Tuesday marks the beginning of mini-camp and inquiring minds want to know if certain players will show up.
1. Will the no-shows show?
Will middle linebacker Rolando McClain and offensive guard Ronald Leary make appearances? Neither player attended the voluntary OTAs. McClain has been in Alabama, spending time with his two sons. Leary has been staying away in hopes of landing an opportunity to start for another team. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett expects both players to attend the mandatory minicamp.
"We want our players here," Garrett said last Wednesday. "Rolando is dealing with a family situation. Ron is not here because of a business situation. And that's it. We're focused on the guys that are here. We've got a really good football team, great character guys that come to work every day, so let's talk about those guys."
Everyone has their own thoughts on the Rolando McClain situation, but the only ones that matter are the people in charge. But do those guys see things the same way? Jon Machota talks about how the Cowboys coach and owner might view things a little differently when it comes to McClain.
Jon Machota: [Let's talk about] a player who hasn't been here for all three weeks of OTAs and a guy I get the sense from social media that Cowboys fans probably aren't that happy that Rolando McClain hasn't been here. There's no telling if he's going to show up for minicamp. I personally think he will. It is mandatory. He has shown up to minicamp in the past. I definitely get the sense that Jason Garrett's not very happy about this as well. I don't think that Jerry Jones would really voice any anger about something like that, but Jerry definitely he was interesting with his comments on Wednesday. He went on the Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 The Fan. They had a lengthy interview with him. I was particularly interested about what he said about Rolando McClain. What stood out to you Brandon from listening to what Jerry had to say?
While there were no defensive players to make his original list, Brian Martin digs a little deeper to find a few players worthy of consideration.
Rolando McClain is a frustrating player because when he’s on his game he could be one the better middle linebackers in the entire NFL, but it’s those other times where he seems to just disappear that makes them so unpredictable.
McClain was mainly considered because he does have to be game planned by opposing offensive coordinators and with perhaps the exception of Sean Lee, he is really the only true MLB on the Cowboys roster.
The majority the Cowboys linebackers seem to fit better as candidates to play on the weak side, but not #55.
The drop off from not having McClain in the lineup would be immense, of course this is considering Sean Lee remains on the weak side. Anthony’s Hitchens has shown promise, but he’s not the same caliber of player as Rolando McClain.
It is no secret that the Cowboys aren’t loaded down with pass rushers, but this nugget of info was a little surprising. Leave it to Jimmy Kempski in finding anything negative to do with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys don't have a single player on their roster with at least 10 career sacks.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) June 6, 2016
How unusual is that? This tweet caught my eye because while it is easy to check historical comparisons, I had no clue how frequently this sort of thing occurs. As it turns out, not very: the last time a team didn’t have at least one player on their roster with double-digit sacks entering that season was the 1990 Jets. After Marty Lyons retired following the ’89 season, utility lineman Gerald Nichols and his 8 career sacks was the most established pass rusher for New York. But in ’90, Dennis Byrd broke out with a 13-sack season.
Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford both have eight career sacks, so expect the leader to change after the 2016 season.
And if Rolando isn’t the answer, hopefully the Cowboys have a star in the making waiting to take his spot next season. But as Rick Gosselin points out, the team took quite the risk with the selection of Jaylon Smith.
Question: If Jaylon Smith doesn't end up playing at all, is he the biggest draft bust in Cowboys history?
Gosselin: I understand the gamble the Cowboys took. Here was a top 5 pick -- if healthy -- available in the second round because of an injury. It was a swing for the fences -- a big hit or a big miss. If he never plays a down, the franchise takes a step back because second-round picks are supposed to be walk-in starters. That covers about a four-year window -- the length of his first contract. Plus the prospect of a second contract and four more years. But Jones is a risk taker. He could have drafted a player who better fit the win-now mode with Romo's window closing. He really needs Smith to make it back on the field and play to justify this selection.
Which rookie has stood out the most at OTAs? Brandon George gives his thought on the subject. Hint: one of them is not Ezekiel Elliott (but one is).
Question: Who impressed you the most at OTAs and why?
George: That's really difficult to say because we're limited on how many days we can watch the players and they're not wearing pads or tackling. So, you don't see the players do a lot on the practice field this time of year. I've tried to watch the rookies more so than anyone so far just because we haven't seen a lot of them, and so far RB Ezekiel Elliott looks every bit the part. Charles Tapper is quick off of the ball but you knew already about his speed. He should contribute early.
The concern about having a viable backup for Tony Romo will loom large all season, but do the Cowboys have a better grip on things than people think?
Although it is just OTA’s, Dallas has to feel good about their pick of Prescott if they can develop him into at least a decent backup. The Cowboys didn’t bring in any veteran competition for Kellen Moore to be the No. 2 behind Tony Romo. It might be an outside shot, but Prescott certainly should be striving to compete with Moore for the role.
And not everyone is sold on the idea of relying on Prescott. At least not yet.
Question: Does Kellen Moore being -- gulp -- the without-a-doubt backup QB to Romo bode well for Dak Prescott's trajectory toward backup status? Or is Dak so much of a project that it doesn't matter who the QB in front of him is this year?
Cowlishaw: I have to feel like Dak is a project. And if something happens to Kellen Moore, they would need to find the next Matt Cassel if you will. I don't think you can rush Prescott along and think he should be out on the field in 2017.
We always like to end things with a little laugh
When you think of the top five teams in the league, clearly you think of the Philadelphia Eagles, right? Wait, what? An ESPN Insider seems to think so as they put the Eagles at five and the Cowboys at 12.
Coming in at number five is [sic] none other than the Philadelphia Eagles.
The only thing worse is that the Cowboys do not show up on the list until seven spots later at number twelve. This begs the question, is Philadelphia really that much better than Dallas? Are they even better at all?
Tyrone Starr of The Landry Hat thinks this is ridiculous and explains why. Man, the people who pay for that ESPN insider subscription deserve better.
But we can’t leave on that note. Here’s another ranking that isn’t so Philly friendly.
Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys became division favorites after drafting Elliott and getting back a healthy Romo and Bryant. Like Pittsburgh, they have elite offensive pieces.
And he has the Philadelphia Eagles dead last so even if it’s not true, it’s still fun to read.