Posted: 1:50 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, 2013
By Dave Halprin
Of course the topic dominating discussion of the Dallas Cowboys 2013 training camp is the early injury situation. Tyrone Crawford is done, Anthony Spencer has a knee issue, several players have hurt hamstrings, etc. That doesn't stop the wheels from turning so the Cowboys are forging ahead, trying to make 2013 a successful season. So let's take a look at a few things.
1. Jason Garrett is talking about having a more balanced attack on offense, and that means trying to revive the running game. This has been one of my big offseason concerns; a team can't be as poor running the ball as Dallas was in 2012 and expect to make the playoffs. Sure, it can happen, teams have done it before with an all-passing attack, but it's much harder. I feel like I have to always add this disclaimer; the NFL is a passing league, and the Cowboys offense should be weighted towards the pass, but they need a moderately effective running game.
"We've got to run the football better, and we've got to run the football more," Garrett said. "That's going to make our offensive line better, it's going to make our quarterback better, certainly our tight end and our receivers better and our defense better. And I think when you do that, you spread the burden."
The Cowboys were forced to rely on Romo slinging the ball a record number of times for him in 2012. If the Cowboys can run the ball, it allows Romo to relax some, it keeps him from getting hit over and over, it makes the defense think run at least some instead of just going for the QB on every play. And it helps the offensive linemen's confidence.
2. As always, the defense is ahead of the offense in the early stages of camp.
The offense is behind: Between the offensive linemen getting knocked around, dropped passes by receivers and some uneven play by Tony Romo, the Cowboys offense has struggled through two days. The defense has been outstanding with an unofficial count of six forced turnovers and eight sacks in the first two days of training camp. There has been some bright spots for the offense: Doug Free, Jason Witten, Lance Dunbar and Bryant have looked good.
Doug Free? He's been getting all the first team snaps instead of rotating with Jeremy Parnell. It's early, but I'll take this as a glimmer of hope, maybe Free will return to a serviceable starter.
3. Strong safety Barry Church feels like he's back, and that he's back at 100%. With the dreaded Achilles injury, there is always concern the next season about whether a player is really back to his old self. Church feels he is, and reports from camp have him looking good.
Minutes after [Tyrone] Crawford tumbled to the grass without any contact, much like Church did in a Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears last season, the strong safety made a diving interception of a deflected pass, rolled to his feet and ran into the end zone.
There is no indication that Church has lost a step. In fact, he’s a little lighter than last season at 218 pounds and might be faster. He earned praise from secondary coach Jerome Henderson after running step for step with Miles Austin on a deep corner route during Monday’s practice.
4. Jason Garrett isn't messing around. I loved his introductory speech to the team before camp started. And he seems to be following up on parts of it. Like keep your head into every rep of practice.
Over the last few years, coach Jason Garrett has had individual players pulled for a snap when they make a pre-snap mistake. On Monday he replaced the entire offense. When the entire first-team offense moved and C Travis Frederick didn’t snap the ball, the No. 2 offense came in for two snaps. When a shotgun snap from C Phil Costa was off to QB Kyle Orton, Garrett had the No. 3 offense come in for a snap. Garrett has been much more vocal with his displeasure in practice so far early in camp than he has been in previous camps.
Coach 'em up Jason!
Also, you can keep up with all the BTB training camp article at this address, or click on the Dallas Cowboys 2013 Training Camp group on the front page.