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Dallas Cowboys OTAs, Round 2 Takeaways

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys OTAs, Round 2 Takeaways

The Dallas Cowboys got going with the second round of Organized Team Activities on Wednesday and we have some more football goodness to digest. These are the first looks that we are getting of the 2015 squad, and it’s important to remember that these OTAs are voluntary. Oh also remember that it’s seven million degrees outside so there’s a lot of yacking involved. Let’s begin!

We’ll start with the absentees:

  • Greg Hardy was out with an illness
  • Ryan Williams was out with a knee injury (he’s had some swelling recently)
  • Rolando McClain was absent and he is still rehabbing (and probably rolling tide) in Alabama
  • Doug Free did not practice as he is still coming off of his recent ankle surgery
  • Kenneth Boatright did not practice
  • Dez Bryant, most notably, was absent as his contract situation is under construction

Among those that did suit up in what Rod affectionately calls the underwear Olympics we saw some exciting things.

On the offensive side of the ball the day got started with Pro Football Focus reporting that the 12 drops that the 2014 Cowboys had were the lowest they’ve EVER recorded! Those same wide receivers were out making plays and looked good in 7 on 7 drills. The day saw undrafted rookie free agent signee La’el Collins take first team reps at Left Guard, with Ronald Leary taking over after a false start by the rook.

Tight ends coach Mike Pope is well regarded around the NFL for his out-of-the-box drills that he puts his players through. Today was no different as we saw Jason Witten leaning over James Hanna, having his ankles held down, and trying to catch passes. Can you imagine the dance routines that Coach Pope could come up with?

The running back position has been the talk of the offseason and today we saw Darren McFadden off to the side working with athletic trainers while Joseph Randle looked nice and shifty. Joseph Randle also got a mention during Coach Garrett’s press conference that preceded the OTAs. JG said that he spoke to Randle about his “meat on the bone” comments that Randle made last week. We’re still working on finding out what Coach Garrett’s favorite cut of meat is, the heavy favorite is filet mignon.

With Greg Hardy out with an illness, second round draft pick Randy Gregory was able to take some first team reps. He made the most of them and got after Tyron Smith. This is going to be a great matchup to watch in training camp. Gregory will undoubtedly be made better going up against one of, if not the best, Left Tackle in the NFL. Gregory wasn’t the only rookie making plays; Byron Jones had a great pass break-up on an intended Romo-to-Witten play. While Coach Marinelli is right in that it’s easy to look great against air out here, Byron Jones sure is living up to his hype as much as he can right now.

The special teams drills were exciting, too. We saw Cole Beasley, Lucky Whitehead, Nick Harwell, and JJ Wilcox all fielding punts. Many have speculated that Beasley is a likely fit for this role, but don’t rule out Wilcox. If Byron Jones is played at safety at some point JJ can become more of a special teams guy. There are a lot of people who specialize at this. Keith Davis is a name that comes to mind. JJ has offensive experience as well; he played wide receiver in high school and during his time at Georgia Southern.

These OTAs are a sweet breath of fresh air after this long offseason. There's a lot to be excited about and a heck of a whole lot to look forward to. The countdown currently sits at 13 days as the Cowboys' first mandatory mini-camp begins June 16th. That's when we'll see some real fireworks.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys OTAs, Round 2 Takeaways" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday

Brian Martin

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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.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

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!?



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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder

Brian Martin

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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.

Kerry Hyder Jr. on Twitter

Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation

Kerry Hyder provides more depth at the defensive end position and as a chance to become the starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence while Randy Gregory is out serving his suspension.

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.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Jess Haynie

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Tavon Austin

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.

New Arrivals

  • 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.

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Former Cowboys WR Cole Beasley, now with the Buffalo Bills. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Departures

  • 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.

Keepers

  • 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.

~ ~ ~

Today we're already seeing a flourish of free agent activity in Dallas. Reports this morning have them meeting with WR Randall Cobb and S Clayton Geathers, and we haven't even had lunch yet.

If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.



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