IRVING, Texas -- The offseason is done and training camp starts in five weeks, but there are always things to wonder about when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys.
For the final time this offseason, here comes Five Wonders.
Away we go:
I wonder if we have been looking at this running back thing all wrong. Every time a veteran gets released, he is immediately linked to the Cowboys. Take Shonn Greene. I'm told there is no interest in Greene right now. Just as there is no interest in Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ben Tate and Herschel Walker (hopefully that brought a chuckle.) But owner and Jerry Jones made an interesting comment at last week's minicamp. To summarize because it was far too long of a quote: any back the Cowboys sign now would be a backup variety because they like what they have. So that fourth runner better be able to play special teams. If he can't then adding a veteran now makes no sense. If the Cowboys aren't as pleased in camp and through the preseason, then that's when they'll look at a veteran. I don't wonder this. This is something I know: when the Cowboys scouts go on the road this summer for the preseason games they will be looking hard at running backs.
I wonder if we're going to be talking about Randy Gregory's weight for the next few years. Many moons ago I covered the Miami Dolphins and Jason Taylor's weight was a constant topic. I never quite understood why people got up in arms over it. I kept talking about Taylor's production. That's what mattered most. He developed into a solid run defender despite his frame. The Dolphins paid Taylor to rush the quarterback and he did that as good as any defensive end for a four-to-five-year span. Gregory is up to 243 pounds and hopes to get to 250-plus. In looking at his frame, I'm sure he can add bulk but I'm not sure he needs a lot of it. He plays a lot heavier than that. He has power hands and he plays with solid leverage. There will be ways to work around his weight.
I've been wondering how the Cowboys replace Dwayne Harris as a return man for quite some time. Harris was dynamic and could flip field position, which made life a lot easier for the defense. He also had some shaky moments, but the good far outweighed the bad. In my initial 53-man roster projection, I had Lucky Whitehead making the squad mostly as a punt returner and backup slot receiver. I'm not sure that's enough value to the game-day roster. So I wonder if the Cowboys will look at "starters" for their return help. It was highly interesting to me that McFadden returned some kicks during minicamp and that J.J. Wilcox took some time returning punts. I've even heard the talk of Dez Bryant doing some returns. With Bryant, that's only in end-of-game scenarios in which they need a big punt return. The other guys might make some sense as returners. Wilcox was a former running back and has a thick frame to bust through some tackles, if not the most wiggle. McFadden still has his speed, which is a must for a kick returner, but he hasn't returned a kick since his rookie year.
I was scratching my head when the Cowboys gave up a 2016 sixth-round pick to take Texas tight end Geoff Swaim in the seventh round of the draft. I was able to justify it at first with the compensatory picks the Cowboys will receive in 2016 for losing so many free agents, so they'll have a sixth-rounder anyway. But with the way some at Valley Ranch have talked about Swaim, I wonder if they will go back to keeping four tight ends on the 53-man roster. I thought about it in my initial projection but decided to keep fullback Tyler Clutts instead. Swaim has on-the-line tight end traits that you don't see much in college football much these days with the spread offenses. I'm not about to call him a future star by any stretch, but it's worth noting James Hanna is going into the last year of his deal and Gavin Escobar is signed through 2017. Plus, Jason Witten is entering his 13th season. If I do another projection before camp, I think I'll put Swaim on there and figure out how to go lighter at another position.
I wonder if the Cowboys add a kicker in the next few weeks. No, I'm not looking for competition for Dan Bailey. I'm just looking to keep his leg fresh during the summer. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia does a good job of keeping Bailey on a kick count, but with the move of the point-after attempt I think the Cowboys could do more kicking perhaps than normal. The Cowboys have done this in the past with their kickers and it just seems to make some sense this summer as well. No need to overwork Bailey in Oxnard.