Issues The Cowboys Must Deal With At Camp

this much we probably do know, too: The Cowboys will move Jones all over the formation - at tailback, in the slot, motioning out wide. They will hand him the ball and throw him the ball, and who knows, they might even directly hike him the ball. His speed, as was starting to happen last year, will make the powerful Barber even more effective. Chances are Barber starts, but that's doesn't mean he has to be the main guy every series. Choice showed last year in the injury absence of the other two he deserves some touches, and more than maybe five a game. Don't be surprised if he gets a series or three in the middle of the game. Don't be surprised if Barber and Jones are out there together. Don't be surprised if the down-and-distance dictates which guy - or guys - are in the game. But the Cowboys have yet to let that cat out of the bag. 

  4. Is Anthony Spencer ready to be a NFL starter? 

  The former first-round draft choice had better be. The Cowboys have cleared the way for him to become the starting outside linebacker on the strong side by releasing Greg Ellis. They really don't have a backup with any amount of experience, having used two fourth-round picks on Victor Butler and Brandon Williams, both having to make the transition from defensive end in college to a NFL stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4. To me, how well Spencer plays the run will determine his ability to replace Ellis. Rushing the passer is important, but on that strong side where teams generally run, being able to play the run makes or breaks that guy. The Cowboys obviously have great confidence in Spencer, and figured he was ready to take over the starting job from Ellis last summer until knee surgery late in camp robbed him of that opportunity. He was showing flashes. But fulltime players can't just flash. 

  5. What about wideout? 

  This one position has most everyone in a tizzy - still - and mostly because the Cowboys shed themselves of What's His Name, deciding that focusing the offense, and really the entire team, on the performances and whims of a 35-year-old, self-indulgent receiver was not the answer. So, what if Roy Williams doesn't catch 100 passes and score 15 touchdowns? Remember, only three receivers in the 49-year history of the team have caught more than a dozen touchdown passes in a season, totaling four (Terrell Owens owns the record at 15), and in none of those years did the Cowboys win a playoff game. The only wide receivers not named Michael Irvin to catch at least 80 passes in a season in the history of the Cowboys are Rocket Ismail (80 in 1999) and Owens (85 in 2006, 81 in 2007), and once again the Cowboys failed to win a playoff game in any of those three seasons. Hmmm. My point? There are other ways to piece together a successful playoff offense. Williams just needs to be a good receiver, not necessarily a Pro Bowl one. At least we have evidence Patrick Crayton can be a good second receiver. The X-factor becomes Miles Austin. Is he ready to step up to provide this offense with a much-needed dimension of breakaway speed and the ability to run precise routes while making tough catches? If so, with Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten good for 80 catches, this will be a strong group, emphasis on group. And we haven't even included the receiving potential of Felix Jones or second tight end Martellus Bennett, nor pointed out Barber caught 52 passes last year. Sounds potentially better than you thought, right? But again, will we see it? 

  Stay tuned, it's all right around the corner.   

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