The Dallas Cowboys 2009 version of training Camp is now only two weeks away, and there is no better time than now to try and get a head start on some of the positional battles that we need to keep an eye on.
It has been awhile since my last post, I have been in a little bit of a slump, so I would like to apologize ahead of time for a poorly done post!
The Cowboys currently have 82 players on the roster, but do not expect it to stay that way long!
The first position I would like to take a look at is the one containing the most applicants. No big surprise it's the Linebacker position!
Now I can speculate all day long on how many backers the Cowboys will keep and odds are good I still would not get it right, and since I have next to zero insider information, we'll take it for what its worth!
Here are this years nominees to fill the Linebacker corps:
- DeMarcus Ware
- Bradie James
- Anthony Spencer
- Keith Brooking
- Bobby Carpenter
- Steve Octavien
- Justin Rogers
- Matt Stewart
- Victor Butler
- Jason Williams
- Brandon Williams
- Stephen Hodge
The Top four of this group are essentially locked in as your starters, from here though is where the water gets awfully murky!
Let's take a look at the guys vying for position at the inside linebacker spots and keep in mind, last year the team kept only four!
Through the OTA's we must assume (after all the praise handed down) that Stephen Hodge is going to get a serious look at taking over the nickel position vacated by Kevin Burnett.
Bobby (Barbie) Carpenter also gave the coaches something to think about during the work outs. We are all well aware that Barbie practices like a first round pick, but he has yet to play like one.
Jason Williams was the Cowboys first selection in this years draft, and by all accounts is going to need some time to develop, but has some serious athletic ability! And we cannot forget about Victor Butler as he will be in this group of inside guys trying to secure a spot on the roster.
Last but not least Steve Octavien, who spent most of last year bouncing from practice squad to practice squad, does have some ability as a special teams player.
We have five players battling for two spots, who do you think is in? And who is on the outside looking in?
In my opinion Stephen Hodge and Jason Williams are my leading candidates heading into camp, followed closely by Victor Butler and Bobby Carpenter.
The Cowboys do not want to face the fact that the Carpenter selection was one of the worst first round draft selections on record! That is what has kept him on this team, but the coaching staff can no longer afford to carry his dead weight. So he has more to prove than any of the rookies, and I personally do not believe he will hold up to the pressure.
There is one aspect of this that we need to look at. If the Coaching staff decides to cut ties with Carpenter they will be left with only rookies and we know that one of those rookies is a “project” player. So would they at that point decide to carry an extra guy? Quite possible and they may be thinking that way already!
ILB Leading Candidates ILB Outside Looking In
1. Stephen Hodge 1. Victor Butler
2. Jason Williams 2. BobbyCarpenter
3. Steve Octavien
Now let's take a look at the Outside spots! First let's meet the contestants!
For those of you who live under rocks the starters are DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. These are the starters and there is only one player who could possibly change this.
Brandon Williams has been the talk of the town around Valley Ranch, not only among the coaches but his teammates as well. The time is now however for Anthony Spencer and he will get the first crack at being the starter opposite Ware, but he better get a grip on it quick because the longer he lets Williams hang around the more opportunity Williams will have at proving he should be the man!
Matt Stewart and Justin Rogers will be battling each other for one available spot, with Ware and Spencer as the starters and Brandon Williams having a tight grip on the 3rd spot, it will be down to these two guys to state their claim to the 4th and final OLB spot.
There is one other very distinct possibility that could occur here! It is very possible that the Cowboys could decide to keep neither Stewart nor Rogers and keep an extra inside guy!
The more I have contemplated the scenarios I would not be one bit surprised to see the Cowboys hold on to Victor Butler and use him as a “swing” player, giving them the ability to keep an extra secondary person.
Victor Butler was an undersized OLB at the University of Oregon State, and while they would rather use him inside in an emergency situation he could fill in outside.
Who knows how this will ultimately work out but I believe the Cowboys will stick with eight!
Here is my final eight leaving camp!
1. DeMarcus Ware
2. Bradie James
3. Keith Brooking
4. Anthony Spencer
5. Brandon Williams
6. Stephen Hodge
7. Jason Williams
8. Victor Butler
Who are the eight that you would want to start the season with?