THE PULSE OF AMERICA’S TEAM: Family Day followed by Fathers Day | Superhero dad Tony Romo super-charged | Dallas Cowboys family focused | 2015 minicamp wrap-up
Tony Romo’s wife, Candice, and their two sons Hawkins (age 3) and Rivers (age 1) were at AT&T Stadium for ‘Family Day’, the annual event in which players’ wives and kids are invited to watch the final practice of Dallas Cowboys Minicamp, then stay around for lunch and playtime on the field. Continue reading →
HOW ‘BOUT THEM WOWBOYS?: Dallas Cowboys make sure La’el Collins has his moment in the sun; Rookie’s inspirational message sends shockwaves around Cowboys Nation | The trade-bait debate | A true-blue must-see video
What else can you really say about what has happened here this week, particularly on Thursday afternoon at Valley Ranch. Continue reading →
DALLAS COWBOYS CALENDAR: NFL announces 2015 offseason workout dates | Dallas 2015 OTA dates | Cowboys voluntary & mandatory camp calendar 2015
The mover & shaker mode of free agency is winding down. Super Bowl XLIX is in the rearview mirror. That means it’s almost time for all 32 teams to start their offseason programs.
Below are the key offseason dates to know for your 2015 Dallas Cowboys and their evil NFC East rivals. Continue reading →
COWBOYS OFFSEASON OUTLOOK: Evaluating the offensive fits as 2014-2015 mini-camps conclude | Dallas Cowboys roster
IRVING, Texas – With the Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015 offseason practices now finished, here’s a breakdown of what to look for at each offensive position moving forward.
COUNTDOWN TO THE OTA’S: Your 2014 Dallas Cowboys top defensive “Wave Rushers” starting to emerge | Dallas Cowboys Organized Team Activities 2014
IRVING, Texas — In my experience of working in personnel offices around the NFL this time of year, as a staff you are working hard to eliminate the unknowns for your squad.
There are always going to be questions whether you have the numbers (see the current Dallas Cowboys roster) and depth to get you through training camp in July and into August. The last thing you want to happen during camp is to get caught short if you have a run of bad luck with injuries.
2014 MINICAMP WRAP-UP: Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive linemen stand out | Aspiring offensive players to watch | Special Feature
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys Rookie Mini Camp has wrapped up and it’s time to look ahead to the Dallas Cowboys OTA workouts scheduled to begin next week.
Here’s a look at the rookie class of defenders and offensive players to keep an eye on as the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys season transpires …
THE EBERFLUS EXPERIMENTS: Defining Dallas Cowboys rookie LB Anthony Hitchens role means being tested inside and out
IRVING, Texas – Last Monday and Tuesday, Anthony Hitchens had to take final exams in sociology, earth science and sports promotion at the University of Iowa.
The first two days of the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp have been a more difficult test.
“It’s just starting out, so of course it’s supposed to be,” the fourth-round draft pick said.
Hitchens (31) moved to inside linebacker after playing on the weak side at Iowa (pictured above), where he led the Hawkeyes in tackles his last two seasons. He now has to call the defenses, call the checks and communicate with the entire group.
THE AMERICA’S TEAM DREAM: Jason Garrett’s 2014 rookie mini-camp Day 2 Press Conference | Second impressions of your aspiring Dallas Cowboys
IRVING, Texas – Today (Saturday) saw the Dallas Cowboys rookies take the fields at Valley Ranch for Day 2 of minicamp, highlighted by DeMarcus Lawrence’s debut on-field.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addressed the media following the morning practice, which was conducted without helmets after several players suffered injuries on Friday.
Here are some highlights from Jason Garrett’s Day 2 press conference …
THE BOYS ARE BACK-DAY 2: Dallas Cowboys 2014 rookie minicamp underway at Valley Ranch | DeMarcus Lawrence talks about birth of son | Watch team drills and practice
2014 Dallas Cowboys Rookie Mini-Camp cam | Second Look | Team Drills | Duration: 19:27 | Join Bryan Broaddus and David Helman for a recorded look into today’s Dallas Cowboys 2014 Mini-Camp practice at Valley Ranch (Watch | Listen)
DeMarcus Lawrence: Confidence, pressure, birth of his son Damari | 6:45 | Dallas Cowboys rookie DE DeMarcus Lawrence talks about the birth of his newborn son, running on no sleep, and why he thinks he can be the best. (Watch | Listen)
Editors note: Check out both of these videos to get a better feel for your 2014 Dallas Cowboys rookies at minicamp; also great interview with Dallas Cowboys 2nd round NFL Draft pick DeMarcus Lawrence as he talks about the events of the past few days and how the birth of his son (Damari Lawrence) has already changed his outlook.
THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching | Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli: Time For Teaching | 2:54 | Rod Marinelli talks about why it’s an important time for teaching instead of competition. He also talks about where he could envision Tyrone Crawford playing on the defensive line. (Watch | Listen)
Former Marine, and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s not into nursing anyone’s confidence, or lack thereof.
THE BOYS ARE BACK: Dallas Cowboys 2014 rookie minicamp kicks off at Valley Ranch | First look at your new players | Watch team drills and practice
IRVING, Texas – It’s not exactly football season, but it feels that way to some extent at Valley Ranch.
At least the newest of Dallas Cow ‘boys are back on the field today (Friday) for the start of a two-day rookie minicamp that includes the draft picks, undrafted free agents, and even a few workout players here on a tryout basis.
Dez Bryant made spectacular catches against the defense of Morris Claiborne in mini-camp.
A lot of them.
But the Dallas Cowboys receiver put a positive spin on it for the Cowboys cornerback – he made it require spectacular catches.
“That is credit to the great defenses and the coverage,” Bryant said. “He is putting pressure on me and making it difficult for me to make the catch. So you can’t take that away. I’m just trying my best to make a play.”
Maybe it’s a sign that Claiborne can take a step forward in his second year. He started 15 games last year as a first-round pick, but he had only one interception, so his impact was not considered splashy.
Then again, he missed all of the offseason last year recovering from wrist surgery.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Claiborne said. “Last year I was searching to find a place because I didn’t have an off-season. Now it is what it is. I’m a lot more comfortable just because I’m out here having the opportunity to get better.”
Healthy this spring, Claiborne hit the weight room and added six pounds. Bryant has noticed.
“He is a lot stronger,” Bryant said. “You can tell by looking at him. He is real tough. That’s what I love. He is adding an element to his game, that is, being more physical.
“He already has the eye for the ball. He has the hands of a receiver. He is just putting pieces together to be one of the best in the league.”
DALLAS MEDIA BROUGHT DOWN TO EARTH: Tony Romo tells reporters when it comes to the actual game, ‘You guys just don’t matter’
Tony Romo understands the job of the media. But, no offense – it has no affect on him.
“Not trying to be rude, but you guys just don’t matter,” Romo told reporters Tuesday at Valley Ranch as the Dallas Cowboys opened mini-camp.
He was answering a question about owner Jerry Jones’ thought that he should spend “Peyton Manning-type time” on the job and his heightened role in the game-planning inadvertently put more pressure on him.
He continued after his line drew a small laugh.
“I know you guys all have a job to do, and it helps grow the game and there’s a lot of talk about the game, and it’s a wonderful aspect of it,” he said. “But good/bad, none of it matters. It’s going to be played out on the field. No matter what, we’re going to have to open up the football season against the New York Giants, and whether you said great things or whether you guys may have said the Cowboys are whatever – the best ever, the worst ever, they can’t ever, they can – it doesn’t matter. You’ve still got to show up, and you’ve got to play.
“All the other stuff is for people to talk about and enjoy. To me, when you sit there and look at it, it just doesn’t matter. It’s just stuff.”
Romo was asked if it’s fair to say he has thick skin.
“It’s fair to say,” he said.
So Romo understands he will be the subject of conversation. But he will stick to his philosophy:
“Someone tells you you’re the greatest ever? ‘Thanks.’ Move on,” he said. “Someone tells you you’re the worst ever? ‘Thanks.’ Move on.’ And you go out there and keep getting better. And eventually, you’ll have your best chance for success.”
