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Cowboys News: First Impressions From Rookie Minicamp - "My Expectations Are To Get My Butt Kicked."

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Rookies soaking in first day of minicamp; Cowboys reach deals with eight of nine draft picks; Jaylon Smith eying full return by training camp.

Cowboys rookie CB Jourdan Lewis
Cowboys rookie CB Jourdan Lewis
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie minicamp dominated Cowboys headlines yesterday, but that wasn't the only thing going on in Cowboys Nation. Check out our summary of the latest Cowboys headlines below.

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Cowboys Rookie Minicamp: Rookies Getting Acclimated On Day 1 - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Sisemore offers up a nice summary of yesterday's minicamp activities, recapping observations and tidbits of information from the various sources covering the Cowboys.

The man of the hour though was Taco Charlton and most of today’s questions surrounded first impressions of the 6’ 6", 270 lbs. defensive lineman and first-round pick. It was Marinelli that stood in a delivered the goods on Charlton with a noticeable scratch on his face from getting rather close in the pass rushing drills (Oh Hot Rod...):

"Tremendous person, high character, loves football," Marinelli said. "That’s all of the things you’re looking for. And he’s got some talent. Now it’s about the grind.

"He’s really a good athlete, very good athlete, and then he’s got length. Really good length. He’s long and lean and he’s just going to get stronger and stronger."

Sound Off: Cowboys Rookies Soaking in First Day of Cowboys Minicamp - Dallas Cowboys Staff
This article uses rookie quotes to summarize the first day of minicamp. Here's one that stood out to me:

DT Joey Ivie, on expectations for the weekend:

"My expectations are to get my butt kicked, honestly. I know we all have it coming, all of us D-Linemen. They’ve been kind of hinting it towards us. We went through a walkthrough of what we’re going to do today. It’s going to be a heavy load, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. It’s about being mentally tough and making it through without showing mental weakness."

Cowboys Easing Into Rookie Minicamp With A Dialed Back Game Plan - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys moved minicamp from the first weekend after the draft to the second in order to give rookies more time to get back into shape after the draft. And they are also taking it slow in minicamp.

"We won’t go against each other in the rookie minicamp," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Sunday. "We’ll just give them a chance to go through individuals, some group stuff on either side of the ball and get their feet underneath them a little bit."

"I do think there’s some value to playing football, but we feel like there’s enough opportunity -- once we get going in the OTAs – to get them going in that regard, where they’re working against people," he said.

Cowboys Officially Sign 13 Rookie Free Agents Leading Into Rookie Minicamp - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
We had reported back in April that the Cowboys would sign 14 UDFAs. Missing on the Cowboys' 13-player list is Arkansas OL Dan Skipper, though he is a participant at workouts this weekend. Here's the official explanation:

Rookie offensive lineman Dan Skipper was expected to sign as a free agent with the rest of the class on Thursday. But the Cowboys team officials wanted to check out a previous issue Skipper informed the team about concerning his bloodwork. Head athletic trainer Jim Maurer went with Skipper Friday morning to a nearby clinic to get more tests. The results were good enough for Skipper to get on the field Friday on a tryout basis. The Cowboys still have the option to sign him to the roster this weekend.

Cowboys' Rod Marinelli takes one on chin in Day 1 of rookie camp - Todd Archer, ESPN
Cowboys players emerged from Day 1 of rookie minicamp unscathed. The same, however, cannot be said for their defensive coordinator, who emerged with a scratch on the left side of his face.

"I don't know if it says a whole lot about the rookie minicamp, but it says a lot about him," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "He's not afraid to step up in there and get involved as a coach. That's one of his great strengths."

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Dallas Cowboys reach deals with eight of nine draft picks - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys usually take their time signing their draft picks, but not this year. Eight of nine draft picks signed their contracts, with third-round pick Jourdan Lewis the odd man out, just like third-rounder Maliek Collins was last year. Archer explains:

League-wide, third-round picks are slower to sign because of guaranteed-money and split-salary issues that take longer to work out. Last year, the Cowboys signed all of their draft picks by the end of May but third-rounder Maliek Collins did not sign until July 14.

Top pick Charlton is first-ever, pre-rookie camp signee in Jones era - Charean Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Getting your rookies signed before minicamp may not seem like a big deal, but for the Cowboys, it is.

It’s the first time since owner Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 that the Cowboys have ever had a top draft pick under contract before the rookie mini camp, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday, according to a source.

Third-round pick Jourdan Lewis plans on making Cowboys proud - Charean Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Looks like Lewis already has a nickname.

Taco Charlton revealed Friday that he calls his former Michigan teammate, Jourdan Lewis, "The Mirror."

"He’s a great cover corner," said Charlton, the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round draft pick. "I call him a ‘Mirror’ because wherever a receiver is, he’s probably right there, too. He’s a two-time All-American for a reason. He does some great things. He’s got the best feet I’ve seen as a corner. I’m happy to have him back on the outside of me again, because when he’s on the outside of me, I know I’ve got maybe an extra second or so."

But Lewis, the Cowboys’ third-round pick, acted as if the nickname was news to him.

"The what? The Mirror?" Lewis said. "Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, I hope that sticks. That’s a nice little nickname."

