Number one seems obvious, at least around here.
1) Dallas Cowboys' offensive line: The offensive men in the trenches frequently get overlooked, but the Cowboys' front line deserves attention due to its consistent dominance at the point of attack. The unit features three former first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick) and a gifted interior blocker (La'el Collins) who was rated as a first-round talent before a pre-draft ordeal -- one that saw him mentioned in conjunction with (but never seen as a suspect in) a shooting death -- made him go undrafted. With the team expected to show a renewed commitment to the running game, given Ezekiel Elliott's addition to the backfield, the football world will fully appreciate the Cowboys' O-line in 2016
You may have seen some comments about the "singing" footballs the Cowboys are using in the OTAs. They are new devices to train ball carriers how to properly secure the ball to avoid fumbles.
Battery operated, the HnTv1 training footballs are the same size and weight as regulation footballs. If a player is properly gripping the High and Tight Football, the ball emits a high frequency beep.
To properly grip a football, a player must use five points of pressure. Two of his fingers should form an X over the nose, or tip, of the ball. The long panel of the ball should be firmly against the running back's forearm. The opposite long panel of the ball should be pressed against the running back's chest. The other tip of the ball should be tucked in the crook of the arm, between the torso and the elbow. And when contact is made by a defensive player - and/or the player goes to the ground - the running back can use his other arm to help protect the ball.
The watch continues to see if the talented but somewhat unreliable linebacker will show up.
Last week Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Rolando McClain was dealing with a family matter in missing the organized team activities but the linebacker was expected to return this week.
The Cowboys opened up their second week of OTAs on Tuesday and McClain was not in attendance, according to sources.
But another missing player has resolved his sticky international issue and made it back to Dallas.
Sources tell CHQ that defensive lineman Jack Crawford, the pride of Great Britain, has received his work visa and is in DFW. The paperwork wasn't done in time for Crawford to appear at last week's OTAs, but he's good to go now.
Once, rookie contract negotiations were one of the most tension-filled storylines of the NFL summer. Now, with the CBA rookie pay scale, they have become routine. On Tuesday, two of the remaining three unsigned Cowboys draft picks put their signatures on the line.
The fourth round proved to be significant for the Cowboys, as Dallas was able to add DE Charles Tapper at pick 101 and QB Dak Prescott at pick 135. Today, the Cowboys were able to sign both draft picks to their rookie contracts.
However, there always seems to be a flaw in everything, and it turns out the CBA left some aspects of third round contracts undefined. As a result, that is the only round from which there is still a fairly large number of unsigned rookies, including Dallas' Maliek Collins.
The top 13 picks from this year's third round, including Maliek Collins of the Dallas Cowboys, have not yet signed.
This story from the Florida Times-Union gives a good look at what has happened (or not happened). Essentially there is room to negotiate additional compensation for the third-rounders, but there is no guideline on the percentage a player receives.
Ever thought that Dez looks like he's pretty ripped? Turns out it is no illusion.
Dez Bryant spent some time after practice last week joking with a local TV cameraman about the difficulty he will have maintaining a six-pack as he gets older.
Right now, though, it's not an issue, which is why he was named one of Sports Illustrated's 50 fittest male athletes in the world. The list contained 11 NFL players.
The mothership is doing a series on the best players to take the field in Cowboys games this year, and they include those who wear the Star as well as the opponents. The first Dallas player to pop up is none other than the Senator, Jason Witten.
The 10-time Pro Bowler remains a focal point in the passing game after all these years. Last November he surpassed Bob Lilly on the franchise's all-time list of consecutive games played, which currently stands at 203 and counting. He also became the 12th player in NFL history (and only the second tight end ever) to reach 1,000 career catches.
And here is the counterpoint on Witten, whose accomplishments are unquestioned, but who may finally be seeing his effectiveness on the field start to decline. (Please don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.)
For the first time since the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Witten has turned in back-to-back campaigns where he failed to average over 50 yards per game. His 194 targets over the last two seasons is also his lowest since the 05-06 seasons. Albeit with mostly bad QBs throwing to him, he posted his lowest yard-per-reception rate ever at just 9.3 in 2015. While never a burner, Witten hasn't turned in a catch for over 36 yards in four years.
These rankings are more about drawing readers and stirring up discussion than anything. Jason Garrett has always had a bit of an image problem, operating as he does in a huge Jerry Jones-shaped shadow. He is only ranked 21st in this particular list, but has an opportunity to improve the perception others have of him.
But Garrett has a chance to boost his stock this year, provided Romo, Bryant and Scandrick stay healthy. The Cowboys don't view themselves as the typical 4-12 team, which can help Garrett and hurt him at the same time. Coming off a down year, teams generally don't have such high expectations entering the following the season.
Ronald Leary is not attending the voluntary OTAs while he and his agent try to figure out how he can find someone who will work out a trade with the Cowboys so Leary can be a starter again. This article lists three new possible landing spots, including one team that should be considered with great caution, because New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick just seems to know how to stick it to his trade partners.
It is no secret Tom Brady was absolutely battered last season. New England gave up the 13th most sack in the NFL and had the 30th ranked rushing offense. The Patriots are in severe need of an upgrade for the interior of their offensive line if they want to keep the 38-year-old QB upright for the 2016 season. New England has proven that they are willing to trade for players to strengthen their offensive line, dealing DE Chandler Jones for OG Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick during this past offseason. Moreover, the Patriots and Cowboys have done many trades in the past.
Meanwhile, the question remains, just why would Dallas deal Leary unless they get a superior offer?
All the reasons that might make him attractive to another team in trade are all the same reasons the Cowboys are in no hurry to accommodate the disgruntled Leary.
Finally, this little nugget from the latest OTA update about our beloved rivals from Philadelphia raises another question: Is there any team in the NFL that defines and measures itself against a rival year round the way the Eagles obsess about the Cowboys?
Good observation from Jimmy Kempski: the Eagles ran some drills where players were wearing red pinnies with "88" and "82" on them. It could have been the Eagles doing some early scouting against the Cowboys: Dez Bryant and Jason Witten wear those numbers, respectively.