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The VRR: Cowboys OTA Storylines

The Cowboys put the first OTA of the offseason to bed yesterday. Don't worry, they have plenty more coming up. Some of the interesting things coming out of the recent OTA:

I love stories like the following one about Roy Williams. Why? Because we spend a lot of time complaining about players, in this case Roy, and their shortcomings. We get caught up in the trade that brought him here and if we wasted picks, we talk about how much he makes, or where he'll be (or should be) on the depth chart. All valid stuff to be sure, but sometimes, we need to think about how Roy can get better. And it can't be as simple as just saying catch the ball. Sure, we want him to show better hands, but things just don't happen magically. We also complain about Roy's route running. Many have contended this is Roy's biggest flaw, especially in a timing offense like Dallas runs. Receivers need to be where Tony Romo expects them to be and be there on time. So, the Cowboys are trying to do something about that.

"We're working on synching his hips, bending his knees a little more, getting down in some of his routes,'' receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "We felt last year he might be a little high. We want him to play a little lower.''

Williams is a tall receiver at 6-foot-3. How does playing lower help him?

"You run routes with more body lean,'' Sherman said. "When you don't run as high, when you're staying down, you keep your shoulders down. It gets you in better position coming in and out of breaks."


The Cowboys are currently working on finding their new free safety now that Ken Hamlin has hit the bricks. First out of the gate is Alan Ball.

Ball seems to be the early favorite for the starting job. Head coach Wade Phillips said Ball's quickness as a converted cornerback allows the defensive playbook to open up and provides the opportunity to send Ball on safety blitzes.

Making his play to leap-frog Ball is Mike Hamlin.

But strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh said [Michael] Hamlin also has tremendous talent which people haven't yet witnessed.

"They both can play," Sensabaugh said. "You've seen what Alan's done. I don't know if anybody's got a good chance to see Mike Hamlin at the safety position, but Mike Hamlin has excellent ball skills."

Campo said the competition remains fierce, and the spot is still for the taking despite Ball getting the majority of snaps at the first day of Organized Team Activities.

Speaking of Gerald Sensabaugh, he still hasn't signed his restricted tender offer yet, but he's been participating in OTAs and other activities at Valley Ranch ever since he found out Jerry Jones wants to sign him to a multi-year deal.

"They said they were going to do a long-term deal. They've told my agent that," he said. "It's all about the timing and when they're going to get it all done is the issue."

And that's why Sensabaugh isn't worried about participating in this week's Organized Team Activity practices (OTAs) even without signing his tender, although he and Austin both signed an injury-waiver protection, just like the unsigned draft picks sign to participate in the summer workouts.

More from Sensabaugh on the free safety battle.

"We've got some smart guys over there," Sensabaugh said. "Mike Hamlin and Ball, they'll be great at the position. Pat Watkins has had some starts at safety before. We've had some guys that have played a lot of football. I'm not really worried about it."

One guy not participating in OTAs is Patrick Crayton. I'm a Crayton fan, but it just seems more and more like he and the Cowboys will need to part ways. But, the Cowboys won't be giving him up for free, he's too valuable. If they can find a reasonable deal before the season starts, they need to take it. Still, Crayton will be participating in required offseason events, and might even show up for next week's OTA..

[Crayton's agent] told Crayton to not attend the OTAs mainly because they're voluntary, and hope the Cowboys work a trade for him while he sits.

Coach Wade Phillips said he wants Crayton at Valley Ranch, not so much to learn the offense, he knows it well, but to build solidarity with his teammates, who need him.

Lyles said Crayton might return to workouts next week and will attend mandatory workouts in June.

Turns out Doug Free will be part of a three player scramble for the two starting tackle spots along the offensive line. Hudson Houck confirms the situation.

The team insists that [Free] will have to battle Alex Barron, who was acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Bobby Carpenter earlier this month, and starting right tackle Marc Colombo, on his way to his first full-time starting gig.

Hudson Houck, the Cowboys' revered offensive line coach, said in a recent report on that, very simply, the best two of the three-man field will start. And it's a battle that he will be looking forward to watching throughout OTAs, training camp and the preseason.

"This is a great thing to watch," Houck said, per "This is fun. This is about competing. This is about team play. This is about seeing somebody step up to take a job. I'm really excited."

Pet cat alert! Titus Ryan, anybody?

While [Dez] Bryant and [Roy] Williams stole the headlines from this OTA, the receiver that had the defensive backs buzzing was [Titus] Ryan.

"Pretty much all of the Dbs were talking about Titus,'' cornerback Mike Jenkins said after the first day of OTAs. "He came out and made a lot of catches and ran by a lot of guys. He was under the radar before today. I think he impressed a lot of the Dbs. He's got a motor.''

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