Cowboys Camp Starts Monday: Four Questions That Must Get Answered

Jason Garrett

The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Oxnard, Ca. for their preseason camp that gets under way on Monday July 30. Countdown to their first game against the Super Bowl champ Giants on Sept. 5 will begin on that day as well. About a month left to put this 2012 version of the Cowboys together which means there a few questions that must be answered soon. Let’s take a look at the main areas the Cowboy coaches will be focused.

1. Starting CB opposite Brandon Carr?

No doubt about it, first round pick Morris Claiborne is expected to step up and play the corner opposite of Brandon Carr who they picked up in free agency. However Claiborne is a rookie and will need to learn the defense quickly while developing his cover skills up to an NFL level too.  The talented CB will be a fine corner in the NFL but what if he needs more time to develop?

Can’t count on Mike Jenkins starting at corner as he went to the PUP list after surgery on his shoulder in the offseason. There are other young inexperienced guys who have impressed early but without question, Dallas coaches are expecting Claiborne to secure that spot by opening day. No one wants to think about a “plan B” yet.

2. Who will be at WR along with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin?

This spot is Ogletree’s to lose but the experienced and yet not so impressive WR is facing good competition from young talented players capable of wrestling that 3rd spot away from him. Undrafted Cole Beasley, out of SMU, is one guy is playing with confidence and a great deal of determination to prove he belongs in the NFL. Each practice he makes plays and impresses coaches.

Could Beasley be the guy that steps in to play with Dez and Austin opening day? It’s one of the more interesting stories and battles of any NFL preseason camps. Keep an eye on this one. It can change quickly as there are other WR prospects capable of getting into the picture too.

3. Who will be at guard with Livings?

When the Cowboys brought in guard Nate Livings, an experienced guard from the Bengals, it would appear he is expected to be a starter. But the other guard position is far from decided. Mackenzy Bernadeau was brought in from the Panthers and it appeared he was a leading contender but he is recovering from hip surgery in the offseason and may not be able to play in time for the first game.

The Cowboys have David Arkin and Bill Nagy who were drafted last year to compete for the spot. Arkin proved to not be ready for the NFL last year and unless he has improved a lot, may not be the best option.  Nagy showed promise but was injured last year. It is looking like this guard spot could be a real weak spot for the team and it is not a good thing to have defenders getting turned loose in the middle to take shots at Romo.

Ronald Leary? Leary is an undrafted rookie guard that will get a serious look at this spot. He appears to have knee issues behind him and has moved fine during OTAs earlier. Still, he is a rookie and may not be ready to start just yet. The uncertainty of this guard spot is the kind of thing that could keep head coach Jason Garrett up at night not to mention QB Tony Romo.

4. Who will be at safety opposite Sensabaugh?

Gerald Sensabaugh returns at safety but the other spot is not so secure at all. Brodney Pool was brought in from the Jets to fill the spot. While Pool does come in with some familiarity of Ryan’s defense, he does not have this position locked up by any means. Backup safety Barry Church displayed talent at safety last season and could possibly win the starting spot.

Rookie Matt Johnson was drafted by Dallas to compete at safety but he missed OTAs while finishing school then developed a hamstring injury which could get him off to a slow start in the preseason camp. It remains to be seen when he will be cleared to be in the mix to compete but with the injury causing a slow start, it seems likely he can be ruled out as the starter.

Safety has not been a solid area for the Cowboys in the past several years and it needs to improve if they hope to have a much improved secondary this season. Can Pool help solidify the deep part of the secondary or will Church get his opportunity to step in and shine?

There you have it. Four questions that must be addressed in the preseason in order to get ready for the Giants and the start of the season.

8/2/12 Update to Camp progress

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Martellus Bennett Talks Smack to Cowboys and Compares self to Gandhi.

  

Bennett rolls into Giants camp in a silver Bentley. 
Last season he had 17 catches, 144 yds. and 0 TDs.

                                                                              

                                                                                           

“I just want to kick those guy’s asses,” former Cowboy and current NY Giant Martellus Bennett said, via the New York Daily News.

Just prior to that comment, Bennett expressed “ill feelings” toward his former team and “I don’t like a lot of people. I’m kind of an a–hole,” Bennett said. “I’m kind of pissed off about a lot.” He then said he had been self reflecting lately Gandhi style.

It may be one of the few times that you will ever hear someone deliver a self comparison to the peace loving, non violent, Gandhi just before talking about kickin’ some ass. Kind of ironic.

It’s official now, Bennett is no longer a Cowboy as he has adopted the Giants brazen attitude. He is the enemy.  Earlier he took some subtle shots at Romo his former QB which I blogged about here. But now he is taking the gloves off and swinging at the whole darn team.

