To start the week, we’ll talk Jaylon Smith, La’el Collins, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie, among other subjects.
The Jaylon Smith watch continues. We’ve heard all the reports about having to wear a brace, but that his nerve is starting to regenerate, etc. What we don’t know is how he will look when the real competition begins. Yesterday, we got a little more information about his rehab as he continues to work out in Phase 2 of the offseason program.
“It seemed like he handled the work well last week, and he’s just done an amazing job right from the start with his rehab taking it day by day, making progress and we’ll continue to do that,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Sunday during the team’s 13th annual Taste of the NFL to tackle childhood hunger. “If he takes that approach, that’s when he’s going to have his most success. That’s what he’s done up to this point.”
“He’s going to do the veteran stuff on the field on Tuesday and Thursday, so I don’t anticipate him doing a lot on the field over the weekend,” Garrett said. “But he’ll go through the meetings and the walk-throughs [during the three-day minicamp].”
Sounds like he will not be participating much in the rookie camp, but he continues to work with the veterans.
News came out late yesterday that the Cowboys have told La’el Collins to start working at right tackle. They haven’t said they are definitely moving him, but that he should be prepared in case that is what they decide to do.
One of the most interesting storylines of the offseason may have just been answered. According to various media members it seems that the Cowboys are looking at possibly using La’el Collins at right tackle this season, not left guard.
I’d imagine the door is definitely not closed on Collins moving back to left guard depending on how he looks at his new spot, as well as how someone like Chaz Green looks in training camp, but it certainly looks as if the initial plan is to replace the retired Doug Free with Collins on the right side and then have a competition at left guard between Jonathan Cooper and Byron Bell. The Bell signing could come in extremely handy given the fact that he has experience starting at right tackle, as well as at guard, so the team definitely has options here.
Jeff Heath is the other starting safety, opposite Byron Jones, as of right now.
“It feels good,” Heath said Sunday during the team’s 13th annual Taste of the NFL to tackle childhood hunger. “But I think I’ve earned that trust, and I’m just ready for the competition. Competition brings out the best in everyone if you approach it the right way. I think it’ll bring the best out in me and really our whole team. So I’m just excited for the opportunity.”
Coach Garrett says he’s in the mix for the starting spot, but makes it clear that there is competition.
“Every time we’ve given him a chance to play on defense, he does something really good for our football team,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said earlier this month. “Makes tackles, makes interceptions, and he’s just demonstrated that he’s worthy to be in this conversation about competing for that starting safety spot.”
That competition is likely going to come in the form of Xavier Woods, but Kavon Frazier and Robert Blanton will also give it a shot.
We’ve talked plenty about Chidobe Awuzie, his versatility and how he could be a great value pick in the draft. One writer makes a comparison to a current Cowboy, see if you agree?
So what can the team expect? If Awuzie was to be compared to any recent Cowboys player it would likely be Scandrick. The shifty Scandrick has been a productive member of the Cowboys secondary since being selected in the fifth round out of Boise State in 2008.
Like the rookie, Scandrick is best suited to play the slot and has plenty of speed to stick with most receivers in the league. They’re also both similar in their lack of generating turnovers. Awuzie’s career high for interceptions in Colorado was two and that’s the same high for Scandrick who has just eight picks in his entire career.
A sure tackler, Awuzie also excels as a blitzing corner from the slot — which is a role Scandrick has really been able to shine in. Scandrick has 11.5 career sacks in such a role for Dallas, and Awuzie had eight over the past two seasons and nine in his career. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could really have fun with these two together.
You buying it?
Have some fun and check out this 53-man roster projection. Sure, it’s a long way to go before the Cowboys have to make these decisions, but speculating is always fun. For instance, how will the wide receiver position play out?
If seventh round pick Noah Brown impresses, he could take Brice Butler's spot or they could keep six. Fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer looks like a good bet to replace Lucky Whitehead. It doesn't make much sense for Dallas to keep both.
Way too early mocks for 2018 are some more fun, offseason speculation. Below is one from Bleacher Report. What I always find more interesting than the pick is where they slot the Cowboys. In this one, the Cowboys are the 31 st pick. The Patriots are 32nd. Predicting a Cowboys vs. Patriots Super Bowl in 2017?
The Pick: S Armani Watts, Texas A&M
After a year in which the secondary was heavily depleted by free agency, the Dallas Cowboys spent picks in Rounds 2, 3, and 6 addressing the back end of the defense. More help is needed.
The trio of Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Marquez White at cornerback is an impressive investment in the position, and safety Xavier Woods is a good project coming out of Louisiana Tech that might have a shot to become a starter. But relying long-term on a sixth-rounder isn't a solid bet right now. Going after a safety like Armani Watts adds more talent and a higher ceiling at strong safety next to Bryon Jones.
There's no danger in going young in the secondary like Dallas has done, especially if you believe in your coaches. Throwing Watts into the mix would give the safety position the enforcer to pair with Jones' athleticism.
Okay, once and for all, let’s set the record straight on how Taco Charlton became Taco.
As reported by our own Kate Hairopoulos: Taco was a premature baby, so his mother, Tamara, was on bed rest during her pregnancy. Around the same, Taco Bell was airing the ad campaign: "Make a run for the border!"
"So my mom would just say that he's rushing for the border, trying to get out," Tamara said, shortly after Taco had been introduced at The Star. "She just started calling him Taco. In all my cards, she would write, 'just hang in there, it's for Taco.' So before he was out, his name was Taco. And it's always stuck with him."
Anyone else smelling a sponsorship deal for Charlton in the near future?