Day one of the Dallas Cowboys' training camp is in the books. It was a mini-extravaganza before the start of the full practice, and Jerry Jones was in full no-filter mode talking about applying a boot to the backside of the New York Giants, but after all that, things settled down to some real, honest-to-goodness football work. Reading through all the different reports and about 7,489 tweets, there are countless stories that could be followed through camp, and no doubt many, many more will come up as things progress. But three things I was not expecting have seized my imagination, and starting out I will be watching for further developments here.
First, the reports on James Hanna were far more encouraging than I had expected. After all the comments about how bad his hands were, he went out there and by most reports just caught everything that came his way. Jason Garrett has a fondness for multiple tight end sets. These can keep the opponent guessing, IF you have tight ends that can both block and catch. If you have, say, a big, physical tight end that can block like crazy but shows a disturbing tendency to drop the ball, then you lose that uncertainty.
Cowboys Training Camp Report – Day One
Now, I don't want to point fingers - oh, who am I kidding? This, in a nutshell, is why Martellus Bennett is spreading his love for his rivals in New York. Given the physical nature of the role the tight end has in these formations, you need three on the team to be able to keep your full playbook in effect should injury rear its ugly head.
I was very concerned about just what the team would do with the early struggles that Hanna was having, but now I at least have hope he can become the third TE for the team. Yes, it is just one good day, but it looks like Hanna has been putting in some hard work on his own. And it is paying off. If he continues, I will have to rethink my projected roster. With pleasure.
My two other things after the jump.
If Hanna is an example of what can happen when you work hard and take care of business, Felix Jones, Brodney Pool, and Andre Holmes are poster children for what happens when you don't. In just about the only negative thing to come out today (outside some really erratic punting), they did not pass the conditioning test and got put on "remedial running", the new Garrett catchphrase.
I am going to be watching to see if this has a detrimental effect on the trios' place on the roster. Felix Jones would normally be expected to have his job locked up, but Lance Dunbar and Ed Wesley may have something to say about that. Wesley had some nice runs. He did draw some ire for not finishing out a run - but in a backhanded way, he did a service by triggering a dressing-down from Lawrence Vickers. This is not the same Cowboys camp anymore. But the main point is that the Cat may need to start worrying about getting it all together. I think he will - but I hope he feels a little heat.
Brodney Pool is on much shakier ground. While he was running laps, Barry Church and Danny McCray got first team reps, and Church especially asserted himself. With Matt Johnson available, there may be some serious threats to Pool's job, which was not all that secure to begin with. His contract is no great hindrance to cutting him. In his defense, his back reportedly tightened up - but is that a sign of conditioning, as well? Regardless, the pressure just got a little higher.
Andre Holmes is by far the biggest concern. He was leading the field in the heated battle to find a number three wide receiver, and he has no injury excuses to fall back on. He admitted as much, but I think his failure is going to be far more irritating to Jason Garrett and company than the others. The team needed him to step up. He just didn't.
Speaking of the wider receiver battles, a new name has started to crop up. In many articles about the first day Tim Benford was making his case. Up to now, the chic rookie receiver has been Cole Beasley (who had a good day himself), but Benford was under the radar for the most part (although Bryan Broaddus, one of my favorite "real" writers had spotted him much earlier). Now, with Holmes' conditioning faux pas, there may be an even better opportunity for him. The Cowboys need the best receivers they can get. Maybe Benford can prove himself to be one.
Those are three new stories I am watching. But there are so many. Fortunately, we have a veritable army of smart, observant fans to help. What new stories from day one have you intrigued?