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Cowboys news: Tavon Austin plans to win the punt return job in Dallas

Lots of competition at the wide receiver position; are the Cowboys too young?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Linehan Sheds Some Light On His Game Plan For Tavon Austin - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Tavon Austin discuss Austin's potential role in the Cowboys' offense. Austin is eager to get his hands on the ball any way possible.

“Hopefully I win the punt return job. That’s always been my dream to do, and still is,” he said. “Pretty much getting the ball in my hands. That’s the role I want to take – get the ball in my hands and make something happen.”

The first part should be simple enough. After all, the Cowboys shipped their incumbent return man, Ryan Switzer, to Oakland just an hour after acquiring Austin. During his time with the Rams, Austin got plenty of work as a returner. He has 158 career punt returns for an average of 8.4 yards per attempt, as well as 25 career kick returns for an average of 18.

As for the rest, the Cowboys seem content to figure it out as they go. Linehan laughed that Austin is unlikely to rival Ezekiel Elliott’s number of carries, but he said there are plenty of ways the Cowboys can get him involved.

Trying To Catch On To These Names One Number At A Time - Mickey Spagnola, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys enter the 2018 season without a single proven receiver or tight end role defined, with more than a dozen players hoping to prove themselves worthy of a roster spot and playing time. Who are the candidates? Spagnola lists them all, illustrating the depth of competition at each spot.

No. 10: Little guy who runs like the wind. Got it, Tavon Austin.

No. 11: Easy. Recognize him, despite the buzz cut. Cole Beasley’s still around.

No. 13: Unlucky number helps. That’s third-round pick Michael Gallup.

No. 14: Come on, 14. Remember that from last year. Oh, Lance Lenoir. Right, practice squad dude who played in that final game of the season.

No. 15: Fifteen? Fast guy. Must be Deonte Thompson. It is.

No. 16: Got no clue. Kept having to look. Cedric Wilson, sixth-round draft choice.

No. 17: Nope, not Kellen Moore or Dwayne Harris or Jason Garrett anymore. New guy. So that’s Allen Hurns. OK, good.

No 19: Seriously? Malik Earl? Missouri State? Missouri State? Oh wait, not that guy who ran right through the Missouri defense in last year’s season opener on a third-and-24 for an 89-yard touchdown reception, forecasting major defensive problems to come? Come on, he’s here? Yep, mental note, that’s him

No. 81: Nope, not Rocket Ismail. That’s right, the Baylor guy, K.D. Cannon, signed as a futures free agent.

No. 83: MIA … Terrance Williams still rehabbing from foot surgery and possibly worse problems on his hands.

No. 85: Sure, that’s Noah Brown.

10 things we learned from Week 1 of Cowboys OTAs - SportsDay Staff
The SportsDay team weighs in with ten thoughts coming out of OTAs, including excitement surrounding the Cowboys' offensive line.

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick should all back be back to anchor the Cowboys' offensive line once again. La'el Collins will return as well, and the Cowboys also added Connor Williams in the second-round. New offensive line coach Paul Alexander said the opportunity is like "going to Heaven" for him.

"In my lifetime, I'm 58, this is the best opportunity for a line coach that has ever opened in the National Football League," Alexander said Wednesday while meeting with reporters for the first time since taking the job. "When it opened, Coach Garrett called me. I was at home. I answered the phone. I knew his number ... And I said, 'Coach Garrett, I was hoping you'd call me!'

"It worked out great. I came down and the next day I had a job. It was wonderful."

Cowboys OTAs: The speedy WR not named Tavon Austin - SportsDay Staff
Sportsday's panel of beat writers looks back on the most interesting observations from OTAs, including this snapshot from David Moore:

The fascination with Tavon Austin and what he can bring to the Cowboys offense is understandable. The anticipation has to do with not only what he'll do, but how he'll be used. That being said, what caught my eye in the first OTA we were allowed to observe was Deonte Thompson. The free agent receiver has a gear most players on the field don't. He was the receiver taking screen passes and blowing by defenders, not Austin. His speed was noticeable for an offense that has been missing that trait.

The real story behind Allen Hurns and how good he can be with the Dallas Cowboys - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Well-researched and highly readable piece on Hurns. Here's an excerpt:

Hurns has shown experience and savvy that the Cowboys will need considering all the shakeups at receiver. Take a play from November last season, when the Jaguars were driving late against the Chargers, trying to tie the score.

Hurns caught a 6-yard pass and suffered a right ankle injury. Instead of staying down, he crawled off the field, preventing the team from losing a 10-second runoff. The Jaguars went on to force overtime and win. An act that could've been overlooked made a big impression on Hurns' teammates in Jacksonville.

"He crawled off the field to save the game for his teammates," Wilson said. "As far as things you'll definitely get from Allen, he's not a selfish player, he's a team player."

The anomaly that left rookie DE Dorance Armstrong Jr. still on the board for Cowboys in Round 4 - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Kansas head coach David Beaty provides some insight on defensive end Dorance Armstrong, and why Armstrong should never have been available in the fourth round.

Tell us what you heard from teams leading up to draft.

