Dallas Cowboys: Thomas Howard

Position Series: Outside linebackers

February, 22, 2011
2/22/11
10:00
AM ET
Players: DeMarcus Ware (signed through 2015), Anthony Spencer (signed through 2011), Victor Butler (signed through 2012), Brandon Williams (signed through 2012).

[+] EnlargeSpencer
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAfter finishing strong in 2009, Anthony Spencer found himself struggling last season, especially against the run.
Top free agents: Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland Raiders; Chris Gocong, Cleveland Browns; Thomas Howard, Oakland Raiders; Mike Peterson, Atlanta Falcons; Manny Lawson, San Francisco 49ers.

Top draft prospects: Von Miller, Texas A&M; Akeem Ayers, UCLA; Kelvin Sheppard, LSU; Bruce Carter, North Carolina; Mason Foster, Washington

2010 review: There is nearly nothing negative you can say about the efforts of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who led the NFL in sacks last season. But there is something to be said about Anthony Spencer, who played opposite of Ware. Spencer came on strong toward the end of the 2009 season, and there was a thought he would build momentum for a strong start for 2010. We're still waiting. Spencer had his moments, but he struggled against the run -- his supposed strong suit -- and failed to beat tacklers one-on-one on a consistent basis on the pass rush. Victor Butler was a bright spot for the Cowboys, but we’re not sure if he’s ready to get more playing time.

Offseason preview: The secondary, offensive line and pass rush are concerns for the 2011 Cowboys. If they draft a pass rusher, an outside linebacker or a defensive end that can play standing up, it would put pressure on Spencer to produce. Competition is important for these Cowboys moving forward. While Ware’s status is in excellent shape, Spencer’s is questionable.

Need meter: (0 to 5) 3

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