5 things to be happy about and 5 to worry about

June, 17, 2012
6/17/12
3:00
PM ET
As we enter vacation to get some rest in preparation for the long season, here are five things to be OK with and five things to worry about before training camp starts in late July.

Five things not to worry about

1. DeMarco Murray. The starting running back seems to be 100 percent after surgery to repair a fractured ankle. Murray showed a burst, speed and a dry wit with reporters during offseason workouts. Murray said he's developing a chemistry with new fullback Lawrence Vickers and if all goes well during the season, Murray might rush for 1,000 yards.

PODCAST
Ben and Skin discuss the five things to be happy and worried about in regards to the Cowboys.

Listen Listen
2. Kyle Orton. You have to be happy with the new backup quarterback. Have to be. Orton has a career 79.4 quarterback rating, is 35-34 as a starter and is an upgrade over Jon Kitna, who retired after the 2011 season. Health shouldn't be a concern for the 29-year old. Yeah, he had a little hamstring issue toward the backend of the mandatory minicamp, but it's nothing to worry about.

3. Offensive tackles. Tyron Smith and Doug Free switched tackle spots this offseason and early indications are Smith will be fine as the left tackle and Free as the right tackle. Smith has the athletic ability to deal with the speed rushers coming off the edge, but Free's move shouldn't be looked at as a demotion. The pass rushers challenging the right tackle spot in the NFC East are just as dangerous.

4. Dez Bryant. The young wide receiver is getting better as a route runner, catching passes and developing a better knowledge of the playbook. His off-the-field antics have subsided and if he stays healthy, he has the skills to become a dominant punt returner. Stephen Jones, the team VP, believes Bryant can be a No. 1 wideout. Maybe.

5. Jason Garrett. All over Valley Ranch you see more of Garrett's input. There are signs on the walls encouraging the team to perform better, poster boards praising starters and scout teamers and hearing the players themselves talk about what Garrett wants. This is nothing against Wade Phillips, who was the perfect fit to replace Bill Parcells, but Garrett is implementing a program that the team will follow for many years.

Five things to worry about

1. Mike Jenkins. This Mike Jenkins drama isn't going away. The Cowboys value him and won't trade him. Jenkins wants a trade. But Jenkins isn't healthy. He didn't report to the voluntary workouts, but did show up at the mandatory ones, when faced with a fine. Jenkins needs the Cowboys and they need him. When training camp starts, the Cowboys have to make a call on Jenkins. The Cowboys can make Jenkins compete for playing time or trade him when he's healthy. Jenkins doesn't want to be here unless he gets a long-term deal or he's starting. Both might not happen.

2. Anthony Spencer. The outside linebacker is getting $8.8 million this season and if he has a strong season, remember he's never had more than six sacks in a single-season, he could commands a long-term big money deal. Is he worth it? Sometimes it's hard to be compared to DeMarcus Ware, the All-Pro outside linebacker with the Hall of Fame skill set. Spencer has to show up more often on the stat sheet, if not, the fans' ire might increase.

3. Safeties. The Cowboys made a temporary move in signing Brodney Pool to a one-year deal to play alongside Gerald Sensabaugh at safety. Matt Johnson was drafted to play safety and Barry Church is also around trying to fight for playing time. The backend of this position struggled badly last season with communication problems. Pool and Sensabaugh know Rob Ryan's defensive scheme. Can they make plays in it? There is too much uncertainty with this spot going into the season.

4. Third wide receiver. Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale and Raymond Radway are competing for the No. 3 spot behind Miles Austin and Bryant. Injuries have bothered Bryant and Austin in the past, so a No. 3 wideout is important. The team couldn't sign Laurent Robinson because he commanded too much money on the open market. You can't blame the Cowboys for this. At some point you have to develop the young talent on this team. Now is the time.

5. Interior line. It was time for the Cowboys to release Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and eventually Kyle Kosier. Offseason moves in the last two seasons have the Cowboys with a younger front between the tackles. Nate Livings might be the best of the interior linemen right now and Phil Costa is improving at center, yet new offensive line coach Bill Callahan was hired to improve this group. Tony Romo has to have confidence to step up in the pocket when pressured. Will he?
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

Insider