IRVING, Texas – With the Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015 offseason practices now finished, here’s a breakdown of what to look for at each offensive position moving forward.
- Quarterback: With no Tony Romo for the balance of the work and Kyle Orton debating whether he wanted to continue his NFL career, Brandon Weeden took the majority of the snaps with the first offense. As it appears now, this was a nice big picture move on the front office’s part. He appeared confident and prepared during this assignment. If Orton does in fact decide that he no longer wants to continue, this front office and coaching staff has to feel that Weeden is clearly the best option now for that backup role.
- Running Back: DeMarco Murray just went along very quietly in these practices without much fanfare, which suits him perfectly. What I learned studying was that there is a plan for Lance Dunbar and it is up to him to remain healthy and be available each week to execute that plan. Like the wide receivers on this squad, it will be interesting to see if they carry three or four running backs on the roster. The early thought is that it would most likely be three, but with Murray in the final year of his deal and the chance that you might be without him for one or two games, the possibility is that fourth back might need to be kept. Special teams will play a huge role in who is on the roster if they decide to only go with three. We know that Dunbar can play in that role, but are unsure about Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams. We have already seen these two splitting snaps and that will continue during camp in Oxnard. If I were the front office, it would be good to see Ben Malena make the practice squad.
- Wide Receiver: Might be the toughest position for a rookie or undrafted free agent to make the roster. Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are the starters with Cole Beasley as the third. Dwayne Harris is on this roster for what he can do as a receiver and on special teams as well. Devin Street should have a spot as well, but now what becomes interesting is if they decide to keep a sixth one on the roster. LaRon Byrd plays special teams and L’Damian Washington has done it as well at Missouri. Tim Benford has been on the practice squad for two seasons but the competition might be too much for him now. One of these guys is going to have to have the camp of their lives in order for them to consider keeping six.
- Tight End: There’s a lot to like about what Scott Linehan and Mike Pope have done with this group. There is no question about how they might use Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar, but where does James Hanna fit in and could that spot be for a potential blocking tight end to save the wear and tear on Witten and Escobar? Keep an eye on how this position develops during training camp to determine if they could just roll with the athletic guys that currently make up the group.
- Offensive Line: Other that what is happening at left guard, you could name four of the five starters opening day. Keep an eye on that left guard, because whoever gets that job will clearly be the best option between Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau. The coaches will take their time in making that call as we work through camp, because it doesn’t matter for Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. Working with either one of those guys shouldn’t be a problem, because both are veteran guys. The bigger question will once again be the numbers and how many guys you decide to keep. Along with the battle at guard, there will be one at tackle. Both Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell have played on the left and right side during their careers and will continue to do so in camp. The odd man out here might be one of those tradable pieces that could be a much needed player for the roster on the last cuts. Just as a note, tackle John Wetzel was getting work at right guard the last several practices and Ronald Patrick was getting more snaps at center. These backups are far from settled.