The Dallas Cowboys 10 Most Exciting Players to Watch in 2011
10) DeMarco Murray
There hasn’t been a Murray sighting yet in a Cowboy uniform but when he is healed, he could be a powder keg. His combination of speed, power and vision gives him a chance to explode any time he touches the ball. Cowboy fans should not expect tremendous production game to game but on special teams and in the screen game, he has every bit the potential to take it the distance and in a very impressive and electrifying way. Murray will have his share of highlights in 2011 if healthy and by mid season, fans and opponents will hold their breath when he touches the ball in space.
9) Terence Newman
This was a tough one to inlcude but I still like his quickness and ball skills when he is in position. He has struggled a bit with ball location on the deep pass but I love his play in press coverage and Ryan is sure to call much more press. Provided Newman can get healthy, I love the chip this player has on his shoulders from the bashing he received last season and the Cowboy pursuit of Nnamdi. With veteran safeties behind him and as accountable as he always is even through injury, I expect Newman to really get after it this season.
8) Jason Witten
Witten doesn’t provide many highlight reel plays but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to see him work. He’s a chain mover, was great in the red zone last season and is a heavy Cowboy producer. With nine TDs, a thousand yards and almost 100 catches, Witten grinds and mauls his way down the middle of the field. He owns the middle of the field on pass plays and mixes it up on the edge on many of the running plays. If the Cowboys find themselves playoff bound, chances are Witten was a critical factor in the Cowboys’ success.
7) Felix Jones
There’s a feeling in the gut of many Cowboys fans gut that Jones has not quite become what was expected but he has still given the Cowboys something. He is a bit of an enigma in that regard but he is a true game breaking threat. When Garrett employs the screen pass and he is sure to use it in heavy doses this year, Jones becomes threat #1 on the football field. Jones possesses great vision and finds space with ease. His burst is as explosive as anyone in the league not named Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson. With a healthy Bryant, Austin and Witten on the field, Felix should be one exciting cat to watch.
6) Jay Ratliff
It’s difficult to call a DT exciting but Jay Ratliff with his high energy and intensity is a real exciting part of Cowboy Sundays. He has a regular presence in opposing backfields on passing downs. In Ryan’s defense, he will be moved around more often and should see significant reps at defensive end further terrorizing quarterbacks. He is a hitter and really punishes QBs with his aggressiveness and almost 300 pounds of mobility.
5) Sean Lee
You got the sense at the end of last season that Lee had gotten his bearings and was ready to make a splash. His breakout game against the Colts where he had two picks signaled that the game was beginning to slow down for the second year linebacker. He is very active and aggressive though he has allowed some ball carriers to leak out of his grasp. The move to Garrett/Ryan from Wade should accentuate just how gifted and tenacious Lee can be. He also is now fully healthy. Expect him to be more fluid in his drops and to be a big part of the Ryan blitz game.
4) Miles Austin
If anyone is a lock to turn in an exciting 2011 performance full of big plays, it’s Miles Austin. All he did last season in a year Romo got injured is surpass a thousand yards of receiving. He has been a heavy producer and routinely makes big plays. When he and Romo are healthy, they can be relied upon for a big play almost every game. Dez and Witten will command honesty from the defense and the screen game will keep safeties from cheating as well. Expect Austin to see single coverage and be a huge deep ball and red zone target throughout the year. If that’s not enough, the new Cowboys receiver coach Jimmy Robinson is coming over from the Green bay Packers where he held the same title and role as WRs coach.
3) Tony Romo
The only reason he is not first on this list is because we have come to expect incredible plays from Romo and he rarely disappoints. He possesses tremendous pocket mobility and keeps his eyes trained to the secondary despite all the hostility surrounding him in the pocket. His release is lightning and he challenges opposing secondaries relentlessly game after game. He threw 88 TDs the 3 prior years before last season’s injury and was on pace for another 25+ TD total last year. Armed with Austin, Bryant, Witten, Jones, and fresh blood on the offensive line, expect Romo to fill up the highlight reels again.
2) Dez Bryant
Powerful. Explosive. Tenacious. Dez Bryant is all of these things and he happens to also have great hands for a receiver. He will get looks from Romo and in the return game so he will have ample opportunity to routinely make exciting plays for the Cowboys. He has plenty of speed and the size to handle most NFL safeties as they go Dez hunting. Romo knows it. CBs know it and the fans know it. Throw the ball up for him in a one on one situation and he will come down with the pigskin. Concerns about his maturity are legitimate but there should be no concern that this player will provide unbelievable excitement for Cowboy fans in 2011.
1) Demarcus Ware
Linebacker is not where you usually find the most exciting players in the NFL but in the case of Ware, this Cowboy dazzles every Sunday. He is the NFLs best and most dangerous hunter and he resides with the Dallas Cowboys. He is highly athletic, overpowering and can blaze around the corners. Harrison, Matthews, Willis, Lewis all are tremendous linebackers but Ware stands above them all as a run defender and pass rusher combined. He has stats fully on his side but more than that, he is the hurricane. Everything seems calm and easy for him but around him is complete panic and chaos.