Nobody is challenging Tony Romo for his starting spot anytime soon. And guys like DeMarcus Ware, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Anthony Spencer, Morris Claiborne and quite a few others on the team will work hard in camp, but will not be competing for their starting spot.
But there are starting jobs on the team where a starter - while currently penciled in on the depth chart - may not have a very firm grip on his starting spot. Many of those contested spots can be found along the O-line, but there are other spots that should see some heavy competition in training camp.
Listed below are five of the potentially most tightly contested starting spots as the Cowboys head into training camp. For each position I've listed the current starter and added the the players they have to beat out or hold off for a starting job.
- Right tackle: Doug Free (over Jermey Parnell)
- Left Guard: Nate Livings (over Ronald Leary, Phil Costa)
- Right Guard: Mackenzy Bernadeau (over Ronald Leary, Phil Costa, David Arkin)
- SAM Linebacker: Justin Durant (over Alex Albright, DeVonte Holloman)
- Free Safety: Will Allen (over Matt Johnson, J.J. Wilcox)
One interesting point here is that four of those five spots currently have free agent acquisitions penciled in as the starters. There's a possibility, remote as it may be, that by season's end, all four of those spots could be held by home-grown talent. If that were the case, only one of the 22 starting jobs (Brandon Carr at cornerback) would not be held by home-grown talent. That would be quite a turnaround from as recently as 2010, when nine starters for the Cowboys were free agent acquisitions (count 'em: Roy Williams, Gerald Sensabaugh, Igor Olshansky, Kyle Kosier, Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis, Keith Brooking and Jon Kitna who started nine games that year). But that's a topic for another day.
For new, let us know in the comments and in the attached poll which of the five starting spots you are most worried about?
Hat tip to Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings for the idea to this post.