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.