Where's The Real Beef?

down the two starting cornerback spots. Have mercy. 

OK, so on offense, short of injury or disaster, we know who is starting at quarterback, at both wide receiver positions, at tight end, at left tackle, center, right guard and right tackle. How many is that? Eight. Maybe there will be competition for the starting left guard spot between Kyle Kosier and Pat McQuistan. Maybe, because we're talking a guy who has now started 56 games in his NFL career vs. a guy who has played in all of one, and at that on special teams. 

Then there is running back, with Julius Jones and Marion Barber, which to me, is more of a perceived competition by everyone but those on the coaching staff. Jones appears to be the guy. 

So that leaves fullback, and truthfully, the starting spot will go to either Oliver Hoyte, Lousaka Polite or Deon Anderson - maybe the only spot on offense the starter will be decided during training camp and preseason. 

Now then, let's move over to the defense. If I were a betting man, I'd lay good money on the front three remaining the same: Marcus Spears, Jason Ferguson, Chris Canty. I'd put good money on three of the four starting linebackers remaining the same: DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, Akin Ayodele. And I'd be all in on three of the four secondary starters remaining the same: Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams. 

That leaves no more than two spots of contention: Free safety and strong-side linebacker. Maybe two, because it appears the Cowboys intend for veteran Ken Hamlin to start over Pat Watkins at free safety. To me, it's his job to lose, yet the money trail suggests a possible battle. 

As for outside linebacker on the strong side, we only discuss because of the physical unknown. Greg Ellis vs. first-round draft choice Anthony Spencer, and if you want to handicap that battle, remember when asked where Ellis fits in, assuming he successfully returns from surgery to repair his torn Achilles', Phillips already has said he's "the starting outside linebacker" over the former Purdue defensive end who is converting to outside linebacker in the 3-4. We'll see. 

But that's it. Oh, I guess we could debate the merits of Miles Austin returning kicks vs. Tyson Thompson or the field-goal kicking of Martin Gramatica vs. rookie Nick Folk. But if that's all you're worried about . . . .  

So see, in coach-speak, when Phillips talks of "any real weakness," he means glaring hole, as in I got no idea who's going to play there. 

Now we can worry over a few backup spots, such as backup nose tackle or backup center or what happens if this starter goes down or that starter goes down. That's real, but probably a concern most NFL teams have. No one is two-deep across the board. Free agency and the salary cap see to that. 

But as for starters - and save it, I didn't say Pro Bowl starters, I said starters - this Cowboys team is about set, give or take a position or three. Not bad, but then, what would you expect from a team which was a properly-handled deep snap away from heading into the second round of the playoffs? Or might that be a first down reversed by replay away from heading into the second round of the playoffs? 

So you know, yeah, talent-wise, while the Cowboys could be better at a few positions, I too don't see any "real weaknesses." 

And that's all the man said.                               

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