QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Tony Romo. Backups -- Brad Johnson, Richard Bartel.
With two Pro Bowls in just two seasons as the Cowboys' starting quarterback, Tony Romo is already one of the league's brightest stars. But Romo must put some substance with his sizzle by winning in the postseason when it matters most. In two seasons as a starter, Romo is 4-7 in December and January with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. And that includes two first-round playoff exits. Brad Johnson returns as the backup but the Cowboys might add another veteran -- possibly Chris Simms if he's released -- to round out the quarterback rotation.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB Marion Barber, FB Deon Anderson. Backups -- RB Felix Jones, RB Tashard Choice, RB Alonzo Coleman, RB Keon Lattimore, FB Ronnie Cruz, FB Julius Crosslin.
Barber will be the main cog in the running game for the first time since high school. He shared the load in college at Minnesota and shared it the last few years in Dallas with Julius Jones. But Jones is gone and Barber will be the featured back. After last season's Pro Bowl campaign, the Cowboys are confident Barber can handle the load. He will be complemented by rookie draft picks Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. The speedy Jones is the perfect complement to Barber's barbaric running style. Plus he brings the big play to the Cowboys' offense. Choice can be an every-down alternative if Barber gets hurt. Deon Anderson has proven to be a tough blocker and special-teams maven at fullback.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton. Backups -- Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, Isaiah Stanback, Mark Bradford, Mike Jefferson, Daniel Polk, Danny Amendola, Terry Glenn.
Terrell Owens is happy. He is producing on the field and he has a coach he is comfortable with in receivers coach Ray Sherman. More than anything, Romo has helped make Owens one of the league's top game-breaking receivers again. Owens had 81 catches for 1,355 yards -- the eighth 1,000-yard season in his career -- and 15 touchdowns. Although he turns 35 next season, the Cowboys have no concern about Owens. But they do worry about the receivers playing opposite him. Glenn will be 34 when the season starts, and he played in only two games last season. He is at odds with the team over an injury waiver and might not be back. Crayton played solidly in Glenn's absence last season. But he is considered a No. 3 receiver, which is why the Cowboys attempted to trade for a veteran receiver in the offseason to no avail. The Cowboys are counting on Crayton again and are looking for Sam Hurd and Miles Austin to develop into playmakers they can count on.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jason Witten. Backups -- Tony Curtis, Martellus Bennett, Rodney Hanney, Drew Atchison.
Tight end Jason Witten skews the need for another receiver because he is one of the league's top playmaking tight ends with four consecutive Pro Bowl berths and a 96-catch season in 2007. The question at tight end is the backups. The Cowboys drafted Bennett to start opposite Witten. But he was inconsistent in college and will be a work in progress. Curtis has made strides the past few seasons and will see a lot of playing time.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Flozell Adams, LG Kyle Kosier, C Andre Gurode, RG Leonard Davis, LT Marc Colombo. Backups -- T Pat McQuistan, T Doug Free, T James Marten, G Corey Proctor, G Joe Berger.
With three Pro Bowlers in center Andre Gurode, tackle Flozell Adams and guard Leonard Davis there are few worries about the offensive line. All three are locked up with lucrative long-term contracts. Although 33 years old and mistake prone with five holding penalties and nine false starts last year, the Cowboys gave Adams $15 million in guaranteed money to protect quarterback Romo's blind side. He is steady and missed only 10 snaps last year. Davis finally looks like the dominant force he was expected to be when he was drafted second overall by the Cardinals in 2001. Gurode has developed into one of the league's top centers. He just needs to work on his shotgun snaps. Kosier and Colombo are solid albeit unspectacular. McQuistan, Free and blank are the top backups.
OXNARD PREVIEW: The Offense
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