clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: The Unblockable Anthony Hitchens!

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: Anthony Hitchens can't be blocked; running backs sidelined; the Cowboys' players speak; Babe Laufenberg times three; Sam Monson: you, sir, are not good; Brandon Weeden reacts to the wonders of Virtual Reality.

This is one darned good fourth round pick.
This is one darned good fourth round pick.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesdays are press access days at Cowboys OTAs, so let's start with what went down at practice...

Scout’s Eye: Obada Shows Up, Hitchens Shows Out & 10 Other Notes From OTAs - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership

The Broad One once again shares a dozen thoughts after watching the third full OTA session. There are lots of positive entries; here's one for you:

9) I have yet to see Anthony Hitchens blocked on a running play while lined up as the middle linebacker. His nose and movement to the ball is impressive. He and Sean Lee were also paired together on the field as nickel linebackers, which gives this defense two guys that can find that ball and go.


Of course, the story that always garners an inordinate number of headlines is who's missing:

Dallas Cowboys' Darren McFadden showing patience with hamstring strain - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

McFadden continued to rehab a strained hamstring on the sideline during Wednesday's OTA session, but he hopes to do more soon, and be ready to roll by training camp:

"I love being in camp," McFadden said. "It's the start of something that you really have to build on. So you want to get out there and work hard. It's going to be an exciting place. It's an exciting atmosphere, so I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Cowboys RB Lache Seastrunk getting more touches with injuries to Darren McFadden, Ryan Williams - Brandon George, DMN

As the title intimates, Seastrunk is getting more touches in the last week of organized team activities because running backs Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams aren’t practicing in team drills.

Rolando McClain rehabbing, but Jason Garrett not sure LB will show - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Nobody is sure if linebacker Rolando McClain will make an appearance at next week's mandatory minicamp, even his head coach:

When asked directly if McClain would show up next week, Garrett said, "Yeah, I don't want to get into much more detail than that."

The mystery continues...


Byron Jones’ Rookie Transition Includes Some Safety Reps, Too - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

Versatility was among Jones’ best traits when the Cowboys selected him at No. 27 overall last month, Phillips writes, noting that he started 20 games at free safety as a college freshman and sophomore before moving to corner his final two years at Connecticut. Jones knows all too well what safety entails:

"You’ve got to be a leader on the defense," Jones said about playing safety. "You’ve got to understand where your coverage is, where your help is, and you’ve got to understand some linebacker fits as well. Sometimes you’re down in the box and you need to know if you’re in an A gap or B gap. So it’s an entire understanding of the defense, not just one side."

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley working to expand route tree with Tony Romo - Jon Machota, DMN

The diminutive Beasley has a new contract and more roster security than ever before. What's next? Let's let him tell us:

"I’ve always been comfortable with Tony," Beasley said. "Now it’s just building more of a route tree pretty much. We’ve always had the routes that we’ve been good at and just kind of left it at that the past three years. Hopefully we can build on some more things and I can add to the inventory and get some more routes so we can build a connection with those."

After Up & Down Season, Terrance Williams Out To Earn Romo’s Trust - David Helman, The Mothership

T-Will offers an honest assessment of his 2014 season:

"There were some times that I went 90 instead of 100. It beat me in the butt sometimes, sometimes it didn’t. But it’s kind of hard whenever you’re going out there some games and you don’t get a pass," he said. "It’s just a constant battle of me talking to myself, and I got tired of watching myself on tape from last year. It’s just one of those things where I know for a fact I’m not going to do that anymore."

They say the key to NFL success is self-scouting. It looks like Williams has taken that to heart.

Doug Free On Collins’ Development: If I’m Not Helping, I’m Hurting The Team - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Doug Free is a pretty awesome dude; even though he's competing with a new crew of young bucks to keep his job, he’ll still mentor them. Because team.

"You’re always competing but me as an older player, I look to teach as much as I can compete," Free said. "But by not helping out somebody that could possibly help this team, I feel like I’d be hurting this team. No matter whether it’s something that could possibly hurt me in the future or not, right now is right now. Whatever I could do to help this team I’m going to do it."

