Here’s an early Father’s Day gift: The next time you see the Cowboys they will be wearing pads at training camp.
And that welcomed sight is only five weeks away.
With their off-season team work concluded via this week’s minicamp, the Cowboys will next get together as a team when they fly to Oxnard for camp on July 28.
Since that gut-wrenching loss to Green Bay in the NFC semifinals back in January, they rolled the dice in free agency, thrown some darts in the draft and flipped a coin in contract negotiations. Are the Cowboys better? Have they been lucky? After beginning individual workouts in early March, the official off-season program in April and OTAs and minicamps in May and June, the Cowboys are different than the team that went 12-4 but lost to the Packers.
*Re-signed several key figures to their success including head coach Jason Garrett, fullback Tyler Clutts, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, right tackle Doug Free and receiver Cole Beasley.
*Signed all draft picks already, minimizing early distractions at training camp.
*Saw no lingering effects on recent back surgeries from quarterback Tony Romo, who participated in all off-season work and is 100-percent healthy headed to Oxnard.
*Drafted cornerback Byron Jones with their first-round pick, and give him a realistic shot to start in Week 1.
*Linebacker and leader Sean Lee is back on the field and healthy.
*Improved all facets of their team in free agency with the signings of Greg Hardy (defense), La’el Collins (offense) and Danny McCray (special teams).
*Star receiver Dez Bryant remains unsigned and unsatisfied with the team’s franchise tag designation.
*After losing NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray to the Eagles, they only replaced him with Darren McFadden and the hopes of major improvement from Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar.
*Linebacker Rolando McClain had surgery and has done his rehab in Alabama, away from team doctors.
*With the loss of Dwayne Harris to the Giants, they enter camp without a proven kick-returner. McFadden and rookie free agent Lucky Whitehead will get looks.
The Bottom Line
*If Hardy and Jones can play and Lee returns to form, the defense has a chance to improve. But on offense, the Cowboys are banking on their offensive line – perhaps bolstered by Collins – being a bigger asset than Murray was. No reason to think they can’t at least compete for the NFC East again.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.