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Dallas Cowboys 2009 Training Camp: Five Things to Watch (Part II)

[Ed. Note by Grizz]: It turned out that Carl and I both wrote posts about things to watch for at training camp. I was planning to do a Part II to the Five Things post from yesterday, but since Carl already had a post of stuff he's watching out for, we'll use that as part two. [End Note]

Okay, if you want to be technical about it, I won’t be at Cowboys training camp so I won’t be watching anything. I guess I will be listening for, or reading up on a few different storylines coming out of Cowboys camp. Considering the abundant media coverage these days, coaching staffs are reluctant to reveal much before the regular season kicks off. Still, if we look closely, we can probably gather a few vital tidbits of information about the Cowboys upcoming season. Here are the things that I will be looking for at Cowboys camp.

The Battle on the Corner:

Who will start opposite Terence Newman? Orlando Scandrick proved to be a step or two ahead of Mike Jenkins last season. Jenkins has been working hard and if his instincts catch up with his rare size and athleticism, he will be a big time player. Still, Scandrick seems to be the better fit if you take into consideration the wide receivers in the NFC East. There are a few big wideouts in the division like Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas , and Ramses Barden, but none of them are ready to seriously contribute. Scandrick is better equipped to hold smaller guys like Santana Moss, Antwaan Randel-El, Desean Jackson, Sinorice Moss, and Steve Smith in check. That’s just my opinion, but Scandrick will man the slot in any scenario.

Anthony Spencer:

The Cowboys’ release of veteran OLB Greg Ellis cleared the way for Anthony Spencer to realize his full potential. With only a pair of rookies (Victor Butler, Brandon Williams) on board to present a legitimate challenge, Spencer can breathe easy atop the Cowboys’ depth chart. You have to admit that Spencer has put together some solid stretches of play in limited action. The Cowboys could reap some immeasurable benefits if Spencer’s play turns the corner in 2009. Having a legitimate pass rushing threat opposite Ware would present a nightmarish conundrum to any opposing offensive coordinator. If Anthony Spencer is just reliable at OLB, he will help the Cowboys by simply providing stability. But if Anthony Spencer proves himself as a player whom offenses must account for, he will be a catalytic force in the Cowboys’ ascension to the upper echelon of NFL defenses.

Left Guard:

Kyle Kosier is still banged up. Montrae Holland is still facing questions about his work ethic. Cory Procter is…Cory Procter. If Montrae Holland finds his motivation, he has a shot this job. Kyle Kosier has done a fine job at left guard in his time as a Cowboy. However, it still just seems like the line needs a bit of a shake up. Montrae Holland would give the Cowboys a road-grader at left guard. An interior line consisting of Holland, Andre Gurode, and Leonard Davis would be frightening as far as the run game is concerned. I just get the feeling that the Cowboys are waiting for Holland to put this battle in a chokehold. It’s still unclear whether or not he has it in him to do so.

Tony Romo:

I’m not looking for perfection. I’m not looking for pinpoint accuracy, or a ton of amazing plays. Just show me that you are in charge, Tony. Terrell Owens was released for a reason, and Tony Romo has to really begin to assert himself now. I don’t think that a good quarterback necessarily jumps down other guys throats. I just want to see other guys responding to Romo’s leadership, and respecting him as the field general. In my opinion, Tony will be fine. He’s still a gunslinger at heart, so his risk-taking ways will still induce cursing and beer throwing amongst Cowboy fans from time to time. But I think that Tony Romo takes football seriously and I expect him to blossom in '09.

Punt Returner:

Terence Newman is the Cowboys’ best punt returner. Given Newman’s recent injury history, I don’t expect to see him back to receive any punts in the near future. Not to sound harsh, but I’m not sure how many more Patrick Crayton punt returns I can witness before I scratch my own eyes out. I am holding out hope that DeAngelo Smith makes the team and claims the punt return job. Smith is no Devin Hester, but he is a bit more athletic and crafty than Crayton. The Cowboys have a new special teams coach, and 12 brand new rookies who will likely have to prove themselves on special teams to make the squad. Special teams were an Achilles heel for the Cowboys last season. I can’t stress enough how important I think the return game is, and the team needs a competent return man to complete the special teams makeover.

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