Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: The Cowboys OTA Awards Are In!

USA TODAY Sports

Latest Cowboys headlines: DC.com hands out OTA awards to players and coaches; With OL retooled, Cowboys look to fix DL; DT Terrell McClain one of most impressive players in Cowboys OTAs.

On Talkin' Cowboys, Spagnola, Broaddus and Cahill hand out OTA awards - DallasCowboys.com
In yesterday's show, the three guys handed out their OTA awards in different categories, which I've roughly summarized in the table below:

Award Spagnola Broaddus Cahill
Offensive Standout: Dez Bryant. Picked up where he left off last year, looks like he's learned to play the slot. Great get-off. Brandon Weeden. Everything seems to be very positive. There's a comfort-level with Weeden. There's something there with this guy. Brandon Weeden. For a third quarterback, you're simply not going to get the quality of work Weeden delivered out there. Didn't miss a beat.
Defensive Standout Terrell McClain. Good movement, nice burst, quickness. Signed him on second day of free agency, they had a plan. DeMarcus Lawrence. Has taken every snap with the first team. Sometimes Tyron Smith says "Enough, young man," but he's getting better very day.
Jakar Hamilton. Coaches like the guy a lot.
- -
Most improved Terrance Williams. Playing with more confidence. Gavin Escobar. Confidence. Looks physically different, they are doing a lot more with him. - -
Guy to keep an eye on heading into camp/mini-camp DeVonte Holloman. Lance Dunbar. Tyler Patmon. Diamond in the rough.
Best rookie Zack Martin. Hard to evaluate at this stage, but looks good. DeMarcus Lawrence. Has been winning better than 50/50 against Smith/Parnell.
Anthony Hitchens: When Lee went out, he came in and didn't miss a beat. Never really heard Andy Hitchens being corrected or shouted at by the coaches.
Ben Gardner. Like what he did with his hands
Coach that's going to make a difference Matt Eberflus. Huge impact if he can find three guys to make a difference. Rod Marinelli. Leon Lett has also done a nice job. Mike Pope. "Yoda-like," he knows it all.
Biggest disappointment Not having Orton here. Haven't seen Jeremy Mincey do anything. Injuries. Hate that guys are hurt and don't get to practice. Injury has robbed me from evaluating players. - -

We'll take their awards under advisement and consider them not as awards but as preliminary nominations that we'll need to verify. So, do you agree with their choices, or would you pick somebody else?

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In other news:

With OL retooled, Cowboys look to fix DL - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer walks through how the Cowboys re-tooled their offensive line, and writes that the D-line "might be a question of quality, but there is no question of quantity." Garrett explains:

"The best defensive lines I’ve been around are the ones that have ‘wave’ players," Garrett said. "If you think back to the 90s when this team was winning Super Bowls there were eight legit defensive linemen rotating through games. Jim Jeffcoat playing 12 plays in a game. It’s ridiculous."

DT Terrell McClain one of most impressive players in Cowboys OTAs | David Moore, DMN
According to Moore, Terrell McClain was one of the most impressive players during organized team activities for the Cowboys.

"He’s absolutely one of the guys who is showing up the most in these first eight OTA practices," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He has great intensity in all that he does. He flashes some ability. We really like how he goes about his business.’’

"He’s not the typical zero nose tackle in a 3-4 defense where he just sits over the center and two-gaps,’’ Garrett said. "That hasn’t been his mode since he’s been playing. He’s always been a guy who has been on an edge, being able to play up field a little bit."

Dallas Cowboys could use slot by committee at WR - ESPN Dallas
In one of the most exciting developments of OTAs so far, the Cowboys have played almost everybody as the slot receiver, hinting at a possible offensive flexibility that can prove challenging for defensive coordinators, Archer writes.

The different strengths of the receivers can prove troublesome for defensive coordinators with what personnel packages they would want to use to defend the Cowboys. Beasley has almost exclusively been used in the slot during the organized team activities open to the media, but Dooley said he has increased his route inventory and will have to play outside. Harris can be a devastating blocker in the slot, which opens up the run and the pass. Escobar showed he can work the seams and his height might be too much for most cornerbacks.

Frederick says assistant line coach Frank Pollack's 'more direct role' last year paid off - Carlos Mendez, Star-Telegram
Mendez writes that with Bill Callahan taking over playcalling duties last year, Frank Pollack was more directly involved with the line, and that his influence is credited for the improvement in the running game and zone-blocking scheme over the last half of the season. Travis Frederick concurs:

"I don’t know how much credit he’s gotten, but I certainly think that he deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done," Frederick said this week during OTAs. "Obviously with Coach Callahan being in the offensive coordinator role and stuff last year, coach Pollack spent a lot more time with us in a more direct role. So I think that he was very responsible for a lot of things that happened last year. Coach Callahan was certainly still very involved. It’s extremely nice this year to have them both around all the time."

Three Questions: Broaddus On Value Of OTAs, Martin - DallasCowboys.com
Broaddus answers a question about Zack Martin taking some snaps at center and ruminates on OTAs and minicamp practices. Here's who he thinks "the smartest rookie" is at OTAs.

When I watch the defense practice, I notice that safety Ryan Smith always appears to be helping his young teammates get in the right spot while not being out of position himself. I have yet to see a snap where he appears to be busting coverage or not reading his keys correctly. He plays like a very natural player in the back end, and it’s this knowledge that allows him to look very comfortable in the way he plays. With rookies, especially in the secondary, when they don’t have an understanding of what they are doing scheme wise, they panic. I haven’t noticed this at all with Smith when it comes to his game. He is very relaxed and controlled.

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Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley struggling at Eagles’ OTAs | ProFootballTalk
The good news in Philadelphia is that starting quarterback Nick Foles is looking good in Organized Team Activities. Backups Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley? Not so much. Sanchez and Barkley have both been struggling, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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