By John Helsley
follow me on twitter @jjhelsley
When the Cowboys conduct their second major scrimmage tonight, the ante will be raised in a number of ways.
For one, offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen expects to see real progress from a week ago, when he basically called out his receiving corps in search of reliable backups. It’s time for some guys to shine.
At quarterback, Brandon Weeden’s backup remains in flux, although the real candidates are Johnny Deaton and Clint Chelf, with Nate Sorenson lagging behind with his head swimming in the deep end of the learning pool. Deaton is essentially the guy, but Holgorsen is challenging him to prove it.
Line coach Joe Wickline will be watching his guys closely, too. Wick loves competition, which is why he doesn’t like to announce starters until the last minute. And with so many youngsters pushing for playing time, he’ll keep with his policy to get the best out of the most for as long as possible.
On defense, the return of Victor Johnson and Jamie Blatnik bears watching, although the latter may not be involved much yet after just returning to practice from disciplinary action. Both are playing catchup, but have experience on their sides.
Linebacker offers some intriguing storylines, with walkon Tyler Johnson — the latest former baseball player to join the Cowboys — apparently turning heads and Kye Staley making the move to defense from running back. Staley suffered a severe knee injury a year ago and is battling back from that. Maybe this offers him a fresh start.
And special teams offers some intrigue, with coach Joe DeForest seeking playmakers to follow Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox as return men. The speedy Justin Gilbert is one to watch. He’s got skills to thrill, yet must prove capable of not forcing things.