Cowboys Training Camp 2011: Top 5 To-Do List

Well, are you ready for some?
Well, are you ready for some?

Arrived in San Antonio this morning and will attend owner Jerry Jones' State of the Franchise press conference at 3 p.m. in The Alamodome. (After an off-season of relative silence and so many topics to cover, this baby could go 90 minutes.)

In the post-lockout NFL, the Cowboys have hit the ground sprinting. So far, so good.

Gone: Roy Williams. Marion Barber. Leonard Davis. Kris Brown. Robert Brewster.

Going: Marc Colombo?

Staying: Doug Free. Marc Colombo?

Coming: Abram Elam. Roger Emrich.

With the first practice tomorrow morning at 10 being a walkthrough and the first pads practice not until this weekend, things will start slowly. But eventually in these two weeks down south they've got to accomplish some lofty goals pretty quickly.

Like ...

5. Rookie Production -- In the wake of Leonard Davis and perhaps Marc Colombo being cut (the team is talking to him about returning at a lower salary), Tyron Smith must be able to play at a high level. Right now. Biggest question is whether he will balk at being asked/ordered to carry veteran Dez Bryant's pads?

4. Change the Culture -- Head coach Jason Garrett began that process last season, installing more discipline and more physical practices in leading Dallas to 5-3 down the stretch. The Cowboys got soft under Wade Phillips. In order to be a better team, Dallas has to be a tougher team mentally and physically. Even without two-a-days, that process starts in training camp.

3. Secure a Kicker -- He's got a strong leg, but can David Buehler make a field goal when it matters? The Cowboys signed veteran Kris Brown, but cut him yesterday to create some salary-cap room. Looks like 2010 Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey of Oklahoma State will be Buehler's camp competition. One of them has to emerge as reliable.

2. Upgrade the Secondary -- The Cowboys gave up 436 points in 2010, most in franchise history. The lasting image of lost after loss was safeties Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh pointing at each other in the end zone after another passing touchdown as if to say "No, I thought you had him!" Sensabaugh is likely gone via free agency and Ball is moving back to Nickel cornerback. Whether it's Michael Huff or Abram Elam or Eric Weddle (re-signed with Chargers this morning), the Cowboys have to acquire a better safety or else new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's defense won't stand a chance.

1. Sign Doug Free -- In light of No. 1 draft choice Tyron Choice, Free might be the right tackle of the future. But he's the left tackle of the present. And the Cowboys landed him via a sweet deal last night, four years, $32 million ($17 guaranteed). Most experts thought a 26-year-old tackle entering the prime of  his career would command $10 million a year and a bonus of $20 million. Free isn't exactly in the Ring of Honor yet, but he held up last year against elite pass-rushers like Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Clay Matthews and Dwight Freeney.


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