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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Good Camp Battles to Watch

While there's already some great intrigue created by this past mini camp session, the truth always finds a way to come to the surface - once the pads get on, its a different story. Let's look at a few key "camp battles" to watch at this year's training camp and preseason.

The top camp battle for me is going to be in the secondary, Watkins vs. Hamlin

Let's be real here, the Hamlin signing is a short-term insurance policy, that provides us with a good veteran and solid depth at FS. Its still likely that Hamlin will lineup opposite Roy Williams, but don't count out Patrick Watkins. Watkins was miffed when he fell to the 5th round last year, came to camp with a chip on his shoulder, and eventually cracked into the starting lineup. For a rookie he played well, sure he had a few mess ups, but that's to be expected from a rookie.

Either way you cut it though, Watkins will see significant playing time, and should Hamlin falter in training camp or the preseason, you can feel good about Watkins getting back in the lineup.

According to our readership 50% believe Hamlin will be the starter, 44% believe Watkins will be the starter, and 5% are not sure. Those numbers are close. We'll see how this one unfolds, its going to be a good one.

The San Antonio Express recently chimed in on the topic as well:

Dallas believes Pat Watkins can still emerge as a starter down the line.

The Cowboys may have settled for Ken Hamlin on a one-year deal because they're planning on Watkins as their starting free safety in 2008 and beyond. An athletic freak, the 6-5 Watkins should benefit from his season to learn.
Carpenter vs. James

If you look at how the starting LBs in the Phillips 34, its safe to assume the starters will be:
OLB Demarcus Ware
MLB Bradie James*
MLB Akin Ayodele
OLB Greg Ellis*

The (*) meaning those in jeopardy of losing their starting spot. In this discussion we're focusing on James. James is the incumbent, but there's evidence the Cowboys are preparing for a scenario that would have Carpenter overtaking James at MLB. Carpenter worked at MLB last offseason, and again this offseason.

James has had one solid season, and has been adequate, and last year did not help his cause with several busted plays directed right at him. Sean Payton knew the weakness in the LB core, and tore it up. Then came Detroit later, and they tore it up. James was horrible in coverage and got ate up regularly.

Is 2nd year player, Carpenter ready to man the spot. Carpenter ran the 2nd team defense and called the plays on defense during mini camp. According to Coach Phillips, he wants the best players on the field and wants to utilize their skills as best as possible. If there's a chink in the armor then its Bradie James, and it would be ludicrous not to want competition there. Carpenter was rated much higher at MLB than James coming out of college, and is way more athletic. You can bet Carpenter is going to be out there more and more.

Worst case scenario, you'd see Carpenter play extensively in nickel packages. Either way you cut it, you gotta have this explosive sideline-to-sideline player on the field somewhere and I think Phillips already recognizes this.

Ellis vs. Spencer

We've all read the same old news, and its a broken record...Ellis wants an extension, and he wants a commitment from the Cowboys. The stark reality is that the Cowboys are not going to redo the contract and Ellis needs to get over that. Sure he can ask for a trade, but the Cowboys are not inclined to make a trade. Ellis is a solid player, and performed pretty good in his new position at OLB in the 3-4, and this year should be no different, so just get out there and play Greg.

Ellis' latest tirades mostly stem from the Cowboys drafting Anthony Spencer, who right now looks to be the real deal and will indeed provide a dynamic one-two death blow punch as he lineups up opposite Ware.

Ellis is the starter according to Coach Phillips, but this is going to be a camp battle to watch. I expect Spencer to overcome Ellis this offseason, and at the latest sometime early in the season. Spencer was brought here to attack the QB, and its hard to envision the Cowboys holding him back.

Jones vs. Barber

The media wants to make this into something sensational, but the reality here is going to be that these two RBs will contribute similarly as they did last year; however, I honestly believe this will be Julius Jones' season. All his talk about 1600 yards and 20tds can come true in this new offense. Garrett likes how Jones runs and sees the same elusiveness that Emmitt had. Back when Jones was drafted his highlight reel looked like Emmitt Smith, and he looked like that player his rookie year, then came his "robotic" running style, overcoached or whatever you want to call it. Garrett is going to let Jones be that instinctive runner again, and watch out.

Jones thinks he won't be extended; so, not only does he want to play well this season, this is his time to show off his skills for potential teams for 2008. Its not something I personally want to see happen, but its very possible. Some rumors apparently already have Arkansas' RB Darren McFadden penciled in as our starter next season, far fetched? Maybe, maybe not. But let Jones get his run on and see what fans think then. I see the mood changing should Jones have an explosive season.

Barber will be used the same as last year, he too will get his chances to run instinctively, and this can only help Barber.

At the end of the day, there's not a camp battle here, just some interesting topics for fans to argue over.

FACT: Jones and Barber will share the load and BOTH will take this running attack to another level, the best duo in the league. Other teams are installing the two back system, but we have one if the better duos in the league.

