REPORT DATES: July 25th (rookies), July 29th (veterans)
SITE: River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, CA
CAMP OBJECTIVES: The Cowboys were able to upgrade perhaps their most pressing offseason need by signing coveted free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr to a sizeable five-year contract and aggressively moving up in the draft to nab highly skilled LSU coverman Morris Claiborne in the first round. There are still quite a few positions that must be sorted out on a defense that was clearly the team's weak link in 2011, however. Former Jet Brodney Pool and career reserve Barry Church will be fighting for a starting position at safety, and a fierce competition between Bruce Carter, a gifted but raw second-round pick in last year's draft, and more-experienced spring pickup Dan Connor should ensue at inside linebacker. There's also a battle to be held at left defensive end, where veteran Kenyon Coleman faces a steep challenge from holdover Marcus Spears and emerging third-year man Sean Lissemore for the top spot on the depth chart. Dallas will also be hoping that a reliable No. 3 receiver from the current ranks can emerge, with 2011 college free agent Andre Holmes believed to have an edge on the inconsistent Kevin Ogletree and rookie Danny Coale (5th Round, Virginia Tech), who'll miss the beginning of camp with a fractured foot, heading into the summer. Another rookie to monitor is Ronald Leary, an undrafted offensive lineman with a chance to open the season as a starter at right guard if projected regular Mackenzy Bernadeau isn't completely recovered from hip surgery. The saga involving cornerback Mike Jenkins, a 2011 starter who was on the trade block in the spring following the additions of Carr and Claiborne, also bears watching, though his situation is compounded by a lingering shoulder injury that will sideline the former first- round selection early in the preseason.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):
Aug. 13 - at Oakland, 8 p.m. Aug. 18 - at San Diego, 9 p.m. Aug. 25 - vs. St. Louis, 8 p.m. Aug. 29 - vs. Miami, 8:30 p.m.