I’m glad Bennett is providing the Cowboys some locker room bulletin board material. Based on what happened last season, I think this Cowboys team needs to roll into that Giants game on a mission and with something to prove. But will Bennett’s junk talk be enough to fire up this Cowboys team when they face the Giants in September?

I don’t know but as the southern colloquialism goes, “if this doesn’t fire you up, then your wood is wet!”

At the end of the 2011 season, the Cowboys had an opportunity to win the NFC East and make the playoffs but failed to take care of business against a Giants team that went on to bully their way into the Super Bowl and then won it.

Too often recently, the Cowboys have not demonstrated a killer instinct late in the game with a lead or an ability to come out and punch a team in the mouth (not literally but show up with a physical and highly motivated approach)  when they have been talking smack before the game.  Like for example when Brandon Jacobs called out Cowboys fans as obnoxious last December before their key NFC East show down.

Will the 2012 Dallas Cowboys be the team that comes out in the first game of the NFL season and punches the Giants in the mouth, or will Bennett just be the next Giants player that talks smack to Dallas and gets away with it?

Looks Like Dion Lewis and Dez Bryant Won’t be Charged

With the offseason NFL crime spree, we could sure use a little good news. It appears Dion Lewis of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys escaped charges this time at least. In light of recent events, that’s considered good news.

Lack of evidence for Lewis:

Lewis was the one with the embarrassing incident at a NY Hampton Inn when he and his brother returned from a night of partying in the early morning hours and were locked out. Desperate to get in, they came up with an effective but as drunk guys tend to do, an ill-advised solution by pulling the fire alarm. But today the DA said “no evidence a fire alarm was ever pulled.” HERE

My Take: “I got two Eagles tickets that says my client didn’t pull that alarm.”

Really DA? No evidence the alarm was pulled?  You have two guys out drinking all night standing out front of a hotel because they are locked out. They are desperate to get in and the fire alarm went off. I would say you have your “smoking gun” right there. No security cameras anywhere outside to show it getting pulled? Kind of hard to believe.

Anyway, Lewis pretty much confessed to it when after the incident he released an apology, “I want to apologize to my family, the Albany community, the Eagles organization and fans, and to the NFL for my involvement in an incident this past weekend. It was never my intention to cause any public alarm or damage any property. I am sorry for any embarrassment and inconvenience that my actions have caused. I am committed to continuing to conduct myself in conformance with the high moral, ethical and professional standards that I have my entire life and of which so many others rightly expect of me.”

Was he apologizing for not pulling the alarm??

Please understand it’s not that I want to see Lewis convicted of a crime that seems high schoolish compared to other incidents involving NFL players recently but something sort of smells here. All I can say is enjoy those Eagles tickets Mr. DA….

Mom chooses to not press charges:

Dez Bryant of the Cowboys was arrested for a more serious incident when his mother said he hit her. She decided to not press charges on Dez.

MY TAKE: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I’m not shocked by this turn of events in the least. While it’s unclear exactly what happened between Dez and his mom, it certainly has made Dez look bad. It’s safe to say Dez is the meal ticket in the family and damaging his NFL career wouldn’t be of any benefit to his mom at all. Only make her life worse. She may be coming to that unfortunate realization.

Let’s hope that Dez learns from it and seeks the help he needs while mending his relationship with his mom.

High Roller Orlando Scandrick Appears on Million Dollar Listing L.A.

Josh Altman talking with Orlando’s business manager Jamie. Josh and Jamie attended Syracuse U.

Recently Dallas Cowboys DB Orlando Scandrick appeared on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. Orlando met with the show’s high end real estate guru Josh Altman who is the buttoned up one from the east coast who always wears a suit. Orlando was looking for a crib near Hollywood because he said “I’m still young” and he is a California kid. He pointed out that football won’t last forever. After the season Scandrick had last season, it may be even shorter than he realizes.

Prior to the 2011 season, Orlando signed a contract with Dallas for $28.2 million and $10 million guaranteed. However he went out and had a very mediocre performance at best. Talked about it in a blog here.

Orlando tells Josh that his price range is 2-6 million for a house that is about 4,000 square feet that will be for him and his two daughters. And he emphasized he wants new. Predictably the savvy real estate agent, Josh, takes him to the top of his price range and shows him a house that is $6 million. (What commissioned agent wouldn’t?)

While Josh is showing him the house, Orlando is preoccupied with his phone which Josh clearly finds annoying. Come on Orlando, you’re looking at making a $6 million investment in a home for your family. It’s important. You may want to shut the phone down a minute and pay attention.

