I'll start here, since it's kind of a big deal:
Dallas Cowboys' offseason ends, training camp around the corner - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The next time the Dallas Cowboys get together as a group, Archer writes, will be July 28, when they get on a plane to fly to Oxnard, California, for the start of training camp. Just ask The Senator:
"It’s good [for the time to go by] quick," tight end Jason Witten said. "This is why you do this work, to have this opportunity to go to camp. I think that some of your best times as a group is building your team, individually kind of setting your goals, but then doing it as a team. I’m excited where we’re at.
Thursday appeared to be one of those "veteran off-days" that we'll see at camp every once in a while.
Scout's Eye: 12 Thoughts On The Younger Players To Close Out Minicamp - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
The Broad One gives us a delightful dozen final impressions from minicamp and, with the vets taking a powder, focuses the spotlight on rookies and second-year guys. Here's one comforting example:
10. Just my opinion, but Darrion Weems has a chance to be a much better player than what the Cowboys got from Jermey Parnell as that backup tackle. Weems is a better athlete and his football intelligence is improving with every snap that he is receiving. I also believe that he is a more consistent performer than Parnell, who could be too up and down. He’s stable.
Dez Bryant decided to pay a visit to Thursday's session, causing a media firestorm, natch.
Still Without Long-Term Deal, Dez A Surprise Spectator At Minicamp - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
One day after Bryant took to Twitter to reiterate his desire for long-term financial security, he rejoined his teammates to watch practice. Here's what his position coach said about the visit:
"I think it’s another example how committed he is to the guys on the team. This is hard on him," wide receivers coach Derek Dooley said. "I wish everyone knew Dez the way I know him. He’s got a genuine heart and he’s got such a commitment to the players in that locker room, to the team.
"I’ve seen it for 33 Sundays. I’ve seen it every day when he’s here and it’s not Sunday. I’m just looking forward to getting him back. I know he’s looking forward to getting back."
Dallas Cowboys coaches, teammates happy to see Dez Bryant - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Bryant’s teammates were happy to see him as they have been during every one of his offseason appearances. Again, we'll cite Witten:
"I’ve said it many times: He’s a big part of what we are as a team," tight end Jason Witten said. "To see the player and person he’s become the last few years, it’s always good to have him out there. It’s part of it, the business. I know no one hates [missing practice] more than he does. Hopefully he’ll get it worked out and be ready to go in training camp."
Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams suffers bruised left elbow - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
De facto number one wide receiver Terrance Williams had to leave the Cowboys' final minicamp practice with an elbow injury after he came down awkwardly when fighting for a pass with rookie corner Byron Jones, resulting in his elbow getting pinched between his body and the turf. No worries; X-rays were negative. That's good news, since T-Will has been burning it up during Dez Bryant's absence. Check it:
"He’s had a phenomenal four weeks," Dooley said. "He really has. I told him, in fact, before we went on the field how proud I was of him. He’s not only taken a tremendous leadership role in the group, really setting the example of how you do things, he’s expanded his route inventory. He’s played X. He’s played Z. He’s played in the slot and every day he went out there and was the same player. Every route, every opportunity he had he took advantage of it. So he’s made a big jump this offseason."
I'm not injury prone It takes a lot more..Im straight thanks.— Terrance Williams (@TerranceWill2) June 18, 2015
Cowboys ‘very comfortable’ with current running back situation - Jon Machota, DMN
If the season started tomorrow, the Cowboys would likely split carries between Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. According to Jerry Jones, Dallas is "very comfortable" with that group, but wants to exercise caution to keep them healthy:
"We want to continue to balance the right amount of work for McFadden, Randle and for Dunbar," Jerry Jones said while the Cowboys held mini-camp at AT&T Stadium. "We want to get them the right amount of work, but we don’t want to be foolish as to what we do as we get on into the physical part of training camp. Those are guys that we’re planning to go against New York with [in Week 1].
Jerry Jones: Romo’s minicamp effect was best part of Cowboys’ offseason - Rainer Sabin, DMN
Sabin asks: will the Cowboys implement a practice schedule for Romo that paralleled the one in place last season? The RHG has an answer:
"I think it’s early to talk about that," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He seems to be able to handle the workload fairly well on back-to-back days, but we’ll try to treat those situations individually like we’ve done in the past, and try to get as much work as we can without compromising any of the players."
Claiborne Not Deterred By Difficulties, "Ready To Go" For Cowboys Training Camp - David Helman, The Mothership
Even Mo Claiborne isn't surprised that the Cowboys opted not to pick up his fifth-year option (for a cool $11 million) in 2016. He admits that, were he the Cowboys' GM, he would have done the same thing:
"Why would you put so much on a person that, you don’t know where he’ll be standing? If I was on the other side, I wouldn’t do it," he said. "It’s just one of those things – it’s a business, and I approach it that way. I’ve got to go put in some work, and I’ve got to make somebody want me. I don’t want nothing to be given to me."
Morris Claiborne, whose weight plummeted to 150, says knee rehab ahead of schedule - Jon Machota, DMN
After Claiborne suffered his season-ending injury, he plummeted all the way down to 150 pounds. He’s now up to 172, he told reporters, with hopes of reaching 180 by training camp. Listen in:
"Y’all will see," he said. "I feel good. I feel real good. I’m just ready to play. … I hear a lot of stuff. I hear what people say, I see what people write and I know that’s not me. I just want to show them."
