So after watching nine practices in San Antonio over the past week, what have I learned? One, it can be hot and muggy in San Antonio, but you didn’t come here to get a weather report. Let’s move on to what I’ve learned about the 2007 Dallas Cowboys.
Tony Romo looks like a quality NFL QB. His quick release and the velocity on his throws have been impressive. His accuracy is generally good, although when the pressure is on from the defensive pass rush, he is like any other QB, hit and miss. But overall, he’s done nothing but strengthen my conviction that he can lead this team to great things.
Terrell Owens has had an impressive camp. He’s been toasting our secondary like he’s the short-order cook at Denny’s. And he’s been a model citizen. So far, so great.
Sam Hurd is getting his groove on. Romo and Johnson find him open on a regular basis and when the ball hits his hands, it sticks. He’s solidly locked in as the #4 WR and could challenge Crayton down the road.
The JJ/MB3 battle doesn’t appear to have any winner so far, but if I had to say who has had the better camp, I would give a slight, and I mean a slight, edge to MB3. But both Tyson Thompson and Jackie Battle have been running hard, too. It looks like a position of strength right now, and with the trap blocks from the tackles, the pulling linemen on the sweeps, which we seem to be running with regularity, I hope we can dominate games on the ground while also using TNT to bust the opponents up through the air.
Leonard Davis can be a beast when he gets locked on to players. There have been times when he’s knocked around the defense like a man among boys. But he has trouble with some of the quicker guys who have been using spin moves, swim moves and other tricks of the trade to get by him. I think he’ll be just fine though once the season gets here and he gets comfortable with playing guard. Right now, I consider Bigg a bigg upgrade.
If I have a worry on offense, it is still the offensive line getting it all together. Today, Wade started calling a lot more blitzes, including the middle linebackers and Roy. The line struggled with holding the pocket and the sacks, scrambles and bad throws piled up. You can look at this from the angle that the Cowboys defense is that good, but that is too optimistic for my tastes. Other defenses in the league will be equally as good. We need to get our starting five on the line working together and create some continuity.
Jason Hatcher and Chris Canty have been very impressive in camp so far. They have made a lot of plays in the backfield and have disrupted the flow of the offense. If they can transfer this kind of play into the regular season, the Cowboys defense will take a huge leap forward.
Bradie James is a different player so far. He is moving well horizontally down the line when the runs are going outside and he’s been stepping up to fill the holes in the middle. Outstanding play from Bradie so far.
It’s too early to get an accurate read on Anthony Spencer, so let’s wait a bit on that one.
Bobby Carpenter was having a poor camp until today. He managed a couple of sacks while blitzing and almost had an INT while running stride for stride with a receiver in pass coverage. Before today, I was discouraged. After today, I gained a flicker of hope.
Anthony Henry needs to step up his game. Today was his best day of camp and he still gave up some plays. But at least today he made some plays like an INT and a few pass breakups. Prior to that, he had rarely gotten his hands on the football. The elite receivers in the league are going test him, especially deep, and I’m not convinced yet that he’s up to the challenge.
Ken Hamlin seems to be the guy we need in the secondary. A lot of the deep passes in camp have come on the outside, not as many down the middle and on his watch. He gives some hope that our pass defense will improve, but an aggressive pass rush could also help that problem.
DeMarcus Ware is DeMarcus Ware. Enough said.
Nick Folk has outperformed Martin Gramatica so far. But there’s a long way to go until opening day, and the pre-season games should give him a little more test of kicking under pressure. Let’s wait a little while before we get to an answer on this one.
Once again, if you have questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll endeavor to answer them.