As Cowboys training camp starts heating up, there are sure to be great battles between teammates. This is only natural in such an environment, but this camp should bring with it even more intensity and passionate practices. Players are always fighting for starting positions and roster spots. But then again, head coach Jason Garrett has already made that abundantly clear. Even as interim coach Garrett wanted to turn up the pace of practices, brought back pads, and challenged everyone to try to be "great today." The environment he is undoubtedly trying to create and the new Cowboys Culture that includes smart and passionate players with coaches to match will set the stage for some great moments in this seasons camp battles.
While we will certainly compare the performances of players that are battling for roster spots, and those competing for starting gigs, let's not forget the battles across positions. One of the greatest pass rushers in the league (if not the best) will be testing some promising offensive tackles. There will be talented tight ends and h-backs testing linebackers and safeties. And of course, the dynamic duo all fans expect will shine in the Cowboys passing game will be testing the secondary that fans hope will be much improved. One battle to watch is Dez Bryant (much loved and rising superstar) versus Mike Jenkins (sophomore Pro Bowler and junior degenerate).
Public opinion couldn't vary more between the two. For all his off field issues, Dez is beloved by fans who expect great things from a young receiver with all the talent and physical traits to be one of the best at his position. There were highlight reels from his rookie year, though plenty of missed assignments and some missed games due to injury. Mike Jenkins was a top corner in the league, eventually earning a Pro Bowl trip in 2009, but 2010 brought with it plenty of pass interference calls and blown coverages. Though both are virtually assured a starting job, both have a lot to prove...and already this camp battle is providing some highlights.
Brian Broaddus, a name you have heard me mention a few times now, was an NFL scout for over a decade, working with some great franchises including the Dallas Cowboys. He has been reporting and tweeting from Cowboys training camp and providing fans an inside look.
Dez is coming off injury and had less time to prepare, but it sounds like Jenkins may be winning the early reps in this camp battle. They are both physical players for their positions and there may be some heated confrontations in this battle as camp continues. It should be a fun one to track.
His battles with Dez Bryant are must-see events. Jenkins got the better of Bryant on Saturday afternoon, highlighted by an interception on a Tony Romo deep ball after Jenkins roughed up one of the NFL's strongest receivers at the line of scrimmage.
"Every time he gets up, I'm definitely going to try to be the guy to go against him," Jenkins said. "That's the only way any of us can get better."
Jenkins' swagger is back, at least for now. If that continues, he can go from being a liability last season back to being one of the NFC's best cornerbacks.
There is nothing better than having competition bring the best out of players, and when you have two guys with tons of talent and a lot to prove there are sure to be some fireworks. Each day one of these two will get the best of the other, but every day they will both improve because of it. And while Jenkins appears to have won more of the matchups between the two, Dez continues to make some highlights himself. As reported by SportsDayDFW:
WR Dez Bryant had several good catches Saturday, flashing the athleticism that Cowboys coaches love. He also flew past rookie CB Josh Thomas of Cedar Hill on one play but fell down when going for the ball. He made a nice spinning catch in front of CB Mike Jenkins along the sideline.
I repeat, this camp battle is a must watch and we will certainly keep tuned to the reports of the Dez vs. Jenkins battles.
Now, there are some other young guys at these positions, and we may not hear a lot about them, so it seems appropriate to take a quick look.
There is a heated competition for the #3 wide receiver position and SportsDay also provided some insight on that battle.
WR Kevin Ogletree made a fingertip catch on a deep pass after beating his defender on a double move. WR Manuel Johnson had perhaps the catch of the day, however, on a one-handed grab on a deep pass over the middle. Ogletree and Johnson are competing for the third receiver spot.
Orlando Scandrick finished 2010 on a high note and seemed to play better as the season went on. He will very likely keep his important job as slot corner, but watching his development could provide some insight to the future of the starting corners. The slot is an area of the field that we may see a couple of rookies get game day reps as well, though Dwayne Harris will likely be called upon more, Josh Thomas is fighting for a position in the dime defense.
@BryanBroaddus Thoughts on Dwayne Harris. He is not fast nor overally quick but he has a nice feel how to position his body to make plays in traffic.
@BryanBroaddus Ryan just brought a slot blitz from McGee's backside with Josh Thomas that would have hurt him. Thomas has nice upper body strength on film.