DBs coach Joe Baker: 'We've got some good problems now' - Brandon George, SportsDay
Cowboys fans will spend the next four months wondering where all the new defensive backs will fit.

The challenge for the Cowboys will be to find the best spot to play their cornerbacks because most of them have the versatility to play outside or at the nickel spot.

"We've got some good problems now," Cowboys secondary coach Joe Baker said. "We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. Usually what ends up happening is it ends up kind of sorting itself out as you go, so you just sort of give it time and usually it plays out as, 'OK, who is going to be best outside? Who is going to be best inside?' We already have ideas about certain guys. We know that Orlando is an exceptional nickel. We know that Jourdan was an exceptional nickel in college but he can also play outside. Orlando has also played outside. Anthony Brown played inside but played really well outside as well. We have ideas about where we'll start, but I think we're a long way away from where it's going to end up. We just have to let it play out."

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Cowboys, Jaylon Smith taking clear-eyed view of linebacker's return - Todd Archer, ESPN
Jaylon Smith won't do much at Cowboys minicamp this weekend, but has been working out with the team already.

His surgically repaired left knee is 100 percent, and the nerve issue that has affected his foot is said to be improving to the point that he might not need a brace when the season starts.

The Cowboys will keep Smith out of on-field drills during the rookie minicamp but only because he has been doing everything in Phase 2 of the offseason program with the veterans. When the Cowboys start their organized team activities later in the month and convene for a June minicamp, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the plan is to work Smith every other day.

When training camp comes in July in Oxnard, California, Jones does not believe Smith will have any restrictions.

Rico Gathers -- the Zeus of Cowboys TEs -- feels 'thousand times better' at start of Year 2 - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Big things are expected of Rico Gathers this year.

After spending all of last season on Dallas' practice squad, the 6-6, 290-pound former Baylor power forward says he's "very confident" he'll contribute this year on the team's active roster.

"Honestly, I feel like I'm a thousand times better than what I was," Gathers said. "That was like a baby walking into a business office, trying to run a business."

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Gathers' catch radius makes him "always an option" in passing situations. When a defense is playing man-to-man, Linehan said, "throw it to the [6-6] guy."

Rico Gathers will get plenty of off-season attention - Matthew Martinez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Want to know how much the Cowboys value Gathers? They paid him a salary of $499,990 last year, which is roughly four times what your average practice squad player is paid.

After a full year of practice, Phase 2 will likely mean Gathers getting all the second-team tight end reps until at least training camp, as both Geoff Swaim and James Hanna are out of action this off-season with injuries.

So the door, for now, is wide open for Gathers, one of the unlikeliest candidates a year ago, to establish himself as the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer and 35-year-old Jason Witten.

At this point, though, that thought doesn’t seem so outlandish.

"It’s night and day for [Gathers] in a good way from last year," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said after the first of two workouts. "When you know what you’re doing and you’ve got your body in football shape, it’s amazing what you can do, and that’s the biggest difference from where he was a year ago until now."

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Alfred Morris could be odd-man out among Cowboys’ backup RBs - Charean Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Is the writing on the wall for Alfred Morris?

Morris’ salary, combined with his inability to play special teams, place him on the bubble.

The Cowboys put Morris on the trade block this offseason but thus far have not moved the five-year veteran. They believe Morris needs an offense that provides him with more carries than what the Cowboys give their backup running back.

The Cowboys’ Offensive Line Dominance Isn’t Guaranteed - Robert Mays, The Ringer
The Cowboys offensive line was the toast of the NFL in the 2016 season. Mays takes a thoughtful and very readable look at the staying power of other recent preeminent position groups and wonders how how long can the Dallas unit stay atop its perch.

Just as the formula for assembling top-of-the-league position groups has been established, though, so too has the manner by which they lose their power. And for this vaunted Cowboys line, keeping its spot on the throne comes with its own set of difficulties.

Even with prudent planning, though, there’s only so much money to go around. At a certain point, it becomes impossible for teams to retain so many quality players at a single position group, especially as rivals attempt to sign members of those specific units.

It’s incredibly difficult to keep a position group intact that can define an entire roster. Heading into the 2017 season, there’s a chance that Collins fulfills his vast potential as a tackle and becomes an upgrade to Free on the right side. But that’s no sure thing. More than at any other position, the interplay between players on the offensive line make success a delicate balance. The turnover of even the league’s best position groups is an NFL constant, and that could lead a once invincible-looking Dallas line to start showing cracks.

2017 NFL Draft Rumors Results - WalterFootball.com
This is a very interesting look back at the many draft rumors that kept us clicking on headline after headline prior to the draft. Turns out, the hit rates for these rumors were weak at best, but looking back at all those rumors, click rates were probably a much bigger objective than hit rates anyway.

[ESPN's] reporting was especially horrible. Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper mocked Mitchell Trubisky to the Browns on the morning of the draft because they were piggybacking on a report from Schefter that people around the league thought Trubisky would be the selection.

Making matters worse for Schefter, when the Bears traded up to No. 2, he told the camera that the move was for Solomon Thomas.

Schefter had no correct draft reports this season, which was shocking. The Schefter of old would've been all over the top three picks of the draft, yet he couldn't even get the first one right.