It seems virtually the entire team has something to prove after that less-than-inspiring performance against San Diego last week, but some specific players have yet to step up and they’re starting to make the team a little nervous.
Safety J.J. Wilcox
J.J. Wilcox is a player the Cowboys were banking on this season. 2014 will only be his second season in the NFL (and his 3rd as a safety, period) but he has high expectations and the Cowboys face dire consequences if he can’t live up to those expectations. Wilcox hasn’t played poorly, he just hasn’t become what the Cowboys need him to as a coverage safety.
Wilcox must prove to be a reliable deep safety or the Cowboys will be in a world of hurt. More on Wilcox next week as we break down safety coverages and responsibilities…
3 Tech DT Henry Melton
Henry Melton was signed to a very team-friendly contract in the offseason. If he performs, he stand to make boatloads of cash and play for the Cowboys for the next several seasons. If he doesn’t perform, he will be modestly compensated on a one year deal.
Thus far Melton hasn’t done a thing. He’s been on and off the field and has yet to really show the flash that a Rod Marinelli 3 tech DT needs. As the only proven lineman, the Cowboys absolutely need Melton to start making plays.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (70) lines up before a play against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
DE/DT Tyrone Crawford
For not having any notable NFL experience,Tyrone Crawford entered training camp with great expectations. Last season Jason Hatcher sang his praises and this season Tony Romo proclaimed his name. So far he hasn’t shown much.
Crawford certainly looks like one of the better linemen on the team, but how good is just being the shiniest of the turds? Crawford is talented but it’s time to start showing it and making plays.
WLB Bruce Carter
Bruce Carter has the WILL spot all but locked down. He’s been doing pretty well in coverage and against the run in training camp. The only problem is the Cowboys need him to do better. The WILL LB is the playmaker of the squad so Bruce Carter must be the playmaker of the front 7.
He’s the only legitimate blue chip player (when drafted) and is entering the last year of his contract. His NFL career has been a disappointment, so this season is for all the marbles. Carter will likely be gone after this season (Hitchens is being groomed for the spot), so this is all on Bruce.
Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary (65) in game action against Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Kevin Burnett (94) during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Oakland 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
OGs Mackenzy Beranadeau and/or Ronald Leary
The Cowboys need someone to step up as the last guard, and the battle is clearly between these two. Both players are very different and offer opposite strengths and weaknesses. Mack is the better zone blocker and can seal gaps surprisingly well. Zone is something Leary has traditionally been abysmal at.
Leary is strong in the short yardage and straight-ahead run blocking while Mack is worthless in this capacity. Both are liabilities in the passing game. One of them needs to step up and claim the last spot so this O-line can establish some continuity.
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