Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Five Wonders: How much will D play?
By Todd Archer
OXNARD, Calif. -- It's time for the second installment of Five Wonders, training-camp style. We'll stick mostly with the defensive side of the ball for the Wonders since that's where most of the questions belong.
Away we go:
- San Diego Chargers. As a group they need as much on-the-job training as possible with the exceptions of Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church. They can be smart with defensive tackle Henry Melton as well since he's coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. If there are any injury questions for the regulars (think Morris Claiborne), then don't push it. But with questions at just about every other spot, the Cowboys will need to evaluate a lot of players, and new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli needs to see who he can count on or not.
The first preseason game is often just a walk in the park for the starters on both sides of the ball with the players seeing a series or two. I wonder if the Cowboys carry their starters a little longer than that Thursday against the
- I wonder if the Cowboys are wondering if Kenneth Boatright or Adewale Ojomo could be this year's version of George Selvie. They were added to practice last week after injuries to DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and Ben Bass (hamstring) in a similar way that Selvie was added last year after injuries to Tyrone Crawford and Anthony Spencer. Selvie used a terrific showing in the Hall of Fame Game to earn a roster spot and eventually start 16 games. He made a career-high seven sacks as well. Striking that kind of lightning in two years might be a bit of a stretch, but Boatright has shown some good speed off the edge in his limited work in practices so far.
- Let's start this out by saying I believe Anthony Spencer will open the season on the physically unable to perform list and miss the first six games as he continues to recover from microfracture knee surgery. The key words are “I believe.” But let's say Spencer continues to feel good through training camp and might be ready for Week 2 (Tennessee Titans) or Week 3 (St. Louis Rams). I wonder if the Cowboys decide to keep him on the 53-man roster and effectively go with 52 players in the first game or two. Spencer has preached patience with his recovery but has acknowledged publicly he's feeling better. The Cowboys are going to be patient and careful with his recovery. Is it better to make sure he is closer to 100 percent for 10 games or can the Cowboys sneak him in for some spot duty earlier in the season to help a pass rush that looks like it will need help.
- Rolando McClain's leg injuries might have come at a bad time. He hurt a hamstring Sunday and a quadriceps on Monday. It's apparent that in their words and actions, the Cowboys have a big plan for McClain. It showed up when he practiced as the second-team middle linebacker on the first day of camp. It showed up with Stephen Jones calling him one of the early surprises. It showed up with Jason Garrett saying positive things. It showed up when he took some first-team snaps at middle linebacker last week. I wonder if the Cowboys are doing everything they can to make sure he's the Mike on opening day. And I wonder what it means for Bruce Carter. He was sent to the sidelines with Justin Durant taking over as the weakside linebacker with McClain in the middle. The Cowboys said they are just looking at different combinations, but it was interesting -- at least to me anyway -- that Carter was the first one bumped, not Kyle Wilber. That shows you what the Cowboys are thinking on Wilber, too.
- I wonder if the Cowboys coaches really thought the left guard job would be an open competition. Mackenzy Bernadeau worked next to Tyron Smith as Ronald Leary rehabbed from a hamstring strain suffered the day before traveling to Oxnard. He did a good job, but when I asked Garrett how far Leary is behind in the competition with Bernadeau, he said not much. To me, that was telling. It was Garrett saying it will be Leary's job. Garrett had the opportunity to say something about the missed snaps for Leary and how he will have to fight back in, but he didn't. And Leary took first-team snaps on Sunday for the first time. It just seems a matter of time before he takes over with the first team.