ESPN.com's Bryan Broaddus shifts his positional review to the defensive side of the ball, beginning with the three-man defensive line. Among his observations, Broaddus saw Junior Siavii's play regress as last season went on:
Junior Siavii was much better early in the season than late. He showed the ability to give you 10 or 12 good plays, but that's about his limit. He's a try-hard, high-effort guy who holds his ground, but he's not going to make many plays.
While Broaddus suggests that the Cowboys should look to upgrade at backup nose tackle, he lists Siavii as a "good bet" and rookie Sean Lissemore as just "on the bubble" with Marcus Dixon. To me, Lissemore represents the only hope of this team being able to rest Jay Ratliff regularly on first and second downs.
He also doesn't see Jason Hatcher or Stephen Bowen offering a serious challenge to Marcus Spears as a starter in 2010.
Yahoo's Jason Cole ranks the Cowboys defensive line at number five in the NFL:
5. Dallas Cowboys: With all due respect to Vince Wilfork of New England, Jay Ratliff has become the best 3-4 nose tackle in the game. The key difference is that Ratliff can penetrate and pass rush better than any other nose man. Wilfork, who is a monster when it comes to holding the point, could probably be similar if the Patriots allowed him to do that, but they don’t. Thus, Ratliff gets the nod. Left end Marcus Spears has shown flashes of excellence and right end Igor Olshansky rebounded from a bad 2008 to play well in 2009. The combination does a great job of setting the table for outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
Cole ranks the Vikings first overall, the Giants third, and the other two NFC East foes, Washington and Philly, ninth and 13th.
Rob Phillips of DC.com provides his seven item checklist of things we do know as we head for training camp, and he lists competitions, including backup roles in the defensive line, as one of his certainties:
There will be subtle competition in camp. Ball and Hamlin. Sean Lee and Jason Williams for nickel linebacker reps. Bryant and the entire receiving corps, sans maybe Miles Austin. The fourth cornerback spot, featuring sixth-rounder Jamar Wall, Cletis Gordon and rookie free agent Bryan McCann. Backup spots in the trenches, the defensive line and offensive line.