Here are a few thoughts after Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones' press conference Sunday afternoon to start training camp here in Oxnard.
I asked Stephen Jones if we should read anything into the fact that the club was a player in the Supplemental Draft for a wide receiver and put a claim in for another one on Friday. Jones said "No, not at all". He did say there was some concern for the experience behind Austin and Bryant but they would try and work through this in camp. Jones did go on to say that no matter what position, they are always looking to add players.
If you are wondering who will be the Cowboys' punt and kickoff returners, according to Stephen Jones it is going to be Bryant on the punts and Jones on the kickoff returns. Jones was asked about the potential of injury for Bryant and he said he wasn't worried about it. Dez Bryant is one of the most dynamic players that I have ever seen with the ball in his hands but with that being said, one of these other receivers had better step up in case something does happen to Bryant. At least with Robinson you had that type of player.
Earlier in the Spring, I wrote a piece about the Cowboys just carrying two quarterbacks on the roster to maybe allow them opportunity to go longer at some other positions. Is this a make or break season for Stephen McGee, I think so but I don't believe the front office thinks that way. When the Cowboys signed Kyle Orton, I really believed that sealed McGee's fate with the team. If they really felt good about McGee then why do you bring in Orton? I don't think that McGee can be non productive this pre season and keep his job, not with so many other positions up for grabs and roster spots needed.
The question was asked to Jason Garrett what he felt like the team needed to make the most improvement in when it came to closing out games. His answer was running the football and playing pass defense. Running the ball has always been what every coach wants to do but talking about doing it and doing it are two different things. The commitment to trying be better here will have to be with the offense line and how quickly Murray and Vickers can mesh. This team doesn't have a hammer at the point of attack with an on the line blocking Y, so this is where Vickers will come in and his ability to clean up on the edges. The offensive tackles are athletic but the guards are not. One of the things that Garrett likes to do is get his guards in space. This is where I do see a struggle for Nate Livings more than Mackenzy Bernadeau. Look for Garrett to adjust his play calling to help his personnel have the chance to be more successful in this area. To address the issues of pass defense, the addition of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will help but Orlando Scandrick will need to play better in the nickel. Thought there were too many times where the secondary play with caution not finishing plays. Carr and Claiborne should also help the pass rush not allowing receivers the space or windows for quarterbacks to take advantage of.
As much as we want to believe that there is a battle for this third running back job, it sounds like Lance Dunbar or Ed Wesley is going to have to have the camp of their young careers to take the job away from Phillip Tanner. The front office loves the way that Tanner goes about his job and what he brings to the roster on a daily basis. In their eyes, he is a complete back. The things I really respect about Tanner's game is his ability to pass protect. We all know that he can run the football and he catches the ball well but the mark of a third down back is his ability to do the dirty work. As important as Scandrick is to playing nickel corner, your third down back needs to be that same type of player that is a difference maker and Phillip Tanner has that type of ability to be a difference maker.