This time last year, the Dallas Cowboys we're learning how to "fight". This year's crop of Cowboys are learning that they are to start from "ground zero." It's an exciting time as we dive head-first into some camp battles and the development of younger players into tomorrow's stars. After the first week, there is certainly some buzz around for the masses to digest. Here are a few thoughts that come to mind.
A Great Start For Mo'
All offseason we have discussed the low expectations placed on Morris Claiborne. He's even said so himself that all he's trying to do is make the team. The lofty sixth-overall pick status has been thrown out the window at this point; it must be regained on the field through production. That's what makes it so much more rewarding that Claiborne had himself a good practice yesterday. He successfully picked off Tony Romo on a diving interception that was shades of the Claiborne the Cowboys drafted back in 2012. The most important attribute that Mo' needs to develop is his confidence. As an NFL corner, you are going win some and lose some. What matters most is if you are able to keep your head up and go back for more. Keep fighting your way through and use your talents to grow as a player. It certainly is nice to see that Claiborne is starting out camp on a good foot, hopefully he can continue to develop that confidence and match it with his skill-set.
Lance Dunbar Is Looking For A Shot
With Darren McFadden on PUP, the name Dunbar has been coming up in these early practices. He spent some quality time in the weight room over the summer to get more definition to his body. He's been counted out of the running for a big role before, but he's making the most of the opportunity. He spoke to some media in Oxnard and let them know that he plans to become a bigger part of the offense and referenced himself a 'feature back'. The competition at running back will have all of the spectator's eyes in training camp. The Cowboys coaches have always liked what Dunbar can bring to the table. Now that DeMarco Murray has departed, guys are lining up for the opportunity to shine. Maybe we have been underestimating Lance Dunbar to some extent.
Greg Hardy Picking Up Where He Left Off
Like Dez Bryant, Hardy is an infectious player to watch in practice. He sets the edge for the entire defense and does so with professionalism. Charles Haley spoke on Talkin' Cowboys about how he's telling Hardy to become the leader of the defense. In many ways Hardy has tried the lead by example approach but apparently he's getting a bit more vocal. By having a player of Hardy's caliber on the team, it's only going to make everyone else around him better. DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Ben Gardner are all young athletes looking to find their role in this defense. Greg Hardy is such an intense player that even Jason Garrett talked about dialing him back a little. He loves to practice and he's as competitive as anyone on the roster. Rod Marinelli understands that for his defense, probably the most important attribute to have is a great motor. Hardy has that and then some and it's certainly rubbing off on the rest of the defensive linemen early in camp.
Should Cowboys Take A Look Defensive Tackle Tony McDaniel?
The former Seahawks' starting defensive tackle started 29 of 32 games for the Seahawks over the past two seasons. At 30 years old, he should still have something left in the tank, but don't get too excited. PFF doesn't rank him very favorably, but he's familiar with the scheme and kind of reminds you of Nick Hayden. McDaniel is a lunch-pail type of player that was due to make $2.5 million this season. The Seahawks couldn't afford to keep him with the recent signings of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. He's not going to light up the sack column but at 6' 7" and over 300 lbs, he could offer the Cowboys a tackle that allows the playmakers to get free and take down the quarterback. The Cowboys have tons of versatile guys to use at the tackle position including Jeremy Mincey, but it wouldn't hurt to give McDaniel a look.
Don't Sleep On Tyler Patmon
Bryan Broaddus tweeted that Tyler Patmon was the best corner in the first padded practice. If you look at the one-on-one drills, you see a confident young man that knows how to keep himself in position. He was very combative and doesn't give much separation to the receivers. On a day where a lot of the corners and defensive backs were struggling, he and Corey White had their best practices. Patmon is looking to increase his role from the dime corner he was for the most of 2014. He's definitely a fan-favorite in the forums of BTB and rightfully so. There is always a spot on a roster for a guy who does nothing but make plays when called upon. Tyler Patmon is starting to come along at a time that seems perfect for this young defense.