Cowboys News And Notes: Jason Hatcher, Mike Jenkins And The 3rd Wide Receiver

Jason Hatcher had what may be considered his best year in 2011.

OK. Back to bein' cheerful, folks. Got the negativity out of my system earlier (and a big thanks to football mensa for pointing out the error of my ways). Time to look as some good things going on with the Dallas Cowboys, or at least things that will have some impact on the 2012 season.

One of which is kind of odd. It seems that the Seattle Seahawks, our week 2 opponent, got their wrists slapped over violating the CBA rules on OTAs.

The league's management council and the players' union determined that Seattle violated the collective bargaining agreement's offseason workout rules by having live contact during one of the club's organized team activities (OTAs).

As punishment, the Seahawks will forfeit scheduled OTA practices Wednesday and Thursday, plus a workout day Friday. Players are prohibited from being at the facility on those days, but will be paid for the sessions.

SportsDayDFW

Now, I may be just a bit prejudiced in this area, but does it strike anyone else that the league's management council, led by that tireless crusader for truth, justice and fairness above all, John Mara, seems awfully active this offseason? I mean, up until just before free agency, I really wasn't even aware of this august body and what it did for the league, and now they are wielding a cudgel of punishment with great vigor. Apparently, the 'Hawks got a bit carried away and started hitting in practice. I did think some of Pete Carroll's comments in the article about wanting some clarification of the rules sounded a bit disingenuous - and heck, getting three days off with pay makes me wonder if the players weren't behind it all to begin with.

Some stuff about Cowboys players after the jump.

One player for the Cowboys, Jason Hatcher, has some fond memories of the last game the Cowboys played against the Seahawks, where he had an interception for a touchdown. As a matter of fact, the man I think of as the other Jason had a really great year in 2011.

Jason Hatcher only made one start throughout his first 75 games in the NFL. But under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, last season was a breakout year for the Cowboys defensive end. Hatcher started 10-of-13 games in 2011, posting career highs in tackles (28) and sacks (4.5) while also recording his first career interception.

Jon Machota | SportsDayDFW

This is one of those under the radar performances that has some of us feeling very good about the team. Hatcher did not get a bunch of press last year, but this was a really good performance, and with players like Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent, it shows that there is a solid core on the defensive line in place. This is also a bit of evidence as to why some people (mostly a father and son duo named Jones) have talked about the Cowboys' defensive front as being one of the strengths of the team.

Hatcher is not one of the major stars for the team, but he is 29. That makes him one of the more experienced veterans and a player, like fellow lineman Jay Ratliff, who might be in a certain window that is feared to be closing. But he is trying to keep his perspective.

"What Jerry speaks on, that's Jerry. I'm trying to keep my job," Hatcher said with a laugh. "Whatever Jerry says is right in my book. I don't know what he said. I don't keep up with the media. But whatever he said, he's right. He's the owner of this team, so I'm not getting caught up in what Jerry says. I'm just a small fish in the pond. I'm just trying to do my job."

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It would not be an offseason Cowboys post without including something about the competition for the third wide receiver position. The team is trying to figure out what it has here. But at the moment, it is actually getting a little harder to sort that out.

Now, the biggest moves typically occur in training camp, but the coaching staff would prefer for at least one or two players to rise up from the pack.

From the sound of things, at least one player has actually jumped into the pack.

That would be Cole Beasley, a rookie free agent from SMU, who wasn't in the initial group of receivers positioning for one of the top backup spots. But in these three weeks of OTA practices, Beasley has consistently shown up in drills and even worked as the No. 3 receiver some in last week's practice at Cowboys Stadium

Nick Eatman | DallasCowboys.com

It sounds like the local guy is making a splash, and has to be considered in the mix right now. He would make a great story (even if he winds up hurting the chances for my pet cat, injured rookie Danny Coale) and he has been called one of the two best route runners on the team right now - including starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

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If we aren't talking about the logjam at wideout, then we are likely hashing and rehashing the Mike Jenkins situation. As all of you are certainly aware, there have been some very unequivocal statements made about him being with the team this year. That means that he will be competing with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne for one of the starting jobs, leaving the odd man out to - do what, exactly?

. . . if Mike Jenkins is one of the Cowboys' three best cover guys, could he fit into the regular nickel package, even above incumbent slot corner Orlando Scandrick?

The problem is, if Scandrick is relegated to No. 4, the Cowboys wouldn't have anyone with real experience to play inside. The slot is generally regarded as the toughest place to play for a cornerback.

Neither Jenkins, Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne has much experience at all playing inside, though Claiborne did it occasionally at LSU. Still, the Cowboys believe they could be capable.

Josh Ellis | DallasCowboys.com

It is an interesting point. If the team keeps Jenkins, can he be just a backup? Or if he wins a starting job, do you want to relegate Pick 6 to the bench? I just keep wondering how this is all going to play out. But I'm staying positive here, so we will move on.

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While I was pulling that last bit, I saw that Ellis had another good point. Something that makes the current full offseason program very important.

As we keep learning, there are always ways for good defenses to beat the good offenses, in individual games. Over the course of a season, though, there's one thing that generally separates the good offenses from those offenses that were supposed to be good.

Health.

That's what will ultimately make or break this season for the Cowboys' offense. If Austin, Jones, Bryant, Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and this new-look offensive line can stay on the field together for 16 games, or near to it, the group is bound to put up some eye-popping numbers. The cumulative talent level is too obvious.

Josh Ellis | DallasCowboys.com

Looking at things from an upbeat viewpoint: Mike Woicik should be able to help with this. And from the other side: You really can't control this. There is always an element of luck, and last year, Lady Luck spit in the Cowboys' eye a few times.

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To wrap up my little tour of the newsy stuff, I like a piece I saw about why Morris Claiborne and Tyron Smith need to be real standouts. The history of the Dallas first round picks has not been so great for the past few years.

DeMarcus Ware (2005) will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame one day, and Marcus Spears (also in '05) has been solid, though unspectacular, while starting 83 games.

Since then? Blah.

Bobby Carpenter, who started just three games in four seasons, is the only true bust. The others -- Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins and Felix Jones -- have been OK.

Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPN Dallas

The theory is that you have to have a few stars at the heart of your team to go deep in the playoffs. And Dallas did not do a good job of drafting those potential stars for several years. The jury is still out on Dez, but if he should have the breakout season that many wide receivers have in the third year of play, Mo and Tyron could get the team on a roll.

The next wave of stars -- not good players or average players -- must emerge. Otherwise, the next 15 years won't be much different than the last 15 years for the Cowboys.

It just makes sense. Now if only I can figure out why I am suddenly agreeing with so many writers I generally don't like.

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