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Cowboys Mini-Camp: Day 1 Takeaways

The Dallas Cowboys took the field yesterday for the first day of mini camp, with familiar faces on both sides of the ball like Tony Romo, Tyrone Crawford, Morris Claiborne, and Ezekiel Elliott – who have all been at every team practice this summer. Unfamiliar faces like Rolando McClain and Ronald Leary also arrived to Valley Ranch, where the practices are now mandatory. Head Coach Jason Garrett took to the podium and started off a day that would mostly be negative for the Cowboys though, as he announced the injuries to RB Darren McFadden and DE Benson Mayowa. Click here for more on the current status of both players.  The not-so-great day continued for the Cowboys when the helmets went on for practice.

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Mini-Camp: Day 1 Takeaways

The Dallas Cowboys took the field yesterday for the first day of mini camp, with familiar faces on both sides of the ball like Tony Romo, Tyrone Crawford, Morris Claiborne, and Ezekiel Elliott - who have all been at every team practice this summer.

Unfamiliar faces like Rolando McClain and Ronald Leary also arrived to Valley Ranch, where the practices are now mandatory.

Head Coach Jason Garrett took to the podium and started off a day that would mostly be negative for the Cowboys though, as he announced the injuries to RB Darren McFadden and DE Benson Mayowa. Click here for more on the current status of both players. 

The not-so-great day continued for the Cowboys when the helmets went on for practice. This article is going to focus on some of my takeaways and thoughts from the overall lackluster practice, which I was able to check out some footage from thanks to the official team site's "Minicamp LIVE" video with Bryan Broaddus and Nick Eatman. The videos are well worth your time, as there will be practice footage posted from today's practice as well as tomorrow's final day - both of which I will review here.

Watch along during day one with this article, and share your thoughts at the end!

Offensive Line Sharp as Always...Mostly

I've already hinted at the fact that this practice lacked crispness, which we will touch on more later, but the one unit that always shows up for the Dallas Cowboys is the offensive line.

While this unit did contribute to the sloppiness with their fair share of procedural penalties, La'el Collins was consistently making the right blocks and springing Zeke Elliott to the second level.

Without Benson Mayowa, the defensive front was even more depleted, but the interior of the line did a fantastic job on Tyrone Crawford. A healthy Crawford seems to always find his way into the backfield causing havoc at some point, but not against the likes of Zack Martin and Travis Frederick yesterday.

Air Mayle

Cowboys Nation's favorite practice squad WR Vince Mayle was making the most of his opportunities, hauling in passes from Romo and Kellen Moore with his big build and strong hands.

The competition is going to be stiff across the board at wide receiver for the Cowboys this summer, and Mayle certainly still faces an uphill battle. However, based on the little I saw from him yesterday, he absolutely deserves a chance to prove himself as a red zone target.

The 2015 Cowboys struggled mightily in the red zone without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. While we expect those two players, along with Elliott, to immediately provide a boost in this regard, you can never have enough capable offensive players with the ability to find the end zone on your roster.

As a big scoring target, Mayle may see competition from UDFA Andy Jones. Keep an eye on both of these players.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Cowboys signed UDFA WR Andy Jones. Settle down, ladies.

Wilber Wheeling

The Cowboys current situation at linebacker is full of unanswered questions, but the position certainly does not lack depth for Rod Marinelli to work with. Likely the deepest unit on this defense, I've written before about some possibilities for each player to find a role with Dallas.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/who-will-emerge-from-the-cowboys-linebackers/

One guy that has seemingly and surprisingly gone under-the-radar from the linebackers' unit is veteran Kyle Wilber. Wilber has specialized as a run defender, coming off the field in nickel packages as the Cowboys typically do with their rotation of SAM linebackers.

While it was only one play, Wilber caught my eye when he stayed in at the strong-side spot on a drop back for Tony Romo. After going through his reads, Romo was forced to try to dump the ball late to Elliott breaking out of the backfield. Wilber came all the way across the field to make things difficult for Ezekiel, who already had to adjust for the ball thrown behind him.

The result of the play was an incomplete pass, although it wasn't officially broken up by Wilber, but the play had to make Marinelli along with Matt Eberflus smile as the veteran showed some nice versatility and hustle.

Deji Olatoye Ola-toying with Wideouts

Ever since CB Deji Olatoye took the field for the Cowboys as a starter for the final two games of the 2015 season, I've kept my eye on him as a physical and lengthy guy that fits the mold for a Dallas defensive back while bringing coverage and tackling skills.

All of these things were again on display yesterday, as Deji consistently looked like a guy that is not only going to seize control of the fourth corner spot, but potentially move even further up the depth chart when its all said and done.

Terrance Williams made a sliding catch in front of Deji, but the play spoke a lot more about Terrance than it did the defender. Olatoye was able to drive downhill on the ball and put himself in a great position to make a play.

