of the off-season. Clearly, Jon Kitna is better than Brad Johnson because he still has the arm strength to get the ball down the field. Another thing that stands out to me is that Kitna is not close to pushing Tony Romo for a starting job. That's probably a good thing. Good enough to replace Romo if needed, but we're probably nowhere near a quarterback controversy. Oh yeah, and Stephen McGee will indeed be the third quarterback. The learning curve might be getting the best of him, but he sure can throw the ball.  

  Running Back:
  They're all good. Then again, as I've mentioned before, every running play in practice goes for a touchdown. (Still wonder why fans get so excited to see Marion Barber run to the end zone even though Igor Olshansky gave him a hug in the backfield on the same play.) But there's something about this group that you can tell they're going to be just fine again. Barber can maul people, Felix has put on some weight but still looks just as quick and Tashard Choice is a combo of both. No worries here, especially because it looks like all three will have some kind of role.  


  This position is hard to tell right now. You can start to see that Roy Williams and Romo have worked some in the off-season. Crayton looks as good as I've seen him before and I said last week I think he'll have the best season of his career. Sam Hurd has been all-world and Austin isn't too far behind. Then again, they're catching passes in practice. Let's see it happen in the games. Behind them, Stanback's injury isn't a huge setback, just another one. He can't afford many, or is it "any" more. Of the younger guys, Jesse Holley looks pretty good but the best of the bunch right now could be Kevin Ogletree, who might provide some relief on punt returns.  

  Tight End:
  This one is pretty easy. Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett have both looked great, as expected. So far, I can't really tell who's ahead for third spot between sixth-round pick John Phillips, Rodney Hannah and Scott Chandler. The games should decide the race for the third spot.  

  Offensive Line:
  This is where being here only a few days is hard to evaluate. There's not much contact although they have done some pass-rushing drills. Obviously, Montrae Holland didn't do enough in the summer to at least compete with Kyle Kosier, who came back from injury and is working with the first team. We'll get back to you on this position.  

  Defensive Line:
  Almost need a "ditto" for this spot. Tough to call the trenches when they're not in pads. Wade Phillips has commented on the quickness of Jay Ratliff several times. I've seen Olshansky's strength show up in some of the pass-rush drills. It doesn't look like Jason Hatcher or Stephen Bowen will be pushing for a starting job, but they might have to watch out for Marcus Dixon. It's too early to see any kind of progress from the backup nose tackles behind Ratliff.  

  DeMarcus Ware is a good player. Thought I'd share that with everyone who hasn't noticed. Let's see, Anthony Spencer made a really nice play in pass coverage in Sunday's practice. It made me think that Greg Ellis probably couldn't do that. However, let's find out if Spencer can consistently rush the pass like Ellis did for so many years. Bradie James told us on "The Lunch Break" that he and Keith Brooking have been working well together and it seems like Bradie thinks this might be a better fit for the defense than Zach Thomas was a year ago. Bobby Carpenter has been productive so far in the nickel packages and he even laid out Tashard Choice, which got the crowd all jacked up earlier this week.  

  Despite letting go of Anthony Henry and Pacman Jones, you see a little depth here. That's because Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have been pushing each other and I think it'll pay off for both of them. Jenkins is getting more first-team reps but I think it's too early to call right now. Mike Mickens has been picking off a few passes, too. Some of my colleagues on this website have even given him the nickname "Sticky Micky." Interesting.  

  Gerald Sensabaugh should make this entire defense better. I know it's only early August, but I think finally the Cowboys have found some help at the safety position. Phillips raved about his coverage skills in the one-on-one drills and that's a rarity for any defensive back, much less a safety. The interesting decision will be with the backups. Pat Watkins has been around the ball, but rookie Michael Hamlin has come up with some very nice plays in the first week, too.  

  Special Teams:
  Not much has really happened here as far as competition. We haven't seen any field goal attempts, but Mat McBriar does appear to be back to form at punter after suffering a broken foot last season in Arizona. The return teams haven't been listed just yet, but it's likely Felix Jones will get a chance to return both kickoffs and even punts in spot duty.  

  So there you have it. Not sure if that helps out or not, or just leaves you thirsty for more. Again, it's super early in the game, but your questions are definitely

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