This fall will mark Ray Sherman's 21st season in the NFL coaching ranks. Now in his second year as the Cowboys' wide receivers coach, Sherman made his professional coaching debut in 1988 with the Houston Oilers under Jerry Glanville.
Since then, he has also worked in Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and was in Tennessee for two seasons before coming to Big D in 2006.
Is Patrick Crayton ready to make the leap to solid No. 2 pass catcher and what about Sam Hurd? And is it too early to call the drafting of ex-QB Isaiah Stanback in 2007 to turn him into a pass catcher a failure? These are just some of the questions in part I of our two-part feature with Ray Sherman:
What do you expect out of Patrick Crayton this year?
Sherman: Well, I expect him to be a lot better this year than last year. We have a new system and he has a year under his belt in this new system. I think that with the way he's working now, I expect him to have an excellent year. I thought he stepped up and did a good job. He came in as the third receiver and then Terry Glenn got hurt, he just took it from there. I expect to take his game to another level this year because he knows what is in store for him.
What do you lose without Terry Glenn?
Sherman: You lose experience without a Terry Glenn because he has a lot of experience of being in this league. He's been a Pro Bowler, a 1,000-yard receiver and has got speed. You lose a certain element but like I said, he's not here. You've got to focus on the guys who are here and work on those things. What I look at is what can a young man do best? I don't care about what he can't do. I care about what he can do. That is the bottom line for each of these guys that I work with, the things that they do well. That is what you worry about.
How is Isaiah Stanback progressing?
Sherman: Just right now, he's still working, going through processes and getting in his practice reps. What we look for is improvement each and every day you step out on the field and every time you run a play. I think he's showing some signs of that. He's getting better and once we get him into this next minicamp and into some preseason games, then we'll see where he's at. It's very tough for a new player coming in and when you've got a new system with a lot of offense thrown in, you don't get a chance to learn it that quick. Because he was hurt, he had to learn it in class more instead of doing it on the field. It's totally different on the field. Being on the field and going against defensive backs is something that's totally different for him. I expect him to be a lot better because he's getting the practice reps and is getting in the classroom work in. Just getting the reps in (is the biggest transition for him). The main thing for him is that it's a much faster game with a lot more running than he had to do at quarterback. He's dropped a ton of weight and that has helped him a lot. You can get the classroom work but if you're not getting work on the field, then that is totally different. You might know something in the classroom but when you get out there, it might be totally different. It takes time because he's trying to learn the play, the route, what he's supposed to do with the route, what he's supposed to do with the defensive back in his face, what to do when he (the defensive back) is off and if a linebacker is coming at him. He's got a lot of things that he has to get repetitions in and get a feel for before he's able to move on.
How has Terrell Owens changed since he first got here?
Sherman: I think the thing with him is that he's focused. He's in great shape, is very focused and his attitude is outstanding. I expect him to have another great year. He's been very mature, a lot of fun to work with and I look forward a lot to working with him again.
How is Miles Austin progressing?
Sherman: He has improved a lot. He's having a great camp and I expect him to get better and better because he has all the tools. The main thing with Miles is getting him the work and the reps because he's stepping in there. He's got the ability and has a few technique things that he is brushing up on. He's getting a lot better and is showing great improvement in this camp. I'm very pleased with him. There's no question (that he can be someone who can stretch the field). I think Miles Austin is someone with tremendous speed. He's got size, he's strong and is very athletic. The thing about him is that he's young and is starting to come around. He's made great strides from last year. I really like what I'm seeing from him right now and expect big things out of him this year. I think he's understanding how to be in the right spots, how to come out of his breaks and making catches coming out of them and how to be explosive on a consistent basis. He's also understanding the line marks and where he needs to be. That's very important.
What could Adam Jones offer the Cowboys offensively?
Sherman: In Tennessee, he was a guy that we put in for spot plays and he did some reverses and came out of the backfield. He's very explosive. When he gets his hands on the ball, he can make people miss and is a very explosive player. Some of the things we practiced with him, we never used in a game. He's a very talented young man and people will see once he returns a punt or kickoff, how explosive he is. He's a guy who can also make plays as a defensive back. It [whether or not he plays receiver] depends on what Coach Phillips decides. If he feels that we can use him on our side of the ball and utilize him to do some things, then that would be good but that's up to Coach Phillips.
CAMP Q&A: Ray Sherman (PART I)
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