MACHESNEY PARK, IL
I know that there was a slight improvement in the OL in the last couple of games last year, but do you guys really think that this OL will be much better in 2013? Just seems to me that they just put a Band-Aid on too big of a wound by just picking up our No. 1 pick in the draft.
Rowan: Probably not significantly better, with only a couple changes so far this offseason. It'd be difficult for them to play worse than the second-worst rushing team in the league, though. Tyron Smith now has a year of experience at left tackle. Doug Free and Jermey Parnell will start the season in a true competition, with both of them eyeing a starting spot. Ronald Leary will get much more work in the preseason to compete for a guard job. Phil Costa's healthy and Travis Frederick was picked to start at center, as well. All of this gives me reason to believe the line will at least be somewhat better than it was last year, but I haven't seen anything yet to believe it will be much better.
Nick: I think we start feeling good about the offensive line – when the offensive line starts to improve. For me, I need to see it to believe it. I need to see the guards stay healthy and play better. I need to see Travis Frederick hold his own against NFL defensive tackles. I need to see Doug Free play better. I need to see Tyron Smith start to dominate like the No. 9 overall pick should. Those are things we still need to see. So until we start to see that, then I'm going to expect to see what we've seen, which is an inconsistent group that hasn't stayed healthy long enough to remain cohesive.
Is Murray still projected to be our goal line/short yardage back or is Tanner or possibly another back projected to take that spot? We need help in that area which has been a problem for past years.
Rowan: Murray's probably the most explosive, physical and tenacious back on the team. Subsequently, he's probably the one most likely to get in on short-yardage situations. I'd expect to see him in there for the majority of those situations, but Joseph Randle could become that player. He's always had a nose for the end zone and could have the type of feel for reading blocks when the field tightens up that the Cowboys need. But it's tough for any back to do all the work down there if the line can't figure out a way to get more movement up front.
Nick: I still think the problem is the offensive line. It's not the backs – these guys can find the hole and score from the 2. The problem has been the lack of push up front. I think Murray is capable of scoring in the red zone better than anyone. I do think Joseph Randle's 40 touchdowns in two seasons at Oklahoma State can't be overlooked.