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Cowboys News: More injury setbacks for Cowboys in training camp

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Time to catch up on all the news from Oxnard.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In training camp, injuries are always the most important story.

Sources: Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford should be ready to play by season opener - David Moore, SportsDay
The bullet may have been dodged.

Tyrone Crawford should be ready to play for the Cowboys regular season opener, sources say.

The results of an MRI show that the Cowboys defensive end suffered no serious damage to his right ankle. He suffered a lateral sprain and is expected to return in time to play against the New York Giants on Sept. 10.

Ripple Effects of Tyrone Crawford's Injury - John Williams, Inside the Star
The loss of Tyrone Crawford for probably all the rest of the preseason is definitely not a good thing, but that means others will get a chance at more work, which may have some counterbalancing benefits.

The first team left defensive end (LDE) snaps will be reallocated. The player that stands to benefit the most from Tyrone Crawford’s absence is Taco Charlton.

It would seem that first round pick Taco Charlton will get the first shot to take those snaps. The team wants him to be an every down player at defensive end, but as many in Cowboys Nation will tell you, he has a lot to work on. Now he will have ample opportunity to work on his game as he gets even more practice reps.

Wed. Practice Recap: More DE Injury Setbacks; Butler Leaves Early & More - Dallas Cowboys
Nick Eatman adds Taco Charlton to the growing list of nicked up players.

Another day, another injury to the defensive line. More specifically, defensive end again, as rookie Taco Charlton sat out with tightness. Word around training camp is Charlton was dealing with some minor back issues. He did spend most of Wednesday’s practice in uniform, but he was working on a side field with the associate trainers on the strength cords.

Charlton spoke briefly with the media, but only said “I’m fine” when asked multiple times to describe his injury. He didn’t seem to be held out for long, but clearly it was enough to keep him off to the side.

Cowboys resting Tyron Smith once again because of back tightness, a cause for concern for All-Pro LT - Brandon George, SportsDay
Tyron Smith is one of the most important players for the Cowboys, and he has a history of having to play through some back issues. That looks like it is going to continue this season.

With Smith not practicing Wednesday, not expected to practice Thursday or play Saturday (the Cowboys are off Friday and Sunday), he'd get at least five consecutive days of rest with the chance to return to practice Monday.

"His back is just stiff on him," Garrett said. "Right now, we're going to be deliberate with bringing him back."

Smith is known for his ability to play through injuries. He missed only one game his first five seasons before not playing in three in 2016. The season opener is still a month away, giving Smith time to recover.

Cowboys WR Brice Butler tangles with Chidobe Awuzie, leaves practice slowly with trainers - SportsDay staff
A new injury concern from Wednesday's practice.

Cowboys WR Brice Butler went down hard jumping for a ball in drills and subsequently left Wednesday's practice.

Butler was walking slowly off the field with the trainers, heading to the trainers tent, after getting tangled up with rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in drills and appearing to injure his right ankle/foot on the play, per ESPN's Todd Archer.


Some contract news came out today.

Zack Martin, Cowboys discussing contract extension - Marc Sessler, NFL.com
Sessler offers some perspective on what a Martin contract will likely look like.

The Browns transformed Kevin Zeitler into the game's richest guard in March with a five-year contract worth $12 million per season. The expectation is that Martin "goes past that," with Rapoport saying "it's really just a question of (will) they get the deal done by the time the season starts or do they have to wait another year?"

Re-signing Martin amounts to a comprehensive no-brainer for the Cowboys. An All-Pro in each of his three NFL seasons, the mauling guard has never missed a start and rarely meets a defender he can't handle, with one former team scout saying: "If he gets his hands inside on you, you're dead."

It was just last August when Dallas signed center Travis Frederick to a six-year, $56.4 million deal, while stalwart left tackle Tyron Smith is around long-term after the 10-year, $109 million deal he inked in 2014. With right tackle La'el Collins also under lock and key through 2019, Martin becomes the obvious target for a big-money contract that will keep him around for years to come, which is simply terrible news for the rest of the NFC East.

How Dallas' Upcoming High/Low 'Cowboys For Life' Contract With Zack Martin Might Look - Joey Ickes, Cowboys HQ
The Cowboys are reportedly nearing a deal to lock All Pro guard Zack Martin up for the long term. Our old friend Joey Ickes breaks down the numbers for a possible contract that makes him both the highest paid guard and that is still rather team-friendly.

For 2017, Martin’s deal remains essentially cap-neutral, only a small $2.6 million increase for prorated signing bonus in the new deal. In 2018, the Cowboys can pull their standard contract trigger and restructure the deal, dropping his cap number by just over $10 million. This structure allows Martin’s cap number to remain low for the next two seasons, while the team salary cap continues to rise. There is no tie here to the coming $14 mil from Tony Romo's departure, and there is no need for a tie there; the money is available and the price is affordable.

Cowboys sign soul-stealing punter Chris Jones to $8.7M extension - K.D Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The Cowboys did lock up one sometimes overlooked player yesterday, signing punter Chris Jones to a four-year, $8.7 million extension. He is not your average punter.

