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Training Camp Next
Cowboys Have July 27 Reporting Date

This year's training camp will have lots of different storylines playing throughout the Cowboys' stay in Oxnard, Calif.

Most of the stories will carry over into the regular season, which promises to be another exciting run for the Cowboys, who are just trying to get back in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
As the Cowboys head back to sunny California for camp, which officially begins on July 28. It will be the Cowboys' last time in Oxnard, at least for another five years. The Cowboys already announced they will return to San Antonio for training camp in 2007, signing a five-year deal with the Alamo City.

So this is it for a while for the Cowboys and Southern California, where the always comfy temperatures have made it a favorite spot among the players.
But surroundings aside, there are plenty of other important football matters to deal with, starting with the one and only, Terrell Owens.

Yes, all eyes will be perched on T.O. with every step he makes during camp and the season.
The Cowboys are anticipating a focused Owens, which could help them become one of the league's most potent passing teams.

Owens has that potential. Team him up with Terry Glenn, who is coming off his best season in years (62 catches 1,136 yards, seven touchdowns), Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Drew Bledsoe, and the Cowboys look to have all the tools to air it out on offense.
Funny thing though, that's not exactly what Bill Parcells and the Cowboys want to do.
No, the addition of Owens won't change the Cowboys' philosophy of trying to run the ball first, establish field position and control the clock.

But at least they have another home-run hitter in Owens when the situation arises.
While T.O. will certainly be the talk of camp, there are plenty of other issues to keep Cowboys fans entertained as well.
What about the running back situation?

Sure, the Cowboys think they have a starter in place in Julius Jones, but just how much can they rely on a player who has already missed 11 games in two years because of injury?
The flip side to Jones is that in a short amount of time, he has also produced four games of at least 149 yards of rushing, including 198- and 194-yard efforts, which rank third and fourth, respectively, on the Cowboys' all-time single-game lists.

But it's not likely that Parcells will give Jones a long leash this year to perform. And that's nothing against Jones, as it is his admiration for Marion Barber, a second-year player who is more of a jack-of-all-trades back.

While the chase for the starting running back spot will be a hot topic of discussion in camp, don't expect Parcells or the coaching staff to get caught up in it. In fact, Parcells will gladly welcome a "problem" of which running back to start.

But neither Jones nor Barber will have any success this season without a competent offensive line, a position that was rather inconsistent at the end of last year.
Injuries certainly caught up to the Cowboys last season, but Flozell Adams is back at left tackle after suffering a torn ACL. The team patched together a makeshift line that included rookie Rob Petitti, who started all 16 games and will certainly give veteran Jason Fabini some tough competition for the starting right tackle position.

In between, the tackles will see a distinctive change with the loss of Larry Allen, who was released in the offseason. Four-year vet Kyle Kosier gets first crack replacing Allen, a 10-time Pro Bowler and future Hall-of-Famer and Ring of Honor inductee.
"Well, I know I've got some pretty big shoes to fill," Kosier said. "He's a great player, probably one of the best guards to ever play the game. But I have a lot of confidence in myself. I think we can work together and get the job done."

There will be a training camp battle once again at center between Al Johnson and Andre Gurode, who also gives the Cowboys some depth at guard. The team is also hoping starting right guard Marco Rivera returns to Pro Bowl form after battling back and neck injuries in 2005.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, the biggest question the Cowboys have centers on more off-the-field issues.

Defensive end Greg Ellis, one of the most respected players in the locker room since his arrival to the team in 1998, has publicly asked the Cowboys to make more of a financial commitment this offseason. Ellis, who has either led or tied for the team lead in sacks for each of the last five years, has not only lost his starting position to second-year pro Chris Canty, but will likely move to a hybrid outside linebacker spot.

Ellis, who has always been the consummate team player, isn't upset about the change, but just wants the Cowboys to compensate him for what he considers to be a risk.
"Just the level of commitment from them is what I'm looking for," Ellis says "You're going from a guy who has played with his hand on the ground for eight years, now you want me to change. I have no problem with that, but it's not right for me to have signed that contract (in 2003) with the intent on what we're going to do, then we switch.

"And that's fine, but I'm doing something that I've never done before. It's not right for me to be out there taking that risk and not receive any commitment."
Ellis, who decided to skip four days of voluntary practices at Valley Ranch, has four years remaining on his contract and is scheduled to count $3.35 million on the salary cap this season, which includes a $2.25 million base salary. The cap figures for the final three years of the deal are $3.1 million, $3.92 million and $4.75 million in 2009.

Ellis obviously fears that a disappointing season in 2006, especially for a player who turns 31 in August, would not only lead to his release from the Cowboys, but severely damage his chances of getting a hefty free-agent contract with another team.

"It's not about more money; I'm not asking for a penny more new money," Ellis says. "I'm under this contract and I'm not demanding anything. But I'm not a three-year guy or a five-year guy. If I have a bad year, I can't just say, ´┐ŻAll right, I'll be back next year.' When you're in your eighth or ninth year, bad years lead to no years."

While Ellis says he doesn't want a new contract, he wouldn't mind either the Cowboys pushing forward some of the money at the end of the contract to this year or guaranteeing his salary this year and possibly the next two.
"The ball is in their court because I'm under contract," Ellis says. "It's just not beneficial to have a guy on their team who feels like he's not being committed to. If I wasn't committed to them, they would have a problem with me, then it works both sides."
So what if the Cowboys don't come up with a new deal by the start of training camp? Does that mean Ellis holds out?

"I don't know," Ellis says. "I'm not saying that. I don't know what's going to happen. I would say this, if we can't get anything done, I think it's best for me to be gone - at their discretion. They can trade me or do whatever. Not in a hostile way. I understand the business. I'm just saying I probably shouldn't be here."

However, the Cowboys seem to want Ellis around.
Even Parcells says Ellis is one of the team's top pass rushers and he will be needed this season.
"Greg is a pressure player - that's where he will help us," Parcells says. "He might drop off (in coverage) once in a while. But in a 3-4 defense, you need pressure players and usually, the linebackers are the pressure players. I think Greg fits into this defense and I think he fits in well."

But that's something Ellis can't see for himself until he gets to training camp. Now, the question is, will he go to camp without a new deal?
Other than the Ellis watch, there are some traditional linebackers to keep an eye on at camp, including the first-round draft pick, Bobby Carpenter. While he will undoubtedly be the first-team water boy, something Parcells issues to every first-round pick, Carpenter is looking to get a starting job on the defensive side of the ball. Look for a quality camp battle between the rookie from Ohio State and veteran Al Singleton.

So definitely, there will be plenty to watch this year at training camp. And no, it doesn't all have to do with Terrell Owens.


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