5 Winners from Dallas Cowboys OTAs and Minicamp

    The Dallas Cowboys have completed the offseason part of their practices and are now eyeing the start of in , California on July 26th. The offseason stuff doesn't necessarily show what a team thinks about a player near as much as training camp, so I won't look at any losers because these practices have varying personnel at times.

    That being said, there certainly were some winners during the offseason.

    1. Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

    Every day removed from his injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl is another day closer to potentially seeing the All-American that would have been a top-10 pick in the .

    With the knee injury, there's always been some doubt about Jaylon returning to that level of play, but as offseason practices wore on it was becoming clear that he's much healthier and much more mobile than he was in 2017.

    Both of those things are strong signs in the right direction for the third year pro.

    After sitting out his rookie season to rehab and then having some good moments and some really bad moments in 2017, it sounds like he's making progress to be a difference maker in 2018.

    During and minicamp sessions that were open to the media, Jaylon was seen running with the first-team every time they took the field. Now, some of that is due to the Cowboys limiting the snaps of veteran All-Pro Sean Lee and rookie pick , who came up with a sprained ankle, but the fact that Smith's snaps weren't limited should only be seen as a good sign.

    We still have a long way to go until the Dallas Cowboys strap it on for their week one matchup with the , but Jaylon Smith is on an excellent trajectory.

    Anyone with a Clear, Eye, View can see that.

    2. Anthony Brown, Cornerback

    One of the bigger surprises during the offseason practices so far has to be Anthony Brown, and not , running with the first team nickel defense.

    Jourdan Lewis proved he was a really good corner in his rookie year, both in the slot and on the outside, while Anthony Brown struggled at times. Knowing that new and Coordinator prefers his corners to be tall, long, and strong has led to some speculation that Lewis may not be a fit in Richard's scheme.

    That's certainly a possibility. The more realistic possibility is that Brown, with more seniority, was getting the opportunities first as is often the case with coached teams during the offseason.

    While Brown is a pretty good slot in his own right, this might only be temporary.

    Understanding Cowboys Remaining Offseason "To-Do List"
    Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

    3. Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver

    As I read reports from OTAs and minicamp practices, one thing that stood out is that Michael Gallup was winning and winning a lot.

    When asked in a mailbag who had been building the best rapport with , Bryan Broaddus from had this to say:

    “Bryan: That’s a great question. The guys that come to mind for this [sic] me are Michael Gallup and . Those guys have found ways to generate space and have been reliable catching the ball when it’s thrown in their direction.”

    Bryan Broaddus –

    Just a few days earlier Broaddus stated that Cole Beasley and Gallup were the only ones getting open with any consistency.

    Now, it's still early and it's padless practice, but that's an encouraging sign for the third round pick out of Colorado State.

    Typically it takes a year for wide receivers to adjust to the NFL game, especially with how much press coverage is played by NFL . One of the byproducts of Kris Richard's existence as the defensive backs coach is that they're playing more press coverage. He's teaching his DB's to be more aggressive and more physical at the line of scrimmage.

    For Gallup and the rest of the group, that can only help them as they get ready to face opposing defenses. One way to disrupt timing-based routes or an that relies on separation and yards after the catch is to disrupt the receiver at the snap. Every practice, these guys are working to beat the press.

    As a rookie wide receiver, this can only benefit Gallup — in particular — as that will be a big transition from college where defenses are playing off the line of scrimmage against the countless number of spread offenses that exist.

    The fact that he's already winning reps during practices against some pretty good corners is a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys.

    He may not be a starter in this offense right away, but I doubt it takes long before he's cemented himself in three and four wide receiver personnel groupings.

    4. Chaz Green, Guard

    I'm sure you aren't a fan of seeing Chaz Green's name anywhere near a “winners” list. As bad as the game was for him, we can't ignore the fact that Green got a lot of first team repetitions during OTAs and minicamp while Zack Martin negotiated his .

    Either that means the Dallas Cowboys haven't given up on their third round pick from 2015 or they're trying to get as many practice snaps out of him as possible to be able to make a clearer decision regarding his future with the team.

    Getting to play with the ones is encouraging, but he still has a lot to prove during training camp to keep a spot on the roster. Green's going to get a long leash as a former premium draft pick. We'll see if he takes advantage of it.

    5. Jihad Ward, Defensive Tackle

    Maliek Collins hurt his foot — again — and David Irving was dealing with off the field stuff — again — leaving Jihad Ward with a lot of opportunities to play against the first team as the three-technique defensive .

    On June 4th, I asked Bryan Broaddus from who his biggest surprises on offense and defense were during OTAs:

    If Broaddus is encouraged by Ward's progress, I am too.

    He's going to have a lot of opportunity to get a strangle hold on the 3T  spot with Maliek Collins not set to be back until late in training camp, and David Irving suspended the first four games of the .

    The Dallas Cowboys liked Ward coming out of college and had him just behind Maliek Collins on their 2016 .

    ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

    There's still a lot of practice reps that have yet to take place, but the Dallas Cowboys have gotten some encouraging contributions from these players. As we look to training camp, who will you be watching to see if the stand-out and can make the Dallas Cowboys ?

    John Williams
    John Williams
    Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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    Camp results rule, but I expect Hurns will be a starting WR. Bryant needed to get moved into a power-possesion WR role, running the gritty shorter routes against 2nd & 3rd best opponent CB’s. Since he has similar size to the departed Dez, the ability to put Hurns in that role would help Gallup.

    Not great 40 times for Gallup but those are not the end all, as Jerry Rice proved in the NFL. Gallup’s write-up said “20-yard burst”, and his college highlights show that. So you want him driving upfield while Hurns works the hooks, slants & crosses.

    I still think a big camp objective is to turn Gathers into a catching threat, and Dak could be thinking the same. That changes everything for the pass offense.

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