One of the best things about SportsblogNation is the we truly are a network. As those of you who have been around a while will recall, we had Q&A's with the head blogger of each team we played last season.
David Halprin from Blogging the Boys answered some questions for us regarding tomorrow's contest.
1) The proverbial T.O questions: Who is stepping into his role? How is camp without him? Best Romo or T.O quote?
Well, Roy Williams will be asked to take on the T.O. role, to be the go-to guy at WR. But the reality is the Cowboys want to spread the ball around on offense. They have two TEs who can do serious damage, Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett, and they’ve been working on a lot of 2-TE sets at camp. They would also like to use their running backs in the passing game more, and the Cowboys are stocked at RB. So Roy will be counted on in the passing game, but the Cowboys would be more than happy to get the ball to a variety of players.
Camp has been much quieter and business-like without T.O., but it wasn’t just him, it was Hard Knocks, Pacman Jones, Jessica Simpson…this year, it feels different.
Best quote was about T.O. from his publicist after his accidental overdose - "He has 25 million reasons to live." Priceless.
2) Much was made of Felix Jones being, perhaps, the best running back to come out of Arkansas last season. Looking back would you have traded your two first rounders from 08 to the Raiders for Darren McFadden?
No way! I wouldn’t even entertain that idea. Felix Jones is going to be an impact player, his touches last year before he got hurt were electrifying. We just didn’t use him enough and we won’t make that mistake again. Mike Jenkins is going to be a starting CB for us this year (he’ll miss this game because of injury) and showed good cover skills in his rookie season. So a RB who fits in perfectly with Marion Barber’s bruising style and averaged 8.9 yards per attempt his rookie year, and a young kid who is going to be a starting CB, for another RB? Nope, not even close.
3) Who should Raider fans key on this Thursday?
Well, among the starters, look for the 2-TE sets. We’ve been seeing it a lot at training camp so we’ll see how much they go to it in the game. I think people are interested in the Tony Romo/Roy Williams connection and we’ve been interested in how Jason Garrett plans to use Marion Barber and Felix Jones this year. Granted, we’ll only see those guys for a short time on Thursday, but it will be our first real look.
4) What are your biggest camp battles?
Our camp battles are mainly along the backups. Our starting unit was pretty much set going into camp. We’re looking for guys to step up after our starting three corners (nickel corner is as good as a starter) and we’ll get to see a lot of those guys with Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins not playing because of injury. We also have a hole at NT behind Jay Ratliff, and we’re looking for a fifth receiver. We have a long list of rookies (we had 12 draft picks) to look at on special teams and as backup defensive players.
5) What are the keys to your success Thursday and for 2009?
For Thursday, stay healthy and see some of the young kids play a good game. For the season, again stay healthy, and make improvements in a few areas. Turnover margin would be one, our defense created a lot of pressure and sacks last year, but not a lot of turnovers. We also need much better special teams coverage, we even brought in a kickoff specialist to get some touchbacks. Penalties were another problem. But the big issue, and no one really knows how to solve it, is to play better in Dec and Jan. For whatever reason, we just can’t close the deal lately. That’s our nemesis, late-season football.
6) Can you get me tickets to the game on Thanksgiving ;) ?
I can do anything, if you got the cash! How much are we talking about spending and how much of a fee do I get? I got Jerry on speed dial.
Thanks again Dave, and I cannot wait to get out there tomorrow!