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Cowboys News & Notes: OTA Updates From Last Open Practice Heavy On Jaylon Smith

And the right tackle job increasingly looks like it’s La’el Collins’ to lose.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA
All eyes on that ankle.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Scout's Notebook: Praise For Brice Butler, O-Line Combinations; More | Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Just about the most informative thing you will read from the Cowboys' open practices is Bryan Broaddus' report on what stood out for him. Here are two of the best, but make sure you follow the link and catch them all.

Talk about two athletes on the right side of that offensive line with Zack Martin and La’el Collins. Both pulled to their right on a hand off to Ezekiel Elliott and you would have sworn that it was a mirror. Their technique was the exact same coming off the ball and it caught the defenders off guard on the second level with how quick they were to the outside. All Elliott had to do was tuck right in behind them and ride the wave.

It doesn’t happen often when working against Tyron Smith, but give Damontre Moore some credit for the jump that he got off the snap to beat Smith around the corner for a sack. Moore was able to time it perfectly and was up the field as Smith was scrambling out of his stance with no chance to defend. Moore has been the one end that understands that to have any type of success against Smith, you can’t let him get his hands on you. Moore will duck, dodge and dive on his rushes to give himself a chance.

Cowboys OTA Highlights: Jaylon Smith “Hasn’t Had A Bad Minute, Let Alone Bad Day” - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Here is a quick wrap-up of all the social media takes from the third and final media day of OTAs.

The Cowboys wrapped up their last OTA practice open to the reporters today.

Dallas Cowboys: Observations from Jaylon Smith's OTA practice: No team drills, but he looked 'smooth' in individual work | David Moore, SportsDay
Jaylon Smith has been the most scrutinized player for the Cowboys through the OTAs. There can be no final verdict on him until training camp, but things still look positive - especially his attitude.

Smith's participation Wednesday consisted of mostly individual drills and some seven-on-seven work. He said each week his participation has progressed.

"There have been some great transitions with the nerve regenerating," Smith said. "I'm out there being explosive, moving fast. It's a great feeling to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys. America's Team."

The Dallas Cowboys Do-Everything Jaylon Smith Video That Actually Shows ... Nothing - Mike Fisher, Dallas - Scout
There is yet another video of Smith looking very good in drills, but Fisher offers some words of caution, including these.

*Playing full-contact football is about so much more than being fast, quick, aggressive, mobile, strong, smart and determined. To truly succeed, Jaylon Smith has to find himself engaged with, say, Zack Martin, and then needs to win the engagement, and then needs to tackle Ezekiel Elliott. Those are the things a middle linebacker needs to be able to do … and there is no way to know that Smith can do any of that yet.

*Yes, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has claimed that Smith could’ve been activated last December. And yes, being conservative in bringing Smith back seems wise. But six months later he's mostly day-on/day-off, and he doesn’t much participate in 11-on-11 stuff, and coach Jason Garrett is, as he noted this morning, reluctant to issue guarantees and promises about what Smith can do and when he can do it?

Here is some of the video that has everyone talking.

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys move OT Chaz Green to LG, giving him a chance at RT La'el Collins old job | Brandon George, SportsDay
It looks more and more like Dallas has decided on a plan following the retirement of RT Doug Free.

Now that it seems La'el Collins has locked up the starting right tackle spot, the Cowboys need someone to replace Collins at first-team left guard.

And that help could come from Chaz Green, the player the Cowboys had hoped would give them a boost at right tackle when Doug Free retired in the offseason.

Green began working at first-team left guard last week in practice and was back working that spot again Wednesday during the third week of organized team activities at The Star.

Ezekiel Elliott says he could have had even bigger rookie season | Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Ezekiel Elliott had a great debut in 2016. But as much as he ate last year, he is still very hungry.

Elliott, who led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards as a rookie, said he “left a lot of yards on the field.”

“I think there is big room for improvement, being more comfortable, being able to anticipate more,” Elliott said via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “That’s what I’m working on this offseason.”