Editors comment: ESPN, NFL website, and other media sources took exception to Tony Romo’s comments in the final few minutes of his twenty-minute interview. Please watch the video below to get a complete picture of what Tony Romo was talking about regarding the media’s overall impact to the team. Tony Romo brought the Dallas media down to earth, as he explained that future success of the Dallas Cowboys will come from executing team goals within the organization, not from media hype or sports reporters opinions. He goes further into the issue when he explains that a number of offseason changes are underway and that internal details (such as the recent play-caller hype) and timelines are either irrelevant or withheld for competitive or confidentiality reasons during the offseason.
Tony Romo: Ready To Go
Tony Romo talks about sitting out this weeks mini-camp, and his thoughts on the play-calling situation. (Duration – 20:08)
IRVING, Texas – The rooms along the hallway inside the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch practice facility are labeled the way you would think they would be labeled: tight ends, offensive line and so on. The defensive line used to be there.
Rod Marinelli changed it to Rushmen.
“It’s what we have to do, OK,” said Marinelli, the Cowboys defensive line coach. “It’s something in the four-man front that what you try to identify a position or men the No. 1 thing they’ve got to be able to do, and that it’s very clear.”
In the 3-4 scheme the Cowboys ran from 2005-12, the defensive line was not hugely responsible for the pass rush, though Jay Ratliff had 7 1/2 and six sacks in 2008-09 from his nose tackle spot. In the 4-3 Texas 2 scheme the Dallas Cowboys will run this year, the pressure on the quarterback has to come from the defensive line.
DeMarcus Ware is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. Anthony Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 and was named to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys do not believe their transitions from outside linebacker to defensive end will be difficult.
Ratliff, however, has seen his sack total decline every year for the last five years. Jason Hatcher has never had more than 4 1/2 sacks in a season. Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford will have to get to the passer more than they did last year, too.
The new sign is more of an attitude check.
“It’s all part of what we are,” Marinelli said. “I make sure we understand it and we go on from there.”
PODCAST: Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.
THE TEXAS 2 ENFORCER: Dallas Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox’s aggressive play among rookie minicamp highlights
IRVING – Dallas Cowboys rookie J.J. Wilcox relished contact long before his coaches moved him to safety his senior year at Georgia Southern.
“That’s why my touchdowns were limited,” said Wilcox, referring to his 18 scores as a running back and receiver for the Eagles.
“I wanted to be a bruiser, run guys over. I like being physical.”
That was evident the second day of rookie minicamp, which ended Sunday. In a pads-free, non-contact 11-on-11 session, the third-round pick collided with undrafted free agent Kendial Lawrence, sending the running back from Missouri to the ground and eliciting nods of approval from onlookers.
“We got no pads on and he’s a pretty big guy, so it was a good collision,” said Wilcox.
Typical of a hard hitter, Wilcox was unapologetic for his aggressive play.
“They tell you to fly around,” he said. “(The coaches) know it wasn’t on purpose. I’m a rookie, second day of camp. They figure, ‘Hey, he doesn’t know better.’ Next time (it happens), I’ll probably get in trouble for it.”
Perhaps. Or just maybe Wilcox will get a pat on the rump from a staff overseeing a team in dire need of defensive playmakers.
The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in January and replaced him with 4-3 scheme guru Monte Kiffin partly because Ryan’s 3-4 defense forced just 16 turnovers last season. The Chicago Bears registered an NFL-high 44.
“So that’s 28 more scoring opportunities,” Garrett said in February. “The thing we’ve probably done least well is take the football away. And (turnover differential) is probably the single most important statistic in football.”
Wilcox’s collision with Lawrence wasn’t his only highlight. He also had an interception while defending a tight end on a seam route.
Bottom line: Wilcox was one of the top performers at rookie minicamp, very much looking the part of a playmaking safety even if this is only his second year at the position.
“Initially, when you (hear) this guy used to play running back, this guy used to play receiver, now he’s going to play safety in the NFL, you say, ‘Wait a second here,’ ” coach Jason Garrett said. “But then you watch him play, he shows the traits and the demeanor.”
Despite Wilcox’s inexperience at safety, he has a shot to start at a position of weakness.
“Unproven would be the overall assessment,” owner Jerry Jones said last week when asked to evaluate the team’s safeties, which include a veteran recovering from a torn Achilles (Barry Church), a second-year pro who did not play as a rookie because of hamstring injuries (Matt Johnson), a veteran more suited for special-teams duty (Danny McCray) and a free agent who signed a one-year deal (Will Allen).
