If you are in the slightest way like me, you are ready to read about almost anything besides the holdout/sulk being conducted by Mike Jenkins. So, with the first Dallas Cowboys OTA starting, and our first real look at the returning players coming with it, I got to thinking about who I wanted to see come back from adversity last year.
To be honest, I would love to see everyone who had some kind of hardship or misfortune come roaring back and have a great season. This is not really a post about picking who is most likely to come back, but just bringing up some names that, for me at least, it would be really pleasing to see have a really good year. So, in an order that pretty much exists only in the foggy reaches of my mind, here are the players that I want to see become Comeback Cowboys in 2012.
DeMarco Murray. OK. I admit, that took the football wisdom and insight possessed by the average wombat to come up with. The sudden explosion onto the scene of DeMarco last year was one of the bright moments of last season, and his broken leg one of the far too numerous shots to the gut. A strong return for him is almost mandatory for the team to have an improved year. The acquisition of Lawrence Vickers indicates that the team is hoping for big things from the running game, and there would be nothing bigger than a healthy Murray. But there are several other players who are looking for a 2012 that is much improved on the 2011 they had.
Take a look at some other names - if you make the jump.
Phillip Tanner. A double whammy for the team at running back came when this backup RB had to go IR just when he was needed the most. What could have been the golden opportunity for him was lost. Now, after having won the number three position last year, he is having to rehab from the injury while having to fight off a challenge from UDFAs Lance Dunbar and Darrell Scott. He was a bit of a pet cat for many last year, and I would like to see him regain our affections.
Bill Nagy. Another player taken out by a broken leg, Nagy was not lighting it up - but he brings a nasty attitude to the game, and I would love to see a stronger, more prepared version of him fighting for a spot in the interior of the line. Even if he does not win a starting job, it would be still be great to see him make the team again after having suffered a serious injury last year.
Phil Costa. OK. He played the whole season. So why is he on my list?
Because he was so roundly criticized. I want to see him make it back, and to silence the critics. I have a lot of admiration for someone who goes out and gives it all that he has, despite the catcalls of those who say his best just isn't enough. I want to see Phil have a successful year and show that the improvement many of us thought we saw as the season progressed was not a mirage.
Doug Free. He was considered the lineman the team had to sign prior to the 2011 season, and then he had what can charitably be called a somewhat disappointing season. I am really hoping that a return to the right side will also see a return to the level of play that had us so fired up in 2010. This is a comeback from mediocrity.
Raymond Radway. A special case. When you miss out on becoming an NFL player by three lousy seconds, and suffer an injury that still does not bear thinking about too soon after a good meal, you deserve a comeback. I want to see him take the field in a real NFL game, wearing the Star proudly on his helmet. Besides, I think he has what it takes to be a good receiver at this level.
Kevin Ogletree. Although this may be stretching the definition of a comeback a bit, in this case I want to see someone live up to the potential that everyone seems to think is there. Even though this puts extra pressure on my pet cat Danny Coale, I would like to see the Tree step up, win a roster spot, and then prove throughout the season that he deserved it.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. Yes, I would like to see the AOA experiment actually bear fruit. The team needs more at safety, and I would get a bit of a kick out of seeing him be the . . . wait for it . . . Ansah.
MIke Jenkins. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Yes, right now, Mike is digging a hole for himself. Yes, he is showing every sign of not wanting to play for the Cowboys. But I really don't see the team getting much value for him in a trade. And I don't think it is possible to ever have too much talent at cornerback.
So the best case scenario would be for Jenkins to decide that he needs to make the best out of the situation, to get his butt out there before the OTAs are done with, and have a really good year. Even if it just sets him up for a better contract with another team, I want the Cowboys to get one more good season out of him before he moves on. I don't care what his motivation is, as long as he puts his best game on the field.
Those are the players I see who could be Comeback Cowboys this season. Some are certainly more likely than others, but as I alluded to earlier, the more that have a much better year in 2012 than in 2011, the better.