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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Randy Gregory Fields Punt; Cowboys Fly Home

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: Cowboys end camp a day early; Number 94 comes through in the clutch; camp assessments; player and roster news; Rod Marinelli is a god; Sturm on cutting to 53; Cowboys have most young talent in NFL

Thanks to the Cowboys' second-rounder, your heroes slept in their own beds Thursday night...
Thanks to the Cowboys' second-rounder, your heroes slept in their own beds Thursday night...
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Oxnard 2015 is in the can, folks. Your Beloved 'Boys will be in Dallas until they fly to Philadelphia (probably on September 19th) to face the Eagles in week two. That's a good stretch of home cookin'.

Cowboys End Training Camp A Day Early; Garrett Pleased With The Work - The Mothership Staff

A typical Garrett camp ending (with an easily winnable game), only a day earlier than expected:

At the end of Thursday morning’s practice, head coach Jason Garrett surprised the players with the rewarding news that camp would break early on one condition: One of six selected offensive or defensive linemen must catch a punt from Chris Jones. Veteran defensive tackle Nick Hayden nominated the rookie linemen to send the team back to Dallas, and second-round pick Randy Gregory caught the first attempt to roaring cheers from his teammates.

Jason Garrett decided (probably a month ago) to wrap up camp a day early...

With chance to end Cowboys training camp early, Randy Gregory comes through - David Moore, DMN

After 20 practices and two preseason games in 28 days, it came down to this, with a flight home and sleeping in their own beds on the line:

Randy Gregory was the first player up. The 6-foot-5 rookie didn’t display classic form, but he cradled the ball then went to the ground. The players would be on plane back to Dallas four hours later.

What was Gregory’s strategy?

"Just make sure I caught it,’’ said Gregory, who was a running back in high school and once returned a punt for a touchdown. "If I didn’t, I was going to roll over on it like, ‘yeah, I really did catch it.’ "The main thing was get under it and I got under it.’’


Randy Gregory secures Dallas Cowboys' early departure home - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

After recounting the final moments of camp (yay, Randy Gregory!), Archer includes a general assessment from the Ginger in Charge:

"I thought we did a really good job in the offseason program getting ourselves ready for training camp," Garrett said. "We believe in a rigorous training camp. We believe in getting in a football uniform and pads and practicing football and establishing the identity of the team in practice every day. We have the right kind of guys on our team who come to work. They don’t say a whole lot; they just come to work every day. I feel good about where we are. We obviously have a long way to go.

Not all the cool stories from Cowboys camp took place on the field - DMN Staff

A compendium of the top off-the-field stories from Oxnard 2015. I have several faves; one concerns the use of golf carts:

But a select few at Cowboys camp in 2015 had a special privilege at this year’s training camp … golf carts. That group included Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Jeff Heath, Chris Jones, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyler Patmon, Tyron Smith, Kyle Wilber and Jason Witten.

The special transportation within the facility was earned by doing exceptional work during the team’s nine week offseason program.

"It’s just guys that are in there working," Patmon said. "It’s just recognition from our strength coaches. It’s a great deal of respect from them to give me that award. It’s definitely a big deal."


Cowboys call Orlando Scandrick’s surgery to repair torn ACL/MCL successful - David Moore, DMN

The straight poop from Moore:

Orlando Scandrick underwent surgery Thursday morning to repair a torn ACL/MCL that will force him to miss the season. The surgery, which the club calls successful, was completed a few hours before the Cowboys brought an end to training camp in Southern California.

Dallas Cowboys believe they have fighter in Tyler Patmon - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer points out the scrappy Patmon is ready to do battle with a wide array of receiving body types from his new position as the Cowboys slot corner.

Patmon will have to cover all different kinds of players in the slot. In Wednesday’s practice he lined up against 5-8 slot receiver Cole Beasley and 6-6 tight end Gavin Escobar. In one-on-one drills he was able to break up a high fade to Escobar from Tony Romo.

Later he intercepted a Jameill Showers throw to Phil Bates on a deep ball, tipping the pass with one hand before bringing it down for the turnover.

Linebacker Shuffle, Romo's Arm Strength Among 12 Thoughts - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership

The Broad One's observational daily dozen. I liked reading this one most of all:

It was a positive sign for the defense to get Terrell McClain back in the lineup on a full-time basis again. McClain had a nice up-the-field rush against John Wetzel, which showed his explosive quickness. McClain is back in the mix now with a group of young guys, such as Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop -- who have played pretty well throughout camp.

A.J. Jenkins hoping late push leads to Cowboys' roster spot - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

As the headline notes, A.J. Jenkins has been making a late push - in part to prove to himself that he can play in the NFL:

"Trying to prove myself also," Jenkins said. "I haven't been on a team (for a long time). I've been bouncing around. I have to prove to myself I can do it."

Gregory's work to impress Cowboys now showing on field, too - FOX Sports

A solid piece about Randy Gregory's transformation since being drafted by the Cowboys. D-line elder statesman Jeremy Mincey puts it, um, blunt-ly:

"He was a young kid in college, smoking pot, doing what college students do," said Jeremy Mincey, the oldest of Dallas' defensive linemen at 31. "He's around a great group of men. He's holding everything together. He's working hard, and he's all in."


