Each day this week, BritViewNFL will bring you observations from the very heart of the training camp action in the United States.
With preparations for the 2014 NFL season in full swing, we’ll bring you training camp reports from the Wembley-bound Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as a sneak preview of the new home of the San Francisco 49ers – Levi’s Stadium.
So let’s get going…
Where is BritViewNFL.com?
At Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California, about a 90-minute drive north-west of downtown Los Angeles. The Cowboys apparently come here for the cooler weather in the summer months but let me tell you it was blazing hot and sunny the whole day.
5 observations from Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
- Tony Romo told me his back (he underwent surgery during the off-season) is now fine and he is getting more and more in shape with each passing day. Cowboys officials said Romo is on a pitch count during training camp but if the season were to start tomorrow, number nine would be their starter.
- I expected to watch Dez Bryant in action on the practice field and to be blown away by his physical talent. But I have to admit I didn’t expect him to be such a nice guy. He is clearly young, passionate and emotional and maybe doesn’t channel that in the right way the whole time. But I am happy to report that Dez is not a bad guy and I might even venture so far as to say he is misunderstood. I have been critical of Bryant in the past but I was impressed when we sat down and spoke on Sunday.
- The Cowboys are not exactly knee deep in wide receivers but I don’t think fans can be too critical of their top three. Bryant is such a fluid athlete and so often looks like a man among boys, Terrance Williams catches the eye and could become a reliable number two this season and Cole Beasley is a very nice option out of the slot who made one spectacular diving catch during team drills today. I know some worry about the lack of depth at receiver in Dallas, but I think they’ll be okay.
- It was great to see British coach Aden Durde on the field today and he was no shrinking violet when it came to getting involved and in the thick of the action. Aden has some serious football pedigree so has no reason to feel inferior around NFL players and he most certainly didn’t act that way, which was pleasing. He is working with the safeties and is doing the London Warriors and British American football proud.
- If defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is to help the Cowboys improve on their defensive ranking of 32 from a year ago, he will do so without star names. That became apparent on Sunday as every time a defensive player did something to catch the eye, I found myself reaching for the roster. It was certainly a test to know who some of the guys were! There is only one way to go for this unit, but there’s no sugar-coating the fact it is devoid of star power.
Did you know?
Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey is a keen soccer fan and is a supporter of Aston Villa. As you would expect, he is very excited about playing at Wembley Stadium in November.
They said what?
“If you’re flat, you’re going to get killed and you’re going to get beat, plain and simple. You need some of that emotion, passion and enthusiasm. I’m going to continue to keep on boosting my team-mates because I think we need it.”
– Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on his emotional and passionate approach to the NFL.
I don’t think the Cowboys will have trouble scoring points in 2014. Tony Romo insists he is going to be fine and he was statistically very good a year ago. DeMarco Murray can run the rock, the offensive line is improved and Dez Bryant is a special and elite talent. And that’s not even mentioning Jason Witten at tight end. But I do still worry about two things – the Cowboys have got away from the run too quickly in the past and I also have concerns about the defense. I feel Cowboys fans expecting a drastic improvement from the 8-8 of recent years may be in for a disappointment.