maybe, for our sake, that's what training camp is for - for us to find out.
3. Who is kicking off? Now if that's all you got to worry about, you got something going on. But seriously, new kicker Mike Vanderjagt hasn't kicked off regularly since 2003. Now that's not to say he can't, although the Colts didn't like that proposition, finding kick-off specialists over the past two-and-a-half seasons. He says he can. Parcells seems willing to let him prove he can, and really, at this point, Parcells doesn't have much of an alternative since the only other kicker going to camp is Shaun Suisham - they have recently looked at Carlos Martinez kicking - and last year's rookie wasn't exactly proficient at it during his short time kicking. And Mat McBriar isn't a kick-off guy. So, over the next few weeks, guess we find out if this is a need or much ado about nothing.
4. What's up with Greg? That's Ellis. And not as in, will the ninth-year defensive end, the guy who has led them or tied for the team lead in sacks in six of the past seven seasons, report to camp? Oh, he'll be there. Greg doesn't waste money, and subjecting himself to fines by missing mandated practices while under contract is not smart business. But how will Parcells utilize this resource? How will Parcells get the most out of a guy the Cowboys desperately need to not only be a leader but a sack leader, too, since he will not be starting at right defensive end in the 3-4? Parcells has a specialty role in mind for Ellis: Part defensive end, part standup outside linebacker. Now don't worry, Parcells is not asking Ellis to become a fulltime standup outside linebacker. Not at all. He explained it to me one day, but it was too technical for my simple football brain. But he was excited about his idea. Thinks it will prolong Ellis' career. Thinks it will confuse offenses. Thinks Ellis can be his ace in the defensive hole. How exactly? Well, again, that's my point. We begin finding out in training camp, or maybe in preseason games. Or, well, maybe not until Sept. 10 if Parcells doesn't want to tip his hand.
5. Just being nosy? The Cowboys spent $8 million last year to sign a nose tackle made to order for the 3-4 defense. That's Jason Ferguson. Fine. And again, if we're worried about backups, then maybe there aren't many worries. But, Ferguson didn't exactly give the Cowboys the nose they were looking for last year, and that nagging ankle injury suffered in training camp might have been the problem. But there is no La'Roi Glover safety net this year. He's gone, and face it, that nose needs some sort of relief since there isn't a play that goes by he isn't hammered. Behind Ferguson are Thomas Johnson, sixth-round pick Montavious Stanley and NFL Europe grad Samuel Taulealea. Only Johnson has played in an NFL game. All of two. He did collect three tackles. But . . . . So someone must step up in training camp. And this, just like the backup quarterback spot, should come as no surprise to Parcells and Jones. They must have a good feeling about someone. Us, we'll have to see it, right?
What, you are shocked? Shocked I didn't pose the question everyone and their brother has been posing since March 18: When will the Cowboys have their first blowup with Terrell Owens? Maybe I'm naïve, but I got to believe Owens is smart enough to realize he must be a model citizen this year. He's got his money ($10 million), he had his opportunity in free agency and he has a contract he likes, his agent likes, and since he made such a big deal about this in his book, T.O., the NFLPA must like. So the slate is clean.
Think I've lost my marbles not questioning the free safety position? Look, this position has more good solutions to it than last year. Keith Davis, health willing - remember he must pass a Cowboys' physical before he's allowed to practice - at least has 15 games of NFL experience this time. Veteran Marcus Coleman has two years of safety experience. And then there is fifth-round pick Pat Watkins and the possibility of even Justin Beriault moving over from strong safety. That sure looks better to me than bringing back Lynn Scott and Tony Dixon.
Again, as has been drilled to you guys, you can't have a Ribeye at every position. Sometimes a little sirloin