by Nick Eatman & Kurt Daniels
With the Cowboys' minicamp starting, it reminded me of how back in the day these practices were physical with the offense and defense hitting each other. So one, can anything really be decided about these players? And two, does the lack of physical contact delay their development? This is a physical game, after all.- Ronald Williams/Omaha, NE_
Nick Eatman: This truly is a tough one. As much as fans want to see some contact when they go out to practice at training camp, or simply just want them to be fully prepared when the season starts, no one wants to see the flip side of that. Trust me, I still remember the first OTA practice of 2014 when first-round pick Zack Martin was just running an offensive drill and collided with Sean Lee, who tore his ACL right there on the spot. And that wasn't even a heavy-contact drill. But right there in early May, Lee's season was over before it ever started. And so I also have visions of guys like Orlando Scandrick and Tyrone Crawford, even Kellen Moore as well, that were carted off the field in Oxnard and never played another snap that season. Of course, Moore's injury opened the door for Dak, but there's not always a young, ready backup waiting in the wings. Yes, injuries are going to happen whether it's full contact or not. But me personally, I'd rather wait as long as I could before I let them hit. Sure, the players aren't getting fully ready to play, but at least it's the same for the other 31 clubs.
Kurt: I find it interesting that many former players feel that this younger NFL generation isn't being fully prepared for the season because of the reduced amount of contact now required during OTAs, minicamp and even training camp. Yet these same alumni are still dealing with lifelong ailments that are the result of making a career out of such a physical sport. So while there is some truth that roster decisions can't really be made until the pads come on and the preseason games get going, I don't think that a lack of live contact is delaying their development. Especially here in June. There is plenty to learn and much that can still be evaluated during this week's minicamp. And you can bet those players fighting to stay on in Dallas are well aware of that fact. Or at least they better be.