Needing Backup

but they have no experience at all. Victor Butler and Brandon Williams may not be the second-team outside backers in every drill here at camp, but when the 53-man roster shakes out, that's likely where they'll be.  

  You fully expect both guys to make the team and I really can't imagine another outside linebacker working into the mix - maybe Justin Rogers, but he's been here the last two years primarily because of special teams, not his ability to rush the passer.  

  So Williams and Butler should be the second-team guys; if it stays that way, there's no problem. If something were to happen to either Ware or Anthony Spencer, then the Cowboys would be counting on at least one of those guys to learn on the run.  

  That's why you have to wonder just how bad the Greg Ellis situation really was. Personally, and I've said this a few times already this off-season, but I don't know if cutting Ellis so early was the best idea.  

  It's not like Ellis and Spencer couldn't play together. If Spencer has to be the starter, then there is still a spot for Ellis. If he shows up at camp and isn't the same player anymore, or if Butler and Williams prove to be quick-learners, then possibly you make cut at the end of camp.  

  Spencer might be a better player than Ellis right now. But there's no way Butler or Williams is better. So when the question came up Wednesday from the audience on our regular "Lunch Break" audio show here at camp, I had to disagree with a fan that suggested the outside linebacker spot has been upgraded.  

  Down the road, you hope it will be. But right here and right now, I'm not so sure. 

  So looking at backup spots, I would say the outside linebackers would be a concern. 

  Another position in that group has to be nose tackle. Just like the OLBs, you've got a Pro Bowler in the starting lineup. See a trend here? Of course, you could probably go to any Pro Bowl player on any team and project a little trouble if that guy goes down.  

  But at nose tackle, not only do the Cowboys not have a lot of proven depth behind Jay Ratliff but they don't have a guy who has played in a real game since 2007. Junior Siavii, Tim Anderson, who returned to practice on Wednesday, and even Jonas Seawright, were all out of football last year, whether because of injuries or no interest from other teams.  

  Either way, the depth is unproven. In fact, some followers of this team believe the Cowboys will simply dip into the defensive end depth to pick up the slack at tackle if needed. If that happens, and guys like Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen or even Igor Olshansky are forced to play some at defensive tackle, it might end up working out. Then again, we'd be writing a column the next day about the lack of depth at end.  

  With 12 draft picks, I would've liked to have seen at least one of them go to a defensive tackle, even a project guy who needs to develop - just someone who might have a future. At least he would've played a down last year, albeit in college. 

  Those are my two biggest backup concerns at the moment - defensive tackle and outside linebacker.  

  Of course, you can go down the list of positions and find something to worry about if the team suffers an injury, but the running backs and tight ends are deep. The receivers might not have differentiated themselves from a pack, but at least there's a pack. 

  Cornerback and safety don't have a lot of depth either, but with guys like Pat Watkins having started back there, he could play in a pinch. Both Scandrick and Jenkins are battling at cornerback, so you've got some depth and Alan Ball has a little experience, too. 

  And, of course, the quarterback position has been upgraded in the backup spot. 

  The Cowboys learned their lesson there. But hopefully they will apply that way of thinking to other positions, too.    

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Advertising