John Phillips has work to do
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John Phillips has work to do
June, 15, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas -- A few observations from the offseason programs at Valley Ranch:
What's been the Cowboys' most difficult spot to replace since their '90s dynasty?
*John Phillips is getting a lot of hype in the media and among fans for moving into the No. 2 slot at tight end behind Jason Witten. Phillips is a better receiver than blocker. Tight ends coach John Garrett said Phillips needs to improve his technique and get more snaps at blocking tackles and linebackers along the line of scrimmage. But Phillips' last day of work Thursday wasn't his best. He suffered a drop, hit linebacker Sean Lee in the neck after a turnover and fell down on a pass thrown behind him from Stephen McGee.
*Speaking of McGee, the standard line has him improving as a quarterback, but there are too many times when he doesn't throw the ball downfield. McGee will hit a running back in the flat when things are not opening up, and that's it. It might be time for the Cowboys to move on from McGee this summer if Rudy Carpenter challenges him.
*There shouldn't be any concern about the recovery of running back DeMarco Murray's return from ankle surgery. Murray has shown a burst, lateral movement and the ability to take blows. Lee knocked him down at the goal line, by accident, during the offseason.
Murray looked at reporters as if they were crazy when they asked if he 100 percent. Murray is doing some light MMA training to help with his core and balance.
*Dez Bryant ran good routes, caught the ball and seemed to play more relaxed during the offseason practices the media was allowed to see. There were few of those talks between Bryant and the receivers coach over his techniques and whether he ran the right route. Receivers coach Jimmy Robinson will speak with him from time to time, but Bryant is catching deep balls and getting away from defenders to run shorter routes with more ease this summer.
*The problem with this Mike Jenkins drama is some fans and media members think he's a bad guy. He's not. Jenkins is seeking respect from the Cowboys front office. To his point, the team drafted and signed his replacements. Jenkins is a Pro Bowler. His free-agent replacement, Brandon Carr, hasn't been to one. The rookie drafted to replaced him hasn't practiced yet, so it's left Jenkins irked. Should Jenkins have showed up to the voluntary workouts? Of course. But then again, maybe the communication with Jenkins this offseason regarding the moves of the team should have gone better. If they happened at all.
*We do think Carr and Claiborne are upgrades over what the Cowboys had last season at the position. Carr is good at man and zone coverage, and we can only imagine how good Claiborne will be when he gets on the field. There is pressure on both players to produce because of what the team invested to get them. It's not so much interceptions fans need to see from Carr and Claiborne, it's pass breakups and taking receivers out of the game. That's the key.
*In the mailbag, I wrote that Andre Holmes is the leader for the No. 3 receiver position. Kevin Ogletree, Danny Coale, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris are in the pack. If no one emerges, expect a committee or receivers to get snaps. But don't be surprised if a veteran receiver is signed before the start of the season or after Week 1.
*On the last day of the mandatory minicamp, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware looked like All Pros. Quick, spry, powerful and the most talented players on the field. ... It was good to see Rob Ryan and Skip Peete looking smaller in the waistline during the offseason practices. ... Three players to watch for training camp: Coale, Phil Costa and Radway. I think only one of these guys makes the team.
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