Dallas Cowboys Training Camp: Winners and Losers
Ultimately, in most training camps, only about a dozen players either gain or lose enough traction for their careers to change shape in a significant way. The majority of these guys simply prepare for the season without much fanfare or criticism.
But for several players every year, training camp either makes or breaks their football lives. We're looking at some of the clear 2012 camp winners and losers in the NFC East. Next up: the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys don't officially wrap up camp in Oxnard until tomorrow, but I think it's safe to draw conclusions from what we've seen thus far from the following 10 players.
The sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma has excelled as a receiver and a blocker in camp, which has many thinking he could be ready to make an impact earlier than expected. The fact that John Phillips has been hurt and Jason Witten is now out also helps Hanna's cause.
Which linebacker will make a bigger impact this year?
Left for dead after a brutal yet abbreviated rookie season, Carter has stepped up big time in his first healthy offseason. The 2011 second-round pick has outplayed Dan Connor, who was brought in to serve as somewhat of a stopgap between the Bradie James era and the Bruce Carter era. Now, that might not be necessary.
Church has been the winner of Cowboys camp. He performed so well early that Dallas dumped veteran Brodney Pool before the first preseason game. He also looked good in that game and could be primed to have a breakout season as the starting strong safety.
The transition from right tackle to left tackle hasn't been 100 percent smooth, but Smith is the only member of the offensive line that the Cowboys don't have to be concerned about. DeMarcus Ware says no one has blocked him like the 21-year-old USC product.
Beasley and Andre Holmes would both fit as winners at wide receiver, but I'm going with Beasley because Holmes got off to a rocky start when he failed his conditioning test to start camp. Both undrafted youngsters have a very good chance to make the roster and play significant roles this year.
Nagy might have had a chance to win the starting center job, but he wasn't able to stay healthy and was finally waived this week. The 2011 seventh-round pick will likely spend the season on injured reserve, and he could get another crack at it in 2013.
Which corner will play a bigger role in 2012?
Claiborne struggled a bit when he was on the practice field, and now he's injured again. He hasn't had enough of a chance to acclimate himself with Rob Ryan's system, which could mean he won't make the impact many had hoped he would in his rookie season.
Jenkins has been the biggest loser of the entire Cowboys offseason. He bluffed holdout after being replaced by Brandon Carr, and he's yet to practice due to a shoulder injury. If he's even able to get back in time for the start of the season, he'll likely be the team's No. 4 cornerback.
Connor didn't necessarily struggle in camp, but he also failed to stand out. As I said above, he was outplayed by Bruce Carter. I'd imagine that Connor will lose more and more reps to Carter as the year progresses.
He failed his initial conditioning test and has since failed to make big plays. DeMarco Murray is the clear No. 1 now, and Jones knows this might be his last year in a Cowboys uniform. He also struggled in limited action in the first preseason game.
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