Why a Rod Marinelli head trip has replaced Raquel Welch as my fantasy - Babe Laufenberg, DMN

The Babe says his fantasy is not to win the lottery or fly to the moon. Nope, he wants a first-class ticket to whatever ride will take him into Rod Marinelli's head:

Here is all you need to know about Marinelli; when he coordinates your defense, takeaways are sure to follow. He demands them. He preaches takeaways the way televangelists preach salvation, only with more success. In his three years as the defensive coordinator in Chicago, the Bears were third, fifth and first in takeaways. Last year, after taking over one of the worst statistical defenses in NFL history, the Cowboys finished second.

Having Marinelli as your coach is like taking a guitar lesson from Eric Clapton, or having the Dalai Lama as your spiritual adviser. If you don’t learn something, you are not paying attention.

History suggests Cowboys' Super Bowl hopes hinge on sack success - Rick Gosselin, DMN

The Goose points out that the Cowboys' remodeled D-line could well be the key to whatever Super Bowl hopes they might harbor:

Marinelli sounded the alarm in the offseason, and Jerry Jones listened. To compete for a Lombardi Trophy, you must be able to rush the passer. The NFL instituted sacks as an official statistic in 1982 and since then, the 33 Super Bowl champions have averaged 43.6 sacks.

That’s a far cry from 28.

But seemingly overnight the Cowboys changed the dynamic of their pass rush and have given Marinelli a front four that, across the board, may one day rival any he’s ever coached.


Cowboys roster cutdown report: Who should make team at QB, RB - Bob Sturm, DMN

The Sturminator engages in 53-man roster exercise that - as has been the case with so many of these - offers few surprises. Here's one that might sneak up on a few folks:

LB: 7 Linebackers are in. But, Rolando McClain being suspended makes it 6 on opening day. Keith Smith is interesting for sure and squarely on the bubble. I see he is being used on all special teams so they might go heavy there to save him.


Football Outsiders ranks every NFL team by under-25 talent -

The annual Football Outsider ranking of every NFL team's under-25 talent has your Dallas Cowboys coming up roses. As in A-number-one, top-of-the-heap:

1. Dallas Cowboys

2014 ranking: 11

Of the six first-team All-Pro players in the study, the Cowboys have two: left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin. Center Travis Frederick makes for a third Pro Bowl selection on the offensive line, and Dallas even snagged guard La'el Collins, considered by many to have first-round talent, after he went undrafted following unusual circumstances. Last season the Cowboys' offensive line ranked first in adjusted line yards and Joseph Randle could be the next running back to take advantage of one of the league's most stacked units.

There are reasons for optimism on defense as well. DeMarcus Lawrence, who missed the first eight games last year with a broken foot, should be a Week 1 starter after notching a sack in both playoff games, including a huge forced fumble to clinch the win against Detroit. First-round pick Byron Jones should be the team's nickel corner, which is basically a starter in today's game. The Cowboys took a risk on Randy Gregory this offseason, but he's a very talented pass-rusher who should see the field on third downs. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens is also a likely starter after he showed as a rookie he was capable of playing each position in Rod Marinelli's defense.

Cowboys Under-25 Talent Is Ranked #1 In NFL - Tom Ryle, BTB

The Estimable Ryle weighs in on the ranking. Here's his conclusion:

There are many who still think the Cowboys were a flash in the pan last season, but this list is not just based on age alone. It is based on production at a young age, and Dallas is getting a ton of that. It should equate to success both now and in future seasons. Get yourself some quality shades, or at least some cheap sunglasses, because the future looks very bright for the Star.

10 Thoughts On The Cowboys 2015 Preseason At The Halfway Point - Jim Scott, BTB

Our good friend Mr. Scott (aka TRDG), offers ten salient observations at preseason's midpoint. Here's one that offers insight on exactly why the Cowboys have the league's best young talent:

Football Operations

I think that, regardless of who you believe is the catalyst for it, the front office has gotten scary good. It might be Will McClay's scouting. It might be Stephen Jones calming his father down. It might be Jason Garrett's vision and dispassionate ability to decide what is best and act on it, regardless of appearances. It might even be Jerry himself, who seems to gain wisdom with each mistake, rather than repeating them endlessly. But this team has made catch after catch, find after find. They've been good at the top of the draft (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), the middle of the draft (Tyrone Crawford, Terrence Williams, Anthony Hitchens), and the end of the draft (Joseph Randle, James Hanna, Ken Bishop). They've been wise and frugal in free agency, both with rookies and veterans. This year's draft class might be the strongest yet under Garrett, yet it's equally possible, as Rabble said, that none of them is a true starter this year (though several may start because of injury or suspensions). That's mind boggling to me, and speaks towards a team that is built to succeed now, as many have pointed out, but also for the future as very few, especially nationally, seem to realize.

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