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Dallas Cowboys training camp roster review: Defense


I did the offensive review earlier today and that can be found here. Again, I’ve marked the guys with an asterisk that would make my 53-man roster right now, based solely on camp. Rankings and roster picks could change quickly starting Saturday night. The defense was a little tougher than the offense. I moved some guys on the roster just from what I saw in camp but I’m not sure if it will be the correct mix at the end, especially at the linebacker spot.



*Jay Ratliff – Oh man do I love Ratliff. High energy motor, never gives up in a drill, has a very good initial pop when he hits an offensive lineman and will work and work until he gets to the objective. He’s also got sneaky quickness for a guy his size. This kid was a steal when we drafted him. Yes, I want him at DE, I think it’s his natural position and he would face less double-teams out there and get pressure on the QB, but just get him on the field.

*Tank Johnson – Tank had a very good camp and could easily step into the starting role if they moved Ratliff. Has a great initial step, very quick release on the ball and can cause disruption in the backfield. If he could consistently play to his talent level on every play, he would be a terror. He just might get there but I think people will be very surprised at how good he looks. He’s also a vocal team leader on defense.

Junior Siavii – Looks the part but so far just hasn’t showed me enough play-making ability to keep him as a third NT. He needs to really produce in the preseason to make the roster, more than he showed in the two weeks of training camp.

Remi Ayodele – Every once in a while he flashes some potential but it’s few and far between. Just not a prime-time player yet.


*Chris Canty – For the most part Canty had an excellent camp and is showing signs of becoming a real force from the defensive end position. There were days out there when he couldn’t be blocked. But with Canty, it’s about bringing that intensity level everyday. I bring this up because a couple of days in individual drills against the o-line he looked very average when you know he’s better than that. If he’s fired-up and motivated, he’ll do damage.

*Marcus Spears – Not much has changed in my view with Spears. He does OK at holding a position and clogging up some running lanes but he’s hardly ever moving past his blockers. He doesn’t shed blocks well to make tackles. In individual drills, the o-line usually handled him without him getting much penetration. A move to back-up NT would work for me.

*Jason Hatcher – Keep your eye on Hatcher. He was healthy all of camp and was turning in some very good work. His pass rushing ability was on display in the individual drills and it didn’t look like he was getting pushed around in the running game. If he can handle the run, then there should be nothing holding him back.

*Stephen Bowen – Not as productive in camp as I would like to have seen. He, along with Spears, was the least impressive of the top six in the defensive line rotation. He usually produced when he got into games last year, so we’ll have to watch and see if he is more of a “gamer” and gets it done when the whistle blows.

Marcus Dixon – Of the backups to the top six in the d-line rotation, Dixon had the most productive camp. It wasn’t enough to supplant someone like Bowen but there may be some promise for the future. The Cowboys would probably like to sneak him on the practice squad for a year.

Marcus Smith – Occasional flashes but just doesn’t make enough plays at a position with a lot of talent.


*Demarcus Ware – Next.

*Greg Ellis – Well, to tell you the truth I saw so little of Ellis actually practicing at camp that I can’t give you any kind of true evaluation. Whether he was healthy or not, they gave him a lot of rest and few reps. All I can say is I hope he’s the same Ellis as last year.

*Anthony Spencer – He looked pretty good to me but not amazing. There were days out there when I saw very little of him in team drills in terms of making plays. Other days, he was popping up all over the place. I know he has the talent and I’m guessing that in preseason we’re going to see more of it.

*Erik Walden – I like this guy’s potential but he’s kind of limited right now. He has a great initial burst and sometimes can beat the o-line on pure quickness. The problem is if the o-line gets good contact with him he can’t do much else. He’s not strong enough to bull-rush them and he doesn’t have a lot of moves to work with yet. He needs time but I like his potential, I’d keep him for right now.

*Tearrius George – The Cowboys really liked his potential going into camp and he did make some plays while out there. The problem is that he was hurt for a good portion of camp and you just didn’t get to see if he can make plays on a consistent basis. Because of the limited number of practices, he’s going to have to make an impression the preseason games to justify their excitement.

Justin Rogers – Unless Rogers can excel on special teams, I just don’t see how they can keep him on the squad with some of the new guys they’ve brought in. He was backing up Zach Thomas in the first days of practice but when he got sick Bobby Carpenter stepped in and stole that spot from him. He’s swinging between inside and outside linebacker and just doesn’t bring anything special to either spot. I think its special teams demon or bust for Rogers.

Darrell Robertson – Oh it hurts to say it, Robertson being my guy from GT, but he just didn’t show anything special at camp. I rarely saw him making plays. Surprising for me, because he had a lot of talent on the college level. Maybe it just hasn’t transitioned for him yet.


