NFL Nation: Tags: On the radar

On the radar: Cowboys' chemistry

July, 8, 2010
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

In case you missed it, the Dallas Cowboys will attempt to become the first NFL team to qualify for a Super Bowl being played at their home stadium. And given their talented roster and strong finish in '09, Dallas has to be considered among the top contenders.

[+] EnlargeCowboys
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWill the Cowboys be able to live up to their preseason expectations?
There's only one problem: The last time the Cowboys were considered the so-called Super Bowl favorites, they had a meltdown in '08. That team was already talking about skipping forward to the playoffs by Week 6 of the regular season. And I don't have to remind you about a certain wide receiver who was hell on a locker room.

Now, there appears to be no dissension on the horizon. The Cowboys had such a comfortable offseason that reporters were forced to seize on a Patrick Crayton storyline to generate traffic. I suppose the release of Flozell Adams caused some ripples, but I believe that Doug Free will be up to the task of replacing the Cowboys' longtime left tackle.

Dez Bryant's going to command a lot of attention, but it's not like he has a polarizing personality. On the surface, this locker room seems as stable as it's ever been. Even the most vocal critics of the organization are predicting at least 11 wins for the Cowboys.

Will it go to the players' heads? Two years ago, the Cowboys acted like the most entitled team in league history. And owner Jerry Jones certainly contributed to that wild scene, captured on film by HBO's cameras in the series "Hard Knocks." This team is attempting to fly under the radar, but I'm not sure that's possible.

The Eagles truly believe they've made moves to close the gap that was obviously there at the end of last season. Mike Shanahan is expecting to challenge the Cowboys immediately for the division title. I think the Cowboys are the unquestioned favorites -- and that's while they'll have to guard against complacency.

Jones has the Cowboys embarking on a barnstorming training camp tour that will include stops in San Antonio, Arlington and Oxnard, Calif. Most coaches prefer staying in the same place for training camp. I'm sure that's the way Wade Phillips would prefer it, but he's not going to stand in the way of Jerry selling jerseys in Southern California.

Will all the travel wear down the Cowboys before they even get to September? I think it's something that bears watching.

On the radar: Surprise injuries

June, 24, 2010
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

A sore hip bothered Kurt Warner at Arizona Cardinals camp last summer. It wasn't a big deal.

[+] EnlargePatrick WIllis
Brett Davis/US PresswirePatrick Willis has already practiced after his offseason knee surgery and will seemingly be ready for training camp.
Two summers ago, the Seattle Seahawks downplayed Matt Hasselbeck's bad back because they didn't know the full extent of the problem. That one turned out to be more serious than expected.

Having the right feel for each injury situation can be tough. I'm sure a surprise injury or two will become a story after NFC West teams report for training camps in late July.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (knee), St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (back), Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee) and Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (pectoral) are among the high-profile NFC West players coming off surgery rehabs. Their situations will bear monitoring.

The following players ended last season on injured reserve (some are no longer with NFC West teams):

Arizona Cardinals

Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, Justin Green, Cody Brown

San Francisco 49ers

Tony Pashos, Ricky Schmitt, Thomas Clayton, Jeff Ulbrich, Walt Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Curtis Taylor

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Roehl, Walter Jones, Kevin Houser, Brandon Frye, Tatupu, Mike Hass

St. Louis Rams

Marc Bulger, Adam Carriker, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Eric Bassey, C.J. Ah You, Brooks Foster, Gary Gibson, Jacob Bell, Daniel Fells, Chris Massey, Bradley Fletcher, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton


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