The first day of Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp is always focused on acclimating the rookies to their new environment. On day two, the players did a little more on the field as the coaches were looking to get the “blood flowing” and see these players work.
Taco Charlton warming up. Garrett: "Skip & reach, skip & reach. We're getting a little blood flowing thru our body." pic.twitter.com/svwrOzXIDq— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 13, 2017
One notable absence from Friday’s portion was Chidobe Awuzie, who took a flight back to Colorado to participate in his graduation. He was back on the practice field today and it appears he’s had quite the travel:
Awuzie said graduation was worth it: "When I went across the stage I really felt proud. And it was a moment for [my family] really."— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) May 13, 2017
Awuzie came to Frisco for medical/paper work/meetings. Flew to Colorado in p.m., but flight was delayed. Got in about 3 and graduated in a.m— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) May 13, 2017
Chidobe Awuzie said he got back to Dallas at 5AM after graduating Friday. Studied for practice all last night and this morning. #EarnTheStar— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) May 13, 2017
Ouch…tough traveling but such is life in the NFL. There were some absences today from minicamp, both Rico Gathers and Jameill Showers had family obligations:
Rico Gathers and Jameill Showers didn't take part in minicamp today because of family obligations but are expected back Sun.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) May 13, 2017
Though Gathers wasn’t in attendance, it’s important to keep your attention on this young man. He’s been picking up steam as a potential contributor for the 2017 season. Just about anybody who is anybody, from Will McClay to Stephen Jones, has been impressed with his development in only one season. He could make big leaps both literally and figuratively this year. The team’s website put together this video of Gathers talking about his development:
Perhaps the best quote was Gathers discussing his relationship with Tony Romo last year. Quietly, the former four-time Pro Bowler and face of the franchise for the last decade may have sped things up for Gathers’ learning curve. Just another instance where Romo has helped younger Cowboys earn their stars:
If Gathers turns into a player don't forget these words. https://t.co/4bWdVNRbCG— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) May 13, 2017
When the Cowboys made the fourth-round selection of Ryan Switzer, his special team’s prowess certainly played a part. However, the coaches had a few faces working back there on returns:
Cowboys rookies Ryan Switzer, Xavier Woods and Jahad Thomas working on their punt return skills today— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 13, 2017
The Mothership’s writer, Rob Phillips, was able to put together some quotes following practice in the locker room. It’s a huge accomplishment to become a Cowboy but these rookies are determined. Here are few quotes from these young aspiring Cowboys.
Taco Charlton on the mystique of Rod Marinelli:
“It’s pretty much what I expected. I heard all the stories about Coach Marinelli, how he’s going to get after me, how crazy he is. It’s definitely what I expected, but I enjoyed it. He got after me. We did some great things.”
Chidobe Awuzie on the last 48 hours:
"I’m really excited. I actually just got through a walkthrough with the coaches and the other guys. They’re kind of more acclimated than me. They know all the defenses. But I was studying all last night when I got done with graduation and this morning."
Marquez White on the team’s message to rookies:
“Coach said the first day, ‘It’s not about where you’re drafted. We coach everybody like first-rounders.’ So that’s really important. Just go out there and show them that you want to be here. Be very enthusiastic at practice. They want to see that.”
An underrated area of competition could come at quarterback where Kellen Moore is currently entrenched as the QB2. However, the scouting department did bring in two rookie quarterbacks, one being the Florida prospect Austin Appleby. He’s only one day in and he’s already getting hazed but not by any teammates, by his girlfriend:
Austin Appleby's girlfriend is a Colts cheerleader. He says she jokes with him about being an NFL vet and him only being a rookie pic.twitter.com/RbBND0QU8g— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 13, 2017
The majority of the locker room focus today was on Chidobe Awuzie, who was getting his first real dose of the local media. When you hear this guy speak, you can tell that he’s that high character type that these coaches are going to fall for. Awuzie just exudes confidence but intelligence and that “RKG” approach to football:
“As a student-athlete they always tell you to keep school first and athletics second, but it’s always been our dream to play in the NFL so we kind of put a lot of our chips over there,” Awuzie said Saturday. “So I definitely had to work a little harder in terms of school to reach that accomplishment. There were times when I didn’t think I could do it, but I’m here now, so it’s great.”
“The quicker I know my playbook the more confident I’ll be and probably be able to line up different places,” he said.
Even Coach Jason Garrett weighed in on Awuzie’s priorities being in order and just how impressive he is as a person:
"That was the exact right thing for him to do," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. One of the things we like so much about him is just the kind of kid he is. He showed that today. He took care of his responsibilities, a great honor and a privilege to graduate from Colorado, and then back to work today and he didn't skip a beat."
Two days of non-contact drills without any offense vs. defense work is hard to make a real evaluation, but Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones liked what he has seen from the rookies. "You hope to get out here and they're what you thought they would be," Jones said. "I think so far it's every bit as good as we'd hoped if not better. The way the guys are moving around, obviously a lot of skill players in this draft class."
That’s about it for today’s minicamp action, the Cowboys’ rookies will be back on the field for the conclusion tomorrow. We’ll leave you with one last quote from Chidobe Awuzie, a mantra taught to him at Colorado:
“Knowledge equals confidence equals playing fast.”