Do you remember the good times? How you waited eagerly for things to start, and then hung on every iota of information? How your emotions would swing wildly from excited elation to morbid depression and back again?
Yes, the OTAs and minicamps were so much fun, and I miss them so.
And that clearly shows how far gone I am in the depths of my fanhood. But I wear my status as a Dallas Cowboys junkie with pride. Meanwhile I am counting the days until training camp finally gets here and we will have new things to discuss.
Speaking of which, am I the only one who feels a tad bit cheated by the aforementioned practices? As I recall, there was a point in the minicamp where it seemed like more people I was interested in watching were standing around on the sidelines recovering than actually practicing on the field. I did a table at the start of the mandatory minicamp detailing the injured, which I have updated and included here.
|Wrist surgery||Tyrone Crawford||Strained calf|
|Broken finger||Broken foot|
|Shoulder surgery||Tight hamstring|
|Hamstring strain||Plantar fasciitis|
|"Minor knee issue"||Shoulder injury|
|Walking boot, foot injury||Hip surgery|
|Shoulder surgery/sulking||Was still in school|
Many of the names wound up missing almost all the offseason practices. Some, like Bruce Carter and Kyle Orton, got in some significant time before getting dinged up, and we did get to make some evaluation of them. But others have been pretty much MIA the whole time. The start of training camp will be the first chance to see most of these people back on the field (only Mike Jenkins looks like he might not be on the field on July 30th, and that may change if he decides he needs a good year in Dallas for the future of his career).
So who are you interested in seeing at the start of training camp? I would include most of the names on my list.
The who and the why after the jump.
First, let me cut out the ones that I really don't need to see. Those would be Jay Ratliff, Kyle Orton, and Gerald Sensabaugh. All are proven commodities, and I don't think there is much to learn from how they practice in TC (although seeing Rat and Sensi in a full-up Ryan defense does have some entertainment possibilities). And I still do not think we will see Jenkins. I continue to have a bad feeling about that whole situation. The day he shows up and starts practicing, I will reconsider - but not until then.
So, what do I want to see from the others?
The rookies, I just want to see what they really have when they are in pads and going up against veterans. All have a certain amount of hype attached to them, and it is time to find out if there is any substance behind it. This is a rank order of how much interest I have in them:
Danny Coale - This is my pet cat. The only one I get, by sworn oath before the high BTB council. I want to see if he is really always open. I want to know if he is in the mix for the third WR, because I would love to see this guy make everyone forget Laurent Robinson (In a good way. You know what I mean.)
Matt Johnson - If I were not bound by my sacred and binding oath, this would have been my next pet cat. He's not, because I can't have another one, so let's just be straight on that. But I think he is going to be a starter sometime this year at safety, and I hope it will be sooner rather than later. It is based more on feeling than any kind of serious analysis, but that is how I roll. And I have an extremely good feeling about Matt.
Kyle Wilber - He is a bit of an enigma to me. I am curious just to see what he brings to OLB. Is he really primarily a strong side player, and in the running to be Anthony Spencer's replacement if the team lets him walk next year? Or can he show some flashes as a pass rusher? Just a lot to find out about him.
Tyron Crawford - He is like Wilber, only given their relative draft positions, I think Crawford is closer to a lock to make the team. I also think he is playing at a position where players like Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore, and Clifton Geathers will relegate him to spot play and let him learn his job more slowly than, oh, say the next guy.
Morris Claiborne - So why is he the rookie I am least interested in seeing? Because I think I know what we have in him. With Brandon Carr mentoring and Jerome Henderson coaching, he is going to be a success. Whether he is pressed into an immediate starting role is probably up to Mike Jenkins' agent, but if he is, I think he will do fine.
Those are the rookies and what I want to see out of them. But there are some vets left on the list as well.
Bruce Carter and Dan Connor - Bruce benefited from the time Dan was off the field, but we never saw them together, or had a chance to contrast how each one works with Sean Lee. I really think the top three ILBs this year are going to be something special, and I expect Rob Ryan to have a package or two that gets them all on the field at once (partly fueled by the desire to see any of them launched, heat-seeking-missile style, at the quarterback).
Felix Jones - What I want to find out is if the rumors about him being lighter and in better shape are true. Everyone is all excited about DeMarco Murray running behind Lawrence Vickers, but this could be a big year for Felix, too. But, that all depends on the next two names. The ones, above all, I want to see more than anyone else.
MacKenzy Bernadeau and Kevin Kowalski - Repeat after me. It is all about the interior O line. It is all about the interior O line. It is all about the interior O line.
And the team is only going to have five and a half weeks from July 30th to get the best line they can on the field. Who that is remains the biggest unknown this team faces. In many ways, this is the biggest gamble the team took in that it is planning on solving its problems here with some rather pedestrian free agents and a UDFA that fell out of the draft due to a questionable knee. Plus, of course, the players from last year. Tyron Smith should be better than solid, but the rest will have all of us holding our breath until we see some effective play on the field.
So the players I most want to see come back are Bernie and Killer K, so the team can figure out its best offensive line. What about you? Any of the injured players from the minicamp you will be especially focused on?