- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys don’t take to the field again until July 21 in Oxnard, Calif., but 5 Wonders is back before its summer vacation.
Off we go:
The contractual future of Anthony Spencer has been a hot topic this offseason, as has the future of Sean Lee. Personally, I don’t see a deal for Spencer before the July 15 deadline, but I can see Lee signed to a long-term deal before the season opener. What about Dan Bailey? I wonder if the Cowboys would look at tying up their kicker to a new deal. He is set to make $555,000 this year and become a restricted free agent after this season. The Cowboys have shown a willingness to get deals done on players before they become restricted free agents (Jermey Parnell and Phil Costa come to mind), so why not take care of Bailey? Considering how close games are every week, having a reliable kicker is a must. Bailey is just about as good as there is in the league.
Center Travis Frederick worked with the starters from his first day of practice. Terrance Williams was with the first-team when the Cowboys went to their three-wide receiver set. Gavin Escobar did not knock James Hanna off his perch as the No. 2 tight end behind Jason Witten. I wonder if Hanna will hold on to that job longer than we think. Escobar got more work in the regular offense later in the minicamp, but Hanna has made it difficult for the second-round pick. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Escobar raised his level of play as camp went on, making a nice sliding catch for a touchdown. Too many times the Cowboys seem to hand people jobs, but Escobar will have to earn this one.
I wonder if people are sleeping on Lance Dunbar a little bit. While Joseph Randle is the presumed backup to DeMarco Murray, Dunbar had a terrific offseason and has the trust of the guy who matters most in the offense. No, not Jason Garrett. Not Bill Callahan either. But Tony Romo. Dunbar can be elusive out of the backfield and give linebackers some trouble. Getting the ball to him on a screen or two a game is not out of the question. Defenses might try to take advantage of his lack of size with pass protections, but he is a willing blocker.
I was the first person to kind of chuckle when I heard the Cowboys go on forever about the defensive line being their strength, but I wonder if it will be. Seriously. I don’t want to get too carried away and I want to see the work in the preseason against other teams, but there looks to be quality depth with guys like Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore, Kyle Wilber and Ben Bass. Heck, I even had Nick Hayden on my most recent 53-man roster projection. The key will be Jay Ratliff and if he can find the form that led him to the Pro Bowls. He didn’t practice much this offseason, but when he did, he did a nice job. Same with Jason Hatcher. Add that to a healthy DeMarcus Ware and Spencer and there might be something here.
I wonder about how the Cowboys will be calling the plays this year. Even when Garrett was calling the plays, getting in and out of the huddle had been an issue. Now with Callahan calling them from the coaches’ booth to quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who then will relay them to Romo, it just seems like they have created another layer to delay the process. Callahan likes to be up high to get a good view of the game, which I understand. During training camp and in the preseason games the Cowboys will have to pick up the pace. They had a delay of game and were forced to call a timeout in one practice because it took too long for the play to get in. The situation work Garrett has used in practice is as much for the coaches as it is the players.