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“They have the potential to get there,” said NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, the three-time Super Bowl champion with the Cowboys who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month. “Hopefully those guys have taken this offseason and said next year should be our time.”

With lofty expectations and their longest training camp in more than a decade ahead of them, it’s good for the Cowboys there are few issues and little drama. Just plenty of motivation.

“I really do feel that we’ve got top talent on the team, but this same talent, the majority of it, saw us fall short last year,” Jones said. “And that keeps anybody from getting too caught up in what this looks like. We’ve got a lot of work to do when we get to training camp.”

Here are some of the top storylines for the Cowboys so far:

_ Doug Free gets the first chance to replace left tackle Flozell Adams, the expensive 35-year-old five-time Pro Bowler cut last spring. Free, going into his fourth season, started seven games at right tackle for injured Marc Colombo last year.

The Cowboys also acquired tackle Alex Barron, sending Bobby Carpenter to St. Louis in a trade of underachieving former first-round picks.

_ After receiver Miles Austin went from relative unknown to Pro Bowl player and Dez Bryant was drafted in the first round, Patrick Crayton asked for a trade and skipped most voluntary offseason workouts. But Crayton, who could still end up playing for somebody this season, showed up for the final week of workouts and the minicamp, working like he always had.

_ Safety Ken Hamlin, a 2007 Pro Bowler who like Adams had a contract through 2013, was also cut. Alan Ball, primarily a cornerback his first two seasons, is the likely replacement opposite Gerald Sensabaugh.

_ Hamlin’s departure is the only significant change for coach Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense, which allowed the fewest points in the NFC last season and ended the regular season with consecutive shutouts for the first time in the team’s 50-year history.

With Jason Garrett calling plays for Tony Romo and a record-setting offense, and Phillips settling into the dual role as the NFL’s only head coach-defensive coordinator, Jones is excited about the continuity of the coaching staff. He believes that is good for Phillips, who is 33-15 after three seasons in Dallas and finally has a playoff victory as a head coach.

“You can just sense it when you’re talking to him, he’s so comfortable in himself around this team,” Jones said. “I’m not talking about he’s laid back or taking things too easy. He’s just gotten very comfortable, exudes to me when I’m with him, the feel, that feeling he feels about his team.”