- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys conclude their offseason work with a three-day mandatory veteran minicamp that starts Tuesday.
Who will participate: It's mandatory, so if you don't have an excused absence, players will be fined. So expect 89 players in attendance. Why 89? Defensive tackle Josh Brent is on the reserve/non-football illness list and didn't attend any of the organized team activities this offseason. Brent is awaiting trail for an intoxication manslaughter charge resulting in the death of practice squad player Jerry Brown. Fullback Lawrence Vickers (back surgery) will be in attendance, but will be limited to rehab work. Quarterback Tony Romo (back) and defensive end DeMarcus Ware (shoulder) are not expected to practice as they continue to heal. Several others might also be given some time off, including WR Miles Austin, DT Jay Ratliff and guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. RB Joseph Randle, the team's fifth-round pick, has a cast on his thumb and is out.
Who needs the minicamp? Center Travis Frederick was getting first-team reps over Phil Costa during OTAs and that might continue this week. Frederick is projected as the starter, and the more practice time he gets, the better. Safety Matt Johnson, who missed all of last season with hamstring injuries, got first-team reps with Barry Church during OTAs over veteran Will Allen, who was getting some rest. Johnson has to prove he can become the playmaker the Cowboys thought they had when he was drafted in the fourth round last year. With Ware out, DE Kyle Wilber needs snaps as he was moved from outside linebacker to end this offseason to add depth. Wilber's ability to play end will dictate how much playing time he receives in 2013.
So the playcaller is? The biggest offseason secret was revealed last week when Bill Callahan confirmed he'll call the offensive plays. One problem: Coach Jason Garrett hasn't confirmed it, despite owner/general manager Jerry Jones implying it last week. Garrett most likely will be asked about the play-calling situation again this week. It will be interesting to see if he confirms anything.
Players worth watching: Guards Ronald Leary, Kevin Kowalski and David Arkin; wide receivers Danny Coale, Eric Rogers and Cole Beasley; running back Phillip Tanner and tight end Dante Rosario; right tackles Doug Free and Jermey Parnell.