But Jones is confident Kiffin will position the safeties to succeed.
“I think we will benefit from a scheme that emphasizes what these guys are: big, physical guys that like to hit,” Jones said. “With (hard-hitting safety John) Lynch in Monte’s background, you say, ‘Duh, that’s the picture you see,’ but these guys have all the same thing that comes up: tough.”
Judging by his performance at rookie minicamp, Wilcox fits the bill.
J.J. Wilcox talks about participating in his first NFL practice, and how his switch to safety in college came about. Excellent footage of his aggressive style and poise when talking with the Dallas media.
IRVING – Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown likes the players he’s tutoring.
“They are mature guys,” Brown said of lead horse DeMarco Murray, backups Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar and fifth-round pick Joseph Randle, who signed a four-year deal worth more than $2 million Monday. “They are guys who want to win, work hard and be the best they can possibly be.’
But being a fan of his backs doesn’t necessarily mean Brown is on the same page with them when it comes to their running styles. For instance, he and Murray differ over the controversial crown-of-helmet rule the NFL Competition Committee passed in March.
The new rule, designed to make the game safer, penalizes players for lowering the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box.
Murray last week became the latest NFL tailback to express his disappointment with the rule, following the lead of such standouts as Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, Ray Rice and Matt Forte, who called it “absurd.”
Speaking to reporters at a charity event, Murray said he has no plans to tone down his aggressive style, which includes strong finishing kicks and, yes, an occasional lowered helmet. “I’m not changing my running style,” Murray said. “If I get fined, hopefully (Tony) Romo will take care of the first couple for me. I’m doing it for him.”
While Romo’s six-year, $108 million contract extension gives him the funds to cover his teammates’ fines for the rest of their careers, Brown is hopeful the quarterback won’t have to dig into his pockets to bail out Murray.
Asked about Murray’s penchant for seeking contact, Brown said last week, “I noticed that. I’ve seen that. We’ve talked about it. We are going to have a plan to try to get better than that. He’s explosive enough that he can freeze people’s feet and get away from them and do the things he needs to do to gain more yards.
“With he and I working together to get him better, it should be a great thing.”
Brown, a former Houston Oilers running back who joined Dallas after it fired Skip Peete in January, actually likes the rule and thinks it will benefit Murray.
“What is going to happen is he’s going to be better because he will be able to see,” Brown said. “He will have to keep his eyes up, his head up.”
But it’s the safety aspect of the rule Brown likes best.
“We want them to be safe,” he said. “We want them after their careers are done to be able to play with their children and things like that. So it is a bigger picture. It’s for their future.”
Injuries have been an issue for the 6-foot, 215-pound Murray ever since Dallas drafted him in the third round in 2011. The Oklahoma-ex missed three games his rookie year and six in 2012 but still managed to lead the club in rushing both seasons (897 yards in 2011, 663 in 2012).
While Brown said he’s powerless to prevent the ankle and foot issues that have plagued Murray, he’s certain the new rule will help prevent catastrophic injuries.
“If you keep your head up, you can see what’s going on,” Brown said. “If you drop your head…you are going to break your neck eventually. “It’s a good thing. You can still stay low and keep your head up. That’s what the thing was when (the rule) first came out, ‘Oh, running backs aren’t going to be able to protect themselves.’ Well, that’s not true. We are always going to run low to the ground. We’re just going to keep our heads up.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett suggested the club must walk a fine line when tinkering with Murray’s style.
“One of the things we like about him is he finishes runs,” Garrett said of Murray. “You think it might be blocked for three or four yards and he makes five or six because of how he finishes.
“You don’t want to lose that. At the same time, you want to make guys miss. You want to make longer runs and, at the end of runs, not be so susceptible to contact. But, again, you don’t want to lose that finish trait we like about him.”
RELATED: Coach Brown’s thoughts on drafted backs, new blocking scheme
IRVING – With 1,265 rushing yards last season, the Cowboys ranked next to last in the NFL and established a franchise low for a 16-game season. New running backs coach Gary Brown, though, is optimistic there will be improvement this season with a healthier DeMarco Murray, the addition of fifth-round pick Joseph Randle and some new blocking schemes.
