OXNARD, Calif. - Three thoughts on Day 8 of Dallas Cowboys’ training camp:
There should be no doubt that Josh Brent is returning to the Cowboys. Every time owner Jerry Jones is asks, he talks around it, but refuses to deny it.
The more important questions are whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend him. Brent spent six months in jail after being convicted of intoxicated vehicular manslaughter, which resulted in the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown.
Brent has not played since November 2012. He retired before the start of last season to focus on the trial and his personal life.
In theory, Goodell could consider his time away from the game as a suspension and reinstate him immediately.
Then the question would be whether Brent could make this team after being away from the game for more than a year.
He’s paid his debt to society. Other players, such as Leonard Little and Donta Stallworth, committed similar crimes and returned.
It would be interesting to see what Goodell does, as he was roundly criticized for his two-game suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice, who knocked his then-fiancee out in a hotel elevator.
Sometimes you need to take what’s behind Door No. 1, which is what Tyron Smith did.
Smith signed an eight-year extension worth $98 million that includes a $10 million signing bonus. There’s no doubt it’s a team-friendly deal, but it gives Smith $40 million in the first four years of the deal.
Guaranteed money is the most important aspect of an NFL contract. Smith probably could have gotten more, but everyone doesn’t place the same value on money.
Some dudes want security more, especially in a game like professional football, where the injury rate is so high.
And guess what? In five years, when the deal has been surpassed, he can go back and ask the club to re-do the deal -- who will be shocked if he does -- just like teams ask players to re-do deals when their performance no lingers coincides with their pay.
Morris Claiborne has a strained tendon in his knee, which he twisted during Wednesday’s practice.
He participated in the walk-through but won’t practice Thursday afternoon. Claiborne said he worked hard in the walk-through on staying attentive and engaged, something he hasn’t always done.
The most important thing is to keep Claiborne on the field, where he can continue to learn and get confidence for the season. If he misses much time, it will be a significant blow for a player who needs a good training camp in the worst way.
Key number: 35.0
The Cowboys finished 25th in the NFL in third-down conversions at 35 percent (63 of 180) in 2013.
They must do better this season to protect their defense and generate more points on offense. The poor third-down percentage is among the reasons Dan Bailey kicked 28 field goals and scored 131 points.
The Cowboys need drives to end with touchdowns because their defense is so suspect. They can’t allow teams to stay within one possession because they’ve been kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
Player to Watch: RB Ryan Williams
The 38th player taken in the 2011 draft has just 58 career carries thanks to knee and shoulder injuries, which ruined two of his first three seasons.
He’s competing for a job with the Cowboys, but he’s going to have to beat out Joseph Randle, a fifth-round pick last season, to get it.
Right now, Randle probably has a slight edge in the competition, but it’s not going to be decided until the preseason games start. The better special-teams player -- not the better runner -- will make the team.
Williams has never played much on special teams because of his injuries and his role. Neither had Randle until last season, which is why he has an edge over Williams.
This competition probably won’t be decided until the final game.