Not really. … but let's do it, anyway!
With the help of conversations with dozens of Cowboys players and coaches, we'll analyze each offensive group today (and defense tomorrow,after the Monday workouts) with the expected starters in bold, the rundown on candidates, and a telling position-group quote:
QUARTERBACKS (2-3 spots)
The position group: Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Matt Moore, Richard Bartel.
The rundown: Romo is nothing short of a Cowboys rock star, and unlike some of his predecessors (including Troy Aikman) he seems to relish the role. The team is his, for the first time, and in our one-on-one conversations with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, it is clear the Cowboys are satisfied with his preparation. In terms of chemistry with teammates, this first week of camp has been all aces. … The Brad Johnson may be an insurance policy, but I still say it's a crummy one. His first week has been lackluster at best. … The No. 3 job? Bartel has a surprising strong arm. Still there may not BE a third job.
The quote: "Tony Romo has some of what Roger Staubach had.'' – Gil Brandt.
RUNNING BACKS (4-5 spots)
The position group: Julius Jones, Marion Barber, Tyson Thompson, Oliver Hoyte, Lousaka Polite, Deon Anderson, Jackie Battle, Alonzo Coleman.
The rundown: JuJo is acting, talking, running, as if he is freed by Bill Parcells' departure. He also appears to be thicker after working out on his own this offseason. This is a contract year for him. … but it's also a big year for MB3, who's running style is a favorite among the O-linemen. … The speed-burner Thompson spent the offseason working on flexibility with martial-arts expert Guy Mezger and does appear to have more wiggle in his hips. … One of the most pleasant surprises of the first week, though, is hustling Jackie Battle. … Garrett will oversee the implementation of a traditional fullback/running back set, and three fullbacks seem to be in the running: Hoyte is powerful, Polite is experienced, but Anderson , a sixth-round pick, is a budget pick and will help on special-teams.
The quote: "Teams having two backs is the way the NFL is now, I'm comfortable with it. We're all comfortable with it.'' – Julius Jones.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5-6 openings)
The position group: Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd, Miles Austin, Jamaica Rector, Jamel Richardson, Jerard Rabb, Jerheme Urban, Mike Jefferson, Isaiah Stanback.
The rundown: Privately, the braintrust expresses some concern about the fact that Owens and Glenn are near their mid-30's and therefore, in theory, nearer a physical breakdown. But it's hard to buy that while watching them this week. Owens led the NFL in TD catches last year and is healthier and happier. Glenn's burst allows him to outrun CBs to deep balls. … But there are questions beyond them. For all the hullabaloo, Crayton had a crummy week. Hurd (who did have a great week) and Austin are undrafted one-year vets with supposed potential. Stanback, a fourth-round pick who is converting from QB, has a T.O.-like physique. So he gets a lot of press. But you can't make the club while you're in the tub, and Stanback's foot problem will put him way behind.
The quote: "Don't you think I look good? I'm feeling good. I'm looking good. So I'm going to play good.'' – Terrell Owens.
TIGHT ENDS (4 spots)
The position group: Jason Witten, Anthony Fasano, Andy Thorn, Tony Curtis, Adam Bergen, Rodney Hannah.
The rundown: Witten has become a perennial Pro Bowler and even in 7-on-7 work has been Romo's reliable security blanket. … Fasano is apparently improving as a blocker because Dallas spent a lot of time this week with two tight ends, and then Fasano dropping into the backfield as a pass-protection fullback. … I saw nothing of note from the inconsistent backups; not even one guy, let alone two, looked especially worthy.
The quote: "How good is Jason Witten? Well, he's better than I ever was.'' – Jay Novacek.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9 spots)
The position group: Flozell Adams, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Pat McQuistan, Jim Molinaro, Cory Procter, Joe Berger, James Marten, Doug Free, Trey Darilek, Matt Tarullo, Steve Franklin, Steve Rissler.
The rundown: Leonard "Bigg'' Davis had been a big story because of his team-record $18 million bonus. He's a big story this weekend because overall he's been terrific in camp working at guard, especially in run blocking. … Adams and Colombo have been non-factors because of knee injuries. … Coaches favorites at this early stage? McQuistan, Kosier, backup Procter and good-humored tough guy Marten. … Because of the injuries, Molinaro has come from nowhere to make himself a job candidate. … McQuistan would look a lot better if he hadn't spent the week trying to block DeMarcus Ware.
The quote: "I think the offensive line can be one of the real strengths of our team.'' – Jerry Jones.
POSITION-GROUP RUNDOWN: The Offense
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