SAN ANTONIO -- With nearly two weeks of camp completed by Jason Garrett and his squad, there are still some critical pressure points that will need to be addressed before the front office and coaches make those final cuts on Sept. 3.
What would the signings of Abe Elam and Gerald Sensabaugh at safety do for this team? As camp opened, Barry Church and Akawsi Owusu-Ansah were the two starters but the more you watched practice, the more you realized that the team was going to have to do much more there because I just didn’t see it with Owusu-Ansah. For a player that was billed to have cover skills, there were too many days of not showing any.
On Church, I will say this he can be a nice fit in this Ryan scheme because the safeties are interchangeable and he showed me some cover skill when he carried Miles Austin down the middle of the field on a route where I would have never believed that he could have run that well. Church has also been a physical player in the running game. In my view, Church can help Elam and Sensabaugh as a quality backup and be a core special teamer.
This position was one of my major pressure points when camp opened, but with those two signings, I now move those points to two different areas on the defense.
The Terence Newman injury at left corner and how it will play out this season affects two spots. Orlando Scandrick is now the starter at corner and can more than handle the job but when the team goes to nickel, now he shifts to the slot and it brings Alan Ball into the game. Ball has struggled early in camp but did make a nice play in the one-on-one against Austin on a fade to the corner.
The problem is that when you usually are playing nickel, you are trying to get off the field on third down The staff will need to figure out if Ball really is the best option or if Bryan McCann and Josh Thomas would be better suited for the role.
My bet would be on McCann. He is smart, aware and more than talented enough to battle on the outside.
Thomas had one of his best days of camp but needs to learn what his responsibilities and techniques are before he can really challenge for a job.
*Was not one bit surprised by the coaches moving Kyle Kosier to right guard to at least see how that would help with the communication along the offensive line with the rookies David Arkin and Tyron Smith. It was a move that I brought up to my Football Show (Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on ESPN 103.3 FM) partners Tim MacMahon and Ted Emrich last week.
Garrett told us that when camp opened that the coaches would take the opportunity to work the offensive line at various positions during camp. An example of that was Smith opening at left tackle and Sam Young on the right side.
Offensive line coach Hudson Houck spoke in glowing terms about what Kosier does for this offensive line just in meetings. Kosier will ask questions that he already knows the answers to just so the rookies will hear Houck explain them.
My scouting report on Arkin when he came out of college was that he was a left tackle but had played some guard so the position was not totally new to him. He said after practice that it was a huge help to be working with Doug Free on the left side and the communication was great.
Houck also said that Smith was quiet by nature -- much like Jackie Slater and Larry Allen, who both played for Houck. By moving Kosier to his side, Smith will never have to feel like he will not know what the blocking scheme will be. That will allow him to play his technique and not worry if he is seeing the right thing in the protection. The same goes with Arkin on the left side as well as he works with the veteran Free.
Smart move overall by Garrett and the staff to make the transition as easy as possible for the two rookies.