By Ron Morgan
Corsicana Daily Sun
I guess after the end of the Oxnard portion of training camp and with three preseason games under their belt, it’s time for my annual assessment of the state of the Cowboys. Just remember that any prognostications I make are for recreational purposes only. Anyone dumb enough to risk any money on what I have to say should be institutionalized.
Let’s first look at the positives.
Well, that didn’t take long. Just kidding. There are some positives. Regardless of what many say, quarterback is in good shape. In my humble (and sometimes not so humble) opinion, Romo is a top 10 QB in the NFL. His backup, Kyle Orton, could be a starter somewhere in this league. This season, I honestly think they will keep a third quarterback. YouTube whiz Alex Tanney just might be a Tony Romo in the making. At least, he has promise.
Running back, subject to health, appears to be loaded. Demarco Murray is very good, when he’s on the field. That’s the problem. His injury prone history from OU has played out similarly in the NFL. The ‘Boys drafted a running back out of OSU in the person of Joseph Randle. It was widely assumed that Randle would be Murray’s backup, and he may still be. However, to do that he will have to beat out Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner who both look roster worthy.
Both wide receiver and tight end are areas of strength. In fact, I’d say that as a group, the receivers for our guys rate among the best in the league. Dez the adolescent has turned into Dez the man. If healthy (and that may be a BIG if), Miles Austin is very good, especially if he goes back to the slot, where he is a mismatch for most slot corners. With third round pick Terrance Williams out of Baylor on the squad, some promising young receivers may be put to pasture, or at least to another team.
Need I even go into tight end? Jason Witten is a shoe-in hall of famer. Escobar and Hannah give them depth that they haven’t had in years.
Sounds like a Super Bowl to me…but wait. I haven’t addressed the offensive line, have I? Prior to training camp, it was assumed that first round pick Travis Frederick (the Michael Kormos look alike) would start at center, and he hasn’t disappointed.
One tackle spot would be manned by Tyron Smith, a former top ten pick. Check there too. The other tackle would be either Doug Free or Jeremy Parnell who alternated there at the end of last season. Well, Free has been more than expected at right tackle (of course, after last season expectations weren’t very high), and Parnell only in the past few days has started practicing.
Now, that brings us to the guard situation. Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau manned the spot in a less than stellar fashion last season. This season having both might be an upgrade compared to what’s there now. New starter Ron Leary had knee surgery. Livings is hurt. (Bernadeau would be cut without the rash of injuries). A cast of wannabes are also injured. Right now, their only hope is to lure Waxahachie product Brian Waters out of retirement. Did I mention that the UNT product hasn’t put on a helmet in about 18 months?
After looking over the revolving door at guard, I might have to paraphrase Miss Jenny in Forrest Gump: “Run, Tony, run!”
Defensively, there is Demarcus Ware on one side, and we hope Anthony Spencer on the other. However, Spencer had knee surgery, so there are no guarantees. Linebacker is strong with new multiyear, multi-millionaire Sean Lee covering the middle.
Bruce Carter is an animal at another linebacker spot. There is some promise in the rest of the linebacking corps. Ernie Sims looks solid, and seventh round pick Devonte Holloman definitely has a nose for the football.
The best thing I can say about safety is that it can’t be any worse than the past few years….Can it?
Then there is the other line. Jason Hatcher has come into his own. Sean Lissimore is solid and goes all out all the time. Beyond that? Who knows? Jay Ratliff hasn’t so much as practiced since what…last October, November?
At least we’re in the NFL East; possibly, no make that probably, the weakest division in the league. New York has as many offensive line problems as Dallas. Philadelphia has named Michael Vick as their starter (Need I say more?), and Washington is waiting to see just how RGIII’s knee is.
If I were a betting man, I think I’d stick with the Rangers. Elvis, Kinsler and Leonys make them stronger up the middle. (The Cowboys are like a box of chocolates…)