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Things To Watch As Cowboys Begin Camp

Top 5 Things To Monitor Before Camp: 1. Greg Ellis - Wanted a financial commitment, but arrives at camp anyway. He doesn't appear too thrilled to be here, but let's see what happens when the pads come on. He might find that the Cowboys aren't changing his position as much as he thinks.
2. Keith Davis - Once he gets cleared to play, will have to fight off Marcus Coleman, Pat Watkins and perhaps others for starting free safety job. But if he's not cleared right away, it could mean a few days on NFI (Non-Football Injury).
3. Draft Picks Signing - Same thing every year. It goes down to the wire, but the Cowboys always seem to get the picks signed before camp. Don't expect a repeat from last year when Marcus Spears and DeMarcus Ware both missed the first day of practice.
4. Roster Moves/Cuts - By signing all of their picks, it means the Cowboys will have to release two players. That probably will occur after the club conducts its annual conditioning test Friday afternoon.
5. Weather in Cali? - Where is the relief? Sure, the temperatures might be a little cooler, but the Cowboys weren't exactly greeted with the cool breeze they anticipated. Certainly it won't be as hot as Texas, where 100-degree temps are the norm this time of year.

Top 5 Draft Picks To Watch: 1. Jason Hatcher - Sure, he's not the first pick, but after dominating in the mini-camps, let's see how he does against the Flozell Adams of the world.
2. Anthony Fasano - Expectations were raised when Jerry Jones said Fasano will likely start alongside Witten. OK, time to shine.
3. Bobby Carpenter - Not a given that he will beat out Al Singleton, or even Rocky Boiman. But being a first-round pick, he'll get every opportunity.
4. Skyler Green - Struggled some at wide receiver in the mini-camps. Needs to shine in the return game, which is his forte anyway.
5. Montavious Stanley - Has a legitimate chance to back up Jason Ferguson at nose tackle.

Top 5 Rookie Free Agents To Watch: 1. Sam Hurd - Of course it was only mini-camp, but he was rather impressive. Let's see if it carries into camp.
2. Miles Austin - Ditto here. The WR spots will be tough to claim, but there always seems to be a wild card.
3. Kai Parham - The Cowboys were surprised he wasn't drafted. It didn't take them long to get him signed up.
4. Demetris Summers - Lots of talent, but had some off-the-field issues. Could he be this year's Tyson Thompson?
5. Jeff Mroz - Probably not going to beat out Drew Henson. But he's a quarterback, and those types always seem to get more attention in Dallas.

Top 5 Non-T.O. Players To Watch: 1. Keith Davis - Even before the incident, Davis knew this would be a tough camp because he's going to have to win the safety job again. At least he does have special teams to fall back on.
2. Flozell Adams - Any time a veteran player is coming off knee surgery, it's a big deal. Especially in Flo's case, considering the entire offensive line struggled after he went down last year.
3. Mike Vanderjagt - He can't win any games during training camp. But the Cowboys should be able to tell right away if he's going to help out this year.
4. Julius Jones - Can he stay healthy? That's the key with Jones right now and that's his only goal, too. He knows if he can play a full schedule, the stats will pile up as well.
5. Kyle Kosier - He's not going to be Larry Allen. He knows that and the Cowboys do, too. But maybe he can do some things LA struggled with, such as pulling from left to right. Nevertheless, Kosier has big shoes to fill.

Top 5 Position Battles Of Note: 1. Free Safety - Keith Davis is expected to begin camp as the starter, but that is assuming he is cleared to play. Look for Marcus Coleman, rookie Pat Watkins and maybe even Willie Pile and Justin Beriault to all get turns.
2. Right Tackle - When Jason Fabini signed with Dallas in March, the consensus was he would automatically replace Rob Petitti. But that's not the case. In fact, look for Petitti to open camp as the starter. And don't forget about Marc Colombo, either.
3. Third WR - Patrick Crayton appeared to have a lock on this spot, but he didn't have the best mini-camp back in June. Terrance Copper and Jamaica Rector did, along with a few rookie free agents.
4. Center - Same as last year. Al Johnson will compete with Andre Gurode. And while Gurode is stronger, don't be surprised if the end result is the same. Johnson will likely start at center, giving the Cowboys a chance to use Gurode as a game-day backup at center and both guard spots.
5. Backup DT - If Jason Ferguson stays healthy, then it's not a big problem for the Cowboys. But Ferguson didn't stay healthy last year. Problem is, there is no La'Roi Glover to turn to anymore. That means Montavious Stanley and Thomas Johnson should have quite a battle on their hands.

Top 5 Veterans On the Block: 1. Scott Shanle - Lost his starting spot to Ryan Fowler at the end of last year. The off-season additions of Akin Ayodele and Rocky Boiman will make it tougher for Shanle to find a spot.
2. Marcus Coleman - Sure, he might end up starting at free safety. But if he doesn't prove, at least at some point in camp, that he still has some gas left in the tank, then he won't be worth keeping around.
3. Jason Fabini - Same goes here. He has to take Petitti's job from him. It won't be handed to him. But he's a crafty veteran. He will put up a fight as well.
4. Al Singleton - He gets written off every year and keeps coming back. Only this year, he'll have to fend off first-round pick Bobby Carpenter.
5. Kenyon Coleman - Started six games last year before giving way to Marcus Spears. He needs to be better than Jason Hatcher.

Top 5 Questions To Answer: 1. Can T.O. work with Parcells/Bledsoe? - He's had problems with quarterbacks and head coaches before. Coincidence? We'll see. But if Owens can make it work, this offense can work pretty well, too.
2. Can Vanderjagt kick off? - If so, it saves the Cowboys a roster spot. Parcells won't be excited about having two kickers. But remember, he can't be much worse than Billy Cundiff, who was never mistaken for Mr. Touchback.
3. Who backs up Ferguson? - Stanley and Johnson will get their shots. Also, look for Jay Ratliff to enter the mix. But if Ferguson gets hurt, the Cowboys might have to go looking for help.
4. What's the deal at Running Back? - It should be Jones' show for a while, but he won't have a long leash. Parcells is turning into a Marion Barber fan and won't hesitate to give him a chance.
5. Who wins Right Tackle battle? - It doesn't really matter as long as the player is productive. And Fabini has been a good veteran. If he can't beat out Petitti, than maybe the Cowboys found themselves a steal in last year's sixth round.

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