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Cowboys have few position battles left

The 2006 Cowboys starting lineup is pretty much in the bag. You could predict today - with a high degree of certainty - who will be starting come September in Jacksonville. There are still a few positions on the roster that have legitimate position battles going on and a few others that might be interesting.

At FS and RT I think we have a full-blown competition going on. So let's look at those first.

Free Safety

Incumbent starter - Keith Davis: Davis returns after the Cowboys matched an offer sheet from New Orleans. Davis was associated with the breakfast food "toast" on several plays last year and that's not a good thing. More of a strong safety than a free safety, and more of a special teams ace than anything, Keith will play a lot less in the secondary and will be on every special teams unit in the book.

"Parcells Guy" free agent - Marcus Coleman: Let go by the Texans and picked up by the Cowboys in free agency, Coleman is another in a long line of aging free agents who've played for the Tuna before, and end up wearing the star. If I was to lay money down, Coleman will be the starter when the Cowboys line up in Jacksonville.

The rookie - Pat Watkins: The Cowboys 5th round pick in this year's draft, Watkins represents the Cowboys' future at FS. He'll see the field on special teams and will slowly work his way onto the field more and more at FS as the season progresses. By the end of the year, he could be challenging for the starting spot, although more likely he'll be rotating in frequently.

Right Tackle

Incumbent starter - Rob Petitti: Petitti wasn't supposed to start last year, but ended up playing almost every down of the season for the Cowboys at right tackle. The results were - to be kind - mixed. At least he got tons of experience and an offseason work program on improving his feet may help this year. Petitti is a real question mark at the positon.

"Parcells Guy" free agent - Jason Fabini: Jason Fabini was drafted by the Tuna while at the Jets and has enjoyed a pretty successful career in the NFL. On the wrong side of 30 and coming off an injury, Fabini isn't the player he was 3 years ago. If I was laying my money down though, I'd put it on Fabini to start. Parcells trusts him, so if he's got anything left in the tank, he'll start.

Here are a few roster positions were I think we know who'll start, but there are some interesting scenarios.

C - Al Johnson and Andre Gurode look to battle it out at the center spot for another offseason. The Cowboys like Gurode better as a center than guard, but his versatility makes him a good back-up option at both spots. Johnson will probably start again, unless Gurode makes a big leap in training camp.

SOLB - The Cowboys drafted Bobby Carpenter and he should be the starter. But Parcells likes experienced players, and Al Singleton has been a competent, but not spectacular, linebacker. Still, expect BC to line up on opening day.

RB - Julius Jones will almost certainly be the starter, but Marion Barber has shown some toughness to Parcells that I don't think he sees in JJ. Injury is always a concern with JJ. It will be interesting to see how the carries are split between MB3 and JJ.

LG - The Cowboys brought in Kyle Kosier to replace Larry Allen, but is he really the guy for the job? By default he'll get the starting nod, but the Cowboys need to keep their eyes open for some help at this position.

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