The training camp schedule came out today and got me excited for the start of the season. Unfortunately I will only be able to make it to training camp in San Antonio for one day this year, but I am hoping to come away from my time there with a positive outlook on the season. I am already optimistic that this season will end in at least one playoff victory, but training camp will be very telling in terms of the new players and new team attitude. Here are some of the things that I hope to see:
1. Roy Williams looking dominant and on the same page with Tony Romo. We all know how important this one is to the hopes for this season.
2. All the receivers healthy and competing for playing time. I am especially hopeful that Sam Hurd and Miles Austin will be 100% by the start of training camp. I am comfortable with the current set of receivers but the team cannot afford to lose one or both of these guys this year.
3. Felix Jones flashing his amazing speed and quickness. He will be the gamebreaker for the offense this season so it is vital that he is back to his pre-injury rookie form.
4. Tony Romo throwing darts and looking decisive. This is a little harder to judge in a practice atmosphere, but I hope he is back to his old form after an offseason to get his pinkie, back, and ribs healthy.
5. Bobby Carpenter playing like a guy who belongs on the field. This is it for Bobby. Either he earns playing time this season or he is permanently labeled a bust and is probably on his way out at the end of the season. I think he will get it done if given a real shot during the season.
6. The defensive backs playing tight coverage and battling receivers for the ball. I am hoping that the soft zone we saw so much last season will be used a lot less now that we have three and possibly four or five guys capable of playing tight man to man coverage. I really want to see if all of the rookies are capable of playing at the level the Cowboys need them to play.
7. Anthony Spencer getting the job done against the run and rushing the passer. His performance is a key factor for the defense.
8. Wade Phillips looking more authoritative and involved as a coach. I know this is hoping against all odds, but he has got to assert himself more this season. I don't want to see that lost, dejected look on the sidelines when the going gets rough this season.
9. Jason Garrett demanding great execution from the offense. I saw him at training camp a couple of years ago and I came away very impressed, but he is under the gun after last season. I expect that he will do everything in his power to get the offense rolling.
10. More emphasis on special teams. This goes without saying, but last season proved how important special teams can be. I am excited to see the intensity of Joe DeCamillis.