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Cowboys Sam Hurd on the Rise?

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I know it’s only the preseason. I know it’s only one game, but Sam Hurd looked good Thursday night. With all of this talk about whether or not Miles Austin would overtake Patrick Crayton as the #2 receiver, I don’t think any of us considered the possibility of Hurd making a case for the #3 spot. Again, it was just one preseason game, but Hurd showed some things that were really encouraging.

After losing a great deal of his 2008 season to an ankle injury, Hurd is fully recovered. He's still listed at 205 lbs. but appears to be more muscular than in years past. He seems to have an extra little bounce in his step, and for a guy who is supposed to be slow, he’s proving that he is fast enough to get open. It’s early, but it’s beginning to look like Sam Hurd is determined to contribute this year.

It’s quite possible that only injuries stopped Hurd from turning the corner last season. Around this same time last preseason, Hurd’s play was inspiring the same type of optimism. After suffering a high ankle sprain on a reverse against Minnesota, he was never able to get back in sync. Ultimately, he saw his season end in October after suffering a second ankle injury. Had Hurd avoided injury, who knows what may have transpired last season for the former undrafted free agent.

If he is able to break out, it will be like stealing for the Cowboys. With all the questions that have been aimed at the Cowboys depth at wide receiver, the team would be delighted to find an answer in-house. If Hurd becomes a real contributor, he would give the Cowboys four viable options at wide receiver. Injuries are always challenging, but at least with a healthy and productive Sam Hurd, an injury within the receiving corps would no longer trigger the Apocalypse. Roy Williams has never been healthy for more than 14 games in his NFL career. He is just one of those guys who tends to get nicked up and miss a game here and there.

Sam Hurd probably has more in mind than just waiting for the injury bug to strike. I mean, can we really rule him out as the 3rd wideout? In my opinion the jury is still out on Miles Austin. It would be nice to have Austin’s speed on the field for the majority of snaps, but it isn’t about that all the time. With or without Austin on the field, the Cowboys have enough speed to force defenses to cover every inch of turf. Witten and Bennett can keep safeties from getting nosy. It’s nice to have a speedster, but you don’t need a track star to be successful on offense. I’m sure Austin has a lot more to show, but he will not get the nod from the staff on speed alone. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for Hurd to force his way into the #3 spot.

Hurd is an easy guy to pull for. As a former undrafted free agent, the fact that he is still around after three years says a lot on it’s own. We’ve watched Hurd grow from an undrafted, undersized unknown from Northern Illinois, to a veteran with a legit NFL body, looking to finally bust out. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Hurd’s 2009 forces the Cowboys to figure him into the team’s long term plans.