Now that the NFL draft is behind us, it becomes more clear which veteran players will be facing added competition in camp. The Dallas Cowboys rookies will have their mini camp May 10-12 with the veterans arriving June 11-13.
Here is a list of player that I think need to step it up because their replacement may have just been drafted recently,
1. WR Miles Austin: Austin had a breakout season in 2009, with 81 catches and 1,320 yards. After signing a big contract, Austin’s productivity has been in decline as he suffers from a reoccurring hamstring injury.
The cure for that ham injury may arrive in the form of third round pick WR Terrance Williams. Williams brings a combination of good size (6-2, 205) and speed and appears to be able to step in and play soon.
I was a little surprised to see Dallas draft a WR and while Austin didn’t have a bad year least season with 6 TDs, if he can’t stay healthy, the door may open for Williams. And he looks capable of not letting someone have their job back.
Better step up your game next season Austin.
2. CB Orlando Scandrick: Last year Scandrick had a bad season by any way you can measure it for a defensive back. He played in only 11 games with only 16 tackles and “0.0 INTs.” (Said like Dean Wormer from the movie “Animal House” referring to Belushi’s GPA.) Speaking of grades, his scores from Pro Football Focus have been low for the last two years. And during that game winning drive by the Falcons last year, it was Scandrick’s missed tackles that allowed the Cowboys to lose a game they could have won.
Enter a guy who can cover the slot WR in the form of drafted rookie CB B. W. Webb. Webb is very athletic and displayed excellent quickness at the combine in the cone drills. He played at a smaller school William & Mary, but held his own at the Senior Bowl in many scouts eyes. Even new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said of BW Webb, “remember that name.” Perhaps he was talking to Scandrick. I get the feeling that Kiffin has watched film of last season while taking inventory of the defensive personnel, and may have decided that Scandrick may not fit into his plans. Especially if he watched the Falcons game.
I’m not yet convinced that Webb is ready to step in and replace Scandrick but given Scandrick’s poor play and injury last season, BW may stand for “Be Ware” because BW Webb was drafted early for a reason. Better step it up Scandrick.
3. Center Phil Costa: Costa had a poor season in 2011 and he missed most of 2012 with an injury. He did play in the Ravens game which was one of the best rushing performances of the season for Dallas. Costa is very far from locking down the center position and Dallas signed him to a short contract before the season.
Enter the Cowboys new center in their first round pick, center Travis Frederick. Centers aren’t often taken in the first round so I would say Dallas means business here. Frederick is capable of playing guard so perhaps Costa has a chance to hold on to the center spot but I would say his chances are slim and none at this point. It may be too late now, but Costa needs to play well in camp.
4. RB DeMarco Murray: Some may be surprised to see the Cowboy’s starting RB on this list. The problem with Murray hasn’t been his play which has been very good when he can play, but his inability to stay healthy enough to stay on the field. Murray has played in 23 of 32 games in his two year career.
The Cowboys seem so certain they will need a solid backup that they drafted RB Joseph Randle in the 5th round. What is interesting to me is that they deliberately drafted a RB with very similar size and skills as Murray in Randle. A Murray clone if you will. Murray is the starter going into 2013, but if he goes out again, Randle will have a opporunity to replace Murray and he is capable of becoming the featured back once he gets in there. This is not an old banged up Felix Jones here. Better stay healthy some how this season Murray.
RECAP: Scandrick and Austin were signed to big contracts but Jerry Jones would like nothing better than replacing those hefty contracts with a couple talented rookies and their more modest contracts. He may just be looking to do that after this season.
All four of these currently on the roster veterans, have talented rookies coming in to challenge them for playing time. It’s time for them to prove their worth.