Some Veterans Who Are Making Progress In Cowboys OTAs

Rob Carr

Bryan Broaddus continues to provide excellent coverage from the Dallas OTAs. He took a look at three returning players who stood out in his view.

I don't believe everything Bryan Broaddus writes and tweets. Sometimes he makes purely sarcastic remarks.

Outside of those, however, I have yet to find a writer who combines in depth coverage and objective evaluation of the Dallas Cowboys as well as he does (although Mike Fisher is pretty good himself). Some may take this as a criticism of the rest of the Cowboys beat writers, but I prefer to see it as an endorsement of Broaddus' work.

In his second column on the fourth OTA, which was the second practice open to writers, he covered three veteran players who had issues of one kind or another, but who are doing much better this year.

Phil Costa: Obviously, when a team uses its first round pick on your position, you may get the feeling that your job may be in jeopardy. Costa, who had injury problems that kept him off the field last year, has to see the arrival of Travis Frederick as handwriting on his locker wall. But Broaddus sees a player who is not only refusing to go down without a fight, but who offers some strengths of his own.

For Costa, it has never been easy, and despite the fact that he is running with the second line, he has honestly had reps in this zone scheme where he has been better than Frederick.

As an undrafted player, it is going to be really, really hard for Costa to beat out Frederick, since he would have to be clearly superior overall to justify that. However, he may be the most reliable backup for Frederick, and that would not be a bad way to keep an NFL career, especially given that UDFA status. And this may make him someone who may be traded to another team that is hurting for a zone blocking center. That would at least give him a chance to get a better paycheck down the road, and getting some kind of a draft pick for him, even if it is a late round one, would certainly be seen as a bonus for Dallas.

Sean Lissemore: He was pegged going into last year as a secret superstar for Dallas. Like Costa, he saw his chances to shine greatly diminished by injury problems, and was considered rather disappointing. Lissemore is healthy now, and it shows.

The quickness and the power appeared to be back on several reps like it was two seasons ago when he played inside as a nickel rusher. What I have always liked about Lissemore is his ability to work his way up the field but using pass rush techniques and there were times last season where I didn't see that but it appears to be back. This scheme which is allowing him to play as a one is a much better fit than when he had to play as a nose.

I was another fan hoping for Lissy to have a really good year in 2012, and I would be thrilled to see him have the success this fall we expected then. More importantly, this is another report, and they are showing up all over the place, that talks about how Monte Kiffin's scheme is going to help. Almost every player, particularly in the front seven, is seen as being a better fit than they were in the 3-4. It gives credence to the speculation that there were people at Valley Ranch who wanted to make this move even before the injury parade and defensive meltdown of last season.

Kyle Wilber: For a while, no one seemed sure where Wilberforce was going to fit in Kiffin's defense, and some thought he was one player who would possibly fall by the wayside. However, he has been getting work at DE, lining up mostly against Tyron Smith while DeMarcus Ware is recovering from his shoulder surgery. And he is handling it with a bit of aplomb.

Where Wilber has become better is with his pass rush and his ability to separate. He has also put on some good weight going from the 240's to 255 and you can see this when he is playing the run to his side. Wilber looks more comfortable with his hand in the dirt than he did playing on two feet. If the scheme change was good for guys like Bruce Carter and Sean Lissemore, it appears to be even better for Kyle Wilber, because it allows him to rush the passer and that's a skill set he has.

Gee, there is that scheme advantage again. If you can't tell from reading this, I just grin from ear to ear every time I read something like that.

This is very good news to get about these players,and thanks again to Bryan Broaddus for his sterling work at DallasCowboys.com. They are only some of the veteran players who keep getting nice reviews, along with names like Dez Bryant, Matt Johnson, Barry Church, James Hanna, Dwayne Harris and Phillip Tanner. It is very good that the team is seeing this much improved performance from the returning guys, because it has to have that to get better. Here is hoping that things continue to improve. All the way to February.

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