Friday, August 16, 2013
Stock Report: Armstrong up; O-line down
By Calvin Watkins
OXNARD, Calif. -- This is our final Stock Report of training camp from Oxnard. Who's moving up and who's moving down?
Anthony Armstrong: The Cowboys are expected to keep five wide receivers but Armstrong is making a case for six. The sixth receiver has to play special teams -- something he's capable of doing -- and, if needed, catch some passes, which Armstrong has done consistently. He's on the bubble right now and the next three preseason games will determine his fate.
James Hanna: It's easy to watch Jason Witten everyday in practice and marvel at his greatness. The backup tight end, however, is also putting in the work. Hanna didn't miss a step when he returned from a hamstring injury and has kept Gavin Escobar (more on him later) with the second-team offense in the 12 personnel groupings.
Jermey Parnell: After he returned from his hamstring injury, the right tackle was inserted with the second-team offense and continued his aggressive play. The Cowboys' coaches like how he pass blocks with an aggressive nature, and his athletic ability to reach the second level quickly is an added bonus. He's on track to become the swing tackle.
Jeff Heath: The undrafted rookie safety from Saginaw Valley State could make this team because of his special teams play. While the Cowboys want more starters on the unit, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is open to playing the best players. Heath still needs work in the passing game, but he's got a toughness on special teams that could get him on the 53-man roster.
Bruce Carter: It's very easy to talk about Sean Lee's work at middle linebacker, but Carter has done a solid job as the weakside linebacker. His quickness to the ball helps in pass coverage and he's a physical presence in the run game. If Lee goes down, the Cowboys are confident in Carter's abilities to take over the defense.
Gavin Escobar: The rookie tight end is struggling to block and missed an opportunity to pass Hanna, who was out a week with a hamstring injury, on the depth chart. The 249-pound Escobar needs to put on more weight as his thin frame hurts him as a blocker. He can improve, but it's going to take some time.
Offensive line: This isn't because of the play, but the injuries. Ronald Leary went down with a right knee injury and needs surgery. Nate Livings, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook and Ray Dominguez are all out with injuries. The Cowboys are trying to upgrade the talent by signing Brian Waters, who hasn't played in a year.
Matt Johnson: Injuries have derailed Johnson's career as he enters his second year having yet to play in an NFL regular-season game. This time, Johnson has a stress reaction in his foot. His status for the season opener is in doubt, but you have to wonder how long the Cowboys are willing to wait.
Jay Ratliff: The defensive tackle won't practice in California as he recovers from hamstring and groin injuries. Ratliff is a talented player but his health seems to be betraying him. The Cowboys are confident he'll play at least one preseason game.
Ryan Cook: The Cowboys need the veteran center/guard more than ever with the injuries to the interior line. Cook hasn't recovered from a back injury and he's got two preseason games left -- he won't play Saturday at Arizona -- to prove he can make the roster.