Murray has missed nine games due to injuries the last two seasons, so Brown has his fingers crossed that the Oklahoma-ex in 2013 will finally put in a full season.
“There’s nothing a coach can do (to prevent injury),” Brown said. “You can just coach him hard and try to encourage him and try to just make sure he’s doing the right thing to take care of his body because of lot of those injuries are freak things. Nothing we can do about it. He just has to be blessed with a 16-game season and, hopefully, that will happen.”
Brown is a big fan of Randle, who was limited at rookie minicamp because of a cast to protect his injured thumb.
“I think he is a great player,” Brown said of Randle, an Oklahoma State-ex. “We are happy to have him. Just happy he was there for us, and he’s going to fit in real well.”
Asked why Randle slid to the fifth round, Brown said, “It’s a lottery. I don’t know why. (Former Denver running back) Terrell Davis slipped to the sixth and he had a 2,000 yard season. You don’t know why (Houston star) Arian Foster never got drafted. Things just happen. This whole draft thing, it ain’t a perfect science. We make mistakes, so that’s what it is.”
Speaking of Houston, the Cowboys plan to take a page out of the Texans’ playbook and run more zone blocking schemes. “We feel like we have players that can run it, blocking that can do it, so we are going to emphasize it and get better at it,” Brown said.
THE ONE-TWO PUNCH: Young Gavin Escobar and James Hanna gives the Dallas Cowboys multiple two-tight end offensive packages
Gavin Escobar, one of the best receiving tight ends in college football the past two seasons, joins Jason Witten and James Hanna in the tight ends room. All Witten did was set the single-season record for receptions by a tight end in league history.
So are there enough balls to go around?
“I’m just ready to have them in the game if they call their number,” said Wes Phillips, in his first season as the team’s tight ends coach. “I would imagine taking a young guy who is as talented as Escobar and having James Hanna along to complement Witten, we can get into some different packages in 12 [one running back, two tight ends]. Each of those guys can play to their strengths.”
The Dallas Cowboys could use two tight ends more this season. Dallas didn’t use much last season with John Phillips as its second tight end, running only 195 plays with its 12 personnel. The Cowboys threw 74 times with two tight ends in the game, took one sack and rushed the ball 120 times.
In 2011, with Martellus Bennett as their second tight end, the Cowboys used two tight ends for 320 plays, rushing 225 times, taking six sacks and throwing 89 times.
The Cowboys believe Escobar is a better offensive weapon than Bennett or Phillips, who left for San Diego in March as a free agent. Escobar caught 122 passes for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at San Diego State.
“We used some resources to draft him,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We used a second-round pick, so we think a lot of him, and we want to give him every opportunity to acclimate him to our offensive system.
“What we have to do as coaches is decide who our best 11 guys are, what our best personnel groups are and try to shape our offense accordingly. You know we’ve used a lot of two tight end offense in the past. …So we want to keep attacking defenses a lot of different ways. We’ll do it with different personnel groups and with different guys within those personnel groups.”
Dallas drafted James Hanna in the sixth round last year, and Hanna played in 107 plays to 333 for Phillips. But in the final four games, Hanna’s playing time increased. He played 52 plays in the last four games, while Phillips played 55.
Witten, who played 1,112 plays last season, caught a tight ends record 110 passes for 1,039 yards and three touchdowns. Hanna had eight catches for 86 yards, and Phillips caught eight passes for 55 yards and a score.
Ronald Leary is the most experienced offensive lineman, in the Dallas Cowboys’ system at least, at rookie minicamp.
Jason Garrett said it showed.
“He actually flashed at us this morning,” Garrett said Friday after the first practice of the weekend. “He has an unfair advantage, like some of the veteran guys who have been around. He knows the system. He’s been with us for a year. The play calls are very natural to him. He understands fronts and all of that stuff. So he’s going to play faster.”
At this time last year, Leary was in the same position as many of the other players in the three-day camp. He was an undrafted rookie, signing with the Cowboys out of Memphis. He went undrafted largely because of a knee condition that may shorten his career.
He spent last season on the practice squad before being activated for the season finale in Washington.
He said Friday he has come a long way since this time a year ago.
