The Dallas Cowboys go into 2014 OTA's and training camp with more than a few players fighting for open positions on a roster filled with opportunity for players serious enough to go and get it.
We know how the quarterbacks line up, and the tight ends, and probably a couple spots on the offensive line, but really only strong safety Barry Church on defense. After that, most spots on the team are up for the furious grabs, tackles, and big hits that are beginning to take place as teams get ready for next season.
No doubt, this should make for a hungry training camp, and will probably be good for the Cowboys, if they can avoid injury. The Cowboys have a young roster that will be out to prove they can run in the NFL, and motivation is a valuable asset for any team.
As the summer gets heated up, most of the interesting battles will occur on the defensive side. Linebacker lock Sean Lee went down with a season ending torn left anterior cruciate ligament during the first OTA, so all the linebacker spots are up for grabs.
Fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens from Iowa, who signed his four-year rookie contract Monday, is one of the top candidates.
According to Sport Day DFW, Last week, Hitchens took most of the first-team middle linebacker repetitions in practice. On Monday, the start of the second week of organized team activities, veteran Justin Durant took the first-team reps at middle linebacker.
Durant didn't practice last week because of a hamstring injury.
"I just wanted to be careful. I don't want to get out there and get hurt - you saw what happened with Sean, man - I just got scared," Durant told Sports Day. "I was like, 'Let's just hold out and do some more work on the side and make sure I'm 100 percent before I go.'"
Second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman is also a top candidate to fill in for Lee. He started the last two games at middle linebacker last season with Lee out with an injury. In the season finale against Philadelphia, Holloman led the Cowboys with 11 tackles and two sacks.
Hollman has also been plagued by injury trouble in the past, so some talk around Dallas has been about bringing in Veteran Brian Urlacher to help out.
Adding Urlacher would make sense considering his familiarity with the Cowboys' 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme. He played his last four seasons with the Bears under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator.
After Church at Safety, and probably J.J. Wilcox, the two other safety spots are also up for grabs. For seventh-round pick Ahmad Dixon from Baylor, as well as the undrafted free agents Keith and Ryan Smith, this is a great opportunity. Many other players who are just entering the league will be fighting for practice squad positions, but in Dallas Dixon and the Smiths are vying for roster spots.
Another battle on defense will be for the fourth defensive end in the main rotation. George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey, and DeMarcus Lawrence, lead for the first three spots, but the Cowboys need a fourth man to step up. 7th round pick Ben Gardner out of Stanford will likely be the starting rotation at DE. He will battle it out with Martez Wilson, Caesar Rayford for the position.
Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick have essentially locked down the top three spots at corner, but B.W. Webb and Terrance Mitchell will be challenging them over the summer, and looking to fill the crucial role of fourth corner.