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The Valley Ranch Review: Potentials at WR Must Produce; Would Jerry Jones Even Consider Michael Vick?

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Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton could very well be the Cowboys' starting wide receivers going into the '09 season. But, what about the other guys? It's getting to be less about replacing T.O. and more about living up to potential for Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, and Isaiah Stanback.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cited Austin, Hurd and Stanback in March when explaining his decision to release Owens, saying their "opportunity to play and help us was the biggest thing that impacted my decision." Jones has thrown them praise after praise after praise, especially Austin, whom he compared to a young Owens.

"I still have to come out and do what I have to do," Austin said. "Despite what anyone thinks, when it's all said and done, you've got to be the one who gets it done on the field."

And like the rest of Cowboys nation, wide receivers coach Ray Sherman would love nothing more than to see the young trio of pass-catchers step it up on the field.

So far, Austin, Hurd and Stanback have spent most of their time on special teams or on the injury list. They still have a lot to prove, having shown only flashes, with a combined 44 receptions, 767 yards and four touchdowns in 81 games.

But the Cowboys expect far more from them this season, now that Owens is gone and there are more passes to go around.

"It's going to be a great opportunity for them," Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "They know it...if they can stay healthy, the sky is the limit."

Unfortunately, Stanback's fair share of injuries may have affected his progression at learning the WR position. As Rob Phillips writes:

Injuries have marred Stanback's first two seasons and probably slowed his transition to receiver. He was recovering from foot surgery when the Cowboys drafted him, and he's since dealt with a bout of shin splints and two shoulder injuries. He's a terrific athlete and a willing worker, but it's critical for him to stay healthy.

Much more VRR after the jump!

Would one of the Texas teams take a chance on Michael Vick? The Examiner says "no chance" of the former Falcons QB being signed by the Houston Texans. Of course, the article switches gears by mentioning Dallas as a possible landing spot. With Vick being released from prison Wednesday, perhaps Cowboys fans should just get used to hearing such conjecture in the near future.

Owner Jerry Jones has never been afraid to take on players with a past. Even though many have backfired -- Pacman Jones, for instance -- Jones is not afraid to gamble.

The Cowboys thrive on soap operas, and who would be a bigger soap opera than Vick? Jones loves to keep the Cowboys on the national map, and this would do it. The initial PR hit would be offset by the curiosity it creates.

Plus, it makes sense from a football perspective. Romo has been inconsistent; everything is now on his shoulders since Terrell Owens was released. If the offense struggles, Romo will take the heat.

It's possible Romo is just not that good. We will find out this season.

Signing Vick would provide insurance. The Cowboys could bring him along slowly, let him get back in football shape. If Romo is fine, then they could use Vick as a slash player. If Romo struggles, the Cowboys have a ready-to-roll replacement.

Of course, there is no guarantee Vick ever gets back to what he was, and if not, the Cowboys haven't really lost anything.  He won't cost much, and if they wind up not needing him, so much the better.

Buck Harvey at the S.A. News Express disagrees, saying that Jerry Jones won't be up to signing a player like Vick--at least not right now.

This is what Jones does. He reacts to the season before. Other franchises - such as Pittsburgh or New England - stick to a plan. Jones fluctuates depending upon what came before. Now Jones wants harmony, and these last few days, Wade Phillips and Tony Romo have pushed this year's theme.

Forget the past, don't worry about the future. Concentrate on today.

That would work for a convicted felon, too, but no one at Valley Ranch thinks Jones will bid for Vick. The Cowboys have enough playmakers, and, besides, Jones has enough to sell this season. The new stadium will provide that.

Jon Kitna's bullet-tossing arm and command of the huddle continues to impress.

The DMN has this video of Wade Phillips' assessment of the Cowboys' first OTA. There's even some footage of the practice!

Rookie Stephen Hodge talked to the Ranch Report about his move to inside linebacker, the effect of seeing coach Joe DeCamillis at practice, and his own love for playing special teams.

"It's starting to feel natural, I'm trying to think like a linebacker, but I'm still in that ‘lost' stage," said Hodge, who also said Tuesday that he is up to 243 pounds - nine more than the 234 listed on the rosters the team handed out to the media at OTAs. "The terminology - they want me to play the ‘Mo' and the dime sub-package - so I'm just trying to learn all the positions. It's going to take me a while, but once I get 'em, I'm going to hit the ground running.


"That was motivational right there," Hodge said of DeCamillis. "To see him bounce back from such a severe injury ... that just goes to show you that if he can do it, we can do it. So people complaining about hamstrings and knees and ankles - that shouldn't be a problem for this team. People sometimes complain that they've got turf toe, and all that, and to see him pull through that, I think that's amazing.


"I played on all four special teams, even when I was a starter as a junior and senior. I just love playing special teams. They (the Dallas coaches) said that's going to be a big deal for me, so I'm ready to play on all special teams and go as hard as I can."

What a catch! Michael Irvin's 4th and Long received some serious ratings for SpikeTV.

I know that Fantasy Football has got to be slowly creeping into the back of a lot of your minds. CBSSports gives its rundown of Dallas' fantasy players. Dave Richard picks Martellus Bennett as a sleeper, Felix Jones as a breakout player, and Tony Romo as a bust.

Jerry Jones will flip the inaugural switch on the Cowboys Stadium's gargantuan video board today. The dimensions of the 600-ton structure are awesome.

This time the adage works at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Thursday, when the Cowboys turn on the world's two largest high-definition video displays, each 160 feet wide and 72 feet high.

The two Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video boards, one facing the Cowboys' sideline and the other facing the visitors' sideline, run from approximately the 25-yard line to the 25-yard line.

The NFL set and released the dates and times for the preseason games.

Aug. 13 @ the Raiders in Oakland Coliseum 10:00 PM 
Aug. 21 vs. Tennessee in Dallas Cowboys New Stadium 8:00 PM (FOX)
Aug. 29 vs. San Francisco in Dallas Cowboys New Stadium 8:00 PM
Sep. 04 @ Minnesota in Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome 8:00 PM

All times Eastern.


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