Later on, working against Vince Mayle, he rode him out of the play by pressing him into the sideline.

Should Morris Claiborne be forced to miss time, or if Brandon Carr is struggling across from him, the Cowboys could feel very comfortable going to Olatoye if he continues to impress.

 

Byron Biting

 

Byron Jones is going to have plenty of time to focus on his skills as a now full-time free safety, but the learning curve is certainly there for the second-year player.

In what turned out to be a pretty solid showing from Terrance Williams, he snagged a slant pass on the run from Romo and turned it up the field in a hurry. Jones, who is used to being able to come straight down towards his target, completely misjudged the speed of Williams - failing to move laterally enough to keep Terrance from taking it all the way across the field and up the far sideline for a huge gain.

Obviously, the vast expectation is that Jones will be a very reliable safety for this Cowboys' defense when the regular season rolls along, and plays like this will only further etch into his head what it will take to do that.

These are my thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' first day of mini camp practices. What do YOU have to say? Comment below with your thoughts to start the conversation, email sean.martin@insidethestar.com, or tweet me @ShoreSportsNJ! 

Be sure to also check out a new edition of "MiniCamp LIVE" today on DallasCowboys.com, and look for my review on Thursday right here on Inside The Star! 

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Mini-Camp: Day 1 Takeaways" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

Dallas Cowboys

Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?

Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.

Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.

With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.

But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.

Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.

Maliek Collins

Dallas Cowboys DT Maliek Collins

Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.

But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.

Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.

How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.

There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.

But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.

For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall

That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.



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BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out 1

The Dallas Cowboys are back in offseason mode, concluding their OTAs and minicamp from The Star. With a hiatus until training camp, it was important for several high-profile players to make a strong first impression on the 2018 season. From the start of mini camp, these impressions were left mostly by Rod Marinelli's defense and -- more specifically -- Kris Richard's young group of cornerbacks.

Still working through significant change on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys did rally on day three under Quarterback Dak Prescott to put out a better performance. The Cowboys coaching staff should love their lasting memories of both FA acquisition Wide Receiver Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup.

There is a strong chance that these two receivers will be the Cowboys starters in Oxnard for training camp. We have heard a lot about the impact new WR Coach Sanjay Lal has had on his group, slowing the game down to focus on route running. This will give the team's rotation of unproven receivers a chance with Prescott, as he can focus on throwing to a 'spot' more often.

One spot that Prescott has struggled to hit in two seasons as the starter in Dallas is the back of the end zone for fade routes. A red zone go-to under Scott Linehan, free agent WR Dez Bryant was often the intended target on these missed passes.

Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns

Less of a route running technician and closer to the mold of a physical player like Bryant, Allen Hurns emerging as the Cowboys #1 option would solve a lot of uncertainty at the WR position. In yesterday's practice, Hurns was able to haul in a perfect ball from Prescott on the fade as he beat Byron Jones.

It's going to take some time for Jones to readjust to playing cornerback, but the vision for Kris Richard of him and Chidobe Awuzie starting on the outside is a great one. In a battle of proven players, Hurns got the best of Jones to spark the Cowboys offense at the right time.

Overall, there should be no reason to panic about (well, really anything from mini camp) the Cowboys offense right now, and plenty of reasons to be excited about what this defense will develop into.

Once the pads come on at training camp, the players the Cowboys are paying to play at an elite level will start to shine, including their newly re-signed Guard Zack Martin -- the highest paid guard in the league now. There are no doubts that the bread and butter for this offense will be handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott behind this wall of an offensive line.

From this increase in competition in the trenches, we'll also get more meaningful battles along the defensive line. In shorts and helmets for now, the Cowboys secondary was given their chance at mini camp, and came out solid early.

Another player they've struggled to truly corral though is Michael Gallup. Perhaps pressing a bit thanks to his limited opportunities thus far, Jourdan Lewis was taken across the field by Gallup on a misfire from Cooper Rush.

This is nothing new for Gallup however, who's been ahead of the curve on creating the desired separation as a "violent" receiver on the outside.

A steal with the 81st overall pick in this year's draft, Gallup has a long way to go in beating out the likes of Terrance Williams, Cedrick Wilson (limited through this portion of the offseason with injuries), and even Cole Beasley, who's received some reps on the outside.

With both Hurns and Gallup making plays on the Cowboys final practice until late July, it's easy to let the mind wander with possibilities of the Cowboys offense playing at full strength against a defense that might be up for the challenge better than ever compared to year's past.

As always, the practice fields of Oxnard will serve as a battle ground for a young but deep Cowboys team to earn their spots on the 53-man roster, one that surely won't have room for all of the wide receiver hopefuls seen this week in mini camp.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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