Commentary

Williams can still be a star for Cowboys

Updated: May 24, 2010, 2:46 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

Welcome to another mailbag as we get closer to the month of June. I was just thinking about the backup wide receivers and what type of impact they might have in 2010. We have plenty of questions this week about Roy Williams and Dez Bryant. It's like nobody else is on the team. I understand; the two players will have a major impact on the 2010 season. We've got a great question about the concerns over the defense. Sure, there will be a new safety, but creating turnovers is the key to how far the Cowboys go in 2010.

Q: Now with Dez Bryant with the Cowboys, is there any chance of Roy Williams ever being a star? And what kind of impact do you expect from Dez this year? -- Colton (Dallas)

A: I think Williams still has a chance to be a star with the Cowboys if he gets the right type of passes thrown his way. He's taken on a serious approach during the organized team activities in the last week or so. Mike Jenkins said Williams looked like a No. 1 receiver. As far as Bryant is concerned, he's a rookie. Yeah, he's had some excellent practices, at least in front of the media. There's no telling what he's done when we're not there. However, Bryant does have the physical tools to have a good NFL career. Whether offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can provide him with those opportunities remains to be seen. When Garrett had some dynamic receivers in 2008 with Williams and Terrell Owens, he struggled to get them the ball.

Q: Where do you think we'll need to improve the most on defense? We have a great D in the Big D. But it seemed like we didn't have enough later in the season and early in the playoffs to stop the high-powered offenses we faced. We're also cutting a lot veterans and not signing anybody to fill the void. What do you think? -- Ronnie C (San Diego)

A: Ronnie, I think the biggest thing for the Cowboys' defense is forcing turnovers. Dallas had 21 forced turnovers last season, and most 3-4 defenses get more than that. If you have a dynamic pass rush -- which you do from Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware -- you need to create more turnovers. When Ken Hamlin was playing free safety last year he didn't get any interceptions and had just four pass deflections. Alan Ball, who is projected to replace Hamlin, will get more than that. He's athletic and can cover receivers one-on-one. The big concern for me regarding the defense is getting turnovers. Mike Jenkins, who is emerging as the best corner on this team, thrives on it. Terence Newman, a very good corner, isn't as much of a ballhawk as Jenkins.

Q: I was wondering why Dallas doesn't go after Oshiomogho Atogwe from St. Louis, because they didn't spend any money this offseason. Also, why didn't they sign Miles Austin to a long-term deal yet? Why don't they trade Roy Williams for a late-round draft pick? It would give room for Dez to grow and money for O.J. -- Jeff (Hillsborough, N.J.)

A: The bottom line with Atogwe, who is a quality safety, is the Cowboys think he's too pricey. Front office and scouts like him, but he will cost too much money when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, about $6 million to $7 million a year on average. In terms of Miles Austin, both parties want a long-term deal; the Cowboys, however, will probably wait until the 2010 season is under way to really have serious discussions regarding a new contract. Austin told me he'd sign a new contract right now, but he doesn't have one to sign.

Q: Roy Williams says that he's not going to lose the starter's job, but do you think Dez or even Ogletree can take it from him? And who do you think is more likely to make the team out of Jesse Holley, Manuel Johnson or Titus Ryan? -- Jonathan Dy (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.)

A: Jonathan, Roy Williams won't lose his starting job unless Dez Bryant takes it from him. You have to remember Bryant has yet to go up against real defenses yet and doesn't have a command of the playbook. In the first day of OTAs, Bryant ran with the third-team offense but eventually moved up the ranks during the practices. Bryant will get his chance, but he won't supplant Williams until later in the year. I've heard good things about Titus Ryan, a big, strong kid, but Johnson and Holley are ahead of him, so I would suspect Holley or Johnson would make the team.

Q: I just want to ask why not sign John Henderson, a defensive tackle from Jacksonville, or at least bring him in for a look. We could use some size on short-yardage downs and also a vet back up DT wouldn't be bad. What do you think? -- Donta Golder (Baltimore)

Coach Wade Phillips and Tony Romo
James D. Smith/Icon SMIWade Phillips and Tony Romo don't have any reason to worry about their job security.

A: Donta, the team likes Junior Siavii as the backup nose tackle, and Henderson would cost the team more than Siavii does. On pass rushes, Stephen Bowen and Siavii have developed into strong players whom the team depends on.

Q: If the Cowboys don't go deep into the playoffs or make the playoffs, you have to figure coaching changes and QB changes have to be made. Head coach and offensive coordinator both would need to go. With all the coaches out there waiting for a prime job, Tony Romo, to me, needs to get to the conference championship at the least to save his job. -- Chris (Philly)

A: Chris, I can see why the people in Philly went after Donovan McNabb. You have the Cowboys firing Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett after a tough 2010 and you also have Tony Romo in trouble. Listen, Phillips isn't going anywhere -- he just signed a contract extension -- and Garrett is staying, unless the Giants job becomes open. As far as Romo, he's not going anywhere. So, you want Jon Kitna to run the offense? Of course not. The Cowboys are capable of winning 10 or more games with the talent they have. It's too early to have doom and gloom right now.

Q: I was wondering what your thoughts were on the best fan experience when visiting training camp. I was able to attend training camp last year in San Antonio, and had a blast. I have decided that I am going to make this an annual thing, as the access to the players, etc., is great at camp. This year, I can attend camp any time after Aug. 2 and was wondering if I should catch the last few days at San Antonio or instead fly out to Oxnard, Cailf. If you had to choose one or the other, what would you pick? -- Seth Smith (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)

A: Seth, I asked my wife whether she enjoyed the experience with the kids in San Antonio a few years ago, and she just told me she did. I've always liked the fact that the Cowboys have an open practice for the fans at the dome in San Antonio. In Oxnard, that's a cool experience as well because sometimes you have celebs coming to practice. Magic Johnson came one year. It was neat. I would say go to San Antonio and enjoy the restaurants and the football.

Q: Calvin, it always amazes me how the Cowboys, as compared to other organizations such as the Patriots, allow their players to freely speak to the media about their "feelings" regarding position competition or moves the team makes. And why does Jerry believe in disclosing injury news prematurely? Bill Belichick sure doesn't. Didn't know you were an East Coast guy, by the way. -- Skip (Bowie, Maryland)

A: Skip, I used to live in Baltimore -- tough town. However, I think the Pats don't censor their players, as many think. The great thing about Jerry Jones and the Cowboys' PR staff is that they don't try to censor players. Jones is like a boxing promoter in some ways, bad publicity is like good publicity.

Q: Do you think the Cowboys have the personnel to win the Super Bowl? -- George Nasrollahzadeh (Dallas)

A: Sure they do. I have them winning 10 games. After that, who knows?

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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