The Cowboys have several position battles to address, but mostly at the backup spots. Still, there are three areas that seem to be causing the most concern. Here is an update after two days of practice here in Oxnard, Calif.

  • Right guard: With Mackenzy Bernadeau hasn't returned to the field because he's still rehabbing a hip injury. Two more second-year players --Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy-- are dealing with ankle injuries, leaving the Cowboys with two youngsters at right guard. David Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011 who never suited up for a game last year, and Ron Leary, an undrafted rookie who played tackle at Memphis but is trying to make the switch, are splitting first-team reps. The pads come on for the first time in Wednesday’s afternoon practice. Arkin and Leary will go against guys like Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman, who are lining up on the opposite side.
  • Wide receiver: Though Dez Bryant has some off-the-field issues to sort out, he’s played well in the first two practices. The same goes for fellow starter Miles Austin. The real competition starts at No. 3 and trickles all the way down. Kevin Ogletree has the experience, but he hasn’t stood out too much here in the early going. Guys like Raymond Radway, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Tim Benford have been a little inconsistent so far. Rookie Saalim Hakim, the younger brother of former Rams WR Az Hakim, has made a few dazzling plays where he can show off his blazing speed. But the real surprise has been the absence of Andre Holmes, who didn’t pass his conditioning test and can not participate until he passes the test, which he'll take again Wednesday.
  • Safety: Brodney Pool also failed his conditioning test, preventing him from competing with Barry Church for the starting job. Church is working alongside Gerald Sensabaugh. After two days, Church has made a couple of standout plays, including a one-handed interception off a Tony Romo pass that returned for a would-be touchdown in team drills. If Pool doesn’t get back soon, there’s a chance his roster spot would be in jeopardy, considering rookie Matt Johnson and special teams ace Danny McCray figure into the equation as well.

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