Finally Orlando says that he is tired and not really into looking at houses the rest of the day although Josh has more lined up. Not exactly a considerate or unselfish type. Orlando decides he will delegate this small 6 million dollar decision to his business manager. Since it’s just wasting his time that he could be doing other important things like texting.

Have to say that Orlando came across on the show as a jerk. He did nothing to change the opinions people tend to have about prima donna athletes with lots of money but too often not quite as much money as they think they have. “Ghetto rich” if you will.

Orlando presented himself as a little arrogant and certainly not a mature guy. His business sense appeared non-existent and frankly he did not represent the Cowboys well.

So Orlando’s Business Manager, Jamie, meets Josh at a $4 million listing. Nice two story master bedroom and a view of the Hollywood sign. Jamie keeps it real with Josh upfront by telling him he isn’t going to let Orlando lay down $4-6 million for a house that he may end up losing later. Make it more like $2 million Jamie tells Josh. Probably a wise move.

But I can’t help but wonder how much money Jamie is getting from Orlando to make sure he spends his money wisely? Jamie didn’t seem to know any more about real estate than Orlando. He just wanted to take the price of a place down from $6 million to $2 million but demonstrated no knowledge of the L.A. market or insight of what house may be a good investment or not.

In his blog, Josh says Jamie is a pleasure to work with and they seem to have a bond from attending Syracuse. Jamie’s appearance felt a little like a commercial for his pro athlete business manager business.  An “I stand up for my clients” kind of message.

Still it’s little wonder that many of these athletes get a big contract then find themselves broke later trying to pay child support to stay out of jail.

Spoiler Update: Orlando purchases Hollywood home for $2.1 Million.

Dallas Cowboys Rookie Camp Begins Wednesday July 25: A Preview

Cowboys rookies report July 25.

“The NFL draft is going to be this Thursday. That’s a huge night for college players. That’s the night they start being paid over the table.”  JAY LENO, The Tonight Show, Apr. 24, 2012

Dallas Cowboys rookies will report to camp on July 25 which is almost here. Excitement and anticipation is in the air for Cowboy fans as some of these guys will be expected to contribute quickly to help improve this team. Let’s have a preview of the rookies and what fans should be watching:

Morris Claiborne– The Cowboys prize catch in the draft, Claiborne had surgery on his wrist in the offseason so he was only an observer during OTAs but doctors recently cleared him to practice.  LINK

However Claiborne hasn’t been signed to a contract yet (the only draft pick not) but talks are being reported to resume on Monday. He may not be at camp the first day, but I think Mo will get signed soon after.  Jerry doesn’t have much choice but to fully guarantee his contract which I blogged about HERE. RGIII, Luck, and Mark Barron picked 7th have been signed so Mo should soon follow.

After the Cowboys traded their 2nd pick to move up and get Mo at #6, expectations are high that he will be a starting CB day one.  In college at LSU, Mo, a former WR,  was a ball hawk who plays the ball quite well in coverage. His role will not likely be a “shut down” corner but more of a guy who can create turnovers.  Looking forward to seeing Mo in action at camp.

What to watch:

  • Mo had a low wonderlic score and has just a short amount of time to learn the rather complex defense of Rob Ryan. Can he pick it all up in time for their first game against the Giants? Know his assignment and where to be? Mistake could be costly against Giants. Last season we saw the secondary have blown assignments early in the year particularly.
  • Will his wrist hold up to the demands of practices everyday?
  • Are his cover skills ready for NFL type receivers right now? Remember he will need to play soon.

Tyrone Crawford– The Cowboys drafted Crawford a DE out of Boise State to help provide depth at the position and hopefully work his way into the rotation. A calf strain held Crawford back during OTAs so we really haven’t seen much of him yet. He plays with a very good motor and that is what likely caught the Cowboys eyes.

What to watch:

  • First of all, is the calf injury behind him? Been medically cleared to practice but does he look 100%?
  • Is his development far enough along to get into the Cowboys defensive line rotation early in the season? If so, that additional depth could be a big help against the Giants.

Kyle Wilber– Kyle is an OLB drafted by Dallas out of Wake Forest. Wilber may be easy to spot during camp as he will likely be the guy with a club over his right arm due to a finger he broke during OTAs. Pins have been removed from his finger but I wouldn’t expect him to be 100% when camp begins just yet. Before his injury, Wilber was reported to be slinging people around during OTAs and appears to be a stong player.

What to watch:

  • How is he able to play with a club over his right arm? Can he participate fully at practice?
  • Wilbur is expected to provide depth at his position so I doubt we see him on the field a great deal. I think his best bet to contribute may be special teams so watch to see if he excels there. Can he help special teams right away?

