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Rookie Minicamp Is Done, OTAs Next For Cowboys

With the draft over, we enter the long, hard slog to get to training camp. First, though, the OTAs are coming.

A healthy Tony Romo in the OTAs will be a welcome sight.
A healthy Tony Romo in the OTAs will be a welcome sight.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The period between the draft and the opening of training camp is one of the hardest times for NFL fans. With the opening date for the Dallas Cowboys' camp in Oxnard still pending, we don't even know exactly how many days we have to wait. But there is one brief period of activity before then, the organized training actvities (OTAs) and the mandatory veteran minicamp. The OTAs are scheduled for May 26-28, June 2-4, and June 8-10, with the mandatory minicamp coming June 16-18. (For a rundown of what goes on during these sessions, and what is not allowed, see OCC's explanation here.)

This is the first chance the coaches will have to see what they have on the 90 man roster. The OTAs are voluntary, but at the moment only Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick look likely to not be there. The team will be able to get a look at free agents they have brought in as well as the rookies. The rookies will get their first chance to go up against NFL level talent.

While the limits on what the players are allowed to do (the important thing is that no pads are allowed and there is supposed to be no contact), this will be when the real evaluation of players starts. There are many storylines to watch. Here is a partial list:

  • This will be the first time in three years that Tony Romo comes into the OTAs healthy and fully able to participate. He is expected to be on something of a "pitch count", but he will be out there to throw, and having him passing the ball is an important aspect in evaluating receivers, since it is assumed he is going to be the most consistent thrower.
  • There is at least one wide receiver job open following the departure of Dwayne Harris. While this may be decided primarily on how well the candidates can return punts and kickoffs, the team is not going to ignore how well they can catch the ball, since whoever gets the job also is going to be a backup wideout. This puts a small silver lining in the Bryant situation, since if he is not on the field, there will be more reps with Romo for players trying to make the team. (The same applies to Scandrick and cornerbacks who get some extra time to show the coaches what they have.)
  • We are all eager to see the new players on the field, but there are also several returning veterans who were hurt for some or all of last season. The biggest name in this group is Sean Lee, who will lead to a collective holding of breath every time he, well, sets foot on the field. But he is hardly alone. DeMarcus Lawrence was just rounding into form at the end of the postseason. Doug Free is coming back. And there is a lot of buzz about Chris Whaley and what he may be able to bring to the table.
  • Perhaps nothing will be watched more than the running back situation. After the Cowboys elected not to take a back in the draft, we all want to know if the backs currently on the roster can adequately replace DeMarco Murray. If there is any doubt about this, the team still has time to find other options on the free agent market. Hopefully, they will be reassured about things instead.

Those are just some of the bigger things we will be watching. What about you? What things will you hope to hear about during the OTAs and the minicamp?

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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