Somehow its good to have these type of problems, its good to have this type of depth and competition in areas were it seems incumbents are locks, but not this year. The Cowboys are doing a great job in the scouting department and continue to inject quality players to an already full roster of pretty good players.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Steve Bovard: 2006 NFL Mock Draft - Article 3 (Feb 10)



Steve Bovard: 2006 NFL Mock Draft - Article 3
by Steve Bovard
February 10, 2006


Hello fellow Dolphins fans, the draft is less then 3 months away and with the combine quickly approaching and college pro days to come shortly after there will be lots of information and opinions to review. The draft gices us the chance to be the GM for a little while and any fan of an NFL team will be quick to add their 2 cents when it comes to the draft and what his/her team needs. Unlike my other mock drafts I did not include commentary in this one but starting shortly after the combine I will be back to doing commentary with my picks. I wanted to touch on a few other things that relate to the Miami Dolphins in this article. I hope you enjoy it.




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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Who is the #1 QB in the Draft Now?



By Paul Donaghy
LIONBACKER

After his incredible Rose Bowl record 467 total yards (267 passing, 200 rushing) and three touchdown performance, including the game winner, in the Rose Bowl Vince Young has made a case for himself being the first quarterback taken in the 2006 draft. In what was labeled as the biggest college football game ever, it was Young outshining the flash of two USC Heisman trophy winners and putting his team on his back in one of the most memorable performances in NCAA football history.

The biggest play on the biggest stage came with 19 seconds left. Facing a 4th-and-5 from the 8, Young dropped back to pass and saw all his receivers covered. Young then scrambled untouched into the corner of the end zone and the Longhorns were #2 no more. For good measure, Young then ran up the middle for a two-point conversion putting Texas up by three with little time left. Texas shocked the #1 Trojans 41-38. “Do whatever it takes,” Young said. That is exactly what he did and then some ending USC’s 34-game winning streak and ending their dreams of an unprecedented third-straight National Championship.

Lionbacker's new NFL Draft Blog takes a look at Young's Rose Bowl performance, its impact on his draft status, and whether he should stay in college or turn pro.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Steve Bovard's Looks Ahead to the 2006 NFL Draft (Oct 29)



2006 NFL Draft Preview (Oct 29)
by Steve Bovard
October 29, 2005


It has been a while since my last article and since we are almost half way through the NFL season you can start to see who the contenders and the pretenders are going to be come December and January. Even better, we can start to see what teams will hold those first few draft picks for the 2006 NFL Draft. Add in an exciting year of college football with some solid talent heading to the NFL next season and the draft looks to be an exciting one. I know personally that I look forward to the NFL Draft about as much as I look forward to the Super Bowl. No matter how much time and effort you put into your research, there is always something that surprises even the experts and leaves the fans just shaking their heads.



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Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Sneak Peak at the 2006 Free Agent Quarterbacks



By Paul Donaghy
LIONBACKER

After four years in Detroit, Joey Harrington has failed to prove he was worthy of the number three overall pick in the 2002 draft. After showing improvement in each of his first three seasons, Harrington has taken a major step backwards in 2005 after "finally having the supporting cast" to be a top tier quarterback in the NFL. After seeing his quarterback rating rise from 59.9 in 2002, to 63.9 in 2003, to 77.5 last season, Harrington's 2005 quarterback rating is at a career-low 55.6 with twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. His decision making, field vision, accuracy, and leadership abilities are all being questioned by fans, fellow players, and the head coach.

Lionbacker brings you the list of every 2006 Free Agent NFL quarterback. Anyone on there that can help your team?

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Time For Some Changes



by Mike Perkins
The Kansas Viking

My, how a few months seem to change things. It wasn't all that long ago that Viking fans had a renewed optimism for the coming season. We had finally jettisoned Red McCombs and had a new owner in Zygmunt Wilf. We also added some top free agents to an ailing defense that looked like it would be top rated for a change. And on top of everything else, we were brining back an offense that could put up points with the best of them.

Well, so much for optimism.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tom Eddie: The Fantasy Life (Oct 6)



The Fantasy Life (Oct 6)
by Tom Eddie
October 6, 2005


With 4 weeks of the NFL season completed, now is a good time to see who's hot and who's not in the NFL: where it relates to Fantasy Football. Donovan McNabb leads all Quarterbacks with 110 completions in 174 attempts for 1,333 yards and 11 Touchdowns. Shaun Alexander is 5 yards ahead of LaDanian Tomlinson with 455 yards rushing with 6 Touchdowns. And surprise, Terrell Owens has caught 32 passes for 506 yards with 4 Touchdowns. As for scoring, LaDanian Tomlinson leads all Running backs with 8 TDs, Keenan McCardell is the leading Wide receiver with 5, and Donovan McNabb leads Quarterbacks with 11.



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