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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp News: Garrett's Five-Point Plan For Improved Defense

Latest Cowboys headlines: Garrett explains why Cowboys will be better defensively; DeMarcus Lawrence expects ’10-plus sacks’ for his rookie season; Garrett says injured Sean Lee being at training camp is ‘one of the reasons why we love him so much.’

Ronald Martinez

Day One training camp summaries:

Cowboys 2014 Training Camp Practice Summary: Injury Prevention Above All - Blogging The Boys
Rbblerousr with observations from the Cowboys' opening training camp practice, in which he saw the team ease into the season by avoiding competitive situations that might lead to injuries. Instead, the team revisited basic technique drills.

Thurs. Practice Recap: Romo Gives Update On Back - David Helman,
In addition to an in-depth look at Romo's first day of practice, Helman offers some quick hit observation from camp, including this take on Henry Melton:

A month or two ago, no one expected Melton to be full go for the start of training camp after rehabbing his knee. Not only was he ready to roll, participating in every drill, but he looked as quick as any player on the line as he ripped through the dummies during the individual defensive drills.

Day 1 Dallas Cowboys training camp practice observations | Brandon George, DMN
George also has a training summary, and gives an update on who's running with the first and second teams on the defensive line:

The Cowboys’ first-team defensive line Thursday (from left to right): DE George Selvie, DT Nick Hayden, DT Henry Melton and DE Jeremy Mincey. The second-team unit: DE Tyrone Crawford, DT Terrell McClain, DT Ben Bass and DE DeMarcus Lawrence.

Scout’s Notebook: Impressions From Thursday Practice - Bryan Broaddus,
Broaddus also provides his impressions from the first day of camp, and kindly gives us an inkling of what the second team O-line looks like:

The second offensive lined up this way during the team period: Jermey Parnell at right tackle, Darius Morris at right guard, Ronald Patrick at center, Uche Nwaneri at left guard and Darrion Weems at left tackle. The reason I mention this is because I believe this will be the group we will see in the majority of the preseason games. When Ronald Leary comes back to practice, Mackenzy Bernadeau could line up on the right side for Morris or play center for Patrick. The idea is to have the best backup offensive line in these games so things will run smoothly when trying to evaluate these young running backs and Brandon Weeden.


Garrett explains why Cowboys will be better defensively | Jon Machota, FOX Sports
Machota does a nice job of summarizing Wednesday's press conference and explaining where Garrett believes the improvement to last season's 32nd-ranked defense will come from:

1.) Youth.
2.) Valuable free agency additions.
3.) Depth along the defensive line.
4.) Better play from the defensive backs.
5.) Better coaching.

DeMarcus Lawrence’s expectations for his rookie season: ’10-plus sacks’ | Jon Machota, DMN
We'll only know after the season whether it was wise of Lawrence to articulate his target for the season as succinctly as he did.

"My expectation is to go out and get 10 sacks, 10-plus sacks," Lawrence said. "Whatever coach needs me to do."

Here's some context to that number that the article doesn't provide: There have been 601 double-digit sack seasons since 1983, the year when the league began keeping sacks as an official record. In those 31 years, exactly 31 players achieved double-digit sacks in their rookie seasons, or an average of exactly one per year. Why shouldn't DeMarcus be this year's guy?

The five most recent rookies to hit the 10-sack mark were Von Miller and Aldon Smith (both 2011), Ndamukong Suh (2010), Clay Matthews and Brian Orakpo (both 2009).

Jason Garrett: Injured Sean Lee being at training camp is ‘one of the reasons why we love him so much’ | Jon Machota, DMN
A player fresh off a season-ending ACL injury is not a common sight in training camps across the league. Not so for Sean Lee, who traveled with the team to Oxnard.

"He’s going to rehab his knee but he’s such a leader, such a great influence on our football team that he’s going to be around," Garrett said Wednesday. "He’s a gym rat. When he’s been on injured reserve before he was the first guy in the meeting room talking to the coaches and sharing his ideas and talking to players. That’s just the way he is and it’s one of the reasons why we love him so much. He’ll be around. He’s excited."

"I’m sure it’s frustrating for him, but we talked about it (Tuesday). He just has to view this as a really long off-season. So it went from when he got hurt, the end of last year to this kind of year and a half off-season, get that knee right and get ready to go. He’s got a ton of football ahead of him."

