Before I get in to the meat and potatoes of the 2013 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp in Oxnard and our exclusive interviews with Cole Beasley and Brandon Carr, I want to elaborate on some of the intricacies of the process I observed while in Oxnard.
Prior to attending training camp in Oxnard Ca. I have to admit, I was a little concerned about many aspects of the 2013 Dallas Cowboys.
I was pondering over issues like: is there enough discipline? Is Jason Garrett qualified to coach the team I have loved for 40 years? Are all of the players getting a fair chance to earn a roster spot? How well will the players adjust to attempting to learn a new defense for the 2nd season in a row? Is there going to be any continuity along the offensive line? Will young players like Cole Beasley get more opportunities this year? Will JJ Wilcox be worthy of a draft pick with only one year of experience at the position? Did Travis Frederick merit a 1st round draft pick? Is there enough depth along the defensive line? Was drafting Gavin Escobar a smart move? How well will Lance Dunbar develop? Will Alex Tanney pan out? These are just some of the questions I hadÂ on my mind.
As you can see in the daysÂ leading up to the Dallas Cowboys training camp visit, I had a lot of unanswered questions floating around in this vacuum known as my brain. I am no Mike Mayock, but I am not a neophyte either when it comes to the game of football. My goal was to try and get as many ofÂ the questions answered as possible so that I may present a sound analysis to the readers here at Your Daily Cowboys Football Fix.
It didn’t take long for this old bird to get caught up in the fervor and excitement of the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Much to my surprise, Jason Garrett exhibited an energy and a level of enthusiasm that was contagious. The players responded to him well and it was obvious that they were buying in to what he was selling. When Garrett spoke, the players were ‘all ears’.
I found it interesting that he took the time to run laps around the field before practice and actually took part in some of the warm-up activities. (He still has a pretty good arm with some zip on the ball) C.J. and I had an opportunity to not only have him address some of our questions during the press conference, but we were afforded the opportunity to spend a few minutes with him after practice. I have to admit, I leftÂ the Dallas Cowboys training camp with an entirely different opinion of the teams commander and chief, Jason Garrett. I am willing to give him a couple more years to complete his process. My only concern is the discipline factor: I feel as though he could be a little bit more of a hard-ass at times.
I was impressed with how equally distributed the reps were among the young players. Each one was given opportunities to get noticed by the coaches. They rotated players in and out on both sides of the line. One of the players that caught my eye immediately was #92 Landon Cohen. This kid played with power: on one occasion, he bull-rushed the Dallas Cowboys 1st round pick Travis Frederick and planted Frederick right on his back-side. His technique is a little raw, but he moves well and exhibits flashes of being a future star. Cohen’s non-stop motor is his most impressive trait.
The other young Cowboys who impressed me was #98 George Selvie. He also played with power. His technique was a little better than Cohen’s, but Cohen plays with more power at the point. Jason Hatcher was all over the field. Cas previously wrote that he would be one of 5 players to break out in 2013, and I am inclined to agree. Hatcher has gotten better every year and this 4-3 defense was a God-send for him. I was thoroughly impressed with how quick he is for a big man. He has a good motor and his technique has come a long way. Expect Jason Hatcher to have his best season as a Dallas Cowboy.
A large portion of the Cowboy Nation is more than a little skeptical about the Dallas Cowboys 1st round draft pick, Travis Frederick. After speaking with him for less than a minute, I realized that this kid is a genius. He is articulate, well spoken, and he gave me a very intelligent answer to my question. Even in the short time we were at camp, Frederick showed visible improvement each day. He is getting a better understanding of his duties making the line calls. (Jason Garrett confirmed that when I asked him about it in the press conference.) Frederick has a lot of potential, but he still needs to improve in two areas: his quickness moving side to side, and his power at the point. If the conditioning coaches can make Frederick stronger, and Callahan can improve his footwork and technique, he will be a dominant offensive lineman for years to come.
Lance Dunbar, in my mind, will be a Dallas Cowboy for a long time. This kid has shown that he can not only be a threat on offense, but effective on special teams as well. As my colleague (C. Joseph Wright)Â already mentioned, he was a large contributor on special teams and has shown that he will not only be effective as a running back, but is very effectiveÂ as a receiver out of the backfield. Bill Callahan has the Cowboys running more short passes and screens this year; Cowboy fans should be anxious to see how it translates in to the games. Dunbar could make a huge impact for this team.
The most disheartening part of the Dallas Cowboys training camp for me was Gavin Escobar. He has good hands and runs his routes fairly well for a rookie, but it looked like he has problems following instructions. During drills, the coach had to tell Escobar the same thing over and over about keeping his elbow tight. The coach made it clear that he doesn’t want to see any air in there.
NFL players are relentless when it comes to trying to knock the ball loose. It didn’t matter how often he was corrected, Escobar continued to carry the football like a loaf of bread. The other major concern with Escobar is how weak he looks for a big kid. When they were doing the blocking drills, he got man-handled.
Alex Tanney has a lot of poise in the pocket. He has a rocket for an arm and good vision. Coach Garrett had nothing but good things to say about him when C.J. asked about him in the press conference. He is doing a good job of learning the offense and seems to be getting better every day. Stephens had a bit of an advantage on him because he took part in mini-camp and OTA’s, but Tanney has much more arm strength and better accuracy.
The Dallas Cowboys should keep three quarterbacks; Alex Tanney has too much potential to risk losing. His over-all mechanics are better, and he has the necessary smarts and instincts to develop in to a starter at the NFL Level.