“I learned a lot from Coach Callahan, learned a lot from a lot of players on the team about just being a professional, that this is your job,” he said. “I think I’ve grown as a person.”
Garrett agreed and said Leary will have a chance this summer.
“Ron made a lot of progress over the course of the year last year, did a good job working in scout team,” Garrett said. “We saw the improvement as the year wore on. So it’ll be a nice opportunity for him once we get into the OTAs and regular training camp to see what he can do.”
Related articles on The Boys Are Back blog …
More from the archives about Dallas Cowboys OG Ronald Leary …
Jared Green grew up a die-hard Redskins fan. As the son of Hall of Famer Darrell Green, he didn’t have a choice.
Jared Green, though, chose his own road. He insists his father is comfortable with the fact that he is with the Redskins’ rival, trying to win a job with the Cowboys.
“We appreciated everything that he did, and that the organization allowed him to do,” Jared Green said. “But after that, it’s just a job that dad worked for 20 years, and now, I’m a grown man, and my dad supports everything that I do. So we are all in for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s something to be proud of. Every kid in the ’90s, I don’t care what anybody says, every kid saw that star and wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, you wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. My dad allowed me to put Michael Irvin’s poster up in my room, so I had Darrell Green up on one side of my room; I had Michael Irvin up on the other side. So I’m proud to wear that star. When I was young, they had that movie, Little Giants. And the kids got that star on their helmet. I wanted that. So I’m proud to be a Dallas Cowboy.”
Green’s respect for Irvin was one of the reasons he ended up a receiver and not a defensive back like his father. He graduated from the University of Virginia and then played his last season at Southern, catching 17 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. In 46 career games, including three starts, Green caught 52 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns.
He spent last season on Carolina’s practice squad, but when the Panthers didn’t give him a chance on their 53-player roster at the end of the year, he opted to leave for the Cowboys. Green was the second-most watched receiver in the team’s rookie minicamp behind only third-round pick Terrance Williams.
“Jared is a good football player,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s an experienced football player. You can see that. He’s got a good feel for playing the position, and he also has some quickness and some speed that allows him to separate from corners. So he’s been working very hard in our off-season program. One of the more veteran guys involved in this. I think you can see that when they’re practicing. He’s a guy who kind of understands what to do maybe a little bit better than some of the other guys and it reflects in his performance.”
He enters a crowded competition with Williams, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale among the receivers trying to stick behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
|13||Armstrong, Anthony||WR||5-11||179||30||4||West Texas A&M|
|19||Austin, Miles||WR||6-2||217||28||8||Monmouth (N.J.)|
|11||Beasley, Cole||WR||5-8||177||24||2||Southern Methodist|
|16||Benford, Tim||WR||5-11||200||23||1||Tennessee Tech|
|81||Coale, Danny||WR||6-0||190||24||1||Virginia Tech|
|85||Green, Jared||WR||6-1||185||24||1||Southern University|
|17||Harris, Dwayne||WR||5-10||200||25||3||East Carolina|
|15||Mitchell, Carlton||WR||6-3||215||25||3||South Florida|
Related articles on The Boys Are Back blog …
DALLAS COWBOYS 2013 ROOKIE CAMP NOTES: Jason Garrett talks Sensabaugh, rookies react, Holloman signs
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys moved Gerald Sensabaugh to the reserve/retired list Friday morning, one day after he signed a contract to end his career with Dallas.
The move came just more than two months after the Cowboys released the 29-year-old safety, who had played one season of a five-year extension. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said he was surprised to hear of the decision.
“It did surprise me – I think he has football left in him,” Garrett said. “I haven’t talked to him since then, but he’s a young football player with a lot of football left in him.”
The Cowboys released the eight-year veteran in March in an effort to save space on the salary cap. Sensabaugh played 15 games in 2012, but it was his first season of his four-year Cowboy career in which he didn’t notch a turnover.
Though Garrett said he thought Sensabaugh could continue playing, he added that desire to do so was a critical element to an NFL career.
“One of the things that’s line one in football is the desire to do it,” he said. “It’s a hard, physical game, and if you don’t really want to do it, you’re in the wrong profession.”
Sensabaugh was drafted in in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played four years there before finding himself in Dallas. He tallied 312 tackles and 14 interceptions during his career.
