The Dallas Cowboys have more than a few positions up for grabs this offseason and training camp will decide who earns starting positions. Let's take a look at which positions will be the most tightly contested over in Oxnard, Calif. throughout training camp.
The Cowboys have needed help at the safety position for a few seasons now and have multiple names in the mix for two starting jobs.
Former Steeler Will Allen was signed this offseason and Eric Frampton is still on the roster from last year. 2012 fourth-round pick Matt Johnson and Barry Church are now healthy unlike much of last season.
J.J. Wilcox was drafted this year for a reason. Danny McCray will also be in the mix for one of the starting spots considering his decent play last year in Church's absence.
There's plenty of guys trying to grab just two spots on the starting roster and each player will have the chance to make his mark. That being said, Barry Church and Will Allen have the best chance to earn the two jobs.
Church was given a new four-year, $12.4 million contract extension last October and he wasn't given an up in pay to sit on the bench.
When former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan heard the news of Church's extension, he told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com of his excitement, saying: "This guy—and all you guys saw it—he's going to be a superstar in this league."
Church should get one of the positions while Allen has the veteran experience. Dallas signed Allen last March knowing Church, Johnson and McCray were its best options to start at the two safeties.
Out of the two predicted starters, Allen has the biggest chance of losing his job but he's not a stranger to training camp or its battles. While the Cowboys' staff assesses what they have in Johnson and Wilcox, Allen is a nice stop-gap option to start.
No. 3 Wide Receiver
Like the safety battle, No. 3 wide receiver is a position with plenty of names buzzing around for just one open spot.
Dwayne Harris had 17 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown last year. Cole Beasley and Danny Coale are entering their second seasons. Terrance Williams was drafted in the third round this season. The team can't want to see the rookie on the sidelines for too long.
None of the aforementioned players have a ton of on-field experience in the NFL but Williams is the obvious name to get the job. Harris will be another name on the coaches' minds but Williams is the young rookie; Harris is not.
Even with Harris' decent production in a limited role last year, expect the Cowboys to go with the young Baylor product. Unlike starting safety, putting Williams in the No. 3 receiver role doesn't put a ton of pressure on him. At the same time, the rookie will still be gaining significant pro experience.
Williams is the favorite to win this job and Harris is really the only other receiver who could challenge him for it. It will be interesting to see what happens to Beasley, Coale and Harris after the rookie takes the No. 3 spot.
No. 2 Tight End
The Cowboys made it clear by selecting Gavin Escobar in the second round of this year's NFL draft that they want to use more two-tight end formations. The team has Escobar, Jason Witten, James Hanna and veteran Dante Rosario on the roster at the position.
Rosario was signed June 3 and owner Jerry Jones talked to David Helman of DallasCowboys.com about his thoughts at tight end, saying:
With [Rosario's] ability to catch the ball—and he does have it—coupled with Escobar, coupled with Hanna and obviously Witten, it’s pretty obvious we’re going to our 12 formation and we’re going to be in it a lot.
Witten will obviously be the team's No. 1 tight end option and Escobar is likely to take the role of his backup. Hanna was selected in the draft just last year in the sixth round.
That being said, the Cowboys spent a high draft pick this year on the same position Hanna plays. Escobar will have some camp competition from Hanna and Rosario but he's the one the coaching staff likely wants to see win that backup job.