The second round of OTAs started with a media access day, so there is a lot of news coming out of practice for the Dallas Cowboys.
One thing everyone is looking at right now is the injury situation, after the horrible issues that the team had last year. The list of players sitting out is already up to ten: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Will Allen, Jermey Parnell, Anthony Hargrove, Joseph Randle, Justin Durant, Tim Benford, Jakar Hamilton, and Lawrence Vickers. That includes two starters (three if the team does decide to carry a fullback) and at least three others who are expected to be competing for a starting job. And Mackenzy Bernadeau is at practice for individual drills, but sitting out 11 on 11 work. However, head coach Jason Garrett is not terribly concerned.
"I just think, with all the guys with any kind of hint of injury this time of year, we're very cautious," Garrett said. "We don't want to take any backward steps. They're all progressing well in their rehab, they're all working hard, so we just want to keep them moving forward, and (Murray) falls into that category as well as a number of other guys."
None of the injuries to date seem likely to keep anyone out of training camp, and for the most part the decisions do seem to be out of caution. We will continue to watch this with paranoia and abject fear, of course.
One possible addition to the list is Nate Livings, who left the practice early, but early indications are that he is OK.
Murray, however, was saying he plans to be on the field Wednesday. He is not sure if he will be a full or partial participant, but he did guarantee he will play in 16 games this season. I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.
One big effect of having all these players sitting is that the team is getting a chance to take longer looks at the players filling in for them. This is a good news/bad news situation. On the offensive line, for instance, the team is getting to take a longer look at some players like Ronald Leary and David Arkin, but losing work for the veterans that are projected to start and making it a bit more of a challenge to get the cohesion they want. One player who may be taking real advantage of his opportunity is Phillip Tanner, who Bryan Broaddus is comparing to Dez Bryant and Dwayne Harris last year in terms of improvement. He is showing a lot more both running the ball and catching it.
Speaking of those two receivers, if you were following the activities on Twitter, there was a very scary moment, when Bryant and Harris were both reported to be down on the field, holding their sides, apparently in separate plays. However, both were OK, and Dez later clarified things to Mike Fisher - who had a little comment to make himself.
.@dezbryant Caught a cramp in my abs lol / meaning u caught pretty much everything today :)— mike fisher (@fishsports) May 28, 2013
I just want to note the fact that I have never caught a cramp in my abs. I think you actually have to have some muscle tone there to do that, right? It is one of those concepts I can relate to from an intellectual and abstract viewpoint, but I have no emotional or experiential way to relate. Flab is generally not prone to cramping.
Bryant has also been the topic of discussion because he has not been the topic of discussion off the field this year. He is a bit irritated that staying out of trouble is treated like news.
"I don't even pay attention to having a quiet offseason," Bryant said. "That's not my focus at this point. It's all about doing the right thing. Of course you're supposed to stay out of trouble, but just do what you're supposed to do."
It does sound like he is planning on making some noise on the field, though, and that is a very good thing.
Anthony Spencer is still interested in getting a long term deal with the Cowboys. He would like to finish his career in Dallas. But he is taking a patient and calm approach, and can live with it if the deal does not get done. A guaranteed $10.6 million dollar paycheck will have that effect on you.
Jason Witten talked with reporters after the OTA. He believes getting the running game going is very important, but does not seem to think the team is going to focus that much on the 12 formation. He feels they are using it a lot in camp just because Vickers is out. I don't know if he knows something we don't know, or just is not really concerned with the high level decisions.
Speaking of high level decision makers, Jason Garrett made some good points about the whole "hot seat" idea.
"Ever since I have been in this league as a player, as a coach, I think everybody, each and every day, is playing and coaching for their jobs," Garrett said. "That's the nature of this thing and that's what makes the NFL great."
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The Cowboys are also still looking for personnel. They had two offensive tackles in for workouts, J.B. Shugarts and Dann O'Neill. Could just be due diligence, or signs they want some more options. If they decide to sign one or both, they will have to cut someone else.
Finally, Bryan Broaddus had his own summation of what he saw today. He usually does more than one piece so this one that just touched on about five things may just be his first installment. Most interesting for me: Terrance Williams got a chance to show what he can do, and grabbed the opportunity.
As the drill opened, Williams showed a trait from his days at Baylor and that was sideline awareness. It takes a certain skill to concentrate on the ball with a defender on your back and trying to get both feet down in bounds. Williams was able to accomplish all three with a beautiful catch along the sideline to get the ball up the field. As the drive continued, Williams and Austin never came off the field so I decided to keep my eye on Williams to see if he would take plays off or would he battle through it. To his credit, he continued to run his routes and use his technique to try and get open, as the ball went the other way.
I have to admit that I have not seen much negative so far. I don't have great recall, but it seems that last year there was some talk about who was struggling in the OTAs, and there has not been very much of that. It is hardly an objective judgment, but there just seems to be a very positive air coming out of the OTAs, and that encompasses not just the players and coaches, but the reporters as well. It is just a feeling, I admit, but things do seem to be going well. In shorts and T shirts, anyway.
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