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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: 2014 Defense To "Bring Speed; Be Physical; Hit"

Latest Cowboys headlines: Jason Witten says the Cowboys' draft 'speaks volumes' about how much Cowboys want to improve the running game; Tyrone Crawford to play the three-techique defensive tackle spot; Brandon Carr says the defense is going to focus on "bringing speed and being physical" this year.

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Carr: "We’re going to focus this year on bringing speed and being physical and everybody getting to the ball and hitting." | Rainer Sabin, DMN
After shedding close to 10 pounds during the offseason, Brandon Carr says he is now "trying to take over the league" after a disappointing 2013 season.

The decision to lose weight was prompted, in part, by the emphasis newly-installed defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has placed on being quick and attacking with a no-holds-barred mentality.

"We’re going to focus this year on bringing speed and being physical and everybody getting to the ball and hitting," Carr said.

"Take over the league," Carr said with a laugh. "That’s going to be your headline."

Everybody ran with that headline; we chose a different one.

Tyrone Crawford to play the three-technique defensive tackle spot - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
Rod Marinelli said Crawford has gotten bigger and stronger, which is one reason why the Cowboys have moved the third-year veteran to the 3-technique spot, where he and Henry Melton will alternate as the disruptive force that is so critical to the Tampa Two scheme.

"I just want to get him in a position where he can really showcase what he can do," Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "That position either you showcase or you don’t. If he can’t do that, then yeah, he’s a good left end, too."

"He’s solid, really good at left end. But you always have to have at least two of those guys [at the three-technique]. You have to. It’s a hard position to play. If you’ve got a guy who can come in and rotate with a guy in there, boy, it’s tough, and in third downs, if you find a nickel inside rusher. ... I think he’s got a lot of that."

Dallas Cowboys' Anthony Hitchens adjusts to new role - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer points out that it wasn't just Sean Lee who got hurt last, but a whole succession of backups as well: Lee sat out the final five games, and when Justin Durant filled in for Lee, Durant suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. Ernie Sims also started two games at Mike before getting injured, leaving the Cowboys with the fourth guy on the depth chart, DeVonte Holloman, to start the final game. The Cowboys drafted Hitchens to play the Mike, and that's where he's been playing in rookie minicamp, but that doesn't automatically mean he's penciled in behind Lee in the depth chart.

"We’ll see exactly where he fits," LB coach Matt Eberflus said. "Right now we’ve got him at the Mike. He could end up at [strongside] or he could end up at [weakside]."

Witten says draft 'speaks volumes' about how much Cowboys want to improve offensive line, running game - Carlos Mendez, Star-Telegram
Jason Witten provides his take on the Cowboys draft, and why he thinks the Cowboys will be a better team for having invested in the offensive line.

"If you’re just picking guys to say, ‘Hey, we’re shoring up a spot that’s important to us,’ that’s one thing. But I mean, these guys are really good players," Witten said. "I think Tyron’s as good of an offensive linemen as there is in the National Football League. Travis is everything you want at center – he’s smart, he’s tough, dependable, only going to get better in his second year. And now, Zack. I think when you do that, it just makes your entire football team go. I think this is a league where if you can be good upfront, everything else flows off of that."

"DeMarco was able to have over 1,000 yards rushing, and we still didn’t run the ball enough," Witten said. "We weren’t good enough at it. That wasn’t because we didn’t want to – we just weren’t efficient enough when we needed to be. If you have the ability to run the ball when you want, everything flows off of that. The play action’s better. The dropback game is better. The screens are better. And more imporantly, you’re keeping these opposing offenses off the field. I think that’s something we’ve made a priority. And we need to build off of that and do a better job than last year."

How and why the Cowboys established a pipeline from Boise State to Dallas | Rainer Sabin, DMN
"I like the program," Jerry Jones said when asked why the Cowboys have mined Boise State in recent years. Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence all played at Boise State before being drafted by the Cowboys. Stephen Jones offers this explanation:

"They play with a hot motor," he said. "Their motor runs high, and I think that attracts people in the NFL. To play in our game, to play in the NFL you’ve got to have a passion for it and you’ve got to play every play, and I think they get coached that way out there from the start."

Marc Colombo working in personnel department - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Colombo is checking out life on the personnel side of the NFL, Archer writes, and the Cowboys are happy to have him working in their scouting department this summer.

"Marc’s obviously a very smart guy and knows what he’s doing and he was always a leader in that offensive line room," executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

"He knows what guys look like. He’s testing the water in a lot of areas. We’re giving him some projects, see what he likes. He’s obviously a guy who did a lot for the Cowboys."

The five biggest stories to come out of Cowboys rookie minicamp - DMN
Oddly, the five biggest stories to come out of rookie minicamp contain only one story about a player who actually took part in rookie minicamp (Zack Martin), while the rest (Anthony Spencer, Will McClay, Morris Claiborne, Tony Romo) did not.

Big Ben -
Texas A&Ms 12th Man Magazine has a highly readable feature story on Cowboys UDFA Ben Malena (from last year). The story revolves around Larry Jackson, A&M's Director of Football Sports Performance (we'd call him the S&C coach), and how Malena impressed him during workouts and with this one particular play:

"After I saw that one play, Ben Malena was my guy," Jackson recalled. "I was sold on Ben after the very first game. He is the real deal. He continued to impress me the rest of the year. As small as he is, Ben can say something in the locker room - challenge someone - and back it up, if you know what I mean. Ben can back it up physically. If he needs to take you to the ground to get you to do some work he can do that. Ben is going to eat. Last year when I told the guys that we are about to go into a big-boy league, I said I needed some big dogs. Don't misjudge Ben on his size. Ben is one of my big dogs. I have him on a leash and he is one of the attack dogs I let go first. Ben is one of those guys who make a lasting impression right away."

Jaguars fans set record for practice attendance with 6,214 fans - Big Cat Country
While the Cowboys rookies were toiling away in relative obscurity at Valley Ranch, the Jaguars opened the gates to their practice facility and saw more fans attend the rookie workouts than have ever attended a regular Jaguars training camp session. Just wait until the Cowboys move to their Frisco training facility ...

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