With training camp five weeks away, we have some random thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys don't seem to be winners in the Kyle Orton holdout. The backup quarterback has missed all the offseason workouts, including the mandatory sessions from last week. Orton is thinking of retirement and the team wants him to stay. Coach Jason Garrett compared Orton's situation to that of wide receiver Cole Beasley, who took a few days off from training camp a few years ago pondering his own journey in the NFL. Beasley returned and has gained success in the NFL. Orton doesn't need time away, it seems his mind is made up and he wants to move on. The Cowboys, for financial and depth reasons, want him to stay. But why keep a man on the roster if he doesn't want to be here? The best thing is to cut Orton and move on.
Anthony Spencer jogged pretty well during the offseason and while his return from microfracture surgery is late in training camp, he could be the X-factor with the defensive line. George Selvie and DeMarcus Lawrence are the main pass-rushers with Bruce Carter expected to take over the main tackling duties at linebacker. However, the Cowboys need someone to cause pressure in the pocket, and the best pass-rusher on this team is Spencer. Yes, he's recovering from a serious injury, but Spencer is motivated to return and prove he can be a productive force again. If Spencer can return, as say a third-down pass-rusher in 2014, the one-year contract he signed might be the best offseason move the team made.
I don't believe Tony Romo will have any problems once training camp starts from his back surgery. During the offseason work, Romo was throwing passes with good zip and looked pretty good while jogging around the practice fields. He doesn't look overweight, in fact it wouldn't surprise me if he came in at the 235-pound range this summer. The key to Romo is how he takes these hits and if he's still has that mobility in the pocket. If Romo can still move around like he's done in previous seasons, the Cowboys shouldn't be worried. Romo has always taken hits, that's just life in the NFL, but if he can still move around the pocket over a 16-game season, that will tell you plenty about his recovery.
It was interesting you didn't hear much about running back Joseph Randle, the 2013 fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are geared for DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar to get more touches this upcoming season. What about Randle? He's supposed to replace Murray if he gets hurt, but the Cowboys signed Ryan Williams, who has a promising career until injuries curtailed it. Randle has some skills, but needs the touches, yet, this Williams signing could be a sign the Cowboys have either moved on from Randle or want to push him to do better.
If the season started today, J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church would start at safety and that's the best pairing the team has right now. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said both are ranging players who make plays on the ball. Marinelli said the pair are good tacklers, Church led the team in tackles last season, and that's key for a defense that was beaten up plenty last season. Matt Johnson and Jeff Heath need to make more plays on the ball in the preseason if they're going to knock Wilcox out of a starting job. It didn't look good to see Johnson, again, doing rehab work because of his hamstring problems. Heath gained valuable experience last season when Wilcox was out with injury. Heath isn't afraid to mix it up, which is good, but his ball skills need work.