With training camp underway in the confines of the Alamodome in the heart of San Antonio, here are three position battles to keep an eye on as training camp heats up.
1. Greg Ellis vs. Anthony Spencer, Outside Linebacker
This will definitely be the most intriguing and heated battle to watch going into training camp. With Greg Ellis coming off his devastating ruptured Achilles last season, it will be interesting to see how he responds. There has been somewhat of an upheaval regarding his contract heading into this season, but look for Ellis to close his mouth and go to work these next couple weeks, and prove he still has a major role on this team. Don’t expect Ellis to win the job without a fight, though. Rookie Anthony Spencer will be looking to turn some heads in training camp and show he belongs. He will give Greg Ellis stiff competition, but I believe Ellis wins this battle. However, expect to see #93 on the field plenty, showing off his pass rushing skills in the nickel and dime formations.
2. Ken Hamlin vs. Pat Watkins, Free Safety
Another position that will draw the attention of many during training camp will be the ever vacant free safety spot. The Cowboys brought Ken Hamlin in via free agency, but declined to sign him to a lucrative deal, seen by many other free agents this year. Hamlin remember, suffered a serious head injury a few years back in Seattle. Expect big things from Hamlin however, who will quietly enter training camp with a big chip on his shoulder. Look for Hamlin to display the ball-hawking safety skills the Cowboys were hoping for when they signed him. Hamlin will be a field general and make sure the personnel is lined up correctly. Do not count out Pat Watkins, however. The tall, lanky second year free safety will be ready to show off his athleticism and push for playing time. Hamlin wins the starting free safety job, with Watkins being installed in the nickel.
Kyle Kosier vs. Pat McQuistan, Left Guard
Last, but certainly not least, keep a watchful eye on the trenches, where a couple big uglies will fight for the starting guard spot on the left side. Incumbent Kyle Kosier will return as the frontrunner for the job. He started 16 games last year, and provided the Cowboys with solid play. Look for him to be pushed this year however, by second year linemen Pat McQuistan, who will slide over from the tackle position to provide some competition. McQuistan was held in high regard by one Bill Parcells last year, and impressed many during last year’s training camp. Kosier will maintain his starting job, but keep an eye on this McQuistan, who will more than likely see reps at either tackle position these first few practices due to starters Flozell Adams and Marc Columbo sitting out. Look for McQuistan to tie down the top back-up position as a “swing tackle”.
As we watch things develop in the coming weeks, I will certainly have my popcorn at the ready along with Joey D.