Matt Johnson– So far we have seen little of Matt not due to injury, but because he missed OTAs while finishing up school at Eastern Washington.  Evidently the Cowboys were big on this prospect because they drafted him much sooner than most thought he would come off the board.

Matt certainly has good size for a safety and is known to delivery a pop in run support but he is moving up from a small Division I school to the NFL. The safety position is certainly not one of the strongest areas of the 2012 Cowboys so if Matt can cover, he just may play.

What to watch:

  • Going from covering WRs at Div. I Eastern Washington to NFL receivers is a big step up. Can Matt cover receivers at this level?
  • Matt is expected to contribute on special teams so watch to see if finds a place there to make the roster.
  • Can Matt take some play time away from back up Barry Church?

Danny Coale– Danny was drafted as a slot receiver out of Va. Tech. In the first OTA, he broke his foot so Cowboy coaches just haven’t seen much of what Danny can do yet. Certainly he was expected to compete for the 3rd WR spot and as a punt returner but will not be 100% when he rolls into camp. In fact Danny could end up on the PUP list to start the season.

What to watch:

  • How far along is the broken foot and will he be placed on PUP?
  • If he can practice, then watch to see how he does compared to other young slot WRs like Harris and Beasley.

James Hanna– Hanna a Texas native was drafted out of Oklahoma to provide depth at TE with the departure of Martellus (don’t let the door hit your big butt on the way out) Bennett. Hanna is clearly quick and very athletic so he could prove to be an additional weapon for Jason Garrett in passing situations. Hanna comes in to add depth behind Phillips and one of the greatest TEs in the league, Witten.  One thing about Hanna, he was one of the very few rookies without an injury! I liked this pick during the draft and think he may be a sleeper pick that emerges later in the year as a contributor.

What to watch:

  • Can Hanna block well enough to play more often than just passing situations? His blocking ability is questionable.
  • Hanna has been known to drop passes. How does he catch the ball during camp? Is that improving?
  • Can Garrett find a way to use Hanna’s excellent speed to create some mismatches? Appears to be a TE capable of running down the seams of defenses to present a deep threat. Something Bennett simply couldn’t provide. Hanna’s 4.49/40 time will be a challenge for LBs to cover.

Caleb McSurdy– The last player Dallas drafted is a FB/LB out of Montana. It’s not clear to me if he is going to provide depth at LB or FB or perhaps both but I think he will provide depth at LB. His best chance to make the roster will probably be through special teams.

What to watch:

  • Can McSurdy solidify himself a spot on the roster via special teams?
  • A bit undersized by NFL standards, can McSurdy get off blocks to make tackles in the NFL?

Cole Beasley– An undrafted rookie WR out of SMU that has certainly turned heads in OTAs with his spot on pass route running and catching ability.  With the foot injury to Coale, Beasley has an excellent opportunity to make this team as a WR. Should be one of the more interesting stories of camp.

What to watch:

  • Beasley was impressive running around catching the ball in shorts during OTAs but can the 5’8″ WR get open in the secondary when things get more physical at camp? If so, this guy will make the team.
  • Can Beasley assume the role of slot WR and beat out some young talented WRs to make the team?

Ron Leary– An undrafted guard out of Memphis is an early favorite of owner Jerry Jones who affectionately refers to Leary as his “pet cat”. Really Jerry? Anyway if there is one position that needs help on this team it will be guard so Leary has a legit shot to make this team. Leary does come with a knee that has been trouble in the past however during OTAs, Jerry liked the way his pet cat was moving out there.

What to watch:

  • How does Leary perform when given opportunities at right guard?
  • Does his knee look healthy enough to compete in preseason? Is Jerry right about his movement?

All of the injured rookies have been given clearance to practice when rookie camp begins except for Danny Coale. It appears it will be some time in August when Coale can begin practicing. For the Cowboys to get over the 8-8 hump of mediocrity, some of these rookies will need to step up and contribute quickly.

On Wednesday these rookies start getting paid over the table like Leno said and expectations will be higher for them too.

NFL Players Need Advice to Stay Out of Commish office?: Ocho Cinco Breaks it Down For You

Another DWI surfaces. This one is Robert Quinn the DE for the Rams who crashed while driving on an exit ramp. There have been other NFL offseason DUIs such as Marshawn Lynch, Nick Fairley, and Aaron Berry.  Of all the things players have been getting in trouble about this offseason, and there have been plenty, DUIs seem to be the most preventable. Am I missing something here?

