There must be something in the red meat at Dallas Cowboys training camp because the big fellas are dropping at an alarming rate. Tyrone Crawford is done for the season with a torn achilles, and Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer's injuries are looking worse by the day. With that said, I thought it would be fun to get out of the doom and gloom state of mind, and take a look at some of the Cowboys' positions of strength over the next few weeks - Wide Receiver, Running Back and Tight End. The Cowboys possess a multitude of depth and talent at these positions, and players at each position will be competing with each other for final roster spots. This week I will be looking at the Wide Receivers - where the Cowboys have high end talent at the top, and a cluster of depth throughout the ranks.
We all know why Dez and Miles are making this roster. Expectations for number 88 could not be any higher, as everyone around the NFL is expecting him to elevate to all-pro status this year. With Miles Austin, the Cowboys are just crossing their fingers that he can stay healthy, and get back to 2009/2010 form where he caught 150 passes for 2,361 yards and 18 touchdowns over a 2-year period. Austin had a pretty strong year last season, but nagging injuries kept him off the field in parts of too many games, and minimized his effectiveness. Terrance Williams made this list when the Cowboys selected him with the 74th pick in April's draft. Williams put up huge stats at Baylor, and the Cowboys hope Williams will be able to line up outside allowing Miles Austin to slide into the slot more often.
I almost put Dwayne Harris on the "Sure Things" list since he was so good returning kicks last year, but he has really struggled the first few days of camp. Harris was great at returning punts last year, averaging 16.1 yards per return, including a 78-yard touchdown return against the Eagles. On the flip side, Harris didn't do much as a receiver last year, catching only 17 passes, and he will find it even harder to get on the field with the addition of Terrance Williams, and the Cowboys running more double tight sets. Show me a short, white Wide Receiver and my mind goes straight to Wes Welker... maybe this is a little unfair and an example of racial profiling, but Beasley did flash some Welkerish qualities last year. Unfortunately he did not flash enough of them. Beasley had a big game last season in the comeback effort against Washington, where he caught seven balls for 68 yards. Other than that though, he had a difficult time getting on the field. Beasley will be hurt by his inability to play Special Teams, and Miles Austin playing more in the slot.
The two guys I am watching for out of this group are Danny Coale and Eric Rogers. Coale nearly made this team last year, and he was eventually signed to the practice squad. He was close to getting called up a few times last year before a torn ACL ended his season early. Coale is a coaching staff favorite, and a couple of impressive preseason showings could land him a spot on the roster. Eric Rogers has already caught the eye of fans and coaches alike by making some big plays in the first few practices of camp. He definitely has the body of an NFL player at 6-3, 211. He came from a small school so he is going to have to continue to catch the coaches' eyes as the competition heats up throughout the summer. Rogers also will need show he can contribute on Special Teams.
Sorry guys - Not looking good.
Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale, Eric Rogers
I think the ability to contribute on Special Teams is what gets Coale and Rogers on the roster. Coale has to get his knee right, but the staff has been patient with him for a reason, and I think they're expecting big things from him. Cole Beasley was my last cut, but I just don't think he brings enough on offense. As good as he could be in the slot, Miles is much better, and double tight sets will eliminate the need for what Beasley brings to the table. Regardless of who makes the bottom of the roster though - Dez and Miles are still going to be what makes the unit go.