Six practices are in the books for the Dallas Cowboys at their 2016 training camp session in Oxnard, CA. From thos practices there are plenty of stories buzzing about. There are some things for Cowboys fansto be excited about and others that are cause for concern. Here is my love/hate list for Cowboys camp thus far.
Three Things To Love
If I professed anymore love for Ezekiel Elliott, you’d have to check to see if we’re related. I’m pretty sure only his mother loves him more than I do. Zeke is going to be a special player for this offense and the only thing that stands in his way is if he gets hurt. Running back is a physically taxing position and missing time to injury isn’t unheard of so the Cowboys have to be prepared. And they are. Should something terrible like that happen, the team has a really solid plan B – Alfred Morris. He hasn’t played a single game for the Cowboys, but he’s already one of my favorite players. He works hard, he’s knows how to run in this blocking-scheme, and despite being one of the unsexiest runners out there – he finds the holes and moves the chains.
He’s got a resume that shows what he’s capable of and he’s just one of those great character guys. Just ask Jason Garrett:
"First of all, he’s an unbelievable person. It’s impossible not to love this guy," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s really a special guy. He has been a guy that’s been a featured back in this league – a very productive featured back in this league. He has not played a lot of special teams, but he wants to make our football team, he wants to have a role in our football team, so he’s willing to do anything he can to do that. We’ve seen him in a lot of different places on special teams, he’s learning, he’s embracing it and trying to take full advantage of the opportunity."
A running back that's averaged 1,178 yards during his four years in the league is out there working hard and sticking his neck out on special teams. When has that ever happened?
What would happen if we woke up one day and the Cowboys cornerbacks were every bit as good as we once hoped they would be? That would be something, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s a lot to ask, but don’t be surprised if this group collectively takes a huge step forward.
Orlando Scandrick is looking sharp. Most of us would just accept having the old Scandrick back, but not many gave much thought to the idea that he could be even better. Morris Claiborne is doing the usual stellar camp things so we all have our guard up with him, but he’s working with the veterans and is learning to pace himself. And for some reason, Brandon Carr is taking all kinds of risks going after the ball.
That doesn’t even include the rookie, Anthony Brown, who is going to surprise people this season.
I don’t know what has gotten in to these corners, but it’s as if the guy who finishes last is going to get kicked off the island.
All we have heard over the last few years is how the Cowboys have mastered the art of squandering their second-round pick. The names you can put on this list are plentiful, going back as far as Gavin Escobar and carrying over to this season when they drafted Jaylon Smith. It’s as if Jerry calls in the name to go on the draft card and they immediately go straight to the bathroom and flush it down the toilet.
But what if these zero’s start turning into heroes? Let’s face it, DeMarcus Lawrence looks great (more on him later), Jaylon Smith’s nerve could fire anytime, and maybe, just maybe – Escobar is a good football player. He’s looking great so far and could be an added spark to this offense.
Three Things To Hate
Call For Backup
I have no idea what the front office is thinking with the backup quarterback situation. Part of me believes they will fight tooth and nail to ensure the team has a viable reserve pass thrower should Tony Romo go down. We all sat helplessly watching our team lose games week after week as we tried to convince ourselves that they still had a chance to make the playoffs. And this went on for seven straight weeks. That was a horrible thing to have to go through. I would not wish that on any fan…well, maybe Eagles fans, but they’re used to disappointment.
Then there is the thought that if Romo goes down, everything changes dramatically. Hopes and aspirations of a Super Bowl victory are squashed and the team instead explores ways to play good football without Tony. So why not have these raw talent guys like Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers give it a go? It’s going to be scary if they have to take the field early in their development, but at least they have a shot to be something in this league. A quarterback like Josh McCown is just going to be a band aid and won’t help in the long run.
Watching DeMarcus Lawrence play well in training camp is very refreshing. Could the Cowboys have themselves an edge rusher for the future? That would be cause for celebration. Unfortunately, the festivities will have to wait until game number five as Lawrence serves a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing him get in some licks on Tyron Smith. However, the better he does, the more the suspension stings.
Having both Sean Lee and Rolando McClain last year seemed like a treat. While it was hard to hold your breath over the type of availability that McClain would give you, he was still a nice insurance policy to have should Sean Lee be lost due to injury. Lee had one of his healthiest seasons of his career, yet he still found himself on the sidelines a few times.
Well, that insurance policy is gone. The Cowboys still have some work to do in order to find the right mix that will work. Justin Durant is a nice addition to the group, but even he has trouble staying healthy. You can’t have a realistic portrayal of this position group without considering how it would look without Lee. And right now, it looks scary. Hopefully players like Anthony Hitchens and Mark Nzeocha will give some fans some hope to fall back on.
What things have you loved hearing about so far in camp? What things worry you the most?