Things have gotten started at the NFL Combine. The focus is on a group of mostly large, young men straining and sweating in an attempt to impress potential employers. And, since there are coaches and reporters all milling around together, there is some news of interest for Dallas Cowboys fans.
Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com put up an excellent overview of the weightlifting done by the offensive line candidates on Friday. He noted some people who impressed, like G Johnathan Cooper, who met his personal goal of 35 lifts, and some who didn't.
The negatives for the group had to be that Chance Warmack didn't lift which now puts the pressure on him to have to beat or match Cooper's number at his pro day but what was surprising is that offensive tackle D.J. Fluker only managed to lift 21 times and Wisconsin teammates Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner only managed 21 and 20 respectively.
This is the time when names start climbing and sliding. Start taking your notes.
. . . revamping the staff and defensive philosophy trumped all, according to Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones.
I guess that was a case of "first things first".
Speaking of which, one of Monte Kiffin's old proteges, Pete Carroll, had a few things to say about the new Cowboys defensive coordinator.
"I think he brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and understanding, an extraordinary ability to analyze and evaluate and his communication skills with the players on this level," Carroll said. "I think there was some issue for him in college that he was just so far out there with how he coached and what he understands and what it takes to play on this level that it didn't translate as easily as he would've liked (in college). I think the Cowboys are lucky to get him, and I think he'll be a great asset."
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett held a press conference, and several items came out of that:
The team expects Jay Ratliff to not be suspended and to be on the roster and contributing this fall.
"The biggest thing with Jay is just to get him healthy, first and foremost and get him back to playing the way he's capable of playing," Garrett said of Ratliff. "The real positive thing is, in the games he played, he really played like Jay Ratliff plays. We're really excited about that - what he did on tape. We've just got to get him healthy and going again."
For those who may not think Dallas should try to bring Ratliff back after his DUI arrest and injury plagued season, here is an opposing view from our old friend Jimmy Kempski (AKA JimmyK) at Blogging the Beast about Philadelphia guard Jason Kelce.
I remember last year, in the locker room after the first Eagles-Cowboys matchup on Sunday night, I was there when Kelce was answering questions about the game, and he said that Jay Ratliff was the best player he ever had to block, a sentiment that he has since reiterated. Ratliff is in Kelce's head, and he should be. I went back to the tape to look at Kelce vs Ratliff in the first Eagles-Cowboys game last year, and Ratliff dominated.
Another player who Garrett is hoping to see back for 2013 is Miles Austin - but he was not quite as enthusiastic.
"We certainly feel great about Miles and the only issue we've had with Miles is simply health," Garrett said. "I was really proud of him last year because he wasn't healthy and he wasn't healthy the whole year. I saw a really good burst from him maybe about twice and he still caught 66 or so balls and was a productive player. (He) did it a little different than we've seen him but was productive. It's really important we get him healthy and get him going like he's capable of."
He does feel good about the news concerning one star who performed well despite injury.
The Cowboys won't see DeMarcus Ware on the practice field until they get to Oxnard, Calif., but coach Jason Garrett expressed relief the Pro Bowler will not need surgery on his right elbow.
Barry Church is another player who should be back to full strength in plenty of time for training camp.
Garrett said Church is "ahead of schedule," which means he should be able to participate in some offseason work and be ready for training camp in late July.
Among other things, he also mentioned that while Sean Lee will get first crack at the Mike linebacker job, the team has not ruled out Bruce Carter being the Mike and Lee being the Will. The team will try to see how they fit best before it makes up its mind.
His comments make it doubtful the team would draft a quarterback, with his praise of Tony Romo and calling him a "young quarterback" based on how much he has played, rather than his age.
And he did not sound terribly uncomfortable with Jermey Parnell as the starter at right tackle. He did not throw Doug Free under the bus - but he didn't exactly give him a ringing endorsement, either.