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Cowboys special teams need to be special again

Nick Eatman pens a good article that touches on a wide-range of subjects concerning the Dallas Cowboys. One point he brings up is that with the loss of Keith Davis and the expected loss of Nate Jones, the Cowboys have taken a hit to their special teams unit. Last year, the coverage units were not exactly consistent. We did shut down Devin Hester, but too many games we found ourselves on the losing end of the field position battle, even with two quality specialists, Nick Folk and Mat McBriar. The draft is always a place to pick up some talent on special teams, especially this year when most of the draft picks won’t be in the battle for starter’s roles. One exception is the expected pick of a cornerback, a lot of those guys could double as a return specialist in the punting game, relieving us of having to watch Patrick Crayton perform his trick of being the "Human Fair Catch."

One guy the Cowboys might be counting on to take a step forward on special teams is second year corner Alan Ball.

If the Cowboys don't retain [Nate] Jones, it will be the second key loss from the special teams units, following the departure of [Keith] Davis, the special teams captain last season.

But Cowboys vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said earlier this week the Cowboys are excited about cornerback Alan Ball, a seventh-round pick last season who spent most of the year on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster at the end of the season.

I guess Ball will also be in the mix for the nickel corner spot, but I think the Cowboys are counting on an early round draft pick of a corner to compete for that role. Hopefully, we’ll get one of the top-flight corner prospects that are in this draft and thank goodness this year there are a bundle of corners with NFL talent. Another guy who could make a difference on special teams is Courtney Brown, who will have to serve a bigger role on gameday with the departure of Davis, our primary strong safety reserve.

Guys like Pat Watkins, Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter will have to become special teams stalwarts to replace the lost talent on those units. Also, special teams coach Bruce Read will be under the microscope to improve on last year’s uneven performance.

Eatman also goes into some of the contract situations and notes that the Cowboys are in talks with Drew Rosenhaus to get a long-term deal done with MB3.

"We've initiated talks with him," [Stepehen] Jones said of Rosenhaus. "We're very confident that we're going to get something done. Obviously Canty is someone we'd like to sign long-term, too. We're not in a big hurry with those two guys right now. But I think we'll get them done."

They also would like to sign Ken Hamlin to a multi-year deal and lower the cap-charge for this year that comes along with his franchise tag. But on this front, they don’t sound as confident and note the ridiculous contracts that a couple of teams passed out in free agency to safeties as complicating the process.

Don Banks’ latest mock draft.

22 CB Mike Jenkins South Florida Sr. 6-0 200 The Cowboys haven't been much of a player this offseason, so the draft appears to be their personnel acquisition method of choice in 2008. Having lost a cornerback in Jacques Reeves to Houston, Dallas could use another pair of hands in the secondary. If receiver is the pick here, rather than at No. 28, which Dallas also owns, Cal speedster DeSean Jackson would get the nod.

28 RB Felix Jones Arkansas Jr. 6-0 205 In this mock, we don't have Dallas trading up with No. 7 New England for the right to land Razorback running back Darren McFadden, so we're back to giving Jones to the Cowboys with their second first-round selection. The backfield tandem of Marion Barber and Jones would make for a tantalizing combination of power and speed.

Some Cowboys players got bonuses from the performance-based pay program, most notably Sam Hurd.  

Here’s an article on Tony Romo if you got some time to kill.