The Dallas Cowboys have entered their third week of organized team activities (OTA's) and minicamp practices are just around the corner.
If you believe the talk by those people who have been fortunate enough to watch some of these OTA's, then you probably already know that it looks as if the Cowboys players are practicing with a greater sense of urgency and a renewed energy.
Former Vice President of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, was on hand to watch two different OTA practices last week and shared a lot of interesting observations based on what he saw from the team as a whole and from individual players.
Brandt was a key part of the Cowboys organization from 1960 up until 1989 when the Jerry Jones era began. At age 83, Brandt is still a well-recognized voice of opinion around the NFL and currently contributes as a senior analyst for NFL.com.
Now, I understand that these practices shouldn't really be taken too seriously because players aren't in full pads yet, which makes it really difficult to judge how well individuals are performing when they're not really in a game like situation.
So, just about anything you hear about the Cowboys OTA practices can be taken with a grain of salt, but at this time of year any positive news is encouraging, especially after what they team went through in 2015.
Taking all of this into consideration though, Brandt still made several observations that should have Cowboys fans excited for the 2016 season.
Brandt observed that Tony Romo looks like a spry 27-year-old and that tight end Jason Witten looks more like a player entering the second year in the league than a seasoned vet. He said Witten looks like he is in the best shape of his career.
That alone should create some sort of optimism among fans. Both Romo and Witten are now the two oldest members on the offensive side of the ball and we all know that these two players are key to the success for the entire offense.
There was one observation that Brandt made that I disagreed with somewhat, but at the same time found encouraging.
“Cole Beasley's improvement. If Beasley were 6-2 and not 5-8, I think he'd be a star in the NFL. The fact he's not, but there's still a lot to like about his game. I thought he looked much improved catching the ball and running routes. He showed last year when Dez Bryant went down that he wasn't ready. I think he learned something from that and went into the off-season to improve his overall game as a slot receiver. It showed.”
First off, I agree that if Cole Beasley were 6-2 instead of 5-8 that he would probably be a star in the NFL, but unfortunately he's not. Beasley is a mismatch for anybody who is lining up opposite him on defense and should probably be featured more on the offense.
With Bryant in the lineup Beasley is probably the number four option behind Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant, but without Bryant he is still nothing more than the third option.
I don't know what kind of expectations Brandt had for Beasley, but he still managed to have a pretty good 2015 season. In fact, Beasley ended up having the best season of his career.
Beasley was able to accomplish this even with the carousel of quarterbacks that played for the Cowboys last year. So to say that he wasn't ready when Dez Bryant went down is a bit of a misinterpretation on Brandt's part about Beasley's role on offense.
Overall, it is still encouraging to see that Beasley is still improving his route running and is catching the ball with more ease. There is no place for complacency in the NFL. That is how players end up losing their jobs.
We should get a much better feel for how players are actually performing once the pads come on during minicamp practices and fortunately for us we don't have too much longer to wait.
Hopefully Gil Brandt is right and the Cowboys are primed for a bounce back year in 2016.
What do you think?
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