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News » Looking for answers Staff writers Todd Archer and David Moore examine issues Cowboys faced before and after camp

Looking for answers Staff writers Todd Archer and David Moore examine issues Cowboys faced before and after camp

Looking for answers Staff writers Todd Archer and David Moore examine issues Cowboys faced before and after camp How will Tony Romo and Roy Williams progress in camp?

Williams had six catches for 48 yards in two preseason games before suffering a bruised left shoulder that kept him out of the final two contests. However, he and Romo became a more proficient duo as the preseason wore on.

While Romo and Terrell Owens hit it off immediately on the field and combined for 34 touchdown receptions from 2006-08, Williams is a different type of player. He may not possess Owens' speed, but Williams can be a first-down machine as the Cowboys change the complexion of their offense in 2009.

Williams does not have to be Owens for the Cowboys to succeed, but he has shown that he will produce more than his 19-catch, one-touchdown performance in his first 10 games with Dallas last year.

How will the running back troika shake out?

The Cowboys have an abundance of talented running backs with Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, but from the looks of it, they will not have enough footballs.

Choice opened eyes with his late-season work as a rookie in 2008 when Barber and Jones were felled by injuries. But through the preseason, the breakdown was clear - Barber and Jones will get the majority of the work.

Jones is the wild card. His speed makes him the offense's best big-play threat. There will be times he and Barber will be in the same backfield, which could create chaos for the defense. For Choice, he will have to remain patient, but he is a good reliever to have in the bullpen.

Can Anthony Spencer become a prime-time player?

Spencer's value at linebacker kept rising during training camp because of what happened behind him. Counted on to replace Greg Ellis' sack production, Spencer had a solid preseason as he continued to be stout against the run. However, he has to be a reliable pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware.

The Cowboys are thinner at the position behind Spencer after losing rookie linebacker Brandon Williams for the season to a knee injury.

As comfortable as the Cowboys feel with Spencer as he enters his first year as a full-time starter, they still need to know that he will produce the eight to 10 sacks needed to take some pressure off Ware.

Can Wade Phillips change his approach?

Many players expressed skepticism over Phillips' ability to change his ways, but to their surprise, he has. Has he become a facemask-grabbing, kick-in-the-pants type of coach? No, but he is making the players more accountable, privately and publicly.

In practices, Phillips and the coaches pulled players from the lineup for a play if they made a pre-snap penalty. As training camp wore on, the mental mistakes were reduced. In the meeting rooms, the players have seen a more demanding Phillips, who is the full-time defensive coordinator this season.

The change has not only been with Phillips but the entire coaching staff. They have all adapted to Phillips' "do things exactly right" mantra.

Who will be the

right cornerback?

The Cowboys have decided to make Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick co-starters, at least early in the season.

Jenkins will start the opener at Tampa Bay. Scandrick will start the home opener Sept. 20 against the New York Giants. Neither player did anything to lose the job in the preseason, although neither had an interception.

Jenkins' confidence is high after an up-and-down rookie year. Confidence has never been Scandrick's problem and he has made a ton of plays.

To Wade Phillips, they're both starters. Tom Landry had Roger Staubach and Craig Morton alternate series. If that can be done at quarterback, then doing it at cornerback might not be a big deal.

Plus, it might keep both second-year players happy, at least a bit.

JOIN Tim MacMahon for a live chat at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday as he answers your questions about the team on the Dallas Cowboys blog. dallasnews.com/sports

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Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 8, 2009

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