Jones is an incredible athlete, he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and played quarterback, wideout and running back in high school. Play with him if you want to.

Jones has been with the Cowboys since 2011, and recorded his highest net punting average of 45.9 yards per punt this past season. Jones is also the holder for one Dan “Split’Em” Bailey, one of the NFL’s best kickers


Now, on to the football stuff!

Cowboys Camp Day 11: All your highlights from the 11th practice of training camp - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Catch up on what happened on Wednesday with Michael's daily collection of social media from practice.

How about a fresh batch of highlights from today’s training camp practice.

Dak Prescott, other starters expected to play against Rams on Saturday - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
This Saturday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams promises to give us the first little taste of what the actual Cowboys team will be like this year.

Last week was a milestone as the Dallas Cowboys got together for an organized football game, their first since they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. But, there was something missing as almost no starters played. This week we’ll get to see the first unit, at least for a brief amount of time, the unit that we expect to carry the Cowboys into Super Bowl contention for 2017. It’s one more step on the road to real football.

Scout's Notebook: Red Zone Route Running, Maliek vs. Martin; More - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Among his always perceptive comments, Broaddus had this to say about one of the real bright spots on the defensive line, second year DT Maliek Collins.

The one-on-one pass rush drills have once again become interesting now that Maliek Collins is back at practice. Collins is the one player that gives Zack Martin issues. When those two match up, it’s usually 50-50 on who is going to win the battle. On Tuesday, Martin was able to get the best of Collins with two solid sets by neutralizing his power. Martin was able to get his hands quickly inside and just sit his weight down on the block in order to keep Collins for pushing him back.

Sullivan: In Truth, Garrett Is Not A Players’ Coach, More Thoughts - Jeff Sullivan, Dallas Cowboys
Sullivan is one writer who really should put out more stuff. His thoughts are always very interesting and almost always very accurate. Among them, his take on Dak Prescott so far this year.

I noticed this during minicamp and decided that I didn’t trust my own observation skills, thus, didn’t share. There it was again in Oxnard, so I decided to ask around here and there, and seems it’s not just me. Dak Prescott is throwing the ball with more velocity. I’m not saying he’s Jeff George or Jay Cutler, or even Dez Bryant, but the ball is coming out with a little more zip. I also think he’s tweaked his throwing motion slightly, something Garrett and he worked on extensively after practices last season. I’m hoping to delve into this more the next few days.

One other note on Dak, and yes, I’ve decided like Dez, Zeke and even Jerry, the first name works better on second reference. Last season, while hardly anyone noticed he was here the first two weeks, Dak was the first non-special teams player on the field and the last to leave. That hasn’t changed this season. Yeah, his world has certainly changed in the last year, but he’s keeping that same work ethic, and he’s also signing autographs for fans every afternoon.

Six takeaways from Cowboys training camp: Early tells for who makes the 53-man roster. - One.Cool.Customer, Blogging The Boys
Our own OCC is wrapping up his visit to Oxnard, and we will miss his insights. He dropped this bit of wisdom about who is likely to make the team, based on something he has figured out.

Yesterday, we took a look at the first-team kick return unit, which looked like this:

DBs: Jeff Heath, Chidobe Awuzie, Kavon Frazier

LBs: Damien Wilson, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha

TEs: James Hanna, Geoff Swaim

RBs: Keith Smith, Rod Smith

Today I got the chance to look at the first-team kickoff unit:

DBs: Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Chidobe Awuzie, Kavon Frazier, Nolan Carroll,

LBs: Damien Wilson, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha

TEs: James Hanna, Geoff Swaim,

These core special teamers are often an early tell for who makes the 53-man roster and who doesn't. Barring injury, I would wager that the 12 players above are all roster locks.

A year ago, almost to the day, I listed the first-team special teamers in my report from 2016 Cowboys camp. Every single one of them made the team (even if some ended the season on IR).

Sturm: Here's what I consider the most important factor in determining Cowboys roster spots - Bob Sturm, Sportsday
Don't think OCC is on to something? Well, X and O guru Bob Sturm is in complete agreement with him.

The truth is that this league doesn't have time to develop players very often. They can hide a few practice-squad projects for a short amount of time, but even those can get picked off by the competition without much notice. So, the NFL quickly becomes a place where we think about the week at hand -- because if we lose too many games this season, none of us will be around to worry about our projects.

So, you have to offer the league something right now. In almost every case, to get a chance to show what you can be, you had better be able to help us now. How? Special teams.

I write about this every August and consider it the most important thing to determine roster spots for the Cowboys, or any team.

Dak Prescott on Cowboys WR Brice Butler: He'll run routes so fast he just 'loses the guy completely' | Kate Hair0poulus, SportsDay
One of the standouts in camp and the HOF game has been Brice Butler, who is impressing both his teammates and the coaches.

