clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cowboys News: Why young Cowboys secondary may 'shock' NFL

New, comments

Latest Cowboys headlines: Why Cowboys  have the NFL’s most interesting defense; the most telling sign that Jaylon Smith is on right path for playing Week 1; more.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the CBs: This group is going to shock people - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys have remodeled their cornerback position and the new players could help them take the next step in 2017.

In a matter of just two seasons, the Cowboys have completely blown up their cornerback position. That’s great news or terrible news based on how you perceived the old group.

But that’s all in the past. It’s time to put on our forward faces and I can’t help smiling about the potential of the Cowboys new-look cornerbacks. The group now consists of three new rookies, one draft pick from last year, a free agent from Philadelphia, and Orlando Scandrick. None of these players played a single snap for the Cowboys in 2015. Only Scandrick was on the team, only he missed the season due to a knee injury in training camp.

We can’t talk about the Cowboys secondary without bringing up Joe Baker (secondary) and Greg Jackson (safeties). Last year marked their first year together and they turned a middling secondary into a strong performer. The Cowboys went from 24th (2015) in the league in yards per pass attempt to 13th last season.

Just imagine what they can do with some talented pieces added to the mix.

The Cowboys — Yes, the Cowboys — Have the NFL’s Most Interesting Defense - Kevin Clark, The Ringer
The Cowboys, 26th in passing defense last year, enter training camp as perhaps the most intriguing defense in the league, Clark writes.

So what makes them special? They can jump really high and really far

"Being able to leap with the bigger guys is important and getting more important," said Dallas secondary coach Joe Baker. "Because when you look at the league, there’s a lot more 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 receivers and there are not many corners above 6-foot-2-and-a-half. So the smaller guy is going to be playing on defense; he’s got to be able to make up that difference somehow."

Incumbent starting safety Byron Jones, whose 147-inch broad jump is the best in the history of the combine and unofficially, the world, and whose 44-inch vertical jump is the highest of any defensive back in the past eight years, will be filling a major role this year. His presumptive new starting safety partner, Jeff Heath, featured pro-day numbers that would have been top five in broad jump and top 10 in vertical jump among combine participants at his position during his draft year, had he been invited. The team’s second-round pick, Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, was tied for second among corners in broad jump. The big bet for 2017 is on athleticism.

Defense [...] is harder than ever. And the Cowboys may have figured out a way to keep up.

Practice Recap: Young Players Pushed Up The Depth Chart On Vets’ Rest Day - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Training camp is a 27-day slog, and Monday marked the fifth day of padded practices, and while practice may have been a bit sloppy, some players stood out anyway:

Marquez White – The rookie cornerback has received plenty of praise for his hot start to camp, and it appears the coaching staff has taken notice. During the one-on-one portion of practice, White was bumped to the front of the line – working against Terrance Williams. The rookie got two reps against Williams, allowing a touchdown on a post route and breaking up a pass in the corner of the end zone. Not a bad showing for his fifth day of practice.

Chidobe Awuzie - Awuzie is another guy getting plenty of work in these practices. With Scandrick sitting out, the rookie got first-team reps at cornerback. But he also played with the second and third-team defenses throughout the day.

Why did Cowboys S Byron Jones work out with the Frisco Roughriders this summer? - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore explains:

Day after day at The Star, the Cowboys safety would throw tennis balls off the wall then turn and catch. Turn and catch. He chased down fly balls during batting practice with the Frisco RoughRiders on one occasion, figuring if he got a feel for tracking down a baseball, it would be easier to intercept a football.

"I wasn't getting any interceptions," said Jones, who has just one interception in his first two seasons with the Cowboys. "That was the important part. That's our emphasis."

The early returns in this camp are positive. Jones had a spectacular, leaping interception in the end zone against Dak Prescott only to have the officials rule his feet came down inches out of bounds. He came back on Sunday and picked off another pass. This one counted as an interception.

Scout's Notebook: All Eyes On Defensive Backs; More - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus offers a detailed recap of Sunday's practice, focusing in part on the secondary.

I have to give Anthony Brown a lot of credit for the way he practices, because he’s never going to back away from a challenge. I always see him in coverage on Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Most days, he’s right where he needs to be technique-wise, and other days he is just a bit unlucky. When you have to deal with a player like Dez Bryant, near the goal line and in a one-on-one situation, there are going to be issues due this Bryant’s ability to play vertical in the air. Where Brown gets in trouble with Bryant, it’s not his positioning but locating the ball. There are snaps where Brown is just not able to get his eyes around to see where the ball is. When Bryant extends, as a defender, you have to extend with him in order to have a chance to defend -- but you have to be able to find the ball first.

