- Calvin Watkins, ESPN.com
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We took two weeks of vacation to regroup, and, with that, we've got some random thoughts before the Cowboys head to training camp.
1. There are no major decisions looming for the Cowboys before leaving Dallas for Oxnard, Calif. That's a positive thing. The only real decision revolves around defensive tackle Josh Brent, and it seems the NFL will make a decision on his case. Jay Ratliff has a court case in August, but it's doubtful the team and the NFL will discipline him severely. He won't get suspended, and, at worse, he'll get fined. So, all the major decisions for the Cowboys come on the field. The other safety spot could go to Will Allen, and the starting center might be Travis Frederick, but if Phil Costa wins the gig, that's not a bad thing. The No. 3 receiver is either Dwayne Harris or Terrance Williams. The Cowboys, unlike the New England Patriots, go into training camp with little or no distractions.
2. Defensive end Anthony Spencer enters the 2013 season a man in charge of his financial freedom. He'll play under the franchise tag of $10.6 million, but he wants a long-term contract with the Cowboys. He won't receive one, so instead he'll play this season out and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014. Spencer is coming off a career season, during which he compiled 11 sacks and was the main focus of the defense in the last two weeks of the season with DeMarcus Ware nicked up with shoulder and elbow injuries. If Spencer is to command a hefty salary in free agency next year, how he performs in the new 4-3 scheme at end will dictate plenty. Spencer also has the flexibility of going back to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme in 2014, which increases his marketability among teams. A good season helps Spencer. An average season merits a short-term deal.
3. Some fans expressed dismay at the release of fullback Lawrence Vickers last week. If the Cowboys really wanted a fullback on the roster, they would not only have cut Vickers, which they did, but signed Vonta Leach, the best fullback on the free-agent market, which they didn't. The Cowboys will go with four tight ends, and the signing of veteran Dante Rosario meant the end of Vickers. Rosario will play special teams, and that made Vickers expendable. Sure, Vickers would have played special teams, too, but new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia trusts Rosario more.
4. If you want to say Dez Bryant had the most impressive offseason for the Cowboys, that would be accurate. But backup running back Lance Dunbar was impressive as well during offseason workouts. Dunbar is a speedy back who could be used in third-down situations. Dunbar needs improvement on pass blocking, size could be an issue, yet, he's someone worth watching in training camp. We're not saying he should become a starter if DeMarco Murray gets hurt again, but Dunbar should see more playing time than he did last season.
5. The Cowboys offense had a delay of game penalty during offseason practices with Bill Callahan calling the play and Wade Wilson standing next to him on the field. What's going to happen with Callahan in the press box and Wilson on the field during games? The Cowboys made the switch to take some duties away from head coach Jason Garrett. For this move to work, the Cowboys need to work the mechanics of this smoothly. Having five preseason games will help in this process, but I question having Callahan in the press box relaying the play call to Wilson, who will be on the field. If things get haywire, moving Callahan to the sidelines could solve any problems.
We took two weeks of vacation to regroup, and, with that, we've got some random thoughts before the Cowboys head to training camp.1. There are no major decisions looming for the Cowboys before leaving Dallas for Oxnard, Calif.