For a few guys on the Dallas Cowboys roster, the upcoming OTA's signal the formal beginning of what should be the make or break point of their careers. I have nothing at all against taking players in the later rounds or as UDFA's and keeping them around as projects to develop. After all where would Dallas be if they hadn't done that with guys named Romo and Austin. Eventually; however, the rubber does have to meet the road. Developmental guys either have to reach the point where they contribute or get out of the way for those who will. Recently the Cowboys have experienced some success by taking a chance on players with potential, but who were not yet ready. To me, the first guys to come to mind are Barry Church and Dwayne Harris. This coming summer in Oxnard, the next group needs to step up and follow the example of these guys, or get on down the road.
My list of players for whom it is critical that they take the next step revolves around the interior of the offensive line. Given that the Cowboys have JAG's at both guard positions, the door is wide open for a project player to emerge and secure himself a key role on the team. At this point, if either David Arkin or Kevin Kowalski is ever going to find a home on the football field in Dallas; they need to step up. They are entering their third and fourth seasons as professional football player,s and it is time for them to either put up or shut up. They have now had the benefit of high level strength and conditioning programs, as well as the opportunity to avail themselves to some of the best coaching available. Not far behind these two is another interior lineman, Ron Leary, although in my opinion, unless he has regressed, Mr Leary will have at least on more season to prove himself. The team can only afford to spend a finite amount of time waiting for guys to reach their potential, and for some I think that the clock is rapidly winding down to that point.
One other player that I had considered as potentially reaching that point seems to have gotten the message. That guy is Jeremy Parnell. With Clabo no longer on the market, and Doug Free trying his best to get on the bad (worse???) side of Cowboys fans everywhere by not taking a pay cut, Parnell seems to have sensed that he is looking at a golden opportunity. At least that is the way I took a tweet from Birddog26. It seems that Mr. Parnell is determined to prove that he is the Cowboys right tackle of the future. I don't know if getting a taste of the big time at the end of the last season is what has motivated him or not, but there are some early indications that he may be the next guy to step up and take his game to the next level. From where I am setting, and admittedly that is quite a distance from the action, but it looks like some guys on the roster are taking the "Next man up" mantra to heart, and both they and the team are reaping the benefits.
I don't know for sure, but if I were either Arkin or Kowalski, I would be doing everything I possibly could to make sure that I followed the example of some other "project" guys who have started to make their mark. It is time to either keep the dream alive, or start to consider selling insurance and coaching youth football. Both guys are former pet cats of mine, and I would like to see both wearing the star for years to come; but realistically it is time for them to move either up or out. There is a phrase in Latin that sums up what needs to happen: Carpe Diem. It means seize the day. Both players would do well to keep that in mind every day from now until camp begins.