Star_medium

Dallas Cowboys practice sloppy with six starters sitting out - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys rested several veteran players on Monday. Not surprisingly, their practice was a bit sloppier than normal.

It wasn't all bad. Prescott finished the day completing 11 of 18 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills. With the red zone the focus of the 7-on-7 drills, Prescott was able to throw touchdown passes to Brice Butler, Williams and Geoff Swaim. The pass to Butler might have been his best. With the defense in a zone, Prescott rifled a pass between cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and safety Jeff Heath, who was a half-step too slow. Prescott is now 55-of-79 in team and 7-on-7 drills in five padded practices.

This is perhaps the most telling sign that Jaylon Smith is on right path for playing Week 1 vs. Giants - Brandon George, SportsDay
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith didn't practice Monday. But don't overlook what he did Sunday. Smith participated in a second consecutive padded practice.

Smith participated in a second consecutive padded practice Sunday for the first time in his NFL career while coming back from a major left knee injury. Perhaps the most telling sign that Smith continues to progress: The Cowboys hadn't predetermined that Smith would participate in back-to-back padded practices this early in training camp.

Their plan for Smith was to have him start camp the same way he finished the offseason: mostly practicing every other day.

So, for the Cowboys already to allow Smith to participate in back-to-back padded practices gives everyone an indication that he's on the right path for playing Week 1 against the Giants.

Five takeaway from Monday's practice, July 31 - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Two takeaways that stood out from Hill's total of five:

Keep an eye on running back Rod Smith. He ripping off big runs in practice. He has already moved ahead of Alfred Morris on the depth chart. Ronnie Hillman made a nice move and reception in a one-on-one compete drill that drew praise from running backs coach Gary Brown.

The Cowboys worked on combo pass-rush drills, and there may not be a more powerful twosome than right tackle La’el Collins and right guard Zack Martin. Watching these two pass off defenders and throw them to the ground was a thing of beauty.

Taco Charlton growing after slow start - Clarence E. Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Charlton is showing signs of a guy deserving of the place where he was selected in the NFL Draft.

"I had my struggles Day 1, but now I’m doing fine," Charlton said. "I basically didn’t keep my feet up under me. I was too ready to hit something that I wasn’t keeping my feet. As days went on I got better. Things improved. The pass rush improved. Moves improved and I started winning more."

Charlton has gotten better under the watchful eye and constant harping of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who derides as much as he encourages and has even belted out "Taquito" rather than Taco a few times.

The Cowboys, however, are not worried about Charlton. Coach Jason Garrett said he has improved since the start of the camp.

Star_medium

Why Dez Bryant will respect Jerry Jones forever - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dez Bryant and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have a strong bond that extends beyond the football field.

"Jerry is everything," Bryant said. "I’ll tell you this and I feel the rest of the stuff is explanatory – when people counted me out, he counted me in. And that alone showed me how much love he had for me. He gave me an opportunity to show who I am and I’m going to forever respect him for that. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

"There’s no owner, no owner, nobody on this earth, better than Jerry Jones."

From weird to cringeworthy: The 25 greatest quotes from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - SportsDay
Jerry Jones isn't afraid to speak his mind. The Dallas Cowboys' owner has said all kinds of interesting, weird and confusing things since he bought the franchise in 1989. Here are his best quotes:

"It's like holding two handfuls of Jell-O and trying to keep it all in those two hands. I think Jason has done that. He's very effectively held the Jell-O and is keeping it and moving it forward."

Star_medium

Jason Garrett to Ezekiel Elliott: You could be like LeBron James - Dave Halprin- Blogging The Boys
Garrett has been talking to Elliott, but has the star running back been listening?

It is interesting that Garrett spoke to something that we all like — money. Certainly, Elliott has to realize that companies are not going to invest in him if they are unsure they can trust him. Dak Prescott is already picking up the endorsements, and if he has another great year, those endorsements will grow. Who knows, maybe that is something that will make Elliott realize what he’s going to miss out on if he can’t keep his name out of negative headlines.

Decision on Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence case not expected this week - ESPN
A decision on any potential Ezekiel Elliott discipline is not expected this week, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter, as the alleged domestic violence incident involving the Cowboys RB remains under review.

A panel of law enforcement and judicial authorities who were present at the Dallas Cowboys running back's meeting with the league several weeks ago are currently reviewing the case, the source said. They will be providing their thoughts and perspectives to commissioner Roger Goodell, as the NFL's personal conduct policy allows the league to seek the views of external expert advisers.