6 Burning Questions for Mini-Camp

With the start of the only mini-camp of the offseason just days away, TheRanchReport.com takes a closer look at six burning questions facing the Dallas Cowboys.

6. Was Anthony Spencer actually worth a first-round pick?
Don't get me wrong, this question will not be answered in a three-day mini-camp, but we should start to see just how Wade Phillips wants to use Spencer opposite DeMarcus Ware at some point this weekend. Sure, we expect the Cowboys to be more aggressive with their pass rush this season, but they have to have a player that compliments Ware's skills to do it. Is Anthony Spencer that player? Was he worth a first round draft pick or could the Cowboys have been better served looking in another direction? We'll begin to find out the answers to those questions this weekend.

5. Which rookies are ready to make an impact?
Notice I said rookies, not players that were drafted. We've seen players like Tony Romo emerge from the undrafted ranks all the way to the Pro Bowl in recent years. Surely, first round pick Anthony Spencer will be ready for action, but what about Doug Free or James Marten? How slowly will they have to be brought along? Is Isaiah Stanback truly ready to play wide receiver on the next level or is he stuck in kick-return-land for the foreseeable future? What about Courtney Brown? Could he be one of the steals of this year's draft? There are always late round picks and undrafted free agents that emerge from this weekend looking like they are ready to nail down a spot on the 53-man roster. Who will it be this year?

4. Did the Cowboys waste a draft pick on Nick Folk?
Admit it, you didn't see this one coming during the draft. At no point did you think the Cowboys would draft a kicker- especially before the seventh round. I'm there with you, but the Cowboys did in fact pick up a kicker in Arizona's Nick Folk. Funny thing is Folk was thought of as the top kicker at the NFL Combine in February and should provide ample competition for veteran Martin Gramatica. In fact, don't be surprised if he beats out Gramatica at some point during training camp. Before you pencil him on your 2007 53-man roster, you may want to see how fairs this weekend first.

3. What is the mental status of Tony Romo?
After last year's collapse, not only in the regular season, but in the wildcard loss at Seattle, Tony Romo enters the 2007 season with all the pressure in the world squarely on his shoulders. No, he's not in jeopardy of losing his starting job, but he does need to have a good mini-camp both on and off the field. Romo proved he belonged in the league a year ago, but now he must continue to improve his game while also becoming more of a team leader. Also, there's no denying that expectations in Dallas are at an all-time high. If the Cowboys don't get back to the playoffs and at least win a game the season will be viewed as a disappointment. Can Romo, with just one year of experience under his belt do all that while also keep the ever-explosive T.O. in check?

2. Is Leonard Davis ready to start over?
The Cowboys sure hope so, especially after signing him to a $49 million+ contract this offseason. Davis, who was originally selected as the No. 2 overall selection in the 2001 draft by Arizona, has been largely viewed as a disappointment through his first six seasons in the league. But after signing with the Cowboys, he said he's ready to turn over a new leaf. "Something new is coming up. I'm all about the challenges," he said. "I've dealt with challenges all my life. Being as big as I am, I've always been looked upon as a leader. The expectations are nothing new to me." Is this nothing more than free agent talk or a commitment to become the player many thought he would be six years ago?

1. How will Wade Phillips run the show?
For the first time in a long time, Bill Parcells is not the head coach in Dallas. That means change across the board- even in how mini-camps are scheduled. How will the team respond to Phillips and the new coaching staff? Can Phillips bring about improved defensive play as he's done at virtually every other stop as a head coach or a defensive coordinator? The good news is that defensively, the Cowboys have been in the 3-4 scheme the past two years so in theory there shouldn't be too much new to learn. But still, with change comes questions and these are just some of the questions that will begin to be answered during this weekend's mini-camp.

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