By MATT MOSLEY / DallasNews.com
The countdown to the first practice of Cowboys training camp – Saturday, July 30 – has begun.
You've read our exhaustive coverage of the Cowboys' move to a 3-4 defense.
You've scoured the waiver wire for a starting free safety.
But as the Cowboys prepare for their trip to Oxnard, Calif., let's look past the obvious concerns and deal with the five most intriguing subplots.
Though you won't find any subplots in Wedding Crashers, the outstanding new film from Cowboys' fan and Dallas native Owen Wilson, you will find some good ones here.
(OK, so that was quite a stretch).
On to the subplots:
Subplot 1: What is the Cowboys secret plan for Terence Newman?
Character development: Cornerback Terence Newman went through an awful sophomore slump in 2004. He endured nagging injuries, food poisoning and having to cover Terrell Owens.
Late in the season, he showed signs of improvement. Newman thrives on being aggressive, and he must become more confident in the club’s scheme. With the arrival of Anthony Henry and veteran Aaron Glenn, Newman won't be so lonely.
Plot twist: Everyone assumes that Henry and Newman will play outside all the time and that Glenn or Henry will play in the slot.
But the Cowboys are actually preparing Newman to play in the slot when teams go to three-wide sets. In some ways, playing inside is more of a challenge. You have man-to-man responsibilities and there are a lot more routes that you must guard against.
The good thing is that playing in the slot should allow Newman to read and react sooner.
He shouldn't get turned around as much.
The ending: Newman began to doubt himself last season. In fact, if Parcells had any recourse at all, he may have sat him down at some point.
By all accounts, the swagger is back, though. He has had a tremendous off-season, if you don't count the fact that he accidentally slammed his own head while closing the back of his SUV, requiring several stitches. This subplot has a happy ending, with Newman returning to the form that made him a Pro Bowl alternate in 2003.
I believe he will bounce back, hopefully we get a pass rush to help him. Nobody can cover a good WR all day in this league. I just wish he would look back at the ball more on deep routes :banghead: