Dallas Cowboys: Mackenzy Bernardeau

Let’s get right to your questions for this weekend’s Twitter mailbag. If I don't touch on your topic, feel free to hit me up @espn_macmahon.

@AboutTHEChu: Why does Romo himself not come out and say he's an elite QB like every other QB? It's like he lacks confidence?

Galloway & Company's Glenn "Stretch" Smith is excited about the Cowboys running game.

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Is declaring yourself elite before the season now a prerequisite for making a Super Bowl run? I know Eli Manning and Joe Flacco both did it, but I’m not quite convinced there’s a correlation between the “elite” self-proclamation and a Super Bowl ring.

If Romo does it, it’s an easy headline and sports talk radio/First Take topic. He gets ripped for thinking he’s in Tom Brady’s class when Brady has three times as many Super Bowl championships as Romo does playoff wins. There really isn’t any benefit here for Romo, who is often intentionally mundane with the media.

The closest you’ll come to hearing Romo call himself elite is him insisting that he’s “not an 8-8 quarterback.” But rest assured that he doesn’t lack for confidence.

@StevieJ626: Punt return duties...Did Harris do enough to keep that job or will Dez have another crack?

Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and the Cowboys' offensive line as training camp approaches.

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I seriously doubt that Dez Bryant will ever be used as a punt returner again. Maybe it’s a coincidence that everything clicked for him as a receiver right after he was stripped of punt return duties, but there’s no reason to mess with success. It’s a risk/reward issue, and his disappointing performance as a punt returner last season didn’t come close to justifying the risk of the Cowboys’ most dynamic weapon being injured.

And Harris makes the decision extremely easy this season.

Talk about seizing an opportunity: Harris ranked second in the NFL with an average of 16.1 yards per punt return, including a 78-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys the lead in Philadelphia. He was everything the Cowboys hoped Bryant would be in that role.

@AdamWBritt: It seemingly took the Dallas D awhile to transition to Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense (if they ever did). Same transition period with Tampa 2?

It better not be. The Valley Ranch decision-makers have mentioned many times that Monte Kiffin’s scheme is much simpler than Rob Ryan’s three-inch-binder 3-4. They believe – and sure hope – that the pre-snap confusion we often saw during Ryan’s reign will be eliminated.

Jerry Jones even said that Kiffin’s scheme can be learned quickly by off-the-street free agents if injuries strike hard again.(As a Ryan apologist, I’ll point out that his defense didn’t look bad until Sean Lee went down, followed by Bruce Carter, and DeMarcus Ware had to play with one arm.)

Tampa 2 experts like Tony Dungy will tell you that Kiffin does need a transition period to get the right talent. The defensive tackles and safeties are the concerns.

@jlzbeef: Has David Arkin shown the coaches anything to think he may be a player, or is he just a camp body?

He might be a backup. He’ll need a good camp and preseason to stick on the roster. Arkin has been leapfrogged on the depth chart by Ronald Leary, who has a chance to challenge for a starting job. Arkin seems destined to join the Robert Brewster, James Marten, etc. line of mid-round O-line busts.

@v_valdez89: I keep hearing Dallas wants Matt Johnson to win the S job but J.J. Wilcox is a ballhawk. Could Wilcox win the job?

If the season started today, it’d be veteran Will Allen starting next to Barry Church, but Matt Johnson will definitely be given every opportunity to win the job. Wilcox will have to have a spectacular camp to be an immediate starter. They love his toughness, instincts and athleticism, but keep in mind that he was an offensive player until his senior season at Georgia Southern. The third-round pick has a lot to learn about playing safety.

@S_Villa23: How is Travis Frederick looking? Will we move him to guard and let Phil Costa start? What about Ronald Leary?

Frederick is the starting center unless something really goes wrong. Costa will be his backup. As I mentioned earlier, Leary has a chance to beat out Mackenzy Bernardeau or Nate Livings, especially if the veteran guards continue to be hampered by injuries.

@CBA_Haynie: Why is Alex Albright making everyone's 53-man roster predictions? Doesn't seem like a 4-3 guy at all unless it's at DE.

The more you can do, the better chance you have of sticking around. Albright can play middle linebacker, strong side linebacker or defensive end and is one of the Cowboys’ best special teams players. Heck, he even worked some at tight end in camp last year. Plus, he’s a classic Garrett “right kind of guy.”

@Keiricha: Will Jerry fire Garrett midseason and appoint himself interim coach?

I sense a little sarcasm. Let’s be real, though. Jerry isn’t going to subject himself to standing on the sideline during winter road games against the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins. It’s Garrett’s gig until the end of the season. Jerry just might put a headset on and help out from his heated luxury suite.

Derrick Dockery gets some snaps with starters

October, 12, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys backup guard Derrick Dockery received some first-team snaps at right guard Friday.

Despite struggling this season, Mackenzy Bernadeau is the starter and is expected to remain there for the Baltimore Ravens game on Sunday.

Dockery was signed during training camp after the Cowboys endured several injuries to the interior of the offensive line.

"Yes, I'm getting a little bit," Dockery said of his practice time with the first team. "I don't know what it means. They're just preparing me for any opportunity that may happen in the game."

Dockery started two games in 2011 and has played four offensive snaps this season. He started at left guard for an injured Bill Nagy in Week 2 and earned the start over an injured Montrae Holland in last season's final game.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said this week that he likes Dockery's size (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) and that it has helped Dockery stay on the active roster.

If Bernadeau struggles this week, a lineup change could occur.

The Cowboys have benched offensive linemen in the past. Guard Leonard Davis was benched for poor play during a game and replaced by Holland. Davis later returned to that game when Holland suffered an eye injury.

Cowboys' offseason grade: B+

July, 11, 2012
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson is playing the professor role, grading each NFL team's offseason roster renovations.

Williamson gave the Cowboys a B-plus in the ESPN Insider piece. A sample of his analysis:
The Cowboys' cornerbacks look to be incredibly improved with the addition of Brandon Carr in free agency followed by an aggressive draft day trade up to secure Morris Claiborne, a potential shutdown corner, at No. 6. Teaming those two with Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick should allow Rob Ryan to finally trust his cover men, resulting in much more aggressive defensive play calling from a pressure and blitz standpoint. There is a chance Jenkins will be traded before the season, but the Cowboys still could use a lot of nickel personnel (even on early downs) considering the wealth they now have at corner.

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Dallas also looks stacked at inside linebacker. Sean Lee is already a great player, and Bruce Carter, a great talent, could be due for a breakout season. Plus, the Cowboys signed Lee's college teammate Dan Connor as insurance. Connor is a very solid two-down player who excels versus the run.

The Cowboys' defense clearly has improved, and the offense remains explosive and has plenty of high-end talent. Don't overlook the addition of Kyle Orton as Tony Romo's backup, giving the Cowboys one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. But there are two considerable holes on this side of the ball. With Laurent Robinson leaving for Jacksonville and Coale's injury in minicamp, Dallas has very little at wide receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. That limits the personnel packages the Cowboys can feature. Also, although the Cowboys brought in interior offensive linemen in free agency, I don't think any of those guys is an upgrade or the answer -- and Mackenzy Bernadeau recently had hip surgery. However, new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is one of the top offensive line minds in the NFL.