Dallas Cowboys: What We've Learned Through Week 2 of Training Camp
Training camp really just began for the Dallas Cowboys, yet we’re already less than a week away from the team’s first preseason matchup with the San Diego Chargers. We’re going to find out a whole lot about the team during that game—how new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan plans to call plays, how the team will utilize all of their new additions, how they plan to attack the passer and so on.
We’ve already learned quite a bit about Dallas during training camp, though—some good, some not so much. Let’s break down eight important pieces of information we’ve learned so far.
QB Tony Romo Isn’t Fully Healthy
Quarterback Tony Romo is going to be fine to start the regular season, but there are still concerns about his back. Romo himself has said “it’s a little unknown,” and he’s not participating in full in training camp.
Even if Romo will be fine to go against the Niners in Week 1, this is still an issue. If he’s not fully recovered, you have to think Romo’s odds of re-injuring his back are higher than they’d be otherwise, which of course decreases the probability of a successful season for Dallas.
The Cowboys are smart to not rush Romo back—I’d barely play him in the preseason, if at all—but this isn’t an injury that has come and gone.
OG Ronald Leary Is Good to Go
After starting the preseason on the PUP list, left guard Ronald Leary recently got back into the mix and said he feels like his old self, according to Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News. Said Leary:
I’m good. Today was just to see how it was, being able to push off against somebody. There were no problems, so I’m full-go. I’m feeling like my old self. … I did individuals and there was no problem. Now it’s just conditioning and getting more running in.
Leary is going to battle with Mackenzy Bernadeau to start on the left side. That should be a pretty close matchup, although Bernadeau probably has a slight edge.
Rookie OG Brian Clarke Impressing
Undrafted rookie Brian Clarke is from the small school of Bloomsburg, but he has shown up big thus far during camp. Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com provided his take on Clarke’s game:
Where Clarke has caught my eye has been in his ability to stay square, anchor down and handle these rushers during the one-on-one periods. It is rare that you see him off balance and he has such a tight grip on the defender that when they try to adjust on him, Clarke goes right with him, sometimes even to the ground. He does a really nice job of maintaining that contact balance both run and pass.
As much as the Cowboys offensive line has improved, there’s still an opening at left guard. That will probably be filled by either Bernadeau or Leary this year, but there isn’t yet a long-term answer. Clarke’s ability to thrive despite his size could put him in the mix for playing time down the line.
The Cowboys Will Re-Sign WR Dez Bryant
After the Cowboys handed out the huge contract extension to left tackle Tyron Smith, there were initial reports that Dallas wouldn’t have enough cap space to re-sign wide receiver Dez Bryant, such as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport saying “it’s nearly impossible to do Dez Bryant’s extension now.”
According to ESPN Dallas’ Todd Archer, however, the Cowboys have plenty of room to work out a Bryant extension. And if we’re using a little common sense, we should know it isn’t realistic to think the team would just let their best player walk in the prime of his career.
Chances are the Cowboys will lock up Bryant before he even sniffs the free-agent market.
Tyrone Crawford Might Stay at Defensive Tackle
Following the news of rookie DeMarcus Lawrence’s broken foot, some thought that third-year player Tyrone Crawford might kick out to defensive end. According to David Moore of The Dallas Morning News, though, Jeremy Mincey, Martez Wilson and Kyle Wilber are the main candidates to fill in for Lawrence.
Wilson is the player who interests me the most. He’s 6’4”, 260 pounds with 34.6-inch arms! That’s truly elite length. Wilson also ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, jumped 36 inches vertically and recorded a 10’4” broad jump at the combine, according to NFL.com.
Of course, the Cowboys are hoping more than ever that Anthony Spencer can find a way to avoid starting the season on PUP.
J.J. Wilcox Is the Favorite to Start at FS
According to ESPN Dallas’ Todd Archer, “The safety spot next to Barry Church remains J.J. Wilcox’s to lose.” Wilcox was underwhelming as a rookie, but that was to be expected for a player who came out of a small school and had just one year of experience at the safety position. The raw tools are there for Wilcox to excel.
Archer went on to say, “Wilcox has been OK but he has not been pushed by Jeff Heath or any other safety.” This will be a situation to monitor, especially with Matt Johnson again injured.
DT Josh Brent Might Return to the Team
At least one writer thinks that defensive tackle Josh Brent—out of the NFL for a couple years after his DUI arrest—will return to Dallas. Said Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas, “There should be no doubt that Josh Brent is returning to the Cowboys. Every time owner Jerry Jones is asked, he talks around it, but refuses to deny it.”
Jones could just be leaving the door open for all possibilities, although I think the Cowboys will eventually at least give Brent another opportunity. The bigger question is why everyone is so amped up about possibly getting him back. We’re talking about a player with 1.5 career sacks who hasn’t played football in two years.
CB Morris Claiborne Hurt His Knee
Cornerback Morris Claiborne has been dealing with knee tendinitis, which gave him the day off on Friday, according to Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com. Said the cornerback:
I’ve had it for a while now. Ever since I got in the league, I’ve had it. It’s something that you have to just try to manage as best as you can, take care of it as best as you can. … I got stuck in the grass and aggravated it a little bit. Just a little sore. Use this day and tomorrow and the off day, and I’ll be back to practice.
With expectations for Claiborne at an all-time low, this is his chance to impress some people. Anything he gives Dallas this year will effectively act as a “bonus” for a defense that is no longer relying heavily on their former top-10 draft pick.