The announcement of Cole Beasley leaving the Cowboys for personal reasons as well as injuries sustained to the wide receiving corps have now swung the door open for Raymond Radway. The news surrounding Beasley is very disappointing as many fans, and I'm sure management, were excited by his development and his ability to make plays in training camp.
It appeared the Cowboys uncovered their own version of Wes Welker and found a player that ran precision routes and had reliable hands. Jason Garrett was probably envisioning ways to incorporate him into the offense that would provide opposing defenses with headaches. He did have some shortcomings such as size and lack of special teams experience, but the Cole Beasley experiment was garnering some major optimism.
The circumstances surrounding Beasley and his quick rise were remarkable and opportunistic. This was a classic example of a player, who still faced some long odds, that was making the most of his opportunities. He was not only forcing the Cowboys' hand, but he was also placing himself squarely into the conversation at wide receiver. For an undrafted player, he was playing his cards perfectly.
He took full advantage of the injury to Danny Coale and capitalized on his chances when Andre Holmes failed his conditioning test. Beasley saw his reps increase, gained valuable experience and was starting to develop chemistry within the offense. For players vying to make an NFL roster, gaining valuable playing time and experience are, quite simply, invaluable.
But my, how quickly does life change and things come full circle!
With the recent flurry of activity and flux at the wide receiver position, I think it warrants a recap for one minute. Holmes has passed his conditioning test, come off the PUP list and returned to practice. Coale has also come off the PUP list, passed his own conditioning test and should be able to practice in the next day. Miles Austin is dealing with a hamstring issue and Salim Hakim has a fractured finger and needs to see a hand specialist.
Both injuries are not deemed to be serious or long-term, but suddenly the position looks increasingly thin. Not only is it going to be difficult to part ways with Radway because of depth, but he's been making plays and showing greater consistency in his game. He always possessed the size at 6'3' and 204-pounds, and it doesn't hurt to be a former sprinter during his days at Albeline Christian.
One of those big plays Radway came up with at camp was beating Morris Claiborne pretty soundly. For Radway, having another opportunity to earn his way onto the roster has to be redeeming for him. Last year, he had virtually locked up a roster spot as an undrafted rookie, but his untimely injury suffered on the final play of preseason was a crushing blow to both himself and the team.
Last season, if Radway had avoided injury, I believe he could've had an impact on this offense. I went back and viewed numerous archived articles, blogs and analysis from last year's training camp and Radway had clearly cemented himself in the mix at receiver. In fact, his progress was so significant that his role probably would've increased as the season progressed and the Cowboys dealt with Austin's injuries.
If Radway continues to develop, make plays in camp and parlay that into preseason action, he can definitely make his mark in this offense. With the third receiver spot still up for grabs, as well as the final two spots, the Cowboys are looking for playmakers. Radway proved himself last season until he sustained his injury and now he's gaining some momentum. His size, speed and athleticism are the perfect fit for this offense, as he can play both inside and outside.
The recent developments at wide receiver are a clear reminder of the realities of an NFL training camp. Not only can injuries happen in the blink of an eye, but football players are not immune to the same personal and emotional realities of everyday life. For Cole Beasley, the decision to walk away from football has left Cowboys fans disappointed and asking why.
For Raymond Radway, the door has not only swung open, but the hinges have completely fallen off.
Update: Cole Beasley has had a change of heart and has decided to return to Oxnard and resume training with the Cowboys.