The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: Cowboys’ Top 5 Training Camp Battles

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Jonathan Bales

It seems like the offseason flew by this year, and training camp is right around the corner. Of course it is fun to watch players like DeMarcus Ware and Tony Romo, but more interesting to me is checking out the players battling for starting positions. At DallasCowboys.com, I took a look at the ‘Boys’ top five position battles in 2012:

OLB: Victor Butler versus Kyle Wilber

In my list of the Cowboys’ most underrated players, Butler checked in at the top. Butler has pressured the passer on 7.0 percent of pass-rush snaps over his career – a rate higher than that of Anthony Spencer and not too far behind Ware.

There are obviously concerns about Butler’s overall game because he has never received more than 233 snaps in a season. On top of that, the ’Boys went out and drafted outside linebacker Kyle Wilber a few months ago.

Wilber is perhaps a more well-rounded player than Butler, but with 13.5 career sacks at Wake Forest, does he have the pass rush ability to challenge for a starting spot one day? In comparison, Butler racked up 12 sacks in his senior season alone at Oregon State. I have a feeling Butler is going to turn some heads in a few weeks, but this will be a fun one to watch.

Advantage: Butler

ILB: Bruce Carter versus Dan Connor

The Brandon Carr signing was obviously the biggest of the offseason for Dallas, but bringing Connor into Big D was a huge move as well. The ’Boys finally possess some depth at inside linebacker.

A few weeks before the Cowboys signed Connor, I did some research on available inside linebacker prospects and made a plea for the team to bring him in. Of the 50 linebackers who played at least one-quarter of their teams snaps in 2011, Connor was second in tackle rate.

Only 14 linebackers made a tackle on more than 10 percent of the snaps they played. Connor checked in at 11.7 percent. In comparison, Sean Lee made a tackle on 9.3 percent of his snaps, Bradie James brought down the ball-carrier on 8.5 percent of snaps, and Keith Brooking came in at 8.3 percent.

With Connor likely patrolling the field on early downs, Carter may have a shot at winning nickel snaps. The Cowboys seem to like his prowess in coverage. Still, Carter is a huge unknown at this point. The team did the right thing by bringing in a proven commodity in Connor, but Carter has the potential to really “wow” during camp and perhaps even cut into some of those early-down snaps.

Advantage: Connor on first and second down, Carter on third down.

Head to the team site to read the rest.

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2 Responses to Running the Numbers: Cowboys’ Top 5 Training Camp Battles

  1. john coleman says:

    Wilber vs. Butler- I really don’t think Wilber has the body to holdup at the point of attack yet. Also the knock on Butler is playing the run. To me, I see Butler as a better backup to Ware, just based on passrush skills. Butler should easily have the advantage. However, I might see Albright ass a more viable competitor, especially early. I also feel that Adrian Hamilton may be the UDFA find of the year. I forecast being LB heavy on this roster, with as many as 5 at OLB and 4 at ILB. 1 kicker and 2 QBs free up 2 spots.

    Otree, Holmes, Coale, Beasley, Harris- Laurent Robinson sure looks good right now. Ogletree has to have an advantage because of experience. Beasley has sure garnered plenty of hype as well. Holmes and Coale are rated highly and Harris is supposedly much improved physically. Throw in Salim and Benford and who knows. I could see just about anything here including a late veteran signing.

    Church vs. Pool- I would take issue with your statement of Church’s athleticism. 4.6 speed does not translate to athleticism. I hope I am wrong and really hope he succeeds, but I’ll believe when I see. Frankly, I know very little about Pool. I really think Johnson is the heir apparent. I do see this as a make or break year for Church.

    Leary vs. Bernadeau- Leg up, Leary. Big Mac isn’t ready yet. Don’t sell out Nagy or Arkin just yet. I really think that if Arkin has improved his strength, that he has the nasty streak to be a gamer.

    My biggest battle is on the Dline- Can Lissemore supplant Spears or Coleman. Then can Geathers be a rotational guy. Finally is Brent going to show up or will Callaway take his spot. I could see Coleman gone for sure and maybe Spears as well. In this scenario i keep Callaway, Brent, and use Rat at DE on occasion.
    I’m saying here Callaway and Geathers both make it.

    As a parting shot I would like to see Dunbar make this team as a Sproyles type and maybe our PR specialist at long last.

  2. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Agree with jc

    With the cloud, psycho and other Ryan formations, I’d expect many more 5 and maybe even 6 LB formations given that the LB crew might be better and more versatile than the DE crew on 3rd and long plays.

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