Backup quarterback Kellen Moore, who has worked closely with Butler since they both arrived in 2015 - Dallas acquired Butler from Oakland after Bryant suffered an injury - said the biggest improvement he's seen in Butler is his work on challenged catches.

"Brice has been good," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I think he feels like he wants to prove himself even more. When we picked him up from Oakland a few years back, he was showing flashes there and we saw that. He wasn't getting as many opportunities here.

"He really gets to play at an impact position for us, our 'X' [outside] receiver position. Obviously, if Dez isn't in there or we put him in there with Dez, he gives us some really good traits for an 'X' receiver, big size, has really good speed for his size, really good route runner. That's one of the things that really stands out for Brice, he's a really good technician as far as running routes."

Dallas Cowboys taking long view on Jaylon Smith's recovery - Todd Archer, ESPN
Everyone in Cowboys Nation is waiting for the first appearance of Jaylon Smith in a preseason game. But the team is taking a long and patient course with him.

"No need to jump ahead and make a decision on whether it's this week or next week or whatever it may be," Stephen Jones said. "We'll just kind of see how he progresses this week, see how he responds. The big thing about Jaylon so far is that it seems to be better every time he goes out there. He's more and more comfortable with it. At the same time, if you left it up to him, he'd be going every play out there in the Hall of Fame Game. So we've got to protect Jaylon, at the end of the day, from Jaylon."

Dan Bailey back on the all-time accuracy chase - Todd Archer, Cowboys Blog- ESPN
Last year, Dan Bailey slipped from the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history to number two. He is looking to reclaim the top spot this year.

“Dan Bailey is a machine. He’s a machine on the field, he’s a machine off the field,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And his approach is as good [of an] approach of any kicker, really any player that I’ve ever been around. He just goes about it the right way. He’s a true pro. He’s one of those guys who is always ready for the opportunity. I think studying what he did last year -- both good and bad -- is a part of that.”

So far in training camp, Bailey has not missed a kick. He has been perfect on all 24 attempts while working with special teams, and has also failed to miss when conducting situational work with the team. So true have Bailey’s attempts been that the camera operator atop the scissor lift that splits the uprights has had to make sure the football doesn’t hit his equipment.

DE Taco Charlton deserves more than 1 game before being written off - A.J. Mada, Cowboys Wire
Many are rushing to declare the Cowboys' first round pick, Taco Charlton, a failure. They should slow down.

This is a rookie who played a total of just 16 snaps. Of those 16, eight were running plays. When it was all said and done, Charlton had less than 10 opportunities to rush the passer in his first ever NFL game.

Does he need to continue to develop and perform better? Absolutely. But it is certainly too early to say that the Cowboys picked the wrong player in the draft.

In fact, by many accounts, it seems as if Charlton had his best practice of the year following the preseason game when the team returned to Oxnard.

QB Cooper Rush at home on field despite limited work - Todd Archer, ESPN
One player who is fighting long odds, but may have a shot at the practice squad, is QB Cooper Rush. He may have done himself some good in the HOF game.

Rush's statistics were modest in the Cowboys' 20-18 win. He completed nine of 18 passes for 87 yards and threw a touchdown pass to EZ Nwachukwu, but it was how he handled the entire job that impressed coach Jason Garrett.

"Poised and composed. There were not many game situations that came up that he didn't handle well," Garrett said. "They did a few different things to him defensively and he recognized them, made some big plays. The touchdown was a big play and he really did a nice job in that play, recognizing the Cover 0 blitz and getting it to the right guy. That's really what he's shown us in all the opportunities he's gotten up to this point.”

Welcome Back, Champ: DeMarcus Ware joining Cowboys’ broadcasts - Kevin Modisette, Cowboys Wire
Good to see that one of the greats to wear the Star is still involved with the team.

DeMarcus Ware may have just have retired from playing football, but that doesn’t mean he is ready to leave the game entirely just yet. Ware is officially joining the local CBS broadcast as an analyst for the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday. Ware will be joining Bill Jones and Babe Laufenberg with color analysis for the rest of the exhibition games.

Darren Woodson: Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson “blew it” by letting pride get in way – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
The induction of Jerry Jones into the Pro Football Hall of Fame led Cowboys great Darren Woodson (who should be in the Hall as well) to reflect on what might have been if only Jones and Jimmy Johnson had not had their divorce.

“I think both of them understand one thing: They didn’t live in the moment back then, because if they had lived in the moment, we would probably have four or five rings instead of the two we had with Jimmy,” former safety Darren Woodson said on Matt Mosley and Ed Werder’s Doomsday Podcast. “I think it’s pride got in the way. Both of them realize that. Would they go back and change things? Probably not. Their pride would probably still be big in those situations. But time has healed a lot of those wounds, and Jimmy is a different guy. You see Jimmy now from what he was in ’92 and ’93 and back to ’89. He was intense, felt like this was his team and for the right reasons, Jerry felt like, ‘Hey, I pay you, and I pay all the rest of these coaches at the same, so it’s my team.’ So I can understand there being some issues, but again, I should probably have four or five rings on my fingers if those two would have just gotten along.”