Cowboys not in prime position at defensive end, kicker, fullback, receiver

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

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Defensive end Igor Olshansky has started 98 of the 107 games he has played in his career, but he is a backup for the Dallas Cowboys right now.

Kenyon Coleman replaced Olshansky at left end with the first-team defense this week. Having played for Rob Ryan for two seasons in Cleveland, Coleman currently has a better understanding of Ryan's multifaceted defense.

"Right now, I'm playing behind Kenyon, which is a really great opportunity for me to learn how to play this left side," Olshansky said. "He's a master at that left end position, which I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to master as well."

Olshansky might be more suited to Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense than Ryan's 3-4 defense. Olshansky played for Phillips in San Diego when Phillips was the San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator, and Olshansky followed Phillips to Dallas in 2009 when he became a free agent.

If Olshansky doesn't win the starting job, could he find a fresh start somewhere else? Houston, maybe? Olshansky is scheduled to make a $3.3 million base salary and count $4.6 million against the cap.

The Cowboys have Sean Lissemore, a seventh-round pick in 2010, whom they like, along with Coleman, Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher as defensive ends if they decide to move on without Olshansky.

Defensive left end is one of a handful of positions that bear watching:

Kicker: The Cowboys have not had good luck with kickers. They had three kickers on their roster in 2009 and 2010, having signed Kris Brown the last week of last season. The past two seasons, Cowboys kickers made only 44 of 63 (69.8 percent) field goals, and the team now is back to the drawing board.

Neither David Buehler nor rookie Dan Bailey has done enough for the Cowboys to feel confident that the position is in good hands... or foot, as it were. They signed undrafted rookie Kai Forbath from UCLA on Aug. 2, but he has yet to practice because of a quadriceps injury. Buehler injured his hip Monday.

The Cowboys kicker might not currently be on their roster. Brown is among the veteran kickers available, and final cuts will offer even more choices.

Fullback: Isaiah Greenhouse was moved from linebacker to fullback this week, indicating the Cowboys still are unsettled and unsatisfied with the position. Chris Gronkowski, the 2010 starter, was responsible for leaving Michael Boley unblocked when the New York Giants linebacker knocked Tony Romo out for the season with a broken left clavicle.

The Cowboys drafted Shaun Chapas in the seventh round, but he has yet to distinguish himself. Dallas previously moved Jason Pociask from tight end, hoping he might be the answer. There is chance the Cowboys won't keep a true fullback on their roster.

Third receiver: Roy Williams' release left Kevin Ogletree as the heir apparent. But Ogletree, who had a forgettable second season after a promising rookie year, hasn't won the job. He has been inconsistent, including dropping three passes in Tuesday's practice. Rookies Dwayne Harris and Raymond Radway looked good in the first preseason game, but they are young. The Cowboys could end up looking for a veteran to fill this spot.

Charean Williams


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