Slow start for Cowboys' rookies
IRVING, Texas -- When the Cowboys pick up their second organized team activity of the offseason today at Valley Ranch, they won’t get a chance to see much of anything from their draft class.
First-round pick Morris Claiborne is recovering from left wrist surgery. Third-round pick Tyrone Crawford did not practice Tuesday because of a calf injury. Neither fourth rounder will be on the field: Kyle Wilber is out with a right index finger and Matt Johnson cannot attend the OTAs until Eastern Washington lets out school. And fifth-round pick Danny Coale will have surgery on his foot this week.
So what can you expect from the rookies in 2012?
Claiborne, Wilber and Coale will not get on the field until the end of July. While Crawford’s calf injury isn’t considered serious, missing time has to hurt at least a little. Johnson will have to play catch up when he returns in early June, but can he legitimately compete for a starting safety spot?
Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned from last summer when players were locked out.
Tyron Smith, last year’s No. 1 pick, was a Day 1 starter at right tackle and some observers wondered why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. A lack of offseason didn’t seem to hurt him. Once DeMarco Murray, a third-round pick, became the featured back, he seemed fine too. Seventh rounder Bill Nagy was the opening day starter at left guard, although in part because there was a lack of options.
Clearly this is not the start the Cowboys wanted to have with their rookie class. They knew Claiborne would take some time to recover. The injuries to Crawford, Wilber and Coale are more bad luck. Johnson’s absence is more league protocol than anything else.
Coaches across the league have talked about the benefit of a normal offseason in 2012 with the league in labor peace but also murmured about the cut-back practice time thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement.
To be successful the Cowboys will need their rookies to be contributors, but now they might have to show more patience than they originally planned.
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