Mailbag: Nick Rob Josh
CURT CASIAS – TIONA, PA: If O.J. Atogwe becomes available from the Rams after Monday, do you think the Cowboys should aggressively pursue him?
Rob: Can’t say I’ve watched much of Atogwe. The Rams aren’t exactly a prime-time team. But he is a playmaker, or at least he has been. The Cowboys should at least consider the idea, and they do discuss every possible contingency. The question would be, do they really believe in Alan Ball and Michael Hamlin’s development. There’s that “progress-stopper” word again. If so, they wouldn’t want to sign another safety to a long-term contract. Remember, they already intend to pay Gerald Sensabaugh more than his one-year restricted tender.
Josh: The fact Alan Ball was playing Nickel corner in Orlando Scandrick’s stead on Tuesday suggests the Cowboys still see him as a good player they need, but not the free safety. If he was the guy they wouldn’t move him. I think they need to have some confidence in their free safety, and Atogwe’s more proven than Ball. Whether they ultimately sign him or not, they’ve got to at least test the waters on Atogwe and see what develops.
CURTIS VESTALL – FORT WORTH, TX: How is Brandon Williams’ recovery going? What kind of impact do you expect from him this year, barring anymore setbacks?
Rob: Talked to Williams today. He admits he’s not totally confident in his surgically-repaired knee yet, but he knows that will come. It’s hard to say what type of impact he’ll have right now. That’s for training camp and preseason. But the Cowboys do think he’s a very talented pass rusher. Ideally he’d be able to spell DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer some.
Josh: He’s still a little tentative about the knee, though that’s normal. I honestly don’t see him having any bigger role than Victor Butler did last season. Even if he beats out Butler and Curtis Johnson and becomes the third outside linebacker it’s going to be tough to earn playing time if it means DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer has to come out.
DANIEL LEMMONS – RENO, NV: Of the Cowboys’ 2009 rookie class, who is going to make the biggest impact in 2010?
Nick: I think you’ve got to think (or hope) it’s David Buehler. He’s the kicker and kickoff specialist. So among these players, you’d have to say he’d be the guy with the biggest impact. You just hope it’s a positive impact. Other guys who could get into the mix are Jason Williams and Brandon Williams. I think John Phillips might have a chance to increase his playing time as well.
Rob: David Buehler because right now he’s the only starter of the group. To keep that job, though, he’ll have to make the coaching staff comfortable beginning now in OTAs and carrying through training camp.
DAVID FARRIS – ATKINSON, NH: OK, some people were calling the Cowboys idiots for cutting Flozell Adams. But nobody seems to have picked him up. What does that say, and do you think Adams plays this season?
Nick: I’ll take this question because I’m in that category you mentioned. No, nobody has picked him up. Does that he mean he can’t play? I doubt it. I’m sure he’ll play this season and I’m still thinking it should’ve been here. It hasn’t been long enough to change my mind.
Rob: If and when a veteran tackle gets hurt, Adams’ phone will probably ring. But it’s a two-way street. Doubt Adams wants, or needs, to sign a minimum deal as a backup. And right now there are a lot of teams who don’t want progress-stoppers. The Cowboys were one; so was St. Louis with Alex Barron. Doesn’t mean Flo is washed up.
TYLER AZZARO – PALMERTON, PA: Could Marcus Spears lose his starting job at defensive end this season? Would he become the No. 2 nose tackle?
Nick: I think if he wasn’t starting, Spears could probably fill in some at nose tackle, but I still think the Cowboys feel like Spears is the best option there at defensive end. It would be a risk to assume Bowen or Hatcher could be a better alternative at defensive end than Spears. Could he lose it? Yes he could. But I don’t think that will happen.
Josh: I still see Spears as the starter because of his run-stopping ability. The starter plays on first down, right? That’s when running plays are most likely. The Cowboys like Bowen and Hatcher for their pass-rushing as much as anything else, so I think they remain in their nickel roles, maybe getting a few more snaps in the base defense.
MIKE THOMPSON – AUSTIN, TX: Any chance Shawn Springs would accept a non-starting role to play for a Super Bowl contender? Maybe even convert to safety?
Nick: Yeah, I think he would weigh his options, especially considering he’s from Dallas. We’re talking about a 35-year old cornerback who failed a physical and that’s why he was released. Every move the Cowboys have made this year seems to be in the direction of getting younger. Yes, I think Springs would be interested. Not sure if the Cowboys would be.
Josh: I do think there are depth issues at cornerback for the Cowboys, but that doesn’t mean he would want to come here to be fourth on the depth chart. I wouldn’t be comfortable with him transitioning to safety. At least Alan Ball has been learning the position for over a year. The fourth corner has to play special teams too, and I’m not sure such a veteran guy would be interested in all that.