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News: Archer: Cowboys' training camp roster analysis

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    Cowboys' training camp roster analysis
    07:55 PM CDT on Saturday, July 24, 2004

    By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News













    OFFENSE

    QUARTERBACKS
    Openings: 3

    2003 starter: Quincy Carter.

    The skinny: Carter improved last season in helping the Cowboys to 10-6 and a playoff spot but had 21 interceptions and 17 touchdowns. The ratio and accuracy must improve or Vinny Testaverde will win the job. Testaverde knows what Bill Parcells wants and (more importantly) does not want. Drew Henson is the future, but he could sneak into the mix, even with a three-year layoff because of baseball.


    RUNNING BACKS
    Openings: 5

    2003 starters: Troy Hambrick, Richie Anderson.

    The skinny: Eddie George has 10,009 career rushing yards, but sticking to the Parcells mantra – the best player will play – will give rookie Julius Jones a chance to win the job. Anderson returns at fullback, but he was expecting to see time at tailback. Those chances should decrease now. ReShard Lee will get a chance to compete with Jones, and Aveion Cason is coming off major knee surgery. The real battle will be at backup fullback with Darian Barnes, Jamar Martin and Lousaka Polite.


    WIDE RECEIVERS
    Openings: 5

    2003 starters: Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn.

    The skinny: Galloway will be replaced by Keyshawn Johnson, who brings an element that was missing last year: the ability to pick up first downs. Glenn should be counted on for another 50-60-catch season. Antonio Bryant's off-season dust-up with Parcells will be forgotten if he can produce. Randal Williams needs to prove he can be more than a preseason player on offense. Depth is a concern.


    TIGHT ENDS
    Openings: 3

    2003 starter: Dan Campbell.

    The skinny: He is not a major pass-catching threat, but Campbell is the perfect Parcells player: tough, no excuses, plays hard every down. Second-year tight end Jason Witten will be a major factor. Parcells believes Witten can gain chunks of yardage down the middle of the field. Witten and Carter seem to have a good chemistry. Rookie Sean Ryan is known more for his blocking.


    OFFENSIVE LINE
    Openings: 9

    2003 starters: Flozell Adams, Larry Allen, Matt Lehr, Andre Gurode, Kurt Vollers.

    The skinny: A lot of questions. Can Allen become a dominant player again? Can Gurode be consistent? Can Al Johnson come back from missing his rookie year? Who's the right tackle? The Cowboys at least have options this year. Adams comes off a Pro Bowl season eager to prove he is not a one-year wonder. Johnson's strength is back after the knee injury. Rookies Jacob Rogers and Stephen Peterman could do more than push for playing time.


    DEFENSE



    DEFENSIVE LINE
    Openings: 9

    2003 starters: Greg Ellis, La'Roi Glover, Willie Blade, Ebenezer Ekuban.

    The skinny: Quarterback pressure is needed because the secondary was exposed too often with so many blitzes used a year ago. That's where Marcellus Wiley comes in. Ellis will move away from the tight end, which should free him up, and Wiley wants to prove he can still be a Pro Bowl-type end. The rotation appears solid with backups Leo Carson, Daleroy Stewart, Jermaine Brooks, Kenyon Coleman and Eric Ogbogu. Blade could be out.


    LINEBACKERS
    Openings: 6

    2003 starters: Al Singleton, Dat Nguyen, Dexter Coakley.

    The skinny: Nguyen, who should have made the Pro Bowl last year, has established himself as a Parcells type. Singleton is quietly consistent. Coakley, even with his Pro Bowl pedigree, will be pushed by second-year Bradie James. The backups need to be special-team stalwarts, which is what Markus Steele and Keith O'Neil were a year ago. Parcells is intrigued by Scott Shanle, a late-season pickup in '03.


    DEFENSIVE BACKS
    Openings: 10

    2003 starters: Mario Edwards, Terence Newman, Roy Williams, Darren Woodson.

    The skinny: They helped comprise the league's best pass defense last year, but Edwards left via free agency and figures to be replaced by Pete Hunter. Newman appears ready to make the step to Pro Bowler. Williams is an elite NFL safety and perhaps the most-feared hitter. Woodson does not have much time left but still plays at a high level. The return of nickel corner Donald Mitchell (ankle) should help.


    SPECIAL TEAMS



    KICKERS, PUNTERS
    Openings: 3

    2003 starters: Jeff Robinson (snapper), Billy Cundiff, Toby Gowin.

    The skinny: Parcells said Robinson is the only lock on his roster. His consistency helps a kicking game, and he can fill in at tight end in a pinch. Cundiff has a strong leg and hit some clutch kicks a year ago, but can he handle the kickoff chores with Gowin gone? Mat McBriar and Ryan Flinn will be given the chance to win the punting job; neither has kicked in a regular-season game. They have strong legs, but having an experienced punter in a division filled with cold-weather sites is usually a plus.

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    Note: this article was just posted a few minutes ago. It had a huge blank spot between the byline and the positional analysis, so there might be some additional info that will be added to it later.

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