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Dallas Cowboys OTAs, Round 2 Takeaways

RJ Ochoa



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, 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!

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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