These guys could obviously call a cab or if they want to roll in style, call a limo including a bar and the works. If they insist on taking their own vehicles when going out on a bender, then just pay a friend to be a designated driver. In my eyes, these DUIs are inexcusable for well paid men who can easily make prior arrangements. They have money, they have phones, and we have public transportation.  What’s the problem?

These guys should have an account set up with a transportation company with their phone number on speed dial in their phones. They should be able to simply push one button when it’s time to go home. It’s starting to appear that the NFL has a problem and the commissioner has already taken action.  The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo on June 13 warning players they would be held accountable for their actions. That approach doesn’t appear to be working.

After Adrian Peterson was arrested for being drunk and resisting arrest, the Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton weighed in on the issue by comparing NFL players in the offseason to war vets.

“It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as  necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to be in bars at  2 o’clock in the morning and have problems, or DUIs. It doesn’t excuse it, it  just says that it probably comes with it,” Dayton said.

Say what governor??

The comparison didn’t go over very good so he then back tracked and apologized for it.

The governor bombed out so what you got for these guys Ocho Cinco?

Alcohol

So you want to get wasted. The dumbest –ish you can do in 2012 is publicly party like it is 99. Mofos in the club will be live tweeting your buffoonery for the world to see. You are in the NFL, making millions and you got a mansion. Bring the party home dammit.

Firearms

No need anymore. We out the hood now. Get a bodyguard if you are still that paranoid.

Crews

A Crew is not needed. Just ask Drake and Chris Brown. Roll solo, it will save you money and trouble.

No man.

Deion Sanders taught me this. You badly need a no man. Someone that tells you what you don’t want to hear like

“Are you really finna smoke, drink and of all the cars you got, you gonna drive the Ferrari to the club tonight and carry your gun with you?  C’mon fooool, you gonna be on the next flight to go see Goodell”

Keep your NO man closer and yes men farther.

Fallback

You are famous and there are people that will hate and test you. You can’t deal with it the way you would when you were in the hood.  You need to just fallback.

Consent.

Be careful of chicks and groupies. Those consenting smiles are sometimes fake. Sooner or later you might be defending yourself in a frivolous sexual assault case as she tries to stick you for your paper. Yes, some of these women “Stay Schemin”. There is a simple solution. The iPhone has an HD camera now.  Make sex tapes all the time. It will make great memories and save you trouble.

If you apply these acronyms, it will save you trips to @nflcommish and you know he ain’t playing around these days.

Yours Truly,

Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson

#88 Michael Irvin Speaks of Arrest of #88 Dez Bryant

OK Dez, lie on the ground and put your hands behind your back. No, it’s not a new stretch, you are under arrest.

Today former Cowboys WR Michael Irvin, talked about the arrest of Dez Bryant for a domestic violence charge. Irvin admits that he had issues off the field but stated he never laid his hands on any woman and especially not the number one woman in a man’s life, mom. VIDEO 

Irvin thinks Dez is crossing the line now and must deal with some serious anger issues.

Jerry Jones knew what he was signing up for when he drafted Dez Bryant. Dez fell down through the draft not because scouts questioned his athletic ability or his ability to be an NFL level WR. They all knew this guy could play. Dez fell down to the Cowboys because there were lots of red flags regarding his character and his past. He would likely be high maintenance off the field.

The Cowboys assumed risks when they drafted him. If he could mature and stay out of trouble, they got themself the top WR in the draft, late in the first round. But if he couldn’t get his life straight, then it would ultimately appear to be a bad move. Today it is looking like it’s going to be the latter.

In previous blogs, I have pointed out that Jerry was having to handle Dez’s finances and pointed out that Deion Sanders warned us that Dez had issues so I’m not one who is going to attempt to defend Dez. Having said that, I’m not interested in piling on him right now as facts are just now leaking out about what happened. It’s well known that his mom is not without some issues too, and her criminal past has been well documented. To say the least, it has been a turbulent relationship between them.

As the saying goes, there are three sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth.

I don’t expect any satisfactory explanation for his actions. But acknowledge at this point, I don’t really know what went down at his mom’s house.

The drama that seems to surround Dez constantly is not likely going away any time soon. What the Cowboys will have to decide at some point, is when will they have given this guy all the opportunities they can?  I can’t say if they have reached that point yet but I do think they moved a little closer to it this week.

Since becoming head coach, Jason Garrett has been very intentional in his efforts to change the culture of this team and to bring in the right kind of guys. To move forward with that mission, Jason will have to address some of the selections made before he became head coach.

Related Blog: 10 offseason arrest and counting.

Previous blogs with Dez Bryant as topic:

Lazy but talented

Dez mixing it up in Miami

Dez amd Martellus just don’t get it