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Thursday, March 15, 2012
What losing Laurent Robinson means

By Calvin Watkins

The Cowboys lost their No. 3 wide receiver when, according to our own Adam Schefter, Laurent Robinson agreed to a five-year deal worth $32.5 million.

There are two ways to look at it from the Cowboys' perspective: 1. They lost their most productive receiver in 2011, and that's bad. 2. It clears the way for younger talent to emerge in 2012, which can be deemed as a positive.

Laurent Robinson
Laurent Robinson's exit leaves a void in the Cowboys' receiving corps.
Robinson became a favorite target of quarterback Tony Romo last season and caught a team-high 11 touchdowns and was third on the team in catches with 54.

He had a stretch where he caught touchdown passes in seven of eight weeks. When Romo was under duress, he sought Robinson, who understood how to get to open spots on the field and become a target for the quarterback.

Miles Austin and Dez Bryant each had health issues during the season, and Robinson remained healthy for the most part. It should be noted, Robinson injured his hamstring in his first practice with the Cowboys and was quickly released. But once Robinson was healthy, he became a force. Now, you can attributed this to defenses trying to shut down Bryant and Austin, or Robinson just elevating his game.

The thing the Cowboys will miss with Robinson is his professionalism. Bryant said he learned a lot from Robinson in terms of preparation and how to deal with adversity. Before practices, Robinson would do his own stretching exercises to make sure his legs wouldn't betray him like they did early in the season.

It doesn't matter now because the Cowboys won't have him and are left with some unproven talent behind Austin and Bryant.

Andre Holmes is a long and fast receiver that played well on the scout team last season. Wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson likes Holmes' potential.

Dwayne Harris didn't get enough offensive snaps because he was behind Austin, Bryant, Robinson and Kevin Ogletree last year. Harris did some work in the return game and didn't find a good rhythm until later in the season. But he will get a shot to compete with Holmes for playing time.

Raymond Radway became one of the stars of the preseason until suffering a serious leg injury in the waning moments of the final preseason game at Miami. Radway has speed and good hands, but was inconsistent. He's expected to fully recover in time for training camp and will get a long look to make the team.

Teddy Williams it seems has been around forever, but really it's just been two seasons. He came in as a track star trying to make the team in 2010. He was move from cornerback to wide receiver to cornerback and back to wide receiver. Williams spent his time on the practice squad and also did some good things. But he's still raw and you have to wonder just how long the team is willing to wait before they expect him to make the 53-man roster.

The draft has some interesting names, so the Cowboys could look improve the depth of the position that way. Let's also not forget Austin and Bryant are two emerging talents who seek better seasons. Bryant got better as the season progressed, and Austin was sorely missed when he was out with an injury.

At the top, the Cowboys' receiving corps is fine. But looking for the third, fourth and fifth receiver will be a challenge.