<
>

Mailbag: Who takes the last wide receiver spot?

7/28/2013

OXNARD, Calif. -- Week 2 of our training camp mailbag is here.

This week we address who the No. 6 wide receiver will be, why the Cowboys have so many hamstring problems, whether the running attack will get better and whether or not the Cowboys win nine games.

Q: Though it's a good problem to have, what is Jason Garrett going to do with all of the wide receivers he has trying for a spot on the roster? Who do you think has the best shot at this time? Mary Brisbin (Santa Fe, Texas)

A: I agree it's a great problem to have. The Cowboys might keep six wide receivers on the roster. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Dwayne Harris, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley should make the 53-man roster. However, Eric Rogers, Anthony Armstrong and Jared Green are emerging talents who could snag a sixth wide receiver spot. The key for one of these three players is how each plays on special teams. After two preseason games, we'll know more about this group. The competition at this position is strong.

Q: I need a serious answer! What is going on with all the hamstring injuries? I am really starting to question the training habits, medical staff and rehab. For at least the last three years I have read of double-digit hamstring injuries during camp and into the season which have killed us come Weeks 14, 15 and so on. I have not heard of even half as many injuries reported from other teams as I keep hearing from the Dallas media. Who or what is to blame? Randy Hale (Bakersfield, Calif.)

A: The strength and conditioning staff has taken some heat the past two seasons for the hamstring problems. Some players, such as Miles Austin, have always dealt with the problem. While others, like DeMarcus Ware, who missed last year's preseason opener because of a hamstring problem, get it once and a while. How the team stretches, runs and warms up can lead to these hamstring issues. You can run a team too much or too little and still get the problem. I don't believe there's an easy solution to fix this, but if it continues through the regular season again, I would think the Cowboys would need to address the problem more seriously internally.

Q: We hear a lot about J.J. Wilcox's play so far in camp. How has Matt Johnson looked? Jeremie Jones (Sinton, Texas)

A: Johnson picked up his first interception of the summer on Friday. He's done a nice job of making reads on pass plays in the deep end and he's not afraid to mix it up against the run. Johnson has good speed to the ball and the coaches like how smart he is. He knows the scheme pretty well, and as the deep safety, the expectations are he'll make plays when needed. He's still on the second-team defense because of Will Allen's experience. But it looks like Johnson has a future if he stays healthy.

Q: With the additions of Joseph Randle and Travis Frederick and Bill Callahan calling plays, should we expect the Cowboys to run the ball on third-and-short more often? Travis Sullins (Tomball, Texas)

A: Jason Garrett said he wants to run the football more because it's easier on the offense to become balanced. Now, saying it and doing it are two different things. Randle isn't getting any snaps with the first- or second-team units. But the Cowboys expect Randle to be the future starter. Frederick has performed well in the early portions of camp and the team believes he's a starter at center. Callahan likes to run the ball and will make that commitment to do so in terms of the play calling. At least, that's the plan.

Q: Do you think a Cowboys finish at 9-7 is unrealistic? Drew (Houston)

A: Yes. When the schedule was released, I thought the Cowboys had 10 wins, but after watching nearly seven days of practices, this is probably an 8-8 team. The positive about this group is the first and second units are stronger than I've ever seen in recent years. It looks like the depth of this team has improved from last year. When injuries hit, and they will, the team needs quality backups to perform. The biggest question marks are how this group finishes the season and that's been the biggest problem with the Cowboys the past 10 years.