The first Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are in the books! The Dallas Cowboys took to the practice field on Monday, in shorts no pads unfortunately, and it is officially the footballiest time of the year!
Before the OTAs took place Head Coach Jason Garrett strolled on up to the podium to hold court. He answered all of the questions that we’ve heard for the last few months. Where’s Dez Bryant? Not here. Who’s going to be the starting runningback? We’ll see. How do you keep your hair so stylish? Head and shoulders. After he mesmerized us with the Garrett stare he headed on out to the field to see his team.
So a few things before we talk about OTAs:
- These are VOLUNTARY. It is not a big deal, it is not even a normal sized deal, if players are not here. They will be.
- This is Day 1. The first time these guys are all interacting together as a complete unit. Nobody is going to look perfect.
- FOOTBALL IS ON ITS WAY BACK!
In regards to the offense we got to see Tony Romo in action. This is actually a big deal in itself because each of the last two seasons Romo has been limited in these initial OTAs both times coming off of a back surgery. He was out there firing today and acting in his coach-on-the-field way that he usually does. In what was a “highlight” of the day (hard to have highlights in OTAs) Romo completed four straight passes with the final for a big gain to James Hanna.
Darren McFadden was first to get a shot at the runningback position, but he did split reps with Joseph Randle. Both showed some significant bursts and legitimate promise, but it’s important to remember that players look and play differently in full pads. Undrafted rookie free agent La’el Collins saw some work with the second team at right tackle. Doug Free didn’t participate fully in practice today as he is still coming off of surgery.
Defensively we got to see a lot of things that we’ve been very excited for. For starters, our defensive leader, Sean Lee was back in action! Lee was lost for the entire 2014 season, on this exact day last year, and it was a sight for sore eyes to see his #50 near the ball like he usually finds himself. Another player lost for a significant part of last season, cornerback Morris Claiborne, worked on drills off on the side field. Morris has had not one, but two, offseason surgeries and his status for even training camp is still uncertain.
First round draft pick Byron Jones looked great and Barry Church made an impressive interception, so the secondary seems to be on the rise. Rolando McClain is in Alabama, where he starred collegiately, rehabbing an offseason knee surgery so free agent signee Jasper Brinkley took the first team reps at Middle Linebacker. The defensive line looked very sharp, and Demarcus Lawrence looked HUGE. During the second team drills Randy Gregory and Ben Gardner both beat La’el Collins and Chaz Green to the QB, so even down the depth chart they’re getting after it.
While Day 1 was certainly exciting it wasn’t even close to what’s to come. This wasn’t even the appetizer for our meal. This wasn’t even the bread that gets served before the appetizer. Today was the moment that you decide on the restaurant that you’re going to eat dinner at and run to the car to head out.
We’re en route and we’re starving. The food is going to be delicious.
REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday
According to Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys have a meeting scheduled to visit with Free Agent Safety Eric Berry Tuesday at The Star.
Source: Former #Chiefs S and new free agent Eric Berry is visiting the #Cowboys on Tuesday. His first visit. They have a need there...
Eric Berry has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs after they drafted him fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. After signing Earl Thomas last week, the Chiefs decided to part ways with their former All-Pro Safety.
Berry, 30 is an intriguing free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. When healthy, he is arguably one of the best safeties in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field these last few seasons causing him to only start in only three games since 2016.
This is a move many of us expected to happen after the Cowboys decided not to get into a bidding war for Earl Thomas, a player linked to Dallas for over a year now. In Berry, Cowboys Nation would be getting a similar player with the same kind of red flags. Both Thomas and Berry have to be approached with caution due to their injury history the past few years.
Depending on his asking price, Eric Berry absolutely makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He would be an upgrade over Jeff Heath and would pair well with the Cowboys up-and-coming three-year safety Xavier Woods.
This is still just a visit, so we should probably get our hopes up that a signing is imminent. But, I think we can all agree Eric Berry is exactly the "right kind of guy" Jason Garrett is always preaching about. He's a cancer survivor, five-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. What's not to like!?
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder
The Dallas Cowboys added more defensive line help today after signing former Detroit Lions Defensive End Kerry Hyder.
Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation
Hyder, 27 originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech with the New York Jets in 2014. He spent a year in New York before signing a future/reserve contract with the Detroit Lions in January 2015.
He had a breakout eight-sack year with the Lions in 2016, but tore his Achilles in 2017 causing him to miss the entire season. In 2018 he had just one quarterback sack after Detroit switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Overall, this is a good depth signing by the Dallas Cowboys. Kerry Hyder has starting potential, but shouldn't keep the Cowboys from upgrading the position further through either another free agent signing for the draft.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap
It's been just a week since NFL free agents could begin negotiating with other teams, but it feels like a lifetime for anxious Cowboys fans. Dallas' seemingly passive approach to 2019 free agency has left many disappointed. Still, there are some moves to recap.
As has become their strategy in recent years, the Cowboys have focused on filling up their depth chart and trying to avoid any glaring holes prior to next month's draft. They've re-signed several backups and added at least one likely rotation player.
It's still far too early to judge Dallas' activity. Comparing the 2019 roster to last year will depend heavily on the draft, growth from current players, and other factors. But with the "second wave" of free agency upon us, it's a good time to look at who's come, gone, and stuck around so far.
- TE Jason Witten (unretired)
- TE Codey McElroy (Rams)
- DT Christian Covington (Texans)
The biggest addition so far this offseason wasn't even a free agent, at least not in the purest sense of the term. Jason Witten's surprising return from retirement helped shore up one of Dallas' biggest needs, though it may not preclude them from drafting a tight end high in April.
Also at tight end, Dallas signed developmental project Codey McElroy. His experience is in baseball and basketball, having played just one year of college football. But at 6'6'" and 255 lbs., and having spent last year working with the Rams, the Cowboys must see something they're intrigued by.
Last week Dallas signed Christian Covington, who had 3.5 sacks for Houston in 2018 playing as a 3-4 defensive end. He should move to DT in the Cowboys' scheme and should be a solid addition to their rotation.
- WR Cole Beasley (Bills)
- TE Geoff Swaim (Jaguars)
- DL David Irving (shenanigans)
- LB Damien Wilson (Chiefs)
Beasley is heading to Buffalo on a four-year, $29 million deal. It appeared the relationship soured between Cole and Dallas over his playing time last year, and clearly the Cowboys didn't fight hard to keep him.
Damien Wilson followed Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City to help round out their linebacker corps. Once it was announced that Dallas was hanging on to Sean Lee in 2019, it was fairly certain that Wilson wouldn't be back.
Also not expected back was TE Geoff Swaim, who signed with Jacksonville. Even before Witten came back, Dallas appeared likely to stick with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for returning talent and then add an upgrade via free agency or the draft.
While still a free agent, nobody expects David Irving back in Dallas or even the NFL after recent activities. Irving appears focused on a Hollywood career and advocating for medical marijuana use at this point.
- FB Jamize Olawale
- WR Tavon Austin
- WR Allen Hurns (team option)
- OT Cam Fleming
- G/C Joe Looney (team option)
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag)
- DT Daniel Ross (ERFA)
- LB Justin March-Lillard
- S Darian Thompson
While Dallas put the franchise tag on prized pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, his return in 2019 is far from settled. Lawrence has previously sworn he wouldn't play under a second franchise tag this year, and last we heard the two sides are far apart on a long-term deal. Could a holdout be on the horizon?
The Cowboys doubled-down on WR depth by re-signing Tavon Austin and exercising their team option on Allen Hurns' contract. Both are able to play out of the slot, meaning we could see more of a rotation approach to replacing Cole Beasley next year.
Dallas also re-signed fullback Jamize Olawale, which was a surprise given his low usage rate last year. Perhaps the change to Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was behind this one, hoping to take better advantage of Olawale's receiving skills going forward.
Joe Looney and Cam Fleming will also be back as valuable backups on the offensive line. Looney started 16 games last year at center and also helps at guard, while Fleming will be the swing tackle once again for his second season in Dallas.
On defense, Dallas kept Daniel Ross in their DT rotation after solid performance in 2018. Justin March-Lillard return at linebacker, particularly for his value on special teams. And Darian Thompson, a former third-round pick by the Giants, is back as an ongoing developmental player.
~ ~ ~
If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.
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