The Jets played paintball on their final day of OTAs, the Bengals took batting practice and went bowling, the Seahawks called off any on-field work, and the Cowboys wrapped up OTAs with a one-day camp for local high school players.
Along the way, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett gave us an early glimpse of which players he'll be leaning on this season. On Thursday, the Cowboys turned their players into coaches for a one-day 7-on-7 football tournament for 160 high school football players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The 160 youths were split into eight teams, each of which was assigned a head coach by Jason Garrett. The head coaches in turn selected their assistant coaches from the remaining players on the Cowboys' roster.
The players Garrett selected as head coaches are all familiar names: Tony Romo coached the winning team in the championship game against Miles Austin’s squad. The other coaches included last year's winner Jason Witten, last year's runner-up Doug Free as well as Brandon Carr, Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware. None of these names should come as a surprise, as they were largely the same players selected as coaches last year. Brandon Carr was the only "newbie" among the coaches, as he took over for Gerald Sensabaugh.
By giving these players the nod as coaches, Garrett gave us a rare glimpse into the team dynamics that we don't often get to see. These eight guys are more than just the representatives of their respective team units, they also represent the extended leadership circle of the team. Yet even within these eight players, there's a further and visible hierarchy: Jason Garrett will select four of them as official team captains this year.
Like most NFL teams, the Cowboys traditionally announce their team captains on or very close to opening weekend. This is usually something that is done without much fanfare, and in past years, the names have held little surprise as the captains were usually chosen from among the most visible players on the team. And looking at the list of team captains of the last few years, it's probably safe to assume that Romo, Witten, Lee and Ware will once again be the captains in 2013:
|Team Unit||Team Captains||Team Captains||Team Captains||Team Captains|
|Offense||Tony Romo, Jason Witten||Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Marion Barber||Tony Romo, Jason Witten||Tony Romo, Jason Witten|
|Defense||Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware||Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Keith Brooking||Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware||DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee
|Special Teams||changed weekly||Sam Hurd||Mat McBriar
There may or may not be a change at special teams, but that's not a decision I'll be holding my breath about.
But back to the 7-on-7 youth tournament. Austin's team advanced to the championship game with a 3-0 record, but were beaten by Romo's team, which had advanced with a 2-1 record on the strength a better points differential. Listen in to the Cowboys break from the 22:20 to the 26:00 mark to get a feel for just how competitive the Cowboys players were as coaches during the tournament or follow a mic'd up Barry Church if you want to get an impression of a guy who might end up being a future team captain.