Pete Prisco from CBSSports.com published an article today speculating that the quality of football won't be any different at all when it's back, and could potentially be of an even better quality come fall. Here's why:
"We're mentally rested," said one player. "We haven't had to be at the facility all the time. We've taken trips. We've gotten away from it. It's good to get away from it. It gives you separation from the next year. It will feel more like a new season. The mental side is a big part of football. Getting away from it for everyone is a good thing. Guys will be refreshed. Coaches will be refreshed."
This is a sentiment that has been echoed by a number of veteran players around the league, including a couple of Cowboys.
wide receiver made national headlines in late April when he talked about how much he was enjoying the freedom the current NFL lockout has afforded him and how he’s in no hurry to see the lockout come to an end.
"Let’s do a lockout every year," Welker said in an interview with the Associated Press recently.
And Welker isn't alone in thinking that the lockout has its upsides. However, the reaction in the media was a lot less friendly when Reggie Bush tweeted that he was also enjoying the lockout. Many other veterans subsequently chimed in with similar points of view.
Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking found the unusual time off has been refreshing and that he's been enjoying it. Brooking is happy that the lockout has given his body a little bit more time to regenerate, particularly as he's likely reached the final year of his career (listen to Brooking's full interview with Atlanta's 709 The Zone here).
"I feel like my body is definitely starting to come around now. ... Me, personally, the lockout's probably been a good thing for me to give it a little bit more time. But I'm working out extremely hard now. ... I don't foresee me playing another year after this year. This is definitely going to be my last year. It's been a great run, and I hated to go out the way we did with the season last year, so I'm definitely looking forward to turning this thing around this year and getting this thing headed on the right track."
The common theme among veteran players is that the extra time off has given their bodies time to rest, heal and regenerate properly after the rigors of a full NFL season. Cowboys receiver Roy Williams spoke to his hometown paper the Odessa American about the topic recently (Via ESPN's Tim McMahon):
"I talked to a player who was contemplating retirement, but the lockout has gotten his body back to where it needs to be. For us older players, it’s good."
Conspicuously absent among the voices endorsing the lockout: rookies and free agents. They will be missing a vital part of the preseason in which teams install their playbooks at a more leisurely pace than than they will have to do this year.
For the Cowboys, this could mean one of several things. Don't expect to see a lot of early action from any of the rookies, up to and including Tyron Smith. There was talk leading up to the draft that Smith may have the highest potential of any lineman, but that he was not the most NFL-ready lineman available. Could this mean the Cowboys keep Marc Colombo around as insurance for another year?
Also, to ease the transition, the Cowboys could be looking to add free agents who have played in or are familiar with the schemes the Cowboys will run on offense and defense. On defense this, could make Abram Elam from Cleveland, Michael Huff from Oakland and perhaps even Brodney Pool from the Jets more attractive to the Cowboys. On offense, it's anybody's guess.
Blame it on the weak 2009 draft class, or on this year's potential-heavy draft class, but overall, the Cowboys are likely to field a team in which most starters will have at least three NFL seasons of experience, in many cases a lot more. Could the extra rest be a benefit for these Cowboys players, and could we see a rested and revitalized Cowboys team once the season starts?