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Friday, July 25, 2008
Cowboys position battles

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
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Cornerback: Anthony Henry vs. Adam Jones

Henry wasn't pleased during last month's minicamp when Jones received some reps with the first team. But a Cowboys source told me Wednesday that he can't envision a scenario where Jones overtakes Henry during training camp unless there's an injury. Even though he was banged up last season, Henry still managed a team-leading six interceptions. He's got the best ball skills on the team and coaches think it will be a while before Jones shakes the rust off. Rookie Mike Jenkins will be the fourth cornerback.

When the Cowboys go into their nickel package, Terence Newman will move inside and Henry and Jones will play on the outside. Of course, Jones has to get reinstated before you see him in a regular-season game. That's a certainty unless he breaks containment with authorities.

Intensity index: Mild

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Nose tackle: Jay Ratliff vs. Tank Johnson

It's a stretch to call this an open competition, but it beats talking about the battle for third receiver, which will be a grudge match between Miles Austin and Sam Hurd if Terry Glenn doesn't agree to an amended contract. Johnson has fit in well with the team, but Ratliff's the guy who just got paid. He's outperformed his seventh-round selection and become one of the defense's emotional leaders. When Johnson rotates in at nose tackle, Ratliff is able to move to right end. Last year, this was a position of concern -- especially after Jason Ferguson went down with an injury. Ratliff played so well, though, that Ferguson became expendable.

Intensity index: Just for show