This has to go first, no?
Archer breaks the story that Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took part in individual drills on Thursday as the Cowboys concluded their first week of OTAs.
Our fearless leader covers the story:
As does Charean WIlliams:
And Jon Machota:
Damien Wilson signed his rookie contract on Thursday afternoon, leaving Byron Jones as the Cowboys’ lone unsigned draft pick.
Here's the contract details from Archer: Wilson will receive a signing bonus of $466,316 and base salaries of $435,000, $525,000, $615,000 and $705,000.
While his teammates concluded the first week of organized team activities on Thursday, Greg Hardy was in the nation's capitol, appealing his 10-game suspension. The key, as Archer correctly notes, will be the fact that NFLPA believes the NFL punished him under the league's new personal conduct policy despite actions that occurred before it was adopted. Here are some other keys:
In an email, the NFLPA said the 10-game suspension was "totally unprecedented under the policy that was in effect at time of alleged conduct." The NFLPA believes the league's mention of guns being involved in the incident is a sign the league applied the new personal conduct policy since guns are not mentioned in the league's old policy.
Hardy's defense will also use a three-hour interview with the alleged victim conducted after the incident that contradicted her testimony in the bench trial that ended with Hardy being found guilty initially.
Jon "Matches" Machota shares two fistfulls of impressions from the Cowboys' first week of OTAs. Here's the tenth and final point:
10.) Although he wasn’t participating in team drills, Morris Claiborne (left knee) was back on the practice fields, working with athletic trainer Britt Brown and strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. "He’s in there just getting the work, kind of smart with him, how much we’re giving him," Rod Marinelli said. "Working him back into it, so it’s just nice to have him here. He’s a quality person and he’s a terrific athlete."
Although he published his OTA observations a day later than some of his fellow DFW-area scribes, Archer's stuff, as always, is worth the wait. A sampling:
DeMarcus Lawrence lined up as the left defensive end with the starters and in the sub package. His power was shown when he shoved rookie right tackle La'el Collins to the ground with his right arm as he worked his way around the corner.
Broaddus shares a handful of leftover impressions from Wednesday’s session. Here's one that was music to Ol' Rabble's ears:
In watching Greg Hardy work on Wednesday, it reminded me of a Major League Baseball pitcher getting ready for the season during spring training. He already has a wide range of pass rush moves, but you could tell that he was having a good day of working against Tyron Smith and trying out some different ideas. What is also impressive about watching Hardy live is how quick he is off the ball and into the blocker. There are no wasted steps or movements when he is rushing the passer -- which makes him rare.
What's happening on defense, you ask?
Although the Cowboys have added a passel of talented new faces to their defense, perhaps the most significant addition will be the man who was already there. Williams notes an important anniversary in that regard: Lee didn’t speak to reporters after the team’s organized team activity Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of his season-ending injury. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the Cowboys’ first day of organized team activities May 27, 2014.
On some plays during OTAs, the Cowboys sported a front four of DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey and Greg Hardy. Mr. Mince likes sliding inside to DT just fine:
"We were working a bunch of different combinations [Wednesday], which was great," Mincey said after the practice. "Randy Gregory is coming along. Really solid pass rusher. They had me and Mr. Kraken (Hardy) here working together. You know what I mean? A lot of good, man. We’ve got a lot of depth, a lot of players you can trust. I think we’ll make some impactful plays for the Cowboys."
And on to the offensive side of the ball...
Third-year running back Joseph Randle might be the perfect fit in the Cowboys' zone-blocking scheme. Just ask a rival NFC scout:
"[Randle] is a very talented runner, but I could see Dallas turning into how Denver was a decade ago when it didn't really matter who was running the ball," one NFC scout told FOXSports.com. "The Cowboys offensive line does a great job of coming off the ball and sealing off defenders, creating big holes to run through."
New wideout A.J. Jenkins is happy to be with an NFL team again:
"It was a lift off of my shoulders," Jenkins said. "It really was because you don’t really know how it goes. There are a lot of guys who stay waiting for a long time and they don’t get a phone call. I’m blessed and humbled for the opportunity, and it being the Cowboys, an organization that’s known for a lot of things. I’m just happy to be a part of it."
Last year at this time, Tony Romo was throwing passes on the side as he rehabbed his back; now, he's dodging oncoming rushers and making plays. To wit:
With his first two receivers covered to his right, Romo came back to his left to Street, who was running a go route. With cornerback Tyler Patmon in decent position, Romo flicked his wrist for a completion of at least 45 yards, dropping the ball into Street’s hands for the big play.
Collins is wrapping up his first week of NFL practices, and all of them have come at a foreign position: right tackle. And that's different:
"Everything -- I had to switch over from playing left pretty much my whole career to right," he said. "So now I have to switch up my stance and really re-wire my whole mind toward where I want to go when I hear playcalls and things like that."
And, while Collins is handling Doug Free’s job duties, he’s also getting on-field coaching from the injured eight-year veteran. To wit:
"He’s constantly coaching me up," Collins said of Free. "He’s behind me at all times kind of just giving me little things here and there, telling me what I should be thinking, where my eyes should be, where my hands should be – things like that."
According to ESPN Insider and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, Tyron Smith is one of 24 non-quarterbacks every team in the NFL would want. Archer adds a few salient notes:
Smith has been so good so quickly that he now has college players attempting to emulate his game. Chaz Green talked about it after the Cowboys drafted him in the third round. La'el Collins, whom Smith hosted during his Southern Cal recruiting visit, also said it.
Smith has become the standard that is usually reserved for older players.
The Sturminator comments on the "best O-line in football" meme. In a rare moment of confusion, Sturm cites BTB frenemy Jimmy Kemski before concluding:
The Cowboys OL is very good. But, to be great, they will need to pass protect better than they did in 2014. Because for all of the great things they accomplished, Tony Romo was sacked 40 times in 18 games, including 10 times in the 2 playoff contests. For a team that did not throw near the league average, that is too many. And for a team that had a QB who elusively escaped many more sacks, that is way too many if we are going to discuss the best OL in the league.
To support this contention, Sturm looks at all eight sacks Dallas allowed in games 1-4. Let's just say Doug Free allowed more than his fair share...
This new practice wrinkle has the Eagles' reporters all a-flutter:
Typically, Chip Kelly has been the football coach starting new trends and techniques in the NFL. This time, however, it’s Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett, heading into his fifth season as Cowboys head coach, has begun using drones to film practices. He got the new-aged idea from SMU football coach Chad Morris.
Kelly not on the cutting edge? How is that possible? That's what we call meme-busting!