IRVING, Texas –Workouts, OTAs and minicamp are history. After two months of offseason work, the players and coaches get a few weeks of rest and relaxation before the team boards the plane to Oxnard, Calif., in late July for training camp.
The pads won't come on until then, but in non-contact drills we've gotten a glimpse of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.
So, as Valley Ranch slows down for the start of summer, the DallasCowboys.com staff will give our impressions of the offseason and a look ahead to camp over the next few days.
Today's the writers focus on players ready to have breakthrough seasons this year:
Rob Phillips:The most prominent improvement area this offseason was pass rusher, with 2013 Pro Bowler Greg Hardy and 2015 second-round pick Randy Gregory arriving to dramatically increase last year's 28-sack total. Hardy and Gregory are expected to rotate at right defensive end, which means DeMarcus Lawrence could be in line for big things at left end. The Cowboys actually traded up in last year's draft for Lawrence because they viewed him as a right end prospect with strong enough pass rush skills to beat NFL left tackles. After missing more than half his rookie season with a broken foot, he worked extremely hard to get stronger and quicker this offseason, and he says he's naturally more comfortable on the left side. He also won't be facing opponents' best pass blockers there, which gives him an opportunity to make plays.
David Helman:I've already admitted that I think running back is a concern. But I'll say this: without a lead dog like DeMarco Murray to eat up 85 percent of the carries, I think Lance Dunbar is going to enjoy the most successful year of his career. I completely don't blame you if you're not buying in, because we said the same thing last offseason and Dunbar was a virtual non-factor. But I trust in Scott Linehan, in his second year with the offense, to find a way to get Dunbar the ball – particularly as a receiver. I really don't know if I want him carry the ball more than four or five times per game, but he has the potential to be a matchup nightmare out of the backfield. The Cowboys have even been motioning him out wide during offseason practices. Last season, he put together 316 yards of total offense, and I don't think it's unreasonable to think he can more than double that output in 2015. I think he'll even score his first career touchdown.[embeddedad0]
Nick Eatman: This might have been a better pick for last year, but I think there's always room for improvement with any player. So I'm going to go with Tyrone Crawford, because I think he's ready to take his game to the next level. For him to do that, it'll be close to a Pro Bowl level. And that's how good I think he can be. Crawford is the perfect fit for this defense and if he can rack up some sacks this year, I think he'll get enough attention to make a serious Pro Bowl push. Teams simply can't double-team the interior of the line, especially if guys like Lawrence, Gregory and Hardy provide the pass rush this team is expecting. If that happens, Crawford's quick first step will get him through the line to cause some problems in the backfield. Last year, he was good but I think Crawford can be great this year.
Bryan Broaddus: All I heard before OTAs and Mini-Camps started was keep an eye on the progress of Devin Street and really not that much about Terrance Williams.I liked what I saw from Street for the most part but he wasn't as good as I thought that Williamswas in these practices. With Dez Bryant not practicing it was clear that Williams was not going to sit back and watch the other receivers to do the heavy lifting. Williams took advantage of the situation and every chance he received to run a route and finish with a catch – he was going to make that happen. As much as fans wanted to bash Williams for the way he played in 2014 by disappearing in games it wasn't entirely his fault. Other than the Eagles game on Thanksgiving there were times where he was open and just didn't get a look his way. I believe this is the season where he does get those chances his way and makes opponents pay in their scheme for not paying more attention to him.