Cowboys Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

Dallas’ receiving corps is probably the greatest question mark for the team moving into training camp. It is the only position at which the Cowboys didn’t upgrade, unless of course you believe in the addition by subtraction theory. Even then, there’s no doubt that the unit is -- on paper -- significantly less talented than they were a year ago.
This isn’t to say the receiving corps will be a liability by any means. The fact is, Terrell Owens, for all his self-promotion and naked pictures, remains a top flight playmaker. He caught 30 more passes than anyone else in the unit in 2008 with a relatively (for him) paltry 69 catches. Patrick Crayton was next with just 39 and, of course, Roy Williams grabbed just 19 after coming over in October. 
Dallas is pinning its hopes on the aforementioned Williams, who is expected, not to be Owens, but a serviceable No. 1 receiver -- a deep threat with playmaking ability with the ball in his hands.
How effective he will be remains to be seen of course. Announcing last week that he will cease speaking to the media, and after an offseason during which Williams spent a great deal of time working out with his quarterback, it’s presumable that (a) he’s beginning to feel the pressure, and (b) that he will almost certainly be better than he was a year ago.
The team remains high on Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd, the latter two of which have been lauded heavily while struggling considerably with injury.
Hurd suffered a high ankle sprain toward the end of preseason and then, after reinjuring the ankle, missed the 2008 campaign.
Austin missed four games in 2008 with a nagging knee injury.
Hurd and Austin will battle, along with Crayton, for the number two spot on the receiving corps.
Crayton, who Bill Parcells praised as having the best hands on the team, filled this role deftly in 2007, when he caught 50 passes for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The number two battle will certainly be intriguing to watch in camp, but it’s likely that it will take a backseat to the ongoing development and assimilation of Williams.
There’s little argument that the receivers are generally unproven. This does not mean they won’t be effective however. The talent seems to be there, if lesser so than it was in 2008, and the young corps will be helped significantly by a renewed commitment to the run and arguably the best tight end tandem in the game.
Cowboys training camp kicks off Tuesday July 28, at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

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