- Calvin Watkins, ESPN.com
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We have some good questions about the Cowboys as we enter the last few days of Week 1 in Oxnard, Calif. Somebody is concerned about Jesse Holley's status and the offense.
Now, to the mail.
Q: Are you really concerned about the offense? ... When the season starts and the offense isn't scoring, then there's concern. But running vanilla in the preseason is where we're at. The Cowboys really have a great shot for the S.B. this year barring any serious injuries. -- Joe W. (Belmont, N.H.)
A: Joe, this is a good way to start off the mailbag for the Oxnard portion of training camp. Yes, it's only two preseason games where the offense didn't score. But if you watch practice every day, and I know you can't because you're in Belmont, you will see the offense has some issues. The offense did some extra work Sunday after the rest of the team had left the practice fields. The red zone offense has even struggled in practice. Now if these things continue in the regular season, sure be concerned. But for now, I agree with you: Let's not get too upset.
Q: I love having a kickoff specialist as a field goal kicker. But is [David] Buehler really the answer? If the Cowboys continue to struggle in the red zone as they did last year, this could be one of the most important positions on the team. -- Shay Wallace (Amarillo, Texas)
A: On Sunday, Buehler went 5-for-6, missing from 42 yards. He's been pretty good this summer, with only one miss in the preseason. He has a strong leg and his technique is getting better. He says when he's missed any kicks it's been because he's rushed the attempt. Once he slows down, he'll do fine. The Cowboys won't wait long during the regular season if Buehler struggles. Dallas will get itself a new kicker if Buehler has problems. For right now, Buehler is the man.
Q: How is Alan Ball looking at safety? Are the Cowboys really as confident in him as they say they are? -- Josh Anderson (Augusta, Ga.)
A: The deal with Ball is he makes more plays on the ball than Ken Hamlin, who was the safety last year. Ball is more athletic. He was drafted as a cornerback out of Illinois, so he does have some cover skills. He hasn't been beaten much in practice and in the two preseason games. He's done well in terms of reading the plays.
Q: Do you think it would be wise for the Cowboys to go with 10 offensive linemen -- Sam Young being the 10th and fifth offensive tackle? His talent seems rather limited at this point. There are seasons when a 53-man roster player does not suit up for even one game during the season, so why not give Teddy Williams the 53rd spot on the roster rather than risk losing his potential to another team? It sounds like he's made some strides for a player with no CB experience and there is no other CB in the league with a better size/speed ratio. The Raiders are one team that love players like Teddy Williams. I think the Cowboys could slide Sam Young through to the practice squad easier than Teddy Williams. What do you think? -- Ralph (Seekonk, N.J.)
A: I do believe the Cowboys will keep 10 offensive linemen. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck likes the potential of Sam Young. He moved Young into the starting right tackle spot on Sunday when Marc Colombo went down. He could have moved Robert Brewster over there, but he didn't. I would say the team has a higher regard for Young over Brewster. But don't forget, Alex Barron is the swing tackle and when he gets back he will move in behind Colombo. As far as Williams is concerned, hold up. Williams is fast and will get a look on returns, but he's raw. Secondary coach Dave Campo said Williams is still working on his footwork, especially the back peddle, and is trying to figure out what to do when he sees certain formations. If he gets cut, I'm not sure if the Cowboys will actually lose him to another team. He might be practice squad material.
Q: How did the Cowboys find Teddy Williams? Was he at the combine, or was it a secret deal? -- Daniels (Houston)
A: It's all about scouting. Williams last played football in high school but suffered a broken ankle in the fourth game of his senior season. He didn't play college football. He was a track star at UT-San Antonio, so he didn't go to the combine. The week he was signed, the Cowboys brought him in for a workout. I don't think any secret deal was out there. It's just about who wanted to take a chance on him.
Q: How is Jon Kitna looking in his backup role as quarterback? With all the talk about other areas, I'm wondering how effective Kitna could be if Romo (knock on wood) goes down. We were 1-3 back in 2008 when we lost Romo and Brad Johnson was at the helm. And there are at least three quarterbacks out there I think would have been an upgrade at backup: Bulger, Delhomme, and Brunell. -- Rudy Warren (Amherst, N.Y.)
A: Rudy, I'm not worried at all about Jon Kitna. He's got a good arm, can make all the throws and is still nimble around the pocket to get out of danger. One of the things Kitna does well is challenge defenses. He forces them to make plays on the ball. Plus, I would say he's got better chemistry with Roy Williams than Tony Romo does.
Q: Do you think that Tony Romo is a Top 5 quarterback, or at least a Top 7 quarterback? I think that it is a fair argument that the elite quarterbacks in the NFL are Peyton, Brees, Brady and Favre. Those guys all put up huge numbers, and all have rings. My argument is based on the fact that Romo puts up numbers similar to those quarterbacks, and superior to McNabb, Eli, Roethlisberger. I would put him in the same level as Rivers and Rodgers, even though Rodgers has not won anything. What do you think? Oh and one of these days, Romo is going to win us a Super Bowl. -- Greg (Cowboys fan in New Jersey)
A: First things first. To be an elite quarterback, you need some rings. Romo has none. But he's got a pretty good team around him now that puts him in position to make a long playoff run. It will be interesting to see just how the offense flows this season with three starters coming back from injuries.
Q: Do you think Doug Free will be a good replacement for Flozell Adams and protect Romo on that side? Also, I think the wideout to watch is Ogletree. Please, tell Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips to start this kid. -- Mike Jones (New Haven, Conn.)
A: Mike, Doug Free is fine. I saw where Adams allowed two sacks in his first appearance in Pittsburgh. Free has allowed one sack in the preseason. Tackles give up sacks; that's what they do. You don't want to see it, but it happens. Free is athletic and is doing a nice job in practice in taking on DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, two speed rushers. As far as Ogletree is concerned, he's been inconsistent in training camp. To get more playing time, he has to produce in practice. Jason Garrett wants his guys to be consistent in practice and then when it comes time for the games, he will play them. Miles Austin and Roy Williams are the starters with Patrick Crayton and Dez Bryant next in line.
Q: Have you heard anything good or seen anything good out of Jesse Holley so far in training camp and does he have a shot to make the main roster? -- Jesse Lucas (Siler City, N.C.)
A: Funny that you mentioned him. He's missed a few practices with a strained hamstring, although special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has praised Holley's work on special teams. Wade Phillips has also noted he's doing a good job getting down field on punt and kick returns. I'm not sure if Holley will get any snaps at wide receiver, because it's so top-heavy with talent, but if he recovers from his leg injury he has a good chance of making the roster.
Cowboys mailbag: The offense has struggled to score, but it's too early to worry.