Mini-camp Preview: WRs

With the return of Terry Glenn, and the emergence of several new comers, the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers have been given new life this offseason.

18 Terrance Copper - Originally an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina, Copper has to be considered one of the biggest surprises of the last 12 months. Word around Valley Ranch is that Copper has had a strong offseason and continues to attend offseason workouts regularly. He also participated in last week's quarterback school at Valley Ranch.

84 Patrick Crayton - As a seventh round draft pick out of Northwestern Oklahoma State, Crayton recorded 12 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown last season. He also returned four punts for 34 yards. This offseason, Crayton and fellow second year man Terrance Copper have done everything they can to enhance their game.

15 Tom Crowder - Crowder, a converted defensive back has impressed the Cowboys coaching staff this offseason with his dedication, speed, and good hands. Overall, he's been one of the pleasant surprises of the entire roster and has a legitimate chance to showcase his abilities next weekend. "Tom Crowder spent the whole year learning how to catch the ball better," Parcells said after the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp two weeks ago. "He's got the speed -- now he's getting better catching the ball.

10 Ahmad Merritt - Merritt, originally an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin in 2000, played sparingly at wide receiver for the Bears after spending his rookie season and most of his second season on Chicago's practice squad. Signed by the Cowboys this offseason, he's a developmental player that has his work cut out for him to make the team.

83 Terry Glenn - Getting Glenn back this year is almost like adding a free agent wide receiver during the offseason. Clearly, his return to form is of primary importance to the Cowboys' offense and newly acquired quarterback Drew Bledsoe. We haven't heard much from Glenn this offseason other than that he should be back to full strength.

19 Keyshawn Johnson - After disputing reports that wanted to re-negotiate his contract, Johnson was instrumental in landing veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn. The much-maligned receiver actually placed the first phone call to Glenn to help get him to Valley Ranch. However, as far as offseason workouts go, word is that Johnson hasn't been a regular.

81 Quincy Morgan - Perhaps no other player on the entire roster has re-dedicated himself to the game more than Morgan. Next weekend's mini-camp will be the first chance he has to prove that on the field. If Morgan is indeed coming in to this season with a new and improved attitude, he could be the deep threat the Cowboys need to get to the next level.

87 Zuriel Smith - Originally a sixth round draft pick by Dallas in 2003, Smith has done little to distinguish himself since his arrival in Valley Ranch. This year, he'll have to compete with Tom Crowder, as well as undrafted free agents Reggie Harrell and Jamaica Rector for a spot on the team.

14 Reggie Harrell - When the Cowboys decided against drafting a wide receiver in the 2005 NFL Draft, if left the door open for several undrafted free agents, including former TCU wide out Reggie Harrell. Harrell has openly admitted he wants to play on special teams as a gunner and is willing to sacrifice his body for downfield block. This guy has a Bill Parcells attitude all over him. "If they need me to block downfield, I'll block downfield," Harrell said. "If they me on special teams, that's OK, too. I've always wanted to play in the NFL, and I've always wanted to play for the Cowboys. "Now it's up to me to prove that I deserve that chance."

13 Jamaica Rector - Another undrafted free agent, Rector demonstrated good speed, showed great acceleration out of his breaks, and sure hands during the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp two weeks ago. Word around Valley Ranch also is that he was Parcells' favorite receiver on the field.

Overall Analysis: With a new quarterback in Drew Bledsoe, and a stable running game in Julius Jones, the Cowboys should have a new outlook on offense in 2005. At wide receiver, the return of Terry Glenn is critical.

Veteran Keyshawn Johnson is a proven commodity and Quincy Morgan appears to be on the threshold of a career turnaround. The Cowboys also denied the notion that this aging unit needs to add another speedster to help stretch the field when the organization elected not to spend a pick on a wide receiver in the 2005 NFL Draft.

In mini-camp, the priority for the Cowboys' wide receivers is crystal clear- establish a relationship with Drew Bledsoe. It all starts with basics- timing and rhythm. Bledsoe has already worked with some of his younger wide outs this offseason, but now will be the time he starts to gel with veterans Johnson, Glenn, and Morgan. How quickly this unit adjusts to a new quarterback will go a long way in dictating how much this offense improves in 2005.

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