OXNARD, Calif. -- Onto the third edition of Five Wonders from training camp and with the first preseason game completed, there are more things to wonder about than before.
Because of the title of the post, however, we’ll stick to five.
Here we go:
** I wonder how much that pass completion to Dez Bryant is a sign of things to come. It was a back-shoulder throw from Tony Romo, something they had been working on a lot in camp with some success. It’s all about timing and reading the defender. On that play, cornerback Ron Bartell had his head turned to Romo and he and Bryant timed the pass perfectly for 24 yards. That was the best play turned in by the No. 1 offense. After the game, Romo said, “Dez is going to have a great year.” If they can have that kind of timing throughout the year, then he’s right. The back-shoulder fade is nearly impossible to defend. Bryant has the athleticism to pull it off and Romo has the accuracy.
** I wonder what effect the broken thumb suffered by rookie outside linebacker Kyle Wilber will have on the 53-man roster. He is set to miss a month because of upcoming surgery, which should knock him out of the Sept. 5 opener. Wilber was doing a nice job on special teams and showed some pass rush ability during training camp and even during the Oakland game before getting hurt. Do the Cowboys keep an extra outside linebacker, which has a trickle-down effect on other positions? DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Wilber and Alex Albright were the top contenders, but undrafted rookie Adrian Hamilton played well vs. Oakland and could make the roster early in the year. Albright can play inside linebacker as well, so that could put a squeeze on somebody like Orie Lemon. And this goes with the assumption that the Cowboys will keep only two quarterbacks.
** I wonder how many draft picks make the 53-man roster. Fourth-rounder Matt Johnson has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury and had one minicamp practice because he was unable to attend the offseason program due to league rules. Fifth-round pick Danny Coale has practiced for a week but did not play against Oakland. He’s done a decent job in practice but you don’t see much speed or quickness here yet. I’m sure that’s part of it. Seventh-rounder Caleb McSurdy did a nice job in the game but had been quiet in practices. Last year, two picks didn’t make the opening day 53-man roster (Josh Thomas, Shaun Chapas). In 2010, only one didn’t make it. In 2009, three didn’t make it and three more were on injured reserve. I don’t believe it’s a bad thing if draft picks don’t make the roster. Too often it seemed to be a guarantee all of the picks would make it. Garrett does not care when or where you came from but only that you can play.
** I wonder just how far Andre Holmes jumped up in the race to be the No. 3 wide receiver after catching three passes for 40 yards against the Raiders. It looked like a good performance to the naked eye, but Jerry Jones had an interesting answer when asked about Holmes’ game, saying he has to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be on the field. We see the end result in a completion, but the team looks more at the process. Holmes has been better in camp lately and can be quarterback friendly with his height and ability to go get the ball. Maybe Jones was just being coy when asked about Holmes, whom he anointed the guy back in February, but others in the organization have mentioned it as well.
** I wonder if Ben Bass made the practice squad with his performance against the Raiders. He was credited with five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. He had three sacks in two seasons on defense at Texas A&M. At 6-5, 283 pounds, he has good size for a 3-4 defensive end and does some special teams’ work. This is the true sign that “measurables” matter. Bass was hardly a contributor at A&M and was invited to the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis in part because he grew up in Plano. He impressed there. He impressed in the organized team activities and he has done a nice job in camp. He doesn’t look out of place at all. These are the perfect kinds of practice squad players where you give a guy a year to grow and hope you might have somebody to get in the rotation in a year or two.