Rookies React to First Workout
Cowboys coaches got their first live look at their new investments from the NFL draft. Garrett and several of his assistant coaches spoke at length on the importance of getting their rookies into the organization and getting them acclimated.
This wasn’t the first trip to Valley Ranch for any of the Cowboys’ high profile picks –Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar or Terrance Williams. But the Cowboys’ top three picks spoke at length about the excitement surrounding their first day in helmets.
“The tempo is really high, and everyone is competing for a job. The competition is high,” Escobar said. “The thing that kind of jumped out at me is all the plays and knowing the playbook, and that’s something that, first and foremost, I need to know and needs to be second nature to me.”
Williams agreed with his pass-catching counterpart about the transition. But the Texas native said some things about the switch are welcome. Coming from Baylor’s up-tempo, high-flying offense in the Big XII, Williams said it was a nice change to have a break between plays.
“The game speed was a whole lot faster than it was in college, but as far as the whole getting plays, I finally get a break,” Williams said. “Instead of running from hash to hash, I can finally get into a huddle now and catch my breath for a little bit.”
The Cowboys second round draft selection, Gavin Escobar talks about having a chance to perform in the Cowboys offense.
Cowboys Sign Holloman
It’s not often to have a rookie sign a contract before he’s even reported to practice. But linebacker Devonte Holloman, the Cowboys’ sixth round pick and seventh pick overall in the draft, did just that Friday morning.
Holloman agreed to terms with the Cowboys just hours before the first session of rookie minicamp. The former South Carolina standout is the first of Dallas’ seven draftees to ink his deal, as he hopes to land a roster spot as a special teams contributor.
Holloman spent time at both safety and outside linebacker for South Carolina, where he started 35 games and made 207 total tackles during a four-year career.
IRVING, Texas – Evaluating football players in live action can be difficult enough. But seeing how they perform in shorts, jerseys and helmets in their first professional practice is something left up to the coaching staff.
The Cowboys opened the rookie minicamp Friday at Valley Ranch, featuring about 45 players from rookie draft picks, undrafted free agents and selected veterans who were eligible to participate.
Here’s a few quick quotes from the coaches regarding their first impressions.
Bill Callahan talks about the first practice of mini camp, and his early impressions of first round pick Travis Frederick.
Offensive coordinator/line coach Bill Callahan on first round pick Travis Frederick:
“Just like we thought coming out of the draft, he’s real smart and intelligent. He can vocalize all the calls and communications and sequences. So that was a real positive note. As I watched him in all the team drills today – how he ID’s the Mike, how he finds the Mike linebacker. He makes the point, he makes all the calls, he puts everybody on the same page. So I’m impressed from that standpoint – day one, just to get out and start talking in front of all these new people and players, with all the coaches and pressure on you. I thought he did pretty good.”
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin on returning to the practice field for the first time in three years:
“It’s exciting to be out here again. We’ve got some work to do. But I love the attitude of these young men. They’re here to work and they did a good job. We’ve got something to work with.”
Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson on third-round pick J.J. Wilcox having one year of experience at safety:
“You see the athleticism. For a big guy, he can really run. He has really good ball skills, and that probably comes from playing with the ball in his hands a lot those other three years in college. You see he’s a physical man, that he likes the physical part of the game. A lot of times when you see offensive guys make the jump, it takes them a little while to figure that part out. That came natural for him. When you watch him play, you’re like, ‘Oh God, he’s going to kill somebody,’ and that’s what I like about the young man.”
Henderson on much far Wilcox has to improve:
“Light years. You have that, coupled with the fact that the league he played in, jumping to this league…one year at the job. Just the adjustment that all rookies have, he’s got a lot to adjust to.”
Tight ends coach Wes Phillips on seeing second-rounder Gavin Escobar for the first time:
“He had some good things that stood out, but there’s a lot of things we need to clean up. Obviously I’m very encouraged by the things I know he can do, and some of those things he showed out there. He can catch the ball well. That’s the one thing you notice about him.”
Henderson on being comfortable with safety position:
“Absolutely. We’ve got a really good group. It’s going to be a really competitive camp, I think, with the guys we got back there. I think the exciting thing is there’s an opportunity for somebody to emerge. One of those guys I know is going to go grab that spot and make it his, and again, which guy that is at this point is anybody’s guess. That’s the exciting part about it. The thing I do like, again, is we’ve got some quality guys back there competing. Adding Wilcox to the mix makes it exciting.”