Want some Brandon Carr news? Happy to oblige:
Jerry Jones: Brandon Carr safe but hopes to address contract issues - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
As the headline says, Jones considers the Brandon Carr contract negotiations still open:
"We are continuing to look for ways that we can do something that's good for both of us," Jones said. "Good for both of us being the Cowboys relative to relief as to our cap management and good for him that would maybe be some pluses for him on his contract. Again, any more than that and I'm getting into negotiating details. But there are ways that we can improve our lot that aren't unrealistic. It would just be someone giving up something significant."
Calvin Johnson, Jay Cutler rank among 10 most overpaid players - Nathan Jahnke, ESPN.com
A day after looking at the league's most underpaid veterans, Jahnke offers a list of the most overpaid. Again, there is a Cowboy on the list:
5. Brandon Carr, CB, Dallas Cowboys
2015 cap hit: $12.7 million
2015 JVM: $1.8 million
Value differential: $10.9 million
There have been plenty of rumors that Carr could be cut or asked to take a pay cut this offseason, but at this point the Cowboys are stuck paying Carr a ton of money for the 2015 season. While most players on this list are still quality starters who are simply being paid more than they deserve, Carr was an outright liability for the Cowboys last season.
When quarterbacks targeted the receiver Carr was covering, they had an NFL Passer Rating of 116.6. His 849 yards allowed was the seventh-most yards allowed by a cornerback last year.
The Cowboys drafted UConn defensive back Byron Jones in the first round of the draft, so they could very well be planning for life without Carr already.
Brandon Carr Judged To Be One Of Most Overpaid Players In NFL - Tom Ryle, BTB
Our own Tom Ryle weighs in on the Jahnke piece, and spreads a little schadenfreude by noting some of the other players on the list (including Dumbface)
The Babe stepped to the plate on Thursday, and went 3-3:
Babe Laufenberg: I don’t see a role for Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar - DMN Staff
Cowboys color commentator Babe Laufenberg hosted a Wednesday chat over at the Dallas Morning News. Part I included a question about Byron Jones:
Laufenberg: I could easily see him being the starter, and we are still kind of waiting to see how the Brandon Carr situation plays out. But one of the things the Cowboys liked about him is that he can (and has ) played safety. He could certainly do that in a nickel situation. Scandrick is very solid in the slot, and those guys are hard to find. But that will all play out in training camp. And Mo Claiborne is recovering from knee surgery and has yet to participate in off-season work, so another huge question mark there…
Babe Laufenberg: Honestly, I don’t get all of the Eagles’ smack talk - DMN Staff
Part II featured a question about the Eagles position as favorites:
Laufenberg: Honestly, I don’t get it. And that is not from the standpoint of being a "homer." Philly was bad defensively last year and when you go to the offensive side of the ball, who has the better OL? The better WR’s (provided Dez shows). The better QB? The better TE? The only place on offense where Philly has the advantage is at RB after signing Demarco Murray.
Babe Laufenberg: I’ve never seen Tony Romo throw the ball better than at Cowboys minicamp - DMN Staff
Part III has two quotes worth noting. The first was his observation of Tony Romo:
"I’ve never seen him throw the ball better. He was just so sharp and crisp, and his ball never had a wobble on it. The ball just came out of his hand like it was shot from a jugs machine."
The second was The Babe's take on Dez Bryant's presence at practice:
"I know everyone is going to start reading the tea leaves on his appearance: ‘Dez is caving in. Jerry has softened once he saw Dez’s lovely face.’ But I think all it really was was Dez Bryant showing up on the last day of practice on the day when the Cowboys held their family day. To think they’re any closer or further away from a deal because Dez showed up today would be taking a tremendous leap of faith."
Cowboys’ Tony Romo gains peers’ respect, ranks 34th on NFL’s top 100 players list - Jon Machota, DMN
For the first time in the NFL Network’s five years of putting together a top 100 players list, Tony Romo has cracked the top 50, coming in at #34 on their list. Of course, Number Nine is able to put it all in perspective:
"I think then maybe it’s a vote by the players. But the four people who vote, I just don’t think it matters too much. I know this, I would have a hard time telling you who was great in the AFC last year. You just go by what’s written about and talked about."
Why Cowboys should not be surprised that NFL has yet to rule on Greg Hardy’s appeal - David Moore, DMN
Moore offers an inspired take on why the NFL has yet to release Harold Henderson's ruling on Greg Hardy's appeal of his lengthy suspension. I'll let him tell the story:
One, Henderson is under no obligation to reach his decision in a specific timeframe.
Two, did anyone believe a ruling would be handed down when the media still had locker room access to the players?
Think about it. If Henderson upholds the 10-game suspension, don’t you think a player or two would criticize the process? Is it unreasonable to expect that in trying to support Hardy, some players would say they consider the suspension too harsh?
Imagine how those comments would play on a national stage: Cowboys defend Hardy, showing NFL players still don’t understand serious nature of domestic abuse.
The same applies if Henderson significantly reduces commissioner Roger Goodell’s penalty: Cowboys say NFL was right to reduce suspension because it was too severe.
Again, this doesn’t strike the proper political note the NFL desperately needs after its initial tone deaf response in the Ray Rice case.
That’s why Henderson has yet to rule on Hardy’s appeal.
Since it's important to finish strong, I'll call to the bullpen for my ace closer:
2014 Cowboys Sack Registry Part 4 (Weeks 13-16): Did Romo play a role? - Bob Sturm, DMN
The fourth installment of Sturm's terrific series examining each of the sacks given up by the Cowboys in 2014. Here, we are treated to games 13-16 (@Chicago, @ Philadelphia, Indianapolis, @ Washington), which generated sacks 26-30 on the season. As always, this is a must read/ watch (.gifs of each sack included!)