Training Camp Goals

The Cowboys are banking on Tony Romo being their future at quarterback. They said as much when they passed on Brady Quinn in this year's draft. Now it's up to them to make sure he realizes his potential.

1. Continue the development of quarterback Tony Romo.
The Cowboys are banking on Tony Romo being their future at quarterback. They said as much when they passed on Brady Quinn in this year's draft. Now it's up to them to make sure he realizes his potential.

Romo, who didn't throw a pass in his first three years in the league, caught lightning in a bottle in 2006, going 5-1 in his first six starts.

It was enough for Romo to make the Pro Bowl. But Romo's season didn't end as promisingly as it started. The Cowboys were 1-4 in their last five games. Romo's numbers were ugly with seven touchdowns, six interceptions and five lost fumbles. Still, it wasn't all Romo when the Cowboys were winning and it wasn't all Romo when they were losing.

Although the Cowboys believe in him, his undrafted free-agent pedigree suggests that their patience won't last beyond this year if he struggles.

That's why the primary focus in training camp will be to continue his development. He has good teachers in offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and backup quarterback Brad Johnson.

2. Get the defense acclimated to the new scheme.
The Cowboys are excited about the change in coaches from Bill Parcells to Wade Phillips because of the change in atmosphere as well as the change in defensive scheme. Phillips is laid back compared to the demanding Parcells. But he also is more aggressive in his defensive approach, which is welcomed by many of the Cowboys' defensive players. Phillips' focus will be to put his playmakers, like safety Roy Williams and linebacker DeMarcus Ware, in position to make plays on every down. His philosophy of going after the quarterback first and foremost should result in more big plays by the defense. The Cowboys even believe they have more talent on defense than Phillips' San Diego unit of a year ago. The Cowboys' unit includes seven first-round draft picks. So they believe the potential is there to be a dominant unit. Training camp will be their proving ground.

3. Settle the free safety position.
The Cowboys have had a revolving door at free safety since the retirement of Darren Woodson following the 2004 season. Now that Ken Hamlin has entered the mix, the Cowboys hope things will settle down.

Hamlin will compete with Keith Davis and Pat Watkins for the starting job. Davis and Watkins failed at the position last season, though the team still has hopes for Watkins, who was a rookie in 2006. The bottom line is the Cowboys are trying to win now. Hamlin has the best mix of skills to be the player they want at the position. He has the experience to make all the calls in the secondary and skills to cover the deep middle, allowing strong safety Roy Williams to play closer to the line of scrimmage. At least that's the plan if Hamlin can prove himself in training camp.

CAMP CALENDAR: The Cowboys report to training camp in San Antonio at 8 a.m. July 25. They have their first practice at 2:30 pm that afternoon.

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