Tony Romo’s back at top of list of things to watch at Camp Cowboys

Posted Saturday, Jul. 19, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Five things to watch

1 - Tony Romo’s back

The Cowboys took a cautious approach with their starting quarterback’s back this off-season. Tony Romo, 34, had surgery to repair a herniated disk in December, and the Cowboys put him on a pitch count during their off-season workouts. Romo said during the team’s minicamp last month that he is healthy and expects to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. In 2013, Romo missed the entire off-season after having back surgery in April, but he returned for the first training camp practice.

2 - Sean Lee’s absence

The Cowboys weren’t even two hours into their first organized team activity when Sean Lee lost his footing while trying to change direction and crumpled under the block of rookie right guard Zack Martin. The middle linebacker tore his left anterior cruciate ligament May 27 and had surgery June 12. The Cowboys placed Lee on injured reserve July 1, thereby officially ending Lee’s season before it began. Rookie Anthony Hitchens, DeVonte Holloman, Justin Durant and Rolando McClain — who was obtained in a trade with the Ravens earlier this month — will compete for the starting job. Safety Barry Church, cornerback Brandon Carr and defensive tackle Henry Melton are expected to fill Lee’s leadership role.

3 - Rod Marinelli’s influence

Rod Marinelli becomes the team’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons following Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin. Kiffin led the team’s switch from the 3-4 to the Tampa 2 last season, but the result was a disaster. Injuries combined with ineptness led to the Cowboys giving up the third-most yards in NFL history. Kiffin stayed on as assistant head coach/defense to assist his good friend Marinelli, who most recently served as the Bears’ defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith in Chicago from 2010-12. Marinelli has his hands full trying to get the unit back to the team’s standards for defense, having lost DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee this off-season.

4 - Scott Linehan’s influence

Scott Linehan has the title of passing-game coordinator, but he will call the plays for the Cowboys. Bill Callahan retained his title of offensive coordinator, but he has been relegated mainly to offensive line duties after one season calling the plays. Jason Garrett called the plays in 2011. The Cowboys’ production has fallen each of the past two seasons, and Linehan is charged with putting the offense back on track. In the five seasons Linehan was Detroit’s offensive coordinator, the Lions ran 343 more plays than the Cowboys. They had more total yards, more passing attempts and more rushing attempts but fewer total yards, fewer passing yards and fewer rushing yards. Detroit ranked sixth, third and fifth in total offense the past three seasons.

5 - Jason Garrett’s future

Garrett enters the final year of his contract sporting a 29-27 record since he took over for Wade Phillips during the 2010 season. The Cowboys finished 8-8 each of the past three seasons, missing the playoffs on the final week of the season. This training camp could be Garrett’s last with the team unless the Cowboys can manage a playoff berth this season. Owner Jerry Jones has said he believes the Cowboys have upgraded their defense enough to make them a contender this season, though they have lost DeMarcus Ware (Broncos), Jason Hatcher (Redskins) and Sean Lee (knee).

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Tuesday, November 25Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, November 25Full Scoreboard
Atlanta «106Final | Box
Golden State «114Final | Box
Detroit86Final | Box
Milwaukee «98
Sacramento «99Final | Box
New Orleans89
Chicago109Final | Box
Denver «114
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Chicago 12:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Seattle 8:30 PM ET
San Francisco TV: NBC
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Miami 8:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, November 25Full Scoreboard
Winnipeg «4Final | Box
Ottawa «3Final(SO) | Box
St. Louis2
Los Angeles3Final(SO) | Box
Nashville «4
Edmonton2Final | Box
Dallas «3
Colorado «4Final(OT) | Box
New Jersey0Final | Box
Vancouver «2
Calgary2Final | Box
Anaheim «3
Full Scoreboard