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Cowboys Training Camp Eve-Eve

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'Twas the day before players report and all through the house...

There is a feeling surrounding the Cowboys right now that we are in the midst of the calm before the storm. A day before players and media descend on San Antonio and Jerry offers his State Of The Cowboys address/sales pitch and two days before the team holds its first practice of training camp, there is more peace and quiet in Valley Ranch than anyone is accustomed to. 

The biggest news these days involves draft pick signing, but Stephen Jones has already cut deals with four of the six April picks, and talk from both sides in the cases of Dez Bryant and Sean Lee is about the importance of getting the players to practice as quickly as possible. Cowboys first rounders almost always miss a couple of practices - Bryant likely will too - but any drama at this point seems to be manufactured. The only interest in the team off the field involves Tony Romo's and Miles Austin's dating and personal lives. No one is in trouble with the law or the league or their teammates. The most interesting impending position battles aren't even particularly controversial.

But boy are things about to change.

The Cowboys will embark Saturday on one of the busiest training camps in history. A few teams play five preseason games every year, and the Cowboys will be one of those this season. But what teams don't do every year is hold preseason practices in four different cities. I suppose that it technically an exaggeration, since two of those stints will be in Dallas, but look at how this is going to work:

July 24-Aug 6 -- Camp in San Antonio
August 8 -- Game in Canton, OH
Aug 9-Aug 11 -- Camp in Dallas
August 12 -- Game in Dallas
Aug 13-Aug 20 -- Camp in Oxnard
August 21 -- Game in San Diego
Aug 23-Aug 27 -- Camp in Oxnard
August 28 - Game in Houston
Aug 29-Sept 1 -- Camp in Dallas
September 2 -- Game in Dallas

They arranged the schedule so that the three camp transitions all coincide with games, but that is quite a journey. Only one time will they leave camp, play a game, and return to that same camp.

And once practices do commence, there actually will be a lot of interesting questions to consider:

How is Doug Free going to hold up?
Are Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin any good?
Does Roy Williams have anything more than what he's shown here?
How good are the young linebackers?
How will the running backs be handled?
Is Martellus Bennett going to step forward as a third year player?
Is Stephen McGee an NFL QB?
And of course, how good will Dez Bryant be?

Injuries will become a topic.

ESPN will have to scrounge for some gaps in their 24/7 Brett Favre and Tim Tebow coverage, but we can bet that they will follow the team around the country and attempt to create some story lines. The storm is almost here.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.