Dallas Cowboys: The extra step that could help DaMontre Moore lock up a Cowboys roster spot | Kristi Scales, SportsDay
There is a lot of hope that DaMontre Moore can become a valuable part of the pass rush rotation for the Cowboys. And the team is looking at another way for him to earn his way onto the 53.

But it's something else that Garrett said about Moore that confirms my thoughts that Moore has a real chance to not only be on the 53-man roster but be a contributor in the D-line rotation. It's not just him showing well in OTAs on defense, it's Garrett noting that Moore "shows up on special teams". Garrett also said during the walk-off following Wednesday's news conference that Moore has the skill set and speed and size to play gunner in punt coverage.

2016 Cowboys laid roadmap to Awuzie, Lewis getting DB snaps | K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
There has been some concern about how the Cowboys will use their rookie defensive backs, especially with veteran Nolan Carroll on the roster eating up snaps. But as our old friend K.D. observed, the way the team used the DBs last year shows there will be opportunity for all.

The club played 548 snaps with five DBs on the field and 259 snaps with six DBs. Many times it was three corners and two safeties, commonly known as a nickel formation. Other times it was two corners and three safeties, known as the big nickel. Occasionally it was three corners and three safeties, the big dime and on a rare occasion they went with two corners and yes, four safeties.

Sean Lee: Generating more turnovers will be key in 2017 – Bobby Belt, Blitz Network
Sean Lee is the veteran leader of the defense, and he is clear about what he thinks is the most needed area of improvement. It's not sacks.

“We’ve talked all offseason about causing more turnovers. I thought we took a step forward [in 2016] in a lot of ways; good against the run, really good in fourth quarters, making plays,” Lee says. “But we have to find a way to get to the top of the league in turnovers. With that type of offense we have, they can score a ton of points, we have to find a way to get the ball and give it back to them.”

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer on how Dez Bryant is helping him: 'He's been like a big brother to me' | Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Everyone is drawing comparisons between rookie Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley, but it is the leader in the wide receiver room Switzer is looking up to.

Switzer doesn't mind being compared to a teammate who led the Cowboys in receptions in 2016. But Beasley isn't the North Carolina product's go-to guy in the receivers room. That'd be Dez Bryant.

"Dez has been like a big brother to me so far," Switzer said Wednesday at the third week of Cowboys OTAs. "I know we've only known each other for going on a month now but the receivers in general have been really great. It's a great room."

Cowboys LB Mark Nzeocha undergoes minor knee surgery to end OTAs - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
While the attention has mostly been on Jaylon Smith, another linebacker, Mark Nzeocha, is also facing some injury issues.

As the team ends OTAs, it does so with the third-year linebacker undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Per the team's official website, it's simply a "cleanup procedure" that shouldn't cause Nzeocha to miss any significant time. He will certainly miss mandatory minicamp, however, which is slated to run June 13-15.

Jameill Showers' competition with Dak Prescott has changed angles - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
A year ago, Jameill Showers was hoping to make the Dallas roster as a quarterback. Things have certainly taken a different turn for him.

Now, Showers is a safety, trying to impress the coaches enough defensively and on special teams, and Prescott is the unquestioned Cowboys quarterback with a Pro Bowl and Offensive Rookie of the Year Award to his credit.

Football can be a funny game.

But Showers, who lost a quarterback competition to Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, has no regrets about the position switch.

Projecting compensatory picks for 2018 NFL Draft - Lance Zierlein,
This is something that we have been predicting for a while, although having all the comp picks in rounds four and five is a bit better than expected.


Projected compensatory picks: Four -- Round 4 / Three picks in Round 5

Key free-agent losses: Brandon Carr (Ravens), Barry Church (Jaguars), Ronald Leary (Broncos)

Key free-agent additions: Nolan Carroll

Skinny: The Cowboys' secondary was picked clean by free agency, but Leary's departure to Denver is the loss that is expected to bring in a fourth-round compensatory pick. If not for the cap on compensatory picks a team can receive in a single year, the Cowboys would be in line for as many as six in 2018.

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