Dallas Cowboys roll dice on former first-rounders - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas
The Cowboys added three former first-round picks this offseason, and all it cost them was a grand total of one conditional sixth-rounder, MacMahon informs us, and writes that defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, linebacker Rolando McClain and quarterback Brandon Weeden all arrived at Valley Ranch with some warts but could turn into potential bargains.

"These are low-risk decisions that we’ve made," coach Jason Garrett said. "They have talent. We evaluated them coming out of school. We liked them. We evaluated them in the NFL. We liked them. We wanted to give them a chance. As long as the price is right, these are good decisions to make as an organization to give guys a chance."

"Are they talented guys? Yes. Are they the right kind of people? We think they are from the reports that we have. So you give them a chance. You try to put them in a structure where they can thrive and see how they can do. If it doesn’t work out for them for whatever reason, you really haven’t lost that much."

Will McClay gives insight on 2014 Cowboys draft | Dallas Morning News
McClay recently spoke with KTCK-AM 1310 about the recent NFL draft. McClay said that he remains happy with the draft, explains how the first pick in the draft will inevitably influence your subsequent picks (he namedrops Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr as specific Cowboys targets), and argues that because pass-rushing defensive linemen are such a rare commodity, the Cowboys did not overpay for DeMarcus Lawrence. McClay also answers a question about which seventh-round pick has surprised him more than expected:

"I would say Terrance Mitchell, who we had decent grades on — the fourth, fifth round — and were surprised to see him there. And he missed the OTA because of the school session. When he came out, when he shows up at minicamp, he just makes plays. He’s one of those guys that you see it on. A type likened to Jairus Byrd — the people that come from Oregon that have a feel for the game. And you saw that natural ability. He may not be a 4.3 corner, but he’s 4.5 with great instincts that make him a 4.4-type player."

If there's any Cowboys glory in 2014, it'll come from unglamorous group | Rick Gosselin, DMN
Gosselin promises to spend the entire camp focusing only on the offensive and defensive lines. Why?

The Cowboys will rise or fall based on their ability to block on offense and rush the passer on defense.

The NFL game is all about the quarterback. You have to protect him on offense and tackle him on defense. That’s why I’ll be watching the grunts in camp this week. They will tell me all I need to know about the 2014 Cowboys.

Four Players With Most To Prove - Bryan Broaddus,
Broaddus lists Lance Dunbar, Gavin Escobar, Henry Melton and Morris Claiborne as the players with the most to prove, and has noticed a difference in the way that Claiborne carries himself.

What I have noticed about Claiborne through these practices in the spring that he appears to have a chip on his shoulder in the way he is going about his business. He is not viewing himself as a player that is running with the second defense. When it’s time to step up in drills, he walks right out there on the field with Scandrick and Carr. There is clearly a different way that he is carrying himself and now we need to see if that confidence shows up in the way he plays.


Anthony Spencer uncertain when he’ll return; ‘I haven’t had any setbacks, so it’s moving along’ | Jon Machota, DMN
It doesn't look like Spencer will take any reps during camp, and his earliest return might be in Week 7, when he'll be eligible to return from the PUP list.

Cowboys guard Ron Leary strained hamstring Monday, but it ‘wasn’t that serious at all’ | Brandon George, DMN
Much ado about nothing? The Cowboys expect Ron Leary to return to practice early next week after suffering "a slight hamstring strain" on Monday.

Spencer, Leary Will Start Training Camp On PUP - BTB
Ronald Leary and Anthony Spencer were put on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, Amobi Okoye on the Active/Non-Football Illness list.

In related news, Nick Eatman reports DT Chris Whaley cleared waivers and rejoined the Cowboys on the non-football injury list. With his rights secured, he'll spend the year rehabbing with the Cowboys. Also, Jarrod Pughsley was waived with an injury settlement.

Cowboys Visit With Larry English; Pass-Rusher Leaves Unsigned - Nick Eatman,
Eatman writes that the Cowboys were "likely just doing their due diligence in visiting with English, who was able to drive up from the San Diego area."


Carnival Cruise Line huddles up with Dallas Cowboys -
Add Carnival Cruise Lines to the ever growing list of Cowboys partners. In addition to becoming the official cruise line for the land-locked Cowboys, their logo will show up at AT&T stadium as well as on the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Daily News show.

Note: As our coverage from camp often extends late into the night and sometimes even into the early morning, we'll move our news roundups from their traditional 5:00 am ET slot to 9:00 am ET during training camp.

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