The VRR: The Cowboys' Stars Must Continue to Polish Their Shine

What will it take for the Cowboys to take that next step in 2010?

Personnel-wise, they could use some competition at certain spots on the offensive line and perhaps in the secondary. Those positions are expected to be addressed in the draft and/or free agency.

But what about the guys already here? Tony Romo showed great improvement over the course of the '09 season. Some guys like Mike Jenkins, Anthony Spencer, and Miles Austin had breakout seasons. The team will be relying on its veterans and new stars to continue to develop as the Cowboys push for a championship run.

With the Cowboys to begin voluntary workouts in a couple of weeks, Miles Austin is already learning how to better his game.

Austin's ability to get better in 2010, could be the key to the Cowboys season.

Wide receivers coach Ray Sherman gave Austin some tapes to watch of John Taylor, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and others to help him get better.

Near the end of the season, Austin seemed up for the challenge, saying he needs to do little things, like turn his hips a certain way, shoulder fakes when running a route and catching a pass away from a defender to take his game to another level.

More VRR after the jump.

The good vs. the bad on if the Cowboys go after Rams' safety Oshiomogho Atogwe...

He excells at creating turnovers by punching the ball loose from runners. Atogwe's uppercut style has forced nine fumbles in 44 games during the last three seasons. That is the third-highest number of forced fumbles by a defensvie back in the NFL during that time, trailing Charles Tillman with 14 and Chris Harris with 12.

[snip]

The current drawback to Atogwe is that he is rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and probably could not pass a physical at this time. He is expected to be ready before the start of training camp.

Colts' safety Antoine Bethea was rumored to be of interest to the Cowboys. Ed Thompson thinks he is well worth the cost of a first-round tender.

What makes Bethea special is his near-perfect balance of talent against the run and the pass — and his durability. The Colts' leading tackler over the past two seasons, Bethea doesn't have the muscle-bulk that Sanders proudly flaunts, but the 5-foot-11, 203-pound defender has been consistent in his ability to drop formidable rushers like Maurice Jones-Drew even in the open field.

Bethea has snatched 11 interceptions during regular-season play and another four during the postseason for the Colts. And he's only missed three games over the past four seasons.

Thompson also thinks that Golden Tate will be this draft's Percy Harvin.

"It's just my mentality. I don't like to be tackled. I like attempting to make the impossible possible," he told me during a recent phone interview. Tate's not only comfortable wearing many hats for his team, like Harvin, but he also relishes the opportunities to be a playmaker in so many different ways. "During my senior year in high school, I watched him when he was at Florida, and even this year," Tate said when I mentioned Harvin during our conversation.

"That's a guy who is very elusive and can do many things — reverses, the wildcat, get in the backfield, and he can go out wide. I honestly think I can do that. I think with the NFL now, it's evolved into more than receivers just being receivers."

Would Jerry Jones be open to bringing back Greg Ellis?

"That's not unrealistic," Jones said, per ESPNDallas. "That's the best way to say that. It's not unrealistic thinking on his part or in my mind, I think that's best left unsaid."

Marcus Spears has hired Bill Johnson and Pat Dye from ProFiles Sports Inc. as his new agents. Todd Archer shows how Spears is a bit underappreciated, in terms of money, compared to former Dallas DE Chris Canty.

Here's how they stacked up in their first four years as Cowboys, according to stats on the NFL's Web site:

Spears - 64 games, 141 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 8 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles

Canty - 64 games, 148 tackles, 10 sacks, 8 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble

But Canty was able to hit the free-agent market in 2009 and cashed in with the New York Giants but injuries ruined his first year in New York.

Anyway, back to Johnson and Dye. They also represent DeMarcus Ware and Keith Brooking. They have had a good relationship with the Cowboys over the years and Ware signed a deal with $41 million guaranteed last year.

Speaking of money, Orlando Scandrick earned himself some of the league's top Performance Based Pay.

Scandrick led the Cowboys for the second straight year in PBP money with a check worth $306,209 through the system that takes into account playing time and a player's cap figure.

He had a cap figure of $431,250 in 2009. He earned an extra $261,982 from the system last year.

Remember when Dallas traded their first rounder in '07 to Cleveland so the Browns could select Brady Quinn? The Cowboys ended up trading back into the first round (with the Eagles of all teams) to select Anthony Spencer. Now that Quinn has been traded to the Broncos, it looks like the Cowboys got the better end of the bargain.

The Cowboys used their 2007 first round pick on Anthony Spencer, somebody they targeted from the beginning.

In 2008, the Cowboys first round pick, thanks to the Browns, was running back Felix Jones. That same draft, they picked up Mike Jenkins, as the other first round pick. It seems the Cowboys trade worked out here with Jenkins a Pro Bowl corner, after only two seasons, and Jones is turning into a special player.

Jerry Jones has been nominated for the 2010 Sports Executive of the Year Award and Cowboys Stadium has been nominated as the 2010 Sports Facility of the Year Award.

Cowboys Stadium won't always be named Cowboys Stadium, so says Jerry Jones, Jr. Corporate sponsorship could be in the near future.

"You want to do it when it's right for everybody," said Jones, Jr. "You will see a name on our stadium. When will that be? I don't have a time frame. That's something we take very seriously, so it won't be with just anybody."

Jones, Jr. said that one issue was deciding upon a brand that fits in with the area, and the Dallas Cowboys tradition.

Order your tickets now for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game here.

2010 Hall of Fame Game Ticket pricing:
$62 - Green Zone (Between the 20s)
$57 - Red Zone (Sideline, 20 to end zone)
$47 - End Zone

But, you'd better hurry if you want tickets to the Enshrinement Ceremony featuring Emmitt Smith!

2010 Enshrinement Ticket pricing:
$30 Sideline
$65 Floor - SOLD OUT
VIP Seating (only available through fan packages) - SOLD OUT

NFL.com is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NFL Draft with a poll for you to vote on the NFL's 75 Most Valuable Draft Picks. Here are the Cowboys nominated by the NFL.com editors:

Troy Aikman; Larry Allen; Tony Dorsett; Bob Hayes; Michael Irvin; Bob Lilly; Emmitt Smith; Roger Staubach; Randy White; Darren Woodson

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