Here for your reading pleasure are some things going on with the Dallas Cowboys as we wait with bated breath for training camp to start.
Nalbone was originally drafted in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins out of Monmouth. He has played in two career games, both in 2010 with Miami, and has not recorded any stats. He also has been on the Dolphins', Vikings', Broncos' and Seahawks' practice squads and has gone to training camp with the Eagles and Bengals.
Some names just scream "camp body". Assuming the Cowboys keep three tight ends, as they historically do, it looks like rookie James Hanna may be in a very good position, with less competition at his position than is faced by any of the other draftees. Despite having a rather lackluster showing so far, based on what I have seen in my various Twitter feed adventures, he seems poised to make the team unless they find someone a little more impressive out there.
More stuff to keep you up-to-date after the jump.
Speaking of rosters, Tim MacMahon of ESPN DFW put out a "ridiculously premature" 53-man roster prediction. Now, while I fully agree with MacMahon's assertion that it is way too early, and would go even farther to say that only some kind of idiot would really try this before training camp, I still am curious to see the opinion of someone like MacMahon who actually was at the OTAs and minicamps.
When I read through his list, I thought I picked up on something, and a careful reexamination confirmed it: He expects all seven of the Dallas draftees to make the team, and, predictably, the seven players signed during the initial free agent haul. He adds Ronald Leary, Adrian Hamilton, and, a bit surprisingly to me, Pat McQuistan. The darling of OTAs and the minicamp, Cole Beasley, is not on his five man receiver list (Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes and Danny Coale are 3, 4 and 5), but is mentioned as a possibility if the team goes deep there.
On the topic of who will make the team, there is one person who may be in trouble, depending on how many are kept at each position, and that is Brodney Pool. One of the more interesting camp battles looks to be shaping up between him and Barry Church.
Church, a third-year player who went undrafted out of Toledo, and Pool, an eight-year veteran out of Oklahoma, each got a lot of chances to impress the coaches because of a knee injury to Gerald Sensabaugh.
And both did.
"Right now, they are both competing for it and splitting time, and the best man will win," secondary coach Jerome Henderson said.
Pool does have a bit of an advantage because of his history with Rob Ryan, but if he does not win the starting spot, it could lead to a question as to whether he is a bit too expensive as a backup player. Church came on a bit stronger in the OTAs than it appears the team was expecting, and with Matt Johnson and Danny McCray also in the mix, there is suddenly a bit of pressure on Pool, at least from the monetary viewpoint.
Jon Machota at the Dallas Morning News picked up on an interview former Dallas great Darren Woodson gave in Green Bay, when he was discussing the rather sorry state of tackling in today's NFL. He had this succinct evaluation of the team.
Woodson said the Cowboys "are garbage at tackling" and added "they won't hit a soul."
He goes on to talk about the way players are racking up yards after the catch nowadays because no one in the league seems embarrassed about missing the tackles. As much as it may hurt to read what he said, it does ring true, after the Cowboys wound up tied with the Atlanta Falcons for 26th in the league in tackling. It is depressing.
But maybe it is not the way things are going to be this year. There has been a lot of mention, including from one current player who does make some tackles, DeMarcus Ware, about how the defense is looking a lot better.
"When I think about the defense, from last year to this year, it's sort of like night and day," he said Thursday at Cowboys Stadium after the final minicamp practice and the last work of the offseason until training camp. "There weren't a lot of mistakes we were making. Guys were really aggressive, really comfortable. In the defense, whatever Rob called, we were ready for the situation.
The prevailing theory, here and elsewhere, is that last year there was just too much uncertainty and hesitation for the players who did not fully grasp Rob Ryan's defensive scheme, but that is no longer the case. The full offseason seems to be resulting in a much more confident and capable defense, and the work "aggressive" is mentioned with pleasing frequency.
And new inside linebacker Dan Connor agrees. He thinks he is on an "unbelievable team".
"This is a great group of guys. Great coaching staff. Everything's been smooth. It's something to be excited about. The fans should be real excited about the team they put together here."
And he sees the fact that Bruce Carter is expected to be going up against him for a starting job as a good thing.
"There's always competition," Connor said. "No matter what they say or how good the player is, there's somebody who's going to be trying to get there, so this is just like any other year.
He feels that an NFL team has to have depth. The odds of two starting inside linebackers (in a 3-4 scheme) making it through the entire season without missing games are pretty slim. And even if they are, they will need to be spelled at times, so he is not concerned by the fact that the Cowboys are looking to have pretty good depth.
Another former NFL star, Cris Carter, added his endorsement of the idea that this could be a breakout year for Dez Bryant, based at least partly on his own experience - after catching eight touchdowns total his first two years, he caught eleven in his third.
"He's in that critical third year where you start to see tremendous strides in young receivers," said Carter, an NFL analyst. "You have to understand, he played in the Big 12. He didn't get a lot of bump-and-run coverage. He didn't have a lot of elite cornerbacks guarding him. [He] hasn't been in great shape. Most of the great wide receivers, they're the best conditioned guys on the team. His conditioning has been questioned his first two years.
Makes all the talk that has been going around about the shape Dez is in and how hard he is working especially good to hear.