The Cowboys actually made a transaction today, releasing kicker Kai Forbath. With Forbath out of the picture, and the previous release of David Buehler, Dan Bailey looks to be officially the man at kicker for Dallas.
Voluntary workouts began today, although this year they are a little different than in the past due to the new CBA that was agreed to last year. At the bottom of this post I've posted the basic rules about how they work, but for these first couple of weeks, players can only have contact with the strength and conditioning coaches. Apparently the wide receiver group was getting after it today, as Dez Bryant lets us know in a tweet.
So that would be Dez, Kevin Ogletree, Miles Austin, Dwayne Harris and Raymond Radway.
Speaking of Radway, make the jump...
Raymond Radway was making an impression last year in training camp and in the pre-season; he seemed assured of a place on the roster. Then disaster struck with three seconds left in the last pre-season game. A broken leg sidelined him all last season but he feels he's ready to make his run at the third wide receiver spot left open by the departure of Laurent Robinson.
He required a rod inserted into his left leg after breaking his tibia and fibula with three seconds left in the Cowboys’ final preseason game against the Dolphins. His first season ended before it started as the Cowboys placed him on injured reserve.
"It didn’t take me too long to get over it," Radway said this week. "After I had the talk with Jerry [Jones] on the plane [on the way home], I was pretty settled in, knowing that was going to be a Cowboy this year. It allowed me to just focus on the rehab."
The McKinney North and Abilene Christian product started running four weeks ago. He said he can run full speed straight ahead but still is "hesitant cutting." He expects to be ready for the team’s organized team activities and is convinced he will be as good as last preseason when he had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
A couple of prospects the Cowboys could be eying in the draft gave interviews recently. Dontari Poe gave one to the mothership, which is pretty long and can be found here. A couple of key Q&A:
POE: I see myself as someone who can rush the passer a lot more than people think. I am used to playing nose tackle and the 3-technique and I've played some 5-technique. I'm pretty comfortable anywhere on the defensive line.
What things do you feel you need to work on?
POE: Just overall consistency. I need to maintain my level of play throughout the course of a whole game. That's probably the biggest thing.
The other prospect, Courtney Upshaw, talks about his conversations with Rob Ryan.
Upshaw mentioned that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan – "one of the coolest coaches I met throughout my whole football career" – talked to him about the responsibilities of playing opposite DeMarcus Ware, such as frequently dropping into coverage on first and second downs.
"I feel I can definitely do that," Upshaw said. "I did it here at Alabama – didn’t drop a lot in game situations, but did a lot of dropping in practice. Coach [Nick] Saban wanted me to rush the passer. I was one of the better pass rushers on the team, so he wanted me to get after the quarterback, and that’s what I did.
If Upshaw were to be drafted by the Cowboys, he could one day take the place of Anthony Spencer. Spencer has yet to sign his franchise tender and isn't attending the voluntary workouts.
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer didn't show up for the first day of voluntary offseason conditioning drills on Monday.
It's not a surprise because Spencer hasn't signed his franchise tag, worth $8.8 million, because he's hoping to get a long-term deal with the Cowboys.
If Spencer decides to workout with the team, without signing the franchise tag, he must first reach a financial settlement with the Cowboys in case he gets injured during the offseason programs.
Don't make a big deal out of this as some people will do, this is standard operating procedure for most franchised players who are still working out a long-term contract.
As for those voluntary workouts, here are the rules.
The Cowboys will get a 10-week window for their nine-week offseason programs. Programs cannot exceed four workouts per player in a week and they are limited to weekdays. These initial practices are entirely voluntary, with mandatory minicamps not starting until June. There will be three phases to the workouts, all spelled out in the CBA.
Phase one will cover the first two weeks, with players limited to strength and conditioning or injury rehab. The phase will only allow onto the field full-time or part-time strength and condition coaches that otherwise have no other coaching responsibilities. No footballs can be used, except that quarterbacks may elect to throw to receivers provided they are not covered by any other player. The players cannot wear helmets during phase one.
Phase two covers the next three weeks of the offseason workout program. All coaches are allowed onto the field and on-field workouts can include individual player instruction and drills. However, there can be no live contact or team offense versus team defense drills and players cannot wear helmets during this phase.
Phase three covers the next four weeks of the workout program, which can include up to ten days of organized team activities. This provides a chance for more instruction and helmets, but players cannot wear any pads, including shells.