Dallas Cowboys: Top 5 Position Battles to Watch During Training Camp
Position battles are an essential part any team's training camp regimen. The Dallas Cowboys aren't any different, and they will have a number of them to watch before the regular season begins.
During free agency, Dallas signed former Carolina Panthers linebacker Dan Connor to compete with the youth of linebacker Bruce Carter. That matchup will be important to watch because it will show just how far away Carter is from starting.
It will also show just how far he's come in developing as a player.
This is just one of a few battles fans should watch. After the jump, I list five position battles that will be must-see television come training camp.
Dan Connor vs. Bruce Carter
I mentioned this battle at the top of the piece because it is one that many pundits and fans will key on. Carter is expected to eventually have the job, but the Cowboys aren't sold on his health and knowledge of the defensive scheme yet.
Connor is a solid veteran who's been in the NFL for four seasons now. He had 75 tackles last year, and while he may not know the playbook inside and out, he is a great contingency plan for Dallas.
Carter will get his reps, and as soon as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan feels he's ready, he'll take on a starting role.
Well, that's if he doesn't show or prove enough in training camp.
Winner: Dan Connor
Mike Jenkins vs. the Secondary
ESPN's Todd Archer wrote an interesting piece about Jenkins. Archer suggests that Jenkins needs to work out in Dallas instead of Florida, and because of his time away from the team, he may hurt his chances at a new deal.
I partly agree.
Jenkins may be a little salty since the Cowboys have two new cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, and he's been the team's best corner for a couple of seasons now.
So, where does that leave the sometimes fragile corner?
In flux is the best that I can come up with. I really like Jenkins and believe that Dallas should do everything in their power to keep him. The Cowboys had enough issues in the defensive backfield last season that the team shouldn't try to jettison Jenkins so soon.
Conventional wisdom would have most believe that Claiborne and Carr will handle the defensive back duties for Dallas. If Jenkins remains,—which he should—then Claiborne may start in the nickel and rotate with him.
Then, what happens to Orlando Scandrick?
John Phillips vs. James Hanna
Phillips has the No. 2 slot, and Hanna will stay at third. This isn't really a matter of who will be No. 2, but how will Hanna perform.
Will he do enough to give the perception that he's pushing? Can Hanna perform at a high level to where the team is willing to rotate him with Phillips?
I say no, but I'm really curious to see how quickly Hanna becomes acclimated to Garrett's playbook, how athletic he will be in this offense and just how good he will be at pass- and run-blocking.
Winner: John Phillips
Anthony Spencer vs. Kyle Wilber
Wilber probably won't start, but how much playing time will he earn?
Spencer is out to gain a new contract from Dallas, and the Cowboys want him to go out and earn it. Wilber will push him because he can be a good pass-rusher and already knows the basics of playing OLB in the 3-4. He has a fantastic engine that never motors down, and he will be tenacious in attacking the quarterback.
Of course, Spencer knows the defense and will be out to prove that he belongs on the other side of DeMarcus Ware. While the so-called "battle" won't determine who will start, it will go a long way in determining Wilber's ceiling.
Winner: Anthony Spencer
Kevin Ogletree vs. Danny Coale vs. Dwayne Harris vs. Roster
The Cowboys' third receiver spot is wide open, and there honestly isn't more to add than that.
Many will root for rookie Danny Coale, as he seems like a pretty good fit for Garrett's system. Though he's been compared to Wes Welker,—although unfairly—he will be an upgrade over Kevin Ogletree.
I honestly think it eventually will be Coale's job to get once he's done playing special teams and learning the playbook. For right now, though, the Cowboys should stick to Ogletree and maybe an unsigned veteran for the position.
Winner: Danny Coale