Callahan on the quick turnaround of practices Friday:
“It’s fun for a lot of these guys that come from good college programs. They understand the tempos that you want. They’ve really done an excellent job of banding together, learning all this terminology in one day and then trying to produce some type od execution within 24 hours. So my hat goes off to all these guys.”
Henderson on his early thoughts about fourth-round corner B.W. Webb:
“He’s so competitive. You see that on tape. He won’t back down from anybody. He’s got great ball skills and great knack for being around the ball and playing the ball and going to get the ball. Then when you meet the young man, you see his poise, his confidence, the way he carries himself, and you think this kid’s got a shot. He’s from a smaller school, but you get the sense from him that, ‘This isn’t too big for me. I belong here.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media before taking the field for the second practice of rookie mini camps at Valley Ranch.
IRVING – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday he’s recovering nicely from recent surgery to repair his left retina.
Jones, 70, had the surgery Wednesday.
“It’s fine, it went very well,” Jones said while wearing dark glasses as he spoke with reporters at the team’s rookie camp (click HERE or on the photo above to watch video).
“I just had a little surgery and I got that done Wednesday so it’s going to work good. It’s more retina work. Actually don’t know when it was injured, but probably could have been as much as 10 to 15 years ago. It had me where I wasn’t hitting the curveball like I know I can.”
It’s the second time in three years Jones has said publicly he’s undergone surgery. In 2010, he underwent surgery for an undisclosed illness he said wasn’t life threatening.
Jerry Jones talks about the teams situation with Doug Free, and also Tony Romo’s expanded role in the Dallas Cowboys offense.
RELATED TO ABOVE VIDEO: Jerry Jones would like to keep Doug Free
The Dallas Cowboys want right tackle Doug Free back, but it will have to be at the right price.
“I’d like to keep him,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday. “We think that Doug Free can be an important part of the team. He’s been here. We know him. We think that with what we’re doing in other parts of our offense, certainly in the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us.”
Free would not talk about the Cowboys’ request for a renegotiation at a team charity event Wednesday. But Jones confirmed the Cowboys have asked Free to take a pay cut from the $7 million salary he is scheduled to make. (Free currently is slated to count $10 million against the salary cap.)
“It’s no secret that we’re trying to renegotiate the contract,” Jones said. “But I think it’s a wrong assessment to say that anybody’s saying ‘take it or leave it’ or we’re at our wit’s end or those kinds of things. That’s just not the way I see it going.”
Though Jones said the sides still are talking, the ball is in Free’s court to decide his future.
Free had a team-leading 13 penalties, including five holds, and allowed seven sacks. He played better late in the season when he played in a rotation with Jermey Parnell.
Although the Cowboys likely would go after a veteran tackle — Eric Winston is the biggest name still on the free-agency market — if they move on from Free, Jones said Parnell is ready to take the next step.
“When you say the next step, if that implies is he getting better, yes,” Jones said. “I think he is getting better. I think his arrow so to speak is going up. I feel good about where he is and the ideal place for the Cowboys is on the right basis is have them both.”
RELATED TO ABOVE VIDEO: Jerry Jones clear about Travis Frederick
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not hiding his wishes for first-round pick Travis Frederick.
He wants him to start. He expects him to start.
“We want him to come in here and contribute immediately,” Jones said Friday as the Dallas Cowboys started a three-day rookie minicamp. “Jason says it right when he says there is competition, but certainly, there ought to be a spot for him on that offensive line. We think he has the combination of skill and mental to play immediately.”
It makes sense Jones wants Frederick to play immediately. The Cowboys were criticized for not getting enough in return in a swap of first-round picks with that eventually resulted in the selection of Frederick with the 31st pick.
And, Jones does not often burn first-round picks on linemen. But this is the second time in three years the Cowboys have done it – they selected tackle Tyron Smith in 2011, and he started from the first game.
“One of his No.1 traits and assets was his ability to mentally cover a lot of ground,” Jones said of Frederick. “We should get him ready to give us some position flex between guard and center.”