What They Should Be Thinking Today: Dallas Cowboys

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 29, 2012

IRVING, TX - MAY 5:  Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks to players during rookie mini camp on May 5, 2012 at the Valley Ranch Complex in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

Inspired by ESPN.com AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, this is my attempt to periodically get inside the heads of the four teams in the NFC East. Today, a quick look at what the Dallas Cowboys should be thinking as organized team activities continue at Valley Ranch.

The window is not closing

Our owner implied it was in comments made to NFL Network last week, but our quarterback disagrees. Jerry Jones stirred up some controversy (big surprise) by suggesting that time might be running out on this core, but we're not going to panic. 

Our quarterback, Tony Romo, is 32 and only entering his sixth season as the full-time starter. That's hard to believe, isn't it? To boot, Romo's top three targets -- Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten -- are an average age of 27. Our left tackle is 21.

Our best defensive player -- who also just happens to be one of the best defensive players in the league -- is only 29.

And despite a youth movement in the division, seven of our guys made Bleacher Report's list of top 25 NFC East players under the age of 25.

We feel a natural sense of urgency, especially since the last two seasons have been disappointing. We want to win now, but with a young nucleus in place, we figure we can win now and later.

The No. 3 receiver is on the roster

We're not sure who it is yet, but Romo and Laurent Robinson proved last season that we don't need a big name to fill that role. Kevin Ogletree could finally emerge, but if he doesn't we're confident that healthy competition will give Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway, Dwayne Harris or Danny Coale a chance to grab the reins. 

Whoever it is, he might not be required to do as much work this year anyway. Knock on wood, but Austin claims he'll be back to form in 2012, and we believe him. Plus, we think Dez Bryant is about to become a star. Neither is immune to injuries, but there's a chance we won't need a Robinson-like performance from the man who wins the competition for the No. 3 spot this summer.

Oh, but it'd probably make the boss happy if Holmes were to be that man.

We need Mike Jenkins

We'd love to anoint Morris Claiborne, just as the media's been doing. But we're keeping in mind that for every Joe Haden or Darrelle Revis there's a Dunta Robinson or a Tye Hill. Plus, rookie cornerbacks don't always have easy rides, and Claiborne probably won't even be ready to take defensive snaps until training camp.

Brandon Carr is an underrated star who was worth every penny, but with Claiborne no guarantee, we're keeping Jenkins on the roster to offer support against the three- and four-receiver sets that we see so commonly in this division. 

Jenkins hasn't played the slot since his rookie season, but he has the talent to adapt to whatever we throw his way, and he's a much better overall player than longtime slot man Orlando Scandrick, who we'll consider moving to safety if things get too crowded.

Plus, why would we trade a starting-caliber player slated to make only $1.5 million?