Beaty: The issue for a lot of teams was his combine performance and pro day performance. Well, Dorance has never weighed 260 pounds since he's been here. He came in very, very heavy. I'm not sure who exactly he was training with, but my way of dealing with him would not be carrying that kind of weight. The guy we know, one of his biggest attributes is his speed and quickness. I can assure you they got a steal out of him because had he ran what I thought he was going to run and been at the right weight, he wouldn't have been around fourth round. No way.

One more thing about Dorance fans should know?

Beaty: Dorance is a lot faster than what people think. Dorance never ran even remotely close to the (4.87) times he ran for the scouts. He's been a high 4.5 to mid 4.6 guy every day when he was at the right weight: I think what they're going to see is one of the most explosive guys develop in the NFL when it comes to getting off that edge. They found them a pass rusher. They got them a guy, no doubt.

The other thing is for us, he's always been squared away. And that's not normal for D-linemen. D-linemen are flamboyant and they're a different kind of animal, they really are. He's a guy who's always had his life squared away and guys who have their life squared seem to work out. That's what I think they'll love about this guy.

Snap-Weighted Age: 2017 NFL Rosters - Scott Kacsmar,
Dallas had the third youngest-roster in 2017 and should be even younger in 2018. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Kacsmar dives into ages and snap counts and finds that while there's no clear-cut answer, youth doesn't often translate to success.

On a similar note, Dallas had the third-youngest roster and just let Dez Bryant and Jason Witten go. Instead of talking about the young Rams and Jaguars underperforming, we could be talking about Dallas and Cleveland as those teams the next few years. Dallas was just 9-7 last year after winning a No. 1 seed in 2016 behind its two great rookies (Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott). We know there were suspensions and a few big injuries last year, but Dallas is a team that always carries high expectations. Jason Garrett is getting an eighth full season -- or at least an eighth Week 1 -- as head coach and has yet to get to a conference title game, which puts him in exclusive company. Based on that past history, it doesn't look promising that it will ever happen.

Reviewing the Dallas Cowboys staff - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Tom reviews each of the Cowboys' coaches, including head coach Jason Garrett.

Outside of the offensive coordinator (whom we will get to shortly), no member of the staff evokes more dissent than the head coach. Of course, that is pretty much the way it is for most teams, since the head guy gets more blame or credit for the team’s record than he really should (except on the very few teams where the head coach also has full control of the roster). Nonetheless, people continue to point to how Garrett is now entering his eighth full year as head coach, with only one measly playoff win to his credit. He is often held as the epitome of a mediocre head coach, with three 8-8 seasons to his credit, plus last year that really should have been another.

However, he possesses the one unique quality that is so important for a head coach in Dallas: Jerry Jones wants him to have the job. That has kept him in place longer than he probably would have been elsewhere with the same record.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott among those hoping to fill team’s leadership void – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
What leadership void?

Prescott, who earned the “C” on his jersey for the first time last season, said he learned a lot watching Witten’s leadership style the past two seasons. It’s becoming “more and more natural” to Prescott, the quarterback said.

“As we said when we lost those guys, we are not trying to replace those guys,” Prescott said. “Those are guys who are irreplaceable. We can’t say we need you to be the leader Dez was or be the leader Witten was. We have a lot guys and lot of guys who have been in this league that lead, and sometimes they lead by just by example by going out there and not saying a word and giving all their energy, and it pays off and shows. Young guys can look and say that is the way you practice. That is the way you come in and handle your business. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything to do it, and we have those guys. We have the rah-rah guys, the guys who are screaming, the guys who are getting everybody going to make sure the energy is there.”

“I think there’s more guys than you would think that challenge people with intensity day in and day out,” Sean Lee said. “I look across at the offensive side, and Dak does that, and Zeke does that; the whole entire offensive line does that. If you look at our defense, Ty Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence. I’m a guy who likes to do that. I think that’s something we pride ourselves on by challenging each other day in and day out, working hard together and working hard against each other.”

From The FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there’s a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

The Safety of the Future could already be on the roster (but not who you would expect) - shunharp, Blogging The Boys FanPost
BTB commenter shunharp has some surprising thoughts on who the next great Cowboys' safety might be.

Despite Richard's desire for length in the secondary, Earl Thomas was an ultra productive player in his system. Listed officially as 5'10 202 pounds he was the leader of the Legion of Boom. He has amazing instincts and ball skills that translated into several pro bowl seasons. You would be surprised to know that Jourdan Lewis is officially listed as 5'10 195 pounds, only 7 pounds lighter than Thomas. You would also be surprised to know that as a rookie, Lewis finished 6th on the team in tackles with over 50 at the CB position while also being a team leader in passes defensed with 10. He has the ball skills to be able to make a play on the ball as well as the tenacity and attitude to be a sure tackler in the open field.

The team currently has Jones, Awuzie, and Brown as locked in corners who all show an ability to be starters. The team also has last year's draft pick Marquez White who will get an opportunity to play in a system that better suits his skill set. Let's not also forget about last year's training camp pet cat Duke Thomas who was well on his way to making the team before a preseason injury. And if the team needs further depth, they could always shift Woods back to the nickel position he played so well last season.

What do you think about Jourdan Lewis playing free safety?

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