*Bradie James – Looked like Bradie. With no tackling it’s hard for him to do what he does best, get in the middle of the pack and shut things down. At least it’s hard to see him doing that in camp.

*Zach Thomas – I like the way Zach diagnoses a play and then makes a beeline for the ball. He gets to the edges well and can pick his way through blockers and traffic. Just has a nose for the ball. I will be watching him in coverage more in the preseason to see how he looks; I didn’t get a good feel for his skills in that area from camp.

*Kevin Burnett – Active, was doing well in some blitz formations and can cover better than any of the linebackers from what I saw. Very competent backup who could start if ever needed.

*Bobby Carpenter – One of the big surprises of camp. Started on the 3rd unit, took over the backup spot to Zach when Rogers got sick and never looked back. He made play after play, both in the run defense and pass defense. He had an interception, several good pass knock-downs, blitzed well, made tackles; just did it all in camp. He must show it in the preseason where he tanked last year and never saw playing time afterwards.

Tyson Smith – We’ll always remember the excellent job he did in making MB3 feel good about his blocking skills.


*Terence Newman – He’s T-New, but he needs to get healthy.

*Anthony Henry – Henry has a pretty specific skill set. If he reads the route correctly or is playing deep enough that he can come forward, he’s pretty good in coverage and getting to the ball. If he gets turned around or beat in anyway and has to recover, he just doesn’t have the wheels to do it. He’s getting used to playing the LB/Safety hybrid in the dime, be sure to watch for that formation while he’s in the game

*Adam Jones – Shaking the rust off. His first week to his second week was a marked improvement in camp. After a few preseason games, we should really start to see his abilities returning. He’s small but physical in coverage, likes to press and can run with almost anybody. His timing in attacking the ball was getting better towards the end. We should get to see a few punt returns coming up, something they never truly do in camp.

*Mike Jenkins – I like what I’ve seen so far. He’s another physical corner who wants to press the receiver and just make life miserable. No more sitting back like Reeves and Jones of last year, Jenkins and Jones like to get up on their man. Jenkins needs to work on technique and not getting caught up in being too physical, he can get turned around doing that and he’s likely to get some pass interference calls playing the way he did in camp. He needs to remain aggressive but harness it and be fundamentally sound.

*Orlando Scandrick – Still has a ways to go. He was softer in coverage and tried to use his speed to make recoveries. He got caught peeking into the backfield too much and losing his receiver and he also gave away the inside on slants. It’s early for him and I would expect to see him grow through the season, he did show some skill and definitely is athletic, but Jenkins has a big edge as the #4 CB right now.

*Evan Oglesby – Up and down. Even within a practice session he could make a couple of great plays and then get burned, and this went back and forth for most of camp. He’s very boom or bust when out there but he does have some skill. Right now, I have him rated over Alan Ball because Ball missed a lot of camp. Oglesby made the coaches notice him out there; it may come down to special teams.

Alan Ball – The Cowboys gave Ball a lot of opportunity in the practices that he actually participated in, they had him running with the 2’s on many occasions. But I didn’t see him make many plays even on those days when he did practice. He’s got to get something done in the preseason to convince the coaches because we have depth at corner now.

Quincy Butler – Hurt almost the entire time.


*Ken Hamlin – You don’t see safeties, especially the FS, making too many plays in practice. Mostly you see them helping a corner on a deep route or playing deep zone in the middle. Hamlin did have a few pass breakups and I believe an INT, but his main thing was communication. He was constantly telling the other guys where to line up, to read the formation, making coverage calls, a true leader in the secondary.

*Roy Williams – I thought Roy had a pretty productive camp. Early on he was having trouble in coverage and that didn’t totally go away but he started making some plays in coverage later on. I saw some good reps against the running game and that picked up as camp went on, too. We need to see him in live contact though to truly get a feel for which Roy will show up this year.

*Courtney Brown – Impressive camp. The ball just seems to find this kid, he was involved in a couple of INT’s and had some breakups too. If you believe what you saw in the last few practices, he’s moved ahead of Watkins as the one of the deep safeties in the dime. He took the majority of the reps at the end, he may be moving up the safety ladder.

*Pat Watkins – Nothing stood out one way or the other about Watkins for me. He was involved in a few plays but not really enough to make you take notice. He is one of the main guys on special teams so we know he’s going to be involved there, but how much playing time he gets could depend on the way Brown plays in the preseason.

Dowayne Davis – In the beginning of camp he kind of stood out, but not so much as camp progressed. His main thing is going to be special teams anyway, so that’s what his preseason needs to be all about if he has any shot of forcing his way onto the 53-man roster.

Tyler Everett – Nope.

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