QB coach Wade Wilson: Tony Romo has ‘exceeded expectations’ during Cowboys OTAs - Jon Machota, DMN

How has our franchise QB looked during OTAs? Let's hear what his position coach has to say:

"He has way exceeded expectations," Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. "We really didn’t anticipate him to practice three days in a row and he hasn’t missed anything. He’s taking the amount of reps he’s supposed to take and he’s throwing the ball with a lot of authority and really engaged with the guys."

I can hear it now: "Engaged? I thought he was already married..." Yes, folks, I'll be here all week.


And now, a three-fer from the Babe:

Babe Laufenberg on why it’s difficult to gauge rookies at OTAs, but one he’s still concerned about - Babe Laufenberg, DMN

The Babe shares some observations from practice. Most are about football generally. Here's one about the Cowboys that I found less than thrilling:

On what he wasn’t impressed with at OTAs or thought he would see a little more of:

"Randy Gregory, the second-round pick out of Nebraska. When you look at his body type, you just wonder it he’s just going to be able to hold up. He’s listed at 235. He’s certainly an explosive player, but his weight is certainly going to be a concern and his ability to hold up, especially in the running game."

Cowboys a different team without Dez Bryant, but his absence at OTAs won’t mean much in the long run - Babe Laufenberg, DMN

In part two of his post-practice observations, Laufenberg chats about Dez and Ro':

On if Dez Bryant’s absence at OTAs means much in the long run:

"I don’t think it will, only because Dez, you know he’s going to come into the season in shape. He has a passion for the game. Rolando McClain being gone scares me. Dez Bryant does not."

Jason Witten on what happened when he met fellow rookie Tony Romo for the first time - Babe Laufenberg, DMN

And Part III, wherein Laufenberg brings Number 82 front and center. Of course, the Senator has all the right answers. To wit:

On the possibility of passing tight end Tony Gonzalez in receptions

Jason Witten: I don’t know if you can ever pass that. He’s set the bar pretty high, second all-time behind Jerry (Rice). I’ve never kind of thought about that, even getting a thousand receptions. Always just try to go into every year and say ‘How can I have my best season and help our team win and play at a high level?’ Just take it one year at a time right now and see where we’re at. I don’t know if that means we’ll ever catch him.


And the story that our fearless leader brought to our attention yesterday, but one that bears re-reading and remembering (I'm looking at you, Cowboys' bulletin board):

Seattle Seahawks top ranking of rosters for all 32 teams - Sam Monson, ESPN

Sam Monson from Pro Football Focus ranks the rosters of all 32 NFL teams. Where do the Cowboys rank? Not as high as you might imagine:

Starters who should be upgraded:

Nick Hayden, Morris Claiborne, Anthony Hitchens, J.J. Wilcox, Terrance Williams, Tyler Clutts, Joseph Randle


The Cowboys have one of the league's best offenses, but some big question marks on defense. The offensive line might be even better this season after last year's dominant campaign, which is why Dallas was fine moving on from DeMarco Murray. Randle averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season and 4.2 yards per carry after contact on 51 carries, and the team is banking on him being very productive behind that blocking. The defense overachieved a year ago, and the D-line looks very thin entering 2015. The secondary is an issue, while the linebacker corps will get a huge boost if Sean Lee can return healthy.

On the other hand, as a chart at the end of the article shows, the Cowboys lead the league in the number of elite/ high-quality players on their roster (tied with two other NFC teams, Green Bay and Seattle), with ten.


With virtual reality help, Dallas Cowboys hope players improve - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Brandon Weeden reacts to the Virtual Reality technology that was recently written about here on BTB:

Weeden said the best part is being able to hear what went on during practice. He does not always hear the checks Tony Romo will make in practice as he watches. Now he can hear the check and understand why Romo made the change he made.

Even if the pass went to the right, the quarterback can keep his eyes to the left during the play to see how a receiver ran a route or what kind of technique a cornerback used in a specific coverage.

Weeden went so far as to look down so he could check his footwork on certain throws to make sure he wasn't going across his body. "It's like you're live in there," Weeden said.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys